"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

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gifts for Actors

Sometimes a loved one will ask him or herself, "What should I get my Struggling Actress friend/family member?" Here are some very useful tips, ranging in the super cheap to the pricey. Happy Gift Giving!

A Gas gift card.
We drive all around the city to get to our auditions and callbacks and gas is not cheap. Some companies will even let you reload it. If you'd like, you can do what my dad did as a graduation gift: he gave me a Chevron credit card so that gas was on him for my first year in LA. It was way better than a watch.

Visa/Mastercard gift cards.
We also take cash!

A Smart Phone.
Hopefully in this day and age, every actor has one, but man, what a difference it has made in my life as an actress. If I'm waiting my turn at an audition, I can go online and submit myself for other projects! Great for researching too. Maybe the actor in your life needs an upgrade?

A black and white laser printer.
We go through pages of sides for auditions, for classes, we print call sheets and maps. I have a very nice color ink jet printer, but buying ink over and over again was hurting my pocketbook. It felt like every two weeks I needed more ink, and I was practically searching under couch cushions to find enough money to keep purchasing them. I bought a laser printer (it was cheaper than buying the ink jet ink I needed!) and freaking LOVE it. I used to go to copy centers to print my resumes, but so few casting people are taking resumes anymore (commercials pretty much don't) so if I need to print my resume, I can do it at home, saving me a trip and money.
You can also buy them replacement ink too.

Printer paper.
See above.

Highlighters and pens.
We go through them. It'd be nice to get a bulk pack. It's a thoughtful cheap gift.

Offer to pay for a month of acting classes.
I recommend going to this guy.  

A subscription to Entertainment Weekly.
It's research!

And my dear readers, please help with other gift suggestions too!

Monday, December 5, 2011

You Keep On

I wish I could tell you that I got that audition. That someone saw my tape and said, "Yes! This is exactly what we want!"

That the calls from my reps were answered.

That the call from the other cd who vouched for me was returned, and I was talked about.

That my taped audition was seen and something came of it.

But I can't tell you that.

And when a Struggling Actress has SO much going for her, has so many people on her side, rooting, cheering, and yet, still, nothing happens, a Struggling Actress is going to ask herself, "What is enough? What is freaking enough to get attention? To get an audition? What is enough to get my foot in the door?"

I don't know. I don't know what is enough.

But I do know one thing:
I have to keep on keeping on.

I had auditioned for a music video two years ago but didn't book it. The musician left me a lovely email then about how he thought I was lovely and although I didn't book the role, he had hoped to use me for something in the future. A month ago, I got another email from him. Would I be interested in starring in his new music video? Of course!

So Saturday, after a week of telling myself to keep on keeping on, I was on set of music video, with my own dressing room.

And I won't lie, seeing my name on a dressing room door NEVER gets old. It doesn't.

So I'm going to keep on keeping on, because people do like me. People do remember me.

Eventually, my time will come.

And so will yours.


Monday, November 28, 2011


There's a space in time when even a Struggling Actress can feel like there is no limit. It happens every so often.

It's happening now.

Last Monday, my acting teacher coached a client for a series regular role. He emailed me the sides, with "Your people need to get you in for this." I read the three scenes he attached and of course, of course. From the description to the sides, it's so right for me. As if someone was watching me for the last three years and said, "Hey, I'm gonna write a role for you."

I put myself on tape.

I posted on facebook -" I wish I could email this casting director my audition and she'd write to my reps, 'Where has she been all this time?! She's wonderful!'"

And get this - a casting director I've worked with asked me what role and show, and three days later, he asks if the CD called me into her office yet, because he called her himself and pitched me.

Yes, that really happened.

My manager also just emailed my taped audition to the casting director directly.

We might be completely out of the game already - we might be days too late - BUT - with all these people in my corner, it just makes me feel like Okay! I have an entire TEAM behind me, rooting, cheering, trying to get me in there. "She is worth it! She is talented! She Should Be Seen!"

And maybe, just maybe, I will be.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Haps

What happens when I find myself kinda lost?

I make lists! I love lists!

And one of the things that has been on my list for a while is Voice Over. Yes, Voice Over, the thing every struggling actress thinks she should get into because surely, no one else has thought to do this too, and she'll make a ton of money booking work from auditions she can do at her own home!

Now, I've really been paying attention to voice overs on commercials on the radio and television, and really noticing how different they all are. How, if we did any type of voice over work on our scene work, we'd be kicked out of class for being too theatrical.

I've been paying attention to cartoons - kids cartoons and adult cartoons, and noticing the difference.

I'm even taking a Voice Over class.

And I love it. How musical it all is. How "taking your voice and pushing it to the front of your mouth" (whatever the eff that means) can produce another sound.

So my website now has a Voice Over tab where I'll have the small online cartoons I worked on serve as a place holder for the Commercial Voice Over reel I'll have in 6 weeks, and the Animation Voice Over reel I'll hopefully have next year.

The big lesson I've learned this month? When I'm feeling like I have no control and nothing's happening, find another acting skill and learn as much as I can about it. Research, study, make things happen.

Make things happen!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Perfect November Skies

Thank you all for your good thoughts and for those of you who reached out to me via email in regards to my mother. She is back at her care facility, feeling better. Trying to figure out how to prevent further infections will be a challenge, as she won't go to a dentist until she is in so much pain she'll agree to go to the hospital. For some reason, she can't seem to remember the old Mom adage, an ounce of prevention...

I feel like I'm fighting something that might not really be there. Like I'm a hypochondriac battling an infection. That's what life has been feeling like. Unsure, unbalanced, tripping along, hoping I'll be able to straighten my feet out so I can walk again. No more uphill, no more San Francisco streets, just even, Valley, perfectly flat gridded streets.

If only it was that easy, right?

Maybe I'm on a precipice of something major, something huge, and like a dog before an earthquake, I'm uneasy, whimpering.

I prefer the overcast gray skies; fitting my moods. Perfect November mornings.

Friday, November 4, 2011


I've been trying not to mention it. To not go on about it in the real world, because if I talk about it, my throat balloons and my eyes float in high tides. Most people close to me don't know. I've only been telling you.

I walked into her hospital room today and her mouth was slack and she was staring at the television, her eyes open, watery.

