Thursday, December 27, 2012

Getting Real About Fame and Jealousy- An Actor's True Feelings

Last night I went with a great friend to see Les Miserables.  First, let me just say the film is awesome- truly beautiful and epic and the themes are clearly displayed.  Anne Hathaway was especially exceptional.  I enjoyed her in The Devil Wears Prada but after seeing her in Les Mis I am truly a believer in her talent.  For me her's was the best female performance in the film.

As I genuinely speak the above comments and am inspired by her, I can't help but be a little jealous as well. Believe me, I know that there is no point of being jealous and I am a firm believer that each of have a different path ordained by God.  And I don't feel that my jealously is deep seeded all out envy.  I truly believe in being happy where you are in life and wherever you are in the course of whatever dreams you may be pursuing.  I actually think I am pretty mature when it comes to things like that.  And I do feel happy about how far I've come in my career.  But I can't deny the fact that I wish it were me up there on screen, and me walking the red carpet.  I would lying if I said I don't feel that twinge of the green eyed monster rearing its ugly head when I think of all the great films Anne as acted in.  Especially when I think of what mastering THIS role in THIS film will do for her career.  I mean, she is a front runner now to take home all the big acting awards for her portrayal of Fantine.  She is living THE dream.  She is living her dream.  She is living my dream and the dream of thousands of actresses who are struggling.

I single out Anne because we are in the same age range. She is seen as a talented actress who is a good girl and classy and loves fashion, all the things I want to be seen as one day.  I often say that I do not wish to be famous, that I just want to act enough to pay the bills.  But deep down, I know that statement is not exactly true.  And this blog is all about honesty.  The fact is I DO want the fame.  I don't want to just pay the bills.  I want to one day be recognized in my field.   Don't get me wrong, the craft of acting itself is what drives me. You should never pursue this career for the fame.  I love acting.  It is a beautiful art and it satisfies me like no other job, career, or any of my other talents ever will.  If I never make it to star level I will always continue to act in whatever I can regardless.  But that being said, I do want to be known as and highly regarded as an actress.

And I think fame brings that automatically. Yes, I get that fame isn't all it's cracked up to be.  And yes, you (and myself) may add that every other actor in my position says the same thing.  And furthermore, what makes me think I am different than any other actor trying to make it.  Like, why would I make it, when out of the nearly 100,000 actors out there only 1% are known (I've read this statistic several times, but please feel free to let me know if its not exactly correct).  Every actor believes he or she is a star.  Every actor seems to believe that they have more of what it takes than the competition.  So what makes me different, I don't know.  Maybe I'm not different.

Is it crazy for me to say that I really feel that one day I will be a known actress?  I go back and forth with this. I mean, when I was 13 I thought for sure I would be living the Hollywood life by the time I was in my early twenties.  That clearly didn't happen and I'm more than okay with that.  Sometimes I feel so close, like I am a star, and other times I get so overwhelmed by how far away I actually am.  But deep down, I still feel it.  That I am meant to live that life.

I don't know when it will happen or how old I will be.  Because of that, I actually have this crazy fear that by the time I do reach a level where I am known all the amazing epic roles of today will be gone.  Roles like Fantine, or any role that Keira Knightley plays (don't worry, I realize we are not the same type, it's just a good example).  I know this fear is just that- a fear.  It's not based on reality.  In fact, as I write it out, I realize how silly the thought actually is. The truth is that there will always be amazing roles to be filled and Oscar worthy movies to be made.  After all, there is an award shows every year and every year new films have to be nominated.  But whether or not I will get to portray any of those roles is the question.  I can say I know for sure I will as many times as I want to, but I, just like everyone else, will have to wait and see.

I guess the fact is that I am right where I'm meant to be.  And allowing myself to indulge my natural human feeling of jealousy won't change that.  I have learned that it helps to confess those feelings and give them to God.  And my friend reminded me of how far I've come and of the fact that many actors who are my age and famous grew up in the biz and had family who were performers.  I didn't have those advantages.

Like I said, I will keep going.  I will continue to put my best into every character I play by focusing more on the work rather than the results.  I have to trust that, all though I can't see it, God already has my path laid out.  I will continue to trust Him to guide me in this career for as long as this is what I'm meant to do and be.  I have to let go and know that the great roles that are meant to be mine will be mine no matter what.  Just like Anne was meant to play Fantine in this version of Les Miserables.  I, or no one else, could have done what she did with that part.

Wow.  It feels so good to get all that of my chest.  It also feels a little scary to allow myself to be so vulnerable.  But vulnerability is what makes acting and art so special.

Please feel free to share this post or to leave any comments or thoughts.  If you like my blogs, please follow by clicking on "Join This Site" located onvthe upper right side of the page or follow by email (also located on upper right hand side). Thank you:)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Using Craigslist to Find Acting Work, A Do or Don't?

I've noticed there is a bit of controversy about actors using Craigslist to find auditions and gigs. For as long as I have been auditioning in NYC I have used Craigslist to look for acting work. It always surprises me when I hear from instructors that actors should NEVER use Craigslist and I am especially surprised when I hear from actors themselves that they will never use this site to look for opportunities. If you are union, I completely get it (although I have seen a few indie SAG projects listed). But I've heard this from non union actors. Many actors feel that there are absolutely no legit acting jobs posted on Craigslist. That the auditions listed are scams, or no budget projects where you will be treated horribly and get you nowhere.

Well, I am here to speak in favor of using Craigslist to find acting work. It IS true that in order to get to the good jobs you have to sift through the many, many, many ads for porn and the such, but there are a few legit jobs listed in the midst of the trash. I promise. If you find even one diamond in the rough even once in a while you never what kind of career boost it could lead to.

My case in point:

1)The summer before last I applied to an ad (on Craigslist) calling for actors for a indie horror film being shot in Long Island. Well, I sent my reel and got cast for a small speaking role without even having to audition. It was a great dramatic role. That film had a premiere at TriBeCa Film Center in SoHo and opened to sold out showings in a few theaters around the country. The film played in Europe, got some great reviews, and is now available to purchase on DVD through Best Buy, Amazon, and other sites. I actually received a starring credit in the opening of the film and on many of the posters which were posted in several public places. That film is "Purification" by Joe Ciminera. Working in that film led to me acting in Joe's next two films and I'm hoping to continue working in his future film endeavors. While working with Joe, I met James Terriaca who is writing/directing an epic indie zombie movie called "Apex Rising." Well Jim (James) decided to give me a chance with a part in his film and my character has become one of the more major characters in the film. I was definitely not expecting that. I have made several other valuable connections while working in these films.

