Do you remember?

Hey, actor.  Yeah, you.

Do you remember the time you fell in love with that musical that spoke the words to beautiful music that you wanted to say?  Do you remember how you ached to give life to this show and to tell that characters story to an audience that needed to hear it?  Do you remember how each of those songs pumped through your veins and emanated from you all hours of the day until you could no longer ignore it?  Then how you decided to raise money and put that show on in a shitty 35-seat theatre that you could afford in Hollywood, where the audience had to cross the stage and the dressing room to get to the bathroom?

Do you remember how alive you felt with a small orchestra behind you, and you finally giving a voice to the story that plagued you for years?  How every moment of that show had been dissected and probed until you breathed its air and moved to its rhythm?  How no industry people came to the show despite you flooding them with postcards and emails?  How casting directors, whose job it is to look for actors, couldn’t be bothered to do the work?  How, even though you couldn’t fill those 35 seats, you knew, you KNEW that

This

Is

Art

And you were art.  You did something beautiful and incredible that didn’t need the validation of a sold out house, or a resulting agent meeting.  Do you remember how it felt to do what you were formed by the Great Creator to do?

Cause it seems like you’re forgetting.  Amidst the rejection from the casting directors who are NOT artists, like you, and can’t see past an imdb starmeter, and the excellent work you do every week in acting class that no one will see but your classmates, you have been losing sight of who you are.  You’ve started to think ‘if I just changed my headshot, maybe things would get better’ and ‘I hate networking, but it seems like the only people who get ahead are the ones who schmooze’.  Or that you’re not pretty or thin enough.  You’ve started to see your actor friends find success and you’re filled with jealousy because you know you’ve worked just as hard as they have.  So then, you start to think the worst….

That you’re not talented at all.

This is always how it goes.

Work + Talent + Determination + Drive = little result = shifts in methods = little results = others succeeding = questioning worth = frustration = What am I even doing here?

If you would remember, dear actor, what it is you’re doing here, you wouldn’t have any of these questions.  You would know EXACTLY what and why.  And you would continue to create regardless of what’s on the other side of that = .

Remember.

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Me too

Ugh.  This is a hard one to write.  I don’t want any women thinking I don’t back them up 100%.  But with the tidal wave of social media “me too’s” that out the sexual harassment experienced by far too many women (and men), I feel the need to speak up myself.

Have I experienced it?  Oh hells yes.  As an attractive, fit female, I have experienced sexual harassment on an almost daily basis my entire life.  You could say I’ve built up a bit of a wall when I’m in public.  I can’t work in my front yard without cat calls and men yelling at me from their car windows.  It is impossible for me to walk down Hollywood blvd to an improv show without having men jeer and hit on me.  I wouldn’t say I accept this, but I most definitely expect it.  So, I’ve adapted.  I walk with purpose, I don’t smile at strangers and I don’t make eye contact.  Part of me hates that I have to transform into someone I’m not, but I’d rather cut the ugly head off before it has a chance to devour me.

I’m sad so many human beings have been treated as objects.  I in no way condone nor accept that behavior.  I guess what I’m struggling with here is this: At what point did we think humankind had more than 1 ounce of goodness?  Since when did mankind stop being evil, lying, manipulative, lusting, coercing and selfish?  Of course there’s a billion me too’s.

Even if we believe we haven’t participated in objectifying or taking advantage of another human, let me assure you, we are complicit.  The pernicious, seething monster that is objectification is forever at our doorstep, on our TV, on our computer screen, and in our conversations.  Can I get real here?

When we watch yet another movie that has 5 men headlining the cast, and then one woman as, you guessed it- the wife of the main character, we are complicit.

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When we read the article about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt divorcing and try to dissect their personal lives, speculating who did what wrong, we are complicit.

When we size up another woman based on her clothes, her hair, her makeup, and her weight, attempting to jockey for our position at the top, we are complicit.

When we decide that there can only be one leading lady in Hollywood existence who is overweight, and even then, the joke is about her size, we are complicit.

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When we are thrilled to watch Game of Thrones with its violence, savagery and women as subservient sexual slaves, we are complicit.

Please tell me you see what I’m saying here.  What we watch, judge, read, and support with our eyes or our pocket book matters.  These things only subsist with the complicity of an audience.  And, little by little, the examples we see before us chip away at our respect for human dignity and value.

So, me too.  I am complicit in a society that supports treating other human beings as objects, much as I abhor it.  Question is, what are we going to do about it?

