Friday, August 31, 2012

Just Wow

Sometimes it’s fun to take a break from writing about the acting stuff and share a story because it’s just funny... or shocking.  Laughably shocking.

After rehearsal for my play, I went out dancing last night. I love to dance.  I love to sip champagne and move to the music in beautiful clubs with loud music, strobe lights and fog machines.  The rhythm and vitality of the room just refills my batteries, like proximity to energy and passion transfers it directly into my bloodstream.  Generally, going out isn’t exactly a good way to meet people (people, meaning guys), but occasionally you’re introduced to a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend, you start chatting and all of a sudden, you find yourself laughing with someone you’re actually interested in.

That happened last night.  I was a wing-woman for a friend who was meeting a group at one of (if not the) hottest nightclubs in Los Angeles.  I’m fortunate to have made a few friends in the nightlife scene, enough to bypass the notoriously tight doors without any problems.  Once inside, we met the group and I found myself chatting with a cute guy and our chemistry was pretty tangible.  This is always exciting for me because it doesn't happen very often.  I tend to lose interest pretty quickly.

We continued to have a great time… dancing, chatting, laughing… Him: born in Boston, the middle of four siblings, sales rep for medical equipment. Me: actress, a small-towner at heart, marathoner, blogger… Just kidding!  I didn't tell him that!  Things were going just peachy.  As the night went on, we even shared a sweet first kiss. Good kisser, too. (Whew!  That’s always a moment of truth.)

Anyway, here is where it gets funny.  And shocking.

At one point, I excuse myself for a moment in order to give hellos-and-hugs to my contacts who got me and my friend in the iron-clad door.  Of course, they’re all the way up in the premium bottle service tables, an area which has its own set of velvet ropes, complete with security. We thank them, exchange a few fancy cheek-kisses and though they playfully tease us for hanging out with a group of guys with a table at the back of the club, we make our excuses and depart.  All in all… 10 minutes. Maybe 15.

We get back to the table and guess what I see... Mr. "I'm really looking to settle down" (information he offered, I neither asked for nor wanted to hear) is in a lip-lock with one of the other ladies with their group!!

I was shocked!!  I was gone, for what, like a second?  Was he so ADD that he couldn't even focus on trying to close the deal with one chick at a time?  I mean, come on.  I make no claims of territory over a guy I just met... but if you've kissed me in the last hour, I expect you to be politely waiting for me to return from the ladies room, or wherever the hell I stepped off to for five minutes. 

He looks up and sees me... and reels away from the other girl... total deer-in-headlights, kid with a hand in the cookie jar.  I just smirked and gave him a look, like "Seriously?" and walked away.

My girlfriend and I spent the rest of the evening getting VIP treatment, dancing our little booties off in the premiere bottle service section, sipping cocktails while the famous DJs were ten feet away, spinning incredible beats, lights flashing above our heads, confetti falling from the ceiling and woman dancing in a hula hoop hanging above our heads.

Just another typical night in Hollywood.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Face Your Fears

A couple months ago, I did something I never do.  Something that I’ve always wanted to do, that I think I’d be good at, but have absolutely zero training for or experience with so it kinda scares me.  It kinda scares me a lot.  It’s a fiercely competitive thing to get into.  When it comes to this, I feel like a sheep dressed up in wolf’s clothing contemplating an attempt to run with the pack.  How foolish; the “real” wolves would sniff me out and eat me alive the minute I step foot into the den.  Still, half of me thinks I just might be a wolf hiding in sheep’s clothing, standing in the safety of the bleating herd when I could be out there hunting with the other wolves.  Well, I’ve never been one to resist the temptation of “going for it” so I did.
I auditioned for musical theater.
It was one of those types of submissions.  You know, when you see an interesting project and you figure it's a shot in hell for you to get in on, but for some reason you submit anyway.  Naturally, they called me in.  Like a real, live, legit musical theatre production.  The notice requested all sorts of things for the audition that I didn't really understand.  (Which is incredibly unusual.  If there is anything I KNOW... it's what to prepare for an audition.)  They wanted me to bring contrasting "cuts" of music, sheet music for the accompanist, and a Brooklyn accent.  I didn't have any of those.  I didn't even know how a musical theatre audition goes... do you sing first, then run the scene?  Can I just sing it a capella since I don't have cuts?  Do I have to announce what I'm singing or just jump right in?  Will they just laugh me out of the room for not knowing what the hell I'm doing?
I was petrified, and I almost didn't go.  I was even in the neighborhood for a casting workshop and drove right by the theatre with every intention of skipping out on this one.  I kept telling myself:  I'm not prepared.  They're going to know I haven't had a single voice lesson in my life.  I don't even have "cuts" of music, what am I going to tell the dude sitting at the piano?  Just sit tight until they bring in the next actress?

Five minutes to my scheduled time and the place is already in my rear view mirror.  But I stopped myself.  I pulled over and had one of those crazy, multiple-personalities of Gollum-type fights with myself:
"Go!  You're already here."
"I have no shot at this one."
"You committed to going.  What are you, a flake?"
"I already blew off the preparation, so I'd basically be heading in with a cold read."
"So?  Hold yourself accountable to the commitments you make."
"What if they laugh me out of the room for being so clearly out of my league??"
"...Meh, who cares?  Just go and have fun.  Face your fear."

So I turned my car around and headed to the theatre with no idea what would happen in the next thirty minutes. Unsure if I would even make it out alive...

Not only did I make it out alive, I drove away feeling more alive than ever.  Even though I was earthquakingly terrified, I sang my little heart out (a capella) and enjoyed every minute of doing something I've always wanted to do.  Fortunately, they were very laid-back and I was very candid about just dipping my toes into the "pool of musical theatre."  They were incredibly complimentary on my voice and look, that it was perfect for musical theatre, and enthusiastically encouraged me to continue to pursue it.  They even had the pianist jump on the piano and run scales with me (my first ever).  It somehow morphed from an audition to a vocal lesson with all of us laughing, playing around, singing with the piano... and it was wonderful. 