2) A few months ago, I booked a role in an episode of the true crime docudrama "True Crime with Aphrodite Jones" through Craigslist. Yes, Craigslist. Apparently it was also listed on Actors Access (which i do use) but I saw it on Craigslist. I was cast as a detective in the upcoming season's finale episode. This was a speaking/ improv role (although I know on these shows you sometimes don't really hear the dialogue, depends on which one it is) and it was paid. The show plays on Discovery ID.

3) I did a paid promo for an apt finding website.

Those are only a few opportunities but they were great ones and I found them all through Craigslist. There have been others as well.

Of course, you eventually learn which ads to ignore. Here is my quick guide to the Craigslist land of false promises:

1) Any ad that states you are auditioning for a principle role in film starring A-list celebrities. These are listed by scam agencies. A legit agent or known casting director only has access to these breakdowns and they aren't gonna advertise on Craigslist. If you are ready for those types of opportunities then the best thing you can do is attend CD/agent showcases.

2)Any ads calling for actors for a National Commercial for a known product where you will get paid a lot of money. Same thing as above.

You have to use your own judgment for the following but I tend to stay away:

3) An ad that says something like "actors needed, paid job" and lists no further details. Someone who is professional will list a few things about the job. Maybe what types they are specifically looking for, the characters, location/days, intention for finished product, info about the director/ crew etc, or maybe even links to their past work. It doesn't have to list ALL those things but at least something to give you the feeling that this may be a good production for you to work in.

4) An ad that doesn't even look professional at all. Meaning words are misspelled and there is no thought placed into the writing. If a headline reads "Need actros for flim" I wouldn't even open the link for obvious reasons. A quality production team who wants quality actors will make it known through their ad that they take pride in their work.

5) This one really bothers me- when it is stated that although you won't receive any compensation (this not only means money, it can mean transportation costs, food, exposure, IMDB credit, copy of the film for reel) whatsoever for your work, and although the crew/director has no prior experience, the shoot will be "tons of fun!" Well, of course acting and filmmaking are fun, but when fun is the ONLY thing promised I just envision a couple of teens shooting stuff with an iPhone. I'm sure this isn't usually the case, but it makes me feel as if this person has no intention of using this production to further their filmmaking career and that they won't even be using quality equipment. That being said, you may want to apply to an ad like this if you have never acted a bit in your life, and maybe don't even have a headshot yet, and you are literally just getting started. THEN maybe this could be a good opportunity for you.

The bottom line is use discernment but don't count out Craigslist completely. I have even seen a couple of reputable teachers advertise specials and showcases on this sight. And only use it as a supplement to Actors Access, NYCastings, Mandy, showcases, etc.

So, should you use Craigslist to search for legit acting jobs? Yes. Should you use caution and listen to your instincts before applying to a notice? Definitely yes. Remember, as aspiring actors (or artists of any kind) we should be constantly looking for every single possible opportunity to perform, share our art, network, and further our careers.

This is my opinion. Please feel free to post your opinions, comments, thoughts, or personal experiences about finding acting or any artistic work through Craigslist. Thanks! And thanks for reading. I look forward to your thoughts.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hit Me Baby One More Time

On Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week I will be acting in my second true crime docudrama. This one will be aired on A&E Biography and I am playing Jamie, a woman who kills her best friend. I'm so excited!!! (Why is it these roles are so much fun?) I am particularly happy about being cast in this role because I had to audition for casting director Kevin Kuffa who does casting for Law and Order among other things. He is definitely the most well-known CD I have auditioned for thus far. So for me getting this part is pretty major. In an industry where relationships are so important, I feel like at least my pinky toe is in the door. (Maybe half-way at that:))

This job, along with the fact that my film "Acedia" will be playing in select USA theaters later this month, makes me euphorically happy.

Acting really is like a drug. Right now, I am feeling so high and so happy that I can't even fully explain it. This feeling that not only are doing what you love, but you are starting to consistently get paid for it as well is overwhelming in a great way. It feels like you are dreaming almost. Even though you work so hard for something it is still feels unbelievable when you achieve it.

Believe me, after wrapping on Thursday I will allready be fiending for the next "hit." I imagine that the emotional highs vs lows roller coaster must get more drastic the further up the ladder you get. The higher up you reach, the steeper and further the fall when you feel you are in an actor's slump or when a seemingly awesome career boosting opportunity falls through. And I have quite a ways to go yet. Am I ready for it emotionally? I think so. I mean, as happy as acting makes me, I will always strive to never place it before my beliefs, my marriage, or my family. So, yeah, I think I'm ready for this crazy lifestyle. Really only God knows. Luckily, I trust in Him enough to carry me through each step of the way.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Everything AND "The Kitchen Sink" (Updates!!!)

Well things have been pretty crazy for me this past month. Crazy in a good way. Crazy in a great way actually. And they seem to be getting crazier. So I'm gonna take a couple minutes to write it all out.

First, I'm very blessed to be working in three films right now- two features and a short:

1) Jim Terriaca's "Apex Rising." Which I've loved working on so far. It's coming along quite nicely. I've written about this film a lot on here.

2) Joe Ciminera's third film "The Library." This will also be my third time acting in one of Joe's films. I've mentioned before that it is such an honor to be asked by a creative and talented director to work in more than one of his/her films. (Also, it's so cool when you don't have to audition!!)

3) And "The Divorce." This is a short film written and directed by Eric Naylor which will be shot in about a week and a half. I'm so excited about this film!! The script/director/cast is great and I'm playing a lead role. It's a emotionally deep, challenging role which any actor appreciates.

On top of the new films, I had the premiere for Joe Ciminera's second film "Acedia." Which of course was exciting and the film turned out awesome!

I filmed another episode of Community College Comedians which is just pure fun and the cast and crew are always fantastic to work with.

