Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 - Year in Review, AKA I Really Enjoy Brussel Sprouts!

Hey y'alls!

Wow, I realized that I hadn't updated this thing since JANUARY. And well, it was mostly because I was (fortunately!) super busy! 2011 has been totally KICK-ASS! I'll list some highlights:

  • Started off the year right by freelancing with Jerry K. of DDO Artists Agency in their on-camera department! Thanks to CnC-Studios and Jagger Kaye's training, this was the first time I had ever auditioned in front of an agent, and they were interested in working with me! 
  • WON the CnC-Studios raffle for a "That's How We Roll" t-shirt! I NEVER win these things! Also another great thing!
  • BOOKED MY 1ST NATIONAL COMMERCIAL! It was called "Not Acceptable" R-Word PSA, and it premiered during the season finale of GLEE on FOX! Check it out here:
Turns out that there's also a parody of it on YouTube, and someone is actually playing me! And as Kurt Cobain had once said, "You know you made it when someone is parodying you" --- or something like that!

  • Auditioned for the off-Broadway production of RENT at New World Stages, and GOT A CALLBACK! 
  • Auditioned for my first Under 5 role for a Comedy Central show!
  • Auditioned for a day player role for the HBO show "Girls"!
  • Got my 1st print ad that was displayed at bus stops! 
This print ad was for the NYC Department of Health for Colon Cancer Awareness for the Chinatown Community! The bus stop I'm posing with here is actually the one I used to wait at to take the bus to go to school every day back when I was in high school!
  • Got my very own IMDb page! This was thanks to my professional acting credit from the Biography Channel show "Celebrity Close Calls," playing Gary Busey's ER Nurse!
  • Performed STAND-UP COMEDY for the first time this year, thanks to pressure from Jagger Kaye! Took a class at CnC with Clayton Fletcher, and got to perform at CnC-Fest, and made my official debut at New York Comedy Club! I never thought that I would do it, but I did, and apparently...I was funny!
  • BOOKED my 1st agent-submitted commercial for the CNBC Million Dollar Portfolio Challenge through DDO Artists Agency!
  • GAY MARRIAGE BECAME LEGALIZED IN NY!!! (Ok, not an acting thing for me, but I was THRILLED that my friends can FINALLY get married here!)
  • Started freelancing for commercial print with Rick Miller Agency, thanks to CnC-Studios! 
  • Invited by Carrie Preston ("True Blood"), who directed the indie feature film that I worked as a day player in last year to the cast & crew screening of "That's What She Said"! Plus, at the end of this year, we found out that the film was accepted into the 2012 Sundance Film Festival!
And no, Steve Carrell is NOT in this movie!
Carrie Preston is the sweetest woman ever! It was an honor to get to be in her movie!

At the cast & crew screening of "That's What She Said," I got to sit in between Bill Klayer (left), the director of photography for the film,  and Michael Emerson (right), Carrie's husband, and also "Ben Linus" from LOST! Super cool guys!
  • BOOKED a commercial for a major computer company --- spot got KILLED. It was a learning experience though, and made me stronger!
  • Sang at Seth Bisen-Hersh's 150th Showcase Celebration!
  • Had my first ever voice-over audition for a huge national union spot! It was definitely a fun experience! Thanks to Marina Kamen for this opportunity!
  • MET BILLY BLANKS!!! I just happened to walk by a Vitamin Shoppe, and saw an opportunity to meet him, and also enter to win a chance to work out with him! Back in 2000, when I was a freshman in college, he actually helped me lose my first 30lbs in 30 days from doing his Advanced Taebo tape twice a day instead of eating junk food! It was definitely a dream come true to meet the man who pushed me on the tv screen when the going got tough, and helped essentially make me the person that I am today:
I still can't believe I met freakin' Billy Blanks!!! This is soo not a photoshopped pic! And I don't have PhotoShop anyway.

  • Cast in the opera chorus of Verdi's "Il Trovatore" with the Manhattan Opera Repertory Ensemble! It felt great to sing with other opera singers, and get to really SING again!
  • Cast a one of the leads in "The Mole," a one-act play by Barbara Kahn, directed by my beautiful and talented friend Steph Van Vlack, and starring opposite my other gorgeous and talented friend Maayan Schneider! We performed this for the Fresh Fruit Festival at the Workshop Theater in NYC. It went over so well that there will be a short film version of this play starring me and Maayan, also directed by Steph! The three of us are officially the TRIAD OF AWESOME!
Maayan, moi and Steph. I <3 these beautiful & talented ladies!

