"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, December 31, 2012

Do Over!

Nothing like a year of booking only 3 voice over spots to really have you reevaluate your brand!

Ah, 2013. We're about to meet in a few hours, but I've spent the last month here in 2012 looking over the list of what I wanted to accomplish and failing to see any checkmarks next to them.

Okay, I take that back. I did pick up a new fire dancing skill (and performed in a conclave twice and as a solo performer at a private party. Not bad!), and I also added a voice over reel last January. Although I still can't get a vo agent (argh!) I still booked three small spots. I was also a part of a nominating committee (but I can't tell you which one! boo!) and got to see a ton of screeners. That was fun.

But I didn't book any commercial work in 2012 and I'm shocked. SHOCKED, I tell you! I booked three and was on avail for another in 2011. I thought 2012 would be amazing. Not so much. I also had two different theatrical agents who couldn't get me out.

I've had a lot of time to sit and think and ponder about what would make me really happy. 

You want to know something?

I'm bored.


I'm bored of my hair, of my look, of this weird "every woman" type I've tried to play for the last several years. Maybe I should call it an epiphany, but here's the deal:

I'm NOT the every woman.

I look really ethnic. My curly hair screams "FABULOUS!" and yet I've always tried to make myself look "normal."

You know what? I'm not normal. I'm kinda kooky. I'm weird.

And what's the one thing I have that I have been kinda denying about my brand?

My freaking crazy hair.

So we're changing it up in 2013! I'm gonna cut it and highlight it and wear smokey makeup and boots and skinny jeans and I am going to make myself a little edgier, a little more rock n roll, and PLAY UP the thing that has always made me different, always made me stand out, always made me recognizable.

Is this smart?

Eff if I know.

But I'm not happy not expressing myself through my appearance. I want colored highlights. I want funky clothes.

I'm putting myself into a much smaller niche.

Does this give me panic attacks?


Because I feel like I'll have a better chance of booking stuff that is specifically geared to my wild and funky type than trying to fit into a mold. I see the late 20s-early30s women in commercials and they all wear khakis and wear their straight hair in a half pony tail.

I'm not that girl. I never will be.

2013 is about looking more like ME. Who I'm growing up to be.

I'm kinda excited.

Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Show Must Go On

When tragedy strikes, it is our job as creators - writers, musicians, dancers, actors, etc - to continue on with our work.

It is our job to create a space, a diversion, a song, so that those who are in the midst of immeasurable pain and sadness, can escape their own life for a minute or two and breathe. 

The Show Must Go On.

You owe it, as a creative who has embraced their calling, to find ways to help heal others' pain.

Write your lyrics, strum your guitar, lace up your ballet shoes, and help heal those who need it most.

My heart goes out to everyone affected by these terrible events these last few days.

The Show Must Go On.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Headshot Critique

Julian writes:

Hi Lira!

Hope all is well.  Been reading and rereading some of your blog posts,
and must say I learn something new each time.

I was wondering if you could take a look at my headshots and let me
know what you think.  The main two that I use for submitting on actors
access are here:


More looks on my site:


Thank you so much, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Hey Julian! Thanks so much for reading! I'm glad you're finding my blog helpful. :)

Let's talk about the photos on your website first.

Now, because you're Asian, your age range is a much, much bigger than mine. I like to say I'm 24-29 and I think 29 might be of a stretch. Do you see that? My five year age range? LAME. At auditions calling for early 30s, I look like a child compared to the other women there.

Your age range, (are you ready?) is 18-35. Now, it might lesson once I see you in person, but based on your photos, 18-35 is what you can play. Why? (and forgive me for sounding racist) Because Asians are damn lucky. Ya'll are practically ageless. My friend Tanya, who is 1/2 Vietnamese and 1/2 French went out for a 35 year old doctor role when she was only 25 and she was PISSED because she thought there was no way she could ever pass for 35. But 35 year old Asian women could pass for 25. (See this cartoon!)  View your enormous age range as a gift! Harry Shum Jr. is playing a 17 year old high school student. He is 30 years old.

On your website, you have five photos. Number 2 and 3 are my favorite. Number 2 with the big laughing smile makes you look 18. Number 3 with the layered look makes you look 22-35.

I would like to commend you on your choice of headshot photographer because technically, the shots are good, however none of them look like they were Photoshopped. It looks like there needs to be a little bit of color correction, and your skin could use a little smoothing out. Photoshopping your photos is ALWAYS a good investment! At $25-35/pop they can get pricey, but it's only going to help you.

Now let's talk about your AA account.

Actually, let's talk about cropping.

The most flattering headshot photos show a little of your neck and chest, otherwise, you look short and squat - like a little kid trying to jump into the frame. You need to call Actors Access and let them know you need to recrop your photos. (Or actually, you're just using your two freebies, right? Just take them down and reload them back up) Take a look at my profile picture on my right sidebar. I've cropped the top of my head off so you can see my neck and a little of my chest. You need to do the same for yours.

When I go to your website and look at the thumbnails, they're cropped way better than the ones on your AA account. Use your website thumbnails as your guide.

Also, if you're only going to use two photos on AA, which is FINE, pretty please make sure you're wearing a different outfit between your theatrical and comedic shot. It seems silly, but it gives you more range.

Bottom line - you've got good headshots. Recrop the ones on your AA profile, or, better yet, get them retouched first, then put those up, cropped so that we can see your neck more. I honestly think you'll get more auditions if you follow my advice.

Lira :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Casting Director Workshop with Greg Apps

*If you're not an LA native, you will still find this post highly informative. 

Greg Apps is an Australian Casting Director with more credits than a kangaroo can stuff in her pouch. When I received an email from his assistant inviting me to his workshop, I was wary. After the initial email exchange, when still no dollar amount was listed to join, I emailed how much it cost. "It's free."

Free? Hmmm. So I figured it was a Free Class he was doing to help sell his new classes in LA. I was cautious. I couldn't understand why I was contacted and what it was for.

I get there on a very rainy day on the 17th. Greg is a charming man, shook our hands, welcomed us to the room he had reserved on the third floor of Space Station Casting on Highland.

Greg explained he was only in LA for the week; every few years he comes round to the studios to remind them he's available in the Southern Hemisphere to cast actors on their behalf.

A few more actors trickled in until we had a total of about 10.

Have you ever done an LA Casting Director Workshop before? They're cold and sad. Every actor in the audience is paying upwards of $30 to audition so that they can hopefully be brought in later. The people running Casting Director workshops in LA say they're running a valuable teaching workshop, but every actor who does one knows they are essentially paying for a job interview - which is illegal. After performing a scene, very little useless feedback or direction is given, and every actor in there looks sad and desperate by kissing casting's ass. [That is another long discussion at another time!]

This workshop was not that. Greg actually shook all our hands, learned our names (!) and chatted with each of us a few minutes before his workshop began.

And yes, this was a workshop where we actually LEARNED things. Greg started off as an actor, and once he was finished with that, he moved on to casting and loved it so much that he quit acting altogether. Casting fulfills him in a way that is completely obvious in how he talked and got to know us, and genuinely cared. He spoke to us in actor terms and knew what he was talking about.

This workshop was treated like an On Camera class; we all got up to perform our scene, he gave us a few quick notes, redirected us, and then had us all do the scenes again. We were taking a class and learning from a CD who rented the space on his own, and wasn't charging us.

He instructed us on how to come in and "own" the auditioning space. He recommends that you have things in your pockets (cell phone, wallet, etc.) and slowly take them out and place them on a nearby table while making small talk and asking about the character. It was so cute and really made me want to audition in Australia, because NO WAY would that fly here in LA. Your pre-read is created to get you in and out of the office super fast and I can only imagine how annoyed the cd would be if you're creating any sort of wait for the actors in her lobby. Time is money in LA.

But here's some gems I want to share with you:

- If, after a line delivery, you can add the word 'idiot', you're saying it with the wrong intention. For instance, saying "Is that what you think?" with the intention of making the other person feel stupid vs "Is that what you think?" with the intention of making the other person feel safe and that they can open up to you, changes everything. And if your character is in a romantic relationship with the person they're in the scene with, well, you probably don't want to make your lover feel dumb. That's just bad manners, and probably NOT what the writer intended.

- The character not the dialogue must be what pops. Every other person auditioning already kind of looks like you, they're already framed the same way in the camera, they're all saying the same exact thing you are. And there's about 100 of them. So how do you stand out? Eye contact (only making it when making a point, just like in real life!) mannerisms, tics; THOSE make a character, and therefore YOU pop.

We had a Q&A session afterwards and he told us that the reason he was doing this workshop was because he eventually wants to retire from casting but still teach actors online.

