Bad Butterflies

nervousmemeNerves can get the best of you and even the most seasoned actors will admit that they’ve totally blown an audition due to a case of the butterflies.

I hear a lot of people say that they could never be a performer because they would be too nervous to get up in front of people. They also assume that just because I’m a performer that I’m never nervous when all eyes are on me. Well that’s not always true. Maybe some actors are that way, but I’m sure as heck not one of ‘em.

I always get nervous right before an audition, right before a monologue, right before I begin a dance routine. When I was on dance team in high school I would get this overpowering fear that I would mess up and lose the whole thing for my team. The fear would take over my whole body, but once the music started, I would explode all of that nervous energy into the routine. The thing about acting is that most of the time they don’t want you to have a really intense I-could-slice-you-with-my-pompom-because-my-arms-are-so-sharp kind of energy.

You have a little wiggle room in theatre because you want to play to the back of the house, but a lot of film acting is about containing. You want to have all the liveliness you would on stage focused in your eyes. You can’t very well flail your arms about and make grandiose facial expressions, but you can give a look that could kill a man because the camera is zoomed in two inches from your face.

My biggest hurdle is learning how to harness the nervousness and turn it in my favor. I used to get notes like, “More energy!” from acting teachers because I would freak out too much and get lost. There are a lot of little tricks to help combat nerves, but I got some of the best advice from one of my college professors.

One day she talked about how when she watches auditions, she notices that the actors always take this big breath before they begin their monologue. They take a moment, inhale nice and deep, exhale for a moment and then they start. She didn’t like this. And she’s a voice teacher. So I’m like, uh, what? Everyone does that. It calms you down before you perform this wonderful piece of work you’ve spent so much time preparing!

Okay, well, turns out I had it half right. The inhale is good. It’s the exhale that’s bad. Her point was that when an actor exhales, they release all the energy and they lose whatever breath they just took in. So basically if you do that, you’re starting your monologue or your sides or your scene or whatever with low energy and no breath.

If you just take a moment, inhale and go, you’ll be able to harness those nervous feelings and focus them into usable energy for your performance.

That being said, I should really take my own advice instead of forgetting every ounce of my training and blowing the first audition I had of the year. Ugh. Oh well. As my friend Jay-Z would say, on to the next one…

Crushpath

Let’s hear it for my first web commercial! Woohoo! A couple of months back, I was cast in an explainer video for a company called Crushpath. I spent the afternoon playing a model and got to have my makeup done by two hilarious gals who also helped out with the shoot. I even got to meet the CEO of Crushpath and bond over dog costumes. I discovered the video was posted by the studio that filmed it and thought I would share the link!

Sean Duran Studios did the casting and filming (and cupcake making) for this project. After working with them once I can tell they are a team of hardworking individuals willing to go the extra mile to make a project successful. The CD even jumped in as an extra just to fill a scene! It was a great time had by all and I love the finished project.

To find out more about Sean Duran Studios, check out their website or find them on Facebook. For more info about Crushpath and how it can help promote your business, head over to their site.

Thanks for watching!

Celebrate the Little Victories!

lasignSometimes living the cliché is hard. People find out I’m from Louisiana and ask why I decided to come all the way out here. It usually takes a lot for me to admit that I’m out here as an actor. After a while, I feel kind of stupid telling them that because I’m obviously their server and I am the classic actor/waitress.

That is until one of my tables reacts like this gentleman did the other night. I was in the middle of opening a bottle of wine (insert awkward silence where table doesn’t know what to do) and he randomly asked me if I was from around here. I said no and that I had moved out from Louisiana about a year ago and then we launched into the usual back-and-forth.

Guest: Oh, wow! You’re a long way from home! Why did you come all the way out here?

Me: Well, I actually graduated with my degree in theatre from LSU. I tried out the film industry down there, but I was too comfortable so I decided to give it a go in Los Angeles.

Guest: So you’re trying to make it as an actor?

Me: Yeah. I figured why not? I might as well give it a shot.

Guest: Yeah. Well, good luck to you. That’s a really hard industry. There are so many people out here. Blah blah blah. You’re crazy.

…Or something like that.

Except this time instead of saying, “Good luck. You’ll need it.” This guy gets this look on his face like when a kid meets Mickey Mouse for the first time. He was amazed. It went down more like this…

Guest: So you’re trying to make it as an actor?

Me: Yeah. I figured why not? I might as well give it a shot.

Guest: You just packed up and moved out here to follow your dream, huh?

Me: Yes sir. Packed up the car to the roof, loaded in the cats and drove clear across the country.

Guest: Wow! I mean, just wow! I love stories like that. You’re really going for it. That’s amazing. That’s really great.

Me: …Uh, yeah. Yeah, it really is. Thanks!

Guest: I mean, did you know anyone before you came out here?

Me: Well, I had a few friends from college move out here first, but no, not really.

Guest: Wow! Isn’t that something? Good for you!

So, I was pretty shocked. No one out here has been quite so impressed with just the move. Some people seem to admire the attempt, but the actual act of moving out here was a big deal for me. It was so incredibly nice to be recognized and respected for doing that – and by one of my customers no less!

It was a great reminder to always celebrate the small victories. Saying you want to pursue acting in L.A. is one thing. Actually taking a leap of faith and doing it, now that’s another. Hopefully I can hang onto this feeling and start to proudly live the cliché!

What is Taft-Hartley?

sagThere’s a lot of debate about when and how an actor should join the union. For actors just starting off, the best way to get in on the conversation is a Taft-Hartley.

The rule is, a non-union actor is allowed to do non-union projects and a union actor is not. Once an actor joins the union, they are only allowed to work on union projects. There’s sort of a loophole there now because of Fi-Core, but that’s another discussion for another day.

So, how does an actor become union? Well, there are a few options, but one way to get into the union is for a union project to “Taft-Hartley” you. Yes, I did just use that as a verb. If you are so amazing as an actor that the producers of a union project want you, but you’re non-union, they’ll kind of force you in. It’s a bit of paperwork on their side, but basically their decision to hire a non-union actor as opposed to a union actor must be justified somehow and then said actor is considered SAG eligible. The actor is then allowed to do union and non-union work. Actors that are SAG eligible are sometimes said to be in the sweet spot because for a time they can to do both types of projects. After 30 days of being SAG eligible, the actor is considered a must-join and will have to join the union if they want to do another union project. They can continue to work on non-union jobs for as long as they are not part of the union. Union actors doing non-union work is a major no-no and can actually get you expelled from SAG-AFTRA.

Aside from working as a principal actor on a union project, you can do some background acting to get a Taft-Hartley. If you work as an extra on a union project, you might be able to get a Taft-Hartley voucher. After collecting three of these vouchers, you will be considered SAG eligible. The same rules apply as with principal actors where you have 30 days until you become a must-join. Obviously, this takes a bit longer to do as you will have to work on three projects instead of one, but both have the same results.

Either way, it’s not really advised that brand new actors immediately try to join the union. They’ll end up having to pay a pretty hefty amount in dues every year, but might not have the credits to get good union work. By staying SAG eligible for a while, they’ll have more options, but won’t be closed off entirely to big union roles. See? Sweet spot.

As for me, I just received my first Taft-Hartley for working background on a union project. Woohoo! Slowly, but surely, y’all! Slowly, but surely!

If you want to find out more info about the Taft-Hartley Act and how to join SAG-AFTRA, check out their website here.