#Blessed

I’m not working right now.

Well, not working “in my chosen field.” I still spend long hours at the computer, attempting to put together lessons and exam questions and nonsense I am highly unqualified for. Which is still 1000x better than working in a restaurant.

Fall is supposed to feel hopeful. I’m supposed to feel refreshed. I’m supposed to be breathing fresh, crisp air and not continuing to roll through life unshowered and apathetic. My friend runs cabarets for kid Broadway performers. There are constantly pictures of her events with them. Kids join and leave shows more often than adults (they grow, they age, they get tired because they are still CHILDREN) and it constantly seems as though a small child is weeping about making their Broadway debut. This is actually from one’s Instagram (bolding mine):

I am so incredibly excited to FINALLY be able to announce some awesome news!!! I am both thrilled and honored to be joining the cast of Fun Home on Broadway- making my Broadway debut!!!!!! I am going to be the newest#superswing, learning the roles of Small Alison, Christian, and John! This new journey has only just begun and everyone is already so kind and supportive and I can’t say thank you enough!! I have always imagined myself being able to step out onto that stage as Al, it really goes to show that with dedication and hard work- dreams can come trueeee!!!#funhomemusical#funhome#funhomebroadway#broadway#honored#YAAAAAYY#okimfreakingoutalittlebit#justkiddingimfreakingoutalot!!!!

Yes, sweet wee eleven year old. Hard work.

Like being born in the tristate area.

Like being able to afford to take classes.

Like having a mom to drive you to auditions.

Not that I begrudge any children that. While some child actors are irritating, others (like the girl this one is replacing) are sweet and down-to-earth. I can only speak from my world.

And in my world, hard work don’t make dreams come true. It helps, but you also need relentless ambition, a willingness to make yourself very uncomfortable, the ability to be told “no” constantly and yet still be willing to keep going (in other words, being a masochist), and a really fucking enormous scoopful of luck. ENORMOUS. SCOOPFUL.

I know I always get like this when I’m not working. I try to keep a bright attitude in life, because how else do you make it through?

But here, I can break. Here I can whine. Here I can feel stuck and angry and lost and bitter and JEALOUS OF AN 11 YEAR OLD. That’s where I am today.

Every day is grapefruit day.

Today I close another show. This is how this career is… you’re deep in it, totally invested, your whole day leads up to those few hours at the theatre…

And then suddenly it’s over, and you’re unemployed, and you may never seen your castmates, who have become your family, again, or at least for a long while.

It’s a somber moment, and I’m feeling a bit somber today.

Last night, I went up on an entire speech– I froze onstage and literally couldn’t form words; didn’t know where I was– and it really shook me. It was fine, but awful. I forgive myself, because it wasn’t my fault– I know the speech front and back, I was focused and paying attention– I just short-circuited.

That, compounded with the closing of the show, is making today tough. The rain doesn’t help (thanks NYC).

This was so wonderful.

  • We were a New York Times Critics Pick.
  • We got amazing reviews (my work was mentioned)
  • My parents got to see it
  • I got to do Shakespeare!
  • I made some amazing friends and met some remarkable people
  • I got to work off-Broadway, which is a gift in and of itself.

But more is to come, I know. Including a weeklong vacation in July.

And really, you can’t top what we did at the end of our performance on Friday, June 26. The day was already so joyous. Then we did this, and it was the best curtain call ever:

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Bad Career Week

In this biz, nothing’s ever certain. Sometimes a tiny little trigger (say, a part you didn’t get or a comment that irks) can send you into a hopeless place. Sound familiar, ED survivors?

So, for NEDAwareness week, I’m going to write down these beautiful things that some beautiful people I know wrote on my Facebook a few months ago. Remind me to come back and look, ‘kay?

My post:

EXPERIMENT.
I’m going through a major life change at the moment (moving, job hunting, closing a great show outside the city) and need a little encouragement, I think.

What’s the most useful thing you’ve ever been told? About the “biz,” about life, about “work,” about who to send postcards to… literally anything. It’ll be embarrassing if no one contributes so… like… don’t embarrass me.

Also will be planning a MAJOR clothing swap in October. Gird your loins.

CIARA: “A professional writer is an amateur writer who didn’t give up.”

