"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

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Is This Real Life?

I think the biggest challenge I've had as a storyteller was thinking I wasn't 'smart' enough to be a 'real' writer. Cause like, those are real smart people. Super smart. Something I'm not.

A published book and several published essays later, I stopped telling people I was 'merely' a blogger, but that I was a professional writer.

And of course, because of my acting and theatre background, and because I live in LA, the next logical step was to try my hand at writing pilots.

I love the creative control of it, the ability to tell stories that are rooted in my own experiences, but more than that. I have always loved making people feel emotions. Being an actress was definitely a major part of that. But with my writing, I can make people cry, I can make people laugh. I have so much storytelling power with being a television writer -- way more than I have being an actress.

Because, even with extraordinary talent, an actor can be overlooked. But a writer... with that same amount of talent, can be celebrated.

In January 2017, when I was a writer for the CBS Diversity Sketch Showcase, a literary manager was invited for a Q&A and told us that no lit rep would take a writer seriously unless they had a few pilots in their portfolio.

"Guess I better learn how to write a pilot," I thought to myself.

And I did. I read books, I joined writers groups, I read scripts, I offered notes on scripts to other writers, I joined Facebook groups focused on writing, and I wrote 3 pilots and 5 specs, and just 33 months after thinking I needed to learn how to write for television, I got the call from NBC asking me if I'd accept their offer to join the 2020 Writers on the Verge fellowship.

I didn't think it would be this fast; I didn't think I was 'smart' enough to actually have this opportunity. I have been The Struggling Actress for so long, I thought I'd at least be The Struggling Screenwriter for at least half that same time.

I am lucky. I know I am only in this program because of the help people offered to me. Friends who have given thoughtful and insightful notes on my work, people who have blogged how-to's on screenwriting so that I could search and learn from them, others who have suggested opportunities for me to join, or apply to, or all of the many countless other things.

Yes, I worked hard. Yes, I made sure I was ready. But holy shit, you guys. In comes down to this, fellow struggling actors: You are already smart enough to tell stories in ways other than just acting.

And if I can do this, so can you.

There may just be more opportunities if you learn how to see just how many paths there are in this town.

You can read the Deadline announcement here. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Oh, Hey There!

Life is kinda funny. You put so much energy into other things, focusing on other aspects of life, and then, boom! bam! bing! Good stuff happens.

So maybe some of you know that I wrote a book, Break the Rules and Get the Part: Thirty Monologues for Women, but what you might not know is that I've been not writing on here as much because I've been writing elsewhere. In the next few months, I'll have an essay out for New York Magazine's vertical, The Cut (oh my god, it's good!) as well as an article for InStyle about life as a hair model.

But I've also been looking into television writing.

My first pilot, Love Scenes, LLC, made the Top 50 (or top 2%) of the Tracking Board's Launchpad Pilot Competition, and I just found out my spec, Master of None: Ambiguity, just made the semi-finals of the Breakk competition for women television writers.

I know what you're thinking: "Damn, why's your makeup so fancy today?" I know. It's a lot. But don't I look good?? And of course I didn't apply this makeup by myself - I can't make myself look this good on my own! This gorgeous face is because I just worked my FIFTH day on an extremely popular television show!

So yeah. Things are good. I keep getting validation on what I'm doing, and I'm so blissfully happy right now.

I hope you are too.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Best Book for Newish LA Writers and Actors

I tore through this book so incredibly quickly; 100 pages would go by and I'd be like Geez! I can still keep going!

I've highlighted sections, made notes in margins, and dog eared sections to go back to.

If you're like me and want to know more about the television industry without being talked down to, this book shows what the entire process is like from pitching a show all the way to be hired as a Showrunner and what that process involves, including the calendar of when to hire each production head.

The best thing? The author talks to his audience as people who are serious about writing, and who will follow a successful trajectory, with ways on how to even begin. He doesn't assume you are some lofty dreamer -- he assumes you know how to write and need to know everything within the industry.

Highly recommend. And cheap!


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

I Kicked 2017's Ass

I've been blogging less because I've been busy writing. Isn't that funny? I have multiple essays being considered at several women's magazines and one at a lit journal, and my book is in book stores and online.

One essay I wrote was taught at Dartmouth last year. And a pilot script I wrote and sent out to a friend for notes, was returned with the response, "I think you can sell this. I want to help. Give me a call." And I'm doing the last bit of post production on a sizzle reel I created for it. I raised money to pay my almost fully female crew and it was one of the best sets I ever worked on. I watch the bar scene after we picture locked, and I am shocked and amazed at how I wrote it. Because I already know what happens, and I still want to know what happens next! My lead actors made it so good. I am so, so proud.

I've been working on the pitch materials for the project, and have been hard at work on writing a second pilot, developing another series idea, and finessing a six episode web series script.

So many things are out of a struggling actor's hands, but there is so much power in creating your own content. There's so much power producing. There's so much power in believing in yourself.

May 2018 bring us all powerful belief in ourselves.

We can do it.

I believe in you.

Friday, August 25, 2017

I Need Your Help


I need your help.

I have been writing this blog, helping new actors get their bearings in LA and understand the Hollywood system, for free as a labor of love, since 2009. That's 8 years. 8 years of sharing my struggle, my insight, my advice, without taking any of your money, just because I wished there was a resource like this when I came out here.

I've written a pilot. It's good. It's also sexy! And a friend of mine with a development deal (with two celebrities attached, so you know, he's kind of a big deal) liked my pilot so much that he offered to help me create a presentation for it and use his contacts around town to help me pitch it to studios.

