“Glendale Woman” Was My Friend

A person does not equal a place.

The practice of identifying people in the news by where they live has always struck me as odd. There are vastly more interesting ways to identify a person. For instance, I’d rather know what someone does for a living, what NFL team they hate-tweet about, or what booze they got sick on at happy hour once and now can’t see without gagging. I’d rather read the newspaper headline, “Whopper Woman,” or, “Tom Brady Apologist,” because, ultimately, we know the story we’re about to read is going to be tragic, so give us something to hold onto before we get punched in the gut with reality.

This particular “Glendale Woman” was my former co-worker and friend who also happened to have a name — Greer Bishop. On Valentine’s Day, I got a text from another former co-worker asking if I had, “heard the news about Greer.” Whenever I get a text like that, I really want it to be followed up by, “She’s stripping in Vegas,” or, “She got knocked up,” or, “She got cast as a series regular on CSI: Pacoima. Do you think she could get our headshots to casting?”

But the text I did get was none of those things, and left me, for lack of a better explanation, numb. “Greer was killed in a car accident. Her dog died, too.”

I’ll pause for crying. All tears welcome.

She was 31.

Her dog died, too.

My introduction to Greer was workplace happenstance. I was working on a low budget film with one of the now stars of Better Call Saul, and I needed a third person in my department. Unfortunately for me, most of the people I knew (let me be real — the only people I LIKED) were working on other shows. I had to go off the dreaded union list.

As a quick aside, one time I had to hire an assistant off the union list who I didn’t know. One day, a security guard ran up to me in a panic and said, “Tara! I think your assistant just pulled his tooth out in his car!” He had, in fact, done exactly that with pair of dirty pliers from his trunk. That’s not even my favorite story about this person, but I digress. He was a magical unicorn.

Anyhow, my assistant and I combed through this list, doing some light social media stalking to find someone who didn’t fancy themselves a backseat dentist, when he said, “Natalie Greer Bishop. Let’s call her. I’ve never met a Natalie that wasn’t cool.” And dammit if he wasn’t right. Minus the name because she didn’t go by Natalie; she went by Greer.

I immediately connected with Greer not only because she was a fellow woman in a male dominated department of film and television, but she was a fellow actor. I thought I was one of the only actors in L.A. to figure out this clandestine way to make a living! But most importantly, she was a lovely person. I could talk to her and she would listen. I would give her something to do and she would do it with a smile (show off). I could go on an audition when I was supposed to be scouting and she would cover for me. She was fantastic.

After we worked on a few shows together and I took a break from this day job, we still collaborated with all things performing. When I was having doubts about my agents, she referred me to hers — both signed me. When she got cast in a movie, she, more than once, gave my name to the creatives and, more than once, got me auditions for these projects. This may not seem all that unique to those not in entertainment, but I have to emphasize, most people, I’d say 98% of my fellow actors, acting class classmates, people I’ve done countless projects with, do not go to bat for fellow actors like this. But Greer did. I don’t even recall asking her to do these things, but she did them because she understood how hard the profession of acting was. It cannot be understated that even getting in the door is all about who you know. I was so lucky to know her.

I do not think for one second my struggle with trying to make sense of her passing is any different, or more difficult, than anyone else’s when they lose a loved one. But her story really cut to the quick for me. We shared a lot and even though we hadn’t talked in quite some time, she was someone I could text or call and it would be like no time passed. I cannot fathom, and do not know how to begin to process, that she is gone.

I guess the thing I can hold on to, the thing that I can get raging mad at, is the cavalierness some poor journalist titled the fleeting news item about the death of a young woman and her dog. I’m sure that journalist’s editor wouldn’t approve, “Loveliest Woman To Ever Set Foot in the White Lexus Racetrack Hellscape That Is Glendale, Died.”

I just wish he would have used her name. I know that if I bit the dust tomorrow and anyone wrote anything along the lines of, “Valley Woman,” I would come back and haunt their ass forever.

Natalie Greer Bishop was a phenomenal, loving, and genuinely beautiful person. She will be that forever.

Actor, Writer, Comedian, Podcaster, Enough Already

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