"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

Saturday, October 30, 2010

How to Create an Actor's Resume Part 2

(In case you missed it, here's Part 1)

I can't tell you how to write an Acting Resume. I have to show you.

I can tell you, though, that underneath your name, union status, representation's phone number (or yours if you don't have one) there goes your credits.

It's usually categorized by genre: Film, Television, Theater. Then Training, Then Special Skills. You can add New Media, since that's all over the place now, and I've seen some people put "Commercials - list upon request" to pretty much add space on a small resume. No hating! I did that, and it's fine, but once you can get rid of it (or are submitting to theatrical representation) take it off.

Film and television have they size of the role listed (TV: co-star, guest star, recurring, series regular, and film: Lead, supporting, etc.) BEWARE! If you have "featured" on your resume, it's glorified extra work. We know that, casting knows that, and you can't put extra work on your resume. Sorry.

Theater has the name of the character you played. I've seen some people add parentheses to the character's name with the size of the role, like this: Sheila (Lead). I think it muddies up your resume, but that's just my opinion. If they haven't heard of the play, they might ask you about it. Probably not if you're in LA, though.

If you have any awards or special honors, put them on your resume!

Then Training with what it was, who it was with, and where or what school it was at.

Special Skills. We mean real skills. If you live in LA and list "driver's license" under special skills, you look silly. In NYC, it might be a great skill to have. If you can drive stick, though, notate it.
And if it's a thing that maybe you did once at summer camp, like kayaking, you shouldn't put it on your special skills. If you rode horses for 5 years, on there it goes. Bilingual? Put it on there! Took four years of French 20 years ago? I doubt you're fluent. Take it off.

And take classes that interest you so you can always build your skills. It just makes more fun.

But okay, okay, you want to see a good resume, and some tweaking, right? [update: I had issues with the original google doc so I just made a new template. Here you go! ]

If you have any other questions, you know I'm just a comment away from answering it!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

9 Hours of Sleep in 2 Days

Yesterday was The Biggest Audition of My Life

I got the notice on Mon morning that I would be going in for a pilot for a series regular. In layman's terms (how I relate everything to my computer tech dad), I had an audition for one of the stars of a show that might actually get to tv.
What did that mean? That I, the Struggling Actress was now auditioning for not only pilots ( MY FIRST!) but also for a starring role?

That I was in over my head, nervous as hell, and because of this, waaaay overacting. Great. Awesome.

Three scenes, nine pages. And it was for the role of a 20 something psychologist smarty pants. The female lead. For a CSI meets The Big Bang Theory hour long drama.

I could SO do this.

But  I have NEVER auditioned for anything of this magnitude before. That's a lot of pressure. To be auditioning at that level and not know what the heck to expect. And I really didn't want to fail.

Imagine going to work at a fancy new restaurant and not knowing what the table numbers are or what's on the menu or how to work the dang computer to ring in your food. And you know everyone is going to be mad at you because you're not prepared to do your job and they waited months to get this reservation and there you are ruining their entire night. It felt like that.

I met with Billy, my acting coach because, Hello, pressure! And I needed to be calmed down by someone who's done this. I was so nervous that the character had to be charactery that I was completely off base with who she was. Not only do I talk fast in real life, but when I get nervous, ItalkmoreandmorelikethisandohmygodIwasjustabundleofnervesfromonlyfourhoursofsleepfromthe

I mean, wow, right?

After my first coaching, with the new mantra of "Talk slow, ground it, make it real," I began to feel better. I began to get it. And I began to think more rationally.

I was still nervous though.

The day of the audition, yesterday, I also had a commercial audition and my friend JenNik was there! Yay! I told her about the Biggest Audition of My Life and first, after congratulating me on it, she gave me some great advice: Treat it like it's class work.

The weirdest things calm me down. Treat it like class work. Of course. With class work, there's no pressure. You just try to put everything you've learned from the previous class into the new material and then just let it go and do what you naturally do.

I felt a little better. Still nervous, though.

Billy offered to give me a second coaching before my audition for free to help me go in feeling super prepared. And it was at this one where he said the things that finally killed all the bugs in my tummy.
Such as,
They want Jennifer Aniston for this role. And they'll get Jennifer Aniston.
They want to cast this thing with star names. I think SAG has a rule (don't quote me, though) where you have to audition a specific number of people for any SAG project. You could offer the role out but still have to audition people. You might think that sucks because you're auditioning for a role that technically doesn't even exist, but it's actually great; now the casting director knows who you are and she might not have known you previously. So if they're going to offer this out to a star anyways, why am I fretting? Why am I nervous? It doesn't even matter! I just need to show this casting director what I can do.

