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.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Many so called actor problems aren't problems at all. Yes - there are some serious actor problems: paying bills, making enough to eat, healthcare issues if you don't have a union to protect you, having your fragile self esteem bashed regularly... Those are serious problems.

What aren't real problems are these - having to juggle your day job to accommodate auditions and bookings, getting too many emails from your agent(s), having to quickly (like within hours) put a role on tape for a TV series audition your agent got you...

It always cracks me up when actors complain about the second set of problems. You chose this life - did you really think you were going to immediately become a star and never have to work a survival job?

Are you really going to complain about, or God forbid, skip out on an opportunity to audition for a role on a major network TV series because you have to stay up late to get it in under the wire?  Are you going to complain about going through the schedule shuffle when your agent calls to tell you you booked a commercial that shoots tomorrow morning? God forbid they like you so much they bring you back the next week to add extra audio!

How bad do you want it? Are you willing to do what it takes?

I was fortunate enough to have both of those actor problems in the last week. I had to juggle my Wednesday schedule to drive back to Tampa and record extra audio for my commercial that starts airing all over Florida in about another week.

And the very next day, one of my agents called with an audition for a MAJOR network show that I had to shoot and turn around for her by midnight. I came home from Nunsense performance, did my hair, touched up my makeup and got that video in on TIME because its important. Because its the price you pay to be a working actor. Because those kind of  #actorproblems  are not really problems at all. 

And I asked for them. When they become a nuisance and a chore, it's time to get out of the business.

I wish I had those problems every week!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Having Amnesia at 20 and 30

I've been harping on story lines a lot lately, but it seems that every time I turn around someone is talking about the importance of celebrating and really living your personal story.

So here's my storyline for this week:

We opened Nunsense last Friday, and it has been such a joy to live in the skin of Sister Mary Amnesia again.

The last time I played her was ten years ago. I was 20 years old, about to transfer to the University of Michigan and felt that the world was my oyster.

At a certain age, you feel invincible. The world hasn't beaten you down yet and every possibility feels like it is open to you. I hadn't yet fully realized how talented everyone else was, and had a strong belief in my own abilities and potential. Basically, I thought I was the s*%t (excuse my French). I wasn't conceited so much as supremely confident that everything was going to work out just as I had planned.

I was going to get my BFA at Michigan and move to New York and become a Broadway star, transition to Film and TV and have my own series. Believing in yourself that much can be magical.

So I marched my little butt down to a professional theatre in Orange County, and had the audacity to decide that I was going to play Sister Mary Amnesia. And my self belief sold itself to the director and music director and at 20 I landed the most challenging role of my life.

In retrospect, I was nowhere near prepared to tackle the challenges of Amnesia - the comedy, the several octaves of vocal range, the emotional arc. But I had no idea at the time. I worked harder than I ever have in my life - even learning ventriloquism - and I did it. Somehow, I did it. I was so proud. I grew so much. And it was one of those shining moments where I set my mind to wanting something and achieved it. It glimmers in my memory as a time I really pushed myself beyond my limits. To be honest, I really felt like superwoman.

At the time, I was carrying 20 college credits, teaching acting and dance classes two days a week, co directing and choreographing a production of Bye, Bye Birdie, and working a part time retail job. All on top of making that one hour each way drive (without traffic - I don't even want to talk about what it was like with traffic) to Orange County five days a week for rehearsals.

Just the thought of what my life was like then gives me a border line panic attack. I think I must have been crazy. Now, I can barely manage my weekly teaching schedule, regular auditions and this production of Nunsense.

That time in my life shaped a lot of who I am today, and I am so grateful for it. I am also grateful for the opportunity to revisit such a special role with a lot more training and some serious humility. The experience has been very different. I would hope that I am doing better work at 30 than I was at 20, but it would be nice to have back a little bit of the confidence and audacity I had at that age.

We could all use a little more confidence and self belief, right? Shouldn't we all remember what it is to dream big?

And who knows, maybe I will get a chance to benchmark with Amnesia again at 40!

