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. :-)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Prick teases, self-parking SUVs and saving lives.

I'm kinda down today. Less so than yesterday, but down nonetheless. I had one of those weeks where I've driven up to Dallas twice for an audition and a callback in the span of 3 days. Read: 12-14 hours total travel time with gas at more than $4/gallon. Then, I get the call that it's down to me and one person for the role and the client wants to make sure I'm available (and I am) and then …. they go with the other choice. :-( Seriously. It's like getting ready for a date only to have him call 5 minutes before he's supposed to pick me up only to cancel. All dressed up with nowhere to go. I believe the guys' version of that is called a prick tease.

That pretty much culminates how much the month has ebbed and flowed.

I started with a great high this month booking a commercial for a major auto company. The client was a dream. The folks on set were so incredibly, fantastically supportive and made no efforts to hide the love. I felt like I could do no wrong. It must be what a superhero feels like, or a parent after the kid has learned to use the potty. It really gave me the confidence to play and take a few risks with my choices. The freedom to add my own touch and be me. I got to parallel park an SUV that parallel parks itself. It was BANANAS. All I had to do was change gears and use the brake. My glee in the spot is only part acting. It should air in Texas on or just after Memorial Day.

The performances at Fort Hood are going really well, mostly. It still feels as if the team hasn't quite gelled enough yet and those after-lunch shows aren't up to par yet. The pressure is definitely high and it's tough to enjoy the successes when every detail is scrutinized. Lives are quite literally on the line. I'm finding difficulty relaxing into it, which may make me make things worse for myself. I'm trying to remember to breathe, focus, and that the soldiers are watching, listening, and in some cases, really paying attention because we're hitting home for them.

An Army major spoke before two of our performances this past week. He talked about his teenage son and how because of the performance he saw, he was able to recognize warning signs. After a heated confrontation between the two that very night over chores, the major and his wife decided to get their son help. It wasn't a moment too soon. The boy admitted to being depressed and suicidal for a long time. Years. So much so as to have come up with two separate ways to end his life. Because of the performance that the major saw, he got his son help. The major said if it hadn't been for the performance, his son might not be around today.

So, I'll take the pressure and do more than I think I can. I hope. I just have the constant worry I'll be canned after the 3 month contract period. That would really devastate me. Really. My nerves are a little shot from the high highs and the low lows. Is this what it feels like to be a drug addict?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Insanity (of the productive variety)

I think the karma is turning around for the better. I don't know that we're going to be OK, but it certainly feels like we're are. Big changes have happened. The major stress in our lives is gone. The future is very uncertain and still shaky, but I have high hopes.

The show I'm in is physically demanding, and I've almost fallen out of tree, but it's getting great response and people seem to be enjoying it! Yay!

I now also count myself as one of a few steadily working actors around here. I booked a dream job. A long-term gig performing live for soldiers on suicide awareness and prevention. It's an amazing opportunity to use acting as a tool to make a positive impact on a segment of our society that so badly needs support. It pays, there are understudies and it's a community service. I'm humbled and in awe to be a part of this production. I'm also in a stunning company of actors whose work I admire, but never had the opportunity to work with before. I'm giddy and flattered to be among them. It feels incredible to be a part of something that makes me want to bring my A+ game.

I can't believe my good fortune after all the uncertainty of the past few months.
The Actors' Fair was a great success for our fledgling taping business. We had a lot of folks come by and take our business cards as well as a couple of head shot photographers and a local acting coach who said they would definitely send referrals our way. OK, Louisiana, get ready to see our work! I feel blessed. Really, really blessed.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Catching my breath

It's been a hectic few weeks, both good and bad. I'm going to view the bad as a blessing in disguise – for now. I haven't booked any of my recent auditions and the employment status in the household has become entirely contract/freelance (for now). Despite this, I'm surprisingly calm. I'm definitely more focused and I'm hustlin' like a hooker work-wise.

The casting assisting has been working out well. I enjoy it very much and the casting director I've been working with is an amazing lady. She's been busy, so I've been busy. Whew! It's been fantastic to see the local talent and as an actor it's been an eye-opening experience. What can I take away from it as an actor? Have fun! The audition process is only as terrifying as I make it. I may not be right for every role, but as long as I keep making fun and interesting choices, I'll be called in and hopefully remain in good standing with the CDs and the local film production companies. Also, remember to shut up, listen, smile, have energy and stand on the mark until further direction is given. Everyone in that room wants to see a win. Seriously.

