Rising Star Spotlight: Tony Piazza


 You live on the central coast of California now, but where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in San Francisco. In July of 2003 after the death of my parents, my wife and I moved to Santa Maria, CA to be close to her family. It was a major change from the hustle and bustle of the city, but it was also a breath of fresh air, allowing me more time to dedicate toward writing.
 What were your growing years like?
I had a wonderful childhood during which I was allowed to let my imagination run wild. It was then that I started building my foundations as a writer, first with a love of reading, and eventually trying my hand at writing myself.
As early as the age of four, I was introduced to the film and television industry. My father (an SFPD officer) acted as a liaison between visiting film companies and the City of San Francisco. Due to this connection, my family was given under-the-rope access to filming locations and film stars. Meeting Steve McQueen, Raymond Burr, Peter Falk, and many other actors was a unique experience that likewise magnified my interest in entertainment and eventually storytelling.
My schooling introduced me to drama (and school plays), cinematography, and creative writing. These also played into my present career as a writer.  
 What did you want to be when you grew up?
At a young age, I wanted to be a writer, but due to the hassle of a typewriter, carbon paper, and an ever-changing mind, the process of completing a manuscript became overwhelming. I did write shorter stories that were well received in high school and college writing courses but eventually put aside any serious ambitions of being a published author.
Next, I contemplated a Law degree and then Dentistry but finally settled on scientific research, which was my profession for thirty-six years. My first job was as a biological technician at the University of the Pacific Dental School, where I did cleft-lip and muscle research. Later, after being trained in Electron Microscopy, I moved on to the University of California science department, and finally as an assistant to the chief pathologist at the Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center in San Francisco.
I retired in 2016 and now focus entirely on my writing.

You are now the author of multiple mystery novels, a Hollywood historian, and have worked for years as an extra and stand-in on many famous TV shows and movies.  Which career came first and why?
Film and television work came first. In 1970 I joined the Brebner Casting Agency for modeling and film work in the San Francisco Bay Area. I worked in that profession for about ten years. Two television movies and the film “What’s Up, Doc?” was my first assignment – as an extra, or background artist as they call it today. After that, I wore several hats in many television and film productions- bit actor (speaking and silent), stand-in, stunt work, and extra. I worked for five years on the crew of “The Streets of San Francisco,” primarily as a stand-in for the guest stars during the first three seasons, then Michael Douglas on the fourth, and Richard Hatch for the final. Other films I worked on during those years were Magnum Force (in which I had a line), Towering Inferno, High Anxiety, and many, many others.
It was my first career just because the opportunity presented itself the earliest – and good thing, because it paid for my college tuition and textbooks later. 

Read the entire interview in the September issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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