 

3rd quarter check in 2017

We are in the 3rd quarter of 2017 (ack!) and it’s time to check in with my goals and see where I’m at.  I feel like I’ve done pretty well so far this year, but the knowledge that Halloween decor is already tempting me in the stores lights a fire under my butt to get moving on the rest!

  1. Go into every approach with the mindset “How can I help you?”- So so.  I mostly forget to do this, but it has happened a few times.
  2. costar- Nope. Zero auditions to do so.
  3. agent- Nope, but I did sign with a manager.
  4. play piano– hells yes!  BrittanyPianobw (1 of 1)
  5. musical- sadly, no
  6. train new dog, Scout– yes- even took him through an obedience course.  He’s still not great, but he’s getting there. BrittanyandScoutextreme (1 of 1)
  7. climb mt whitney– What do you think?? : ) BrittanySummit
  8. find another musical improv team- I’ve come up empty poking around for one.
  9. revive my 2 man improv team, Nathan and Brittany- haven’t worked on this at all.
  10. see more of the Meyers (closest cousins in proximity to LA)- Yes!  We’ve camped, swam, hung out and even went on a PACNW adventure together!
  11. give creatively to my church– yes!  I’ve been asked to lead worship (and begrudgingly accepted, done it 2x so far), as well as dramatic readings and performed monologues.
  12. finish Priscilla- I am so freakin’ close.  I am color correcting now, final final final phase!
  13. build the rest of the fence– Yes!
  14. offer a neighborhood woodworking workshop- Nada
  15. new roof- talking with contractors right now- should be done in the next few weeks. (dear Lord, please let money rain down from above to pay for said ridic expensive roof)
  16. write script- I started one, and have the idea for another as well as a novel, but I’m holding off until I finish Priscilla.
  17. kitchen cabinets- Nope.  Not even close.  I’ve built ONE so far this year.

So, my friends, there we are.  9.5/17  Where are you on your goals for the year?  What are you proud of?  What do you really really really want to accomplish before the year is out?

Altered Dreams

So much has happened.  I nailed my musical audition, and went through a grueling 3 hour callback the next night.  My dancing was ok, not amazing, but good enough, my acting was pretty good, and my singing was right where I hoped it would be.  I know that I gave 200% at that audition and callback, and I didn’t hold anything back.  However, I was not cast.  I made it to the final 2, and, alas, the other gal will be telling Sally Bowles’ story, not I.  For a few minutes I felt rather depressed that even my utmost effort and my highest performance level was not good enough to be cast, but overall, I’m incredibly proud of all I gave.  Usually I hold a little something back at auditions.  Call it a protection mechanism, it’s just what I do.  Not so with this musical.  So even though I’m crestfallen that I still am not in a musical, I am reminding myself that it doesn’t mean I have less talent or I’m wasting my time being an actor because I’m clearly not good enough.  There is so much out of my control in the casting process.  All I can do is give my all.  And I did.  End of story.  So, the journey continues to find one.

After that I went to Portland and discovered the happiest place on Earth, Powell’s Bookstore.  Spent a few hours lovingly looking through every floor and category that tickled my fancy.  Then it was on to a PacNW adventure: Seattle->Squamish, BC->Whistler, BC->Coupeville,WA->Pt Townsend, WA->Seattle.  Lots of hiking and waterfalls and ferry’s and coffee made that trip a delight.  Now that my feet have found their mooring, I’m hard at work trying to get my endless to-do’s to become to-dones.

I also got to film a commercial that was the alternate reality version of a dream come true for me.  My world settles in the realm of Darcy, Dorrit and Dashwood.  That is to say, I have very little interest in TV, film, or books that were written after 1889.  I adore Austen, Dickens, Gaskell and Thackeray.  If it’s on Masterpiece Classic, you better believe I have a large mug of tea and am enthralled with the story that plays out before me.  My utmost goal and dream for my career is to be in period films and movie musicals.  So far, no one has come knocking on my door for a Persuasion remake, but I did book a commercial for Zappos where I played an 18th century primadonna.

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Being called to the Edith Head building at Universal (are you kidding me?  She’s my costume idol!) to try on a bunch of 18th century dresses complete with corset and endless panniers, as well as a fitting for a wig custom made for me was beyond belief.  Sure, it wasn’t a film.  It was almost better- I only had to be in the inordinately heavy costume for one day, AND I got to be comedic and throw a bunch of ridiculous one-liners to a present-day roommate.  How fun is that??