My private coaching and taped audition ventures have been going well. Word of mouth sees to be spreading about the work, so a small client base is building. One of my regular private coaching students got a callback on his first ever commercial audition and I just got a note today from a fellow acting classmate, who I coached for a commercial audition, that she got a callback. It feels almost as good as getting the callback myself. I couldn't be prouder and more certain that I'm on the right track.

The play I'm in is also about to open. I'm having fun, but I must've been crazy to sign up for something set outdoors. I'm so used to being inside that I've forgotten what a weakling my allergies turn me into. On the plus side however, I have discovered that I have the tenacity to figure out how to get out of a tree, even after getting stuck in the tree and unintentionally doing mid-air splits -- I would make a fantastic cat. Maybe in another life.

At this point, I'm trying to stay busy and pick up some of the momentum I lost. Keeping this as a steady gig is what would make me happiest during my lean times, but of course, booking some work would pull me out of my slump(s) for sure. I'm crazy scared about the unknown, but I have a great support system and some great people on my side. I hope it's enough. Cross your fingers for me. I'm not out.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My botched audition with Marc Webb

Because I flippantly mentioned that I botched an audition with this director in a previous post and it would probably raise a question or two, here goes:

I had an audition for the pilot episode of the canceled-after-two-episodes-and-we-didn't-even-get-to-see-Andie-MacDowell show "Lone Star." It died an unceremonious death as many of the shows around here have this year (bye, CHASE. It was fun.). Anyyyyywaaaaaay, my audition was at 8:30 a.m. in Dallas, which is 3 hours away in good traffic. However, I had committed to teaching a free class the evening before.

Here's where I made the mistake: I ASKED PERMISSION to forgo the class, so that I could drive to Dallas with plenty of time to rest before my audition. I was denied and guilted into keeping the commitment. I blame my Catholic upbringing and sense of commitment (dammit) for being so gullible. So, I stayed for the duration of the class, left at 10 p.m., drove to Plano to stay with a friend, was in bed by 2 a.m., woke up at 6 a.m. to make my 8:30 a.m. audition time. Do we see any problems yet?

In addition to being absolutely useless on less than 7 hours of sleep, I had previously decided that I wanted a bit more background on the role I was reading for. I can feel you cringing now. Yes, I am, too. All I wanted to know was a) How is this person related to the leads? Family or friend? b) What is her role in helping tell their story? Not unreasonable. But, my sleep-deprived brain and sense of brevity came up with this gem: "What is her hierarchy in the show?" To which the casting director quickly piped up, "Oh there's going to be a spin off. It's going to be called name-of-role-I-read-for."

It was a quick save on her part, sort of, but it took me a delayed second to understand what my mouth had just vomited. They thought I was asking about the size of the role. Oh, freaking horrors of audition horrors. If there had ever been a time that I wanted the earth to open and swallow me up, this was it. Simultaneously, I could hear a voice inside my head scream, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! OH! MY! GOOOOOOODDD! GET! OUT! GETOUT! GETOUT! GETOUT!!"

I could have tried to save myself, back track and explain, but really, I probably would have made it worse. I'm good that way. I've mentioned before about my uncanny ability to sabotage myself, no? Well, I'm excellent at shooting my own foot. Moving on.....

So, after this introductory disaster, I auditioned and felt good about it leaving the room, but well what did that matter if the only impression I left them with was that I'm a freaking diva and possibly mentally unstable? Oh, for 3 more hours of sleep!

I alerted my agent immediately about my faux pas and she did what she could to smooth things over, but well, he'd already dismissed me by then. However, after all that, the character was completely cut from the script and Mr. Webb dropped the show to follow a little project called "The Amazing Spider-Man" or something to that effect.

Small consolation after this mess is that I did get to chat with the casting director during a workshop and she mentioned in retelling this cautionary tale that I was the best read. D'oh! Right in the heart! By the way, in case you're slow and don't know what the cautions are: get sleep, only ask questions pertaining to the scene(s) you have in hand. Oh, and don't ask permission. It's better to apologize for doing something than to be denied before trying.

