Say No to the Americano.

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I’m sure most of you already know this, but for those of you who don’t, this is one worth remembering.

DO NOT CONSUME CAFFEINE BEFORE AN AUDITION.

Not even 4 hours prior. Just. Don’t. Do. It. Trust me. Would I lie to you?

And this is coming from a girl who can fall asleep after a strong cup of Joe. I know it smells so good and it’s so tempting in the morning, especially if you’ve had a long night or week. But to be honest when it comes time to it, the adrenaline from auditioning will be enough to energize you through your audition without the additional help.

See I’ve found that this miraculous thing happens before an audition..where any trace of caffeine in your system will somehow find its way to make merry friends with your nerves. The end result? Disastrous. And no amount of meditation in the world is going to save you from that situation.

The immediate energy you give off when you walk into the audition room will be: crazy, jittery, nervous, all over the place. Whereas, of course, you want to go in calm, collected with high but steady energy.

You end up tripping over lines because your lips can’t catch up with your brain, or vice versa.

OR nailing your lines…at the speed of lightening.

The only time I would recommend it is if you’re going in for a sitcom-y role. Then have it all you like. I personally still wouldn’t do it though. But that’s just me.

And there you have it.

Do you have any funny over-caffeinated/over-excited audition stories to tell?

I’d love to hear them.

The Aspiring Actress.

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Quotespiration # 3: Marilyn Monroe

“Acting isn’t something you do. Instead of doing it, it occurs. If you’re going to start with logic, you might as well give up. You can have conscious preparation but you have unconscious results.”

– Marilyn Monroe (Award-winning Actress and global Hollywood icon)

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Raaaaaaaaging Jealous Bitch.

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That would be me.

I recently read via the The Struggling Actress that when you feel jealous, usually that means there’s something else going on with yourself and that jealousy is a good indicator that perhaps you should be doing something more or differently than you already are. Apparently it makes a heck of a good motivational tool, too.

I can see how that could be.

So right now I’m working on this project that’s fairly cool. It’s an indie. The writing is decent! It really is. It could be CONSIDERABLY worse knowing the load of crap that’s out there..but the real selling points are the idea, characters and the whole premise of the story in general.

Anyway, on every project, there are always the more experienced and less experienced actors. Luckily, all of the actors attached to this project are very talented and I’m not just saying that. This blog is anonymous, after all. And on this particular project, I happen to float right in between experience-wise. Talent-wise, I’m obviously not one to be able to judge.

There is however a girl (there’s always a girl) who is a couple leagues ahead of me in relation to where she’s at in her career. For one, she’s represented by a pretty decent agency in the city. She’s got projects on the go, she writes her own material to star in, she’s extremely confident in who she is as a person and actor.

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Plus, I used to be the centre of the producer’s attention and now I’ve been cast aside! Okay, so that might be a slight exaggeration…but I’m a needy actress and sometimes that’s how it feels. Whether it’s actually true or not, which it probably isn’t. It’s just what my envy-fogged brain interprets. Especially when I’m now always tagged last in twitter mentions!!

I KNOW. I’m clearly insane. It’s TWITTER, for God’s sakes. WHO CARES! Right? I mean I highly doubt the producers seriously put into consideration who they tag first. These are just the kind of crazy thoughts that pop into my head when I’m feeling extra insecure. Ugh. Gross.

The result?

Raging, irrational jealousy that makes me hate myself and sometimes want to kick things and cry. Over-dramatic, you say? I’m an actress, I say.

Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with her as a person. It’s not like she’s arrogant or stuck up, which would give me the perfect reason to hate her. Nope. She’s perfectly nice, albeit a bit awkward in a Kristen Stewart sort of way. It’s part of her charm, really.

Sigh. Girl just really has her shit together (as opposed to myself, obviously).

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On top of that she’s acted opposite of a couple B-list actors in bit roles- yes, I realize it’s a little sad that bit roles get me this worked up but that’s the reality of it at this point in my career. And soon, she will be making her big television debut in a co-star role with (rumour has it) slight promise of becoming a recurring. An episode that she is pretty much the focus of for the entire hour. GAH. This is a very internationally popular series, by the way…some people around the world are already tweeting her about it. Sigh.

She is undoubtedly talented. It’s not that I’m NOT happy for her. I am! I’m also really proud of the fact that this is someone I also get to call a co-star. I whole-heartedly believe everyone in the acting community should be supportive of each other because if not us, who else? Who else gets it besides those of us who live it every day? We need all the support we can get! I truly do believe that.

And I have been supportive. Very. Extremely. Vocally. I’ve even recorded the episode ahead of time to show my support! …and critique for comparison…possibly. Look, deep down, my heart is in the right place! It’s just not always easy, but I’m working on it.

So those comments on The Struggling Actress got me thinking that I maybe..no, that I definitely need to step my game up. Jealousy stagnates you. It stagnates your spirit, all motivation and progress. You get stuck in this perpetual spiral of negativity and jealousy. Really, instead of asking myself, “Why can’t that be me?” I should be asking myself, “Why ISN’T that me?” and do something about it.

There’s always going to be someone better looking than you and more talented (sadly) but if you choose to focus on that, you’ve already taken your eye off the ball. You’ve lost the plot and set yourself back, while the person you are jealous of just keeps moving up and ahead in life. I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to this. But at least i’m aware of it.

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So now I’m here promising myself that I will consciously channel all of this raging jealousy and negative energy towards doing the things that are going to get me to where she is now (and beyond). Because god knows she probably worked her ass off to get there and deserves it.

Sometimes things are easier said then done…I’ll probably have a lapse in attitude when I watch said debut episode, but I’m determined to snap myself out of it and use it towards something positive. To quote a fellow actress/blogger (thank you):

“Don’t get jealous! Get awesomer.”

And even though the photo above talks about ‘good friends’, what it should say is “Actors don’t let jealousy get in the way of celebrating each other’s successes”.

Perfect.

The Aspiring Actress.

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Quotespiration # 2: Albert Einstein

“I’m thankful of all who said no to me. It’s because of them I’m doing it myself.”

Albert Einstein (Theoretical Physicist and renowned genius; Nobel Prize winner, founder of the Theory of Relativity)

To hell with the nay-sayers, I always say.

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Namaste.

I previously wrote about how important it is to ground yourself into your body in order to do good work. So I’d like to share with you a little trick I’ve picked up that has really helped me open my channels up as an actor.

One of those things is yoga.

Yoga, more specifically the meditation portion of yoga, has helped me recognize how it feels to be in that place of openness that is vital to any actor. Luckily, there are other ways you can also achieve this without having to contort your body into weird, foreign positions- in a room heated to 40 degrees if you are a fan of the HOT variety like I am.

Simply give yourself 5 or 10 or how ever many minutes you need to close your eyes and centre yourself into your body. It’s something everyone of all races, ages and religious beliefs (or non-religious beliefs) can do, and if this is something you already do, then good for you! Go make yourself a tea and plop yourself down for a good ol’ session.

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As for the rest of ya…

There’s no need to get cheesy about it. There are no prayers, chants or ohms necessary. All you need is a comfortable space to sit, wherever that may be (I personally prefer to do this on the floor) and get into a comfortable position. I like to sit cross legged. Easy enough, right?

Slowly try to clear your mind but it’s okay if you can’t in the beginning or if you’re having a particularly hectic day. Eventually you will be able to. Draw all attention to your breathing. Take your time as you breathe in deeply, feeling your lungs expand and your body fill up with all this energizing oxygen goodness. Then exhale, and with that let all of your troubles, doubts and judgements follow.

Don’t think, don’t judge, just do! I’m doing you a favour, trust me.

Clear yourself of all the negativity in your life. Always be aware of your body, how you’re positioned, how you feel (not how you think you should feel). Try to sense all of the life and positive energy that is surrounding you, just waiting to be tapped into and drawn from. Bring it in and feel this newfound energy course through your body. Continue to breathe in and out consciously.

Eventually the point is to reach a place of peace and heightened awareness, away from your troubles. A place where ego doesn’t exist. Remember to always stay conscious, you’re not supposed to be falling asleep here.

Keep doing this until you feel you’ve like you’ve gotten what you needed out of it or until you’re so bored (that’s okay too) that you can’t possibly sit a second longer. Open your eyes and feel your body float back down to its core and firmly plant itself onto the ground. Sometimes this is even better than a cup of coffee after a long night (BEEN there).

It’s also remarkable how rejuvenated and open you feel afterwards, even if it felt like the whole time you were so in your head. Chances are, you were probably less in your head than you think. It might take a couple of tries, but when done right, you’ll be ready to do some of your best work from this place. Your body is open, grounded, your mind clear and empty of worries and self-sabatoging thoughts, all you have left is to simply be. You are your own blank canvas. Recognize this place. Remember how it feels. You’ll find yourself returning to it easily without having to sit and meditate for 10 minutes, which is handy when you’re on set and meditating in the middle of the room might garner some looks.

