"The label you give yourself cannot impact external forces that are not motivated by your own psychology or influenced by a third party's pre-existing consciousness of you. We are all presented with reasons to struggle which come from completely external forces; to pretend that one is not struggling is either arrogance or an admission of defeat. To admit that one is struggling is a sign and a source of strength." - Evan A. Baker

Thursday, May 4, 2017

So True

"Los Angeles isn’t a city that will make you. Los Angeles is a city where you will work if you can survive a very slow climb and outlast confidence-shattering lulls." - Cameron Esposito

Read the full article here.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

How to Audition for the CBS Diversity Sketch Showcase

So last year, I submitted a sketch I wrote to a group looking for Diverse sketches to perform at iO West. Mine got accepted and it was performed. One of the actors wrote me and said, "Hey, you should submit a sketch package to become a writer for the CBS Diversity Sketch Showcase."

Since I had two sketches I liked very much and felt highlighted diversity and inclusion, I sent in my materials. I got in!

And as a writer, I got to see the auditions of the actors who got into the program, and I want to share some information I learned.

This is Completely Unauthorized!!!

Full disclosure: I could be completely wrong about this. I could even recommend things that will not work for you personally.

But the program is AMAZING for actors and the Diversity team at CBS doesn't just launch you in a show and then say buh-bye; they actually really care about you as an actor. Your success is their success. And those (mainly women) in charge of the program know their shit.

So, if you want the VP of Casting at CBS and the Diversity program directors on your side rooting for you (and you do; they're super lovely people!) Read on. (understanding that my advice is most likely garbage.)

1) If You Auditioned Before and Failed Hard, They Won't Remember. 
They audition over 2,000 actors of color, those who identify as LGBT, and those with disabilities, and they will remember you if you are GOOD. If you had a great audition last year, I guarantee they will be happy to see you audition again. So if you've already done it and thought, nah, there's no way they'll have me come in again, submit anyway! We had, I don't know, like 15 actors who had auditioned for the showcase the year before? And most everyone had auditioned already in the past.

This is tricky because I know the audition is basically like, 'come in with three characters' or whatever it is, and it's like, characters doing what? Characters doing funny bits. Write some funny jokes into your monologues. Come up with something familiar but original. One actor said, "Here's my impression of Aladdin, but he's really afraid of heights." He started singing, "I can show you the--world--" and then he looked down at his 'carpet' and said, "Wow." And he built his fear of heights  into the next line, and we all thought it was hilarious. So put jokes into all your characters.

3) If you Sing and Dance, DO THAT too!
For the love of God, show off what makes you shine! But! Don't just sing a song, write a PARODY of 16 bars of a song. Love Hairspray? Can you absolutely kill the song "Can't Stop the Beat?" "This is my impression of Tracy Turnblad if she was a vegetarian," And then you sing the song as if it was "Can't Eat the Meat." (I wrote that sketch, btw, so...you know, don't steal that.)

If you Dance, take some time to DANCE! They love actors, they love singers, but they absolutely freaking love Triple Threats! For, um, obvious reasons.

If you don't dance, but you do Martial Arts or Gymnastics, or something along those lines, USE That in a character sketch! Find a reason why a character would do a handstand or roundoff or whatever, and implement it. (and have a backup character in case you don't feel comfortable in the audition space cause there's less room than you thought, but DO mention you have these skills!)

4) Especially if You're a Person of Color, Do An Accent!
Maybe your Tia Gloria is hilarious, maybe Uncle Asad says words a funny way. USE THEM. Throw in some jokes about something and DO ACCENTS.

And I hear you, Aziz, you don't want to do accents, but you're showing the big higher ups at a frikkin Network that not only can you play American, you can also play other Nationalities. You can give the writers of the show something to work with. For instance, two of our actors were of Puerto Rican decent who could do the accents, and one of the writers loved West Side Story, so boom! A Maria and Bernardo sketch was born. What it basically translates to, is the VP of Casting thinking, "Oh! I know we have a show where we could put that person in!" And I'm fairly confident she's making calls like that on the actors' behalf. Make her job easy for her.

The accent can also be American Decade specific. For instance, see, if you know you're the bees knees at speaking in a 1920's radio lit, DO IT! 70's Blacksploitation? DO IT!

If you can do impressions, the Board seems to love those too. Like, if you can do a killer Ivanka Trump, don't just say, "Hello, I'm Ivanka Trump," you gotta make a joke. Like, "My father said if we weren't related, he'd probably be dating me. And he's right. If I was an 18 year old immigrant desperate for money with a penchant for blowing micro-dicks, I'd be dating him too!"

