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. 


(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.


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.

Pushing the Limits

Now I understand perfectly what Sanford Meisner meant when he said "the text is the canoe and the river which it floats on is emotion".

This week, I had to prepare for the most emotional scene I've ever performed.  It dealt with my worst nightmare as a mother, the loss of a child.  In the scene, my character has just been informed by a doctor that her son has died.  She then tries to rush out of the room to go find him while two doctors hold her back. 

I'm an Actress. No, really.

Today at Target, the check-out girl asked me if I had "big plans" this weekend.  I enthusiastically replied "I do!  I'm shooting a film!"  She gave me a perplexed look before saying "you're what?".  I repeated myself but the confused look didn't budge.  Finally she asked what exactly I'd be doing at the film shoot, to which I proudly replied "I'm an actress".  The look of confusion deepened as she muttered a simple "Oh."