Pat O’Brien’S biggest success stories

 

    Emily Rios - Pat started with her when she was around 12 years old. Her sister and her came to an open call together and for some reason I chose to work with Emily instead of her sister. Even though her sister was absolutely adorable, I guess it was because Emily was sort of a tom-boy that cleaned up well and she had a real cute personality. After she did small things in acting and modeling here and there with her agent Jana Luker and Kathy Keeley, I submitted her to the film “Quinceanera”. I remember reading the character description on The Breakdown with my staff saying, “that’s Emily”. And she booked the film. A long while after she filmed it, the director and producers submitted the film to The Sundance Film Festival and Emily’s film won TWO of the TOP THREE awards at the festival. It was a great experience and Emily learned a great deal about the business and now she is doing her 10th or 12th film and on her way to being a superstar!

    The photo above is when she was walking the RED CARPET at The Alma Awards. Emily comes from a very hard working and loving family and she has strong family support.  IN THE PHOTO: I remember how happy she was this day, my wife and I wanted to treat her like a Princess so we took her and bought her this dress and shoes and had her hair done and then we got a limo for her. What an experience for her. I was on the RED CARPET with Emily thinking to myself “I am so proud of her success, what a beautiful girl”.   

Pat reflects a bit about Sarah Brown:

     Sarah Brown is one of my favorite and most inspirational stories ever! When I was at work, at the studios in Bevelry Hills, developing Agent Showcases with an extremely talented actor Bob Bancroft, Sarah would come into my office and say to me “Pat hurry up and get me a job, I want to be on a TV show or a movie” and I would say to her, “You have to wait until the showcase and then get an agent and then you have to go on auditions and then you have to book the job”, her reply was “I want to act now, I can’t wait, just hurry up and get me an agent...please”.  I never saw such determination in all my years, Sarah was ready from the start. She was so determined, it was crazy, I didn’t know how she got to her workshop, she would either have people bring her or take the bus, or talk someone into taking her (she didn’t drive then).  Either way, it is now wonder this girl made it big...I am so very proud of Sarah and I’ve watched her on GH and everything else for YEARS  -  3 Emmy’s to her name....Go Sarah!

Pat talks about Efren Ramirez:

    I interviewed Efren Ramirez and his identical twin brother Carlos, both were interviewed, but of the two, Efren was the one who, at that time, wanted to do acting.  In later years, brother Carlos has done acting himself.

    Again through one of the showcases Pat did at the studios, Efren got an agent and started doing small things here and there, and after years of dedication and determination I am so proud to have been the one to encourage Efren that very first day telling him “If you want to do acting and it’s your passions, it will happen, follow your dreams, anything is possible”.

    To see Efren today, and him being so popular and having so many diehard fans, is wonderful. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. I was so tickled to be able to go into a Hallmark store and buy a greeting card with one of my kids on it. The card read “Vote for Pedro”. I bought a half a dozen of them. Efren has done several wondeful projects since his breakout part with the character "Pedro" in the film Napoleon Dynamite.

Wilson Cruz "Echevarria", was one of my favorites because his attitude and excitement level was always so high. When Wilson got the part on "My So-Called Life" with Claire Danes, that was so exciting. I knew that kid had the personality to go big. And then to see him in the film "Casino", that was great. ANd most recently to have such a great part in the huge box office hit movie “He’s Just Not That Into You”.  I have always been so proud of Wilson because he used to come to me for advice and he always stuck to it.  Good Job Wilson!

Another real good success story was Austin St. John (also known as Jason Geiger) and (also known as the first Red Ranger on Power Rangers). It's such a fun story to tell when a few of us sat around and tried to help Jason come up with a strong stage name to use. The production company didn't think Jason was a very strong name so they asked him to think of a new name to use. After hours and a few days we all came up with Austin, as in the $6 million Man, and then St. John was probably a personal choice of his or a co-worker named Genevieve. The funny part about all of this is that after picking a strong name to use as an actor, his character name on the show ended up being his real name “Jason”. Either way, Jason did a great job at the part and many others.

