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Joey Lauren Adams was born in North Little Rock, Arkansas, the youngest of three children. Her father was a lumber yard owner. Adams grew up in the Overbrook neighborhood of North Little Rock and graduated from North Little Rock Northeast High School in 1986. She announced her intention to pursue acting after one year as an exchange student in Australia.
In 1991, Adams appeared in "Top of the Heap", the 100th episode of Married... with Children, and subsequently starred in its short-lived spinoff. In 1993, Adams landed her first major film role as Simone in Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused. The same year, she appeared in the Saturday Night Live spinoff film Coneheads as one of Connie Conehead's friends.
Two years later, Adams appeared in Mallrats, written and directed by Kevin Smith. The two started dating during the film's post-production, and their relationship provided the inspiration for Smith's next film, Chasing Amy.
In 1997's Chasing Amy, Adams played the lead role of Alyssa Jones, a lesbian who falls in love with a man, played by Ben Affleck. In addition to her acting work on the film, Adams wrote and performed the song "Alive" for the film's soundtrack.
Adams' performance in Chasing Amy earned her both the 1997 Chicago Film Critics Award and Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Most Promising Actress, and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress-Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
In 1999, Adams appeared in her first big-budget Hollywood release, playing Adam Sandler's love interest in the successful comedy Big Daddy. She then went on to appear in many smaller films, including Beautiful and In the Shadows.
In 2006, Adams released her directorial debut film, Come Early Morning, starring Ashley Judd, Jeffrey Donovan, Diane Ladd, Tim Blake Nelson and Laura Prepon. The film, shot on location in Little Rock, Arkansas, was selected for the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.
Adams is also known for her distinctive voice which one film critic referred to as that of a "sex-kitten-on-helium". Regarding her voice, Adams commented: "It's not a normal voice. It doesn't fit into people's preconceptions about what a woman's voice should sound like. My mom doesn't think I have an unusual voice, though. I'm sure it's helped me get some roles. But Chasing Amy I almost didn't get. There was concern the voice would grate on some people, which some critics said it did." Another film critic said that whether viewers loved it or hated it, her voice had "the potential to hypnotize.”
Adams married Brian Vilim in 2014. She currently resides in Beverly Hills, California.
Up In Your Business is a Radio Show by FlagandBanner.com
[0:00:09.0] G: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Through storytelling and conversational interviews, this weekly radio show and podcast offers listeners an insider’s view into starting and running a business, the ups and downs of risk-taking and the commonalities of successful people. Connect with Kerry through her candid, funny, informative and always encouraging weekly blog.
Now, it's time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.
[0:00:35.2] KM: Thank you, son Gray. Let's try something new.
[0:00:38.4] G: Ooh. Okay.
[0:00:39.1] KM: Begin the show with a little game.
[0:00:41.1] G: Oh, what kind of game?
[0:00:42.3] KM: See if our listeners, through a few clues can guess who our interviewee is today and they cannot talk, because if she does talk, everybody will immediately know who it is.
[0:00:52.5] G: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.
[0:00:54.2] KM: Here’s the clues. I already gave you one clue. If she talks, she'll know who she is. That's a good clue. She is an American actress who early in her career starred in Dazed and Confused, Conehead and Mallrats. She is known for deflowering bud on the TV show Married With Children. She danced with an angel, John Travolta in the movie Michael, starred alongside Adam Sandler and Big Daddy and had multiple acting nominations for her starring role in Chasing Amy, including MTV's Best Kiss category for her lesbian makeout scene with Ben Affleck watching her from the side. All the while, her co-star watched with a broken heart. Who is this North Little Rock, Arkansas native? Drumroll.
If you guessed Joey Lauren Adams, then you are correct. Over the 30 years, Miss Adams has acted in over 40 movies and 20 TV shows. In 2006, this talented actress added to her repertoire of work by releasing her very own film, Come Early Morning, that she wrote, directed and advocated for, starring Ashley Judd as the lead, alongside the respected actress Diane Ladd. This full-length film was shot on location in Little Rock, Arkansas and got picked up by the Sundance Film Festival.
After watching Joey's years of work on the aforementioned moviemaking undertaking, it only validated what I have often thought, that actors, musicians and other artists epitomize the entrepreneurial spirit. Successful artists like Joey with their long careers have tenacity, their self-employ, they work hard, take risks, make big decisions, negotiate sales, money and contracts, often travel a lot and have fluctuating incomes. If that doesn't sound like an entrepreneur’s resume, I don't know what does.
After months of trying to pin down this busy lady, our day for visiting has finally arrived. Sheltering in place in her hometown of North Little Rock, it is with great pleasure, I welcome to the table the talented, smart, hard-working entrepreneur and longtime friend, the American actress and director, Joey Lauren Adams.
[0:03:07.5] JLA: Wow. What an intro. I don’t know if I’ve ever been called entrepreneur before. I’m flattered.
[0:03:14.3] KM: Oh, good. I was just going to say, do you think of yourself as an entrepreneur?
[0:03:17.4] JLA: No. I went to Shark Tank and it never – I don't ever think of myself there, unless I'm pitching my idea, which I have done.
[0:03:28.2] KM: Yes. There you go. She's always thinking. Full disclosure, your aunt Kathleen King and I are longtime friends. In fact, we've been friends since the second grade. But we're not going to talk about that. We're going to talk about your – I called you illustrious earlier. Your illustrious career, because it is. Too many people think successful people are just born that way, but in reality they have worked hard, they have conquered fears and they have often grown from strife in their life and that is certainly true for you. A rise to success can be messy and the path like the character, Alyssa Jones, who you played in Chasing Amy said, it's not always a straight path.
Let's start at the beginning. You probably don't remember our first meeting, but I don't really remember it either. But I've known you ever since I can really remember, because like I said, your aunt is my good friend and I came to your house, because I think she was babysitting.
[0:04:29.2] JLA: Really?
[0:04:29.8] KM: I do, for your mother.
[0:04:32.5]JLA: I think it's funny, because I don't ever remember Kathleen babysitting us.
