Archive | May, 2011

One Fateful Audition, A Changed Life

30 May

I just got back from a long weekend– endless one might say— and feel so grateful, so lucky, so proud to be a part of such an incredible and talented group of artists. I’m fresh off a three-day weekend with these awesome people, high off three nights of performing and very sleep deprived, so I’m feeling particularly mushy, just forewarning you!

I think back to exactly four years ago in May when, on a whim, I responded to a Craigslist posting for auditions for a new play by a new company I’d never heard of led by two young dudes I’d never heard of in a theater I’d never heard of (that was so inconspicuous I almost missed the audition entirely because I could not find the building– how different my life would be had I given up and gone home that windy night in San Francisco). I’d never heard of the company because it didn’t exist until that very play. I’d never heard of these two dudes because this was their first venture into theater making together. I had trouble finding the theater because it was on the second floor of an office building with no signs. But I went anyway, got cast and did the play anyway. Somewhere inside me I trusted this was a good decision. I trusted these guys, this show, this “company” despite all the reasons on the surface not to (producer/directors with no credits, a nondescript theater on a shady corner of downtown SF, etc) But when I walked into that black box theater on Sunday June 3, 2007 that first rehearsal, looking at the rows of blue cushioned seats, the fake brick wall of a previous show’s set, a stack of neatly bound scripts next to these two dudes I’ve illogically decided to trust with the next month and a half of my summer, I distinctly remember feeling so… happy.

I had just put my acting on hold while finishing college that I was in desperate need to be in a room just like that. I felt like I belonged. It felt right. I knew. And now, four years later, I look back to that moment I decided to follow my instincts and trust and I realize that that one action yielded so much, which has enriched my life in so many ways it can make me cry just thinking about it now: staring in literally dozens of plays, producing my own work for the first time, producing and developing new work for the stage, the web, a blog, film, directing for the first time, writing sketch comedy (something I never thought I could do), an incredible boyfriend, leading my own LA theater company with him and friends who are like family.

No Excuses: How Your Acting Career Can Be In Your Control

23 May

No Excuses: How Your Acting Career Can Be In Your ControlFirst of all there are a SHIT TON of things NOT in your control. So let’s just get that out of the way right now. No use spending your time stressing about things like, did the casting director like my audition? Dude could’ve been having a bad day, the part could’ve already been cast but they need to see others for back up, the part ended up getting cut for budgetary reasons so your role doesn’t even exist anymore, etc. Not in your control.

But the good news is, there are things that are!

Last month I did a little experiment of diligently recording the number of auditions I submit for versus the number of auditions I get called in for to show how a lot of this really is a numbers game. Every day, multiple times a day, I scrolled thru the “notices fit for me” on LA Casting and Actors Access. This yielded a good handful of auditions, which led to me driving all across town (ok, fine, mainly Hollywood, but, still) taking an hour of my day for what usually is 2 to 3 minutes of actually auditioning. 4 weeks and 19 auditions later…. I haven’t submit for a single thing.

Why? Well, that’s a good question. I told myself a number of reasons: “It’s too much gas.” “It’s too exhausting.” “I’m not going to get anything from them anyway.” Basically, a lot of excuses. You might wonder, gee, if this girl starts complaining over a mere 4 weeks of submitting & auditioning (which is only a fraction of what pursuing this career is about anyway) then how the hell is she going to make it in this business?!? You’re absolutely right. These are all excuses. But, at least I know that is all they are. They are not legitimate reasons. And I do believe it is healthy and maybe even necessary to vent every once in a while. Because traipsing across town IS tiring. Gas IS expensive. And your “next gig” isn’t necessarily going to come from a blind submission, it can come from anywhere.

However, submitting and auditioning is one of the things that IS in your control. So easy. You click. You get called. You go. You kick ass. You’re done. And you never know where it can lead you.  You are at least doing one thing towards your career.

