"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, August 31, 2010

Why DO I Do This?

I am reposting this on its one year anniversary for my new readers. It's one of my favorites, and one of the hardest I've ever had to write.
Boston Blond said: "Let's talk about acting. Why do you love it? How did you know/decide you wanted to do it professionally? Tell us." Welllllllll......okay.

First off, I should mention that this Draft has been sitting in my edit box for about four weeks now. Because there is a lot to cover and a lot of it is sad.

I used to have a theory that all actors were wounded birds. There we are, wings aflapping, chirping our heads off because we're in so much pain and we can't get off the ground. If only someone could see us! If only they could help us!

This is a photo of my mom holding me. I owe a lot to her. Mom had three kids under the age of 5 at 39 and we believe she suffered post-partum depression after my little sister was born. I remember walking to the car to go say hi after my dad brought in my sister for the first time for us all to meet her. Mom was still exhausted and sitting in the car. I asked her why she wasn't inside with the rest of us. I don't remember what she said, but I do remember toddling off without her, thinking, as young as I was, hmmm, that's strange.

She suffered her first nervous breakdown three years later, when I was six. And she never recovered. I remember visiting her at the recuperation place they put her, where she was to stay for three months. My exhausted father took us one weekend to see her and I hadn't seen her in so long that I ran up to her and hugged her with all my might.

She did not hug me back.

So in my mind, one day my mother just stopped loving me.

And when you're six, all you can think is, "what did I do to make her not love me anymore?"

This would've been a good time for child therapy. None of us three kids went. Hospital bills were skyrocketing and my dad was shuffling from home, to our grandma's to drop us off, to work, back to grandma's to pick us up, to home to sleep, and all over again. My dad got gray hair that summer.

So of course, we three kids were very confused. Mommy is sick, but why? Why isn't Mommy like she was? Why isn't Mommy excited to see us?

My brother probably took it the hardest at first. His behavior problems went WAY up and he took out his anger on my sister and me. He developed OCD, but back then, we just thought he was strange. If we were all lying on the floor watching tv and we walked over him to go to the bathroom, we HAD to walk back over him when we went back to our spots, otherwise he would freak out. He was violent. I told teachers who asked that I got bruises from being clumsy. My family was messed up but it was the only family I had. I hated and loved my brother at the same time.

My sister was too young to remember our mother before she got sick. She was always very sensitive and clung to me, copying me, following me and doing everything I did because I mothered her. I protected her as best I could.

When I was 12, I had written a will and decided I'd probably use razors in a warm bath. I was so unhappy, so sad, so depressed, and we were so poor that I knew my family would be better off without me. But then one day I came downstairs and saw my sister watching tv. And I knew, I knew I had to keep protecting her. That without me, who knows how badly our brother would beat her.

My brother was doing poorly in school, my sister had a learning disability, but the attention I got from my teachers were all so positive, so rewarding, that I excelled more and more. Because I knew that if I was a good student, my dad would be proud, that if I was good, he would continue to hug me back. One year, my sister was in 2nd grad, I was in 5th and my brother in 6th. I was so excited about my dad going to Open House at school, because I had written an essay about how my dad was my hero, and I knew he'd see it. He came home after it was all over and I asked him excitedly if he had talked to my teacher. "Aw, honey, I didn't go to yours because I know I don't have to worry about you."

I was the good kid. I had to be. If I was good, then I wasn't a problem and my dad would still love me.

At 12, I saw an audition notice for the town's kids' community theatre and I begged for my dad to take me.

I got a role!


Finally! People were paying me attention! Oh my god, I can breathe! I AM somebody! Attention from other people validated my existence and gave value to my worthless life. I was 12. I needed this. I needed people to give me this because my mother wasn't and my dad knew he didn't have to because I was his good kid. Suddenly, people, people I didn't even know loved me. I am a wounded dove, my wing is broken. But people can see now I'm hurt. Maybe they'll help me.

I was also very good at writing. Seriously, my fiction isn't bad, and I almost majored in creative writing. I got a lot of attention from this too. One teacher accused me of plagiarism and I was so flattered, that "Thank you!" was probably not the response she was anticipating. Once I moved into advanced English (seriously, Hopkins, why wasn't I there from the START?!) I wrote. And I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote a play that I got to direct for my Drama 3 class in high school.

Because I was always smaller than my brother, I learned early on that words were going to be my weapons when we fought. And my written words gave me a voice which could be heard farther than I could ever shout them.

I was still writing creatively in college and when the theatre department decided to put on Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead ( a total of 4 female lead roles that semester, when over 30 were in the dept.) April, Tracy and I said, eff this, let's write our own stuff, produce it, direct it and give us ladies a chance to be heard and seen.

No one believed that we could do it. But we did. We 3 little ladies had an all female cast of 27 and SOLD OUT EVERY SHOW. We had to turn people away! We collected just shy of $1,000 which we donated to The Transitional Living Center for Abused Women and Children of Fullerton, CA, which helped abused women and their children get out of their homes, their relationships, and gave them a place to stay, live, train for work, etc. And that show was the reason I went to that school. I didn't know it as a freshman, but as a senior, after that show, I thought, no I knew, that THAT was why life led me there. I had written 3 major pieces that were audience favorites, one a scene where 8 year old me is checking for bruises on my 5 year old sister, where she asks me why God let's all this bad stuff happen to us and another where I confront the demons of being a neglected daughter and being scared as hell that I am going to also have a nervous breakdown and be abandoned. (see? ISSUES!)
Our audience cried. People who did not know me cried. People I never met were affected. People I never knew had the same thing happen to them. And it hit me that I'm not the only one to have hurt like this. That I'm not special in my pain; that EVERYONE can relate to my broken wing because we've all been too hurt to fly at some point, or multiple points in our lives.

