"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, March 30, 2012


We're holding auditions today for our Untitled Theatre Project!

It's a cold read of monologues - that I've written. Some may stay in the show, some may not, but it's going to be a day filled with women reading my words. Giving life to an idea I had, giving character to a character going through some pretty rough stuff.

It's gonna be awesome!!

Of course, I've held castings before, where people were reading my words, but I have to say, it's always thrilling. There will always be at least one person who says, "This is hilarious!" and while I usually respond, "Thank you; I'll tell the writer." I really want to squeal, "AHHH! THANK YOU!!!!" Because oftentimes, my humor falls a little flat to others, and when someone responds positively - where it's so funny they HAVE to say so in the room, it's a great feeling.

Will we be ready to draw the curtain in only 3 weeks? Yup! And it will be quite the adventure!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How It All Breaks Down

If you have time, you should definitely click on the link below to read Tracy Weisert's entire synopsis of the seminar casting director Patrick Baca gave last year. I found this extremely helpful and hope you do too.
Patrick Baca's Network Casting Pyramid:
This is a nine-tiered pyramid (in radial form) that casting directors have to navigate through when casting actors in series regular roles on a network television pilot. Step one begins with the breakdown being released and steps 8 and 9 are the studio test and finally, the network test.
Step 1- Breakdown Released
“Basically the breakdown winds up being an announcement from me, the buyer, let’s say, to the sellers-the agents and the managers.  It lets them know that I’m in business, where I am, what it is that I am doing and what it is that I am looking for.  This just gets the ball going.  I can release it as far and wide as I want.  I’m not sure where the term ‘casting’ came from but casting also means casting a line in the water.  Maybe that’s where it came from but we want to look at the actor markets in terms of bodies of water. Here in LA…in Hollywood, this is the biggest and widest talent pool in all the world!  I’m pretty lucky as a casting director to be working in this pool because it is the deepest and widest of all the pools!  It is an Olympic sized pool basically, so if you can’t get something cast here, then you should be doing something else because I don’t have to throw my line out very far.  I don’t have to look much further than Los Angeles.  If time and budget allow, you can look in other places…other pools of water.”
Step 2- Agents and Managers Submit
“Regarding representation-Do I trust their taste in actors?”
Step 3- Casting Director Sets up Sessions
“The casting director starts sifting through the submissions.  Like I said, I might have 1000 submissions that I’m getting and there are probably more if I’m also looking at the actor submissions from the casting services.  That’s where, I think,  casting directors have the greatest sense of power is in that third step because no one’s looking over my shoulder as I’m going through the submissions telling me who to bring in.  They might have suggestions but they are not looking at all the submissions.  That’s what I think I’m hired for is my taste in the actors and that’s where my knowledge really sort of comes in.  Sometimes actors will ask me, ’What do you look at?  What criteria determines whether you select this person versus that person?’
First of all the image, the photograph itself is the first thing that I am going to see.  I already have an image in my head and some sort of a vision based on my team, our vision, of what this character might look like, so the photograph is very important. Then the resume…if I’m casting comedy which is one of my passions, one of my loves and one of my specialties is comedy casting.  When you cast a sitcom pilot, you look for sitcom credits on that resume because sitcom acting is very specific.  It’s got its own rhythm and its’ own tempo and not everybody can do it.  Remember I spoke about that pool of talent that’s here in LA?  Inside that pool there is a little wading pool [laughter] within it of people who can do comedy.  Not everybody can do comedy.  It’s really, really specific.  If I’m going to bring somebody in, I have to know that they understand comedy and sitcom acting, so I’ll look to the resume.  If the sitcom credits are there and I know them already, I know their work.  If I don’t know them, then I’m looking to see if somebody else has hired them just to put my mind to ease if I don’t know you.  If there are no sitcom credits,  then I’ll look for ‘comedy clues.’ I’ll look to see if you do stand-up around town or I’ll look to see if you do improve around town…if you’re in the Sunday Company  of The Groundlings, then I now that you’ll know comedy or Improv Olympic or Second City and then I’m willing.  The resume really does speak to me. “
