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He's Catching the Eye of Hollywood

College football: UCLA's Poli-Dixon could seek out an acting career, but he's happy as a Bruin receiver.


You never know where you might find The Next Big Star. According to legend, a talent agent spotted Lana Turner at Schwab's Pharmacy on Sunset Boulevard, and America had itself another sweetheart.

If you can discover a movie star inside a drug store, why not scan the aisles of a grocery store? Aileen Campbell-Reid, a Los Angeles talent manager and acting coach, was shopping at Vons a few months ago when a tall young man caught her eye.

"Hey, there's a stunner," she blurted out to her husband, almost frantically.

The young man appeared attractive, poised and confident. He had movie star written all over him.

Campbell-Reid followed the young man and his friends outside the store and into the parking lot. Her husband overheard the group talking about the UCLA football team, so he asked whether anyone knew a guy named Brian Poli-Dixon.

The "stunner" spoke up.

"I'm Brian Poli-Dixon," he said.

Small world, indeed. Campbell-Reid had moved here from Tucson to open an acting school. Poli-Dixon had moved here from Tucson to play football at UCLA. In elementary and junior high school, when he was a child actor, Campbell-Reid was his agent.

In the grocery store, she did not recognize him. The little kid had grown into a 6-foot-5 man. So Campbell-Reid and Poli-Dixon exchanged hugs and memories, and the two went their separate ways, but not before she slipped a business card into his hand.

"Look me up," she said.

Fret not, Bruin fans. You may suffer the pain of losing a junior or two to the NFL after the season, but Poli-Dixon promises you will not suffer the pain of losing this junior to Hollywood.

"I've got other things to worry about right now," Poli-Dixon said. "I don't want people to think I'm getting sidetracked. I'm not playing the way I want to now. I have to worry about what I'm here for first. If other things fall into place, then maybe I can look into that."

Two seasons ago, Poli-Dixon caught 44 passes for 712 yards, the second-most receiving yards of any sophomore in school history, behind J.J. Stokes. He caught 10 touchdown passes, tops in the Pacific 10 Conference.

He missed most of last season, a medical redshirt because of a broken wrist. His performance has been uneven at best this season, although virtually any statistics would pale in comparison to the spectacular ones posted by the Bruins' other starting receiver, Freddie Mitchell.

Mitchell ranks among NCAA leaders with 50 receptions for 924 yards and six touchdowns. Poli-Dixon, dropping a few passes and missing a few other catchable ones, has 34 receptions for 447 yards and three touchdowns.

"He hasn't had a bad season, but he's capable of more. I'll put it that way," receiver coach Ron Caragher said.

The Bruins generally look to Mitchell first, but they looked to Poli-Dixon in the first quarter of Saturday's 27-24 victory at Arizona. On the Bruins' two scoring drives in the quarter, Poli-Dixon caught four passes, one for a touchdown. He finished with five receptions.

Two years ago, in his only other college game in front of family and friends in Tucson, Poli-Dixon caught four passes, one for a touchdown, in a 52-28 victory over the Wildcats.

"I thought it was the best game I've ever been in, especially because that's where I'm from," he said.

"There's always that little extra pressure, because you don't want to go back home and look like a chump."

On screen, Campbell-Reid insists, Poli-Dixon never would look like a chump.

"I think he would make it as a film actor in a heartbeat," she said. "He has a strong screen presence. He's very good-looking. He's got wonderful eyes, which an actor needs to have.

"He has the depth of personality of a Denzel Washington, who is also very charismatic on the screen. He has the quiet dignity about him that Denzel does."

Actors do not simply sign up with an agent and start working. Casting calls can be cruel and unusual punishment. Some actors go months, even years, without winning a role.

Poli-Dixon got a part within weeks of signing with Campbell-Reid, as a kid in a commercial for a heavy-duty water gun.

"I played this old man," Poli-Dixon said. "I had my squirt gun ready, but I didn't squirt anybody."

He auditioned for roles in commercials and television shows. He modeled for fashion shows in department stores. He wore a tuxedo in a bridal fair. He posed for the Kids R Us catalog.

"It was cool. It was lucrative too--over $100 an hour! That's a lot of money when I was a little kid! I was having fun too. I got to go to a lot of different places," he said.

Most of us do not encounter a career crisis before getting a driver's license. Poli-Dixon did. He traveled to Palm Springs to enter a modeling competition but in his hotel room, he said he realized he would rather be back in Tucson, with family and friends.

"I would have had to sign with some agencies in L.A. I didn't really want to take it to the next step," Poli-Dixon said. "It wasn't worth moving for."

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