Sister Mary Amnesia with Sister Mary Annette,  2013

Sister Mary Amnesia with Sister Mary Annette, 2003

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Put on Your Big Girl Pants

I teach kids - a lot of them - and many of them are preschoolers. Every now and then I have to remind one of them to act like a big boy or big girl. Nobody, not even preschoolers, wants to be thought of as a baby. So when you tell them to look like a big boy/girl it gets their attention. They almost always snap back into great kids!

It's been a wild week around here. I am now teaching 20 dance classes a week, am in tech for NUNSENSE, which opens tomorrow and runs for four weeks, and have had a steady number of auditions and bookings through all of that. It's enough to make the biggest girl a baby at some point.

On my way to this morning's acting gig, my car said that one of my tires was low. Immediate response? Panic. Frustration. A desperate need for my husband to come and fix everything for me.

So I took a deep breath, reminded myself to put on my big girl pants and handled it.

I made it to the booking early (that's why you always leave extra time, folks!) and was able to get on with my day.

Cause I'm a big girl. And I wear big girl pants!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Grit and Pearls

I have continued to stew on storyline and living the best story I can, every day.

That can become difficult when I start to compare my dreams (and progress toward them) with others I know. You see, I have been blessed over the years to work with some exceptional talents, and many of them are really succeeding in their careers right now. Some are huge, some will be huge shortly. I am so proud to know them and have had some small part in their journey. The trouble comes when I start to compare myself to these actors I know. My career trajectory has been totally different, and doesn't deserve to be compared. And I can't start thinking "It's too late", just because I haven't yet achieved the success I had hoped to by this age. It just means that success looks different than I planned!

Jen Louden has a beautiful post on this topic today, about how all of our struggles and failures are the grit that we can ultimately choose to turn into pearls. Read it here: http://jenniferlouden.com/too-late-by-whos-clock/

So Today I will choose to work on my pearl. To be overjoyed for my successful friends, and to continue plugging along on this path I'm on.

To celebrate where I am today, I finally posted my demo reel - that all important actor tool in our Internet based world. Check it out!:

And be kind to yourself today. You deserve it!

Monday, August 19, 2013

It's Been a Minute

Well, I'm up to my eyeballs in rehearsals and homework for this new production of NUNSENSE I'm in, and loving every second of it. It has been so fun to go back to a role I played (and LOVED) ten years ago, with fresh eyes and ten more years of life experience. God forbid I would do it the same way I did before! So I'm embracing the challenge of it, taking it with fresh eyes, because, you know... it's been a minute!

This is the first opportunity I've had to really revisit a role. I've revisited certain shows in different ways - first as a performer, later as a director or choreographer or both - but have really and truly never revisited a role before. It's amazing how much muscle memory is still there, and how I've had to suppress that to truly view the show from a fresh perspective.

It's hard work, and it's a blast working with such an awesome cast and team every night!

Can't wait to share some photos of me back in the habit - until then, here's the banner for the show featuring our very own "RevMo". :)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Better Story

I've been thinking quite a bit about our personal stories lately. A few weeks back I wrote about a book, "The Alchemist", that was utterly life changing for me. What brought that post up was a book I read last month and have continued to return to, a few chapters at a time, called "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Donald Miller. I've read several of Don's books over the years, and I always seem to encounter them at a time when I need them most.

"A Million Miles..." Is about our story lines - crafting them into a life someone would want to make a movie about. Maybe it's my adventurous spirit, maybe it's my deep desire to leave a lasting impact on the world in some small way, but the idea of crafting a life that could be made into a dynamic film really resonates with me. Instead of making a movie about driving in the car, getting groceries and rushing to work, I'd like to be in a film about a woman who changes lives and sees the world and lives passionately - who scuba dives and learns new languages and interacts authentically with different cultures. Who made something of her life, however long or short it may be.

Because the reality is that there are no guarantees on how long we have - no one but God knows the number of our days on this earth. So why wait to make it spectacular? Why not do the things you dream of now? Our only limitations are the ones set by ourselves - the things we perceive. But time is fleeting - make each day matter!

I really believe that living a good story means being fully present in every moment of your life. Not wishing time away. Perfect example - yesterday was a rough day - it was long and tough and I caught myself at one point just wishing that it would be over. So I forced myself to shake it off and breathe and choose to live a better story for the rest of the day. And it worked. It was a better day after that. I lived a better story for the rest of the day.