  • Got a CALLBACK for an equity play that's set to go to London! Didn't book it, but still, a great honor!
  • Worked on another project with the AMAZING Ms. MARINA KAMEN! This time, she really helped me understand my body even more, and I'm going to STAY at this size and weight! And FOR LIFE!!! And she helped me lose 100lbs!!! THANK YOU, MARINA!!!
Marina Kamen is a GODDESS! LOVE HER!!!

Oh yeah, and thanks to the weight loss, I took my 1st ever BIKINI PIC! It took A LOT of guts for me to actually take this pic!

Me in 1999 in Germany at 240lbs. Who is that???

  • BOOKED MY 1ST GLOBAL PROFESSIONAL PRINT JOB FOR HUMIRA! Thanks to Rick Miller Agency for sending me out, and Jagger Kaye for the opportunity for the opportunity!
  • Ran my 6th NYC Marathon (11th full marathon altogether) and not only beat last year's time, but SMASHED IT! Ran a personal best of 4:34:33, beat last year's best time by 37 minutes, AND I FINALLY made it into the OFFICIAL race results for the Monday issue of the NY Times! (In order to make it into the official results, you need to run a sub-5 hour marathon, and my previous best time was 5:12:17 last year!)

It only took me 6 NYC Marathons before I made it into the NY Times!

Look at that Asian girl in the glasses fly to the finish line!

  • Wrote my 1st original song in over 6 years!!! FINALLY broke out of my perpetual writer's block!
  • DEBUTED my original comedy songs at a fundraiser for the Empty Cages Collective (ECC) called "Empty Cages, Full Hearts"! Then got another opportunity to perform them again at New York Comedy Club, thanks to Clayton Fletcher! The audience was AMAZING and really loved my original songs! ***WARNING: The following songs are NOT for children or for those who don't have a sick sense of humor!

Me performing "Is She?", my Taylor Swift-infused style song.

This is my piece de resistance! "Love Eternally" is the first song I've ever written with piano accompaniment. 

  • Performed for the quarter-finals of "Got Talent 2: A Competition to Benefit Autism," and advanced to the semi-finals! Thanks to my AWESOME friends and fans, I made it to the FINALS in the Top 12! I got to perform in the star-studded GRAND FINALE and the judges included "Queen of Mean" Lisa Lampanelli and Eileen Fulton from "As the World Turns"! I ended up WINNING 3RD PLACE!!! Lisa Lampanelli said that I had "The best voice of the night" and Eileen Fulton wanted to apparently date me! Haha! Check out the video of my performance, as well as the judges' critiques at the end:
Me and my magical ukulele on stage again! This time I performed "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" at the Midtown Theater. Last year I was on stage at the Apollo, and won 3rd place there as well!

  • Took my first stab at EDITING, and WON the CnC-Studios Holiday Charity video contest! Check out my winning video here:
Ok, I'm not great, but I used Windows Live Movie Maker, had no clue what I was doing, but my "vision" still came out in this video! I was especially proud of myself when I got letters to pop up on the screen on the bottom! Woohoo! Little things like that excite me.

