Friday, February 7, 2014

What Makes Me Happy - Musical edition

We've been fighting off a weird funky stomach thing around here - I blame my dirty preschoolers for sharing too much.  As soon as I start to feel better, this bug just comes back to knock me back down again!  As such, we've had a lot of quiet time this week - lots of lying in bed and reading or watching TV and Movies - trying to get well. I've had three auditions in the last week, and another one tomorrow, so it looks like the busy season might arrive early.  I'm also working on a truly awesome Business Course for Actors, I'm taking it online and learning a ton that I'm getting ready to put into play in my actor business.

But it's been slow, which is great considering how we're feeling.  Since I don't have any great stories to regale you with, I thought I'd share some videos that make me happy - things that put a spring in my step, a smile on my face and joy in my heart.

Enjoy! Let me know which one is your favorite!

Singin' In The Rain

Gene Kelly and Jerry Mouse in Anchors Aweigh

Moses Supposes

The Penguin Dance

The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing

Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly

Tap Greats Honor Sammy Davis Jr.

The Carol Burnett Show - "Cinderella Gets it On" featuring the Pointer Sisters and Harvey as the Godmother:

Monday, January 13, 2014

Getting Personal

Feeling introspective today, so I wanted to finish putting out my goals for my 31st year, but this time I have my personal ones. Sometimes my personals goals get all wrapped up in my professional ones, or I forget to have personal goals because I'm so busy chasing my professional ones. So here they are - my personal goals for my 31st year, things I'm recommitting myself to making possible.

- Keep business hours for my acting business, and then keep my personal hours for myself and my husband. Meaning keep them separate. Unless I have an audition or a booked job, I will not be working on weekends. Period. Or in the evening when Jason gets home from work.

-Keep getting my booty to the gym. I have a very physical day job, there are days when I teach 4-5 dance classes and sometimes it wipes me out. Regardless, I need to keep my gym dates 3-4 days a week. I am getting older, and I need to keep my body healthy and fit. As they say, "If you don't use it, you lose it." It's really not all vanity, either. I feel better, my moods are better, my... EVERYTHING is better when I am doing regular strength training.

-To reach out to the important people in my life more often. I'm a bad phone caller. Terrible. Just ask my best friend. I recognize that this is a problem, and I am trying to fix it. And doing a bad job at that too. So I'm going to fix it one call at a time.

-Keep sleep and lots of water every day a priority. This goes along with the gym bit, really, but I want to continue trying to get 8-9 quality hours of sleep per night and drinking plenty of water every day.

-Get more sunshine. I work during daylight hours, and with the shorter winter days I don't see much of the sun. Vitamin D keeps me happy, so I need to try to get out in it at least fifteen minutes a day. Fortunately, we live in Florida, and at this time of year we have GREAT weather! For example, I am outside writing this right now. And it's gorgeous.

-Breathe deeply more often.

-Keep our commitment to get away one weekend a month. I feel like we really only relax when we get away and limit our phone use and just try to be together.

-Take Indy for more walks or play ball more often.

-See more of the state where I live. Take advantage of being here and be more active outside - riding bikes, kayaking, swimming, etc...

-Find something new that I'm excited to learn or do. I have no idea what that is yet, but it would be fun to do something different and out of the box.

That's what I'm working with right now. How about you?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

WHY? And then HOW?

I'm taking this really awesome marketing course (slash life course!) called Build Your Own Buzz to start off 2014.  I'm still in the first module and all I can say is... wow.

I was challenged to remember why I started acting in the first place.  That's tough - I started acting because it was where the things I loved to do - dance and sing - met.  I chose to pursue acting because I love to entertain, to make people happy, to take them on a journey away from their lives for a little while.  My original love for acting was born in the musical theatre, but is no longer limited to that format.

I do it because I love to make people smile, to laugh, to feel like getting up and joining in. And to be honest - when I'm doing that, it's EASY. And I am filled with so much JOY.

So, the next part of that is to connect that ease and joy with the work that I have been hired for in the last year or so.  It's about 50/50: 50% broad comedy - whether commercial or theatrical - and about 50% very heavy drama, often involving me dying in some gruesome way.

