Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rant

I don't indulge in rants very often so I'm entitled to this one now.

Lately I've had a few newbie actors ask me for advice in getting started.  Some have been wise and taken it (not that I know everything but, hey, I've been around the block) while others have chosen to ignore it.  I've heard every excuse "I'm not interested in taking classes, I don't need to get a professional headshot, I can get auditions with no experience and no agent, I don't want to do theater, just film". 

Well, good luck with all that.  Yes, I am working now.  NOW, after eight long years of paying my dues, of keeping my arse in class, taking workshops, working on my career on a daily basis, challenging myself in every possible way, taking care of the business side and busting my butt constantly.  Riding the highs and lows and everything in between, I'm finally booking work, FINALLY.

But if you think you can take short cuts, don't need to work on your craft, are above theater and are going to be the next big thing, GOOD LUCK.  Let me know how that works out because you will officially be the first to accomplish it.

For the rest of you, thanks for listening and appreciating that this is a damn hard thing to do.  And the only way to do it is through hard work and putting in the time.  Lots and lots of time. 

End of rant. 

Thanks for allowing me the indulgence and keep on keeping on. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Class is for Growth

I started back to acting class last night and it's about high time.  My goals this time around are to figure out what I'm doing wrong, what I can do better and learn from watching others.  My first night was humbling but good.  There are some great actors in there to learn from.

Even though I've been auditioning and getting call backs for more of the "good stuff" (i.e. NOT commercials), I haven't been booking yet.  It's time to figure out what I need to be doing to stand out and add in those elements my acting that will set me apart and get me the part.

As I said, my first night was humbling.  I did a scene that I had done previously for my demo reel.  The director directed it "big" so that I could get some good emotional pops for my reel.  Unfortunately, that didn't carry over well into class last night and I got some good feedback on it being too far over the top.  With some tweaks and suggestions from my coach, the second performance was MUCH better.  I walked away feeling a little defeated but thankful for the feedback.  One of the things I've always struggled with is criticism, constructive or otherwise. 

Then my coach said some magical words that made it all better...Class is for growth, not to perform. 

Wow, so simple yet so profound.  Class is a safe place to try things out, an opportunity to get feedback that you wouldn't otherwise get after an audition, a place to grow and learn and challenge yourself.  But not a place to perform. 

As actors, we feel like we always have to be on and can't make mistakes.  Life is a performance.  Acting for growth is a difficult concept to accept yet so magical when you do. 

I wrote those words in big letters across the top of my notebook and will be referring back to them many, many times.  Class is for growth and I'm ready to grow. 

Keep on keeping on. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Faith and Adversity

My faith journey and acting journey have been closely intertwined.  My life hasn't always been easy and beautiful.  Partly due to my upbringing and partly due to bad decisions, I had some pretty rough years.  Healing and personal growth have been my focus for the past several years.  Every aspect of my life has not only improved but has been better than anything I could've ever dreamed. 

In yesterday's sermon, our pastor posed this question "If God asked you today if there was one thing He could change in your past or present circumstances, what would it be?".  I thought about it for a few minutes but couldn't come up with one thing.  Every single experience in my life has lead to where I am today.  I wouldn't change any, good or bad. 

It's much the same with acting.  The bad auditions, being re-cast, feeling like I had no one on my side, seeing others get the job when I just knew I was better, the battle to feel like I was good enough when I had not one tangible sign of it, all of it lead me to where I am now - in a season of success and blessing.  In a place where all of the hard work feels like it's finally paying off. 

I wouldn't change any of the adversity in my life, it drew me closer to God and knowing His will for me.  It gave me character and strength.  Most importantly it strengthened my faith.  I pray differently now, instead of asking God to deliver me from my circumstances, I ask to teach me the lessons I need the most.  I ask for the experiences in my life that are not easy, but will help me grow. 

Seasons of success are incredible.  But seasons of adversity, in the long run, can lead to things that are even better. 

Keep on keeping on. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

WHAT A WEEK!

Since last Friday I...
  • had a callback for a feature film,
  • had an audition for a recurring role on a network series,
  • worked a print job,
  • had an audition for another feature film,
  • had a callback for a national commercial,
  • and...booked my first national commercial!
Tomorrow I'm auditing a film acting workshop.  Sunday I have a fitting for next week's commercial.  Then on Tuesday, I'm shooting a scene for my reel and Wednesday is the commercial shoot.

Holy cow!  I'm in acting heaven.  :)

At the beginning of this year, I committed myself 100% to reaching some milestones this year - one of them to become SAG eligible by booking a national commercial.  None of this happened by accident.  I came up with a plan and worked my tail off.  Of course, God brought me the opportunities and learning experiences but I had to have the game plan to be ready and make it happen.

Do the work, pray a lot, keep the faith and it WILL happen.  This week, I'm proof.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It. Happened.

Yesterday I found out I was one of the first choices for a SAG national commercial and today...I booked it! 

I'm so overwhelmed with emotion right now - from elation to disbelief to crying and back again.  Maybe that sounds silly but I've waited SO long for this and have been second choice so many times, six this year already! 

This one is mine.  I'll finally be SAG eligible and in a big, fat, GREAT way.

To God be the glory.  I'm beyond blessed and humbled. 

Keep on keeping on. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Updates, Updates, Updates

It was a weird week in the acting world.  Although I don't know what would constitute a normal one.  I had three SAG auditions in four days, followed by a non-union commercial audition.  Four auditions in a week, not too shabby.  Three went great, the other, not so much. 

The first was for the out-of-state feature film that I blogged about earlier in the week.  I was really curious all week about this one.  Did the girl I carpooled with get it?  Did another woman at our agency that books everything get it?  Was it the other, younger girl?  Well, we may not know who exactly got it for awhile but I do know it wasn't me or the other two women at my agency.  Our agent e-mailed us yesterday to let us know that it had been cast and no one with our agency got any of the roles.  Bummer.  Oh well, it was nice that she gave us some closure, which is rare. 

I had a SAG commercial audition last Saturday that shot on Thursday.  I was asked to be an extra for that one but declined.  The money would've been nice but I have to pick and choose my extra jobs due to taking time off from my pesky day job.  It sort of pays the bills. 

On Monday, I had a SAG national commercial audition.  I have a callback for that one next Monday, yippee!  That brings me to 27 auditions, 10 bookings and 10 callbacks for the year.  I like watching those numbers grow every year that I'm at this.  I'd really love to book this one and think I'm a great fit, just sayin'.  My goal is to get SAG-e this year.  The time is dwindling down but my auditions have been pretty consistent.  One of these just HAS to be the one. 

And now for the fourth audition, well I bombed that one.  It was an open audition, meaning we had to audition in the front of the room while all of the other actresses (the competition) watched.  I'm really comfortable auditioning in front of just about anyone...except my peers.  It always rattles me a little more than I'd like.    Not to mention that my scene partner and I had no chemistry whatsoever and it was all improvisation.  Disaster.  No need to worry about a callback on that one.  Moving on.

So I'm hoping this consistent auditioning streak continues.  If for no other reason, the law of odds in on my side.

Keep on keeping on!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Film Callback

I had my first ever callback for a SAG feature film on Friday.  It was out of state so I carpooled with another actress with my agency who was called back for the same role.  Awkward?  Sort of, but I viewed it as an opportunity to get to know an experienced actress a little better.  Not to mention, we both saved some gas money.  :)

She drove and we chatted on the three-hour drive and got to know each other a little better.  We had met before in a casting director's workshop earlier this year.  She was the reader in the workshop and I was a student.  At the time, she was starring in a critically acclaimed stage production in L.A. that the workshop director had written and produced.  I already admired her work.

Neither of us discussed the part we were auditioning for but we exchanged stories about our backgrounds, how we got started and I, of course, asked her many questions about her experiences in La-la land.  Once we got there, we discovered only four women had been called back to read for the role.  I felt super-honored to be included in that foursome. 

I went in before her and read four scenes for the film's director and casting director from L.A..  They both gave me great feedback after each scene.  I felt totally relaxed and comfortable for the first time in any audition.  I was connected, in the moment and fully present.  That alone was a major accomplishment. I walked out feeling pretty good. 

My friend went in next.  About mid-way through her reading, I heard applause.  When she walked out she gave me a thumbs-up sign and we signed out and left.  Once outside, she asked how I felt about it and I told her that it went as well as it could have.  She asked if the director applauded when I was done.  I told her no and she started laughing and told me that he did in hers.  It was an off-hand remark, no harm intended, and we both started laughing.  I congratulated her on an applause-worthy audition. 

