donna Monroe - Bio
“You’ll never make it in Hollywood,” she said, “because of your ‘Yat accent.” “Arnold made it,” I protested. “You’re not Arnold, she sneered. “No, I’m not,” I shot back, “I’m prettier.”
My brother once said I had a mouth like a double barrel shot gun, pretty powerful. Using his line to describe a character in my second screenplay, surprisingly, everyone liked that character, which made me feel good.
Unforgettable characters and plots stir me, like everything from Jane Austin to John Grisham. Luckily, I got to play background action in one of Grisham’s tales, “The Pelican Brief,” filmed in New Orleans. Dragging five girlfriends with me, we were in French Quarter crowd scenes for three days while a helicopter swirled overhead filming. What a trip! We got to see Julia Roberts up close. They fed us red beans and rice, plus gave us all fifty bucks.
Some may have considered me to be poor white trash from New Orleans, because when I was young we lived in the Florida projects, and later in an abandoned Shrimp Factory on the bayou, but I never felt poor or underprivileged. In fact I felt rich for the experiences I had and because I came from a loving family.
Despite being poor I managed to earn a genuine BA degree from the University of New Orleans in 95’ where I majored in Drama and Communications, and wrote for our college newspaper, the Driftwood. With a circulation of 25,500 UNO's Driftwood Newspaper jumpstarted my writing career by giving me first hand experience in writing for a live reading audience, plus Dr. Stephen Ambrose, one of my professors encouraged me to sell one of my University stories to the Times Picayune Newspaper. He said to me, "A young writer has to start somewhere". I didn’t think my story was good enough to sell to the newspaper, but I decided to try it because of Dr. Ambrose. Not only did they buy my story but also they published it with pictures. Getting paid for that story was the spark I needed to ignite a writing career. While still at the university I wrote a short play. During the annual one-act play festival held in New Orleans, I entered my one act play in the Louisiana state competition, and won 3rd place in the Community Theatre category, where I performed in and directed my original play at the Contemporary Arts Center. This led me to write my first screenplay a serial killer mystery, which I plan to one day, resurrect.
After graduating from UNO I did free lance writing for the St. Tammany News Banner. While living in Long Beach California, I was in three writer’s groups; one was the California Writer’s Club, of which I served as a board member.
Worked on over a dozen films like ABC’s “Super Bowl,” where I met O J Simpson, who came over, sat down next to me and chatted with me for a while. Some extras said he liked blondes, and was trying to hit on me. I didn’t know who he was at the time. Looking back now, it seems kind of’ scary.
While working on Double Exposure with Farrah Fawcette, she touched my hair and said, “You have beautiful hair.” I felt so ridiculous when my mouth refused to co-operate and I couldn’t reply naturally, except to squeak out a weak “Thank you.” What I wanted to tell her was, “I’m a licensed cosmetologist, and you can’t imagine how many women brought me magazine pictures of you, asking for that popular hair style you made so famous.” I wish now I would have told her that.
As a featured extra playing a cocktail waitress in the movie “Adios Thierry,” later changed to “Zandalee.” I walked across the set carrying a cocktail tray filled with glasses, and was told to bump into Joe Pantoliano. While filming this scene, my heel broke and director Sam Pillsbury yelled, “Cut!” The wardrobe people quickly taped my heel back on, and then we continued shooting. The first A D pleaded with me several times to remove my top and be a topless waitress for this scene. He said they would give me fifty dollars more. “No,” I told him. I figured if I can’t make it on my talent, “Forget it.”
Got film credit in “Netherworld” and “Widow Paris” for working with wardrobe, make-up, and doing hair.
My degree in Fashion Merchandising from Meadow’s Draughon College, and the two years I spent at John McCrady Art School paid off as I designed and painted stage sets and made costumes for some of the stage shows I directed, like South Pacific, Carousel, The Sound of Music, Annie, and The Uninvited. Also performed in community and dinner theatres, in and around New Orleans in shows like Lil’Abner, Barnum, Gazebo, and Gaslight.
Did Family Service Society plays (educational plays) for three years. My most unusual audience was at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Building in New Orleans, where I performed for an all male audience of lawyers and judges.
Lived and worked overseas in South Korea for three and a half years teaching conversational English to Korean children and adults. Met my husband in a grocery store there. We married a year later in South Korea. Since returning to the states, my husband’s job (as an airplane engineer) has taken us across the US and back, plus we lived in Brazil for a year and three months. I agree with Forest Gump when he said, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”