With Glenn Scarpelli, actor and star in Sacred Journeys from Beyond Words Publishing
Glenn Scarpelli has been in the entertainment business for over 40 years. Starting his career as a child actor, he is best known for his role of Alex on the long running CBS classic sitcom One Day at a Time, along with Valerie Bertinelli, Bonnie Franklin, Mackenzie Phillips and Pat Harrington.
Photo Courtesy of Beyond Words Publishing
Television and Film Experiences
Glenn is a native New Yorker and got his first break on Broadway at age 8 in Golda, starring Anne Bancroft. Glenn played Golda Meir’s son. The show was directed by the late great Arthur Penn. His next stint on Broadway was at age 12 in Richard III starring Al Pacino.
His favorite film credit was playing Audrey Hepburn’s son in the Peter Bogdanovich film, They All Laughed, also starring John Ritter.
Other favorite acting experiences includes guest starring on the 1980’s Steven Spielberg anthology series Amazing Stories, in which his episode was directed by Martin Scorsese. He was also excited to tour on stage in Brighton Beach Memoirs, guest star on three Love Boat episodes and cohost an NBC daytime series, called Fantasy, alongside Leslie Uggams and Peter Marshall.
Coming Out and Advocacy
Glenn came out publicly in 2004 on the VH1 special “100 greatest teen stars.” Out magazine also covered Glenn’s announcement with a full-color picture spread and article.
Glenn has been an advocate for LGBTQ rights and donates much of his time to HIV/AIDS charities. One of the organizations that is nearest and dearest to his heart is The Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS (formally known as Body Positive). Glenn has emceed their Night For Life benefit gala, raising funds for worldwide research in treatment and prevention.
Living and Work in Sedona
For the past few decades, Glenn has been a resident of Sedona, Arizona, and is the founder/owner of Channel 18, Sedona NOW TV. He has been nominated for four Rocky Mountain Emmys for his directorial work on Sedona NOW. The station has been on the air for 19 years.
Glenn is proud to also produce and emcee special live events in Sedona, including An Evening with Norman Lear and a Songversation with four-time Grammy winner India Arie.
Honors, Aspirations, and Sacred Journeys
In 2012, Glenn was honored with a TV Land Award, along with the iconic cast of One Day at a Time. During his speech, he took the opportunity to call his friend Mackenzie Phillips an “inspiration to millions of people” for being a survivor.
Glenn now has a film streaming on Amazon/Amazon Prime in which he produced and costars with his One Day at a Time alumna Mackenzie. It’s called Sacred Journeys! His boyfriend in the film is played by Stephen Wallem, best known as Thor on Nurse Jackie. The gay theme, along with the spiritual aspects of this film, fell right into place with producing partners and distributors Beyond Words Publishing.
Glenn and Mackenzie can also be seen in cameo roles on season three of the reboot of One Day at a Time, now streaming on Netflix.
Glenn’s current project is called “Traveler TV,” which are travel segments on morning shows across the country, seen on ABC stations owned by Scripps media.
Wow! Your career in acting has taken you into several roles, including Broadway, short films, sitcoms, and more. Let’s start by introducing yourself and what led you to a career in acting?
Aw, Thank you. As I look back, I realized I came into this lifetime with a very clear passion. I started begging my parents to let me become a professional actor when I was 5 years old after performing in a kindergarten play. I wore them down by the time I was 8. LOL… I was signed by a theatrical manager at that time and booked the first audition I ever went on. I took that as a good sign. It was a frozen pizza commercial. I then debuted on Broadway in “GOLDA” starring Anne Bancroft. I played her son. It was such an incredible experience. I also got to meet and know Golda Meir herself. She and Anne made a very huge impact on this impressionable child.
Where does your passion for acting derive from?
As I said, I feel like I came to this planet with a clear idea of what drives me… but I also have my dad to thank. He was a professional cartoonist and illustrator for Archie Comics for almost 47 years. I think I get his creative genes. He and mom were very supportive to encourage me to explore artistic expression. I fell in love with the art of performance.
Has there been a certain memory on set or a specific scene from a film that’s become one of your favorites to look back on?
Well, one of my favorite roles was playing Audrey Hepburn’s son in the Peter Bogdanovich film, “They All Laughed”. Getting to know Audrey on such a personal level was one of the great joys of my life. We were shooting a sequence in the film on 5th Ave in NYC all with hidden cameras. In between takes they would escort Audrey and I into different stores to wait. One of the stores was a music shop which had cassette tapes of every kind of music. Audrey asked me if I knew much about classical music. I said I didn’t. She then began to give me an extensive lesson. She was so kind and attentive. I truly felt her love. Her humility was remarkable. At the wrap party of the film, she surprised me with those classical tapes! I was shocked. She wrote me this beautiful note that started, “To My ONLY Movie Son”. Until then I hadn’t realized she had never before played a mom in a feature film. I was so honored… and touched. I share this story because it shows that someone as famous as Audrey could also be filled with love, kindness and generosity. She set a wonderful example of how to be a celebrity.
How has acting shaped who you are today and where you want to go in the future?