[0:04:35.6] KM: For some reason she was at your house and I came over. I remember your house. I don't really remember you and your brother and sister that much, but I remember your house was modern, had a sunken –
[0:04:48.2] JLA: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
[0:04:49.9] KM: And a big glass window. I thought, this is the nicest, coolest house I've ever been in. Was your father in construction?
[0:04:57.8] JLA: Yeah. He had catch lumber, but he actually wanted to be an architect and his father made him quit college and come take over the lumberyard. He was a – what is the word? There's a word for like a suppressed artist. Didn't really get to do, I think what he wanted to do with his life. He designed that house and then had the people, the connections with builders and the material, obviously to build it.
[0:05:26.0] KM: No wonder it made an impression on me.
[0:05:27.7] JLA: Yeah. It was small, but it was really mean.
[0:05:31.4] KM: Describe your life back then.
[0:05:33.9] JLA: I mean, it's pretty storybook, because we lived in North Little Rock. I think maybe it’s the name of the elementary school I went to, which was walking distance. But actually, when all this whole Me Too thing came up, I remembered that in first grade, my first kiss was stolen from me.
[0:05:52.5] KM: By who?
[0:05:52.9] JLA: A kid named John Sandman who pushed me up against the portable and kissed me. Then he would also follow me home and throw me to the ground and look at my panties.
[0:06:01.1] KM: What?
[0:06:02.2] JLA: Yeah.
[0:06:03.4] KM: How old was this guy?
[0:06:04.5] JLA: We were both in first grade.
[0:06:06.8] KM: Well, he's aggressive for a first grader.
[0:06:08.7] JLA: But it's just you think of it like, I think of my childhood is idyllic. Then when things like, yeah, thee Me Too movement come up, you look back and go like, “Oh, yeah, there was some – That's a great thing.” Do you know that it's just been going on longer than you realized and you just – boys will boys. I mean, my mom was amazing. My dad was amazing. She was pretty much a stay-at-home mom, so there was literally cookies when we got home from school. Then the neighborhood kids ,we would play kick-the-can and all of those games. We could ride our bikes anywhere. I remember getting lost, going out into the woods and getting lost, which was amazing.
[0:06:55.9] KM: Without being kidnapped.
[0:06:57.0] JLA: Yeah, yeah. Without it being some scary thing, or feeling a need to come home and tell my mom. You just got home by dark.
[0:07:07.7] KM: When the streetlights came on.
[0:07:08.6] JLA: Yeah. Yeah.
[0:07:09.9] KM: You come from a family of beautiful women and your father was very handsome.
[0:07:14.4] JLA: He was.
[0:07:15.6] KM: And quiet and mysterious, but he had a midlife crisis. Like so many people I have interviewed on this show, that strife could have possibly been what changed the trajectory of your life. How old were you?
[0:07:31.9] JLA: I think it was just starting college. I know, because I had been an exchange student when I was 17, to Australia. I was already wanting more out of life than what I saw around me.
[0:07:45.3] KM: Did you go to Australia to be an actress?
[0:07:48.4] JLA: No. I just went to get out, just to travel. I didn't feel our school, my school at the time offered things that I don't wat – I don't know. I just wanted to get out. I just wanted to see the world. I knew there were different people. I knew there were different things. My Aunt Kathleen was actually a huge influence for me, because I don't remember her younger. Then she at 15, I think went to Tulsa to be a ballerina. I just have these memories of her coming home for Christmas and she would be shaved all her hair off, or one year she was a vegetarian, which I had never heard of. We were just like, “You don't eat meat? What do you eat then?” One year, she came on and she was so orange because she had been drinking so much carrot juice. She would always bring –
[0:08:37.6] KM: Well, too much keratin in there.
[0:08:39.3] JLA: She was fascinating to me. You know she was out in the world and again, it was just little clues that there's more going on than what's going on in North Little Rock, Arkansas. I didn't know. I didn't know a lot of women who had careers really. Then my mom started working for her friend at a jewelry store and I met this woman, Greta Wolf who was a jewelry salesman and she made, I think $200,000 a year and had a $200,000 expense account and sell jewelry around the world. I was like, “They pay you to go to Italy and sell jewelry? Sign me up. What else is there that you can do with your life that I don't know about?”
I think one of the biggest things for me was in seventh grade, for some reason they sent all the kids from all surrounding neighborhoods to one school, so there was no one to play football against. Within this school, there were seven football teams, Central High. Because there were seven football teams, there had to be seven cheerleading squads. We had moved from the house you were talking about to different neighborhood and next door with us were two girls, Lily and Cecily and then there was my sister. We were also one year apart. so Lily went and she was I can’t remember, maybe a Raider. She'll kill me for not remembering.
Then my sister went and she was a Viking maybe and then Cecily went and she was a Viking. It really was not – there was no will you make cheerleader? Because there were 17, like everybody – you didn't know anyone who didn't make cheerleading. My mom had already bought my shoes that I was going to need and you go through the tryouts and it was just like, “Am I going to be like what Lily was, or what my sister was?” Went through the auditions, went down to central and they had the postings. My mom and I just kept going back and reading and reading and reading that I did not make cheerleader.
[0:10:43.0] KM: What?
[0:10:43.7] JLA: Yeah.
[0:10:44.8] KM: They didn't know what they were missing.
[0:10:46.9] JLA: It was pretty like, and anyone who I think maybe at the time went to that school know what I'm talking about. It’s a huge wakeup call. Anyway, it was just really odd. I just remember. I’m sure this didn't happen, but people might have brought my mom food. We were so starving.
[0:11:08.7] KM: How old were you when this happened?
[0:11:10.2] JLA: I was in seventh grade.
[0:11:11.0] KM: That didn't ruin your life from trying out new stuff. I mean, how you learned to be able to take rejection and take auditions.
[0:11:17.0] JLA: I really think because it really – because then I had to go, because then if you want cheerleader during the class period that all the girls would go do the cheerleading stuff, I had to go to gym class. They gave us this onesie really humiliating outfit that we had to wear. I just thought, you know what – I became a office monitor. It really was when I broke – You're also like that, like I was 12 or 13. It's such an awkward age anyways.
[0:11:44.1] KM: Yes, it’s terrible.
