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Knowledge, in this industry, is power. So put on some steel toed boots, ’cause the following websites, podcasts, and like are veritable knowledge bombs that be droppin’

The Actor’s Network

Just did a blog post on them. Check it. If you’re in LA you shoulda become a member 3 weeks ago.

Brains of Minverva

I effing love this blog, and Sarah and Claire are total rock stars. They sent me the following: Brains of Minerva – The Guide to the LA Actor Hustle publishes resource-rich career and lifestyle articles for the industrious working actor. Launched in Sept. 2009, the site now hosts over 100 posts on everything from joining SAG to prepping your web series to navigating the steps of auditioning for a series regular. We’re thrilled to be part of the community of actors using the web to share information and perspective, and we’re constantly inspired by our friends at Playbills vs. Paying Bills (and, yes, you guys win the awesome name contest!). At Ben’s suggestion, we’ve put together a list of posts to introduce ourselves.

Come on by, let us know what you think – we’d love to say hello… Claire Winters & Sarah Sido Brains of Minerva

Inside Acting Podcast

Trevor and AJ are two of the nicest, most genuine actors you will ever meet…err, listen to. They host Inside Acting Podcast, the best way to spend your LA commute. I asked them for a summary and some links to their favorite episodes. Here’s what I got: Inside Acting is a free industry audio podcast for actors, by actors. Each episode brings you tips and insights from Los Angeles-area casting directors, agents, producers, writers, actors, filmmakers, personal finance gurus, and more. Get insider information on marketing yourself, creating your own work, and booking the gig — straight from the people who’ve been there, done that, and are doing it again. Check out our website and find the podcast on iTunes. And our Top 5 most popular/favorite episodes so far:

  1. Episode 03 — Brian Vermiere (note from Ben: Brian is one of the most influential people in my view on Los Angeles. He’s brilliant and is one of the founders of PerformerTrack)
  2. Episode 06 — Enci
  3. Episode 07 — Kris Diedrich (note from Ben: Kris is one of the kindest people in all of Los Angeles)
  4. Episode 15 — Neal McDonough, Part 1
  5. Episode 24 — Bonnie Gillespie, Part 2

Actor’s Voice/Self Management for Actors/Bonnie Gillespie

Casting Director Bonnie Gillespie writes (I’m guessing) the most widely read actor blog around. And for good reason. Her blog is absolutely brilliant. If you ever have a free second (and by second I mean week), go poke around her extensive blog archives and prepare to have your mind blown. Bonnie has also written the best book available on the business of acting. Self Management for Actors should be mandatory reading for any actor wanting to take their career seriously.

Hollywood Happy Hour

Continuing the awesomeness that is Bonnie Gillespie, every actor should subscribe to the Hollywood Happy Hour yahoo group. This is an e-group of a couple thousand actors, CDs, and industry professionals from all over the globe asking questions and sharing resources. I’m pretty sure you have to sign up for a yahoo email address, but that’s the only time you’ll have to use it…you can have the email digest sent to whatever email you want.

Marci Liroff “Like” Page

Casting Director Marci Liroff (E.T., Spitfire Grill, Freaky Friday, Mean Girls, and many more)  has a tremendously engaging Facebook “Like” Page (or whatever the hell they’re called now). Lots of great resources there, her audition tips videos, and always an engaging conversation. Check it!

Secrets of Screen Acting

The best on-camera training I’ve had. But Ben, it’s a PODCAST, you exclaim! Yeah. That’s right. It’s that friggin’ good. Probably the most informative 5 minutes of your day as an actor. David H. Lawrence hosts and Patrick Tucker does most of the talking. Seriously. Check it out (Podcast inspired by the book Secrets of Screen Acting that Patrick Tucker wrote. Find it on Amazon.)

Acting Answers

Speaking of David H. Lawrence, check out his website www.ActingAnswers.com. Full of wonderful advice from a very astute working actor.

Alex’s Info

One of the most informative email newsletters out there. Go to Alex’s Info site and sign up to receive daily awesomeness. It’s fairly LA based, but there are great resources in there for everyone. The email also contains information on thrival jobs, internship opportunities, and the like.

Cynopsis

Head over to their website and click on “Subscribe” in the top menu to get daily updates of what the heck is going on in this crazy industry. Get the news that the people at the top of this crazy town care about. You can also watch a 5-minute video of the morning’s news every day if you prefer.

The Hollywood Reporter

Rather than droppin’ a couple hundred bones on actually paying for the magazine, I suggest signing up for their daily email newsletters, or subscribing to their rss feeds. This is the kind of info the people with the money care about. The type of info that is great to have as a general understanding of what’s going on in our industry.

Info List

Tons of wonderful industry news on their main site. Lots of networking opportunities and such. Click on the “Register” link in the top right and enter your email to get on the list.

Gold Star

Damn you all of my friends who didn’t tell me about this until 6 months into my Los Angeles experience. If you want to get tickets to anything in Los Angeles, it’s mandatory to check Goldstar first. Pretty much every play, concert, or whatever has extremely (like 50+ %) discounted tickets. Awesomesauce.

Oh, and there are discounted tix for most of the major cities on here, not just Los Angeles.

ActorRated

ActorRated is like Yelp for actors. Basically it’s a place where people can rate and give feedback on the myriad services, products, headshot photographers, membership organizations, and the like. What you’re looking for isn’t there? Put it up! The more information we can give each other as a community, the better.

Performer Track

In short, PerformerTrack is online software that allows you to manage all aspects of your acting career. Auditions, expenses, contacts, etc.

I wrote about PerformerTrack previously, and I would highly recommend you check out co-founder Brian Vermiere’s interview with Inside Acting Podcast.

The Moth Podcast

As actors we’re in the business of telling stories. And The Moth Podcast has some of the best stories around. They are true stories, run about 15 minutes, and are told live without notes. Subscribe on work out those storytelling muscles.

The Actor’s Lounge

I absolutely LOVE The Actor’s Lounge. It is by far the best energy in Los Angeles. So what is it you ask? Great question.

The Actor’s Lounge is essentially an open mic night for actors. Any actor can simply show up and do a monologue (3 min. or less) or a scene (5 min. time limit for 2-person scene, 6-minute limit for 3 or more). There’s a live DJ on stage, phenomenal emcees (led by the truly brilliant In-Q), as well as music, dance, live painting, and film stuff thrown in for good measure. If you have a single creative bone in your body you NEED to check this out.

When: First Wednesday of every month, starting at 8:30pm (performers must show up early to sign up)
Where: Greenway Court Theatre, 544 N. Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Cost: $1 (though it might go up to $5 soon)

What are your favorite resources? If they’re not listed here, throw ’em up in the comments section!

