By Nickol Enss ’10
William Woods University theater major Cody Olendorff comes from a small town, and he found Hollywood to be a bit intimidating.
“It was scary at first, going to a city that never ends. It was a huge culture shock.”
However, Olendorff, who has aspirations of being a movie star, says he learned a lot while completing a summer internship on the west coast.
“The most important thing I learned about working in Hollywood was to have a good head shot and always tell the truth.”
Originally from Pacific, Mo., Olendorff spent his summer working for Discover Management, a talent agency in Burbank, Calif.
He was given the opportunity of a lifetime, thanks to Joe Potter, WWU assistant professor of performing arts and artistic director of theatre. Olendorff worked from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday for a seven-year-old management company that handles and counsels talent in film, television, hosting, voice-over and print.
According to Olendorff, Discover Management is more than a talent agency. He says they take care of their clients.
“They’ll tell a client they should work out more or cut their hair. They essentially give them a category, because Hollywood is really about type-casting,” he said.
His tasks included filing, updating the old and new database, calling casting directors and scheduling auditions for clients, representing the agency at Actor Showcases and observing clients while they auditioned.
“Our job at the agency was to basically act as the middle man between the talent and the casting directors,” Olendorff said. “A couple of times I was able to cast people. The casting directors would want an outsider’s opinion and I was able to give direction—I felt like a God!”
He was sometimes shocked by the clients who auditioned.
“I was surprised,” Olendorff said, “because the majority of people we saw were awful—just pretty faces that thought they were going to make it because they were attractive and had moved to Hollywood.”
Discover Management is managed by Deborah-Lynn Findon, a former runway model, who became a casting director after her modeling career. She would oversee headshots and resumes the agency would receive and then decide who the company should take as clients.
“Our policy in the office was to always tell the truth,” said Olendorff. “She wouldn’t get mad if you made a mistake; she just wanted to solve the problem and if there were problems with the talent in that they weren’t getting casted or booked for auditions, she would take them out and suggest that they needed a change, like a new look. Hollywood has this persona that it’s mean and cut throat, but people there are really nice. They want to help you.”
Notable people that came out of Discover Management are America Ferrera, who plays the lead role in “Ugly Betty” and starred in the movie “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”; Jessica Morris from the soap opera, “One Life to Live” and the movie “Role Models,” and Lou Richards, who appeared in “Hawaii Five-O” and “Dukes of Hazards,” but is best known for his cartoon voice overs. Olendorff took an acting class with Richards.
Olendorff experienced the glamour of working in the business when Discover Management got him tickets to the Hollywood premieres of “Happiness Runs” and Will Farrell’s “Land of the Lost.” He attended the pre-party for “Happiness Runs,” watched the first screening of the movie in its final cut and attended the after party at a nightclub called Club Sushi.
“I spent the evening talking to the casting director that discovered Matt Damon—I talked to him all night; it was amazing,” Olendorff said.
Olendorff took acting classes every week and made his own Hollywood debut with WWU student and friend , who found an audition for them on craigslist for a show called, “Sex, Relationships and Sometimes Love.”
“It was a small show,” Olendorff said, “but it was interesting to see how everything worked. If you want to act, there are multitudes of opportunities in Hollywood.”
His living conditions weren’t too bad either.
“I got to live behind a castle house. I think it may have been a musician’s. I lived in a large house with a pool, hot tub, T.V. outside, and from the deck I could see the Hollywood sign. The couple I lived with was fantastic.”
He called the weather ideal: “You could go to the beach whenever you wanted and everyone was so laid back.” The only downside was the traffic: “If you needed to be a certain place you needed to allow an hour to get there.”
Olendorff said that the summer experience was invaluable and that when he moves back to LA, Discover Management