Tag Archives: los angeles

“LA” is not LA

21 Mar

Time and time again I have conversations with newbie LA transplants, or with people not from here and have no intention of moving here, who are all pretty confident in what Los Angeles and what a Los Angeles person is like:

LA is full of plastic, fake and superficial people. Airheads. People who only care about how they look, the car they drive and the people they know.

There is no nature. No culture. No worthwhile restaurants.

It’s a cold and sprawling place where the only good thing (this everyone agrees on) is the weather.

Well, I was born and raised here and I must say, none of this has been my experience… until I meet someone who’s never been to LA until now, fresh out of college, with stars in their eyes (to be the next Spielberg or DiCaprio or Streep). It’s like they become the very thing they say they despise. It’s weird.

Sure there are some fake or superficial people here and there, but fake people exist everywhere! Perhaps I live in a bubble, but none of my friends care that much about how they look. Sure I’ve got some friends who are more into fashion than others, they like their good shopping trip as much as the next gal, but it is not something that consumes or defines them. And a lot of my friends are writers, directors, producers, actors, musicians, aspiring or otherwise.

Once in a while I will meet someone who’s fresh off the plane, their first time ever in Los Angeles, and they are dressed in the designer jeans, faux aviators and fancy briefcase. But why? Who said you had to wear that? I mean, if it’s legitimately your style than ok totally cool. But if it’s not and you think that’s going to get you further or enable you to fit in, I think you’re wrong. I mean, maybe there is something to be said for “dressing the part”. But, call me naive, I like to think that you being you will get you where you need to go. Believe it or not, this town is full of REAL people.  People who are passionate and artistic and going after their dreams. Who want to see others achieve their dreams too. I meet them everyday on film sets, in theaters, at screenings…

And this nonsense of LA being cold, unforgiving with no culture or nature or history- wrong, wrong, WRONG! First off, I live in Silverlake/Echo Park, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Down the street from me is one of the oldest restaurants, established in 1927 still with that old-school charm. Left and right of me are old public staircases that people used to use to get down to Sunset Blvd or up to where the train once ran through town. Including the old “Music Box” steps from Laurel and Hardy’s famous piano moving scene from their 1932 comedy of the same name. And just a couple miles from there is Chinatown, filled with authentic restaurants including my all time favorite dim sum place that I have been going to ever since I can remember.

And you want nature? Well try the many hidden coves along gorgeous Malibu Beach, or the miles upon miles of hiking trails through Topanga Canyon, Temescal Canyon, Malibu Canyon, Griffith Park, and on and on. The breathtaking Huntington Gardens with acres upon acres of gardens from all over the world.

Culture too? Well, yes, believe it or not we’ve got that too. How about the hundreds of art galleries and art walks: The Brewery Complex, Downtown Art Walk, Chung King Rd Galleries, Venice Art Walk, Culver City, Frog Town, Bergamont Station just to name a few. And museums: LACMA, The Getty, Getty Villa, MOCA, Norton Simon Museum just to start you off… Theater: Mark Taper, Ahmanson, Actors Gang, Kirk Douglas and the millions of black box theaters that I mention on this very blog!

In fact, one of the many things that I absolutely love about this town is that there is endless exploring to be done. There is always a new trail to climb, a new restaurant to try, a new play to see and new interesting people to meet, but then there are also the staple places that you keep going back to like my fave dim sum or stretch of sand. To me, that’s “LA”.

Shrinking Hollywood

26 Feb

At first, Hollywood seems like this big elusive place. You’re just a little tiny microscopic fish in a huge ass pond. Until you stick it out for a bit.

I’ve been noticing what a small world it truly is. Just like any profession, you’re in it long enough and some familiar names and faces will keep popping up. I’m not even a seasoned professional or anything, by any means, and yet consistently going to acting classes, taking workshops, producing theater, seeing plays, attending networking events, I’m starting to bump into people I know or find out I’m connected to people I didn’t know. And as we all know, LA is not a small town.

