About Me

My photo
Little Rock, Arkansas, United States
I completed the 2016 Summer Program in the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. I received a BS Degree in Radio/TV from ASU and a MA Degree in Technical and Expository Writing from UALR. As a Cancer Survivor and a Widow, I hope I can help others through my Blog http://leslieinlittlerock.blogspot.com/ Twitter @leslieinlr and Instagram @leslieinlittlerock accounts.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Trips to Oxford, Mississippi and Boston, Massachusetts


Traveling to Visit My Daughters

Some of my favorite memories are of traveling with my family. We have been lucky to have visited many wonderful places throughout the years, including: Disney World & Disneyland; Washington, DC; Beaches in Florida, Alabama and California; New York City; St. Thomas, St. Maarten, San Juan, Puerto Rico and Nassau, Bahamas during an 8 day Caribbean Christmas Cruise; and Honolulu, Hawaii!


Hawaii, January 2012

Now that my daughters are older, one lives and works in Boston and the other one goes to collage at The University of Mississippi. I've enjoyed being able to visit each daughter during the past year.



Photos from the Double Decker Days Arts Fest in Oxford, Mississippi in April 2017

In addition to being the home of the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), Oxford, Mississippi also hosts an annual arts festival, Double Decker Days, which is held each year in April and draws more than 60,000 people. I attended the event this year and had a great time riding in the top of the Double Decker bus, viewing the beautiful and varied artwork of the vendors participating in the art show and eating delicious food! For more information about this event, visit http://doubledeckerfestival.com/.

My favorites - Dr. Pepper & chocolate haystack candy!

I'm so proud of my oldest daughter who lives and works in Boston, Massachusetts. I have never been to Boston but was able to go in May of last year to see my daughter. I had a great time, especially when she took me to the original Cheers restaurant, which was my late husband's favorite television show.






Photos from my visit to Boston, Massachusetts in May, 2016






Beautiful tulips in one of the wonderful public parks in Boston



All photos taken by Leslie

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A letter to myself - five years after my husband passed away suddenly on May 10, 2012


Hawaii - January 2012

Note: I’m writing this letter to myself, five years after my husband of 25 years, Thruston Stewart Doan, died suddenly of an undiagnosed Pulmonary Embolism on May 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm. I wish on the evening of May 12, 2012, when I was feeling all alone even though my house was full of family and friends, I could have read this “letter from the future”.

Note: On October 18, 2013, on what would have been our 27th Wedding Anniversary, I wrote a letter to my late husband. Here is the link to that blog entry: http://leslieinlittlerock.blogspot.com/2013/10/happy-anniversary.html




May 10, 2017

Dear Leslie,

I know you are devastated, inconsolable, upset, overwhelmed, confused and worried about your daughters. What you have gone through during the last several hours is a traumatic, sudden, tragedy. Your husband was here in your home this morning when you and Sara left for school and work, and then he was gone.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it – it’s going to be tough. There will be seconds, minutes, days, weeks, months and years where you can only think about the fact that your husband is dead. You will still feel married, even five years later. You will worry about your daughters, your pets, your house, your cars, your work, your bills, your health, the economy, your parents, your mental health, the IRS, insurance, and the 2016 Presidential Race.

But you will get up every day, get dressed, and be there for your children. You will go to work, volunteer for church and Chi Omega alumni club activities, and continue to attend the monthly Pokeno games with your neighbors.

With the help of your family, friends, doctors, therapists, co-workers, neighbors, church members and even strangers, you will be a good mother and will help each daughter deal with the loss of their beloved father in their own unique way.

Every day you will do at least one thing that you can check off your “do-list”. Yes, it is unbelievable to think that a widow will have an unlimited list of tasks to complete, but we do. There will be some days when all you want to do is take 5 hot bubble baths and then climb back in bed. Other days, you and your girls will watch the season finale episode of Glee six times, and that’s OK.

You will know when things are right and when they are not. As a counselor told you a few months after Thruston died, “You are grieving, you are not incompetent.”  There will be some relatives that will judge you and treat you unfairly. I wish I knew then what I know now, five years later.

The term “Toxic Person” will crop up and you will have to cut those people out of your life. You do not need negativity as you are forced to rebuild your life for you and your daughters. But you will.

Things will work out. Bills will be paid. Eventually you will take early retirement from your job and your house will sell. Best of all, Lauren graduates from college, moves to Boston and works for Harvard while Sara graduates from high school and enrolls in the University of Mississippi where she thrives as a Journalism major, writes for two blogs and joins a sorority!