“Another consideration is which agents and managers are submitting.  Do I trust their taste in actors?  Does their taste in actors trust my taste in actors?”
“Another consideration is a demo reel.  If it’s there and I don’t know you and I can click on it, sometimes that’s all I need.  I just need five seconds to  hear your voice,  to see you move or to get a sense of your presence or your sensibility or your castability, so the demo reel is really, really important to have as part of your online profile.  It can either make or break you.  It can make or break my decision on whether or not to take a risk or gamble in bringing you in.  It is a gamble. 
I’ve got seven roles to cast and they’ve probably given me seven weeks to do it and that’s not nearly enough time.  That means that the available (audition) slots that I have are few and far between, so to me they are like gold and I just don’t want to give them away.  I want to give them away  but I want to know that if I’m giving them away, that that investment is going to return. So when you get an audition, basically, you can think of it like as an invitation from me to you for you to help me do my job!  Come in and be brilliant!  Come in with your interpretation and all your skills and help me get this job done!  That’s what an audition is.  It’s an invitation to a party basically.  Whenever you get an invitation to a party, you never show up empty handed.  You always bring a bottle of wine…a good one.  Not Two Buck Chuck either!  [laughter]  Your bottle of wine is to come in with your sides executed and with your strong choices.  If you can do that, then I’m happy.  If you’re skimming the surface, then you’re coming in empty handed”
Step 4- Casting Pre-Read Session
‘The fourth step is a casting pre-read.  The casting pre-read is where you come in one-on-one to see me with your interpretation of the character.  There’s nobody else in the room.  I’m not recording you.  It’s just you and me, one-on-one.  This is where you ‘show me your wares.’  You show me your interpretation of the character.  I realize that performance in auditioning is a work in progress. I realize that however,  when you come into a casting pre-read, you have to be pretty developed.  Your interpretation has to be very far along already.  There’s no time for us to develop it later because I have to be discriminating because the next step after this is going to be the producers’ callback.  
I feel like actors when they come to see me for the first time, have to be at 90% done.  90% developed at worst because if you come in and you’re at 80%, or let’s say you’re at 70%...you know with the lines, the character, all the detail and the laughs that are built in the material, if you’re only 70% done?  That’s only a ‘C.’ That’s only average.  I don’t have to settle for average in the ocean that is Los Angeles.  That’s not good enough.  Even 80% isn’t good enough.  I’m looking for a ‘Low A to a High A’ to bring back.  If you’re missing 10%, I’ll jump in there and collaborate with you.  I’ll tweak you.  I’ll detail you out. I’ll guide you and try to point out this laugh that you didn’t get here or that one.  I’ll jump in there and play with you and try to make you better.  I’ll get you ready for the director but only if you’ve done the bulk of the work already because I don’t want to do your work for you. I could.  I could if I wanted to, but I don’t want to. 