MARK: “Well all I can think of is a Maguire acting class. So f…. Or fight. You know But in other words. I’m so happy about your show, wish I could see it, when you’re back I’d love to have a check in. I am SURE you’ll find an amazing apartment and more amazing work.

JESSIE: “Be gentle with yourself. Probably the best advice I’ve ever been given… for any situation.

MORGAN: As in acting..focus on and ride the manifestation and energy of the verb, not the construct of the nouns.”

MISSY: “Sh*t or get off the pot.”

TIFFANY: “Our clothing swap will be in October too! Come to ours. That’s my advice. Also wine.”

TIFFANY (another one): “No one can make you feel insignificant without your permission.

RACHEL: “everything happens for a reason.”

BEATRIZ: “Every time you see your reflection smile back at it.

KELVEEN: “It’s just life.”

CHRISTINE: “In life you will regret the things you didn’t do, not the the things you did.

LINA: “Want what you have and give what you need.

MARK (another one): “Make up where you want to be: A place, a life, a challenge, a goal… Use your imagination to flesh it all out in your mind’s eye (helps to write it out) Then … take an immense leap of faith.. And put yourself in a brand new locale — With no net. Live out loud. Be yourself. Trust in Life.

JORDANA: “Just read this and man I dig it: Everything is an opportunity to get to know ourselves better. Truly. Life is about our relationship to it if nothing else. Everything comes and everything goes. There will be fear, doubt, pain, fame, fortune, love, loss, learning, languishing, loathing, wondering, wandering, finding, founding, forming, feuding and overcoming. But how we experience each of these facets of being human depends on how we are relating to them.

CARLA: “I think Jordana nailed it for the rest of us. Hugs!”

HANNAH: “When I first moved to New York and was struggling so desperately to make sense of my life, my father always told me “fall in love with the woman you’re becoming and be proud” It didn’t seem like much then, and honestly I was kinda irritated he didn’t offer something I thought would be more useful. But to this day, every time I try something new, its with the intention to fall in love with the woman I’m becoming and to make myself proud. Maybe this will only mean something to me as it came from my daddy with Spock-like emotions but there it is.”

ANDREW: “Agents don’t matter.”

SUMMER: “Sometimes the biggest hurdles, or the things that are forced upon you via an unexpected change, are actually the catalysts for the most growth that would not have happened if you had stayed in your comfort zone. Literally, the year that my part-time side job — the one that gave me the knowledge that I would always have just enough money to pay my bills — went away, was the same year my acting income tripled and things really began to take off for me and my company. Now, was it scary? Yes. Absolutely. And there were sleepless nights, (sometimes there STILL are — and there always will be I think, because we are constantly challenging ourselves — never to get too comfortable) but I have learned to embrace the shifting tides, and have much more fun riding the unknown waves. You are a massive talent my darling. Truly. It is all going to come together for you, but you have to grab the slippery handles that are this business and hold on for the unknown …. ps: I love you.

MICHAEL: “Longevity in a career means that you endure the shitty times as they come, and remember and use them when opportunity arises.

MORGAN (another one): Whatever happens, when you’re an artist you have better funner friends than everybody else.

DAVID: “It’s not called show-art, it’s called show-business”. An actor’s job is to get the next job. Network, audition, take classes–always do one thing every day that keeps you in touch with being an artist.

JEFF: “As I was sweeping our garage floor, and doing a pretty poor job of it too boot, my dad told me something I’ve never forgotten. “Do every job as though you were the President, because someone is always watching you.” As I type this, it now sounds a bit eerie, but the advice has always stuck…even though I’ve given up dreams of the Oval Office!

ANNIE: “Breathe. Always ask for help. Always keep laughing–particularly when you are having a trying time– when you are hungry, for food AND for creative action, say yes to everything, and IN everything you do. But also remember that you can say NO too, if you instead need to go home and see your mom and dad or go to a movie with your sweetheart, or don’t want to play a playboy bunny who gets assaulted by frat boys. Cultivate joy and peace in all ways, and the highs and the lows of the career seem less Himalayan– but always always ask for help and community, just like you have here! XOXOXO

DAVID (another one): “hang in til you can’t hang in anymore – then stay a little longer.

MORGAN (from before): “Also, go see Annie in Illusions, because it is amazing and rejuvenating to see good theater, always. And hard to find.”