[0:11:46.2] JLA: It just broke me away from what I had been comfortable with. It put me on the outside of what all my friends were doing. That's when I really got into acting. I had done it. You always been interested in it, but it’s when –
[0:12:02.2] KM: When you were in the seventh grade?
[0:12:03.5] JLA: Yeah. I was acting in the church when I was little. Mary Magdalene was my first speaking role in the church, so I've always played the whore. Misunderstood whore with a heart of gold.
[0:12:20.1] KM: That’s not a bad role. I like your role.
[0:12:21.9] JLA: I know. It was a great role.
[0:12:22.8] G: I love that.
[0:12:24.9] KM: Your dad leaves. When you’re in college, you make it through high school, you graduate you go off to college, where’d you go?
[0:12:32.5] JLA: I went to Fayetteville first semester.
[0:12:33.2] KM: You went to Fayetteville first semester, you're doing fine. Are you studying acting?
[0:12:37.5] JLA: I had a plan. I was going to – because I used to visit in front of Mary Steenburgen’s house and think if she can do it –
[0:12:43.2] KM: Because she had already become a movie star.
[0:12:44.7] JLA: Yeah. It’s like, “If she can do it, I can do it.” Then I was also like, “What are the chances of two people from North Little Rock, Arkansas making it?”
[0:12:50.4] KM: Yeah, very slim. But it worked out.
[0:12:53.5] JLA: Yeah. When I got back from Australia –
[0:12:56.8] KM: In high school.
[0:12:58.0] JLA: Yeah. I was then a senior and it was such a step backwards, because in Australia they – you only go to eleventh and twelfth grade if you're going on to college. It was open campus. I studied play playwrights I'd never heard of before. I took a photography class. I mean, they just offered so much more than what my high school had. I did have a really amazing drama teacher in high school that was super encouraging.
When I got back, it just felt – and it was, it was a step backwards. I got really depressed. Then my brother was in a really bad car accident. I got on the work-study program, so I could go to the hospital at noon and see him in intensive care. I just wanted to quit and get my GED. I was just done with it. I was ready to – I was going to move to California and I was either getting into the Gemological Institute.
[0:13:49.0] KM: What institute?
[0:13:50.0] JLA: Gemological.
[0:13:50.9] KM: Oh, so you could sell jewelries for $200,000 a year and travel Italy. Okay, got it.
[0:13:54.9] JLA: Yeah. I like want to be an actress, but that was my backup.
[0:13:58.0] KM: [Inaudible 0:13:58.3].
[0:13:59.5] JLA: That was my backup plan.
[0:14:00.0] KM: Those are two good ones.
[0:14:00.5] JLA: As if acting didn't work out, I would go to the school. I wanted to quit, my mom wouldn't let me. We made a deal that I would try in Fayetteville first semester. If I didn't like it, then she would be behind me morally and whatever I wanted to do.
[0:14:14.7] KM: Your dad's still at home.
[0:14:16.2] JLA: Yeah.
[0:14:16.9] KM: Everything's still fine. Your family’s still intact, except for your brother has had a car wreck.
[0:14:21.0] JLA: Then I go to college and I had worked at [inaudible0:14:24.5] on and off throughout my high school years. The manager called me and said he had seen my dad with a woman at [inaudible 0:14:32.1]. That's how I found out.
[0:14:34.6] KM: They called you up and told you that?
[0:14:36.5] JLA: Of course. He's like a dear friend of mine.
[0:14:39.7] KM: Boy, his brave soul. Brave soul.
[0:14:41.5] JLA: I mean, we were very close. We were very, very close. Still are to this day.
[0:14:46.7] KM: Did you tell your mother?
[0:14:48.8] JLA: No. My mom and dad came to see me, they came up for a game or something. We were at a restaurant. I took my dad outside, because I felt so mature at the time, because I had been to Australia and was going to California and I just said, “Look, I understand if you're not happy. I understand marriages don't work out, but you need to tell my mom.” He wrote me a letter trying to explain. I mean, I understand. I totally understand and more so now why he did what he did.
[0:15:20.4] KM: Why?
[0:15:21.8] JLA: Because like I said earlier, his dad had – he was not allowed to choose his life path and he really was an artistic – that's where I get my artistic self from. He had been forced to come run this lumberyard and he wasn't really – I don't think he was a great businessman, but he also wasn't interested in being one. He wanted to do architecture, which he was amazing. He designed the other house we lived at. I saw the plans. I mean, that's was his passion and he was not allowed to do that and his dad was I think, abusive and would put him down –
[0:15:59.8] KM: Controlling.
[0:16:00.5] JLA: - at the lumberyard in front of all the other, those good old boy men that would –I just think he was not happy with himself and found it difficult to love himself. Then it's always hard to –
[0:16:17.0] KM: Love someone else.
[0:16:17.6] JLA: Yeah. I mean, I know he loved my mom with all his heart. It was just an escape. I think with someone else, he could be – he could tell her what he wanted his story to be.
[0:16:33.1] KM: They got divorced.
[0:16:34.7] JLA: Yes. I went home, because I – I didn't even try at Fayetteville, because I knew I wasn't staying. Then I went home and worked three jobs to save a $1,000 to move to California. While I was there, things were falling apart. Then I moved to California and they used to have these parties in the daytime, because I lived at San Diego first, because my mom knew – my mom's friend had a friend that I could stay with until I found a place, because my mom was like, “You don't know anyone in LA.”
[0:17:13.2] KM: Stay with my friend.
[0:17:14.5] JLA: I didn’t have a car. I mean, I had a $1,000.
[0:17:17.3] KM: Naive and heart broken.
[0:17:19.6] JLA: Yeah. I lived in South Mission and they would have these daytime parties. I had had a few cocktails and then went home to get a sweater or something and my mom called. I had been talking to her, but she was so miserable. I was like, “Mom, it's so great out here. You should really come. You could start a new life.” Not thinking she would and she did.
[0:17:47.0] KM: Your dad's gone. She's living alone. Are you the youngest?
[0:17:49.5] JLA: Yeah.
[0:17:50.2] KM: You're the last baby. She's in her house by herself. She’s been a stay-at-home mom all her life.
[0:17:54.6] JLA: Mm-hmm. Pretty much. She worked for her friend at [inaudible 0:17:56.5].
