Tuesday, September 3, 2013

An ode, nay, plea to my one and only Body

To my one and only Body,

I would like to make a deal with you. However, before I propose this deal, let me start with this: I'm sorry. I'm sorry for the years of abuse and misuse that lead you to any pain and injury -- especially the injuries that required surgery (damn you eagle landings!).

I realize that on this cusp of another year of us being on this earth, you do things to remind me how in control you actually are. And I appreciate that. Yes, body, you are the master of us, even when I occasionally took control and caused us to black out and hit our head on the concrete. But that was just ONE time. I learned my lesson! I promise! ok, ok, there were a few more blackouts after, but we didn't fall and hit our head now, did we?! See!? See?!

Now I realize that in the past month I have pushed you. You let me know we were lifting too much when I felt like my arms were being ripped out at the bicep. But there were pain patches and ibuprofen! I overheated you and you gave me cramps. But there was cold water and air conditioning after! Even a run through a splash park! I had one glass of wine and you gave me the dry heaves. I agreed to one more week of physical endurance and you hung on until the end. Then, we woke up with needles in our throat and a sinus infection. I get it. You're in control and there is only so much you can take. But, you did right by me and made me proud.

So, in the spirit of harmony and another passing year, can I ask for this. just. one. thing? No more blemishes. It's not a big demand. It really isn't. I'm not even complaining about the errant and ever growing number of white hairs (not even the one you put on my eyebrow the year before last) on my head. But that is just the crux isn't it? You're going to give me white hairs and blemishes? That's just not fair and it's going too far, Body. This must stop!

Despite the physical duress of the past month, I have been good to you. Plenty of rest, as much water as I remember to drink, more fruits and veggies and we even lost some of the ungodly weight we hated. And I realized that I had been over-feeding you and now no more over-indulgence! I promise! Rest, care and proper nutrition! I even indulged in the fancy creams!

Wait, is the blemish in retaliation for letting the credit card number run out on the Beauty Tube? It can't be that? Right? We're still good, right? I indulged in the good creams and scrubs over the past month when we working our butts off in the heat in the middle of nowhere and exposing ourselves to possible illness. The good lotions and potions and luxury stuff. What, I let the credit card expire and you give me a pimple? I gave up dessert after dinner for you! DAMMIT!

Body, this will never do.

It seems we have come to a stand off.

To be continued.......

Friday, July 6, 2012


Last night I was filming one of the three feature projects I'm cast in. I was asked by my very young director to re-shoot a very simple walking scene. He wanted me to add a trip on an open file drawer. I thought I was about to lose my mind.

I protested that there weren't any pads on the drawer and there were no pads for my shins. We came up with the small compromise for me to kick the drawer and act the trip to which I agreed. I didn't like it and said as much, but I agreed and got through in less than five takes with only a small burning sensation in the ball of my foot. I wish I hadn't agreed however. Here's why....

About a year ago I was cast in a short film. Now I've been doing this awhile and have learned some things mostly through trial and error. One thing that stands out to me in this market is the independent and student directors' complete ignorance and sometime disregard to their actors' safety.

In this particular short there was a fight scene in the script involving five people. Two women and three men. At the script read-through (where all the production people, including the director, were late) I specifically raised the issue about choreographing the fight. If they didn't have someone I know someone who can. One of the production guys piped up and said that he was going to do it. Cool. My mistake was not listening to my gut when I realized that the more the guy talked the stupider he got and the less confident I was in him.

So, day of filming happens and there haven't been any rehearsals and the subject never comes up. I have some fight and stunt training at a rudimentary level. Basically, I know this one rule: WHOEVER HAS THE VIOLENCE COMMITTED AGAINST THEM, IS THE PERSON IN CHARGE OF THE VIOLENCE. So, I discussed this with the other young woman who was cast in the short and would be involved in the fight scene. She understood the concept, we tried it out and felt good. My mistake was in not taking the same time and care with the other actors involved. Which I obviously should have.

We go to shoot the scene and it's a mess. The third actor involved in the three-way fight with me and the other girl has obviously never had any stage fight training. He purposely pulls my legs from under me to get me to the ground twice, which I don't suffer any injury from save a jiggled butt. However, on the third take young actor manages to land his knee on my ankle and then brace himself to stand from that position. I'm lucky he didn't break my ankle. I screamed. Filming stopped and for a few minutes I did think my ankle was broken. We got it iced and made sure I was able to move it. Thank goodness.

Now the production idiot who had said he would choreograph the scene and then didn't never apologized to me. He stood in front of me after I wrapped and proceeded to give me a litany of excuses as to why he didn't do what he said he would do and that I needed to understand. I don't know why I was such a good sport about it. Really, I wanted to and should have just decked him in the face. Never did he say, "Hey, Karina, my bad, I fucked up. I'm sorry you got hurt. That was my responsibility." NEVER.