It’s a test, for me too because I want to know that you are self-sufficient and that you can come up with these answers on your own.  Once you get on the set, you’re going to be alone basically.  The TV directors here, I feel like a lot of them are traffic cops.  They are guiding all these different departments, but there’s no time for them for us to sit down and romantically figure out the character and all that wonderful stuff.  It doesn’t happen in TV.  There is no time for it.  I’m looking for actors who can do the director’s work for him.  That’s really what I feel like I’m doing.  I’m doing his work for him and you are too.  We both are together like that partnership I spoke of, so you have to be really, really far along to motivate me to even re-direct you.  But if you don’t and you’re just skimming the surface, you’re just giving me what’s on the page and just doing what’s  expected, I’ll smile at you, thank you and nod at you and out the door you go and I won’t tend to remember you.  You’ll be surprised.  A lot of them do.  They have agents and they got in somehow.  Those actors who do just what is expected, they cancel each other out in my mind just blur and become bland. “
“The lines between the lines are so much more interesting.  The subtext is your gift.  Don’t come in without it.”
“That’s the biggest sin is to come into my office and be bland.”
Step 5- Producers Callback Session
“When you come in and be great in the room, then I’ve just been great!  If you’ve had a bad day, you’ve just taken me down in flames with you [laughter] …except that you get to go home!  But I can’t leave although I want to go home with you!”
Step 6- Test Option Deal
The twenty actors who have gone to producers is narrowed down to five.  The studio lawyer makes pilot and series deal with actor’s agent.
Step 7- Director’s Rehearsal
The director gets the top actors ready to audition at the Studio Test. “We’re there to ‘polish’ you.”
Step 8- Studio Test
“Step 8 is when we go visit the President of the Studio. For example, I did a pilot called ALLIGATOR POINT.    First of all…let me explain to you that there are three entities involved in production and making of a sitcom usually.  This is why Pilot casting is so complicated.” 
  • First entity- The Production Company- The producers that own the rights to the material. The production team winds up being the people that they assemble around them.  For example-the writer, the director and the casting directors that they hire, so I’m part of the production team.  Then for example, on ALLIGATOR POINT, the production company was Grammnet Productions, the production company of Kelsey Grammer.
  • Second entity- The Studio- In that case, the studio was Paramount Network Television, so if you ever see CHEERS or FRAZIER, you’ll usually see the Paramount Network Television logo comes up at the end.  He’s had a long relationship with Paramount, so that was the studio.
  • Third entity- The Network- Then the network was NBC.  The guys who actually broadcast it.  Before I go to the president of NBC, I have to go visit the president of Paramount Network Television. This is where one president decides what the president above him is going to see.  This guy has ‘veto power.’  So to get three actors to Step 9 (Network Test), I’ve got to show the studio president maybe 5 actors, so he can veto 2.  To get by to there, I feel I have to show my producing team maybe 20 actors that we can boil down to five.  To get 20 actors to show the producers, I probably have to see 100 actors.  That’s sort of how the math breaks down.
Step 9- Network Test
“The very last step in this casting pyramid is Step 9 and I wanted to explain for you is the test at the Network.  Has anyone ever tested at the Network for a Pilot?  One day you will.  When that happens, what you’re going to do is you will be with the casting director, the producers and the writer to go visit the president of the Network.  Taking three actors is a good choice.  Three is a really great number.  We, as the production team don’t want to bring him five actors because five is probably too many choices and they’ll turn to you and say, ‘Oh, you don’t know who you really want.’  I could get away with taking two, but you never, ever want to go to the Network with one actor because that’s psychologically loaded.  It will backfire on you and they will feel like you are forcing this person on them.  They don’t like that.  They want a choice.  And we’re going to say to the president, ‘Hey Mr. President, we have this Sitcom Pilot that have seven series regular roles and today, we are going to show you three of those roles.  We have brought with us three actors per role and they are all going to perform for you.  These are all actors that we like.  These are all actors who we have done ‘test option deals’ with.  They are all available and we could live with any one of them.  Pick one.  Sign off and approve one of these guys (actors) and tell us who you like. That’s ultimately what we’re hoping will happen at the Network.  The president has sort of the final say.”