1. MOVING TO GREENPOINT – WILLIAMSBURG

Today is the day, my good friends. I move – from the Upper East Side (New York’s quiet, family oriented, wealthy, primarily Jewish neighborhood wherein I have found solice in my Bikram Yoga studio/friends, my local vegan salad/sandwich/juice shop, and my Starbucks’ baristas who consistently ask me for my number, give me a discount, and know how to make a gal feel special and loved – also where I have miserably shared a studio with a veritable dipshit) to Greenpoint, Brooklyn! Listed as #5 in The New York Times on April 12, 2010 as one of the top 50 “Most Livable Neighborhoods,” in New York, Greenpoint is up and coming as a trendy place for young professionals and artists who are perhaps too poor for the more expensive East Village or Williamsburg real estate but too “scene” to move North to Wash. Heights, Harlem, or even the Bronx.

“…But Greg Pitts, 53, a ceramics instructor who moved to Greenpoint four
years ago, said he loved the working-class Polish character of the
neighborhood and had wearied of the noisy weekend stampedes of the
young, drunk and club-bound.

“It’s New York, so I guess I shouldn’t be complaining…”

The one thing that wont change will be the smells. The Upper East Side smells of urine. Why? Well, in addition to the homeless people who sleep on every street corner in every neighborhood in New York City, there is an abundant population of small, peppy dogs that adorn my blessed block. It always smells of urine. And, on days when I feel sluggish and just want to wear some oversized slouchy pants that drag ever-so-slightly on the ground below, it makes for a fun little ‘human frogger’ adventure, dodging sliding pools of yellow as the run downhill towards the street wondering if I can pass them before they trickle onto my pant legs and pass safely to my secured destination. More times that not, I win. As for “Little Poland” (my beloved Greenpoint):

“The wind turned, and a pungent blast of something chemical — nail polish
remover? — wafted by. “The smells are bad; you know, they worry me,”
said Ms. Aiuto, as Isaiah ran a few circles on the grass. “I guess a lot
of places in New York are not going to be great for your health.”

Moving in New York (er, moving in Brooklyn) is actually quite a lot easier than I had anticipated. I don’t have a lot of things but having a bed makes it very difficult. If you just have clothes, books, pots and pans (as a typical studio dweller or minimalist may only require), you can move slowly, over the course of days, via the trains, buses, and cabs – if you have the cash. I, however, have a bed. Its small, its a twin. If I weren’t so broke all the time, I’d just leave it or sell it and buy a new one at the Sleepy’s on my block in Greenpoint. Alas, this is my situation. So I give you two words of wisdom:

1) Man with a Van
2) UHaul

Man with a Van is cheap and dependable. They are the best deal you can find if you need MOVERS (people to pack your things, carry them, load and unload, etc). I don’t need that – I took boxes from work and am a phenomenal packer if I do say so myself. But they have been recommended to me on more than one occasion. There are Men with Vans all over the country actually so just do a google search and call around. You should be good to go. In my situation, however, the BEST deal is UHAUL. To rent a 10 foot truck for a whole day is only $20. That is, to clarify, IF you pick up and drop off the truck in Brooklyn. Reboot the search and find a pick-up location in the City and the rate becomes $89/day. And, again, we are reminded as to why I 1) have to work four jobs to live here and 2) am moving to Greenpoint! You get the van/truck/whatever you’ve rented for as many hours as you specify and then you pay for miles (either $.99 or $1.79 depending on size of rental) at the end of the day. If you’re moving within the city or between the boroughs, this means not so many miles and a very very very reasonable moving deal. Its an incredible tip!

Upon moving, we discover many things need to be changed: cable, electric, billing address, address change in general, and maybe even your stage name? Oh wait… that’s just ME! Which leads me to my next order of business:

2. NAME CHANGES IN THE PERFORMING ARTS INDUSTRY (often referred to as “the STAGE NAME”)

It’s official. Your New York City contributor is no longer the oft mispronounced Emily Schmidt-Beuchat. From this time forward, I will be Emily Beuchat (and considering even Emily Beauchat). Your comments on this subject matter are GREATLY encouraged and appreciated.

But why this “sudden” change? Why this drop of a Schmidt? Where will the Schmidt go? Will it go peacefully?

According to our favorite resource these days, Wikipedia: “A performer will often take a stage name because his/her real name is considered unattractive, dull, unintentionally amusing or difficult to pronounce or spell, or because it has been used by another notable individual or because it projects an undesired image. Sometimes a performer adopts a name that is unusual or outlandish to attract attention. Other performers use a stage name in order to retain anonymity. The equivalent concept among writers is called a nom de plume or pen name, while the term ring name is used in professional wrestling.”

My fight name, if I were to quit acting all together and really pursue Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with some moxie/chutzpah and a smile, was and will always be “Emily Schmidt BOOM-shaka-laka” (and my song to enter the ring would be the theme song to JAWS… or Black Cat by Janet Jackson). But these are just thoughts I have late at night…

The stage name is a much more serious consideration. And quite controversial. With family names, especially with names less American sounding, it becomes a big question as to whether or not you are “selling out” to fit a certain type or mold in this industry. Let’s face it, the industry is rarely, if not never, going to come to you. Don’t be a sell out but also don’t give them hurdles to reach you. This being said, its completely a personal call whether or not someone changes his or her name for the sake of their career. I have chosen because of various conversations with my mother (the hippie/giver of the “Schmidt” and the hyphen to both my sister and myself) and her reasons are this:

  1. Schmidt-Beuchat is too complicated to say, spell, and remember. You need to have something that makes an impression (which this name does) but not because its too overwhelming. People remember my name but not as what it is but that it was long and interesting sounding. Contacting me, I can only imagine, has become a task in email rerouting hell.
  2. Schmidt-Beuchat sounds like a married name. The number one question I get at auditions is, “is this your married name?” So not only am I there, fragile in my auditioning state but I am in addition saddened and reminded of my state of alone-ness in this world as a strong, single lady.
  3. Beuchat is French and it means Beautiful Cat (Beu from Beau for handsome (m) and Chat for Cat (m)). Schmidt is German and makes me sound like a Nazi. And, according to my mother, in this industry filled with many powerful people of all backgrounds, it is not good to ever be associated with the Nazis.

Other reasons to change ones name, according to Wikipedia, are:

  • To disguise a family connection (as in the case of Nicolas Cage who sought to hide his relation to the Coppola’s or Emilio Estevez who chose not to take his father’s professional name, Sheen).
  • Guild and association rules: SAG, British Equity, and others have strict rules on having no duplicate names (often actors change their names simply by choosing one that isnt already being used professionally). For example, Michael J. Fox has his lovely J because Michael Fox was already a member of SAG. Or Terry O’Quinn (JOHN MOTHER F*ING LOCKE) is actually Terry Quinn but that name, too, is already in use.
  • Involuntary Name Changes: sometimes agents choose for you… This is not something I would advise. I think, and this is just me, if you are going to change your name, do it out of necessity (association rules) or because YOU have chosen to. Don’t let your agent or someone TELL you that you wont succeed without it. If they’re blaming your NAME as the sole reason to your not being an A-list star, you may want to reconsider working with this person. This will only be the first of their long list of excuses.
  • Ethnicity!!! or changing a name to disguise one’s heritage. Take Freddie Mercury, born “Farrokh Bulsara” to Parsi parents. At one time, Jews in Hollywood were encouraged to anglicize their names to avoid discrimination, and still happens today. In an extreme example, Margarita Carmen Cansino (an American Spanish actress) underwent electrology to change her hairline to more “Northern European appearance,” and renamed herself Rita Hayworth. … more on this controversy later…
  • Ease of use – the AEA (actors equity association) advises performers to select a name that is easy for others to pronounce, spell, and remember.
  • “Some performers while playing great attention to their skills and abilities give little thought to the difference that a well-thought-out name can make to their career. Often it is only after the realization that a poorly chosen name results in an undesired impression that a person or group decides on a different name.”
  • Relevance to image – (more specific to the music world) – take for example; Sting, Slash, Sid Vicious, Necrobutcher, Rob Zombie, LADY GAGA – who is actually a complete character on stage and in her musical career than she is from her typical, personal self! Every member of the punk band The Ramones took the pseudonymous “Ramone” surname as part of their collective stage persona. And Norma Jeane Baker changed her name to the far more glamorous-sounding Marilyn Monroe.
  • Euphony and ease of remembrance – pretty straight forward…