I once auditioned for a music video for the love interest of Jason Alexander, who was also directing. The casting director called me up and said, "Jason absolutely loved you so I am putting you on avail. But he really wants Marcia Brady. And he'll probably get her." And they did. This is more of the same and I'm fine with it. It's how the business works. You need backup plans just in case. 

And ironically enough, in the waiting room, I heard the receptionist put an offer out to Missy Yager.

The production actually doesn't know what it wants yet. They are auditionig the lead and the character I went out for in two different categories: mid 20s to early 30s and mid 30s to 40s.

You'll get in there and only do one scene, and it's the scene you hate.
I got in there, and we were only doing one scene. BUT it was the scene of our choice. Woo hoo!

These are technically known as pre-reads. They're not "real" auditions. They're just making sure you're not an idiot and can actually act. They're doing a million of them. They're auditioning half of LA for this same role Missy Yager could have possibly already said yes to.

But I went in there and I did it. I did it! Italkedwaytoofastofcourse but I left that office feeling pretty good and happy with the feedback: "That was really cute at the end" "Nice work" "Thanks for coming in." And even if those are veiled forms of "This role does not technically exist as of four minutes ago), I now have a series regular pilot audition under my belt.

And JenNik was right: I went in and it was just the casting director and me. No camera. No distractions. It was just like class.

And just like that, it was over. I went home. I felt good. I felt zen. I did okay. I did well. And now I know what it feels like so I can be better prepared for the next time.

Where I will not talk



f   a    s    t.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

4 Hours of Sleep

And last night I thought I was all zen about this upcoming audition too. Ugh. I'm feeling less spacy, but man, rough night, and I can't understand why.

I mean, not to trash myself or make me seem like I have no self-worth, but me booking this series regular role is a long shot. I know this. I am at peace with this! The producers are even looking at actresses in two different age ranges for the role.

And here's what I know.

Even if I DID book this pilot, great. We shoot the pilot. But there are so many things that could happen afterward - I could be replaced, the pilot could never get picked up, it could get picked up and then canceled after one airing....

What I really want to do is make an awesome impression to casting.

What I really want to do is not be nervous in the waiting room.

What I really want to do is size up the other actresses in the waiting room and agree, yup, I belong here and am just as thin/pretty/tall/talented/wonderful.

What I really want to do is audition for this part and know, YES, THIS IS THE LEVEL I SHOULD BE AUDITIONING AT.

Because I'm worthy.

I need to be myself, fun, charming, witty and relaxed. I just need to have fun with it. That's what I want to do: A fantastic job.

And to be able to pronounce Fluticasone Proprionate correctly.

and you guys, seriously: thank you so much for the well wishes. You have no idea what it means to me. Not only my friends, but strangers are wishing me luck and saying, "you can do this, I believe in you!" It's beyond what I ever expected. I hope I can return the feeling for all of you one day. It feels pretty freaking great.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Things are Postponed


If you are NOT HAPPY with your representation,

If you are FEELING STAGNANT with your career,

If you dream of one day not STRUGGLING,

Then GO: get into a class that pushes you, get a new current hairstyle, take new headshots and go submit to the agencies you want to be with.

You too could go from an agent who tells you you're not getting auditions because your hair is curly, to an agency that sends you out for a Series Regular role on a new pilot.

I have some lines to learn. A lot!

How to Create an Actor's Resume Part 2 is postponed.

I hope you understand.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

How to Create an Actor's Resume Part 1

Let me preface this with a simple Always Follow Your Representation's Resume Guidelines!
But if you don't have a resume, or do and want to see if you might be able to improve it or if you are completely lost, then great! Start here!

First things first: Never put your address on your acting resume. You don't need to, and if it got into the wrong hands suddenly, some perv knows what you look like, knows where you live, and when he comes over to find you, probably isn't going to talk about how awesome you were in Hamlet. Get my drift?

And another thing. As much as I want to tell you THIS IS HOW IT IS DONE, consider the source. I'm a struggling actress for a reason, ya'll. So take this for what it is. (I have, however, been to about.com and saw their actor resume tips and I WOULD suggest doing it my way instead of theirs, as I have been doing this for a couple of years and have actually gleaned a few things.)

How did I first figure out how to do my acting resume? Simply. When I signed with my first agent, she asked me if I knew how to do one. I didn't. She gave me one of her client's headshots and resumes and said, "Do it like this." I've learned and grown along the way.

