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Quotespiration # 25: Neil Patrick Harris

“Sometimes you can have the smallest role in the smallest production and still have a big impact.”

– Neil Patrick Harris (an openly gay film and theatre actor; multi-winner of the Emmy awards and four-time Golden Globes nominee)

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Every role counts. I hate it when actors think they are too good for something..unless it is downright, undeniably awful- and even then, there’s no need to be rude about it! I’ve spoken to an actress who goes to auditions she doesn’t want just for the “practice” and prays she doesn’t get the role. How egotistical! I also know an actor who will ONLY go for leading man parts. Yikes. Acting is hard enough as it is without closing doors before you’ve even had a peek through the curtains.

On the other hand, I have also met directors and writers with their heads up their asses who think that actors are disposable puppets and that everything that comes out of their mouths is made of gold. Barf. But that’s for another post some other day…

From how I see it, every set or stage you work on is a potential for you to network and sharpen your skills. No matter how big or small the production and how big or small your part is. There’s always something to learn- either from the people around you or from the experiences you gain and mistakes you make.

And you never know, someone somewhere may just remember you and give you a job somewhere else down the line. Trust me. It happens. A lot.

Be grateful.

All my love,

The Aspiring Actress.

Fitness + Health: Eva Mendes

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 “I’m like every other girls across the globe- I love chocolate and I hate working out. But the truth is I have to do it. I like to eat. I cannot hold back. I cannot skip a meal. So I get into the gym; I do a lot of cardio then some light weight training.”- Eva Mendes

One of my favourite celebrity fitness quotes. What girl CAN’T relate to this? It sucks, but I’d rather go to the gym for an hour or two (or even 30 minutes) than starve, wouldn’t you?

Every person in the entertainment industry, or really any industry that is somewhat based on how you present yourself, has felt it: The pressure to look your best…and a huge part of that pertains to your figure. Not only do you feel like you ‘have’ to adhere to certain standards of beauty, but it can actually hinder your success if you don’t. For some, that may be motivation enough. For others, like me, you have to be dragged kicking and screaming.

Don’t get me wrong, I love working out. Especially when I’ve reached the end of the work out. You feel fantastic right afterwards and the long term benefits are endless. You feel confident, there’s a glow to your skin, you feel healthy and more inclined to make good choices, the clothes you like look better on you, you have more energy, you feel strong, you live longer. But it never makes putting on those running shoes any easier when I’d much rather be laying on the couch eating spaghetti.

So for those of you who need a little extra motivation…I feel your pain. I really do. What works for me is having a partner in crime. Someone to suffer through it with, or at least complain to afterwards. It’s frustrating when you see all these Hollywood celebrities with their fantastic bodies or even people you know in your life who just look great with seemingly zero effort. Well the truth is, that is probably the biggest lie!

Suuuure, there are the freaks who just looooooove to exercise (and the genetically blessed few who don’t even need to- cuuuurse them). I’m not one of them. So I’ve decided to share with you motivating “fitspiration” quotes by the stars themselves, from the fitness-loving freaks of inspiration (I’m looking at you, Jessica Biel) to those who prove they are only human like the rest of us and that all it really comes down to is hard work and discipline (remember: personal trainers can’t do the work for you). I will also be posting work outs, fitness and health tips from yours truly when I can.

I am on the same journey as you are, people. It’s a daily struggle for me so I understand how important it is to be inspired to stay active and not fall into a negative cycle of guilt and self-hating.

SO LET’S GET OUR ASSES TO THE GYM!!! (or take classes at that dance studio, go for a hike, hit the pavement, swim, hot yoga, Pilates, raves, join a recreational sports team, whatever floats your boat)

Achieve your fitness goals. Aspire to finally fit into that skin-tight LBD or those skinny jeans you’ve been eyeing up, that you keep telling yourself, “One day…”.

And to quote Nike…

Yesterday you said tomorrow.

I’ll be with you every step of the way. Tears, bruises, sore muscles and all.

