Felicity = Duplicity
volume 3 number 3
One of the most talked-about stories in Hollywood these days is an eye-opening example of what can happen when interviewers make unverified assumptions about candidates. It's the saga of Riley Weston, until recently a writer for the teen drama Felicity.
Although only 19, Weston was definitely on the fast track. In addition to her work on Felicity, she had signed a lucrative contract with Disney's Touchstone Television and been named one of Hollywood's 100 most creative people.
As it turns out, Weston is nothing if not creative. A few weeks ago, even jaded Hollywood insiders were shocked to learn that Weston is actually 32 years old; that her real name is Kimberlee Kramer; and that her profession is acting, not writing.
Weston's former co-workers on Felicity say they feel "really deceived," and Disney executives are supposedly "livid." All this outrage seems a little odd in a town where lying about your age and changing your name are practically de rigueur. What seems to irk people in this case is that Weston had everyone - including executives at two major studios, the heads of a leading talent agency, and a number of journalists - so completely fooled.
The fact, though, is that the youthful-looking Weston was able to pull off her hoax because everyone in Hollywood was willing to take her, quite literally, at face value. No one seems to have questioned her story, asked for references, or checked her credentials.
In our seminars, we stress the importance of maintaining an "open curiosity" about candidates. That doesn't mean being suspicious, but it does mean keeping an open mind and gathering factual information. It's never a good idea to make assumptions, even about things that seem obvious. Instead, we recommend continuing to ask questions and to probe for information - not only about statements candidates make, but about information on their resumes.