Tag Archives: NYU

The Big Break

9 Jan

No, not the kind that makes you famous over night; the kind that gives you a breather, time to reflect, time to relax. In a similar post last year, I wrote that actors need vacations, too. And it’s true! So much of this career is go-go-go with no real defining markers, like vacation time or company meetings or whatever else marks time. Half the time I don’t even know what day it is.

Anyway, the past two weeks were somewhat of a whirlwind of a break from all that is acting. A little Mexico, Palm Springs and San Francisco to end 2011 and ring in 2012. I found myself taking a lot in, doing little thinking about acting (which felt so nice) and a lot of thinking about other things that are growing in importance for me. It’s important to recognize that I have chosen this career path and everything in between. (I chose to get headshots from a specific photographer, I chose to join a certain theater company, I chose to accept certain projects, etc.) For the past two years, I have been going along like this, going through the motions in my pursuit of this career. And I realized, recently, that not all of it necessarily makes me happy. I do it because I’ve been doing it, letting it take control over me instead of the other way around. I made those decisions and I can just as easily make new ones. It’s kind of like when I was at NYU and miserable, fearing I was going to be stuck there for four years in my misery when I had an “aha” moment, that looking back seems so simple and obvious but wasn’t at all when I was in the thick of my unhappiness. I realized, hey, I can leave! It didn’t mean I was quitting acting, it didn’t mean I was a failure. Afterall, NYU was my dream, I strived for and achieved. But just because I decided to go there didn’t mean I had to stay there. There was nothing wrong with rejecting the traditional four-year college experience if it wasn’t working for me. It’s my life, I can do it however I want.

So I’m kind of realizing that with my life right now. They aren’t fully formed decisions yet, because I’m still processing it all. But this recent break did give me the ability to see a lot of things about my life that I don’t get to see on a day-to-day basis in the throws of acting career stuff. It’s funny, because I always say there is no “right” way to do this. No instruction guide, no ladder to climb. And yet, there are lots of things I’ve been doing because I feel I should, I have to. I need to take my own advice! I can go about this any way I want. Besides, acting is not my one and only passion, though it is the most prominent now. Over the break those other passions and desires started to speak up. It’s what made me realize that I need to change this up this year. Nor sure how or when or where, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

Theater for All Ages

30 Dec

Last month, in a span of one week, I saw a children’s theater show, a high school play and an evening of theater by my peers. I had an equally great time at all three. I never felt so inspired, invigorated and proud.

The first was the LA Children’s Theater production of The Frog Prince directed by an actor friend of mine and included my actor boyfriend in the cast. Though I was not of the audience mean age of 5, I thoroughly enjoyed this colorful, musical production. It excited me so much (here comes the nerdy theater geek in me) to see a fresh crop of potentially theater-going, theater-loving and perhaps theater-performing people! To watch these little kids take delight in a story unfolding before their eyes was as entertaining as the play itself. (It reminded me when I was first captivated by the magic of theater when I went for my 5th birthday party to the Santa Monica Playhouse production of Cinderella) They loved set, the costumes, the music, the characters and the audience involvement. At certain points throughout the play, the kids were invited to be a part of the story. This kind of audience participation, I believe, should not be limited to children’s theater. Everyone likes to feel included, at 5 or 55. It’s something my theater company PianoFight values and includes in practically every show they produce. Anyway, I saw the show twice- opening and closing and both times I had a blast.

The second was Viewpoint School‘s high school production of The Cherry Orchard directed by my high school theater teacher and now colleague. Watching teens perform at the school and at the age when I truly fell in love with theater was sort of… nostalgic. And watching them perform on a state of the art stage with a professional set and costumes was sort of… bitter sweet. I did not have those things when I was there, nor will I perform on a stage like that for a long time. I tell my high school students all the time to appreciate what they’ve got now because after school it will be a while before they’ll ever experience that level of production again… unless they go straight to Broadway. But whether or not they realize that or whether or not they’ll ever act again, it was so exciting to see young people, who have their whole lives ahead of them filled with infinite possibilities, perform. That amidst SATs and APs, and despite the inevitable judgement of select high school jocks and what nots, they’ve chosen to spend their precious after school hours, free periods and weekends to study Chekhov, memorize lines and act!