But what I LOVE is the comedy, so I'm going to move forward with that as my focus this year, though there is not much comedy work to be found here in Orlando.  It's almost all drama/horror/thriller from an independent movie standpoint.  And that's valid - you have to work with the filmmakers around you - to support their work and help them achieve their creative vision. Fortunately, I have the skills to contribute in that vein, and I am HAPPY to continue to do so.  But is it what I passionately believe I was meant to do?  No.  When I am really letting it roll, making people laugh, THEN I am exactly where I should be. My ease and joy in that process are indicators.

So now I have to chase that kind of work - to find the filmmakers who are creating comedy in my market - to build authentic, symbiotic relationships with them.

At least I have a target, right?  Then I can sharpen my focus.

So I ask you, today - are you doing what you love?  What DO you love to do?  When do you feel exactly right in this world? Why?  And how can you take a small step towards doing what you love, and bringing your specific gifts to the world?  What's your game plan for 2013?  How can I help YOU to do your life's work?

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Roundup

It's that time of year - the time that every blogger everywhere recaps their year, and says out loud (or in writing at least) their goals and dreams for the New Year.

I said in a previous post that I tend to wrap my year around my birthday - that is the time that I like to set my personal and professional goals moving forward.

That does not mean, however, that a New Year isn't the time to reflect on the previous one, or that I cannot reaffirm my goals at that time.  My personal year may not end until October 16, 2014; but what a great opportunity to refresh my goals right now.  To recommit myself to making the rest of my 31st year the best one yet. (Those will come in the next post, this one is too long already!)
In the Keys.

So - to Recap 2013 (in no particular order other than the one they came to my brain in):

-My first full year in Florida, and what a year it was for me professionally!

Penny Girl's First Christmas!
-My sister came to visit and told me she was PREGNANT!  We welcomed our niece, Penelope Belle, on October 24, 2013! Such a magnificent blessing!

-I started teaching Dance again with Dance Station Orlando.  I truly believe that there are people that you are meant to meet and work with, and teaching for DSO has been an incredible blessing.  When we left California, I was so burned out that I thought I never wanted to teach again.  What I've learned is that I have the heart of a teacher, and that if I limit my work time to certain hours it won't consume my life.  It's been awesome.  I am so looking forward to adding an acting class to my teaching time in 2014!

-By the numbers: I shot 7 commercials, 3 short films, 2 feature films and performed in 2 major theatre productions.  That's just awesome. I am looking to double that volume in 2014!
On Set.

-Jason and I did a LOT of Scuba Diving.  I spent a lot of that time seasick, throwing up over the side of the boat, but I was able to (with the exception of 1 time) puke and rally (meaning get my butt up and get in the water, where I knew I'd feel better).  My dive skills greatly improved in 2013, and I am excited to finish up my Rescue Diver in March in the Bahamas while Jason completes his DiveMaster course.

-In that vein - we spent a lot of time at the Beach.  St. Augustine, New Smyrna, and 4 weekends in the Keys.  Cue the Beach Boys...

St. Augustine
Too Much Fun in the Keys

-2013 was the year of the Agent.  I learned a LOT the hard way about the agent relationship in Florida, and how different it is from Los Angeles. I am now repped by a team of agents (3 in Orlando and 1 in Atlanta) who are excited about me and believe in me and what the future holds.

-Jason found a full time job, and has already been promoted.  The transition back to him working full time after two years of freedom was tough on both of us, but we are trying to embrace the opportunities that are here and now.
No Caption Necessary.

-I learned how different shooting Indie films can be, even from each other.  Budget is a major factor, and each experience was definitely unique!
Nik, Solange and their kids (our godbabies) Caity and Ollie.

-Our godbabies are a year older, and are the coolest kids on the planet.

-I got to sing and dance with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.  It rocked. 

Outback Bowl. Go Blue!

-We went to see my Wolverines play in the Outback Bowl on New Years Day.  We lost in the last 30 seconds, but it was a GREAT game!

-I was nominated for Best Actress in a Musical in the Broadway World Orlando awards.  Too cool.

Even Sister Mary Amnesia
is a Wolverine!
-Comedy IS my thing.  Just because I don't do standup doesn't mean I'm not funny, and in Orlando's model saturated commercial market, it sets me apart.