Back to it

In the swing of rehearsal, prepping for the next live theatrical production. It should be something interesting. It'll be a mobile type of venture where the audience will walk around the outdoor grounds of a museum and watch a bunch of adults play children. Children trapped in a fantasy world. Against their will. It's not really a kid friendly thing, but I don't see why children wouldn't get something out of it. Just no crying, please.

I guess it's just me not having had the academic theater background as my contemporaries, so I still get a little freaked out by some of the warm ups and group work we're asked to do. I'll go along with it. I mean, what do I know, right? I do however, have those few minutes where my brain says, “Excuse me, what? I am to stand here and just wait for this group to synch brains?” Then I let it go. It's an exercise. Lord knows I could use the exercise in patience and listening. Awareness of others isn't a bad thing, either.

It's just good to be around folks who are willing to play and explore. It makes me feel all creative-like and willing to push a little farther out of my comfort zone. It really does make me feel like a kid again, and not just because I'm supposed to be a child. For three hours I can focus on this one thing and not be completely plagued by my worries and my other commitments.

Speaking of which, I guess I'm at the point where my commitments are going to collide. I've already been lectured once about commitment this week. I have to prioritize. And I am. I still don't have the steady day job thing, so I won't turn down freelance opportunities, or booked jobs, because of my non-paying commitments. And for the record, I don't consider $40 for 3 months of rehearsal and performance paid work. That's just reimbursement for gas. Sorry. It may be hard for those folks to hear, but I can't repeat my mistake from the summer.

Full disclosure (This is so painful. More painful than my botched audition for Marc Webb.): I was in a theater production this past summer and booked a NATIONAL commercial scheduled to film the opening weekend, so I then lost the booking. Gone. Like that. S-T-U-P-I-D. I still haven't let that go and it haunts me. A few months later, I had the pleasure of auditioning with the young lady who I handed that job to. Lovely. Not awkward for me AT ALL.

I had to make a quick decision and I feel I made the wrong one. The beauty of hindsight – I could have made it work, but I didn't entertain the thought. I'm just hoping for patience, a bit of luck and it won't have to come to something like that ever again. Art and money are mutually exclusive for actors in regional, non-Broadway theater. I'm an actor and I need to an income doing so. Rejecting paid work I've earned isn't smart business. Duh.

I realize this may be an unpopular opinion, especially among my theater friends, but that's my reality. Art is art, but business is money and I have a mortgage, a car payment and an over-worked husband. So far, I'm managing and I don't want to be unkind or difficult. I'll make as many accommodations as I can. I don't want to let people down, but it won't come at the expense of me losing work … I hope.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change....

It's becoming more difficult to write on a more regular basis. So much of what I'm going through isn't directly happening to me. It's happening to my husband and I'm helpless to change anything for him. It's very painful for me not to be able to just fix/change everything that's wrong right now. It's also not fair to him to air his privacy out in the open just because I need an outlet. It is MY freaking blog after all isn't it? So, yeah, it's about mememememememe.

My husband might argue that's not necessarily different from any other day. He's not being mean, just pointing out the obvious. What? I have FLAWS?! The hell you say?! I've caught myself lately talking more and asking less. Two ears, one mouth. Hello? Not and island! I'm working on that. I promise.

So, in trying to be fair and a good wife, I have to be vague. The details I suppose aren't necessarily relevant, I'm just trying to be there for my biggest supporter and fan at a time when he needs his wife the most. He's sacrificed more than I have; believed in me when I had doubts; and bears the biggest burdens and stresses, so that I could pursue my heart's desire. I hope he can say that I've been there for him. He's been there for me.

My focus can't be on me right now. That'll be a nice change. He's supported me for so long, it's my turn. I just want to be able to deliver when it comes time to. It may mean dropping the dream, whether temporarily or permanently. I don't know. I can't know what tomorrow brings. Trying to do both acting and paying a mortgage (when will I stop regretting this purchase?) on one steady income just isn't realistic. But you already knew that, didn't you? I just got excited too quickly and didn't think about the worst case scenarios. Oh, hubris....

