Friday, August 29, 2014

An Actress Learns to Network Part One

Baby steps. 

Ugh!! How many times exactly do I have to hear about the power of friggin' networking?!! I mean come on....I guess enough times as it takes for me to realize that it could actually be worth it. By now we all know that the only way to make it in this biz is to network. It's all we hear about. For some, like me, this induces a deep feeling of dread. I mean, I'm great when it comes to meeting people on set and staying in contact with those I've worked with, but the thought of speaking to people whom I don't know in the least is daunting. Especially in a party-like setting. However, it apparently isn't enough to connect with those you meet naturally, like on set, auditions,or in class. You have to go to these special events where industry will be present and try to make genuine connections with people you don't know. And not just actors, but those who could potentially give you acting jobs. (I mean, that is the point, right?) It's risky!! Lol. I have my moments, when I'm completely comfortable or excited about something, of being talkative and outgoing, but for the most part I'm an introvert. It takes a lot of energy for me to "be on" and make interesting conversation with even people I know, let alone strangers. (Of course, it's worth it for people I like <wink and a smile>.) When I'm at my day job I'm forced to talk to customers. The thing is I can do it very well and sometimes actually enjoy it. The other thing is that it drains me completely. It can take a lot for me to think of things to say on the spot. 

I wrote in a post earlier this year (or the end of last year) that I would make an effort to attend some of these networking events. (Premieres and screenings don't count since I already know half of the people in attendance.) However, the thought of going to a party, picking out someone to speak to, and then actually going over to them and introducing myself typically makes me want to throw up. Especially when actors can be known to be desperate creatures. And I definitely don't want to be seen as desperate. Or as disingenuous. Or as a bumbling idiot. 

Also, I've always wondered if networking in this way is really truly necessary. Like, do actors really make connections at these events that prove to be valuable in the future? And by valuable, I don't only mean jobs. A valuable connection could also be meeting an amazing photographer who will cut you a great deal on headshots. It could be meeting an acting coach or a manager. It could even be meeting an actor who has a manager or coach who is currently taking on new clients. You never know. But, because of my fears, and lack of belief that these mixers actually produce any fruitful connections, I've always kind of blown off invites to industry parties. I say "kind of" because I do briefly consider attending before sending the email to the trash bin. 

Cut to lately. Despite a mostly productive 2014, I've been a little down. Up until the end of July I was constantly booked and busy to the point that I was a little happy when things slowed down a bit. It's nice to have time to jog and cook with my husband. Still, there has been a nagging feeling deep inside that I need to take more steps, different steps, to boost my career. This feeling comes from the fact that even though I have supporting roles in independent films that are available on DVD, I still have to depend on a "survival" job. I'm still not making much money acting (or any really). I guess the realization really hit this year how much it takes to actually make a living acting. Every time I'm rushing to my job in retail to make it on time so I won't get in trouble there is a voice inside telling me that nothing I've done acting wise has amounted to anything or ever will. It's telling me that my talent isn't good enough to make a living doing what I love. This isn't true of course, but it's sometimes there and not only does it shake my confidence to the core but it also destroys my inspiration. Hence the reason (one of the reasons) I haven't blogged since February. 

I've been racking my brains trying to figure out what to do in order to give my career an edge over the competition. I have faith in God, but in time likes these my faith is tried and it's honestly hard to hang on. Praying for guidance and not getting answers is tough. For me, there are so many places for an actor to go that it's overwhelming. There are classes,  workshops, one-on-ones with casting directors, one-on-one with agents, and the list goes on! The choices swirl around in my head and it's impossible for me to decide and I end up doing nothing. Of course, that is God's plan sometimes; for us to wait on Him (patiently) to give us clear direction. It's harder than it sounds. Lol. But I know from past choices that I would much rather wait on Him than waste money and time on something that isn't right for me. 

Once I (kinda) let go, the answer became clear to me that I should attend a networking event. But which one? Now that I actually wanted to go to one, there didn't seem to be any coming up. Well, literally a couple days after I made this decision, I received an invite to one which occurred earlier this week. I knew I would be off of work night, it was free of charge, and my guts told me that this one was the one to start with. 