Pursuing your dreams of writing for television, you are accepted into the 2016 summer program of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, taking a sitcom writing class and a TV and Film Industry class. Eventually you spend six weeks in Burbank, living with Darin and Kari and their kids while you appear as an extra in 12 different televisions shows. You also continue writing your blog and even have several posts published . And you are in a Flo Rida music video for the song Zillionaire! How many 55 year old women can say that they are in a Flo Rida video?!

Not a day goes by that you don’t think about your husband and wonder what would have happened if you had taken him to the emergency room instead of him going to the doctor. But he did go to the doctor, he told was told that he was fine and sent home.  After a while you had to stop the “What Ifs’.

But you are so thankful that he was your husband for 25 years and that we have two sweet, smart and beautiful daughters. You are so lucky to have memories of trips to Disney World, the beach and the wonderful trip to Hawaii in January 2012 when he attended a national conference and we celebrated Lauren’s 19th birthday.

So, I know that now it seems impossible to think about 5 minutes from now or 5 hours from now, but before you know it, it will be 5 years from now. And you will be OK.

Thinking of you,


Leslie

Friday, April 21, 2017

Special Thanks to The Cast And Crew Of Scandal After I Spent One Day As A Background Actor in the 100th Episode!


Kerry Washington stars as Olivia Pope in ABC's top rated drama Scandal
Photo from IMDb


As I wrote about in my California Dreamin' blog entry, published on April 12, 2017, I spent part of February and all of March 2017 appearing as a background actor in nine different television shows filmed in the Los Angeles area, including VEEP, Speechless and American Housewife.

One of my favorite experiences was appearing as a featured background actor for the 100th episode of Scandal "The Decision", filmed on February 27 and airing on April 13, 2017.

I am a 55 year old widow from Arkansas. I have two daughters who are 24 and 20 years old and who both live out of state. I am a 15 year Lymphoma Cancer Survivor and I love to use my blog to promote support for both cancer survivors and widows.

After graduating from Arkansas State University more than 30 years ago with a degree in Radio/Television, I have always dreamed of the opportunity to be involved in a television or film production.  I spent more than 20 years working as a Technical Writer and last year I decided to follow my dreams. So here I was, portraying a wedding greeter and guest on one of the most loved television dramas in years. And one of the most secretive filming!


One of the two outfits selected for me by the
costumer designers at Scandal during my
costume fitting on February 21, 2017.

Top 10 List of Favorite Memories of Filming Scandal


10.  The casting director asking me, "Have you appeared on Scandal this season?" after I submitted for a casting call asking for females in my age range for an unnamed television show. When I answered "No", I was then told I booked the job and given a work line telephone number for more information. After that I spent the next ten minutes jumping up and down in my friend's house!

9.  Riding in the backseat of an Uber to the studios on the day of my costume fitting and after telling the security guard my name he said I was on a list of approved visitors and let me in the gate.

8. Meeting the fantastic costumer designers at the studios who had already selected two different beautiful outfits based on my sizes supplied by Central Casting.

7. Treated special by the wonderful and talented makeup and hair stylists on the day of shooting who did an amazing job!

6.  The delicious food provided by Catering for lunch and Crafty for snacks!

5.  Watching the production assistants, the camera operators, the hair, makeup & wardrobe people, the assistant directors and all the crew work together as a team to develop and produce such a memorable episode.

4.  Filming on location at St. John's Cathedral, located just a few blocks from where I attended the 2016 Summer Program at the School of Cinematic Arts at USC  In fact, I would drive by this church almost everyday when I drove to my on campus apartment!

St. John's Cathedral
514 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles, California
Photo from yelp


3.  Actor Dan Bucatinsky (@DanBucatinsky) who portrayed the character of James Novak smiling and saying "Hello" to me as we passed each other as I was walking back to the church at the location. He is so cute in person and I was surprised to see him because his character died a few seasons ago on Scandal. I found out later that day that this episode was a flashback to an earlier year so that explained his appearance. Did I mention that the actor is adorable in person?

2.  While waiting between scenes filmed in the church, speaking to actor Joshua Malina (@JoshMalina) who plays Attorney General David Rosen. He was very friendly and outgoing when I told him that he was my first celebrity tweet when I was included in a retweet from actor Dule Hill from Psych and Josh was a guest actor.