Now of course, I recommend finding a teacher you love where you're located, so you can actually get up and work in a group of people and blah blah blah (I'm sure you're sick of me touting my favorite LA instructor) But his technique and approach are invaluable for those who aren't in LA or NY or heck, even the United States.

So check him out on facebook at www.theauditiontechnique.com and follow him on Twitter @AuditionTechniq and see what he has to say.

I recommend him.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Twenty Minutes

Today, you are going to treat yourself to Twenty Minutes of a video by Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert so that you can understand why you have the desire, the want, the call to be an actor.

Find twenty minutes, just 20 minutes, to listen to this. You will be thankful you did. And I'd love to read your comments.

Thanks, Anthony, for the link. :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


My friends and I have a cry of frustration whenever we're in a mood:

"I'm Creatively DEAD Inside!!"

And we always laugh because sometimes, somedays, somemonths, I swear to god, doesn't it feel like we can't come up with anything worthy? Doesn't it feel like nothing ever positive happens? Doesn't it seem like we keep on slogging on, with no distance made? We keep going and going and going.

In circles.

So here I am, at degree 360 about to take one more step when I just realize, EFF! I'm back to one!


But hey, circles are cyclical, right? We've been here before, we'll be here again. I'm at the trough of the roller coaster. I'll be at the top of the world soon. Sooner than I know. You will too.

Keep on keeping on.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dear Struggling Actress

16 year old Katy writes,
First, great blog! I’m a new reader, so I’ve barely made a dent, but I’ve learned so much already. Thank you!

So, I’m a junior in high school and I love acting. I’m heavily involved with my school’s theatre department, trying to get all the experience I can not only as an actress but also as a director or producer or part of backstage crew. In an ideal world, I’d love to pursue acting as a career. I’ve been told that I’m a very good actress, particularly with comedic material (obviously I can’t be objective here, so I won’t tell you what I think). I’ve done well in a statewide competition, although I haven’t won any awards yet. I have the opportunity to compete a few more times while I’m still in high school, so hopefully that will change (this year??).  

Problem is, my parents aren’t exactly what you’d call “artsy.” They aren’t very enthusiastic about me potentially majoring in Theatre (or even Communications!) and would really rather I didn’t move to California after college graduation. They don’t really understand the appeal of the entertainment industry. They tend to push me more toward medicine (which is so interesting, but not what I want to do with my life) or engineering (ew). They want a guarantee that I’ll be rich and successful in my field. I can’t give them that. I’d rather be happy instead.

I’m feeling kind of stuck. Obviously I can’t ask you to tell me whether or not I should pursue acting the way we’d all like to (the way you are!), but I really want the decision to be completely out of my hands. So I’ll give you a theoretical situation. Just assume that I’m extremely talented and that I have incredible potential if I applied myself entirely to acting. I’d still be going against my parents’ wishes and I’d still be moving across the country, but I have some indirect connections and (theoretically) enough talent to give me a fighting chance. And passion for what I’m doing. What then? Should theoretical me go for it, or go the "safer" route?

You just seem to have it all together, so I’d love to hear your opinion on this.
- Katy

Hey Katy,

You hit the nail on the head: I can't tell you whether or not you should pursue acting, but I CAN  share with you what I would tell myself if I could go back in time and advise 16 year old me.

First off, I understand you wanting to not make the decision yourself; I had the same problem (Should I go to school for creative writing or theatre performance?) and I dealt with it by only applying to one theatre school. If I got the theatre scholarship that would pay a lot of my way, I'd go there. If I didn't, I'd stay home, go to community college, transfer to Santa Cruz and major in creative writing. I knew no matter what, I'd be happy either way, and also forever carry in my heart, what if the other one happened instead? and be wistful. I made peace with that.

But the Universe spoke. I got the scholarship. Off to get a degree in pretend I went!

We seem to have a similar background too. I was also heavily involved with my high school's theatre department. I won awards for acting. I landed lead roles in both the fall play and spring musical (the only female to do so that year) and I also created my high school's first creative journal, as well as my own monthly magazine. I had been acting since I was 12 in community theatre. I loved it. I was good at it. At 13, I was the youngest staff member of my city's Teen newspaper. I had my own column. I loved it. I was good at it.

So here I am, several years later, trying to book enough acting gigs to make rent, and the editor-in-chief of my very own blog. I have the best of both worlds!

Or do I?

Here's the thing, Katy,

I also didn't think it would take me this long to become successful enough to make a decent living acting. I have it all - I'm cute, I'm personable, I'm a decent actress. And yet, all those things are not enough. I have friends who are freaking amazing and wonderful and even more talented than I, and they too, are not where they thought they would be.

If I could take a time machine so I could impart some wisdom to my 16 year old self, I would say this: "Major in psychology. Minor in creative writing."

I LOVE psychology. I feel like I'm good at figuring out motives for people's behavior. It fascinates me. I love helping people. I love helping people feel

And if I majored in the above, I would also have marketable skills.

AND every major metropolis has fun performance things. There are community theaters, poetry slams, indie bands. I could have my own family counseling practice, and once I get home and take off my high heels, I can go grab my bongos and join my drum circle. I would love my job, loves my bank account with the commas, and still get to be creative and perform on my own time.

Your parents don't want you to pursue a career in acting because they know there are tens of thousands of struggling actresses like me who aren't making it, who can't make it, who will never make it. The last thing they want is to have their daughter have to move back home with them, defeated, broken hearted and thousands of dollars in credit card debt.

Let me give you another example:
My friend Gloria sang with her family in church since she was a little girl. She also sang in her choir group in high school. She was also doing as much tech work as possible. She could do it all.
Gloria went to USC on a full opera scholarship. But her freshman year at USC, she had a crisis; she hated the program. It wasn't what she wanted to do. So she quit school, moved out on her own to Seattle for a year to figure out what to do next, and then applied to Cal Arts for Scenic Design, because she also loved doing that and she was very good at it.

Now, she has worked on the Oscars for the last seven years, and she's won an Emmy certificate (they don't give out trophies to everyone- lame!) for her work on it. She works all the time. She is happy. She loves her job.

And she also found a way to still perform. She is the Assistant Shin in the LA Fire Brigade fire dancers conclave, and she spins hula hoop, staff, double staves, and double hoops, all on fire.

You can find work that makes you happy, and you can find pleasure that makes you thrive.
There is a healthy, happy balance.

Okay, here's another faster, shorter example of true life: Most of my fellow acting major peers don't pursue acting. Or at least, they did, for about two years, made no money, went back to school and got their teaching degree. A lot of teachers have theatre degrees. It's great - we have all the focus and attention on us, and we have a captive audience! 

So here's some advice. Find the thing that is NOT acting that you love to do, and study that for your first year in college. Buy a good laptop with all the bells and whistles with your graduation money, get a smart phone, and grab a bunch of your new college friends and make silly dorky videos. Make shorts. Or memorize monologues and go to open mics in the college town cafes and perform them there. You can still find ways to perform and fill your soul.

And if you think you'd be happier studying acting, knowing full well the majority of people who move to LA or NYC will never, ever make enough money to claim they're middle class, go ahead and add it as your minor.

I just want you to know that I had one of the best auditions of my life for a series regular of a new show, and the casting director told me, "That was really, really funny. You made some Great choices!" And I didn't get called back. That is my life right now. And I don't wish the what if's, the dissillusionment, the constant self-doubt and ego blows, and low self-worth on anyone.

Find something else, anything else, and have a happy and successful career. You can still perform without having to commit your entire life to it.

In fact, maybe YOU will be the one to make a time machine that works. Let me know. I have some things to tell my junior year self.


Friday, September 28, 2012


My mother is 5'2. My dad is 6 feet tall. I should have grown to be about 5'7 (missed that by 2 inches!) because of that. How do I know? Because I have giant feet and hands.

Seriously. My hands are not tiny. They're slender, sure, they're feminine, yeah, but they are long. "Piano hands,"* Dustin Diamond told me. Thanks, Screech!

And my feet are huge. I wear a 9 1/2.   5'10 models have this size shoe or SMALLER.
My mom wears a 7 1/2. So to put this in perspective, I was already borrowing her shoes when I was in fourth grade. Yes. At 8 years old, I had the same size shoe as my fully grown mother.

In seventh grade, I was a 9 1/2 and I pleaded to the heavens, PLEASE STOP LETTING MY FEET GROW! PAYLESS ONLY GOES UP TO 11!!! and thankfully, oh, thankfully, the heavens listened and intervened.

"It takes a bigger foundation to make a church than an outhouse," my dad quoted from his grandfather. And that's true...

