Based on Actual Events
"My Week with Evander Holyfield" starring Ashley Maria as the bright-eyed 2nd Assistant Director and Evander Holyfield as the tough, muscle-man fighter who is now an esteemed actor. (No, this isn't actually a TV show pitch I'm giving to you right now...but wouldn't it be cool? Anywho...this is my factual experience with Mr. Holyfield)
Our "show" opens on a Wednesday morning in March in the mean filmmaking streets of Los Angeles. It was a cold, windy first day for the entire cast and crew of "Fighter's Chance." The parking was scarce. The building was locked, and there was no power for the coffee maker! Tough morning 🙂
Enter Evander. The star of this 3D boxing short film. He plays "Tony," the trainer to a blind boxer, "Sean," played by Shedrack Anderson. We then meet Shedrack's wife, played by Fernanda Romero. An all star cast, if I do say so myself!
This was my first time ever playing the role of "2nd Assistant Director." As a 2nd AD, my job is to help the 1st AD, help the actors and manage all of the extras. As I learned my job, so did Evander. This was his first time playing a major role in a short film. Of course he has been in tv shows and movies, but this was his first starring role...so, kind of a big deal!
When we wrapped for lunch on that first day, Holyfield immediately decided he wanted Chick-Fil-A for lunch, which, of course, was not provided as the crew lunch. (See my How To for serving crew lunches). A bunch of producers and Holyfield jumped in the car to go. The entire crew looked at me and said, "If he leaves, then you better go with him!" Meaning -- a person from the crew needs to go and make sure he gets back on time! So, without a second thought, I literally jumped into the car. I didn't even have my wallet and my phone was barely charged. But I leaped in, yelled "move over!" and we were off to Chick-Fil-A!
I kept forgetting I was with THE Evander Holyfield. We all just chatted about LA, about the production and how excited we were for fried chicken and special sauces. As we pulled into the parking lot, though, these two women driving past our car (note: they were in a car!!) saw Evander and yelled out "Holyfield!!!" It was wild. That was my first reminder that I was with a celebrity.
Then we walked into Chick-Fil-A. People were taking pictures and staring at us. I very skillfully snagged the seat next to him as we ate. We were behind schedule FYI...my one job... but, hey they wanted Chick-Fil-A!
The Real Deal
As we ate, I mentioned how I loved the Polynesian sauce at Chick-Fil-A. (C'mon, who doesn't?)
Evander turned to me and said, "You need the Real Deal sauce."
I said "What's that?"
Blank stares came from the table. My face immediately turned red. I knew I was missing something.
Producer 1: "Do you know the Real Deal?"
Me: No...(shaking my head)
Producer 2: "You're sitting next to him."
I whipped my head to Evander. My eyes widen.
Evander: (in a slow, I've said this before kind of way...) "I'm the Real Deal."
The table bursts out in laughter. Oh gosh. I just totally embarrassed myself in front of everyone on my first day!
Producer 1: "We need to talk to your boss!" (He was joking?)
I turned to Evander once again to apologize.
Me: I'm so sorry...I didn't realize...
Evander: I'm Evander Real Deal Holyfield
Me: Oh, I like that. Has a good ring to it.
Yeah...I know he's been called this for over 20 years, but it's the first I ever heard of it and it still had a good ring to it!
And that was my initiation into the Holyfield club.
Read HERE how I got the nickname "Ashley - Lights Out - Maria."
The rest of the shoot
The next 3 days saw a lot of craziness. There were some serious scheduling issues that kept us out quite late, which brings me to a quick, awesome Evander moment.
Noticing Evander getting a little sleepy (it was after all 1 in the morning), I asked him if he wanted to jump rope or something, kind of as a joke. His response: "Ashley, I only jump rope for one reason." I, of course, did not get what he was referring to, but by everyone else's reaction around me, I realized he was talking about jumping rope before a fight. Ohhh No Evander... no fight today!
The final day with Evander was my favorite
The final day was the day we all just talked. All the shooting was being done in small rooms throughout a house, so the holding area for cast and crew was in a comfortable living room right next to crafty. It was grand.
We all just talked. We talked about Evander's career, his experience on Dancing with the Stars and my eating habits. Yes, MY eating habits. I couldn't eat anything without Evander telling me that food was bad for me - how it was going to make me slow. HE was the one who suggested Chick-Fil-A, though, right?? AND he often came to set with McDonald's...just saying... But when I picked up a bag of chips, it was "ASHLEY!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING??" Yeah, he did it more to get a laugh out of everyone. But man I was hungry at the end of that day.
We did talk about a few things when it came to my film career that I will keep personal. He's a good man and I truly respect his advice. It's nice to meet someone who treats people with respect, no matter how successful they become. It's something to admire.
He did watch Volcano Girl too. And he said it was "great." ...Quoted!!
And THAT was my week with Evander!