"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

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dear Struggling Actress

Jess asks:

Hi Lira- I've been mulling over the idea of moving out to L.A. to pursure acting but I admit, I am TERRIFIED! I'm 24, is that too old to try? Can you suggest cheap, safe areas to look for an apartment?

Yes, Jess. 24 is way too old to try. Unfortunately, you've missed the perfect age, which is when you're in utero. Your mom should have put you in diapers commercials when you were 6 months old so that you could have a career by now. Because that's your competition: girls who have been acting their whole lives.

24 is old. Ancient. This is a silly dream. Give it up. Get a normal 9-5 like everyone else. In this economy, you can't dream or chase dreams, or do what your heart tells you. You're terrified for a reason - the Universe is telling you not to go. And you should listen. Listen to only those who agree with me.

Sorry, Jess, but yeah. It's too late for you.


Okay Jess. How do you feel? Do you agree with me that I'm right and you should stick to what you're doing right now, or are you angry with me, and wanting to give me a few choice words that can't be published here? Because really, the ones who are going to make it are the ones who say "To hell with every one else, I'm going to do it! I'm going to move to LA and give myself TEN YEARS! And you can all kiss my ass!"

Because it's hard as hell out here. It really is. But you are NEVER too old to listen to your heart and do what you want to do. If you move out to LA, find out you don't like it, move back home, who cares? You followed your dream and discovered you wanted something else out of life. There is no wrong answer when you go out and do what you want to do. If you move out to LA, work hard and hustle, you could discover that you love it out here and find success.

And the age. Okay, first of all, being 24 doesn't matter because it's how old you look. To be honest, early 20s has the most competition, but once you reach what looks like is your early to mid 30s, the competition is easier because a lot of women pursue other things, or have families, or what have you. If you constantly train (see that guy to the right? He's MY coach! and I whole-heartedly recommend him once you get here!) and get better and better, get experience, get your reel, get good agents, you could have a steady working career.

As for where you should live - well. Hmmm... It depends what you like. I lived on the Hollywood/WeHo border for a few years and then moved to the valley. I loved living in Hollywood for as long as I did as I got a lay of the land pretty quickly. I then moved to the valley shortly and loved the quieter pace, the more suburban feel, the large, safer neighborhoods.

Backstage does a pretty great article about the best places to live every year in their paper, but I also found you an online piece.

If you're terrified, it means you're not prepared. So go to Google Maps, find the major cities, the cross streets, the freeways, and get a lay of the land before you get here. Come out with a girlfriend and stay here a week and do the tourist thing because it's fun.

If you want to do something, go out and do it. It's the only way to acheive happiness.

The Struggling Actress

Thursday, November 18, 2010

You're Invited!

This last week and a half has been incredibly difficult for me. I'm about to have a Pity Party, so put on your rattiest old jeans, the t-shirt you bought your junior year in high school from a thrift store and let's have a good nice cry about it so I can get it out and away from me and start focusing on the positive things, yeah? Okay!

Negative OUT:

- Didn't book the celeb gossip host gig where I'd also get to write copy for it. I really wanted that. Didn't get it. And ya'll know how I said I knew I was only going to get two takes at most and only ended up getting one? I KNEW that was a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, sign. Not wanting to go in for the close up? Really? If I was so wonderful, they would have gotten it. "One for safety," is a common saying even if you nail something. You get the perfect take and then you get another Just In Case. I didn't get it, and no amount of charm was going to save my butt. Manager found out I was their 6th choice out of 16 girls but that's very little consolation.

- Just found out from my commercial co-star that she was notified that she's been released from our fast food conflict hold. So: No residuals for us. No residuals. The money I've been hoping and counting on since APRIL isn't coming. Ever. My checking account balance no longer reads in numbers. Under "Balance" it shows a sad emoticon. I wish I was kidding. So long wedding budget. Goodbye. Ciao.

- The third part time job I want to pick up are full at all THREE locations. They like me enough and have told me to keep calling them after Thanksgiving. Okay. But waiting another week feels like a slow painful death. And my one part time job can't pay me until the second week of next month and the other can't pay til the 30th. Did you know that in LA County, technically your rent isn't late unless it's been received 5 days after it's due? I've become so adept at floating checks, I'm practically a magician.

- I haven't had an acting gig in a few months.

- The last two weeks have been audition free. And I'm freaking out.

Whew! Great! So glad that's over! Ick!

I feel so much better! Thank you for staying with me here. And now, the best kind of party of all - A Positive Party!