So, peacefully, my mother and I will bade my Schmidt farewell.

In further conversations with my boss at Theatre Communications Group / American Theatre Magazine (for which I am now the official/temporary PR person – funny how things unfold), Teresa Eyring commented that Emily Beuchat has a ring to it. Its very French. Americans love French things because we assume that there is always an element of culture there that we can never truly possess. Furthermore, she suggested I even change the spelling back to the original pre-americanized “Beauchat.”
This is a suggestion that I like… but I haven’t quite made up my mind about it. Beuchat is still very difficult to say and changing it to Beauchat would definitely clear up some pronunciation confusion. However, then I will really have CHANGED my name. And this leads me to more of the “controversy” in this subject;

How much of yourself are you willing to change in order to reach your dreams in this field?

Be careful how much of yourself you change in order to fit a mold or type. Often, the best and most successful actors are their own type or are already a certain niche. Let yourself fill a void rather than try to squeeze into an over crowded section of the industry. Your greatest talents and your uniqueness are your assets. However, in the case of Rita Hayworth, her alterations worked in her favor. SO, my only TRUE and sincere advice can be, again, to do it for you and not to let someone require it of you. Same goes for breast implants, any sort of facial plastic surgery, and other ventures with you which you may feel uncomfortable (porn and prostitution).

As far as stage names are concerned, think of it in this manner: the industry refers to them as “professional names.” If you separate the issue and look at it as “for use in a professional capacity” then the name change becomes less personal. Less controversial. Less offensive to your parents, friends, heritage (maybe).

SO…

To my friends, family, and landlords, I will continue to be the sweet, hyphenated, Emily Schmidt-Beuchat from Boulder, CO.

To my colleagues, casting directors, audiences, and THRONGS of adoring fans, I will now be Emily Beuchat (… BeAuchat pending).

(comments on this specific post are greatly encouraged and appreciated)
Much love,

Emily Beuchat

If you haven’t seen this video on how Ian McKellen is (was, *sad panda*) such a brilliant actor, then you’re seriously missing out:

I love this video because it reminds me that sometimes I make acting more complicated than it needs to be. I mean, there are 6-year-old kids who act brilliantly, so it can’t be that hard, right?

Now I’m most assuredly not saying that anyone can just pick up a script and be a brilliant actor. I dare you to try heading to your local supermarket armed with any script and get that lady next to the pomegranates to do a little scene with that dude stealing the cashews…not that simple. On the other hand those same people, sans script, are acting all the time. They’re interacting with the people around them, having conversations, living life.

I find it particularly important to remember this, especially when I’m acting on camera. On a film set you never bring your own props, they tell you where to stand and where to look, and at the end of the day all you need to do is talk to people. That’s what I tell myself if I ever get worked up. When all is said and done, it’s just talking to people. All of it. The business, the craft, the networking…it’s simply talking to people. I can do that. In fact, sometimes I can be pretty good at that. And I would wager that every now and again, you’re pretty darn good at it too… 🙂

I recently heard Tracy Curtis speak at The Actors’ Network. Like my posts on Jonathan Prince and Lauren Bass, below are lessons I learned from an industry professional. Look for many more of these posts in the coming months. I might be just some dude with a blog, but these people know their $hit. Enjoy. 🙂

Tracy Curtis has extensive experience in the industry, from acting to editing, to being a commercial agent in San Francisco. Her father was an Emmy-award winning producer/director, and she recently opened the theatrical agency Talent House LA which is doing extremely well. Oh, and she has 2 dogs and enjoys the outdoors.

On Talent

Tracy prides herself on having an eye for talent, but what is talent exactly? Talented people have “charisma,” she said. They are very comfortable with themselves. It comes down to knowing in your heart that acting is your calling. Any doubt you have is very transparent.

How to Attract an Agent

Your Reel: In attracting agents, “the reel is everything,” Tracy said. The goal of (most) any actor in Los Angeles is to get cast in moving pictures, so what better way to demonstrate your value in that arena than a reel? A stellar reel also gives an agent a tremendous tool with which to sell you. But don’t freak out thinking you need 27 minutes of material. Even one 30-second clip (that is good!) is enough to get started. Just know that you should constantly be updating your reel as you get new material.

Tracy also mentioned that she can often tell within 5 seconds of watching a reel whether or not she would be able to help that actor get a job. While at first this might sound like an insanely short amount of time to make a judgment, I challenge you to start watching actor reels and see how quickly you “get” the emotional value of a scene. You might find that 5 seconds is an eternity. J

Relationships: Cliché or not, this is a relationship business. Relationships are absolutely vital, and you need to be aware that they take time to build (which is a primary reason why it takes time to accrue success in this industry). Demonstrating to an agent that you have, and will continue to form solid industry relationships is priceless. Want to blow an agent away? Show up at your meeting with a detailed list of all the casting directors, producers, and other industry professionals you know.

And as an actor, don’t be afraid to ask a potential agent how they develop relationships. The main reason an agent will be able to get you an audition, is because they have a solid relationship with a specific casting director (or are able to leverage a relationship you have). Tracy, for example, takes general meetings herself. Knowing that she is a newer agent in town, she put together a book of her clients which she takes around town as a networking tool. Find out how your representation is developing relationships and how you can both work together to leverage those.

Being Proactive: I don’t have to tell you how competitive this business is, but what does that mean for you? Well, it means that you need to be working harder than the next guy. And I assure you that the next guy is working pretty effing hard. Agents and managers want to see that you will continue to work your ass off in furthering your own career, even with representation. It’s not enough to just get an agent then sit by your phone and wait for a call (which sounds really boring, anyway). Demonstrate that you’re out there meeting people, taking class, producing your own material, doing whatever it takes to keep your career moving forward. Give your agent ammunition to shoot you auditions! Okay, that was the worst analogy I’ve ever made, but you get the point.

