Monday, April 30, 2012

Let the Bidding Begin

I was driving home from a shoot Saturday night and looked up to see this billboard.  WGN claims:
"It's Upfront Time and We're Lookin' Good" 

The light was about to change and I wanted to live through the intersection so it isn't the best shot, but the small asterisked disclaimer says:

"Even if you don't know what an upfront is."

I always love these cheesy industry focused billboards because it reminds me that I'm right in the heart of all the action.  That the leaders in TV and film are driving the same streets I drive.  Maybe they're in that Bentley one lane over.... 

Happy upfronts time!  In case you don't know, it's the time of year the networks package up their beautiful new pilots with their established shows and sell most of the year's advertising "upfront."  Why is this important?  It's time to place your bets on which pilots get picked up.  Though I didn't get cast in one (hell, I didn't even test for one), I still watch the upfronts like a hawk.  I've read most of the scripts and am crossing my fingers for the ones with story lines that are likely to need my type in future episodes.  As soon as I know... it's off to the races to start marketing to those shows so when they get back from hiatus and start casting again... they'll know I'm out there.  

They can't cast who they don't know.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I'M IN!!

I won one of the lottery spots into the New York City marathon!!  This is the second year I've entered the drawing and I just found out yesterday that I'm in!!  (I've never been quite as excited to see $255 automatically deducted from my bank account.)  Looks like I'll be training all summer so I can hit the streets of the Big Apple for 26.2 miles in November... so I guess I'll be pounding the pavement both literally and figuratively for the next six months.   

(P.S. How ironic that the news arrives just after a weekend with my Marlin.  I guess he'll no longer be able to complain that I never come visit him in New York.)

Now... if I can just figure out how to get in the lottery for a career in Hollywood....  Sometimes it seems just about as random.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sometimes It's Hard

I feel like the last four days have been a whirlwind, like I took a break from my life for a moment.  With the stress of the move, the wrap of pilot season, and a little bout of insecurity at the modesty of the gains in my career, I needed a little time to check out.  In what is perhaps a twist of fate, my Marlin was in town over the weekend.  Though I wouldn't trade any second I spent with him these last few days for all the tea in China, I look back over the weekend and my heart fills with pangs of bittersweet.  

There are very few things that get my adrenaline pumping quite like walking up to a restaurant knowing that man is inside. Aside from a number of shameless sessions of Facebook stalking (don't judge, you've done it too), I hadn't seen his face since he was in town last October, and who knows how long before that.  Still, you would have thought I was walking up to meet the President, by the 21 gun salute flip-flopping my stomach.  I won't bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say the weekend solidified my growing feelings for him and shed some light that they might actually be reciprocated (although the confirmation came from a friend, not him)... which is ultimately frustrating and painful because neither of us are willing to do anything about it. The three thousand miles between our respective hat hangers is a deal breaker for us both.

However, there was one twist that may interest you: the group of New York friends that came out with him for the weekend included a regular cast member on a very famous, long-running television show.  I've not watched it in years, so I had no idea who she was, though I started to suspect after it was casually mentioned in passing conversation a few times.   It's a tricky situation, because I was genuinely more interested in getting to know a close friend of my Marlin as a person before I got to know her as a moderately famous comedienne, so I didn't press for too many details. 

We hit it off immediately. She was incredibly sweet and I wouldn't hesitate for an instant to hang out with her again.  The only bummer was her success TOWERED over mine.  Not a bummer for her or our friendship, just for my ego.  She is rapidly becoming a brand name... and I'm still painfully anonymous.  At the dinner table, my dream man was flanked by her on the right, a hugely successful actress repped by CAA... and on the left... little ol' me.  All of a sudden, I felt feverishly inadequate and acutely aware of the vast mountain I still had in front of me. As he and I were catching up on the last six months of our lives, the baby step accomplishments that had been so exciting for me somehow seemed like fussing over nothing.  All the confidence that normally pumps through my veins retreated into hiding.  Neither of them made me feel like I was anything but included, but now that they're gone, I face a little of that actor fear.  I work so hard, I'm so talented and still I am barely moving. That, coupled with the painful swallowing of the growing passion for someone who may never be able to be a significant part of my life, has left me feeling a little blue, to say the least.  AND... I still haven't heard back on that movie audition I had last week (which my acting coach thought for sure I'd hear from them).