Positive IN!

- Your support from my "didn't book that celeb hosting gig" post was really, really great. You guys helped me remember that although I didn't book the job, I did make a few a fan or two. Although it wasn't cast by a casting director or office - the producers of the segment brought us in- they know I exist. I might not have been right for this, but maybe I'll be right for something else I do. Make fans, right? That's our job. Thank you for reminding me.

- I no longer have any fast food conflicts! I can now audition for McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, and even KFC all over again! Hurray! They have auditions for my category all the time and I usually do pretty well at those. They like my look and casting keeps bringing me in for them.

- What's more American than credit card debt? Oodles and oodles of credit card debt! I'm Giving Thanks for the roof over my head, this computer, our wireless router and my readers. Seriously. You guys are the best.

- My agents and manager keep insisting that I'm going to be very busy this pilot season. I don't know what "very busy" to them means, so I hope it's way more than I could ever hope for. I'm going to look forward to January and February. They believe in me.

- Not having to audition for anything in the last few weeks have given me ample time to go to the gym and organize some of the stuff in our apartment. I'm looking healthier! And so is our home!

See? Yay! YAY!!!!!!

I had a few "Is this it?" for me moments this week, holding a towel I wasn't sure I should keep or throw in. But the question of "What on Earth will I do Instead?" is so immediately terrifying and exhausting and it's like, if I DON'T continue, then I WON'T be using my degree (in Pretend)! I have to keep going! I have to!

And I have to find my side projects to help me keep my sanity in this crazy world. I found an old story I wrote and I want to expand it, so I'm bouncing around ideas on how to keep that going.

AND - even though I was edited out of my first SAG commercial, keeping me from getting residuals, and even though I was released from my second SAG commercial, keeping me from getting residuals, what are the chances the third commercial I book will have the same fate? Slim to none! And I got a great story for Leno one day about how the Struggling Actress really did live up to her name.

++ I gotta stay POSTIVE! ++

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dear Struggling Actress

Remember Rachel? She wrote back to clarify her questions:

Hi, Lira, it's Rachel!

I'm currently in Philadelphia, where I go to school normally, but I'm going abroad from January 2- June 12 2011 through the institution. So yes,
(1) I'm wondering if I should look for a new agent once I return, since I know it's pointless to ask for representation when I'm just going to leave the country. Additionally, is it seen as irresponsible/flighty to change agents so quickly? If your agent isn't getting you out, then leave. All SAG franchised agents have the out clause, where if you don't book work within three months of signing, you can leave. Flighty, schmighty. But leave on good terms and very politely. Don't burn bridges!

(2) Should I resubmit your materials to the NY agent who wasn't interested in me the last time? Why not? She might have a spot that opened up for you.

(3) I would like to have representation when I graduate (and before) because I know it can be beneficial. I'm not so sure on this. You have to book out during all tests, midterms etc. Start submitting two months before you graduate, letting them know when you'll be out of school. When I had an agent when I was in college, it was more a curse than anything else. You only get so many missed classes before your grades start being affected, and you really don't want to have the conversation, "Oh, this audition you got me? I can't go, because I have my Directing 3 rehearsal that I HAVE to be at." Yes, school is important, but it's less important to your agent since all she wants to do is get you work to make her commission. You'll be hard pressed to find an agent who will take you on while you're still in school, and this is a good thing.

Thanks for allowing me to clarify; as you know, I can be riduclously wordy.


And, Rachel, I'm not sure you noticed, but Cole Matson commented on your original questions and had this to say, and I hope you take him up on it as he has way more East Coast experience than I do!

Cole Matson said...
Lira, I might be able to help out your first correspondent, since I both have a Philly agent (having worked 3 years in the Mid-Atlantic corridor) and am also studying abroad in England. I'd recommend she check her contract with her Philly agent first, since unlike in L.A., most agents in the Philly/D.C./NoVA region don't require exclusivity. I have a Philly agent, Baltimore agent, and Baltimore manager (though since my Philly agency is the first one I signed with, they require identification as my primary agency). She might be able to work with both her friend's agent and her current agent. Additionally, even if her friend's agent is exclusive, if they're mutually excited about working with each other, she may be able to cancel her contract with her current agent early if they haven't gotten her enough work (details should be in the contract). My Philly agency is one of the largest in town, and because they're so large, they don't spend much time on each individual actor. They got me 2 auditions in more than a year. I would also recommend she contact that NY agent when she returns from school. However, I wouldn't recommend her moving ahead on the agency question until she returns, lest she frustrate the agent by being eager to sign, and then not being available for months. She's also welcome to contact me at ccematson AT gmail DOT com in case she wants more info about my experience in the Philly market, studying abroad in England while having agents back home, or my time at NYU Tisch Drama. -Cole Matson http://colematson.com/about 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pilot Season Special

