AUSTIN -- Actress Erin Gray has been turning heads since the 1970s. Her career in show business began with modeling, then acting ("Buck Rogers in the 25th Century," "Silver Spoons"), and now includes producing. For the last decade, Gray has also run her own business, Heroes For Hire, which books personal appearances for celebrities from the world of sci-fi and fantasy.
But it's her work in front of the camera that has taken a new direction. Work on a horror film in recent years led Gray to search for projecst with more meaning. With "Dreams Awake" (2011), she found a film that aligned with her own personal journey.
"My whole life has been on a spiritual path. Raised by atheists, I found myself having those big questions that you have when you're becoming an adult and looking for the answers. So I've gone down this path, which led me to Tai Chi and doing energy work," explained Gray during a recent visit to Austin. "It was another dream that I didn't even know I had, to take the spiritual path and bring it to film."
Although it meant working with people who were new to filmmaking, Gray took a chance and was rewarded. "Dreams Awake" won a number of awards. Her next project with the same writer/director, Jerry Alden Deal, will bring her back to Central Texas. "One Hand Clapping" will film outside Austin in 2014. The drama concerns three brothers who have taken very different paths in their lives and reunite as their father is passing away; the film explores their unresolved family dynamics and secrets, as well as the idea of reincarnation. Gray is a co-producer on the film.
Gray found it fulfilling to combine her spirituality with her work. "I realized there was a part of me that is not happy. What do I do with this knowledge, this love, this passion that I have for spiritual arts?" Finding projects that match her passion means she is "definitely happier now, with a better understanding of the dynamics of life. I have to say I wanted to be more harmonious in my life, and have a sense of peace as I go through life and be comfortable in my joy...It became more of a tuning into my truth and understanding that and then understanding the bigger picture in an energy way. I gravitated toward Tai Chi and Taoism."
Her goal is to help people "open their hearts and yet stay grounded at the same time, and yet be able to have tools that will give them a healthier longevity in that way." Gray remains a striking beauty, outwardly reflecting the confidence and peace she found on her life's continuing journey.