Another thing I’ll admit to have complained about- not having a theatrical agent. (“I don’t have enough credits” “My type is too hard to cast” “I’m not union”) Again, excuses. I should know better. I gotta switch gears and see what IS in my control:

– research smaller agencies who represent people who are doing the kind of work I would like to do

– find out if anyone in my circle has any sort of connection to any of these agencies

– reach out by sending a postcard, headshot, or phone call

– figure out how people see me, look at what type of roles in the past I usually get and see if there is a pattern, look up other actors similar to me and see what roles they usually get cast for

– save money to pay for my SAG card if that’s what I feel is holding me back (for the record, I don’t think it is right now– trying to hold on to my SAG -E for as long as I can)

This breakdown of steps can be done for a lot of  actor “problems” and then voila- you’ve got action items that are all bringing you one step closer to the acting career you want to have.

The beauty (or curse depending on how you look at it, but I like to keep things positive!) is that there is always something you can be doing for your acting career. There are no excuses about why you aren’t making it or how it is hard profession. Guess what? EVERY professional career is hard, really hard, at the beginning. You have to put in those extra hours, blood, sweat and tears to get the promotion, the raise, the business deal. Same goes with acting. Now is the time to be putting in all the leg work and eventually it will pay off. I truly believe that.

It’s A Numbers Game

16 May

I conducted a little experiment the past month (something I probably should keep track of anyway) counting the number of submissions I make each day and the number of auditions I receive. And, hopefully, the number of parts I get. Kind of a big picture in this crazy mess of acting.With so much of this career, it really is a numbers game:

The more roles you submit for, the more likely you’ll get called in. The more auditions you go out for, the more likely you’ll get called back. And the more call backs you attend, the more likely you’ll get a part. And the more parts you accept, the more likely the project will actually happen. And the more projects you partake in, the more likely you’ll get scenes that wont get left on the cutting room for And the more opportunities you get to act in projects, the higher chance of having a project take off.  And the more scenes you can be seen in, the more likely someone else will notice you.

So, without further ado, here are my numbers:

week submissions auditions
1 32 1
2 32 3
3 49 9
4 19 6
TOTAL 132 19

That’s a 14% return.

From those auditions I got 2 callbacks, but no parts. So, if it took 132 submissions just to garner 19 auditions, which yielded 2 callbacks, I’d assume that it’s another 100 or so auditions (at least!) to garner a part… maybe. They were all from submissions on LA Casting & Actors Access, and most were for short films in addition to a few indie features, webisodes and plays.

After this month of diligent submitting and auditioning I got kind of tired and let my submitting taper off. Not good, but I’m only human.

Anyway. Moral of the story?

Always submit & audition as much as you can, BUT remember that

A. there’s much out of your control (like the staggering amount of competition, whether or not the casting director just received a shitty call right before you walked in, if the part you’re auditioning for is even going to make it into the final script, if they cast a brunette as the lead and now they want only blondes as her friend–and the list goes on!)

B. Self-submissions is just ONE way of many to get your next gig. Don’t be puttin’ all your eggs in one basket and become a lazy actor (or, in gentler terms, an actor paralyzed by fear:  fear of self-producing, fear of headshot drop-offs, fear of calling that friend of a friend of a friend who casts for ABC– and this list, too, goes on.) There are many baskets!

C. so much of it is just a numbers game– be it the number of projects you submit to, or the number of scripts you attempt to write, or the number of friends you attempt to collaborate with– one of these things will stick!

8 Reasons to do Theater

9 May

1. work those acting muscles (especially if you’re not in class/ can’t afford it, it’s a good opportunity to keep you on your toes. lack of practice can get you rusty)

2. who you meet (fellow cast members may be producing their own stuff, the director may invite you for another project, the producer, the stage manager, etc etc, you never know!)

3. exposure (you can invite agents and casting directors; get impressive press quotes for your website or resume)

4. looks good on the resume (shows you are currently active in the acting community, keeping busy)

5. opportunity breeds opportunity (you seriously never know where the next opportunity will come from. I had auditioned for a play at East West Players and a few weeks later it garnered me an audition for CSI! one opportunity led to another)

6. nothing else like it. (there’s nothing like living, breathing a character for a full two hours on stage. no camera angles to change. no re-takes. it’s do or die and that’s pretty damn exciting.)

7. community (anyone who’s done a play knows, that by the end of it you’re like a family… a dysfunctional one maybe, but a loving family nonetheless. some of my favorite people in the world came from a play i did. these relationships are invaluable, especially on this rocky road to Career Actor)

8. because it’s fun!!!! acting is why we are all here, right? so take it in in all forms!