Now that we've looked at this year, let's compare them to my goals for 2011 that I wrote for myself last year:
  • Join AFTRA as soon as I book another AFTRA gig.Fortunately, I saved up enough money from my SAG jobs to at least make the down payment. *** UPDATE: DONE! The R-Word PSA was my 1st AFTRA PRINCIPAL CONTRACT!
  • Join SAG as soon as I have $2,335. Provided that they don't raise the initiation fee again. Rumor has it that they wanna raise it to $3,000! OUCH! I will hoping book enough AFTRA work to pay for SAG! *** UPDATE: Decided to wait until I booked the job that would "seal the deal". I'm in no rush to join until I HAVE to!
  • Book an Under 5 in an AFTRA project. *** UPDATE: Didn't book one, BUT, got to audition for one, which is one step closer!
  • Book another SAG principal role. I was SUPER lucky to get upgraded to principal in a SAG film this year, I would like to book again! *** UPDATE: Didn't book one, but when the time comes, it WILL happen again! 2012, baby!!!
  • Get an agent, and a GOOD one. *** UPDATE: I actually checked this off the first week of 2011 when I was called in by Jerry K. of DDO Artists Agency! Not only that, but I got to work with Rick Miller, and at the end of the year, for Christmas, I'm now freelancing with Kim Jago of KL Jago Talent! ALL thanks to the incredible opportunities at CnC-Studios and Jagger Kaye! And I'm also proud to say that I have booked work through both DDO & Rick Miller!
  • Take more classes! Besides the on-camera acting classes, I also want to go take dance classes again, such as ballet, jazz, tap, etc...since I DO want to end up doing musical theatre again, since that's always been my bread and butter. I also would like to find a good voice teacher, but my budget won't allow me to do that just quite yet (my Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance still has me in TONS of debt!), but I should update my book of audition songs. I also would like to take improv classes at Upright Citizens Brigade, since improv has always been such a challenge for me, but I know that it's such a great skill to have. *** UPDATE: I've taken hip hop dance, and though I'm not a pro, it was something new for me! I also was cast as a Broadway dancer in an indie SAG film this year! So in a way, I DID get to do more dancing! I also got hooked on Bikram yoga, so I've increased my near-non-existent flexibility! I haven't taken classes at UCB yet, but I did get to take an improv class with Kim Schultz, which helped TREMENDOUSLY, and perhaps the best thing was taking a STAND-UP COMEDY CLASS with Clayton Fletcher! That was truly a breakthrough for me, and I learned sooo much! It has helped me with booking more roles this year! Maybe Jagger Kaye does know what he's talking about. ;)
  • Actually GET SEEN for an Equity audition! I haven't really done much theatre this year, and it's because it's really REALLY difficult to find PAID theatre work. Like I had said above, musical theatre is really my bread and butter, and a majority of my roles have been in musicals. I would love to be on Broadway one day, and that has always been, and always will be, my ULTIMATE GOAL in life. Nothing is as thrilling as being on stage, and as much as I love being on set and working in tv and film, the stage is where I feel the most at home. I know that I can "buy in" to Equity after a year as a member of one of the sister unions (AFTRA, SAG, etc), but, that union card is one where I want to feel like I got it because I went into an audition and NAILED IT, so I booked the role and got my card. I'm DETERMINED to one day be a proud member of AEA! *** UPDATE: Not only was I SEEN at an equity audition, I was CALLED BACK for ALL THREE that I had the opportunity to audition for this year! Let's hope for a booking one day!
  • Run a sub-5 hour marathon. Ok, I know that that has nothing to do with acting...kinda. I got to work as a jogger for the film "We the Peeples" recently, and if I wasn't in shape to run and didn't have good form, I would've looked stupid on camera. I LOVE running, and just ran my 10th full marathon with a personal best of 5:12:17. Not fast, but faster than the other 9. Running keeps me in shape, and therefore, able to maintain my weight. In this business, looks mean a lot (in terms of fitting into the wardrobe for shoots, plus, the camera adds about 10 lbs), so I really NEED to keep myself in top shape so I can keep on booking work. *** UPDATE: I soooo kicked ass this year! Ran NYC in 4:34:33, baby!!!!!!! And finally made it in the NY Times official race results! HELL YEAH! I'm awesome. :)
So that's 2011 in a nutshell! Oh yeah, I realized this year that I LOVE brussel sprouts! I wished that television didn't villainize them when I was a children, so I could've gotten to know their yummy goodness sooner!

One more thing, here are goals for 2012:

  • Book more AFTRA principal work.
  • Book the SAG job that "seals the deal".
  • Get more equity auditions. Get more callbacks. BOOK.
  • Take improv at UCB.
  • Keep on working with amazing agents and managers.
  • Run a marathon as close to 4 hours as possible.
  • Try something crazy and new. Perhaps...stunt class?
I hope that everyone has been enjoying their holiday season! Have a very happy and healthy new year, and let's KICK ASS in 2012!!! Woohoo!!! :-D

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Mommy, I Wanna Be in Movies!" OR Teresa's Year in Review

