Sunday, December 29, 2013

My 2013 Report Card: Did I Do What I Said I Would...

Well, umm, kinda. As I was reading over my my 2013 goals and plans post, I realized I did do a lot of the things I set out to do but not 100%. Here's the rundown:

Plan #1- Choose quality when it comes to my materials. I think I stuck to this one pretty well. I chose a photographer I really wanted to work with and then had my prints done at a more reputable company than the one I had previously used. Also, recently I discovered a new company--through networking--to order my business cards from. It's called moo.com. They are more pricey than Vistaprint but from what I've seen, I think they will be gorgeous!! (Will post pics when I get them!) Also, I am getting professional slate shots done next week for my Actors Access account, whereas normally I would just get my husband to shoot something on the good ole iPhone 5. I'm super proud of myself for that one.  

Plan #2- To use social media more. I tried. I really did. I just find it difficult to post when tired or busy. Then there are times when I'm afraid people don't really care so I just stay quiet. I give myself a C(-) for this one. I will be better next year though. Promise. 

Plan #3- To work on my craft more between gigs and classes. I don't think I did this as much as I could. Luckily, despite a couple of slow periods, I usually did have something to work on though. So I was, for the most part, constantly practicing and rehearsing. Still, I need work to my monologues more definitely. 

Plan #4- To eat healthier, work out more, and always be in style. Ummm, don't think I did this one. I'm still trying to lose 10lbs so there is the evidence. Lol. Again, it's on next year's list. I'm always pretty conscience about what I wear though. Again, unless I'm tired and have been working and my feet hurt or I'm just running out to get coffee in the morning. So that part is neither here not there I guess. 

Plan #5- To go from a full-time position to a part-time position at my survival job. Well, that one I can say I did 100% and it's been blissful. And the cool thing is that when I don't have any acting going on I can pick up shifts. Like during the holidays for instance. 

Aside from these plans, I also mentioned three goals that I would have liked to accomplish. They were as follows:

Goal #1- Book a national or regional commercial. 
Goal #2- Get a commercial agent. 
Goal #3- Book a SAG indie film. 

Well....the thing is that I worked in several indie films this year and kinda forgot about the commercial thing. Not really forgot, but lost focus on. So I didn't reach goal 1 or 2. However, I did book a SAG indie film. It was a short and not a feature but I'll take it. 

So I did okay as far as what I had planned goes. But thank The Lord for another year coming. Lol. Overall though, I did have a very good year and I will be writing my year in review post soon. I do think I "truly embraced being an actress" this past year. I'm much more open about my work. This career is in my bones. I feel it deep down. I am an actress. It is my lifestyle.

I will also be posting my plans/goals for 2014. So you should be hearing from me quite often during the next couple weeks. Thanks for reading guys! As always, feel free to comment and share links to your blogs or work!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The End of 2013 aka Crunch Time

There are only a few days left in 2013 and I am not letting it go with out a fight. With nothing really going on in the acting world right now, I have been using these couple of weeks to make sure I have a great start in 2014. First of all, that means picking up extra hours at work. I want to join SAG next year and I want to take more classes so that means I need the extra money. I'm also taking advantage of all the holiday sales on actor services. Actors Access is giving 50% off media uploads so I added some new footage. NYCastings is also giving a discount on reel services so I have booked an appointment to get a couple of slate shots done for my Actors Access account (kind of ironic right?). I have just ordered new business cards and last week I took an agent meeting class at CnC Studios. I'm also already signed up for a three week acting class in February with casting director Brette Goldstein. So you see, I am going out with a bang!

That doesn't mean I'm not enjoying the holidays though! I am! And we all should find some time to relax and enjoy our loved ones. But I just want to make sure I am more than ready for 2014. Because it's gonna be a ground breaking kind of a year. ;-) 

Happy Holidays!!Be Thankful And Follow Your Dreams


Happy Holidays everyone!!! I know this is a busy time of year for most of you. As the year is about to end, this is typically the time to reflect upon the things we are grateful for and also reflect upon which goals we accomplished this year. (Yes, year in review post coming soon). I've been busy just like everyone else, so I am doing my "what I am thankful for post" now.

I am thankful for everything God has given me and has done in my life. That includes so many wonderful things. Before I get to those, I just want to say that I am very thankful that my faith has remained intact throughout this journey of becoming an actor living in NYC, even though I, like anyone else, have moments of doubts. That being said, here we go: I am thankful for my super duper incredible (and very sexy) husband. I am a private person and don't post too much on social media about us or our marriage, but I am one lucky girl to have someone like him. A man whom I trust, who supports my dream, and who makes me laugh. He is my best friend; my everything.  I am thankful for a loving family (which includes my immediate family and my in-laws). I believe my parents raised me well and they have never once not supported me when it comes to pursuing acting. Same goes for my brother and sister. I hate not being able to spend time with my family during the holidays but such is the nature of working retail in NYC. I'm hoping to visit in January though. I am grateful for friends who stay loyal even though I am a busy, extremely introverted person who finds it difficult to hangout or stay in touch frequently. I am thankful for my sweet little kitty Sophie who makes me so happy when I think about her little face. I'm thankful for our health. I am thankful for our apt and for the location in which we live--across the river from NYC--(even though I don't make it a secret that I would rather be living in an apt in the East Village. Sigh.). Going back to my faith, I am thankful that I found a church where God's truth is spoken with conviction and yet with love, and where so much is done to help not only the people of NYC, but also people from all around the world who need a helping hand (even though I do attend as often as I should). I am grateful for my survival job. Not only because it pays the bills and pays for my acting things, but also because doing makeovers and selling makeup is a great job. I tried the typical actor thing--waiting tables--for 6 months when I lived in Virginia and I don't think I could do that again. (Just like many actors couldn't do retail for as long as I have.) 

And let's get down to the reason why I write this blog. I am incredibly grateful that I am able to follow my dream. The journey has been amazing and I am really still just getting started. But I cherish the entire process-the hard work, the events, the disappointments, the connections I've made, and those moments in which I do actually get to act. I write this blog for myself, as a way to reflect and keep focused, but I also write in order to inspire others to follow their dreams. Just do it. No matter what. It starts with a small step, but all it takes is one step in the right direction. I know sometimes because of circumstances we have to put our dreams on hold, and that's okay. That's life. Don't let it stop you. Where there is a will there is a way indeed. I'm sure you have read these amazing stories of people overcoming incredible obstacles, that most of us can't even imagine, and accomplishing extraordinary things in their lives. My obstacle when it comes to pursuing acting is something that is not so noticeable and it is actually a choice I've made. It is the choice I have made to not use profanity in any of the roles I take (among other things, but this is the issue that arises constantly). Sometimes I feel so discouraged because I know this will stop me from playing parts. Great parts. Amazing parts in fact. I feel like I cannot look for agents because I'm afraid to ask someone to represent me and then present them my list of restrictions. And let me tell you, that list probably isn't going to change. I feel like people in the industry will think I am crazy especially since I am still a nobody the world of Hollywood and should be taking whatever comes way and am in no position to be making requests like that. It is so hard and humbling for me to read a script prior to an audition and then have to ask if I am able to leave out or substitute a curse word. And lately, every script I've read has cursing in it. When this happens only once in awhile it's easier to deal with. But when it happens one script right after the other it starts to weigh on me. But I know this is my path. The way God has intended for me personally to pursue this career and if it's going to happen, this is how it's going to happen. So I keep on sending those requests in faith. (And BTW I don't judge Christian actors who do curse.) And that means letting go completely of a role that seems so fulfilling. But it makes me especially thankful for every single acting job I get. And guess what? Only twice I can remember since moving here in 2005 has the cursing been necessary for the character. (When it is, I politely and graciously turn down the opportunity.) Which is pretty incredible when I think about how many roles I've played over the years. That decision makes the journey harder for sure, but also more fulfilling because I am trying to put God first. So that is why I constantly emphasize how blessed I feel to be working on a new project. Our obstacles can become our testimonies-what makes our story and us unique. 

