"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, June 26, 2013

Choose Your Own Adventure

My friend Tanya Giang, the very one who I strongly recommend for headshots, and will give you a $50 discount just by saying you found her from this blog, is one of those hyphenates who is making money, doing what she loves, and choosing her own Hollywood adventure.

Need some inspiration? Check out her post below, and then go check out her link at the very bottom.

Take Control, Love What You Do, Win Awards
When I was a child, I wanted to act. But my mother, a war refugee living in Los Angeles, was unfamiliar with the business.  An all too common story, we ended up getting scammed instead. It was more money than I knew my mom could afford, so I decided to become a lawyer.

That dream lasted through one con law class sophomore year of college, where it died a quick, dirty death. So then I was a graduate, and I still wanted to act.  But Hollywood said I was too ethnic with my Eurasian background. In the years it would take me to become eligible for SAG (now SAG-AFTRA), I took the opportunity to learn more about the business. I interned in casting, assisted in acting classes, even worked as an associate talent manager. Finally, I was ready to really commit to this acting thing. But then Hollywood said I wasn’t ethnic enough.

Apparently, I’m too white to be Asian and too Asian to be white. My hair is naturally a dark, frizzy brown. When I attempted to dye it black in an effort to look more Asian, I just ended up looking Russian.

Everyone always assumed that I would automatically have representation and book commercials like crazy, since I was a quirky, ethnic female. But I struggled to connect with any agents or managers, especially when I was non-union. I suffered through being seen just as “an Asian” and sitting at auditions for political refugees, sex slaves and manicurists. I cringed every time I was asked to do an Asian accent. One, what accent is that? Asia is a continent. I have zero desire to perpetuate a stereotype. Two, you just told me I’m not Asian enough. I still have to do the accent?? I became a frustrated, scared, tentative actress.

And then two meetings changed my life. A manager said to me, “No one’s writing for a girl like you. No one’s getting excited about you.” And an agent (after noting that I was a good actor who probably could book) looked at me and said, “I don’t know what to do with you.” I left that second meeting and thought, “Fine! I’ll show you!” That spark of rebellion has led to this:

Hi, I’m Tanya Giang. I’m a casting assistant/freelance photographer/actress/writer/producer/director/overwhelmed insomniac/happy person.

There is so much you can’t control about your acting career. You get conflicting advice from casting directors, agents, coaches and friends. You can be perfect for a role but 3 inches too short or too tall.  Someone is going to tell you that you look 22, someone else will say 29. You can be underrepresented in media, or competing with hundreds of people who look exactly like you. So if you ever start feeling lost, my advice is to make your own compass.

I started simply by writing a few scenes for my acting reel. Those few scenes became a 10-episode web series that screened at several festivals, winning Outstanding Achievement in Writing, Lead Actress & Supporting Actor at LAWebFest. I joked one night with a friend how Hollywood doesn’t seem to make movies for us, about us anymore. We have now partnered as producers to become 2 Redhead Productions. Now I act in projects I choose or I make. And it’s truly a liberating experience. If an agent were to represent me now, I wouldn’t turn it down. But I also wouldn’t stress about the number of auditions I go on or the roles that are out there. Because I’m making it happen for myself. I’m finally getting to show people the kind of actor I want to be. Becoming an indie filmmaker is just a happy byproduct.

If you have creativity and ambition, but you’re knocking on doors that don’t open? I say build your own doors. Personally, I think there is nothing worse for an actor than feeling stuck and not doing anything about it.  In a day and age when women like Mindy Kaling and Lena Dunham are starring in shows they write, and the 2013 Best Picture Oscar goes to a film directed by the actor Ben Affleck…what are you waiting for? It’s never too early or too late to start taking control of yourself.

Tanya Giang’s first project with 2 Redhead Productions is “Staging Grief,” a short film she wrote that she will star in and direct. It shoots this August in Los Angeles, in association with Aren’t We Clever Productions.  They are currently running an indiegogo campaign to raise funds. Every dollar helps and is greatly appreciated. Please help support indie film. You can find more details and learn about perks of donating at: igg.me/at/2rhpgrief

Friday, June 21, 2013

CastingAbout Adds New Feature

Breakdowns sent me their press release about their new service, cause I'm kinda a Google search resource when people type in 'Actors Access'.


Friday, June 14, 2013 ( Los Angeles ) — CastingAbout, the online casting and production guide, has expanded its service to include commercial casting directors and staff in both Los Angeles and New York . CastingAbout has long been the industry's go-to source for theatrical casting assignment and contact information; the addition of commercials now makes CastingAbout a more complete resource for actors, agents, managers, and other industry professionals.