1.  Before wrapping for the day, having actors Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn address all the background actors and thank us for all our work in helping to film such a special episode of Scandal.


I'm wearing a beautiful pink suit and pink hat
standing near the entrance of the church in
this photo from Episode 100.


Wow! I wished I owned that suit and hat!
The whole outfit was beautiful
and comfortable. I'll always
have my memories of that day.



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

California Dreamin'



I'm sitting on the left in Flo Rida's Music Video Zillionaire!


During the summer of 2016, I completed a six week program in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. I took a Situation Comedy Writing class along with an Introduction to the Film and Television Industry course.  Before I went to California, I enrolled online at LACasting.com for consideration for Background Actor. It was very easy to fill out the registration form, upload a photo and enter the information for the monthly $14.99 fee. Almost immediately, I began receiving emails asking for submissions for various television shows, movies, student films, music videos and commercials.

While I attended USC classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I spent the other days of the week writing a spec script for the television show Brooklyn Nine-Nine for my sitcom writing class, working on presentations and attending networking events for my Film and Television Industry course and submitting for Background Actor jobs on LACasting.com.

I submitted for a rush call on Monday morning, June 20 and two hours later I was on set in a bar in Chatsworth, California for the filming of the first episode of the NETFLIX Series, Santa Clarita Diet, starring Drew Barrymore, Timothy Olyphant and featuring one of my favorite actors, Nathan Fillion. In addition, I also appeared as a Russian Embassy staff employee on the final episode of Shooter with actor Ryan Phillippe, sat in the audience of one game show and two talk shows and then portrayed a defendant on the courtroom drama, The Verdict with Judge Hatchett.


I'm in the background (over Nathan Fillion's left shoulder)
as a bar patron and dancer in Santa Clarita Diet that
aired on NETFLIX on February 3, 2017.

In the first week of November 2016, I went back to California to visit my good friends, the Shea Family, and to see actor Darren Criss as Hedwig in the rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood as a celebration of 15 years of being cancer free!

I also enrolled at Central Casting in Burbank. Four days later I was sitting in the spacious dining room of a $9 million house in Simi Valley, California with 13 other people, all referred to as "Talent", Victoria Secret's model Chanel Iman dancing on the table and rapper Flo Rida singing behind me in his music video Zillionaire! I was called "Mother" and was so happy to be there!

In January 2017, I began receiving calls from casting directors asking if I was available to appear as a Background Actor for different television shows. Because I enrolled at Central Casting in November 2016 and completed the free registration process, including having several new photos taken, I now was listed in their database of available talent. So when a casting director was looking for a Caucasian female in my age range along with my height and weight as well as my brown hair and eye color with olive skin tone, my name and picture would appear in their search. After I received three calls for immediate booking in three weeks, I made arrangements to fly to Burbank the next week and stay with my friends for two months in order to submit for roles in television shows during the busy time of completing episodic television shows for the current season and the upcoming pilot season.

Shows I filmed as background while in California
February 12, 2017 - April 1, 2017


Photos from IMDb

TV Show - VEEP
Date Filmed - 02/15/2017
 Role - Adult at a County Fair
Airs on HBO in April 2017



TV Show - Ballers
Date Filmed - 02/16/2017
Role - Upsale Restaurant & Bar Patron
Airs on HBO in June 2017



TV Show - Scandal
Costume Fitting on 02/21/2017 & Date Filmed -02/27/17
Role - Featured Wedding Guest
Airs on ABC on Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 8:00 pm (CST) 



TV Show - The Last Tycoon
Costume Fitting on 02/22/2017 & Date Filmed - 03/03/2017
Role - Member of Church Congregation
Airs on Amazon in June 2017



TV Show - Speechless
Date Filmed - 03/07/2017
Role - Airport Traveler
Airs on ABC Television on Wednesdays at 7:30 pm (CST)




TV Show - American Housewife
Date Filmed - 03/15/3017
Role - Ballet Recital Audience
Airs on ABC Television on Tuesdays at 7:30 pm (CST)

I had such an amazing time in California during these last six weeks. As a graduate of the Radio/Television Department at ASU over 30 years ago, I haven't had the opportunity to appear on a real production set. Even though I was just an "extra", it was wonderful to see how all the separate pieces (wardrobe, makeup, hair, production assistants, directors, and camera operators) come together to produce a television program, movie or commercial. Some people like sports or hobbies, I like television and movies. When I went to California some friends said to me "See you at the Oscars next year!" I didn't do this to be nominated for an Academy Award - I did it because it's something I've always wanted to do. If someone plays touch football with friends on the weekends, would you say "See you at the Heisman Trophy Awards next year!"?