[0:17:57.9] KM: Yeah. She just says, “Okay.”
[0:18:02.2] JLA: Yeah. I had a studio apartment. She moved out to my studio.
[0:18:07.7] KM: You were like sisters out there.
[0:18:09.8] JLA: It was such like you're cramping my style, but I had just –
[0:18:13.0] KM: Did you hear that mom? Is she listening?
[0:18:15.4] JLA: She knows. I mean, it was very – because my dad had lost, because at that time Home Depot and everything had started, my was still in the lumberyard.
[0:18:23.8] KM: Oh, that's got to be tough. Yes, cash in the lumber didn’t –
[0:18:26.7] JLA: He lost the business. She didn't have any money. I was working. I got a job serving appetizers in a bar. There was one credit card that worked, a Sears credit card. We went on a shopping spree, because when I first got there, a friend that I made it the restaurant took me aside and said, “We need to go shopping.” Because I showed up for work at the Old Ox, my first day up, because I was a hostess first before I was serving appetizers and I had this strapless, really large pastel floral, tight-fitted bodice within three tiers of fabric, with twisted beads. You remember those, like the three, you could do three colors to match what you were wearing and white pants. Yeah.
[0:19:17.0] KM: I don’t know even had anything to say about that.
[0:19:20.2] JLA: She was like, “Let's go shopping.” When my mom came out I was like, “Mom, we got to go shopping.” We took the credit card and went to Sears and did a little shopping spree.
[0:19:29.5] KM: That credit card was still on dad's account back in North Little Rock?
[0:19:31.4] JLA: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[0:19:32.3] KM: Oh, yeah. That's my girl right there.
[0:19:35.6] JLA: Yeah. I mean, it was just like, I remember one day there were – we had $5 between us. My mom was so worried. I was like, “Mom, I'm working tonight. I'm going to get $60 in tips. We’re fine.”
[0:19:49.1] KM: Oh, to be young. To be young and to just have the world in front of you and not worry about anything. I love it. How did you get your first gig as an actress?
[0:20:00.6] JLA: Because my mom moved out and then once I felt she got a job, she was good. I moved, then I moved to LA. I was so naïve, but I wanted to get – It's hard to even imagine now. Now if you see Jennifer Aniston in a pair of jeans, you can get them. Do you know, there's a tangible, like the world is smaller, but at the time –
[0:20:26.4] KM: Oh, yeah. They didn’t have the Internet back there.
[0:20:29.3] JLA: I know the name of agencies. Do you know, like William Morris a lot of people will know what that name is, or they know Harvey Weinstein, they know that name, even before the whole thing that people knew his name. A lot of people who know –
[0:20:45.0] KM: Know it that long ago.
[0:20:45.9] JLA: I mean, when it all happened, it was such a big story because people didn't know who he was.
[0:20:49.3] KM: Oh, there you go. How did you find an – or did you get an agent first?
[0:20:52.7] JLA: No. I tried and tried to get into the business and I just kept meeting a lot of really sleazy people who I would go to their house and they had a stage set up and I would read sides and then they were like, “That's great.”
[0:21:06.1] KM: Take your clothes off.
[0:21:06.5] JLA: “You're going to be famous. Let's go to dinner, then what are you going to do for me?” I went through several of those and then met someone who had been – who was it? Linda Evans, manager I think. I really believed him and then he took me to dinner and he was like, “What are you going to do for me?” I was like, “Whatever it takes.” I rubbed on his leg and I was like, “Let's go shopping tomorrow. Then tomorrow night we'll have an amazing evening.”
[0:21:33.5] KM: Then you didn't do it?
[0:21:34.4] JLA: I made him take me to Fred Segal, which if you know, it's a really, really, really expensive store in LA and bought cowboy boots and the dress and a Mickey Mouse watch. That's how young I was and what I liked.
[0:21:47.8] KM: Then what?
[0:21:48.6] JLA: I didn't go. His secretary started calling me.
[0:21:52.1] KM: Said, “You owe us something.”
[0:21:53.2] JLA: She’s like, “You get your butt over here.” I was like, “I'm not coming.”
[0:21:56.6] KM: She was hooking him up. She was his pimp.
[0:21:58.5] JLA: Yeah. Then and then he finally called me and he was like, “You get over here.” I was like, “I'm not coming.” He said, “You will never work in this town again.” I said, “If it takes sleeping with old men like you to work in this town, I don't want to work in this town.”
[0:22:12.5] KM: You hear about that all the time. You have a story. There it is right there. I mean, you hear that all the time.
[0:22:18.9] JLA: Yeah. Then I met an artist and he was leaving in a month to go live in Bali to do a sculpture, or some sculpture piece. He left me a couple of paintings and he said, “If you can sell them, buy a ticket and come see me.”
[0:22:34.2] KM: What?
[0:22:35.3] JLA: I sold art.
[0:22:35.9] KM: You sold art.
[0:22:37.4] JLA: I was selling those and –
[0:22:38.2] KM: I can’t believe you don’t think of yourself as an entrepreneur. This is so entrepreneurial, working and applying and going and doing through hook and crook. That's really amazing, Joey.
[0:22:49.5] JLA: I mean, looking back now like you said, I could never do that now. When you're young and even following some guy to Bali doesn't sound appealing to me now, but at the time we didn't have – He left and I had gotten one letter from him that said he was at Simon's in Ubud. That's the info I had. “Come if you can. I'm at Simonson Ubud.” My mom was dating this guy who is trying to get rid of a Norman Rockwell collection.
[0:23:15.4] KM: No, that's true.
[0:23:17.1] JLA: I called it like –
[0:23:17.9] KM: No, that is not true.
[0:23:19.2] JLA: Yes. I called the Japanese Business Association in LA and got all their numbers in hand typed letters to everyone who filmed and mailed them trying to sell two of Dave Smathers paintings and Norman Rockwell collection.
[0:23:31.6] KM: Did you sell them?
[0:23:32.5] JLA: No. I did end up selling one of his paintings and got a ticket and bought him some paint and literally flew halfway around the world and landed in Bali.
[0:23:43.1] KM: You said, “I hope he picks me up.”
