Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Through the Looking Glass With Nana Visitor
By the time you’ll read this, I will have finished writing my 17th post… I’m writing them in advance so I always have something for you, in case I ever get the dreaded “writer’s block”. I almost had it on this post. I say “almost” because I sat and stared at the page for an hour before writing anything. It was not from a lack of words, but an excess. There are so many things I could say about Nana, since she is the Trek actress I have known the longest – it’s really strange to think that I have known her for nearly twenty years. Indeed, she is the reason I worked on Star Trek at all.
The beginning seems like an appropriate place to start. While attending college and working as a Preschool Director, I went to my first convention where Nana (the guest star) mentioned that she was looking for a nanny for her son, Buster…. so, on a whim, I sent her my resume. To my surprise, she called me a few weeks later and we did several telephone interviews. Then I went down to L.A. for a face-to-face interview. I did not really realize, then, how unusual that was. I do now. It was one of the first events of synchronicity in my life but not the last!
I met Nana and her (then) husband Nick at Paramount Pictures for an interview – with Nana in full make up and wardrobe as “The Intendant” from the alternate universe. Talk about intimidating! They ended up hiring someone else, but within a couple months I was in Los Angeles working as a nanny for a producer of ABC family movies anyway. When the Northridge earthquake struck the next year, my producer and his family moved to Florida and he got me a job at Paramount. Synchronicity again - those offices were next door to the DS9 office in the Cooper Building.
I had stayed in distant contact with Nana, and I let her know that I was now working on the lot. When that show was cancelled, I interviewed for a Production Assistant position on DS9. Apparently, the producers were leery of hiring me because during the year I’d been living in Los Angeles (lonely out of my mind), I had joined both Nana and Sid’s fan clubs in order to meet people. It almost cost me the job, but apparently Nana and Sid both vouched for me. So, I owe Nana thanks for one of the best jobs I have ever had, and certainly one of the projects I am most proud of. I greatly valued the opportunity to work on a show that stood for diversity, acceptance and that had such a positive vision of the future.
(Alexander Siddig aka Sid, Buster and Nana pregnant with Django)
I agree with this quote from her: “I have deep feelings about “Star Trek”. I feel that it`s able to present archetypes that are important story telling tools. And we need story telling.”
There are so many stories I could share. Babysitting her boys and being scared of her stalkers? Trying to figure out how to command her guard dogs… in German? One evening while shooting late on the lot, however, stands out - I asked Nana to teach me to dance the Tango. She is a phenomenal dancer - as the daughter of a choreographer and a ballet instructor and the niece of Cyd Charisse, she should be! I, however, have two left feet, and after an hour or so of swishing up and down the hallway in her trailer stomping on her toes, we gave it up as hopeless. It was a terrible dance lesson, but one of many good memories.
If you want to see Nana dance these days, check out this video:
She used to have a cooking blog with her sister, Zan, but I think she’s given it up. It’s too bad, she had some amazing recipes!
These are lighthearted videos, and they made me laugh, watching her play and goof off. I have not seen Nana in ten years now, since my son was born and I left Los Angeles, but I will still count her a friend. Thanks for the great PA job, thanks for guiding me through the looking glass to play in the Trek universe, and for all the memories, Nana! You are one of my heroes.
If you have any good stories of any of the actors I showcase, please share them! J