We had a Q&A session each night after our show, because, why not? And every single night someone different would thank us for putting a show like that together, and one night, a lady said, "If there was one thing you would want us to take home with us tonight about your show, what would it be?" April and Tracy both looked at me. "Take all the hurt you've ever had, all the pain, and turn it around and create something beautiful." I said.

We go to the movies, to the theatre, to escape our own troubles and watch someone else's so that we can relate to our fellow human beings. We want to FEEL. Things. And if I can make you FEEL something different than the feelings you came in with, I did my job. I affected you. I am relating to you. I too have a broken wing.

And with all the hours of therapy and self-help books, I like to think that I'm getting better.

And I just happen to know a great veterinarian, and I am going to scoop you gently into my cupped hands and take you there. And we'll both get fixed, together.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Music Makes the People Come Together

Madonna was right.  Music makes the bourgeoisie and the rebel.

Okay, I don't know what the hell that lyric means either, but the point is that music somehow pulls us into the song and the lyrics and we are suddenly overwhelmed with emotions we didn't even know we had. Memories that were buried and mostly forgotten are somehow crystal clear when a song from your past plays.

For instance. I don't have too many happy memories of my mother before she had her nervous breakdowns, but I do remember that she had a Creedence Clearwater Revival tape that she would play over and over again when I was very little when she took me to run errands with her. She would call me Suzy Q, and I remember trying to sing along, basking in the glow of having a pet name and feeling loved.

But this song more than anything, makes me think of my mother and being little and carted around in my mom's light blue Mazda, while she sang along with the windows rolled down.

Once I got my license, I drove my sister in my mom's light blue Mazda. We were listening to the radio and this song came on and we were both obsessed with it. It was the first time Imogen Heap was played in states, and I was hooked. This song always remind me of my sister.

I came back from college one summer and played this song nonstop.

It was my theme song for about three years, but that summer, gosh, I must've played it at least 600 times. I still love this song. It feels new and familiar everytime I hear it.
My sister missed me terribly that year. It was before Skype and Facebook, so she felt like I had abandoned her, and the times I did reach out to her, she rebuffed me. So hurt that I had left. She told me years later that she would play the cd I had burned for her and listen to this song on replay whenever she missed me.

My first few years out in Hollywood, my dad told me that there was a very strong chance he had cancer. I took that news like any young woman who counts her father as one of her heroes. I drove out to a cemetary nearby, sat on the grass, played this song on my player over and over again and bawled my eyes out.

I liked going to the cemetery whenever I was upset because it was the one place people wouldn't ask me what was wrong.  This song still reminds me of that time when I thought I would lose my dad, and it still makes my eyes well up.

Blog reader Katie Kavett sent me a very lovely email and asked me if I was familiar with the musical Next to Normal, because it was about mental illness tearing a family apart and she thought it might be of some comfort to me. I had never heard of it, read the synopsis, listened to the song she thought I'd love, and wow. It made my eyes well up. I SO know what this is like. You have to read the synopsis to understand what the heck is going on, and the lyrics will practically take your breath away.

The best part of this song? It's in my range!

It's been a while since I've had a theme song, and when I heard this ditty by Shakira, I thought, yup. This is my life here. I just freakin love the chorus and think the whole thing is so pretty.

I don't know why, but the song simply seems to underscore my living in LA at this stage in my life. I feel like a gypsy sometimes.

What song makes you cry? What song do you strut to every time you hear it? [I strut to this one!!]

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What to Do with Your Free Time

Not much to report on this end as auditions aren't happening because I'm booked out from 8/28 - 9/10.

In the meantime, I've been spending all my time getting ready for the desert camping trip we're embarking on and couldn't be more giddy. I'll also be officiating the marriage between my friends Eric and Megan, and am meeting her family tonight and going over the ceremony. You want to know what's great about marrying people? The whole entire ceremony and entire party and guests are there because two people fell in love. It's an exciting thing, and the love is palpable. Everyone is happy.

I also didn't want to leave you lovely readers in a lurch and have a few guest bloggers writing posts for me with stories I know you're going to love. Just cause my person goes on vacation doesn't mean my blog does!

In between all the packing, I found an old necklace of my mother's, with turquoise colored beads and want to go and buy some pale yellow ribbon so I can make this. So cute, huh? Perfect for fall!

And if you're like me, you probably have a few t-shirts from plays/films that you did and no longer know what to do with. Now you do! 

Have I ever mentioned how much I love mobiles? I do. In college, I bought a box of those cocktail umbrellas that usually adorn mai tais and pina coladas and hung them all up and watched them float above my bed. And since everyone I know is now pregnant, wouldn't this be a fun little thing to make for all the future babies?

And since it's never too early to think about crafting Christmas gifts, I found this and want to make it! Of course, I might just see if I can do the whole thing against another piece of felt and hot glue a pin backing or something, but can you imagine how fun this would be?

That's it for me here. Happy crafting!

Monday, August 23, 2010


My to-do list is horrifyingly long, but I really wanted to say hi to you guys.


Last Wednesday we filmed a few scenes here and there for a webseries I'm doing, called Hollywood and Highland. A few days later, the director, Kevin Fukunaga, edited together a fun little out takes video montage.

