Tuesday, August 21, 2012

On Hold For the LA Times

Correction, I just BOOKED the LA Times gig and I shoot the end of this week! My second audition jump with HRi and WHAMMO, I landed hard and strong with a j-o-b. Let's keep doing that.

I'll be working with Prologue Pictures for the first time - and until the commercial comes out  - ssh! Can't say a word about it. Guess you'll have to read about it in the news...

She's a Byrd Dog...

Michelle Wade Byrd (Co-Head CD of Betty Mae Casting). Incredibly nice. Completely approachable. Extremely knowledgeable. And, loves her job.

I went to her workshop at Actors Advantage Studio last night.  Instead of preparing a scene, I opted for a cold read.  This was a tough decision for me as my instincts say if you have the option to pick your own scene and just blow someone away with your full, rich performance - do it. But I also need to sharpen my skills dramatically when cold reading. Michelle is no one to scoff at. She was a tall wall to scale in terms of this experiment.

Betty Mae Casting is one of the most respected casting agencies in town. They just wrapped the casting of Darren Aronofsky's "Noah" (wow...I get goosebumps thinking about the possibilities of this film, I LOVE Aronofsky) and they currently cast about ten projects at once (because so many movies and projects don't go forward or get put on hold or one thousand circumstances that are normal for Hollywood projects come up "unforeseen").  Betty Mae is also doing a worldwide search at the moment for the right actor in the role of Tupac Shakur via video submission. Surprisingly, they've only received about 300 submissions. Say what?!! WorldWIDE?! How funny is that? You'd think people would be jumping like rabbits to get their Tupac on.

Anyway, Betty Mae is the place to be known. Tons of indie films go through there as well - and I hope to begin building a great relationship with the associates there so that I'm always on the radar.

For our cold reads, Michelle paired the actors up. When I received my scene, my heart almost sank. I had read it before online and did NOT connect so I had to stir a major pot pronto in order to find my character and her emotional journey in the given script. Conrad (my scene partner) and I went outside to prepare. From "The Air I Breathe" script, I was to play Sorrow - a 20 year old pop star with no sense of real identity because its been honed and also swallowed by the masses. Conrad was an interviewer with whom Sorrow was quite familiar, but instead of giving her a standard interview - he turns the tables and asks her some surprisingly uncomfortable and inappropriate questions that unveil her insecurities and nearly break her down on-camera.

It's a very intense scene and I'm not 20 anymore, kids. However, I worked diligently to create the essence of a young woman who is deeply sad, but can instantly "turn it on" for those fans watching, a girl who hides behind a sexy, sweet persona in public but really just needs a good long sob and someone to hold her. Well? It's true! I know it sounds cheesy, but most of the time the needs are simple. Incredibly famous people just want to be loved for who they are, not what they are famous for. Janis Joplin is a marvelous example. She could never let go of the gut-wrenching rejection she felt for YEARS growing up, especially in grade school. You continuously see her pain in interviews, her desperation to hide it in a carefree smile, and the channeling of such intense energy and pain into the most thrilling rock and roll of all time.

The result? Conrad and I did the scene. We made it as real as possible. We improvised an ending that caused Sorrow to jump up from her chair, repelled by the embarassing intensity of not knowing the Interviewer's name, even though she's talked to him on more than three separate occasions.  Michelle responded with great enthusiasm and delight at our interpretation of the scene. She said that she loved our work and did not need to make an adjustment for a second performance, so we were good to go and it was a pleasure.

Not bad for a cold read. I was happy with the evening. I'm also happy to know that my instincts are getting stronger and sharper.

Next stop, Lisa Beach at Actor's Key this coming Saturday. Preparing a scene this time...

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Workshops. Workshops. Workshops. Workshops. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand workshops.

Recently, I did a workshop with Bruce Newberg at The Casting Network. Even though I did well, I'll have to seek him out again because I am one of twenty billion actors he sees every year - and unless he has a part for me RIGHT THEN and RIGHT THERE - most likely, he will have a hard time remembered my blonde hair and blue eyes with some distinction. I'll track him down next month for another go.

Until then, I've got some upcoming gigs this week I'm excited about. Monday night, 8/20 - I will be performing for Michelle Wade Byrd of Betty Mae Casting. Betty Mae is a BIG DEAL, folks. They have cast many a quality project and I am thrilled to cross paths with Ms. Byrd. Byrd, meet Swan. Then Saturday, 8/25 - I'll do a little ditty for Lisa Beach, a seasoned CD of Los Angeles. 

And this morning (I am a busy little bee), I attended a free audition for ITA Productions - a workshop facility in Culver City that's been around since 1983.  Yes, I said audition. Do they hold public workshops that anyone can attend? Why yes! But when casting directors are given the option to hold a "public" or "private" workshop ("private" being one that is attended by members of ITA only) - CDs often opt for the quality over quantity rule. With Members-Only workshops, the talent is guaranteed to be of a sharper skill set.

If you are an actor interested in auditioning, go to their site: www.itaproductions.com - and go to their "Public Calender". Here you can find a convenient audition date and give it a shot with no money down, just gasoline. I had a really good experience with them this morning. Christopher and Van run the joint (at least, on Sundays) and us kids got the 411 on workshops and marketing ourselves successfully. Don't knock it till you try it because I know that the $$$ factor is daunting. Budget out a workshop or two a month.  This accelerates your relationship growth with various casting directors dramatically without going only through the agent/audition grind. Workshops are a way to take professional relationships into your own hands - in exchange for a little cheddar of course. Plus, you can have way big fun.

Totally worth it. I find out tomorrow if I get accepted to ITA. I'll keep you posted.

Sparkle is Lackluster

I saw SPARKLE last night. Well, the result is: Whitney Houston could still outsing ANYone from a hundred light years away.  Her acting...meh. But she does do a showstopper version of "In the Eyes of the Sparrow" that'll give you a nearly permanent case of goosebumps.  The more likely permanent case of something would be "eyerolls" at this totally uninspired film remake. Are the voices lovely? Yes. Could I have done the cinematography? Yes. Was this directed by Helen Keller? Possibly. Was I impressed by any piece of it? The make-up artistry was fabulous.

I didn't have high expectations, but I could've left about 15 minutes in and been fine.  Everything about the film had great potential to REALLY go somewhere, but unfortunately the script was a major handicap.  Many things happened that were convenient and unjustified - as if the audience was completely underestimated. Most all performances had very little direction or development - though one or two key parts were cast well. Even the Supremes-like musical numbers were lacking on all levels which I had expected to refill the lungs of entertainment at least long enough to make it to the next interesting moment. But no, they all read as one note. 

Sparkle is a floundering fish, my friends. But hey, this is just one opinion. I'm glad that I saw it.  I now know who Jordin Sparks is after hearing her name the last few weeks. I saw Whitney's last performance. Tika Sumpter should be moving on to larger roles, that girl has some chops. And Kimberly Jones - can you please do my eyes? Those things were NEVER without some sparkle. Beautiful work.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

New Commercial Agency

HRi Talent has agreed to sign me for commercial representation! Woo and hoo, people. Marvelous news. Michelle Henderson at Henderson Represents Inc. is just the strong professional hand I need to shove me forward into the world of swiffer wipes, kitty litter, bloating, auto insurance and baconators.

I reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally hope I book a commercial like this:

I'm a sucker for kitties, what can I say? I'll keep you posted on my upcoming audition adventures assigned by
(imagine bond music here)

Monday, August 6, 2012

HOLY F***!

That, my friends, is the name of a comedy show - a FREE comedy show (mind you) that I attend regularly.

HOLY F***!
Tuesdays @ 9pm
Downtown Independent Theater
beers/sodas/tears of laughter on tap

What kind of show is this? Well, it's a show that actually spells out the word F***! but that I choose to sensor because my dear, sweet mother has asked me not to use such profanity. Shame on me! It's the show that made me do it! She doesn't, however, have a problem with the word "Holy". :)

Anyway, the format is like 'dis: two or three comedic shorts (skits and blips and blurps) - then seven to nine stand-up comics - then a headliner!  Since the show has been around for a couple of years, the reputation has really grown - so many "serious" comics who are on their way up that bitterly steep ladder come by.  Bigger professionals (Dave Foley, Moshe Kasher, TJ Miller, Maria Bamford, Marc Maron to name a few) come by to headline, to work out their material or sometimes just drop in. Other up and comin' folks just practice practice practice and give as good a show as they can.  And it ain't always great, but hey, it's like movie night - you may not like the movie particularly, but you're not there to LIKE it, you're there to LEARN about it, discover it, grow with it, etc.

It's a great way to see new comics, discover new talent, become a new fan of someone's twisted sense of humor and see where this comedy dove flies from such young hands.

I may even begin writing about the shows I attend. We'll see.

If you're on FB - just join the HOLY F*** page and you'll get invited to events. Like I said, it's FREE.....for now.


Yes - it is Monday - and I had the workshop with CD Bruce Newberg on Saturday - and I know that for 36 hours your mind has been screaming "JUST TELL US WHAT HAPPENED ALREADY!!!"

