I'm starting a new blog on wordpress. It has alot more features and you can actually follow my blog! It will chronicle my life as I moved from NYC to LA this month. :) It's called "Get Ready Cuz Here I Come". Check it out!
I graduated from City College this week. It felt great getting my named called and walking across the stage as the crowd applauded my name. I felt like I had achieved so much as an undergraduate and now it it was time for me to move on and contribute to the world in a greater way that I had in school. Yet, I almost had a meltdown this week and i realized I had sooo much more to learn and questioned if I had really learned anything in college. I remembered this feeling...it was like I was a freshman all over again. But this time I was a freshman at life. The week prior I had planned this blog post out to a tee. I was going to discuss everything that lead to this great accomplishment of graduating with a job in my chosen field and enjoying the ride and just feeling like I hit the jackpot. But the world is very different outside of school. The pressure is on and you don't have a professor that tells you to relax when you freak out. You just have to call your Mom. All I know is I have so much more to learn, but now I know what I need to learn instead of justing taking classes because they interest me.
But on a more positive note and I am grateful for my job and the future that lies ahead. Its very bright and its confirmed that setting goals and planning does work! I'm in a better place than I had anticipated. By August I will have 3 IMDB credits, thousands of dollars in the bank, a producer credit...and if i'm lucky an agent. I've done pretty well for myself in two years and I have alot of people to thank for that. I encourage you to tink about the goals you've set in the past. Did you reach them? Exceed them? What worked for you? What didn't serve you?
Who are you? Not the things you like to do on nice day but, who are you really? Do you know these things? Knowing yourself is not only important as a person roaming the earth but it helps your job prospects. If you know who you are, what you're capable of, what conditions you cannot tolerate and so on you wont be wasting you time auditing for projects you aren't right for. I've learned that I'm still learning who I am. I know quite a lot about myself, but I am still making discoveries all the time. Knowing yourself is also key to self satisfaction and happiness. And everyone loves a happy actor! :)
Sometimes we get lost in the shuffle. Were working, were working to work and we forget we have lives. This is why you should always go to family functions and most importantly NEVER miss your best friend's wedding. My best friend got married this weekend and I can't believe I toyed with the idea of not going because I had sooo much work to do, sarcastically speaking. By attending her wedding, it reminded me that I was human and I had needs that I wasn't attending to. Like community, fellowship and serving others. I feel like its been so long since I've had these things and its mostly my fault. Don't allow yourself to miss out on important occasions in your family and friends lives. The only one who truly misses out is you. And is a job really more important than your best friends wedding?
So I'm half asleep so don't mind me if I don't make too much sense. I trust you'll catch my drift. In the past week I have felt simply joyful and I have gotten hired and promoted in the same week! Some of you say "of course you feel good, all these amazing things are happening to you" But no young grasshopper, I took up a new hobby about two weeks ago. Painting. I've just finished three watercolor paintings and I'm going to work on my canvas in the morning. Painting is so relaxing and I believe it holds so many metaphors for life. For example when you begin to paint on a canvas you have to apply three coats of a special paint primer called "gesso" before you can actually create your masterpiece. The gesso takes at least 20 minutes to dry before you can add another coat. I feel like I've become a little more patient now that I have taken up this awesome hobby. And I think its important to do things simply because you enjoy them. My grandfather once told once told me I should laugh at least once a day. As artists and entertainers we are in the business of fun so I feel we snub ourselves sometimes. You may see a lot of theatre and watch lots of films, but are you enjoying yourself? When was the last time you took a break and decided to color or play ping pong? I think I've started to fair better in the job market because I'm really enjoying myself and I'm not paranoid, needy and greedy. I am able to relax and enjoy the life I have and I think people are attracted to that. Be someone that others are attracted to. Be thankful and truly enjoy your life!
Go pick up a paintbrush!
I'm sure we've all heard you have to network to get somewhere in the entertainment industry. It's all about who you know they say. However if you think networking actually works, you are sipping the koolade and you need to stop. Why would anyone want to talk to you if they knew for a fact that the only reason you were talking to them is because you wanted something from them? You want an audition, an acting gig, or an agent. People don't like talking to needy, greedy people. Its not about networking. It's about building mutually beneficial relationships. You are only as good as what you can give. What can YOU offer to the relationship? Think about that. Maybe you want to get to know a casting director who casts all you favorite films. Maybe you can monitor some auditions for free, or become a reader. Maybe they want to get connected to someone you may know personally. Relationships don't happen overnight. They take time. Be open to the possibility of assisting others. Remember a movie or a stage play isn't made by one person. You need, stage hands, lightening designers, sound designers stage hands, gaffers, directors etc. And get this; more often than not, these people have worked together before. Why? Because they have relationships with each other that are mutually beneficial. So the next time someone needs help with some project, think about what you have to offer. Julie Taymor and Steven Spielberg have been working with the same people for almost 20 years. There is a reason for it.
You are only as good as what you can give
A wise friend once told me "Keep your head in the clouds and your feet on the ground". It's important to dream and believe in the impossible, yet its just as important to have the ability to be practical and realistic when you need to. I've never been a realistic person, And I think that's why I'm considered lucky by a lot of people. I consider myself an extreme optimist. Some people consider that being delusional.