What She’s Looking For

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s extremely important to research and understand the individuals you’re targeting (be they casting directors, agents, whomever). Tracy runs a very boutique agency, and perhaps more than other agencies is interested in comedic actors. She views the ability to be funny as a gift not to be taken lightly. Even dramas often require a sense of comedic timing (think Dexter), and more and more improvisation skills are an audition requirement. Furthermore, Tracy commented on the increasing number of ½ hour sitcoms that came out this year, noting that this is likely a trend that will continue over the next couple years.

In addition, like many of the agents I’ve heard from, Tracy is looking for emerging talent and culturally diverse actors. Agents are often interested in actors who have a good acting background—Second City Chicago, extensive theatre experience, and the like—who are also still young enough to be molded. There also seems to be an increasing demand for more ethnically diverse casts on TV.

As with most agents, Tracy also wants actors to at least be eligible for SAG. (For more information on SAG and how to join check out this post.)

The Meeting

Most agents and managers have their own unique way of conducting a meeting with an actor. Tracy requires 2 scenes from a current TV show or feature film (preferably 1 comedy and 1 drama), which you will read with her assistant. Beyond that, she might require a couple cold reads, and if she’s still not sure about you she’ll call your acting teacher (you are taking classes, right?). Which, by the way, is another reason not to lie on your resume. Talk about an awkward phone call…

Whatever a specific agent requires, I’ve found it wise to always have a comedic and dramatic scene that I have rehearsed and memorized ready to go at any given time. While monologues are a lot less required in Los Angeles, I think it also prudent to have a comedic and dramatic monologue in your back pocket at all times. (And no, I don’t mean literally have them in your back pocket, I mean have them memorized and polished silly.)

On Managers

The opinions on managers in this town varies greatly, but Tracy’s basic point was that the more people you can get on your team, the better. Obviously you want these people to be good and work with you to further your career, but so long as that’s the case the more the merrier!

(Side note: managers generally charge 10 – 15%. Agents by law can only charge 10%.)

Actor Websites and IMDb

Tracy noted that an actor’s website can certainly be helpful, especially if there is information that she could point a casting director to in order to help sell you. However, she said that IMDb is the most important resource for actors to have updated, as a casting director will immediately pull up your profile when getting pitched.

Check out my posts on the basics of IMDb, how to get listed, how to manage your profile, and your Bacon Number.

Final Thoughts

As with so many others, Tracy demonstrated the importance of loving what you do. The passion and enthusiasm that comes with that is utterly infectious. Tracy is clearly head over heels in love with what she’s doing. Are you?

Alright, people. Saddle up and get ready. This is probably the most valuable information I have ever put on this blog. Seriously, this $hit is priceless. Perfect for our 100th post (!)

What the hell is SAG anyway?

SAG stands for Screen Actors Guild, and is a collection of actors. It is often referred to as “the union,” and it many ways acts like a union, even though it’s technically a guild. Any “legitimate” projects (e.g. things you actually see on TV or in the movie theatre) have agreements with either SAG or AFTRA for every project. These agreements delineate things like how much actors are guaranteed to make, working conditions, the hours you can work people, etc.

Do I need to join?

Eventually, yes. To be a working actor in Los Angeles, you will absolutely have to join SAG at some point. Having SAG on your resume–rightfully or not–gives you a rather giant leap up in credibility. It indicates that you have been paid to act on a seriously professional level.

Know, however, that when you join SAG you are agreeing to no longer work any non-union jobs. Bonnie Gillespie has a phenomenal post on when to join the unions.

How do I join, and what’s all this ‘eligibility’ business?

The wonderful blog Brains of Minerva has a great post on the different ways to join. In short, they are as follows:
  • Principal Performer: As a non-union actor you book a union job as a principal performer. For SAG, this means you will get “Taft-Hartleyed,” meaning a Taft-Hartley form (see below) was filed for you as a principal performer. This makes you eligible for SAG.
  • Vouchers: As a non-union actor you must receive 3 Taft-Hartleys as a background performer to become eligible to join SAG. Basically, 1 principal role Taft-Hartley = 3 background role Taft-Hartleys
    • It seems to take people between 3 months and 5 years (I know) to obtain 3 vouchers
    • The younger, hotter, and more female you are, the better chance you have of getting a voucher
    • On a set, it is usually the 1st or 2nd AD (Assistant Director) who has the ability to give out vouchers (if they have any)
    • I have heard of a large number of people who paid someone roughly $100 per voucher. I personally hate the system that engenders this, but more on that later
  • Affiliated Unions: If you are a member of one of SAG’s sister unions (AEAAFTRAACTRAAGMA or AGVA) you are eligible to join SAG one year after working a principal part through the sister union

This is a very brief, not super thorough overview. Read the Brains of Minerva post for more in-depth coverage of this.

Once you are eligible, you are free to join SAG at any time. Simply pony up $2,335 at the time of this writing (that’s including the minimum $58 in your first year’s annual fees) and you’re a full-fledged SAG member. And yes, you can pay with Visa or Mastercard.

When do I have to join?

Ok, so I’ve been tracking down this answer for a long time and finally came to my senses and just called SAG for clarification. Here goes…

Once you receive a Taft-Hartley as a principle performer OR receive 3 Taft-Hartleys (vouchers) as a SAG background performer, you are eligible to join SAG and can pay at any time. If you choose not to join off the bat, it works as follows:

“SAG Eligible” Status: From the date you first become eligible, you then have 30 days to do as much SAG work as possible without having to join the union.
“OK 30” Status: After that 30 days, if you book another SAG job and they call to clear you in time, you can be cleared for an additional 30 days to again do as much SAG work as possible without having to join. At this point you are considered to have “OK 30” status.
“Must Pay” Status: After that 30 days, if and when you book another (ostensibly your third) SAG job, you then become a “must pay.” From the first work date of this (third) SAG job you have 5 business days to join.

Payment Plan: If you are an “OK 30” or a “must pay” status, you are eligible for SAG’s payment plan. The payment plan is 40% down on the total ($2,335) , and then 3 equal monthly installments of the balance.

Note, if you are in the midst of your payment plan and book another SAG job, you must pay off the balance you owe in full before you can be cleared for another job.

Station 12 Promise to Pay. If you are “must pay” status and you book another job but don’t have the money, it is possible if you are represented by a SAG-franchised agent to have them call in with a promise to pay for you, which clears you for–and I didn’t receive exact clarification on this–like one more week to pay. However, that agent can only have ONE person in a “promise to pay” status at any given time.

Taft, who? Wasn’t he that fat President?

Wow, you really know your history. But I bet you didn’t know that President Taft had a specialty bathtub installed in the White House for him. So what does this have to do with SAG? Absolutely nothing.

“Taft-Hartley” refers to the Taft-Hartley Act which is a law passed by Congress in 1947 relating to labor unions. Without further boring you, what it means for an actor is that if you get a Taft-Hartley you are then eligible to join SAG as mentioned above.

Getting Taft-Hartleyed is rather difficult to accomplish, as a TV show or movie has to do a (minimal) paperwork and pay a (minimal…like a few hundred dollars) fine to Taft-Hartley you. Fortunately for you, you can get Taft-Hartleyed by doing your own web video or webseries, and pay no fine.