I asked her how she was.

Her response was raspy. "I can't talk," she gasped.

I thought about the time in therapy, when I realized the only time my mother touched me was when I was sick. She would put her small hand on my forehead to check my temperature, and I would marvel at the softness, not knowing I had been waiting since last flu season to feel it. That I had been waiting for my mother's magic healing caress.

A child subconsciously craves their mother's hand. You don't know you are until you get it and then inexplicably exhale. 

I sat next to her and put my hand on her forehead. It's okay, Mom. We don't have to talk. I'll just sit with you for a while.

I placed my hand on her forehead, smoothing her hair back down, over and over again.

Let this help you feel better. Let this heal you.

I am here, I am here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


You saw your mother last week, toting your husband, wedding photos, stories and anecdotes, but she was quiet, different. And she was saying things that were odder than usual. After almost a year of her being happy to see you, as happy as she can be, which isn't much, but you take it, gladly, hungry for it, any morsel will do because happy is love and maybe she can feel that she loves you, she is not happy to see you. She is indifferent.

You see your mother two days ago for her birthday.You are with your aunt, her sister, and you drive to the care facility, "The Manor," a little worried because the onsite Nurse has called your aunt saying that your mother has been complaining about her face, and she doesn't look good. But she won't go to the doctor or the dentist.

You are driving, talking to your aunt about what you might say, how best to handle your mother's fears about dentists, their drills, their metal hooks and scrapers. Your mother doesn't want to go to the dentist because she doesn't want false teeth, she has always said. But she never brushes.

If it is an infection in her mouth and if not taken care of, the infection can get into the blood and kill her. And you try not to say, "good, good, this is what she wants, she wants to die," but you think you and your aunt are both choosing not to say it out loud. You think about how if your mother was your pet, you could have said goodbye to her years ago, dignified, the vets agreeing this was for the best.

Maybe if you talk about how the pain medicine is good now, how you don't feel a tooth being pulled, how they numb you completely, maybe she'll understand and go.


You finally arrive. Your mother is in her room and the caretakers open the front door to The Manor already worried. "Her face has been swollen," they say, "it's better today."

You go into her room. She is resting, like you always find her, on her side with the blanket over her head. Tired? Cold? Hiding?

You see her face. The left side so swollen and twice the size when just last week, she was fine. For her.

You are surprised. Taken completely aback, but you try not to look startled.

You have always thought, she needs to die, and if it's an infection from her teeth, then so be it. But you didn't think about the pain. You didn't realize that to die of an infection is to die a very painful death. She is your mother, your mother, you don't want her to be hurting.

"Does it hurt?" you ask, "are you in pain?"

"There is a volcano in my mouth." she says. And you try to catalogue what she just said, as you've been doing, so that you can make fun of it later, turn them into jokes, so that instead of crying, you can laugh. Say something like, well, at least one of the voices in her head is good at imagery, a poet.

But she is angry when your aunt mention the dentist. "You can just leave," she huffs loudly, until your aunt distracts her with, "Don't you want to open your gifts?"

She will come out with you, to Starbucks instead of lunch, because she only wants to eat soft foods and doesn't want to eat now. She orders a warm drink. And she doesn't say much. She stares. You try to include her in the conversation, but you can't think of things to say to her. You and your aunt catch up, and your mother stares.

Your mother asks if you can just drive around for a little bit, and you suggest going to the park, but when you get there, it is crowded. She doesn't want to get out and walk the perimeter. "Just drive around," she says, so you go through the neighborhood and try to find the fun Halloween decorations and point them out to her but you don't know how well she sees them because she won't go to the optometrist. The doctor.

You finish and call it a day, dropping your mother off back to the Manor and try to hug her although she's not interested in that.

On the way home, your aunt and you talk about schedules, houses, selling condos and property taxes, the benefits of owning versus renting because the last thing you want to talk about is your mother.

You are now back home, your aunt driving back over the hill, your husband still in Long Beach. You are alone. And for the first time in years,

in Years,

you think,




Because as much as you want her to die, to slip out of this broken body and be free of it, you didn't count on the pain she'd be feeling when she gets sick.

And your throat hurts, and your eyes water, because she is your mother. In pain. And she refuses to let you take her to get medicine or see someone to help her. You can't help your own mother.

You think about the future, about how your mother will be cremated, like she's asked for the last 22 years, how there will be no funeral, no memorial.

No place you can go to, to grieve, to take solace, to feel like, if you go there, she will know, and stand beside you, invisible, understanding, full of love.

You think about her ashes, how you would want some of them. To take them with you to visit your own sister, and together you two could go and mourn for the mother you never had. To sprinkle them in the wind so that she may be carried off to the sky, up to heaven, and surrounded with light and love and be weightless with no fears, no worries, no voices.

Your mother, in heaven, maybe smiling down at you and proud. Maybe waiting patiently up there so that when you die, she will be the first in line to welcome you home, in arms that hug back, and say, "I am so proud of you, and I know it was hard, but I love you, and you are here in my arms, and home."

And that is heaven: Your mother, free of voices in her head, free of fears, free of all the pain, hugging you tight, saying she loves you.

Happy 66th birthday, Mom.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Home At Last Premiere!

It's finally here! Woo Hoo! And every other week until the end of the year, you'll see me post an episode for the series I worked on with some very lovely and talented people, including William Russ, who you've probably seen on Boy Meets World, as Corey's Dad. Yeah. We grew up watching him on Friday nights, and I got to work with him! Career highlight? I say Yes!

Do me a favor and watch this, wouldja?

And if you go here, you can see two bonus videos (the one with Jeff Lewis is not safe for work and filled with a lot of dirty words. If you're not into that, don't watch it. If you are into it, you'll definitely enjoy it)!

Woo Hoo!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fall Tv

I love Fall in Los Angeles. It looks a lot like summer, except with better television programming!

Let's talk about a few of the shows I've watched:


Happy Endings. (Technically, this is their second season.)

If you haven't caught on, catch! It's so funny. I love the pacing, the energy, the ridiculousness, and it gives me such happiness that Casey Wilson, who was rumored to be fired for being too fat, has found a great, wonderful vehicle for herself. And a shout out to Elisha Cuthbert for taking a character who could have been extremely annoying, into a friend we want to watch and root for.

