My philosophy with auditioning has always been "Do the best I can with what I have to work with and let it go". And that has worked for me. There are always all these factors that go into casting. So many that we have no control over. I am a redhead. Will be until the day I die. I have gotten roles because I am a ginger. I have lost roles because I am a ginger. I have no control over that.
I do, however, have control over my attitude.
If I go into the casting room and do my personal best...I am happy. Getting the part would be a total bonus.
The only time I get REALLY annoyed is if I mess up something I have control over. If I am not properly prepared or if I get in my head. Those times, yes, I feel the frustration. Luckily, those times are few and far between these days.
What is it about saying "I am an actor" that makes people offer unsolicited advice? This very thing happened again this weekend when I was at a BBQ with a bunch of total strangers. The conversation went something like this:
Random dude: "What do you do?"
Me: "I am an actor."
RD: "Oh, where do you waitress?" <insert laugh track here>
Me: "I actually have never worked in the service industry. I would be too tempted to do a sneezer."
RD: "Well, you better get to college young lady because you won't ever be able to pay the bills doing something like acting."
There is now so much wrong with this conversation I hardly knew where to begin...I am way beyond the average college years. I have been paying my bills with money earned from acting for the last 15 years. I would be a terrible waitress. The list goes on and on...
There is one video on You Tube I never, ever tire of watching. From the television program so many of us actors loved and could relate to, Extras. This clip is from the episode with Sir Ian McKellen talking about acting. And how it is PRETENDING.
See what I mean? Hilarious yet oh so accurate. Acting is all about pretending. Sure, there will be actors out there that will argue that. I have met many people that feel it isn't pretending at all. But they prefer the idea of "being" VS "pretending". Me, I am just not that deep.
Acting is my full time job and has been for over 15 years. Meaning I pay my bills and feed my kids with money earned from jobs as an actor. And darn those kids of mine but they like to eat. So, yes. I love to receive those pay checks. Please, anytime you have a good quality, paid gig, call me. However, just because you don't have a budget doesn't mean you shouldn't call me. Because I have a handy dandy chart to help me decide Should I Work for Free.
This amazing flow chart from Jessica Hische is so accurate I can hardly stand it. Because, lets admit it- no one wants to work for free. But we all have to from time to time. Especially when first starting out. But even after 15 years I still have times when I am up for a bit of "No pay but copy and pizza provided" acting.
While at a party in Seattle recently I met a very nice young couple, Annie and Andy*. We had a lot in common- kids, hobbies, high school dance team (the gal, not the guy). The conversation inevitably turned to the topic of our jobs. It went something like this:
Me: "So what do you do?"
Andy: "We both are waiters at (insert name of a family friendly restaurant here). What about you?"
Me: "I am an actress."
Andy: "WHAT?!! We are actors too!"
Every actor has their "dream roles". Those parts or characters they would kill to play. One of mine included some sort of superhero...preferably with the power to fly. Still waiting for that particular opportunity to appear.
But, I did get to play Lara Croft last year and that was pretty darn cool. Even sported the guns strapped to my thighs.
Every girl's dream.
Wait. Every GUY'S dream. Never mind.
I can't imagine that there are a lot of readers of this ACTING blog that don't know what the 48 Hour Film Project is but just in case...
"The 48 Hour Film Project is a wild and sleepless weekend in which you and a team make a movie—write, shoot, edit and score it—in just 48 hours. On Friday night, you get a character, a prop, a line of dialogue and a genre, all to include in your movie. 48 hours later, the movie must be complete. Then it will show at a local theater, usually in the next week."
If there is one thing I am "known for", it is my positive nature. Well, that and my love affair with Diet Coke. But that is another story...
Yes, I am generally very upbeat and optimistic.
In fact, I even did an entire vlog post about my attitude a few months back. People who know me understand that it is just part of who I am. Much like my red hair or sarcasm.
But even I sometimes waver in my "lets do this!" attitude about my career. I even, on very rare occasions, forget why I love acting. Usually it is when it is my time of the month or I am out of Diet Coke...but whatever.
I am the first to admit that John Mayer's antics with the Hollywood ladies makes me tired...