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The bitter and the sweet.

I've learned that I can't have any highs without lows to balance them out. I had a good day with the casting director I assisted and she invited me back (sweet). I enjoyed seeing the different talent that came through and really have a brand new appreciation for what casting directors do. Her callbacks were at the end of the week, which directly conflicted with callbacks for an audition I had earlier in the week ... had I made the callbacks (bitter). So, no callbacks and no work assisting for callbacks (really bitter). But after handing out some postcards at the big-huge-mixer Wednesday and getting some serious endorsement from a local casting director for taped auditions, I feel better (sweet).

It's frustrating to feel that I've let myself down. The audition would have been a great job to book. I fumbled through several takes, but I didn't let it defeat me. In fact, my last take of the audition was really solid, I felt, “great” according to the casting director. It wasn't enough, though. That's really what I'm struggling with – feeling like I'm not (good) enough and letting go of envy. I'm happy for folks who book the big jobs. Many of them are friends. I just want to be able to turn the fortune I had this past summer into more work and it hasn't really happened (darn you, Neil Diamond, no matter how much I like your songs. BITTERBITTERBITTER).

Sometimes, however, getting a fresh perspective can make all the difference. I tried one last avenue in hopes of getting footage with my new dialogue and in the course of the conversation found that hell, the offensive dialogue can be edited around and still keep most everything in tact (d'oh! Duh!)! So, while I'll lose TWO WHOLE seconds of dialogue on what'll be posted on the Interwebs, the point is that IT WILL be up and I'll be able to market myself. Seriously, why don't I think of these things on my own? My ability to self-sabotage is so eerily well-honed, I really don't need enemies. All you people considering the position: don't. I've got you covered. I can shoot myself in the foot blindfolded and with far more efficacy and less effort than you.

Until then, I'm going to keep myself busy. I did get cast in a new play written by one of my actor friends and I'm looking forward to having some fun in theater again. I have an audition this week, though I'm not fulfilling my resolution to audition once a week, every week, on my own; and I've managed to barter my time for classes for the next few weeks (sweet). Patience is a virtue I don't possess, but I'm working on it, Lord, I'm working on it. Mostly to be patient and forgiving with myself.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Being less unemployed this week.

A big part of the industry is being able to create work for oneself. It's survival during lean times. I've been dipping into the production side of things here and there getting to know more about how everything works behind the camera. It's just as exciting and draining in a different way than being in front of the camera.

I coach, I tape auditions, I PA (Production Assist(ant)), I'm even a Junior Agent for the VO (Voice Over) talent for my agency, and now I'll freelance a little on the casting side as an assistant. I'll get to see first-hand what casting directors see. I'm excited for the opportunity.

It's all about taking chances. Not that taking chances is a New Year resolution for me. I think I've proven I'm willing to take chances: Quitting my day job (Do I listen? What's the first thing actors get told? DON'T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB!), buying a home (big, huge, crapping mistake), starting over. The worst that could happen with me dipping into the production pool is that I'm not cut out for it. Like I haven't been there before.

This year, however, I have resolved to return to a more academic studying of acting. That means reading the acting books I've half-read and reading the acting books I haven't even looked into getting, but are in my notes of must-reads from various classes. I hope that I can find just as much instruction and inspiration as I do when I work with other actors. I could use the inspiration.

No one else is charge of my career. It's just me. However, I do have to be prepared that “IT” may never happen for me. It's a scary possibility, but not one I should dismiss. This isn't an industry where if you work a certain amount of time and learn certain things, you can expect to rise “the ladder” to a certain a level. It doesn't work that way. The demands are great on heart, body and soul and the return may be … nothing.

I give without expecting anything back. It's what I tell myself, classmates and students. It's not a safe way to go about life and career, but it's what I have to do. It's what I'm willing to do. Safety isn't an option in acting. Safe = dead. All I can hope is that I don't lose myself or anyone I love in either regret or desperation. It's really scary. I'm scared. I really am, but I can't give into it. What have I given for, and taken from others (namely, my husband) as sacrifices, if I'm just going to give up on myself, and let him down, too?