I always thought making these sort of lists was corny. But as I started writing this post I realized there is something that actually does occur deep inside when taking time to write down and really think about what you are grateful for. I can't explain it, but I feel more encouraged, fulfilled, and deeply happy about where I am in my acting career. I don't feel as bothered by the fact that I am not yet making my living from acting, or by the fact that I live in New Jersey. (Half joking but that is actually a big deal for me because when I lived in Manhattan I was one of those people who swore I would never ever live in Jersey. Even though I'm in the NYC area--12 min away from Times Square when there is no traffic--once in a while I still get sad when I reminisce about living in the city itself.) But those things seem like nothing now. 

So I encourage you to make the list too. And I encourage you to take at least one small step towards following your dream. And I encourage you to choose to be happy and grateful wherever you and whatever you are doing. 

Happy Holidays!!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"Murder" a trailer by Tina Jetter

Hello Everyone!

I am sharing a trailer I worked in, written and directed by Tina Jetter. She is 17years old and very talented and driven. She is an actress and has now written a short film which she is trying to raise money for. There are only 8 days. If you love to support indie film and young filmmakers, and feel led to, please donate even one dollar to her project!! Thanks so much!!

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trailer-called-murder?show_todos=true

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Just Keep Going

Well, things are not going really well with the acting right now. I have refrained from writing about it because, well, frankly, I have written about this happening a few times in the past and I don't want to sound like a broken record. But I have to write now. This will be short though, I promise. It is a normal part of the process. Slow phases, that is. The funny thing is that it is so easy to stay positive for awhile. But then you get to that point where you feel like you don't know what you are you doing, and that you don't belong in show biz, and you wonder if you will ever get another audition or acting job again. And you feel that way for a bit. Then you remember that acting is the only thing you want to do. And you remember that there was a time when you couldn't even get auditions for student films. And you remember when things have been slow in the past, they always turned around and you will have 5 acting gigs in one week and be so overwhelmed by it all (in a good way). Then you know beneath it all, that you have to stay positive; that in moments like this, your hope that you will make it is all you have. And that's it. You keep going. You keep submitting to projects every day, every hour. You decide to try something new, like a new class for instance. You may even get new headshots. You. Just. Keep. Going. Because you have to. 
                  Motivation baby!!!!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Appreciating Our Day Jobs While Pursuing Acting

Oh where to begin.... I felt inspired to write a post about things I actually enjoy about my day job the other morning when taking pics of my lipstick choice of the day to post to Instagram. Posting these pics reminds of how much I love makeup. Makeup I would probably not have (errr..couldn't afford) if I didn't work at a cosmetics counter. Taking pics of all my different color choices also reminds of how much fun makeup is and that I am lucky I get to spend 20 hours a week playing with it while getting paid.

Often when I write about my job, I am writing because I'm frustrated that I still have to work a survival job when all I want to do is act. And although I am so thankful to God for my job, I definitely have days in which it is extremely hard to feel that way. So I thought I would do a post pointing out the good things and the benefits I've earned. Maybe it will inspire you to do the same.

To start, there is nothing as fulfilling and fun to me as acting. That is the only thing I will pursue as a career and I will always refer to my survival job as a survival job, or day job, because it will never be something I plan on falling back on. I don't have anything to fall back on. Acting is it for me. So many days, it is a pain to get up and get ready work. Especially if the day before I was on set all day. I have days when I feel very down being at work; wondering when I am going to be able to leave because I am finally pulling in some decent money acting. Some days, it takes a lot to push through, even if I'm only there for a few hours.

But, not all days are bad. And there are definite bright spots. Some days are actually fun. And the other day, as the store opened, I remembered there was actually a time where getting a job at a cosmetics counter in a department store was a dream of mine. Not a grand dream like acting as always been, but I always dreamed that being a cosmetics girl would be my job while I pursue acting. I forgot all about that dream. It was nice to reflect upon it this morning and realize that it has come true. You see, I have always worked in retail, mostly at department stores. Since I was in high school actually. I would always look at the cosmetics girls as if they were the cheerleaders of those stores. You know, the coolest and most popular ones there, which during my school years I was far from. Also, I had started playing with makeup as a kid, as well as studied art all through school. I was quite good actually at painting and drawing (sometimes I feel the urge to pick it up again), so working in cosmetics seemed liked a natural fit for me. I worked in retail for about 7-8 years before I got a job in cosmetics. (The first brand I ever worked was Clinique, if anyone is curious).  Wow I feel old thinking about how long ago that was!! I won't even mention how long I've been doing makeup now but it's been awhile.

The point is sometimes I forget the reasons that brought me to work at my particular survival job in the first place. There are also many reasons I choose to stay.

Here is the list of the things I truly appreciate about my job:

1) I get to play with makeup while being paid for it and it's for a brand that I absolutely love YSL. In fact, there is only one other line I love as much and that's NARS.

2) Working where I do enables me to easily keep up with trends. To me, being an actress goes hand-in-hand with fashion.

3) I get to make people feel beautiful.

4) Pretty flexible scheduling. Usually there is someone able to switch shifts with me if need be. Also, I am sure to do scheduling favors for my manager when I can so she will be more understanding if I have something come up. That's a great tip actually. Always have a good attitude and do your best to do what the job requires and those in authority will be more apt to give you what you want.

5) Being in NYC, I work with the most diverse clientele possible. Meaning, I never know who I may meet. Perhaps a movie producer, a casting director, an agent? That I know of it hasn't happened yet, but that hope and possibility (daydream) is always with me.

6) Free makeup, free skincare, and discounts in other departments. One of my best purchases ever was a leather (err...pleather) dress that I bought for $4.00 using special employee coupons that can be used like cash within that particular store.

7) I've been there so long that I know how things work. I know when I can and can't afford to call out or be late. I know how to do my job well, or at least, on some days, well enough to get by without getting in trouble.

8) I rationalize that since acting is the only thing I want to do, I wouldn't be any happier working any other survival job than the one I work now.

AND

9) This is the NUMBER ONE reason that I appreciate my survival job right now and do not plan on going anywhere else whilst I pursue acting (this also is because of how long I've been here): I have many many paid vacation days and personal days. For someone pursuing acting, that is priceless.
Loyalty to a company does pay off. Believe me, if I wanted to pursue a career in makeup, I would not stay at this location. I would want to be at a cute little boutique in Soho. But I want to be an actress. Therefore I stay and take advantage of these free days I get. I always have to think of the big picture.

I know more than anyone how depressing it can be to do any other work besides what you truly love and want to be known for and be successful at. I am not telling you to stay at a job where you are miserable; not at all. You must always follow your heart. I am just telling you to weigh your options as it pertains to being able to fully pursue acting. I heard someone at my job recently say "this job is a means to get what you want." It's so true and to hear it put in those exact words really lifted me up that day and made me want to keep pushing. There must some things you like about your survival job; whatever job that may be. Like some of things in my list, it may not be about the job itself, or your position, or it's location. It may be more about what the job provides you in regards to pursuing your acting: flexibility, benefits, sick days, and, uh, hello, money for all those actor things. And if you are so completely miserable every single day, and can't find any moments of joy here and there, AND it's so bad that you can't stay focused on your dreams, then maybe look for something else. If you feel you have no other day job options at the moment, then turn that despair into determination to become a more successful actor. I have to do that at times and it absolutely makes me work doubly hard towards getting that next acting job.

BTW, this isn't a recommendation to work in retail. A lot of the advantages I have at this job are only because I have stuck with it for so long. Just starting out things wouldn't be that flexible. What this post IS is a recommendation to keep in mind the good things--however menial and hard to see they may be--that you get out of your survival job and to work them to your advantage in every way possible when it comes to pursuing your acting career.