Sometimes the actualization of our dreams don’t look how we thought they would.  Doesn’t mean they’re any less of an experience in the sublime.  I may never get to do a period film.  But I got to wear the dress, get paid for it, and for one day, I was that character.  I may not have been cast as Sally in Cabaret.  But for one day, one callback, I was her.  And I got to tell her story and show those decision makers what I could do.  And that’s pretty amazing.

 

Being a Christian in Hollywood, pt 4

If you missed pt 1 of this blog, you can catch it here.

If you missed pt 2 of this blog, you can catch it here.

If you missed pt 3 of this blog, you can catch it here.

Welcome to pt 4 of the series, ‘Being a Christian in Hollywood’.  Last week I reviewed the present state of my job opportunities while keeping the faith in this town, this week we’re going to talk about the future.  At present, the roles for my type in commercials are numerous (jackpot).  In film/tv?  Eh, not so much.  Just based on age and gender alone, the number of roles I could conceivably go in for on any given breakdown are slim.  By one day of breakdowns last week, I counted 46 projects.  There were numerous roles listed for each.  There were a total of 6 roles that were my gender and age range.  Eesh.  Clearly I am not currently in a desirable demographic for TV/Film.  That’s ok.  That changes eventually.  While I don’t feel optimistic about my chances at TV/Film at this state in my career, the positive side is that it motivates me to create my own work.  This accomplishes several things.  It flexes my writing muscles, it challenges me to tell interesting stories, and it tells them how I want to tell them.  As someone who loves being the boss, this naturally appeals to me.  An actor has very little say on someone else’s set.  On your own?  The sky is the limit.

Currently I’m nearly finished editing my 30 minute British comedy, Priscilla, that I wrote and directed.  As soon as that is completed, I have several script ideas brewing in my head that I’ll jump on, including a sitcom and a stage musical.  The future holds lots of self produced material, in my minds eye, and I’m excited to see what happens.  I’ve spent a good deal of time thinking about what my future career looks like, ideally.  What types of projects do I want to do?  What stories do I want to tell?  It’s a good idea to have a solid, specific idea of what you want so you can work towards it, rather than a nebulous “I want to act”.  So, here’s the types of films I want to do:

Movie Musicals

Period films

Clean comedy

I love watching these, and I’m certain I will love being a part of those stories.  Unfortunately they are also the most expensive to make, and make the least revenue at the box office, thereby decreasing their viability in studio heads minds.  So, what do you do?  Make your own of course!

My list of roles/films I’m not interested in doing has expanded to include horror films, reality tv, and faith based films.  There’s been a tightening of the reigns on the stories I want to be a part of, and it might lead one to think that there are very few crumbs left on the table from which to feast.  Faith based films?  I adhere to the idea that we don’t need more Christian films.  We need more Christians making films.  By the time a script has gone through every religious filter possible in order not to offend, the story has been sanitized and loses a lot of its meaning.  (see previous post 1 about people imposing their own ideas of what it means to be a religious artist)  I don’t watch those movies, so I don’t care to tell those stories.  It doesn’t mean they are without value, I just don’t care for it.

Horror films and reality tv suck the lifeblood of humanity and leave them with a sad shell of ‘unreality’ with which to live.  The same with our current explosion of violent sex scenes on TV and film.  If couples were actually having as much sex as Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgard’s character are having in Big Little Lies, they would be unemployed and have a raging UTI.  Seriously, people.  These portrayals on your screen are unrealistic at best, and damaging to our perception of normality in our relationships at worst.  Stop using women as objects.  Just stop.  It doesn’t make them a ‘strong’ character.  It just perpetuates the myth that our value lies only in sex.  I don’t watch a lot of shows/films because of this.  I don’t want to be in those stories either.

I could talk about the future and my idea of what is great and gives me hope for a long while, but this post needs to be wrapped up, so we’ll save more on the future for next week!

 

The nitty gritty details pt. 2

There’s a tricky caveat in buyouts.  In each contract, you are guaranteed the session and wardrobe fee, but the buyout is upon the condition that they choose your spot to air.  So, you do all the work regardless, and if they decide when they’re editing the spot that they don’t want to use what you did, you don’t get paid.  Now, this is generally not a problem because if they’re going to the time and expense to shoot the thing, they’re likely going to use it.  However, in the past year, I’ve now had 4 commercials that have not aired my spot.  Yikes.  First time for me.