Even if you feel this doesn’t quite help ground your work, it’s certainly a good way (and what I do) to recharge the batteries and relieve some stress in your personal life- and when your instrument is tuned up, so is your work.

And hey, if you enjoy this practice and feel comfortable with it, go ahead and throw in some candles and meditation music. HAVE AT IT. Whatever it takes to make you feel awesome afterward.

Hope this helps in some small way.

Love & Light,

The Aspiring Actress.

The Working Actress.

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I wanted to start The Actress Chronicles out by crediting the blog that inspired its creation: The Working Actress. I’m assuming that many of you in the blog-reading AND acting world have probably heard of or read this blog.

It follows an anonymous actress living in Los Angeles, 5 or so years into her career. In it she gives us tidbits of what it’s like living life as a working actress, the inner lookings into the world of hustle, agents, managers, auditions gone bad, gifting suites and sometimes rubbing shoulders with some very fancy people.

I first read her blog about a year ago and felt an instant connection. She spoke like me, thought like me, had insecurities and neurotic moments like I did. It made me feel less crazy and less alone. Like I wasn’t the only one going through these things and thank god there was someone out there who got it and put it all out there on a public forum! It was so refreshing. And even though her career was lightyears ahead of mine, I could relate and I was glad to know that someone out there understood my highs and lows when it came to my craft, insecurities, ecstatic moments, disappointments and so on, so forth.

Our dear Working Actress has since found fame and success, understandably isn’t quite active on the blogging scene anymore but I’m thankful that her blog still exists for me to go back to whenever I’m feeling in need of an understanding ‘friend’ in the industry.

It has also propelled me to begin this blog, where I hope in the future at least one or two of you out there can look at this the same way. Somewhere to go when you’re feeling bored, lonely, frustrated, in need of inspiration.

That being said, any similarities between this blog and hers are purely coincidental. I’ve been blogging since middle school (can’t you just feel the teenage angst???) up until now under various domains and names so this is very genuinely my style of blogging and writing.

Anyways, without further ado, for those of you who have not heard of The Working Actress, I hope you enjoy this blog as much as I did and do!

With Love,

The Aspiring Actress.

Be Accountable.

Image‘The F Word’: Shailene Woodley for Flaunt Magazine (Sept 2013)

I woke up this morning and the first thing I did was go on the internet on my phone, of course. So I did my usual rounds…Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Google’d random stuff because of the stuff I’d read on the aforementioned social media forums. And some how from said random chain of events, I ended up reading Shailene Woodley’s interview with Interview Magazine. She was interviewed by Emma Stone, no less! Faaaaaaaan girl moment. Anyway…

She said something in her interview that stood out to me and inspired this post.

“…when people recognize you for your work, it feels very awkward and intimidating. I remember after The Descendants, I won an Independent Spirit Award—which was amazing. But then it also led me to this moment of feeling a pressure that I’d never felt before. All of a sudden, people were saying, “I can’t wait to see what you do next!” and “You’re nominated for a Golden Globe!” I was like, “Shit, now I’ve got to be good because you’re going to be watching me?””

I’ve had the luxury of being able to practice my craft in a number of student films. Now, I’m not in any way knocking all of those projects. Some of them were actually very well made all around! The ones I’m referring to are the not-so-well made..the ones that were almost (undeniably) painful to watch.

Were they works of art? Not in the slightest.

Were they cliche? Terribly.

Were they my best work? HELL no.

Were they well made, well put together, well edited? No, no, and no.

Was the writing sometimes a lot of the time shit? Unfortunately, yes.

But I don’t regret it. Not one bit. I learned a lot from those sets and got to do a tremendous amount of networking (hey, don’t forget Woody Allen was once a film student too!)…also, I live comfortably knowing and hoping that these films will never see the light of day. However looking back now, I find that that is and was a very dangerous line for me to tread.

You see, I got used to telling myself these projects were just ‘for practice’ and that nobody would ever see them anyway. If I felt like I did poorly, I would blame the script, the director, the lighting, the other actor..and I’m sure that on some level all those things did play a part but let’s be honest, it was all just a big massive excuse for my lack of commitment and connectivity to the character. I was operating on such a shallow plane, even in my own life. Not that I was a shallow person, but my entire being was floating up in La-La Land. I wasn’t grounded in my own body, my own being. I wasn’t digging down deep into my roots. I was lacking a solid base from which well-rounded characters are born.

