On my latest blog post, "Nicki Minaj Sings The National Anthem", I had a reader comment that they were interested in the process behind my current onslaught of YouTube videos.
I greatly appreciate that you all take the time out to even read my blog posts, let alone take an interest in my work, so as a thank you…I am dedicating this blog post to my readers. So in response to “k” who wrote:
Thanks to Backstage, this past Monday I was among a theater of lucky movie-lovers who were not only treated to a private screening of the Oscar-Nominated film "The Help", but were also privy to a Q&A afterwards with Academy Award Nominee for Best Actress: Viola Davis.
I've been meaning to watch this film for months now but found it difficult to make actual plans to do it because, well...the subject matter. Films about race are always so emotional for me and I wasn't sure how I would like the film. Let me tell you...I LOVED it. Not only was the film helmed by an All-Star cast, but the writing was smart, succinct and there were a few times during the course of those 2 hours where I literally started cheering. Out loud. Clapping, crying, cheering...the whole nine. It was touching, funny, educational and courageous.
My creative partner in crime, Rocco Rosanio and I are at it again with our newest spoof comedy video for Youtube! With the viral success of our first parody "Sh*t White Girls Say to...Arab Girls", and the demand from Youtubers for a new one, I now present you with our latest:
"A Message To My Fans from Kim Kardashian"
Hope you like it!
If you follow me on Twitter, you saw that I recently tweeted this Backstage article: "SAG-AFTRA Merger Means Tougher Admissions and Potentially Costly Membership". With all of the information being thrown our way, it's hard to sift through and figure out what this merger REALLY means for actors. Especially those that are Non-Union or SAG-Eligible.
Yesterday, I attended a "Twitter Generals" meeting here in LA with Phil Brock, President of the Talent Managers Association and founder of talent management company Studio Talent Group (if you are not following him on Twitter, you should be). While the entire meeting itself was super informative, the real piece of gold was his explanation about the upcoming SAG-AFTRA merger, which he believes wholeheartedly will be solidified in the upcoming weeks. This is what he had to say on the matter:
So...I had to get in on the fun of the "Shit Girls Say" videos. They are hilarious and I hope everyone thinks this one is just as funny! All it took was a like-minded friend, a camera and a broke-down cheap blonde wig.
Check out my parody: "Shit White Girls Say to...Arab Girls".
This upcoming weekend is Closing Weekend for my current show (I can't believe it's almost over) and I am going over in my mind what I need to do to inform my contacts that I will be back in LA full-time (well, until I travel for Xmas/NYE).
Being in San Diego (predominately) for the past few months has required me to put all other auditions on hold. Most of the shoot dates, as well as the actual auditions, conflicted with my play. While yes, that forced me to remain solely focused on the task at hand, it crippled me in that I was not being seen for 3 months. People can forget you very easily in this town if you don't make yourself known.
That being said, I decided I should send out an "Update Card". Essentially, this is a shortened version of a One-Sheet, "a single document that summarizes a product for publicity and sales." (Dallas Travers talks about the One-Sheet frequently).
I love this video. I've seen it numerous times and always find myself coming back to it when I feel the need to be inspired...or assured. If you have never seen the video below then I highly suggest you take the 10 minutes out of your day to watch it.
Say what you will about Will Smith, but no one can deny how incredibly successful he is. I definitely come from the camp that you should learn from those who have walked a path before you (in this particular case, being a fellow actor). He is arguably one of the biggest movie stars in the world and he willingly shares how he got there.
Last weekend (sorry for the delay in blogging, I blame the Thanksgiving turkey) I got to do exactly that after performing the lead role in "Learn to Be Latina" at The Diversionary Theatre in San Diego.
This process was unlike many of my other acting endeavors. My background is predominately film, so taking on the lead role in a play was a challenge in and of itself. With a talented cast beside me and the amazing Theatre House Directors, we came together in the final hour to deliver a solid show. The feeling of hearing your audience laugh uproariously for the length of the entire play is indescribable.
I tackled this topic in a previous post "Why Actors Should Join Twitter" and I still stand by my declaration that Twitter is a great tool for actors. Just today Daniel Tosh from the hit show Tosh.0 put up a casting notice on his Twitter feed looking for someone to replace him as host.
Getting information like this is only the tip of the iceberg. Since my last post, I earned a meeting with a top Commercial Agent at Abrams Artists Agency (as did some of my friends) and auditioned for a National Commercial all because of Twitter.
Inspiration boards (or mood boards) are essentially a collage of images or text put together to help inspire you creatively. They are really useful when you are feeling static and need to be reinvigorated in some way. I personally use them to aid in building the character of the roles I play.
I am currently deep in rehearsals on my latest endeavor "Learn to Be Latina" in which I am playing the lead role. My character, Hanan, is a budding pop star who doesn't quite know who she is as she enters that maniacal world of the recording industry.