But for my height, my feet are still big.

And apparently, they're also popular: http://www.wikifeet.com/Lira_Kellerman

Wikifeet.com is a Real site where random strangers on the internet can find photos of celebrities off google, myspace, or where ever and stare at their feet. It's "The collaborative celebrity-feet website."

Did you catch that part? Celebrity?  So what the heck am I doing there?

Should I tell them I'm not a celebrity?

Okay. Did you see the part where you can RATE the feet? 2 people have rated my feet as Ugly! My feet are not ugly! Go ahead and ask the other 2 people who have rated them as Beautiful! My feet average out!

I mean, come on. This is ridiculous and hysterical.

....I wonder if I should eff with the site and show pictures of me in fancy dresses biting my toenails. Or painting my feet to look like I got a bad case of the gangrene?

At any rate, if you want to feel famous, go ahead and upload some pictures of yourself being silly with your feet and tell all your friends to go the page and click "beautiful"!

And help a sister out over here too, yeah?

* True story!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Free Coffee!

You know when you're on an indie set and the coffee is long gone you have some downtime around 4pm while they reset?

You bust out your smartphone (AT&T gives their users 15% off for card carrying union members!), see that a Starbucks is only a few blocks away (cause, you know, it's LA) and offer to go on a coffee run.


And you can get a free drink!

Go to Starbucks.com, download the form to the right, and if you buy 4 drinks, yours, the 5th one, is FREE! And you're a HERO!

(I'll take a tall reverse caramel macchiato with whip, thanks. :)

You know what, go ahead and download a few of these forms and keep them in your wallet/purse/actor kit and go nuts through November 12th this year.

Actually, go call your agents and see if they want anything!

You're welcome!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Casting - And This Can Happen to You

Helped a friend yesterday with casting for a hush hush project and we auditioned a few older women in their 40s to 50s. The character is a mother with two 16 year old children who has to have a very terrifying conversation with each of them, and due to the nature of the project, was all improvised.

We were....less than impressed. We had two options we knew would work, but we didn't have anyone we were jumping up and down about.

"What about Stephanie?" I asked. Stephanie played my mom in a feature a few years ago, and not only is she an absolute pleasure to work with, but the woman is phenomenal. If you've watched Big Love, Parks and Rec or the Office, you've seen her work.

We looked her up online and had a heck of a time trying to find her contact info. We had to go to her facebook page, but we couldn't even message her unless she was a friend.  (I understand you want your personal page private [and you'll see mine is also mostly hidden] but I do have my email available to the general public, just in case.)

Luckily, I was her friend on Facebook, and I went into my own account to message her saying, "Hey! Are you available and interested, because this role is YOURS if you want it!"

And cases like these are not rare; you do a phenomenal job working, and you WILL be remembered.

Keep on doing great work and being a pleasure to work with, and you will work again and again.

Just make sure to make it easy to find you too! :)

Monday, September 10, 2012


photo by MJ Steinbrenner
We're back from Burning Man, my fire conclave, the LA Fire Brigade, had two amazing performances, (didn't drop my staff or burn myself!) and most of our stuff has been vinegarized and stored, and we only have laundry and bedding to wash and clean and sort and store and then it's DONE!

For those of you who have been to Black Rock City the week before Labor Day, you know that it feels more like New Year's than January first.

I came home to a bunch of work emails and I'm creating a list of all the things I want to acheive in the next few months. My main goal: Writing More.




I had a year or two before I started this blog where I wasn't inspired to write anything at all. But now, I have so many things I want to do, with so many people, and I'm working on several projects at once, and I JUST peeked into my writing folder where I have 5 different pieces that I only half finished and put away and now I want to get started on those too! I'M SO PUMPED THAT I'M WRITING IN RUN-ON SENTENCES CAN YOU FEEL THE EXCITEMENT!?!?

So I'm here to say I'm not dead, I'm just super busy from being away for so long. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to help run a casting session for a project I'm also in, and then I'm coming back home to grab my Birthday Boy Husband and to whisk him off to get a massage cause we be fancy like that.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Burn, Baby, Burn

I'm part of the LA Fire Brigade and we were chosen out of hundreds (thousands?) to perform in the Great Circle right before the big effigy at Burning Man this year.

I will be spinning my 5 foot staff, lit on fire at both ends, along with my 8 other Rain Dancers, in one  section of our 20 minute piece. There are double staffers, hoopers, poi spinners, drummers, and fire safeties, and we are going to Work It Out!

Am I excited? Hell yes!

photo by Maria Rangel
Here's almost all of us, right before we bow at one of our dress rehearsals downtown.

But BEFORE I leave for the desert, I have a show! This Saturday, August 18th, I'll be performing in yet another Our Time of the Month. If you're a lady, come on down and hang out for a bit. Drink some wine, eat some chocolate, and if you're a guy, hold fast! We're producing our Date Night show and will be selling tickets for that October 6th show soon! (You know, once we're finished writing it. ;)

Have a great next few weeks, ya'll!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Patton Tells It Like It Is

My dear friend Phoenix wrote me:
Take out "comedian" and substitute in "actor/actress" and this is not only one of the most inspiring things you'll read all day, but also follows up nicely with your "Own Your Talent" blog post you wrote a few weeks ago. Solid stuff and it will make you grin! ♥
And here's the accompanying link she sent: Patton Oswalt's Keynote Address at Montreal's Just For Laughs 2012.

Read all of it. Especially if you have a smartphone. And especially in the summer. And even more especially in December and January.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Last Night

Last night, I went back to the restaurant I hadn't taken a shift for in over 6 months. We needed the money, so on the black pants, the black non-skid work shoes, the black apron. On the tie. On the serving tray.

I slipped into it pretty easily enough. But at my second table, I couldn't remember if it was 202 or 22. The customer asked what I thought of a particular wine that not only did we not have the last time I worked there, but I had no idea how to spell the dang thing, which meant that finding it in the computer was also going to be a challenge.

I look behind me and I'd been quadruple sat. And why was everyone taking their sweet, sweet time hemming and hawing at the menu when I need to put these dang orders in?!

People started getting angry, I still didn't know 2 table numbers and then, right when I was about to put in the 6 tables worth of orders, the guy's spaghetti on table 3 fell to the floor. So now I had to go to the kitchen to replace it and clean it up. Worst of all, I overheard one of my coworkers, standing against the bar, not helping, say, "Why didn't she clean it up first?" Why don't you clean it up first?!  It's YOUR table!!!

And then I woke up.


Several years ago, on a walk in our neighborhood, my husband who was only my boyfriend at the time, said that he wanted to get to the point where he could make me stop waiting tables. "Er... I wouldn't 'make' you stop, I would just want you to have that optio--" "No!" I said, "Make me stop! That is the sexiest thing anyone has ever said to me!"

And we got to that point. I have not waited on a single table since April of 2011. It's been over a year.

Now I write and produce and act in an interactive monthly show my friends and I created. I'm telecommuting a job that I really enjoy from the comforts of my own home. I get to be creative and I have freedom to dash off to auditions without the fear of having to find someone to cover my shift. Without the fear of getting to my shift late. Without the fear of having to tell my agent, sorry, no one can cover me so I can't go to that casting.

I don't have the constant back pain, the hurt feet, the sleep at 3am, wake up at noon problems. I don't have cheap customers on a date they can't afford. I don't have happy hour shifts where my tips are cut in half. I don't have to say, "Sorry, I'm working this weekend," to people who want to invite me to parties or events.

I do miss some aspects, though. I take pride in my work, and I was a waitress for a very long time. And if you want to find some really cool, fun, incredibly creative people? Go to a restaurant and talk to the serving and bartending staff. I met My Lady of Awesome when she was a food runner at the restaurant I served at. She brought in her guy later to host, and I met my husband for the first time at the pizza rail in that same restaurant. (Thank you Universe for bringing my three major loves to me at UNIVERSAL CITY!)

I miss the tables of 40 year old beer drinking, just off work men. I loved them. They could take my sarcasm - they loved me for it! And would always request my sections and tip huge.

I miss the jokes and improv'ing with the tables.

I miss having a community of people who had similar dreams and goals and also knew this job was a means to an end, but still did it with integrity and pride.

But I do not miss the rest of it.

I had, for the most part, a great time doing it. I made a lot of friends I'm still in contact with today. I liked knowing a menu inside and out and making suggestions or alterations to an item so that it made a table happy.

And if you yourself are waiting tables too, be good at it. Be really, really good at it. Because those truly are life skills that will help you get anything you need later in any type of career or business. But also know this: It will end. There is an end. But you have to know that no matter what, show business is a cruel mistress. She could make you come back to the black apron, the black tie, the black tray....