The only thing I needed to understand was that I got hurt because he didn't do his job and I didn't speak up.

Now, I have to look this incompetent asshole in the eye on two of the three productions I'm involved in. He thinks we're friends. He likes to try and hug me when he sees me on set. I want to claw his eyes out and break his ankles. He and I are going to have a chat before I actually do that. He doesn't deserve my courtesy, but I he does deserve to know why. It's coming.

I love what I do and I volunteer quite a bit of my time to independent and student productions because of that. The very least these people can do is have the courtesy to look out for my safety. I've heard about actors breaking ankles filming a running scene in the woods, actors getting slapped (Really slapped) because the director and the other actor don't know how to stage slap, a friend who I was in a short with had her pinky finger pulled back and her shoulder pulled during a mugging scene, I still have the mark on my ankle from that botched fight a year later and it boils my blood every time I see it.

Several months ago I was at an audition for a student film where a car crash scene was written in. At the audition I asked how the director was planning on guaranteeing the safety of the actors. I was met with a blank stare and lots of humming and hawing. Get over yourself. If you don't know how to stage it without hurting someone, don't put in your film. Period.

We're not crash test dummies. Most of us don't have insurance. I'd rather be "difficult" (and fuck you if you consider an actor who values their safety "difficult" just because they won't allow you to abuse them) than hospitalized.

I protested last night, but what I should have done is refused. Period. I won't allow myself to get so much as a stubbed toe on a production if I can help it. If I don't look out for myself no one else is damn well going to.

There will be conversations in the coming days....

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Reached a new milestone

My talent services have been requested without an audition. Yes, I was offered a role. It's a small commercial for a local museum, but I didn't have to audition. My agent was contacted specifically for me. That's awesome. I film next week and then have an audition following that. I usually do well in auditions following a high like this. Good things to come I believe.

On another note, I was cast as the lead in an independent feature and I'm freaking out about the scene that will probably require me to wear swimsuit. Shit. So far, I've been able to get away with hiding all my dietary sins. I mean I'm real world ok, but film ok? Not so much.

Working out isn't even the problem, it's food. Oh, how I love food. I wish I could love healthy food as much as I love junk. Really. Or I just wish I could get away from CRAVING dessert after a satisfying meal. Damn you, sweet tooth. Damn you!

So, I'm trying my best at a "diet." Now I'm not going super crazy and going on some fad diet that I won't be able to maintain. I'm actually trying to be sensible.... less of this, more of that. And it seems to be going well except for the sugar. Oh sugar. And chocolate. Damn you... but I love you. So much.

I've actually managed to lose 5 lbs., so I'm halfway to my goal of dropping 10 lbs., I have feeling however that it's more attributed to my workout ramp ups than diet. The workouts I may not be able to maintain, not if my shin splints have any say. Neighborhood pool, when will you open, damn you?! As I type I'm dreading having to go from sitting to standing position. That "Hunger Games workout" in this month's Shape magazine is no little gym bunny workout. My legs are so pissed at me right now. I'm alternating between walking like a baby taking it's first steps and what my very elderly grandmother might look like trying to walk if she wasn't confined to wheelchair. P-I-S-S-E-D, I say. Seriously.

So, hopefully, by the time filming rolls around, my insecurities won't throw me into a pit of self-loathing and despair and maybe I'll actually have fun during the scene. Or maybe I'll just buy a one-piece with those tummy-tightening panels built in. And have cake.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I want to be a more responsible, caring human

I recently came across an article posted on FaceBook about adorable beagles rescued from lab testing. The video just melted my heart.

In reading the article I clicked on a couple of related links that led me to PETA's website. Specifically the page that lists what organizations do and don't use animal testing. I went through the lists and realized that I have irresponsibly been contributing to animal testing by buying products from companies that test on animals. Crap. Now I have a whole new level of self-loathing.

So now I have to give up buying Neutrogena (DAMMIT! Damn YOU, Neutrogena! I really love your products, but I like thinking I'm not killing puppies more), Pantene (Proctor&Gamble), Olay (also Proctor&Gamble), Aussie (Proctor&Gamble. EFF YOU, P&G!) and perhaps some other products that I have yet to go through and eliminate. Ugh. I feel like a puppy killer. However, I also discovered that I have also been sponsoring non-animal testing products. Thank you C. Booth (Delicious Brands), Burt's Bees, Queen Helene, Tresemme, Marc Anthony, Noxzema and Dr. Bronner's Magic.