As you guys know, I'm studying with Billy O'Leary: the BEST acting coach I've ever had. If you have a BFA, an MFA, I know you will be amazed at all the things you didn't know you didn't know. He's an acting coach who has starred on Broadway, has been a series regular on Television many times, and has starred in major Feature Films.

And now he's offering a pilot season special that is basically taking the Intro to the Template and getting TEN FREE On-Camera Classes. It's kind of a crazy awesome deal. Check out his new website, which includes before and after videos and testimonials.

As always, he offers a guarantee - if you  don't like it after the first class, you get your money back.

Read below for all the dates and details and if you want in, email Assist(at)billyoleary.com

It just might be the best and wisest Christmas gift you've ever invested in yourself.

Lira :)

Pilot season is just like Christmas - decorations for it creep up earlier and earlier every year and pilots have already started casting a few weeks ago.

Billy O'Leary's students have already had producer callbacks for the leads in Waiting and Danni Lowinski. They were good enough to make it through Round 1, and then they crushed Round 2. Why? Because they signed up for the Intro to the Template with its money back guarantee, and they learned what they needed to know.
Billy O'Leary's Pilot Season Special. 
Normally, his Intro to the Template class is $325 and his On Camera class is $240. Taken together, that's $565, but Billy is offering the Intro to the Template class PLUS the On Camera audition class for only $325! And you get a Bonus Week of the On Camera class for free!
That's 13 classes at only $25/class!
And you will blown away after the first class or your money back.
Classes for this deal start the week of:
Intro, 3 classes: Dec. 2, 9 16.   5pm – 9pm
On Camera, 10 classes: Dec. 6, 8, 13, 15, Jan. 10, 12, 17, 19, 24, 26. 10am – 12 noon.

Billy O'Leary doesn't teach you how to act (you already know how!), he teaches you what to act. What is your character's purpose with two lines? Why did the writers create this guest star role? Learn the whys and whats in Billy's 5 Simple Steps and be able to decode your script, any script, in five minutes or less. Guaranteed
Billy's students don't continue class for years and years. They learn his method, apply it to their auditions and work.
To take advantage of his Pilot Season Special before it expires MONDAY, NOVEMBER 22, email assist@billyoleary.com to reserve your spot. 


"4 Years in LA and you're the only teacher I've ever trusted" - Jarret Wright, October, 2010. (The night he finished The Intro and 2 weeks before he booked his Top of Show Guest Star on House.)
"I can't tell you enough how much I got out of your Intro Class.  I was in such a rut and feeling really bad about my auditions.... because I didn't know what to do with them!  When I realized that, I set forth the intention that I didn't want any more auditions until I started your class and got a hold of what I was doing again.  After the second class, I got an episodic co-star audition took the episodic material and applied all that I could about what I learned in class.  I was so much more relaxed because I know what I was going to do, who and why I was in the scene and what I was going to hold as a prop.  The result was the first episodic booking I've had in over three years.  I'm so grateful and ready for more.  I really feel like your class re-energized my career and gave me the tools I didn't know I needed and didn't know I didn't have.  I'm just thrilled." -  Beth Shea, October, 2010

Stop Struggling. Be the Working Actor you were meant to be!

Free audit, money back guarantee, 13 classes and it works.

Act Less Book More

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Perfect Day Job

Manager called me with information about The Perfect Day Job.

I didn't book.

Made the top 6 at network though, which happens to sound a lot like this.

Dear Struggling Actress

Rachel said:
Hi, Lira! I've got a question!