On the way back, we discussed our insecurities as actors.  I was surprised to learn that she plays the same head games with herself that I struggle with on an almost daily basis.  We agreed that the psychological game is sometimes the hardest thing to overcome.  I told her that I honestly hoped that she would get the part if I didn't (which she probably will anyway).  And I meant it. 

Overall it was a great experience and I wouldn't have changed anything if I could have.  It's another milestone for me.  A feature film and only one of four called back.  I'm ecstatic for that alone.  But it was about more than that, I gained some valuable insights and learned that even though we compete for roles, it doesn't have to be ugly.  Will I be disappointed that I didn't get it?  Of course.  But if it goes to a worthy opponent, then so be it. 

I'm moving on up. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I'm Back...for Today

It sounds so cliche but I'm gonna say it anyway...I haven't been posting because I've been just too darn busy!  Aren't we all?  Well I feel like I should get some kind of special busy-ness award for working my full-time job, being a mom to three crazy busy kids and still chasing my passion when I can.  Can I, please?

So, what's been up?  A lot and not much, really.  As for the acting world, auditions slowed down the past few weeks.  I was second choice again for yet another commercial.  I would've posted about that but really, there's nothing more to say about it.  It's progress, it happens and whatever.  No need to be redundant.

Things were pretty quiet up until Tuesday when I got a call that I booked a print job for a client that I've worked with in the past.  Yippee!  I like repeat bookings, I know what to expect and the client is usually happy with what I've done for them before.  I mean, why would they book me again if they weren't?

Then, out of the blue, God handed me another little gift to help me keep on keeping on - a callback for a feature film audition that I went to over a month ago!  I had long ago ditched the script and given up any hope of getting a callback.  It's a blessing and I'm honestly just really thrilled to be included in the callback with some amazingly talented actresses.  The callback is out of state so I'll be taking tomorrow afternoon off to travel for it. 

This weekend I'll be performing in a murder mystery.  My daughters and husband are coming so I'm really excited about it.  The girls have never gotten to participate in an actual show, only watch rehearsals, so it will be a special night! 

That's all I got for now.  And remember to keep on keeping on.

Monday, August 22, 2011

If You Don't Love It, Don't Do It.

My 15 year-old son has some God-given gifts.  He's very athletic, a fast runner and builds muscle easily.  Gifts most teenage boys would embrace.  Gifts that could open a lot of doors in life.  Gifts that are perfect for football. 

His dad went to a Division I college on a football scholarship.  He was a stand-out running back through high school and set some college records that still stand today. 

My son is back-up running back on the JV football team.  Not the first JV team full of the best athletes, but the second JV team.  He goes to a large 4A school in Texas.  Competition is fierce for everything, but especially for football.  He's faster than the starting running backs on all of the teams, he's bigger, he's stronger.  He should be starting, but he's not. 

Why?  Because he doesn't like football.

I've been denying it for years but I always suspected it.  My dreams for his future included a football scholarship.  His dreams are to attend the Naval Academy and become a SEAL.  He's never liked sports, even when he excelled at them at a younger age.  It's never been more obvious than this year.  When he's on the field, his apathy shows.  His gifts go unused.  The passion isn't there.  Others want it more. 

Slowly I'm coming to accept this but it's hard.  I mean really, really hard.  But, I would never push him to do something he doesn't love.  You have to be "all in", especially for something requiring such a commitment.  If your talents don't match your desire, then you need to channel them differently. 

His athletic ability will serve him well in his chosen field, I don't doubt that.  He will be unstoppable when he finds that one thing that he's passionate about.  His talents will not be wasted.

Why am I writing this on my acting blog?  Well, for one, because it's cathartic but it's not all for my own selfish reasons.  If you're acting (or doing anything) and don't know why, then question it.  Is it because someone told you that you had talent and you should be?  Or is it because you truly love it and are passionate about it?  Are you "all in"?  Acting arguably requires as much (if not more) mental toughness, training and tenacity as any competitive sport.  It's a tough go and if you aren't doing it for the right reasons, then maybe it's time to stop and re-evaluate. 

Do it because you love it. 

As for my son, I'm backing off and giving up on my dream so that he can live his. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Little Things

Last week my mother-in-law was in town.  We took a trip downtown to do some sightseeing which coincided with an audition that I had that afternoon.  She was much more excited to get to tag along to an audition than see any of the sights in downtown Dallas! 

She sat outside and waited as I did a "couples" commercial audition for a restaurant chain.  She was fascinated by all of the actors coming through and the process of it all.  Living in rural Pennsylvania, she had never experienced anything quite like that and so enjoyed a glimpse into the day to day of being an actress.

Seeing the audition process anew through her eyes really makes me appreciate what I do all over again.  It's so easy to get bogged down at times but as Steven Pressfield writes in "War of Art", it's better to be in the arena getting stomped by the bull than to be in the stands watching...or worse yet, in the parking lot.  I love the arena, it's sights and sounds.  Sometimes, when I'm in there with the bull, I get the horns.  But once in a while, I hear an "ole" and know that I'm right where I've always wanted to be.

I have a callback from that audition this weekend - and I plan to take the bull by the horns and enjoy my time in the arena.

Keep on keeping on.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Progress

Progress is nice, no matter what form it comes in.  The past two days, I noticed a little something while waiting for auditions.  I was surrounded by the in-crowd - my market's A-listers that are booking like crazy and are seriously incredible actors. 

It feels good to be there.  It's progress.  Just like being second choice over and over again is.  Maybe there aren't tangible benefits but the confidence boost is amazing.  And that's part of what it takes to get to the next level.

It's been a nice couple of days.  I hope the old adage is true - you're as good as those you're surrounded by. 

Keep on keeping on. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

And Then There Were Two

Hi, my name is Alison and I am #2.  Uh, wait, that doesn't sound good.

Hi, my name is Alison and I am second.  Yes, that's better. 

So I just got back from a three hour (!) callback.  It was an elimination round, so to speak, with the last couple standing presumably booking the spot.  We started out with 7 girls and 5 guys and ended up with two of each.  Two couples, of which I was one half of one.  After seeing so many others get cut, it was nice to be one of the last two standing.  Yet nervewracking at the same time.

Three hours of auditioning, different direction each time, down to me and another woman.  Polar opposites.  She's shorter, I'm taller, she has light hair, I have dark hair, she's got a very comedic look, I have a very commercial look.    Well, it's that last one that I think decided it for them. 

My last time I auditioned, I was asked to make it as over-the-top comedic as possible.  I was given one shot, I tried my best but I don't think it was enough.  They called her back in for a third time, then released all four of us.

Final two.  I am second.  If you're not first,  you're last. 

But I least I got to be second once again and that felt pretty good for today.  On to my next audition this afternoon and to prepare for a film audition tomorrow.  Yes, a film audition, oh happy day! 

Keep on keeping on. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Callback Rule #1

Well, hello blog peeps!  This Wednesday I have a commercial callback from an audition that I had before vacation.  And I've been deliberating something since finding out.  The casting specs asked for a perky, cute woman to play the part of the wife.  I'm many things but perky ain't one of them.  So, I was sort of surprised to get the callback. 

They called back seven women, three from my agency - me and two VERY perky other women.  Hmm.  Immediately I started questioning everything about my audition from what I wore to how I came across.  And yes, deliberating whether or not I should change everything about what I did the first time around. 

NOOOOOOOOO! 

Callback Rule #1 - Do what you did the first time.  They liked it or they wouldn't be seeing you again.  Fight the urge to be like the others getting called back.  Be yourself.  At the end of the day, you can only be you.  Everyone else is taken.

Maybe they will change directions and go with something else, maybe that something else will be me.  Or maybe they will stick with perky.  Who knows.  What I do know is that I'm not changing a thing.  And if they really want perky from me, they might ask for that.  I can fake it. 

I am an actor after all.  :) 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lazy

OK, so I've been a lazy blogger of late.  Summer will do that to you.  First things first, vacation was so nice, being at the beach always brings clarity and perspective to my life and pursuits.  It recharges me and gets me ready to dive back in.

So, I rocked an audition yesterday for a show host!  The whole conversational spokes thing is always a challenge for me but I'm finally getting better at it.  Keeping my fingers crossed for a callback.

Also, I got a callback for a commercial audition that I had before vacation.  It will be held next week.  They are casting a "couple", there are seven women and five men being called back.  The client is going to pair us up and see what works.  I hate these types of callbacks.  If you get cut early, you know that you didn't get it.  Although, it's nice to know how many people are going to be at a callback - and this is a relatively small number.  It seems the past few years that callbacks have been getting bigger and bigger.  They used to only be handful of people and you felt like you really had a chance.