2010 has been a full and CRAZY journey for me, from losing my full-time job at the World of Disney NYC of 5 years (thanks to an INSANE rent increase in which helped 200 people lose their jobs all in one fell swoop --- thanks, 5th Avenue!), actually being picked to perform at and WINNING at Amateur Night at the Apollo (who freakin' knew that that would EVER happen?!?), to becoming SAG-Eligible in a very short amount of time. Without further ado, here are the Highlights of Teresa's 2010 (bullet-pointed for your reading-ease, and you can click on links where available for videos and other cool stuff!):
  • Thursday, 1/7/2010 - I worked my very last shift at "The Happiest Place in NYC" - the World of Disney NYC due to the store closing. I served 5 years there, making Magic for all those who entered the doors on 55th and 5th. (Kinda sounds like a prison sentence, from the way I worded the first part of that sentence, doesn't it???)
One chapter of my life ends, starting the next chapter of my life...
  • Thursday, 1/14 - I bought a ukulele at Guitar Center for $39.99, since I was finding out on YouTube that people seem to think that playing ukulele was really cool.
  • Sunday, 1/17 - Since I was blessed with the ability to learn instruments really quickly, I started learning right away and after a couple of days, I recorded my 1st YouTube vid of me playing uke and singing "Dream a Little Dream of Me." I got the most hits on that one vid that I had on any of my covers of me playing guitar, and also of me singing musical theater stuff. The uke is indeed Magical.
Went slightly out of order, in case to make it easier to get that one idea out, moving on...
  • Part II of 1/14 - Went to an audition for a national print campaign for a clothing company called Rebecca & Drew Manufacturing, thanks to old high school friend, Lila Smith. I went in, got some pics taken of me in one of their shirts, and Rebecca of Rebecca & Drew commented on how "that shirt fits your PERFECTLY." And I BOOKED THE JOB! My very first print modeling gig!!! 1st Success!!! :-) Not only that, but I became one of their 3 main models on their website, plus I got to be the model on their Sizing Page!!!
  • 1/25 - Booked my 1st Commercial! Played a red carpet gala guest for Excella Pay-o-Matic Visa. It was a non-union gig, but you gotta start somewhere!
  • 1/26 - Registered with Central Casting to get some background work for tv shows. Was BOOKED ON THE 1st DAY for Law & Order: SVU!!!!! And of course, being the doofus that I was to take a nap, I missed the call and when I called back, the spots were filled! Grrrrrr..... Lesson learned, turn up the ringer on your phone when you don't need it on silent!!!
  • 1/27 - Was booked for and worked my 1st TV background job for Gossip Girl by Central Casting! I played a Goth Girl in a big art deco party scene with other goths, hipsters and rockabilly types. On that day, I also was called again by Central to work on Mercy the next day, where I got to work with James Van Der Beek, Aka DAWSON!!!!! THANK YOU, CENTRAL CASTING!!!
  • 2/5 - Booked and filmed my 1st reality TV pilot pitch called "I Object." Note to all fans of reality TV: Don't believe everything you see on tv! Das ist alles.
  • 2/6 - Was invited to my 1st feature film audition with Incredulous Pictures for the two principal female roles!
  • 2/11 - Booked my 1st short film titled "Hunting"!
  • 2/18 - Filmed my 1st music video for Breaking Benjamin's "Give Me a Sign"! The director was Nigel Dick, who's a VERY well-known director who has directed...uhhh....EVERYBODY! Britney, Paul McCartney, Rolling Stones, you name it, he's directed them! I was cast as the female doctor, and you can see my backside in the video from 0:04-0:05, so DON'T BLINK! It was a loooooooonnnng day cuz that's how it works with music videos. The background didn't get to work until 2am, and most of the background actors were cut out of the final cut of the video. Fortunately, I got some screen-time, even if it was my butt and about a second of it. I feel so incredibly blessed to get to work on that video, and Nigel Dick even had his crew drive me to the city after we wrapped cuz it was super late, and apparently I looked super miserable walking to the train station. Haha! What a nice guy!
  • 2/18 - Was called by The Onion News Network to audition for a PRINCIPAL ROLE as the role of the "Singer" for a segment! My 1st UNION (AFTRA) principal audition!
  • 3/3 & 3/5 - Got to sing at Seth's 100th Showcase at Don't Tell Mama, NYC! I was invited to perform, and got to sing one of my fave songs of his, "I'm Not Interested in You"!
  • 3/12 - Worked my 1st AFTRA job for The Onion News Network! I didn't book the principal role, but they called me in for some background work, which was cool cuz it was SOOO much fun, and I got my 1st AFTRA waiver from it! Woohoo!!!
  • 3/19 - Presented for Career Day at MS 137 in Ozone Park, and was invited by former Murrowite Danielle Monock. The kids asked me to sing, and the kids wanted me to sign autographs at the end!
  • 3/29 - My Golden Birthday!!! "29 on the 29th"! YAY!
  • 3/30 - Auditioned for and BOOKED my 1st National TV Infomercial!!!!
  • 4/5 - Performed in "Got Talent?," a benefit for Autism at Times Square Arts Center as a quarter-finalist. I had a lot of fun, though unfortunately, didn't raise enough money to make it to the semi-finals. However, I'd like to thank all those who donated cuz the money went towards a great cause, and it was an honor to perform for a charity!
  • 4/10 & 4/11 - I was the 1st person to line up for auditions for Amateur Night at the Apollo at 930pm on 4/10 for a 10am audition on 4/11. I didn't get selected on that day, so I was interviewed by NY1, who actually had been following my "journey" throughout the day since I was the 1st one crazy enough to get in line and camp out overnight in Harlem for a shot at the Apollo stage! The NY1 news segment actually was shown all day that day, so if you were tuning in, you saw me!
  • 4/13 - Worked on the very last episode of Law & Order! Well, we didn't know that it was going to be the series finale, since at that point, NBC didn't give the ax to the show yet. I played an off-duty NYPD and a grand juror. When the episode aired, I was only seen in the grand jury scene, however, I was featured A LOT! One of my goals was to be on L&O, and it happened before the show ended! Yay!
