Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Oscar at the Beach

I struck up a conversation with a group of gentleman at a studio on my way to an audition a few weeks ago. They invited me to join them after my read to get a sneak peek at the movie the were working on, a major headliner with a multiple mega-star cast.  Um, tschya!!  Half an hour later I found myself hanging out with a group of probably some of the biggest Oscar-winning sound mixers in Hollywood and watched them work on what looks like it might be the next big comedy.  It was a huge learning experience as well since us players never really see the magic that happens after the cameras stop pointing at us.  Plus I just freaking love anything movies.  Especially movies like that: the huge star-studded blockbusters that I dream to be in someday.

I ended up establishing a pretty good relationship with one of them and we followed up our initial meeting with lunch the other day.  He is pretty major.  So major in fact that he's been nominated for seven Oscars.  

He's won four.  Yeah.  Four.

Our lunch meeting was fantastic.  Just networking, getting to know each other, talking about movies and why we love what we do, etc.  Totally unpretentious -- despite our chi-chi locale -- and genuine.  Then he got up to use the restroom and says, "Oh, I brought something for you.  You might get a kick out of it."

As he pulled out his bag and started digging around in it, I kept thinking, "What the heck could he possibly have brought for me?  A video to view on his ipad?"  Couldn't think of anything.  Then out pops this....
He casually drops it in my lap and walks off.  What?!!  An Oscar?! I'm a little embarassed to admit that my heart started pitter-pattering at the feel of an Oscar in my hands.  It felt good.  Really good.

After what seemed like an awkward eternity -- I mean, how can one casually sit at a table in the middle of a restaurant in the middle of the day with a f*$%ing OSCAR in your hands??!?  There was absolutely no way for me to be non-chalant.  The waiter even came by and said, "congratulations."  Um... thank you?

He finally comes back and I say, "Who the heck brings their Oscar to lunch??!"

He laughed and said, "I don't know.  I thought you might like to see one, keep you motivated.  Do you want a picture?"

"Oh my god.  I can't believe you brought this, you nerd.  .....Okay, yeah. Take my picture."

Monday, August 12, 2013

No Currency for Confidence

One of my yoga instructors said something in class today that occurred to me as very profound.  It wasn't part of the intention we set at the beginning of our practice.  It wasn't part of the main message he shared during our few minutes of guided meditation.   It was just a passing comment he said during one flow into Samasthiti.  It wouldn't really surprise me if I were the only one in class who actually even noticed.

He said, "breathe fully and with unconditional confidence."

Unconditional confidence

I had never heard those two words placed side by side before.  As I flowed through vinyasa after vinyasa I continued to examine what each word meant individually, and ultimately what they meant when paired together.

Confidence is of course a word that comes up quite often in the life of an actor.  It is a strong internal belief in our own ability and success.  We must carry it with us everywhere we go.  We must exude it in our headshots.  It must permeate the room when we enter for a casting.  It must effortlessly glide off our tongues with every scripted word.  Most importantly, we must tirelessly cultivate it in the long stretches of time between bookings.  We must find a way to make it our constant companion, even in the face of the weeks months years of uphill struggle it takes to build a career in this business.  

Naturally I have encountered the word unconditional as well, mostly in relation to it's cliched pairing with love.  Perhaps I've used it along with surrender when practicing the art of letting go of control and things not meant for me.  As I continued to up-dog and uttanasana, I started to define what unconditional really meant to me.  Unconditional: without conditions.  The absence of an expectation of 'give me this first, and only then will I give you that.'  Just pure giving with no restrictions due to circumstances, events, time, space or prior achievement.  Unconditional.  

Then I applied the two definitions together.... Unconditional confidence: to believe in one's own ability and success without restriction or desire for something in return.

Hmmm, interesting.  I next wondered, had I ever set conditions that had to be "met" before I could allow myself to feel confident?

Wow.  That question hit me hard as I realized the answer was a resounding "Yes."

Not only had I done it before, but being the perfectionist I am, I realized I did it a lot.  In my mind, if I didn't fit into a certain pant size, I wouldn't allow myself to feel confident in my body.  If I didn't have perfect skin/perfect hair/perfect makeup, my confidence in my appearance waned.  If I hadn't booked a project in months, little by little I would start to question my talent.  The idea that I only truly felt confident when all those conditions were met astounded me -- and also opened my eyes to the futility of it, because honestly, how often are all of those conditions met?  