How to form a SAG signatory company for a web-based video project (and Taft-Hartley someone such as yourself)

First of all, know that SAG states you cannot use the following process simply to Taft-Hartley yourself or anyone else. You must actually do a legitimate web project. (There are no listed requirements for what that entails, nor is there any stated way of them checking on this, but that’s what they say.) What I explain below is how to create a SAG Signatory Company, which then produces your web video (or series). There is no cost to forming a Signatory Company through the New Media Agreement.

When doing a project through SAG you are agreeing to abide by their rules, and to hire union (SAG) actors for your project, unless for some reason you are unable to find a SAG actor for a specific role (see the actual Taft-Hartley info below). Brains of Minerva has another incredible article on what this all means when doing a web project. You might also look over the FAQs for New Media Projects provided by SAG.

Step 1: Preliminary info sheet

You must first fill out the Preliminary Info Sheet found on SAG’s website. Along with that sheet, you must also turn in the following:

  • Copy of the driver’s license of the person submitting the form (whomever is going to be the Signatory company/primary contact)
  • A line-item budget for the project
  • A script for the project
  • Be sure to designate how much you plan on paying the actors
    • There are no actual requirements for this, and you can indeed “defer” pay to actors. However, you should know that SAG most assuredly would like to see that you plan to pay your actors something…even if it’s deferred payment
      • If you decide to pay, say, $100/day deferred that’s fine, you just need to stipulate when you would actually pay the actors
        • Ex: You say we would pay the actors 14 days after receiving any distribution money if you theoretically made money on the project at some point
  • You need to indicate whether we want an OPO (One Production Only) or Term Agreement
    • OPO means you are only doing one video, whereas a Term Agreement means you plan on doing more.
    • OPO only obligates to do this single project through SAG, whereas a Term Agreement means you agree to do all future productions through SAG until the next round of SAG contract negotiations (which generally happen every three years.
  • While there is no official requirement, SAG definitely wants to see that you plan on hiring at least some SAG actors for your project. Again, there is no actual requirement, but the more SAG actors you plan on using, the happier SAG will be.

It generally takes 3 weeks or so to process this form. After it is processed, SAG will send you a a packet with the various forms you’ll need to complete your Signatory status and carry out your production.

Step 2: The signatory packet

After you submit the preliminary info they will send you a large packet of information (that will also have the Taft-Hartley form) that you then fill out to officially form the SAG Signatory Company. Once that gets processed, you’re good to go to begin filming your project.

This packet is fairly self-explanatory. A couple notes:

  • It is not required that you form an LLC or separate entity to become a SAG Signatory Company. That is, an individual can effectively act as a SAG Signatory Company
  • If you do not have a separate bank account for your production company you can skip the “credit check” section (though you do need to fill out the rest of that page)
  • If this is a new project, you don’t need to fill out the “New Media Transfer of Rights” page

Once you submit this packet you will receive an email from SAG within a couple weeks with your SAG Signatory number as well as the SAG production number for your project.

Step 3: Film it!

Pretty self-explanatory. The best advice I can give you: find an amazing DP (Director of Photography) and pay your sound guy. Poor sound makes a project seem incredibly unprofessional.

Step 4: More paperwork

There is some paperwork included with your signatory packet that you are required to fill out during your shoot. Be as thorough as possible.

The Actual Taft-Hartley

If you are planning to hire a non-union actor (such as yourself), then you submit the Taft-Hartley within 15 days of the non-union performer working on the project.

Important Note: For the SAG New Media process outlined here, SAG does not have any fines for a Taft-Hartley, nor do they state anything that would keep one from having their Taft-Hartley go through.

Ever wondered what the actual Taft-Hartley looks like? Are you assuming it’s some monstrous 27-page packet? Well, look no further. Here is the actual Taft-Hartley form. You might notice the myriad ways one might qualify to be Taft-Hartleyed, including “first employment of a person who has training/experience as a professional performer and intends to pursue a career as a motion picture performer.” When filling out the “contract type” section on the Taft-Hartley, you might just write in “___ New Media.”

The performer who was Taft-Hartleyed will receive a letter in the mail from SAG in a few weeks indicating their eligibility to join SAG.

Legal Stuff

Please know that if and when you produce your own project, there are a number of legal ramifications that you need to be aware of. First of all, if you personally are listed as the SAG-Signatory producer when you fill out the paperwork explained above, then you personally are legally responsible for everything that happens on your set. Someone breaks a leg, dies, scratches a Ferrari…it’s all on you. As such, it might be wise to form an LLC or other legal entity that produces your project.

In addition, there are myriad state and federal legal requirements when you produce something. For example, you can only work children for a certain number of hours, you need a permit to film anywhere (even on private property), and it is California state law that you need to have workman’s comp insurance if you do a project. Entertainment Partners will actually provide you with workman’s comp insurance for everyone on set if you go through them as your payroll company. Contact them for pricing, but my understanding is that often it will only cost a couple hundred dollars, and then you’re protected if something horrible happens. Sure beats getting sued because Joe Actor decided to trip on the banana peel (he’ssooo cliche) and hit his head on the dalmatian statue.

Many people confuse these laws with annoying SAG requirements so they shoot non-union. The hoops and such that you must jump through with a SAG project are there to help you ensure that you are following all of the laws.

Loophole?

I’ve heard from a couple people that the process described here is a “loophole” that SAG is planning to close (they’ve also been saying they’re going to get rid of the voucher system for about a decade now). I don’t see how producing a new media project through SAG is a loophole, nor does it make sense to me that SAG would make it any more difficult to go through them for new media projects. Moving picture entertainment is moving more and more online, and I can only think that SAG wants to be as much a part of that as possible.

Questions

If you have any further questions on what is presented here, I suggest you call the appropriate SAG department (full list here).

New Media: (323) 549-6724
Membership: (323) 549-6757

Final thoughts

I hope this has been helpful. If you’re a rock star who is out there producing their own work, then you might as well take the next step and make it a legitimate SAG production. When you’re ready to upgrade from new media to actual film, Bonnie Gillespie has a great column on becoming a SAG signatory for non-New Media projects. Happy filming!

Hopefully you’ve heard this phrase a lot, because it’s friggin’ true (and because Joe wrote about it a couple weeks ago). This really is a relationship business.

My acting coach has been around the biz for decades, and has had the fortune of watching countless people make it to the very top. I asked him what sets these people apart: “They do lunch,” he said.

I’ve been feeling a little concerned that a lot of my time is spent “doing lunch” or otherwise spending time kinda just hanging out with fellow industry people. Shouldn’t I be editing my reel right now? Maybe I should go finish that mailing? How many actors DOES it take to screw in a light bulb?

Thankfully, the Universe has a way of sending not-so-subtle hints when you’re on the right track. Today I booked three different projects I didn’t audition for, all because of relationships I had developed with fellow actors. Moreover, these relationships are not necessarily super close friends. They’re people I’ve met through friends of friends or worked with on other projects in a rather limited capacity.