  • 4/21 - Got a call from the Apollo! I was selected to perform at Amateur Night at the Apollo!!!
  • 4/30 - Performed in Rori Nogee's "Fragments" at Don't Tell Mama! It was an evening of songs by Rori, monologues by the cast, and a scene from a show concept by Rori. I got to sing "Photograph Junkie," which was an AWESOME song! Rori Nogee is so incredibly talented, and it was an honor to get cast and perform her music along with other amazingly talented people!
  • 5/6 - Worked on my 1st industrial for Teliris Telepresence! I was cast as a businesswoman, and had a GREAT TIME! Plus, I met some amazing people who I still keep in touch with! Definitely one of the best shoots all year!
  • 6/4 - Was cast in the off-off Broadway production of "Sex, Relationships, and Sometimes...Love" by Joelle Arqueros, to be performed at the Producers' Club on 6/19 , 6/26 & 7/10!
  • 7/16 - Received my 1st SAG waiver from working on the feature film "Premium Rush"!!! only 2 more to go until I become SAG-Eligible!
  • 7/31 - 8/1 - Worked on the Justin Timberlake/Mila Kunis film "Friends With Benefits" as a Flashmob dancer in the scenes at Grand Central and Times Square. I was cast after attending an open call and had my first "dance" audition in a VERY long time! It was extremely scary to go into that audition after not dancing in FOREVER, but apparently, I've still got it! Both shoots were overnight shoots, and were looooooooonnnnnggg, but they were sooo much fun, plus, since it was choreographed dancing, I felt like I was PERFORMING on a stage again, which is what I had been doing my whole life! LOVED being brought back to my musical theater roots! Watch for the film's release this summer!
  • 8/17 - Worked on a webisode for Macy's Fashion Director with Clinton Kelly for Macys.com! It was the 1st big principal role I auditioned for and then booked!!! I got a complete make-over from the host of TLC's "What Not to Wear" himself, Clinton Kelly, including a haircut from their professional hairstylist! SUPER fun shoot!!!!
  • 8/18 - Performed at Amateur Night at Showtime at the Apollo --- and WON 3rd PLACE!!! That means that I get to come back for the next round, which is the "Show-Off" round! I performed "Dream a Little Dream of Me" on ukulele and sang, and it was thanks to my AMAZING friends & family that made this all possible! It was definitely the SCARIEST thing I've ever done (the crowds "BOO" you for ANYTHING!), but one of the most rewarding! How many people can say that they dared to even audition for the Apollo, get selected to perform, and then come out as one of the WINNERS??? Well, at least THIS GUY can. :-D
  • 8/26 - Interviewed with and was signed to freelance with Avanti Talent Management!
  • 9/10 - Got a call from Cindy Tolan's casting office to audition for the Avenue Q National Tour! Didn't book it, but was glad to still be on their radar even though I hadn't auditioned for them since last year when they had called me in to audition!
  • 9/29 - Performed in the "Show-Off" round for Amateur Night at Showtime at the Apollo. Was executed this time around (thanks to the infamous tour buses with people who go in just to "Boo" the talent!), however, had an AMAZING journey, and it was an honor to get to perform on the same stage as legends like James Brown, Luther Vandross and Michael Jackson! Thanks to her friends who came to support her on this adventure!!!!!
  • 10/7 - I received my 2nd SAG Waiver from working on the Jason Statham film, "Safe"!!! One more waiver to go!!!
  • 10/20 - I GOT MY 3RD SAG WAIVER from working on "The Sitter," starring Jonah Hill!!!! SCREEN ACTORS GUILD, HERE I COME!!!! BIG thanks goes out to Sara & Allison from Grant Wilfley Casting for making this all possible!!!
  • 10/22 - Had my 1st SAG Commercial audition for New Balance! Was very happy to get invited to audition!!!
  • 10/25 - GOT MY 1ST SAG COMMERCIAL AUDITION CALLBACK FOR NEW BALANCE!!!!! Ended up not booking the job, but it was AMAZING to get that callback!!!!
  • 10/27 & 10/30 - Worked on the HBO film "Too Big to Fail" as James Woods' character's assistant! 1st SAG OK-30 booking, and it was a good one!!!
  • 10/28 - Worked on an independent film called "That's What She Said" as a Chinese Beautician. Originally, since I was cast as "featured background," production was going to give me screen credit, in which I was MORE than happy about. Well, the director, Carrie Preston (actress from "True Blood") decided to change my role when we got there, and I GOT MY 1ST LINE IN A SAG FILM!!!! I signed my 1st SAG Principal Contract!!! SAG has already been good to me!
  • 11/15 - Received my official SAG-Eligibility letter in the mail!
  • 11/29 - Worked on my 1st major promo for Cinemax!
  • 12/9 - Worked on a promo for Samurai Love Sake playing an Opera Singer!
So those are my notable highlights. Obviously, there were plenty of other jobs and auditions during that time. And there were also the AWFUL "jobs" that I took on, and these are the winners for the "worst of the worst", such as:
  • A "comedy show" that was supposedly being shot for CW, and it was nothing but a big joke (pun intended). They were charging for admission, and it was sooo disorganized, and just awful in every way. Not only did this "show" start about THREE HOURS AFTER THE SCHEDULED TIME, after that nonsense, they utilized those of us who were there TO FILM A COMMERCIAL for the venue where it was held! Take about use and abuse! I felt not just terrible for the performers, but also for the poor audience members who actually PAID to see this atrocity.
  • A "reality TV" show about the music industry, where they had cast people to play roles in the formation of a band, BUT, the musicians brought in had NO IDEA that we were actually NOT who we said we were. In the end, me and the other girls who were at the "shoot" (where they were just using a hand-held camera, btw) felt like besides the musicians being fooled, ALL of us were just being Punk'd in the end.
There were more horrible shoots, with awful conditions, including safety (seriously, have BACKGROUND ACTORS climb THREE STORIES UP A FIRE ESCAPE LADDER with NO safety. Ok, obviously SAG would NEVER approve of that!), shoots with SUMMER EXTERIORS when it was actually 40 degrees out, bug-bites GALORE (especially in the summer whenever there was a shoot on Long Island), and lots of other stuff. It's not all glitz and glam like you would think!

