"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, August 11, 2016

Validation

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.

Validation.

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!

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

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.

xo




Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How to Talk to a Schizophrenic

I once cast a movie where the mother of the lead was a schizophrenic. A lot of women came in and played "crazy," but when you are playing a character who is mentally unstable, keep in mind that to the character, he or she is not crazy, everyone else is. I went to the lobby where the actresses were going over their lines and I tried to illustrate what the experience is like. "Imagine this character told you that the sky is not blue, but pink. She sees pink. She's not crazy. She knows what she sees is right, is real. Just like how you know what you see is right and real. Make your blue sky pink." The difference in the performances were incredible.

My mother is schizophrenic. She hears voices. She believes things that are not true. And I've found the best way to deal with her is to not argue. I go along with it. Because arguing with her, telling her that what she believes isn't true and never has been, causes her to worry that I'm one of them. I don't know who they are, but I would rather not upset her. Yes, the sky is pink. And such a lovely shade today.

My mother wrote the songs "Jolene," "Muskrat Love," and a few other other hits that went gold shortly after they were released. We have cousins who are Native American with the surname of Lightfeather. The weather was cool and crisp today and you could see pink sky for miles. I tell Mom I love her songs. To give Sally Lightfeather my regards the next time they talk. That the sky looks like a Valentine.

My mother was in the hospital the other day. She had a fever and felt dizzy, but she believes she can't afford to go to the hospital because she has no insurance. The caretakers whispered to the paramedics, "Tell her it's free, or she won't go," and they did. She went.

She is fine when I got there. I go to her room, knock lightly hoping not to startle her, but when she sees me, she still jumps. "I thought they forbid you to come," she said. "They said it was okay this time," I said, and sat down asking her how she felt.

"I can't go back to that place. They don't like me there. I'm going to die."
"We pay them to like you. They like you plenty. You're not going to die. You'll go back and everything is going to be okay."
"I'm going to die."
"I don't think you will. But if I'm wrong, do you have any last words to say to me or Keith or Vanessa?"
"Yes."
"What?"
"Goodbye."

Maybe it's because she wants to die and has been waiting for it for the last 15 years, that she is not afraid. It is matter of fact. And her last words to me and my siblings is merely, "goodbye." I laugh.
"That's it?" I ask, "Do you want me to throw in an 'I love you,'?"
"I don't love them. I don't love you. I like them. I like you. But I don't love any of you."
"So, when I was born, they said, 'Congratulations! It's a girl!' and you replied, 'Meh'?"
I am laughing. She is laughing.

This is how you say, "I know you're sick. I know you did once love me, as much as I loved you."

This is how you say, "I'm glad you're feeling better. I'm glad you're not in pain."

This is how you say, "Yes, the sky is pink. Almost magenta. And it is the most beautiful I have ever seen it."

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

How to Drive in the Rain in LA

Don't.


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!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Seeking Hair Models!

You know what I love about hair modeling? I don't have to go to the go-sees if I'm busy or if I just don't want to. Love that.

I also love that the master hair stylists, usually the top of their field at their company, and usually in the nation will work within my parameters.
"Will you do a keratin straightening that lasts for 60 shampoos?" "Nope!" "Okay, we'll book you for curly hair, then."

You know what I love most, though?

GETTING PAID TO GET MY HAIR DONE.

And my hair modeling agent is looking for new models!

Find my email over there on the side ----->
(that should be easy enough) and send me a LINK to your current hottest looking self (selfies are okay for current hair color/length) and a LINK to your professional headshot with your
age, location, height, weight, dress size, current hair color, eye color.

I'll forward it to my agent and if she likes your look, I'll give you her direct number. You tell her I'm the one who referred you so she'll take your call and boom! You might just have a hair model agent!

What is she looking for?

5'6 & TALLER, 0-6 DRESS, AGE RANGE: 18-28.
NO WEAVES, EXTENSIONS, OR RELAXERS. AT LEAST FOUR INCHES OF HAIR. Los Angeles/Long Beach area only.

Do you have a pixie haircut and think you don't have enough hair? Wrong! Most models don't ever want to go supershort, so if you already have short hair, chances are you'll book.

Have super long hair you don't want cut? Some of these casting calls are for styling only and they need long hair and won't cut yours!

Want to make a couple hundred bucks every once in a while within your haircut/color limitations? Just let me know! 

Good luck!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Oh, Canada!

Canada is one of my favorite places to visit. Butchart Gardens is so nice, I visited twice! Canadians are incredibly friendly, the streets are super clean, and I can still remember the twinkling Christmas lights reflecting in the water in Calgary. Also - the drinking age is 19!

But sometimes, you know, the grass is greener in California during a major drought. Or something. Keep reading.

Hi Lira,

I discovered your blog today and have been binge-reading you for the last 3 hours:) 

I really like your down to earth attitude about this business and feel that I share your zeal and no-nonsense way of thinking and offering advice.

When I moved to Vancouver, BC 3 years ago to go to acting school I was oh-so-green and didn't know a thing about the business. As I've been learning and had a few small roles I have been itching for more. (Not to mention actually getting acceptable amounts of Vitamin D which this rain-forest of a place can't provide for 90% of the year)

For the last year or so I've been seriously craving a move to California (been there twice already) and I've been googling until my fingers hurt but it is so darn convoluted as to the steps and processes to get there. (I like lining everything up into steps and attacking them one by one)

When I asked my agent I felt she wasn't too thrilled with the idea and assumed I was like ever other 'hollywood hopeful' but even with all my explaining, I kept getting the same answers "you need a bigger resume," "Many people try and even if they have agents don't make it."

While I accept that this is true for the greater majority I refuse to let it get me down and stop me from giving it my darndest.

That was essentially my long way of asking if you know any Canadians who have successfully crossed the border and been allowed to stay or if you know anything about the process yourself. 

I'm a bulldog when it comes to things I want and I am committed to making this happen even if it takes years and mounds of paperwork. I will do it and I will do it legally damn it!
Sincerely, someone who really wants to be in America:)

Alicia
Hi Alicia! Thanks for all your sweet words!

And here's my opinion on what's going on:
You want to get out here to get more work. Unfortunately, to do that, you need a visa, and a company that will sponsor you, and more and more things I'm not even going to pretend I know.

What you're basically saying is that you want to be a teeeeeeeeeeeeny tiny fish in the biggest pond in the world.

So I'm going to parrot back what your agent is saying: Don't. And read this for more backstory.

Don't come out here until your resume is much, much bigger, and you're getting flown down here for roles. Establish yourself as a very good actress first. The LA roles will come later. In the meantime, be creative, write and film stuff for yourself, and appreciate everything you have up there. We'll see you soon enough. Even though it might not feel like it, and you don't want to hear me say this, you have Plenty of Time to work up there and come down here later. When your resume is bigger, better, longer, your current agent can call LA agents and get you hooked up that way. It's easier all around if you wait until you're a big fish.

See you in a few years! :)