Love,

The Aspiring Actress.

THANK YOU! [50]

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This post isn’t really about anything in particular, except to say THANK YOU!

I started this blog just under a month ago (though I apologize for the lack of consistency with posts!) and I’ve officially hit 50 followers. Not a bad start, I think! I don’t know where you guys are in your lives, what your dreams are or how you happened to stumble upon this blog or which entry you happened to stumble upon, but thank you for doing so and deciding to follow my journey- whether you’re only here for the inspirational quotes (I like those too) or are actually interested in what I have to say.

You are all super cool. That is all. I hope you’re all following your bliss, no matter what that may be and whether or not it’s even career-related, and continue to actively seek things that keep you inspired every day. I wish you every bit of success and happiness.

Let’s do dis, guys. Life ain’t got nothin’ on us.

LOL,

(LOTS OF LOVE- duh)

The Aspiring Actress.

Fitness + Health: Gwyneth Paltrow

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“I just sob and kick and scream and then just force myself to do it.”- Gwyneth Paltrow

Every person in the entertainment industry, or really any industry that is somewhat based on how you present yourself, has felt it: The pressure to look your best…and a huge part of that pertains to your figure. Not only do you feel like you ‘have’ to adhere to certain standards of beauty, but it can actually hinder your success if you don’t. For some, that may be motivation enough. For others, like me, you have to be dragged kicking and screaming.

Don’t get me wrong, I love working out. Especially when I’ve reached the end of the work out. You feel fantastic right afterwards and the long term benefits are endless. You feel confident, there’s a glow to your skin, you feel healthy and more inclined to make good choices, the clothes you like look better on you, you have more energy, you feel strong, you live longer. But it never makes putting on those running shoes any easier when I’d much rather be laying on the couch eating spaghetti.

So for those of you who need a little extra motivation…I feel your pain. I really do. What works for me is having a partner in crime. Someone to suffer through it with, or at least complain to afterwards. It’s frustrating when you see all these Hollywood celebrities with their fantastic bodies or even people you know in your life who just look great with seemingly zero effort. Well the truth is, that is probably the biggest lie!

Suuuure, there are the freaks who just looooooove to exercise (and the genetically blessed few who don’t even need to- cuuuurse them). I’m not one of them. So I’ve decided to share with you motivating “fitspiration” quotes by the stars themselves, from the fitness-loving freaks of inspiration (I’m looking at you, Jessica Biel) to those who prove they are only human like the rest of us and that all it really comes down to is hard work and discipline (remember: personal trainers can’t do the work for you). I will also be posting work outs, fitness and health tips from yours truly when I can.

I am on the same journey as you are, people. It’s a daily struggle for me so I understand how important it is to be inspired to stay active and not fall into a negative cycle of guilt and self-hating.

SO LET’S GET OUR ASSES TO THE GYM!!! (or take classes at that dance studio, go for a hike, hit the pavement, swim, hot yoga, Pilates, raves, join a recreational sports team, whatever floats your boat)

Achieve your fitness goals. Aspire to finally fit into that skin-tight LBD or those skinny jeans you’ve been eyeing up, that you keep telling yourself, “One day…”.

And to quote Nike…

Yesterday you said tomorrow.

I’ll be with you every step of the way. Tears, bruises, sore muscles and all.

Love,

The Aspiring Actress.

Fitness + Health: Reese Witherspoon

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“If I never had to see the inside of a gym again, I’d be a very happy person. Even the idea of it, I hate. There’s people who love it and it’s just their thing. I can do it, and I can do it for my job because I’m really lucky to get this job and have a job so I will do it. But it’s not my first choice of morning activity.”- Reese Witherspoon

Every person in the entertainment industry, or really any industry that is somewhat based on how you present yourself, has felt it: The pressure to look your best…and a huge part of that pertains to your figure. Not only do you feel like you ‘have’ to adhere to certain standards of beauty, but it can actually hinder your success if you don’t. For some, that may be motivation enough. For others, like me, you have to be dragged kicking and screaming.

