I loved movies. I was enthralled by the fame, fortune, and (total facade of) happiness. So, as a young teenager, I wanted to be an actor.
At the age of fourteen, I decided that a good way to experience Hollywood was as an ‘extra’. There was simply a much lower barrier to entry than auditioning for speaking roles. I therefore registered at two local talent agencies and the jobs started coming in. This began my foray into Hollywood.
My first gig was in a movie called Crown Heights, starring Howie Mandel. (Ironically, I was casted into the role of a ‘Hassidic Jew’!) Afterwards, I was in numerous top-tier movies, with A-list celebrities, including Lindsay Lohan, Russel Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Vin Diesel, Robert Downey Jr., and Drake.
(Parenthetically, because of Shabbat of Jewish Holidays, I also missed a couple of big opportunities and auditions, such as ‘New York Minute’ with the Olsen twins, ‘Cheaper By The Dozen’ with Hillary Duff and Steve Martin, and ‘Hairspray’ which starred…everybody! But this is a topic for a different article.)
I was living my dream. I was mingling with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, people told me that they saw me on the big screen, and I was even being paid for it! I should’ve been living on a high… I should’ve been really happy… I should’ve pursued even bigger roles…
But it just wasn’t feeling right.
Hundreds of hours with celebrities – along with the directors, producers, and film crew – gave me a different perspective: Everything was so fake. External beauty was often paired with sheer shallowness; power and prestige was often abused by those were privileged with “making it”; inappropriate behavior was rampant, even rewarded.
Inasmuch as my teenage immaturity compelled me to be famous, I did not want to risk my shot of one day building a beautiful marriage and a healthy home, something almost unheard of in the circles in which I was traversing.
Moreover, some of the scenes (or movies) in which I was placed were inappropriate. I was embarrassed being there myself; how could I ever proudly lead a career in which I couldn’t share its details with my wife and kids?!
The news always validates my long-ago decision to leave. It's usually another messy, public Hollywood divorce which makes me satisfied with the path I chose. But this time, it was the horrifying scandals that have hijacked every news outlet. How could one of the most influential personalities in Hollywood (who happened to be a husband and father, too!) take advantage of dozens of young, aspiring actresses? How could everyone around him have kept silent for so long? Sadly, with a myriad of additional scandals piggybacking on this and finally being brought to light, we see a starkly clear, rampant issue in the entertainment industry.
Thankfully, today I am married to a wonderful woman and a father to three adorable children. Thankfully, today I channel my passion for acting into giving lectures for organizations around the world. Thankfully, today I love the life the lead, I don't compromise on my moral values for fame, and I surround myself with some of the most exemplary human beings – both in my personal and professional life.
Many years ago, I made the decision to leave the glamorous and attractive world of Hollywood; this decision, however, has made my real dreams (and happiness) possible.
Moe runs business development for Hometalk, where he spearheaded social partnerships that drove more than 300 million visits to the site and over 500 million video views. Previously, he worked as a Strategy Consultant for Deloitte and as the Regional Director for The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation. Moe holds an International MBA and Rabbinical Ordination, and recently published his first book, The Gift of Stuttering (Mosaica Press, 2016). He lives in Israel with his wife and children, yet often travels around the world giving motivational seminars to audiences of all kinds.