Meet people. Stay in touch. Make a good impression. Be fun to be around. Get creative: use the lunch break of your day job to schedule meetings with industry-friends. The most important thing you do for your career today may very well include a spicy tuna crunch roll. Score.

P.S. I would not have been contacted for one of these projects had I not been Facebook friends with the person…be easy to contact!

I have a post in the works about how most “legit” (read: stuff that you would actually see on a TV or in a movie theatre) auditions come from relationships (via agents or managers, CD workshops, meeting people in the grocery store, whatever). With that said, one of the basic things any actor needs to know are the different “click and submit” services that people actually use to get auditions.

For the beginners out there, whenever someone does a project they create what’s called “a breakdown” for the project. It lists pertinent info like who is casting it, when it’s shooting, and a “breakdown” of each character they are casting. These are then (sometimes) placed on the websites below and actors can submit themselves to the project (you put your headshots, resume, reel, etc. up on the site) to be considered for an audition. Note that agents use these websites as well, but get access to different (and more) breakdowns than the average joe who signs up.

A clarification for the LA actors: You can speak of “a breakdown” for any project, but when people speak of “the breakdowns” they are generally referring to breakdowns that are sent out ONLY to the various agencies (and people who get them illegally, but that’s a whole other post).

Actors Access

Website: http://actorsaccess.com/

What: This is the primary website people put up breakdowns for projects. Particularly used for film, television, short films, webisodes, and the like.

Cost:

  • Photos: You can post 2 photos for free and swap/replace the free photos as often as you wish for free. Additional photos are $10 each to post and cannot be swapped for free.
  • If you subscribe to showfax.com (currently $68/year I believe) you can submit unlimited times on Actors Access
  • If you are not a member, then there is a $2 charge per submission
  • Video: For a traditional reel the first minute of video you put up is $50. One or more additional clips that are one minute or less are $22/additional minute. There is a video starter special where you can upload up to 5 minutes of video at the same time for a one-time fee of $100. To replace video it is $22/minute replaced. They have other video and audio packages.

Notes: At some point you’re going to need an account here. Agents use the site to submit you for projects (again, using breakdowns that only they can see on the site). It’s also the best way for beginning actors to submit themselves for the various student, non-union, and sometimes bigger projects. There are also auditions posted for actual theatre on here as well. Actors Access is also associated with Breakdown Services and ShowFax, the latter being where you get your sides (script).

LA Casting (Casting Networks)

Website: http://lacasting.com/

What: Used primarily used for commercials. If and when you get a commercial agent, they will mostly be using LA Casting to submit you.

Cost: (full details here)

  • To sign up on your own it is $14.95/month with a $20 set up fee
    • If you pay for 6 months up front the cost comes down to $79.95 ($13.95/month) and there is no set up fee
    • If you pay for 12 months up front the cost comes down to $$154.95 ($12.95/month) and there is no set up fee
  • Photos are $25/each
    • If you upload multiple photos at the same time it is only(!) $15 per photo after one at full price
    • You get your first photo free when you first register or switch representation
    • It is also an additional $10/photo if you have multiple profiles (if you have multiple agents, for example)
  • Video hosting is free on personal accounts and an extra $4.95/month for represented accounts

Notes: If you’re going to do commercials you have to be on here. There are also a number of films, webseries, etc. that end up on the site. It’s pretty friggin’ expensive. And you have to pay every time you switch or add photos. Serves as constant reminder that the entire economy of Los Angeles is built around getting money from actors (not that I’m bitter).

Casting Frontier

Website: http://castingfrontier.com/

What: Casting Frontier is currently only being used by two (big) commercial casting directors in town, who actually started the website. There are enough auditions that come through the site, that most commercial agents have their clients sign up on the site.

Cost:

  • The basic profile (1 headshot, 1 resume, and 1 digital size card) is free.
  • The premium profile (basic profile + up to 5 headshots and a link to your website) is $6/month
  • The premium profile plus (premium profile + up to 10 headshots and hosting of your reel) is $10/month

Notes: This site implements a “bar code system.” When you sign up through their site, you get a bar code that you can print off and take to auditions. At the audition they scan the bar code, and now have all of your information (headshot, resume, etc.). Might as well start with their free registration then upgrade if and when you get a commercial agent who asks you to do so.

Now Casting

Website: http://nowcasting.com/

What: This is generally considered less legitimate than the other sites listed above. I am not aware of any “legit” breakdowns ever being posted on this site. However, there are a lot of student and non-union films and webisodes that might make it worth your money.

Cost: (full details here)

  • There is a basic registration you can do for free, and then various packages up to their full $20/month package. Click on the full detail link just above for specifics. I believe there are also discounts to pay up front for longer periods of time.

Notes: I was originally on this site because my agency in Colorado used it. In L.A. I have booked a number of smaller, non-union stuff here the was good experience and reel footage. Read the final thoughts concerning how to decide what sites to sign up for.

Other

In a slightly different category are Backstage, IMDb Pro, and Cragslist. Certainly use good judgment with the latter, but I have spoken with a number of people who said they found some great projects/auditions through Craigslist. Backstage and IMDb Pro have a lot more to them then auditions, but they are a good resource as well, and you have to have an IMDb Pro account to do proper research, and Backstage is a wealth of knowledge.

Final Thoughts

I will cover this in depth in a future post, but just have realistic expectations about what you’re going to get from these sites. Most of the stuff that is posted for the general public on these sites are not actual tv shows or big budget movies that your family can watch in Montana. However, there are a TON of projects getting posted on these sites every day that may or may not be worth your time.

If and when you do sign up for any of these sites, be sure to have as much information as possible on there. And dear Lord please keep your resume up to date. It is also recommended to have multiple (at least 3) pictures up on your profile so you can use different pictures to submit for different types of roles. Also makes you look a bit more professional. Just don’t go overboard and post any more than say 8 or 10 pictures. And please don’t make the community look bad and post pictures of you half naked on a jet ski or any equivalently awkward photos. If you have a (good) reel, by all means get it up there. Profiles with a reel end up on top of the submission pages that the casting people look at.

The best way to decide whether these are worth your time and money is to track what auditions you get from them. You can do this using PerformerTrack or an excel sheet, or whatever. Just begin to track the auditions you get and then make the judgement if your money could be spent better elsewhere.

Lastly, know that there are a TON of websites out there claiming that they have all kinds of great projects listed there, etc. Please just be wary of people scamming you out of your money. Do some research on any site before you give them your money (i.e. google “company name + scam” and see what comes up). And again, track what auditions you get from the services to see if it’s worth your time.

There’s a lot of info here, so I’ve missed or misrepresented anything please leave a comment!

HAPPY 2010!!!!!

