Archive | diversity

Tracing the Steps to Dublin, Ireland

13 May

249152_10152848957415078_1092115165_nSometimes you don’t know where life will take you, the adventures and opportunities that arise. That’s what’s fun about tracing the steps, especially in this biz. You spend so much time planting those seeds, that by the time one sprouts you forget where it came from. I had an amazing life adventure meets acting opportunity (best of both worlds!) moment recently and when I sat down to think about it, I realized the steps that took me there.

About two and a half years ago I saw a show, a short play festival at this little black box theater in Boyle Heights I’d never heard of if it weren’t for the fact that my boyfriend was in the production. The festival was wonderful, the people I met were even more so and when this company was having auditions for their next festival I jumped at the chance. I got in and got to work with some of these awesome people I’d met at the show and then some. I continued hanging around… One night, at some theater event or afterparty I was talking to the producer of the fest and expressed my interest in directing as well as acting. I don’t know how it happened but by the end of the evening I was slated to direct year two of that original festival I saw two and a half years ago.

And then, bam, last October was my directing debut with this wonderful company. The festival did very well and it was a lot of hard work and fun. A few months later, I get a call that six of our short plays were accepted into an International Theater Festival in none other than Dublin, Ireland. Holy crap. And not only that, but since not all actors could commit to going, would I be interested in attending as an actor. Um, YES PLEASE!

A few months after that call, I was on a plane on my way to performing for the first time on an International stage. I  got to perform in pieces I’d directed just months prior, working across talented actors I’ve grown to love. Not only that, but I got to do it in IRELAND! 

The week was magical. Getting to do what I love with people I love and exploring a great new city across the seas was more than a dream come true. And it all happened because I saw a little festival a couple of years ago.

Race and Girls

3 Dec

Race and GirlsOkay, so I know this post is coming a tad late. It’s not because I live under a rock and just discovered the show, but because I started this draft and then got so caught up in reading article after article that I stopped writing my own thinking the topic has been mulled over plenty. However, recent talk about race and women (see The Hollywood Reporter’s Annual actress roundtable this year) reminded me of the conversations that were happening around “Girls” and I realize that my voice is just as valid.

The reaction to HBOs new show “Girls” was two fold: one, incredible hype and praise and two, incredible disappointment and scrutiny on the issue of race. So, basically, it went like this…. “Oh my god a show about women written by a woman that doesn’t involve excessive amounts of shopping and bitching is actually really good!”… “Wait a minute, they’re all white. That is so unrealistic. They’re just a bunch of privileged white girls. Don’t watch this show.”

On the one hand I’m glad the conversation of race and TV has gotten so loud across online media outlets and in Hollywood. However, I am a little…suspicious…that this conversation got particularly loud over the show “Girls.” Lack of strong female leads or three-dimensional female characters and lack of of ethnic diversity on TV (and film for that matter) are not new issues. This has been an ongoing problem, so why cry out about the issue of race now regarding this particular show (why not on Two and a Half Men or Entourage or Dexter or Sherlock– I could go on– that all feature white casts)? It seemed to me that critics needed an excuse not to like her series- “See, women can’t carry a show.” Attacking Lena Dunham’s show on this issue of race furthers the problem. It is just another way of undermining her achievement and the story she’s trying to tell, and once again bringing women’s voices down. She is not the sole person responsible for solving all issues regarding minority representation in entertainment. The fact that this show even got made (and is doing so well) is a huge feat in and of itself that we should be supporting her and the show. The more shows like hers succeed the more likely that other shows that feature minority voices will get made. The more (good) parts for women, women of color, and the more opportunities for women writers, directors, and producers.

Why am I causing such a raucous over a little HBO comedy? It’s just entertainment, you might say. This is true. I don’t think Lena is necessarily out trying to change the world with a group of girlfriends talking about sex, ex boyfriends, jobs and rent. But “just entertainment” has a profound effect on our perspectives– especially those of young minds. If you only show commercials of boys playing with Legos and trucks and girls playing with peeing dolls and easy bake ovens— what does that tell our children about acceptable gender roles? If we have the majority of shows with all white casts what does that say about the diversity of our nation? If we only make movies with male action heroes what does that say about what roles are available for women? These repeated images over time are dangerous. Media and pop culture is a part of our society and often helps shape it. It’s about time we shape it in a positive way and stop creating the same old models. Yes, some girls take care of babies and some girls can write killer comedy. Can’t wait for Season 2.