                  Me in Work Mode

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Reasons Why I Haven't Joined SAG Yet Even Though I'm Eligble


There are many reasons why I haven't taken the step to join SAG-AFTRA yet, even though I have been eligible for about 10 months now. Oh, I'd say about 3,000 plus 1 reasons to be exact. You actors know exactly what I mean by that.

Firstly, I'm still booking a lot of great non-union jobs. Some are paid, some aren't. I have a few in the works for the next few months and I would like to focus and keep my commitment to those. If during that time, I happen to book an amazing union job and have to join, then I will. Since all of my upcoming films are with people whom I have worked with before, I'm hoping they would be willing to get SAG waivers in order for me to still be in their projects; not expecting, just hoping. Of course, that is a huge if and I will cross that bridge when I get to it. 


I'm sure you understand the main reason why I haven't joined yet is because of the money. I mean, who has $3,000 lying around? If I did not have the sizable balance that I currently have on my credit card, I would put the joining fee on there. Unfortunately, that is not an option right now. (Unless of course I end up booking something and having to join right away. Then I would do it no questions asked.)

Alas, I guess it is not yet time for me make that milestone happen in my acting career. I want it so bad I can taste it though. I'm working on devising a savings plan for the money. Wish me luck. Well, good thing I am pretty happy where I am anyways!!! 



Friday, September 6, 2013

Exhausted but Happy; Prep and Shooting for Venial

I am just feeling so incredibly blessed after my shoot yesterday for director Joe Ciminera's newest film, Venial. We shot the trailer as well as some of the film itself. I am also feeling incredibly exhausted, as the night before the shoot I worked a full (7.5hr) shift at my survival job--a closing shift no less--and had to be up at 6am to travel to Long Island for the shoot. I was so excited and anxious that I got about 5 min of sleep. The fact that I had foam curlers in my hair didn't help. After filming, I got home and to bed pretty late and had to be at work early today. But of course it was worth it. What an amazing shoot it was. This is one of those actor moments in which I feel on top of the world and so grateful. 

I found out only a week and a day before the first shooting day that I would actually be taking on the leading role in this film. I couldn't have been more thrilled. And so the preparation began. And one of things I mean by that is I had to learn how to do a British accent. (Or more accurate, an English accent, but here I will continue to use the term "British" as that is the typical word used to describe an English accent.) I've always kinda of played around with the accent (quite a lot actually) but I've never had to use it for a role, although I have been waiting for an opportunity. American actors are often criticized for their British accents not sounding authentic and I wanted to do whatever possible to prevent that from happening. The dialogue in Joe Ciminera's film are improvised (with a few exceptions), so with no lines in particular to practice, I especially had to learn how to speak the accent accurately. In short, the steps I took to learn were: first, reading general how-to's and tips, followed by watching instructional videos, then watching interviews with British actresses, and of course watching movies. Anna Karenina with Kiera Knightley was on a lot so watched that one a few times. I also recorded myself than listened to see what was good and what needed work. When I see the footage from Venial, if my accent comes out decent, I may do a more detailed post about it. Let's see though!!

So that has taken a lot of my focus for the past week. I also was responsible for my own wardrobe. After all, this is an indie film. But Joe's films have been decent exposure for me so far and I genuinely enjoy working with him, so I really didn't mind. The time period for the film is 1917. My character is a devout Christian woman whose husband dies in WW1 which drives her to the dark side. I try to never rent from a costume store. I haven't played a character yet where I haven't been able to come up with something myself from researching and shopping at thrift stores. Although this character has been the most difficult to dress. At least it seemed that way at first. Once I found inspiration (Downtown Abbey), that helped me a lot. Around this time, women were beginning to dress more modern. So I wanted to incorporate some signs of the time but also keep it conservative as my character is a hard-core Catholic who probably is not super trendy for that time. The big trends from that time which I incorporated were a hemline about mid-calf showing white wool stockings and shoes with a small curved heel. I have to say, I had so much fun perusing thrift stores in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Jersey. I think I did pretty well. I also had to figure out how to do my hair and makeup. 
                           
                             
     (Just a few of the wardrobe options.
         Minus the glasses of course!)

Even though the dialogue is being improvised and I was unsure of which scenes we would be filming the first day, I knew enough about my character to mentally prepare. Basically, I came up with lines beforehand which would hopefully work for each situation. Then, I practiced them over and over and over with the British accent. I was very happy that I got to use almost every line I came up with during the shoot on Thursday. I also mentally prepared myself to deal with all the heavy emotions I would have to show. It's hard to explain how I do this. I just let myself feel each emotion deeply and, well, practice. 

So, yeah, all that prep work combined with my survival job has made me a wee bit fatigued. If my punctuation is off in this post even more than usual that's why. But I'm feeling so satisfied about how well the shoot went. I'm so grateful to work continuously with Joe, his crew members, and this amazing group of actors that he has put together. It's a bonus to be on set and work with people who you have come to know and like. I can't wait to finish the film. As of right now, I'm feeling blissful. Hopefully I will still feel this way after I see my performance in the film on the big screen.  Because sometimes, your work doesn't translate to screen like you expected (to put it gently). Like I said earlier, let's see!!! ;-)


                  (Hair and makeup)


    (Saint Josaphat's Monastery in Long
                Island where we shot.)

      


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Supporting the Indie Projects You Have Acted In

So I've come across a new (for me) aspiring/struggling actor issue; what is enough when it comes to supporting all the indie projects you've worked in? By this statement, I mean a couple of things. The first is about wanting to support the films financially even though you are still a mostly always broke struggling actor. The second is about promoting your projects on social media and risking annoying people by constantly asking for their support and by constantly talking about your work.

When I speak about financially supporting the films you are involved in, I'm mostly referring to donating to fundraising campaigns like Indigogo or Kickstarter. I think both of these sites are a great idea. I love having the opportunity to to help get a film I've worked in produced, edited, or submitted to film festivals. The problem is that I am never able to give more than an average of $10.00-15.00. Even that amount can be pushing it at times for me. I have to admit that I usually feel guilty that I can't give more. But really, as struggling actors who may not even be getting paid for the project, is it necessary to donate? I wonder if directors really expect us to. 
And on top of that, if you are an actor, you probably have a lot of artist friends also involved in projects and you would like to show support to them as well. Kickstarter and Indigogo are fairly new, so this isn't something actors had to deal with a few years ago unless you were investing in or producing the project yourself. I feel like it is yet another expense to add to the list of many things we already have to invest in. It can also get a little stressful worrying about how much you should or can afford to give. Is it enough that you already gave your time, talent, and image?

Financial support can also mean purchasing the DVD of the film or any related merchandise. Are you obligated to do so? After all, aren't you expecting your friends and family to buy it? Shouldn't you light the way and show you really believe in the project and believe that it is worth the money? (Although to me it is very exciting to purchase a DVD of a movie which you were actually in.)

I personally feel it is important to try and give what you can. But keep in mind that most people probably understand that if you are an artist--and not yet known--you probably have limited funds available. And if you absolutely can't spare anything at the time, I don't think you should feel guilty. You will probably have a chance to donate at another time or show support in another way.

Which brings to me the second type of support I was talking about, sharing on social media. You know, asking friends, family, and followers to watch the trailers/clips, "like" the films's Facebook/IMDB pages, and also donate money. This is the quickest and easiest way to show your support for something you've worked in. But how do you give equal attention to each of your projects without getting on everyone's nerves? Especially while continuing to share your own personal things like reels, headshots, blogs (wink, wink). One thing I try to do is spread out the message over all the different sites and not necessarily at the same time. I may tweet it in the morning, and share it on Facebook in the afternoon. Or I may share something on Twitter much more often than I post the same info on Facebook. Sometimes it's one or the other and that's it. And don't forget Instagram, Tumblr, and Google+! Also, if it's my personal Facebook page I try not to push it too much and may not share every single thing I am working in; I share only things that are extra exciting. On a fan page though, people expect to hear all of your acting updates and news so you should post all of your projects there. I do fear coming across as obnoxious if I'm working in a lot at the moment, but I guess the bottom line is that I am an actress. Promoting my projects is part of what I do. A person can always choose if they don't wish to follow me any more or be friends. I think for the most part, those who really care like to see that you are working hard towards your dream.