[0:23:44.5] JLA: No. He didn't even know when I was coming. There was one phone in the town at the police department. I flew in to Denpasar and then got in a cab and just said Ubud. The cab driver started driving. We drove for an hour up into the mountains and it was 10:00 at night and I was just looking for anyone, because they Simon, do you know Simon? Then finally, someone pointed and I walked up the stairs and then to this Balinese house and there was a Balinese man there. I was like, “Do you know James? James.” Then I saw some of his art, so I knew I'd found him. He was like, “He'll be back. He'll be back.” I said, “No, where's the nearest bar?” He was like, “Across the street.”
[0:24:37.5] KM: Boy, did you need a drink by now.
[0:24:39.1] JLA: Yeah. It was a really small little town. Then I'm walking up the stairs, it's on this little hilltop. I'm walking up the stairs and I start hearing really faint, faint, like old, old blues music.
[0:24:52.7] KM: What?
[0:24:53.6] JLA: Yes. I have felt like toilet paper, not knowing what I was walking into.
[0:24:57.7] KM: What bought you that toilet paper?
[0:24:59.2] JLA: Because I didn't know.
[0:24:59.8] KM: Just in case?
[0:25:00.8] JLA: I didn’t know what – Again, you couldn’t go online and see –
[0:25:04.1] KM: You don’t care that you can’t talk, or you don’t know if he’s coming, but you got your toilet paper.
[0:25:07.7] JLA: Yeah. Fair. At least for a few days. Yeah, and then I walk in the bar and I saw someone. It was this really small little bar. I thought I saw James and it wasn't, so then I went to the bar and asked the bartender like, “Do you k now James?” Then I heard, “Joey.” He was standing right next to me. I was like, “Oh, I'm here.”
[0:25:33.3] KM: How long did you stay there?
[0:25:34.8] JLA: Four months.
[0:25:36.5] KM: Joey, people can't even relate to that story, unless you lived before the Internet and cellphones. They don't understand that we just went out on fate. I look back sometimes and think, “Wow, I'm alive.”
[0:25:51.2] JLA: Yeah, and I’m also like –
[0:25:52.3] KM: You’re alive still.
[0:25:53.7] JLA: I know. I know. I also feel blessed to have lived in that time, where you could do – I mean, it was such an adventure. Finding him was I can't believe I did this and sold a painting and got here.
[0:26:10.5] KM: Well, I can’t believe I even got ready for the show when we've got stories like that to tell. I mean, why do we even have – Why am I even here? Those were just fabulous. I just want to tell everybody, before we go to before we go to the next story that you're listening to Up In Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy and I'm speaking today with director of Come Early Morning and actress of over 40 movies and 20 TV shows, Miss Joey Lauren Adams. All right, you're in. Well, do you come back to LA?
[0:26:37.5] JLA: We come back to LA and then and I was still interested in acting, but I was also just caught up in this relationship. Then he got a job doing the paintings on a film in New Orleans that Nic Cage was going to be in. Nic Cage was playing an artist, so James was going to do the paintings that they used in the film. The production put us up in a great apartment in the Quarter.
[0:27:04.9] KM: In New Orleans.
[0:27:05.8] JLA: Yeah.
[0:27:06.0] KM: Is that where you met Kevin?
[0:27:07.1] JLA: No.
[0:27:07.9] KM: Smith, the director?
[0:27:09.2] JLA: No. That was much later. That's where then – I remember seeing – I was baking biscuits for the crew and taking it in the morning, taking them foot and just going to set. It was the first time I was able to be on a set and see what it was like. I just remember thinking like, “I know I could do this. I know I could do this.” I was watching the lead actress and the writer was a female writer who was super cool, really, really smart and amazing. I became friends with the producer and his girlfriend, at the time later became his wife. They left, we stayed in New Orleans for a little bit longer. Then when I got back, that producer called me he said, “I want you to go meet a casting director. She's casting the show and I think they're having a hard time. I want you to go meet her.”
[0:27:57.0] KM: What show was that?
[0:27:57.9] JLA: It was Parenthood.
[0:28:00.0] KM: Were you in Parenthood?
[0:28:01.2] JLA: No, I didn’t get it.
[0:28:02.1] KM: Oh, also because I didn’t see that in –
[0:28:03.4] JLA: No. I went and met the casting director and then she said, “Will you come back and read?” Of course, I'm calling my grandmother, like everyone like, “I'm going to read for a casting director.” Then I went and read and then it just – was the most nerve-wracking experience, because I was nervous to just go meet her. Then I had to go and read for her. I think the first time I met her, she had me read a scene from Mystic Pizza. I did that, so then she was like, “Okay, here's the real sides. I want you to come back and do a real audition.” I did that and then you wait to hear and then she's like, “Okay. I want you to come and read for the producers.” Then I went –
[0:28:43.0] KM: The call back.
[0:28:43.9] JLA: Yeah. Then I went and read for the producers. Then the producers, a couple of them wanted to have a private work with me. I think they were attracted to me, because I was refreshing in that they were like, what have you been doing? Just did this play. I've just been come from Bali and New Orleans and they were –
[0:29:04.9] KM: Australia and Arkansas.
[0:29:06.6] JLA: Right. It just kept going on and calling back and then waiting and then I think they're going to test you. All network shows, they usually have three people come read for the suits, the network.
[0:29:20.1] KM: The suits.
[0:29:20.8] JLA: Because you have to have your contract negotiated before you go and read.
[0:29:23.7] KM: Did you have an agent?
[0:29:25.0] JLA: Well then, I was able to get an agent because I tested for the series. I went saying, this is my first audition and I'm testing for network. I was able to –
[0:29:34.9] KM: Do they assign you an agent?
[0:29:36.0] JLA: No. I met with a few and just decided which I think was smart at the time, but to go with the smaller agency. Because of course, all the big ones were like, “Yeah, we'll sign you.”
[0:29:49.8] KM: Yeah. Who cares? We'll just throw you in with the pack.
[0:29:51.6] JLA: Yeah, exactly. As I went with a smaller one and a woman –
[0:29:55.6] KM: But you didn’t get it.
[0:29:56.7] JLA: I did not get it.
[0:29:57.7] KM: How did you handle that rejection?
