"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, March 21, 2010

Learning to Stand Up

I did a headshot session with a photographer/makeup duo when I had just graduated college. I was 21 and could still go out for 16.

At the shoot, I said to my makeup artist, "Isn't this too much?" My eyes were heavily shadowed, my lips were lined, colored and glossed, my cheekbones were highlighted, colored, and lowlighted. I looked like a transvestite after a $4,000 shopping spree at the MAC counter. "Oh no, honey," the makeup artist replied, "this will look beautiful on camera." I hated that she talked down to me, but this woman must've known what she was doing, right? I'm just a dumb, green 21 year old at my second headshot photoshoot ever.

My agent took one look at the pictures and said, "I can't use these!" The headshots I had taken at 18 and were four years old, where the makeup artist had only powdered me and added mascara and lip gloss looked more like me and my current age than the new ones did.

I should've called up the photographer team and said, "Guys, I need a reshoot," but I was so young (um, a year ago, hack, cough) that I was embarrassed; surely not getting the shots I needed were my fault. $500 GONE. A rather expensive lesson to learn, don't you think? If it feels wrong, trust your gut. Speak out. Stand up.

I did another headshot session and told this new makeup artist that I wanted heavy eye makeup with neutral lips, a "bad girl, kinda gothic, but not," look. (The bad girls are way more fun to play!) The makeup artist did a fantastic job but she gave me black lipstick. I said, "I absolutely love what you did, but this is a little too on the nose for me. Can we see what this looks like with a neutral or pink gloss?" The makeup artists did as I asked and this is what we got.

I knew what I needed, didn't get it at first, stood up for myself, and got exactly what I wanted. I've booked work off this photo, like I knew I would.

I recently came across another instance in my life where I needed to stand up for myself and what I want and wanted and failed. I failed big time. I failed miserably. I sort of pushed myself up, toddled, fell, and stayed down. I told my friends about it, and they were aghast. You? They all said, YOU didn't stand up for yourself?!

I spent $500 on a standing up lesson. You'd think I'd only need to do that once.

There's fear. The floor doesn't look so bad when I'm close up. And my, what intricate detailing in the grout work! But oh, there's some crumbs there. And ew. What is THAT on the floor right there? That stain?

I need to pick myself up, dust off my hands, and say, you know what? You are in the wrong. And you know you're in the wrong. And either we fix it, or we're done.

It's a lot easier to reach the stars when I'm standing up for myself on my tippy-toes.


  1. How old were you when you started acting professionally. I'm 22, still looking for an agent and feeling like it's too late.

  2. Anon: What would you do if it WAS too late?

  3. Love this. Love this so much I can hardly stand it. (no pun intended.) We are both still learning to stand up for ourselves, because others can't do it for us.

    Lira, my heart is full of so much love for you...

  4. love this post.

    ps -- if you ever need to update your headshots, email me, lady -- I've got a guy.


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