As the days grew closer to the evening, I was feeling extremely anxious, but also determined. And when the evening arrived and I was on my way, I was actually feeling excited and hopeful. I knew that even if I didn't get the courage to speak to any one, that I would at least get a taste of it and something positive would happen. But as I sat on the bus to NYC something else arose inside of me; a confidence and a knowing that I would reach out and meet someone new. I already had a fellow actress and friend who would be meeting me there, which took some (very little) of the edge off. And chances were one of us would run into somebody we knew. It didn't happen, but still...

I was surprised at how much fun I had and much easier it was than thought it would be. Sure there were moments of awkwardness, but I realized quickly that everyone there was in the same situation I was. My friend and I made it a challenge to speak to people, almost like a game, and we had a blast; even exchanged a few business cards. The key is to let things happen naturally. You make eye contact with someone, smile, then someone says hello. It's kinda like dating. Lol. The hardest part for me was knowing when and how to end each conversation, ask to swap cards, and move on to the next meeting. You want each interaction to be genuine but not too long. You want to make an impression, but, after all, we are all there to meet different people. And of course, you have to leave yourself open so that each interaction can take on a life of it's own. I'm confident that this skill will get easier with time. Although I only made a few connections that night, it was a great start for me personally. I was happy to have a few follow up emails to send the next day. 

The most amazing thing to me is how proud I feel of myself and how happy I feel. I feel so inspired at the moment. I even felt absolutely content while at work last night. Facing your fears and trying something different is extremely fulfilling. I know I want this career bad enough that I am willing to step outside of my comfort zone. I also know that God will continue to lead me and help me. I have to say that I can't wait until the next industry mixer!! I will definitely post about any connection that leads to a career boost. 


P.S. If you are in NYC visit www.localtalentconnect.com to find out more about this particular mixer I attended. They occur once a month and are free to attend. LTC is for artists and entertainers of all kinds. The organization has members from all over the world and you can join them on Facebook to receive updates. 

Happy networking!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Indi.com for Actors and Artists

Hi guys!! Today I want to tell you about a cool website where actors and artists can share their passion and talents with their peers AND get a chance to win great prizes; Indi.com. A very talented actor friend of mine, John Henry Soto, discovered their site recently and he has since become one of their spokesmodels, or stars. And now, I want to share Indi.com as well. This site isn't only for actors, but for other artists as well. I have seen challenges for chefs, rock stars, comedians, improv artists, filmmakers, and several others. I highly recommend you check them out and check often. They are always posting new challenges. That being said, I entered my first Indi.com contest this past weekend and my video was accepted!!! There will be cash prizes for the three videos with the most votes, but the most exciting part is that each video will also be viewed by a top Hollywood casting director. She will also choose a winner. For me, the opportunity was too great to pass up whether win or lose. My work will be seen by a  casting director!!! That's enough for me and who knows what will happen.
So I am asking please for your votes and support. It's easy to sign up/in and you can vote once a day till next Monday. Thank you greatly in advance. And  don't forget to check out their stars and their current challenges. Thank you!!!

my first video for Indi.com

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

My Goals and Plans for 2014


Welcome 2014!!! Woohoo! Can you tell I'm excited?!! And I hope you are too. We have a whole new year to make what we want of it. I'm gonna make this post short and sweet since I've been posting a lot lately. I'm going with a simple plan for my acting career for this year. I have only two main goals and a plan to reach each of them. 

Goal #1: Join SAG-AFTRA. FINALLY. 

The Plan: Work extra shifts at my survival job as much as I'm able. (I'm eligible to join, I just need the dollars.) Of course working more also means I will probably have to stop doing too many non-paying roles unless they give me some advantage to my career, or I've worked with the director before, or I know him/her. And I'm okay with that. 

Goal #2: Book a major on-camera role. 

The Plan: Take more classes. I'm already signed up for one in Feburary with a well-known indie film casting director. I can't wait!! 

So that's it! And I have to say so far so good. Yes, I know it's only been two weeks. Lol. Now you can get back to working on your New Year's goals. I wish all my readers the best this year!! Let's do everything we can to stay focused. God bless you all!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Looking Back Over Last Year's Accomplishments

Wow, a new year has officially begun and looking back over 2013 I'd say I had a pretty good year acting wise. Despite a few slow periods, I was for the most part busy. I even booked me a few paying gigs. 

I'm not even really sure where to start. Obviously I can't mention every single thing I worked in or that would make for a pretty boring article. I'll just mention a couple of the bigger/more special things I did and talk about some new things I started doing this past year. 