Today I have jury duty, something that I do not have the luxury of time for this week. So I'm forcing myself to look at it as a gift - to enjoy the time to write and read and decompress. To make plans for my story so that the rest of the day is lived better. Maybe I will find an opportunity to live a better story while sitting in the jury pool today.

It's all about perspective and attitude, and choosing to craft my circumstances instead of drifting along wherever the wind blows me - dreaming of what could be but never living it.

As part of that, I've decided to re-examine the extraordinary chapters of my life that I've already lived, and those will begin to appear here on this blog. If we don't tell our stories, we forget them.

Let the storytelling begin.

And go check out "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" and Donald Miller's Storyline Blog - storylineblog.com

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sometimes you shoot yourself in the foot...

Not literally - you don't shoot yourself in the foot LITERALLY (although Plaxico Burress would disagree since he accidentally shot himself in the leg) - but you get in your own way of something you really want.

Since returning from my visit home to LA three weeks ago, I have been out on thirteen auditions.  Thirteen auditions in what is locally considered to be the SLOW season in a smaller market.  The best part of that kind of volume is that you don't have the energy to expend on just one audition being your "shot", so you tend to stay out of your own way.  I firmly believe that actors do their best work in the audition room when they know that this job isn't the ONLY one, that their career doesn't hinge on this one particular audition, because HECK - I've got another one tomorrow (or this afternoon!).

The reality is that we all have to work on developing a thicker skin.  One where the constant rejection (and yes - there is constant rejection when you are an actor) doesn't impact our own sense of self worth.  That our self worth depends not on what we do, but on who we are as human beings.  Because, let's face it - acting is subjective.  Everyone has an opinion.  You will always be too skinny, too fat, too tall, too short, too young, too old, looks like that girl that picked on me in school, has the same name as the girl I hated in school, too plain, too pretty, too.... everything.

It's that occasional job - the one where you really are what they thought of in their minds before casting -  that you walk in the door and BAM, you're it!  And as long as you can act, you'll book that job.

So with that in mind, it makes it easier to face the constant rejection and celebrate the occasional bookings.  Because you cannot truly change who you are when you walk into the room.  You can augment with makeup, hair and wardrobe, but you are being judged on the essence of who you are and you are either RIGHT or you're NOT.

I've been doing really well rolling with those punches lately.  Doing the best work that I'm capable of in the moment, and walking out without my self value hanging on that one audition.

Until you go in for that one job that you REALLLLLLLY want.  That you've been waiting for for more than a year.  And you get the callback, and at that callback you can just TASTE it - that feeling of getting the call that you booked the job.  You are IN, and your professional career is going to change.

And then the nerves start.  Those nerves you thought you got the best of back in college.  And the self doubt kicks in.  And you realize how flipping talented all the other people in the waiting room are.  And you realize that you can never measure up.  That you are going to screw this up and not get this dream job and your career will never recover and you are wasting your time and their time.  And... And... And... Conveniently forgetting that they liked you enough to call you back.  That there was something about you that was absolutely right for the job.  That in some way they thought they could hire you for it.

And you walk in the room and you shoot yourself in the foot (FIGURATIVELY), and you make a mess of things and put your fragile ego back through the wringer.

But somehow, if your career is truly worth it, you will salvage your self respect, learn from the experience, brush yourself off and move on.

And you may just book the very next job you have a callback for, the one you also really want.  The one you have the very next day.  Because you have realized that you cannot allow yourself to get in your own way.

And next time.... maybe you'll be able to put those nerves to rest.

You are back in the game.  Back in the swing. Back to being comfortable in your own skin. Back to work.

By the way, I booked that very next job.  And I really wanted it, too. ;)

Thursday, July 11, 2013


It's gotta be close to ten years ago that a friend gave me a copy of the best book I have ever read - THE ALCHEMIST by Paulo Coelho. I held on to it for a while, never really sitting down to read it (which is ridiculous since I've always been addicted to the written word, especially books). When I finally cracked it open, I read it cover to cover in one sitting. I devoured it. Maybe I waited until I was in the right mental place to read it - I don't know. To this day, I still consider it the best book I have ever read. My copy is long gone - loaned to someone who loved it and loaned it to someone else, and so on and so on.