As actors, it's our job to bring the writer's text to life. I created the inspiration board above to reflect the feeling, mood, style and whimsy that Hanan encompasses through my eyes. She has so many layers and goes through so much during the course of the play that I felt the need to harness all of her qualities in a tangible way. I look at the board before I go to rehearsals and refer to it frequently as I delve deeper into developing her psyche.
I have a big challenge ahead of me. I've booked the lead role in "Learn To Be Latina", a play that will open at San Diego's Diversionary Theatre on November 19th. To say that I'm a bundle of nerves and excitement is an understatement. The dialogue is wordy, the momentum of the comedy is very quick-paced and I'm on the stage for 99% of the full-length play. Phew.
The play itself is laden with farcical, sardonic humor as well as 80's references that make my inner child nostalgic. Within the farce is a strong social commentary which is smart and honest. The icing on the cake: I'm playing a pop star! A pop star on a meteoric rise to fame and fortune. A pop star who happens to be Lebanese. A pop star who also happens to be...a lesbian.
I heart Emma Stone. She has such a naturally funny comedic cadence and her audition for the role of Olive Pendergast in "Easy A" is no exception. It's easy to see why she booked this part. She owns it, completely makes it her own. I like this tape in particular because it is a great example of submitting an audition yourself, which is so common these days. You don't need an expensive camera or studio set-up to get your point across. The intention of the character comes through loud and clear.
When in a cold theater, looking up at a big movie screen projecting a flawless performance by one of your favorite actors, it's easy to get lost in the moment. You suspend your disbelief and become entranced in the world that is being created by a lot of talented and hardworking individuals. It's easy to forget that all of that started with a script.
One of the things I like to do during my "Office Hours" is scour the internet for old audition footage. I think it's super helpful for actors to see what other actors did to get the part. Were they completely off-book? How did they interact with the reader? How did they use the space? etc.
As actors, we abide by a freelance work schedule. We get called into auditions at the very last minute, we have rehearsals at random hours once having booked a project and then shoot for up to 12 hours a day when on set. There is no real method to the mayhem, so it's up to us to create a work schedule for ourselves when we are not entangled in a project.
I propose (and I'm sure I'm not the first to do so) that actors take on the notion that we should have 'Office Hours'. We don't work the typical 9-5, many of us actually work other jobs to supplement our acting income. If you work a dinner shift at a restaurant, you have your days free. If you work as a Temp, you have your nights free. We each have our own wacky schedules that makes it difficult for us to sit down and focus on self-submissions, self-marketing and essentially running the business that is YOU.
I just wrapped on the feature I've been shooting for the past few weeks (hence my lack of blogging, sorry!) and as always, all good things must come to an end. Any actor will tell you that one of the hardest parts of finishing a project is saying goodbye to it and everyone involved. You form a community, a family of sorts with these people that you see day after day and that first day after you wrap can leave you in a bit of a funk.
Our ultimate goal as actors is to be working. Constantly. Lining up projects back to back so we don't have to rely on a survival job. When you wrap and the reality sets in that you have to go back to waiting tables, making drinks, or temping for Corporate America...it's enough to make any artist wilt. While yes, it's easy to harp on it, it's easier to look forward and see the opportunities in front of you.
I’d like to think I’m funny. I’m pretty sure I have a good sense of humor and I love laughing. Yet the majority of the films I’ve booked have been of a dramatic nature. For the past few months, I have been studying Improv at The Upright Citizen’s Brigade (UCB) in Los Angeles. For years I’ve been talking about taking Improv classes but I, admittedly, decided to walk the walk when I began to realize that having Improv training on your resume makes Commercial Casting Directors more inclined to bring you in to audition.
In tandem, I’ve also become enamored with the emergence of the hilarious female-centric comedic films and actresses of the past few years: Kristen Wiig, Tina Fey, Melissa McCarthy, etc. A film like ‘Bridesmaids’ while scripted, still had great improvised moments and has opened up a great lane for female comedic actors. Even just five years ago, the film would have been called ‘Groomsmen’ and would have starred Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn and Jason Bateman. It's inspiring.
A few days ago my friend Mira (@miraonthewalll) sent me a message along with 3 other actresses and asked if we would be interested in meeting with one another to discuss our “types”. We all had big industry meetings on the horizon and Mira wanted to know what impressions she gave off when initially meeting Agents, Casting Directors, Producers, etc. I thought this was a fantastic idea and agreed right away.
Upon arrival to the Café where we had agreed to meet, Mira shared a great article written by Casting Director Bonnie Gillespie titled “Pitch Clinic”. In the article, Bonnie discusses the importance of knowing what “type” you are so you can accurately pitch yourself. Not only does it help narrow down the roles you should personally be submitting for but it also helps those in a position to cast you, see you clearly as that character.
Every actor at some point in the span of their career seeks representation. An agent, a manager….both. There are numerous ways to do so: mass mailings (eek!), workshops, referrals or through a showcase.
I, myself, am currently seeking new representation so this past week I took part in an Agent Showcase. It happened to be one of the most fun and least stressful attempts I’ve ever made at getting an agent.
How did I get involved in this showcase you may ask? Read on.