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Late 20's Problem

I'm producing a project with a major fun surprise for the audience (keep your eyes peeled for the breakdown, which will go out on AA either tomorrow or Tuesday!) with two girls I've worked with before and admire greatly. Two very different people, two very different lives, and yet...all three of us are in the same spot.

And one of them, the youngest in our three, is having a major and sad epiphany that I think we all get once we hit our late 20s and the big Three Oh is coming at us faster than we had expected:

We aren't where we want to be professionally.

We're acting (some of us more than others), we're auditioning (some of us more than others), but we do not have the lifestyle we dreamed up for ourselves when we were 12.

I'm not talking about being famous, I'm talking about just having a few more films and tv shows under our belts. A career that's growing steadily. A career that is obviously going places.

But ours, to put it bluntly, isn't.

This isn't the same game it once was. Studios aren't making as many films as they used to, so all the actors normally working in film are now doing lead roles in tv. And every actor at a tier below has also majorly downshifted.

The actors who should have gotten their pilots a few years ago, still haven't, and the waiters and bartenders who should've gotten their big break a few years ago, still haven't, and the actors like us, who came into this game at what I like to think, was the exact worst time, don't have much on our resumes, and can't get looked at because of it.

If you're not rich, not related to someone already in the business, not willing to go on a reality show to become a villain, or a nipped and tucked housewife, or an Italian meatball, what happens to you, when you hit your late 20s?

You cry.

A lot.

And you re-evaluate EVERYTHING you've done for the last decade, wondering if it was all for naught. Yes, you followed your dream, but there comes a point where we say either, "I agree to keep scrounging for rent," or, "I am going to start my family."

We were one of the lucky ones to have followed our hearts, but after ten years, it becomes time to start following our uteruses.

Some of us do exactly that.

And if you are one of them, I want to say to you, and listen closely:

You did not fail.

You did NOT fail.

What you want has shifted and that's okay. It happens to everyone! It's called growth! (and if you still want the same thing, that too is growth!)

And if you're an actress, a struggling one in her late 20s, know that this epiphany of babies vs stardom isn't really what it is.

You are not choosing between the two! 

You are, and will always be a storyteller. You might find different ways to tell stories, you might keep telling stories the same way. You might have a baby, you might decide not to, but regardless, you will not stop being who you are, ever.

There is no need to be embarrassed of anything. You will be the mom who did everything she could to follow her dreams, and you will be the mother who encourages and supports her child to do the same. You know what it's like to work hard, to make sacrifices, and the lessons you learned along the way, you'll be able to pass onto your child at an early age.

Do not think having a child somehow means you are giving up on acting. You can make room in your heart for both. Your love of acting might manifest itself in different ways with your child, because you're not just an actress; you're a storyteller. And you'll have someone to tell stories to for the next 40 or 50 years.

If you want to have a child, and if you want to act, there are many, many actresses in this town who can tell you you can have both because they do.

And the best part is - taking a year off to have your child, to bond with your baby, might change you enough and give you a whole new look and perspective to put into your work, and put you into a different category than you are in now.

And maybe that will be your key to booking the roles and getting the career you want.

You don't know.

But you should try. 

Because, we ladies, in our late 20s, have sometimes felt like we've put the rest of our lives on hold to pursue acting. But we don't have to anymore.

I think that's what the end result of the breakdown is - we don't define who we are by our resumes, and we can live this acting life on our own terms. We are not going miss another friend's bridal shower to stay in town because we might miss an audition. No! We are going to finally live life!

That's what the big Three Oh should be for everyone - an event to help you realize that we really DO get to live our life on our own terms.

And it's time to start living it that way.


Thursday, March 8, 2012


Hey.....have you heard? Sag and Aftra want to merge!

I have a huuuuuge ole article I wrote that I'm not sure I'm going to post because I'm still undecided on the matter. I'm leaning one way one day, and then leaning another the next day and I swear I'm going to fall down soon if I don't fix my balance up right quick!

In the meantime, want to share your views and how you're going to vote? Or how you would if you were in a union?

Here's a Pro Merger opinion from Vic Chao.

And here's an Anti-Merger opinion from Gil Christner

If you feel strongly one way or another, please be kind in your comments on this blog and the ones I linked to above. I would love to know your thoughts.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Own Your Talent

This is an angry rant:

I've been seeing a lot of "I was lucky enough to have worked with so and so on project X..."

Let me tell you something.

You were NOT lucky enough to have worked with so and so.

You effing EARNED it.

Stop making yourself look less professional than you are, or less skilled, and promote yourself with a simple "I worked with so and so on project X...."

No one is going to look at you like you're bragging. You're stating a simple fact. You really did work with so and so on that project.

Because when you're lucky enough to have worked with so and so on project x, you sound out of your league.

And I get it, you probably DO feel lucky! And you want to seem modest, you want to seem humble, but how long have you been working at this? How long have you been forgoing luxuries so you can answer what you've been called to do in this life? How long have you been working so hard, and finally, finally, you're at a level where you're working with people of the same caliber as you? And now you're starting to make money at this - decent money!

OWN your talent. OWN your magic. OWN your hard work that is paying off.


Whew! Angry rant over!

I feel so much better!