I still have my non-skid black work shoes in the corner of my closet.

But thank god the times I'm in a restaurant now are because I'm there to relax and eat.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Professional Jealousy

"Hey Lira,

An actor friend recently pointed me in your direction, and I'm glad he did! Your blog is helpful and encouraging, and I got a lot out of your posts regarding how to use Actors Access more effectively.  I shake my fist at those pages of tiny thumbnails!! 

Anyway, would you be interested in writing a post about how you deal with professional jealousy? I'd love to read your take on it.

Btw, I'm jumping back into acting after a 2 year hiatus, so I recently started a blog as well to chronicle my thoughts and experiences. You can see it at if you're interested!


HeyVanessa! Thanks for reading! I too shake my fist at those pages and pages and pages of tiny thumbnails!

Okay, professional jealousy is a really tough subject to talk about without making me sound like an enlightened asshole. I think a lot of being okay with where you are in your career is due to understanding the business, rationalizing, and maturity.

Also, being a middle child helps. We look at both sides of everything. :)

Anyways, when a friend of mine had a huge audition for a big role in a film, (and this happened just this last week) I am not jealous. I'm just not. I'm rooting for her. I've seen this poor girl struggle just as much as I have, if not more, and I want her to book this. I want her to get this part. I want the CDs to bring her in for everything.

I've had a friend shoot a pilot. I wanted it to be picked up. It wasn't, and I think I was more sad about it than she was.

I have a friend who is producing a ton of stuff, made a few films with star names in them, is making a few more - and pioneering the next wave of the future (seriously. she's a genius.) and I'm so proud of her.

First, you have to understand the business. When CD's have a lead for a pilot they need to cast, who's a young 20something, any ethnicity actress, they are going to call in those with a major resume. Someone who has a resume with series regular, huge guest star, and recurring credits. Someone who they know well. Someone who is probably already a name.

They are going to bring in actors who have been acting since they were babies. Actors whose parents started them down this path with the understanding that if they got their child an agent, their baby could be doing Huggies and Gerber commercials and making all their college tuition money themselves. And hey, if the kid hates it by the time they're aware of what's happening, they'll stop. Simple, easy, and a ton of money to be made.

I aint gonna lie. If I have a baby, I'm doing the same.

So already, if you were born and raised in LA, your chances are already a million times better than even the hot girl's who just graduated from Yale Drama School.

They're going to call in people with a ton of experience already under the belt. Millions of dollars are resting on the lead, and she needs to be able to deliver the goods. If you understand the business, it helps you understand that you are at the bottom. And it's okay. Everyone has their own climb.

Rationalizing is a wonderful tool. What does your friend have, that you do not? Have they been constantly hustling for the last ten straight years? Do they do stand up? Did they intern at an agency? Did they assist a casting director? Are they constantly making their own projects and promoting them? Did you do any of that? Maybe your friend has earned everything they're now getting.

And finally, maturity, which is really going deep inside yourself and trying to pick out what being jealous means.

Jealousy is an emotion that is rooted in fear. Are you scared you won't ever get the things your friends have? Are you scared you won't ever find success here? Are you scared this will never pan out?

Get rid of all that - fully commit to being in this town and working hard for 10 years before seeing any of it pay off. Understand that being scared is okay: We're ALL EFFING TERRIFIED! This could seriously never work out for any of us.

And if you're scared of that, look deep within yourself again and see what else you love and are drawn to that would involve you being creative and helping people.

Not being a working actress isn't the be all end all. You're far too amazing and talented to just be one thing.

Be a hyphenate. Be an actress-artist. Be an actress-blogger. (I enjoy it!) Be an actress-creator.


Create, create, create.

It's hard to be jealous of other people when you fully enjoy and love everything you do.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

An Attitude Adjustment

Charlotte emailed me the other day and I'm going to dissect a few things that stand out.

Charlotte, we don't know each other so I want you to know, I am giving you this advice with nothing but love. It might not sound like it, but I want you to succeed. In order for that to happen, however, you have to look at what you've done and see that you already are succeeding. We just need to give you a little bit an attitude adjustment.

Let's take a look here:

Alright well i guess i should begin with letting you know im 16 and unfortunately stationed in Birmingham , AL (every theatre kids nightmare).  
I don't know why you feel the need to trash the city you live in. Birmingham has plenty of history and tons of things to do. Opening with that turns me off and makes me wary because you're coming to me for advice from a place of deep ungratefulness for the life you currently have. That makes me think that if you don't like my advice, you're going to discount everything I've said and all the time and effort I've put into my advice for you. You will then blame me for your unhappiness. That's a lot of pressure!  
anyways with things to think about like my future all i want to do it act, sing, and dance. ive trained in ballet, hip hop, and tap for 12 years. I take singing lessons from The Amy Murphy studio (mixed belt soprano)and I also take acting lessons. 
Did you take all your classes in Birmingham? Would you have not had those opportunities if you lived elsewhere? Do you understand why someone could be taken aback from your attitude?
All i want to do in life is theatre and/or musical theatre obviously im interested in broadway and actual movies, but being realistic realize college is necessary. what would you reccomened as top schools for musical theatre or theatre? do you know of any less known places? prefered locations are cali or new york tho anywhere would b alright. also I read some of this on your blog but what is your view on the American musical dramatic academy.. it sounds almost to good to be true.

I cannot tell you my recommendations for musical theatre or theatre schools because a school that I would consider to be excellent for me, might not fit your needs. You need to do your own research and contact the schools you're interested in to learn about their curricula and requirements.  You've been studying the performing arts for over a decade - any school would be lucky to have you - but you need to also believe that you would be lucky to have the school you eventually get accepted into. Your email to me, with a distasteful opening and multiple spelling and grammatical errors, as well as an admittance to only skimming an article about a subject I already covered, leads me to believe that although you are showing me that acting and dancing is your life and you are 100% committed to performing onstage, you are also lazy when it comes to anything you have to do offstage.

As a musical theatre school grad, YOU are going to have to be in charge of your career. YOU are going to have to learn how to brand, promote, and sell yourself. You might get cast in every production your college produces. You might never know what it's like to not have your name on the cast list. But then, once you're out of school, and you're competing in the real world where there are thousands of girls just as pretty, just as talented, and just as amazing, the only thing that will separate you is your attitude and work ethic. Now, at 16, YOU are going to have to make sure that the incredibly talented actress and dancer you want to become, is a smart, articulate, and humble actress and dancer now. You are going to have a fan base; you probably already have one, and you need to remember that the only way to keep them, and to grow them, is to always thank them for continuing to support you. Without fans to come and watch you dance, sing, and act, you have no one to perform for, and are therefore not a performer.

Being an actress, and especially being a struggling one, is incredibly hard work. I hope you never have to find that out. I hope that it is all very easy for you and I know all of your fans and friends and family hope the same. But only for as long as you're kind, respectful, hard working, and thankful.

Thanks for reading, Charlotte, and I wish you the best of luck in your college search.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Three Rules for Every Artist

There are three rules every artist (every person, rather) should follow.

And yes reborn bird of fire, this is especially for you, and for everyone else out there who doesn't know:

1) Take Care of Self

It's rule number one and probably the hardest thing to do. In order to be a good human, in order to be a good artist, you absolutely HAVE to take care of yourself. Take yourself out for a walk. Use a creative outlet like journaling. Say no to other people when your plate is so full you can't find 20 minutes all to yourself for you.

2) Take Care of Family

You are number one, and your family is number two. This could be your blood family members, it could be the friends you made into your family,  but yourself and family comes before -

3) Be Good at Your Job

Do you see that? Your career comes third! Third! Because if you need time for you, that's a bigger priority than work. It always is and will be. There are many days when you'll get up out of bed and you're feeling great! Your family is doing well! And you can devote the whole day to doing stuff for work!

But that is how you should be balancing things.

And I would like to add my own little rule, 4: Don't Work Everyday.

There are some people who say that you absolutely have to - MUST! - do something for your acting career Every Day! Every DAY!!!!!

And to them, I say,

Dudes, chilllllllllll.

Nine to Fivers get a weekend, and so should you. Treat yourself to the museum, a movie, a nice slow walk with a cherished friend. Because that's how you live and what you need to do to be happy.

And what the hey, I'll add another rule: Number 5: Go to Therapy.

Chances are you have some major wounds from the past. Talk about them.

The Maple Counseling Center works with your income on a sliding scale and is a great place to go.

I know. I went every week for a year. Rule 1 and all.

Take care of yourself.

Love yourself.