The third was a collection of original one acts produced and acted by fellow actors who were in the Atlantic Theater program at NYU with me (but actually stuck it through). The inaugural class of the Atlantic LA program formed a production company, Acorn Pictures, upon graduation and though their primary focus is film, once a year “unplug” for an evening of live theater. Again, I sat, excited, in anticipation of experiencing the original writing, directing and performances of my peers. Some of the people involved were in the same group as me my very first year at NYU and in the past couple of years have reconnected and been involved with my own productions. Against the so-called odds and despite the millions of people who have moved to LA to “make it” they’re out there creating their own stuff and rightfully showing it off. This excites me to no end. Because, for one, it’s aways exciting watching people go after what they love and two, it means I can do it too. This is possible. We are all out there doing it and one day one of us is going to make it and that means we all did.

Movement, Yoga, Dance = Better Actor

25 Feb

I think there’s more to an actor’s training than just acting classes. During my short stint at Tisch, our three days a week in the Studio consisted of classes like Movement, Voice and Speech in addition to Performance Technique and Script Analysis. Today I took a lyrical jazz class and it made me think about how important other classes and practices are to being a successfully, well-rounded actor. Not just in building other skills that could be good selling points to an agency or casting director or producer, but in building your self-esteem, your character, your body.

During the warm up portion of this unconventional dance class, we gathered in a circle and micked the person in the center who would do some wacky dance move then pass the baton to someone else. I turned to my friend and said, “This reminds me of theater class!” It was so fun watching the diverse group of women (and one fearless man) let go of inhibitions and not care or worry about the moves they were making. Then, the second half of the class we learned and performed a few measures of choreography. At first I was in my head about counts and was it my left foot first or my right foot… but after a few times, and the teacher saying “just feel the music” I learned to let go. The teacher dimmed the lights, turned up the volume and let us all move to the music with the way we interpreted her choreography and it felt great.

This may sound really cheesy and maybe you don’t agree, but freeing my body and really feeling the music opened me up emotionally. Physically engaging every fiber in my body unleashed the non-physical parts that make up who I am. It reminded me of a particularly challenging moment of a scene in a scene study class I took at ACT in San Francisco. The teacher pointed out to me that I kept holding on to my breath at this one part. I didn’t notice, as often we don’t notice the various habits and crutches we develop as an actor (some are great unique traits to embrace, and others are inhibiting and worth checking out). I then took a deep breath, shook it off and started over. As I worked my way through the scene ,so much more began bubbling inside of me. Literally. I could feel it, like you feel your tummy rumble when you’re hungry. That performance was so much more grounded than my previous rehearsals all due to breathing!

I’ve also taken dance classes, like jazz, hip hop, belly dance, and even yoga classes, which have all (whether they were more focused on professionalism and technique or just having fun and using your body) been beneficial to my acting in some way.

Dance & Yoga Resources in LA:

The EDGE Performing Arts Center
IDA Hollywood
Millenium Dance Center
Liberation Yoga

The Truth about “Liars”

5 Feb

Wednesday night I had the great privilege of seeing a special screening of the indie movie, The Four-Faced Liar, fresh off the film fest circuit including Slamdance.

What was so awesome about watching this movie, was the way it made me feel: my dream is attainable. Here I was, sitting in this special screening room in Beverly Hills, and I know the person who wrote, starred and produced the movie, one of the stars of the movie is a dear friend, two people who auditioned for my show last week were in the audience, along with two people who were actually in my show last year, and then the person I sit next to happened to be someone from my first year at NYU and then on the way out we bump into a anther actor-friend from my theater company in LA. There were so many connections. And it made me feel, I am in the right place. (Not physically, but figuratively of course. I mean, Beverly Hills aint really my scene).

Don’t get me wrong… there was the flip side to all this too. Let’s be honest here. It was tough sitting in the audience looking up at a screen that, in essence, could’ve had me on it. But that’s the cool part, really. That’s what makes me feel like it’s so attainable. Those are my peers. And they are making it happen. Which means, so can I.