I have spent my entire adult life in and around Show Business.
At 17 I began, and by 18 I was being paid, that is a very short apprenticeship. I began as a host/MC for mid-level concerts in the late 70's. Then I worked for six years at Capitol records, during my time at Capitol I assisted in the production of live concerts and radio promotions outside of company hours. I also have the distinction of being one of the last people on earth to have worked on a Beatles Project when all four Beatles were still alive.
After Capitol Records I worked in rehearsal studios and recording studios. I then took an unexpected turn and began performing standup comedy. I shared the stage with the infamous "Uncle Dirty" (real name Robert Altman) Jerry Seinfeld and Steven Wright. Jerry went on stage before me on an occasion, the best opening act I have ever had, LOL. Steven Wright also went on stage before me, Steven is a bit harder to follow than Jerry, but I survived.
I was a successful standup comic with lots of room to grow. I eventually stopped because children were coming into my life. Knowing that I cannot travel half the year with children at home growing up without me. I am just not wired that way, I cannot live day to day without my children.
I stopped performing on stage for a while. I began a speaking career a few years later when the children were still small but able to travel with me to exciting locations. This kept me sharp and able to connect with an audience. I have continued to host events and speak regularly.
Before I got married Robert Altman (as a comedian) likely saved my life by confronting me about my lifestyle and talking me about Lenny Bruce. I think that statement says everything about my 1980's showbiz life. I owe that man everything and after his death I stay in occasional contact with his daughter.
Let me add this, being in this industry made me a target for those who wished to use my connections for their own gain. Also, drugs were freely available in those days to those who were perceived to be "important" or were well connected. This has to be the lowest point in show business. If you are fortunate enough to get to the level where you gain "favours" or don't have to wait in line for cubs, etc. You will be vulnerable to vultures who do not care about you. These are the ones who want something at your expense. Even if it ends up being your reputation on the line proceed with caution and know who your real friends are. They will not be always asking you about the business, or who you know, or to do a favour, or to get involved with projects, etc. Remember that there comes a day when none of this is important and will not matter. I guarantee none of those people will be anywhere near you then.
Howie Mandel's father (Al) was one of the most important and unlikely showbiz mentors I ever had. I learned more from AL about life and showbiz than any other single person other than Robert. While we both thought he was mentoring me on my career, he was actually teaching me how to be a stage parent. I have four adult children who are 28 yrs, 27 yrs and the youngest two are 25. Two of the children have become actors, the oldest and one of the twins. Both of them collect royalties on a regular basis for their film and TV work as does my wife for over 50 commercials and other media work over the course of her career. My son (the oldest) has taken a hiatus from "the business“ to pursue higher education and as I said, still gets royalties form projects he worked on as a kid and teenager. My daughter seems to have a calling to this business and has been a lead or main actor in 10 TV series so far and 9 feature films. She is one of my youngest kids and one of "the twins" and has just turned 25, so not a bad resume. She has worked alongside the biggest names in US film and TV already. I am pleased to have had a major impact on guiding her career, as part of her management team early on and still her #1 advisor. Proud of my kid I guess. To complete the thought, never does a few days go by when I don't think of something Al Mandel said to me. I have used his wisdom on my own showbiz kids and many other young people getting into the business.
My wife has been employed full time in film and television in front of the camera and on stage most of her life. She has done well at it too.
She works when she wants to these days and has worked with some of the biggest names in the business as well, but Kim Cattrall is her number one favorite as they got on super well, we love Kim, she is delightful as a person.
Two of my four children are not in showbiz and I like to refer to them as the "Normal" members of my family. Four out of the six of us are involved in showbiz so I guess we are basically a showbiz family. The two non-biz kids are the anchors that keep us stable, LOL.
Over the years through my own career and through my family I have become acquainted with the most amazing names and people you absolutely have heard of. If I love them, I can speak fondly of them, If I don’t, I will never mention them. That is a good lesson in this business full of egos and gossip. It’s a small world, don’t shoot your own foot, it may never totally heal.
I currently freelance (very discreetly) assisting established but not well known up and coming actors with analysis of their career trajectory by analyzing projects they are auditioning for. I consider their talent and possibilities, the entire scope of the project including the script if available and give advice on how this may help or hinder or god forbid, even end their career. One wrong project may be your last paycheck. I try to help an artist shape and aim their career for longevity NOT for immediate paychecks.
I happen to work mainly with American actors. The scripts and projects are mostly Hollywood and New York major studios and agents. This is just how things fell into place for me and I have been around Canadian productions although I have yet to work with a Canadian actor in a Canadian production, I would not at all object to that, but we know that the Canadian system is very different and it is difficult in Canada (not impossible) to get to the heights possible in the US. I hope that changes.
One thing I have learned and teach young people wanting to break in is that it’s called "Show-BUSINESS!"
Note that the second word is way bigger than the first, that is a critical point. To make it as a performer in any part of this business you become a product. If no one “buys you” then no one will hire you, its that simple.
The other thing is the definition of “Successful”. Al Mandel once asked me “What is success to you?”. There are thousands of comedians and actors out there making way over 6 figures a year and you have never heard of them and you never will. Are six figures from doing what you love enough to call yourself successful? That’s a ton of money for acting or performing, or do you need to be so famous that everyone knows you wherever you go, is THAT success to you? You decide. I caution those who just want fame more than career satisfaction.
That is a tough one to swallow for some but my advice is if you want to be an "artist" in this business and make statements, you need to go with the flow until you have a voice. You won't have a voice until your audience or fans know who you are.
Then you can do what you want and feel. When you become a “name” and paid your dues, you can begin to call shots or do your “own thing”, that will not man that people want to listen to you, but it is well worth it to get there.
I feel that the majority can “make a living of sorts from the business provided it’s what they genuinely want to do. If you just want fame you risk big disappointment. I defer to a question from Al Mandel: "what is success to you?"
So, moving forward and to wrap up this long story, I have spoken to crowds of up to four thousand people as well as numerous radio and television appearances in several countries.
I am available for public speaking and presentation/hosting engagements upon request.
In my personal time I collect vintage and specialty cars mostly Jaguars, and my wife and I are actively involved in the collector/show car community, we are active members of various clubs. We also use our cars for various charitable causes with great pleasure.
OK so that was a lot...
So, there you go, this is the basis of my bio, and I probably will polish it in future.
Cheers for now,
Name: Duane Grady
Lives in: Toronto, Canada
Occupation: Actor, Comedian, Host/presenter, Manager and Stage Director