Though I've wanted to be an actor since I was very young, I started taking serious steps at thirteen, eventually getting an agent in a nearby city. They were a small boutique agency and didn't really send me out for anything big. But I was fifteen and still learning the ropes, I decided that it was my speed for that moment.
In the following years, I felt like I wanted to move up in the agency world and started sending out my headshot and resume to agents in Philadelphia and NY, along with cover letters. A rather prestigious NY agent came to a show that I was in at a dinner theatre and did a workshop with us. She asked me to contact her when my vocals were stronger; she seemed to like my acting as it was. I desperately wanted her to rep me.
Though it was difficult, I made myself wait and train for two more years before I contacted her again. When I did, I mentioned in my cover letter what she had said to sixteen year old me and also noted that I was currently performing in my first Equity show. I was told that I was not in the group she wanted to contact for an interview.
I decided to look a little more locally this summer. Through all this, I'd been auditioning constantly on my own, only getting an audition here and there- not even one a month- from my small agency. I researched agencies in the area and at the first one I went to, I was offered representation. I wanted to ask if I could take some time to think it over, but heard myself accepting. I wish I hadn't; just two days before, my friend from the Equity show I did had been telling me about wonderful the agent she'd just signed with was, and advised me to check them out. I wanted to, but now it appeared I already had a Philadelphia agent. This agent was certain she'd have a plethora of auditions for me, but since June, I've only gotten two.
My question is, would it be smart for me to look for another agency when I return from England in June, or is that considered irresponsible agent-hopping? I know that just because my friend's agent is great for her does not mean they'll be a good fit for me, but I'd like to check them out. And should I resend my material to that NY agent? I'm especially concerned about this since I will be graduating in 2012, and though I'm great at getting myself auditions, I wouldn't say no to some help! ...Wow, that got long. Sorry :p

Whew Rachel! Let's see if I can condense this:

You've never really had representation that got you out consistently, and since signing with one in Philadelphia last June, you've only had two auditions. You're wondering 1) if it would be wise to look for another agency when you return from England this upcoming June, 2011 (uh, where are you now?).  2) should you resubmit your materials to the NY agent who wasn't interested in you the last time, and 3) you're concerned because you're graduating in 2012 and....uh....want an agent while still in school?

Would you email me to make sure I'm understanding your question? I checked both your blogs and can't find a way to contact you.


Next, we have a question from Mary:
How do you recover when you blow an audition? I finally got into a certain casting office for a co-star and messed up my audition. Thought I was off book but I blanked on my lines, flubbed a few more- basically I stunk up the room and was ushered out of there so fast. I have been having trouble getting over it because I have never messed up like that in 6 years of acting and I just feel like that CD will never give me another shot and they are one of the biggest casting offices in town. Have you any tips/advice on how to stop beating yourself up and move on?
Totally. Go to Ross and buy yourself a pretty dress for $13.

Every once in a while we have a bad day, an awful audition, and want to drown our sorrows in pumpkin spice frozen yogurt with cheesecake bits, graham cracker crumbs and hot caramel.  Casting directors have bad days too. They get it.

The worst thing that we imagine is that we'll never ever ever ever get another chance to get into the office ever again, but I've got great news: in another year, when you get a new haircut and headshots, they won't remember that audition. They'll bring you in for something else and your acting life goes on.

Don't beat yourself up. When I bomb something, I say Thank you! leave the office, go down the elevator, get outside, get to my car, sit in it, and finally say, "Well, that blew chunks." Then I blast the radio and sing along super loudly! That negative energy is sung away in stop and go traffic!

You do, however, NEED to remember this audition in every single horrifying detail so that when you're on Letterman, you have an anecdote that seems humbling and charming. You lost the role, but won a great story! And now your fans love you even more!

The Struggling Actress

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Use Your Brilliance To Make Things Better

Remember Charlotte? The 15 year old who wanted to know how to pick the monologue that's right for her? I offered to go over the one she picked if she wanted my opinion, and she sent it along. I'm going to share with you our thoughts. Here's the monologue she found online by Matt Buchanan:

Ever Wish You Could Control Your Dreams? 
Ever wish you could control your dreams? You know--you go to sleep and dream about whatever you want? Sometimes I think I could really FIX things if I could just dream them right. I guess that sounds pretty stupid. Like last week I had this huge test in Chemistry. I really like Chemistry, but there's so much to remember. I tanked. And I KNOW that stuff--that's what makes me so mad. Who cares, right? It's just a stupid test. But I'm the one who's supposed to be so smart. My Dad wants me to go to medical school, and I guess I do too, but who needs the pressure? I mean, doesn't he have a life of his own? If I turn out to be a moron, what's that to him? "My son, the Honor Student. My son, the Doctor." Can't he talk about sports like everybody else? The first thing he says to me when he gets home: "So, how'd the test go? Another A, right?" I told him we didn't get the test back yet. So that night I dreamed I aced the test. In my dream I remembered every stupid element. I could see the protons and electrons and neutrons spinning around like little solar systems, and I could recognize every one. I think I was flying among them for a while, like with a jet pak or something. Or maybe I WAS and electron. That part of the dream is sort of fuzzy. But the thing was, I KNEW IT ALL. I woke up before the dream was over, so I never saw my grade on the test, but I know I aced it. I had the stuff cold. And the funny thing was, the dream made the real test okay. I mean, I still got an F and all. I still probably can't get an A for the semester no matter what I do on the next test, but I'm okay with it. Look, I KNOW Chemistry. Hey, for one thing, if I didn't, how could I have dreamed all that stuff? I just had a bad day. The next morning I told my Dad I flunked the test. He gets all quiet for a minute, but then he goes, "Well, you'll do better next time, right?" He didn't even freak. I bet he still tells his buddies on Friday that I aced it, though. It's kind of pathetic when you think about it.

