"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

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Actor Deductions

I wrote this handy guide back in 2010, and although tax laws change every year, you can pretty much guarantee that these will more or less stay the same, but I always believe in the power of a fantastic tax preparer to be on the safe side.

Check them out and a merry April 15th to you!

Actor Deductions

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It's a New Me!

I needed a change. Something physical. Something....fun! The shoulder length curly hair was....boring.

Stifling, almost. I've had it shoulder length for almost a decade.

I read a tweet not too long ago from an agent that was basically this: "Our actress who booked 6 national commercials as a brunette, just went blond. #facepalm"

And it made me angry. We are artists and we need to express ourselves through our physical appearance. Sometimes we need a change. Who are you to judge this like it's a bad thing? Maybe she'll book 12 commercials as a blond! You don't know. But if we need a change, we NEED a change.

So, I did what I needed to do. And I got the major change I was craving.

 It's gone. All of it.

Is it me, though? Yeah. Sometimes.

What if I straightened it?

And tried to take an artsy fartsy photo?

I got this!

Kinda Marilyn Monroe-ish, kinda messed up, kinda put together, kinda....sexy?

What if I took Headshots like this!?!?

I got THESE!!!

So here I am, World! 

And I'm excited.

I'm a different person - I'm a different type. Let's see where it takes me this year, shall we?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Necklace Giveaway Winner!

I used the http://www.random.org/ generator to pick our lucky winner. I plugged in numbers 1-12 and got number 6!

Congratulations Sanna Haynes!

Find my email on the right sidebar there (scroll down a bit; it's there!)  ---->
and I'll connect you with the lovely Sarah Jane who will go over all the information she'll need from you.

Thanks Sarah Jane for being a part of our Very First Giveaway! And remember to check out the rest of her shop for all your theater nerdy gifts!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Why I've Slowed Down

Longtime readers might have seen a change in the quantity of posts on this here lil blog. And although there's nothing more annoying than "Oh my gosh, it's been months(!) since my last post!" I feel like I owe you an explanation.

Because maybe you too will go through a similar....oh eff it. It's a slump. I'm calling it what it is.

My slumps usually start in mid December when the town basically shuts down. A Struggling Actress' nemeses are Saturday and Sunday when there's no castings, no callbacks, no nothing to look forward to. Add Jewish and Christian Holidays and a New Year, and it's 3-4 weeks of Nothing.

Well, nothing but Family, which, if you're an actor, is probably crazy and you have to listen to this song over and over again just to bear it.

For those of you with stable, loving families, hug them and love them and visit often.

So yeah, life stands still for a bit and you have to wait it out. Every winter.

But 2012 is the year I want more. I mean, really. I'm okay, sure, but now, okay is just not enough.

I joined Sag. No more non-union commercials for me. My first Sag commercial audition in January required me to wait an 80 minutes. Four weeks later, I got my $35 check for being made to wait over an hour. I LOVE THE UNION!

And although I might have joined at the worst time for me (cause I could have been grandfathered in if I had just waited a couple more months and saved myself from having to take out a loan) I'm so thankful I don't have to drive from the valley to Santa Monica at 4pm for non union commercial auditions and callbacks that suck the gas from my car, and the soul from my self.

I married two different couples in two very intimate and different elopements, and you know what? I really, really enjoy marrying people. I get to use my creative writing skills (I do have them, when I proofread...) and get showered by all the love that surrounds a wedding couple. Because that stuff is Magical, my god, it really is.

And so.... I'm going to start officially offering my officiant services in the next few months. Website domain has been purchased, and I'm excited about this new business.

Also new, I'm going to be in charge of selling my husband's art. We've opened an Etsy shop and are beginning that process as well.

Two new family businesses for 2012.

And that's not all.

I needed a change in January - a physical one. I've looked like myself - my brand - for the last...8 years? and not much has happened with it.

And I want, I need something different. It's time. My last couple of years have been okay. But just like when a woman breaks up with a boy, or graduates from college, or has some other major life event happen (like getting married!) I needed a physical change to show the inner growth I was doing.

I gave a famous hairstylist full control and he chopped off all my hair. All of it.

Well, he gave me bangs. But I basically look like that girl from Just One of The Guys. You know, that 80s film? And maybe if I had a better sense of clothing style, I could pull it off.  But I've been playing with it and okay, I think I got it.

A drastic change might have been just what I needed.