I will start with film. 
Features:
I finished filming Jim Terriaca's Apex Rising in which I play a half-breed zombie human. It's a film about society, human nature, corruption, and the will to survive. I'm so looking forward to the premiere in 2014. 

I began working in Joe Ciminera's latest supernatural horror film, Venial. I'm so excited to be taking on the lead role in this one. It's my fifth project with Joe and the first time I'll be doing an English accent in a role! 

Shorts:
I was blessed to work in several short films this past year. I'll just mention a few. "Sarah's Silence," in which I play a concerned social worker who makes a startling discovery in the home of a little girl, marked my first booking in a SAG indie. "Dark Romance," in which I play a sweet but deeply twisted receptionist, was filmed as part of the NYC 48Hr Film Contest. I've mentioned before how badly I've always wanted to work in one of those. I play a kindergarten teacher who makes a horrible mistake in the groundbreaking film "The Shattered Mind," which follows a deaf, African-American teenage girl on her journey of self-discovery. One more I want to mention is "The Awakening of Deena Harris." In this film, I play a pregnant woman who is fighting badly with her husband while being observed by the main character. Every role I get to play is special, but there were a lot of girls at that audition. And I'm sure they were all extremely talented. So it meant so much to me to get chosen for this part. At the audition, we had the choice to do our own monologue or read from one provided by the director. I followed my instincts and performed my own (from a film I worked in last year actually) and it payed off. Each of these films have been or are currently being submitted to film festivals. "Sarah's Silence" won the Audience Choice Award in the Once a Week On-line Film Festival earlier in the year. 

Just one more important short film before I move on; Redemption, written and directed by Ryan Callaway. We still have a couple scenes left to shoot and this has been one of my favorite and most challenging roles yet; playing top defense attorney to the gangsters, Leslie Walsh. I've never really played a character like her before, and I feel so honored that Ryan had faith in me to take her on. It has definitely given me more confidence in submitting to similar roles. 

Web/TV:
I worked in this awesome web-series called "Tales from the Dark," another Joe Ciminera production. I had a guest-starring role in one episode of this Twilight Zone-ish show which has received hundreds of thousands views on-line. I heard recently that the show actually aired on television throughout Texas. Although I couldn't find any evidence of that fact, it's pretty cool knowing it could be true. 

I had super fun playing a hipster in a pilot by Ryan Darden called "The Supernatural Survival Guide," about a zombie apocalypse. I recently found out from researching that the pilot was an official selection in the Independent TV Film Festival that took place in Vermont this year. Can't wait for bigger things to come for this production. 

Another pilot I booked hasn't made it into production yet but I want to mention it because I put so much prep work into the character before the audition, that when I booked the role I was thrilled. It is a comedy called "Office Madness," and you can pretty much guess from the title what it is about. My character was a cooky receptionist named Lisa who tries to be the office psychiatrist. Again, this was another completely new character role for me and I'm still holding on to hope that it will be produced. 

So not only did I get to work in several great projects, the quality of the projects I am working in is going up. I am now at the level where most of the things I am doing are seriously being submitted into film festivals. Next thing you know, those films will become official selections and then possibly get nominated for awards or receive attention. (Hopefully that begins to happen anyways. I've learned to focus on the work and the process, not any potential outcome.) One of my films, The Watchers, also by Ryan Callaway, recently found distribution which may mean Netflix and further DVD sales. (Congrats to Ryan btw!!!) So to me, that is progress. And even though I may not have booked anything major (as in the general public knows about it), I am still moving up. 

This past year was also a great year for networking for me. I am getting comfortable with exchanging business cards and connecting more with other actors on social media. I had more events to attend than usual and enjoyed every second of it. They included a movie premiere, a few film festivals, and a film fundraising party. And if all goes well, I should have even more to attend in 2014. 

So that's it! And I already have a few projects lined up for 2014. I am happy to say that I realized especially in 2013 how much I love the entire process of becoming an actor. I love the hustle, the searching for castings, the networking, the auditioning, and every other part of it. Which is good because that is what will sustain me in the journey. I may have said this in an earlier post, but Happy 2014 everyone!!! Keep following your dreams! Will be posting my goals and plans for this year shortly. 

                                



Sunday, December 29, 2013

My 2013 Report Card: Did I Do What I Said I Would...