I stopped by my agent's office yesterday and was told that they are having all talent sign a Social Agreement.  Basically it's a confidentiality statement that we agree not to reveal any specifics of auditions, go-sees or anything that we may book on Facebook, Twitter, blogs (!), etc.  I've been pretty good about keeping vague but I guess I need to be even more careful. 

Well that's it for today from this lazy blogger.  I'll be performing in a show tonight in downtown Dallas with my actors' company, so I'll be running lines the rest of the day, woo hoo!  Hope you're having a stupendous week.

Keep on keeping on. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Today Was a Good Day

As Ice Cube would say, it was a good day.  OK, 90's rap song reference aside, it was a pretty decent day in the life of an actress.

This morning, I was booked for a half day spokes job for an industrial shoot.  The script was all on teleprompter but we shot five very wordy videos.   Somehow we knocked all of them out in ONE HOUR!  The client told me that it normally takes at least four hours.  He was very impressed and complimentary and told me that he wants to use me on an on-going basis.  Woo hoo!  Even though I hate to admit it, spokes work is my sweet spot.  I need to quit fighting it and just embrace my strengths. 

From there, I raced off to a commerical audition for a national pizza chain.  It is a super fun spot and my audition partner and I worked great together.  We got to pull out our improv skills and have a blast and I'm sure it showed.  Fingers crossed for a callback on that one! 

And now I'm ready for a much needed vacation starting tomorrow morning - eight glorious days on the beach.  My beach read will be Michael Caine's "Acting in Film" and I'll share some of what I learn when I get back.

In the meantime...keep on keeping on.

Why I Love My Day Job

For over 12 years I've felt like the square peg in the round hole of corporate America.  My career in telecom has definitely had its ups and downs . The first few years, I tried my hardest to fit in and get ahead but something never felt quite right.  When I started taking acting classes, I finally discovered why.  I just didn't belong there. 

From that moment on, my day job lost a part of me.  The part that cared about fitting in and getting ahead.  My emotional energy was invested somewhere else.  Don't get me wrong, I've always done well in my corporate job, my pride won't allow me to be an underperformer.  But now I'm satisfied to "blend in" a little more and just do what I need to do.

But, for what it's worth, I've learned and benefitted a lot from my job experience.  I don't plan on leaving anytime soon, unless they ask me to or I book the most fabulous steady acting job that requires me to. 

On the occasional days that I do get the day job blues, I remind myself of all that it's taught me and allows me to do. 

1.  I get to work from home. - This is quite possibly the BEST perk of all.  After being with the company for 12 years, I have the flexibility and have earned the trust to work from my home office.  This is an incredible privilege and for that fact, I respect it.  Sure, I run out to auditions, but for the most part, they are easily accommodated by a flexible lunch hour.  Because I'm not working in a traditional office, I have the advantage of working very early in the morning or late in the evening if I ever need to make up any time. 

2.  It pays well.  - The square peg (creative type) has discovered a niche in the round hole (engineering) that satisfies the analytical side of my brain and pays the bills.  Engineer and actress don't normally get mentioned in the same sentence, except when I'm meeting new people and telling them what I do!   

3.  I've learned what "healthy" work environments look like.  - Let's face it, the entertainment industry isn't exactly the poster child for a healthy work environment.  I've seen directors cuss out actors on set, agents send demeaning e-mails to their talent, casting directors treat us like dirt beneath their feet.  I have no tolerance for any of that because it doesn't happen in my day job.  I've never been treated with anything less than the utmost respect by my management and peers.  And that's the way it should be.  Period.

So while it would be nice to be living the life of a working actress and not worrying about where my next job is coming from, I'm perfectly satisfied to be living the life of a "working as an engineer" actress and knowing I have a paycheck every two weeks.  I still get to scratch my itch as a performer and progress in my acting career.  But there's a lot less risk involved. 

Next time you start hating your day job, count your blessings for what it allows you to do.  I do every day. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Moving On

Last week was a rough week, I counted all of the things going wrong instead of all of the things going right.  And that's always a dangerous game.  It never leads anywhere good.  No matter how much progress we've made, it's so easy to forget all about it as soon as we hit a rough spot. 

Over the weekend, I pulled out my "progress sheet".  It's a timeline that I've kept for the past five years highlighting all of my acting accomplishments.  I'm a very visual person and having something like this in front of me to prove how far I've come is a very powerful tool to get out of the acting doldrums. 

It chronicles everything from signing with my first agent to getting my first IMDB credit to getting my first network series audition.  It's really cool to see a clear line of progress.  Yes, there have been dry spells and steps backward but overall it's forward progress and that's a very good thing.

So what about you?  What do you do when the acting doldrums strike?  Why not start your own timeline now.  Think back over your accomplishments, large and small or simply start where you are and jot them down. 

And when in doubt, take the next logical step forward by faith.  Ask yourself what is next, your inner guide will let you know.  I'm ready for my next breakthrough, bring it on!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ginormous Funk

I'm in a ginormous funk this week and I'm not quite sure why.  Well, I am kind of sure why, actually.

Maybe it's because three of my friends became SAG-e this week and I'm still waiting.  Maybe it's because I never heard back from the agent I submitted with in another city that was supposed to be a "sure thing".  Maybe it's because I didn't get selected to audition for the SAG feature this week that I was submitted on.  Maybe it's because a lot of my friends got auditions for an upcoming network series and I didn't.  Maybe it's because I was really on a roll this spring just to have everything come to a screeching halt. 

I don't know what's going on right now but I feel like I'm swimming upstream every day.  Things just aren't flowing.  When this happens, I question my path.  There's only so much you can put out without anything coming back in.  I need a win.  I don't ask for one often, but I really need one to keep going right now. 

And I need to find a way to take my own advice and keep on keeping on.   

Want More Fans and Followers? Check This Out!

Do you have your own Facebook fan page?  Would you like to reach more fans, network with others in the industry or just shamelessly promote yourself?

I've created a page called Actor Fan Page Likes on Facebook so we can like each other's pages and make new friends.  It exists solely for the promotion of performers.  I get nothing from it...except more work.  Which I don't mind, because I love ya'll so much!

The rules are really, really simple.

1.  Like Actor Fan Page Likes on FB.
2.  Post a link on the wall to your Fan Page, Twitter account, web site, whatever you want to promote.
3.  ALWAYS like back everyone who likes you. 

That's it!  Easy peasy.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Quitter

Have you ever "quit" acting?  I have.  Many times, actually.  The thing is, I'm usually the only one who knows that I quit. 

To me, quitting is getting to the point where I've put so much out (and very little has come back in) that I have to pull all of my energy back.  In my mind, I entertain the thought of not putting myself back out there again.  Ever.  In my heart, I know better. 

Sometimes all I need is a break, some time to collect my thoughts and realize why I do this.  Then I pick myself back up and take a few small steps to putting myself back out there again. 

Acting is sort of like an abusive relationship, I just keep going back for more and more.  I leave it for a short while, swearing to never go back, but somehow I get drawn back in.  Except unlike an abusive relationship, I make progress each time I go back and have a breakthrough or two that pushes me forward in my craft and career.   

Quitting is a good thing for me.  Even if it's only for a week or so.  Sometimes it's exactly what I need to realize how awful life would be if I ever really did give up. 

Keep on keeping on. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Film "Learnings" from an Amateur

Yes, I’m aware that “learnings” is not even a word.  But if teachings can be, then why not learnings? 

Anyway…even though I’ve done quite a few commercials and industrials, you won’t find many film credits on my resume yet.  I’m working on that and actually just wrapped on my first real production of any note just two weeks ago. 
Needless to say, although I’m going to say it, film is a completely different animal.  Being on other sets prepares you a bit but there were quite a few surprises in store for me on my first real film shoot. 

Here are a few of the “learnings” that I picked up:
You will get no rehearsal and even if you do, it’s for the camera people and director, not necessarily for your performance.  -  If you want a rehearsal beforehand, don’t be afraid to ask your cast mates.  Most of them will be happy to run through it with you. 

Your scenes may or may not be shot with a real live human. – In several scenes, the other actor wasn’t there.  I had to really create in my mind what was going on in the scene, hear his voice, see his reactions and deliver my lines.  This was probably my biggest struggle of the entire shoot.    