I personally do not like this monologue. A lot of it has to do with how it starts about wanting to control your dreams, and then ends with the person insulting his dad at the end. It's like a poorly written essay where the introduction doesn't match the conclusion. And, um, isn't chemistry more about formulas and periodic elements than protons and neutrons? But heck, chemistry for me was a looooooooooong time ago, so I don't remember.

The monologue is also way too long. But I can see why she liked it. It's a seriocomedic piece where there's some really funny stuff and some serious stuff when he talks about his dad.

I found a simpler comedic piece and sent it her way. She replied that she didn't respond to it as much as the one above and she wanted more of an arc. Fair enough. She asked if she should invest in a monologue book.  Yes. Good investment.

But here's the thing about monologues:

Who says you CANT change them!?!

Okay, so you probably shouldn't go around with "Oh Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo, I doth hath texted thee thousands of times!" But for monologues online or in books, you can tweak.

[Also, I have to caveat - I'm a struggling actress for a reason! - so....consider the source when I say you can do this or that.... :) ]

So yes, let's see if we can tweak the online monologue and cut it waaaay down. Here's my first pass at it:

My dad is very stern. Kinda scary. He's a biochemist. He wants me to go to medical school, and I guess I do too, but it's so much pressure! And last week I had this huge test in Chemistry. I really like Chemistry, but there's so much to remember. I tanked. Who cares, right? It's just a stupid test. But I'm terrified of what my dad's gonna say. And of course the first thing he says to me when he gets home is "So, how'd the test go? Another A, right?" I told him we didn't get the test back yet. That night I dreamt I aced the test. In my dream I remembered every element. I could see the molecules and ions and solutions. I recognized every one. I KNEW IT ALL. And the funny thing is, the dream made the real test okay. I mean, I still got a C- and all. I still probably can't get an A for the semester no matter what I do on the next test, but I'm okay with it. Look, I KNOW Chemistry. I just had a bad day. The next morning I told my dad my grade. He got all quiet for a minute, but then he goes, "Well, you'll do better next time, right?" He didn't even freak. I never, in a million years, would have dreamt he'd be okay with it. I love my dad.

 And here's my reasons for the edits:

I didn't like how the monologue was more about a dream than it was about the relationship with the dad. The relationship with the dad is what gives it it's arc - she's scared the dad will stop loving her, he proves that he loves her no matter what, and yay, she realizes she had nothing to fear. The introduction of the monologue matches the subject matter in the conclusion.

I changed the dream. Now it includes actual chemistry!

I changed the grade from an F to a C-, because any A student would FREAK if she got a C-. An F seemed too unrealistic. I mean, come on. You have to work REALLY hard on a test to get an F, you know? It made it more realistic and empathetic to me.

Some beat notes: Make sure that it's a big deal that you lied to your dad about not getting the test back, and it's a big deal that you love him at the end. One thing that is constant in life is how we want to make our parents proud of us. I think that's the theme of this monologue. And I love that this monologue now HAS a theme.

There are a lot of bad monologues out there. Trust me, I know. But with a little tweaking, and actor advice from friends, you can take something okay and make it brilliant.

Here's to all the brilliance YOU help create as a STORYTELLER!

The Struggling Actress

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dear Struggling Actress

After learning what it's like to be one, and after becoming one myself, my question is... I've got a reel, some student film credits, a headshot, and hustle. What is the next step? Self-submit to casting directors? Try and get a commercial agent? Legit agent? In what way should I direct my hustle?
- Anonymous
  Hey Anonymous!
Happy November! The month where nothing happens! Just kidding. That's December with all the holidays. So what does that mean? If you're without representation, these are the next few months where you'll be honing your craft with classes and making sure your materials are all great and ready to go.