Goals for 2011:

  • Join AFTRA as soon as I book another AFTRA gig. Fortunately, I saved up enough money from my SAG jobs to at least make the down payment.
  • Join SAG as soon as I have $2,335. Provided that they don't raise the initiation fee again. Rumor has it that they wanna raise it to $3,000! OUCH! I will hoping book enough AFTRA work to pay for SAG!
  • Book an Under 5 in an AFTRA project.
  • Book another SAG principal role. I was SUPER lucky to get upgraded to principal in a SAG film this year, I would like to book again!
  • Get an agent, and a GOOD one.
  • Take more classes! Besides the on-camera acting classes, I also want to go take dance classes again, such as ballet, jazz, tap, etc...since I DO want to end up doing musical theatre again, since that's always been my bread and butter. I also would like to find a good voice teacher, but my budget won't allow me to do that just quite yet (my Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance still has me in TONS of debt!), but I should update my book of audition songs. I also would like to take improv classes at Upright Citizens Brigade, since improv has always been such a challenge for me, but I know that it's such a great skill to have.
  • Actually GET SEEN for an Equity audition! I haven't really done much theatre this year, and it's because it's really REALLY difficult to find PAID theatre work. Like I had said above, musical theatre is really my bread and butter, and a majority of my roles have been in musicals. I would love to be on Broadway one day, and that has always been, and always will be, my ULTIMATE GOAL in life. Nothing is as thrilling as being on stage, and as much as I love being on set and working in tv and film, the stage is where I feel the most at home. I know that I can "buy in" to Equity after a year as a member of one of the sister unions (AFTRA, SAG, etc), but, that union card is one where I want to feel like I got it because I went into an audition and NAILED IT, so I booked the role and got my card. I'm DETERMINED to one day be a proud member of AEA!
  • Run a sub-5 hour marathon. Ok, I know that that has nothing to do with acting...kinda. I got to work as a jogger for the film "We the Peeples" recently, and if I wasn't in shape to run and didn't have good form, I would've looked stupid on camera. I LOVE running, and just ran my 10th full marathon with a personal best of 5:12:17. Not fast, but faster than the other 9. Running keeps me in shape, and therefore, able to maintain my weight. In this business, looks mean a lot (in terms of fitting into the wardrobe for shoots, plus, the camera adds about 10 lbs), so I really NEED to keep myself in top shape so I can keep on booking work.

