Me, the Movie Queen

By Susan DeBow

I confess. I always wanted to be an actress. Emoting to improve the world condition seemed to be a worthy cause. If I could be an actress there would be no more wars, cancer would go “poof,” children would never starve and bad people would be inspired to turn their lives around and make bandages for the Red Cross.

Picturing myself walking up on the stage to accept the “Best Actress” award 12 years in a row was a very vivid dream I had, especially when I was awake. The crowd couldn’t get to their feet quickly enough to do my ovation justice. And my acceptance speech would have the audience weeping as I told them about my ascent into the world of motion pictures and glorydom. Norma Desmond would have nothing on me.

Then it got into my head that to be an actress you had to be beautiful. A straight or perky nose with wide-set eyes and a forehead that was neither too high nor too low and you had to have breasts that matched in size and had loft and magnificent cleavage when scrunched together. And actresses had hair, lots of hair and legs, lots of legs.

And so my dream of being an actress was stopped, as many dreams are, not by the reality of the situation, but because I couldn’t get outside my own head.

So instead of becoming an actress, I became a wife, mother, sculptor, real estate agent, marketing expert, bleacher-butt professional (sitting on bleachers for years at children’s sporting events), software company honcho and then writer. That is, until now.

It isn’t that I now can brag about having a SAG card. SAG, when referring to me, still has more to do with the state of my eyelids, breasts, underarms and buttocks, than a membership card to the Screen Actor’s Guild. But I have become an actress!

I now have my own movie on YouTube! Well, it’s sort of a movie. I announce my candidacy for president on it. My husband is afraid to watch it, as is my oldest daughter. Their fear is justified, although, my younger daughter and her friends find it amusing. And I must say, I still laugh when I watch it. Although the laughter is about something much more than what you see.

Actually, it is really quite a ridiculous video. No script. No makeup or hair person and the wardrobe was simply me pulling my shirt up over my head so that I look something like a Hobbit on Valium. And all of that is what I am proud of. I did it in spite of not being young or beautiful or prodded or hindered. I did it because I wanted to.

I knew my family and friends would roll their eyes and call me nuts to do this, to expose myself in such a way, but finally, I am at the point in my life where the naysayers spoke on deaf ears. You know what? I made myself laugh. And laugh.

I laughed because I had the guts to look at myself as I am; a perhaps overripe ready for prime-time player. Whereas for a while now I have dreaded looking into a mirror and seeing gray hair, jowls, eyelids that drape, instead of frame, my eyes and thighs that smother. I finally accepted what I saw from filming on the camera in my computer – a character who can laugh at what she sees, at who she has become and is daring the world to laugh with her. And if it chooses to laugh at her, asi es la vida.

So far my film making career is hindered because I don’t have a video camera, but one day I will have one.

What I wanted when I was younger was the end product, the adulation and the desire to be something better and different than I was. In the years since then I have learned it is not about the end result. It’s about the journey – taking what seemed to be out of reach and making it play in my own reality. About learning that life, in spite of what Hollywood and the magazines would have us believe, being an actress in my own life is not defined by looks, but guts and vision and learning to say to the committee in my head, “Be quiet. You live your life and I will live mine.”

There is no doubt that the world will not change because I now have my own little movie. Wars will continue. Idiots will be idiots. Cancer will still creep among us.

I will not win an Oscar. But my little movie reaped a great reward.

It made me laugh at myself. And if that isn’t success, I don’t know what is.

About this writer

  • Susan Hipkins DeBow Susan Hipkins DeBow is a writer and artist. A hobby of hers is watching Law and Order reruns and then going around telling people she wants to make a “collar on the perps,” and demands a “remand.” She got hooked on Law and Order reruns after seeing Seinfeld reruns 20 times. You can read Susan’s work and see her art, photography and miscellaneous miscellany at If you are nice, she’d like to be your friend on facebook. Go to her Facebook page, Ohio Writer Girl.

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