I don’t know what has come over me but, my friends, I am happy. Couldn’t explain it further as I have no physical proof but – I am feeling good (minus the fever but thats only physical). Perhaps it is my recent dip back into the Bikram Yoga pool. Four years ago, I took a Bikram yoga class at least once a day, 7 days a week and I was in my body, in amazing shape, and taking care of myself. It has taken a four year absence from that stint for me to realize that I was where I needed to be all along. On New Years Eve, instead of strapping on stilettos and paying cover charges, I went to a moonlight, midnight Bikram class that ended on the New Year with a champagne toast. I knew no one but I have to say it was the best New Years Eve that I have ever had. I am healthy, I am living for me, and I am exactly where I want to be. That said, I have made some revelations:

~ Up until this point, my depression and poor luck in the auditioning realm has really only been a result of my not being in my body, not being focused, and not being okay with myself and where I was in the moment. If I wasnt in my body then where would I be? In my head! And that is the death of the actor!!! I needed to be okay with myself before I could be vulnerable and honest in an audition and on stage. I can say that I am now. Things are looking up. Its gonna be a tremendous year.

~ Find something that makes you happy that ISNT theatre.

I know, I know. I am a hypocrite. I will be the first to admit that for a long time theatre was my one and only love (with a brief repose during the Nathan years :-D). It still is my love and my greatest love. But now I have multiple loves for multiple things, people, and PLACES (yes, New York, welcome to my bossom, dear one). When you make your love into your career, you relinquish its ability to be both your love and your work at the same time (especially when pressed with difficult times and challenges). This is the root to my recent problems: my love/career were both gone from me when I moved here and of course I felt as if I had lost everything. I needed to do things for me, for my career, involving theatre, involving movement, creativity, learning, etc but that wasnt dependent upon casting or income. First step: 30 day Bikram challenge. I am now on day 9 and I feel fucking fantastic. I go every morning – much like Joe who commented on the benefit of early mornings in his most recent PvsP post. Love him! Its SO true. I am focused, I am working on myself and as a result, working on my career.  I am in my body, out of my head, healthy, awake, and feeling like my old self again. Without which:

I never would have gotten the call back that I have today that I am rushing off to in t-26 minutes.

Wish me some broken appendages.

Namaste,
Emily

(*NOTE: The following was written & formatted based on Chris Guillebeau’s article “HOW TO CONDUCT YOUR OWN ANNUAL REVIEW,” which can be found in its entirety at www.ChrisGuillebeau.com.)

(*NOTE: Furthermore, I have copy and pasted the post made recently by fellow contributor, JVB, to ease my formatting. He’s a gem, ain’t he? Yes, we can concur on this!)


Yo, 2009! I got some bones to pick with you. You, my friend, were a bitch, and I for one am both relieved that you are leaving and contemplative of what you have given me to consider.

It’s me, your ‘friend,’ Emily. I am not going to pretend that we get along. But, as I have realized, you are in my life for some reason. To test me, to try me, to measure me. I seek not to fully understand your motives but I am now, I can strongly say, at a point where I can accept them.

Dear Playbills readers: you have missed me, I know this. I have been absent. As Ben put it so aptly: acting is one of those art forms where you cannot begin to actually succeed or produce anything until you are fully in yourself. I think I gave myself too much to take on this year and 2009 didn’t like that too much. She saw me take on transition, focus, ambition, and growth all at the same time and was almost offended that a mere mortal would test her thus. So, what did she do? She spat on my eager little dreaming face. I was down and out for a bit but I have returned. The year is ending and 2009 is going on a repose. I am returning with clarity and focus. This year should have just been transition and if I look at it solely through that lens: I see success. Only success. So, 2009, FUCK YOU! Thats what I have to say to you!!! I succeeded, you bitch. And I couldnt have done it without you testing me to see if this is really what I want and who I am. So, again 2009, FUCK you, and THANK you.

As the year winds down, I am beginning to pick of the pieces of my life and myself that I lost in the big move to New York City and the big graduation from college. Unpacking is a process. Process. Process the process. Ok. Done, though never really done. Oh, its almost too much to think about and thus why I put it in such poetic terms.

Like J to the V-B, I am now going to take a look at 2009, in review. The highlights, the lowlights, and the unmentionables there within. Let us begin: hands inside the vehicle at all times.

Year: 2009

Theme: “This is no Miracle on 34th Street!” (to quote my father, who I saw for the first time in 7 years this year – but that story is for a different blog on a different day. A blog I might one day entitle: Everyone and Their Mother has got Daddy Issues). In more Elementary terms, dear Watson, we’d call this year: the year we realized the difference between expectations and reality while still attempting to dream.


What Went Well This Year:

  • I graduated from college and received a BFA in Acting (though this was technically Dec 08):
    • I completed something that I started 3.5 years ago and have fully dedicated myself to a profession and art that I love.
      Apart from this, graduating from college is really just that. Its the process that is too much to delve into in this one subsection in this one blog.

  • I had my first three professional acting gigs
    • I cannot begin to share my love and admiration for The Colorado Shakespeare Festival who have gotten me started on a path that I now know is the one for me: classical works
    • They gave me an opportunity to play classically challenging roles as well as new challenges like playing men.
    • This experience has taught me the type of people I always hope to work with the type of work I always hope to create. Yes, every company has their flaws and I am not saying that this is the pinnacle of high art or production values but there are no better people and there is no better mission statement. This company solidified my confidence in myself, my love for Shakespeare, and my faith in good people making honorable works.