It’s actually quite comforting. And motivating. Here I am, still “green” as far as Hollywood is concerned, and yet I’m already getting called in for an indie feature via a director I know through a past scene partner and seeing multiple familiar faces at auditions and finding out certain actor friends are connected to other actor friends completely unrelated to me. Attending that screening for Four Faced Liar is a prime example.

It’s so great watching these connections and networks grow and to start feeling like Hollywood, believe it or not, is a real community.

Guest Post on Diversity at Note: Color Confusion

23 Feb

Another blog about a blog I blog…  This one was started by a fellow actor/producer/rock star NOTEr and it’s all about diversity in the LA theater world. It’s still young, but growing. I think it deals with important issues not only in the theater community, but in the acting community at large. I talk about some of these things in my first post on this brand spanking new blog.

Here’s a sample:

I am a half Japanese, quarter Irish, quarter Hungarian Jewish female actor born and raised in Los Angeles, CA.

But to most people I look Mexican. (And to confuse things even further, my born and bred Japanese mother currently resides in Mexico… but that’s a whole other story.) After that, the ethnicities I usually get are Filipino and Native American. I can speak speak Spanish and Japanese conversationally, but I’m American and my native language is English. So, in the world of casting, where does that leave me?…”

You can read the full post on Diversity at Note.

A Lovely NOTE

10 Feb

Though I grew up in LA and want to be an actor, I’ve spent a lot of time away from our beloved sunny city. First in New York and then in San Francisco. It’s that hilly city that kept me away for so long. When I first (kinda)  returned to LA in ’08 I researched theater companies because I wanted to find what I was so fortunate to have found in SF (PianoFight). I wanted a theater community, but one that would also help me in the world of Hollywood and the whole “business” side. I scoured the acting blogs, message boards, online forums and one theater company kept popping up, so I thought, I have to check them out. I went to see their show, email corresponded with their incredibly friendly and helpful new membership chair and ultimately landed myself an audition/interview, which landed me official membership to the company.

And then I went on leave.

I know, doesn’t seem to make much sense does it? This is what I wanted. I found it and I got it and then I leave it behind?? Well, I think I still wasn’t quite through with our rival North and, quite honestly, still a little scared of really doing it in LA. (Well I don’t think of them as rival, but I know they do of us!) For the next year, I was continually going back and forth between SF and LA, spending weeks and sometimes months at a time in the Bay Area. In a sense, I was weaning myself off of that life and slowly matriculating into the one here.

Now that I’m really here and I mean it this time (it feels different), I’m ready to commit to things I wasn’t before, as scary as it still is. (Call me a scardy cat, but, I’m like terrified every step of the way). So, when the monthly company meeting rolled around for my theater company I debated and debated whether or not to attend. I had no more excuses. I’m in LA. I have no other obligations. I’m here for good. What’s the problem? I felt like I’d been away for too long. And I started making all these excuses in my head as to why I should just forget about the whole theater company altogether- they never cast me in the shows I had auditioned for in the beginning, I still don’t know anyone, it’s intimidating there are SO many of them, no one’s going to care if I return, what good is being a company member really going to do me anyway, and the list goes on. But this was all FEAR talking. It’s not what I really thought. So I talked to my dad, my boyfriend, had a word or two with myself and got myself to get into the car and go.

And I’m so glad I did.

I took a deep breath and then stepped inside the theater. Immediately I saw a few friendly faces I could easily walk up and say hi to. It felt good. They were happy to see me. I was happy to see them. Then I spent the next two hours sitting in the risers listening to all of the amazing things the company had going on in the next few weeks and few months. All of the reasons I originally became a member came flooding back to me. I felt so proud sitting in that seat. I had picked them, but they had also picked me. I felt reinvigorated. I felt ready to take on this acting thing. Every few months, I need to be re-energized. Re-reminded of what it takes and why I’m doing what it takes to get what I want. It’s important to get a friendly little reminder because this business is tough. This month, that lovely reminder note came from Theatre of NOTE, my LA theater company.