Did you know I like to dance? In cars?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Blowing Candles

That's me on my fifth birthday!
Last night, I was watching tv with the love of my life when his phone buzzes at midnight. I looked at him, "Who is calling  you this late?" I said. Who else is up this hour? Turns out it was his alarm. He turned it off and softly started singing, "Happy Birthday to you..." while nuzzling into my neck and hugging me.

I almost got a cavity, it was so sweet.

It's my birthday!!!!

How bout we recap the year?

Last year at this time, I was getting ready to go to Burning Man, an experience everyone should have. I wrote about Why I'm an Actress, got awesome commercial representation, had a bad horror film prove that I look way too young to have a 13 year old daughter, got bangs, got short hair, booked two different 22 year old characters, did a bikini runway hair show requiring fake tanning, booked two national commercials, found the most amazing acting coach EVER, submitted to theatrical reps, got nothing, submitted again, got nothing, submitted once more and signed and had the most amazing experience ever.

What did we learn? TO NEVER GIVE UP!

So, my darlings, I'd like to propose a game with you. Let's play:

HOW OLD Is The Struggling Actress?

Let's judge by pictures and the date I took them!

Sept '09

Aug '10

How old can I play, what do you think? How young is the youngest I can get away with, how old is the oldest I can get away with?

Cause, seriously, I need help with this.

I am celebrating today by rehearsing acting class scenes with my friend Jen and then learning my lines for the webseries episodes we're shooting tomorrow. 

A nice way to celebrate, don't you think?


Friday, August 13, 2010

Where Do I Begin? (The Agency Meeting Part 2)

I don't even know where to start. I am still in shock. I met with my agent Wednesday and almost cried in the conference room.

I guess I should start at the beginning.

Prior to arriving, Peter, the agent, told me that someone in my position would benefit greatly from a manager who knew what they were doing. "Well, if you know any, I'm certainly open to meeting them."

I get a call from him two hours later. "Would you mind coming in an hour earlier at 3:30? I've got my buddy Bruce, who's a manager for some of my clients coming in to meet the team. I'd like you to be there when he's here."

Normally, if you can't find an agent, you try and get a manager who might be able to convince one of the agents they work with to see you and take you on. NOT the other way around! I'm wowed by this. For an agent to set that up speaks volumes. I confirm the new time.

It's now meeting day and parking is atrocious in this part of Beverly Hills. Luckily, I found a 3 hour metered parking spot a good block away. I figured I would be there for about an hour but thought, well, whatever. I put in 2 hours and 45 minutes worth of time so I wouldn't have to sweat while constantly visualizing a parking ticket under my wiper, paid with money I don't have. Plus, it always sucks to have to leave a great meeting with "I gotta go feed my meter." It's lamesville.

I walk into the Beverly Hills lobby and make small talk with a few gentlemen. The agents are in meetings and we wait a few minutes. The guy they're interviewing pops into the lobby for a second, and the guy I've been talking to recognizes him, bounces up, and starts shaking his hand, calling him an amazing actor, one he's idolized for years. I notice he doesn't let go of the guy's hand. The guy thanks him and wishes us well. The other guy looks at me, and says, "Can you believe it?!" I smile and reply, "You got a little star struck there." "He's one of my favorite actors. Oscar nominated! Well, you know it's a good agency if he's meeting with them!"

I wish I knew who that guy was. Dang.

Peter pops into the waiting room, apologizes for the four minutes I've been waiting, and brings me into a backroom. He sits me down and asks if I have any questions. I kinda don't. I mean, this guy is just so nice, with a great resume and work history to boot, with clients I could list who you would know. This is the first agency I've ever been with, with famous people.

"Well, I guess.....where do you see my career going?" Cause heck, I sure don't have a clue. The only career I've known has been that of 'get excited about an agent and then don't have auditions for a year.'

"We're pretty much going to submit you for everything we think you're right for. You could be the new girl in The Hangover 2 or you could be the new girl on The Office."

I like that. Then he looks me in the eye and says,

"I am extremely lucky to have you."

I've never heard an agent say that to me. Ever. They usually make you feel that you are lucky to have them.

Another gentleman comes into the room. "Is this Lira?" he asks Peter. "Yes! Lira, this is Bruce."
Bruce shakes my hand. "He called me after he met you and said, 'I just met the most adorable girl, and I think you're going to love her too.' I'm very excited to meet you."

At this point, they could have both said, "Our agency costs $300/month for developmental clients such as yourself until you book something. Then our fee goes down to $250," and I would have gladly opened my purse and paid. And trust me, although I was pleased as punch to be there, I was also on Bullshit Alert. But it didn't go off. They were an agent and manager in Beverly Hills being GENUINELY pleased and happy that I was there.


Peter excuses himself to get back to the conference room and leaves me and Bruce to chat. I show him my hardcopy headshots, (he likes a few), my new Tanya photos (he LOVES them), and we talk a bit, making conversation about the Bay Area, marriage, small talk stuff.

I should mention that I'm extremely comfortable and completely myself. Possibly even charming. A new agent pops into the room. Her name is Ali. She likes my headshots. She too LOVES my Tanya photos. Bruce and Ali go over my resume. "I don't recognize more than half your credits." I nod. I know. All indies or recreated events shows. "Would you like to see my reels?" Of course they do. We go into Ali's office. They love my comedic reel. They like my seriocomedic reel. They like my demo and offer a few suggestions on how to streamline it. "No one watches past the first 15 seconds," they say. [See?! Start your reels off with your acting straight away! No montages or title cards!!]

