Boston-born comedian, actress, producer and director Camille Solari loves making people laugh about single life in the La La Land of Los Angeles.
“I sort of got lucky in the beginning,” says comedian Camille Solari in a smoky, Boston-kissed accent. “My first job when I moved out here was being Tom Cruise’s assistant. It was really cool. He and Nicole were wonderful.”
Solari looks like a Betty Page pin-up girl from the 50s. She’s wearing a red sundress and blue, five-inch stilettos. Her big, round, red-rimmed sunglasses are perched on top of thick brunette bangs that end just above deep blue eyes lined with kohl liner and topped with glued-on black lashes. She’s relaxing on a chaise lounge by the roof-top pool at the art deco Eastern Columbia building, one of downtown L.A.’s signature historical landmarks. It’s also the place she calls home.
“I didn’t know anything back then,” Solari says about the enviable position she stumbled into after graduating from Emerson College, the prestigious Boston performing arts school. “I didn’t even know who I was interviewing for. I saw these Tom Cruise posters on the wall and I was thinking, ‘Wow, whoever I’m going to be working for f*ing loves Tom Cruise.’ That’s how dumb I was.”
One day when she was still new on the job she got a call from Bill Mechanic, the chairman/CEO of 20th Century Fox, asking to speak to her boss. Mechanic was one of the most powerful forces in Hollywood at the time.
“I was like, ‘Who is this?’”
“‘It’s Bill Mechanic.’”
“‘Who? You’re a mechanic?’”
“He says, ‘Don’t you know who I am?’”
“‘Apparently a mechanic.’”
“‘Don’t you know what studio I run?’”
“I’m like, ‘I don’t understand. What are you’re saying? You’re a mechanic?’”
Solari tosses a long brunette curl over her shoulder and rolls her eyes, remembering the moment. “When you’re East Coast you don’t know all this stuff. That self-important attitude in L.A. — believe me, no one is that amazing.”
It doesn’t take long to realize that, despite what she says, Camille Solari isn’t dumb and she’s certainly more than just lucky.
She grew up in Brookline, a tony suburb of Boston, the younger of two daughters. Her father, an attorney of Italian descent, was raised in East Boston, “the wrong side of tracks,” and her mother was a Quebec-born school teacher who taught her daughters to speak fluent French.
“We were middle class,” Solari says. “Most of the people in Brookline [birthplace of Robert F. Kennedy] were rich — big mansion parties and stuff.”
She says she’s always been a writer, keeping journals since she was five years old. Not the “Dear Journal” type, she says, but rather book after book of story ideas, many of them comedic. “I wrote a story about this guy who picked his nose on the train and flicked his boogers at somebody,” she says about her college entrance essay. “That’s how I got into Emerson.”
She auditioned for the school’s Shakespeare conservatory — and was accepted into the 12-students-only program; for her college internship, Emerson arranged for Solari to work with Danny DeVito at New Line Cinema.
“They set you up,” Solari says about her alma mater. “It’s cool that Emerson does that, but as far as acting goes, I don’t know if anything sets you up for acting, other than being the daughter of Jane Fonda or something.”
Since moving to Los Angeles in 2000 and working for Tom Cruise, Solari has made a name for herself as a screenwriter, producer, director, actress and comedian, also writing and starring in a number of independent films, including Boston Girls, which earned her Best Actress and Best Screenplay awards at the 2010 New York International Film Festival.
Camille Solari is interviewed at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival about Boston Girls, a film she wrote, acted in and produced.
She’s written a movie for the Weinstein Company, a movie for the Lifetime Channel and directed and produced a documentary, Life on the Road with Mr. and Mrs. Brown, about legendary soul singer James Brown’s final concert tour and last days. She’s done a slew of TV and Web projects, and numerous stand-up comedy gigs (including the 2011 Los Angeles Democratic Convention). She writes the popular comedy blog, Glam in La La Land, and somewhere in all of that, modeled for Dickies Jeans on billboards all across America.
So it’s not surprising that after collaborating with her, James Brown phoned her one night to tell her she was the hardest working woman in show business. “Yeah, he was a cool guy,” she says. “He liked me.”
Apparently a lot of people like Solari, and not just because of her talent. According to Gordon Vasquez, founder of RealTVFilms, Solari is one of those rare people with a “no problem” attitude who can take an everyday situation and make it hilarious.
