David Zimmerman is an actor, friend, director, and casting director in both the Hollywood community and the disability community. See his acting work here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAd_5KEzwIs
Photo: Courtesy of David Zimmerman, credited to Michael Hansel
When he first got to Los Angeles, he waited tables at Bobby McGee’s in Burbank where he met Mary Rings. Mary invited him to her acting class to work with 30 other actors—who had Down syndrome. He then became an assistant teacher in that class, the “Born To Act Players.” Eventually, Zimmerman became involved with Los Angeles-based Media Access Office (MAO) with Gloria Castaneda and Gail Williamson. The MAO ran for 30 years, but came to a close in 2013 because California ran out of funds. The MAO Awards still run annually, however, Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman is a native from San Francisco Bay—San Mateo. He majored in drama at San Francisco State University, living in the city for five years. San Francisco was where he got his SAG card—from Screen Actors Guild—by doing commercials in the city by the bay. Following graduation from college at SFSU, he attended acting workshops, which lead him to get an agent who got him his first audition which landed him his first SAG commercial. “The first commercial I did was on optical glasses. Then a month later, I did another commercial for Greyhound in 1990 where I was a wacky baseball player, and that was the job that I received my SAG card.” He moved to Los Angeles in 1994 after doing several plays and over 12 commercials in San Francisco.
In Los Angeles, Zimmerman did more commercials— including White Castle hamburgers and took a few more acting classes where he studied and began a long working relationship with Corey Allen and a singing workshop with Karen Morrow. He did one-man shows which included some of his passions – acting, singing, and comedy, and was cast in films run by American Film Institute (AFI) students through the SAG Foundation, as well with University of Southern California (USC).
For the disability community, Zimmerman worked with MAO for 10 years, and also taught acting workshops at Angela Rockwood’s home, Inclusion Films, and Actors For Autism. Yet after MAO closed in 2013, he continued to take responsibility to encourage professional development in people with disabilities by creating http://www.meetthebiz.net/ –a company that he created in 2008 for acting professionals to teach other actors specific skills. “With my company, I train all actors, with and without disabilities,” Zimmerman said. “I wanted to make a diverse community—a place where people with and without disabilities can merge together and learn from each other—I love helping and giving of myself and I get joy from doing that.”
Photo: Courtesy of David Zimmerman, credit: Michael Hansel. Auti Angel teaches participants about Dance & Movement.
For example, Zimmerman’s newest project, a documentary, My Next Breath, has a cast of diverse people who have similarities. The project is unscripted and created with over 60 hours of film material. The film stars Geri Jewell, Kathy Buckley, Danny Murphy, Lexi Marman, Mark Povinelli, Tobias Forrest, David Connell, Eduardo Bar, Andy Arias, Angela Rockwood, and Auti Angel. “My Next Breath” is Produced by Zimmerman, by the “Foo Fighters: Back and Forth’s”, Jeanne Elfant Festa and Executive Produced by “What the Bleep’s”, Betsy Chasse.
David was Corey Allen’s assistant for five years, where he got the idea to developed the film. This month (February 2014), My Next Breath went up on http://www.creativevisions.org to raise funds to finish the filming, editing and post production. With My Next Breath, Zimmerman hopes that “the film brings all different types of people together and helps to realize each person’s individual full potential”
Also, this month of February, Meet The Biz has reached its second half of the 40 series. One of the upcoming workshops is with the Lander family. David Lander starred as “Squiggy” in Laverne & Shirley, the popular show back in the 1970s and 1980. Joining him are his wife, Producer Kathy Fields Lander and his daughter Actress, Natalie Lander, who has a recurring role on the hit show, “The Middle”.
Photo: Courtesy of David Zimmerman, credit: Michael Hansel. Photography workshop with Christopher Voelker
Currently at Meet The Biz, Erin Murphy is teaching. She is best known for her role in Bewitched, and is offering a four week workshop providing a class on Hosting and Acting Murphy also taught with the Legendary Cliff Osmond doing improv, voice, scene study, and other areas of acting. Next is an eight week course taught by Producer, Writer, Actor, Steven Wishnoff. In April, Zimmerman himself is teaching an eight-week course about being “In The Moment” or “In the Breath” as he calls it. “I teach workshops where people can interact with all different kinds of people. It is about reaching deep inside connecting with yourself and that person who is in front of you. Whether blind, deaf, wheel chair user’s, cerebral palsy, straight, gay, and the list goes on,” Zimmerman said. ABC Family’s Switched at Birth’s newest actor, R.J. Mitte has taught an acting class and will be teaching another one very soon.
Photo: Courtesy of David Zimmerman, credit: Michael Hansel. Animation workshop with Andreas Wessel-Therhorn
“The goal for Meet The Biz is to allow people to expand and meet people and hopefully get work and a career in the entertainment industry. Workshops keep you oiled and connected.” Zimmerman said. For the 40 Series, which is sponsored by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and Friends With Californians with Disabilities, Inc., participants for the 2013-2014 season needed to pay only $40 for all of the 25 classes with 40 different professionals, while a lot of other workshops around town tend to cost over $250 for just a month.
For the workshops, people have come from Orange County, Los Angeles, Ventura and San Francisco. In comment about some acting teachers, producers and others who tell people with disabilities that they cannot be successful in acting, “I want to help change that perception. And a lot of shows are doing that right now. Look at Jamie Brewer in “American Horror Story” She is a stunning actress!,” Zimmerman said. “Hard work and practice defines what success is in acting.”
To be successful in acting, Zimmerman added that you need to live life, and put your mind and focus on the craft and then let it go and be. “When you compete with others for roles, focus on the idea that you are competing with yourself, not others,” Zimmerman said.