Monday, June 23, 2014

Acting My Face: A Memoir by Anthony James

Release Date: March 14, 2014
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

After retiring from acting in 1994, Anthony James toyed with the idea of writing a memoir and finally set pen to paper in this unusual, revealing book. It spans his life from before his career began in 1967 with a part in the movie, "In the Heat of the Night" and ended nearly three decades later. He gives the reader glimpses into his thoughts, dreams and worries during the entire length of his career as well as the life he lead after acting.

Filled with memories and anecdotes, Anthony James introduces his mother to the world and shares the knowledge, love and strength that she imparted to him throughout his life. The memoir reveals much about the kind, gentle person behind some of film and television's most psychotic and insane characters. Come and enjoy the world of Hollywood through his eyes.

Looking for something out of my mystery/thriller box, I stumbled across this offering at NetGalley. Nonfiction has always been a second favorite of mine, no matter what subject it covered. Now I must admit, I have seen many of the films and television shows in which Mr. James has appeared. I shared those times with beloved family members. Now they're precious memories for me. From the outset of the memoir, it was clear that the book wasn't going to cover the acting career alone.

The memoir covered not only Anthony's life but the life of his mother as well. Both their lives were so intertwined from his birth, it wasn't unexpected to see her beginning included in the book. The story of their lives was more of a rich to rags to rich type of story. Marika, his mother, met his father, George, in Greece when she was a young girl. George waited for more than a decade for her family to give their blessing for them to marry. After their marriage was complete, he whisked her away to South Carolina and showered her with all that being a successful businessman could offer. The addition of James a few years later helped to complete the picture until George's untimely death. Years after being left penniless and without security, both James and his mother took a gamble on his dream to become an actor and moved to Los Angeles in order to make it happen.

Filled with stories from both the happy and sad ends of the spectrum, this memoir gave me a glimpse into how Hollywood worked through Anthony's eyes. It was a quick read, peppered with his experiences with all types of celebrities whether on-set or off. Honestly, this memoir was refreshing for a couple of reasons. It wasn't a scandalous, tell-all filled with tabloid fodder. The pages were filled with his honest reflections and experiences while maintaining a level of positivity. His approach to telling his story was also very easy to relate to, even if the reader wasn't a fellow actor. A blue-collar, hardworking mentality helped him to achieve his dreams in each avenue of art that he chose to pursue including film, television and paintings.

Overall, I truly enjoyed this memoir because it was different than some of the other celebrity memoirs I read in the past. It was nice to have him start off the book by saying that he respected the people in his personal life enough to not include the details of their relationships with him. The tone of the memoir never strayed from that standard, even when it covered instances where he believed that he failed others or himself. Peeking behind the curtain of Hollywood and seeing hints of life backstage was a true treat for me. If you're a lover of memoir or simply enjoy an authentic true life story, this book is one that you must put on your TBR list.

Acting My Face: A Memoir by Anthony James is currently available at all online retailers and local bookstores. It can be purchased in either hardcover or Kindle versions. Below is a link to the book's page at Amazon.
Acting My Face: A Memoir by Anthony James

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