I have a deadline looming and even though I'll have to make adjustments, necessary ones at that, I'm not quitting. It's what is in my heart. The joy, the high, the elation … I joke that my only two vices are chocolate, exercise, and (OK, three vices) television (damn you cable). But, really, it's this. Little in my life has felt so right. I guess I'm just not as practical as I'd like to think I am or portray myself to be.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The show must go on.

Two actors, two shows, two outcomes.

Christopher Tierney, who was injured during a preview performance of “Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark” returned to the theater two weeks after his accident to watch the show. He has some rehab to get through, but once he's well enough, he'll be able to take back the job three other actors were required in order to fill his shoes in the show.

That's a feel good story. Actor takes an ugly tumble, but LIVES and will be able to continue working on the same production he's committed to. It's amazing, it could have been so much worse all things considered. It was an ugly head-first fall. I have warm and fuzzies for this one.

Not so much for “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” lead Andy Whitfield. My heart goes out to this actor. It's amazing as an actor to watch another actor on a show with as much balls (no pun, well maybe a small pun, intended) as this one. Really one of the bloodiest and most naked shows I've encountered. But, skin and gore aside, it really does have some great story-telling. And so much of it falls on the commitment and heart of Whitfield.

(Warning: Spoiler Alert!) I watched the episode where Whitfield's Spartacus kills his gladiator brother in blood, Varro. I missed this episode when it originally aired and what not prepared for the outcome. The whole scene had me agog. Literally, hand over mouth agape in shock. I really didn't think Spartacus would go through with it. So, when Varro (played for every last tear by Jai Courtney) sacrifices himself at the hands of Spartacus, my stomach turned – from both the graphic depiction of the death and from the well-played and believable anguish of Andy Whitfield.

My husband and I really root for this show and for Whitfield. He's just that likeable, believable. It's crushing to see someone, who's basically unknown, earn a juicy lead role, carry it, and then have it all taken away. “The show must go on” isn't a cliché. It's a very real aspect of this business. Even a namesake lead of the show – the heart and soul – can't stop production to tend to his disease. I wish Mr. Whitfield a speedy recovery from his cancer. I hope he kicks it's ass. Then after he's done kicking cancer's ass, I hope I see him back kicking ass on another show.

I totally understand the decision to continue the show. It really is good and postponing production would mean losing their cast and crew to other projects, but it doesn't mean that I'm not disappointed for Mr. Whitfield. I also don't envy the actor chosen to fill Mr. Whitfield's spot. It can't be a great feeling knowing that the role earned is only because the original actor is fighting a real life-or-death battle. Ugh.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Neil Diamond might hate me. Like, on a personal level.

So, I flippantly mentioned in my intro post that I don't want Neil Diamond to sue me. It's not a joke or a euphemism. I really don't and it's making my marketing efforts a bit challenging.

I also mentioned in my intro post that I was on a major network show this past year. Here's how the two are correlated:

In said show, I witness two murders. The murderer (An awesome Robert Knepper. Seriously, if you ever have the chance to meet him, do it!) is whistling "Sweet Caroline" while shooting a couple of mechanics. He finds me hiding and I beg for my life. He smiles and lets me live. How amusing. Cut to a few scenes later and the leads of the show, a pair of Texas marshals, interview me about the killings; walking and talking, stop, talking. I'm then asked, "Did he say anything to you?" I respond, "No, he was just whistling." "Whistling?" "Yeah, 'Sweet Caroline'. I hate that song. Now, I can't get it out of my head. Excuse me." I exit. I'm done! Woo hoo! Yay me!

So, I'm done and feeling really good. The episode airs and all is well, except for my name being miscredited in the closing titles. Gah! A few days later, I get a call from my agent letting me know I'm on hold for ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) for my dialogue on the show. I came to find out, through my agent and the exec supervising my ADR session, that Neil Diamond took issue with my line about hating "Sweet Caroline." Not Neil Diamond's people or his camp, NEIL DIAMOND. The lines had evidently not been cleared by him. The whistling of the song during the murder scene? Yes. Me hating the song? No. And for the record, I LIKE "Sweet Caroline"!