-I remembered that an audition is an audition. It has no bearing on my self worth or value to those that care about me.  Go in, do your best work, and brush it off.

-I went home to California three times!

-We took a cruise in January and it was the only time this year that we left the US - a sharp decline from the amount of traveling we did in 2012.  We went to Honduras, Belize and Mexico, and dove in each country.  There is more traveling in our future in 2014, even if it is mostly domestic.

Skiing June Lake in California.
-We went SNOW SKIING! I hadn't been in at least 15 years (possibly 20?), and it was just like riding a bike. I forgot how fun it is.  There is a yearly ski trip in our future, I think.

-Most importantly, I've come to the conclusion that family and friends are the most important and that you don't get time back.  I'm learning to work hard on my career, but limit it to certain hours.  I'm trying to call and text more often. To be a better wife, sister, daughter, friend to the people that have put up with so much of my crap over the last fifteen years.

Still Having Too Much Fun!
Hope you had an exceptional 2013, and that your 2014 will surpass all your expectations! Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

November is for Giving Thanks/Recap of Week 1

The blog has been quiet again - not because nothing is going on here, but because I am trying to be more intentional about the downtime that I do have.

I think maybe my lesson for year 31 is going to be to stop and smell the roses. I've been on a freight train to something ever since I was a teenager. There is always something I am driving towards, some end goal in sight. Having goals and drive is a good thing, but not when it eclipses everything else. So maybe my 31st year is about Balance - finding contentment in the everyday, and continuing to work forward into my goals for tomorrow and next year. To not let myself get so wrapped up in "the work" that I forget to come up for air, or to look around and see all the good that is present.

I spent some time at home with my sister a few weeks back, meeting my beautiful new niece. Here's the thing about Kelli - when we stood in line for qualities, she stood in the contentment line twice and I visited the drive line an extra time. I have always been envious of how my sister is always content where she is at. She is absolutely present in every moment, and you always get 100% of her attention when you are with her. I've always been "fire lit under the ass" driven, which breeds a lot of discontent. Not that I don't have moments of contentment and that Kelli doesn't have any drive, but she got the lions share of one, and I the other. I am trying to stand in the contentment line at 31.

As part of that, I have made a serious effort to do the "month of Thanksgiving" on my Instagram/Facebook accounts, and wanted to share the list (so far) with you here.

For a girl like me, who is rarely content where she is at, it's important to remember the best things in life. The moments, the people, the experiences that you are grateful for can help bring you peace, and keep you grounded in the present moment as opposed to the unknown that is to come.

So, primarily for my own reference, here is the first week of my list of things I am thankful for this year. It is not all encompassing, and primarily based on the circumstances of each individual day.

Day 1 - I am so thankful my niece was born healthy and that my sister came through the birth like a shining star. Though Penelope Belle has only been here for eight days, I cannot imagine a world without her in it.

Day 2 - Thankful for time with my best friend of umpteen years. Solangey is a better friend than I deserve, and spending quality time with her is like gold. I love you, Solangey! Here's to many more years of margaritas and girl talk!

Day 3 - Thankful for my parents. I am so blessed to have such incredible parents and so happy for them in this next stage of life!

Day 4 - Found this gem today. So - today, I am thankful to have been raised with three cousins who are like brothers to me. Love you, Brian, Mark and Kevin. I am so proud of the men you have become!

Day 5 - Thankful to be home safe with my wonderful husband! (After returning safely from my visit to LA)

Day 6 - Thankful for a wonderful job and a phenomenal boss, doing something I really enjoy every day and maintaining the flexibility to audition regularly and with short notice! If you have ever been a working actor, you know how important that is!!!

Day 7 - Thankful for this little guy. Indiana Jones is so smart, so funny and loyal to a fault. Life is better with an awesome dog in it - no matter how tough the day, he can make me smile.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My 31st Year

I have been procrastinating on this post... trying to find the right words to voice what I am thinking and experiencing...

I turned 31 two weeks ago. It was a tough one because, although I dreaded my 30th birthday, 30 ended up being the best year of my life. It's hard to let a year go when it was so good, especially when the next year is unknown. I was comfortable with the successes of my 30th year. Comfortable with the rhythm of the life we have built here in Florida.