Because now I have to update all my photos, update everything I am, and possibly jump into an entirely different category than what I was and have been, and I am absolutely okay with that. I think I've been craving it. No, I know I have been.

It's time to take some ownership, you know? The last time I served a table was in April. APRIL! We're going almost a whole year of me NOT waiting tables and taking orders and frantically trying to switch shifts for a last minute audition. No.

I'm also joining a fire conclave. After some "gentle" prodding from my my aptly named bff&e friend Glo, I'm going to take the color guard skills I learned my sophomore year in high school and apply them to a staff that is almost as tall as I am that will be lit on fire on both ends.

Am I excited? HELL YES.

And it's because everything that has been feeling old is now new again! I am new again!

And I'm excited about learning who I am all over again, because I have been defined by things that started feeling old over a year ago.

2012 is the year of new beginnings; not just new chapters, but new books.

And if you didn't know this before,

I am one hell of a voracious reader.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Adorable Necklace Give Away!

via her etsy shop!
I am so excited to announce that Sarah Jane Nelson, who asked the last Dear Struggling Actress question,  would love to give one of my lucky readers her Theater Nerd Necklace!

This beautiful 3/4 sterling silver disc has an 18" long chain, and is great for you or someone you love.

If the person you love is me, I'll be very happy to take it!

It's super easy to enter the drawing - Just visit her Etsy shop, and comment below with what your favorite things are. She makes them all!

She has a great shop and you can bookmark (or Pin!)  her site to refer back to for birthdays and holidays. So many things would make lovely gifts for actors.

The winner will be picked by random on Monday.

And - Also Very Cool, Sarah Jane is offering ALL my lovely readers (you guys!) a discount for all her adorable trinkets. During checkout, enter code ACTORGIFTS10 and you'll receive 10% off!

All because we love you.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Degree in Pretend is Useful!

Who knew, right?

Here is a freaking fantastic article about how being a theatre major prepared Tom Vander Well for Success.

And I'm sure many of you will be able to relate. I myself work as a business consultant and communications manager, and I would like to say that it is because of degree in pretend I know how to do many of the things my job requires of me.

I like to refer to it as my Degree in Pretend (I also have a minor in making up stories) to highlight how crazy having a theatre degree is, but everything I learned in school: the empathy, all the producing, taking a cast of 27 and creating a product that affects 700 people.... They are all relative to the job I have now, which requires a lot of creativity and business sense.

But I'd like to add something else - getting our theatre degree also prepares us for Following Our Dream, and having the perseverance to continue to do what we truly love. I know so many who fear leaving the jobs they're no longer happy at, but we aren't afraid of the unknown. The guts of going onstage, in front of hundreds, with the possibility of so many things going wrong, helps us understand that if we have spent hours, days, weeks, studying and rehearsing, for This Moment, we are going to be FINE. And if we aren't, we'll improvise.

All invaluable life skills.

It's a great, and inspiring read.  I'd love to know your thoughts and how a degree in pretend has helped you in the real world too. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dear Struggling Actress

Fellow Theatre Nerd  Sarah Jane is moving back to LA later this month! Hooray! But she's been out of the LA scene for a while and she has a question:
So... we are very excited to get back to business.  I LOVE marketing and your blog posts about Actors Access were really helpful as I learn about how digital the whole business has gone since 2005 when we left!  My biggest question for you is which sites should we post ourselves and/or submit ourselves on?  There are so many and often they come with subscription fees at various levels.  From my research so far its seems we need to have a presence on:

LA Casting
NOW Casting
Actors Access
Casting Frontier
and the SAG website.

It all seems like a little much!  What are your thoughts on this?

Well, thanks for reading Sarah Jane! (and readers, stick around for Monday's surprise from her!) I agree. It's a lot of stuff.

Here's how I (a struggling actress for a reason, so grain of salt and all that) am going to break it down:

LA Casting -  They are primarily known for commercials so once you have an agent, s/he will make you sign up and upload your pictures and resume, but you don't need to spend the extra money on a membership that lets you submit on projects that are pretty much non-union stuff and student films. If the project is somewhat good, they'll repost the same thing on Actors Access.
NOW Casting- This is great if you're just starting out. But I mean, still in college, need to get credits, that sort of thing. You're a bit past that. It's all non-to low pay projects, and a lot of it is student films. You don't need it.
Actors Access - YES. Get on here. You can read my three articles on how to Effectively use this website, and you need to be here. Get the pictures up, the resume done, and upload your reels. Worth it. There's a lot of non-union work here, but there's a few union stuff and paying student films. You need to be on here for your agent to submit you for film/tv projects, but the Showfax membership to AA is invaluable, in my opinion.