Ready, let's go!

For starters, let's consider this header:

Jane Doe
website: janedoe.com /cell: 555 555 2010

Not bad, right? Right. But let's streamline it a bit:

Jane Doe
cell: 555-555-2010
reel: janedoe.com/reel.html

I like this better.
We took off the bolding cause I think it looks better that way (my blog, my opinions!)

I took off the hair and eyes thing because it's no longer necessary to include it. An actor used to need that on their resume back when headshots were still black and white, but since they're in color now, casting and agents can just turn over your headshot and see for themselves what you look like. Height and weight is gone too because that's info that will go on your size card for commercials, and theatrically, no one cares how much you weigh or how tall you are. Okay...well, they DO, but don't worry about it here. you can leave it off.

Having your website on your resume is fantastic! Having the direct link to your reel is a THOUSAND times better. Don't make prospective agents have to hunt for it. If they're waffling about you and decide to go to your website to get a better idea of who you are, they won't spend a long time trying to find your reel if your website is hard to navigate. Better to just give them the direct link there and if they like what they see, then they'll go looking at the rest of your site.

Still don't like the above? Well, you can always streamline it more! We probably don't need the word "cell" up there because it's assumed now that everybody has one.  And since the reel link has the word "reel" in the backslash, we could probably nix it in the front. How's this?

Jane Doe

To me, this just looks neater, better, and more professional; more savvy. Do you agree?

Tomorrow, part 2.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


[I do this cause I love ya'll.]

Billy O'Leary is awesome. I know this. I'm in class every Tuesday night.

You know this too. You know how? Cause you've seen him in Bull Durham, Hot Shots, Miss Congeniality 2, the West Wing, 24, Big Love and countless other movies and television shows.

Most acting coaches in LA don't act. Billy O'Leary does. All. The. Time.

(In fact, you can see him on TV Land TONIGHT because he played Tim Allen's brother on Home Improvement and one of his episodes is playing.)

And his students act all the time too. Sarah Butler in I Spit in Your Grave? He's her coach. Rebecca Lawrence, in both The Kids are All Right and The Romantics? He's her coach too.
And Jarret Wright, who just booked a top of show Guest Star on House? He's in my class.

You want to work?

email me.

Reserve your spot for next Wednesday, October 27 at 7pm in Burbank.

Quit waiting tables. Live the dream. Be a working actor.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lazy Lazy Lazy

I'm lazy because I'm busy.

Want to read about how I saved someone from being in a major accident? Okay!

Also, LA actors: keep next Wednesday at 7pm open. You know why. And if you don't, you'll find out tomorrow!

And! Who wants to learn how to make a killer resume? I'll share my knowledge. Tracy - may I use yours as an example?

AND - I'm looking for bolts of red hued ribbons AND bolts of purple hued ribbons. Anyone want to donate theirs to me?


Monday, October 18, 2010

Hair Envy

The grass is always greener on the other side, and this is a serious case of that.  I've got corkscrew curls.

Okay, really, I've got frizz that wants to be corkscrew curls. But you know what I really want? And there's no way to say this politely, so hopefully, I'm not offending anyone, but gosh darn it, everyone, in my next life,

I want to be a black girl.

Do you know what they can do with their hair?


They can braid it, straighten it, dread it, cornrow it, they can even shave their head! Seriously! You see a black woman with a shaved head and your first thought is, Wow. A real live African Queen! A woman who exudes so much sensuality and femininity and grace that she looks regal and stately with no hair!


If I shaved my head, everyone would think I was going through chemotherapy.

I am SO envious of big beautiful hair!

I LOVE afros!

 I want an afro! But if I do an Afro,

I don't look fun loving, free spirited, fierce and adorable.
 Oh no. I look goofy. I look like Gilly.



So, I've decided. In my next life, I'm coming back as beautiful, adorable, sexy,
Brandi Ford!


Have you seen the muppet video for "I Love My Hair?" 

Have you heard Willow Smith's "Whip My Hair" song?

Then how bout this adorable mashup?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Here, Here's Your Ass

What can I say? I just did not spend enough time trying to understand the material, cause the material was just HARD, and I didn't understand it, couldn't find the jokes, didn't think it was funny, and honestly, setting up a wedding website seemed waaaay easier than trying to understand my class homework.

So I got my ass handed to me.

When the other girls got to class, I asked them if our material was supposed to be funny and they said, yes. I admitted to just not getting it, to me must not being funny, and then class started.