Don’t get me wrong, I love working out. Especially when I’ve reached the end of the work out. You feel fantastic right afterwards and the long term benefits are endless. You feel confident, there’s a glow to your skin, you feel healthy and more inclined to make good choices, the clothes you like look better on you, you have more energy, you feel strong, you live longer. But it never makes putting on those running shoes any easier when I’d much rather be laying on the couch eating spaghetti.

So for those of you who need a little extra motivation…I feel your pain. I really do. What works for me is having a partner in crime. Someone to suffer through it with, or at least complain to afterwards. It’s frustrating when you see all these Hollywood celebrities with their fantastic bodies or even people you know in your life who just look great with seemingly zero effort. Well the truth is, that is probably the biggest lie!

Suuuure, there are the freaks who just looooooove to exercise (and the genetically blessed few who don’t even need to- cuuuurse them). I’m not one of them. So I’ve decided I’m going to post entries of motivating “fitspiration” quotes by the stars themselves, from the fitness-loving freaks of inspiration (I’m looking at you, Jessica Biel) to those who prove they are only human like the rest of us and that all it really comes down to is hard work and discipline. I will also be posting work outs, fitness and health tips from yours truly when I can.

I am on the same journey as you are, people. It’s a daily struggle for me and I feel your pain.

SO LET’S GET OUR ASSES TO THE GYM!!! (or take classes at that dance studio, go for a hike, hit the pavement, swim, hot yoga, Pilates, raves, join a recreational sports team etc etc.)

Achieve your fitness goals. Aspire to finally fit into that skin-tight LBD you’ve been eyeing up, that you keep telling yourself, “One day…”.

And to quote Nike…

Yesterday you said tomorrow.

I’ll be with you every step of the way. Tears, bruises, sore muscles and all.

Love,

The Aspiring Actress.

Leave It All in the Room.

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I had an indie audition today that I was going to bail on because I’ve been rather ill for the past few days. I woke up, contemplated going, printed off and went over my sides, then decided fuck it and sent off an email asking to reschedule. But with auditions coming to a slow as of late, I got this nagging feeling I just couldn’t shake. I knew I’d kick myself once I felt better for not going. So I said EFF IT again, popped a bunch of Advil and decided to suck it up.

So I went. Luckily I knew the CDs on this project, which is always nice when you have that established rapport. Though, of course, it doesn’t really help me feel any less nervous!! Nerves are good for you though. Assuming you retain control over your voice and trembling, that is. Sometimes your grasp of the English language just miraculously disappears in the audition room..

Anyways, I was determined to go in and do my best. Then at least I could leave knowing I TRIED and have no regrets over my performance. Sometimes when you think something’s gone terribly, it turns out they loved it! I firmly believe in the quote that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

#Truth, people.

I don’t know if I killed the audition, or did mediocrely. I don’t know if they liked me or not, or if they were just being nice cause they kind of know me. Or if I even interpreted the character how they had envisioned. But I do know that if I’m not right for this character, then hopefully I’ll be right for a different/new character they might write in the future in this or another project.

There will always be more opportunities. Never forget that. No matter how off you are feeling, whether or not you really connect with this character or not. Do your absolute best, make no excuses and leave it all in the room.

And no, I did NOT drink any coffee, thanks for asking :).

That is all.

Ciao, bellas..& fingers crossed!!

The Aspiring Actress.

P.S. Ryan Gosling believes in you.

P.P.S. If you’re sick to the point where you can barely speak or think, or are puking…best you stay home. Your agent will understand, and everyone in the room will thank you for it. Don’t be a hero!!