(Also, sidenote, if you're a white LGBT performer, the Board LOVES white trash characters. I'm not sure why, but they do. Go with that?)

5) Use the Space!
If you're not doing a little dance for them, try to find a reason for a character to be a bit physical. One actress had one of those Scared Straight characters, so she used the space and a bizarre physicality to get into character.

6) Don't be Married to the Time Limit
I'm pretty sure they even say in all caps that they'll cut you off after a minute or something incredibly short like that, but I'll tell you a secret about time limits that I learned in college, and is most likely very true here, If you're funny and good, they'll let you keep going. Now, they probably won't let you go too much longer after that, but know if they're laughing, they're listening, and wanting more.

7) Be Taking Improv and Sketch Classes NOW
You want to have good skills? You want to work with people who are already in the improv and sketch world who already know you and love working with you? Get into those iO West, UCB, Groundlings classes NOW.

8) Already Be Doing Cool Shit!
It is extremely helpful to already have a ton of followers on a social media channel. It is extremely helpful to have a shit ton of videos up on YouTube and Instagram. It is extremely helpful to already know how to write sketches because....

9) You Can Write for Yourself
Four actors wrote sketches for themselves that made it into Showcase. Those people got to meet with execs of other networks just for a general because everyone is looking for the next Aziz and Mindy and Issa. You could be next too. Actor/Writer Lucas Hazlett of the 2016 Showcase sold a show to a network, and he's starring in a pilot coming out later this year. Be the future's Lucas Hazlett. (He's also super supportive and came in and made friends with all of us and watched most of our rehearsals. Offered advice and guidance and any type of emotional support we needed. Seriously, be like him. He's wonderful.)

And all of the above advice I give you is because I realized the following, most important aspect of Showcase:

10) They Want to Feel like THEY discovered YOU.
So that means you are effing READY TO GO. You've had the training, you've taken the classes, you've booked some good things already, you know how to write for yourself, you know who you are, you are funny, you are likable, and (most importantly) you are KIND.

Their entire purpose and reason for the Diversity Showcase is to show the rest of LA that they went out and discovered the next superstars. So be that already. Make their job easy for them.

So there you go. I hope this list is extremely helpful. If you get in, you will be a part of a 70 person family, with 10 people at a Network seriously invested in helping you get to the top level.

If you don't make it at this year's auditions, keep applying. You want to be in this show.


The 2017 CBS Diversity Sketch Showcase Writers and Actors

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Best Monologue Book for Women Ever

Now, obviously, I'm a bit biased, but I do strongly believe that this book is superior to the other monologue books on the market because this one directs you on how to perform each piece!

That's right! This book shows you where the emotional 180s are, suggests several different beats to play, and teaches you how to give your performance incredible depth.

Whether you're a high school student or a seasoned actress, this book is going to save you time and money AND help you learn how to make the monologues in your other books so much better too!

This is the book I wish I had.

So much so,
That this is the book I wrote for you.

Break the Rules and Get the Part: Thirty Monologues for Women not only teaches how and why to break the outdated rules you were taught, but unlike other "story monologues," each one-minute monologue in this book is written with a clearly defined active and emotional arc in the present. Each comedic, serio-comedic, and dramatic monologue is followed by Helpful Direction: key points that highlight character objectives and intents, several ideas on which emotions to hit, and how and where to hit them, and multiple comedic and dramatic suggestions that heighten an actor's individuality and personal essence. 

And let me know what you think!

So much love,


Thursday, August 11, 2016


My whole life, I have been searching for validation. We all do.

But I'm not just an actress; I'm also a writer! That's a lifetime of constantly wondering, "Am I really any good at this?"

I was at a self-tape studio a few weeks ago and the owner asked how I knew my friend who referred me to him. "Oh, I met her in an acting class years ago, and after class ended that night, I went up to her and said 'I want to be as good as you are!' and instead of being creeped out, she was flattered! We've been friends ever since!"

He nodded, "You ARE as good as she is."

Whoa. Cause, she's really, really good. "Thank you!" I said.

He continued, "Where you are now; you know the craft. You know it. You now have to no longer think of yourself as an actress, but as an artist. You're an artist."

I inhaled as deeply as I could. "I will never, ever forget that," I told him, tears welling. Validation!

With writing...

Why did I feel like I couldn't? Why did I feel like I still mostly didn't know what I was doing? That I wasn't "really" a writer? I was 13 with my first writing gig as a columnist for our city-wide teen newspaper. I've been writing for years!

Where did my confidence go? Why did it go anywhere? Why did my struggles with one career bleed into the other?

But I wrote a book. And refined it. And made it better. Switched some things around, added more, added more, refined.