I completed my commercial acting class with Angela Mickey which concluded with a very productive showcase with two top commercial agents. I didn't hear anything back but that was my first agent meeting ever so I was just happy I got through it and did okay. I feel pretty good about it. I got a lot of unexpected and constructive feedback and I'm sure the next time will be better.

AND in a few weeks I should receive my SAG-AFTRA eligibility letter!!! I will get this from a principle role I played in an episode of a new web-series called "The Kitchen Sink." This series is actually filmed as part of a one day class with The Actor's Corner NYC. When this opportunity arose I really wasn't sure if this was the right way to go about getting my SAG eligibility. But honestly, I feel ready for it and, well, why not? I don't plan on joining the union until I have to but it's nice to have it in my back pocket. And this series will also be another IMDB credit for me. Industry pros advise actors to make their own opportunities nowadays and that's ultimately how I viewed this class. And as another career investment.

So that's what's been going on. Between all that and working full time things have been hectic and it's no wonder why I've had a bad headache the last two days (it always catches up with you and I have a tendency to over stress about things). But I guess I prefer it that way. (The things being hectic part not the having a headache part.) I have to just enjoy it while I'm riding high and somehow make it through the next couple weeks. (And pray my acting schedule works out with my job!!!) Luckily, the headache finally seems to be subsiding and I have the next couple days off to prepare for the busy weeks ahead. My main focus will be developing my characters fully rather than looking for more auditions. I want to be the best in all these films I can be. And I continue to thank God for every single opportunity I get to follow my dream:)

****My thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been deeply affected by Hurricane Sandy in any way these past few days***

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Responsibility to be Irresponsible(?!!)

Sometimes I really hate being such a responsible person. You may be thinking "responsibility is good thing!" Yes, it is. But when it comes to juggling acting (what I love) and my day job (what the pays the bills for right now), I wish I didn't care so much about whether or not my manager sees me as a trouble maker. Especially since I know that I am anything but one.

I expected my next blog- which was to be written sometime this week- was going to be all about the joys of being SAG eligible, because I am as of today (hollah!!!!), but after a shoot for the feature film "Apex Rising" this past weekend, I am inspired to write about the inner turmoil that I face on a regular basis. I'm talking about the stress I face when trying to balance acting with my survival job.

The bottom line is that acting comes first. But it's not easy for me to call out or come in late. I hate to put myself in a position where I can be reprimanded in any way. When I do finally leave my day job I want it to be on good terms. I would never want to be fired. I never want to be written up. I can't stand confrontation and I don't like to disappoint anybody. So I can't even tell you how fast my heartbeats and tight my stomach gets when I have to pick up the phone and tell a manager that I wont be in for my shift that day. Just being late isn't as big a deal. But to be a few hours late does make me a little nervous.

Well, Saturday was my third shoot day for the upcoming horror film "Apex Rising" by Jim Terriaca. This was exciting for me because usually for these indie films all my scenes are shot in one day. We have been filming a few months now and with a longer shoot period such as this, an actor is able to develop and understand their character more deeply. And I can't explain how satisfying that is. That's why Saturday's shoot was so important to me. I began to understand my character in a way that I didn't experience the first two days of shooting. And the funny thing is I barely had any dialogue for this shoot.

But before I even get to a set I have to work out my schedule. I want to quickly say that my stressing out over being late/absent has nothing to do with money. I stress because of my sense of obligation. I don't care if my check is short next payday. That doesn't matter. (I can't afford to lose my job either but you know what I am trying to say.) And by the way, I am not getting paid for this film, but I believe in it. Anyways, this was a morning shoot so I had to switch my schedule with a co-worker so I could do a closing shift. No problem. I was told I would be done for sure with my scenes by early afternoon so I chose to go knowing I would probably be only an hour or two late for work. Again, that's not too big a deal. (And my manager was off that day, so that made things a just little easier:)) Of course, the set was an hour train ride away from my job and filming somehow never quite goes as planned.....

As the time that I was anticipating leaving was getting closer and closer (very quickly I might add), my last scene still had not been shot. This is when I start getting nervous. The director actually told me it would be okay for me leave since my shot for the next scene was really just going to be background shots to establish my character further in the film. But to me leaving would have been unprofessional. I mean, I made the choice to be there and I know that filming always runs longer planned. This is when the inner battle begins. Do I stay and miss half a day of work on a weekend then have to come up with something to tell my manager before she checks the clock-ins Monday?
Or do I leave since I probably won't have dialogue and make it to work at a decent hour?

Of course I decided to wait it out. Nothing beats the feeling of being on set. I would have been very sad if I left. But what really made the decision for me was my desire for the film to be the best it can be. And the desire for my character to be further developed and firmly established throughout the film.

Well, I ended up staying only a couple hours later but with an hour train ride ahead of me I would actually be more than half a day late. I realized though that by next week or so this wouldn't even be a memory for anyone. Not even my manager.

I guess for some people this type of decision isn't a big deal, but for someone who hates confrontation it is. I am always telling myself that I wish I were more brave when it comes to dealing with my job. But when I think about it, I guess I already am brave. When it matters, I make that phone call and do what I have to do despite all the nerves and queasiness. Then I let it go and focus completely on my role.

The fact is until I am consistently booking higher paying acting gigs this type of situation is going to be my reality. I am at the point where I am constantly trying make my work schedule fit my acting but I feel like I'm getting better at handling it. And with the holidays coming up and me working retail, I need to be strong.

The decision to put your art and dreams first can be so hard at times when you have other obligations and responsibilities. But you have to think about what it is that you really want. Sometimes you are going to have to let people down, take a smaller paycheck, and let your other responsibilities slide until tomorrow. Or next week. (Or next month!!) That's life. When you are finally living your dreams those moments won't matter any more and you will wonder why you ever worried about them in the first place. And the people who really matter will still be by your side cheering you on.

It's never easy but I can tell you one thing- as I sat on the train to Manhattan, about to be four hours late for work on a Saturday, I was smiling.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Acting Isn't Everything...A Revelation by Tiffany Browne-Tavarez

I find it very hard sometimes to separate my life from the acting and enjoy what I have aside from my pursuit of a career in show biz. Believe me, I know that there are things in life far more important than one's career, one's art, and certainly one's money. My faith, my marriage, and my family mean more to me than anything. I would rather NOT have an acting career than to compromise any of those things.