[0:30:00.5] JLA: It was hard. It was really –
[0:30:02.2] KM: A lot of people quit after that. They're like, “Okay, that was too hard. I've got to quit.”
[0:30:06.1] JLA: Everyone had been so nice in the process. I felt like I had done good. I don't feel like I made it to network and then lost it.
[0:30:17.3] KM: Where do you find this courage? Think about all the stuff you've done. How old are you now? I mean, then?
[0:30:21.6] JLA: That's 22.
[0:30:23.3] KM: How do you buoy yourself at 22? How do you keep that drive? Where did that drive come from? Are you trying to prove something? No, you just want an out.
[0:30:32.2] JLA: I mean, I enjoyed it.
[0:30:33.6] KM: You just wanted out of where you were.
[0:30:35.4] JLA: I do think that – because I wasn't good at algebra and I wasn't good at certain things. The casting directors name was Jane Jenkins. She was a big casting director at the time.
[0:30:46.4] KM: You had to have a job.
[0:30:47.8] JLA: Well, no. It was the validation. I did good. I went and met with her and I read a scene from Mystic Pizza and I did good. I hadn't heard a lot in my life, “You did good. You're good at that.” I hadn't heard that. The only place I'd ever heard it was from my acting teacher in high school and then this. It felt good to be told that and to be told you're good at something. Then when I went and read for the producers, I did a good job. I made it, my first audition to the network.
[0:31:24.4] KM: You did finally get on TV. I think that was your first gig.
[0:31:26.1] JLA: Yeah, a month later. Again, you go and you're just told, “No.” I mean, you're told, “Your boobs aren’t big enough.” At the time, you were told like –
[0:31:35.2] KM: Oh, gosh. I know. They tell you that all the time.
[0:31:39.6] JLA: You can feel when you're walking around. I went and auditioned for the show that was going to be a spinoff of Married with Children. I was sitting in the hallway and I was just in a good mood and –
[0:31:50.7] KM: Okay. So excited.
[0:31:51.4] JLA: - this guy walks down the hallway and he looks like he could be the delivery guy. He had baggy ripped jeans. Before that was popular. Really stringy hair and just this stretched out t-shirt and a Coke and he's walking down the hall. I said like, “Hey, how are you?” He stopped and he looked at me and he's like, “I'm good. How are you?” I was like, “I'm good. I’m about to go audition for the show.” Then when I walked in the room, it was Ron Levitt who had created Married with Children and was the creator of the show. He was like, “Hey, again.” My audition was one line.
[0:32:24.5] KM: What was it?
[0:32:25.2] JLA: “You know, I don't like boys, mama.”
[0:32:30.4] KM: Well, really? I watched the show and I don’t remember that.
[0:32:33.6] JLA: I was playing a 15-year-old or something in the show.
[0:32:38.3] KM: Oh, okay.
[0:32:39.4] JLA: Yeah. I got that job, I think because I had said hey to him in the hallway when most people were like, “Ew, who's that?” Then yeah, then it just –
[0:32:55.1] KM: Then you get the Chasing Amy gig.
[0:32:59.7] JLA: Years later. Yeah.
[0:33:01.0] KM: Oh, was it years later?
[0:33:01.7] JLA: Oh, my God. Yeah.
[0:33:02.3] KM: How long?
[0:33:03.8] JLA: I did show, just called Top of the Heap, then they revamped it with just – it was Joe Bologna and Matt LeBlanc and I, then they revamped it. Then I did Dazed and Confused was the first big film.
[0:33:16.7] KM: You did Dazed and Confused, Conehead and Mallrats. Those were all different directors?
[0:33:22.8] JLA: Yeah.
[0:33:23.7] KM: Really?
[0:33:24.1] JLA: Dazed and Confused and then I did this film with James Caan and then Jim Jacks was saying that there was this movie Mallrats.
[0:33:33.8] KM: You have done so many movies you can't even remember. You probably hadn't even seen them all.
[0:33:38.3] JLA: Then jump back to –
[0:33:39.2] KM: This is 1993, you just did the program and you didn't do Chasing Amy until 1997, so you're right.
[0:33:45.6] JLA: Yeah. We may have shot it in ’95 and it came out.
[0:33:50.8] KM: You must have, because I saw Michael with you dancing with John Travolta. Is he really cute in person?
[0:33:58.3] JLA: He's so nice.
[0:33:59.7] KM: I don't really fan over movie stars, but I over him.
[0:34:04.4] JLA: I know. We grew up singing the grease songs.
[0:34:07.5] KM: I just watched it again the other day with my granddaughter. It's a crazy show for teenagers, if you hadn’t seen it. Yeah, Chasing Amy actually came out before in the movie theaters, I think before Michael.
[0:34:20.3] JLA: Because I feel like I did Michael before Chasing Amy.
[0:34:22.0] KM: Let’s talk about Chasing Amy. That I know is Kevin Smith. He said he wrote it for you.
[0:34:26.3] JLA: He did Mallrats. He did Mallrats. Because Jim Jacks who worked – because they're both Universal Films, so Jim Jacks who had produced Dazed and Confused brought a lot of people back in to audition for Mallrats. That's a whole another long story about rejection. I didn't get the part originally.
[0:34:46.1] KM: In Mallrats?
[0:34:46.7] JLA: Yeah.
[0:34:47.2] KM: Did you get a different part?
[0:34:48.3] JLA: No.
[0:34:49.3] KM: Oh, you didn't eventually get it?
[0:34:50.2] JLA: No. They gave it to Parker Posey who was staying with me at the time, because we had become friends.
[0:34:55.5] KM: Which with the bee right there.
[0:34:56.3] JLA: I started crying. She's like, “What’s wrong?” I'm like, “I’m not getting the part. They're giving it to you.” Then she couldn't do it. It was just awful. Then finally they called and we're like, okay, they do want you.
[0:35:09.7] KM: Did Kevin Smith write Chasing Amy for you? He says he did.
[0:35:15.9] JLA: He had a version of that film that he wanted to do after Mallrats that was more like a – It was going to be a studio film. That was going to be John Hughes. I think there were going to be high school kids who maybe one was lesbian. Then I was going to be a teacher and Ben Affleck, we were going to be teachers somehow in it. It was a different film. Then Mallrats came out and tanked. That really threw Kevin for a loop.