It's a short read - an allegorical tale about finding your personal legend and the way we are changed along the journey. The book was originally written in Portuguese, and the English translation is beautiful. It's been translated into languages worldwide. A few years back, I was traveling in the French countryside and my friend took me to this tiny restaurant perched on the side of a hill in, I believe, Angouleme, though it could well have been Saintes - my memory is fuzzy on the specifics. The restaurant, L'Alchemist, was tiny - only a few tables. The chef/owner had read The Alchemist (or L'Alchemist in French), and been inspired to leave a job he hated to chase his dream - opening his own restaurant. It was always packed in those days (I hope it still is), and it remains the best meal I have ever eaten.

I think of them often - the book and the restaurant - and I wonder if I'm doing well at chasing my personal legend. If I've even truly discovered my personal legend - that one thing that I was born to do. Sometimes I experience that feeling of "rightness" when performing. Other times, it's when teaching. Always, it's when I'm experiencing a new part of the world - some place that I've never been. I get that feeling of wonder, and absolute contentment in the moment - the discovery and the adventure of it all.

Those are the moments I remember - the glimpses of my journey. Those spectacularly beautiful places - so different from my day to day - when I feel absolute wonderment at the joy of being alive and in this time and place.

I'm still searching for my personal legend - wonder what I'll find?

Monday, July 8, 2013

New Smyrna Beach

I ended up with a surprise day off on Friday (I missed the memo that we weren't working on July 5th!) and felt very strongly that Jason and I should take the day and go up to Jacksonville. He had been wanting to look at some dive gear up there, and we thought we would stop somewhere on the Coast for dinner before heading home to Orlando.

Jason decided that he would love to take me to New Smyrna Beach for seafood, where he'd spent so much time as a kid. As we drove along the coast on our way to dinner, Jason was sharing stories with me - from his youth through his college days - of what had happened here or there...

As we passed a certain beach house - Jason says, "Hey, the garage is open. I wonder if Chad is here this weekend?"

Chad is Jason's best friend from college and was the best man in our wedding. He and Jason have had a lot of fun (and trouble) together over the years, and Chad famously broke his collarbone on Jason's Bachelor trip, then spent a few days on our couch, vicodined up with his arm in a sling, snuggling with Indy. You see, Chad is a walking party - always up for a good time. And we haven't seen him since our wedding day - almost three years!

So back to the story. Jason texts Chad and Chad calls him right back. He's in New Smyrna Beach! So we invite him to join us for dinner. Dinner turns to sunset drinks on the patio at his parents beach house which turns to meeting friends of his at a restaurant, and then dancing at a bar with a live band and finally us staying the night at the beach house with nothing but the clothes on our backs. In the morning we bought cheap bathing suits (Jason's has a dragon and roses on it - see the photo below) and we spent the day in the ocean and their infinity pool - enjoying the sun and the company.

It was awesome! We had so much fun, and returned home Saturday night sunburned and wearing our dirty clothes from the day before.

I'm really trying to seize the moment and every opportunity that presents itself - this was the perfect opportunity to do so! I haven't had this much surprise fun since I got stranded at the airport in Salt Lake City and found myself sledding down ski slopes (which I will not name here) in the middle of the night.

Thanks, Chad, for hosting us so unexpectedly! It was GREAT to see you!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th!

Just a short and sweet blog post to say I hope you have a happy, safe and - wait for it - legendary 4th of July!

My husband, Jason, has committed to a photo a day on Instagram (@jasonspeerphoto) and he has so inspired me, that I'm stewing on a blog commitment of my own. More on that to come.

Anyhow, thank you for continuing to check in on this little blog of mine, and happy Independence Day!

Friday, May 31, 2013

How to Succeed...!

A few weeks ago, I had the honor and privilege of dancing and singing with a superbly talented cast of performers in the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra's production of How to Succeed...

Of course, the star of the show was the Orchestra itself - rarely do you have an opportunity these days to perform with an Orchestra that full - every part in the original score was filled (exceedingly rare in this day and age, even on Broadway), and then some. We had EXTRA instrumental parts. Just listening to them tune brought tears to my eyes every day.

