"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

Friday, December 31, 2010

Best Fan Mail Ever

This email just made my 2010!

From: Paul
To: Lira

Don't take this the wrong way but I just sat and watched the haunting of winchester house on netflix. it was so bad i had to google it for reviews and came across your blog. i know you didn't write it and most likely are a nice person and good actress but wow that was just so bad. thank you for letting me vent. i feel a bit better now.

And my response:


I COMPLETELY agree! I wish I could give you your money back!

Hopefully you'll see me in something better soon.

Happy New Year!
Lira :)

Happy New Year Everyone! May your 2011 be your Best Year Yet!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Deja Lu

Funny thing about my name: It's misspelled.

My Dad has two versions of the Why I Named You Something You'll Have to Repeat and Spell for Everyone story.

Version 1) He loves astronomy. Lyra is a constellation. Lyra, (pronounced LEER-rah, no matter what movies with Nicole Kidman tell you otherwise) has a very feminine and pretty ring to it. He names me that, swearing it was spelled with an i.

Version 2) He has a little sister named Lori. My mom has a little sister named Sira. He combines the two out of love and respect to create Lira. He names me that.

Why two versions? Who cares. I'm sure 2 helped inspire 1 or vice versa. Either way, it's incredibly lovely and I know my father, who takes FIFTEEN minutes to find the PERFECT BIRTHDAY CARD at Hallmark, probably took the entire nine months I was gestating in the womb to settle on my name, thus insuring naming perfection.

Oh, you cruel, ironic world.

The Love of My Life is first generation American. His parents came from Italy. I am taking his last name when we marry so that my name will literally translate in Italian to:
Twelve Former Monetary Units of Italy.

And that's not all!

Lira, in French means "going to read," in the third person. As in, Claudette lira le livre. Or, if I were Claudette, "Lira lira le livre."


Which brings me to the point of this entire post:

I am now reading a book I borrowed from the library an accidental second time. For the second time! That's right, This is the second time I am reading a book I've already read! Deja Lu!

So I am asking for your book recommendations. I need them. I want them. I have to have them!

What have been your favorite books this year?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy New Year!

The new year creates panic in every Struggling Actress. Everything we thought we could do this year, we didn't or couldn't afford, and we badly want/need/havetohave new representation so that we can at least get some freakin auditions! Every Struggling Actress right now is prepping her headshots and streamlining her resume so she can submit to new agencies for the new year.

Want to know the worst time to mail headshot submissions?

The new year.

Agents are back from vacation and dealing with their emails, the new slew of pilot breakdowns, and already have their rosters filled with new talent and they're not taking anyone new on. How do I know this? Cause I've submitted in Jan and February twice and got nothing. (who knows, though. I'm not you. I could be wrong here...)

Feels pretty bleak, right? Another year, another pilot season missed.


If you're submitting yourself on Actors Access, you know there are a ton of webseries and indie films casting in January. When "everyone else" is having the pilot season of their lives, the real every one else knows January and February (and March) are dead to them and it's the exact right time to start fresh.

Join Model Mayhem. It's a myspace of photographers, makeup artists and models (that'd be you!) all looking to work together for trade. You model a few lifestyle photos, you barter for headshots. ALL. For. Free. Get new pictures. Get a TON of new pictures. Get new on camera practice and more comfortable taking headshots (it's a skill you learn) all for free. Get a ton of photos you won't use and get a few you will. Make friends. Life is good.

Submit, Submit, Submit. You will book an indie project.

Reassess your current acting portfolio. Are you working with the same headshots from four years ago? Did you just take new ones? My favorite Casting Director, Billy DaMota, is offering to critique your headshots. FOR FREE. A few cd's have started charging struggling actresses to critique their headshots and reels, but if you follow the directions on his site, he will do it just because he loves actors and needs actors to work as a cd. He is the only CD out there who fights for the Struggling, proclaiming the cd/actor relationship a symbiotic one. He is lovely. And again, he's doing it for free.

Take a class. I love mine.

And know that it really honestly takes TEN YEARS to get to where you're STARTING to book the big stuff. You have time. Don't fret.

You're doing great.

I believe in you.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

You'd Think I'd Know Rule 3 By Now

I have a serious problem when it comes to estimating how long it will take to complete a project. Getting ready and out the door and across town for an audition? Nail it. Always on time or early. Guessing how long it would take to move our living room office and storage 2nd bedroom into our master bedroom, move our master bedroom into the storage 2nd bedroom and rearrange our living room to open the flow? I guessed (knowing we had the help of Glow and PearBear): Two Hours.

Try Two Days.

We're in Day Two.

Three lessons have been learned.

1) Moving takes a lot longer than you think, because it's not just about moving furniture, it's about rearranging and decorating from square one cause everything is in a new space and the space is either bigger or smaller and things need to to be expanded or condensed or consolidated.

2) Never EVER disagree with a production designer. If she says the tv will be better crooked against the wall because it opens the flow of the room, she's right. Don't doubt her. She's never wrong.

