Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Oh My...

Naturally, the week of my move I have six auditions scheduled.  I don't need sleep, it's overrated anyway. 

Sleep deprived but happy as a clam to be doing what I love six times this week.  (Seven if you count my wonderful, wonderful class.)

"My success just evolved from working hard at the business at hand each day."
Johnny Carson

Thank you, Mr. Carson.  I think those are words we can all live by.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

35 Boxes and Counting...

It's been pouring rain today which would normally mean movie time, but I've been packing up my apartment for my move this weekend.  About 70% of my worldly possessions are in boxes at the moment which always feels kind of strange to see your life housed in cardboard stacks.  I'm excited to make the move...  but a smidge nervous... yesterday I auditioned for a little short that sounded like a fun script.  After a very strong audition, they excitedly asked me if I'd be available to shoot this weekend in the evening. 

Can I really spend five hours in the morning hauling boxes and furniture up to my new third floor apartment... then spend the evening shooting until midnight???  This is one of those moments in which I wonder if I'm overly ambitious and stretching myself too thin, or I'm just doing what it takes to be committed to my work.  

Jury is still out.  I'll make my final decision if and when they offer me the role.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Getting Discovered, or My Thoughts on the Lottery

Someone I knew in high school commented on Facebook that he hoped I'd be discovered soon.  The sentiment comes from a supportive place, but it got me thinking... what the hell is being discovered, anyway?  Is it the romantic idea of a famous director seeing you walk down the street, decide you're perfect for the lead in his next film and all of a sudden you're a superstar?  It certainly has happened, but those of us who are in it know that this story is not as common as the general public tends to believe.  The old addage among actors is that being "discovered" is the equivalent of a strike of lighting.  Well, according to the National Weather Service, approximately 55 people are struck by lightening in the United States each year.  So following that logic, you're probably MORE likely to die from being struck by lightening than you are to be stopped by Steven Speilberg at the grocery store because he wants to give you an above title credit in his next movie.

Still, Actors migrate to Los Angeles in droves believing that they'll have dinner at the Ivy and be discovered.  That's their plan: all they have to do is be in the right place at the right time.  Well... let's just say, if you have a five step plan to stardom and one of them is "Get Discovered," I'm afraid you're probably in for a lot of disappointment.  If getting discovered at the mall is about as (or less) likely than getting hit by lightening or winning the lottery, I wouldn't allow the success of my career to hinge on it.  If I were the financial manager of someone's estate, I doubt they would want me to include winning the lottery as one of the steps to ensure their financial security down the road.  The plan better be designed to generate wealth outside of any Mega Millions winnings.

But again, I'm not discouraging anyone from buying lottery tickets... people do win.  I've never met any of them, but they're out there.  If you don't at least drop a dollar here or there on a ticket, you'll definitely never win, so you may as well keep the option open.  Now I don't buy lottery tickets, but I do keep my head on a swivel for the opportunity of chance meetings turning into business connections that turn into jobs.  In my mind, that's the reality of getting "discovered." 

Example 1: I've done my fair share of catering in this city and have developed many contacts while on the job.  I'm not talking about other actors who are also carrying trays (though I've met a lot of friends that way too), I'm talking about the guests at the industry parties we work.  So many times I've overheard other actors in the staff who complain of having to go out on the floor and talk to people.  I always think to myself, "Are you insane?!?!"  That floor is full of some of the biggest producers in the business and you DON'T want to get in front of them and try to shine?!?!?  That's just bad business sense.  Working an event gives you a legitimate excuse to interact and get your face seen for hours by people who wouldn't normally give you five minutes if you asked them on the street.  I've gotten countless business cards, auditions, trips to awards ceremonies, pilot scripts, and emails from VPs in some of the top celebrity agencies with requests to keep them informed of my career as they are now "fans."  (It's worth mentioning that I've also been hit on more times than I could possibly count... so if you're going to try to put this into practice, be very aware that Hollywood is a town filled with inflated egos and raging libidos.

I get out there and work my ass off for one purpose... to be memorable.  (In a good way.)  I worked an annual event two years in a row and happened to see a guest who said he remembered me from the last year.  And guess what, this year we exchanged emails.  A week later he sent a notice of a commercial audition he saw and thought of me.  I was called in the next day.  In my mind, THAT's being "discovered."  I don't believe in waiting around for lightning to strike... I believe in running out into the heart of the storm and waving a ten-foot aluminum pole in the air.  If I keep generating opportunties like that, some are bound to pay off. 

Example 2: Last weekend, I was having brunch with my mom who was visiting for a few days.  Near the end of our meal, an older gentleman was seated at the table next to us.  We started chatting with him about the day, the restaurant, that my mom was visiting, where we were from and so on.  He asked why I moved to LA, and when I told him I was an actress, he revealed that he was a screenwriter.  After a little more conversation about the business, it turns out he's not just any screenwriter... he wrote couple films nominated for Oscars.  So we joked with him that my mom had wanted to see someone famous on this trip, so now he'd helped us achieve that goal.  Then he said, "Well, actually my brother is really the famous one.  He is an Oscar winning screenwriter and director."  He proceeded to list a few of his titles... some of the most famous films in the history of moviemaking.  Holy shit, these guys were legends.