What looks best on camera may not look or feel at all natural in real life. – At one point I had a choke hold on my co-star while my (clothed) boob was squished awkwardly by a chair for take after take of a close up shot.  At first I was a little rattled by the discomfort but had to push it out of my mind in order to do exactly what the director wanted.    I’m sure the shot will be beautiful, even if it did hurt and look weird at the time. 

Be prepared for ANYTHING - The way you rehearsed it in your mind, and what the director asked for in your audition and callback, may end up being shot completely differently.  I had an intense fight scene in this film, which I got cast mostly because I conjured the emotion for it.  When it came time to shoot the actual scene, the director did a 180 and asked us to make it an intimate moment.  Wow, that was a curve ball.  I was able to adjust on the fly but it felt awkward. 

Just because your call time is at a certain time doesn’t mean you’ll be acting anytime near it. – In commercials, I’m usually on set and ready to start within 1.5 to two hours of my call time.  In film, it’s much different, there’s a lot of hurry up and wait.  One of our cast members had a call time at 8:00 p.m., his scene didn’t start shooting until 3:00 a.m.  Commercials and smaller productions work on tight schedules and budgets, the sooner they can get it in the can, the better.  Films don’t operate this way.  Be prepared to wait, a lot. 

Now that I’ve got this one under my belt, I’ll definitely be more prepared next time around.  Here’s to more film bookings!

Well, Hello Nerves!

The curse has ended, I FINALLY had an audition today.  It was my first in, uh, 47 days.  Which is officially one of my longest dry spells ever. 

Up to this point, I've been auditioning consistently around three times a week with very few breaks.  Which naturally kept my bookings pretty consistent too.  Thankfully the dry spell hasn't completely wrecked havoc on my bookings as I've gotten quite a few jobs on my own.  But it has apparently rattled my auditioning skills a bit!

I started getting butterflies the minute I pulled into the parking lot.  This is a casting director that I don't get in front of often and casts a lot of the bigger jobs in town.  After signing in I found out that I would be reading with one of the girls from my agency.  She is a very sweet girl and one that I count among my friends in this business.  We often go up against each other for the same parts but have never actually read together for anything. 

Many people would be comforted to work with someone they already know, but not me.  I'd prefer to audition with a stranger any day over someone that I know.  I'm not quite sure why but it's always made me a little self-conscious to audition with the other girls from my agency. 

Well, long story short, the above factors, combined with the fact that the client was in the room, conspired against me and the butterflies carried over into the audition.  I think I did a pretty good job of controlling it and managed to give a decent performance.  Nothing spectacular.  I forced myself to breathe deeply and slow down when we were in the scene and that helped a lot. 

I wonder if I'll ever be immune to nerves.  It seems like they've been sneaking up on me a lot the past six months.  Just when I think I have them licked, BAM!  There they are again.  Well, hello nerves! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

If you like my blog, then...

You'll love these two that I just found.  Both are written by very smart, funny and talented actresses!

The Struggling Actress

The Smiling Actress

Both are really darn good.  Check them out. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Booking Work Without Even Trying

Whine, whine, no auditions.  Boo hoo.  OK, so I've complained a lot lately about my lack of auditions.  But you want to know what's better than auditioning?  Booking two jobs without even trying. 

My agent just called, I'm on hold for a job this Wednesday and for another one in two weeks.  Woot!

Thanks for the encouraging words, lovely readers.  I'll *try* to refrain from b!tching now. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Dry Spell Goes On

OK, it's been 40 days since my last audition, FORTY DAYS!!!  WTH?

So, what's a girl to do?  I can complain about it and get frustrated by it, but really none of that will do any good.  For the most part, it's out of my control.  I've been getting as much work on the side as I can and taking care of the business end of things.  But ultimately most of my real auditions come through my agent and this is one of the longer dry spells I've had.

There are a few things I've learned that have helped me through dry spells in the past. It's time to pull them out again. 

1.  Realize that it happens.  There are slow times of the year.  There are also times when your "type" may not be in demand. 

2.  Call or e-mail your agent.  Let them know you're still around and ready to work.  Sometimes you just have to let them know that you're getting anxious and it will jar things loose a bit.

3.  Dry spells are a great time to collect your thoughts, take a breather, read a book, update your expenses and do all of the things you don't have time for when you're auditioning regularly. 

4.  Make your own auditions. The last thing you want to happen during a dry spell is to lose your acting chops.  Pull out old material that you've auditioned with in the past, learn a new monologue, turn on your video camera and give it your best.  Watch your playback and learn. 

5.  Network with other actors.  Set up some lunch dates.  Maybe they are going through dry spells too.  Networking is such an important thing that often gets overlooked in busy times. 

Good luck with your dry spell.  I'm hoping mine comes to an end VERY SOON.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why I Love Murder Mysteries

This weekend I performed with my actors' company in my bazillionth murder mystery.  I memorized a 40 page script in one week, had one rehearsal and got paid a whopping $75 which barely covered my gas.  But guess what?  I enjoy them more than anything else I do. They're outrageously fun and have taught me more about acting than anything else I've done.

Sometimes I get judgmental looks from other actors when I tell them I perform in murder mysteries.  I mean isn't dinner theater really about the lowest gig there is?  Now that I'm a "professional" actor (whatever that means), it's been even harder to get others to appreciate my reasons for continuing with these shows. 

But I act for the love of performing.  The things I do for free and cheap are often the hardest work and the greatest reward.  They are my guilty pleasure and my dirty little secret.  I'm going to let you in on it though.  Nothing has sharpened me as a performer quite like performing in these silly, raucous, fly by the seat of your pants shows. 

Never, never make the mistake of thinking you're too good for taking gigs like this.  They are a privilege to work in and a great proving ground for any actor.  You will learn to think on your feet, get out of your comfort zone, react to what's going on around you in the moment, be as big as you want, develop characters and memorize scripts quickly. 

Here are just a few of the invaluable skills that I've learned in my years of being in murder mysteries:

  • Terrific improvisation skills which have served me well in audition after audition.  Interacting with and being interrogated by an audience will sharpen your ability to improv like nothing else. 
  • The ability to adjust on the fly and jump in and out of the script.  Because the shows are so interactive, we have all developed the ability to find where we are in the script and keep the show going.  You learn your lines and everyone else's so well that you can always save your castmates and keep the story line progressing.  This is a great skill to have in live theater, you must be able to save your castmates if they forget a line. 
  • You get paid to make a total and complete fool out of yourself.  This one is my favorite.  The audience enjoys it more that way.  You get to be as dramatic as possible, go completely outside of your comfort zone and look ridiculous.  I can't think of many things more fun than that. 
My parting quote for today has to do with letting yourself go.  If murder mysteries have taught me nothing else, they have driven this point home.  Go ahead, act a fool!

When in doubt, make a fool of yourself.  There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on Earth.  So, what the hell, leap! - Cynthia Heimel

Keep on keeping on. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Should I Take a Casting Director Workshop?

I get asked this question A LOT.  Since I've taken many CD workshops, I consider myself kind of an expert on this subject and am always happy to offer advice.  Exposure and on-going training are important but as struggling performers our funds are limited.  How do you decide which workshop to take or if it's even worth it?

Here are a few questions to ask before you sign up.

#1 - What is this casting director currently working on? 

If the CD hasn't cast anything current and isn't involved in casting anything that you would interested in, then pass.  You want to work with a CD who is seeing actors on an almost daily basis, working on a current series or casting feature films (or even commercials) that you might be a good fit for.  These CD's  know the trends in acting, the feel of the shows and films and what the decisions makers want.  They see who is getting cast and why and can share that knowledge with you.

#2 - Am I ready?

This is where you really need to be honest with yourself.  Are you ready to show a prominent casting director what you have to offer?  Yes, you are there to learn but if your chops aren't quite up to par then you risk showing them that you aren't up to the task.  Casting director workshops are something you should do after you have some classes and credits under your belt.  Think of it as a master class with exposure. 

#3 - Will exposure with this CD benefit me? 

Let's face it, a big part of taking workshops with CD's is for the exposure.  They are, after all, the ones getting you through the door for auditions.  This may be your (paid for) opportunity to get in front of a particular CD that otherwise might not see you.  These workshops absolutely, positively help with exposure. I've seen actors plucked from obscurity and cast into feature films due to a casting director workshop. It simply works.    

A word on preparation, this may seem like a no-brainer but if you have a scene to prepare beforehand, PREPARE IT!  I can't tell you how many workshops I've attended where actors show up totally unprepared when they've had the sides in advance.  That's a surefire way to show that you aren't professional. 

#4 - What are they teaching?