[0:35:44.5] KM: You were dating him now.
[0:35:45.8] JLA: Yeah, we had started dating.
[0:35:47.3] KM: You brought him home for Christmas.
[0:35:49.3] JLA: Yes.
[0:35:49.9] KM: Is that a story, or is that not a story?
[0:35:52.7] JLA: It's not –
[0:35:53.0] KM: Not a good story?
[0:35:53.6] JLA: Well it's a good story. He gave really funny Christmas gifts. He's funny. I mean, he's funny and I mean, my family loved him. He's a really sweet, funny guy.
[0:36:08.7] KM: He also, Dogma, he wrote also for you and you were going to be the lead in that, but you two broke up, because I think, because you were dating Vince Vaughn.
[0:36:18.8] JLA: No.
[0:36:19.9] KM: No?
[0:36:20.2] JLA: No.
[0:36:21.6] KM: Why did you all breakup? It wasn’t all around that same area?
[0:36:24.6] JLA: Well, because – I mean, it’s complicated.
[0:36:27.1] KM: When you make your next movie, is it going to be about your love life?
[0:36:29.6] JLA: No.
[0:36:32.7] KM: It would be a long and winding road.
[0:36:36.3] JLA: It would definitely. Yeah.
[0:36:39.0] KM: All right, Chasing Amy. That role was so big and so huge, it was probably a B-movie. You got so many accolades for it and you got nominated for the Best Kiss with a woman.
[0:36:53.6] JLA: And for a Golden Globe.
[0:36:54.6] KM: Best Actress in a picture, musical or comedy. Yeah. That's wonderful.
[0:37:00.1] JLA: It was crazy.
[0:37:00.8] KM: Is that why you ended up – I saw you on The Tonight Show. Was it after Chasing Amy that you got on The Tonight Show?
[0:37:07.9] JLA: Probably, yeah.
[0:37:08.5] KM: Was that with Jay Leno?
[0:37:09.5] JLA: Yeah.
[0:37:10.4] KM: Was he the host at the time?
[0:37:12.0] JLA: Mm-hmm.
[0:37:12.8] KM: You know what I remember about that? Your agent picture dress.
[0:37:16.5] JLA: Oh, really?
[0:37:17.7] KM: Do you remember that?
[0:37:18.2] JLA: Uh-uh.
[0:37:18.7] KM: You didn't like it. I could tell through the whole interview, you were like, “I hate this dress.” Let's talk about the life as an actress. It seems, it sounds incredibly stressful. How do you prepare for all the roles? You've had 40 films, 20 movies, you have to memorize all those lines. How do you prepare for a movie?
[0:37:43.5] JLA: It depends on the film. With Dazed and Confused, we had several weeks of rehearsal before the film. Rick was very open to letting – Parker and I wrote scenes non-stop, because Rick was like, “Improvise. Do whatever you want.” We would write scenes and he would say, “Yeah, I’ll shoot that.” Or, “No, I don't want to shoot that.”
[0:38:01.6] KM: Which movie is this?
[0:38:02.3] JLA: Dazed and Confused, the very first film I did. That spoiled me to some degree, because the next film I went and did, I wanted to change a line and the director was like, “Shut up and walked away.” Then Kevin is like, “You can't change one syllable in his writing.” On Chasing Amy, we rehearsed. I mean, because that was an indie film that we did a lot of just masters of the scene, so there was no cutting.
[0:38:27.0] KM: You did what?
[0:38:27.9] JLA: Just a master. There wasn't we can cut the performance together. If you mess up your line, that's okay. We're going to get it in a close-up. We would have to be able to get through an eight-page scene without messing up and to the performance level.
[0:38:41.4] KM: That sounds so hard.
[0:38:43.0] JLA: It was difficult.
[0:38:44.8] KM: Is it invigorating? Do you love it? It’s why you do it?
[0:38:47.1] JLA: Yeah, when you nail it, it's amazing. Yeah. We rehearsed a lot.
[0:38:52.3] JLA: This is such an intimate thing that you do with all the actors that you've performed with and you've trusted and you've been on screen with and you've got this intimate relationship with them. I always think about that when I'm watching these films of people working together. I'm thinking about how much trust goes into that. Do you make long-term friends out of that? What is the relationship that happens after you’ve done a film with somebody?
[0:39:13.1] JLA: Yeah. I mean, younger, I think we did more so than people you get older and people are married and have kids and a life and whatever. It’s very much like summer camp, or I thought the circus, but it's like, you – You get close with people very quickly. If you run a football team, I imagine it like that. If you're on a really good football team and you win the Super Bowl or something. It’s when you all get together and you become bigger than the one person, that to me is very godly, if that makes sense.
[0:39:55.2] KM: Spiritual.
[0:39:56.1] JLA: Yeah. That's what I really enjoy about it. You form these very intense, abnormally close relationships in a short amount of time. Then I remember the end of Dazed and Confused, it was – Parker and I were sitting in a tree and she was talking and she was like, “It's so bittersweet.” I was like, “That's the first time I've understood the meaning of that word.” I mean, it was exactly that.
[0:40:21.1] KM: You’re tired, read ready for it to be over, but –
[0:40:23.3] JLA: Yeah. Then you just get used to it and then you know that you're going to get really close with these people and then you probably won't ever see them again. You may, you may not. If you do, it's great. If you don't –
[0:40:36.6] KM: Would you recommend that acting career to somebody today?
[0:40:41.3] JLA: Yeah.
[0:40:41.9] KM: You would?
[0:40:42.4] JLA: Yeah.
[0:40:43.4] KM: You think it's better or worse than it was when you started off?
[0:40:47.0] JLA: It's just different.
[0:40:47.8] KM: How is it different?
[0:40:51.4] JLA: Because now, fame is a different thing. You can be an influencer, you can have a YouTube show, which there's a lot of freedom in that. When I was trying to be an actress, you had to go to LA.
[0:41:05.9] KM: Do you still have to have an agent?
[0:41:06.6] JLA: It helps, but now you could – if you want to start in acting, you could go to Atlanta, because most TV shows cast – When I started, there was ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.