The Importance of Acting Classes [cont’d]

[Read part one here]

If I could go back in time, I’d probably argue that whole ridiculous coffee cup thing. But aaaaat the tiiiiime I took it in. I was confused but I took it in. Also apparently when you’re “listening” to the other actor and don’t have much ‘action’ going on, having your arms glued to your sides is the most natural thing you can do when you don’t know what else to do. Okay then. So I did that. Whenever we made a mistake, we’d have to start over. But it was done in a way that made me feel frustrated and embarrassed. The whole classroom was set up like a stage, so you have all these other students staring at you as the teacher is telling you you’ve done something wrong, try it again. I mean it could be a lot worse, he could’ve been insulting. But it would’ve been nice if we got a more detailed response as to what we could do exactly to help NOT make those mistakes. Making me feel dumb about it doesn’t really help. It wasn’t just me. It made me feel uncomfortable watching other actors being critiqued for their acting choices. You could just see the humiliation burnt onto their face. And I know you’re all thinking, how are you going to learn if you’re not getting critiqued? It’s all in the WAY the critiquing is done. It has to be constructive! And while the teacher meant well, I don’t think he realized how condescending he could come across.

What bothered me the most is the lack of feedback when it came to HOW the lines were being said. I remember my acting partner having the most annoying speech pattern. He would literally say his lines the exact same way, with the exact same tones and inflections each time. Talk about monotony. There was no connection whatsoever.

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So come week 6, we were ready to put it on film. Where for each scene, a student would volunteer to do the filming. The first take would be on you, the second on your partner. Lovely. It’s always nice having one of the students shove a camera in your face. It’s just different when you’re on set and there’s a camera on you (usually somewhat stationary) handled by a professional versus trying to act in a somewhat confined space with a “camera man”/student moving awkwardly around you (SO distracting) and your scene partner, sticking a camera all up in your grill. Not to mention the classroom was set so that the living room “couch” was literally facing the “audience”. At least on a set where you’re facing an audience or crew, there are usually cameras and directors and lights in the way. Nope. This was just…all clear. I see you, you see me. Awesome.

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And no, it’s not anything like theatre. I like theatre. I don’t mind theatre. When you do a theatre production, you get to be on a stage, the audience isn’t usually eye-level to you (note: usually) and there are bright lights and there’s more space and doing a theatre production you EXPECT there to be a crowd people somewhat in front of you. But in a medium sized classroom with like 10 faces staring right at you at close proximity while someone waves a camera in your face? No thanks.

TO TOP IT ALL OFF, we had to playback our videos on a TV monitor riiiight afterwards. Nice. So now I have to watch a close up of my face under unflattering lighting AND get critiqued in front of the entire class. Again. How fun.

The studio also encouraged substitution as a means of feeling an emotion. What that means is using some sort of relatable memory in your personal life to play the character’s emotions. For example, my character was meant to feel guilt. So I spent 20 minutes relaying personal information about my life (for the craft, you know) about the things I’ve done that made me feel guilty. For the first time in a long time, I cried. I admit, it was rather therapeutic and so naturally I thought it was amazing. Looking back at it, it was terrible of them to do that. I believe. I know there are people who believe in substitution. I don’t. First of all, it’s potentially emotionally damaging. Second of all, when you over-use a memory it loses its emotional impact over time any way cause like everything else in life, we get conditioned to things. So what are you supposed to do when that memory no longer affects you that way?? Also, how are you supposed to stay connected with the other actor if you’re busy thinking about your own memories in your own life aka being in your head. It’s selfish.

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Okay. Clearly, I had a lot to say about that. But I mean the funny thing is, I stuck around that studio for like 6 months because I didn’t know any better. I knew I felt uncomfortable, I knew I wasn’t quite keen on a lot of the techniques and exercises. I didn’t feel safe with the teachers or students. It didn’t feel like I could just be or make a huge fool of myself. I felt very guarded the entire time. And yes, that partly had to do with me and who I was as a person, but a good teacher should be able to inspire and bring you out of your shell. They’re supposed to guide you and make you feel comfortable, to help you grow. I got none of that. I mean, sure I got some good really good feedback and I did get a couple pointers here and there that’ve stuck with me. Mostly they’re now things I know NOT to do or that just aren’t right for me. Everything felt very stuffy and over-analyzed, over-rehearsed, without enough constructive feedback. Wasted time playing theatre games and doing “connective” (but not really) exercises instead of teaching us how to just ACT.