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was continuously putting pressure on myself to achieve certain benchmarks that would then indicate that I could feel justified in having confidence.  In other words, most of my confidence was rooted in the achieving of conditions and not actually in my belief that I just am talented and successful.  Period.  No qualifications.  It shocks me that I have any confidence at all given the conditions I set in order to give myself permission to have it.  My healthy level of confidence is really just a reflection of my more-than-healthy level of self-discipline.  

But what if my confidence was not something I needed to give myself permission to have?  What if I could just feel confident no matter what?  Even if my pants are tighter than usual, my roots are showing, the pimple on my chin screams "I'm on my period" and I haven't booked a goddamn thing in ages?  What if, even with all that, I still have a right to feel confident in my own baddass self?

See what I mean?  Pretty fucking profound.  I feel a change a-coming.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Because If It's on a Mug, It's Important

This actor life is a roller coaster... and not the kiddie version.  It's the crazy, stressful heart-bursting highs into gut-crushing lows version.  Most days are an endless grind up against a brick wall with the Hollywood sign looking down, laughing at you.  Actually, it hasn't even noticed you're there.

So it's good to remember to get out there and do non-industry related things just because they're fun.  Don't waste your life away in the pursuit because the pursuit will take your lifetime.  Make a point to have fun along the way.

And Sunday is just the day for fun.

Friday, August 9, 2013

On the Lot

There's always something just a little more fun about auditioning on a studio lot.  The security needed to be allowed in, the huge sound stages, the golf carts, the miscellaneous camera equipment everywhere.  

It just feels more Hollywood.

I confess, I always wander around a little after my audition and soak it in.  It refills my batteries and after a bit I feel like my dream isn't actually as far away as it sometimes seems.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Feeling Fabulous

One of my very best friends called me yesterday to share that she just got engaged. (!!)  We've known each other since grade school and though she lives back home, she's still one of my favorite peeps on this here planet.  So excited for her and her man and the adorable munchkins they'll make together someday.

More on point with what would interest you, she was congratulating me on my tv role a couple months ago.  She was laughing saying that she had numerous friends who were so impressed that "she knew someone famous."

Bahahaha!!!  Famous.  Right.  Yeah, that's me.

Someday yes, but not quite yet.  Still, after many years of being on the receiving end of endless eye rolls, people feeling the need to always qualify me as an "aspiring" actress and completely unsolicited advice on how to "make it" from everyone who thinks they're goddamn experts in the industry because they skim US Weekly... it's wonderful to finally get a little respect around here (even if it's grossly over-exaggerated).  But after weeks like the last one, I'll take it!!

Get out there and feel famous (and fabulous) today!! 


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Returning to the Land of the Living

I always have the same pattern when jumping back into the hustle:

Step 1: Clean my room as it has inevitably amassed a large pile of lazily discarded clothes and clutter in the days when I had little motivation for much other than rolling in and out of my bed in a stupor.  Somehow my head feels clearer when my room is back in order.

Step 2: Clean the kitchen.  Same as my room.  In this state, I don't feel like emptying the dishwasher.  I don't feel like cooking anything.  The counter next to the sink begins to parent a small population of abandoned cereal bowls.  For the sake of my sanity (and my roommate's), la cuisine must be in tip-top form.

Step 3:  Get caught back up on the breakdowns.  In the few days I'm mourning the loss of a role, I'll do what most normal people do when faced with a particularly difficult breakup... I avoid the glaring reminders of my lost love affair.  Once I've finally made it into the light at the end of the tunnel, I log back into my accounts and make sure I'm up to speed on what is being cast every day and get my submissions a-submitting.  Hollywood will keep clipping along with or without me and getting back in the game is the only way forward.

