Communication is Key

freeimage-18711456-webThey say in every relationship, communication is key. This doesn’t just go for romantic relationships. It applies to friendships and, as I’m learning, business relationships as well.

The other day, I received a message inviting me to audition for a music video. Unfortunately, I was scheduled to work during the time the CD requested me, but I noticed on the audition breakdown that they were holding auditions the following day as well. It just so happened that I had the day off of work, woo-hoo! I immediately emailed the CD letting him know that I would be unable to make the original audition time, but I could come in the following day before 5:00 PM. I was very specific in my email and made sure to include the day and date I was asking for. I received an email back saying “Anytime before 3.” Great! That works! I said I can come in before 5:00 PM and he said just come in any time before 3. I’ll be there!

I decided not to respond to the message because it was so short that it made me feel like this CD was a bit pressed for time. I felt like if I replied to his short message I would be bothering him and I didn’t want to be annoying.

I drove all the way down to Hollywood for the audition, drove around the block 4 times trying to find parking and finally made it to the studio. It was pretty quiet and empty and no one was at the front desk. Finally, a girl came out and asked if I had a question. I told her what I was there for and she said to have a seat because they were probably starting in an hour. Yikes. They didn’t give me a start time so I was surprised to hear that.

After a while, I started panicking a bit. I started to wonder if it was possible for the CD to be so busy that he didn’t quite read my entire email. What if he saw that I couldn’t make the time and just said “Anytime before 3” meaning that first day…

Well, that is in fact what he meant. About thirty minutes in, another girl came out and asked me what I was there for. She took some time to look into it and finally told me that the audition was actually the day before until 3.

So, what I gather happened is that the CD got my email, read the subject line and realized I was requesting an alternate audition time. His reply of “Anytime before 3” was just telling me that the time didn’t really matter and I should come by when I could. If I had responded to his message with something like, “Great! I’ll see you on Tuesday, 1/21 around 1:00PM,” perhaps he would have noticed we got our wires crossed.

After I realized my mistake, I immediately sent a message apologizing for not making it to the audition. I don’t expect a response from it, but I wanted to cover my bases.

The moral of the story is: COMMUNICATE! Had I just sent a quick email back, I could have avoided a ton of hassle for nothing. I mean, y’all, I curled my hair and everything. Next time I’ll focus more on clarity of email rather than degree of annoyance.

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My 2014 Resolution

2014I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions, but this year I feel like I need to. After taking a whole year to settle into the L.A. lifestyle, get my apartment straight and start making back all that money I spent, it’s time to focus on why I’m here. So, with that said, my 2014 resolution is…

Go to every single audition.

That’s it! Easy, right? Well, not always. Part of this resolution includes submitting myself for more projects whether they are paid or not. It might sound crazy since some of those projects will force me to take time off of work, but that’s thinking too far ahead. All I’m concerned with is the audition part of it. Why? Simply put, practice makes perfect.

I know that putting myself on tape and brushing up on my cold reading skills are great ways to stay on top of my game. The thing is, it’s hard to do this “just because” when I know that no one will ever see what I’ve done and I won’t get any real feedback.

My goal with this resolution is to get so comfortable going to auditions that I’m ready at a moment’s notice. There are actually a few steps that I go through to get ready outside of just memorizing and preparing sides. I need to have my resume and headshot prepared. I need to have my outfit picked out and ready to go. I need to decide if I’m straightening my hair and set aside the painful hour of time all that mess will take. Hopefully, with practice, I’ll be able to quickly and efficiently prepare for auditions and go in with extreme confidence.

In my first year in L.A., I felt myself weaseling out of auditions that I really should have gone to. I would make excuses like, “I’m not really right for that part.” or “Well, it doesn’t pay enough for me to take time off of work so I won’t even bother.” Now, I’m not saying I’m going to just submit myself for some random free project that requires full nudity and beat myself up when I don’t make that audition. I just don’t want to allow myself to make excuses. I want to start looking at every audition as an opportunity to, at the very least, be an actor that day.

Okay, so, stipulations. There will be some instances when my work schedule will get in the way. I’m vowing to make every effort to get rid of or switch my shift to ensure I make the audition. If, however, I am unable to do that, then it’ll have to come down to a judgment call. Obviously, if Joss Whedon wants to see me during my scheduled lunch shift, I’m bailing on work and dealing with the consequences later. The bottom line is I have to hang on to my “day job” for now and I won’t compromise that job for an audition to act in a scene for a college directing class. That’s not to say I won’t go the same audition if it’s my day off. I’m just going to be selective is all.

So, there you have it friends! My 2014 resolution! I’ll keep everyone updated of course as the year goes on. Has anyone else out there made a resolution this year?

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.

Orphan Thanksgiving

IMG_3097Being away from family during the holidays can be really hard. It’s just not financially possible for me to go home for every one, and since I’m a server at a restaurant, I’m working for most of them anyway. This year, the restaurant was closed for Thanksgiving leaving me totally available to celebrate. The boyfriend has an aunt and uncle out here, but they were going to visit other family for the holidays and wouldn’t be around on that Thursday. Luckily, we were able to celebrate with them a few days early, but we were still left with nothing to do for Thanksgiving day.

Solution? LSU Orphan Thanksgiving! As I’ve said before, there’s LSU alumni everywhere and L.A. is certainly no exception. There are a few of them out here that I’ve known throughout college and a few more that I was reintroduced to upon moving to Los Angeles. For Thanksgiving this year, we decided to all get together as a family and spend the holiday with each other.

Everyone offered to bring a few different food items and, in true Louisiana fashion, everyone brought alcohol.  We actually had a full Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings and it was delicious! Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, the works! We gathered to eat at a big table and even went around and said what we were thankful for. We reminisced about college, filled each other in on acting successes and talked about upcoming plans to go back to the South to visit.

It was nice to be surrounded by my fellow L.A. orphans from back home who are all in the same situation I am and understand what it’s like. I am so thankful for my SoCal family and cannot wait to see what the future holds for all of us!