On-screen and off at the WB
'I've always liked a challenge, but I must say that my career is incredibly tough on one's spirit - not to mention finances,' says actress Lisa Poff ('95).
With a degree in English and a minor in theater, Poff packed up her things and headed cross-country to California from Wilmington, N.C., in 1996. She's been pursuing Hollywood dreams ever since. 'I didn't decide I wanted to act professionally until my senior year,' she says. 'But I always knew I wanted to express myself.'
Poff has appeared on the hit Warner Brothers television shows The Gilmore Girls and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. 'Luckily Sabrina doesn't tape before a live audience - I would have been a mess,' says Poff. The experience was still nerve-racking, however, because the star of the show, Melissa Joan Hart, directed the episode. 'She was quite pleasant,' Poff says.
When not in front of the camera, Poff is a receptionist for Warner Brother's Extra, where she mingles on the WB lot with actors from Friends and ER. 'There is no rhyme or reason to the crazy world of entertainment,' she says. 'Luck and whom you know are huge factors. There are just so few parts to go around.'
And since it's also difficult to get a good agent, Poff attends as many casting director workshops as she can. She downplays the age-old 'casting couch' legend, explaining that casting workshops are the best way for new actors to get noticed. 'Casting workshops are how most of my friends and I have gotten our first jobs,' says Poff, who has attended about 50 workshops and got her Screen Actor's Guild card this year.
Poff's last on-screen appearance was in 2001, but she says, 'I don't want to put a specific time limit on myself. There may come a point when either emotionally or financially I won't be able to continue [seeking parts], but I would never discourage a would-be actor. It has been quite a ride - a manic-depressive career choice with lots of lows. But the highs are high enough to float you until the next job.'
Poff lives in Valencia, Calif., with husband, James Cox, whom she met at an audition. He is a supervising producer for Kaos Productions, which has produced reality shows for the Learning Channel, Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. 'I'm just hoping he gets out of reality shows and into film so he can boost my career,' laughs Poff.
Janelle DiOrio ('03)