Several of them weren’t too big of an issue because they weren’t paying that much at the outset, or were union, so they paid a bunch of other checks like holding fees, etc.  But then there was the whopper.  This job I was pretty excited to book, because, all in, I expected anywhere from $8-$9,000.  This is a pretty chunk of change.  Let’s take a trip to the job process itself.

Day one: the audition.  There was a ton of copy for this audition, but I felt like I nailed it and showed my skills well.

Day two: this was the callback with the director.  They were foreign (not abnormal) and liked what I did, having me do every last bit of copy, so I was in the room for a good 10 minutes.

Then I got a call from my agent a day or 2 later saying I booked it and letting me know about all the monies that would be made- $600 session fee per day (likely on set 2 days), behind the scenes footage $750, fitting $84, $2500 print, and $5000 buyout.  Very nice payday.

When I arrived for my least favorite part, the fitting, I sat in a chair in a lobby for 5-6 hours waiting to be seen.  There were a ton of people running around chaotically, fitting other actors, talking over production, etc.  It struck me as pretty disorganized when the 2nd AD couldn’t find my role on the callsheet.

The day of the shoot I arrived early in the morning to yet another chaotic scene- people rushing around trying to figure out what happened next- shooting going on in one part of the location and pictures going on in another.  It was a huge crew and a lot of extras and actors were on set.  I was told they wouldn’t be ready for me for awhile, so I went through hair and makeup and wardrobe and got approvals and then worked on my scenes for acting class that night while I waited…and waited…and waited.  2 hours later they called me to location where they took about 10 photos of me that they had taken of another actor just prior.  Then I got ushered down to wait some more.  30 minutes later I was rushed back to set and told to wait in a chair while they got ready for my shot on camera.  They filmed another actor while I watched on the viewing screen.  She was doing the lines and scene that I was cast to do.  I assumed they wanted something else of me.  So I waited.  And waited.  Until they said they wouldn’t be shooting me and took me back to holding.  A half hour later I was rushed to another location where they took some more pictures of me with some other actors.  Everyone was rushing around and didn’t seem to have things organized with this huge production.

I was ushered back to holding where I waited a bit longer only to have the 2nd AD tell me that he was sorry but they wouldn’t be getting to my shot.  They were wrapping for lunch and then moving to another location, but they would be calling me to do a Voice Over session later in the week.  So, I guess I was only needed for one day of shooting, and they never got to my shot, and decided not to get it?  And now I am going to do voice over?  Not at all what I was expecting.  I had lunch and went straight to acting class.

2 months later, I’ve checked online and they aren’t using any of the still shots they took of me, but they are airing the footage they shot with the other actor saying the lines I thought I would be shooting.  They never called me in for voice over, and to date, I have received:

$547.18

And I think that’s all I’ll get.  The session fee+wardrobe fitting- agent commission.  So what was expected to be $9,000 is now a paltry percentage.  Though I auditioned, got called back, booked the job and was on set for the shoot, it’s almost as if I didn’t book that job.  Nothing I can do about that.  Just one of the many intricacies of a very unstable business.

Happy and Excited

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I got to go to NYC for my birthday.  I’m going to say that again, because, for me, that was a really big deal.  I got to go to NYC  for my birthday!  You see, even though I’m a huge musical theatre fan and most actors have been to New York, I’ve not.  So this was a big deal for me.  To make it an even bigger deal, we saw Waitress, my Broadway obsession.  That’s right, for my very first Broadway show, I got to see my favorite.  How lucky am I?

Seeing the theatres and the lights and the posters was exciting enough.  Walking through Central Park was breezy and lovely.  But when that curtain rose and the familiar music began playing, I was enraptured beyond belief.  At the edge of my seat, I took in every syllable, each movement and character and drank it in.  Tears streamed down my face as the lead sang her heart out in my favorite song of the show.  I was surprised, delighted, humored, and moved by it all.

After the show was over and I was beaming with joy, I couldn’t help but think how I would have missed out if I hadn’t allowed myself to be transported.  If I had come in as a critic rather than an eager audience member longing to be taken on a ride, I couldn’t have experienced it the way I did.  This will forever be the first Broadway show I ever saw.  In the future, maybe I will be more jaded and critical.  But for now, I will be in love with this show and all that I experienced, and that memory can’t be changed.  Thank you NYC!  You treated this birthday girl right.