So that's basically it. 2010 has been a very busy year, and even though some people have told me that I made it look "easy" to book work, it wasn't easy at all. Everyday was a struggle, and each week, I never knew where my next paycheck was going to be coming from. I booked a very small percentage of what I had submitted for, but I was also looking for work EVERY DAY, and never actually really had a day off.

I've actually had some people write to me, and think that I'm actually "famous" and if I could give them the "hook-up" to get into show biz. First of all, I'm nowhere NEAR being "famous," and second of all, I don't have ANY pull whatsoever on getting people cast in ANYTHING! The reason why I had success in what I've done is because I'm ALWAYS thinking about my career, always Google-ing my gluteus off (yes, Google IS your friend) to find auditions, work, and industry events to attend. That way, I can get my face and name out there. This industry is also A LOT about networking, so it really doesn't hurt to attend some of these events, such as ActorFest or Showbiz Expo.

This is an EXTREMELY competitive industry where EVERYBODY wants an in, and to be successful, you need to get yourself out there. Also, I've learned that not everybody will give you honest advice, cuz of course, no one wants you to take their roles from them. It's everyone for themselves, and the role of Nina in "Black Swan" is a perfect example of how the most competitive performers feel and think (or at least how I function, but then again, I've always just been a neurotic New Yorker who thinks that everybody is trying to sabotage me). Oh yeah, if you haven't seen Black Swan yet, GO SEE IT! It's a BRILLIANT film, and the director, Darren Aronofsky, actually went to my high school!

I would like to thank 2010, and also 5th Avenue for raising the rent so I was able to lose my job of 5 years at the World of Disney. If I didn't lose my job, I'm pretty sure that I would still be there now, and not trying to move forward with my career just for financial stability's sake. It's all about taking risks, and just taking charge of your life! I was meant to break free from doing what I wasn't meant to do and just dive, head-first, into this crazy, crazy business we call "show".

Here are a couple of quotes to leave you with, in hopes for a bright, productive and successful 2011:

"If you don't get what you want, then you don't want it bad enough." - that's my motto!

"The most important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. Remember, the greatest failure is to not try. Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it." - Random modeling postcard handed out during Fashion Week in NYC. Brilliant words of wisdom. Brilliant.

Goodbye 2010, it's been great! And 2011, I CAN'T WAIT to see what's in store!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Who's Now SAG-Eligible? THIS GUY!

On Wednesday, October 20th, 2010, I received my 3rd SAG waiver for working on the new Jonah Hill film, "The Sitter." What does that mean? I'm now eligible to join the Screen Actors Guild, or "the most distinguished performers union in the world"!
I have to admit, I got EXTREMELY lucky for getting my SAG waivers all in a very short amount of time, my first one in July and my two others in October. For me, it was all because everything happened due to me taking the time out to fit these different actors events into my life. If you get the opportunity to attend one, such as Actorfest or Showbiz Expo, just DO IT! I have Grant Wilfley Casting to thank!