They like my stuff. They just want to take off the first two small clips and lead in with the acting stuff. Finally, we all go to the conference room.

Bruce, Peter, Ali, and another agent are all sitting around me. They ask me what type of roles I want to do.

Um. Whatever I can get! I mention that I've done background for Days of Our Lives and that I really want to come back on that show with lines.

"No more background work." What? "No more background, stand-in, photo doubling, none of that. And we're not going to send you out for anything under 5 lines."
"But...my resume -" I mean, for a struggling actress I've got a lot of stuff on there. For a "Hollywood Actress" there's nothing really there.
"We only represent top tier talent. We've build our reputation on that. We've only existed for three short years and we've gained the reputation that we have based on our talent. We are not going to submit our talent for small roles. It's a waste of everyone's time." I stare at the people before me. Peter nods his head. "You're here in this room because of your talent. No more small stuff for you."

At this point I slowly extricate myself from my own body and float above it. They are still talking. About how talented I am. About how I'm worthy of being there. I interrupt because I'm smiling but my eyes are watering. "I just want to say- real quickly - that I have always dreamed of sitting at a big conference table, hearing people say these things to me. I just never thought -" Don't you FUCKING CRY you big PUSSY! KEEP IT TOGETHER! "that it would actually happen. And I'm a little overwhelmed, but super excited."

Peter looks at me. "We are incredibly lucky to have you." Again with that.

Now, he could say that to everyone he takes on, but if he does, I guarantee you he means it from the bottom of his heart every time.

I did not cry. But here I am, Cinderella, at this huge ball, and a little terrified that maybe they think I'm this beautiful princess when really, I'm just a house maid who plays with rats.

I listen to them, still hardly believing that this agency even took the first meeting with me, and marveled at how it all started because first and foremost, I believed in myself. And second, others believe in me.

I had this thought about two months ago after the first agency submission produced nothing, and I thought; what if my goal to be an actress is never fully realized - that instead, my role in the universe is to inspire other people to follow their dreams? And I liked that, but only sort of. Because I HAVE had people email me that I'm inspiring them, that they're so thankful that I'm writing and trying to help others starting out, and I am so touched and thankful that they took the time out to tell me that, but the big question is this: how can someone inspire others to chase their dreams when she never fully realizes her own?

I called this The Struggling Actress with every intention of the title being ironic. That eventually I can  be that Actress who connects with her fans because we've all been inspired by someone like that, and I want to give back. The goal has always been to be a successful actor.

I've had this idea in my head for the last 10 years that life doesn't start until 2012 for me. (This was before I was aware that 2012 is a big doomsday for people, but seriously, Y2K anyone?) I have had this idea for a decade that my life doesn't "start" until Aug 2012.

Do you remember when I wrote about how I was going to go on a FREE trip to Israel but heard a voice, or rather, just understood that I was not supposed to go? I feel like that's what the whole Aug 2012 thing is too. It's something I understand is just supposed to be. And I had a thought, while wallowing in my "am I always going to be struggling?" melancholy, "Holy shit. What if I NEVER become that actress I always thought I was going to be? What if I NEVER make it? What if, in 2012, NOTHING HAPPENS?" Is 2012 when I give up?

Give up?

Give up....?

But....But....I can't DO anything else! I don't want to!

So I said, shut up. Stop it. Think. Who's on your side? Who can help? Find your cheerleaders. I talked to my guy. I talked to Phoenix. I talked to Glow. I talked to my acting coach. And not one of them said, "yeah. seriously. pipe dream. thank god you realized it now!" No one said that. [Here's an I-love-my-Dad-tangent : one time, I called him crying cause I was freaking out about all the money I spent on "my stupid headshots!" "Hey!" he said angrily, "Do not call those stupid! Those are an investment!!"]

So after my pep rally, I said, okay. Try again.





I told the agents at the table my Aug 2012 thing. That I had this feeling I can't explain about my life starting in 2012. Ali said, "Maybe that's when you book your series regular."

I was in that manager/agent meeting for three hours. They HUGGED me when I left. The manager wants to rep me, the agents are excited about me, and I am so incredibly humbled.

I mean, I really feel like David after the Dentist: Seriously - Is this real life?

I'm booked out Aug 28-Sept 7, so I'm hoping that I might get my first audition in late September.

But yesterday, I got a notification.

I got my first theatrical audition in less than 24 hours after signing my contract. They couldn't even submit me until yesterday afternoon. (And I should remind you: my hair is STILL curly!)

If you want to live the life you have always wanted, you can't just envision it. You have to tell your friends and rally them to push and nag and love you so that you are following them even when you are tired, even when you are overwhelmed, even when you think you know what? Maybe I should stop, because you WILL follow your dreams and you WILL fulfill them if you surround yourself with people who believe and know you can.

If I, the Struggling Actress, can keep pushing and going and pushing and going, you can too.

So here is what I know right now: I am being surrounded by people who believe in me. And I'm scared as hell.

I'm Scared! What if they're wrong!? What if I'm not all that?

...how can I find ways to self-sabotage?

BUT: here's what I also know: I've had the 2012 feeling for the last ten years, and now, NOW, I have the major pieces in play that I always knew I had to have in order for my feeling to possibly become a reality.