But I realized that lately I get so caught up with pursuing acting that I don't take moments to embrace the things I have outside of that. I realized that I've been letting life kinda pass me by.
I realized that when I don't have any current acting jobs/ auditions I allow myself to be in a bad mood. I eat, breath, live, think acting- which can be a good thing at times if one seriously wants to be an actor- but LIFE IS MORE THAN ACTING!!!

This is my new mantra. I am tired of feeling down when I don't book a job or get called in to audition. I am tired of allowing this career to dictate my moods and my interactions with people. I am going to enjoy every moment I have with my amazing husband. I am going to make the most of every free day I have and use it to pray, run, call my family, and enjoy just relaxing. I am going to pay more attention to those around me. Don't get me wrong, I will still do something everyday to further my acting career and continue to work hard. But when things are going slow for me, I am still going to ENJOY my life.

I had this revelation this past week while trying to plan my upcoming vacation. I have nine whole days off from work and I'm not going anywhere this time. Instead of thinking about all the fun things I could do in the city or how nice it would be to relax, all I could think about was that I have nine free days to go on as many auditions as possible and hopefully book at least one job. I am very driven right now because I want to go from a full-time position at Macy's to a part-time position very soon. I've even been submitting for professional background work. After all, I have a whole week in which I can go to any castings/ gigs and not have to worry about switching my schedule with coworkers, or calling out, or stressing over timing my lunch break just right so that I can make an audition and be back to work at a decent time.

Of course, my vacation started Saturday and I haven't heard anything from my recent submissions. It hit me hard that although I am fully available this week that does not mean for sure that I will get called in for anything. My first reaction was to sulk. Then I was hit again- with the realization that if I allowed myself to feel that way it would be a darn shame and a waste of a week away from my day job.

So now I have two overall goals for my vacation week. The first is to work on furthering my career, go on auditions, and book at least one acting job. The second is to make the most of every single day that I don't get any auditions or book any acting jobs.

So far, so good. I had a wonderful date with my hubby Saturday night, and Sunday I spent the day with him and my sister-in-law and loved every minute of it without even thinking about acting. (Well, except for a couple moments when we all talked briefly about it, but you know what I mean.) And as I write this, I feel so happy and at peace. And my acting career is still moving forward. I will still make it.

Yes, I will have to keep reminding myself constantly that being a successful actress is not the be-all, end-all. But it's gonna be a good week. And with all this time on my hands, be prepared for more frequent blogs about what I do end up accomplishing each day;)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

True Crime and Great Food-I Love Acting!!

Today I am blogging from the set of an episode of "True Crime with Aphrodite Jones." The show airs on Discovery ID which is owned by NBC. If you've never seen or heard of it, it is one of those documentary shows which explores actual crimes that have been committed. Of course, the real people involved with the crime are interviewed but also there are reenactments of what happened. That's where I come in. I am playing "Detective Allison" in an episode that will be aired as the finale of the season coming up. I am having an awesome time. I've always wanted to be on one of these shows. I have a few good scenes which are all improvised, the shoot is three days long and did I mention I'm getting PAID. I also need to mention that on the first day I had car service to and from my apartment to the set in Connecticut!!! I felt like such a star:). (For the next shoot days the car will be taking a couple of us actors to and from the set from Manhattan which is still pretty awesome.) So, not only am I getting payed, I won't have to pay for any transport. And for lunch we have been ordering whatever we want from some of the best local restaurants. AND the director and crew have been wonderful! Ahhhh. This is the life. I love acting!!!!

**Thank you Lord for so much this opportunity. I feel so blessed. And sorry to Macy's and my manager for calling out today and being really, really late tomorrow:)**

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Gimme a Break

I'm tired. Well, my brain is tired. I've decided that since I've been working very hard on the acting lately I should take a few days off from looking for auditions and give my brain a rest. I need a few days where I am not obsessively checking casting sites every hour or checking my email on my phone every five minutes. To take a few days off from these habits is easier said than done. I am always afraid that I will miss out on that ONE role. The one that could give me my big break, or at least look good on my reel, or at least give me another IMDB credit. But I am forcing myself to not look because my brain is fried and lately when I've been submitting I barely have the mental energy to focus on writing the cover letter. I need a few days to let go a bit, because as I wrote in an earlier post, I really get upset if a day goes by in which I don't get an audition. And lately I've had feelings of jealousy (deeper than the usual brief passing moments) towards other actors/actresses who are about where I am in my career right now and that's not good. There is no point in being jealous of anyone for any reason. These things needs to change. But it's very hard to let go. I feel like I don't know how to anymore, but sometimes letting go is also necessary in order to get to the next level. And let me tell you, it is taking everything I have to not look for castings right now, but for some reason I know deep down that it's okay to take a few days and that I need to do this in order to re-energize myself and put things in perspective. I need to understand that even if I don't submit my headshot for a few days, when I start again there WILL be notices and roles to submit for. They won't go away. And it's not like I am taking a break from acting. I have an audition Saturday for a short film with a beautiful screenplay. So for the next couple evenings I will be preparing for that. I may also be filming a sketch comedy web series that same day. On Monday, I start a five week commercial acting class. And today I am blogging. (I like blogging. It relieves stress and helps me to stay focused on my goals at the same time.) So that's it today. Short and to the point. No frantically searching for auditions until at least Saturday. Possibly even Sunday. And if anyone sees me as less of a dedicated actress, well, that's okay. We all have our own way to handle things. But you know what? It's all gonna be okay:)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Acting Blues Lifted....A follow up to last week's post

I realized yesterday while at work that I am truly grateful for those moments when I feel down.  I am truly grateful for the days when I go into work and feel depressed to be there.  Because in those moments a great determination arises within me.  I HAVE to be an actress.  I HAVE to make my living by acting.  To have anything less will just not satisfy.  I have a good "day" job (in quotes because I work retail and work till 9:45 two nights a week).  I work at a makeup counter and get to do makeovers and sell and make commission and I'm good at it.  But it doesn't compare to acting. Acting is my true passion.  And I believe that if you have a dream and God is leading you in that direction then you follow.  I also believe that you do what makes you happy and gives you peace no matter how impossible it seems.  Inner peace far exceeds those moments of frustration and feelings of wanting to give up.  Inner peace even exceeds moments of happiness.  So I really believe that one day I will make my living through acting only.  Not saying I'll be famous folks, just saying I won't have to work retail anymore.