First of all, this was my first experience at The Casting Network. Very prompt and friendly responses from Marcia, the owner. A lovely personality and an obviously hard worker keeping this ferris wheel of a casting institution afloat.

Secondly, parking is plentiful on the street.

Thirdly, arrive in a timely fashion for these things because it is NOT a good impression to fall into class in a tardy manner. Rude and ruder.

Numero Four, realize that this isn't the ideal place to get to know other actors.  Before the workshop, everyone is concentrating on their sides and in their own bubbles and head spaces.  This is a good sign - it means these actors actually care about what they do, they are preparing for what they paid for, and there will be something brought to the table by each and every one. It's true, the actors at TCN are on a different skill level - more advanced, focused and professional. Thank. The. Lord.

Enter Mr. Newberg. His pre-workshop advice is brief but precise and of course, invaluable for the easily misguided or meandering actor. Basically, he tells us how to make the most of our time within an audition context.  Preparation, persona, and perfect your questioning. Easy enough and thank you, sir.

His own persona was quite approachable and revealed a sense of humor from the start. Even though I organized headshots for the actors as they approached the "stage" (an extra challenge - not always easy to match those puppies up to their rightful owner...), I was able to feel somewhat comfortable before I volunteered my turn.

Something I found helpful: I was almost ballsy enough to go first, but instead I opted to watch for awhile and see how Mr. Newberg worked and how the actors performed. As other actresses embodied the same character I had chosen (though no one else had chosen my scene specifically - hooray!), I was able to pick up a more precise understanding of the pace of the scene intended, the character traits intended, and the overall show "feel" intended. Yes, I already had a good idea of all of these things, but if you sit back and listen for awhile, you are assured to a further degree. This solidified some choices for me.

Mr. Newberg seemed satisfied with my performance and offered critique that I completely agreed with: lighten up and go further with the comedic moments of the scene. Now, I LOVE comedy, but I tend to be less funny when under pressure. So I'm working on it. And I will have to be smarter about it - perhaps pre-conceive a thing or two as I work backwards to my naturally hilarious core. ;)

All in all, a good workshop. I enjoyed it very much and I intend to follow up with this gentleman.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Crimes of the Heart

Tomorrow, a workshop with Bruce Newberg - major CD for "The Closer", its spin-off  "Major Crimes", "Hellcats", and various feature feelms. I like that pronunciation better. I haven't done a workshop in 100 fortnights thus I am extremely excited. So are the lizards outside of my window - they are hunching their backs in anticipation. 

Mr. Newberg will be reading with each actor from a various selection of sides he has provided. I actually really like the scene I'm doing - young gal, young guy - coming home from who knows where, she is extremely worked up and exasperated at his presence because he doesn't get the hint or doesn't care that she is completely and utterly unhappy in their relationship and it boggles her mind that he doesn't address it!!!  I might know something about that. At least, about the need to point out what is - to me - the pink elephant in the room. 

I'm looking forward to the experience greatly - and looking forward to performing in front of the other actors, creatively and courageously delving into the work and my intention is: Do Not Stop Myself, My Instincts, Or My Choices - Just Go With It.  I have various alarms that trigger regularly while working on new scenes - these alarms are deeply integrated in my brain. I'm trying to take out all the batteries before tomorrow's workshop and, well, for the rest of my career. An actor can't be continuously regretting or doubting their choices as they live within the moments of the scene. Bad, Actor, Bad! An actor also can't beat themselves up too much. Well, that's another issue entirely - a tad more long-term in its resolution.

After the workshop - 40th High School Reunion bartending in Chatsworth - woooooooo! Seniors and shots! Should be a blast, actually...


Whoa. Hello. I'm BACK from a long and difficult representation journey through Managerland - a subsection of La-La composed of a combination of smooth, silky dunes and tall, seemingly impossible crags. Luckily, there's sometimes a foothold in the shadowed stone, an occasional flinty jutting branch, a bird or two that once in a while drop from the sky to squawk support.  On the other side, I have officially found an absolutely fabulous manager, Ms. Renee Missel of RM Management.

She is a sophisticated, professional dream and thinks I can act. Could I ask for more?

Let me just: HOORAY!

Renee knows the industry of Los Angeles like the back of her hand. She has been a studio executive, a producer, of feature films, head of the Santa Barbara Film Festival for years, and dang does she know her stuff.  Her management company has been thriving since 2003 and now I can be a part of her exciting team.

RMM IMDB Link Here

Now I have official help in getting an AGENT - and there are some mighty good contenders. Wish us luck!