  • I auditioned for tons of theatre, and it is in this process that one finds themselves. I have yet to land anything significant (or anything at all) in New York City but I DID land THREE professional roles in Denver. That IS something and something that I forget.
    • Taught me how to audition and how to swim in this enormous city
    • Given me perspective on my life. I have always thought that life is measured by success and that, if I wasnt on Broadway or in movies, that I was no real actor and that my life has no meaning. What I have learned over anything else in this enormous move to NYC is that that is not what life is. Life is not money or credits. It is your relationships with the world around you and with yourself. Depok Chopra would be so proud of me right now but I hate to say it: I would be happy with good friends and good food any day of the week right now and I am working on accepting that. This does not mean that I am not driven and focused and that I dont still have enormous dreams (because I do) but it is all about perspective and expections. Take, for example, NO MIRACLE ON 34th ST (the theme for 2009, that bitch). I moved here with a movie in my mind. I was given the reality. My father has been to NYC once and he wanted to go to Macy’s but they were closed for rennovations and he says, “well, what the hell, this is no miracle on 34th st.” And that is exactly what life is. Things are closed for rennovations. People are already cast in roles even though they are hosting an open call. Men have wives though they tell you you’re a goddess and Starbucks WONT tell you they are out of Chai until after you’ve waited in line for 20 minutes. BUT, life not being a movie is also an amazing thing in it of itself. You can breathe. You can take a day off. You can change everything in an instant and when you do succeed, it is that much greater. And though I hate to live in the future and wait for this “success” to make me happy – it does get me through the rough days. And it has certainly gotten me through 2009 (that bitch!)
  • I moved to NYC/left home/became independent/started a career as an actor/retail associate! This year was rough for many, in a fiscal sense. My family declared bankruptcy and I decided to move to the most expensive city in the world to pursue the most competitive career in the world during the worst economic crisis of all time. Fortunately, I love my President and so I remain optimistic. Apparently, I am always optimistic. I work in a store with late closing hours and a lot of customer traffic – when we close, I apparently, according to other employees, am too happy. I look at myself and I think that I am depressed. Other people look at me and see someone who is always happy. AGAIN – my expectations of myself are not realistic. I expect myself to be bounding with glee, partying every night, cuddling with a boyfriend, and paying my bills with acting gigs. The reality is: I am always smiling and I am always dreaming. So, in the end. I AM happy. I just dont accept it because I am waiting for a bigger, better happiness. But, as I review the year, I realize that I am happy. And I cant help it:
    • Transitions are hard and you have to give yourself time (YOUR time, not anyone elses measure of their transition time) to adjust.
    • The years directly out of college are the hardest for anyone. Accept this too.
    • I have realized that, in order to do what I WANT to do, I need to get more training. I have made a few decisions:
      • I HAVE APPLIED TO GRAD SCHOOLS – blog entry to come.
      • I am taking control of my physical and mental health.
      • I am assessing my own relationship with money and examining the worlds relationship with money. It is a sad one – on all accounts and an issue that I feel needs to be addressed. However, that is another blog post on another day
  • I am looking into learning something new, again! At the beginning of this year, I began Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at Easton Academy in Boulder, CO. GO TO EASTON if you too decide to take up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. They are the best people in the world and I cannot begin to tell you the impact that it has had on my life and my perspective of the world. A philosophy that I have fallen in love with is one entirely based around breathing, playing life like a chess game, and not wasting energy in areas where energy ought not be wasted. Happiness is simply about observing the world around you and making choices. I take what I am given and I choose: I choose happiness. However, in the Spring, I injured my elbow and stopped my training. It was something new to learn after college when I was lost wondering who I was and where I was going. And it was something to keep me in shape. It is not my passion and that is okay. After I moved to NYC, I tried to stay in shape through running but that just did not agree with my body. Then I spent a few weeks hemming and hawing between Capoeira (another Brazilian martial art) or Aerial Trapeze/Acrobatics. Which would be more “me?” Which would help my acting career more? Which could I actually afford? I am STILL making this decision and, at some point, I want to pursue ALL of these things. But, today, I decided to go back to YOGA – my base, my home. When I began college, I was taking Bikram yoga classes once a day, every day of the week. I was in the best shape of my life, I was taking my life in my own hands and steering it any way that I wanted. Today almost killed me. I am out of shape but determined to get back there. I started a program: 30 days for 30 dollars. I am going to go once a day for 30 days and hopefully get back into the swing of 1) health, 2) being in touch with my body and 3) being in touch with myself. I miss being a hippie and I have been running from yoga and myself for too long.
  • I began writing. People say that I should be a writer and that I have a way with words. When, in this city, I have found that I cannot perform and act or am not allowed, I need SOME form of artistic expression. I draw, I sing, I dance, and I write. I began PlaybillsvsPayingbills.com with Joe and Ben with the intention of writing more. Now it has become more of a Forbes of acting and less of an artistic expression which is admittedly one of the reasons why I do not post as frequently as I ought to. But it is an amazing outlet and, as I find myself and help myself, I hope to help others. As the bew year approaches, I hope to write more. In fact, I am writing a book (whose genre, contents, themes I know not) merely so I can quote myself all of the time. But it is something that I need to do.
  • I realized the importance of a community, of friendships, family, and support systems. This is one reason why I have decided to reenter the world of education. However, its more than that. Moving to the largest and loneliest city in the world has taken its toll on my love for isolation. Don’t get me wrong: there IS nothing like a quiet evening alone (Paramore quote) but there is also nothing like connecting with another human being. I have taken a vow of all negative influences (including bad dates and focusing on relationships when I ought to be focusing on myself) and this is incredibly beneficial as well as lonely. However, it has left me free to see the true relationships that I do have in my life. My fellow writers are one of these relationships that is strong and real. My relationship with my sister, mother, and step father is another. And then there are the few friends from home who I have realized with always be in my life. This was a huge breakthrough for me and one that can only help me on my path to not only realizing who I am (to help my acting and my career) but also on my path to knowing what life really is all about.


This is the section where I am going to talk about what didnt go well this year:

And yet – I have decided to venture from the outline and NOT write about these things. I have learned from my mistakes and I have made many in the past year. But I am not going to relive them. I refuse. Writing them here and ending my post with the things that have plagued me the most these past couple of months will not do me any favors. I take every negative instance from this year, every challenge, every bump in the road and I say: you’re a bitch, fuck you, thank you for testing me, and thank you for teaching me. I will not go into the challenges, but I will go into the lessons that I have learned:

    • There is no such thing as a “good deal.” There are only good things, and bad things in pretty packages.
    • You will find in life that you have fewer friends than you thought but that these few friends are better friends than you ever could have imagined.
    • No one is thinking about you: they are thinking about themselves. You should do the same. You should live your life for you and do what makes you happy. Apologize rather than asking for permission.
    • Our disappointments are ONLY the result of having unrealistic expectations on ourselves.
    • Your environment affects you more than you know: where you live, where you eat, who is in your world. Negative surroundings will breed negativity within you and vice versa. If you are unhappy where you are: make a change. It is the most difficult and the most important decision you will ever make.
    • Dont compare yourself to others. Ever. The time it takes for you to succeed, get cast, adjust to a city, find love, lose weight, read a book, find yourself: its all on one time line and no one elses. Live your life and not someone elses.
    • Dont ever waste your time trying to convince someone of your worth. Those who are worth your time will recognize it immediately.
    • Learn new things – it takes 2 weeks to develop a new habit (good and bad). I hope to collect hobbies and know as much as I can in this life. As actors (to quote a great post by Ben earlier this year) it is our duty to love learning all sorts of things as we have to be all of them at one point or another. Evolve. Grow. Adapt. Challenge. Change. Create. Write single word sentences. Its all good.
    • Never give up on your stupid, stupid, STUPID dreams. (I am still working on this one)
    • Know thyself
“I am not suited to polite society.
To social striving, upward mobility, and making good impressions.
I am radically honest, sensitive, brilliant, and blunt. I hold up a mirror to the best and worst facets of human life.” – Vajrayogini

I’ve heard from a number of Casting Directors recently, that they know whether you have a shot at the part as soon as you walk in the door. Bonnie Gillespie (imdb, blog) says that “your energy walks into the room before you do.” Effectively, your first impression may very well be the deciding factor in your audition success. Not your reading. Not your preparation. The way you walk in the room.

Basically, we’re talking about first impressions here. Like it or not, they can be extremely effective in judging things like extroversion and self-esteem (source), the latter being a crucial factor when casting someone. Confidence is absolutely critical in auditioning, and if you have it, you will make a great first impression.

Homework: Start studying first impressions. See what your first impressions are of the next 5 people you meet. Why did you have those? If you got to know that person a little better, do you think your first impression was accurate? Start asking people (anyone: close friends, recent acquaintances, whomever) what their first impression of you was. How might you improve that?

Report back your findings. =)

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