All in the Lumet Family

Director Sidney Lumet pulled no punches when daughter Jenny professed her desire to make a living as an actress.

"He has not discouraged it or encouraged it, but he's been completely up front in that it can be a completely horrible life," said Jenny Lumet, whose show business bloodlines include grandmother Lena Horne. "You're going to spend a hell of a lot more time unemployed than employed."

She found employment with the likes of Nick Nolte, Timothy Hutton and Armand Assante in her father's newest film, "Q&A;," opening Friday. She is drug baron Assante's lover, but old flame and assistant D.A. Hutton reenters her life. It's a film in the Sidney Lumet tradition, which is to say that it deals quite candidly with some of the uglier sides of society: Creepy cops, racism, gay-bashing, more racism.

"No. Nope. Never," is the 23-year-old's position on if and when we'll enjoy a racism-free world. "I think people will always be ignorant, people will always be afraid. Maybe . . . who am I to say, but maybe in the year 2500 but certainly not in my lifetime."

She played Toto in a production of "The Wizard of Oz" at the age of 4. She did a show in high school. She studied with New York's Harold Guskin. She felt she was ready.

"I said 'Dad, I really need to get into SAG (the tough-to-get-into Screen Actors Guild). And he said 'Fine, I will give you one line.' " That was a few years ago in "Running on Empty." Young Lumet kept busy in the ensuing years with some print work and appearances in videos. Dad thought she was ready to be in the main titles when casting "Q&A.;"

"Completely natural," is how Lumet describes working for a father who happens to be a Hollywood legend. "He's very paternal with everybody who works for him so it didn't really make a difference that I was his daughter," Lumet says proudly. "He was treating everybody like his kid."

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