LINDSAY: “No matter what are doing, strive to be the best you can at it. When you get your morning coffee, be the best customer you can be. When you audition, be the best actor you can be. And when you go to your serving job, be the best server there is. If you let your inner light shine, you are unstoppable. Nothing happens by chance, so embrace the challenges. They are a stepping stone to your next success.

FARISO: “You have to do it yourself.”

IRIS: “ set a goal and then release how you will achieve it and then also tell me when you’re clothes swapping, cause honey- ME TOO!

KEVIN: “close your eyes, breathe and give yourself a big bear hug.”

DANIEL: “Two pieces of useful info. 1. No one is coming – i.e. what Fariso notes above is true. You have to be the one to get yourself through any challenge and when you do you will be glad of it. 2. There is a great mystery behind all that is material. Take time to cultivate your attention to larger patterns and questions that emerge as you walk through your life. They will give you clues/signals about the ways forward when things seem to be their most challenging.

TONI: “Be yourself. Always.”

DAVID (another one): “live each day one at a time.”

KATHERINE: “I recently chatted with someone who’s successful in TV and he said that the business can seem so huge and overwhelming, but the key is to make it small: to cultivate people and projects that speak to you and go for those; to create a village of people that you know and trust.

LEAF: “That the universe holds us no matter what and if in the midst of our busyness if we stand still long enough what calls to us will reach our ears.

SAJEEV: “Stay in the present. 🙂 Hope that’s useful.”

JAY: “Your future is determined by every decision you make. Decide wisely.

DAVID (again): “…every decision you make” or decide not to make. Kinda like voting.

HALEIGH: “Keep it simple. – we get tide up in emotions and what we think we should do etc. Just keep it simple.

Scrappy

I know a girl, my age, who is on Broadway right now in a featured role in Cabaret with Michelle Williams and Alan Cumming. She went to Juilliard.

I’ve bitched about this before, because it’s neverending. It’s hard to say that I am GLAD I didn’t get into Juilliard, but I try to remind myself of what I have that’s unique (a fantastic education, scrappiness, a sense of agency, etc). It’s not easy when I watch these girls, no more or less talented than me or any of my friends, seem to have smooth paths to success. They have teams with huge power, they have opportunities I don’t. Because of what’s on their resume.

my graduating class. imperfectly perfect.

my graduating class. imperfectly perfect.

So I often feel bad about this. I feel jealous and frustrated and small.

But I also know that I’m on a different road than they are. Just entirely different. And with the tools I have, my team, my skills, my scrappiness, I’m doing okay.

one time I didn't get picked to do something so I did it anyway because #idowhatiwant

one time I didn’t get picked to do something so I did it anyway because #idowhatiwant

Today I recorded a commercial voiceover demo. I’m really proud of it. I paid for it, a lot of money, but got a good deal and you know what? Did a fucking amazing job.

I fight harder. My cache is different. I am glad that my friends aren’t super skinny girls on network TV shows; my friends are those downtown theatre artists saying “hey, I’m making what I want to make,” and even starring on AMC shows but staying grounded and realistic and genuine and reading every. damn. day. I am proud of what I have accomplished with the tools I have. William Morris didn’t sign me, but someone did. Because I am who I am. Period.

scrappy but award-winning theatre

scrappy but award-winning theatre

(B, remember this next time you feel like shit, k?)

My demo is live. Check it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Oxor7SBEnY&list=UUyw8oawxDvhYkEAYNWMK31Q

#myfriends

#myfriends

The one they choose.

To be in my business in this city is to be one of millions. To survive in my business in this city, you have to believe that someone will choose you over the other millions. You have to believe you have something to offer.

And I do believe that. I can’t tell you how– I have no hard evidence beyond anecdotal– but a part of me really, truly believes that someone will choose me. They have before, and they will again. And that’s the key.

I walk around Penn Station, where most of the studios where auditions are held are, and see hundreds of girls in heels or in tights, most with backpacks or rolling bags, hair whipping in the wind. Each one of them believes that they have what it takes. And if they don’t, eventually I’ll stop seeing them. I peer through pages of agent’s websites, looking at their clients’ headshots, hundreds of girls with soft, flowing hair and eyes that stare out of the frame, lips naturally pink and eyebrow hair retouched to smoothness. Each one of them also believes they have what it takes, and they have already found someone they believe in.