I Need Your Help to Raise Money for the Pilot Presentation.

Please check out my Kickstarter page.

If you would like to thank me for helping you navigate Actors Access, or how to take great Headshots, or even how to audition for the CBS Diversity Sketch Show, and want to donate a few bucks (or you know, a thousand; no judgement!), I would gladly take it and give you a big virtual hug, as well as whatever incentives you got.

Include a message in the notes section that you're donating because you saw this post and are thanking me for helping you.

I'll thank you right back.

with love and gratitude,

Friday, July 28, 2017

Self Tapes

You guys.

I've been concentrating on television writing, taking classes, reading books, studying my little heart out to really understand the craft so that I can keep working as a storyteller.

Wrote a pilot and sent it out to friends for notes, and OH MY GOD. One of my friends with a development deal at Sony (with two celebrities attached, so you know, he's kind of a big deal) liked my pilot so much that he offered to help me create a presentation for it and use his contacts around town to help me pitch it to studios.

Is that weird? Yes. Yes, it is. Because it always feels like that's how the other half lives. But now, I'm living that life too. And I'm in pre-production, gathering up crew and locations, and making sure my director, DP, and Production Designer are ALL WOMEN, and will all GET PAID. One of my male actors (a recurring on Silicon Valley) has even offered to waive his fee so I could put that money towards my women crew. HOW AWESOME IS THAT? Oh, and my producer friend? Also doing all this FOR FREE.

You know why? Cause they believe in me. And that feels fucking awesome. Because even though I've been writing this blog, helping new actors get their bearings in LA since 2009, and even though I wrote a freaking book, I still sometimes don't feel like a writer. It's weird.

I gotta get over that, you know?

Oh! And I had one actor email me that he read my post on how to audition for the CBS Diversity Sketch Showcase, and he got a Callback and wrote to tell me thanks! You're welcome, Rene!

Anyway, the Point of this Post

Right. That.

You ready?

For my pilot presentation, I put out 3 different breakdowns on Actors Access, asking for self tapes.

Here's what I found learned that I think you may find helpful:

Some actors, for some reason I could not understand, did not find a scene partner, and just recorded themselves saying their own lines.

I'm really not sure why they thought that was a good idea. Acting is reacting. So when you just read your own lines, you're already eliminating half your scene. And I get it, the other character had a few chunk of lines, but as a casting director, I needed to see how you reacted to what he was saying. I needed to see your disbelief, your disgust, your intrigue, all within the six seconds he was talking.

Some actors went for 'realism' and went on location.

One of my sides took place in the doorway of an apartment, so two different actors took their cameras and recorded themselves doing their scene in the doorway of their own apartment. Don't do that. It's distracting. You're showing me that you care less about your performance, which is all I care about, and more about location. How many times did you have to redo your tape when a neighbor walked by?

Some actors used a blank wall while others didn't have one so I saw their entire apartment. 

And you want to know what's interesting? The actors who've studied their craft, the ones who created a character, the ones who were really good; they had my whole attention. The ones who were still new and green? I checked out their place. Ooh! A bookshelf. Messy clothes.

Because that's the thing about self-tapes: I only need 5 seconds to judge you. If you don't wow me in those first 5 seconds, I can move on! So the lesson here, is to make sure your first 5 seconds are really, really good.

What does that mean?

Well... that's what class is for. Audition technique is really something you need to learn.

Another thing you should learn?

80% of the tapes I received were 'good enough.'
I thought, you know, I could work with this person. I can tell they're good enough that I could direct them to give me what I want. They're fine.

But for each role, I had my top 3, and what struck me was that I only had ONE person per role who fucking NAILED IT and had everything I needed in regards to what I was looking for in the character. That's it. ONE.

Are you that ONE? Sometimes you will be. Most of the time, you won't.

Sometimes you'll kill it in your audition but then the role gets taken by someone the producer knows. 

That is a fact of life, and it sucks. For instance, one woman was sooo good! And even though she was in that character's age range, I couldn't cast her because she'd look too young around the other actors I had already cast.

And then, after much discussion, my producer convinced me to take the role, because then we can tout me as the creator/writer/star; the next Mindy Kaling.

And if anyone is like, "We love the idea, love your writing, but don't think you can lead a series and we really want Amber Riley in your role," I'd be like GO AHEAD.

In fact, that was actually something I talked to my cast about: the chance of me actually selling this show is 2%. And of that just 2%, the likelihood of my original actors getting to keep their roles is .3%. That's the damn truth.

No matter how good of an actor you are, no matter how much I would want to keep you, Kylie Jenner could want to star on a TV show, and you'll get pushed out because you don't have millions of followers on IG.

Hollywood can suck.

I wish I could message the ones who really impressed me.

I was sort of struck by how I wanted to reach out to a few of these actors and say, "You know what? I get it: sending self tapes out into the ether is fucking awful because you don't ever get a response and it'd be nice to hear someone say, "that was really good," like they do in a first call audition. That little bit of validation can go a long way.

I wish everyone held callbacks like I do.

Because mine were the best. I called back only the people I wanted to cast. I sent them emails saying they were 1 of 3 actors called back, and then, after spending time with them in the room, offered the role to them right there. Told them they were my top, number one choice this whole time.

That was fun. :)

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

*2020 Update! The Board has completely changed since I did this program, so grain of salt. ALSO! One of the actresses from our 2017 showcase is a season 2 series regular on the Netflix show You. So yeah, this program definitely works!

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 descent 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.