My new agency had cc'd my new manager my audition. (I had confirmed to all of them that I was going to be at my appointment, and "Wow! That was fast!") and the manager called me. (I should also mention that the role I'm going out for is a character with 8 lines on a network comedy - a HUGE deal and triumph for me!)

"I already talked to Peter. You are never going to be going out for a role this small ever again."

I am beside myself. 8 lines is 8 freakin lines! The character is in a whole scene! With famous lead actors! And my manager says the role is beneath me.

Me. The Struggling Actress.


And, I'm still trying to process that, yes. Yes! This is Real Life!

I feel the love, the power of other people believing in me, and still cannot take it in without my eyes watering. This is the beginning of the beginning. This isn't a new chapter; it's a new book!

I am in awe.

Thank you.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Agency Meeting (Part One)

I've been holding out on you because I thought that I would just write about the meeting and the signing all in one short post, but after yesterday's Epic Agency Meeting, I have to split them up.

I'm only going to tell you about the meeting that matters.

Remember, I had sent out 25 heavily researched submissions to agencies that, based on my resume, would laugh at my chutzpah.

They did exactly that; I got nothing.

Frustrated that my agent said I couldn't get auditions for the last seven months because my hair is curly, I contacted a casting director who had cast me before asking him what I should do. He helped me pick a headshot, instructed me what to write on my cover letter and to put "Referred by" with his name on the outside of the envelope. He also changed a few names and eliminated five agencies on my list.

I got two bites (5%!! That's HUGE!). Here's the first one's story.

I got a voicemail. I left a voicemail. I got a voicemail. I got an assistant, who put me through to the agent, Peter, and before he even said hello, exclaimed, "Well, aren't YOU adorable!?"

Uh....what? Gosh, thanks! And yes, I guess I am!!

He tells me that he's moving offices from Santa Monica to Beverly Hills and to call him next week to schedule a meeting.

I call next week to schedule a meeting. He says that everything is still in boxes and to call back next week when everything is settled.

I call back next week. The boxes are only somewhat unpacked, and the place is still a mess. Call back next week.

I call back next week. The office is still in bad shape, he says, and he wants to wait for it to look nice so he can impress me. "Why don't we schedule a meeting for next week?" I ask. We do.

I go.

Beautiful art is on the floor, waiting to be put up, boxes are still unpacked, the conference room is partly storage, and really, I think nothing of it.

I had learned that being a responisbile actor means asking them such things as, "How many people of my type do you have?" and a few others, but I've also read from agents that they hate that question, because if they are bringing you in, it's because they want YOU. I had seen his client list on imdb, I recognized the first page of names, everyone has a starmeter (not that it means anything!) under 10,000 and I'm wondering why he's interested in me.

He apologizes for the mess and leads me into the conference room. He is the only one there in the office. Maybe an assistant I can't see. I sit down with him.

I am Serious Actress.

I am Attentive.

I am Also Boring.

He asks me, "How do we know each other again?" We don't, I reply, I submitted through the mail.
"Wow. I never open submissions. I got lucky."  You got lucky? No. I got lucky.

We talk for a bit. He asks me if I have questions. I don't. He didn't even ask to see my other headshots. This guy is completely charming and avuncular, and with his work history, I am pretty sure I'm in good hands here. He asks me if I have another meeting. I do.

"Let me offer you some advice, if I may."

Let me translate that for you: "Let me give you some tips on how to come across better to another agency you may like better and ultimately go with - but I want to help you regardless because that's the type of guy I am."


"Don't let there be dead air in the interview. Show up with your personality in the room a little bit more. People are going to fall in love with you; own it."

It's true. I was boring. I had done my research; I knew who this guy was and because I was trying to come off as smart and invested in my career, you know, professional, I was boring. I thanked him. "I'd be lucky to have you." he said. "I want to work with you. So after your meeting, please, give my ofice a call either way so I know." He then asked, "Since you've been in LA, which agent meeting has been your favorite so far?"

I didn't expect that question. I thought about it. It wasn't the one with Kathy who made me feel like I was stupid, nor was it with Casey who didn't know how to present himself or his company, nor was it the agent who kept me waiting 40 minutes while he shot the shit with another client, making me angrier by the second and contemplate leaving.

"This one." I said. I meant it. He smiled, said Good, and walked me to the door. 

A week goes by. I call his office. I get a voicemail. I get him on the line and told him I'd love to work with him if he'd have me. "The other guys weren't as nice as me, were they?" he asked, laughing, and I said, "Honestly, I can't imagine anyone else giving me advice on how to succeed better at another meeting with another agency just because they want to help me. That says so much about one's character. I want that person on my team." We schedule a time for the following week for me to come in and meet the team.

I met the team. Yesterday.

And almost cried in the conference room.

....to be continued.....

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cause It's Scary!!!

I have asked myself a few times lately what would happen if suddenly, voila! the stars alligned, angels trumpeted, and I booked a series lead on a television show so that people would recognize me and strike up conversations as I tried to remember if I was out of the Supers or the Regulars while at the Feminine Needs aisle at the grocery store. What would happen if I exited a plane after a 12 hour flight and was harassed by photographers. What would happen when my ass landed on the "Stars With Cellulite!" spread in the celebrity tabloids?

I don't know, but you guys, the thought terrifies me. Not about all those things, but really, what if I actually become successful? I am terrified of becoming successful.

And it's because all I've known for the last few years is the struggle and although I worry about next month's rent and how I'm going to pay for it, I'm used to it.  The struggle is all I've known. The struggle is, dare I say it, comfortable.