You deserve it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fine Tuning

I dare say that my short script idea is a pretty good one, and that my husband's notes and comments are brilliant. When we had another couple over for dinner the other night, I told them the very basics of the story, and a few scenes I thought were key in telling the story.

"It doesn't sound like a short," Carrie said. "No, this is definitely a feature." her husband Jake agreed.


I don't want to write a feature script! That is 90 effing pages and, and, like, months of writing and rewrites! That's too much time, too much work in a medium I never took a class in how to write!

And then my stupid brain, just an hour ago, whispered, "You know what, maybe this is your first novel."


And the whole thing is just so very, very strange because if this little thing was a book, I could easily write it right now. I know these characters, I know their story, and it's weird, because, well....

I write monologues. I'm used to it. It's a story that is taking place RIGHT NOW in a character's life, at a heightened moment or crisis in their life, where, similar to an essay, the ending ties back to the beginning.

I had written a small monologue that was kind of the jumping off point to this idea about, geez, over a year ago. It was just the RIGHT NOW of a wife's tremendous guilt. And after five minutes of writing, and probably even less than that, the monologue was done. I'm used to writing small things, small blips, that's it! It's done! I've no patience for things that take more than days to write.

But I think maybe I wouldn't mind spending so much time, a year, longer, who knows, with these characters, with this story.

But I keep telling myself, calm down. Finish fine tuning the short, send it to your friends, get their opinions after reading what you have and go from there. From there. Focus, focus, focus.

Fine tune for another few days and go from there. Because if I can just focus on the now, just focus on the small parts, maybe one day, a year from now, I'll have a novel. If I just shut up and focus on the now, and the small parts, maybe all that work and time won't seem like work and time. It'll be fun.

But who knows. Maybe I'm hugely overstepping myself and the whole thing is crap.

I told you I have terrible self doubt! ;)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Keep Going

Last week, at about this time, I had a breakdown. Sobbing, gut wrenching, curled up in the fetal position in my bed. "What am I doing with myself? Is this what I really want?"

I know the feelings of career high and lows are cyclical, but are they circular? Am I going in circles?

What do I want? What do I need?

"I need an idea!" I sobbed to my empty room, my empty apartment, my empty heart.

I went to bed that night exhausted, desperate, defeated. I'd been feeling creatively dead inside for a few weeks. I was hoping it was hormones; my moods were swinging like mad like ecstatic like depressed. Please, god, let it be hormones.

I fell asleep with wet eyelashes.

At 3:30 am that morning, I woke up. I had an idea. An older woman mourning the death of her husband. I can work with that, I thought.

At 8:30 I woke up again. It can't be an older woman. It has to be me.

I didn't go back to sleep. I couldn't. I was too excited. I spent the next three hours writing out the plot points, dialogue snippets, and images I wanted. At noon, I read everything to my husband. And with tears in his eyes, he said, that's great. And you should include this. And what about this?

I took his notes, moved some things around, and now finally opened up Celtx and started putting it into film script format.

And I know that once I start writing, and getting excited, I also start to doubt. Is this really good? What am I doing? Why am I pretending this is any good at all? and I have to battle myself and keep going, keep going, Keep Going.

Because if I don't, I am nothing.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Congrats, Grad - You've Got It EASY

Hey all you theatre grads with BFAs in Theatre/Dance in the crook of your arm! You're an artist with a Degree!

So you do what anyone who wants to be in the moving pictures does - Move to LA!

The weather is great, the humidity is mostly low, and the rent is, wait. It's HOW MUCH?

But this post isn't about moving to LA. It's about being a recent theatre grad with no clear idea on how to get into Sag-Aftra, the actor's union for everything except theatre. (Irony!)

Anyways, (if you can't tell, I'm in a bit of a mood and feeling a wee bit loopy. I just ate some really frikkin spicy food and even my lips are on fire) you might think that the only way to get a good agent in this town is to be union.

Well, kiddo. Hold your horses! You JUST graduated. Agents are going to expect you (you who looks 18 to look younger) to not be union. And, BONUS -

COMMERCIAL REPS ARE LOOKING FOR NON-UNION ACTORS. (If you graduated years ago, are 40ish and still non-union, keep reading! This applies to you too!)

When Sag and Aftra members voted to merge, those who were only Aftra, but still going on non-union commercial auditions, are now suddenly Sag too.

The big talent pool of really good Sag-E/Aftra actors just shrank to a teeny puddle.

And there are still TONS of actors needed for the huge amount of non-union commercials being produced.

And that, my fellow thespian, is where you come in.

No, non-union commercials don't pay that much - but I've made more money on them than I did two Sag gigs. And if you're non-union, your commercial agent is going to submit you for non-union AND union commercial auditions. YOU ARE GOING TO GET SUBMITTED FOR EVERYTHING.

You've got it easy.

So don't worry. You're going to be FINE.

And welcome to LA!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Internet is Not Television

So don't treat it that way.

Producers, directors, actors of web series, take note:

The Huffington Post reports that Netflix is going to release the entire new season of Arrested Development All. At. Once.

I've been stressing to a few people working on web series that the last thing you want to do is have an entire season of 13 episodes and release them only once a week.




You know why? Because the other channels, like Facebook, Cracked, and Twitter, etc are way more interesting on the internet. If I watch one episode of your webseries, I MIGHT come back a week later to watch another, but only if you're my friend. I won't bookmark it. I won't remember to come back. You are going to have to annoy everyone on your facebook feed that your webseries' new episode is up and link to it so I'd watch. Maybe. But you won't get repeat viewings from people you don't know.

Because the truth is, most web series are not that good. The production value is low. There's sound issues. The visual quality isn't that great, and sometimes the actors are crap.

But if you have a good episode, and I can click on the next episode? Guess what. I'm going to click on it. I want to be instantly gratified. Because I'm at my computer and that's how I watch tv on it. I will go on Netflix streaming or Hulu Plus and watch an entire season of a show I like in a few sittings. I'll watch 3 episodes of a comedy at once. I'll sit through 2 hours of a drama in the same night. If I like something, I want to watch it. Even on my DVR, if I have three episodes of my favorite tv show waiting for me at home I want to watch them back to back to back. It's fun!

Television is changing. In ten years, (and most likely, way less than that) we'll get most of our series in one fell swoop, and we'll watch television shows series by series. We'll have big tv viewing parties, and they'll become entertainment events - where there's behind the scenes, the making of, and minor characters who spin off onto their own online webseries, that's right, ALL ONLINE. And the website they have with all their extras is also loaded with advertising, so the studios are making even more advertising money.

So if you have an indie webseries, and you know it's good, you know the production value is great, you know the acting is phenomenal -

Release the whole series at once.

Because people will watch an episode, and if they like it, they'll watch another. And another. And another.

And if it's bad - if I can watch another episode, I WILL. Schadenfreude.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dear Struggling Actress

Hi Lira

I have been here close to three and a half years now and I'm frustrated. I feel like I have been out here for a "long time" and that I haven't done a thing; I'm worried I am doing something wrong or hindering myself in some way.  
I have had an across the board agent for the past two years.  He sends me out on mostly commercial auditions and I get called back and I have been put on avail, but I have never booked.  I have only had maybe two or three theatrical auditions from him and when any auditions come they seem to be few and far in between.  I feel like I should be doing more to get my face out there, my problem is I can't afford to send out postcards and headshots all the time, or at least without knowing that they are actually helping me.  I don't have enough money to be able to "waste" it.  I get good responses from my acting, I definitely have a lot of room to grow, but I feel like I do good work.  
Auditions are another thing.  I am a shy person, I am from the Midwest and I don't like conflict. Auditions make me nervous and I tend to get hierarchy in my mind, feeling as though all of these people are against me and that I am not worthy.  I have come a long way with all of that, I am so much better than I was when I first arrived, but I still worry that I am not giving my all in auditions.  

I don't know what I need to be doing right now.  Should I be sending out postcards?  And if so, what do I put on them?  Should I be looking for a new agent?  I'm not completely a fan of my agent, he finds me auditions here and there which I really appreciate, but it seems very apparent to me that his focus is on the money and how quick he can get it and not so much on my continuing career.  The reason I haven't left is because I am afraid I won't be able to get better right now since I don't really have much to show and I have found it very hard to figure out what "better" or "worse" is.  I would really appreciate some advice.  I want to take charge of my career, I just have no idea how.


Hi Meghan, thanks for reading!

I do have some advice for you but hey, what the hell do I know? If I knew everything, I wouldn't be struggling myself! So keep that in mind when reading below.