I know this feeling will pass and that hitting a low just means there's a high on it's way... but I wouldn't be being honest with you guys if I didn't tell you it sucks.  It so difficult to be at it so diligently for so long and still have such little to show for it, particularly when we're talking about trying to impress The Marlin. 

Well, there's nothing left to do but keep pushing forward.  So... let's do that.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Stop "IT"

Let me tell you about something I used to do.  It may interest you because you might still do it.  You may not even know you're doing it.  If you do... STOP.  Stop right now.  If you still do this, you're getting in your own way.  Instead of being your own biggest fan, you're being your own biggest obstacle.  I see it everywhere... in class, in auditions, at workshops.  I watch other actors doing it to themselves over and over and over again.  Seriously, it's an epidemic. 

What is "it", you may ask?  Since I'm in the business of story telling...

The story always begins with getting the beautiful little message that is a request for an audition.  I love those messages because they present the possibility of magic.  Especially once I started auditioning for bigger projects, an invitation to read for this TV show or that film and it was like... Holy shit.  Getting this gig could change my life.  It could mean the first recognizable credit on my resume.  It could mean shooting in Columbia for two months.  It could mean sparking some interest from a bigger agent.  It could mean doors opening to welcoming faces that used to look right past me because I've yet to list "guest star" or "series regular" next to my name.  It could mean easing the worry in my friends and family's eyes because they'll see me on TV during prime time.  It could mean a paycheck that will ensure that class and headshots are taken care of for the rest of the year.  Yeah, those big projects can mean a lot of things.

You may be starting to think that was "it".  That it's a mistake to start imagining all the possibilities a booked job can bring.  But it's not.  It's human nature, and frankly, part of our job to have a very active and vivid imagination.  I love imagining what it would be like to work on the project because it gets me excited for the audition.  If I find myself starting to feel pressure because of the potential... then it's time to cool it a little and remind myself that an audition does not equal a booking and that I must remain unattached from the outcome.
So if that's not "it", then what is "it"?  Hang tight.  We're getting there.

I'd get the appointment, I'd get the sides and do a quick read-through.  Oooh, this one is a goodie!  Then I'd start to worry... is this out of my league?  Are they ever going to cast an unknown like me?  Do I look good enough?  Dammit, I knew I should have run more last week because my jeans are feeling a bit tight.  And crap, I have a stupid blemish
popping up on my forehead.  They don't want to see that.  Have I had the highlights in my hair retouched recently enough??  Am I too old?  I mean, I know I'm in the right age range, but do I come across too mature?  Am I too sexy, am I not sexy enough??  Am I even talented enough to land this part??

Lots of head noise there.  Still... that's really not even "it".  Yes, we have to learn to let go of all those doubts, but that's not the biggest mistake.  Because guess what?  THERE WILL ALWAYS BE DOUBTS AND FEARS.  Again, it's human nature.  Those little insecurities will always be there.  If you're waiting for that little voice in your head to stop asking questions, you'll never get your career off the ground.  That voice will always be there.  The questions may change, but the voice will remain.  The trick is to use it in a positive way.  If you're feeling insecure about your fitness, you can probably eat a little better and work out a little harder to drop a few pounds. (I'll address this in another post, but I'm NOT talking about having an unhealthy body image or an eating disorder.)  If you're feeling insecure about your skin, do what you have to do to take care of it... make an appointment with a dermatologist, a nutritionist, an esthetician... do what it takes to have clear, healthy, glowing skin you can feel proud of.  If you're feeling insecure about your talent... get your booty in class and do what you need to do to feel confident in your little brand of acting style.  Then, at the end of the day (and I'll admit, this is still a tough one for me) stop trying to be perfect.  Be the best YOU you can possibly be... that's more than enough. 

Okay, so if none of that is "IT"... what ARE we talking about here?  What exactly are actors doing to themselves that cripples their potential for success?  Are you ready to find out what I used to do, you probably did and are perhaps still doing??  Here it is.  Here's the biggie...

Stop giving yourself an excuse to not book.