These are just a couple more ways in which the industry has changed over the past few years. I think actors should embrace these opportunities as not only a way to support the film (that includes director, cast, crew) but also as a way to help get your own name out there. Unless it is a big budget Hollywood project, you donating even a small amount to a production or sharing it with your friends/connections may make a big difference in the life of a film.











Thursday, August 22, 2013

Actresses who Inspire Me: Bette Davis


I am sad (and embarrassed) to say that I only discovered the incredible Miss Bette Davis within the past couple years. I'm not really sure how this happened since as a young child watching classic films was one of my two favorite past times. (The other was reading.) I remember one Saturday afternoon a neighborhood friend had asked me to come out and play but I "just couldn't" because Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn was on and it was absolutely my favorite movie. I was about 11 years old. So yes, I am surprised that I am just discovering this dynamic screen legend whose talent was seen in over 100 films, who was nominated for ten Oscars, who won two of them, and who is the epitome of what it means to be a star. Maybe as a child films like Funny Face appealed to me more at the time because they seemed more colorful. Of course, I've always known of Bette Davis, how could I not. I knew that she was one of the most famous Hollywood actresses of all time and that she was a classic beauty known for her eyes. But I never really knew the extent of her talent or the range of her work. 

When I watch Bette Davis on screen I am just in awe of her talent, personality, and unique beauty. I cannot change the channel when one of her movies is on. (I'm sorry if all that sounds cliche or corny, but it's true and I don't know how else to say it.) Regardless of any negative aspects of her personal life that have emerged over the years and her reputation for being "tough," she was an inspiring woman on and off screen. She fought hard to get the roles that she knew she deserved. She was always herself, she had strength, she had deep passion for acting, and she knew she was great. All aspiring actresses should look into her story of how she fought Warner Brothers and as a result she started receiving roles that were more challenging than the ones they had wanted to cast her in. Miss Davis knew her worth and didn't settle. At the same time, she knew she wasn't perfect and never pretended to be. 
The first movie I ever saw her in was Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. She was in her 50's and even though I had not yet seen her younger work, I was captivated. Right away I understood the reason why she was (and still is) a mega star. It's so many things; her voice, her strength, her skill, her looks. After watching many of her films (my favorite so far is All About Eve), I can say that her characters are fully developed and she is absolutely uninhibited. There are many actresses whom I admire who are just as talented in acting as Bette Davis and maybe some who are even as captivating, but for me, there is something powerful about her that I don't see in others. 

After reading about her and recently watching an interview she did for the Dick Cavett Show back in 1971, it seems that Miss Davis and I have many opposing philosophies on life; on what is right and what is wrong. 
It is interesting for me to imagine the two of us meeting. I think from her perspective she would see me as too nice and perhaps naive. 

Still, there are many ways in which I feel I relate to her or hope to be like her. For an actress who rose to fame during the era of high Hollywood glamour and true leading ladies, she wasn't afraid to play characters who weren't necessarily likable. She wasn't afraid to do films that were dark or even a little strange (The Nanny, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane). 

Miss Davis believed that acting actually shouldn't be so natural that it is as if you are just being yourself. She didn't even believe in ad libbing
during a scene. Her reasoning being that people go see movies in order to get away from real life. (Source-Dick Cavett interview 1971.)

"Acting should be bigger than life. Scripts should be bigger than life. It should all be bigger than life."-Bette Davis

I love this quote and understand completely why she felt this way. In fact, when I was young I thought acting on screen was supposed to be glamorous, stylized, dramatic, and not like real life. I would often try to imitate actresses from classic films--their voices, their expressions--because I thought if I were like them that would mean I was a great actress. I just thought these actresses were way better than actresses of today. I didn't realize yet that when acting I was supposed to bring myself to the character. Of course it isn't true that that the actresses of today are not as talented. The style of film has just changed. Actually, today's movies allow actors to give much more in depth performances because now we are more focused on subtleties. But ANWAYS, the point is that it was the actresses of classic film who inspired my acting once I chose that profession. It still is. There are many incredible actresses today whose talent amazes me, but when I feel discouraged, I can only feel reignited by watching classic film stars. 
"You know what I'm going to have
on my gravestone? 'She did it the hard way.'"-Bette Davis

And that is exactly what it says on her tombstone. Integrity was important to her. I sometimes feel that I am doing "it the hard way." I'm sure that means something different for everybody. We all have different challenges and different boundaries. 
For me, it means upholding my faith in Jesus Christ above my acting career. That doesn't mean I will only do "Christian" films or only play "saintly" characters (I love dark, gritty, strange films) but it does mean I myself won't curse, take the Lord's name in vain, or do any nudity. Making a career out of acting is hard, and my decisions to not do those things make it even harder. 

Lately, I have been going through one of my down times in my acting career. This one has lasted longer than normal. Not just because I haven't been getting many auditions (I can deal with that at the moment because aside from the past few weeks, I've been working in quite a few projects), but because I just haven't felt like doing anything needed to get more auditions. I also haven't felt like blogging or being on social media. I guess it is a sort of depression. Part of it is from the fact that juggling my last few films with each other AND with my day job really drained me this time. It is over and done with now, but even thinking about it makes my heart beat faster and gives me a sick feeling in my tummy. (I'm happy and grateful for those parts, but it was very hard to balance it all at once.)

The other night I was flipping through the channels and came across the movie Dark Victory starring of course, Bette Davis. It was at the end of the film, but just seeing her in the last scene made me immediately say to myself "I have to keep going." It made feel happy about the work I have done so far but also made me want to start working hard again so I can become better. It brought back the hope that achieving my dreams is possible. It made me remember why I love acting and chose to be an actress in the first place. As I said before, there is certainly something powerful about Miss Davis. 
Some of My Favorite Bette Davis Quotes:

"I will not retire while I've still got my legs and my make-up box."

"Attempt the impossible to improve your work."

"To fulfill a dream, to be allowed to sweat over a lonely labor, to be given a chance to create, is the meat and potatoes of life. The money is the gravy."

"Hollywood always wanted me to be pretty, but I fought for realism."

"Psychoanalysis. Almost went three times-almost. Then I decided what was peculiar about me was probably what made me successful. I've seen some very talented actors go into analysis and really lose it. "

"Good actors I've worked with with all started out making faces in a mirror, and you keep making faces all your life."

"I am just too much."
(Quotes were taken from many various websites.)

                                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gA8xVXVmM0w
Love this clip from her interview with Dick Cavett in 1971. It shows her personality and how funny she was.













Monday, July 15, 2013

One of my recent short films, Sarah's Silence

Hello Everyone!!

I am sharing a short film I recently worked in called Sarah's Silence. The producers are currently submitting the film to several festivals. One of them is called the Once a Week Online Film Festival. In order to win the Audience Choice Award, we need to have the most shares. Please visit, watch, and share the film from it's festival page. Thanks so much!!!

http://www.onceaweekfilmfest.com/sarahs-silence

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dark Romance

Everyone be sure to check out Dark Romance, a film I acted in that was part of the 48 Hour Film Festival NYC 2013. Teams have two days to write, shoot, and edit a film. I had so much fun!!
I was told I was "the perfect combination of sweet and creepy."
Thanks for watching!
Watch here: http://vimeo.com/67556332

http://m.imdb.com/title/tt2986682/


Monday, May 27, 2013

As an Actor, is it Really Possible to Stay Humble WhilePromotingYourself?