1) I hate to tell you Meghan, but three and half years is NOTHING. You know how in high school, if you have a boyfriend for three months, that's considered a long term relationship? It's the reverse in LA. You have to understand that you will be here for 10 years and either two things will happen: You will either quit way before that and move back to the Midwest, OR you will stick it out and possibly be making some really good money on year 12 or 13. Depressing, right? But it's the truth. Everyone you see on tv who is early to mid twenties has been working since they were babies. True story. Find your favorite actress on imdb and see if I'm not right.

That's not meant to depress you, but to give you some perspective. By their year 12 or 13, they too started making some seriously good money.

You know Progressive Lady Flo? She is freaking ROLLING in money right now. But where was she before she booked her campaign? She played a secretary on Mad Men, getting co-star credit. She was in a few episodes; a recurring co-star. Not very glamorous, and she was in her 30s already. But she stuck with it. She put in a lot of time. And it paid off. Once she's done being Flo, she can do whatever the heck she wants.

So there's that. If 3 1/2 years seems like a long time, the rest of my advice is just going to sound worse and worse.

2) It is my belief (again, I'm struggling) that having a different agent for commercial and theatrical representation is ALWAYS better than across the board.

If you are across the board, the quickest way for your agent to make money is to send you out for commercials. If he is lacking on the theatrical auditions - you feel stuck. You can't fire him for just theatrical and keep him for commercials. Well, you could try, but why bother?

Summer is starting. Submit for commercial agents now. Submit every three weeks until someone calls you in. Do your research for commercial agents, and target 20. Keep at em. They'll bring you in eventually.

You say you feel like you should be doing more to get yourself out there, and you are 100% right. I'm assuming you are already on Actors Access and submitting like crazy. But if that's not getting the results you want, you need to create your own things. Write for yourself. Record yourself performing. Upload to Youtube, keep on keeping on. There are so many opportunities to get yourself work - but YOU have to create them. Not a writer? Not a film maker? Tough. You HAVE to be. A Struggling Actress today is never just an actress. If she is, she's back home to the MidWest after two years. You HAVE to be a writer, a producer, a graphic designer, a blogger, a tweeter and on and on and on. Plus, all the other creative outlets will only make you feel more powerful and more in control of your life.

You say you can't afford to send out postcards and headshots all the time. Well, I don't really think postcards do a ding darn thing except go immediately into the trash bin of whomever you're sending them to. But if you can't afford to send out headshots, that's a huge problem. That's part of your job as an actress right now. And so is going to an acting class. If you can't afford them, get another job. You have to.

I myself took an entire year off from acting a few years ago. No classes, no agent, no self submitting, no auditions. And I worked like a dog and saved all my money. Not only did I have a nice chunk of change in my savings account, but staying away from acting also made me miss it. It helped me realize that yes, this is what I'm meant to do. Am I Flo yet? No. Might I be in another few years? Maybe! I'm gonna stick it out and see!

You might want to consider leaving to see if you really want to stay. That's not an admission of defeat - it's a year for you to pursue other interests and to see what else there is in this town for you. You could find a living social coupon for a raw vegan "cooking" class, find out you really freaking love it, and then move back home close to your family to open up your own raw vegan cafe. Does that mean you failed at being an actress? NO! It means you found something else that spoke to you more, something that made life worth living and gave you a creative purpose and a happier life. That's not failure at all, is it?

Or you could find, like I did, that this is it for you. In which case you now have a chunk of money set aside just for acting expenses and you've got a safety net. And you're reinvigorated. And you're ready to stay here for another 10 years.

3) While on your break from acting, get a casting internship. If you are feeling unworthy, you need to sit on the other side of the casting table and see what it's really like, because trust me, you are waiting for each actress who walks into your casting office to be the one for the role. You are rooting for each actor who comes into the office. And once you learn that, going back to the other side as an actor again, will stop the nerves. You are worthy. Get into casting. Now.

4) The hardest part about being an actress is that there is no mail room in Hollywood to start at. There is no right way to go about your career. What works for me isn't going to work for you, isn't going to work for him, isn't going to work for them. What doesn't work for me could work for you. We just don't freaking know! Isn't that awful!? Argggggh!!!!

There are a million different routes you can go, but here's two I'm suggesting:

Route 1 (my second choice for you.)
Submit to commercial agents and sign with a new one. Do the same with theatricals. Create content for yourself and your friends. Make it good. Get another job and make more money. Take classes. Keep on keeping on.

Route 2 (what I really think you should do.)
Take the year off from acting. Reassess if this is really what you want. Get a second job or take on more hours on at your current gig. Get a casting internship. Learn how the other side works. Find coupons for classes that are not acting (belly dance! raw vegan cooking! writing!) and go to the local community college and see what they've got. After your year of actor free living, you will either decide to go back to it, with a renewed vigor and sense of self and wants and desires and goals, OR you will find something else that you love more. You owe it to yourself to make sure you're pursuing this because you really love and really want it and you really believe in yourself to stick it out and make it.

Like I said, you are probably not happy at this point in the post. But if you follow my route 2, I truly and honestly think you will be happier than you have been these last 3 1/2 years.

Gather your friends and family and see what they think you should do. Gather your LA friends and family and see what they think you should do.

But for either decision you make, stick to it. If you commit to taking a year off acting, don't act. Find yourself and who you are aside from the stage. See what other adjectives and nouns define you.

If you continue to take the acting route, then commit to that. You are the CEO of your acting business. Lay the employees off who are not pulling their weight, and promote the ones who are. Find employees who will work hard for you. Be the CEO.

I wish the best for you.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Upkeep on the Cheap!

Being a Struggling Actress makes it very difficult to rationalize spending a bunch of money on yourself on things you don't really need. I get a pedicure about once every two years, and I never get my nails done. I became a hair model so I could get amazing color and cuts without having to pay for them, but sometimes the between bookings looks awful. I've got roots, people!

And if you want to get a good colorist and trendy haircut, you have to go to the very expensive places.

So when I discovered Lifebooker - the online site where you can get crazy good discounts on beauty maintenance, I thought maybe it would work for me.

Yeah....I just bought my third coupon (what they call Loot) from them: a single process color for 67% off. 

So I strongly recommend you head over to Lifebooker and see if they have deals in your city. They do if you live in San Francisco, New York City, Portland, Charlotte, Boston, Miami, Toronto and several more. They'll ask you to login using facebook, but just hit the Sign Up button below it to bypass that.

I've seen coupons for laser hair removal, shellac manicures, pedicures, waxing, juice fast thingees, vitamin supplements, adult toys (hey-o!), highlights, hair cuts, blow outs, and more.

So sign up and check em out.

Have fun getting prettified at the fancy schmancy places on the cheap!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Difficult Decision

Over the last few months, I considered firing my theatrical agent.

I didn't because I LOVED my agent. He was so incredibly sweet, charming, he remembered my name and welcomed me with a hug whenever I dropped by the office to say hi.  This is a guy with some top tier talent, and yet would always take a few minutes to stop what he was doing and give me some face time to catch up.

I adored this guy.

But the agency wasn't getting me out.

Last November, I said to my agent, submit me for the small stuff - I want to work! I am not above co-star roles - but the problem was that even though I wasn't above it, the agency was. It was a waste of their time to submit me for anything smaller than a guest star role; they have a reputation in this town and they need to uphold it.

So I wasn't going out. Still.

And I haven't been able to financially contribute into my household like I thought I would be able to when I signed with them almost two years ago.

So I made the decision: I had to part ways.

I wanted to do it in person.

But I knew I would start crying. This relationship wasn't business; it was personal. He meant a lot to me - he believed in me at a time when no one else did.

I then wanted to do it over the phone.

But I just couldn't do that either.

So I wrote a letter, feeling like a coward, letting him know that it was time for me to see where other avenues could take me.

I've written drop letters before. I point out why I'm leaving in a robotic business style, devoid of any emotions or feelings.

This was not that.

I cried while writing it.

I mailed it on Tuesday.

Yesterday, I got a voicemail from him, and true to his character, he said that he had gotten my letter, that he was sorry that he couldn't do more for me, and that he wanted to wish me all the best at least over the phone, and to please call him.

So I did. He picked up immediately when his assistant told him I was on the line, and he continued to say nice things; that I have a huge talent, that things will happen for me, that he will always be a friend, that he will always answer my call, that his door will always be open.

I know there aren't many agents like him, and I wish I had a reason to stay with him - but at this time in my career, I was still too small for the agency.

It was a difficult decision, but I have to see what else is out there; I have to grow.

I might not have him as an agent anymore, but I do honestly believe that I will always have him as a friend. 

In this town, that's extremely rare.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

So Close

"Great. What's your name?"

