I'm an actress in Los Angeles, sharing my Lessons Learned along the way.

I Love LA but its Time to Go Home!

May 22, 2016

The publication Backstage produces an annual actor event called ActorFest, I attended my first Los Angeles event back in 2010. It’s a convention of everything actor. Performers get to learn about the business of acting, register for auditions with television and film casting directors, industry panels, workshops, and more. The industry panel discussion, I signed up for, was complied of powerful and notable casting directors from television and film. I was enthralled by this panel of experts, they were veterans of their industry, candid with their point of view and generous with information regarding actors, directors, how they get their jobs. Laray Mayfield, casting director for all of David Fincher’s films, was on the panel. I knew of Laray because she would sometimes cast commercials and had brough me in from time to time.

I am always in search for golden nuggets of guidance,  I still have the notes from that day, full of information, that I still rely on. The copper in the penny moment, was a simple one. Laray Mayfield said she has to go back home, to Tennessee, often. She needs to go home to soak up all the love from her family and friends, go back to her roots, it’s what she needs to recharge her battery to continue thriving in hollywood. That small nugget of insight caused me to pause and recognize why I chose to go home every year. I’ve made it my business to go home, to NY, at least two times a year or at least a mandatory once. Before this panel, I don’t think I realized the relevance of why I needed to go home annually. Home is where unconditional love is. Where no one cares if I’m booking or not. It is where I go to decompress, recalibrate, inhale different air and eat good food.

I chose to move to LA, away from my family and closest friends to pursue a career in entertainment, like 10,000, or so, other people do annually. My drive, work ethic and focus, to make my career a success, can be so intense I tend to burn out. During my early years of residing in Los Angeles, I couldn’t recognize my burn out. It would show up as different maladies. I’d feel lonely, like, I’m out here by myself, woe is me, even though I chose to move here, by myself. I’d lose focus, not knowing what my next step was, causing me to make decisions that didn’t serve the grand vision, or suffered analysis paralysis, resulting in wasting time, money or energy. I’d lack desire to do anything except, watch reality TV and eat food that didn’t nurture my body or I’d just hate people and isolate myself. Yes, I know hate is a strong word, its usually only temporary. I grew numb to these emotions and what they meant when they showed up. Hearing Laray Mayfield state, why she must go home often, was a revelatory moment.

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The Casting Director Intern

April 15, 2016

I once was a member of the now defunct, yet prestigious The Actors Network also known as TAN. Kevin E. West, actor and founder, created and ran the brick and mortar space for 20+ years. It was his way of paying forward resolute information about the entertainment industry, notably, Hollywood. He would tell us how he’d made every mistake a young actor could make, moving to Hollywood, and how he was conscious enough to recognize his mistakes, learn from them and put structures in place that would allow him to make better choices and strides as an actor. Thankfully, he was compassionate enough to share his vast knowledge with the members of The Actors Network.

Kevin would have, top-notch, industry heavy hitters, come to speak to us, almost nightly. They’d demystify all that happens behind the scenes, valuable and priceless information. I learned a great deal on how to navigate Hollywood, how not to squander my time and energy and how to focus on what served me best, as an actor and in my life. That place was a plethora of knowledge and insight, I must admit, I miss it, but I’m grateful to have spent 4 years soaking up the information that I still use to this day. His motto was “Help Me, Help You, Help All Of Us.” Tan was a tightly knit community of, camaraderie, focus, and passion. Kevin just released a book called “7 Deadly Sins – The Actor Overcomes” I’m purchasing my copy today.

One of the things, out of hundreds, that I learned at TAN was, asking agents or casting directors for an internship. Interning can the best on-the-job training for an actor or anyone really. Interning allows us to see just how much is out of our hands and it takes away the neurosis of the “I Shoulda, Coulda, Wouldas.” Most importantly, you build a rapport with the agent or casting director that allows you to forge a long lasting relationship and if you’re lucky enough to be a reader, you get to see the high percentages of people who are not well prepared or allow nerves to ruin their audition. It’s baffling. But, you also get to see the actors who are profound experts at their craft and auditioning.

Last year, around May, I had a lot of time on my hands and I was using it to binge watch television, unapologetically, my favorite pastime. The month of May is typically an industry wide slow month, due to Upfronts. Upfronts are presentations where the major television networks preview their upcoming fall and midseason series for advertisers, the press, and the other networks. For TV development, they are the ceremonial end of pilot season, where the year’s works are displayed. When Upfronts take place, broadcast television and commercial auditions become sluggish until the Upfronts are complete and all the of the ad dollars have been spent. In a nutshell, studios spend millions of dollars wining, dining and entertaining the ad agency and corporate brands to have them return the favor by purchasing commercial time slots, up to billions of dollars. Continue reading