3) Gloria is never wrong.

Monday, December 20, 2010

New Classes

I pimp because I care.

My acting coach, Billy O'Leary is offering a NEW Evening On Camera Class!
It's on Thursdays, from 7-9 and starts Feb 3 and goes for the following three weeks.
This class is capped at only 8 students and is a two hour class, four days a month for only.....


It's AWESOME. But don't just take my word for it. Take the words of his students - these working actors.

Want to take one of his classes earlier? Like, as soon as possible? Like, so you can rock this pilot season like you've never rocked it before? Awesome. His Intro to the Template is only 3 classes, Jan 6, 13, and 20.

Email assist@billyoleary.com to reserve your spot!  And please mention you saw it here first!

Feliz Navidad! From the bottom of my har-ar-ar-art!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

And We're Back!

Google saw some "suspicious activity" going on in my accounts and I would have been able to fix it a lot sooner if I had known that Firefox is lame when it comes to automatically popping up a verification --- you know what? This is all boring. And I don't know the right technical words. Suffice it to say that I had an issue I didn't know was with my browser. Sort of. Kind of.


I was working for my friend Jen the other day and she is one of those crazy people who has like, an insane amount of holiday christmas music. You know how many hours of christmas music I have on my iTunes? None.


Really? Yes. I used to like it. Then I worked in the service industry for over a decade. Listening to that crap over and over and over again. Ask anyone in retail. We both feel the same way. It's awful! When it comes on the radio station, I IMMEDIATELY switch to anything else! Commercials? Yes! Sports Radio? Better than Santa Baby! Static from a Mexican station going in and out? YES, PLEASE!

In fact, there is only ONE song I only really like because it's mostly in Spanish and I made an effort to learn it and pronounce it correctly so I can sing along. And the singers sound so happy! And they say the same thing over and over again. For some reason, I can stand and sing along to Feliz Navidad!
It makes me feel like a muppet because I really, REALLY get into the "I want to wish you a merry christmas, from the bottom of my har-ar-art!"

And let's be honest, Christmas holidays used to really suck. It was cold outside and my family was all together. My brother EVERY year got into a huge stupid fight with us and I became one of those old ladies who hated Christmas and became depressed whenever it came near when I was only 12 years old.

In fact, when I spent Christmas for the first time with my fiance's family in 2007, I was surrounded by so much love, so much family, so much happiness, that I had whispered in his ear, "We are ONLY going to your family's house for Christmas," because my family is just way too stressful. Everyone is on edge. Our families are split up, my sister has to split her time between us and her kids' dad's side and I feel like visiting my family is way more fun when it's for a random weekend or someone's birthday. There's not much to do. At my future in-laws, there is SNOW (they get such a kick out of watching me stand in the street in my 37 layers watching the snow come down. But I only saw actual snowfall for the first time in my life 4 years ago, so it's still MAGIC to me (it's so quiet, too!)) And loads upon loads of cousins and aunts and uncles and cousins who aren't really cousins and aunts and uncles who aren't really aunts and uncles come to dinner and it's 102 people around a dinner table with food, food, food and everyone is yelling in italian (one doesn't speak italian, one yells it!) and there is so much laughter! I yell "Buon Natale!" like a slightly retarded three year old and everyone yells it right back, but even louder and it is the best time.

But it's not what I grew up with. I have only come across ONE christmas song that shows how I really feel around the holidays when I have to go back home. I know others can relate.

So here it is, for your enjoyment. Imogen Heaps's "Just for Now." I LOVE the last bit of it. So true.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Relieving the Pressure

Remember when I went out for my first pilot audition (ever!!) a few months ago? For a series regular? I found out who they cast, and one of the starring roles went to Michael Urie from Ugly Betty.

So I've decided, in order to relieve the immense pressure I put on myself (need to impress the CD, my agents, my manager, my acting coach, my family, my alma mater, myself!!!) and now that I've got two pilots under my belt, you know what?

I'm probably not going to book anything this pilot season.

Before I freak you all out that being a Negative Nancy sends the wrong message to the Universe, seriously, thinking this way takes away all the stress. If I'm not hoping that I'm going to book, I don't have to worry! I'm just going to go into every casting and know that this audition for the pilot isn't really an audition for the pilot. It's an audition for down the road. It's to make sure I'm on the short list to go in again for guest star stuff.

Because most pilots you audition for already have offers out to people who've been doing this for years, and because this way I have nothing to fear. I can banter with casting. I can be myself. 

I got feedback from the second pilot audition I did and in the room, the casting director had told me, "Very Nice, Lira. You're a great actress." My manager told me that they thought I was great, but wasn't "the girl." I'll take it! I'll take great!

The industry has a term called "booking the room." You don't go in to book the role you're auditioning for. You go in to impress casting and get them to like you so that they know who they are and they know that you're good and they know that they like you.

I half jokingly asked my manager if I would have to fear losing him if I didn't get anything major in a year. 