That’s such an interesting question. It really makes me think. You see, I left acting at age 19 when I met my first life partner Gary Scalzo. Being an “out” actor wasn’t a choice back in the mid 80’s. I wanted privacy to explore my truth and to choose LOVE. Then I lost Gary 6 years later to HIV/AIDS. It was more than a life changing experience. It was really my first “great awakening”. I’ll now go back to your question. I think acting is an exploration of self. It’s important as an actor to know different parts of one’s self and especially emotions. When I eventually went on my inner journey during and after Gary’s passing, I think I had gotten a head start because of my journey in acting. I had had some practice in exploring myself. As this process went into a deeper spiritual practice, I can thank those years as an actor for being the springboard in which I leapt from.
One of your past projects was starting a network, Sedona Now. Where does your inspiration come from?
My spiritual “walk about” took me to sacred Sedona, AZ. I felt called. I’ve been here 28 years now. As I began to set up my new life in this amazing place, I asked the Universe to bring me a world of passion and fulfillment. I was aware that I was co-creating with Source Creator. I had an opportunity to start my own TV station and jumped on it. It gave me the on camera and behind the scenes balance that has made me so happy for decades now.
In Sacred Journeys, a film partnered with Beyond Words Publishing, teaches us that although life can be difficult, you never know where you’ll find your purpose amongst it all. What other important messages does this film provide viewers?
First of all, let me say that Sacred Journeys is my number one passion project of all time. I am thrilled and honored to collaborate with Beyond Words whose track record in conscious media is stellar (and impressive). As we developed the project, we explored the arc in my character of Marco. It really represents how LOVE and LOVE ALONE can transform and evolve us into our truest selves. As you mentioned, Marco finds purpose in his path but more than anything he finds the “calm” and “fulfillment” that only love can bring. I don’t want to give anything away but “modern love” was quite a surprise to him when it walked into his life.
As one of the stars in Sacred Journeys, did you find the spiritual twist in the film an aspect that has brought value into your own personal journey?
Another interesting question…I guess I ponder, “Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?” My own life has been reshaped as new and deeper levels of love enter and are explored. It’s really that simple. So, I’d say YES to your question. Sometimes I throw the film on Amazon and watch it again just to remind myself that life can get messy but hang in there: don’t give up before the miracle!
Not only are you an actor, but you’re also an advocate for the LGBTQ community and a donor to HIV/AIDS charities. Do you see progress happening in our national and local communities?
Oh My Gosh…YES! When I first came out back in the 80’s the amount of discrimination against our community was intense. I try to tell younger people how it was and how lucky we are to be so free in how we all live these days. It’s hard to fathom if you weren’t there. I sometimes call my first life partner “husband” when I talk about him but Marriage Equality was but a dream back then. The amount of marching, sign carrying and advocacy we all did for so many decades is overwhelming to think about. In the same breath I also need to recognize how far we still need to go. I really see it as a matter of spiritual evolution and acceptance to love each other for EVERYTHING we are. We evolve when we see life through our hearts not our eyes. It takes the courage of the LGBTQ+ community to come out and live in TRUTH to help those fearful of us to realize we are their neighbors, friends, sons, daughters, and sometimes even parents.
What does it mean to live in your truth? What advice can you provide readers on expressing and embracing their truth?
As I evolve and grow, I become more aware of where I came from and where I am going. It’s always been my calling to live out loud and proud of all the things I am. I show my truth and make no excuses for anything. I live with the philosophy that it’s none of my business what anyone thinks about me. It’s very freeing. The truth does set us free after all. I would say my top advice to anyone reading this is to live with pride in yourself. Self-love is the key to authenticity. We are not taught how to love ourselves, it’s our job to discover it. Once we accept ourselves then freedom prevails. It’s also the key to inner peace. I consider my life a journey to better myself, love myself deeper and in return better the circumstances that surround me. I believe (and have learned) that our existence is a reflection of our inner selves. I wish everyone reading this a happy, healthy and fulfilling existence. We all deserve it. It’s what the Universe wants for us.
What are you up to today as an actor, producer, and advocate?
First of all, Sacred Journeys is available on Amazon and part of your Amazon Prime package. I sure hope everyone checks it out. Sedona NOW TV which is my TV Station in Sedona will be turning 20 this year. I can’t believe how fast time has flown. The station still keeps me busy and I still find it incredibly rewarding. Back in 2017 I began producing and hosting travel segments on the hit morning show “Sonoran Living” on ABC15 in Phoenix. This has grown into a new brand called “Traveler TV” which can now be seen on Scripps Media stations. Scripps owns ABC15 and I’m thrilled to work with them on lifestyle shows throughout the country. I am also developing a new gameshow with my boyfriend John Ricci Jr! John is a gameshow producer who works on such shows as $100,000 Pyramid hosted by Michael Strahan on ABC and College Bowl hosted by Peyton Manning on NBC. This new show that we are developing will be a celebrity-based game that will find humor in expressing “opinions”. More on that as things progress. Will keep you all posted. I truly have enjoyed this conversation. I am a huge fan of Soulivity magazine. I’m honored to have been asked to share our thoughts today.
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