We received sides from a show called "Outnumbered". It's a British series that Hollywood has tried making into a series already a few years ago. They're at it again. This is the second pilot they're doing for it. A husband and wife are outnumbered by their three kids and highjinks ensue.

There's a new style of sitcom hybrid that's been developed. Have you noticed? The Office, Modern Family; they're both documentary styled sitcoms with talking heads and confessionals. They're hugely successful. And Hollywood is trying to find the next big sticom hybrid series, so when you get the material for a pilot that's kinda funny, kinda not, it's hard. When a character has to cry in a drama, they're really crying. In a sitcom, it's fake tears, and in a hybrid....uh. You don't know how real to make it. This new style is hard. No one's cracked it just yet.

So I'm going to share some tidbits with you guys.
 I missed ALL the jokes. ALL of them. Cause I just didn't prepare enough and blamed the script for my not understanding it.

What did I learn? "9 times out of 10, it's not the script, it's you." AND, "The script already has a job - it's already been hired. You haven't." I need to keep that in my head whenever I start blaming the script for not being funny enough.

I mean, this script is SO funny, it got an entire network behind it to see if it'll be a hit.

I do not have an entire network behind me. I have restaurant experience behind me.

I need to stop thinking I'm the shit and know more than I do.

I don't.

I'm still struggling out here for a reason, ya'll.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Why Don't You Just TALK About It?!

If you've been on Facebook recently, you probably noticed a lot of women are updating their statuses with something along the lines of "I like it _______."

"I like it on the table." "I like it in the closet." "I like it on my desk."

Okay, you probably think, (if you even noticed it) That's weird. What's going on? Then you probably get a note from one of your friends with this:
Remember the game last year about what color bra you were wearing at the moment? The purpose was to increase awareness of October Breast Cancer Awareness month. It was a tremendous success and we had men wondering for days what was with the colors and it made it to the news. This year's game has to do with your handbag/purse, where we put our handbag the moment we get home for example "I like it on the couch", "I like it on the kitchen counter", "I like it on the dresser" well u get the idea. Just put your answer as your status with nothing more than that and cut n paste this message and forward to all your FB female friends to their inbox. The bra game made it to the news. Let's see how powerful we women really are!!! REMEMBER - DO NOT PUT YOUR ANSWER AS A REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE- PUT IT IN YOUR STATUS!!! PASS THIS TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW!!!!
So what we have here is some of the most moronic marketing ever for a really, really important topic.

Here's the thing: If the men read your statuses and the statuses are all alluding to where you like to have sex (cause face it, that's exactly what we're doing) you know what you have? Men TRYING TO JOIN IN with "I like it from behind." "I like it on acid." "I like it with your mom." Cause they think they're finally in on the game. Of course, that's ONLY if they noticed. Most of the time, if you don't understand something, you don't pay attention to it. It's just like a word that's not in your vocabulary - you don't even hear it.

And what does where you like your purse have to do with BREAST CANCER?!?!

This fills me with rage, you guys. I don't know why, but it does. The idea is that SOMEONE COULD POSSIBLY, EVENTUALLY ask what the hell is going on and then SOMEONE MIGHT POSSIBLY tell him, "It's for breast cancer awareness month! We're all saying where we like to put our PURSE!! Isn't it BRILLIANT?!?!!?"

And the guy is going to think, "No, that's incredibly stupid."

Because it is. You have someone thinking, "Why would they do THAT?" when what we wanted was someone thinking, "Yeah, breast cancer is something I should be aware of and find a way to help cure."

You want to know what is more powerful than alluding to sex with where you put your purse?

Actually talking about Breast Cancer.

Every single woman a man has ever loved, could die of breast cancer. Every single one. His mother, his sister, his wife, his daughter, could all find a lump in their breast and die from it.

That's more effective, don't you think?

My grandmother, at only 41, had breast cancer. My father was only in 9th grade, and back in the 50s, if you had breast cancer, you were pretty much told to start preparing for your funeral. My dad, at only 14, thought he was going to bury his mother that year. She had her breast completely removed and celebrated her 88th birthday three days ago. My grandmother survived.

But a lot of other women don't.

Our grandmothers, our mothers, our aunts, our sisters, our daughters, ourselves. We can all get it.

There are 207,090 Estimated new cases from breast cancer in the United States in 2010. There are 39,840 estimated deaths. 