Sure, his music is awesome. Sure, he is gifted genius.
But as a human? I was less than impressed.
Until now. Because I read a blog. Specifically this Berklee Blog all about JM's visit and his inspirational chat with the students there. His THREE HOUR chat. And I say chat because it wasn't a concert. Yes, he played a few songs but they were more to illustrate a point. Instead he talked. And talked about good, important stuff. Stuff that is relative to us actors too.
He touched on social media and fame and practice. And the art of it all. I now know JM is eloquent and smart and funny. And maybe just a bit less of a douche than I originally thought.
So now I will tell you to leave this blog. To go read another blog.
(Yes, it is linked above all fancy like. I want to be sure you don't miss it!)
Just trust me. It is worth the click.
Bare with me here...
My hubby and I recently celebrated 18 years of marriage. As the kid of divorced parents I consider this a major accomplishment. One of my best in fact. Right up there with these three incredible humans I somehow birthed and my Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Steel Magnolias (local theater but whatever) I figure anyone willing to put up with all my crazy for that long deserves his own award.
Okay, time to tie this back to the "reel life"...
This milestone made me think about the support we need (and hopefully get) as performers. Our jobs are...odd to say the least. We face rejection that makes us cry like babies, we have to kiss (and more) other people and our paychecks (when we get them) fluctuate dramatically.
Our. Jobs. Are. Weird.
To have a support system that allows us to fail makes our lives (and jobs) just that much easier.
How do you feel about fame?
And the answers were widespread:
"Many actors (and others!) want to be famous. But they don't really understand what that actually means."
"I don't know what I would do with fame...does it look good with these sneakers?"
"Fame isn't real. It is an illusion."
"Fine in moderation. I would always like good publicity but bad publicity is what scares me."
"Good...as long as it's for me. If not, it's overrated....or not. I can never decide."
"I suspect if I ever got it, I would crave more."
"My hope is that when I achieve some level of 'fame' I use it for good."
"I love it. I want it. I will have it."
"I believe there is no such thing as fame."
And, my favorite: "It was a great movie!"
But you should SEE (wait, hear) what voice actors are asked to do for auditions...
And I am not referring to the often recited "non-announcer" voice or the fun of getting 45 seconds of copy into :30. No, I mean the odd requests that sometimes cross the desk of a voice over actor.
Let me give you an ear full:
- I recently got the following breakdown: "Adult female, friendly and positive. Definitely a brunette and gets her nails done every week. Drives a BMW." Okay, sure. If this were a breakdown for a film or a commercial, all are valid points that would be helpful. But this was for a VOICE audition. Knowing what type of girl she is is great and all but some, ya know, descriptive words on how she SOUNDS would have been REALLY helpful.
Actors act. And hopefully are constantly learning and growing, both in class and out.
Actors network. They make connections with people throughout their careers. Hopefully these connections translate to repeat clients. And isn't that always good!
But in addition to these things, there are a whole slew of things that I think belong on a special list.
"An Actor's Bucket List" if you will...
I'll start the list:
Every Actor Should at Least Once...
"If you are right for the part, there is nothing you can do wrong. If you are wrong for the part, there is nothing you can do right."
Think on that for a moment...
Now, some of you will argue this I am sure.
You will be thinking to yourself : "Well, I can't control what the casting director wants!" or "The director doesn't know what he wants!". And I agree with you. But those statements do not contradict the one above.
A recent audition was a major game-changer for me. Not because I booked the gig or didn’t book the gig or even what I did in the actual audition room. The "light bulb" moment (don’t we all love those?) came in the waiting room as I was about to go in and work my acting magic.
Another actress was in the room waiting with me. And…how do I phrase this? She was freaking out. To put it mildly. She had completely psyched herself out. She was pacing and mumbling the lines to herself. Tears were welling up. She was flushed with beads of sweat popping up. Her frantic energy was making ME sweat.
The irony is that this was NOT a "big" audition by most actor's definition- short scene, few lines, pretty straight-forward "walking and talking" type of deal. Not even really a character. More of a spokesperson role, really. But to see this actress almost vomit around the room you would think she was about to read for Woody Allen himself.