IMDB Pro - I think having pictures up here is nice. People will look you up, and having your photo up here will help them go, "Oh yeah! Her!" I don't have my reel up on here yet because I don't want random Joe to be able to watch clips of my work, which is completely hypocritical, considering I have places and links to do so from my public blog but this is up to you. 

Now, having a subscription to IMDB Pro is incredibly useful for other things. You can research agents, their clients, and whether you think you'd be a good fit at the agency when you are submitting for representation. Also, the addresses, websites and emails are all up to date on here (as opposed to The Agency Book you can buy at Sam French). And a lot of agent's websites, listed on their imdb profiles will include information on how to submit to them online, which saves you a ton of money on mailing hard copies and postage.
Casting Frontier - Your agent will make you get a subscription so they can submit you for commercial projects on here. I haven't bothered to see what else they have. I really believe if it's important, it'll be posted on AA. 
SAG website - Are you referring to iActor? Where you can upload your reel for free? This is on my to-do list, but amazingly, I always seem to have other more pressing errands, and haven't gotten around to it. It's free. Why not?

And I'm adding - Casting About - I think this is great if you are at the level where you're starting to go out for bigger roles in tv and film.  You can see what else casting has done, what projects they're currently casting, add notes about each audition, or info you find about them. One of the selling points was that if you do postcards, you can see where a lot of their offices are, because this site is updated Every Day. Now, I personally believe postcards Do NOT work, but to each her own.

And don't forget! All the subscriptions for the things above are TAX DEDUCTIBLE. They count as "actor services"; tools you need to propel your business forward. So save your receipts!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Easily Entertained

My husband says he loves me because I am so easily entertained. But who wouldn't be with new Mittens that look like this??

He bought these adorable wolf mitten/puppets and seriously, it's ridiculous how much fun we are having making our hand puppets talk.

And I would agree with him that yes, I am easily entertained, but I just saw an episode of Are You There, Chelsea? and it was AWFUL. So really, maybe I'm just a five year old kid in a 24 [hack! cough!] year old's body.

Are You There Chelsea was so bad. The jokes, or what I think  were meant to be jokes, were either lame or non-existent. I felt awful. Not for Laura Prepon, (who either picked a bad project or I'm just not that into her) but for the girl who plays her roommate, Lauren Lapkus. It's like, Lauren!!! You got a SERIES REGULAR on a new show produced by CHELSEA HANDLER?!?!? CONGRATS!! THAT'S FANTASTIC!!!!! Oh my gosh! I just saw an episode.....um...hey....you are doing GREAT with what they're giving you. CAUSE THEY'RE GIVING YOU SHIT.

Lauren, if you're reading, I'll buy you a drink and you can cry on my shoulder about how you thought it would be so much better, and I'll tell you, girl, don't worry. There's this new show called Next Caller, Please, and you are so perfect for the role of Winnie, they'll probably just offer it to you, and the writing is SO good! It'll be fun! And hey, would you mind getting the tip? I'm trying to save a little money over here.....

Speaking of saving money....

I was a reader for a FREE WORKSHOP that Casting Director Billy DaMota put up last Wednesday (sign up for ActorRated.com's newsletter!) and had a fantastic time watching everyone, and even got to perform three times with the three actors who needed a female scene partner. Yup, I got to go on stage and everything! I thought I was just going to have to sit in my chair, but I got to go up! Oh, the actors are were so good! And, one of them even said she's a long time reader. So --

Hi Musme!!!! :D

Anyways, Billy DaMota is a wonderful guy. He will help you, and he will do casting director workshops ALL. FOR. FREE.

And let me tell you something else - there are people out here who will tell you that they can teach you something, if you pay them hundreds of dollars. These people will say they're an industry insider, when the only thing they can get inside is your wallet. Don't pay these people anything. If you need basic information, CHECK ACTING BLOGS.


(random fact: did you know that the "for" in "for free" is grammatically redundant? It just sounds wrong to me without it, so sorry Grammar Nazis!)

And if people who try to take your money use words like "fuck" or "ninja" in their promo videos, Stay away.

Need proof?

Keep your money.

Or, give it to me, so I can tip the waitress for when me and Lauren Lapkus go out for cocktails.