Last week, I wrote that I hadn't been getting called to any auditions lately and that I wanted to get back into acting classes.  Well here is what went down this past week:

Monday night- I took that free class I mentioned taught by acting coach John Pallotta and it was awesome!! Can you believe I almost didn't end up going?!!  Luckily, my wonderful husband encouraged me to go and I'm glad I listened.  I can't even believe this class was free.  In two and a half hours, Mr. Pallotta covered monologues, film auditions, and commercials.  I learned so much.  His coaching style is honest and real.  At the same time, there is an ease about the way he pushes you to make something better.  I am definitely considering paying for the full course in the future, but while taking this class I realized that right now I want to take commercial classes specifically.

I already signed up for a commercial intensive on Tuesday the 4th with Jagger Kaye (CnC Studios). He is another great teacher and is also a successful actor.  Like  John Pallotta,  Jagger has that very honest, tough love teaching style.  I took this class last summer and thought I should take it again.  I can't wait.

Tuesday- I was supposed to film a promo, which was to be paid, and it never happened.  I don't know why.  I didn't hear anything else about it.  I was so bummed, but it happens.  It could have been for any reason.  Maybe they found another actress that they liked more:(

Wednesday- director Jim Terriaca called to give me my next shoot date for indie feature "Apex Rising. Yay!!! Cant wait!! Check it out-Apex Rising Examiner Article

Thursday- I did some background work for a film.  I really hate doing  background.  (I'm not saying there is anything wrong with it, or even that I'm too good for it, it just depresses me.) But for this job I got paid 75$ in cash at the end of a six hour shoot.  I was very grateful for that.  It was my day off anyway.

Which brings me to Friday and back to how depressed I was feeling as I clocked in at work yesterday.  Normally, I push through and get right to work.  Normally I choose to be happy while  I'm there and do my best.  After all, I'm grateful for this job.  But some days, like yesterday, it is such a challenge.  Some days it seems like I won't be able to get through the day.  And I feel like crying because I have to pretend with the managers that I actually care about things that I don't actually care about.  Of course  part of me does care because I hate to let anyone down and right now I need this job.  And  I like to do well and make my goals.

But if I always felt completely happy and satisfied with my day job, would I constantly be trying to take my acting career to the next level?  That's why I said earlier that I am actually grateful for these moments of "desperation."  I become fiercely determined.  Yesterday, within the first hour of being at work, I decided for sure that I would take a five week commercial class, by casting director Angela Mickey, that I had been debating over the last couple days.  I decided that even if I have to use what little money I have in my savings or pay for this class with my credit card, I will.  It starts Sept 10, which is short notice, so I'm waiting to hear back about any open spots.  If there are none, I will look for another commercial acting class as reputable as this one.

Maybe if I had gone into work yesterday feeling happy to be there I would still be debating whether or not to invest in this class.

In fact, I have made a commitment to attend at least one class, industry event, or showcase each week.

I didn't get called in for any auditions this week either.  But instead of panicking, I'm using this time to elevate myself as an actor.  This commitment will  inevitably lead to more opportunities. Hopefully.  It has to.

So let's see what happens;)

John Pallotta Acting Coach
Jagger Kaye CnC Studios Classes
Angela Mickey's Booking the Commercial Class via NYCastings

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Acting Blues aka No Auditions, No Bookings, No Nothing

Feeling blue....

I admit that I feel down if a day goes by in which I don't get emailed/called for an audition.  I feel down if I go more than a couple of weeks without booking a gig.  Whether it be a student film, a feature, a promo, paid or unpaid, anything.  I hate being like this.  When this sort of thing happens it doesn't  discourage me from my career; I won't let it.  I get how this business is.  It just makes me feel blue.   I am constantly checking my email.  It's obsessive.  Some days I will check it literally every 5 minutes or less!  I am addicted to my iPhone.  When I check and there is no news it saddens me.

This is craziness!!! I can rationalize in my head and know that I have come so far in the past year and a half.  I can rationalize that I work in something nearly every two-three weeks usually as a lead or supporting role.   And the last two things I did were paid.  (Not  much, but I was still excited.)  And this week, I am scheduled to shoot a promo video and that is also a paid job.  If I am not in a production or submitting myself for a production, than at least I am updating my resume, editing my reel, or lately, blogging and reading other actors' blogs.

So why do I feel so blue?  Why do I get like this?  Just because I go a couple, er, a few days without getting a response to one of the many of headshots I send out everyday?  Yes!!  And it's not good.  But I am trying to be honest and more personal with my blog so I want to write about this.

Maybe I get this way because I am an extremely impatient person. Although I know an acting career can take many years, I fantasize about the day when I will be able to go part time at my day job.  And then the day where I will be able to quit right away without even giving a notice because I landed a big part and am needed on set right away. Sigh:) When I do work in something, it is extremely hard to go to my regular job the next day and stay focused.

I am trying to work out these blues by writing this entry.  Maybe, I feel that everyday that goes by without an audition notice is a setback.  Or maybe it's because I like to be in control and with acting it sometimes feels like you are not in control at all. Which isn't true by the way. I have learned that you can have control in this business (mmmm sounds like a future blog post) and the things you can't control you just have to let go. Maybe it's because I am getting older.   I do wish sometimes that I pushed more for this career when I was younger.  But then maybe the best things in my life (meeting my husband being the very best one)  wouldn't have fallen into place correctly.  And I know this.  Or maybe my energy gets drained from working full time AND pursuing acting which in itself is basically a full time job.  And when I'm tired I can feel down.  I just can't wait for the day when I can put all my energy solely into my acting career.  I guess it is ALL these factors that lead to my feeling blue.

Don't worry.  This doesn't mean I'm depressed.  It doesn't mean I'm discouraged.  It doesn't mean that I have self pity and I certainly do not want pity from anyone else either.  I don't even need sympathy (although empathy is welcomed:)).  Everyone has their own things to deal with in life and this cannot compare to many of those things.