It's easier to recognize in other people than it is yourself and it's very frustrating. But I understand it: I grew up with a very violent older brother and one day, while in computer lab in second grade, I tucked my knees to my chest in class and the computer teacher asked me how I got those bruises on my legs. I hated my brother. I hated what he did to me, how he hurt me and my sister, but he was also my brother. And I lied and made up a story because I didn't want him to get in trouble. Although it's twisted and fucked up, he was my family, and my family was the only family I knew. Although he hurt me, I  protected him. I was loyal.

And this is a cycle abused kids find very hard to break.

And regular people do too.

We get comfortable, we get used to it, we understand it as life as we know it.

When I met the love of my life and he asked if I wanted to see his portfolio, I tried very hard not to roll my eyes when I said sure, why not, because I was pretty sure he wouldn't be any good. I sat on his bed, opened his book, and my jaw dropped. Here was the most amazing image, after image, after image, and when I finally was able to pick my jaw back up, I said, "Why on Earth are you doing caricatures at CityWalk?"

He had worked his way up to manager, was the fastest and most requested artist, had made lots of friends, and grew comfortable. But he wasn't drawing comic books, which is what he had wanted to do since he was six years old.

So, after realizing that this sexy hot piece was also incredibly funny and extremely intelligent, I pushed him because I loved him. I wanted him to take the jump into the unknown and see how far he could go because I knew he was amazing and was worried he settled because he was comfortable. He was. And all he needed was that push. And nagging. And cheerleading, but I was more than happy to do it because I believed in him and his work, and knew that if he was doing comics, he'd be happy.

Flash forward a few years, and he's sitting at a panel at Comic Con, talking about the art he did for Stan Lee's Time Jumper, WITH Stan Motherfuckin Lee.

I also have another friend. Also a struggling actress. And she became comfortable being managed by a person who had once sat her down and said, "I don't know what to do with you," which is polite for, "I'm done trying." She was surrounded by friends who said it was time to let him go and find another person who was excited about her. But she didn't. She can't. She's too loyal. And she's comfortable driving an hour and half to her survival job each day, instead of auditioning for television and film roles from her new manager/agent, because that's what she knows: the struggle. And everytime I see her, I push her, harder and harder and she IS listening; she's putting all her pieces together, slowly, slowly, to get new representation who will work hard for her. But I have to get louder and louder to make sure she hears me, and the volume of my shrieking upsets her cat, who she has to calm down, which makes me think she's ignoring me so I have to shriek louder....Vicious cycle. But I will do this because I believe in her, and I want her to be happy. And the only way to be happy when you're driving an hour and a half is when you are coming home from having worked on set.

We get comfortable in the struggle, and we will let days, weeks, months pass before we look back and think, what the hell did I do with my year? Why am I out here, far away from my family, far away from my hometown, doing a job I hate for a career I want but am too scared to pursue? Because we believe we're not worthy.

Cause success can be terrifying. It's new. It's unchartered territory. Cause, for reals: What will I do with my black Shoes for Crews if I'm not wearing them to my dinner shift?

We will self sabotage over and over again, without fail, so you better believe that you need to find friends who get you, get your dreams, and will cheer lead you on and forward and you best take their advice because they want what's best for you, and they want you to be happy.

But above all, don't forget: you need to want to be happy too. Yes, the unknown is scary, but you can do it. I believe in you.

All you need is to believe in yourself too.

Monday, August 9, 2010

But You Gotta Hope Anyways

In last week's magazine, Entertainment Weekly interviewed Julia Roberts. Here's an excerpt that stuck out to me:

EW: Have you ever been in such a dark and sad place as Liz [from Eat, Pray, Love] finds herself in the moive?

Roberts: As a younger person, [with] problems that are more unformed and immature, I'm sure. There's a moment where you're hitting the compass and it's just not giving you the way to go.

EW: When was that for you exactly?

Roberts: Well, my whole 20s was like that: trying out this idea of things, working a lot, and moving away from home at 17 and being away from my mom. So there are times when you're figuring out those puzzles where you really do feel lost. "Do I really want to be an actor? Is it really going to work out?" You want to talk about a series of breakdowns? Talk to any actors in their 20s. You just never know if it's going to click.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I Can't Blame Them for Trying

Maybe because it's late summer and the heat is frying people's brains, or maybe because people who don't normally create and produce and have little preproduction experience are now creating and producing (nothing wrong with that; that's great!...) but there seems to be a bevy of people lately who just don't know the proper etiquette when it comes to auditioning talent for sexy and/or topless roles.

I submitted for a character in a play: "Rachel - Female, early to late 20s. Cute, funny and very sexy. A serious college student who happens to pay for school by working as a call girl."

Sounds like fun, right? I love being all dolled up in a hot outfit and being cute, funny, and very sexy. With the right amount of makeup, I can pull it off, no problem. I want to read for this role!!

And then, Yay! I get the notification that I've been selected to audition! Woo Hoo! Um, wait a second. I open up the email and read:  
 Please come dressed in your best "call girl" attire. You may be asked to model your sexy undergarments, so please dress your most flattering underneath as well."
I once did a show where my character had to wear lingerie onstage for almost the entire second act. I once did a show where my character had to wear a nightgown, and after our first and only dress rehearsal, saw that, on opening night, my gown (which was also so see-through, I had to wear a robe backstage to not feel so naked) now had slits up to my hips because the director deemed the gown "not sexy enough." I once danced backup for burlesque dancer Vanity Flair, wearing a bra, corset and short skirt onstage.