Here's how it played out for me:  It would start in class when I would show up week after week without totally preparing, complaining that I just didn't have the time to really work on the scenes.  I'd follow the same pattern for the audition.  I'd get everything I needed to give a great performance... then I'd do nothing with it.  I'd often get to the casting office barely on time or even late, stressed from the hurried drive.  I would have found a way to rapidly memorize my lines at the last minute, trying to fool myself into believing that's what it was about... but deep down knowing I was walking in unprepared.  I'd be totally unclear on what I was actually going to do in that room... mostly relying on my ability to "wing it".  In part, I blame this on what my mother calls my "natural ability to bullshit my way out of anything."  I also felt justified in this behavior by that ol' actor crutch being thrown around in every coffee shop from Ocean Avenue to Burbank Boulevard... "It's the ones you don't care about that you end up booking!!"

It wasn't because I was lazy, nor was I ignorant or untrained.  It came from fear.  What if I work really hard, put everything I have into it, bear my heart and soul for strangers in a stuffy office, put on what I know to be the best audition I can possibly do, believe down into the marrow of my bones that I can be right for this part and I AM good enough to book it... and then what happens if I DON'T book??  What happens if I put my heart out there on the butcher block and they take one look at it and say, "Meh.  Nah, not feeling it.  Let's go with something a little edgier." 

I picture myself reaching out awkwardly, collecting my rejected heart and fumbling my way out of the office.  I didn't even know it, but I was terrified of putting everything on the line and it still not being good enough.  I was scared that I wouldn't be able to recover from something like that.  So instead, I would not completely prepare, so that if I didn't book, I could blame it on that.  I needed something to serve as a reason WHY I wasn't good enough... in case I wasn't good enough.

THAT'S the mistake.  Don't shoot yourself in the foot before you try to run a marathon, just so you can blame the bullet in case you can't find the finish line.  What we do is tough, we have to put everything we have out there and come home empty-handed MOST of the time... if you let yourself believe that every time you don't book it's because you weren't good enough, you won't make it.  You may not book because the name actor attached is two inches shorter than you.  You may not book because there was another actress who could work as a local hire, which allowed the film to save thousands in production costs.  You may not book because you just look too damn wholesome, and they need someone with a little more rock 'n roll. 

Just because you didn't book, doesn't mean you weren't brilliant.  And if you strive for brilliance, someone will see it.  Maybe they'll call you in for another one, maybe they won't.  At least you'll be showing up with what you can really do, instead of giving them an excuse to not book you because you're too scared to actually put your ass on the line.

I told you I had an audition this Monday.  I poured myself into it.  I worked on it for hours and hours, sinking my teeth into it all weekend.  I engulfed myself so deeply in my work, I noticed I started to skip songs on my iPod while on a run because my character wouldn't like them.  I didn't hesitate to spend the money on the script or for the private session with my coach.  I walked in there and gave it absolutely everything I had.  And when the final heavy scene was over, we all had to take a deep breath because the energy in the room had changed.  I walked out feeling satisfied that I gave it my absolute best shot.  Whether I book or not is irrelevant.  If I make sure I do that every time I go in, I've no doubt I can be successful enough to make a career out of this.

So take a moment to search your soul.  If you're making this mistake, promise yourself to STOP IT right now.  Your career depends on it.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Big film audition today... I've been buried in the script all weekend and polished all my work in a private session with my coach this morning.  This girl is ready to go.

More on that later...

P.S.  Happy Monday  :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Wisdom in a Grocery Store Elevator

On my way home from work today I stopped at the grocery store to grab a few necessities.  As I was rushing out of the store, eager to get home in time to meet the repair man in my apartment for a leaky faucet, the universe delivered a profound piece of wisdom in the form of a six year old boy.  As the small group of strangers huddled in the elevator, anxiously waiting for the doors to open so we could get on with our lives, the boy held up the snack in his hand and excitedly said, 

"I have a yummy fruit role-up.  It's the best day ever!!"

We all smiled and the boy's mother said, "Don't you wish a fruit role-up could make you that happy?"

Every adult half-chuckled in agreement... and half sighed, disappearing into their own history.  As we stepped out, all the strangers wandered off to their respective cars, but I just stopped.  As I stood there with a grocery bag hanging from each hand, I realized that we all need to find that level of happiness in the small things in life.  To let even a fruit role up give us the best day ever.

As I started towards my car, I made a promise to myself that I would make sure tomorrow is a fruit role-up kind of day.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Monday!

Most people I interacted with today were dragging themselves through Monday gloom.  It's always hard to get back into the swing of the weekday, especially after the weekend we just had in Los Angeles.  It was nothing short of perfection.  There was sunshine and balmy temps that kept this girl enjoying the luxury of her new walking neighborhood with strolls to the nearby gourmet grocery store, to the cafe to pick up my favorite latte in town (yes, it's worth the $6), to the farmer's market to stock up on local fresh produce and to a great Italian dinner with the roommie last night. 