I’ll be honest, after all of that, I was kind of scarred. Apprehensive. It reaffirmed my initial feelings of the classroom environment not being for me. I was hesitant to drop more money on new classes at a studio I had no idea whether I’d like or not. Every studio seemed to have such mixed reviews online. Maybe I was better off to just keep learning by doing. Not knowing any better, I kept doing the things they taught me. Looking back, it made for some very mediocre work.

6-months-later

Fast forward 6-8 months, and by some random chance of fate I was introduced to my acting coach now. And you know what? I haven’t looked back since. Even during that first audit (yes, she makes ALL new students audit before deciding on joining her class- WHAT A REVELATION!!) there was something different about her class. First of all, everyone was so warm, professional and very clearly serious about their craft but there was still a very relaxed feel to it. It was very natural, there was lots of joking and bantering. The beginning of the class was dedicated to general chit chat, a time to tell the class about any updates, things happening in their lives etc. not pointless, ridiculous ‘voice & movement’ exercises.

Then after they were done catching up, it was straight to business. Get centred and just act. Just be present, stay grounded and get into that headspace, then let it play. No prior rehearsals besides running lines with your partner before class. A lot of focus and constructive criticism was put on quality of voice, body positioning, energy, listening/connective-ness, being present/out of your head and just being!

If in the moment you are inclined to clutch a coffee mug, THEN YOU CLUTCH THAT COFFEE MUG.

As long as it’s not contrived and just comes from the moment. Then the latter half of the class is dedicated to practicing a cold read, while staying connected to a scene partner, and that script is then the scene you’ll be performing the next week. We also have a week dedicated to on-camera auditions. All bases covered in one place?

PERFECT!

What? You only spend a week on scenes? And you know what? I’ve done and seen some of the best acting work since. Over-analyzing and being overly technical and over-rehearsed with it is so yesterday’s news. Plus, if you really think about it, a lot of the time actors only get their scripts a couple of days in advance, if not the night before shooting or an audition.

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This class felt safe to me, which has allowed me to grow immensely creatively and emotionally. Don’t get me wrong though, this coach is a fucking hard ass. She yells, she’s blunt and will stop your scene and tell you that you’re doing shit wrong. BUT then she’ll tell you how to fix it. And her intentions are good and her methods actually make SENSE to me. The whole class vibrates with warm, creative energy the second you walk into it. And since then, I’ve grown tenfold, twentyfold as an artist.

I’m not saying the previous methods of teaching were wrong. They just weren’t for me. At all. I’m sure there are a ton of people who love that studio. I’m sure. Whether or not they churn out talent is debatable. Most people I meet now have nothing but negative things to say about them. I mean, to each his own though. I will say this though, since I’ve left, they’ve lost all their teachers (dispute with the owner/founder/master teacher) and have had to completely revamp. That kind of says something.

The best thing I did take away from that first studio is all the the actor/acting stories and industry casting director tips we got. They were all quite amusing and informative. I mean the teachers were really cool people! Just…maybe not the best teachers in the studio that they were at. But despite all that, it was just not worth the 6 months I spent that cost me well over a thousand dollars. I didn’t know any better. I was sticking it out, trying to force myself to conform and get used to this class because I figured this was just the way it was, and I’d have to get used to it.

So here’s my piece of advice: trust your gut. If something feels a little off about the method, the teachers, the students (their attitude is highly influenced by the teachers in charge) or the class atmosphere in general, don’t stick around. Don’t waste your time and money. Don’t ever think that that is the ONLY way to go and there must be something wrong with you cause it doesn’t work for you. There are plenty of other studios and teachers out there with different vibes. Unfortunately there are a lot of bitter and negative teachers out there though, you just have to weed them out. But don’t give up until you find one that provides you with an environment that helps you grow and lifts you up.

You won’t regret it. Hope this helps.

The Aspiring Actress.