The funny thing about being an actor is that you have to promote yourself. If you are pursuing acting as a career there is so much more to it than reading a script or playing a character. If this is to be your career, so much of your time is actually spent on the business side of things. There is just no way around it. Managing the business side of acting is what is will get you your next role or get you to the next level.

This includes promoting yourself. Not just by submitting to casting notices or attending showcases. This day and age it also means utilizing social media to share your work. It's actually a beautiful thing for an actor or anyone who runs a business. To be on the internet, your talents and brand accessible to the whole world at any time. But at what point is it too much? Does it eventually go to your head?

I'm having a lot of fun with social media, but it took me a loonngg time to embrace this side of being an actor. I like to use it to update my friends and those who are interested on my current projects. I may post a link my reel or me acting in a scene. I will post my blog or pictures from on-set. But before I hit the post/send/publish button, I always wonder "am I acting like I'm "all that?"" Mind you, when I see other actors or artists posting their updates or victories, I don't see them as thinking they are "all that." I see that they are simply sharing something that they are excited about and I support them. But when it comes to myself I always hesitate before I publish something.

Although I am confident in who I am and confident in my talent, I never would want anyone to think that I think I'm better than others. There is a difference between inner peace with who you are and downright cockiness. I never want to seem as though I am praising myself or bragging about my accomplishments. (And once again, when others post what they have achieved I don't see them as bragging.) I never want to people to be annoyed because they think I am posting to much. And I always want to stay humble.

There is such a fine line. It's so easy for actors to be narcissistic. I believe it's inside of all of us. So how do you promote yourself but also stay humble? Because as actors we do have to share our talent and put ourselves out there. It's part of our job. Promoting your work can open up unseen doors, and also help keep you focused and energized when things are slow.

For me, knowing and reflecting on the following things helps keep me grounded:

1) That (I believe) every opportunity I have in this career, my talent, and my purpose come from God.

2) Acting is actually not the most important thing in the world. (Even though I have a tendency to obsess, and I mean literally obsess, over it.)

3) You may be "on top" right now but soon things may slow down for awhile. And during your "down time" although things may be slow for you, other people you know are probably doing very well and reaching milestones you have not even made yet. If you don't stay humble this could destroy you and everything you have worked so hard for.

4) It's important to be a blessing for others by supporting their dreams and being genuinely happy for them. While you are hoping to get likes/comments/views on your posts and pages, don't forget to take time to do the same for others. And do it because you really want to. Not because you expect something in return.

5) Realizing that you are not the most talented person in the world. (Or the funniest, or the smartest, or the best-looking, or the most charming.)

6) Making sure you don't forget to thank everyone for their support. I think being on social media can be very overwhelming at times (um hello, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr...) and when you are busy it can be hard to keep track of comments and requests and posts. I know I am not perfect when it comes to replying, but I honestly try my best. It's important to set aside time just to thank people. I try my best because I truly am grateful and you should always show someone how grateful you are for them and their support.

I still feel funny sometimes about promoting myself. I guess maybe I always will a little. As for worrying if anyone thinks I post too much, I guess I have to do what I have to do. I worry more about whether or not it makes someone feel bad if things are slow for them at the moment. I know how that can sting. Not sure how to handle that one. I do think it is important to be sensitive to others, but also it's important to not be afraid to be who you are. I guess in a situation like that its extra important to look deep inside and make sure your heart is in the right place. If you feel a nudging not to post something at a particular time, then wait.

I'm assuming that there are other aspiring actors out there struggling with the idea of having to promote themselves as well. It's all about finding balance. I feel it's okay as long as you are just sharing and not speaking about "how talented you think you are," or "how great you think you are." Let others speak about awesome you are at what you do. And when they do, be gracious. When it comes to how often you should post, that will depend on you and your brand. Do what comes naturally. Make sure it isn't forced and that it is something you genuinely want to say or share. I personally don't think much of it when others post pretty frequently. For me, I try to keep it somewhere in the middle.

And don't forget: sometimes you don't need to give away all the details or talk too much about specific projects you are working on. Sometimes if you have something extra special in the works, it's best to keep it quiet until the right time.

So, is it possible to really stay humble while promoting yourself? I think so. Even if sometimes we do need little reminders. ;-)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

When it Rains it Pours

I have learned to never get too upset or complain when you feel like things are going slow. Even when you feel like you are gonna go crazy if you go another day without getting any response from your casting submissions. If acting is truly want you want to do and you have faith and stay consistently working towards it things will always pick back up.

I recently went two and a half months exactly without getting any auditions. I was submitting everyday and definitely had moments when I was wondering what the heck was wrong with me. But I stayed the course and finally got asked to audition for a role in a NYU student production. It was for a small project- a scene to be filmed in the school's three camera TV studio. I've done a couple of these in the past, and they usually only take an hour or two to shoot. But the script was so much fun and I knew I could bring something to either of the two characters I was reading for. I decided to wholeheartedly audition for the production and just to have fun with it. I got the part!! Yes, a student production, but I have said before that sometimes it the smaller projects that really keep you going and give you an extra boost when things seem slow. The scene was comedic, and since I have done mostly dramatic roles, I really got a lot out of this part. And of course I met some amazing people along the way.

That was the middle of April. Since then, I have been blessed to have worked in several projects and have a couple of great ones in store for the next month. In the past month or so I have also worked in two web-series, a short film, and a NYU audio drama (got a nice clip from that to ad my VoiceOver reel). This upcoming month I will be working with a team for the 48hr Film Festival, and I booked a great supporting role in an indie comedy pilot. I'm also teaming up with a very talented director and another actor, also very talented, to work on a scene together that will be shot and posted on-line. Next weekend I will be attending the premiere party for Joe Ciminera's "The Library." AND I'm finally creating a YouTube channel featuring clips from the projects I've done. So needless to say I am currently busy, busy, busy. I thank the Lord for all of these opportunities and intend to enjoy this busy period while it while it lasts. :-)

The moral of this story? Of course: never give up, be patient, be persistent, be consistent, and have faith that the slow times are as much a part of the process as the busy times. If you choose to spend the slow times wisely, you will be overwhelmingly busy before you know it!

Please feel free to share with me your latest projects in the comments section!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Skype Audition Take Two-My Second Experience

So a few months ago (well, back in July actually, I honestly didn't realize that much time went by), I wrote a post about my first Skype audition. Basically, I wrote about the experience and how bad it was and what I learned to help make the next one better. Well, I just had my second audition via Skype today and I thought I would do a follow up post comparing this time to the first. As in, did I follow my own advice and how did it feel this time?

My original post about Skype auditions seems to be my most popular post. I've researched them as well and I've only found a few good articles about the subject even though it is becoming more and more popular amongst casting directors. So hopefully this post--written from the perspective of a struggling actress who is also new to Skype auditions--will help someone out there to feel better prepared and more comfortable before their first, or even second or third, Skype audition.

Needless to say, today's audition went much smoother than the first. I gave myself plenty of time to test the camera, lighting, and audio. I made sure my makeup and wardrobe translated well on-screen. I framed myself and set my webcam in just the right position well before time. I made sure my cat was far out of the way. The thing that helped me to feel the most confident though, was practicing my lines several times on the web cam. Ten minutes before the scheduled call, I made sure the apartment was silent and waited calmly in front of my computer for the moment so I would feel completely prepared. Yes, I was anxious and a little nervous, BUT, this time around I felt confident, comfortable, and was ready to have some fun.

The thing that gave me the most anxiety when doing a Skype audition, was where do I look? At the camera? At the screen? Both? Whenever I've done a video audition, if I don't have a reader or if it is a monologue or copy, I've always read straight to the camera. If I have a reader, I look at the reader.