So now I'll be spending a little more money on products, but not everything will be weird-off-brand-Vegan-don't-work products. Almay, Bath & Body Works, No-Ad, Ahava, Victoria's Secret, Physicians Formula, Paula's Choice, Paul Mitchell Systems, Revlon, Clinique (Estee Lauder) - you have a return customer who is sorry she ever left you just because she wanted to save a few bucks. Turns out my inexpensive beauty regimen has a really high cost after all.

I am comforted to know that there are far more companies that DON'T test on animals than those that do. We should be evolved enough to treat animals with the respect they don't know they deserve. It says a lot about our species when we use other animals to test non-life-saving/non-medically-necessary products on them.

My little Christmas gift to myself this year is no more inadvertent sponsoring of animal testing and in addition writing some e-mails to those animal testing companies to let them know I won't be buying their products anymore.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How much can I juggle when I put my mind to it?

It's been a busy few months. Really busy. Really good busy. Crazy busy. After all my uncertainty and wondering how I'll make shit happen. I made shit happen. I managed to successfully create work for myself and along the way impress some awesome people who threw me an employment bone. So, no I'm not really all that unemployed anymore. I might be too employed. Not to jinx myself.

You're reading the blog of a working actor, acting coach, audition taper, agent helper, freelance casting assistant, registrar for an improv school and one of two Texas reps for the most highly respected casting website in the U.S.! It's nuts and I'm FREAKING lucky. I work my butt off and still manage to do most of it from home. How amazing is that?

It's been crazy and I'm only now just able to catch my breath for a moment (only because I felt compelled to write, not because I actually have the time. I'm making the time) and take it all in.

I got a chance to go to L.A. and train for my casting website contractor job over my birthday week. I really do love sunrises on the west coast. Makes it worth getting up early for the view and for the near empty beaches. I met some awesome people involved in the industry and got behind the scenes knowledge. I learned way more than I was expecting to. Priceless.

I'm using some of my more organizational talents to help maintain the day-to-day and session-to-session workings of a really great improv school I'm about to graduate from. Check me out in The Amazing Improvised Race at Salvage Vanguard Theater! To boot, I'll be in another play - my first Spanish language play - just before my improv graduation show. Literally. I have La Pastorela at 8 pm and then every Saturday that the play runs, I'll be rushing out to make the 10 pm opening of my improv show. It's exactly what I've wanted, to be busy with acting work. But I'll hardly get a break from performances before I begin rehearsals for my first children's theater play. And it's another Spanish-language role. Seriously, if you're a Latino actor and you don't speak Spanish, you're doing yourself a great disservice and seriously shutting doors for yourself. But hey, you'll get no complaints from me. I'm happy to take the work.

All this and that's still not including my weeklies at Fort Hood, which has been a tremendous experience. Being able to do what I love with some great actors, provide a much needed service to our soldiers, get paid and still be supported by my employers when I book other work is a dream. Just a dream.

I put my Fort Hood understudy to work (We have understudies! If only this were more common in local theater) last week when I booked a commercial job. That audition experience was definitely in a category all it's own.

I had been at home working up until 4:30 or so and then I decided it was a good time to shut down, get a work-out in and then get ready to hunker in for the night with some dinner and maybe a movie or whatever I had DVR'd. So, I worked out, got cleaned up, then went back into our office to get my phone. By this time it was a little after 6:30. Of course I would get phone calls and texts the minute I left my phone. I had a couple of texts from a casting assistant friend and voice mails from the casting director she works with, who's cast me the most this year and has also hired me out to assist.

The messages were literally "can you come by (right now) and audition for this project?" When I called back and explained that I was in my pajamas, he told me to get dressed and come by as soon as I could. They'd be there for awhile yet. I got ready in 30 minutes and was out the door. My husband had the biggest grin on his face as I walked out, saying, "I bet you book this one." I didn't even know what I was auditioning for. I called my agent and let her know what was going on.

I get to the casting office, sit down, get the script, which was one line is Spanish and then told to improv the rest in Spanish. So I did. One take, no redirection and the casting director says, "Great. You're on hold. We'll call your agent." I was told I would find out by 2 pm the next day whether I booked or not. I found out at 4:30 pm the next day. I was the only actor to book the same role in English and Spanish. I wish all my auditions turned out like this.

It was a great shoot. Short, sweet and I made the clients laugh. Their laughter actually messed up one of my takes - from the other room. I'm looking forward to seeing it when it airs.

It's nuts, but I'm enjoying the juggling. I just have to really focus and not let my usual distractions be my usual distractions. I also have to make time to film a Bigfoot movie I've been cast in. How I'll make it happen? Who knows. It just will.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

An Open Love Letter to crews (backstage and behind-the-camera)

Thank you to all of you who work so hard to make sure my lighting is flattering, my hair doesn't frizz, my under-eye bags don't show, my mic works, I have all my props and I'm actually in the shot. Without you I'm a badly lit, frizzy-headed, tired-looking, unintelligible, empty-handed, invisible mess. You do your job with speed and discretion so I can do mine. You're great and thank you for you tireless running after me to make sure I don't look bad or look like an ass.