After a bit, my mother and I made our goodbyes, but on the way out we decided to buy one of the tarts he'd recommended we try from the pastry case.  As I was at the counter, I noticed a pastry with a berry that is native to my home state, so I bought one for him since we'd been talking about it.  I went back to give it to him, and by that time, his brother had shown up to join him.  "Oh, I was just telling my brother about you!" he said as he introduced us.  Then a Hollywood legend stood to shake my hand.  (Holy SHIT!!)  I gave them the pastry and he asked me the question I hoped he would ask:

"Who's your agent?  So I know just in case."

I gave him my agent, and though I probably should have asked him if he'd like my card, I didn't want to put too much pressure on such a delicate situation.  Instead, I sent him a thank you note through his manager this week, saying perhaps we can meet at the restaurant again one day, but on purpose. 

I may not have won the lottery yet, but I'm certainly buying a ticket. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Long Road

Whether you ran the 26.2 miles for the LA Marathon yesterday or you're out there pounding the pavement for a career in Hollywood... keep up the hustle!  The road may be long, but you're the 1% who's out there doing what most people think is impossible.  You f***ing rock!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Horse, Of Course

I had a big commercial audition today.  One of the first through my new agent, and also one of my first after becoming a SAG member, so I'm really the new girl on the big-league scene.  It was my first time in this particular casting studio and while I honestly don't care what people think, I'll admit I was a tad nervous that I'd actually look like the newbie.  Silly things like, I didn't know the layout of the place, so I probably looked lost for a second while searching for the studio with my commercial.  Or I was the only one that put my SAG ID number down on the sign in sheet (like we're supposed to, but no one actually does, I guess).

So I sat down to wait and study the premise of the commercial.  After a moment, I took a look around at the other actors.  Everyone was professional, reading the material, looking comfortable and successful in these big leagues.  No one was complaining about their agents, no one was bragging about things they've booked.  No one smelled of desperation.  It was just comfortable and relaxed business as usual.  And judging by the agencies listed on the sign in sheet, it was.  These guys were the real deal.  And I smiled to myself because my heart wasn't racing; I felt relaxed and happy and comfortable.  I knew I belonged there too.

As that realization settled within me, it was my turn to go.  Lots of commercials have you do group auditions where multiple actors head in and perform the entire spot together, though everyone's auditioning for different parts.  This one was a group of three... and we were supposed to be on horseback, galloping through a field.

Now picture us... three adults perched up on three stools holding reins strings attached to a horse c-stand in front of us.  Three adults sitting in a studio in Los Angeles bumping up and down like we're running the Kentucky Derby, heeya-ing and whoa-nellying like we're in a John Wayne film.  I felt like I was five years old again, running through the yard on my stick horse, imagining that outlaws were after me in the wild wild west.  (God, I love this job!!!)

Now I've mentioned before that you have to walk in and just commit to what you're doing. That's not a bad lesson for anyone in life, but it's particularly important for us actors.  Stop judging and just be present and go with it.  Without full commitment, that stool would have been just a stool and those strings would have been just strings.   It's our job as actors to make them more than that.  Give the stool and string a greater life than even they imagined they could have.

With the commitment, and letting go of the judgement, comes the fun.  You should be playing and having FUN in your auditions!  I would love to book this role, but whether I do or not, I had a BLAST getting to play it for the five minutes I was in that room.  Remember... for those five minutes, the role IS yours.  Enjoy it and get lost in the moment.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Timeline of the Last 24

They say this life is a roller coaster.  It's more like rapid directional changes in emotion at Mach 5 that would put fighter jets to shame.  Case in point... the last 24 hours:

4:00 pm -- Agent calls... I have an audition at 4:45 tomorrow for a big TV show in a HUGE office.
4:30 pm -- I get the sides, 4ish pages.
6:00 pm -- Eat dinner and watch an episode of the show to get a feel for it, meet the characters I speak to.
7:00 pm -- Start working through my scene, bury myself in the life and history of my character.
10:30 pm -- Pop a Tylenol PM because I know I'm going to have trouble falling to sleep.
11:00 pm -- Hot, hot shower and straight to bed (a little trick I learned: the rapid drop in temp triggers sleep).

4:00 am -- I am wide awake and thinking about my scene, working it out in my mind.
5:00 am -- Get up, shower and get ready to head to work early so that I can leave early to head to audition.
7:15 am -- I'm at work and wired!  In just a few hours, I go straight to producers!!
1:15 pm -- Hop in my car to head to my coach's studio for a quick private before I head to Glendale.


1:30 pm -- My agent calls... the role was just cut from the script.  
1:35 pm -- Hang up the phone and throw a little PMS-induced tantrum for  ten seconds.
1:36 pm -- Laugh at myself.

Still, casting PROMISES to bring me in as soon as another role that's my type pops up, they really want to see me.  And thank god for my amazing agents!  As soon as that office releases a breakdown that can even remotely fits my description, they'll be all over that office like white on rice.

