Thursday, October 30, 2014

Together Wherever We Go!

Wherever we go, whatever we do,
we're gonna go through it together.
We may not go far, but sure as a star,
wherever we are, it's together.*

This business is tough! There are days when we want to give up and there are times when we get in our own way.

  • Do you have a list of things you need to do but somehow always manage to put them off?
  • Are you waiting for that certain piece of footage before you finish your reel?
  • Do you skip auditions because you are waiting for that perfect monologue?
  • Do your friends seem to be having more success than you?
  • Are you stuck in a rut?

Sometimes things come in threes when one thing is not enough to get through to us! Monday was that day for me.

Ah, Facebook is my first port of call in the morning.  And I saw the wonderful Heidi Marshall's blog about how we cope with these difficult times. I admire Heidi so much and she always seems so positive so it was comforting to read about her struggling too. In tough times, she uses crayons! 

And then this leapt out at me too. On Facebook, of course! Maybe I'll read a book again one day soon but I'm so busy reading all these online gems and playing Candy Crush.

"People's lives are a direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group. If your peer group doesn't expect much, it's just a matter of time before you lower your expectations of yourself." Anthony Robbins

And then, best of all, I left my tiny apartment and met my good friend and fellow actress, Fiona Graham. We ate a diner breakfast and talked and talked and laughed and put the world to rights. Obviously, we talk about acting and the business because we have that (amongst other things) in common. We were commiserating on how tough it can be and something really struck me about what Fiona said: "We have to be fierce warriors. We have to be so strong and able to take blow after blow. But we are also so sensitive and vulnerable."

YES, that's it. And, for my two cents, the actors who are not sensitive and vulnerable, are not the ones I like to watch!

Through thick and through thin,
all out or all in.
And whether it's win, place or show.
With you for me and me for you,
we'll muddle through whatever we do.
Together, wherever we go.

Wherever we go, whatever we do,
we're gonna go through it together.*

Obviously, we cannot physically go everywhere together (although at some of these EPAs it is great to have a friend to sit and laugh with during the interminable waiting and deal with all the other girls in the same teal dress and nude pumps).

We need a support network, though. I have good friends and a brilliant family but that is not always enough. Talking to people who are going through what you are going through is what matters. A friend recently told me that she loved seeing me because it was so much FUN but it was also PRODUCTIVE. 

I have started accountability groups with The Actor's Friend.  A safe place where I can be kind and supportive but am also known for giving you the kick that you might need! 

Wherever I go I know he goes.
Wherever I go I know she goes.
No fits, no fights, no feuds
and no egos, Amigos, together!

Though business is lousy and slow.
With Herbie's vim, Louise's verve,
Now all we need is someone with nerve.
Together, wherever,
Together, wherever we go!*

I may not have people called Herbie and Louise in my classes yet, but I can hope.  And I think you ALL have NERVE!  All we need is a little support to use it in the right way.

Join a supportive group of like-minded actors and be a super trouper!

*"Together Wherever We Go" from "Gypsy"

Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Sunday, October 5, 2014

You could drive a person crazy.

You could drive a person crazy,
You could drive a person mad.
First you make a person hazy
So a person could be had,
Then you leave a person dangling sadly
Outside your door,
Which it only makes a person gladly
Want you even more.*

Do NOT shake hands, unless the C.D. initiates it. In most cases, you have a very short time in the room. Go in and DO YOUR JOB. If a C.D. gets up to shake your hand, fine. But it is rare and NEVER go over to do that to them behind the table.  

This is a two way street. We think that C.D.s drive us crazy and we, as actors, drive them crazy. So what can we do to make it the beautiful relationship that it can be?

Have you had that moment in the room at one of those meet and greets you have paid for to be seen by a Casting Director and (s)he says (s)he loves you and will call you in?  At the E.P.A. where they tell you you're brilliant (okay, that one never really happens), or the time you get a callback from the same C.D. who gave you a callback 6 months ago and 3 months before that?

How do you deal with it?  How do you deal with them? Well first of all, let's stop thinking of it as being US and THEM. We are all human beings. Be a REAL person.

I hear SO many actors bitch and complain. If we want them to call us in after a bad audition and not hold it against us, we should do the same for them.  We all have off days. It is a RELATIONSHIP. And how do you make it a good one? So please stop judging and complaining. It does not help. 

What can YOU do to help YOUR career?

Casting Directors are the gate keepers and, even with a brilliant agent or manager, the real key is to have a good relationship with casting people.  So many friends I know are trying to get an agent and the first thing a potential agent asks is: "What C.D.s know you?"

They are the gatekeepers
We need the keys, the passwords

Knock-knock! Is anybody there?
Knock-knock! It really isn't fair.
Knock-knock! I'm workin' all my charms.
Knock-knock! A zombie's in my arms.*

How long? Well, that depends!

Here are a couple of my stories:

  • Met a C.D. at The Network. She seemed to like me. NOTHING. ZIP. Fast forward two years and I was called in for "Louie" for a C.D. I did not know. Turns out I had been recommended by that C.D. from 2 years before.
  • Built a relationship with another C.D. (E.P.A.s, meet and greet) who then called me in for a job I did not submit for because he remembered me and my work.
  • Met a C.D. and kept in touch via postcard and have been called in three times for HBO show.

Trust me, I have the same problems as you. I am investigating and learning.  But I have had made mistakes and had some triumphs so come and learn from someone who is living what you're living.

As brilliant C.D. Brette Goldstein says, it's like dating. And you have to go with your gut. I have casting directors who hug me now when I go in to audition. That is lovely but not to be expected. Even with my brilliant manager, a major broadway C.D. got in touch with me directly because she had met me and had my email address.  You never know!

All that sweet affection!
What is wrong?
Where's the loose connection?
How long, O Lord, how long?

How long is a very important question. But we might as well ask, how long is a piece of string? A good C.D. remembers good actors. Austin Pendleton had auditioned for Ron Howard for a project he did not book. NINE years later, he was offered "A Beautiful Mind". Sure, we do not want to wait nine years, but trust yourself and trust good casting directors. Do your homework and do your work. 

Exclusive you!
Elusive you!*

They may seem exclusive and elusive, but really, they are just like us!

*You Could Drive a Person Crazy from "Company"
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim