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Quotespiration # 26: Mark Ruffalo

“It’s been mythologised now but it started with about 600 auditions without success…most smart people would have quit when it takes that long.”

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– Mark Ruffalo (Emmy Award winning film and theatre actor; two-time Academy Awards nominee; Golden Globes nominee)

There comes a dreaded time in every creative’s life when fear overshadows hope. I was running away for a long time, unsure of what I was doing, why or if I should continue before I even ever really began. I gave myself excuses, telling myself I was too busy or tired or “not as talented as that other person”. But it’s all bullshit, and I know it. I’ve known it but I haven’t had the balls to face it. I’ve known that I’m scared and lazy, and I know that a change needs to be made.

Long story short, during my time away (one year now to be exact), I pondered every aspect of my life. “Do I miss it?” “Is it worth getting back into?” And the answer is, Yes. The answer is always yes. Even if you don’t believe it right now or lack the inspiration and motivation. Just do it. Just do it and see how it feels. Just do it and let that momentum guide you. And if even doing doesn’t inspire you, then perhaps your passions have changed. And that’s okay, it happens. People grow and evolve.

But if this is still what you want, then don’t let irrational fears overshadow your dreams. Don’t keep telling yourself “tomorrow” because you’ll be repeating that broken record until you’re dead. If you’re a perfectionist and overthink things like me, you’re never going to feel pretty enough, qualified enough, brave enough … but you can sure as hell pretend. At the end of the day, you only have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Even if it’s takes 600 auditions. 600 classes. 600 free jobs. 600 hours, days, months. Be brave, suck it up, take some criticism, brush the dirt off your shoulder and keep going.

Yours Truly,

The Aspiring Actress.

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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.

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

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When I first started acting, I was eager to jump into a class. Any class. But at $200-500 a month for classes held once a week, I realized I had a lot of careful contemplating to do. I wanted to try ’em all but which to try out first?? I didn’t have the time to audit all these classes. I never did make a decision thanks to my indecisiveness, but luckily after chatting to a couple actors I’d met on student film projects, the decision making process was made to be a lot easier for me.

I was pretty sure I’d made the right choice. I heard some fantastic feedback from a couple of actors, this place sounded perfect, not to mention these classes were 6 weeks long- clearly I would be taking more away from it than a 4 week class! I was surely on my way to acting enlightenment! I got so excited about attending these classes, that for about 2 weeks prior to my first day I obsessively scoured every inch of their website for every detail I could find on their teachers, their methods, philosophies, techniques. They also had an extensive YouTube channel, so I spent hours watching all of the videos, which I’d found very informative and exciting. The founder of the school seemed to be so passionate and had so many interesting stories to tell, it was hard not to be affected by it.

My first day there wasn’t quite what I was expecting but still, I was going to go with it. This was my first acting class ever! What did I know about how these things work? The teacher was pretty cute too, which didn’t hurt…though it did make it harder for me to relax and feel less self conscious about myself. Everybody seemed nice enough. There were students of all ages, genders and kinds of character. It did make me nervous not knowing what ‘levels’ they were at. Were they all experienced actors? Was I the only newbie?

Anyways. Looking back at that first class, it kind of felt like a waste of time. Like it was purposely there to waste that first week out of the six. He went through the basic principles they believed in, which was all great. Then we spent a lot of time just chatting. Then we sat around a table and read our new scripts out loud with our chosen scene partners. In this class, we only got to work on one scene the entire six weeks. I mean I’m guessing this is the norm in many acting classes? Spending 6 weeks on one scene. At the time for a newbie actor, this was perfectly fine. I probably needed all that time to get to know the character.

The next couple of weeks were dedicated to playing theatre games, analyzing our characters technically with very specific questions we were given (this was our ‘homework’), rehearsing the scenes we got and then finally putting them “up” in our last week while a person filmed around us with a camcorder.

First of all, I’ve never been a fan of “theatre games” (sorry, I mean “voice & movement exercises” *eye roll*). Not since I got a feel for them in my high school drama classes. I mean I get it. I get why they’re done. To open you up, loosen your body, help you relax, get out of your mind, learn to stay present and you know, cause everyone else is making themselves look like a douche bag, it’s okay if you do too! I didn’t have too much of a problem with them, except it was a little annoying when we spent half the class doing these exercises when we could’ve been working on you know…acting.

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There are also days where, guess what! I don’t FEEL like being particularly active or social and just want to be left alone and get down to business. So you forcing me to dance and make weird noises and faces at people is COMPLETELY LUDICROUS. To be honest, it would really turn me off of going to class. I also noticed that there were people who would just never get comfortable with it. The self-consciousness and inability to let go just oozed out of their pores, and it was painful to watch. Why are you making these people who are clearly already very uncomfortable participate in an uncomfortable exercise that’s kind of, somewhat humiliating? It’s like forcing the kid with stage fright to become the lead in the annual school play. You just don’t do that. You give him a one-liner and build his confidence up by making him feel safe but like he’s still doing something.

Another exercise they had us do was to partner up with somebody, stand like an inch from their face and just stare into their eyes for 5 minutes and “connect”.

Uhh…okay.

Meanwhile I’m thinking maybe I shouldn’t have had garlicky pasta leftovers for lunch…

I also don’t like the whole partnering up thing. It reminds me of middle school, that awkward feeling when someone is clearly scrambling to find a partner cause he/she wasn’t anybody’s first choice. Then we’d have to tell each other things such as our deepest fears, our regrets, what our goals are in life, what we liked and didn’t like about ourselves. Talk about a breach of privacy. After that the teacher would have us tell the other person three words we thought described them based on first impressions. There’s nothing worse than someone telling you you seem like a “really nice person” because they clearly know nothing about you and don’t know what else to say. Nice? You think I’m NICE? That’s so…boring. And I was a bit passive aggressive back then, so I’d fire back with an equally mundane description. HA! Take that. PFFT.

Sometimes though people would seriously say things that made you go like, “What???” Things that were a little offensive to me, but I couldn’t blame them if they were forced to make uninformed judgements about me based on..nothing. So I didn’t take it too personally, but clearly I was not a fan of the exercise. And also, what is the point exactly?? They said it helps you connect with the other actor. But in what sense? I did not feel connected at all. In fact, I felt judged and uncomfortable.

In the 4th and 5th weeks, we got to rehearse our scenes in the latter half of class and were given feedback by the teacher. In those weeks, we’d also have to meet up with our scene partners to rehearse outside of class. Bitch, who got time for that?! Having to meet with my scene partner on my own time outside of class so that we could over-rehearse a piece, as beginners, with no guidance? Sounds like the perfect situation for bad habits to be formed. We might as well have been headless chickens feigning to know which direction we were headed. I mean, looking back, we were doing so much that was wrong when rehearsing on our own, that it really was just a waste of time. But sigh, I must digress. At the time, I thought this was the shit. I felt so actor-y. Whoop dee doo.

I also got some very strange feedback during the times we got to rehearse in class. This was a living room scene, mind you:

“Why did you decide to hold the coffee cup in your hands?”

“Uh…I don’t know. It just felt right? I mean she’s sitting at home and stuff and the coffee cup was there…isn’t that the kind of stuff you do at home, talking to your friend?”

“No. You can’t do something like that without a reason. Is there a reason your character is holding a drinking cup?”

“Um…no. I guess not.”

“Then don’t do it.”

“Okay.”

[CONT’D]

Here’s Meryl Streep’s Spot-On Advice About Being a Woman

Meryl Streep’s word of advice to aspiring actors.

TIME

Meryl Streep just added another accolade to her already crowded resume: an honorary doctoral degree from Indiana University. Despite being a Vassar graduate, Streep is a Hoosier by association because of her marriage to sculptor Don Gummer, who studied at IU.

After being given the honor, the three-time Oscar winner sat down for a conversation with professor Barbara Klinger. Streep was her predictable amazing self, dropping knowledge nuggets about getting started in Hollywood, being an actress over 50 and that time she had pizza at the Oscars. Also, apparently her fans are called Streepers. Who knew?

