Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Back in the Saddle

Last week I did something I haven't done since the Fall of 2010 - I sat on the Production side of the stage for tech week.  One of my schools that I bring classes into recruited me to fix, finish and clean the choreography for their production of MY SON PINOCCHIO, JR. The original choreographer lives in Chicago and set most of the choreo in two days, meaning they needed someone on hand to finish and fix it all.  And there was a LOT of fixing to be done.

You see, just a few years back I was a maniac bouncing from project to project, and I went through MASSIVE burnout.  I took a break, got married, and then we made the surprise move to Wyoming.  Even though I had been teaching and performing since then, I had yet to end my direction/choreography hiatus.

It was interesting how, after taking a 3 1/2 year break, that I looked at the stressors differently.  It's like I could see what would be stressful and why, and managed to avoid owning any of that personally.  I used to dive in and take everything on my own shoulders.  Not healthy.  But it was kind of fun, and exactly the right situation for me to ease myself back in.

Not that I'm taking on a direction or choreography contract any time soon.

It's nice to know that I did indeed miss it, though.  And great to remember that I was indeed GOOD at it.

So, thanks for getting gulped down by that big whale, Pinocchio. It was fun to put on my old, worn out choreographer hat again for a little bit.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Red Carpet Anxiety

A few weeks back, I was privileged to attend the Orlando premiere of a feature film that I shot last June.  It's a locally produced project with pretty decent buzz being built around it - it will receive it's New York premiere this June, and after that will premiere in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, and ever onward.  Because of the way the story is told, I feature prominently in the opening of all the trailers, and in the film itself.  I'm finally in a project that might receive some distribution, some recognition, some publicity.  Things that I can use to open more doors.

It's terrifying.  Well - not the possibilities of the project - the red carpet of it.  The schmoozing, the self marketing, all of it.

I'm an artist - I love to show up and do the work. I love the challenge of it, and in film, the particular challenge of doing it again and again and again. Finding ways to make it honest and truthful and powerful when you've already shot the same scene 20 times from three different angles.

But the reality of walking the red carpet? Terrifying.  That fear of being found wanting?  That maybe people will realize you're a fraud who just likes to play dress-up?  Borderline debilitating.  Being asked to make small talk with strangers? Scary.  For someone who calls herself an actor and prides herself on being able to transform into literally ANYTHING or ANYONE, I am a terrible faker in my personal life.  I hate it.

Nothing in my "training" has prepared me to dress myself and walk the red carpet and self promote and network.  Oh - the anxiety.  Maybe I'm the odd duck, but I didn't become an actor to be famous. I became an actor because I love to tell stories, and take people on a journey. Part of the job is to promote projects that you're in, though, and I just need to get on board.

I really had to work myself up to show up and walk the red carpet that night. I was terrified that I would stick out like a sore thumb, be overdressed or underdressed. Thank God I had Jason and Joyce with me to keep me steady.  With their support, I survived it.  I overcame my personal neuroses, and made it through.  No one called me out as a "faker".  Mark one for me on my personal scoreboard!

Next time it will be easier.

Man... I would kill for a stylist....




The Breaking Point Official Trailer from james on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Journey On

The blog has been quiet again - too quiet.

All I can say is that I'm trying to figure some things out.  Plan. Adjust. Move forward.  And it's left precious little time for reflection. If there's anything I need to do to maintain my empathy and humanity, it's reflection.

I'm a goer.  A doer.  Or I was.

And then we spent a year and a half on a ranch in Wyoming and everything changed.

I learned that I don't want to spend my life going Mach 10 with my hair on fire anymore.  These days time seems to be flying by on its own so fast that I'm afraid to wake up tomorrow because I might be 90 and have missed it.

It. That elusive "it".  Life? The journey?

I had a great conversation with an old college friend last week, he was in town performing with a National Tour, and I managed to snag him for a long overdue breakfast, eight years after graduation.  We were both "doers" in our class - there was no way we were going to get sidetracked, we were going to make it and get shit done. (Excuse my French).  We both graduated and worked our butts off.  He went to grad school, and I eventually landed back home in LA, where I worked and struggled until suddenly I met Jason, got married and moved to Wyoming.

Looking back on the last eight years, our time in Wyoming (and the winter in between our seasons there), is the absolute best of my memories.  Even though I worked harder than I ever have in my life.  Even though sometimes I was unbearably lonely and felt a bit lost.  The isolation up there - just me and Jason against it all - provided me with a lot of time for reflection.  And it was in that time that I had the lightbulb - I am NOT what I DO.  It is a part of me, but not the whole package, and I am selling myself short by trading only on what I do.

So yes - I am an actor, I am a teacher.  But I am also a bleeding heart, compassionate to a fault. I want to see and experience the entire world, to make each day count for something.  Now that I'm back in the rat race, it's easy to get swept back up in the "go, go, go".

Believe me - I consider myself fortunate that I am currently able to make my entire living in the arts that I love.  Even when some days suck.

So, back to that breakfast conversation...

This friend of mine is in a position that most actor friends I know would envy - he is on the Equity National Tour of a VERY famous and popular musical.  He knows that there are a million actors out there who would trade places with him in a heartbeat.  He only works 3 hours a day, or 6 on two show days, and the rest of the time he gets to explore the cities they find themselves in, or go to the gym, or sleep, or whatever his little heart wants.  Of course, this being my "doer" friend, he has in fingers in a million different projects to keep busy.

But the tradeoff is that he is not creatively fulfilled in any way. He does the show exactly as the actor before him and the one before that did it, with no freedom to create for himself. His creative fulfillment only comes from the side projects he has going.

To him, our life in Wyoming, and all the adventures that it allowed and have followed it sounds pretty awesome.

To me, his life on tour sounds pretty awesome.

The grass is always greener, right?

Which is why it's so important to have satisfying work in your life.  To value yourself for who you are and not what you do.

It's important to me to give back.  It's important that I have a creative outlet.  It's important that I take pride in what I do, but at the end of the day my value is not wrapped up in it.

Trying to divorce the vocation from the avocation is so tough.

We are a society that lives to work.  We work ourselves to the bone every day - for what?  For status?  Nice clothes, nice house, fancy car  - all things that are fleeting and do not contribute in any way to our true self value.  You can't take it with you.

So what CAN I take with me?  The satisfaction of a life well lived.  Of positively impacting as many lives as possible in whatever time I am given here.  Joy. Memories.

Too often moments of joy take back seat to the guilt that I should have done this, should have done that, I never accomplished this, I said I was going to become this.

I'm over it.  Done with it.  The career will come. That laundry can wait.  Let's go make a memory.

If I achieve those career dreams along the way, great! But at the end of it all, I won't beat myself up if it doesn't turn out the way I planned, because it was really all about the journey. I plan to keep living a damn good journey.

We're going to the Keys this weekend because we are young and alive and we CAN. Journey on.

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!