If you have ever been a performer, you know that there are certain productions and casts that glimmer in your memories. I can think of them right now - The Sound of Music at El Camino, Crazy for You at the Norris, Sunday in the Park with George at Heritage Rep, Hello Dolly! at Sierra Rep, Nunsense at Torrance Theatre Company, and now this one. They glimmer for special reasons - the cast, the experience, the production team, the orchestra.

This one was special for all those reasons.

Such a privilege!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Another Commercial, Another Day!

Had a blast the last few days shooting a commercial for a garden product. So fun! I worked with a great team, and met a new actor friend, Lisa! I also have an awesome bad actor story to share with you soon, but that deserves it's own post. It's a good one - promise!

Here are a few photos from the shoot!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dance Boot Camp

So - in a few days I start rehearsals as a lead dancer in HOW TO SUCCEED... with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.  I'm super excited to work with such a talented cast, and an Orchestra that will be out of this world.  These days, you rarely get to work with a FULL Orchestra - one where ALL of the parts from the original score are filled with professional, working musicians.  And the score for HOW TO SUCCEED is so fantastic - I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

But here's the problem - I'm 30 now.  And I am in damn good shape for 30 - I've been working really hard at it for months.  I teach dance, but to preschoolers and elementary aged kids.  I'm not consistently working on my technique, so while I have the mental background and the understanding of technique, I am not 23 anymore, when I could dance anything.  My joints feel 30 - I can't turn more than a double on the left and a triple on the right, my leaps are not nearly as high...  I've often wished that I could take what I know about dance now and my 16 year old body, and put them together - I'd be unstoppable (okay I can feel you rolling your eyes... let's just go with that, okay?)

In preparation for the three weeks of challenging rehearsals I'm about to begin, I've added a dance bootcamp section to my daily workouts.  I time my gym time so that there is an exercise room open and available, take my dance shoes, and go for it.  It's been really fun, actually, and things are coming back quickly considering I'm 30.  I don't usually feel my age, I keep thinking that I'm still 25, but my joints are most definitely older.  It's okay... I'll get there.

And you know what?  It's going to be a blast.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Filming extravaganza!

I have been shooting projects like a madwoman for the last few weeks. A comedy short for StandAlone Pictures, finishing shooting on The Bailey Case: Sanctum, a photo shoot for a company in Tampa and new head shots with Jason! Busy! Here are some photos from the extravaganza!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Acting Class Exercises for Kids - Part 3: Interview!

Here's another exercise that I have always loved to use with all ages in my acting class. It's a great way to start exploring character development, and how to build a fully fleshed out character. Enjoy!

To work on developing characters, I like to have beginning actors play someone they know. Their best friend, sibling, mom, dad, grandma... just someone they know well. I have them leave the room and enter as the character. They sit in a chair on stage and I interview them - ask them their name, age, what they like to do, how they feel about other family members, favorite colors, pets.... any question that comes into my head once I get them rolling. I don't like to use the same questions for every kid because I want them to think on their toes. They have to stay in character the whole time, even as they exit the room. Great exercise, and again, something great to use when when they are young and still learning to read. Once they have completed this exercise you can use it again down the road when they are working on scenework: only this time they don't know the character personally and really have to think about their answers!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Acting Class Exercises for Kids Part Two - Build a Scene

Contrary to the boring title, this is one of my absolute favorite games to play with all age groups. Why? It's a great way to assess abilities at the beginning of a class session. It stimulates their creativity and sense of play, and I can use it as a tool to immediately begin teaching the fundamentals of acting! This is also a great exercise for working with kids who are so young that they cannot yet "cold read". I hope this helps you in your next class!

*Build a Scene -
Give them a list of 3-5 items that HAVE to be included somehow in their mini-play (ex: the statue of liberty, a tsunami, Disneyland, my grandma, a ferret). Give them 5-10 minutes to create together and practice. They will perform it for you. Then you can "direct" it - give them more specific blocking using Upstage, stage right, etc...., Projection, cheating out, sharing the stage, not stealing focus, when to take focus, and why you should always say "yes" (the most important rule of improv!). It's a great tool for scene work (and if they're young and don't read well), plus they love to be creative!