So, a couple of weeks after the original airing of the episode, I'm in a studio rerecording the lines and all traces of "Sweet Caroline" are gone, except of course, on every TV web site that plays TV shows online. Sure, the original "Sweet Caroline" dialogue is there for all to see, but that's their deal. I just want to be able to use the footage for my reel and not worry that Neil Diamond will end me.

So, the new line went from "Sweet Caroline. I hate that song," to "Dirty Water. That old Standells' song." Please, God, don't let the Standells come after me next. So, I'll put it out there again -- if anyone knows of a site that has re-dubbed/re-looped episodes after their original airing and won't put a virus on my computer, just leave me a comment.


New Year. New Kick in the Ass.

I probably should've done this last year. Leave it to me to have a delayed idea. Lord, help me -- story of my life. So here I am -- a 34-year-old, "self-employed" actor/housewife/flailing (failing?) entrepeneur, college graduate, possibly having a quarter-to-midlife crisis.

Where to begin? I moved to Austin in 1997 after falling in love with the city (OK, the UT campus. Hook 'Em 'Horns!) during a state high school competition in 1994 and 1995. I was an orchestra geek. Emphasis on the geek. I've only realized in the last few years that all college campuses must seem cool to high schoolers. So much academia, independence and sex in the air. It was the only school I applied to and I got in. Not bad for a timid El Paso girl.

Fast forward a decade after a promising career in online journalism (Not really. Turns out I don't have the stomach for it and I value my soul and not becoming numb to the horrors of humanity and whatnot), a move to and from Las Vegas and Los Angeles (Not acting related. Regarding here-to-fore-mentioned journalism career), jumping into the film and theater scene in Austin (which is plentiful and fun, but often lacking quality), and a-mostly-on-again-but-sometimes-off-again-relationship-turned-solid-marriage and I'm in my home office contemplating my next move.

I happily left the journalism industry in 2008 to more fully pursue acting, since I was booking quite a bit of commercial work and was excited at the prospect of what more devoted time would bring. I got a part-time receptionist gig through a friend who was totally cool with me taking time off, if and when needed, to audition  and work any booked jobs. Pretty sweet, I know.  It's all anyone in my position could ask for.

But, of course, it couldn't last. The company wasn't able to make payroll and I finally resigned when the county constables came by to seize equipment (including my office computer) to settle an unpaid debt. I wasn't being paid and I couldn't do the simplest of my assigned tasks. Thanks for your support! I gotta go!

That was back in April 2010. My husband said I should take my time finding new steady work and I should concentrate on my acting. So, I've taken my time, but the concentration has been sporadic at best. Something I'm trying to change as a deadline I wasn't previously aware of looms. I've been selfishly thinking that my time not steadily contributing financially to my partner in marriage and our shared bank account was limitless. Stupid, I know. I'm easily lulled into a false sense of security. Good news for our politicians! Anyway, the unfairness of making my husband the sole breadwinner is taking it's toll and I have until April this year "to make something happen with acting."

After which, we'll decide what "needs to be done". It doesn't give me much hope. I've never really been the most self-motivated person. The fact that I quit a steady career for something as fleeting as acting is more a testament to my insanity rather than my tenacity I've concluded. I must be a glutton for punishment if I've chosen a life where I'll be rejected more times than the smelly kid in the Kindergarten class. Though the punishment I received working in news should've told me that. Again, slow on the uptake.

So, I've taken up the day-job search in earnest and feeling further discouraged by lack of enthusiasm and possible un-hirability for the most menial of tasks. Truly a big ol' slice of humble pie for me. I'm still in there chasing the dream, however. I've set myself up as a private coach (one client so far!), and teamed up with a fellow actor from my agency to tape auditions (so far mostly folks from my agency, who get a discount, but I'm at the mixers drumming up business), and trying the Every Girl Friday for actors thing (again, one client so far!).

I'm going to work at picking up the momentum I lost after experiencing my first co-star role on a major network show. It was a high and the low following has been really low. I've booked a couple of commercial jobs since, but being able to turn that into more work has eluded me. The idea probably won't come to me until six months from now...... Lord, help me.

BTW, if anyone knows where to locate shows that have been re-dubbed/re-looped since their original airings, please let me know. I'd like to have the footage for my marketing purposes and not get sued by Neil Diamond in the process. Thanks.