I am writing this to share the ups and downs I go through personally as an actor.  I am writing this so I can figure out a way to deal with this issue.  Yes, it has been a few days since anyone has called me in for an audition.  Well, what happens if one day I go for months without getting any responses?  I have heard of this happening to many actors and the thought scares me.  How will I handle that?

If this blog post seems all over the place, it is because I am brainstorming as I write.  I am trying to prepare myself for anything.  To come up a plan.  Figure what things I need to work on to get to the next level.

The basics are in check:

I'm happy with my current head-shots. They look just like me and say what I want them to say about me.

Film reel. Check. Commercial reel. Check. IMDB page. Check.

I'm happy about the casting opportunities that are made available to me even without an agent.  I'm good about submitting to castings constantly throughout the day.

I'm not stressed to join the union or even get an agent yet.

I'm pleased with the work I have done and the things I have learned with each experience.

But as I'm writing it is becoming crystal clear where I am lacking.  And this is something I have known for a long time.  The  two things I need to do more, especially in the down time, are take more classes and attend industry showcases.

I know.  Taking classes seems like a no brainer.  But I am going to admit that I haven't taken one in a while.  Like a year.  As I said, I'm trying to be honest and real here.  The thing with classes is that I am ten times more nervous in front of a teacher and fellow students then I am in front of a casting director or director.   I feel more comfortable, confident, and free at an audition, in front of someone whom I have never met, someone who could potentially give me my next part, then I do in class.  I don't know why.  That's just me.  I would rather learn from playing a lead role in a student film then by taking a class.  But I know classes are important.  And many are taught by casting directors so they are a great way to be seen by industry professionals.

All this being said, I am signed up for a free commercial class Monday night with acting coach John Pallotta.  Hopefully this will motivate me to take more classes.  I will let you know how it goes. Somehow writing this down makes me feel determined and empowered.

The other thing I mentioned was attending industry showcases.  Basically you can pay for a one-on-one interview/audition with top agents.  It's perfectly legit and a lot of actors find success this way. So why haven't I done this you ask?  I don't know.  I mean,  I'm pretty confident with all I have to offer this industry.  I just get very overwhelmed at deciding which ones to go too and sometimes feel like I don't know what I'm doing.

Which makes something else very clear.  I need to do more research on these people.   I think that will be my new thing starting this week.   I read an awesome blog last week written by casting director Bonnie Gillespie and she mentioned writing everything you learn about each casting director in a notebook.  So that's what I'm gonna do.  Buy a notebook and use this one strictly for notes on agents and casting directors.

Now I'm excited.  Now I feel better.  I feel proactive.  Because I've written this down I feel motivated to follow through these new ventures wholeheartedly.  And I feel it can only lead to positive things.

But I still need to practice patience:)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do, And Love Every Second of It

The Sunday night before last was a great example of what I experience on a regular basis as an actor. First, let me give a quick background of where I am currently in my acting career.  As of right now, I am non-union.  For all you non actors or younger actors that don't know yet, that means that I am not a member of SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actor's Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (the two have merged)) or AEA (Actors Equity Association (which is for stage actors).  I hope to be there one day obviously but I believe it will happen at the right time, with the right role. Although I have always wanted to be an actress, I admit that I didn't really start pushing it until about a year and a half ago.  Sure, I would do a production here and there maybe audition if I was in the mood, but I wasn't PUSHING it.  Okay, I would do a little more than that but I still wasn't doing everything I  should have been doing.  It's all in timing and things just didn't click for me until the beginning of 2011.  I still have alot of experience to gain so joining the union is something I am not stressed over or worried about quite yet.  Notice I said quite.

Alright, on to the story.  The point of talking about my union status was to lead into the fact that all the films I currently do fall into the category of low budget or ultra low budget independent films. There is even a category called micro budget now. (Maybe there has always been one but I have not noticed this description in casting notices until recently).  This way when an actor submits for a role in one of these films we know that we probably won't be getting paid and we know why we won't be getting paid:).

And I LOVE doing these films. Why?  The experience, the connections,  the EXPOSURE (one film I was in  opened in 23 theaters around the country and will be on DVD in September 2012).  And of course just  being able to do what I love. These things are priceless. Especially so early in a career. To be quite honest, if a film is low budget I would much rather the producer put all his/ her money into the film's quality and promotion rather than paying me the small amount I would get anyways.

NOW the real story.  Promise.  Sunday of last week, I had the awesome opportunity to act in Jim Terriaca's "Apex Rising." This is a feature length zombie horror film being shot in Long Island, NY and let me tell you, I think it's gonna be great.  I am not normally into zombie films but when you are actually IN one it's cool to see the makeup (fake blood!!!) and the location we shot at was super creepy (more about the location in a bit).  From what I know, Jim is putting his heart, soul, and money completely into this film.  When a person does that, he is going to do everything he can to make sure the film is a success.  So of course I wanted to be in his film, no question.   In the scene we shot last week, my car breaks down and zombies start chasing me everywhere.  I got to run, scream, be the center of the scene (hey I'm an actor. I'd  be lying if I said I didn't enjoy that aspect of it. But be clear, I am NOT a diva) and it was so much fun.

The actual shoot itself was the easy part.  I mentioned that this film is being shot in Long Island.  I live in New Jersey.  The location for this scene was no where near a Long Island Railroad train station.  Since the film is low budget I needed my own transportation to the set.  I don't have a car. What is the solution?  (I didn't know anyone I could get a ride from and most of the cast and crew are from Long Island to begin with).  A car rental.  These days it is not cheap to rent a car.  The rental itself, plus gas, plus tolls, plus insurance equals a lot of money. A lot. For me anyways.  And it was only for about 7.5 hrs.  And let me tell you, God is good because if the scene ended up being filmed on its original date, which was a Saturday,  I would have payed double.  Thank you Lord for making it rain that night!! But even so, I still would have been happy to do it.

