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.

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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.