Well, I also tested this beforehand to see which looked better. I rationalized that if I were at the studio auditioning I would be looking at the reader, not at the camera. So, check one. As for the introduction portion, I planned to look directly at the camera, so from casting's perspective I would be looking right at them. But, when looking at myself on the screen prior, I saw that it did actually appear as though I was looking at the camera. Maybe it worked that way because of the position/height of the screen/computer and how I was standing. So, I decided during the introductions I would go ahead and look at their image on the screen so I would feel more natural and comfortable. I hope it looked okay. (Geez, I must sound like such a newbie. I guess in many ways I still am.) I don't think it's expected to be perfect, but you always want to make it the most effective it can be.

This time around, I also was more conscious of keeping my speaking volume high enough (I do not have a fancy special microphone, although now I am thinking of investing in one) and I also made sure my energy level stayed consistent throughout the entire audition. Especially since the casting was for a scripted comedy.

Overall, I am completely happy with how the audition went. And also a little proud of myself for truly utilizing everything thing I learned from my first Skype audition. Time to let this one go and focus on my next two auditions which are scheduled for tomorrow. (No, they won't be through Skpe.) :)~

UPDATE May 13, 2016

I just want to clarify about to where to look when auditioning on camera. Since I wrote this post, I've learned when doing an on-camera audition you should always direct your lines a little to the side of the camera or right above. (Unless it's a commercial audition.)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Fun with Monologues

I admit it; I haven't always loved to do monologues. I loved them even less when I had to perform them for auditions. For years, monologues eluded me. I would even say they intimidated me. They just never felt natural or comfortable for me no matter many of them I tried to make my own. A few months ago I had to audition for a television crime reenactment show using an improvised monologue. I have to say, I never felt so good about a monologue audition in my life. Because I came up with it myself, I didn't worry about getting every word right. Therefore, I really just allowed the character to come through. I just had fun with it. And..... I booked the role(!!!). I think that was the first time in a LONG time I booked a part with a monologue. In fact, I can honestly only remember one other time in particular. When the audition was over, I evaluated the reasons why I felt like this particular audition had been a successful one. Was it simply that I was getting more comfortable with the auditioning process itself as well as auditioning with monologues? Well, probably. Experience does help. But I knew there was something more. What was the difference this time? The answer was pretty clear. I had a blast doing it. I finally realized that the key for me to be successful at performing monologues is to have fun doing them. Yes, I always remember certain techniques like "decide who specifically I am talking too" and "make it sound like a real conversation." But the only way for me to be comfortable, natural, and really let the character/emotions shine through me is to have fun with it. That being said, below is the link to a new monologue I worked on yesterday with director Jhoe Davis. He chose the material and then worked with me on each emotion he wanted to see throughout the piece.

Check out his website here:  http://jdmax.com/

Please take a look and feedback is welcome:) Below, feel free to post links to monologues you have been working on. Thanks for reading!! (And watching!)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

On the Upside of Acting Things....

I'm not gonna lie. Things in the acting world have been slow for me lately. Extremely slow. Unbearably slow. And it baffles me that of the many, many, many, submissions I have sent out over the past couple months, I haven't been asked to any auditions.

But even still, things are looking up. This past week proved to be fairly productive and I'm feeling my passion for acting being revved up. It really is amazing how seemingly small projects can get you excited about what you do.

First of all, the decision to go part time at my survival job so far has been a great one. I feel so much less stressed and I feel more like an actor now-not just a retail associate. And when I am at work, I actually enjoy it once again. Like, I love doing makeup and getting sales, and getting my Starbucks before starting my shift. I haven't felt that way about my day job in a long time. I actually feel healthier too because I don't have as much stress now. Yes, I will have to cut back on things financially but as long as I can pay my bills, feed my cat, and eat, I'm good. I feel it's best to live simply anyways. (I will be sure to treat myself to something fashionable once in a while of course.) But people can work so hard to make money and then one day have to spend it anyways on stress related health problems. I guess it comes down to what is best for you and your family and I do understand that not everyone is able to make the choice to work less hours.

Okay, back to this past week. I had a successful meeting with a very talented film director about possibly working in his upcoming feature. He is gathering a pool of talent and to start with he will direct and film me performing a couple of monologues which he has chosen. The videos are professionally done and afterwards are edited and placed online on his website. You guys don't even know how much this excites me. Now I have two awesome new monologues to work on the next couple of weeks, I have made a valuable new connection which will potentially lead to bigger things with this director, and this will also give me some added exposure. Sounds like a blessing to me.

I also feel very happy that I connected with the Community College Comedians about possibly doing an upcoming sketch with them. Everyone should definitely check them out. They are awesome!! Their comedy sketches are genuinely funny, original, professional, and refreshingly wholesome. It's hard to find all of those things nowadays. I totally respect and love what they do and am always happy to work with them.

And FINALLY I started editing my latest reel. That will be up soon. While going through footage, I realized I actually have a lot of good stuff to choose from. I realized too that instead of complaining about how slow things are for me right now, I should thank my Lord above for every single one of those opportunities. Sometimes, I get so focused on booking the next role, that I forget to be grateful for the ones I've already done.

Oooohh and one more thing....the episode I did of "I Killed My BFF" will air Monday April 1 on A&E Biography. That definitely encourages me to press forward and reminds me of how far I've come. And the preview looks so cool!!:)

So everything does seem to be looking up. All I, or you, can do is hang in there. Things always turn around if you are consistent and have faith. And you never know where an opportunity can come from so always keep your eyes and ears open. Also keep in mind that even though something may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, you never know where it could lead, or how it could strengthen you. So don't be too quick to overlook any offer even if you feel like you are too far ahead in your career to consider it. When things are slow, I don't think you can afford to anyways. But that's just me. :)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

One of My Scenes from Joe Ciminera's Acedia

One of my favorite roles I got to play last year was in Joe Ciminera's Acedia. In this film I play the mother of a possessed girl who is about to undergo an exorcism. My character speaks French and I had sooooo much fun learning the language for this part. I was so excited for the opportunity and spent the weeks prior to filming obsessing over learning French, not just my lines but as much of the language as I could. Alas, my intentions to continue learning to speak French after filming have died down as it is very hard for me to focus on something like that unless I need to use it in the near future. But I'm awfully glad that I now know the correct way to say some things and I know I will be able to learn it pretty well the next time I need to. (Like if I hopefully one day get to go to Paris!) Also, I should be able to make a pretty cool reel clip from the scene. Here is the link to the scene below. Merci de votre fidelite!!

https://vimeo.com/62965440




Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Motivation Seems to be M.I.A. (Yikes!!)

What do you do when you seem to have lost all motivation to do anything? That is how I have been feeling recently. In my last post, I mentioned that I haven't had an audition in a while. I said that I would do things like edit my reel, blog more, yada yada yada. Well, I haven't done anything. I just don't feel like. Yes, I have been submitting to castings and all that everyday, but with no response. And also, when I do submit, I barely have the energy to write a nice note. Normally, I enjoy the entire process. Ugh!!! What is wrong with me?!!! I'm not saying I've lost my passion for acting and for pursuing acting--it's the only thing I want to do as my career-- but for the past couple of weeks I just haven't felt like doing anything to push it. I don't even feel like tweeting, or talking to people, or updating my Facebook. All I want to do is sleep. Or relax. I've only been responding to things when I absolutely have to.

I was off today and woke up planning to work on a new monologue, record it, then post it in a blog I'm working on about monologues. I didn't end up doing any of that. I didn't make all the connections I wanted to try to make on social media today either. Well, I did make a couple of pretty good ones, so that's a plus at least.

I hate that I am feeling this way right now, because this week I finally started working only part time at my day job. Now is the time that I am supposed to be working harder than ever towards my goal of being a successful actress. So I ask again, what is wrong with me?!!!

Am I putting too much pressure on myself? Or is it that I just have to adjust to my new daily routine? Did I get complacent because it seemed like for a bit I was booking every two weeks? Or maybe I need a break--a real break, more than a few days--from all the acting stuff to get reenergized? I don't know. I don't actually want to take a break. I just want a project, even just a small one, to get the passion juices flowing again. Is it normal to feel this way sometimes when it comes to pursuing your dreams?

