Paige Stearn, 13, is an aspiring actress. The Beverly Hills (Michigan, not California – yet) resident just landed a part in a new TV pilot, “Life Sucks,” about everyone’s favorite time of life: middle school. If a national network picks it up, the pilot will become a series, and Paige will become a star.
It all began last month when Paige and her mom, Terri Stearn, director of the Janice Charach Gallery at the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit, went to New York.
A student at Hillel Day School, Paige already has appeared in one national TV commercial; Terri took her to New York for a month to “give her the experience she needs and the chance to see if this is something she truly wants.”
Paige said “Spending the summer in New York was a dream come true for me, it is such a great city, I can’t wait to go back. I would even move there if my parents would let me.
The two rented a small apartment on the Upper East Side and brought along the family dog, Louie, who quickly adapted to city life – as did Terri and Paige, who traveled everywhere by subway. (Their best advice: “Always make sure you’re heading in the right direction and don’t leave the turnstile because you have to pay to get back on if you went the wrong way,” Terri says.)
Paige went on an open casting call, which Terri described as “you wait in a line, walk up to a table, hand them your headshot, they look you up and down and then yell ‘NEXT!’ But you never know where that headshot could end up.”
She also went on an audition, where mom and daughter sat for an hour in a freezing waiting room. But it was a great experience. “Paige nailed her lines and felt she did a good job and was happy to have her first real audition under her belt,” Terri said.
A few days later, a casting agency called and offered Paige a chance to try out for a HBO TV show called “The Leftovers,” starring Liv Tyler and Justin Theroux. The agent also helped with the snazzy aspects of the acting life (arranging for a chauffeur to come pick up Paige) and the nitty-gritty details, like getting a work permit and putting money into an UTMA (Uniform Transforms to Minors Act) account.
It was 90-degrees when Paige, along with 11 other kids, came to film at the outdoor set. “The crew was unbelievably nice to Paige,” Terri said. “They kept putting sunscreen on her and forcing her to drink Gatorade. It was really nice to see such a great side of Hollywood.”
Paige also had a workshop with Bob Marks, one of the original score producers of “Annie,” and she attended acting boot camp with casting agent Denis Simons, where she sang, did some improv and worked on monologues.
“It’s about middle school kids and how life sucks; think ‘Saved by the Bell’ meets ‘Ned’s Declassified,” Terri said. Paige attributes much of her success with her auditions to friend and co-actor Steve Jasgar. Steve scouts for new talent through the Launch Showcase which she attended with Steve, in July of last summer.
After her first reading of Life Sucks, Paige was called back and asked: Can you whine? She could.
The staff “loved her whininess,” Terri said. “It pretty much got her the part.”
Paige plays Claire, “a sporty girl who hates drama and is funny and crazy-smart,” Terri said. She had a great time being with the cast and crew and made a lot of new friends.
She also worked very hard. While filming “Life Sucks,” Paige and mom got up at 6 a.m. and headed for the subway to get to the set. At 4:30 p.m. Terri went to pick up her daughter and head home. By 9 p.m. Paige had eaten, showered and was ready for bed “and was loving every minute of it.” They head back to NYC in January for the premier showing of the 6 episodes at a middle school themed 8th grade dance.
The family, including dad and attorney Todd Stearn, is now waiting to hear whether “Life Sucks” gets picked up as a series. Meanwhile, they’re enjoying all the normal family stuff – like those wonderful first days of real school.