I hate being practical or realistic.. What' s the fun in that? Isn't the airplane, impossible? It's literally a bent piece of metal flying the sky. But someone believed in an impossible idea. Believing in yourself is probably a talent that will take you further than any of your creative talents in this industry. If you truly believe you will be the next Hollywood or Broadway star, you're halfway there.
With that being said, there are rare times in life you should be realistic and practical. I don't like being practical, but I realize its value. So you want to audition for the lead for in Wicked, but you don't have any Broadway credits, an agent and you've never been trained....probably not going to happen. Or you want to book a series regular role and your resume is full of stage credits....probably not going to happen. Start with something you know you can book, then work your way up from there. You just graduated from college and don't have any professional credits? Or you don't have any acting credits al all? Start with a student film or short film by an indie film director. This way, you build a relationship and you build you resume at the same time. Soon you'll meet people who have bee in more high profile jobs and you will be on your way to becoming the next Broadway/Hollywood star you've always dreamed of. But remember you'll be ON YOUR WAY. Its a journey.
Love your life.
Lots of people have plans. They want to book a pilot, by next year or maybe get their show off the ground in a year or secure capital for their movie in 24 months. I think plans are great and they give you something to look forward to, however you should start with a desire. Something that you REALLY want. And think about how you can get it. Booking a pilot or securing capital for a movie has too many steps. Focus on something in the middle. Not small, but not too complex either. Maybe booking a principal role on a TV show or sending your screenplay to specific investors who are looking for projects to invest in. What I've learned is, you may not know the "how" but if the desire is strong enough the "how" wont matter and you will figure it. I know that may not seem like the best answer but its the truth. When you really want something, you figure out how to get it. What I would encourage you to do is get a piece of paper and write your desire at the top. Then write 20 ways to achieve this desire or goal. Then actually go down your list and do those 20 things that will help you achieve your goal. I promise you if the answer isn't on your list it will reveal itself to you somewhere else in you life. The key is focusing on something and actively working towards it. Passivity won't do anything for you. Neither will having a bunch on goals on your wall that you aren't ACTIVELY pursuing.
Don't wait, create
If you want to be a star...forget be a star, if you want something more than what you have, you HAVE to get OUT of you comfort zone. A wise person once said "If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll always get what you have always gotten". If you want something new you have to try new things. Tonight I tried something new and went to a show I didn't have a ticket for. It worked out very well since my old boss happened to have an extra ticket. :) Yay me! I was able to see the show and go to the after party. I met the cast of the show including the legendary Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams among a host of other celebrities, producers, directors etc. But I went out on a limb to get there. I knew I wanted to go to this opening for about two months so I had my ear to the ground, just in case I could get an extra ticket. Yet, when the day came and I didn't have a ticket, I didn't give up. I had a number to schemes prepared but I didn't really need them. God or some would say the Universe met me halfway. Andre De Shields told me showing up is 75%. I'll share some nuggets of wisdom Cicely Tyson shared with me. I asked her how to maintain longevity in showbusiness. She told me to know my craft, because that is the only thing I can count on. She also told me to stick to my principles and to have a reason behind every project I do. Don't do it for the money.
That's all folks...
-Live! Don't just exist.
Last summer I had the unique opportunity of interning for the Producers of "A Streetcar Named Desire". The production was on Broadway and Blair Underwood, Nicole Ari Parker, Wood Harris and Daphne Rubin-Vega played the starring roles. It definitely changed my life and allowed me to learn more about the "business" of show business.
Many actors...especially those new in the business forget that it is a business. Plain and simple. In order to move forward with your career, you must at least attempt to master the business side. What is the business side of it you ask? Firstly, its your brand? Who are you? What is your type? Are you the naughty mean girl who gives no one a break or are you the nerd whose only friend is her pet rock? You basically have to typecast yourself. If you don't know who are, Casting Directors won't know how to cast you.
Do you have headshots that aren't crap? Bad headshots are worse than no headshots. Find a good headshot photographer and really take shots that capture you're "essence" as an actor. Christopher Dietrich, an Executive at Actors Connection calls headshots "Essence Shots". Keep that in mind the next time you get headshots.
Resume. If you don't have one, make one. Even if you have to work for free, if you don't have a resume, no one will take you seriously. Submit to projects you're right for even if its unpaid. Your going to have to work for free sometimes...unless your fathers name is Steven Spielberg.
Do You know what shows you're right for? Do you know the Casting Director for those shows? You have to do your homework. It sucks, but it must be done. Research the shows you're right for then, send mailings (headshot/resume/cover letter) to the Casting company who works on that show or production. So you want to be on Modern Family? Look up the show on IMDb and you'll find that Jeff Greenburg cast 67 episodes. If you dig a little deeper you'll find that Jeff has also cast other awesome shows like "Frasier, Up All Night and a bunch of TV movies. Now you have to find Jeff so we can't send him our stuff. Its YOUR homework so do it!