I have a very healthy body image, know how to flirt, and know which outfits in my closet make me feel sexiest. I even have some very sexy funderwear.

But guess what. You are not going to see them at an audition. Ever.

I'm an actor. I play characters who have sexy costumes chosen by a designer which are then fitted to me and altered in such ways to make me feel comfortable onstage. When I had to wear a strapless dress for a show, I mentioned to the director how I was worried that the dress could slip down my chest, or that I would constantly be pulling it up. No problem, she said, and had straps added. When I was onstage in lingerie, I wore my underwear, and then big black granny panties to cover Everything so that when I flashed the audience by accident, no one could see anything they weren't supposed to, which allowed them to concentrate on the show (instead of my own personal show).

Guess what you're not getting from me at an audition! That's right! Your own personal show! I am NOT showing you my underwear. My underwear is none of your goddamn business. If you want to see what my body looks like, ask to see me in form fitting clothes. Ask to have my swimsuit underneath, but I gotta say, you can probably tell if a girl has a good body or not simply by looking at her. And it's a PLAY! There are no closeups! Why are you so concerned with my underwear in the first place?!

So I did what any smart actress would do: I checked out the sides. You can tell a lot about a production just by the script. If the script sucks, so does the rest of the production because if they don't know what good writing is, they don't know what good anything is.

They said the script was a comedy but I could find no humor in any of the seven pages I read.

Because, at the very least, if the script was good, then I could still walk in there and audition, and if they cared to see my sexy underwear I could look all sexy-eyed and simply say I wasn't wearing any. That's an easy (and stupid) thing to bypass.

The audition turned out to be an easy (and stupid) thing to pass on as well.

What angers me, though, is how other actresses might not know that not only is this unprofessional and uncalled for, but is also unsafe.

Then I saw this posting on Craig's List [my thoughts are in bold]:

Hilarious SAG comedy is looking for a beautiful, supporting actress to play very important and memorable role in feature film. [Then why are you posting on Craig's List?]

This is a very broad comedy and this is a very important role. You will be in 4 scenes, all with the lead character. Need a beautiful, 20-something, Caucasian girl that can be very, very, very [okay, I get it!] sexy and funny at the same time. You must have many talents. [more than just being very, very, very sexy and funny at the same time?] There is nudity in this project, and that nudity belongs to you, so don't submit if you are not OK being topless.

If you're on the fence about doing nudity, submit and let's talk. This could be a career changing role. Shannon Elizabeth in American Pie is a good example. [Shannon Elizabeth is NOT a good example. She is only known as "The Naked Masturbating Girl from American Pie." She had a very hard time finding any serious work after that.] Do this role right and you'll have a comfortable career in the future. [name something Shannon Elizabeth has been in recently. Yeah, I can't either.]

Here are the benefits!

Good pay. It's a SAG film, you are in 4 major scenes and we'll pay you more than scale since you are doing us a favor by showing your boobs. [Showing my boobs WOULD be doing you a favor, I'm sure.]
Topless nudity is all the rage. [awesome selling point.]

Show off your assets while your young and forever be remember as being a hot chick! [oh yeah, good point: I'm just going to get old and ugly later. Why not immortalize my perky breasts forever on celluloid?]

Europeans don't even blink twice for toplessness. (Except the one that submitted and said she wouldn't do a topless scene.... and she still submitted) [oh good. that totally makes me feel better that boobs don't faze Europeans, and I feel superior to that dumb European who submitted and said she wouldn't do it. What an idiot SHE is!]

Boobs are awesome! Guys love them. Girls love them. [Don't forget babies!]

Okay, submit away...

Please, actress submissions only, none of the following:
-dudes [but what if they have boobs?]
-weirdos [but what if they are very, very, very sexy and funny at the same time?]
-girls not okay with nudity (there's a reason I stressed it so much. I get a lot of girls that write me long emails, send me pictures and close with "no nudity." It's a waste of time).
-musicians or erotic musicians (this includes composers!)
-someone asking me if my item is still for sale. Seriously?
-Nigerian royalty
-If you are a studio (especially with a 200 ft green screen)
-anyone altering me that I won a foreign lottery
-anyone under 18
-people that bring their boyfriends to legit auditions. This is a job interview. don't bring boyfriends. You wouldn't for any other job.
-People that won't show up. I block a chunk of time to meet with you. When you no show you are adding time for me to write up lists of people I will never call in again. [if you're looking for talent on Craig's List, I'm sure those no-shows are not missing out on any stellar projects.]
If all of this sounds awesome to you, and you want to gratuitously flash your boobs, go find it on CL and submit. It's a Union project, so you will be protected and bumped up for going topless. (If you ever do non-union boobie flashing, make sure you go over your contracts very carefully and feel safe!) I just find it very strange that this director isn't using breakdowns to find his professional SAG actors. That screams "watch out!" to me.

I did a horror film that switched directors and did reshoots, and when the new director asked me how I felt about showing my boobs in one scene where I'm going berserk and turning into a monster, I said, "I'm not cool with it." "No problem," he said, and he hired a woman who had a career in the adult business. I hope the movie goes to DVD soon; I bet I have a stellar rack!

I can do implied nudity. I might do some nudity if it's integral to the character's arc. If the director and producers want me to play a role with gratuitious nudity and I won't do it, either two things will happen: They'll either cast someone else or find a double.

