The life of a movie star can be exhausting and difficult, but part-time Birmingham resident Gaylee Rubin has prepared herself for the arduous challenges.
"I've had two hip replacements and cataract surgery, but I just keep going," Rubin said from her home in Los Angeles. "I figure I can work until I'm 90."
Rubin, who took up a second career in acting in 2008 when film incentives brought the lights and cameras of Hollywood to Michigan and the metro Detroit area, is hesitant to reveal how old she is. Age discrimination is real, folks. To throw the agents off, she recently found a colorist to dye her hair to bring out the gray.
"My agent told me nobody wanted me because I look too young for my age – I love Hollywood," she said. "My acting teacher told me I'd get a lot of work if I let my hair grow gray. I resisted for a while, thinking I'd look old, but it turns out I don't look any older."
In talking with her, it's clear she's not feeling any older, either. Raised in Birmingham from 15-years-old, Rubin's first introduction to acting came in the form of lessons when she was about 11. The Will-O-Way Playhouse in Bloomfield Hills was an apple storage building converted to a theater where she immediately fell in love with the stage. Despite her early passion, Rubin said her parents forbade it.
"I loved it, and I knew I wanted to do it, but my parents wouldn't let me, so I started writing," she said. "But I loved writing."
Earning her graduate degree in creative writing, Rubin started writing short stories for various journals, later compiling them into her book, "On A Good Day." She worked as an editor for Michigan Hot Apples, an annual literary anthology of poetry and fiction; an editor for Cigar Lifestyles Magazine; hosted "Writer's Round Table" cable show; and has been a guest presenter for various Detroit-area writing workshops.
"Mostly, I wrote short stories. A lot of people who liked them were feminist literary journals. I didn't even know what a feminist was," Rubin said. "Now I know. I was surprised that people who really loved my stories were feminists."
While she said she never completely gave up writing, she put her career on hold to care for her daughter's special needs. It wasn't until Hollywood seemed to discover Detroit that she rediscovered her desire for acting.
Rubin's "big break" came about 2008, when she was cast as an extra in a movie shot in an abandoned car factory turned into a movie studio.
"Then I was a movie star, just like that. In my mind anyway," she said. "I just tell everyone I'm a move star and they believe me."
In 2011, Rubin landed a role in the move The Margarine Wars. More recently, she has been spending winters in California with her husband, where she has since taken up acting lessons at the Beverly Hills Playhouse and gotten an agent to help find parts.
"I'm in class with mostly 20-year-olds. They are very talented and smart," she said. "I think they are nice to me because I remind them of their grandmother. They are always telling me about their grandmothers.
"They always need an old lady in scenes, so I get a lot of work."