Besides the obvious benefit of exposure, you're there to learn too.  So, what should you expect a casting director to teach you?  Due to the fact that they are seeing hundreds of actors each month, you should expect to learn a thing or two about auditioning techniques and what makes you stand out in a sea of actors.  There are many subtleties in audition technique that can separate you from the competition and CD's are full of little gems that work.  A writer/director/producer teaching a workshop that I attended recently told the class that he only watches 10 seconds of each audition before skipping to the next.  You don't have the luxury to "warm-up" in your audition.  You MUST get their attention at the top and keep it.   They know how you can do that and are there to share it with you.  Be sure to ask lots of questions too, make the most of the experience and make sure you get what you want out of it. 

Because of asking those questions in advance, I've never regretted one workshop I've taken.  They have all more than paid for themselves in the amount of networking contacts and jobs I've booked from either the CD that held the workshop or others that I met while there.  Next time you get a paid booking, budget some of that money for a future workshop.  It's an investment that very well could lead to more work.

Friday, June 17, 2011

One Acting Action Every Day - Week in Review

TGIF!  It's that day of the week where I hold myself accountable for daily actions toward reaching my goal of being a full-time actress.  So, how was your week?  What steps, big or small, did you take this week toward reaching one of your goals?  Go ahead, pat yourself on the back, let me know how you did.

Sunday:  I normally start with Monday but Sunday was a big acting day for me.  Two great performances in church services were followed by filming the final scene of the baseball film trailer. 
Monday:  Lots of script work for the show this weekend.  Continued working on lines and character development.
Tuesday:  Sent a follow-up e-mail to an agent I submitted with a few weeks back.  More script work.
Wednesday:  Read a few chapters of Michael Caine's "Acting in Film".  I'll be sharing some of the insights I'm learning from the book soon!  Went to rehearsal for the show this weekend. 
Thursday: After realizing at the rehearsal that I am NOT at all prepared, worked through my script several more times.
Friday:  More script work today and finalize costume for tomorrow night's show!

Also, I got some pretty exciting news yesterday, I was contacted to write articles for an actor's casting service!  More details to come on that later. 

The blog continues to grow too, we have 90 Facebook fans now!  Keep them coming. 

Have a great weekend and keep on keeping on.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

100 FB Fan Give-Away!

If you haven't liked me on Facebook yet, now is the perfect time.  We're at 90 fans now and as soon as we hit 100, I'm giving away a $25 Amazon.com gift card.

All you have to do is share the Undiscovered Alison Facebook fan page with your FB friends and/or fans, then let me know!

Post on my page and let me know...or leave a comment below.  Good luck!  I'll be choosing one winner at random as soon as we hit 100!

Busyness, Jealousy, Unpreparedness...

It's been an interesting week so far.  I'm feeling pretty crazy right now.  My husband has been out of town on an extended business trip so I have all of the house responsibilities, all of the kid responsibilities, my full-time job and preparation for a new show this weekend on my plate. ARGHHH!!! 

You'd think I would want to scale back, and I do.  Yet, there's a part of me that's kind of pissed because I haven't been auditioning.  My agent hasn't called me with an audition in over a month!  This dry spell has gone way beyond what I thought it would, although I've been staying busy with acting jobs I've gotten on my own.  I'd blame it on the summer lull yet all of my "friends" seem to be pretty busy.  And yes, I'm jealous.  Every morning I log onto Facebook just to see all of them posting about their latest auditions and bookings.  Some days I just want to hide them all from my feed.  Grr...

Back to the busyness though.  Last night I had a rehearsal for my actors' company's new murder mystery show this weekend.  I'm normally the one that has all my lines down and knows the show inside and out by the time we have our final rehearsal.  Well, guess who didn't?  ME.  It was a disasterous rehearsal.  I'll be spending the next few days memorizing the heck out of that script until we perform on Saturday night. 

OK, enough complaining.  Time for solving.  First off, it IS time to scale back.  I'm actual thankful for the auditioning dry spell because I don't think I could handle another thing on my plate right now.  And although I'm jeaous of my friends' bookings, I have my times of posting all of my wonderful auditions and gigs on Facebook where they probably want to hide me.  It's very cyclical and right now is just not my time.  I'm going to bust my butt getting ready for this weekend's show and then take some well-deserved REST and back off from anything outside of my homelife for at least a week (that's the plan).  Then, when I'm back on track and have the bandwidth (telecom term, other life), I can dive back in again. 

Alright, that sounds like a plan!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why Do I Do This?

This morning I got really honest and asked myself why I do this.  Blog, that is.  I know why I act, it's always been in my heart, but this blogging thing is new to me.

Why be this vulnerable?  Why put my rejections, disappointments, challenges, frustrations, lessons and accomplishments out for the whole world to see?  Why put everything on display that I try so hard to hide at times?

It all boiled down to these three things. 

#1 - It's therapy.  Talking it out through writing is one way that I can evaluate situations and get clarity.  It's a means of venting and resolving.  When I go through my greatest challenges and disappointments, just coming here every day to post about it helps me process it.  It's my own personal journal, except the whole world can see it.

# 2 - I need cheerleaders.  That's where my readers come in.  I desperately need support to keep at this.  It's really hard to chase a dream like this when all of the odds are stacked against you.  I don't have a lot of real-life supporters other than my husband and kids.  Your comments and encouragement are priceless to me.  You'll never know who much it means to have people rooting for me in the wings.  Give me an A, L, I, S, O, N!  :)

#3 - I want to support others.  I'm not the only one out there chasing a seemingly impossible dream.  Whether you're a mom pursuing your passion of having your own successful blog or online business, or another performer out there in the trenches every day, I want to be an encourager to every one of you.  I'll share everything I pick up along the way, maybe you will find it helpful too. 

YOU are a big part of this process and I appreciate that you're along for the ride.

Keep on keeping on.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hideous

Tonight as my six year-old daughter and I were relaxing on the porch swing, she was chirping along in a continuous stream of thought about what she wanted to be like when she grew up.  She said "I hope I don't grow up to be ugly."  I assured her that she didn't have to worry about that and told her that she's beautiful now and always will be.  She then added that she wants to grow up to look just like LaLa.  LaLa (or Lauren) is her 25 year-old cousin, my niece, and is drop-dead gorgeous, by the way.  See for yourself!


   
My feelings were slightly hurt, I really wished that she would've said she wanted to grow up to look like me.  So I baited the hook and asked if she did.  She said "No, mommy, that is not possible because I have blonde hair and would look hideous with brown hair like yours."  I started laughing and asked her if she thought I looked hideous.  Thankfully she didn't hesitate to say no but then added in her sassiest tone "but that mole on your forehead between your eyes looks hideous.  Can't you pop it or something?  That thing GOTS TO GO!".

OUCH. Maybe I should go ahead and get that taken care of? I've actually been contemplating calling the dermatologist for the past month to get it removed.  He told me a few months ago that he wanted to take it off but I had a print shoot coming up and couldn't do it then.  He said that it could wait and was nothing sinister.  Just unsightly.  Apparently hideously so, according to a six year-old who doesn't want to grow up to look like her mom. 

Call me vain, shallow, fragile, whatever.  Kids are brutally honest.  Out of the mouths of babes! It can't hurt to listen.  :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

I Was Almost a TV Star

video

A year ago this week, I submitted an audition video for My OWN Show:  Oprah's Search for the Next TV Star.  Read on to see what happened and watch the video to see how it's effected my life since then. 

Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Not in becoming Oprah’s next big TV star. But out of 10,000 online contestants and 10 national casting calls, I made it really far in the competition. And that feels pretty darn good!

Last year in mid-June , I submitted my audition for Oprah’s OWN show competition. The idea I pitched was for a show that followed moms, like me, pursuing their passion later in life.   I found out about the contest just two weeks before submissions were closed so my husband and I worked feverishly to get my audition tape together. I wrote the script and performed and he filmed, edited and uploaded it. The end product was pretty good, not exactly professional, but not too shabby for a quick turn-around.

On June 17th, 2010, the day before our family vacation, I was contacted by a casting director from Mark Burnett Productions. He told me that “a handful” of people had been selected to have a pitch package put together to go in front of the decision makers…and I was one of them. Well, you could’ve knocked me over with a feather – I totally didn’t expect to hear anything at all (eternal pessimist that I can be). Said casting director went on to tell me that I would hear back in the next 2 to 3 weeks if I made it through to the next round.

Fast forward a week and a half. Lo and behold, another shocking phone call, I made it through to the second round! This stage was a bit more involved. I had to fill out an extensive background history and sign a contract agreeing to be sued for $5 million in damages if I interfered with the making of the show in any way. Sweet. This was serious. This time I was told that if I made it through to the top 35, I would be flown to L.A. the week of July 12th for the finals.