Almost 40,000 women are expected to die from it this year alone. That's an entire city of women. Women you know. Women who are your friends. Women who are your family. A woman, who could be you.

So here, click on this image and print it out, laminate it, and stick it in your shower.

If you're in a relationship, ask your partner to examine you. If you're in a relationship with a guy, offer to check him for Testicular Cancer. Titty for Tat. (And then reward yourselves together for being so health conscious)

And if you REALLY want to help make people Aware:

You can visit the Susan G Komen website and donate money to help discover a cure. (It's also a great resource for information on breast cancer and what to do if you, or a family member [God forbid] have been diagnosed).

You can honor someone who survived by posting how many years they are cancer free on your Facebook status, plus a link to the Komen site, or commemorate someone who passed away by how much you miss them. Show our friends how they can donate, because ONE IN EIGHT women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and that's just ridiculous, sad, and terrifying.

You can even buy 144 pink rubber bracelets off amazon, sell them to your friends and co-workers and send all that money to the Komen Foundation.

If we want to make people aware of something, we TALK about it. We make it easy to find the information on how to help. We provide facts and statistics. We don't play stupid mysterious mind games on a social networking site and think that's enough.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Taking Advantage of Actors

If you live in LA and need money, the easiest thing to do is take advantage of actors. We have stars in our eyes, our head in the clouds, and SAG background vouchers to earn! In fact, one time, the Love of My Life, was parking his car along Ventura Blvd when someone started rapping on his window.
"You! You are going to have a great year! Very lucky! Make a lot of money! You are very lucky! Congratulations!"
Confused, he walked out to better understand this guy, who kept nodding and saying, "Yes, come with me, you have a very lucky year ahead! I'm psychic! I know these things! Come do a reading!" And before Love of My Life could protest, he continued, "You're an actor, yes?"

Cause actors are easy marks.

I was in second grade when a kid named Julio and a few of his friends came up to me at lunch. We weren't in the same class so it was extremely strange for him to come up the table I was sitting at and say, "You're pretty." We didn't know each other at all. Then he smiled and said, "Pretty ugly."

I've been wary of compliments from people I don't know ever since.

And I just received this email:
Dear Lira,

Congratulations! Jen here, and your blog, The Struggling Actress, is a
Master Blog of Performance Arts!

We've scoured the web looking for amazing blogs that not only are great in
content, but informative and helpful when needed.  And we've determined your
blog to be such!  We like to call it a Master of its category!

You can see your blog and others at: [redacted]
As a winner, we honor you by presenting you with an awards badge.  You can
get your badge at the bottom of our winner's page, just to show your readers
that you are a Master.

If you choose to accept or decline to be recognized, please let me know.

Please do not hesitate to call or email if you have any questions.  Again,
Congratulations, and keep up the awesome work!

Jen [redacted]
Here's what's weird - "Jen here..." Hi Jen. I don't know you. And who starts a professional email like that?
"scoured the web" More like Google searched.
And since they gave me a link, I went to it. 46 actor/film related blogs. That's like what, three Google pages? I mean, come on. And none of them were hyperlinked. It was just a really lazy example of:

Trying to get free advertising. (The little "blog award" is a button that says "Master Blogger!" which is linked directly to their own website to try and sell you online classes.) 

Because creating a blog button, Googling three pages of actor/film blogs and then getting 46 bloggers to advertise for them for free could go out to 1,000+ potential readers for simply taking all of what, 20 minutes of work?

But we actors love flattery. We'll take it when we don't know where it comes from or why, because we're a touch narcissistic and every character we portray starts with "Why do I do that?" Everything is about us.

But be wary. People will find ways to exploit you so that THEY can make money. (Case in point: gratuitous nudity. But that is a topic for another day. )

Just be wise to it. If you're an actor in LA, and Especially if you're a NEW actor, you will lose $200 at the bare minimum from people trying to rip you off and take advantage. Always be careful. And safe.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Oh Yeah!

On my way to a commercial audition I realized, "Oh yeah! I'm on Television tonight!"

Will I be watching it, champagne in hand, surrounded by reveling friends? Nope. I'll be in acting class tonight. And that feels good. Commercial Audition --> Acting Class --> On Television.

But if you're interested, and if you want to sip champagne while you watch, Check out Animal Planet. "The Lost Tapes: Poltergeist" will be playing on the West Coast at 10:30pm. I'm the paraplegic psychic with the really curly hair. Can't miss me.

Random Episode Fact: My first name is an obsolete Italian currency. The lead's last name is Cash. It's like it was meant to be.