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dear Struggling Actress

Kyle C wrote in with a question:

I have my headshots. I've taken and still am taking classes. But, I have no experience whatsoever. I've done a few plays in my high school, though.

1. Should I just not put anything on the acting experiences part of my resume or put in the ones in my high school?

2. I have a few friends that work in videography. Would it be fine if I put up a quality demo reel of things that we can film ourselves or would that be a bad idea?

I'm eighteen, by the way. I don't know if that makes any sort of difference.

Hi Kyle! Thanks for reading and submitting your question.

You're 18. That makes a HUGE difference, because, at 18, your tv age could be anywhere from 15-21. You might have a bigger range than that, even. And when agents open up your submission envelope and see that you're young, they're going to already expect minimal credits. Score!

And correct me if I'm wrong, but doing a few plays in high school required a lot of time and commitment on your part. You rehearsed every night for weeks, right? You had what, 4-6 performances? Where you acted? That definitely goes on your resume! You're young, you want to act, so you've already auditioned and booked a role in your high school, and performed the role. These are all good things.

When I was 18, the only experience I had was the community and high school plays I did, and various videos, or indie films, my friends and I made/produced. And those things were on my resume.

And under training, I had my choir class listed too. Anything performing related will go on there. If you took 3 years of a language and are fluent, put that under Special Skills. Played varsity sports? Marched in band? That all goes on there. And agents can get an idea of how well rounded you are.

And now for your second question. If you have a few friends that can create a quality reel, then YES, YES, YES, film yourself. Find plays at your school or local library and find a good scene, or, heck, record yourself doing a monologue because having a reel is only going to help you. Especially if you're currently taking on camera acting classes and know how to perform for camera.

Here's a great sample of an actor's resume from the good people at actorresumeservices.com. The only thing that's missing is the online link to your reel (once it's all finished).

Thanks for reading, Kyle, and let me know if you have any more questions!

Monday, April 23, 2012


Black and white makes it artsy.
We were hoping to have 8 people in our audience for Our Time of the Month; one person more than our cast. If we had 8 people, we considered ourselves to be very successful.

We had 23.

TWENTY FRICKIN THREE! (that's more than many under 99 seat theatres!)

And it was GREAT! It went so incredibly well for our first foray - everything went as planned and there were no hiccups - NONE at all!

And don't think that I wasn't nervous about the whole thing, because I WAS. I had the evil butterflies that make me have to pee every three minutes (tmi, anyone?) but once we actually started the show, away they flew and it was great. The audience laughed at all the right places, they teared up at all the sad places, and it was so fantastic to see our baby take its first steps.

When we started what I like to refer to as the second act, which required audience participation in order to work, WORKED. They were happy to share their stories, and it was fun to switch roles, from performer to audience, and from audience to now, performer.

Kisses c. Tracy Clifton
The third act, which also requires audience participation, also went smoothly. And everyone LOVED it.

You know what else they loved? All the chocolate and wine!!!

In fact, the lovely ladies at Once a Month even came and wrote about us. 

Our next show is Friday May 11th. Come and see us, yeah?

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Our other three ladies of our first cast of Our Time of the Month were understandably apprehensive about the show. We have one Mandatory Rehearsal, and another final run through on the night of the show, and they were curious as to what we were really doing and how involved they actually were. They've been cast for several weeks, give their material a week after that, and that was it. No other information was given.

The (one) Mandatory Rehearsal cleared it all up for them. We ran the show, the end piece, we talked about our Storytime aspect of the "second act" and then told them what the raffle is. Not only were they Super excited about what we're doing, they are extremely bummed they can't win the raffle (It's going to be epic).

We went from having a group of cautious actors to a full on cast of very excited (and talented!) performers who have a gigantic appreciation not only for what we're all doing, but also for being a part of it themselves.

To watch an idea go from a tiny little seed to a full on blooming jacaranda tree is simply just incredible. And best of all, this tree has branches! There are so many more possibilities, and we can always write more, add more in, switch out others, and grow, grow, grow.

This is our rehearsal space.

It IS a pajama party after all.

I'll let you know how the first show goes.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Thank you Paulina!

Paulina, you are a sweetheart! :)
See you at the show!

Everyone else, you can still buy tickets! Info below.
This is it! This is the show I've been working on the last month and a half. It's a fun Girls Only Night, and you can read about it here.

Of the 20 monologues we'll be performing (there's 7 of us in this thing) I wrote 19 of them. And the last piece, written by the bitingly funny Tracy,  is so freaking awesome, you're going to cheer. Because only Tracycan write about the death of feminism from Twilight in such a hilarious and pointed way.

There is complimentary wine and chocolate, stories shared, and dancing.

Sounds like a ton of fun, right? Right!

You can buy tickets here. I'd love to see you there.

If you can't make it to the show on April 21st, we have another show on May 11th. You can like our page for updates. 

Very excited, you guys. Very excited.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Our Time of the Month

This is it! This is the show I've been working on the last month and a half. It's a fun Girls Only Night, and you can read about it here.

Of the 20 monologues we'll be performing (there's 7 of us in this thing) I wrote 19 of them. And the last piece, written by the bitingly funny Tracy,  is so freaking awesome, you're going to cheer. Because only Tracycan write about the death of feminism from Twilight in such a hilarious and pointed way.

There is complimentary wine and chocolate, stories shared, and dancing.

Sounds like a ton of fun, right? Right!

You can buy tickets here. I'd love to see you there.

If you can't make it to the show on April 21st, we have another show on May 11th. You can like our page for updates. 

Very excited, you guys. Very excited.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Headshots on the Floor

The auditions went great! We only needed 3 women, and we were inundated with so much talent and great personalities that I said to my fellow producers, "...Can we add a fourth and double cast?" I got a huge YES! and that's what we did!

And, get this, we even have a list of alternates; women we fell in love with and want to eventually get onstage. (You're one of them Morgan!!) If all goes well, we'll have a third show, a fourth, and on and on, and we can get everyone we love in this thing.

So now, I'm grouping my ladies, making sure those who have to have one date over the other are in their proper group, which means that I have 8 headshots on the floor with sticky notes on their necks indicating which monologue I've given them.

Eight incredibly talented ladies who flavor the written words with their personalities; who can take a character I've dreamt up, and make real. All eight incredibly talented ladies very excited to be a part of this show.

It's fantastic and wonderful and humbling.

Friday, March 30, 2012


We're holding auditions today for our Untitled Theatre Project!

It's a cold read of monologues - that I've written. Some may stay in the show, some may not, but it's going to be a day filled with women reading my words. Giving life to an idea I had, giving character to a character going through some pretty rough stuff.

It's gonna be awesome!!

Of course, I've held castings before, where people were reading my words, but I have to say, it's always thrilling. There will always be at least one person who says, "This is hilarious!" and while I usually respond, "Thank you; I'll tell the writer." I really want to squeal, "AHHH! THANK YOU!!!!" Because oftentimes, my humor falls a little flat to others, and when someone responds positively - where it's so funny they HAVE to say so in the room, it's a great feeling.

Will we be ready to draw the curtain in only 3 weeks? Yup! And it will be quite the adventure!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How It All Breaks Down