Well, I didn’t get the call to go to L.A. that week. Bummer. But I did “almost” make it to the finals which means someone either liked my show idea, liked me or both of the above. Whatever it was, I’ll take it.

It was my closest brush with fame to date and an enormous confidence boost too.  Just further motivation to keep on keeping on.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pretty Much Perfect

It's been pretty much the perfect day.  Both of our performances at this morning's church services were flawless!  The audience really enjoyed it and we got lots of laughs, it felt GREAT!

Afterward, I headed straight to shoot my last scene for the baseball film trailer.  I'm the only female in the project, which is kind of cool.  The rest of the cast is comprised of Dallas' finest actors.  I've been pretty intimidated while working with them (see the performance anxiety label if you missed just how intimidated).  Well despite my last (awful) day of acting on the project, today went perfectly.  It was an extremely tight outdoor shot, the "magic shot", and it couldn't have gone any better.  I felt very connected and calm.  Not a smidge of anxiety.  Sweet redemption.

I'm sad to see it end.  Despite some bumps in the road, overall it was a great experience.  I learned a lot and became keenly aware of how much more I need to learn. Sometimes we have to become acutely and painfully aware of our limitations to discover what our next learning experience should be.   Those who think they are done growing and learning are, well, done growing and learning.

So it's been pretty much the perfect day.  Now I'm relaxing on my couch, watching the NBA finals and reading a script.  Life is good.

 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

When Another Actor Blows the Scene

What do you do when another actor blows your scene?  Well, I had to figure that out for myself last night. 

Our first performance of the church scene in front of a live audience was last night.  We'll be peforming it for close to 10,000 people this weekend, so it's a pretty big deal!  We got a chance to do two full rehearsals before the actual performance and I was feeling really good about it.  It's a three-person scene with my character having the majority of the lines and a really funny monologue right in the middle. 

Right before we went on-stage for the real deal, I felt relaxed and good about it.  The scene started and my main partner and I were really clicking.  The audience was having a blast and laughing at every joke, which fed the energy really well. 

But about two minutes in, something went terribly wrong and my partner skipped ahead to a line at the end of the scene, completely cutting out my monologue and a big chunk of the rest of the scene.  I tried to insert a line to get us back to that spot in the script, but she didn't take the bait.  She hadn't even realized what she did and kept pressing forward.  I went along with it and we finished out the scene, shortening it significantly. 

Afterward, our director came up and told her what had happened.  I guess what surprised me most was that she never even realized it!  Worst of all, the crew and other members of the worship team came up to ME when it was over and offered their condolences, thinking that I had somehow forgotten my monologue.  UGH...  I just kept my mouth shut, realizing that my ego was the only thing making me want to point the finger of blame, and it would do NO good to do that. 

The first thing I realized is how good I have it with my actors' company that I've performed with for the past five years.  We have gotten so adept at saving each other other in our scenes.  If someone blows a line and we jump to another place in the script, we always recover it pretty well.  We somehow manage to insert the part that we forgot so that the audience doesn't miss out on important details and the actor doesn't miss out on a great part of their performance. 

But you don't always get to work with performers that have that ability.  So, if it ever happens to you, these are the things that have helped me get past it:

Accept the disappointment.  You prepared for hours, rehearsed over and over, the audience was LOVING it and you didn't get to shine in your best part.  Accept how you're feeling.  It's ok to be disappointed.  BUT, it's not ok or professional to take it out on your scene partner.  (Plus, mine felt so bad already that she was on the verge of tears).  Next time it could just as easily be you doing the forgetting. 

Ask yourself if it really mattered.  Performing is (mostly) about the audience's experience.  Did they enjoy it anyway?  Did they even realize that something was missing?  In this case, they absolutely loved the scene as it was.  We got great feedback afterward.  And no, they had no clue that they missed a thing.

Take comfort in knowing that you'll get to perform again.  We have two more performances on Sunday morning, which is when our biggest audiences will be there anyway.  We've got the bugs worked out now and I'm pretty certain that the same thing won't happen again.

So, while I am disappointed because there were several people there that I knew last night and had never seen me perform, I'm still ok.  There will be other opportunities and it was fun anyway.

Keep on keeping on.

Friday, June 10, 2011

One Acting Action Every Day - Week in Review

TGIF, ya'll!  It's Friday morning and that means it's time for the One Acting Action week in review!  Hope it's nice in your neck of the woods.  I'm enjoying a cup of coffee and some cool morning air on the front porch before the Texas heat kicks in. 

It wasn't a particularly proactive week, as I'm sure you gathered from my other posts this week.  But it was really nice to take a mini-break in the action.  There are seasons for striving and working and seasons for resting and waiting.  I'm enjoying the latter right now.  Regardless, it still ended up being a pretty busy week.

Monday:  Rehearsal for this weekend's church performance.  We will be performing once on Friday night and twice on Sunday morning. 
Tuesday:  Highlighted and read-through the script for this month's murder mystery show that my actor's company will performing on June 18th.
Wednesday:  Another rehearsal with sound check and video for the weekend's church performance.
Thursday:  Memorized four pages of script for the murder mystery.  Rehearsed church script on my own.  Read-through the film trailer script for this Sunday's parade scene that will be shot in downtown Arlington (our final scene!). 
Friday:  Goal for today - memorize half of the murder mystery script.  Then, performance at the church tonight! 

It's going to be a weekend FULL of acting.  My favorite kind!  I just love to peform, especially for live audiences.  The parade on Sunday should be a blast.  We're going to have lots of extras lining the streets of downtown Arlington, dressed in their finest 60's attire.  My parade scene wardrobe is to die for.  Totally Jackie Kennedy!  I will post pics next week.

Until then, be sure to check out Justina Vail's Actor's Life Coaching.  I made her testimonials page, woo hoo!  The best investment you can make as an actor, is in your SELF.  Actor's life coaching may be just what you need to get to the next level in your career.

Have a fabulous weekend and keep on keeping on!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Double-Booking Dilemma

Too much acting for one weekend.  Is that possible?  Yes, when you double book yourself, ugh...

Yesterday I had to face a unique double-booking dilemma with no good solution.  Sometimes I hate being an adult and making decisions.

About a month ago, I auditioned to do a live scene for our church's three services this weekend.  I booked the main role, yippee!  In case you're wondering why that's a big deal, we go to one of those mega-churches in the south with a 5,000 member congregation, three satellite churches and a weekly webcast.  So, I consider it kind of a big deal when I get to perform there. 

Well, that's all well and good, but...

I also had a scene rescheduled to be shot this weekend on the film trailer I'm working on.  It's a parade scene that was supposed to shoot last month but got canceled due to bad weather.  The director approached me a few weeks back about scheduling for this Sunday.  I told him I would be available but not until after 11:30 a.m. because of the church commitment.  I also sent the A.D. an e-mail letting her know the same.  They both said it shouldn't be an issue. 

Lo and behold, call times came out yesterday for both bookings and I'm supposed to be at the parade shoot from 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. and the church from 7:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.  Hmm, slight issue here people.

So I agonized over it for a few hours, got on the treadmill and mulled over all of the possiblities in my head, called my husband at work to talk it through and finally prayed (which should've been first) and let it go. 

Because there was no one else that could fill in for the church scene, and I committed to doing it first, I sent an e-mail to the director and reminded him that I had a prior commitment.  He apologized and told me not to worry about it.  They are going to write me out of some of the parade scenes on Sunday and keep me in what I can do when I get there. 

I was so relieved, yet incredibly guilt-ridden all at once.  The problem is, I'm getting paid for the film trailer.  My decision really boiled down to this, it was a rescheduled shoot and I had a commitment somewhere else, which they were aware of in advance.  There was no way we could re-cast the church performance and have it ready in just a few days, so I had to do what I had to do. 

I feel good about it today.  Some may argue that from a purely professional standpoint, maybe I should've left the church in a lurch.  But I don't doubt that I did the right thing.  Part of being a grown-up is making hard decisions.  Sometimes that's based on what feels the most right.  And this did.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Contentment

At first I thought I was in a funk.  But I'm not.  When I'm in a funk,I don't know which step to take next, and quite frankly, have no desire to take it anyway.  But I'm not in a funk, no, this is different...I'm content. 

For once in my life, I feel really satisfied and content.  I don't feel like spending any energy on anything that I don't already have right in front of me. 