"This is easily one of our most-requested features," says CastingAbout Co-Founder Blair Hickey. "Actors and talent reps have come to trust and rely on the information we post for film, TV and theater offices, and lately there's been a growing demand for us to cover the commercial world as well."
Co-founder Brian Wold adds, "Since commercial projects work and move a bit differently than theatrical ones, we took the time to figure out the best way to integrate that world into our current site, while still delivering the most useful, accurate and up-to-date information possible. We think we found a good solution, and could not be more excited about the launch."

The new listings do not include individual commercials being cast, but instead introduce a new composite project type. This singular "Commercials" project can now be found in the listings of any office in LA or NY that actively casts commercial spots. By incorporating commercial work into the same space as theatrical listings, CastingAbout's informational grids now provide a more complete overview of who's casting what in both cities.
"Nothing compares to CastingAbout as a snapshot of the casting industry," says Wold. "It's an incredibly powerful marketing tool. For the pro actors out there who study casting directors and their work, who track the careers of CDs they've worked with in the past -- those who really understand the power of building relationships -- this service, frankly, is essential." 
CastingAbout listings are monitored daily by research teams in Los Angeles and  Manhattan , who gather data directly from casting and production offices. Updates are processed and published in real time. The annual service is $39.95 and can be accessed at http://www.castingabout.com.

CastingAbout was founded in 2004, and acquired by Breakdown Services, Ltd. in 2008.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Window Envelopes

Kel writes:

Hi Lira!

Love your blog, and have a question.

I'm about to submit to several (22) agencies for commercial rep. I've heard a lot of talk about these envelopes that have windows in them so that people can see your face before tossing your unopened inquiry letter in the trash. (link here: http://www.theactorsphotolab.com/8x10-open-window-envelopes/)

When I first heard about them and saw them I thought," Huh, what a neat idea!"

however, when I brought it up to a couple other actor friends, some of them told me that agencies don't like them.

Which is true?

Also, I have naturally curly hair that I sometimes straighten. When submitting nmy photos, is it possible for me to have my head shot be with my natural hair but put a inset picture of me with straight hair as well? I'm asking because it might seem insignificant, but I look totally different with straight hair vs. curly hair.


Window Envelopes! They are such a great idea.....right? Right? I mean, they're worth the price because agents will get to see your headshots immediately........

Okay, here's the deal: I used them before. Once. I thought the same thing - I look different enough from everyone that they'll HAVE to open my envelope! Who knows, maybe they did. But I have a theory....

If they see what you look like before seeing your cover letter and resume, a window envelope makes it easier for them to throw you away.

UNLESS - you are a minority. If you're a minority, chances are an agency needs your category.

ALSO - if you're an 11 on the hotness scale, use window envelopes for sure. Me? I feel very comfortable saying I'm a solid 7 so I don't think the window envelopes necessarily worked for me.

Kel, you're African-American. If you look at commercials today, you'll see a lot of African-American young women with natural hair; it seems to be on trend. So send in the photo you love the most and make sure you'll do your hair the same way when you get called in for interviews. Once you sign with an agency, discuss with your commercial agent how you want to have your hairstyle for your new headshots (comm agents almost always ask for new comm headshots). Make sure you pick a hairstyle you'll be comfortable in and want to maintain for the next two years so you can match your pictures.

Now, you CAN add a photo of you with straight hair, but I can tell you from experience, sometimes your agent will send you an audition notification at 11pm at night and sometimes an hour from the actual call time. If they submit you with straight hair, you honestly might not have time to straighten it. (depending on how adept you are at a straightener/hair dryer/roller brush, whether or not you have stock in DryBar, and how curly your hair is.) Some cd's might care, like, if the breakdown specifically says, "only girls with straight hair will be seen!!!!!!!!!" but most often, cd's won't care.

If you don't have one already, you can always invest in a really good straight hair styled wig. (It's tax deductible!) You can cut your hair much shorter, fro it out, and still have long beautiful hair if you want it. Best of both worlds!

So go forth, Kel! Use the window envelopes! And let us all know when you sign with your new rep! Break legs!


Friday, June 14, 2013

Lucas and Speilberg Wax Futuristic

Have you guys seen this Variety Article where George Lucas and Steven Spielberg talk about the future of movies? They beleive that soon, movie tickets will be as high as Broadway theatre tickets.

Although I don't quite think they're going to skyrocket to that price, I do think we will see an uptick in expensive movie theaters like iPic, where the movie going experience is paired with alcohol, meals, and no kids.

But Video on Demand is definitely where things are headed. We're getting so used to binge viewing and streaming, that movie theaters that just show movies might be a thing of the past in the next 20 years.

Food for thought, no?