But she hit a home run when she offered advice to people, specifically young women, who want to make it in the entertainment industry:

“For young women, I would say, don’t worry so much about your weight. Girls spend way too much time thinking about that, and there are better things. For young men…

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Perks of Being a Wallflower + Logan Lerman

This doesn’t really have much to do with anything per se, but I just spent my morning re-watching The Perks of Being a Wallflower movie and just HAD to say this.

I’M IN LOVE WITH LOGAN LERMAN.

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And it sounds ridiculous even to me because I have never ever ever understood fandom and fan-girling over actors. I’m not one to really swoon and obsess, also he’s younger than I am and I know he’s kinda short. But damn. I CAN’T HELP MYSELF!! There’s something about his eyes. Sigh.

So there. I just had to get that out there. I love him. He’s awesome. At the very least, I would love to work with him one day. Girl can dream. It’ll happen.

But on a different note, Perks of Being a Wallflower is probably one of my current favourite movies. It’s the kind of movie I would’ve so connected with (even more) when I was in high school. It would’ve been nice to have that. It touched upon a lot of issues that I think many teens and young adults can relate to. Having to deal with your sexuality as a teenager and what that means, how prevalent sexual abuse is and its emotional impacts, emotional/mental abuse in relationships, physical abuse, experimenting with drugs, the loneliness of being a teenager or an outsider, the loneliness you can feel no matter how many people you’re surrounded by if they don’t understand you, complex relationship dynamics between friends, family and lovers, mental illness, rejection, the list goes on. I don’t know how he did it but the director (Stephen Chbosky) managed to capture such depth within the story and in all the characters that while I was watching it I felt like I was there, like those could’ve been my friends, that could’ve been me. It probably was.

I also don’t have enough praises to sing about the actors. Everybody did a phenomenal job. Not ever in a scene was a character flat, boring or one-dimensional and they also managed to stay believable throughout the whole movie- which is not always easy to do when it comes to such a relatively young cast. And even though Emma Watson’s accent does get a little shaky (also what American uses the word shag? I wonder if she ad-libbed that one), the emotions were there, and you could see that she was there for her co-stars emotionally through the vulnerable moments, and that’s really what matters at the end.

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Of course to tie the story and characters all together, the soundtrack was just impeccably put together. Every track held the essence of the scenes and just elevated the entire emotional impact of the movie for me. It took me along on its journey. In fact, I have the soundtrack on coloured vinyl. It really is amazing. You know a soundtrack is good when every song brings you back to an exact moment in the exact scene from the movie.

I also appreciate the fact that the movie took its time, it wasn’t rushed or dragged. I didn’t leave full of questions about apparent plot holes or character inconsistencies. So many movies these days have such great ideas but for whatever reason (actors? script? music?) just never quite arrive “there” with me emotionally. I know the impact they’re trying to make, but they often time fall short, the story feels empty. So it’s a nice to see a movie that does make it happen. A movie that isn’t just made for entertainment, but is a story that effectively illustrates and highlights parts of humanity, and manages to make it relatable to its viewers. That’s what movies are supposed to be about, aren’t they? Dissecting humanity and the human experience and giving us an up-close look.

I do wish, however, that they’d left Nina Dobrev’s abortion scenes in the movie. It showed such a sweet and touching dynamic between brother and sister. It also would’ve really helped in illustrating the chemistry between herself and Logan as siblings that I think was a bit lacking in the movie cause she was hardly in it. It’s also nice to see that Nina is capable of showing a slightly broader range and playing a character outside of the one on The Vampire Diaries. From what I understand this was a ratings issue, so I do understand. And there’s always the director’s cut!

So that is all I have to say. Perks is a beautifully vulnerable movie that I would recommend to anyone. If you haven’t seen it or read the book, do give it a go when you have the chance. I promise you, you won’t regret it. It also gives me hope as an actor that there is still meaningful material out there, and hopefully I’ll have the luck of getting to be a part of those projects one day soon.

Happy Friday, everybody 🙂

The Aspiring Actress.