More ideas for teaching acting to kiddos to come!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Angels Unaware

A lot has happened in the last week.  A lot. I've been blessed in the last few days to meet three individuals (none of them know each other), that somehow knew without asking that I could use a kind word or some support.  What they've done is come alongside me (again, without me even asking), and offer me their knowledge, encouragement and resources as I continue to explore the acting opportunities in Central Florida.  These are working professionals - new friends who I met through one or the other of the many films I've been working on.  And somehow, they knew that I could use a friend.  Someone to toss ideas around with, someone willing to let me bounce ideas off of them, and pick their brain.

Too often, our acting communities around the country like to close their doors and keep out the new - people, ideas, etc...  We are all so afraid that someone else is going to book our job, that we've stopped making friends and helping each other.  The reality of this crazy business is that getting the job has absolutely nothing to do with that other person, but solely with whether casting likes you or not.  Half the time, it has nothing to do with whether you can act or not, but whether you look the part.  Or whether they were bullied by a girl named Erin in 8th grade (no matter how good your audition, you are NOT going to get the part in this situation...).  So why shouldn't we help each other and share information and kindnesses?

How refreshing to meet not just one, but THREE people that are willing to give in the last few days? They have truly helped me out in so many ways already, and I can only hope that I'll be able to give back to them soon.

G'ma Joyce calls these people "Angels Unaware", which is so appropriate and what they truly are.  So thank you, my Angels, for your kindness, support, and knowledge.  For encouraging me and guiding me with no ulterior motives other than to help someone you believe in.

You rock.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Company on Fox 35 - 3 months later

Well, we finally were able to get our hands on the video of the cast of Company on Fox 35, which we shot back in December.  It was such a fun morning, and I'm happy to be able to share it with you this morning.  We're definitely missing some voice parts (it was only about half the cast), and my dress is certainly not flattering me much, but at least I can finally share it with you.

Here you go!

Thanks again, to director Nick Murphy for a great production, and the opportunity to make my stage AND television debut in Orlando all at the same time!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Acting Class Exercises for Kids - "Story, Story, Die"

Since I've been teaching acting to kids for the last twelve years, I thought over the next month or so that I would share some acting exercises and improv games that I've found exceptionally useful with kids. A lot of these would even be great in a school classroom environment! This first game was originally an improv game intended to be played with 4-8 players. Over the years, I changed the format and the rules to work better in the acting classroom. Here's how I play it!

Story, Story, Die -
Have your students sit in a circle, with you (the teacher) in the middle. You will need a title for the story and a genre (if they are old enough to know what a genre is), the kids may provide this or you can. The teacher starts by pointing to one of the students who begins the story. At any point, you (the teacher) can switch to another student. The next student should pick up the story seamlessly. If at any point one of the students hesitates, says umm...., or otherwise stalls, they are out. At this point I usually make them act out an elaborate and funny death, (but maybe not for little, little guys or at a school), hence the title, "Story, Story, Die". The last player left ends the story. This helps them to learn that all important rule of improv - "always say yes," by forcing them to continue a story that didn't ever go the way they intended it to. It's also great for little ones who have trouble with text and reading as it requires neither of those and is a great tool for teaching about storytelling.

Have you played this game before? Do you have any variations to share? Write it in the comments section below!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fast and Furious February!

 Well, hello there!

What a wild and wooly month it has been!  Here's a quick recap:

-I have been auditioning like a woman possessed.  You may recall that in my last post I stated my goals for the year, including my desire to get my first imdb (internet movie database) credit this year.  Well, I have now booked TWO indie films shooting in March and then in May, and I will get TWO imdb credits for working on those.  So thanks for the good thoughts and prayers - I get to work on two great films, get some exposure, beef up my film resume, get paid (always nice), and cross my first goal off of the list - all in two months!  Up next?  Working on booking that National Commercial.  More on that in a bit!

-My gorgeous sister SURPRISED me and came to visit for a week!  We canoed with the alligators at Wekiwa State Park, went to see the Orlando Magic play (they actually WON that game!), and OF COURSE, took Kelli to Disney World for the first time.  It was amazing.  I cried when she surprised me.  We're settling in here, but it can still get lonely, so it was great to have my beautiful sister here.  Here we are at the Magic game!