Hooray for the student films and the reel! This is AWESOME! This makes you look great.

Here's some things I have learned in my own experience:

The BEST times to submit to agents is.....August. It's slower then, and they're apt to opening envelopes, looking at people to fill niches and bringing people in. Both my commercial and theatrical agents both brought me in, in August, exactly a year apart. It's not August now, so that kinda sucks. What to do? Well, pilots are gearing up and looking for theatrical might not be your best bet anymore since they're so busy wheeling and dealing audition times, pitches, and contracts. I would, however, keep submitting to commercial agencies every two months (target your faves) because heck, why not.

As for casting directors - unless you have a VERY SPECIAL SKILL and target those looking/needing actors with that skill, you are wasting your time. Again, this is my opinion, but CDs are not opening envelopes from people they don't know when they are so very busy with the new pilots that have started. Your materials are probably going to the recycling bin. Now, let's say, however, that you look Eurasian, can surf, and speak Hawaiian. Then you could submit to Hawaii 5-0 with those things written on the envelope (or postcard, which is way cheaper!!) so that they'll open it.  I also heard that there's a new show revolving around a deaf character, so if you are a hearing actor fluent in American Sign Language, find out who's casting it and submit to them with "Hearing actor fluent in ASL" on the envelope.

[and very quickly - why I like postcards: You can have your headshot on it and have enough space to write your contact info/special skill on it and the postage is 28 cents as opposed to $1.05 for the headshot envelopes. ALSO - if you're going to do postcards highlighting your in demand special skill, make sure you have a website they can go to which has all your info, like a video of you surfing, speaking Hawaiian, or hand signing! Free websites, like blogger and tumblr are great until you can get your own dotcom.]

Classes. Are you in a class? Not just to learn, mind you, but to network with other actors and the teacher. My acting coach is fantastic, and you can check him out, and sign up to audit here. 
Taking classes during the winter season is great, as students typically take a break here so the class sizes are smaller and you get more individual attention. Plus! Because you're not represented, when you are being brought in on all the jobs you're self submitting for on Actors Access, you'll be at the top tier and booking jobs. A LOT of indies and webseries go out in January and February, so be on the lookout and submit.

Build Your Portfolio. Take more headshots, take more editorial shots (the kind of photos you see in Entertainment Weekly and Vogue) and do them all for trade! Go to Model Mayhem, sign up, and take pictures. Build your materials. Practice getting in front of the still camera, as this is a valuable asset many actors overlook. How many young actors cringe at the idea of getting new headshots and hate almost all of them because of how nervous they are when posing. Learn how to make it effortless. And have more photos for your website. It's all free. And fun.

See what classes there are at the community college level. Do you look Hispanic but don't speak Spanish? Learn! Want to learn graphic design so you can make your own dang postcards? Take it! Build your skill set!

The next couple of months are slow for the unrepped actor, but with the proper focus, attention and hustle, you can make them really count on making yourself a better and more marketable actor that agencies will want to represent.

Good luck!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dear Struggling Actress

Hi, I'm Charlotte :) I'm fifteen and I might have an audition for a talent management company coming up. You have to send in a photo of you + a resume, and if they like you, they'll want you to perform a scene for them. Since I'm still pretty new to this, I have a monologue-related query.

How do I know which monologue is right for me? Does it matter if I found it online or not? I found a monologue online that I thought to be true to "me" or "my persona", while still allowing me to express more than one emotion. However, I found another website stating that monologues should be from classical Shakespearean plays, Greek plays, and contemporary plays; and never from the internet. Is this true, or should I stick with the monologue that makes me the most comfortable? I do have a serious monologue and a contemporary one that I received in previous acting classes, but I never quite mastered the serious one, and when I try the "comedic" contemporary monologue, it seems too gimmick-y and I can't pull it off well. With the monologue I found online, it's a lot easier for me to get into character and be able to feel what the character is feeling. In case it matters, I enjoy comedic scenes and I feel that I can deliver the lines a lot more convincingly than I can with over-the-top dramas, so I'd be more aptly suited for a comedic monologue. I'm still working on the more dramatic roles. Also, I am no longer in the previously mentioned acting class, because it was $2500 a year, so I can't really go to my old acting coach (of course I'm looking into cheaper acting classes).

I know the chances if this talent management comp. calling me in, let alone representing me, are slim at best; but I feel that I should still have this stuff down even if they say "no". For the next time an opportunity like this arises. Thank you so much for reading, I appreciate the help.