After being just casual acquaintances, Vasquez says, their friendship reached a new level at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009. He had just managed to squeeze into a packed Gen Art party hosted by fashion designer Kenneth Cole. Getting into the party was so difficult that Vasquez’s interviewer never made it past the front door, leaving Vasquez holding a camera and mike with no one to interview the celebrities. He recognized Solari, who was at Sundance to promote Boston Girls, from across the room.
“I put the mike in her hand and asked her to help me,” Vasquez says. “She was like, ‘Sure, no problem,’ and just walked up to Virginia Madsen and started asking questions. She did it without being prepared, and she was great. We’ve been working together on TV and Web projects ever since. She’s one of those people that can just roll with it.”
The never-married Solari, who is in her 30s, says being single has provided her with a rich resource for her comedy projects. “It’s so relatable because everyone has been or is single,” she says. “As an artist, it’s fun because there’s so much to talk about.”
But as far as Solari is concerned, in real life, there are certain ways to be single and certain ways not to be single.
“If you can take the desperation out of it, being single is amazing,” she says. “I’ve found that if you can settle into it comfortably it’s really fun. So many women and men are too anxious about it. You can smell their anxiety from here to Venice Beach. If they could just get rid of that, they’d be a lot happier.”
She tells the story of how one day at a coffee shop she ran into a guy her friends were interested in setting her up with.
“I was trying to hide but he recognized me. So we sat down and he starts rambling on in front of people, ‘So, are you looking for a relationship?’”
“I’m like, ‘Dude, can we take this down 10 notches.’ It was embarrassing. I was thinking, ‘Be cool man. Don’t put things in a category that makes things uncomfortable. Don’t be all weird about the single thing.’”
She says she’s spent most of the last 10 years single and won’t date someone just because it’s what you’re supposed to do or because she’s lonely. “If I can’t be with someone who is amazing, I’d rather be alone. It’s never worth it.”
And any boyfriend will need to accept that Solari is busy with her comedy career — both in front of and behind the camera, onstage and off. “Making people laugh is what I’ve always enjoyed most,” she says. “I wish I would have thought of doing stand-up ten years ago, but I just didn’t.”
Despite appearances, it hasn’t all come easily for Solari. She lost her mother to cancer a few months ago and what made it more difficult, she was involved at the time on a project that she terms a disaster. “I had to stop everything,” she says. “I had to be there for my family and I had to figure out what to do about some of the negative people I was working with. I was like, ‘How am I going to deal with this?’”
Her remedy was to take a look at herself and the people surrounding her. “If I’m roller coastering about something, if I’m getting into self-doubt, I look to see if it’s something I’m creating and who in my life is being a dick.”
She says her new policy is to work only with people she can trust and whom she enjoys being around — oh, and it better be fun too. It’s all part of her grand plan, which includes a long run on a TV series and a few select feature film projects — along with writing, always writing.
“As long as I can be funny and write, I’m pretty happy,” she says. “I’m taking all the steps possible, I do everything every day, to get closer to my dream.”
Story © Kim Calvert / 2013 Singular Communications, LLC. Photos copyright © Todd Young / Young Studios.
Kim Calvert is the editor of Singular magazine and the founder of the SingularCity social networking community. An outspoken champion of people who are living their lives as a “me” instead of a “we,” Kim oversees the creative direction and editorial content of the magazine and online social networking community. She secures contributors and is responsible for maintaining the fun, upbeat, inspirational and often-humorous tone of Singular, a lifestyle guide for successful single living.
Glam in La La Land with Camille Solari at the Hollywood Improv
Join Camille Solari on Thursday, October 24 2013, for “Glam in La La Land” at the world famous Hollywood Improv.
Enjoy an evening of fantastic gifts, networking, red carpet with press photos, demonstrations and treats — followed by a stand-up comedy show with some of L.A.’s top comics, including the show’s host, Camille Solari.
Guests will receive gifts bags stuffed with goodies from sponsors including beauty products from Racinne and Iron Fist Clothing is doing a SHOE BAR where everyone gets free shoes!!
If you like fashion, flirtation and fabulous fun that’s FREE for Singular magazine readers, SingularCity members and their friends. RSVP today!
You must RSVP in order to get on the guest list. Do that by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
6:30 pm – 8 pm: Red carpet, demonstrations, treats, press photos
8 pm – 9:30 pm: Stand-up comedy show with top comics.
The Hollywood Improv is located at 8162 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90048.
DON’T MISS THIS ONE!