 Also, Damon Wayans Jr and Eliza Coupe might be the best married couple on television. Seriously, you'd want them to come to your party.

And Zachary Knighton, you are super dreamy.

2 Broke Girls
I am enjoying this for the most part, but know it's just going to get better with time. Next season will be stronger, and the third will be even better. Right now, we have to grow with the two leads, but the supporting cast are just stereotypes and cliches. Even so, I'm excited to see where this show will take us.

I do feel bad for the actresses, however, because they both wear heeled shoes with their work uniform. I get that Beth Behrs, playing the used- to- be -stinkin- rich- girl had to leave her home with the clothing on her back (and shoes on her feet) but it hurts me to watch Kat Dennings tromp around on set whenever she's wearing her boots with her work uniform.

I hate that they're wearing heels as waitresses in the first place (try 9 hours of standing like that in real life). It feels like Michael Patrick King, who co-created the show with Whitney Cummings, is trying to capitalize on the Sex and the City shoe glamor of years passed. But I don't get it.  Put them in sensible sneakers, you guys! You're making your viewers feel bad for them!

New Girl
"After a bad break-up, Jess, a quirky young woman, moves into an apartment loft with three single men. Although they find her behavior very unusual, the men support her and they become like family."
Zooey Deschanel stars as Jess, a woman who is far too pretty and well dressed to ever be considered "weird" or "annoying" in real life. And that's the major problem for me. I have nothing against ZooeyD - I thought she was GREAT in 500 Days of Summer, but this show feels like they're taking Zooey's quirky/cute brand and shoving her down my throat and force feeding her to me that she's likable and a goof and look! she sings to herself! how adorkable!
This is a show that NEEDED to have an unknown female lead. I don't buy ZooeyD as this girl. They needed someone we could all really believe IS this person. Having indie darling ZooeyD star in this was just a bad idea. So I really hate this show. Now, I know a few people who love it, which I really don't get, but I was thinking to myself, this show might work better if it was a 3 camera sitcom, like the Big Bang Theory. I don't think 1 camera is doing them any favors. And the jokes don't work for me. If Jess was played by a heavier, dorkier girl (think first season Ugly Betty star America Ferrara) the show would make sense to me and I'd watch.

But as of now, all three of the three episodes I've seen has Jess being quirky! the guys not liking it! Jess saving them from embarassment by being her quirky self! The guys falling in love with her! Then Jess being quirky! And the guys finding her annoying again!
Barf. (and let me go ahead and say that I really hate their poster too. WHY am I so against this show?!)

Once Upon a Time
"Centers on a woman with a troubled past who is drawn into a small town in Maine where the magic and mystery of Fairy Tales just may be real."
Saw the first episode last night and fully expected to not care for it. But I did! Interesting idea and I'm excited to see where it goes in the next couple of episodes, because it looks like we'll get to see all the fairy tale characters' back stories and that interests me a great deal.

And I'm really glad someone has finally put Jennifer Morrison and Ginnifer Goodwin together in the same show, cause I always thought they looked alike and used to confuse them for one another.

Do you agree or disagree with me on what I've seen so far? What shows are you loving?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Does It Feel Different?"

After getting hitched two weeks ago, people have been asking me, "Does it feel different?"

Yes and No.

There is something to be said about suddenly getting to say things like, "This is my husband," or, "I need to talk to my husband before I can commit to this." I mean, I'm saying things my mother used to say! It's a very....grown up feeling.

It's different in the social-sphere as well, akin to graduating from Elementary School and now suddenly, you go to Junior High (!) and you have a locker(!) and a schedule(!) and a gym uniform(!). You are the same kid, but now, perceived a little differently because you are considered to be more mature, Sailor Moon Pillowcases be damned!

But maybe because we haven't gone on a honeymoon yet, it kinda feels the same too. Same apartment, same guy, same habits. It's still comfortable and still fun.

Speaking of comfortable and fun, I'd like to share with you some of the wonderfulness that was our Wedding Day.

All pictures are copyrighted by our wonderful friend, photographer Tanya Giang.
 Isn't this beautiful?
When I asked Gloria to be my Lady of Awesome (Maid of Honor is too diminutive a term for all her powers), she replied, "Of course!" And in the same breath "-But only if I can be your Production Designer too." An emphatic yes with the one condition that she be in charge of making it pretty. Thank goodness! I know absolutely NOTHING about making things pretty!

We started on Pinterest and I said that I wanted an arch of some kind and I really liked the look of fabric falling. She corrected me, "You want a focal point?" Yes. And she basically went from there. Our colors are purple and red, nodding to our color coding at Burning Man, and she turned her back yard into the beauty you see above. The structure in the back is called a Star Plate Dome, and our friends Amelia and Kevin lovingly let us borrow it. Gloria had bought all the fabric and sewn cut out paper flowers that I had punched to create beautiful garlands.

Our friend Resa said "I want to help!" and help she did! She, Gloria, and Joe (he likes to be anonymous :) put in about 40 hours to make flowers out of plastic table cloths, tissue paper, pipe cleaner and felt. Joe even went out on his own and bought the gigantic pom poms hanging from the tree. He simply arrived at the house one day, saying, "I went out and got these, because they need them." How lovely is that? Resa made a gajillion flowers and did all the arrangements.

Note the pretty bottle stakes, too. We did a lot of upcycling!

Gloria researched benches, drew up a plan and Perry (the Best Man) and Anthony (my HUSBAND) put them together. Gloria sealed and stained them. She really can do anything.

 Gloria can also tie bow ties. Here is my beautiful fiance at the time. He chose all parts of the outfit himself.
 Here are Anthony and Perry looking quite dashing, yes? The boutonnieres are made of felt. Resa made the prototypes and Joe and Gloria helped make the eleven we needed.
Resa and Gloria made the bouquets! We're also wearing dahlia felt hair pins.  
And here's a few notes about the dress: it's from Unique Vintage in Burbank. [And I just want to say that the staff at Unique Vintage was so sweet. They never rushed us, always made us feel important, and were attentive without being pushy. We had a great experience shopping there.] Here's the original dress, actually. We liked it, but I wanted more color for it to pop. We took out the removable modesty panel, the corset string and seam ripped the tulle off, and Gloria and I dyed it on her stove. She told me that we weren't going to get an exact color match, but we practically did. Another friend, Carrie (a costume designer!), agreed that the tulle peeking out was just way too long and lovingly reattached it much higher so that it was more flattering.
Note the garland of flowers and circles behind us. Gloria used different strips of tulle and other fabric for the different textures.