Well, umm, kinda. As I was reading over my my 2013 goals and plans post, I realized I did do a lot of the things I set out to do but not 100%. Here's the rundown:

Plan #1- Choose quality when it comes to my materials. I think I stuck to this one pretty well. I chose a photographer I really wanted to work with and then had my prints done at a more reputable company than the one I had previously used. Also, recently I discovered a new company--through networking--to order my business cards from. It's called moo.com. They are more pricey than Vistaprint but from what I've seen, I think they will be gorgeous!! (Will post pics when I get them!) Also, I am getting professional slate shots done next week for my Actors Access account, whereas normally I would just get my husband to shoot something on the good ole iPhone 5. I'm super proud of myself for that one.  

Plan #2- To use social media more. I tried. I really did. I just find it difficult to post when tired or busy. Then there are times when I'm afraid people don't really care so I just stay quiet. I give myself a C(-) for this one. I will be better next year though. Promise. 

Plan #3- To work on my craft more between gigs and classes. I don't think I did this as much as I could. Luckily, despite a couple of slow periods, I usually did have something to work on though. So I was, for the most part, constantly practicing and rehearsing. Still, I need work to my monologues more definitely. 

Plan #4- To eat healthier, work out more, and always be in style. Ummm, don't think I did this one. I'm still trying to lose 10lbs so there is the evidence. Lol. Again, it's on next year's list. I'm always pretty conscience about what I wear though. Again, unless I'm tired and have been working and my feet hurt or I'm just running out to get coffee in the morning. So that part is neither here not there I guess. 

Plan #5- To go from a full-time position to a part-time position at my survival job. Well, that one I can say I did 100% and it's been blissful. And the cool thing is that when I don't have any acting going on I can pick up shifts. Like during the holidays for instance. 

Aside from these plans, I also mentioned three goals that I would have liked to accomplish. They were as follows:

Goal #1- Book a national or regional commercial. 
Goal #2- Get a commercial agent. 
Goal #3- Book a SAG indie film. 

Well....the thing is that I worked in several indie films this year and kinda forgot about the commercial thing. Not really forgot, but lost focus on. So I didn't reach goal 1 or 2. However, I did book a SAG indie film. It was a short and not a feature but I'll take it. 

So I did okay as far as what I had planned goes. But thank The Lord for another year coming. Lol. Overall though, I did have a very good year and I will be writing my year in review post soon. I do think I "truly embraced being an actress" this past year. I'm much more open about my work. This career is in my bones. I feel it deep down. I am an actress. It is my lifestyle.

I will also be posting my plans/goals for 2014. So you should be hearing from me quite often during the next couple weeks. Thanks for reading guys! As always, feel free to comment and share links to your blogs or work!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The End of 2013 aka Crunch Time

There are only a few days left in 2013 and I am not letting it go with out a fight. With nothing really going on in the acting world right now, I have been using these couple of weeks to make sure I have a great start in 2014. First of all, that means picking up extra hours at work. I want to join SAG next year and I want to take more classes so that means I need the extra money. I'm also taking advantage of all the holiday sales on actor services. Actors Access is giving 50% off media uploads so I added some new footage. NYCastings is also giving a discount on reel services so I have booked an appointment to get a couple of slate shots done for my Actors Access account (kind of ironic right?). I have just ordered new business cards and last week I took an agent meeting class at CnC Studios. I'm also already signed up for a three week acting class in February with casting director Brette Goldstein. So you see, I am going out with a bang!

That doesn't mean I'm not enjoying the holidays though! I am! And we all should find some time to relax and enjoy our loved ones. But I just want to make sure I am more than ready for 2014. Because it's gonna be a ground breaking kind of a year. ;-) 

Happy Holidays!!Be Thankful And Follow Your Dreams


Happy Holidays everyone!!! I know this is a busy time of year for most of you. As the year is about to end, this is typically the time to reflect upon the things we are grateful for and also reflect upon which goals we accomplished this year. (Yes, year in review post coming soon). I've been busy just like everyone else, so I am doing my "what I am thankful for post" now.