Step 4: Get my ass to the gym, on my yoga mat, and in my running shoes.  When you put me next to the average person, most would consider me a fairly fanatical health nut. But when I'm working my way through the five stages of grief, I wish it weren't so, but I am terrible at keeping up my fitness regime.  I haven't been to the yoga studio in about a week and a half.  And my diet?  I've been bad.  So very bad.  Over the course of a single day I actually had all four of the sublime ice cream sammys in the box from Trader Joe's. All. Four. In. One. Day.  (I admit this to you ONLY because I'm anonymous.  I would never cop to it in real life.)  As you already know, auditioning and pursuing this career is a huge mental game.  It is far easier to portray leading lady sexy in an audition when I actually feel leading lady sexy.  I don't feel leading lady sexy after wolfing down FOUR decadent desserts, delicious as they may be.  My feelings aside -- and again I wish it weren't so -- but there is also a definite inverse relationship between an increase in snugness of my size 4 pants and a decrease in job offers.  Can't have that.

Step 5: Business as usual.  I have a stack of post cards I need to send, and thank you notes for CD workshops.  I need to update my demo reel to include my television role, do some writing on my screenplay. There are networking opportunities to research and attend.  Anony Incorporated must return to full operation and it is up to the sole proprietor/product/shareholder -- me -- to get it there... and beyond....

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Not Getting is the Builder of Strength

Amen Buddha.

Okay. I have let go of these roles.  I released my desperate grip and watched them sink into the deep like Jack into the depths of the frozen ocean.  It hurt my heart to watch them drift away from me, knowing I would never see them again, but the ice has thawed and the rawness has worn off.  I have sufficiently licked my wounds, my tears have dried and my resolve is stronger than ever. 

Is that your best shot, Hollywood?  You think that's going to stop me?  

Silly rabbit.  You're going to have to come at me with a helluva lot more than that to keep this girl down.

Alright, campers.  Bloodied as we may be, let's keep fighting this good fight.  


(p.s. Thank you Secret Actress and Dion.  Thank you so very much for your amazing words of encouragement and support.  They were like warm fuzzy hugs and exactly what I needed. xoxo)

Monday, August 5, 2013

No News is Not Good News

I'm tired.  I'm so very tired this week, guys.  I was super busy last week with a string of home-run auditions.  Auditions for wonderful projects not only for me as an artist, but for my career.  Auditions in which I felt cool, calm and collected, like I was finally hitting my professional stride.  Auditions I knocked out of the park.  

I didn't book one.  Not a single stinking one.  

Perhaps the mistake I made was falling in love with the jobs.  This one in particular.  I loved that role.  I felt I was destined to play it.  I felt as if the pieces were falling into place.  I thought to myself, this is it.  This is the one I'm meant for that will finally knock down some of the stone walls that seem to be looming between me and the beginning of a "real" career.  But then the afternoon passed, and there was nothing.  I tried to swallow the sinking feeling that started to grow in my gut.  The following morning and early afternoon passed, still nothing.  I finally couldn't resist the temptation and emailed my agent, "No news is definitely not good news, right?"  He responded by saying, "I won't kid you.  If they want you, they're usually pretty on the ball about calling to make sure you're still available." 

I finally couldn't ignore the sinking feeling and my heart felt as if it dropped to the bottom of my rib cage.  I could almost hear it rattle, as if I were an empty oil drum.  I felt utterly defeated.  Then I did something I try very hard to not let this industry ever make me do.

I cried.

I cried over this role.  I cried over the hundreds of other roles I have desperately wanted and didn't get.  I cried for the thousand roles I would desperately want someday and wouldn't get either.  I cried for the fear of never making it, the fear of giving up and the fear of spending my entire life chasing something I would never catch.  I cried because getting this one meant solidly working on a show nearly every day for the next two and a half months, and the $100,000 it would have put in my starving bank account... and not getting it meant I have to keep my phone on silent this week because I'm so late paying a few of last month's bills that I keep getting calls from companies looking for money I don't have and I just can't bear to hear it ring one more time.

I cried for spending so much time every day stressing over being talented enough, thin enough, smart enough, pretty enough, funny enough, tough enough, perfect enough... when many days I feel I'm none of those things because if I were, wouldn't it have happened for me already?  I cried for the feeling of my soul buckling under the stress of constantly trying to survive in some sort of an existence in the space between believing a big break is just around the corner and having it mostly turn out to be a big disappointment. 

I'm so sorry I'm not very inspirational today, guys.  I've barely had the strength to get out from under the blanket I've been curled up under in my favorite armchair these last few days. I'll be back in my normal fighting shape soon, but not today.  I hope you understand.