Top 10 Ladies I Love (In Entertainment)

12 Mar

Last Thursday was International Women’s Day, March is Women’s History Month, I’m currently in a production of the Vagina Monologues as part of a women’s theater festival… Needless to say, I’m feeling love for the ladies right now. Going along with this theme, I’ve compiled a list of 10 awesome women in entertainment I’d be honored to work with one day.

1. Parker Posey (duh)

All-time favorite actress. Long-standing “indie queen”. Powerful on-screen personality and distinct style: makes every character her own. The original “quirky girl”. Killer at comedy. Scene stealer. My dream is to one day get to work with her.

2. Amy Pohler

Funny, of course. Amazing in Parks & Rec. I absolutely adore Lesley Knope. But beyond comedic talents, this woman stands for something. Smart Girls At The Party, a smart, entertaining and clever show, Amy’s original webseries, is geared towards young girls but is entertaining for all.

3. Meryl Streep

How can you NOT love this woman. She is insanely talented. Has had a long career that is still going strong. Plays kick ass parts and embodies her characters flawlessly. Never plays into the media hoopla. Goes for big budget or low budget, just wants to act in good projects with good roles.

4. Mila Kunis

So underrated. First off, she’s a working actor- doing TV, voiceover and film. Natalie Portman got all the attention, but, personally, I think Mila stole the show in Black Swan. She is a fearless actor but displays vulnerability beautifully. Would love to work opposite her one day.

5. Geena Davis

Not only a talented lady, she is incredibly thoughtful, sensitive and driven. By making use of her position in the entertainment world, she has done extensive media research through her own Institute on Gender in Media, trying to change female portrayals and gender stereotypes in children’s media.

6. Miranda July

Performance artist extrordinaire. She does it all- narrative film, short stories, installations, sculpture, video, voice over, you name it! And across all mediums, she maintains her very distinct voice making our ordinary every-day lives extraordinary, revealing the nostalgia and bittersweetness of it all.

7. Sandra Oh

I think  her character Dr Yang is the best thing on Grey’s Anatomy. She also does theater (a true actor! =) She is one talented actress who has a TV and film career at the same time. I’d love to follow in those footsteps…

8. Naomi Watts

Has been working her butt off for a long time. She finally got her break in Mullholand Drive but she’d been around a long time before that. She even produced and stared in her own film (make your work, make your success!) Never does she fall prey to tabloids and gossip, but just does consistently good work, interesting characters and versatile roles.

9. Mo Collins

So many funny ladies on my list, I just realized. But I can’t leave out Mo, who I’ve been watching on MadTV since high school. She fuckin rocks. AND…. I actually did get to meet her! (warning: tangent!) I was at a Muse concert in LA about 6 years ago and she was sitting in the row in front of me. When we all filed out after the concert was over, I worked up the nerve to say something. I told her that I love her work on MadTV and she was very gracious, said thank you, and then turned the subject to the band and chatted about the concert for a few minutes. So cool. =)

10. Brit Marling

I know she’s relatively new on the scene but she is so fuckin awesome and such an inspiration. Talented, driven, intelligent, creative….She pretty much made her career happen all on her own by writing and starring in her own films. Another Earth is such a creative, moving and thoughtful film and Marling carries the movie well.

Guest Post on Diversity at NOTE: Diversity in the Neighborhood

6 Sep

I was running from one rehearsal to the next and happened to be in the car at just the right time to here Anthony Byrnes’ weekly “Opening the Curtain” segment on KCRW. His topic this week was on the play, Neighbors, at The Matrix Theatre.  I have not seen it, but according to Byrnes, it is a play that makes you question the racism you witness on the stage- historical relics or modern reality?  The review itself was lukewarm, but the part that caught my attention was Bynes’ point at the end of his segment:

He said, “…one of the pleasures of the play was watching the audience watch themselves, discovering differences and connections as the characters resonated with each of us. That magic requires the same diversity in the seats as on the stage.”

Read full post on Diversity at NOTE