-Jason's kind-of cousin Lara came down for a few days visit on her way to a Bahamian cruise for Devon's 30th birthday!  We've seen Lara once a month since October, and are hoping to keep the streak going now that we're only a seven hour drive or short flight away!

-Jason built me a raised bed for growing vegetables!  Planting is on going, so I'll wait to show you photos until I get everything planted by the end of this month!  You know that I LOVE to garden, so it's really special that I have a space for it!

-I am still teaching weekly dance classes for little guys and really enjoying it.  They're so cute, and they definitely keep me on my toes.  It's been great!  Plus, I love my boss and the company I am working for, so it's all good things.

-Gym-ing continues.  I don't feel good if I don't get a work out in every day, and my little belly is slowly disappearing.  I'm trying to get to a competitive size for working on-camera - right now I'm wearing a size 4 or 6 depending on the brand, and my goal is to be in a 2/4 by June.

-Last - I'm working on being very proactive about my acting career.  Dallas Travers - The Actor's Advocate - has been amazing in helping me set specific goals for a day, a week, a month, a year, long-term.  I have a plan for every week right now - of what I need to accomplish to develop my acting career.  Projects for March include identifying and building relationships with ten Casting Directors (I'm working on my list), getting my online presence together (blogging weekly, regular tweets - I'm now on TWITTER!, reworking my website, etc...), and many other tools to help me build my career in the way I want to. The next project is booking that National Commercial, and by June I want to be shifting my focus to getting that Guest Star credit.  If you haven't heard of Dallas and you are an actor, go to her site RIGHT NOW by clicking here.  She has tons of great free tools on her site, and if you live in LA or New York, you can take her class.  GO! (By the way, I don't receive anything for the endorsement - I'm just loving Dallas right now, and think you will too.)

-I shot an infomercial.  It was a blast - I had a great time on set with the crew, and they liked me enough to add extra shots of me.  My two hour shoot became a five hour one - can't complain!

So... follow me on twitter by clicking the link on the top of the page to the right, and check back weekly for more updates on my busy Orlando life!  Hope you had a great February!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Getting Reel...er...Real

The last week and a half has been amazing. I shot a short film called Hell on Earth where I basically looked like I had stepped off the set of the Walking Dead. (Photo below.) Fun!

I've had several auditions - a few commercials and an independent feature. I booked an infomercial, which I shoot tomorrow.

All good things!

Which is great because I have set myself some serious goals for this year. I've decided to share them instead of keeping them against my chest - it makes it more real, and forces me to work harder.

So - my goals for my career in 2013:
-book a commercial (multiple commercials would be better)
-Get my first imdb credit
-book a guest star spot on one of the tv series that shoots here in the South

Big goals - especially that last one. And to achieve that last one, I finally have to get reel. If you're wondering what a reel is, it's a sample of the best of your work on camera. A best hits reel that shows your range.

Because in this digital age, you can't get anyone to seriously look at you for any major role without a reel. Even with the best resume they'll just assume you can't act. So a reel is an absolute necessity. And I'm working on mine. I'm getting reel as it were.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Fun with Rob

My brother in law Rob has been in town for the last month, and since he's headed back to the University in a few days (and Jason and I are headed to the Caribbean today) we have been having a blast cramming some last minute fun in.

Friday we headed to Wekiwa State Park to rent a canoe (Jason and I) and a kayak (Rob). We had a blast paddling around, trying to splash each other and we saw so much wildlife in the preserve. It was awesome - we had a blast! AND - I finally had my first wild gator sightings! They were little guys - 4-5 feet and snoozing on the banks in the sun. So cool!

Yesterday we spent the morning volunteering for the Society of Saint Andrew's (SOSA) annual backyard Citrus Harvest. Every year they harvest several tons of unwanted Citrus from local neighborhoods and groves. The citrus is then donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida who distributes the citrus to local shelters and families in need. Very cool. You can see one of the Citrus boxes below.

In the afternoon we stopped for lunch at Robs favorite establishment - Chik Fil A - and then headed for mini golf at Pirates Cove over by Disneyworld. Do you know what happens to those who lose at Pirate mini golf? They end up in the stocks!

Thanks for a great visit, Rob! Stay warm in Idaho! We are Caribbean bound for some sun, run and scuba! (Though not all together!)