And I thought....you know what? I think this is GOOD. And if there was ever a time to fucking try something, then it was to see just what would happen if I sent it out to publishers. And that meant learning how to write a query letter, and learning how to create a book proposal. Which I did. (Thanks Studio City Library!)
Extremely Helpful!
I sent out my queries. Sure, I was writing an Original Monologue book, something no publishers had published in the last several years, and sure, the only Original Monologue books I could find on Amazon were all self-published. That was my original intention anyway.

But like I said, I thought my book was GOOD.

So off my queries went, into the electronic world of 0s and 1s, knowing full well I was going to focus on other things, and then figure out how to format my manuscript for self-publishing on Amazon a few months later.

And then, craziness:

Fifty percent of the publishers I submitted to said, "You're right. This IS GOOD. We know it will make us money."

I called my husband and read him the email from the first publisher saying they wanted to publish it. I choked up and cried.


May your hearts all feel as full as mine right now.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Whole Point

I'm still getting used to the blonde. Isn't that silly? Almost six months in and I still catch myself and go Whoa!

I did a play. In Studio City. I was the female lead with my own bow. We got standing ovations. Patrons waited outside, people I didn't know, to compliment me, to tell me how much I affected them.

I'm almost done writing a book. I'm currently researching how to write non-fiction query letters. You know what's exciting and terrifying? That! But it shouldn't be scary, because even if no one picks it up, I can always self publish. Like I've been doing here.

I'm in development for a web series with a story that makes my heart break in several pieces, but I still think is going to be funny in its poignancy. I even have an actor who recurs on Silicon Valley say he'll play the lead's Husband should his schedule allow.

I received an email from Marco thanking me for this blog, thanking me for sharing the ups as well as the downs, because that's what this actor life freaking is, you know? And that he hopes I'll continue to write it.

Well, Marco, thank YOU. Thank you for reminding me we're all in this together, that it takes a village, that it takes a community, and that we need it to thrive.

So the above were and are my ups. I do have one big down: My pregnancy ended at 8 weeks. I told very few people about it as I was shrouded in guilt and shame and the after effects when a uterus sheds its contents. Sometimes I want to talk about it, sometimes I want to keep it a secret. Sometimes I don't know if anyone else can understand mourning and relief and how they can be separate but together, like the white doily backing of a red valentine. Sometimes I think about the life that almost was, but isn't.

And I'll think back to what my Lady of Awesome told me after I told her; that when she was younger, she was taken to a psychic for fun, and the woman told her that she would have three children, 'Maybe not children, per se, but three things that you will give birth to.' Ideas into Things. And how that was the absolute best response to what I went through. How I cried in relief over that.

Ideas into Things.

Because, isn't that the whole point of why we keep doing what we do?

Keep on doing it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Giant Dipper

I remember being a small girl, holding my dad's hand as we sized up the Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, one of the biggest all wooden roller coasters in the state. I was finally tall enough to ride, and I remember the way the coaster would dip and then roll back up, giving me that adrenaline inducing dropped stomach feeling. It was scary in the beginning, but I remember loving it, loving the hills and valleys, and at the end, feeling so energized. I was wind-blown with wet eyes, and I wanted to ride it again.

2015 hurt me. 2014 hurt me too. I had a year and a half of being so frustrated with not booking, with not being able to find part time work that gave me joy, with my artistic creative self not creating anything of import. I pretty much stopped writing. I pretty much stopped caring. I pretty much stopped being happy.

But man, I hid it. I hid it so extremely well. I was such a master at hiding it, I convinced myself that everything was fine. I mean, sure, some friends knew I was frustrated, but they didn't know the deep self-loathing I was dealing with because I was fucking smiling and making jokes throughout it all.

I didn't even know I was depressed myself.

Not until my husband sat me down and told me, with tears on his face, that he didn't know how to help me. That I wasn't creating anything for myself, and that he knew I was miserable, and what could he do to assist me?

He told me he was terrified I'd be angry at him. That I would be hurt, defensive.

Instead, I was shocked.

I was miserable?

I was miserable!


And more than anything, I wanted my husband to be proud of me, but the past year and a half, I didn't have anything I was proud of myself.

And that had to change.

There are several things I've got going on now, several things I'm excited to announce over the next few months, one of them requiring a huge change to my appearance.

I love this photo over here. I shared it on Facebook on Dec 25th.

After a year and a half of feeling trapped, stuck, in a tight space that no longer fit me, that made my entire body ache, I find myself bursting through a cocoon.

It's the roller coaster all over again. I had my valleys, but I'm on the upswing. My stomach dropped. I'm having fun again.