Even now that I’m aware of this, I still find moments where I forget and slip back into just reciting lines rather than living them. I was saying the right words with the right inflections, they sounded right but felt empty. It’s the difference between the feeling you get when you watch an actor cry because he or she is truly living and embodying their character’s grief versus the actor who is crying because they’ve perfected the art of crying on cue. There’s a difference! (I’m not crazy, right?) And the root of this emptiness came down to two reasons for me: Laziness and Distraction.

Laziness. Because it’s a lot easier NOT to connect with the other actor. To not spend time feeling and investing in the emotions because guess what? As every actor should know, it’s exhausting. It takes a lot out of you to truly feel, emote and be in the moment take after take after take. It’s so easy for your mind to just take to the back burner after a while.

I already have enough crap going on in my own life, now I have to take on someone else’s feelings too!? (Uh, yeah…that’s kind of what you signed up to do when you decided you wanted to be an actor. Duh..)

It makes you feel like shit. It makes me feel angry and frustrated knowing that there’s so much more that I can give. We can all sense when we’ve reached our full potential or not, or if we’ve even begun to tap into it. And when this happens, you absolutely have to find ways to bring yourself out of that lazy haze. When I find myself pulling back mentally and emotionally, I remind myself why I wanted to do this in the first place. I tell myself that I’m not giving the character and story (which is why I started acting in the first place) the justice they deserve. And honestly, I was doing myself a disservice as the CEO of the business of my being an actor and I was doing a disservice to everyone else involved by wasting their time. What helps is remembering the films, the people and listening to the music (even if it’s just in my head) that inspire me. And if I have the time, actually watching those movies and TV shows and interviews of the people who inspire me and listening to the music that makes me feel and feel alive the day/night before a shoot, audition, or acting class.

And presto. Just like that. The magic is back.

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Distractions. Anyone who has ever worked on a set where the people you’re working with are presumably pleasant might understand this as well. I get distracted! I get distracted by the other actor, the make up artist, the director, the sound person etc etc. It’s perfectly natural to want to banter and chat and get to know each other and joke between takes. Sometimes even the boredom of the lull between takes is equally as distracting when you’re just sitting by yourself, running through lines or texting on your phone. It kind of makes you lose a lot of your momentum and steam. But that’s all well and fine!…as long as you’re aware of it and have the ability to quickly bring yourself back to centre, back to where the magic lives. But for someone like me, who at the time had NO idea how to do this, I just got…well, distracted.

It’s hard to go from laughing and being completely YOU, consumed by ego and all the fluff that comes with being human to dropping all of that and becoming a different person/character/being, or going from being bored out of your mind to suddenly having to put on an inspired, sparkly, lively performance. The good news is, it’s not impossible and gets SO MUCH easier with a little conscious effort.

Ever since I found the acting coach I’m with now, I’ve grown leaps and bounds as an artist. I’ve learned how to ground myself when the time calls for it, and to sense when I’m all “up in the air” and not doing my best work. The difference is staggering. There’s a kind of magic that happens when you’re wholly in your body, when your head is clear of all extraneous thoughts, when your channels are open to all kinds of emotion and you can simply just be. A big part of that was also learning to forgive myself. To not be so hard on myself if I messed up. It took some of the pressure off, and from there it opened up the channels that allowed me to really play. To have fun, to be honest and in the moment like we were as kids, back when there was no bullshit, no ego and insecurity to get in the way.

Okay. Now, what was the point of this whole post and HOW does it tie back to Shailene’s interview, you say???

Yes, well what I wanted to get at is I didn’t really start making a consistent effort at being at the top of my game ALWAYS until I started getting involved with projects that would actually be SEEN by people. That’s kind of when it really hit me and made me feel like Oh, shit. This could very well be out there forever to be viewed by the public. Is that really the work I want to represent myself?? As you all know, first impressions are (almost) everything. So it really resonated with me when I read this particular quote:

“Shit, now I’ve got to be good because you’re going to be watching me?”

The answer is yes. The answer is yes even when there aren’t people watching.

No more slacking off, or copping out of an emotional scene because “nobody’s watching” and ESPECIALLY not when people will be! Even if nobody IS watching, it’s not an excuse.