 A huge shout out to Sandra D for m 1950s hair style. Is it not beautiful!? In order to feel glamorous, I like to straighten and then recurl my hair, but I can never do a good job myself. Sandra D is famous for her vintage hairstyling. She even teaches classes. Go to her.

My necklace is a gift Anthony's mom, Nina, presented to me when we first met. She has Amazing taste in jewelry, and I was so happy to wear this necklace on the day I married her son. The bracelet is my "something borrowed" from my Aunt Sira. It was her mother's, and I believe, judging from the clasp, that it was made sometime in the 60s. It's gorgeous. I was very close to my grandmother and it was so lovely of my aunt to let me borrow it.

We elected to do family photos before the ceremony. I knew my makeup would run and I'd have to fix it, so I made sure to have us take pictures when we all looked fresh and so clean, clean, cause I'm a little vain like that.

 Now the ceremony. Anthony escorted Mama Nina down the aisle to her seat, and she's already crying. I love this photo. He is such a Mama's boy, and he is her favorite son (it's okay for me to say that. He's her only son :)

 Months ago, that Bruno Mars song came on the radio, "Just the Way You Are" and Anthony told me that he always thinks of me when he hears that song. That song was already a contender for what I wanted to walk down the aisle to, but I wanted something a little slower than the original. I found this cover by Tyler Ward, featuring AHMIR . It was a surprise. I never told Anthony this was what I was walking to.  As soon as the song started playing, he started crying. He later told me that after he seated his mom and he took his place at the alter, the enormity of the day really hit him. His eyes watered he said. But then my song started playing, and that's the moment he started crying.
He's a big ole softy.

[During the reception, actually, we asked our DJ Jimmy G at No1 Betta to find a LOT of old Italian songs, and he did! If you guys need a dj (or want to go karaoke-ing!!) check them out on their Facebook page. ]

 I am so happy! It was either Gloria or Resa's idea to strew paper cutouts on the aisle path. I didn't know it was there until I walked out. It was beautiful!!

 We're here! Getting Married! We can't stop smiling!! And hey! Do you recognize our Officiant, Tracy? It's none other than Phoenix!! And not only was she amazing as our Officiant, but she then appointed herself our Day Of Coordinator, making sure we ate food, had water to drink, and stuck to our wedding schedule. And this was all on 5 hours sleep, as she was shooting a top secret movie with her as the lead, doing night shoots for the previous five days, working her job in the afternoon, and the day before our wedding, attending an all day conference. She was absolutely wonderful.

 Anthony is reading his personal vows to me. He had to keep pausing after every sentence because he was on the brink of tears the whole time.

My turn for vows!

  My dad is a little overwhelmed by our vows. I remember an old jewelry commercial where the Father of the Bride is saying to his daughter, "They say the happiest day of your life is the day you get married. It's not. It's the day your daughter gets married." Isn't that beautiful? I imagine my dad is feeling some of that here.

I am repeating my marital vows with my hand on his heart. They were a bit long, but poignant, specific, and exactly what we wanted. It ended with "From my hand, to your heart, I thee wed." After this, we exchanged rings.

 Tracy gave the authority of everyone at our wedding to pronounce us as Husband and Wife together with her. It was fantastic! She said, "Anthony and Lira, with the authority vested in all of us, me, your family, and friends, we now pronounce you [and then she pointed to the audience for their cue, and they all said] Husband and Wife!" 63 of our closest family and friends pronounced us. It was great!


 Our first dance. Do you see Mama Nina and Papa Joe happily watching us? They've been married for almost 40 years.

 Anthony had a cartoon of us as our logo for our save the dates and invitations and as soon as I saw it I told him we HAD to have the drawing as our cake topper. He modified it to match our hair styles and clothes, and Gloria and Perry took it, mounted it on foamcore and placed it on top of the cake.
The cake.
I had this brilliant idea that on the day before, I would make our wedding cake. A simple two pan carrot cake with homemade cream cheese frosting. Gloria talked to Resa, who is quite the baker herself, and they both sat me down and forbid me from even THINKING about making the cake any longer. Somehow, they just knew that I would have no time to do it. Bless them.

 Do you see the fondant icing? And the fondant flowers?! And the tiers?! I NEVER would have made this cake so beautiful!

 Seriously. Look how beautiful this cake is! And it was SO good. We were eating it all the week after too. The fondant helped the cake stay super moist and delicious. Or, Resa is just that amazing a baker. Yeah. Probably the latter.
The fondant icing, however, made it a little tough to cut. Anthony had to help me slice it and was nearly crushing my hand, which I was laughing at. I'm too weak to cut a cake slice!

Here we are in the photo booth that Gloria and Perry created. This is at the end of the night, as you can tell by Anthony's unbuttoned shirt and untied tie. Can we look at my hair, though? I have already been dancing up a storm at that point and the hair STILL IS AMAZING. Thank you Sandra D!

Signing of the marriage license. This shizz is legal, yo. And can I just pause for a second and say how hot all my friends are? Gloria knows how to work the camera!

So, Does it feel different? Yes and No.

But regardless, being married to my husband feels Wonderful.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Just a Quick Peek!

My friend Tanya is a photographer. You have seen her work on this blog because she's amazing and I love her stuff. She offered to shoot our wedding (and our engagement! and a special boudoir session!) as a gift.

We opted to do a "First Look" shot, where Anthony sees me before the ceremony. Due to time constraints, we wanted to do all our family photos before our ceremony, meaning that he will already have seen me before I walk down the aisle. I STRONGLY recommend this route. Our hair was perfect, our clothes weren't wrinkled, and I knew I was probably going to be a mess after our personal vows, so I wanted to make sure my makeup still looked good in photos. I'm vain.

Here's Anthony seeing me as his bride for the first time. We both cried. What can I say? We're total wusses. I love that he's squinting so hard in the first picture, and after the initial excitement in the third picture, the tears just leaked out. The enormity of the day hit us full force by the time the last photo was shot.

