The video: “Missing You” by John Waite.
The girl-now-woman: Liz Whitney (Elizabeth Reiko Kubota).
The girl-now-woman: Liz Whitney (Elizabeth Reiko Kubota).
How old were you when you appeared in the “Missing You” video?
Where were you living at the time?
The Los Angeles area.
What music videos, shows, or movies had you appeared in prior to that?
I think prior to that I had performed in stage shows, but not sure of when I started getting TV and movie roles.
I auditioned for the role through my agent.
Do you remember what your reaction was when you were cast?
I was really excited since this was my first main role on video.
Had you heard of John Waite?
I actually had not heard of him. I was told he was in a group called Babys and this was his first [release] as a solo artist.
Where was the video filmed?
It was filmed in downtown Los Angeles, if I remember correctly.
How long was the shoot?
I think my part was maybe two days. The first day was a very long day and a long night. I think I came back for a second day, but my shoot on the second day did not take that long. I remember hanging around after I was finished shooting to watch them shoot John Waite perform the song in a nightclub. The stage was black and there was just overhead lighting on him. They show that scene at the end of the video. I loved watching him perform in that scene. I became an instant fan of his.
How did you feel making the video?
I had a wonderful experience with the whole process. John was very nice to me and I felt comfortable working with him. Kort [Kort Falkenberg III], the director, was wonderful to work with as [was] everyone else involved with the production, from hair and makeup, costuming, and the crew.
What was the hardest part of the shoot?
There is a dinner scene where we are breaking up and I am supposed to be crying. This was the last scene that we were shooting for the night (I think it may have been early morning by this time). Everyone was so tired…the crew especially, [since they] had been there since early morning. We all just wanted to wrap for the day, but we had to finish shooting the scene.
My eyes at this point were like a desert, they were so dry. I felt so bad because I was keeping everyone there and everyone had to be back the next morning. I remember going to the bathroom and putting water on them. Someone told me to think of my pet dying. Someone suggested getting an onion to make my eyes water. Believe me, I was so tired that I wanted to cry.
How was it to work with John Waite? What was he like? Did he hit on you?
As I mentioned earlier, I did not know who he was so I did not have any expectations. He was very nice and on the quiet side. He was a perfect gentleman. I enjoyed working with him and as I also mentioned earlier, I loved watching him perform his song.
Any funny stories from the shoot?
I don’t remember any funny stories. But I do remember sitting and talking with John between takes during the scene where I was wearing a teddy and jumping out of the closet onto him and we fall back on the bed. I had a bathrobe on until we were ready to shoot. I remember him asking me if I felt uncomfortable having to wear just the teddy.
Anything go wrong on the shoot?
I don’t remember anything going wrong in the scenes that I was in.
What did you think of the video?
I loved it. I loved that song and still do every time I hear it.
I don’t really remember what my parents thought of it. I know they were proud of me whenever I was in a show and always came to my performances.
What did your friends think of it?
They all loved it. In 1984, it was in heavy rotation on MTV. I remember my friends telling me that they were waking up to me and going to sleep watching me.
Did you watch the MTV World Premiere of the video, and if so, where and how did that feel?
Okay, now you are really testing my memory. I probably watched it with the director and the producer, but I don’t really remember. If it premiered in the summer, then I would have been working doing summer stock at Sacramento Music Circus in California.
Did the video ever affect your dating life in any way (i.e. when you first told boyfriends you were the woman in it)?
I don’t think it did. I didn’t really tell people unless they asked if they would have seen me in anything [after] I told them I was an actress/singer.
Did you receive fan mail? If so, do you still have any of it?
I have received fan mail, but I don’t think it was from the “Missing You” video. I don’t think there are any credits in the video.
Did the video generate any controversy that you know of?
I don’t know of any controversy from the video.
What were you paid?
I don’t remember. I was happy to be working and earning a paycheck.
Were you ever recognized in public?
I was in a department store and the sales girl said that I looked familiar to her. I asked her if she had seen the “Missing You” music video and she had. I told her I was the girl in the video and she thought I was John Waite’s girlfriend in real life. That happened back in ‘84 or ‘85. That actually happened more than once where people thought I was his real-life girlfriend.
Another time I went back for my high school’s 10th reunion and I won a prize for being in the music video. On that same trip home, I was at a bar with a friend and they were playing the “Missing You” video. My friend told the bartender that I was the girl in the music video and he didn’t believe it at first. (I come from a small town.) He wanted to know why I would be there if I had been in the video.
I was friends with the late Carl Anderson; after “Missing You” became the #1 music video for 1984, he asked me to be in his next video, “Can’t Stop This Feeling.” He thought I would be good luck. I had a small part as a geisha.
I was also in a Jeff Beck video. The premise of the video was an audition for his music video. I was one of many, sitting waiting for my turn. Again, I appear in spanning shots, so my face time is brief. It was a fun shoot, though, because they had well known celebrities auditioning singing while Jeff Beck played the guitar. He was amazing to watch play. Marilyn McCoo and Donny Osmond were a couple of the celebrities who sang. Dr. Joyce Brothers also has an appearance where she’s talking while she’s waiting for her turn.
I appeared in a children’s music video by Together Again Productions called “Good Night, Sleep Tight.” That was part of a series of VHS videos that you [could buy].
The last music video I was in was a karaoke video for George Harrison’s “Something.” That would get played at karaoke bars in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s.
Did you ever meet other women who were female leads in a mainstream ‘80s rock video?
I met Courteney Cox on her TV series Misfits of Science. I played a nurse on one of the episodes and was in two short scenes with her.
If you went to college, where and what did you study?
I received a BA in Theater Arts from UCLA.
What are you doing these days?
Our youngest daughter is now a freshman in college, but we still have two dogs at home. I am keeping busy with various projects and going to parents’ weekends at both of our girls in college.
I live just north of New York City.
If you are/were married, what was your future husband’s reaction when he learned you were in this video?
He liked the video so I guess he was impressed. I don’t really remember.
How many kids do you have?
We have three daughters, ages 30, 21, and 18.
What do they think of the video?
They all like it. My youngest told her teachers and friends in high school and they watched it on YouTube.
What did you think when you first heard from me?
I wasn’t quite sure what to think. I have warned my girls to be careful what they post online because you never know who may see it.
Has anyone else ever interviewed you about this?
Yes, for my high school newspaper. I think it was in 1985.
Have you appeared at any fan conventions to sign autographs? If not, would you?
No, I have not and probably would not now.
Did you stay in touch with anyone from the video?
I did stay in touch with the director.
When was the last time you were in touch?
I moved to New York a few years after the music video and lost touch.
How do you look back on the experience?
It was a very positive experience and one I feel fortunate to have had.
Anything you’d like to add?
It has always been a conversation piece for my family. I have the VHS copy, but now my girls can bring it up on YouTube and show their friends.
Tweet about this interview to @John_Waite!
Next: Survivor, “I Can’t Hold Back” (1984).