Have pride in your work no matter what you do. Whether you are even an actor or not, this applies to many careers.

Have pride in your work even when the writing is shitty and the other actor sucks or is a jerk and the director doesn’t know what the eff he’s doing. Don’t bring yourself down to their level, instead try to bring them up to yours…you know when you work with a really talented person, and suddenly you’re doing better and more inspired work? BE THAT PERSON FOR OTHER PEOPLE.

Have pride in your work even if you might not be getting paid for it or are getting hardly getting anything worthwhile.

Have pride in everything you do so that you do it WELL and don’t end up depressed, stuck in bed wallowing for a week because you saw yourself do some shitty work and now you’re contemplating whether you’re even a halfway decent actor or if you should just close up shop and go become an accountant or whatever it is that tickles your “stable-job fancy”.

Have pride in your work so you can be confident in what you do. At least if the project tanks, you know that you put forth your best work and it tanked for reasons outside of your bearings.

TRUST ME when I say that this saves a lot of grief, regret, time wasted and actor-prone self pitying.

Have pride in your work. Never accept anything less than the best from yourself. Be accountable. Because when it comes to your craft and future, you’re the only one who will be.

And if you’re one of those self-sabotaging actors, well then I will hold you accountable. So there.

Love & Light,

The Aspiring Actress.

Welcome to the [aspiring] Actress Chronicles. (cont’d)

I’m what many would consider still very “green”, although not completely useless (or so my mom says).

In the past year and a half, I would say I’ve accumulated quite a fair amount of knowledge within the industry through personal experience and learning from others around me who have been in the industry for quite some time. During this period, I’ve also added 21 indie and student film credits to my resume. All speaking, non-background roles.

This is my way of learning by doing, which I prefer over spending 4 years at theatre/film school. It is my opinion that in most cases, schools tend to suck the creativity and fun out of the arts- not that it doesn’t have plenty of its own merits. It’s perfectly okay if you disagree!

Currently, I am attached to 2 ongoing low budget indie projects, with particularly high hopes for one of them (fingers crossed). So all in all, I’m not doing too badly for someone who’s only been at it for such a relatively short period of time but there’s still a lot for me to learn and a lot I haven’t experienced.

When people ask me why I got started in acting and film, the cynical side of me assumes that they are expecting a vapid, shallow answer because nobody takes aspiring ‘actors’ seriously. Whether that is true or not, there’s still a sense of discomfort I feel when asked that question because I feel I am more likely to give an inadequate, generic answer than give the long-winded but personally meaningful answer that they probably don’t care to hear. However this is my blog, so I can type as I please!

As a child, I was extremely creative and sensitive even though my environment wasn’t the most nurturing place for either of those traits. I’ve always been the type to get lost in stories, be it on screen or in the form of novels- I was obsessed with all mediums of story telling and the art of creating new worlds. I have also always been very self-aware, self-reflective and have a deep-rooted interest in how people work, why they do what they do, understanding their motives and emotions with the propensity to people watch for hours on end- hence why I also almost chose to go into the field of psychology. I’ve written almost all my life- they say that writers are actors who are just too shy. Well, I used to be shy and consciously worked on out-growing that trait for years…and before you know it, ta-da! An actor was born.

Now that all of that has been said and done, these are my goals for the next year:

– Audition MORE for everything I can get my hands on
– Attend more workshops and networking events for actors
– Get new headshots (ones that I like this time so as to not waste $500 AGAIN- more on that another day)
– Put a bomb ass demo reel together (maybe I’ll post a list of potential scenes in another entry)
– Score one of the city’s top agents/agencies (I don’t care about rosters and agency size, I care about clout and whether the right working chemistry is there)
– Take up a bunch cool new hobbies to add to my “skills” (take THAT every-one-who’s-ever-put-me-to-shame with their vaaaaast “skills” list on their resume…you know what I’m talking about)
– Maybe lose like 30 pounds (no, I promise I don’t have an eating disorder nor would I ever promote it, this is all very honest criticism from a health, personal and career standpoint)
– Blog about my journey regularly, even when there’s nothing to blog about
– Inspire myself through this blog, if not other people

Love & Light,

The Aspiring Actress.

P.S. Part of becoming a great actor is by having a rich life outside of acting, so while acting is my passion and dream, I also have interests in other areas such as business and entrepreneurship that I will probably also be chronicling. …maybe I should’ve just named this The Chronicles of a Twenty-Something Female. ..Hmmmm.