In return, I promise to remember your name (even though I'm horrible at this to begin with. It's a work in progress) and if I don't, I will keep trying until I do, but I promise to remember your face. I promise that if you offer to wash my wardrobe/costume, I WILL NOT throw in my used underwear, even if it's part of my wardrobe/costume. I should wash my own damn underwear. I promise to say please and thank you and never bark at you and if I do bark at you, it's nothing to do with you and I will be aware enough to apologize profusely ASAP. If we have a misunderstanding, I will work to make it better and not act like an asshole who can't accept personal responsibility for my actions. If you approach me with a concern that's really you being the bigger the person and an adult, I promise not respond with, “I don't know. You tell me.” Because obviously if you had the answer you wouldn't be asking me to begin with. And if I EVER give you this douche-bag answer, just reread this to me and I'll slap myself.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mascots, the seventh circle of hell and flashing clients.

What does a girl do when she has a Friday free? Dress up as Tony the Tiger and hang out at a Wal-Mart with the Nesquick Bunny and the Bimbo Bear. Yes, I did it. I dressed as a mascot. For the grand opening of a Wal-Mart. Why, you ask? Why not? I didn't at that exact time, have anything else going on. And no, there was no fighting among the mascots. A) Everyone is a professional; and B) those costumes are H-O-T. I thought I was going to faint going into my first 20 minutes. Extra unnecessary movement is ill-advised and just plain crazy.

All you folks who work the theme parks in the middle of summer in costume, I salute you. And you scare me. It can be a little claustrophobic in there. Word of advice (to myself): cooling vest. Seriously. I was glad to do it, though. Seriously. Would I again? I don't know. Every decision as the situation arises. It's still a job and thankfully, I wasn't outside. Whew.

It's been a delightfully busy month and yes I count wearing a mascot costume in there. A commercial, mascot public appearance, a PSA and the doing good for the soldiers. I'd say all in all a pretty good month. Now if I can just keep that ball rolling.

I drove from sweaty mascot job to a callback (and booked it thankyouverymuch) where the client WANTED me present. That's a super cool feeling. It's definitely awesome to have a client specifically ask for me (insert ginormous, crap-eating grin here).

However, on the filming day, it only struck me about midway through that some folks might consider the position the cast and crew were in one of the seven circles of hell. Now, that is in no way to say that the day was anything but great. For real, again, I was overjoyed to be there and everyone was wonderful. But just imagine nine women in a baby shower setting laughing, cooing and saying the same lines over and over and over and over and over and over again for an entire work day. If there was anyone in the crew who just wanted to stab themselves in the ears, I wouldn't have blamed them, but they never let on if the impulse was there.

It wasn't really until the last hour that I started to feel loopy. I flubbed my lines in English and Spanish – totally forgetting the word “air filter”. Even after almost 8 hours of saying “air filter.” I thought I was going to cry because at that stage, EVERYONE wants to wrap up and every flub is more time hearing “ahahahahhahahhahahahhaha ooooooooooooohhhhh” from 8-9 women at a time. Imagine that as your eternal damnation. Ahahhahhahhahhahahhahha. And I would do it again. In a heart beat.

I got to work with some lovely ladies and the comeraderie was awesome. We were in it together. Every laugh, every repeated phrase, every fanning of sweaty parts. Which leads me back to my loopiness that resulted in my slight wardrobe malfunction.

Of course I would do this when the camera is pointed at me, not when it was over my shoulder or off to one of the sides, no, when it was DIRECTLY IN FRONT of me. Pointing in my direction. The AC was off and for those who aren't in film, ACs make a lot of noise that boom mics pick up, so film sets generally have no running AC while filming with sound is being done. I was wearing a skirt (you see where this is going don't you) and in absent-minded gesture, I quickly flapped my skirt up from my lap to fan my legs. Just once. I can still feign being a lady. Dammit.

A few moments later a voice pops in my ear and I hear, “Everyone, all the clients, in the other room saw your panties on the monitor when you flipped your skirt up.” And time stood still ... for. just. one. mortifying. moment ... I stopped breathing ... I felt my eyes turn to saucers ... my heart fell into my stomach ... and my stomach fell into my feet. I wanted to scream, then cry, then run away. Then I thought, “oh well. Can't take it back. And it's panties. Everyone has seen panties. And it's not like I flashed my whole undercarriage. My knees were still together – I think. Oh boy, I hope. Ugh. Stomach in feet again.

However, I know it was not recorded. Small favors, right? Whew.

Hey, they called me back to audition for their next PSA the following week. :-)