Yeah, those Monday mornings always come way too early after a weekend like that.  Most people at the office show it by congregating grumpily around the coffee machine.  But not for me this Monday... I booked!!  Man, it's seemed like forever since I had a producer call to book me for a shoot.  Joining the union, and cutting way back on ultra low budget indie gigs has severely slowed my number of auditions coming in, and with that... my bookings.  But March yielded a slew of auditions (naturally, the same month of my moving apartments).  Not only did more come in, but they were for much bigger projects.  

It's funny how it plays out sometimes.  I ended up getting the sides for this particular audition at about `10:00 pm the night before -- A producer had called in the afternoon to confirm my email to send the sides.  I was kind of annoyed that they didn't just send the sides to the email I had provided a few days prior when confirming the audition, but I get it, they're busy too.  I ended up forgetting to call them back until late, so I suppose it's really my fault anyway.  
So I had very little time to prepare, but it wasn't too deep of a supporting character.  In fact, she was supposed to be annoyed... so I just used my personal annoyance to drive the scene.  After I finished my read, they immediately asked me to read for another role... a larger, recurring supporting character. 

"Can you stay for a few extra minutes to read for the other role?"

"Absolutely," I said immediately... as I thought about the fact that I was on my lunch break from my jobby-job, had already scheduled a coffee date with my agents since the office was nearby and would end up having to stay late at work to make up for every minute my lunch break ran long... all part of the juggle.

"Oh, and can you sing?  Great.  Come back with a little something for us to hear."

Okay, I'm flexible.

I went out into the lobby and rapidly made choices for the three-page script.  A few minutes later, I came back in the room determined to just be present and connected to my reader.  Lines aren't important, they know it's an ice cold read.   After the scene and by the time I was halfway through my tune (with a sore throat coming on that would lead to a lost voice two days later), the casting directors closed their eyes and swayed to my ballad.  I knew I was on the right track.  When I finished and they said, "Finally, someone who can sing."

I kind of feel bad for all the girls that were called in for that role and it ended up going to someone else.  (Me.)  

Meh, not that bad.  I'm sure I've been in their shoes before, probably more than once.  Now I'm booked for four shoot days this month.  

Happy Monday!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

This Ain't No Theme Park

If you're into rocket science or architecture, you're probably not going to find many inspiring thoughts on those topics here.  My guess would be if those things are your passion, you're probably not a regular visitor to this little blog.  But if you are reading this, chances are you're at least toying with the idea of becoming an actor.  Maybe you're right here with me in Los Angeles fighting your own good fight... or maybe you're all the way across the globe in Sydney wondering when will be the right moment to pack a suitcase and head to Hollywood.  Wherever you are, and whether you decided to go for it five minutes ago or five years, you're here because I'm telling you what it's really like on these streets.  I may not know much about rockets or how to build a skyscraper, but I can tell you about hustling after the dream in La La Land.  If you're just starting out on your journey, make sure you go into it knowing that this job is a tough one.  It's tougher than you can possibly imagine right now.  That's why I'm here sharing my reality so you don't have to imagine.  And as long as you keep coming back, I'll keep telling you about all the ups and downs on this crazy roller coaster.

Today's example:  I told you a few weeks ago that my incredibly talented co-star/co-producer for my play booked a role on a major network show.  (On a side note... I'm sick of calling him that, let's give him an actual name... we'll call him The Bibster.)  So The Bibster books this role on a single episode of a nice procedural.  He had a table read and shot it last week and everything went flawlessly.  He emailed me to spread the word that the episode was set to air next week.  My mom even started watching the show so she could be ready when The Bibster's character came on.

That's the up on the roller coaster.

The down?  He found out this week that his scenes ended up getting cut from the episode and will never air. 

Sure, he still kinda gets the credit on his resume, (and the paycheck for a day of shooting) but there's just something so heart breaking about losing the opportunity to show it all off.  In the beginning, we actors have to go so so long without having "something to show" for all the effort.  To my skeptics back home, I'm not doing anything unless they see evidence of me on TV.  Most people have no idea what a huge deal it is to even be called in to audition for a recognizable show.  Eight months ago, I wouldn't have been able to get close enough to a legitimate casting office to see inside with a telephoto lens.  But in the last couple months, I've been called in four times to major shows.  (Ironically, the role that was cut from the script before I was even able to audition was the SAME show that The Bibster booked.  I feel like the producers should now be required to come see our play.)  Starting to get in the door is such HUGE progress, but hardly any of your biggest fans (i.e. friends and family) will understand.