Samantha Becker was an amazing young girl with a bright smile and a twinkle in her eyes. I must have had three or four interviews with Samantha and her family before they allowed me to work with her. She lived clear down in the San Diego area and her folks would do the drive over and over again. I think I bugged them for almost a solid year before I got to work with her and when I did, of course she did great. When she booked a part on “Saved By The Bell - The New Class”, I jumped up and down. I was so proud of her, knowing that I had bothered her dad especailly over and over again. I saw something really special with her.

    Ashley Poole is an incredible story. If I didn’t have patience and saw an extremely adorable girl in front of me, I would have kicked her mom out of my office. Just to tell you some background on the situation, I had done a huge radio and TV campaign (the picture of Samantha above was from the campaign). I had invited my good friends Mario Lopez and Danielle Fischel (Topanga from Boy Meets World) to attend the event and sign autographs for the attendees.  Well after about 500 people and a full house of prospective clients in line out the door and down the street, in walks Ashley Poole and her mom Velma.  I approach  Velma to meet her and to explain the day to her and she folded her arms and said “Is this one of those scams?”......trying not to get upset, I took a breath and answered her politely in front of Mario Lopez sitting next to me, and told her that this was a legtimate screening. Well, Velma wouldn’t have it and started to make a scene. If Ashley wasn’t so darn cute and marketable, it would have been a VERY short interview, but I needed to prove to her mom what I could do. So I asked her if Ashley could sing. Ashley said “Yes, but only in the shower”. I said “That’s OK, because TONIGHT after this open call at 6:30pm, I have invited Judith Fontaine (Owner of Fontaine Models for over 20 years) to audition a dozen or so of my girls for a singing group”. I asked her mom if she had any other clothes in the car that would be better to dance in, and she had some shorts and a shirt in the car.

    Prior to this day, Judith and her daughters had looked through my filing cabinets for a few days narrowing my other clients (cute 13 or 14 yr old teen girls who could sing) down to only a dozen or so. I was planning on Ashley purely CRASHING this audition to show her mom that she was way out of line and that her daughter really deserved a shot. I took one of my Mariah Carey CD’s to the other room, put it into a boom box and had Ashley practice a few songs over and over again until the audition.  That is what Ashley was referring to in her Thank You note above.

    When it came time for Judith and her daughters to get there, the obvious question was “Who’s Ashley?”. I told Judith that I had just got done interviewing almost 1000 people and this ONE GIRL stood out and she had a dance background and she could sing. I told her that she has the dance part down and with some work the singing will be great too. I told her that I couldn’t believe how adorable and marketable she was and that I wanted her to be considered for the new singing group she was putting together. Judith had spent a long time putting this girl group together, but she couldn’t seem to find the right 4th girl for the group. After the audition that night, and everyone had left, I asked Judith if she saw anything that might work. Judy said “I don’t really see anything that jumps out at me, except maybe that Ashley girl”. I must have called Judy 3 or 4 times the next few days letting her know that I would work with Ashley and help her along if she needed me to do so. She said she would get back to me. I called her again on Wednesday and asked if she would give Ashley a try and she hesitated and said “OK”.  If I didn’t get her to take Ashley, I wouldn’t have had any shot of having any of my girls in the group!

    I need to tell you that Ashley and her mom drove from the Arizona border that day to my office in West Hollywood. I think it’s a 6 or 7 hour drive. What were the odds of them coming that day? What were the odds of Ashley standing out to me like she did? What were the odds of me handling her mom the way I chose? What are the odds of a girl from a tiny little town being in a #1 SINGLE “HE LOVES ME NOT” Hit Record with a TOP GIRL SINGING GROUP called “DREAM” and also being on MTV and hosting TRL....what are the odds.  I hear Ashley has a reality show coming out. Good Luck Ashley, I will always be your biggest fan....no matter what.    Velma, you owe me dinner :)

Bonnie Russavage was an absolutely adorable cute funny girl who was always joking and having fun. I was so happy when she booked this TV show, at the time she was excited, but she was also bummed that she wasn’t going to be working with Mario Lopez. She knew him from working with me at the studios and he was really happy for her that she landed the show.  I wanted her to do films and prime time TV shows, and this was a great start for her. She was really upbeat and a really sweet girl.  I am so very proud that she got to work, it was her dream.

Pat O’Brien
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