I am thankful for everything God has given me and has done in my life. That includes so many wonderful things. Before I get to those, I just want to say that I am very thankful that my faith has remained intact throughout this journey of becoming an actor living in NYC, even though I, like anyone else, have moments of doubts. That being said, here we go: I am thankful for my super duper incredible (and very sexy) husband. I am a private person and don't post too much on social media about us or our marriage, but I am one lucky girl to have someone like him. A man whom I trust, who supports my dream, and who makes me laugh. He is my best friend; my everything.  I am thankful for a loving family (which includes my immediate family and my in-laws). I believe my parents raised me well and they have never once not supported me when it comes to pursuing acting. Same goes for my brother and sister. I hate not being able to spend time with my family during the holidays but such is the nature of working retail in NYC. I'm hoping to visit in January though. I am grateful for friends who stay loyal even though I am a busy, extremely introverted person who finds it difficult to hangout or stay in touch frequently. I am thankful for my sweet little kitty Sophie who makes me so happy when I think about her little face. I'm thankful for our health. I am thankful for our apt and for the location in which we live--across the river from NYC--(even though I don't make it a secret that I would rather be living in an apt in the East Village. Sigh.). Going back to my faith, I am thankful that I found a church where God's truth is spoken with conviction and yet with love, and where so much is done to help not only the people of NYC, but also people from all around the world who need a helping hand (even though I do attend as often as I should). I am grateful for my survival job. Not only because it pays the bills and pays for my acting things, but also because doing makeovers and selling makeup is a great job. I tried the typical actor thing--waiting tables--for 6 months when I lived in Virginia and I don't think I could do that again. (Just like many actors couldn't do retail for as long as I have.) 

And let's get down to the reason why I write this blog. I am incredibly grateful that I am able to follow my dream. The journey has been amazing and I am really still just getting started. But I cherish the entire process-the hard work, the events, the disappointments, the connections I've made, and those moments in which I do actually get to act. I write this blog for myself, as a way to reflect and keep focused, but I also write in order to inspire others to follow their dreams. Just do it. No matter what. It starts with a small step, but all it takes is one step in the right direction. I know sometimes because of circumstances we have to put our dreams on hold, and that's okay. That's life. Don't let it stop you. Where there is a will there is a way indeed. I'm sure you have read these amazing stories of people overcoming incredible obstacles, that most of us can't even imagine, and accomplishing extraordinary things in their lives. My obstacle when it comes to pursuing acting is something that is not so noticeable and it is actually a choice I've made. It is the choice I have made to not use profanity in any of the roles I take (among other things, but this is the issue that arises constantly). Sometimes I feel so discouraged because I know this will stop me from playing parts. Great parts. Amazing parts in fact. I feel like I cannot look for agents because I'm afraid to ask someone to represent me and then present them my list of restrictions. And let me tell you, that list probably isn't going to change. I feel like people in the industry will think I am crazy especially since I am still a nobody the world of Hollywood and should be taking whatever comes way and am in no position to be making requests like that. It is so hard and humbling for me to read a script prior to an audition and then have to ask if I am able to leave out or substitute a curse word. And lately, every script I've read has cursing in it. When this happens only once in awhile it's easier to deal with. But when it happens one script right after the other it starts to weigh on me. But I know this is my path. The way God has intended for me personally to pursue this career and if it's going to happen, this is how it's going to happen. So I keep on sending those requests in faith. (And BTW I don't judge Christian actors who do curse.) And that means letting go completely of a role that seems so fulfilling. But it makes me especially thankful for every single acting job I get. And guess what? Only twice I can remember since moving here in 2005 has the cursing been necessary for the character. (When it is, I politely and graciously turn down the opportunity.) Which is pretty incredible when I think about how many roles I've played over the years. That decision makes the journey harder for sure, but also more fulfilling because I am trying to put God first. So that is why I constantly emphasize how blessed I feel to be working on a new project. Our obstacles can become our testimonies-what makes our story and us unique. 

I always thought making these sort of lists was corny. But as I started writing this post I realized there is something that actually does occur deep inside when taking time to write down and really think about what you are grateful for. I can't explain it, but I feel more encouraged, fulfilled, and deeply happy about where I am in my acting career. I don't feel as bothered by the fact that I am not yet making my living from acting, or by the fact that I live in New Jersey. (Half joking but that is actually a big deal for me because when I lived in Manhattan I was one of those people who swore I would never ever live in Jersey. Even though I'm in the NYC area--12 min away from Times Square when there is no traffic--once in a while I still get sad when I reminisce about living in the city itself.) But those things seem like nothing now. 

So I encourage you to make the list too. And I encourage you to take at least one small step towards following your dream. And I encourage you to choose to be happy and grateful wherever you and whatever you are doing. 

Happy Holidays!!!