What do you do when you retire from a lifelong career?
Apparently you become an actor and author. At least that’s the case for Lee Gale Gruen, (Her first name is Lee Gale)
Lee Gale worked as a probation officer for decades and discovered late in life she had both acting and writing talent.
She retired 12 years ago. After a while, she started becoming bored with having nothing to do but read books and go to lunch with friends. One friend told her about classes for seniors at a small college in Santa Monica. She found a scene study class that looked interesting in the theater arts department. At first she thought she would just be learning about plays. On her first day in class, her professor handed her a scene from “Death of a Salesman” and asked her to read the scene aloud with him in the front of the room. She was terrified because she had always had stage fright.
Lee Gale started reading in a very shaky voice, but suddenly, she became immersed in the character. She forgot she was standing in front of a room full of people. At the end of the reading, everyone clapped and she was hooked on acting.
Since then, she has appeared in a variety of acting projects including a Jane Fonda exercise video that’s geared to Baby Boomers and seniors.
She had been taking the acting classes for a couple weeks when her mother passed away. Afterwards, she invited her 85 year old father to join her in the classes. They both attended for 3 years and she wrote all the scenes that they performed. After her father passed away, she wrote a memoir about it called Adventures with Dad – A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class.
Her father loved taking the classes. It brought excitement and joy to his later years. When Lee Gale speaks to groups to promote her book, people often ask her questions about her experiences and new found career. This has made her realize that many retired people are sorely missing fulfillment in their lives after their job is over. This realization started Lee Gale blogging about Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years . In order to promote both her book and blog, she has also launched a busy speaking career. Her goal as a speaker is to empower Baby Boomers and seniors to find joy, excitement and satisfaction after retirement.
Some retirees feel that they become invisible, ignored or don’t have relevance. In her blog, she offers suggestions, ideas and encouragement to Baby Boomers and seniors and lets them know there is plenty of life left out there.
Lee Gale speaks to many women’s organizations and community groups. She recently spoke at the Kaiser Permanente Education Department, and on Dec 9, 2014 will be speaking in Ventura, California at the Scan Senior Community Wellness Center. Lee Gale submits herself for speaking engagements and there is also extensive information about what she does on her website.
We asked how she was able to get to the point of going from acting classes to actually working in show business. She told us that she networked with others in her class who were already booking jobs. After a few years of class, when she felt more confident of herself, she decided to try it herself. Through trial and error and research, she found the best ways to submit herself for work. She began going out on auditions and learned along the way. She had a few embarrassing moments auditioning, (listen to her story in the podcast by clicking the player button at the top of this post) but soon became more proficient and starting booking jobs. She’s since worked on projects for cable TV in small roles, soap opera, and more.
Just recently, Lee Gale appeared on film for the Independent Spirit Awards Show with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolee in the audience. The host of the show was comedian Patton Oswald and she appeared as his smothering mother in a video clip. She also works regularly at UCLA Medical Center portraying patients for medical school training.
Lee Gale not only works as an actress, but is also amazing at promoting herself, which is a key to success if you want to become a successful actor. She actually enjoys the promotion aspect of the acting business. She has also managed to find 2 agents and a manager, which is not always easy in Hollywood when you’re older than 25.
She also submitted to literary agents to represent her book . At first she was naïve and sent out rough copies, unedited. She experienced rejection, as most authors and actors do. She then educated herself on how to promote herself as an author. She learned about editing, marketing and how to format a query letter. She read an entry on an actor chat room and found another person who had acquired a publisher. She Googled the publisher online and found that they were open for submissions. She sent them a query letter and they signed a deal with her.
Please check out Lee Gale’s book available in paperback and EBook on Amazon by clicking here.
Before becoming a published author, the only writing Lee Gale had done was writing reports as a probation officer for criminal defendants. Her experience taught her how to compile information, organize it, and put it together in a brief, logical form. She found that she was pretty good at writing scenes for her acting class because of her past experience.
Lee Gale writes for other publications. She recently wrote an article for an online magazine, about The Secret World of Seniors in Show Business. It’s a hidden world that people don’t know about. There is work out there in show biz for seniors if you know where to look.
Many people who have retired from their previous careers are finding that they have other talents or are using the skills they honed in the past to create new careers. Past learned skills are often a great advantage when starting a new venture.
The Broads joked that Lee Gale doesn’t fit the profile of what we thought a former probation officer would look like. We were thinking more “Orange is the New Black.” Lee Gale is actually a “lovely petite woman.” She gave us a funny definition of what a probation officer is:
A probation officer is a policeman without a gun, a lawyer without a briefcase, a judge without a gavel, and a social worker with no money to give away.
Lee Gale’s goal for the future is to write the screenplay of her book. She is already educating herself on the process, to avoid making mistakes, and learning a software program to format her script on. In addition, she also writes articles that she sells.
Her main message to Baby Boomers and seniors is;
“Find something to be passionate about.”
You may have no desire to be an actor or be in the creative space, but use your skills and talents to re-invent yourself. Make it your motivation to wake up in the morning, get dressed and embrace life. She gives many suggestions for those who are looking for their next adventure.
One of her friends is involved with gardening clubs, another is into genealogy and travels to places where his relatives came from.
Volunteerism is something retirees should consider. Lee Gale volunteers as a docent leading public tours at the La Brea Tar Pits and the Virginia Robinson Gardens in Beverly Hills. However, not everyone wants to get up and speak to a group. If you are quiet and introverted, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities that are more behind the scenes. For example, one of her friends catalogs bones at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum.
Find something that you love that gives you the opportunity to give back to the community.”
Lee Gale does public speaking for hire and will accept jobs outside of Los Angeles if the organization pays for her expenses.
To contact her, visit her website. www.adventureswithdadthebook.com and then click on the tabs.
“Appearances” will let you know where she will be speaking.
“Public Speaking,” will let you know how to contact her for speaking engagements.
If you’re in Ventura, California in December, you can attend her lecture: “REINVENTING YOURSELF IN YOUR SENIOR YEARS”
Hosted by: SCAN Senior Resource Center
Date: December 9, 2014, 10:00am
Location: 6633 Telephone Rd, Suite 100 – Room 108, Ventura, CA 93003
Lee Gale tells many wonderful and enlightening stories in our podcast and above is just a summary. To listen to the podcast in its entirety, click on the player at the top of the post or subscribe in ITunes. We’d appreciate a review and feel free to leave comments below.
Till next time!
The 2 Boomer Broads