[0:41:16.4] KM: That was it.
[0:41:16.9] JLA: That was it. Those were the only people making TV shows. Now there's a gazillion TV show. Any show that shoots in Atlanta, they're – If you're just starting out, the parts that you would be auditioning for they cast local. They're not going to fly someone from LA and put them up in a hotel and rent them a car to cast someone who has six lines in a show. There's a lot of great agents in Atlanta. You can also just go out with your phone and shoot something and edit it on your computer.
[0:41:47.8] KM: Yeah. I'm telling you.
[0:41:48.6] JLA: It's crazy.
[0:41:49.3] KM: It's crazy good. All right, let me tell everybody you're listening to Up In your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. I'm speaking today with the actress and film director, Miss Joey Lauren Adams. You are also a director. Come Early Morning is your movie. I went on the set while you were making that movie. It is grueling. I could never be in that business. It's slow going and you work grueling hours. You work from sunup to sundown, well past sundown for three months solid. You wrote that script, you directed it. Did you help find the cast members?
[0:42:26.7] JLA: Yeah.
[0:42:27.7] KM: We don't have long, but I know – Did you go to Clarksdale, Mississippi or Clark – Is it Clarksdale, Mississippi? Did you write it down there?
[0:42:34.6] JLA: No.
[0:42:36.3] KM: You came back and your location was in Little Rock, Arkansas for the film. Then I came out and watched it in Sundance. I got really upset and start crying really bad. I think I’m going to cry right about now. It’s because it reminds me of your family.
[0:42:52.7] JLA: Yeah. Well they say right away, you know. That's what I did.
[0:42:55.8] KM: Was that cathartic for you?
[0:42:57.2] JLA: Very. Extremely cathartic. It was when I was able to finally forgive my dad.
[0:43:03.1] KM: In the movie, I can't remember if your dad was passed when the movie –
[0:43:06.5] JLA: Oh, he was there.
[0:43:07.7] KM: He was still there.
[0:43:08.3] JLA: Yeah, which was a little weird, because I wondered that he – He came to the premiere. We did one here in Little Rock and he came and brought me flowers. I know that he knew, but the whole movie is about – Again, to me, the bible says, “I am the truth.” Jesus says, “I am the truth. I’m the way in light.” To me, that's where God exists. Anything could exist in the truth. That movie is all about the truth.
There's a scene, you probably remember where actually goes to his house. She's so frustrated and she wants to talk and he just plays guitar for her. I remember writing that and I kept – I mean, I wrote so many versions of that scene and this is what the dad would – this is what the dad is going to say. It was all the stuff I always wanted my dad to say to me. I kept not working and not working and not working. I kept thinking it's the writing. I worked so hard and so hard and then I was finally like, “You idiot. You have created this characters based on your dad who doesn't talk. Of course, he is never going to happen and you have to let him be who he is.” That is living in the truth and it set me free.
[0:44:21.8] KM: Well said. It's the end of the show.
[0:44:24.9] JLA: Oh, wow. That went fast.
[0:44:26.0] KM: I know. Will you come back?
[0:44:27.1] JLA: I will.
[0:44:27.8] KM: All right. We're going to broadcast next time live from the Dreamland Ballroom. You now have a YouTube channel.
[0:44:31.7] JLA: Oh, nice. Nice.
[0:44:32.8] KM: They know that you're from now next time. I know you've got another program. I know you've got another show you’re writing.
[0:44:37.6] JLA: Evident. We just split right before COVID hit, we went out a week before everything shut down, we went out with my next script.
[0:44:43.7] KM: Yeah. I know you got something in the woods, because you always, always do. All right.
[0:44:48.2] JLA: Hey, thank you.
[0:44:49.3] KM: You're welcome. I enjoyed it so much. I have a present for you somewhere. It's a US flag.
[0:44:54.9] JLA: Nice.
[0:44:55.7] KM: It's a US flag, an Arkansas flag.
[0:44:57.5] JLA: I love it.
[0:44:58.2] KM: A Mississippi flag, because you lived in Oxford.
[0:44:59.7] JLA: And a California.
[0:45:01.0] KM: And a California.
[0:45:01.7] JLA: I wondered why you had a California flag out of.
[0:45:03.7] KM: For you.
[0:45:04.2] JLA: Yay.
[0:45:05.0] KM: Did you tell me before the show you lived in Tennessee?
[0:45:07.6] JLA: No. Well, I was in Nashville working.
[0:45:09.5] KM: No, you didn't live there. Okay, good. I was about to say I left a state out.
[0:45:12.1] JLA: No, no, no.
[0:45:12.9] KM: Yeah, you got a flag for your desk from everywhere you’ve been.
[0:45:15.4] JLA: Yay.
[0:45:15.7] G: A flag for everywhere.
[0:45:16.2] JLA: Thank you.
[0:45:16.5] KM: Oh, you're welcome. Thanks so much for coming. I want to tell our listeners, thank you for joining me and joining today. We've had a great time. Thank you for spending time with us. I know you've heard and learned something that's been inspiring or enlightening. I know whatever it is you heard, will help you up your business, your independence or your life. I'm Kerry McCoy and I'll see you next time on Up In your Business.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:45:39.7] Announcer: Here’s a message from Dreamland Ballroom inside Flag and Banner Downtown Little Rock. In celebration of Juneteenth 2020, we're embracing the historically black college university experience history and relevance with a program called Unburied Truths. It's the next installment in this series by social historian, Ed Davis. Social distancing practices will be in place at 800 West 9th Street. That's the location of Flag and Banner and of course, the Dreamland Ballroom.
To promote healthy practices, this lecture is going to be held outside the building. Appropriately spaced seating will be available. Attendees are encouraged to bring some refreshments, or your own seating if you'd like. Please wear face masks.
For more information on the soul of higher education, the Unburied Truth HBCU, please go to dreamlandballroom.org/unburiedtruths. The event starts tonight at 5:00.
[0:46:31.9] G: You've been listening to Up In your Business with Kerry McCoy. For links to resources you heard discussed on today's show, go to flagandbanner.com, select radio and choose today's guest. If you'd like to sponsor this show or any show, contact me, Gray. That's email@example.com.
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