In addition to all the shows listed above, I also appeared as background on three different pilots airing in the fall of 2017: Young Sheldon (featuring a young Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory as a nine year old genius in 1989 East Texas); Me, Myself and I (starring John Larroquette) and Orville (a science fiction drama set 300 years in the future and created by Seth McFarlane). I also met actor/dancer/singer Dick Van Dyke during the filming of an infomercial, walked by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, watched comedian Adam Carolla during the rehearsal of his new live show, and appeared in the audience of two new game shows "Child Support" hosted by Fred Savage and "Winsanity" hosted by Donald Faison.

Best of all, I was able to see my friend Lynn and her daughter Hannah at the filming of Conan with guest star Darren Criss!





Posing with Lynn & Hannah McGee along with the Conan 'Bobblehead"
before the taping of the Conan Show on Tuesday, March 14, 2017
featuring actor/singer Darren Criss!



Saturday, April 1, 2017

Movie Review - Patriots Day (2017)



Photos from IMDb

Movie Description: The story of the 2013 Boston Marathon and the aftermath, which includes the city-wide manhunt to find the terrorists responsible.

Release Date
:  Friday, January 13, 2017

Running Time
:  2 hours and 13 minutes

Genre:  
Drama/History/Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): 
Rated R for violence, realistically graphic injury images, language throughout, and some drug use.


Director:
  Peter Berg

Writers:
Peter Berg (screenplay & story); Matt Cook (screenplay & story); Joshua Zetumer (screenplay); Paul Tamasy (story); and Eric Johnson (story).






CAST



Mark Wahlberg as Police Officer Tommy Saunders
(Fictional Character)






John Goodman as Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis



Kevin Bacon as Special FBI Agent Richard DesLauriers and Richard DeLauriers



J.K. Simmons as Watertown Police Sergeant Jeffrey Puglese





Melissa Benoist as Katherine Russell
(Photo by Leslie Dianne taken at PaleyFest at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, March 18, 2017)

Leslie's Notes

In July 2012, my then 15-year-old daughter attended a three week summer program at Portsmouth Abbey School in Rhode Island. It was something that I had not considered before, but after her father's sudden death in May 2012 from an undiagnosed Pulmonary Embolism, it turned out to be a great decision. She made new friends from all over the world, completed different academic classes in the mornings and participated in activities such as sailing and sports in the afternoons. One of the benefits of going to Portsmouth Abbey School was the opportunity to visit Boston on several different field trips. She fell in love with the city and all the different cultural, enrichment and recreational activities that were available in Boston.

She also had several friends who were present at the marathon on Monday, April 15, 2013 and she later wore a "Boston Strong" t-shirt to show her support for Boston. When she heard that there was a movie coming out about the bombings at the marathon, she wanted to see it on the first day it was released.

What I found most captivating about this film is that it follows the main characters from the hours before the marathon through to the capture of the suspected terrorists. You get to see the action from the view of the police, the terrorists and the victims of this horrific event.

Boston native Mark Wahlberg not only stars in Patriots Day but also serves as a Producer for the film. Everyone in the cast does a remarkable job portraying real people. Since the movie is about a terrorist attack, there is a lot of graphic footage. At some times during the movie, I had to turn my head in different scenes. But I feel that it is necessary to include these images since it is an actual event that involved so many people.

I also was caught up in the intense emotions as the film played out and the hunt for the attackers continued. There were some people and events included in the movie that I had forgotten about, such as the college student who was kidnapped by the two brothers, but my daughter remembered. Overall, Patriots Day was an excellent movie that I think every American should see.

Note:  I found the following article from the Boston Globe online and it contains information and pictures of some of the actual individuals portrayed in the movie:


Meet the real people behind 'Patriots Day'









Saturday, December 31, 2016

Mesothelioma.Net - Hope. Faith. Action.





Over the last few months, I've received a couple of emails about the website Mesothelioma.net, a source of information for patients diagnosed with Mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

As a 15 year survivor of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, I've written several different blog entries about my diagnosis and cancer treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation. I've volunteered my time for different cancer support groups and helped raise funds for other ones.

