Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chew Your Food

INT. Grace's office at Brooklyn University - 3:25pm

Grace, wearing an outfit bought entirely at upscale second-hand stores, sits at her desk, eating a yogurt. She licks the spoon and sucks on it for awhile, deep in thought, then goes in for another spoonful. She chews her yogurt.

Sebastian, impeccably dressed, bespectacled, sits at the desk across from her.

Sebastian: Are you chewing that yogurt?

Grace: Yeah.

Sebastian: Why the hell would you do that?

Grace: I don't like yogurt.

Sebastian: What's not to like? It's good for you. You won't get osteoporosis when you're old. Sorry, I meant, even though you're old.

Grace: The consistency. I don't like the consistency.

Sebastian: You're one of those people who chews soup, aren't you.

Grace: "Those people". You make us sound like degenerates.

Sebastian: You probably already know this but it's a pet peeve of mine, people who chew soup.

Grace: Well, you don't have to sit there and watch me.

Sebastian: You've chewed that one bite 17 times. Your average number of chews is 15.5.

Grace: There is something seriously wrong with you.

Sebastian: So, you're eating it now because -

Grace(Smiling at him): Because it's good for me.

Sebastian glares at her for a moment. Then pretends to work.

Friday, March 4, 2011

This just in-

As you might have noticed from the previous posts, I used to pursue acting professionally. In fact, this very blog used to be called "Acting in Traffic". Well, no more. I'm on the rocky road of career change, a very good time for some re-branding. I devote this blog to writing about whatever I darn well feel like writing about.

For example, I came across this by William Safire (who is sorely missed, even by those who read his work periodically):

Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don't start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a
great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
De-accession euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.
~William Safire, "Great Rules of Writing"

I have vivid memories of my Dad reading Safire articles at the kitchen table on Sunday mornings (how very Norman Rockwell of us). As a kid and then a teenager, I rarely grasped all the concepts and most of his grammatical somersaults were lost on me, but I understood that I was hearing brilliance, a voice from the pinnacle of writing. Much to be learned from him-- although some basic grammar lessons might be a better place to start.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Back in NYC

Well, technically, I'm visiting San Francisco for a week, but I'm actually living in Brooklyn now.

Let's see...What's happened since last I wrote:
- Left L.A. for San Francisco
- My boyfriend shattered his collarbone but is in one piece again
- Had illness in the family while my boyfriend was recovering
- Family member made a full recovery and dodged a bullet
- My boyfriend PROPOSED (and I said "Yes!")
- Left San Francisco for New York
- Drove across the country with my Mom
- Stayed in a studio in Queens for a month
- Found a place in Brooklyn
- Been planning the wedding
- Decided to leave acting world and pursue a more stable career

That pretty much spells it out. I am incredibly fortunate and so happy that everything has turned out so well. It's been a very nutty 2010 and I'm happy to start 2011- which is already shaping up to be busy in a wonderful way.

So far, since I've been in NYC, I've worked on one feature length film as a Production Assistant and worked as Associate Producer on a short. I've continued working on one feature comedy and finished a pilot. I've also done some editing work both for essays and scripts.

The goal now is to figure out what career path is next. Also, I'm most likely going to transfer any writing I do to another blog but until then, check back for the next action-packed installment.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Well, it's been awhile. I will admit, blog posts have not been at the top of my list but there's so much going on, it would be silly not to update it here.

I've moved from LA back up to San Francisco and by June, I should be back home in New York City. It's been six years in California but after LA, my priorities have shifted. It's important to me to be closer to family and loved ones. Obviously, it may be different for other folks. Also, being in LA, I realized how many years it would take me, realistically, to create a solid foundation for a career. I'd rather be a struggling actor in NYC and do what I can there, than struggle in LA.

Bottom line, the LA experiment for the last year has been tough - I won't lie - but I'm very happy I put in the time. I came away with some great experience, new (and closer) friendships, and a rekindled love of writing and PA work. All told, a very worth while experience, even if I fell short of some of my goals.

Some (obvious) lessons I (re)learned in LA:
1) Work begets work. Even unpaid work can help you land a paid gig. Also, it keeps your craft honed, whether that be writing, acting, sword swallowing, etc.
2) Fake it 'till you make it is good advise. I don't mean "be fake", I mean, learn to trust yourself and be BRAVE.
3) You make your own luck. Hard work is really the only thing that points you towards "Good Luck" because it puts you in the right place at the right time. Optimism is key, too, because it allows you to see opportunities as they arise.

Things that helped in LA:
1) A lot of help from my friends- Good friends were key to making it a positive experience. People who will help keep you grounded are vital. I was incredibly fortunate on this front and would not have enjoyed my time there had I not had friends that I trusted.
2) Know the way- Yes, I was only able to execute half the plan I had in mind, but it was very helpful to have a road map. Flexibility helped make the plan more realistic.
3) Wheels- Having a car in LA is a must. Mobility and access to auditions aside, it's sort of a right of passage and I don't think you really see the city if you don't drive there. I'm all for carpooling and saving the environment but LA really is a car-oriented city.