I'll have more for you later. We dropped the last of the family off at the airport today and still need a few days to settle. 

It was a great day, and I can't wait to tell you more about it!

Much love to you all!

Sunday, October 2, 2011


My alarm was set for 8am this morning. I woke up at 6:45 and my body would not let me go back to sleep.

Anthony and I are getting married today.

We're excited. We're happy. And we are so, so loved. Family from far and wide have flown and drove alllll the way down to see us on this momentous occasion.

So I keep taking little moments.

la vita è bella.

See you later.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pictures Making My Day

This picture from A Place To Love Dogs

http://d30opm7hsgivgh.cloudfront.net/upload/236476599_b00SV2BK_c.jpgThese pumpkins!
http://d30opm7hsgivgh.cloudfront.net/upload/236477553_pdSVqw0g_c.jpgOh My Gosh, these shoes!

 And this dog tag.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bear With Me

I'm designing and printing and cutting and boxing and sorting and tagging, all in preperation of tying a big ole knot together with the Love of My Life.


Today the beau and I had a meeting with our venue owners, who also happen to be our attendants. (Lucky, lucky us!) They are both involved in the industry, and two of their combined strengths happen to be Production Coordinating and Live Event Production Designing.

We are in such amazing and talented and generous hands. And ORGANIZED. I wish I could have shown you their Living Room wall; it has the next 14 days separated out in sheets of paper with Post-Its of when and what tasks need to be started, worked on, finished, and when and what other things are happening, including when our families are arriving.

I'm so thankful for them.


the whole point of this post, when my scrambled brain started it, was to show you what our Wedding Logo looks like.

The guy's a comic book artist. I think he captured our likenesses perfectly!

Cute, huh?

The future Mrs. Dee-ETCH-uh-DO-way

Friday, September 16, 2011

So We Will NOT Be Eating Spaghetti Squash Tonight

Just kidding. I can't just throw out all that food! I scraped it all back up and tossed it in a large skillet, added butter, lemon juice, garlic and parsley and it was still quite good.

Besides. Clean out the Microwave was on my To Do list anyway.

But be forewarned. If you also buy a Spaghetti Squash from Trader Joes and the sticker on it says, "Pierce with a fork five times," don't listen. Pierce that puppy like it's a zombie trying to kill you.

Bon Apetit!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Calm

I'm calm, I'm calm, I'm perfectly calm....

But really, I am. I mean, I'm taking a break to blog, right?

I'm getting married in 17 days. Kind of crazy. There is so much to do, and yet, there is no need to freak out.

Yet. :)

I have the rough draft of our ceremony done, and our officiant has it in her hands and is going over it.

I still need to go to Costco, but that can wait til Monday or Tuesday for all the plates, napkins, forks and things.

I'm going to be working on the Rehearsal Dinner invite soon. And that's super easy, cause I'm just going to take the invite in photoshop and move all the layers around with the new info.

We're 99% sure of where the Rehearsal Dinner will be.

And the gift for our attendants is all coming together.

All of it is all coming together.

And all because of the generosity of our friends who said, "Please let me know how I can help," and really meant it.

I'm feeling loved. By more than just my future husband; by all the friends we chose as our family. Because you DO get to choose your family after all.

Remind them you love them.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I studied dental hygiene and played video games!

Then my roommate and I got an unexpected surprise from his long lost dad.

What I am Going to Do This Fall
Get Married!!
(in 20 days, actually. Hooray!)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Response from Dan Harris

A while back I wrote this post and I didn't mention that I never contacted anyone connected to the site when I formed my opinion of it.

Dan Harris, the director and producer of iDanceMachine.com, wanted to defend his website and motives and I thought it would only be fair that I present his side to you. With his permission, here is his email:
Hey Lira,
I am amazed at the fact that you have formed a opinion on something you know nothing about. So I just had to respond to your comments that are not true. I will be the first to agree with you that there are websites out there that say they will cast you if you have a lot of votes, or worse charge you to get bookings. In the case of idancemachine.com that is entirely the opposite.  Not only it's  free but had you done your homework you would have found that the voting system at idancemachine is purely to inspire.

You also would have found that we have already cast some "Unknows". We cast a unknow from a small town in Australia, flew him out here on our dime, where he starred in (2) of our commercials and our new reality show. It wasn't his ratings that got him the gig, he simply was good actor.  Ask any of our members.  To respond to your promo marketing campaign theory, the second person we cast for the same shows, was little to unknow by most of our members and had a low vote count, and in fact had not been on our website in several months due to a family tragedy.  But as it turns out she had several great auditions, so the casting director and I, cast her and flew her out from Houston TX on our own dime as well. And by the way, because the fact that this member had a very low status and rating on our site, we had some disgruntled members leave us do to the fact that we cast her. So there goes your rating therory out the window.

In regards to our vote/comment  application,  you should know that  we use it to encourage not to discourage.  A example, if someone was to receive 5 stars for a audition our highest rating, that would mean everyone has enjoyed and appreciated it, "a job well done".  Now if you were to get a low number of votes on a audition, it's are hope that would inspire you, "to encourage you" to make a better audition. "To hone your craft".  I will admit the auditions with the higher votes do grab more attention, that is called popularity and curiosity, that is normal in any situation, but in no way that means someone with a high vote count will be casted over someone with a low vote count, just ask our member from Houston TX.

To quote you, "probably worse than winning the lottery" if I am not mistaken everyday casting is just like winning the lottery.  After all I'm sure you are aware that out of 120,000 SAG actors 3% of there members get work, isn't that is like winning the lottery?

As for named actors, at this point we are not aggressively going after any one like a  Vanessa Hudgens or Dianna Agron, but hey if they were interested in doing our film we would definitely jump on it. But that doesn't mean the other 15 roles our so we would not be cast from our member base. Here is some homework for you, who was Zach Efron before High School Musical?   [editor's note: well, since you asked, he was a series regular on a prime time network drama.]