I often feel like the only person who believes in me is myself. I have an agent, but don’t get appointments. I have friends who help, sorta, but not enough. Everyone else glances over me or doesn’t see me in the hundreds of smiling, pore-smoothed faces that pass through their days.

It’s exhausting to only have yourself, to maintain that belief that someone will choose you when you go for months without anyone proving that to be true. It’s hard to walk amongst those girls on 36th St and feel different, only to realize that they feel the exact same way about me and everyone else.

There is an abundance of girls like me. There is a severe dearth of work.
There is an abundance of work for certain people. There is a severe dearth of work for me.

I watch auditions come and go, most I never even get to go in for, watch the shows I didn’t get to audition for open, then run, then close, watch the actors who did get to audition and who did get the roles move onto the next, and I just stand there in the middle of the city and think, once, just once, I want to be the one that they choose.

This is why we shouldn’t be allowed to have nice things.

Just some of the roles listed for self-submissions just TODAY on Actors Access. This is the MAIN website for casting calls, used by all licensed agents and CDs (all Broadway shows, TV shows, films, etc, use this site), so this isn’t like a trashy website for bullshit casting calls. These are taken from just the first page of results for a woman my age.

I’m curious what your reaction, non-acting-industry-people, are to this casting calls. Are you shocked? No? Do you find them strange? I’m so used to them by now that it’s hard to gauge my actual reaction.

BALLERINA/MODEL ]
LOOKING FOR VERY, VERY, VERY SKINNY GIRLS!!!! Casting Women 18 and older. I am looking for a very, very, very skinny girl to play an anorexic ring girl. This is a VERY important character!!!! You would be playing a ring girl in a boxing ring, you will be wearing a bikini carrying a piece of cardboard with the number 8 on it. you will have special effects makeup to make you look skeletal. And there is a part where young boys will be throwing food at you.

NUDE BEAUTY ]
Beautiful, caucasian girl who will be rapping the lyrics to camera. She is the main focus of the video.  My goal is to create one of the most disturbing and unsettling music videos ever.

[ROLE 3 ]
Caucasian Female, age 18 – 25.  Hot looking model/ actor with a good body and looks that can make her stand apart from a crowd.  Lead

OLIVIA ]
(22-25) She is a very average looking girl, who wears no makeup. Being with Sebastian makes things much easier in that regard. She wants to be viewed as independent, but cannot bare the thought of being rejected. She always feels guilty around her mum – for having abandoned her -, and strives to make her dad feel proud….FEMALE… LEAD…CAUCASAIN OR LATINA….

2 GIRL FRIENDS ]
Age Range: 24 to 30. Latin American, Caucasian (European or American) Female Models. Very beautiful high end looking model types. Because they are the 2 best friends of our lead girl who is playing a high end model. Skinny. CAN YOU SUBMIT BODY SHOTS AS WELL. Picture Submission Only

LEAD GIRL ]
age range 18-25, any ethnicity and body type, a natural beauty who is also very sexy. This girl must be very cool and down to earth but also very hot and sexy.

GIRL ]
Caucasian, 18-25, Perfect, bad girl, beautiful, dangerous, but also “a vision of perfection” so angelic with a bad streak.

What goes up…

And here’s the problem with not hearing from my agent and not auditioning as much as I want to be.

When I do finally get a call from my agent, it’s a video audition for a recurring role on a new series for AMC (and yes, the same casting directors as Mad Men).

Naturally, I REALLY WANT THIS PART.

But the second I want it is the second I’ll fail to get it and feel heartbroken.

So.

It would be cool to get, yeah!
It’s even cooler to have gotten the appointment. Right? Of course right!!

Cross your fingers for me, though, secretly, because holy shit.

****UPDATE*****

Andddddd. Here is me letting go. After a day of excitement, then a day of so much nervous energy I could have powered NYC… And the video audition is taped, looks just fine, and was sent off to my agent. Now. I can feel good about this. I just need to stop fantasizing about it.

What’s next to get me excited?! Anyone?

Mom and dad are coming for thanksgiving in two weeks! Artie and I have two movie dates next week! I have a play audition on Monday! I have amazing supportive friends!

Life is good, y’all.

And that’s the end of this chapter. Page turn, cover close, on the shelf, as high as it can go. 🙂