Heya Charlotte! :)

Congrats for taking the initiative to seek representation! Awesome!

You say that if the company is interested in you, they bring you in to do a scene, but then you ask about monologues, so I want to make sure we both understand that scenes are usually done with two people, and monologues are done by one. This management company MIGHT ask you to cold read a scene they have filed away, so be prepared for anything.

As a young actor, having a monologue in your back pocket that you can perform straight away when asked, is always GREAT. What's better? Having two: one that's comedic and one that's dramatic. Also,  do monologues in your age range. Even though you might have played Kate in Brighton Beach Memoirs at your school, (who is a strong supporting major character) she's also in her late 40s, so you can't do her monologue. Find some monologues with characters the same age as you.

How do you know if the monologue is right for you? Easy. Do you like it? If no, then it's not for you, if yes, let's consider some factors: Is it about 60-90 seconds? No? Then edit it down. Is it something you can relate to? Yes? Awesomesauce! Is it something you feel strongly about? Yes? Sweet!  Then this is good material for you.

Does it matter if you found it online? No. Absolutely not. The other website, where they said monologues should only be from plays - were they trying to sell you those plays? If you found something that really speaks to you, that you absolutely love, who cares where you found it! Heck, I write my own because I know how to and I love it.
Who you are performing for will make a huge impact on what monologue is right for you. If this management company will be submitting you for tv and film, the last thing they want you to do is anything from Shakespeare because they wouldn't be submitting you for Shakespearean theater. If the management company, however, was called Kate and the Tamed Shrews, then yes, learn a monologue from the Bard. And tell them what a sweet name that'd make for a band.

Yes, stick with the monologue that makes you more comfortable, but also make sure that the character has a bit of an arc- she starts at one emotion and changes to another.

I would recommend going to the library or online bookstore and finding monologue books and reading plays. When I was your age, I read as many plays as I could during the summer and typed out all the monologues I liked for my own files. I did the same with scenes. I have a ton of material to pull from in case I need it. I suggest doing the same.

If you'd like, you can email me the monologue, and I'll give you my opinion of it. 

I hope you get called in! Break a leg!

Monday, November 8, 2010


You guys have any questions for what it's like being a struggling actress, or how to become one? I'll answer them.


still no word from TBS. My manager checked on Friday and they told him they were still going over the tapes at the Network.

My friend JenNik just called though, saying she just got bombarded with strong positive feelings for me on my behalf, and we agreed that perhaps she felt that way right when the execs were going over my tape. If it turns out that JenNik is indeed psychic, she will start a side business as a tarot card reader and give my readers a discount.

Emoticon Wink!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Voice Over

I did some voice over a while back and I just got the links!

Here's me doing a light Barbara Walters vocal paradoy, and another playing a mom.

I want to do more!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Feeling Famous

I was interviewed for Anomalous Material and they flattered me with "You're not struggling!" Aw, shucks. Yes I am. Which is so Clearly obvious on question 8.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Still Nothing

Normally after an audition, I let it go. I have to. Rejection is not personal.

But this Perfect Day Job? I can't stop thinking about it! Still have not heard anything. My manager thinks we wouldn't hear anything until next week anyways, but










I'll let you guys know when I hear anything.


Monday, November 1, 2010

The Perfect Day Job

Have I ever told you guys how much I love to write? How many people have insisted I do stand-up? How Olivia Munn had the cushiest gig on Attack of the Show and I want to go to there and have her job?

I just screen tested for TBS, for an interstitial. You know that "Dinner and a Movie" thing TBS has where they play a movie and then between commercials there's this man and woman talking about the movie and showing you how to do an easy recipe relating to the film in some way? Like,
"Isn't Harry just so sweet to Sally?"
"Almost as sweet as this Sugar and Sea Salt Pecan Pie! You just add sea salt and C&H pure cane sugar with some Market Price Pecans and voila! O-worthy tastes good enough for your piehole!"

Well, you might not have noticed, but you just got served a commercial in the form of a recipe and witty repartee! Booyah!

Very Funny News is a pilot interstitial that serves gossip and a commercial at once. At my first audition, I learned that I wasn't auditioning for anything, they were just telling me what they were planning on doing and asking me if I wanted to be a part of it.

Do I want to be a part of celebrity gossip and jokes?! Where I would get to be in the writer's room and help craft jokes!? YES PLEASE!