At IDM we do not charge for any acting tip service. All of our information is free.  We have several videos on how to make a proper video audition hosted by our casting director and noted acting coaches. And let us not forget we have industry professionals that leave comments all the time on auditions of how to better your performance. We have blogs that explain how to use sides, videos on what is the best way to use makeup for a audition, or sharing your profile with the rest of the web. And there so much more, which again is all free. Just so you know, several members have already booked work because of our website. Some even found representation, and it didn't cost them one cent.

I will say this; our website did start out as a simply way to cast for our 3D Dance movie, but as it turned out it became so much more. It now is a place for Actors, Singers, Dancers and the like to go and express themselves, chat with follow thespians, blog about there acting school, share ideas, or even commiserate about our wacky industry. It has turned into the Social Network for the Artist, and we intend to make that grow long after the movie is completed.

I grew up surrounded by actors and dancers, and I know how tough it can be trying to get a break just in Hollywood. Can you imagine how hard it must be for the rest of inspiring actors across the globe. This quote below is from one of our members. This is a shout out to Ophelia one of your members.

"For me, I'd rather be a long shot than a no shot. Put me in the game, put my name and face up where a million people can see it. The alternative is go to NY or LA, get in a workshop, network with everyone you can, try to get an agent and go on hundreds of auditions. That's what I've been doing here in LA for the past three years. Truth is if you got and they like it you're going to make it! That's what I say when I'm putting on my makeup every day!! and I will make it!"

In conclusion I invite you to check us out. If you do, I know you will see that we are forming a creative community for the artist in all of us.

Oh and if you speak to Anita make sure she does her homework. 
Enjoy the Phenomenon,
Dan Harris
Director, Producer
Thanks for reading and writing, Dan!

I'm sure your letter helps my readers get a better idea of what you're about.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

An Oldie But a Goodie

I'm still on vacation. Here's a post from April 2010. Enjoy!

I'm Talking to You, Tina Fey

Twice on set today, the clients stopped me to remark just how much I look like Tina Fey. They were so happy they could get her doppelganger so cheap! Tina has a scar on her face, I have a mole on my ear. Seriously. It's like we're related. So I thought, you know what? Why not capitalize off her fame? I deserve it simply because of our similarity.


And so, My open letter to Tina Fey:

Dear Tina,

Picture this: Liz Lemon has a sister. In fact, while Liz's sister, Alice (I know you like that name!), visits her, Liz gets really sick and sends Alice to work at 30 Rock in her stead. No one notices the difference, and all find themselves strangely attracted to Alice and kinda freak out about it. Except for Kenneth, who is sure that the younger Alice is a new pop star ready to steal Liz's place, just like  Lady Gaga stole Madonna's. And of course Jack and Alice hit it off and sleep together.  It was so great, of course, that Jack promotes who he thinks is Liz to Governor of General Electric. When the real Liz comes back, however, she resigns from her new position, as she had never entered a beauty pageant and felt under-qualified. Jack assures her that it takes no skills to be Governor and that he had actually promoted her to be his Governess, who must wear leather and whip him every Sunday at 4. Liz is oddly okay with that as any and all dental work is free with her promotion. Jenna, jealous of Liz's earlier popularity, comes back from the plastic surgeon's as Heidi Montag.

Wanna do this?

Have your people call my people.


PS How am I PALER than you!?

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Pennington for Your Thoughts

When I get a comment from a reader I don't know, I always look at their blog. Always. And I'll admit it, when I read blogs from someone who obviously has a better vocabulary than I, I get a little hot and bothered. Add in an unusual name and musician-writer-artist hyphenates and I am in full girl crush mode. 
Everyone, meet Ginger Pennington
 I know, Total Babe, right? She also has an August birthday and the fun Newlywed glow, as she just married the love of her life a little over two months ago. 
So go ahead and read on, and I dare you not get a little crush on her too. 
Ins and Outs for Artists

The door has been left unlocked, and here I am, inside the sacred hallows of The Struggling Actress blog, so very pristine and pink! 
The "I" in question is Ginger. You don't know me, but I am a fellow Struggling Actress, a Los Angeleno who doesn't take much seriously, an Unfocused Singer / Songwriter, seeker of adventure, a Periodic Painter, a Scatterbrained Writer of many ill-fated poems and fictions and Taste of Ginger, a dilettante artist of many stripes, and first and foremost, a Liver of Life.  

It is a bit mysterious and thrilling being here inside Lira's lovely blog -- like house-sitting while she is on vacation. I always snoop when I am left alone inside someone's space...it makes me feel like a sleuth. I love learning little secrets about people. And it's exciting to try to put things back at the exact angle you found them with shaky hands. As you'd expect, Lira hasn't left anything incriminating lying around: almost five hundred blog posts are filed away neatly, one wall is full of little doorways leading to other websites, there's a table cluttered with ideas and projects...and a note for me with instructions to distract her readers so they won't pine for her as she takes an extended vacation. 

So, what could be more distracting than my inner monologue?

Here is an epipha-not that just occurred to me as I was trying to fall asleep. Everything that you do in your life ever (besides meditating) falls under these two categories: Things Coming In or Things Going Out. Inbox or Outbox. Absorbing or Creating. Just think of how simple that makes every second of your life. The thing I realized is that most people spend most of their time Absorbing, or intaking, while creative people are much more concerned with putting out (and no, I don't mean in a slutty way). Consider:

Sleeping = Absorbing energy, taking in rest
Going for a run = Expelling sweat, creating kinetic energy

Eating Breakfast = Absorbing energy, taking in calories
Cooking Breakfast = Creating cuisine, expelling your culinary ideas

Browsing the web = Absorbing someone else's ideas
Writing emails or blogs = Creating something, sending out your brainwaves

Watching a movie = Absorbing someone else's ideas
Acting in a movie = Creating a character, sharing your energy

Reading a book = Absorbing someone else's ideas
Writing a book  = Expelling your own words and ideas

Listening to music = Taking someone's creativity in through your earholes
Writing or singing a song = Expelling your own ideas or voice

Going to a museum = Taking in someone's ideas through your eyeballs
Drawing a picture = Sending out creativity through your fingertips

I'm sure this epipha-not is half-baked...there are probably arguments you could make that certain actions in your life don't fall under one of these two categories -- like having a conversation, for example -- but I would find a way to argue back, of course, by saying that if you break it down to smaller increments of time, a conversation's nothing but taking in someone's ideas for a beat and then expressing your own. In and Out. The simplest unit of in and out is breathing, of course -- the stuff of life. 