On Election Day 2016, I observed the fact that exactly 16 years ago that day, I was in a hospital in Little Rock, diagnosed with cancer. So on November, 8, 2016, I visited friends who live in California and went to a play in Hollywood. It's been a journey that I've made with the help of my family, friends, and wonderful doctors. I continue to help spread the word about different resources to help others who find themselves in a similar situation.

I'm happy to assist in any way that I can so I agreed to include a link to the Mesothelioma.Net website. In November, I received emails from both Mr. A. and Ms. K., informing me of how they have been helped by resources from this organization.

I've changed the name to Mr. A. for the first email:

My name is Mr. A. I came across your website and thought you might be interested in my message.
I was recently diagnosed with mesothelioma, which is a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. From automotive to demolition work, I’ve had many jobs in my life that contributed to my exposure. On some jobs, the air was so thick with debris and asbestos you could taste it in your mouth.

When I was diagnosed with mesothelioma I needed immediate medical attention. I found a few websites on the internet that are supposed to help people with my type of cancer but nobody got back to me.

Then I found Mesothelioma.net. Even though I contacted them on a Sunday one of their patient advocates gave me a call back within minutes. They gave me a great deal of helpful information on doctors and resources available to me.

As a result of their website I am now being treated at the National Cancer Institute and the patient advocates have even provided me with financial assistance so I could afford a place to live during my cancer treatments. If I had not reached out to this website I would likely be homeless and more importantly in hospice waiting to die. These people gave me my only chance at survival.

Perhaps some of your website visitors could use the help of Mesothelioma.net. The website is filled with information on mesothelioma treatments and doctors, asbestos trust funds for victims, and a lot more. They also sponsor The American Cancer Society, the MD Cancer Center, and the Make a Wish Foundation.

If it’s not too much trouble, could you help spread the good work they’re doing by posting a link to Mesothelioma.net on your website?


Please let me know what you think when you get a chance. Thanks very much for your time.

Mr. A.


I've changed the name to Ms. K. for the second email:

I really enjoyed looking through your site and I thought you might be interested in my message.

My name is Ms. K. and I have been fighting mesothelioma cancer for the past 9 years. If you don’t know, mesothelioma is a cancer caused by asbestos exposure. People can be exposed to asbestos in many ways. My exposure was a result of asbestos being spread into the air when the office I was working at was remodeled.

At the age of 49 I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Pleural Mesothelioma and was told I had less than two years to live. But I was determined to stay positive and beat this cancer against all odds! My treatment included having my right lung and the lining of the lung removed--a major surgical procedure. Soon after, I began several months of radiation therapy.

I am overjoyed to say that my fight paid off and now 9 years later I am still cancer free! But I know I did not face this battle alone. The doctors and staff at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center are true miracle workers and I am forever grateful to them.

I was also helped greatly by the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma Lawyer Center. Not only did they help me obtain financial compensation which helped with my treatments and quality of life, they genuinely care about my well-being. I am proud to call them my friends and they continue to stand by my side as I fight mesothelioma.

I feel it is my duty to give back to the community--to let people with asbestos diseases know they are not alone. There is help available!

Would you be so kind as to post a link to MesotheliomaLawyerCenter.org on your website? I know together we can help a lot of people!

I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you!


Ms. K.


Here is the link to the Mesothelioma Lawyer Center website.


Even though I would like to have written this blog entry earlier, I made my deadline of the last day of 2016 to post it! I wish both of these people continued good health. And hope that others can be helped by both of these websites.

Image from Mesothelioma.net


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

TV Review - This Is Us (2016)





Favorite. New. Show.

Summary - 

A group of people with the same birthday, including Jack and his wife Rebecca, a married couple expecting triplets in Pittsburgh; Kevin, a handsome television actor growing bored of his fly bachelor lifestyle; Kate, his sweet and heavyset twin sister; and Randall, a successful lawyer in search of his biological father.

My Review - 

This Is Us is the best new television show this season.

Cast - 

Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimigila as married couple Rebecca and Jack


Justin Hartley as Kevin


Chrissy Metz as Kate


Sterling K. Brown as Randall





Leslie's Notes - 


  • The writing for this show is realistic and true.
  • The acting is amazing!
  • The production is excellent - with a seamless transition from scene to scene and very good lighting and camera work.
For more information about the drama This Is Us, check out this link on NBC.com.


Airs on NBC (local Channel 4)
Tuesday nights
8:00 p.m. (CST)


I am writing this review as I watch tonight's episode and once again, it's funny, sentimental, sad, and heartwarming all at the same time!


Photos from IMDb