LOS ANGELES, April 14 (UPI) -- Lalanya Masters was about ready to give up acting before she got a gig in the cast of the new prime-time drama "Platinum."
Masters did not nail the audition on her first try, but then she heard the producers had still not found the right person to play Monica Rhames on the show -- which several critics have described as "Dynasty" set in the world of hip-hop. She managed to get another audition -- and even then, she still felt she had reached the end of the line in Hollywood.
She was driving home in her '86 Jeep, feeling she had blown her second chance and wondering how she was going to pay the rent. As Masters tells it, her manager called her and she started crying, saying she had had it -- she was going to quit the business.
In true Hollywood fashion, Masters' manager told her she got the part.
"The rent's paid now," Masters said in an interview with United Press International.
The daughter of former Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Barry, Masters studied fine arts and philosophy at Howard University before heading West for a career in TV and movies. Up until now, it hadn't been working out very well.
She had a recurring role in the TV comedy "The Good News," and had guest-starred on several series -- including "Law & Order," "The Steve Harvey Show" and "The Parkers."
At 30, Masters found herself with no house, no car and no savings. But she was having a good time just the same.
"I was having fun, but it was a destructive fun," she said. "I was not a responsible young lady, making responsible choices."
Masters said she eventually had to recognize that she wasn't making the most of her time, and wasn't treating herself well, physically.
"I'm not a drinker and I'm not a drug abuser, but I had an addiction to sugar," she said. "It was about eating and then taking laxatives to look skinny, instead of committing to a great diet and a great workout plan."
In retrospect, Masters said the "look skinny" approach was a big mistake.
"You look on the screen and you look horrible," she said. "There are times when I wish I could get the tapes and destroy them."
Now, she said she works out, tries to eat right, and is trying to banish sugar from her diet entirely. She said actresses Halle Berry and Jennifer Lopez have inspired her and other young actresses to pay closer attention to taking care of themselves.
"Those women take exceptionally good care of themselves and they don't take their looks for granted," she said. "For women in the (entertainment) industry, you're going to get work not only for how good you are, but you have to look good."
Masters will soon be seen in U.S. movie theaters in "G," an urban take on "The Great Gatsby."
Now that she has caught on with a major role in a high-profile prime time drama, Masters is looking forward to more career growth -- including developing her own projects.
"I would love to remake 'Gilda,'" she said -- a reference to the 1946 Rita Hayworth-Glenn Ford drama. "Once I get the recognition, the visibility and the leverage, there are a couple of films from that era that I would love to remake."
Master has just about finished work on "Platinum" in Toronto. Leading up to its premiere on UPN -- which also stars Jason George, Sticky Fingaz, Steven Pasquale and Davetta Sherwood -- was getting good reviews.
"Platinum" will feature guest appearances by hip-hop and R&B recording artists.
Ginuwine appears on the April 29 episode, as a record act caught up in a power play between rival record companies. At the same time, the leading players from "Platinum" appear in Ginuwine's latest video, which premieres on MTV this week.