What I've found, for me at least, is that I can't be happy unless I am relatively balanced between the intake and output. It's like I have this internal scale weighing everything and saying, "Yes, watching that Fresh Prince DVD from the library sounds great right now," but after an episode says, "I know I had planned to go to the movies at 7, but wouldn't I rather go to yoga instead?"

Now, that is not to say that it isn't lucrative to allow oneself entire days or even weeks of unbalanced input or output. I mean, there are some weeks that I just feel like a genius, so inspired, and during that week maybe all these opportunities pop up, allowing me to expel all my genius ideas into the ether -- to share them with the world! But how exhausting is that? And for this reason, I spend the next entire week being a complete bum, watching movies and reading books and resting all day, and hardly lifting a finger or allowing a brainwave to escape. 

Creatives, if you keep your life feeling like a swinging pendulum, then every time your pendulum swings back to the other side, you will feel refreshed and ready for the change, whether the change is flopping onto the sand with a good book or strutting into a new job rarin' to share your expertise. 

Oh, and here is something else I figured out: brand new experiences are the best, because then you are intaking and outputting AT THE SAME TIME! "No way," you say, "how does that work?" Well I'll tell you. When you buy that Groupon for the Trapeze School and you go down to the pier and climb up the ladder with trembling knees and grab for that swinging bar, you are learning something -- you are taking in a completely new-to-you possibility...but you are also expending energy, sharing your burgeoning trapeze talent with onlooking tourists who wish they were as brave. Perhaps this is why new experiences are so thrilling; they are the best of both worlds and provide an automatic balance of absorption and creation! So go hike that trail you've been wondering about. Go visit that town and talk to the locals! Go eat at that restaurant and then Yelp to high heavens about the polenta! Keep your balance.

...This is why our friend Lira needed her vacation. Have you seen what this woman has accomplished and expelled and created in the past few months? Her pendulum is due for a swing toward utter absorption and relaxation. Those who create frequently (blogging, auditioning, filming commercials, working) need to "fill the well," as Julia Cameron writes in The Artist's Way, so that they will have something to draw from when they dip their bucket in. Before we can have anything to write about, sing about, act, or paint, we need to take in rest and experience and inspiration. So you can bet that when your favorite Struggling Actress returns, her well shall be full -- nay, overflowing! -- with possibilities and creativity and advice and experience. 

But before I go, maybe I'll just peek in a few drawers...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Well, Well, Wellington

Anita Rossbach is just a lovely Kiwi all around. Despite the nearly day difference, she and I have been following each other for the last, what? almost two years? And even though we're in two totally different markets (and hemispheres!) we are always cheering each other on. 

Anita was in a 48 Hour Film Festival, and the short they put together just had me in STITCHES. Seriously. I asked her if she wouldn't mind writing a little bit about her experience, and she happily obliged!


Four Simple Steps to Making a Short in Only 48 Hours
by Anita Rossbach

  1. Assemble your Team
  2. Attend the Launch, receive your genre (http://www.v48hours.co.nz/2011/about/?ss=genres ) and required elements (http://www.v48hours.co.nz/2011/register/#elements)
  3. Write, cast, shoot, and edit a short in less than 48 hours
  4. Hand in your short at the Finish Line and you're done!
Simple right?
This is V48Hours (www.v48hours.co.nz), the largest film competition in New Zealand. It’s madness and it is a TON of fun!
V48Hours starts on a Friday in May at 7pm, were two representatives of each team that enters get given a genre their film must adhere two, plus required elements that their film has to contain. The genres can be anything from romance, to crime, to fairy tale. The elements are usually a character name, a trait of the named character, a prop, a line of dialogue and for the past couple of years also a particular shot. So, for example for 2011 the required elements were a character named Bobby/Bobbie Young, a former bully, a piece of bent wire, ‘What have you got?’, and a freeze frame ending.
From Friday 7 pm, teams have 48 hours, until Sunday 7pm to write, cast, film and edit a short film under 7 minutes length. Most films are live action but there are also quite a few animated films!
After the deadline all films who made it across the finish line in time are contenders for various city and later national awards. All films whether disqualified or not get screened in an ever increasing number of heats in a real life cinema. So as long as you hand in something, you get to see your weekend’s hard work on the big screen.
The first year I participated I was a runner/AD on a team that consisted of a writer-director-DOP-editor-composer, five actors, one other runner and myself. Our genre was Superhero and the script was written with the only thought being that all five actors would get an equalish amount of screen time. We shot outside but didn’t have a mike but the one built into our crappy camera. The actors were practically left to their own devices and struggled to make the convoluted script work for them. Our everyman worked his butt off and got in a film on time if I remember correctly. It was pretty awful but nonetheless everyone on the team had a fun day, well all of us who had no more than two jobs anyway. I loved doing the bit of AD work I got to do and love watching the actors do their thing. This was before I admitted to myself that I too wanted to be in front of the camera.
The next year I participated, I got my wish. It was my first time in an actual film. Check it out here and feel free to laugh at my expense. I do every time I watch it (http://www.v48hours.co.nz/screening-room/2010/wellington/femme-noir/). But the film was much better than the first year. We had a writing team, an experienced DP, who guided our first-time director, and people in every department who did their jobs with enthusiasm and without getting in other people’s way and helped out where asked and needed as it should be. But 48Hours is treacherous and it didn’t help that that year it was extremely cold. Wellington winter is no fun when you’re running around in short skirts and fishnets! We didn’t quite make the deadline but got to see our film on the big screen nonetheless. I already have had my silver screen debut. Pretty amazing!
This year was easily the most fun I have had with 48Hours and I would team up with these guys again in a heartbeat. The writing was fantastic, the team was into it and easy to work with, and the film we produced was the most popular in the V48Hour screening room for 2011 until the national winners were announced. In fact, we’re still the third most watched film of the year. I wouldn’t call it my greatest acting achievement either, but really, Joseph as Mr America and the wicked songwriting are what makes this fun little musical bomb of a satire on New Zealand/American relations so great.
When 48Hours is organized chaos as opposed to just chaos, it’s one of the best experiences New Zealand has to offer in terms of bringing film enthusiasts lay or pro together for a once a year crazy ride of film frenzy. You have anyone entering the competition - from school teams participating as a class project, to semi-professional teams like Traces of Nut who never fail to dazzle. Check out their amazing Longdrummer here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aI_nClihKUQ&feature=channel_video_title) and this year’s wicked entry Ruby Red (http://www.v48hours.co.nz/screening-room/2011/wellington/ruby-red). Local writing/directing/acting talent Taika Waititi (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0169806/) made this competition his one-man show up until a couple of year ago.
I might be overusing the word a bit but 48Hours can be WICKED fun. If you’re not in NZ, you should find out if a city near you has anything like it (http://www.48hourfilm.com/)!
Get as organized as possible beforehand, do everything you can to get those creative juices flowing, have FUN and then: ‘WRITE. SHOOT. CUT. SURVIVE’!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Jaegermeister

