I get the impression there are only two kinds of people in LA: people who want to be in the entertainment industry, and people who have left the entertainment industry. I suppose there are actually people who are in the entertainment industry, but I haven’t met any of them. They’re probably too busy.
Meisha Rainman was an agent. She had a stable of actors and a slice of glitterazzi. Then she had a family. Young children and the networking circuit are not compatible, so she left show biz. When her children were old enough for her to return to work, Meisha entered the non-profit arena. She worked at Silver Lake Jewish Community Center, and recently became Development Director at The Unusual Suspects, a theater company that works with incarcerated youth. “This work is not very different from being an agent. My joke is, I now use my powers for good.”
Being Development Director at The Unusual Suspects is a heavy responsibility because the organization generates no income. “We offer our programs to prisoners and at-risk youth for free, we don’t change for performances. We have to pay out teacher artists. The more people we serve, the more money we need.”
Meisha’s children are now ten and seven, ages where working outside the home requires a lot of coordination and some soul searching. Meisha believes the trade-off is worthwhile. The Unusual Suspects allows her to do worthwhile work and also have engaging connections to the outside world. From Meisha’s perspective, being a parent is not just about being physically present. “I have to stay an interesting and relevant person.”
How will we live tomorrow?
“I think I should be profound and broad about the ‘we’, but I am still getting used to full time work, my afternoon baby sitter is leaving, my Executive Director is leaving, my kids are adjusting. My tomorrow is a ‘to do list’ of tasks.
“Last week we met a released prisoner. He said, ‘Imagine if we treated all children the way our children are treated.’ This work allows me to level the playing field. That’s why I come to work every day. The time I have taken from them is being traded for a larger good that will also help them. Anyone can make them a snack.”