And now to the location.  Some of the shots were filmed inside Pilgrim State, this huge abandoned psychiatric ward.  I looked up some of the history behind this facility and it is chilling.  Doctors in this hospital were known for using shock therapy on patients and for conducting lobotomies without even having full knowledge of how to do them. Really, this has to be (or had, I heard it was going demolished the day after the shoot ) one of the creepiest places in the US. Or at least in NY. This place is something you would see in one of those ghost hunting shows.  We had to walk through an over grown field full of mosquitoes to get to the building.  Mind you we had minimal light and could only see a couple steps ahead. Once inside, we had to watch out for broken glass and random leftover mechanical parts.  I couldn't help but wonder if this were a big budget film, would the set have been more prepared for the actors and crew? Would there be big lights everywhere?  Would there be a path cut for us to the building?  Would the place have been thoroughly inspected before hand to ensure safety?  But I put everything out of my mind-the darkness, the mosquitoes biting me (West Nile Virus) the overgrown weeds brushing against my bare legs, the fear of ticks (Lyme Disease)- and chose to enjoy every second of it.  And I genuinely did.  When else would I go to a place like that in the middle of the night?  It was an adventure. Also, getting the shots was the most important thing at that moment.

The last part of the scene was shot inside my car.  My rental car.  There were going to be "blood" covered zombies inside my rental car.  Immediately I was nervous about the prospect of  fake blood and "gore" getting all over the seats.  I kept imagining the cleaning bill I would get from Avis.  But I decided to get over it, take it a step at a time and put the film first.  I figured it wouldn't be that bad.  Well, by the time the we were done shooting the inside of the car looked like that scene from "Pulp Fiction."  Okay it wasn't that bad but it did look like there was real blood all over.  Yeah, it's kinda funny.  Luckily, the audio guy was kinda enough to call his wife to ask her what would get out the stain.  He then helped me find an open 7/11 in the area where we bought Shout Out wipes and then we both scrubbed the inside of the car for maybe 45min.  I can't say it came out perfect but at least it was clean enough so that no one at Avis would notice and ask me stay at the garage while they called  the police.

It was all worth it.  I can't wait to go back for my next scene.

And that's it.  Oh yeah, also I got home at 2:00 AM then had to be at work at 8:45 the next day.  When you are 20yrs old this is no big deal. But I am 26 <wink> and can't function at my day job without 7hrs of sleep.

Thus is the life of a low budget indie film actress.  I've rented cars several times now to travel for films without being reimbursed for the costs.  I use my own clothes for wardrobe and often have to lug a heavy duffel bag around town full of different options.  I still have to go to my regular job.  I run the risk that the film will never get seen or that I will never even get the footage for my reel.  I also run the risk that I may never see a financial return on the sacrifices I make. Acting is a business and just like any business you have to take risks to be successful.   What choice do I have?  I am meant to be an actress.  It's the only career I want to ever pursue.  I have to do it.  I make all these sacrifices with the hopes that one day I will be able to make a living acting unless God suddenly leads me in another direction.  And I'm getting there.  The hard work is starting to pay off.  All of my upcoming auditions are for paid roles.  I feel blessed.  I hope to book at least one.  Even if it's the lowest paying one.

So until it happens I will keep doing what I have to do to make it happen.  (Aside from sacrificing my moral beliefs, compromising my marriage, and alienating my family.)  And once it does happen I will do what I have to do to KEEP  it happening.  I can only hope and pray that God continues to bless my efforts.  And by the way, I doubt that the mosquitoes would have known the difference between a low budget film and big budget one.
(Just a few zombies hanging around)

 Check out "Apex Rising"-

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Skype Audition

This morning I had an audition via Skype for a web series.  This was not only my first time auditioning this way but it was also my first time using Skype period.   So even though I was in my own home wearing my pajama bottoms (I did look nice from the waist up!!)) I was nervous.  I have done several video auditions with my webcam, but to have the casting director on my computer live, seeing into my home, my personal space, at that very moment, made me feel a little uncomfortable. Maybe vulnerable is the word I'm looking for.   The nerves definitely took over this time.  To start, the casting director mentioned that my microphone sounded muffled but I couldn't figure out why.  I turned up the volume and I guess that fixed the problem. Then, I had no idea if I was supposed to look at the camera or the person on the screen,  I didn't know where to hold the sides, and the whole thing just felt awkward.  I don't think I have ever flubbed my lines so badly!!!   And to top it off, my cat decided to she wanted to audition.  She had jumped up on the couch behind me and I didn't realize it until the casting director complimented my cute cat and said she was stealing the scene. Lol right! It's funny but it's not.  I guess next time I do this I will have to lock her in another room.  Poor kitty. She hates that.

So the whole thing was a disaster.  But I'm glad I did it. No matter how bad it turned out it was still a learning experience.  Next time, I will be prepared and it will be better. I will decide where to hold the sides beforehand by practicing on my webcam, and I will make sure my cat won't be able to steal my spotlight.

It's awesome that casting directors will interview an actor using Skype if they are unavailable for the casting call or if they live in another city.  I see this quite often recently although I have never had to do one.   I think the key to a great Skpe audition is to set up your environment for success. Make sure your space is clean and your lighting is good.  Do a camera and microphone check before hand.  Dress as the character from HEAD to TOE even if you will only be seen from waist or chest up. Wear colors that you know look good on you. Solid, colorful tops will bring out color in your face, while neutral colors can make you look cold and grey on a web cam.   A little bit of blush, mascara, and gloss will go a long way. Make sure there is nothing or nobody around to distract you (meow!!).  Treat  it as though you are actually in the studio rather than your home by not allowing yourself to be overly comfortable,  or else you may lose your energy.  That way when the call comes through you will be all pro.

After having written this, I am over the embarrassment of this morning and have let this one go.  It has been  a rough few days for me and I almost canceled this audition.  However, I always listen to my heart and I believe for whatever reason God was nudging me to go through with it.  So I did, it's over, and I am ready for the next one.  :)

* I would just like to note that this blog was written about a week ago.  I have refrained from posting anything out of honor and respect to my dear Grandfather, Floyd Tompkins, who passed away on Sunday July 15th, 2012.  He will be greatly missed.

