Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Not a PSA

First, thanks to MagicKat for her comment on my last post. She's a Real Actor living in the Big Apple and writes a good blog (see the link in the right-hand navibar). I say "real actor" with tongue firmly planted in cheek, because the stereotype many ad agencies almost willfully enforce is that you cast in L.A. for beautiful people, go to Chicago for comedy, and go to New York for "real actors." No disrespect to my NYC brothers and sisters, of course, least of all MagicKat; it's just that all three locales have more than enough professional talent to cast nearly any 30-second opus, so advertisers should think more locally.

So glad to have an on-camera audition yesterday that was up my alley, so to speak. My "alley" happens to be one where I feel I can stand out because the casting specs allow — if not call for — a certain amount of creative latitude on my part. Combine that with a casting director who actually lets you play a little (instead of fixating on the "director" part of their title because, you know, actors are stupid and won't give their client a good performance unless they're forced to) and you've got a rewarding experience. Seriously — actually landing a gig is gravy, but if I didn't actually enjoy a good portion of my auditions I'd have to question whether it was all worth it.

It's rare that things in the non-acting world eclipse my Dream (life as a professional actor being the dream I pursue), but I've got a lot of non-acting stress happening at the moment. My last living grandparent died last week at the age of 99, Cherokee and I are in the middle of trying to buy a house, and an entrepreneurial retail venture I run is giving me massive headaches (it being the holiday season). Actually, I normally wouldn't even consider that last bit to be a major stressor since I actually derive enjoyment from running it, but MagicKat's experience with holiday shoppers (again, see her link to the right) reminded me that, "Hey, yeah! Holiday shoppers ARE the dark side of humanity incarnate!"

Speaking of which, I've gotta go deal with them now. Heaven forbid they not get instant gratification...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


My thanks to Anonymous for the tip in their comment to my last post. Always good to have resources so we can do as much work as possible on our own careers. Kind of reminds me of something Cherokee says:

Y'know how every actor hears at some point the phrase, "Remember, your agent works for YOU, not the other way around"? I'm sure whoever said that originally meant to empower actors to take charge of their careers, but often what happens is exactly the opposite — actors cop an attitude with their agent and forget that there's a greater demand among actors for agents than agents looking for actors to rep. So the agent gets "unenthused" about the actor and s/he ends up going from agency to agency wondering why they can't get work. Kind of like a bitchy society matron complaining that "you can't find good help these days," all the while she's demanding not so much "help" as "demeaning servility" from her domestic employees.

Well, Cherokee's take on this is, "If I pay my employee 10% to find work for me, that means that 90% of the work is up to me." Sure, that may sound cute, but it helps with the attitude adjustment.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Picking Up a Bit

When it's slow, every little audition, gig, or other blip on your Actor Radar becomes a Big Deal, so I guess the fact that I've had three such Big Deals this week says more about how slow it's been than anything else. Still, worth noting in my diary here are:

1). I went to an orientation session for the Equity EMC program. I've actually already got 20 hours or so toward the requisite 25 for joining (for members of sister unions), but I remember how much I resented not having gotten an orientation when I joined my first 4A union 15 years ago, so I thought I should show up or else have only myself to blame for the next 15. Half the presentation was on "why unions are good" which, given my background, was like preaching to the choir, but the other half was new and informative. AEA is definitely different from SAG and AFTRA, and that's mostly a good thing.

2). I had an audition for a spokesperson type of thing for a national brand that really resonated with me on a number of levels. First, it was the sort of character that I used to get called in for quite a bit 'back in the day'. Not so much in the last five years. Second, it was one of those old-fashioned spokesperson searches that you just hardly see at all these days, complete with specs from the Breakdown Service and lavish talk about the "quintessential qualities" that will make this character stand out above all others (and which are of very little use to the actor when preparing for the audition). Lastly, fortunately or unfortunately, it reminded me of the time when I actually was a spokesperson for a national brand — lots of complex emotions over the experience, but a lasting impression of just how ephemeral recognition, fame, notoriety, etc. are (and why they're a ticket to a Bad Place mentally if they becomes one's goals rather than the work itself).


3). Yesterday I had perhaps the quickest voiceover job I've ever had. I couldn't have been there more than 5 minutes. It took longer to fill out the paperwork after than to do the read. It was one of those spots where they cut together a dozen people saying the same speech, so they really only needed each voice to "not suck" for at least 3 seconds.

Being who I am, these events led (of course) to a certain amount of introspection, the result of which was my realizing something that I wish I'd adopted as a credo long ago:

"Keep sucking until you don't."

Seriously, it's a great formula for success, and it's more concise than all that blather I used to hear about being persistent, continuing to train and educate yourself, getting as much experience as possible, etc. No — just don't be afraid to suck, because (in all likelihood) you will. Then, rinse and repeat, making adjustments along the way of course, until things click and you're not so sucky.

Now if I could only convince those casting directors who saw me suck once-upon-a-time to forget their first impressions...