I'm not giving up, but at the moment I feel tired. I guess I have to remind myself that I have gone through this before. It's been awhile though so maybe I've forgotten how it felt and that everything turned out okay. It always does get back to normal somehow. So I am going to publish this post, go to sleep, and have faith that I will have something positive to report soon.

God Bless!!:)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Whole Month Without an Audition?!! Really?!

I realized last night that my last audition was about a month ago; 30 days to be exact. Luckily, I did get that part, but we are done filming. I am submitting like crazy as usual but no one is biting, which leaves me a lot of extra time to work on this blog. I have to do something to fulfill my creative side after all. This always seems to happen after I get new headshots. I get so excited that my new pics are way better than before and that means I will get more responses. It should work that way but let me tell you it doesn't always. The only thing I can do is stay confident that something will happen soon. In the mean time I have new footage I can add to my reel, I can find a showcase for a casting director I'd like to audition for, and I can practice monologues. It also gives me extra energy to focus on things that I sometimes forget I like; doing makeup for example. So until I get that next call or email I am going to choose to stay happy and focused. I will find other outlets for my creativity. I just hope I can stay this positive each day until I get one of those glorious responses. And I also hope that it is normal to sometimes go this long without getting called in for anything.

On Being Apart from My Family to Pursue Acting

One of the hardest things about pursuing your dream is that it often takes you far away from your family. I think this is the hardest sacrifice to make as an actor. Way harder than the financial burden on struggling artists. Now, I am very blessed that I have an amazing husband who supports me and loves me and he is my favorite person in the entire world to be with, but I miss my mom and dad and sister and brother and niece everyday. I get to see them on average twice a year. I always wish that they live a little closer to me (because obviously, I am not going back to VA). They are about an eight hour drive or train ride away from here. Which doesn't sound like much, but it is when you work AND have to be in town most of the time so that you don't miss an audition opportunity. A flight is only a couple hours, but usually costs around 400-600.00$ which I don't understand because it is much much cheaper for my husband to fly all the way to Florida to see his family. I cannot afford to pay that. I just can't. For those of you who move to a completely other country apart from your families, I admire you so much.

Of course, talking on the phone just doesn't cut it. I consider myself very close to my family, but I am just not a phone person. I don't know why. I always have trouble listening to the other person. Especially when I feel worn out from working all day. So, although I think I should call my mom every single day, it just doesn't happen. Because of that, I live for the week or two weeks a year I get to visit my family.

The problem is that as I am getting older, it gets harder and harder to say goodbye when my visit is over. The first time I moved out at the age of 20, I thought that saying goodbye would get easier with each trip. I couldn't have been more wrong. Each week I spend with them flies by so fast. My parents are getting older. My niece is pretty much growing up without me. I hate that. It breaks my heart. Sometimes, I even feel that I don't want to visit them because I know that the goodbye will be harder than it was the last time. I even regret starting this post because now I am starting to cry a little (I will be visiting them soon).

But as hard as it is to be away from family, I am right where I am meant to be and I am deeply fulfilled; deeply joyful (forgive me if that sounds too corny). As much as we love our families, sometimes our lives are meant to be lived apart from them. For those who are meant to live near your families, consider yourselves very blessed and lucky. Yes, I made the choice to leave Virginia and my family. Yes it is very hard, but I know if I stayed there in the long run I would be depressed, bored, and restless. I am so grateful that my entire family is supportive of my career and understands that I am where I am for a reason.

The only thing I can do is pray for a day when I can afford to visit them more often, and be thankful for and take in every moment I do get to spend with them. I love them so much.


Friday, February 22, 2013

An Aspiring Actress in Action: Links to My Work Edition One

In an effort for those who stumble upon this blog to get to know me better (also in an effort to cheer myself up since my only upcoming audition got canceled), I am gonna start posting links to my work every once in a while. If you do know me, you have probably seen these already, but feel free to watch again;) Please take a look and enjoy! Feel free to leave feedback and share links to your work as well.

I have two features that you can see me in currently. They are both psychological indie horror films by director Joe Ciminera:

The first is Acedia; Click here to go to the website and watch the film in full.

The second is Purification; which is currently streaming on Netflix. Click here to check out the website.

Here are the links to a couple of short films and a web-series you can catch me in:
"Diane"
"Silence"
Joe Ciminera Presents Ep 2 "Found Guilty"

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Acting Training Question

I touched on training and classes in  my previous blog and mentioned that I myself have had no formal acting training; meaning I have taken classes but have not studied in a conservatory or university program. I don't believe that I am in any position to give advice on this subject one way or the other, except to say that I don't believe it is needed for on-camera work. Today I came across a couple of articles that spoke to this topic and I wanted to share them. :)

From The Theatre Doc (his blog is great to follow if you haven't already): http://theatredoconacting.blogspot.com/2013/02/is-college-educatin-worth-money-for.html

From Backstage: http://www.backstage.com/advice-for-actors/backstage-experts/why-you-should-never-stop-playing-make-believe/




Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Basic Steps to Start Your Acting Career

I'm sure by now you've read blogs and articles and then more blogs about how acting is not the glamorous profession that you think it is. I'm sure you've read how you have to put in years of working without getting paid and that if you are in this business to be famous, then you are in the wrong business because only a tiny, tiny percentage of actors are well known. Well, all that is true. Pursuing a career in acting is a full time job all in itself. So along with the day job you will have to work in order to pay the bills, you will feel sometimes as if you are working two full time jobs. And if acting is the only work that really fulfills you, it will be very hard for you to enjoy working your survival job. (I have a great job doing makeup for a cosmetics line that I love, but the more acting I do, the less makeup artistry and selling satisfy me.)

Basically, the point is that all the articles you have read about acting are true. But there is hope. If everything you have heard about acting doesn't make you reconsider your choice to pursue it and you feel determined AND you are not afraid to invest a lot of money into it, then maybe you should go for it. Remember nothing is impossible. Meaning, some actors do make it big. Or at least are able to make their living from it even though they aren't famous. So why not you? (And why not me, for that matter?) So here is my version of the quintessential "getting started in acting" article. I think it is overwhelming to try to get started in this business. Heck, it feels overwhelming to write this post because there are so many things that need to be done and tips to share. But I feel there are a few basics that can get you started in the right direction. As always, I am bringing my personal perspective and experience to each step. I do not pretend to be a star (yet!) and yes, I do work still work a day job, but I have had some small successes in this business and I am not gonna give up!

Also, I want to quickly mention that you can begin no matter where you live. That way when it is time to move to a bigger city, which will probably eventually need to happen, you will be more prepared.

Step #1-Funding: I think the first thing you need to have is to have a day job that you enjoy. A job where you will be able to attend auditions (and look for auditions) and make enough money to pay for headshots, classes, casting sites, etc. A job where if you have to step away and check an email, return a call, or quickly check the latest casting notices, it won't be that big of deal. Acting is your business and requires your complete attention to make it work. Believe me, I try not to do anything to draw negative attention to myself at my survival job but if I need to check my email I will tell my co-workers and step away. I always remind myself that acting comes first. And by the way, having a good attitude goes a long way with your bosses. If you are always positive and have a good work ethic they are usually a little more flexible with you. So, at least pretend like you care. The bottom line is that you need to make enough money to take care of yourself (and family if need be) as well as enough to start your acting business.

The rest of the steps don't necessarily need to be done in any particular order, but they do need to be done in order for you to get a good start. Focusing on one or the other first will depend on your personal timing, comfort level, and budget. In general, I think the following steps can/should all be done around the same time if you are completely ready and absolutely itching to jump right into this career.