"I know you're gonna book." He was matter of fact, very East-Coast-no-bullshit, "Do I know if you're gonna book in three months? No. Do I know if you're gonna book in five months? No. Do I know if you're going to book in seven months? No. But I know you're gonna book."

Of course I am.

I am gonna book the rooms!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Seventh Grade All Over Again Addendum

 The other day I went out for a product where they just happened to be casting a competitor's product in the next room over. It was so easy to tell who belonged where: The casting for "every day faces" was the one I was auditioning for. The "hot models - total 10s!" were next door.

It was fun to see our session runner spot the hotties and ask "Product X? Next door," and be right every time.

I'm an "Every day face" ya'll!

And HAPPY to be!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Looking for Commercial Representation?

If you don't follow commagent  on Twitter, you should. It's commercial agent Mark Measures at Abrams. He noted today that:

this time of year is NOT a good time to try and find representation. I get more submissions around the holiday then any other time. Weird.
Inundated w/ the question, "when is the best time 2 seek representation?" U have a month window just after the new year ...
Before pilot season gets really busy. After pilot season is over but before they start the recasts and then from July through Oct
This is just my opinion of what I have seen work in the 23 years I have been around. I am SURE there will be some disagreement.
I will go ahead and disagree just a weensy bit because I know for a fact that Coast to Coast just signed a few more actors in their commercial department last week.

So here's what I say: Submit to your top 15 commercial agencies EVERY few months! You'll get in eventually.

Good luck!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Seventh Grade All Over Again

I watched the season finale of America's Next Top Model with my boo last night and was getting really sick and tired of Ann's complaining about how she was made fun of because of her height. "Get OVER it!" I kept yelling at the screen, "Shut up!!"

My boo asked me to pause the show. "Have YOU ever been made fun of in high school?" he asked. "Me?" I replied. "Of course not! I was perfect!" He thought for a second, "Yeah, me neither, I guess. So you can't really fault her." "OF COURSE I WAS MADE FUN OF!!! I was overweight and COULDN'T CLOSE MY MOUTH OVER MY TEETH!!!"

Have I mentioned I had an overbite that was so bad that when I closed my mouth, my teeth were still visible? That we couldn't afford to correct it until I was 15? A seven year old with buck teeth is adorable, a sophomore in high school is sad.

Oh Yeah. I also wore glasses.
I got made fun of A LOT. So I decided one very important thing when I was in 7th grade: That the whispering and laughing behind my back was NOT ABOUT ME at all. That the pretty girls with their long straight hair and perfect smile and trendy size 4 clothes couldn't care less about me and whatever they were laughing at was probably about something else.

I turned 15, I naturally lost weight by landscaping the city every summer in a youth volunteer program, got braces and then three years later moved to Southern California to start college. Where no one knew me.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that I was "hot." I just got my braces off a month before I left my hometown and was a healthy size 9. Because I had spend the last 7 years not scrutinizing my body and face (cause, again, why bother - I had BUCK TEETH and no one could see past it) and instead reading, writing, and loving wordplay. All of a sudden, I was a freshman co-ed who was cute, smart and completely oblivious to my sexuality. Oh, sure, I could flirt: chubby girls with bad teeth learn to flirt to get laughs. (which explains why when I need to be sultry or sexy, I laugh and go immediately to goofy; it's where I'm more comfortable - another story for another time) So there I was - deemed hot by several boys in the film department who were of my kind - awkward and dorky in their youth but somehow developed into extremely pleasant looking.

And now I'm an actress going out on the biggest auditions I've ever had and I'm in fricking 7th grade all over again.

I had an audition for a couple of lines in a big studio film yesterday and walked into a lobby filled with tall, statuesque blonds with perfect, stylish clothes, designer handbags, in season shoes and longer resumes.

I am Ann on America's Next Top Model.

Why am I suddenly thinking I'm not pretty enough to be in the same room with these girls? Why am I thinking someone's made a huge mistake categorizing me with these beauties?

So I had to remember: The Casting Director chose my picture. The Casting Director picks stunning women. I am a stunning woman. I don't look like them, but I am beautiful.

We are all beautiful. No one else looks like me. No one else looks like you.

For the Casting Director, I am simply One More Option.

Today I had another audition, this time for a pilot and I walked into the lobby and felt differently about the situation. Here was a room full of beautiful young women and I was one of them. Here is a room filled with women just like me, where we're all hoping this is the audition that will get us the callback that will get us the screen test that will get us the role. It could go to any one of us.

What a difference. Less nerves and therefore, less overacting, just because I forced myself to remember that I am beautiful. I'm wearing a dress from Ross, boots from Goodwill, and I deserve to be in this room, counted among the more successful, the more experienced, the more who knows what else.

We all feel insecure from time to time, and when I was in college I came up with a theory that as far as I know, has been proven over and over: At any given time - ANY GIVEN TIME - you have at least three people who have crushes on you.

Adds a little bounce in your step, eh?

It should.

You're beautiful.