A new year inevitably means changes in some way. It's easy to hide in the comfort of what I know, but I have decided that its time to "go big or go home". My 31st year cannot be a repeat of my 30th year, because if it is I have not grown as a person or an artist.

I have long felt that my "new year" of resolutions begins on my birthday and not on January 1st as is more common.

So now that I have turned 31, it's time to lay out my goals for this next year, and start to plan my steps for achieving them! I have two professional goals to roll over from last year, and a few new ones that I have started to roll out plans for....

Professional Goals:
-Book my first co-star and guest-star on an episodic shooting in the South (as such, I am upgrading and updating my marketing materials and developing a specific plan of attack to make this happen)
-Book a nationally airing commercial (I booked several local spots last year, but I am on the hunt for one or more spots that will air across the United States. I was very, very close to booking one last week, so I believe that it will happen soon!)
-Start a "mastermind" group of like minded actors working in this market for support, encouragement and fresh ideas. (Done! We got started last week, and it was so inspiring!)
-Develop relationships with casting directors and casting offices that I want to work with. (That's what the new, targeted marketing materials are for)
-Find representation in New Orleans (a growing market) and for theatrical work in Los Angeles. I am hoping to do this through my current representation so I am building a more interconnected team.
-Find a manager? I think it's time to bring someone onto my team that is more highly invested in me - who can give better feedback on styling, and type. I want to make sure that my appearance matches what I am "selling". As an actor, I am a product that I have to sell. The more my image lines up with my type, the more I book.

Still working on my personal growth goals for my 31st year. I will share those as I come up with them!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Confident vs. Cocky

When I transferred to the University of Michigan (read THIS POST for more), I thought I was the s%#t.  When I landed at Michigan, I was handed the realization that I was now in an environment where everyone had their "thing" and they were better at it than I.  They were funnier.  They could sing circles around me.  They had a better body.  They were better technical dancers than I was.... The list went on and on.  I took a huge hit to my ego (which was needed at the time, I'll be honest), and got back to work, trying to find what I did best and what made me special.  I'm not sure I ever found it.  I hid in directing and choreography for a long time - afraid to put myself out there again because I wasn't sure I was good enough.

And then we moved to Florida, and I started working again.  I began to realize that there was a market for ME - that just because I don't look like Jessica Alba doesn't mean I can't work.  That just because I'm not Melissa McCarthy funny that I can't make people laugh.

2013 has been a time of rediscovering what I CAN do, instead of beating myself down for not being "good enough".

So - when we closed NUNSENSE last weekend, I sat down and started to evaluate what I had learned from revisiting Sister Mary Amnesia.

Before I go into this list, though, please know that I am not being cocky.  I am confidently stating the things that I remembered that I do well. And God knows that there is a difference between confident and cocky.

I learned from a singer friend of mine (whom I really respect) that I have a much better voice than I give myself credit for.  I am never going to be able to scream it out like Idina Menzel - that is not the voice I was given - but my voice is MINE and it's a good one. I should be proud of it and have confidence in it!

I re-learned that I am funny, and that I have a gift for physical comedy.  That if I relax, and have fun, and don't try to work so hard that people will laugh.  And they will laugh hard.  I had comments from audience members (who continued to come back) that I reminded them of Kristen Wiig (of Bridesmaids) and Bernadette from The Big Bang Theory. Such compliments, and a reminder that just because I don't do stand up doesn't mean I'm not funny.  I will be pursuing more comedic work, or just creating my own.

And I re-learned that I LOVE to entertain.  I remembered how powerful it is to have an audience in the palm of your hand - to know that they are taking your journey with you, and are so in tune with what you are doing that you can make them laugh hard with just a grin.  How incredible it is to know that you have brought so much joy to their lives for two hours - that no matter what they are going home to, they had two hours of solid laughter with some tears mixed in.  Laughter truly is the best medicine, you know.

So - I'm aggressively re-evaluating my plan and figuring out where it takes me next.  My new mantra: Confidence is not cockiness.  Be confident in your skills, and go use them, just don't be an a-hole. ;)

I can't wait to see what happens!

Hamming it up with the audience as Sister Mary Amnesia.
Production Photo courtesy of TheatreWorks Florida.