It's like, oh, the PERFECT DAY JOB for me. There's no exclusivity, which means I would be free to go do other things and they project about only 45 minutes or so of actual studio time once a week, so I would be able to go to work, read the teleprompter and then go to other auditions or sets to act in other things.

Sounds awesome, right?

Well, I was one of 16 girls they invited to screen test. They gave us all the script on Friday and said, hey, feel free to tweak, add jokes, rewrite, whatever and send it back sunday night so we can put it in the teleprompter for you.

That's test one: MAKE IT FUNNY. I changed a few words, added a few jokes, and took out one joke that just absolutely fell flat and replaced it with one that was just darn awesome (if you ask me).

Test two: MAKE SURE YOU KNOW HOW TO PRONOUNCE ALL THE WORDS. When I walked onto the set, the director told me that everyone was mispronouncing "Maldives," "Mirren," and "Galifianakis." This is what the internet is for. Research!


I was the very last girl to go. This meant a few things: 1) they're tired. They've been doing this since 11am. It's 8pm now. They just want to go home. But no, The Struggling Actress has to audition before we can all leave. Grrreat.

How to combat that? Be charming, be funny, be bubbly, be someone they want to work with.

2) I'm probably going to get 2 takes, tops. I'm the last girl. They're over it by now. And they probably have a girl in mind who they have already been envisioning as the host for the last few hours.

How to combat that? Be better than she was. Make them forget all about her.

The runner brought me to a dressing room with like, four couches, a tv, and seven water bottles.

Here I am! In a dressing room that might one day be mine!

Happy girl.

I asked the runner how it was going, and he said not too bad, that they were a little ahead of schedule and everyone is still in a good mood, for the most part. Awesome. What's been the biggest issue for the actresses so far? Mispronouncing the words, he said. Of course.

If you want to make it in this business, you really have to know what you're doing. There's no excuse anymore, what with smartphones and the ability to go to dictionary.com and hear how the word is actually pronounced.

I go over my copy, making sure I stress the right words to get the jokes right and to highlight the brilliant wordplay they had that I kept.

The runner brings me to set and the writer/producer shakes my hand and seems genuinely happy to see me. That's such a nice feeling. "Lira! You're here!" Yay! Love that.

I run the mic up my dress, tuck it into my tights, go to my mark in front of the green screen and take a look at the teleprompter. It's the smallest one I've ever seen. But hey! I can do this!

The director is in the booth with a few other people and he told me that he just wanted to go over a few words with me.
"MALL-deeves, Mirin, Gala-fin-a-kiss!" I smile. He laughed and said that they've been having problems with the pronunciation all day. "That's the problem with pretty girls, " I said, "we're all stupid." I heard him and the rest of whoever was in the booth laugh and he said that anything he said could get him into trouble, and then asked if I wanted to do a rehearsal just to get a feel for the teleprompter.


I remind myself to talk way slower than I normally do (so, you know, probably still a little too fast) and deadpanned a few of the jokes, and noted that Charlie Sheen filed for divorce today (research, ya'll!) and threw that in there for his segment.

The writer/producer who shook my hand laughed at my Hitler joke (trust me, it's funny) and when I was finished, they all complimented me on my writing (score!) and my read (awesome!). "That is exactly what we want!" the director said, "let's shoot this next one!"
"Was I talking too fast?"
"No, it was perfect!"

I go again, I do great.

"We got it. Lira, what a great way to end our day."

Someone else was talking to him in the booth and I could hear her. "Do we want to go in for a close up?"
"I spent a lot of time on my makeup today, so I don't mind if you want to go in closer," I said, and that got a big laugh. But I was done. They loved my work.

So, even less than I thought: One rehearsal, one take.

The runner walked me out of the building. "Seriously, that was so good!" he said.
"Was I the best one?"
"Top three!"

Top THREE?! Who are these other two bitches? I'll bring em down!!! I'll fight them to the death!

The runner said that as far as he knew, the reels would all be edited tomorrow and sent to the network at the end of the day. They're working really fast. When I had spoken to my manager about it, I believe he said that they're going to be shooting the pilot on the 18th.

But do you see what I mean? You have to be able to do the job fast. You have to take an already good script and be able to make it better. You have to know how to pronounce everything on the page. You have to be able to do it in one take. You have to save them time and money, and be funny and charming so that they'll want to work with you.

We'll see if the network wants to work with me. I hope they do. Keep your fingers crossed. This gig would be absolutely perfect for me.