If you have time, you should definitely click on the link below to read Tracy Weisert's entire synopsis of the seminar casting director Patrick Baca gave last year. I found this extremely helpful and hope you do too.
Patrick Baca's Network Casting Pyramid:
This is a nine-tiered pyramid (in radial form) that casting directors have to navigate through when casting actors in series regular roles on a network television pilot. Step one begins with the breakdown being released and steps 8 and 9 are the studio test and finally, the network test.
Step 1- Breakdown Released
“Basically the breakdown winds up being an announcement from me, the buyer, let’s say, to the sellers-the agents and the managers.  It lets them know that I’m in business, where I am, what it is that I am doing and what it is that I am looking for.  This just gets the ball going.  I can release it as far and wide as I want.  I’m not sure where the term ‘casting’ came from but casting also means casting a line in the water.  Maybe that’s where it came from but we want to look at the actor markets in terms of bodies of water. Here in LA…in Hollywood, this is the biggest and widest talent pool in all the world!  I’m pretty lucky as a casting director to be working in this pool because it is the deepest and widest of all the pools!  It is an Olympic sized pool basically, so if you can’t get something cast here, then you should be doing something else because I don’t have to throw my line out very far.  I don’t have to look much further than Los Angeles.  If time and budget allow, you can look in other places…other pools of water.”
Step 2- Agents and Managers Submit
“Regarding representation-Do I trust their taste in actors?”
Step 3- Casting Director Sets up Sessions
“The casting director starts sifting through the submissions.  Like I said, I might have 1000 submissions that I’m getting and there are probably more if I’m also looking at the actor submissions from the casting services.  That’s where, I think,  casting directors have the greatest sense of power is in that third step because no one’s looking over my shoulder as I’m going through the submissions telling me who to bring in.  They might have suggestions but they are not looking at all the submissions.  That’s what I think I’m hired for is my taste in the actors and that’s where my knowledge really sort of comes in.  Sometimes actors will ask me, ’What do you look at?  What criteria determines whether you select this person versus that person?’
First of all the image, the photograph itself is the first thing that I am going to see.  I already have an image in my head and some sort of a vision based on my team, our vision, of what this character might look like, so the photograph is very important. Then the resume…if I’m casting comedy which is one of my passions, one of my loves and one of my specialties is comedy casting.  When you cast a sitcom pilot, you look for sitcom credits on that resume because sitcom acting is very specific.  It’s got its own rhythm and its’ own tempo and not everybody can do it.  Remember I spoke about that pool of talent that’s here in LA?  Inside that pool there is a little wading pool [laughter] within it of people who can do comedy.  Not everybody can do comedy.  It’s really, really specific.  If I’m going to bring somebody in, I have to know that they understand comedy and sitcom acting, so I’ll look to the resume.  If the sitcom credits are there and I know them already, I know their work.  If I don’t know them, then I’m looking to see if somebody else has hired them just to put my mind to ease if I don’t know you.  If there are no sitcom credits,  then I’ll look for ‘comedy clues.’ I’ll look to see if you do stand-up around town or I’ll look to see if you do improve around town…if you’re in the Sunday Company  of The Groundlings, then I now that you’ll know comedy or Improv Olympic or Second City and then I’m willing.  The resume really does speak to me. “
“Another consideration is which agents and managers are submitting.  Do I trust their taste in actors?  Does their taste in actors trust my taste in actors?”
“Another consideration is a demo reel.  If it’s there and I don’t know you and I can click on it, sometimes that’s all I need.  I just need five seconds to  hear your voice,  to see you move or to get a sense of your presence or your sensibility or your castability, so the demo reel is really, really important to have as part of your online profile.  It can either make or break you.  It can make or break my decision on whether or not to take a risk or gamble in bringing you in.  It is a gamble. 
I’ve got seven roles to cast and they’ve probably given me seven weeks to do it and that’s not nearly enough time.  That means that the available (audition) slots that I have are few and far between, so to me they are like gold and I just don’t want to give them away.  I want to give them away  but I want to know that if I’m giving them away, that that investment is going to return. So when you get an audition, basically, you can think of it like as an invitation from me to you for you to help me do my job!  Come in and be brilliant!  Come in with your interpretation and all your skills and help me get this job done!  That’s what an audition is.  It’s an invitation to a party basically.  Whenever you get an invitation to a party, you never show up empty handed.  You always bring a bottle of wine…a good one.  Not Two Buck Chuck either!  [laughter]  Your bottle of wine is to come in with your sides executed and with your strong choices.  If you can do that, then I’m happy.  If you’re skimming the surface, then you’re coming in empty handed”
Step 4- Casting Pre-Read Session
‘The fourth step is a casting pre-read.  The casting pre-read is where you come in one-on-one to see me with your interpretation of the character.  There’s nobody else in the room.  I’m not recording you.  It’s just you and me, one-on-one.  This is where you ‘show me your wares.’  You show me your interpretation of the character.  I realize that performance in auditioning is a work in progress. I realize that however,  when you come into a casting pre-read, you have to be pretty developed.  Your interpretation has to be very far along already.  There’s no time for us to develop it later because I have to be discriminating because the next step after this is going to be the producers’ callback.  
I feel like actors when they come to see me for the first time, have to be at 90% done.  90% developed at worst because if you come in and you’re at 80%, or let’s say you’re at 70%...you know with the lines, the character, all the detail and the laughs that are built in the material, if you’re only 70% done?  That’s only a ‘C.’ That’s only average.  I don’t have to settle for average in the ocean that is Los Angeles.  That’s not good enough.  Even 80% isn’t good enough.  I’m looking for a ‘Low A to a High A’ to bring back.  If you’re missing 10%, I’ll jump in there and collaborate with you.  I’ll tweak you.  I’ll detail you out. I’ll guide you and try to point out this laugh that you didn’t get here or that one.  I’ll jump in there and play with you and try to make you better.  I’ll get you ready for the director but only if you’ve done the bulk of the work already because I don’t want to do your work for you. I could.  I could if I wanted to, but I don’t want to. 
It’s a test, for me too because I want to know that you are self-sufficient and that you can come up with these answers on your own.  Once you get on the set, you’re going to be alone basically.  The TV directors here, I feel like a lot of them are traffic cops.  They are guiding all these different departments, but there’s no time for them for us to sit down and romantically figure out the character and all that wonderful stuff.  It doesn’t happen in TV.  There is no time for it.  I’m looking for actors who can do the director’s work for him.  That’s really what I feel like I’m doing.  I’m doing his work for him and you are too.  We both are together like that partnership I spoke of, so you have to be really, really far along to motivate me to even re-direct you.  But if you don’t and you’re just skimming the surface, you’re just giving me what’s on the page and just doing what’s  expected, I’ll smile at you, thank you and nod at you and out the door you go and I won’t tend to remember you.  You’ll be surprised.  A lot of them do.  They have agents and they got in somehow.  Those actors who do just what is expected, they cancel each other out in my mind just blur and become bland. “
“The lines between the lines are so much more interesting.  The subtext is your gift.  Don’t come in without it.”
“That’s the biggest sin is to come into my office and be bland.”
Step 5- Producers Callback Session
“When you come in and be great in the room, then I’ve just been great!  If you’ve had a bad day, you’ve just taken me down in flames with you [laughter] …except that you get to go home!  But I can’t leave although I want to go home with you!”
Step 6- Test Option Deal
The twenty actors who have gone to producers is narrowed down to five.  The studio lawyer makes pilot and series deal with actor’s agent.
Step 7- Director’s Rehearsal
The director gets the top actors ready to audition at the Studio Test. “We’re there to ‘polish’ you.”
Step 8- Studio Test
“Step 8 is when we go visit the President of the Studio. For example, I did a pilot called ALLIGATOR POINT.    First of all…let me explain to you that there are three entities involved in production and making of a sitcom usually.  This is why Pilot casting is so complicated.” 
  • First entity- The Production Company- The producers that own the rights to the material. The production team winds up being the people that they assemble around them.  For example-the writer, the director and the casting directors that they hire, so I’m part of the production team.  Then for example, on ALLIGATOR POINT, the production company was Grammnet Productions, the production company of Kelsey Grammer.
  • Second entity- The Studio- In that case, the studio was Paramount Network Television, so if you ever see CHEERS or FRAZIER, you’ll usually see the Paramount Network Television logo comes up at the end.  He’s had a long relationship with Paramount, so that was the studio.
  • Third entity- The Network- Then the network was NBC.  The guys who actually broadcast it.  Before I go to the president of NBC, I have to go visit the president of Paramount Network Television. This is where one president decides what the president above him is going to see.  This guy has ‘veto power.’  So to get three actors to Step 9 (Network Test), I’ve got to show the studio president maybe 5 actors, so he can veto 2.  To get by to there, I feel I have to show my producing team maybe 20 actors that we can boil down to five.  To get 20 actors to show the producers, I probably have to see 100 actors.  That’s sort of how the math breaks down.
Step 9- Network Test
“The very last step in this casting pyramid is Step 9 and I wanted to explain for you is the test at the Network.  Has anyone ever tested at the Network for a Pilot?  One day you will.  When that happens, what you’re going to do is you will be with the casting director, the producers and the writer to go visit the president of the Network.  Taking three actors is a good choice.  Three is a really great number.  We, as the production team don’t want to bring him five actors because five is probably too many choices and they’ll turn to you and say, ‘Oh, you don’t know who you really want.’  I could get away with taking two, but you never, ever want to go to the Network with one actor because that’s psychologically loaded.  It will backfire on you and they will feel like you are forcing this person on them.  They don’t like that.  They want a choice.  And we’re going to say to the president, ‘Hey Mr. President, we have this Sitcom Pilot that have seven series regular roles and today, we are going to show you three of those roles.  We have brought with us three actors per role and they are all going to perform for you.  These are all actors that we like.  These are all actors who we have done ‘test option deals’ with.  They are all available and we could live with any one of them.  Pick one.  Sign off and approve one of these guys (actors) and tell us who you like. That’s ultimately what we’re hoping will happen at the Network.  The president has sort of the final say.”