And that's okay with me, because I have an industry rule that has saved me countless times from doing things I'm uncomfortable with, and I think it's a good rule for any struggling actress. It's my Struggling Actress Rule #1:

 Be proud to show the film to my Dad.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Right to Pursue Happiness

When voters passed Prop 8 in California, banning gay marriage just a few months after the state said Everybody can marry the ones they love, I, a native Californian could not believe it.

I could absolutely not believe that a state who welcomes ALL people (seriously, go to any of our wonderful major cities) could somehow say "Just kidding! Fooled you!"

Oh wait. The state didn't say that at all. Its people did.

If you live in California, you either have a family member, a co-worker, or a friend who is gay, if you're not gay yourself. And you know what's wrong with gays? Absolutely nothing.



But Prop 8 did several things: 1) Was more a religious issue than a political one, thus, I knew it was going to have to be overturned because of the law saying, "Yo, religion and government must never influence each other and must always be separated, cause Church will cut a State if you're not watching him. He's violent, ya'll!" 2) It created a group of people who were not allowed the same things as another group of people, which is Unequal, thus illegal. 3) Made the wonderful California people look bad.

We're Californians! We have great weather, beautiful landscapes, and an incredible people accepting everyone. Everyone. We didn't start off this way, back when gold was discovered, and even all the way up to World War 2 with our Japanese Internment camps, but we really tried to overcome all the negative karma in the 70s.

California basically said, Look - We like COOL people! With Radical ideas about love and tolerance and if you're going to come here, wear some flowers in your hair. We're here to love you. Come here to be loved.

And many people moved here because of that.

Federal Judge Vaughn Walker overturned Prop 8 today.

It's not over, of course, as the ruling will be appealed and will probably have to go to the Supreme Court but like I said, and have been saying, It was unconstitutional to begin with.

No matter what your religious upbringing, no matter how you feel about a group of people that are not mirror images of yourself, America shines from sea to sea because of its oath for Equality for All.

Everybody is equal, nobody is better than anyone else.

How can two people loving each other be wrong?

Today's Callback: FAIL

I went out last week for the spokesperson of a major hotel chain and the gig is pretty awesome: national commercial campaign where they will fly you out and film several spots in different hotel locations. Sounds like pure awesomeness, right? RIGHT!

I had my callback today. How strange.

The first audition required saying the monologue of copy and walking in a small circle. SAG rules require the copy also be printed and posted next to the camera so you can always find your spot in case your forget and need to pop your eyes over to be reminded. I walked and talked. Easy, done. Didn't think I had done an especially exceptional job, but I was called back nevertheless. Woo hoo!

The callback today required us to have the copy entirely memorized because the director didn't want us to worry about the lines. Now, having them be memorized was expected but I think it would've helped way more to have them in there just in case anyone forgot, because when you forget you go, "Uh.....um...." and instead of just darting over to the copy near the camera for a reminder, you say, "Oh, let me do that again."

Or at least, that's what I said.

BECAUSE: the director also wanted us to improvise during our monologue. We're walking in a circle, doing a line from the monologue, pretending to interract and improvise dialogue with people who are not there, and then going back to the monologue, about 3-4 times. Want to know what's hard? That.

Ask any actor about their memorization process and they'll tell you that once they establish a rhythm to the piece, they can then recite it no problem. But making them interrupt themselves to have a mini conversation to invisible people and then go back right where they left off in their monologue - that's tricky.

I forget my third line, and instead of being able to find my line at the copy or even starting over right away, instead, I said,  "I'll just start that over." Kiss of death, folks. Kiss of death.

I do it again, make it through, but only talked to one invisible person. The director says, "Okay, now pretend you're walking through the hotel, people are passing by you left and right, you go into a room where there's loud music playing so you have to shout a little, and walk faster." "Still talking to people?" I ask, "Yes, still helping people."

I wish he had said, "Finish this algebra equation while dodging traffic on the 405 and reciting the alphabet backwards." Cause I can guarantee you I would've performed THAT a little bit better.

After I finish that little bit, the director looks at the producers in the room, all huddled around their laptops where the camera is being fed to their computer so they can get an idea of what you'd look like on tv. He says, "do you guys want anything else?" And the producers all look at each other and say, "No, no, we're good." Which means: This girl sucks, we don't want her, get her out of here. 

Ah well. Next time.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Turn Your Hobby into Your Career

Fellow actress Tanya Giang, who I've mentioned before, is coming into her own this year. She's an actress/producer/writer/director and can now add photographer to her slashes! Hooray!

We've been trying to do a photoshoot together for a few weeks, but either it was 200 degrees outside or I was out of town. We finally connected on Sunday, and here's a few shots from that session.

Here I am smiling because my military jacket was deemed too distracting with all its white piping. I just turned it inside out! Problem solved!

I will cut you.

This is my second favorite of the shoot.

Here's my favorite!

We also did some editorial stuff:

Note the colors: My hair is the exact same shade as this abandoned recliner that happened to appear in the alleyway mid shoot, and the blue of my shirt matches the blue of the dumpster behind me. Neat!

Sexy beast in the dumpster area in the back of an apartment building.

How does one take a hat off? Im confused.

If you're interested in having your own headshots taken by a pocketsized photographer, email me and I'll forward it to her. She's only charging $50 for a four look shoot for this week only! After that, it's up to $150. Should you need hair/makeup, she has two lovely ladies to choose from with a reasonable fee. I wouldn't miss out if I were you.