Now, I realize, of course that her emotions are HER emotions and she is entitled to them. Maybe it was her first audition. Maybe she had just gotten the script. Who knew? But she was feeling the way she was feeling. And her emotions belonged to her. They did not reflect my emotions. Unless I let them.
Which I was NOT about to let them do!
I excused myself and stepped out of the room. Honestly, it took all my will power not to sprint out of the room! But I didn't want to be rude...
"Oh, no I don't want an Oscar... it's all about the work..."
Or, as TWO time Oscar Winner Sally Field so eloquently put it : "What does the Academy Award mean? I don't think it means much of anything." Sally may be right, maybe they don't mean much. Maybe it doesn't change your life. Maybe it won't cure cancer.
But I still want one. Hell, maybe two.
My belief is that many actors, maybe most, do in fact dream of The Academy Awards. Image what they will wear and practice their acceptance speeches in the mirror. And not just when they are kids either. I know plenty of adults that have the thank yous all planned out.
A driving force behind many performers in the love of attention. I am the first to admit, I love attention. I am an Aries after all!
"Pay attention to me!! Hello, over here! I am cute and funny and charming. And humble. Pay attention to me!!"
I even have photos of the little gold statues as my screen savers on my laptop and cell phone. I mean, really, what do I look at more than those two gadgets? And I already know what my kids look like. Might as well do a little dream building each and every day!
One of my favorite things about being on set is the people.
Oh, the people! The other talent. The crew. The extras. All with their own unique story to tell. And, boy, does being on set make people want to talk!
A recent day on set provided the opportunity to chat with an octogenarian. And let me tell ya, this guy had some stories! However, none of them were from the acting trenches. In fact, this was his first speaking role in a film.
At well past the age of 80 this man was embracing the crazy life of being an actor.
And he was loving every moment!
Here is what I discovered:
So, now. What are you waiting for?
photo courtesy of Levy Moroshan
So last week I was a good 15 minutes early to a callback. And it is a very good thing…
I was in a good place – both physically and emotionally. I felt confident in my choices and how I looked. Plus I had a good parking spot. Feeling goooood. Last looks. Check. Deep breath. Check. Headshot and resume. Check. Lock the car. Check. Head towards the concrete steps leading to the casting office. Check. Trip. Crash and burn. Tear a huge hole in my nylons, begin to bleed. Check.
Ugh. I felt light headed and dizzy. A little like I had a hangover. After sitting for a good minute, hoping no one would notice me, I gathered myself up off the cold ground and dragged my sorry self into the ladies room. Looking in the mirror I was horrified. It was worse than I thought. I must have fallen harder then I realized. I had a scrap on my forehead and twigs in my hair. My nose was running and tears were streaming down my face. I was lovely.
OCD kicked in.
10 minutes to my audition time..
I love movies. Romantic comedies, thrillers, documentaries, Jane Austin adaptations... I love 'em all! But I hate movie mistakes almost as much as I dislike a film starring a reality star. One of my favorite sites is Movie Mistakes.com where I can check for all the flubs I may have missed. Right along with movie mistakes, I have a whole list of film pet peeves. I think most actors have a list longer than their resume.
So, for your viewing pleasure, here are a few of mine...
Now, feel free to tell me some of yours!
See ya at the movies,
Anyone who has ever gone to Mom and Dad with the "I wanna be an actor!" speech knows precisely what I am talking about. Everything from "You will starve!" to "That is not a real job!" has likely been uttered your direction.
But if you think the misconceptions pile up on the actor, you should see what happens when you say you are a VOICE actor.
Get ready to shovel.
"So you just talk?"
"I want to do that! Get me into that!"
"Anyone can do that!"
"No one can do that!"
"That is not a real job!"
"You make HOW MUCH?"
"I want to do that! Get me into that!"
The list goes on and on. Complete strangers feel you are open game to question. And family is even worse...
Voiceover is a highly mysterious career path. 99% of the general population (or as I call them, civilians) don't know a single voiceover actor. Many people don't even know the career exists.
So, here in a nutshell, is what voiceover is: