Eyes Wide Shut: A Thank you to Maureen Bush

STORY BY Sam Russell

Published: February 5, 2015

It came out of left field. It was the jarring stare, the menacing glare and booming door slam that would shake me to my core. Too often, kindness is mistaken for weakness. It was this naiveté that landed me in a toxic and abusive 3-½ year relationship back in Los Angeles during 2003. With Austin, Texas, as my roots, L.A. would become my second home, and the iconic city would pay me handsomely for my creative eye in fashion.

Fast forward to 2007.

When people whisper about the next generation of up-and-comers landing all the key auditions in town and wooing Hollywood execs with their talent and pose, actress and director Sophia Bush is repeatedly on that short list.  Where does her self-confidence come from that moves her to the top of the list? 

Standing there to greet me in the million-dollar dream studio of Charles Bush Photography was Charles’ wife, Maureen. Anyone who calls the Los Angeles landscape home resonates with this type of woman. Warm in her words and strong in appearance, Maureen Bush is a force to be reckoned with. Maureen ran the photography studio and raised a loving, creative and soulful daughter in the process, a daughter who would go on and become a rising star on Hollywood’s red carpet.


It was a not a typical studio day. I arrived wearing dark shades, masking the night of crying and angst that had sadly become a part of my norm in the Miracle Mile home I shared with my now ex. My usual bubbly inner light was dim that day and Maureen noticed it immediately. Stealthily, she watched me from across the room and sized up how she was going to respond. And boy, did she ever. With my back turned, I felt the power of Maureen’s presence come into the dressing room where I was setting up clothing and jewelry for an approaching photo shoot. It was still an hour before the client and the talent would arrive.

She slammed the door with all her might. BAM! The reverberation shook the room; the ceiling even hiccupped. My heart nearly jumped out of my chest.

"You think for a second I take anyone's crap in this world?” she shouted at me. “You think for a moment I don't see what this guy is doing to you?” she stated sternly and even louder. The disapproval in her eyes that resulted from someone mistaking my kindness for weakness and from me for allowing it was apparent. Maureen was not in business mode that day, but mother mode. As quickly as she entered, she disappeared and I never saw her again that day.

When someone causes something to awaken within you, it’s much tougher to journey back and conform to another’s expectation of you. And awaken I did. I left that abusive relationship just a few weeks later.

People are more curious these days about Sophia and the media attention is exciting to watch from my Giving Closet post in DC. As Maureen and her husband Charles settle into retirement, I want her to know that she has influenced more than just her daughter in positive and support waves.

Maureen, thank you for taking a break from the hustle and bustle of Hollywood to care. My eyes are no longer wide shut.


Sam's Headshot Photo Credit: Stephen Jerrome CAO PERROT -Los Angeles www.caoperrotstudio.com


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