Don't let Matthew Jaeger's opening paragraph fool you; he is one of the hardest working people I know. We're in class together and he's so good. One of those guys you watch and think, wow, it just looks so freakin effortless.

I asked him to write about how knowing sign language helped him book work, and what he has to say is invaluable to every actor out there. Read on!

by Matthew Jaeger
When Lira asked me to do a guest blog about an actorʼs toolbox my first thought was, “Oh crap, now I have to do work.” As an actor, I am inherently lazy when it comes to doing anything I donʼt consider fun. Probably WHY Iʼm an actor.

First a little about me and why you should give a flying you know what about what I say: I am what people call a working actor. Iʼm not rich. In fact, Iʼm REALLY poor. But I keep my costs low, and about 75% of my total income is from acting. The rest is a combination of odd jobs I pick up and Unemployment income between jobs. Each year that ratio improves a little more and each year my total income goes up just a bit. When I was an aspiring actor, meaning I bartended or waited tables to pay the bills, I believed that if I could just be a working actor, I would be happy. Even if I was poor, I would be content, as long as I paid my bills acting. I was wrong for a couple reasons. (Believe it or not, this will all bring me around to the toolbox. I swear).

As a working actor, you rarely know when your next residual check or booking will come. As a result, I had to accustom myself to huge swells of income followed by long dry spells, sort of like rain in Los Angeles. And I had to make sure that I saved enough during the swells to last through the dry spells. More importantly, during those dry spells I had to keep myself sane. And that is where the toolbox comes in (see, I told you).

There are some skills every actor needs in the toolbox. Accents, some musical ability, some movement ability, a familiarity with firearms... You really think you can be an actor and never have to use a gun? Take a basic class so you can look like you know what youʼre doing. But I digress.
And of course, scene study, improv, and audition technique. These are tools. They are the big tools, your hammer, nails, drill, etc - the tools you use regularly. But what about the rest of the tools? The ones that make you unique and push you to the top of the pile?

I recently got my first major TV role. A Top of Show Guest Star on CSI: Las Vegas. I had no theatrical representation at the time, I had never met the CD, and I even missed the first round of auditions. So how the hell did I book it? They needed an actor who was fluent in American Sign Language. And guess what? When I was six, my parents had put me in a sign language course. They just thought it would be a cool thing for me to learn. And I loved it. I ended up taking sign language in summer school for the next seven years. I didnʼt stop until I was too old for the class. I had a deaf friend in college, and he helped me practice some, but I lost most of it. Flash forward fifteen years later. I see an audition notice for Children of a Lesser God at Deaf West Theatre. Now, I barely remember anything, but I found a website and translated the sides for the audition and the callback. I booked it and began one of the most intense periods of learning Iʼve ever experienced. I worked with an ASL coach (who is deaf and does not speak) for two hours a day, three days a week. His patience and creativity got me almost fluent. Then I spent the next two months meeting and spending time with a number of deaf actors, most of whom I now consider very dear friends. The show was a blast, well reviewed, blah, blah, blah. Then it ended. I maintained many of my
friendships, but life moved on. Until a year later, two friends who happened to know that I was ASL fluent sent me the breakdown for an episode of CSI. The rest is history.

I tell you this story for a couple reasons. One, you never know when or how a tool in your toolbox will come in handy. So have a lot. One of the reasons we get into acting is that we love to become new people, try new things. So try a lot of them. Yes, weʼre all broke. But with a little creativity, itʼs easy to find classes, groups, and other places to learn new skills. Second, the tools should say something about you. Never learn or do something because it might come in handy (the only exceptions are your main tools listed earlier). Do something you like. Hell, something you love. The reason I picked ASL so quickly wasnʼt only because of my history, it was because itʼs something I love. I love the expression available and the beauty of the language. I love having a conversation in silence.

The tools you learn can help you in other ways. During my dry spells, I would go insane, worrying about money, and when I was going to book the next job, and how to pursue this audition or that audition, and, and, and... I made my girlfriend crazy just listening to me. So this past year, Iʼve focused on spending my dry spells honing my toolbox. Example: I love the outdoors. So, I rock climb, hike, learn primitive skills, survivalist techniques, and am now starting hunting (no judging, weʼre talking tools, not the moral issues of hunting. You wanna debate those, by me a beer and weʼll talk). I also keep up on my sign language, work on cooking and construction, garden, do yoga, anything that tickles my fancy.    I also have a valid motorcycle license and want to start learning German. Most people would call these hobbies. To an actor, theyʼre tools. And my tools are what keep me sane when Iʼm between jobs. They keep me from being desperate when I walk into the audition room. Nothing annoys me more than an “actor” who is an “actor” and nothing else. Be a well-rounded human being.

If all you have is acting, youʼre screwed, because itʼs a hard and thankless profession. Get a life.
As actors we have an excuse to explore and learn as many things as possible. I love my tools. Iʼve known actors who got jobs, or at least callbacks, because they played basketball, played chess, knew an instrument, hell, knew how to whistle! And the skills you do, the hobbies you have, say who you are. They become part of your product. Remember, as an actor, you are selling... well, you. So each hobby you enjoy, each random skill you have, is another marketing, acting, and artistic, tool. Gather as many tools as you can. Whatever intrigues you, excites you, try it. The more tools you have, the more interesting you are and the more versatile an actor you become. And who knows? It might just book you a job.