|Santa Monica pier, Los Angeles, at sunset|
Our waitress in the Bubba Gump restaurant on Santa Monica pier smilingly burst into action, enthusiastically asking diners questions about the Tom Hanks film Forrest Gump (this chain of US seafood restaurants is based on the film). I was completely lost as I've not seen the film and didn't have a clue about the questions, but there was something a bit special about the performance of our waitress.
Her name was Emily and she was a budding actress. She'd come to LA from a northern US state and was trying to break into the film industry. She'd trained at drama school, had an agent and, it transpired, an audition for a small acting role the next day. She was charming, delightful and so full of energy, enthusiasm and hope. She waited on tables to scrape some money together while she pursued her acting dream.
We chatted for a while and she asked me how I knew she was an actress. I told her that I'd done a lot of amateur acting way back, so maybe it was easier for me to recognise a kindred spirit because of this. But what had really impressed me was her energy, warmth, enthusiasm and committment to her "role" as quizzing waitress. She gave the impression she could go far, far further.
I wished her well and we shared a hug before I left the restaurant. Her aim was to make it into films in LA. I hope she does.