**I would also like to note that although I did not get cast for this particular role,  the producers contacted me and let me know that they liked my audition and will still be considering me for a lead role in their upcoming episodes.  See,  it's never as bad as we think.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

2012 Year in Review (Well, half a year)

The first half of 2012 has been productive as far as acting and came with a couple of nice surprises as well.  This year I got to actually enjoy some of the fruits of my labor.  So that's what this blog entry will be about.  I will write more later about the struggle to make it all happen (which of course is part of the journey and we have to learn to love it, and I do) but this is about enjoying what we all work so hard for as actors.

The year started with the premiere of "Purification the Movie"  by Joe Ciminera on January 13th at TriBeCa Cinemas.  This is actually the second time I got to see myself on the big screen.  It's the most exciting thing in the world.  Unlike many people, I actually like watching myself on-screen.  I can see things I did well and things I need to work on.  Not only in my acting but also appearance.

But one of the coolest things about this premiere was that the actors actually got to walk the red carpet and pose for pictures in front of the movie poster with at least 10 photographers snapping pics all at once- just like you see at the awards shows!!!  Of course I have practiced my poses many times so I was prepared:)

And the surprise- my name appeared in the opening credits of the film!!

Of course the absolute best part was being able to share this evening with my super amazing, very supportive, and not to mention extremely sexy husband.

"Purification" actually went on to play in a few theaters around the country, and had sold out showings in Alabama, Maine, and Toronto.  It also did well in a couple of film festivals and will be out on DVD in September. So buy it:)
                       (Special thanks to Nick Mancuso for snapping this pic of a movie ad for "Purification" while in FLORIDA!!!!! How random and awesome is that!!!)
Two days after the premier, I got to act in a short indie film called "Pack Rat," written and directed by Brian Fairbanks of Marquee Moon Productions. It's just a really cool little film.

In March,  I was lucky enough to be given a great role in a short student film called "Suffocating in Suburbia." This film was written and directed by Nick Mancuso whom I had worked with previously in "Diane." It is such an honor to be asked by a director to work in another one of their productions. Nick and his crew are so talented and professional that I couldn't wait to work with them again.  The role I played was that of a drunk, abusive, suburban housewife. In other words, tons of fun.

In April, I worked in a beautiful, silent film called "Vision," filmed by the creative Tara Violet Niami. This film was shot in Prospect Park in Brooklyn.  I had never been to this park before and feel lucky to have experienced such a beautiful, peaceful place while doing what I love.

On May 1st (my birthday!), I got word from Nick Mancuso that I had been nominated for Best Actress in the Five Towns College Film Festival for my work in "Diane." I loved the way this film turned out and I was pretty excited about my performance, so to be nominated for this award was amazing.   And then-I actually won.  I was resolved to the fact that the award would go to someone else and couldn't believe it when I won.  I even got to make a speech!! I was so nervous, but again, this is something I've always daydreamed about and I think it was good preparation for bigger awards to come;)
The next month or so brought a few auditions-some good, some (to me) terrible, some great. A  couple of the auditions were for pretty decent scale productions. It's always a success to even just get an audition for roles with decent pay. So I took this as a positive sign.

By the middle of June, I was starting to freak out a bit because I wasn't getting cast or even getting called to audition.

And then-it always seems to happen so fast- i got the official word that I would be in Joe Ciminera's next feature, "Acedia."  I would have a few scenes, it would be a great dramatic role,  oh and I would have to learn French- in two weeks.  Besides the occasional "bonjour" or "sil vous plait" just in fun, I had never spoken French. But I had always wanted to learn.  I dedicated myself to this role.  Every free moment until the shoot I studied and practiced like a madwoman.  I also listened to French music and watched "Amelie" over and over.  I was very blessed to have one of my colleagues, Sandra Venite (who is from France), teach me the correct sounds and pronunciations. So a very special thanks to Sandra.  I couldn't have pulled this off without you!! And by the way everyone,  French is freakin' hard!! But I think the scene turned out well:) Guess we will see at the premier.

And from a connection made on the set of "Acedia," I have my next film booked.  I will be acting in Jim Terriaca's indie feature film "Apex Rising."  And it sounds like a good one!! I'm up for two different roles. I will be thrilled with either one.

So as for after that, I will have to be patient, and that's the hardest part for me.  I am currently looking into a couple of classes that sound promising and I think I'm gonna work on getting more toned physically which will also open me up to more roles.

So that's all folks!!!! For now anyways.  I know I still have a LOONNNGG  way to go.  I have no delusions that I am a star (yet) in any way.  After all, I do still work a day job.

And of course, I  will always give God the glory for all that I am and all that I have  accomplished and will accomplish in this crazy business.

                 (On the set of "Acedia." My scenes were filmed at St. Josephat's Monestary in Long Island, NY.  It is such a historical and peaceful place.)

Friday, May 4, 2012

And the Oscar goes too.....

So I have been nominated for Best Actress(!!!!!) in the 2012 Five Towns College Luminaries (Long Island, NY) for my work in "Diane," written and directed by Nick Mancuso. The other film I worked in with the same director, called "Suffocating in Suburbia," is up for FIVE awards including Best Director and Best Film. It may as well be the Oscars cause it feels incredible. Of course, if this were the Oscars I probably wouldn't have to skip out on the awards ceremony to go to an audition. "Sigh." One day, right?

 For me right now this is the coolest thing in the world. Not only is it an honor to be recognized in such a way for work that I was really proud of, but it is also a nice confirmation that I am doing what I am meant to be doing, that I am headed in the right direction. Not that I ever for more than a few minutes doubt that it is my calling to be an actress, but sometimes it is just nice to know. In a competitive industry such as show biz where one can become easily discouraged, we have to take each success whether great or small and run with it. For me, each success I achieve is like getting a shot of encouragement mixed with strength.

 I just want to say that this is my first blog entry. I don't claim to be a writer. I know that I am not smarter than anyone else or more successful than anyone else. This is really a journal for my own thoughts (like every blog I guess:)) and any one who wants to read or follow is welcome.  I thought it might be fun.

The links to "Diane" and "Suffocating in Suburbia" (and other productions I've done) can be found on my Facebook fanpage Tiffany Browne-Tavarez. So please take a look and "like" if you feel in your heart to do so:)

 ONE more thing; you know how actors always say that it is enough to just be nominated? Well, for me that is totally true. Anything more (i.e. winning) would just be icing on the cake:)