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How Does it Feel Not to Be Famous Anymore?

Welcome to the VOA Learning English program This Is America.

This week Barbara Klein and Christopher Cruise tell about several American actors who were widely recognized years ago. But they now are not big stars or famous like they once were. We ask them how they dealt with these changes.

Imagine you are one of the most famous movie stars in the world. Millions of people pay to see your films, and everyone seems to know your name. Thirty years later, you are attending a comic book convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. You sit alone, almost unrecognized, waiting for people to come and shake your hand.

Richard Roundtree played the part of police detective John Shaft in three movies in the early 1970s. The movies made him an internationally-recognized movie star. Since then, he has had a good career on television shows. But he has never been as famous as he was when he played John Shaft.

Richard Roundtree was so well-known for the part that he was chosen to play few other roles in the 1980s and 90s. That was because casting directors believed that movie goers could not see him as anyone other than John Shaft.

The actor told VOA the fame that came from the Shaft movies was not easy for his family. But he says he missed the recognition when it went away.

I used to hate it when I was out with my kids at dinner, and whatnot, and being asked for autograph when I really wanted to just enjoy the company I was with. And now that it doesnt happen, there are times when I say Wow, you know Im not getting the best seat in the house, Im not getting the best table.

But I look at the people who are going through that and I said, You know, thats a blessing. Im still working, I still have a career. And Im still (a) viable entity in the industry. So I got the best of both worlds.

Richard Roundtree says he once told his father that he was unhappy to be known only as John Shaft. He says his father told him that many people would want to be in his position. The actor told VOA that his father told him to shut up and stop complaining.

Actress Vivica A. Fox was at the same event in Philadelphia as Mr. Roundtree. She appeared in many movies and television shows in the 1990s and in the first few years of the 21st century.

Back then, Vivica A. Fox was known for her good looks. While still beautiful, she is no longer as busy or as famous. Younger actresses are given parts she once played. She says she is not surprised by that.

Everyone has a turn. And, and Ive never been a person thats been bitter or jaded about a person shining and getting their moment. I believe that theres room for everyone. Everyone has a turn. And how you work your moment is up to you.

Because, you know, in a career you should be able to discover several moments, if you transition into different chapters of your career -- being a young ingénue, playing a mom, playing a producer, playing a director. Therere different genres for you to get into. You cant always be the one.

Ms. Fox has taken her own advice. She has moved away from the roles that beautiful, young actresses play to being a beautiful, older actress. She does not appear in as many movies as she did when she was younger, but she stays busy in acting. And for many actors, that -- and not stardom -- is what matters.

Adam West is known as Baan to many people in the United States. He played the role in the Baan television series in the 1960s. The show can still be seen on television stations around the world.

Adam West says that after the show was cancelled, he had a difficult time being less famous than he once was. But he says that period lasted just a short time. Then, he got back to work.

Its a matter of not really examining it. You know, just going along putting one foot in front of the other and not thinking too much about it. And, when work comes along, think about the work. Its no big thing. Its easy. W

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