I've worked really hard so far this year.  At this time, I have no desire to put anymore of myself "out there".  I'm still working in theater and on a film but I'm not actively pursuing anything else right now.  I'm perfectly happy to just sit back and wait.  To see if anything that I've put out into the universe comes back to me.  If it does, it's meant to be. 

It's time for restoration, rejuvenation and just enjoying the moment that I'm in right now.  Which, by the way, is really, really good.  I already have everything that I need.

I'm satisfied with my life. If there's a step that I need to take, I feel confident that I will be shown to take it.  But for today, I'm perfectly happy right where I am.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Letting Things Happen

Today I'm feeling a real need to back off and just let things happen.  No need to force or strive or pour out more energy - but trust that I've done enough, for now, and let the next step come to me. 

Today's acting meditation is about relaxing into the flow of life. 

If you relax, it comes.  Don't seek, don't search, don't ask, don't knock, don't demand - relax.  If you relax it is there.  If you relax, God shows you the way.

Enjoy your day. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

One Acting Action Every Day - Week in Review

As you've heard me say before, I try my best to do one thing every day for my acting career.  I call it my One Acting Action Every Day plan.  You can't reach a goal this big if you aren't constantly accomplishing smaller goals to get there. 

Each week, I'll be reporting on how I fared.  Accountability is good after all, right?  :) 

Here are my highlights from this week:
  • Monday:  Enjoyed a true day off.  Yes, that counts. 
  • Tuesday:  Re-evaluated my options for getting back in class.  Researched a few different classes and made some calls to see what I need to do to register.   
  • Wednesday:  Attended a read-through with my actors' company of the script for this month's murder mystery show.
  • Thursday:  Had a rehearsal for an upcoming church drama team performance.  
  • Friday:  Line learning day!  Working on scripts for the murder mystery and church performance. 
  • Bonus:  Got to 41 Facebook fans after just one week.  Even more impressive, had 800 Facebook fan page views and 720 blog page views!
Now I'm going to kick all of you in the butt and issue the challenge to join me in performing One Acting Action Every Day.  Then I won't be the only one bragging and you can let everyone know how you did too. 

So, what are the highlights from your week?  Go ahead, pat yourself on the back. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Fun in Dysfunctional

Time to get a little bit personal.  Like some other actors, I was raised in a pretty messed-up home.  My father was a raging alcoholic and my mother was the ultimate codependent who sat by allowing the horrors to happen.  There was little focus on my two older sisters and me, except to expect us to make the family look good and keep up the illusion that everything was fine at home.  The only problem with that is that everything was far from fine. 

As expected, this manifested itself in my life in many negative ways.  By my mid-twenties, I was fed up and dove into fixing myself with everything I had.  Years of therapy, lots of books and the grace of God have gotten me to a really good place in my life today. My parents are different people now too.  My dad has been in recovery for a few years and we've all done a lot of healing.  I've even come to a place where I appreciate a few things about my upbringing which I'd like to share with you.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Six Steps for Line Learning

My spare time this week is going to be all about memorization.  I'm working on two scripts at once for performances that are a week apart.  I love performing but, let's face it, line learning kind of sucks.  Some people breeze right through it while others (me) really struggle with it. 

The good thing is that memorization is a muscle that gets stronger the more you use it. Through lots of trial and error, I've developed my own six-step line learning system to exercise my memory muscle.

Step One:  Read for Comprehension

Read through the entire script to truly digest what is going on.  Reading for comprehension gives you clues about your character and how he or she reacts to what's going on in the story.  Knowing the story and what happens next is crucial to learning your lines.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Local Celebrity

As an actor, one of things we all love is attention, right?  Well, not necessarily.  I love to perform and be creative and put my all into what I do.  The one thing I've never been comfortable with though, is the attention that sometimes comes along with it.  Maybe I'm just weird. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Stuff I Love: Actor Likes

Have you heard about Actor Likes yet?  Well, it's this really cool service where you can increase your IMDB STARmeter by liking other pages.  Best of all, it's FREE.

I signed up a few days ago and have already jumped up 200,000 points in my STARmeter!  You earn points for each person's page that you like.  It's super simple to sign up and you also get points for referring your friends.

Get your butt over there and use this link to sign up:  http://www.actorlikes.com/?r=1606

Enjoy watching your own STARmeter rise!

Dream Big

When I was 15, I knew in my heart that I was meant to do something big.  And that someday I would move away from my small town of 200 and follow my heart's desire.  I had no idea how that would happen but I felt it deep in my soul. 

Twenty-two years later, I still feel that way.  I've moved out of that small town to the big city.  I've experienced so much that I never, ever thought I would, even in my wildest dreams.  I graduated from college (first person in my family to!), been on national TV, traveled to foreign countries and even went to the Super Bowl this year.  It's all because I dreamed big then and still do.

It's about having a "Why not?" attitude.  About taking chances and asking yourself "What would I do if I knew I couldn't fail?".  Then doing it whether you fail or not. 

Dry Spell

My last audition was two weeks ago.  That's not an abnormally long time to go between auditions but it's frustrating when all I want to do is work. 

In the meantime, I've been doing plenty of other acting related stuff.  I've had a few rehearsals for a church performance coming up in two weeks.  Next week I have a read-through for a new show our actors' company will be doing.  I got my submission package e-mailed to an out of state agent this week, woo hoo!  And I just started reading Michael Caine's "Acting in Film".  I'm only a few pages in and have already learned a TON!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Have No Class

Confession:  I have no class.  I haven't for awhile and it's hurting me. 

It's not that I don't want to or don't realize the importance of it, because I do.  But I'm a master of making excuses for why I don't.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Workshop Scene

Here's a workshop scene that I did recently.  It was performed at Del Shores scene study workshop.  If you ever get the chance to take one with him, do it.  He's an actor's director in every sense. 

Enjoy...

(un)discovered alison

Do Something Every Day

On February 19th, I made a commitment to myself.  I would do something for my acting career every day for six months, no matter what.  Even if I felt like giving up and the world was completely against me (which has happened), I would still keep pressing on. 

Well, I'm half-way through that goal and have done pretty well with it.  The results have been tangible.  My bookings have increased, the business side of my career is the most organized it's ever been but most importantly I feel like I'm doing my part and becoming a better performer.  As a wise teacher once told me, if you're relying 100% on your agent to advance your career, you're making a big mistake. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Why I Don't Botox

You might think as an over-35 year-old woman competing against much younger women for parts, I'd be the first in line to get Botoxed up.  I'll admit, I've had it once, about a year ago.  Curiousity got the better of me and I caved when a great special came along.  I left the office feeling like I'd taken my first hit of crack and fearing that I might be addicted the rest of my life, but not really caring nonetheless.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Energy Vampires at Auditions

Have you ever encountered vampires at your auditions?  No, I'm not talking about the hot Twilight kind.  I'm talking about the ones that talk loudly about everything they've done and suck the life out of everyone in the room.  By the time you go in for your audition, your life force has been drained right out of you.

That's their modus operandi, after all.  They do it to make themselves feel superior.  Really it's just a mask for their own insecurities but if you're not careful, it can get to you. 

So what's an actor to do?  Wear garlic around your neck?  Nah, I don't think that would get you cast in much, not to mention it wouldn't guard against them. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

That Should've Been Me!

I just saw a SAG national commercial air for Choice Hotels that I was second choice for.  OMG, that should've been me! 

So what's the first thing I do?  Of course I compare myself to the actress that was chosen, duh.  She's blonde and slightly older than me.  The man chosen for her husband is brunette and the child in the spot is blonde.  Maybe the deciding factor was something as simple as hair color.  Who knows.  I can't deconstruct the casting decision because I have NO idea why they went the way they did.

Blog News - Fan Page, Redesign and Give-Away

I have a few exciting announcements today.  Well, at least I'm excited about them.  :)

First off, (un)discovered alison now has a Facebook fan page, woo hoo!  You can check it out below and be sure to "like" it. 

(un)discovered alison FB Fan Page

Next, I'm getting this blog redesigned by Blog Makeovers by Tara at PIP Designs.  She does great work and I'm so excited to see the final product!  Stay tuned...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Know Your Brand

The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a "name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers."

Are you an actor?  If the answer is yes, then guess what else you are.  A salesperson and a brand.  If you don't know what your brand is, then how do you know what you're selling?  How can you differentiate? 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Embrace Your Uniqueness

How often have you sized up your competition while waiting for an audition?  For years, I drove myself nuts with this.  Everyone there seemed so much more put together, talented, better looking, skinnier, more confident, just plain more "right" than me.  This was one of my biggest mental challenges to overcome as a new actress.  Often times I had myself counted out of the part before I even walked in the room.  And I'm certain that came across in my performances.