*Sigh.  So, a bit of bummer, but part of the business.  I was really looking forward to performing that scene, it was nice and meaty.  But you gotta stay flexible and positive and trust that there is lots more on the way.  Things are just starting to heat up.  Like my audition tomorrow for a nice big SAG national commercial...

Here's to the next 24.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Well, Hello There!

Trust me... If you were wondering if I was still alive this week, I was right there with you.  It was so nutty, I thought I might blow a gasket.  Fortunately, I've survived and my list of highlights to you is going to sound an awful lot like the rapid recap at the beginning of an episode of Glee.  So imagine this as an image montage with the voice over of Matthew Morrison speaking faster than a twelve-year-old girl at the Galleria:

Anony attended a theatrical agent night at a studio and though there were nodding heads during her scene, she hasn't gotten any phone calls... which actually doesn't disappoint her in the slightest because her commercial agent has been pulling double duty as a theatrical agent and even pushed really hard to get her in for a series regular role on a CW pilot.  It didn't end up happening, but the quickly developing actor-agent relationship has Anony very much in love with her commercial rep. 

The Anony-style of acting is flourishing and picking up momentum.  Not only were the two casting director workshops this week strong performances with stellar feedback, but while editing new work into her demo reel, Anony realized that her skill has so far progressed, that her work from six months ago is unusable... when compared to the new footage, it's just plain bad... so it's been sent to the cutting room floor.

Anony has needed to send emails to potential directors for the play for an entire week now, but hasn't had a chance to do it because she's been driving around the Westside like a maniac looking for the perfect apartment for her April 1st move.  It is unknown how many two bedroom flats there are west of the 405, but Anony is pretty sure she's seen all of them.  Fortunately, she and her friend-slash-new-roommie perfected the art of the drive-and-dial and submitted an application for their first choice.  The renting game is wrought with fierce competition and waiting for the approval was like waiting for a callback, but the verdict is in...we got it!  So aside from the pain of writing a very large check for the deposit and first month's rent, She's happy to be the proud new co-lessee of a 2+2 with a pool. 

Minor points of the week include a second date that was pleasant, but not spectacular and ultimately led to a flirty text sent to the marlin... a much needed facial... helping out in a casting session in which the director shared WAY too much personal information... and a nightmare, but while most normal people's scary dreams contain monsters or zombies, Anony's was about being late for an audition.  That's when you know it's getting to you.

And that's what you missed!

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Little Extra Sunshine

There are many reasons why I love living in Southern California.  Walking out my front door, I’m greeted by the smell of orange blossoms and jasmine, every major musical artist’s tour includes a stop in Los Angeles, and you can get fro-yo and world famous hot dogs until 3 am.  But most of all, it’s the sunny, 80-degree days in the middle of winter that really take the sting out of the fact that I’m miles away from my family.  This weekend I was apartment shopping in a sun dress fit for July, and I was still overheating.  It’s tough to be cranky when you’re viewing apartments with balconies shaded by palm trees.  My sincere apologies to anyone who’s bundled up to keep out the cold of these last few weeks of winter.  Come to LA and I’ll buy you a margarita and we’ll sit on a sun deck and watch that big ball of fire sink into the Pacific.

But the weather wasn’t the only sunshine in my world last week.  I had a private session with my coach to discuss headshots, career, skills, my next moves, et cetera.  While discussing the types of roles I should pursue, she stopped and said, “The camera loves your face; incredibly photogenic.  And you’re hugely talented.”

That statement hit me more than I expected it would. 

Look, I've trained hard enough and critiqued myself long enough to know that I'm good.  I don't need to hear it and I make damn sure that I’m not spending my days looking for approval or reassurance that I belong in this city.  I learned that lesson two years ago when I lost my confidence then realized that it didn't matter how gifted I was or how much I believed I should have been "discovered" for my talent already.  If I didn’t keep moving myself along, no one else was going to.  

One of the most important battles you will fight as an actor is to overcome the need to be told you have talent.  You have to just know deep down in your bones that you have what it takes -- in both talent and stamina -- because no one else will.  We all show up in LA thinking the golden gates will fly open and the red carpet will roll out once the gatekeepers see us… we’re special, we have talent, we have that star quality.  Then... everyone’s soul gets crushed when they realize that even immense talent only gets you so far.  If you're only able to find motivation when others fawn over your ability, you're ego will be dragging your confidence home in a body bag.  Trust me.  You could be Marlon Brando reincarnated, but in the beginning, you aren't ever going to get enough praise.  You may not even get more than a, "Great.  Thanks for coming in," while the casting director never looks up from his iPhone.

I've ingrained this philosophy into my career.  I must forge ahead, regardless of how many (or how few) pats my back receives.  And yet, I spent so much time convincing myself that I don’t need anyone’s approval, that I had forgotten how powerful those words can really be.  But I guess I'm human, because last week when one of the most sought-after acting coaches in Los Angeles looked at me and said I was hugely talented and beyond ready to book guest starring roles... it took my breath away.  Maybe I don't need it... but it sure is nice to hear every once in a while.  

I better get my hugely talented self to bed now.  Nighty-night.  :)