Step #2-Headshots: I was going to list finding a good class as number two but I'm going to put getting great headshots ahead of that and here's why: you can audition for many films without training and experience. Just look on Craigslist or Mandy.com. There are many filmmakers just getting started and will actually state in the ad that its okay if you don't have experience. In fact, some will state that they actually prefer no experience as they are learning as well. Some will even just require a regular picture not a pro headshot. These include student filmmakers and those who are experimenting with their first work. They just ask that you be professional and passionate. This way you can at least start auditioning, getting the hang of submitting to castings, making connections, start gaining experience on set, and building your resume. I also want to add that I don't think you have to spend a lot of money on your first set of headshots unless you really have the extra money. You can find deals on Craigslist. Just be sure to look at the photographer's website and google them to find any possible reviews. If you do find a class before you get your photos done your school can probably refer you to someone professional.

Along the same lines, I think getting business cards with your current headshot and contact info is a great idea. Use Vistaprint . It's easy, quick, and inexpensive. Order the glossy finish; to me it makes your cards look more professional and of a higher quality. Of course, keep it simple. Here's my current business card:


I don't think postcards are necessary quite yet. (And when you get them, I would get them at your print shop. I found Vistaprint a little confusing for these. Maybe you will understand how their design program works though, so you may want to try.) I think postcards are good once you have something specific (meaning a reel, a play, a new role, an update, etc) to show casting directors. Postcards are for building relationships with industry professionals AFTER you have met them at a workshop or audition.

Step #2b-Resume: Put together your resume. Nice. Neat. Don't lie. If you think you don't have anything worthy to list, I bet that's not true. Put any theater programs you took in school or any plays you did,even if they were part of a class. If you were stage manager or production assistant or even in the chorus, list it. Those things show that you have experience in the field at least. Put any plays you may have done in church. If you sung in the choir at church or school, list it. If you ever took dance, list it. Here is the link to my resume at NYCastings: Tiffany Browne-Tavarez Resume  (Focus on the format/content of the text, not the photos/video for the purpose of learning how to write your resume.)

If you really, really, really, have never done anything that's okay. Just make it look professional and make sure your contact info and physical stats are accurate. A decent headshot and a good cover letter will go a long way when submitting to castings. Once you have started taking classes, be sure to list them under training.

Step #3-Training/Classes: You definitely want to get into some classes or workshops with teachers that have good reputations. You can find something no matter what your price range is. I would even recommend taking a seminar that is geared towards helping actors get started in the biz. If you are in NYC, I know that often these types of seminars are free or low cost.

If you have time and want to spend money on a conservatory program and believe that that type of training is best for you then go for it. You will be able to learn technique, character development, and scene breakdown. If you have never tried acting on any level, maybe this is the way to go. I personally did not take this route so I cannot say anything for or against it. But to me, I think when you are just getting started you should take more affordable classes until you have a clear idea of what you want. And I don't really believe that for film or commercials (especially commercials) you need conservatory training. For theater, yes, because that is the first thing that casting looks at. But for camera work you can find shorter classes that get straight to the point and allow you to just act and learn without over complicating things. You can find classes that are only one-three weeks in length or classes that are 8-12 weeks in length. You can take classes at studios where there are many teachers, or you can take different classes all taught by the same coach. Again it depends on your needs and what is gonna make YOU a better more fulfilled actor.

The best thing you can do is audit classes that you are interested in. Many coaches offer free seminars and classes to promote their teaching. When I took a few classes at Terry Schreiber Studios in NYC--which is a studio I would highly recommend--there was a free meet and greet with the teachers before you chose which classes you wanted to sign up for. Also try to look for instructors who have actual acting experience. If they are currently still acting, even better.

My Training History: I have relatively little training considering how long I have lived in the NYC area and how long I have been acting. I was in the Theatre program in high school and I did plays for class. Then I started doing community theater. All that went on my resume. When I moved to New York, I started with background work. And yes, I listed it on my resume until I got speaking roles. My first speaking role on camera was one line in a trailer that I never saw and have no idea what happened to it. My second on camera part was in a silent student film, and once again I never heard anything about it after filming. I have built up my resume, experience, and connections little by little. I have taken a few classes since moving to New York, but mostly my talent has been honed on set or at home studying my characters. Honestly--and I'm not necessarily proud of this--I am not usually enrolled in a class. Maybe my way is unconventional and maybe it takes more time than intensive studying. Or maybe I'm on to something here. I really don't know. But it works for me. I do believe in continued classes and coaching, in fact there is a class starting in March that I am hoping to take. But I think being on set is more important. Actually, several times I have decided to take certain classes only to be cast in a part that would keep me from attending. I mean, what's a girl to do? Decide for yourself what is right!! And remember, I did at least have a substantial background in theatre when I moved here.

Step #4-Get Experience: Start submitting and auditioning!! Audition for everything including student films. It's free to search Craigslist and Mandy.com. In fact, Mandy.com is not only free to search, but you can upload your headshot and resume and submit directly to the projects listed on the site for free as well. Another free casting site--at least for basic membership--is Talent Pages. Build your experience by using these sites. When you are ready, then you can pay the fees to join Actors Access, NYCastings, and/or Casting Networks.

Along the same lines, try to get on set somehow even if that means starting out with background work. You shouldn't list background work on your resume unless you have no other on camera experience whatsoever. Until you get speaking roles at least this will show you have been on set. But be honest and make it clear on your resume that you were an extra and don't try to exaggerate it. Once you start getting even one line roles in even student films take off the background work. And when working as background, pay attention to EVERYTHING!! If you are able to, watch the principle actors. Learn the lingo and the roles of each crew member. Learn about marks and lighting and sound. Take it all in. The set itself and how the shot is carefully created is one of the most exciting things about this business.

Step #5-Get Good: Work on your craft at home. Find monologues, screenplays, plays, commercial copy and practice them. Practice them different ways. Practice them in front of the mirror. Record yourself on your phone or webcam performing something and then watch it back. Learn what you do well and what habits show up too much on camera and may need to change. If you are brave enough yet, post your videos online and get feedback.

So, to me those are the main actions you need to take in order to get started in acting. But before I end this post I want to give a few tips to ponder that will help carry you through each phase of your career.

BIG Tip #1: If you are just beginning, don't worry about trying to get an agent or joining the union. Just get experience and build your connections.

BIG Tip#2: Use everything you learn to your advantage but at the same time find your own path.

BIG Tip #3: Don't compare yourself to any other actor. And don't compare your career to any other actor's either. I know this is easier said than done and we all struggle with it from time to time (yes, I'm guilty okay!), but when it happens check it quickly so you don't lose focus.

BIG Tip #4 : Just be your charming self when meeting with industry professionals.

BIG Tip #5: DON'T GIVE UP!! Of course, if this is what you really want no one should have to tell you that. Because if this is what you really want then you will never care what any one else thinks. You will chase this dream no matter what; whether you eventually catch it or chase it your whole life. If this is what you really want, you will not put any limits on pursuing it. Meaning you will not say "if I don't get an audition in a few months, I will go back to what I really went to school for," or "if I don't make it by the time I'm 36 years old, I will give up." Don't get me wrong, I understand that dreams may change as we age, and I also think that some dreams we have may never be fulfilled. You may even have to sacrifice one dream to obtain another. So always listen to God, follow your heart, and choose wisely.

Well, that's it. Those are the basic steps (according to me anyways) to take in order to get started in an acting career. Once you start to gain experience, if you remain consistent, you will naturally add in steps like branding yourself, attending industry showcases, utilizing social media, getting postcards, and forming a reel just to name a few. But at the very beginning you don't need to get caught up in or worry about not having those things.

After reading this post, I hope you are feeling encouraged and not overwhelmed. I hope that if acting is your one true passion you will be able to put some of these steps into action and I wish you the best. If you think I left any thing out, or you want to share something from your journey, please leave a comment. Thanks so much for reading!!!:)