These days comparisons don't enter my mind.  I walk in and see some of the most experienced actresses in town mixed in with newcomers.  Many are prettier or younger and some have resumes a mile long.  But it doesn't matter anymore.  Do you know why?  Because each of us has something unique that no one else in the whole wide world has.  And your brand of unique may be just what they're looking for.  Yeah, experience counts but nothing will ever take the place of your very own personal uniqueness. 

Uniqueness levels the playing field.  Next time you're in the room sizing up the competition, think about all of the things that make you special.  Then walk into that casting room knowing that there's no one else in the world just like you.  Own it.  They will see it.  Maybe you will be just the brand of unique they are looking for. 

(un)discovered alison

Getting a Second Agent

I'm really happy with the agent I'm with in Dallas but one of my goals for this year is to get represented by another agent in a different city.  I toyed around with both Austin and Houston before deciding upon Shreveport.  Yes, Shreveport.  There is so much filming going on in LA (Louisiana, that is) that it's sick.  I really wish more of that were in TX but they've got the best tax incentives.  So, I must go where the work is.  Fortunately, it's in a neighboring state.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Coaching for Actors

Today I had a complimentary half hour coaching session with a fellow actor turned life coach.  I didn't have high expectations going into it, actually I didn't have any expectations since I've never done anything like this.  But it turned out to be a really enlightening experience.

Released...Bummer.

I got released from the right of first refusal for the bank commercial.  Yes, I'm disappointed. 

How do you pick up and move on when faced with rejection after rejection?  It's something that we actors need to learn to do...and learn to do well. 

Here's how I do it.

1.  Thank God for the opportunity to audition.  Each audition is a chance for me to perform.  Auditions are your job for the day and each one is a blessing no matter what the outcome. 

2.  Be grateful that I was that close to getting it.  So many others weren't (they were down to me and another person).  It was a pretty big audition, so I feel good about that.

3.  View it as another rung on the ladder to bigger and better things.  Even though it's not always tangible, it is progress.  I'm getting all of these first refusals for a reason.  Someday it will be MY turn. 

4.  Don't dwell on it.  It's over, time to move on to the next audition.  I have my family and my health, that's all that really matters.  This booking would've just been gravy. 

Disappointments can be just that, moments of wishing it had gone the other way.  They don't have to get you down permanently or define you.  There will always be other (better) opportunities when the time is right. 

Keep on keeping on.

(un)discovered alison

Friday, May 13, 2011

Woo hoo - Right of First Refusal!

Well, I must've been a decent baby wrangler today. My agent just called to let me know that I'm on right of first refusal for the bank commercial.  They've got it narrowed down to between me and another girl.  Let's pray it goes my way!

If so, it will shoot next Tuesday or Wednesday.  Fingers crossed!

(un)discovered alison

Definition of Right of First Refusal in Acting - The actor is placed on hold for the day(s) of the shoot but not guaranteed the part.  They have narrowed the pool of candidates and may be placing others on hold as well until a final decision is made.  BTW - This is a good thing!  Unless you repeatedly get put on right of first refusal without getting the booking, then it's a frustrating thing. :)

What's Your Booking Percentage?

Do you track your booking percentage?  Do you even know what it is?  Here's how to calculate it:  Bookings/Auditions=Booking Percentage. 

Just for fun, I started tracking mine this year and it's at 41%.  I've had 17 auditions so far this year, 7 of those resulted in bookings and 6 resulted in callbacks.  Not too shabby!

It might be a useless number but it is a fun way to track my "progress".  Well, other than financially, which is a lot more fun.  :) 

Quote for the day:  Sometimes when we ask for miracles, what we're really asking for is a short cut to a desired outcome.  If we got the miracle, we'd miss out on the lessons and growth of the process along the way. 

(un)discovered alison

Tips for a Perfect Headshot Session

I got new headshots taken today. It's been two years since my last shots were taken so it's about time. Most agents recommend getting them done every 18 months to two years. My old shots were still a pretty accurate depiction of what I look like in real life but my agent suggested that I get them done anyway as they often get "stale" after casting directors see them over and over again.

Callback with a "Baby Fix"

Today's callback for the bank commerical went well.  We had a real baby to interact with which helped dramatically.  The baby was 4 months old and one of a set of triplets.  God bless their mother!  She was really sweet and calm and on the verge of falling sleep.  I got to get my "baby fix".  It's been a long time since I've held one that little. 

I felt like I delivered a very believable performance but am not sure if anything stood out with it. 

Time will tell.  When I walk out of the casting office, it's in God's hands, not mine.

Looking forward to a great weekend with my family!

(un)discovered alison

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Acting for a Higher Purpose

Lately a realization has hit me pretty hard.  Acting leaves me feeling pretty empty.  It's all so self-gratifying and just leaves me wanting more and more.  The bookings give me a great high at the time but then I crash and want more and bigger jobs.  It's a vicious cycle of dissatisfaction. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

And I Got a Callback!

I just got a callback on the bank audition from yesterday's post Back in the Saddle Again.  Thank you Lord!  I needed that confidence boost.

Also, this morning I woke up feeling SO much better.  There was something really therapeutic and comforting about talking with my church drama team members. 

Remind me again why I'm always so hard on myself? 

Keep on keeping on.

(un)discovered alison

Celebrating the Successes

Lately I've done a lot of complaining about what hasn't been working out...the two SAG national commercials, the big network series audition, etc. What I've failed to mention is what is going right and that's plenty!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

Yee-haw.  I had my first audition today since Saturday's Performance Anxiety - Epic Fail.  It was for a commercial and was, well, a little rough at first.  My confidence is still convalescing.  But I got to audition twice, which is a nice rarity.  There were more men than women so they asked me to stay for a second pairing and audition again. My second audition pairing went much better than the first.

The Longest Mile

The longest mile was the first mile I ran on my treadmill today.  I was tired, frustrated and wanted nothing more than to just give up.  I seriously thought about quitting. 

But I mustered the energy to keep going.  I backed my pace off a bit for a minute.  Then I pressed forward and it got easier.  Before I knew it, my run was accomplished.

If I had quit, it would've felt better in the moment.  But I would've felt terrible about myself the rest of the day.  I needed that accomplishment but even more so, I needed the process.  The process of setting my mind to sticking with it no matter how bad it felt.  The process of working through the pain until it got easier.  The backing off for a minute and the decision to press forward with all my might. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Persistence in Acting

Sometimes I write about certain topics simply because I need advice the most. Now is one of those times. Please bear with me while I ply myself with quotes to help me keep on, keeping on. Maybe you're having one of those days too. Here are some quotes on persistence because I (you) really, really need them.

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." - Thomas Alva Edison

Breaking Down My Breakdown

I'd like to say that I feel a whole lot better this morning and gained all kinds of fabulous perspective on my performance anxiety meltdown.  But I don't (feel better) and I haven't (gained perspective).

Last night while attempting to fall asleep, I did break it down a bit more.  The problem lies in my perfectionism and control issues.  I always strive to be a stand-out no matter what I do.  I can't settle for mediocrity and am very competitive.  Whether it's work or class, even yoga, I have to know that what I'm doing is at the top of the game.  Classic perfectionism.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Performance Anxiety - Epic Fail

I'm still trying to process what happened yesterday, it feels really surreal.

For two months I've been looking forward to my first real film role. Shooting started this past week. I had shot a few scenes already this week but they were mostly MOS with no dialogue, reactions only. One particular scene pushed me to my limits in using my emotions and I nailed that (see Pushing the Limits). But yesterday I shot my first scenes where I had dialogue and that's where it all fell apart.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Close but no Cigar...Again

Probably the most difficult challenge of acting is mental toughness in the face of rejection after rejection. Which is just par for the course in this business and one of the necessary evils. Most actors struggle the most with this in the beginning of their careers when the bookings are few and far between. Eventually your skin gets thicker and you start to expect it and it doesn’t hurt much, if at all. Then you start to book and it gets hard again. Especially when you just KNOW you nailed that audition, but the phone never rings.

Getting Past a Bad Audition

Here's a post I ran a month ago on my other (mom) blog.  It didn't really belong there but fits perfectly here.  Enjoy...

I blew an audition today. Which shouldn’t have been that big of a deal because I haven’t in a very, very long time. As a matter of fact, I mistakenly thought that I was actually immune to blowing it at this point. HA! Well, life has a way of knocking you off your high horse when you least expect it and least want it.