I left knowing I didn't get the part, but knowing it wasn't about getting it.  It was about conquering my fear and learning to trust myself and my talent.  It's a lesson we can take home from every audition, even if it doesn't call for 16 bars of contrasting cuts of music.  It's never ever about that one role. 

I needed that night more than I could have guessed.  A couple weeks ago, when my acting coach heard about a role in a musical for which she thought I'd be perfect, she pulled a string with a connection and sent me to audition.  A role in a musical with an award-winning theatre company, written and by produced by big big big television names.  The role that had originally been cast with an actress with oodles of serious Broadway credits, but was lost to a movie.

I spent forty-five minutes in that audition with three songs and four scenes but without the fear I used to feel around the thought of musical theatre.  And while the role ended up going to another actress, they called me this week to ask me something else.

They offered me the understudy to the play's lead!!  So for the next three months, I'll be in the theatre five days a week, working on a show.  And not just any show, a musical.  It's the most professional job I've ever worked on.  And though I still don't know if I'll have any guaranteed performances, I will be working and training as if I were going on stage every night.  I'll be watching and learning from veteran working actors with resumes ten times the size of mine.  I wouldn't have had the confidence to book this job if I hadn't faced my fear three months ago.  I'm so glad I turned my car around that night.  I'm about to get an education.

Look out, because this wolf is letting go of her sheepskin jacket.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Airport Humor

I literally have 27 drafts of posts sitting in my blog roll.  27 works-in-progress of stories I want to share with you, but haven't had a chance to fine-tune and finish.  It's been a long few weeks of auditions, job-hunting, more auditions, socializing to try to keep some balance, more auditions and more job hunting.  Yesterday my acting coach sent me to an audition for the lead in a pretty major play in town, written and produced by some biggies in television. 

It was a beast of an audition... with four scenes (10-12 pages of script) and three songs I needed to prepare.  In one day.  Followed by the worlds most marathon audition... I was in that room for 45 minutes, singing and acting my little booty off.  And it was my fourth audition this week.

I'm tired today. 

So while I have more on this story, and 27 others, I'll have to save it for another time when I'm not functioning solely on coffee and the remnants of an acting high.  But being exhausted from spending eight straight hours working on material for a big-time show is the good kind of exhausted.  Like when your muscles are all achy because you just beat those 9 miles into submission during your run.  (Like I did on Sunday.)       

So while even some recent construction at LAX pokes fun at all the "industry types" in this town who are perpetually writing a screenplay that never seems to materialize, I will get my 27 stories finished and posted for you, my dear readers.  Hang in there, and keep on fighting your own good fight.

I'll see you out there.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Even Though It Can Be Hard to See Sometimes, Trust That Your Effort is Still Working

There are times in this life that feel like endless waiting.  Like everything you're striving for is dependent upon the actions of someone else.  Day after day I review the breakdowns and submit for roles I could potentially play.  I email casting directors.  I have coffee, I ask for referrals, I call in favors.  I go on auditions.  I submit letters and cards and thank you notes.  I wait for a phone call, for an email, for a booking... for a big break.  Hell, I'll take even a little break.  But most days, there is nothing but silence in return.  It can be lonely sometimes, and it's a weird kind of lonely.  I have many amazing friends and a wonderfully full social life, but underneath all my laughter and energy over shared martinis there is part of me that is just waiting, thinking of my career and wondering if anything I'm doing is working.

Even though I may not always see exactly how, it is.  Sometimes it can be hard to remember that.  My boss asked me the other day, "Have you actually gotten any work from all these auditions?"  I swallowed the sting that question burned inside my chest and could only respond with, "No.  I haven't shot anything since April."  It's hard to not keep your heart from sinking a little bit when that's the only answer you can give.

But what my boss doesn't know -- and what I can sometimes forget -- is that where I am right now is ten times further than where I was this time last year... and that is definitely something to be proud of.  The outsider might view my last few months as a bunch of failed auditions.  (Five movies, three TV shows and six callbacks... but no bookings).  The outsider doesn't understand what a giant hurdle it is to even be seen for legitimate projects.  And it's a hurdle I'm starting to overcome.  I'm getting multiple callbacks for big name shows and decent independent features.  It's been rough on me to have as many callbacks as I've had recently, on bigger projects than I've ever worked before, but no booking yet.  But it's okay.  It's just a matter of time and persistence.  Nothing is wasted; all the work I've done is paying off.  Though my resume hasn't gotten any longer, I'm making significant forward progress.

Today I was called in for another co-star role on a single-cam comedy.  The same one that called me in for two roles last season, but I hadn't heard from them since.  I was starting to worry that they'd forgotten about me.  Apparently not.  I haven't seen them in about 10 months, but I walked in and he knew exactly who I was as if we had just met a few weeks ago.  We even laughed together when I botched a line and he teased me to "use my words."  Then after we laid down a good take he said, "Perfect."

I walked out and wandered around the Paramount lot for a few minutes, soaking in the cheesy feeling I get from just being in the proximity of big-time movie making.  It's so close, I can taste it.  I can feel it just around the corner, through the next door, coming out of Stage 24, bustling and swirling around me.  It may be crawling along at a snail's pace, but it's coming.  Many of my letters or emails might be falling into an abyss, but some of them are getting through.  As I left Paramount, I received an email from another casting director who gave me a callback recently.  He wants to bring me in for another project next week.

You never know who's desk your headshot stacked on, just waiting for your role to pop up.  They may not all be mine, but one of these days, it WILL be my turn.