2016 IS a year of magnificent transformation already because, guess what?

I'm blonde now.

My eyes are wet and my hair is windblown.

I want to ride life again.

I hope you do too.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

How to Drive in the Rain in LA


Ha Ha! Okay, sometimes you have no choice. Sometimes you have to drive from the valley to Santa Monica at 3:30 in the rain. You can pretty much guess that this commute in dry weather takes about an hour and 20 minutes now, due to the road work on Sepulveda (why do I keep taking Sepulveda?!), but if it is raining, seriously, estimate another hour into your drive time.

I know, I know, but there's something Angelenos love to yell at one another while driving in the rain:

"It's Just WATER!!!"

To these distinguished gentlemen with their fingers extended, I would like to say, "Yes it is just water. Under a layer of oil."

When it rains in LA, you can be pretty sure that it is after several weeks of sunshine and possibly a wonderful heatwave of 80 degree temps in January.

The oils in the freeway are from cars slowly dripping them, and there are a lot of cars on the freeways at all times.

Fresh rainwater mixed with oil on the freeways make it very dangerous. It's not just water, dear sir, it's automobile salad dressing!

So if you're driving on the 101 in the rain, and you're at that part near Hollywood where the speed limit drops down to 55, really actually drive that slow, okay?

And when you're on side streets, and it's raining, and there are pedestrians waiting to cross, give em a break and let them pass. Like, if you're at the Target parking lot, even, these poor people are getting wet wile you're in your car, dry, with the heat turned on. Do em a solid and let them get to the store and their cars quickly.

Also, use your horn less. Your horn is loud. Really loud. And pedestrians, who are already wet and cold and irritated, have to listen to the eardrum busting blast. It's maddening. So if you can give the guy in front of you a full THREE SECONDS to look up and notice that the light is green (as opposed to the point three seconds we seem to give our fellow drivers) everyone will be happier. It's just nice.

If your car is not compact, do not park in a compact spot.

And remember, they are called blind spots for a reason. If someone changed lanes and cut you off, do not go ballistic on them. They probably honestly did not see you. They're not called on-purposes; they're called accidents. Try not to drive in anyone's blind spot. And if someone does something completely stupid, try to let it go. I know it's hard but retaliation is dangerous, no matter how awesome it may feel while you're doing it.

Don't tailgate. And if someone is tailgating you and you can move into another lane, do it. Douchnozzles also carry driver's licenses, no matter how unfair. If you can't get into another lane, you can do what I do (and it's rather effective!): I take my foot off the brake very slowly, so I'm slowing down a pinch, and I put my hazard lights on. That makes Douchnozzle believe something is wrong with my car, so he'll get into another lane to avoid being behind me.  Try it!

We have this entitlement in LA, where we believe if we are in a lane, that lane is now ours and no one else's! I spoke to a friend who learned how to drive in LA as a 15 year old, and her instructor told her to not even put on her blinkers until she was halfway through the lane already because otherwise, people will speed up to keep you from having a safe amount of distance to change lanes.
So, give people a break. Let them come into your lane. It's okay. Sharing is caring.

Be safe out there. Be friendly, be cautious, be awesome.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Helping Actors Build Tools For Today's Workforce

Have you guys heard of The Actors Fund? Nope? Me neither. So when a friend forwarded me a link
to check them out, of course I had to.

The Actors Fund was created back before tabloid magazines and society newspaper pages created actor celebrities. Actors were lowlifes; just as bad as gypsies, tramps, and thieves, and when they died, no one wanted to bury them in sacred grounds, cause, again, ewww! Actors. Gross. Also, they were usually broke (doing 99 seat theatre in LA? KIDDING), so they died with no money.

The Actors Fund was created to help bury the dead. And once it got going, people thought, you know, maybe we can help actors when they're alive too!

And they have, and they do, and they will continue to do so. They're a non-profit, not affiliated with Sag-Aftra, but have their offices in the Sag-Aftra building. Also - you don't have to be union to take advantage of their workshops - you don't even have to be an actor! You could have ANY JOB in the entertainment business - you could be a photographer, dancer, camera operator, editor, producer, stage manager, light board operator, etc. etc. etc.

Right, but what do they do? They help you get your materials current for today's workforce, for parallel and side jobs, and career changes.

They describe parallel jobs as jobs you work alongside your acting career, that also fulfills you. Side jobs are the jobs you do for the money as opposed to your passion, and they even have 'Oh Crap! Rent is due tomorrow and I need another hundred bucks!" emergency jobs. And maybe you're a person whose interests in the entertainment field has waned or dwindled, and you find other industries more exciting.

