orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Local News

April 26, 2014

Former West Orange resident uses success in film and television to help others

ORANGE — A life-time of hard work and success, spirited by a “can do” attitude has helped Dolores Cantu accomplish nearly every goal she has set for herself.

Dolores Cantu is returning to her teenage stomping grounds this weekend for a special reunion event. In a recent telephone interview, she shared the secrets of her success and positive attitude.

Cantu, 64, was born in Refugio, Texas. Although unable to speak English until she was in second grade, she learned hard work can help you achieve your dreams and has used that trait to become the successful business woman and actress she is.

Her most recent endeavor is Candu Management, which she opened in 2001 and helps provide young, aspiring talent, many of them children, with the knowledge and guidance needed for a successful career.

“I got into this talent management business kind of by chance because a friend had asked me to help her,” Cantu said in a telephone interview. “I had just finished with my flower business of 25 years and was going to acting classes again. I just felt like this was my chance and I took it.”

Cantu’s friend, Christie Schoen, a native of New Orleans, La., has become a successful caterer in the film industry and is currently working on the set of the fifth “Terminator” movie. Cantu’s management company is growing steadily and is helping young talent find work in a variety of fields.

“What I do is almost like an unemployment agency,” she explained. “Everyone comes to me looking for a job, and the competition is fierce now compared to what it was when I started 40 years ago.”

Many of Cantu’s clients have secured roles on sitcoms, commercials, Broadway productions and several children’s shows including some on the Nickelodeon network.

“I like to work with kids and give them direction,” she continued. “But the landscape of television and the movie industry is really changing, so business isn’t done the same as it was when I started.”

Cantu and her family moved to West Orange when she was just 13-years-old. She got a job as the popcorn girl at the Strand theater when she was just 14 and continued to work there until she graduated from high school at age 18.

While working at the theater, Cantu developed a passion for movies and, more importantly, acting. That is when she knew what she had to do.

Cantu soon moved to Houston. It was here where her charm and appeal, and a bit of luck, helped her become a stewardess for Eastern Airlines in New York. Within a short time, not only was she a flight attendant, she had become an ambassador for the company for its new routes and new hotels and traveled the country doing interviews and personal appearances.

She participated in the Miss USA pageant in San Juan, Puerto Rico and, although she did not win the title, she did receive the “Miss Hospitality Award” and caught the eye of several judges who encouraged her to start modeling and follow her dream of acting.

“Everything that was happening was going on in California,” she said. “So I knew that is where I had to be.”

She received what she says was good advice from a friend at the time, and that was to have something to fall back on besides acting.

“My mother always loved flowers, and I did too because of that,” Cantu said. “I wanted to be successful, so I started ‘Flowers by Dolores,’ which was a little bucket stand at the corner of Fairfax and Sunset. I would just sell single flowers, and that is where I met a lot of famous people. I met Bruce Springsteen, and Sean Penn even bought a flower from me while he was dating Madonna and she was sitting in the car.”

She landed roles in a handful of commercials, including ones for GMC automobiles, Sunny Delight and Revlon. She secured a role in one of McDonald’s first ever commercials in 1974 in a Hispanic market and landed another role in the fast food giant’s commercial with a Hispanic in the American market.

Cantu finally got her break and secured appearances in several movies and television series.

On the big screen, she had roles in “Annie Hall” and “Force 5” as well as “Saturday Night Fever,” which she can proudly claim to be the only actress to ever beat-up John Travolta on screen.

Her television series credits are equally as impressive, including several top rates shows of the late-1970s and the 1980s such as “Different Strokes,” “Fantasy Island,” “Dallas,” “Falcon Crest,” “Young and the Restless” and even an appearance on “The Tonight Show.”

While acting and selling flowers, Cantu found work as a home decorator specializing in Christmas decor each holiday season.

“I would decorate homes for people and their trees. I would even wrap presents for them,” she said with a laugh. “Some people won’t let me quit either. I still get calls from certain people each holiday season to come decorate their homes and trees. Their children have grown up with me doing it, and they want me to come back each year.”

Although Cantu enjoys her career helping young talent find jobs in television and in movies, she is not done with her acting career just yet.

“I love, love what I do, but it’s really hard to leave the business,” she said of being an actress. “I still do commercials and print work, so I do really try to stay busy. I definitely want to get back into acting.”

Cantu believes her life has been a good one because of her hard work and positive attitude. And because she knew when to listen to good advice.

“Everything I have been able to do is because somebody said you can do this if you try,” she explained. “I always listened to good advice, and tried to get tips from people on how to do things.”

With years of experience, Cantu believes she has the best advice possible for those young people looking to be a successful actor or actress.

“You just have to believe and take chances,” she said. “You can’t be afraid to take a chance. There are so many opportunities locally, and so much work now in Texas and in Louisiana. People even teach you on the job now.

“You have to stick out of the box,” Cantu added. “I learned how to enhance myself and get my name out there. I’ve been very blessed in my life and I’m just grateful.”

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