Things I'd do differently:
1) Maintain focus, Grasshopper- I'd exercise more self discipline and be sure that I attended more free industry events. Actor's Creative Workshop, for example, provided wonderful opportunities but I didn't always get to go to the workshops.
2) Get a really active agent or manager before heading to LA. This might have helped maintain professional focus.
3) Join AFTRA. The SAG card actually wasn't the problem; the lack of industry affiliation was the issue. Could have joined AFTRA and worked my way up from there. I was allowing money to be the issue. Money and fear, to be honest.

Now, as I pack up my California life and head to New York, there are more questions than answers when I consider my career options. Fighting down feelings of failure has been a challenge but this is a tough industry and if you want it, you have to keep at it. In my case, goals have started to change and become a little fuzzy. Apparently, it's not uncommon to lose your way. At least, I feel prepared for anything and positive that things will work out.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Makin' the rent

I've started a new "day" job, hence my total lack of postings in July (not to mention my laptop dying a horrid, Ebola-Zaire-like death at the hands of some crafty computer virus). Now that I've got my computer back up and running and my emails up to date, my life has returned to a semblance of order.

The time I spend in the job is frustrating. I NEED the job, and, despite my occasional griping, I'm GRATEFUL for it but it sucks up a lot of energy that I'd rather be using to pursue acting. Trouble is, you can't pursue acting if you can't pay your rent or buy groceries (models and some actors deliberately leave the groceries out, but this is not how I roll). Here's something I'm coming to terms with: After a long day of work, if you get home and say 'Alrighty, I'm ready to start the other job, even though it doesn't pay [yet]', you know you're following your passion and you love what you do. At least, that's part of what keeps me going...so far.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

We’ll have my People call your People…

I’m embarrassed that I’m embarrassed to promote my own work. It’s not a helpful trait in an actor, really, and it’s taken me a long time to sort out how to self-promote without shame. Admitting that I am an actor, handing someone my card, informing folks about the projects I’m working on—for some reason, the salesmanship of acting sticks in my throat.

Before coming to LA, I made sure that I could, at least, feel comfortable with the basics of self-promotion. I have my little business cards, my website, etc. I let folks know I’m an actor, although, for some reason, I still pause about this as though I’m ashamed of myself for not having invested time in a more lucrative or stable profession. Where I really start to falter are the instances when I want to work with someone and I don’t know how to breach the subject. Loosing site of my own artistic and creative goals, I flounder in front of casting directors and sometimes fellow actors, feeling as though I have nothing to offer them. In some cases, I’m more likely to promote someone else’s work than my own but examining my motives for that seemed like a step in the right direction.

As a quick sidebar, I’m not seeking thanks or praise when I say I tout other people’s work instead of my own. Sometimes I’m focusing on someone's work in order to feel accepted, or that I’m “in the know” or, during especially bad cases of shyness, to show that I’m not a total freak and I do have friends who are (mercifully) cooler than me. When I find myself extrapolating on the virtues of some else’s project, I’m also acknowledging their forward momentum. I’m showing respect for their perseverance, their talent and often their success. There’s a tricky word – success. I’m afraid of trying and failing which is part of why I point to the successes of others in order to glean some part of that triumph, as though a little bit of recognition rubs off on me each time I describe the Dove commercial my friend was in, or the guy from my acting class who’s in Southland (Go Alex Alessandro Garcia!).

It’s time to take responsibility for potential success. Allowing for failure is necessary because it means you’re trying, throwing yourself out there and giving yourself the chance to succeed, even if it is through trial and error. Even if I leave L.A. without having sparked a career, I want to feel good about learning from my time here. Maybe I’ll learn how to fail successfully—one can only hope.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Keep Calm and Carry On

Motivation can be insanely difficult, especially if you have that fear of rejection/success syndrome going on. For most of us, doing it for the fame doesn’t work and the money is sporadic, at best (we’ve discussed that). Imagination and creativity can prod us to action, but it’s difficult to maintain momentum when rejection is present at all times. Psychological, social and physical obstacles loom – or can be created by the mind – when pursuing a career in the arts.

Creating a reasonable plan, step by step, can be the best solution to a lack of motivation or focus. You have to keep in mind that only actions over which you have control can be fixed points on your time line (i.e. I will create a website for myself in the next month or I will send out those postcards in two weeks). The minute you start including items like “Get an Agent” or “Join SAG”, you have to remember you have thrown yourself at the mercy of the elements. Being a strong believer in the mantra that “you make your own luck”, hard work should be rewarded with concrete results. In acting, it’s not; unless you have a natural gift for networking (I, sadly, do not), it may take more time than expected to get your foot firmly wedged in the door. Be patient and keep working tenaciously.

Another way to build motivation is to keep things in a positive perspective. This is not to say that you should go comparing yourself and your career to Kate Winslet’s or Hugh Jackman’s. Take a look at where you started your career and where you are now. Take into account how much work you’ve done; note the level of self-discipline (if applicable), the commitment and sacrifice expended on career. If you feel good about what you’ve done and can honestly say, with a clear conscience, that you have worked hard and continue to do so, then you are the envy of many an artistic temperament. Hang in there. The odds will eventually be in your favor.

Whatever you choose to do to motivate yourself, stay positive, keep focused and take care of yourself.