The Actors Fund has workshops! GOOD ones! VALUABLE ones! They have a Career Assessment workshop which helps you narrow down your skills, passions, and personality type, and which type of job suits your schedule, lifestyle, and desired pay. They have Resume Writing workshops, which I thought, pssh, I don't need, and was taken aback with how small tweaks majorly increased my value as a prospective employee.

Job Search strategies help you find jobs opportunities on websites that aren't Craig's List; jobs with benefits and salaries and reputable employers!

There's an Art of Interviewing workshop as well, that preps you on how to sell yourself in a positive light, and highlight your creative mind and skills.

These workshops are amazing. And best of all: THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY FREE.

You must attend an Orientation that describes their background, how they can help, how they've helped, and how they'll help you, and after your first workshop, you can sign up for their job newsletter that comes out every Friday with jobs that are especially suited for those in the Entertainment world.

Orientations are EVERY Monday from 1-2:30 in the Sag-Aftra building on Wilshire, and Sag-Aftra will validate your parking.

I highly recommend you check The Actors Fund out. Take a friend. Take advantage. It's a group that was created to help all of us.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Getting to the Top

Jameshia asks:

I currently do not have a demo reel, but do you think I could upload a video of me performing a monologue to help my submission to be put at the "top of the pile"??
As I've mentioned before, adding a video to your Actors Access profile filters your profile to the top of the pile when casting looks at their submissions. When you consider over a thousand people will submit themselves for one role, it's a good idea to have video attached.

And good news, Jameshia, you can definitely upload a video of yourself! In fact, there's several ways you can do it:

The Easiest: Grab a friend and have them use their phone in landscape mode to record you doing ANY skill. Do you dance? Play guitar? Sing? Show off what you want in 30-60 seconds and upload it. Boom! Done!

The Moderate Level: Again, have your friend use their phone (or even better, DSLR camera in video mode) to record yourself performing a monologue.

The More Advanced: Have your two friends use their phones and your phone, set up three different angles, (one of you, one of your scene partner, and one of the wide - the both of you) and record yourself performing your monologue. Intercut the three videos so that you establish the both of you in the wide, and then focus on your performance, while cutting back to your friend listening/reacting to you. Now, you don't just have a monologue, you had a scene. It will look more produced, more professional, and could help you casting clicks on your video to watch it. Not only that, but now you have something you can show agents if you're looking for one and they ask you for some tape.

I hope this helps. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

You Need a Car. And Insurance.

People who have never been to LA have no idea what it's like. (Duh. What a dumb sentence. But stay with me here.) LA is unlike any other major city you've ever been to.

Most great cities like DC and NYC and SF have FANTASTIC public transportation. LA does not. This is a city you NEED a car in.

A Hawaiian sent in this question:

I am planning to move to Los Angeles but I heard that you can't really get around without a car and the second is that all newbie actors should live in Studio City because that is where the studios and casting agents are but I don't want to live that far from Downtown/Westside of Los Angeles my question is are both of those beliefs about Los Angeles true.

You really can't get around without a car. I mean, you CAN, but it's extremely difficult. And what if you get 3 auditions in one day? Your first one is in Santa Monica, the second is in North Hollywood, and the third is Mid-City, THEN, you have to get to your job in Studio City. Allll by bus. And there's a concert at the Hollywood Bowl. WHAT DO YOU DO?!

The problem is, none of the above means anything to you, because you've never been here. You're from Hawaii, where rush hour is non-existent. Most mainland cities with rush hours mean that the freeways are 20-30mph from 6-9am and 4-7pm. But here in LA, the only time the freeways aren't stop and go are random times. 2pm on a Sunday? Stop and Go. If you're also at the mercy of our pathetic public transportation, you're screwed. You need a car.

I live in Studio City. There's Universal Studios and CBS Radford here in town. Next door in Burbank is the WB and the Burbank Studios. But there's also studios in every other part of town. And commercial casting? They're everywhere except Downtown.

And Downtown and the Westside are not next door neighbors. That's like me saying I want to live in Kaanapali so I can bike to work in Oahu.

The problem here is that you didn't do your research, and you're listening to other people who have either lived here ages ago, or have never lived here. 

Read the blog. You need a car and at LEAST 10 grand to move here. And that money goes by with your first month's rent and deposit very, very quickly.

Go to losangeles.craigslist.org and look at apartments in your price range. Check out a map or any other gazillion articles on the web about wanting to move to LA. LA is a city with a 30 mile radius. It's HUGE.

If you can, I would strongly recommend coming out here with a friend to visit for a week. There's plenty of hostels and you can get an idea of what the city is like, what the people are like, and if this is the right place for you.

Good luck!