As if the difficulty to even get an audition wasn't hard enough, sometimes you go through the entire process, book the job, shoot the scenes... and all that work ends up on the cutting room floor.  Man, that's painful.  If you're entertaining the idea of being an actor for your living, before you make your final decision, make sure you're prepared for that type of a ride.  It's a roller coaster that would put Kingda Ka to shame.  Although any ride may have it's little ups and downs... if you're going to get on this one, you better have a strong stomach and an inner strength that's tall enough to survive.  Then, I guess you just hang on tight.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

If He Only Knew...

I generally don't find pleasure in other people's pain.  That's pretty much evil and wrong and a direct route to hell, or whatever equivalent you believe in.

But I can't help it, there is one exception.

Almost exactly two years ago, I walked out on my boyfriend of two years the day I finally woke up and realized he was a lying, cheating, manipulative bastard.  Over the course of the subsequent year, I completely ignored his numerous attempts to contact me to beg for mercy.  Fortunately, he has since stopped reaching out to me.  He probably thinks that I've assumed he's over me.  After all, it has been two years.

But what my ex doesn't know is that my actor website has analytics.  He doesn't know that I know that he looks at my headshots from his office computer... well... almost every day.

Bahahaha!!!!  Eat your heart out, asshole.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Everything I Need to Know About My Acting Career, I Learned From Moving Apartments

You may think that not much of what you learn while moving can be applied to your acting career, but you would be wrong.  During the sixty or so trips it took to carry all the boxes of books and dinner plates from my apartment to my car and back into my new apartment, I realized there was a lot about this situation that reminded me of the struggle to build a career in Hollywood.  We may not be moving boxes, but our profession is the career-equivalent of moving mountains.  Here are the lessons I learned, about moving and career alike, during the twenty plus hours I spent hauling my ass up and down three flights of stairs this weekend:
  • It's not something that can be done overnight.  It's just not.
  • It's a daunting process that begins well before you pack your first box, and can only be accomplished by focusing on one step at a time. 
  • In the beginning, you spend obscene amounts of time researching the market, knowing what's available, and making sure you're ready to pounce when the pefect opportunity arrives.
  • You're constantly reminding yourself to remain optimistic even though, if it doesn't work out, you could potentially be homeless in the very near future.
  • It can be difficult if you catch yourself envying the people in places that are a little out of your reach.  But in those moments, try to remind yourself that two years ago, you were wishing to be where you are right now.  Who knows where you'll be in another two years.
  • There may be a lot of mediocrity out there, but there are some spots that are just waiting for you to move in.
  • Paying $30 to workshop apply is a freaking racket, and hugely overpriced, but it's also an unfortunate reality.
  • You could be a seasoned pro with great credit(s) and nothing to worry about, but there's still something nerve-wracking about waiting to hear back after you do your audition, I mean application.
  • It's difficult to throw in so much money up front, but it's an investment in your future.
  • It will force you to evaluate everything in your life and get rid of stuff that doesn't fit, doesn't work, doesn't support you or just plain doesn't make you happy.
  • You can plan everything to the last detail and be as prepared as humanly possible, and stupid stuff like rain will still happen and it's completely out of your control.  It just means you need to grab a towel, not throw it in.
  • There will be moments when you curse the day you chose a third-floor walk up without an elevator and wish you would have chosen something with a path that's a little easier, but you'll keep dragging your ass up that climb because nothing beats the view from the top.
  • Others may have had the luxury of enough cash to pay someone to do the hard work for them, but guaranteed you know the true value of your belongings because the steps are stained with the sweat it took you to get them there.
I've missed you, wonderful readers.  The move combined with a rapid influx of auditions took so much out of my time that I was only able to write to you a pitiful eight times last month.  But know that you were on my mind constantly and I have much to update you on.  It's an ordeal, but it's finally over.  I'm all moved in, unpacking and anxious to get back on track with focusing my energy on hustling after my next audition instead of my next mailing address.  

On to the next adventure!