Adrian Nicole LeBlanc on the Oakwood Toluca Hills, a vast complex of temporary rental apartments that hundreds of aspiring Hollywood families call home:
Each year, between mid-January and May, when some 100-odd pilots are being cast, one-quarter of the Oakwood’s 1,151 furnished units are filled by families of child actors. “Home to the Famous, and Almost Famous,” a billboard at the front gate reads. Located near Burbank, it’s conveniently close to most of the major studios. The Oakwood’s orientation for “newbies,” the first-timers who make up about 80 percent of the families staying there each year, is also a draw: lectures about the entertainment business; connections to people like Simmons, who give complimentary classes to enlist new students; a show-biz-kid expo that displays all the tertiary industries: diction tapes, head shot photography and packaging, marketing-strategy DVD’s. On-site tutoring — unaccredited, held weekday mornings in the conference room — can be paid for weekly to allow children to come and go, given their unpredictable work schedules. Units at the Oakwood start at $2,000 a month for a studio with a Murphy bed.