And when it comes to "perfect timing," honestly, the casting gods have timed it all right for me. The week after I received 3rd waiver, I started my SAG OK 30, where I get 30 days to work as SAG without joining yet. I was booked on a two-day shoot for the HBO film "Too Big to Fail," and was cast as James Woods' character's executive assistant. It was still background work, but a very specific background character.

The next day,
I worked on a SAG indie filmed titled "That's What She Said," starring Anne Heche and directed by Carrie Preston (actress from "True Blood"), and I was working it as non-union, but I was going to receive screen credit (and who wouldn't mind seeing their name at the ending credits of a feature film???). I had gotten lucky again that day on set, because Carrie had not only changed my role at the shoot to a more featured one, but she GAVE ME A LINE, upgrading me to my very first PRINCIPAL ROLE in a SAG feature film! Folks, this rarely EVER happens to actors (lines are a background actor's DREAM), but the universe was with me, and I couldn't have been more grateful!

Since then, I've been booking more SAG work as background in movies, and SAG gave me more time to work SAG jobs, in which I am COMPLETELY grateful for (since I need $2,335 to join! OUCH!). But I'm also working on that "next step" in my career, and researching more principal work.

2011 will be my time to really step it up. There's no stopping me now!!!

It's Showtime at the Apollo!

On Wednesday, August 18th, 2010, I had one heck of an experience, and that adventure was: Amateur Night at Showtime at the Apollo!

I had auditioned for Amateur Night back in April, and I wasn't picked at the initial open call. I did get a lot of air time on NY1 that day (since I was the first person in line, lining up at 930pm on Saturday night, when the auditions started at 10am on Sunday). I was called a couple of weeks later, and I got a spot!

Feeling like I was chosen as a "gag," I knew that I had to promote the hell out of myself and my act before the show. I sent out invites, and the response was overwhelming! I had no idea that my friends thought that it was so cool that I was given the opportunity to perform at the world-famous Apollo Theater. I could NOT let them down.

I had reserved 45 seats for my performance. I had friends and family coming, people from high school that I hadn't seen in 12+ years, college friends, old work buddies from Disney, my infomercial peeps, old actor friends, new actor friends...it was unbelievable!

The day started out with sound check at 330pm. We got to work on our songs with the famous Ray Chew and the Crew, AKA the House Band. It was pretty surreal, being on that stage that legends like Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross, James Brown, and others have performed on. Pretty cool!

The show started a little before 7pm to get the audience pumped, and boy, were they pumped! I wished that I was out there enjoying the show!

The Stars of Tomorrow, AKA the kids, went on first. There are no boo-ing allowed for children. Even though Lauren Hill was boo-ed when she was on as a kid, they've changed the rules, so kids aren't forever traumatized. An adorable kid named D'Andre Lee, who had some AWESOME moves, was the winner. The kid was small, but boy, could he dance!

Then it was the adults' turn. The host, Capone, had told the audience about the rules, and since this is the Apollo, they can boo all they want for people who they don't like (or who aren't their friends). Basically, you could be amazing, but if you don't have a good amount of people in the audience, you could get boo-ed off the stage.

I was the third one up, and the first two acts were boo-ed. Pretty crazy, cuz they were good! It was the moment, and I had to go up. I took a BIG risk, because 1) I sang a non-R&B song, 2) I played ukulele. WHAT WAS I THINKING?!? Well, I had performed that for my audition in April, and that's what they wanted me to perform.

I started off my song a capella, per the advice of the amazing Marina Kamen (who has also performed at the Apoll0). The boo-ing already started, and I had to fight through it. Fortunately, my friends and family are AMAZING! Some of them lost their voices the next day because they screamed so loud for me! I sang through my song with confidence, and in triumph when I was able to finish it without getting "executed" off the stage. That showed them! I didn't care about winning, just being able to finish my song. I already felt like a winner.

Then we all lined up for the judging. I didn't care about winning, just being on that stage was good enough for me. Capone went down the line, one by one, and they kept the 3 acts with the most applause. I was one of them. I was shocked!

Ok, time to judge the final three. At this point, we were ALL winners, and we were going on to the next round, the Show-off round. Capone then went down the line, and based on the audience, they announced the winner, and that was Morgan Karr. He was on Broadway in Spring Awakening, and a super nice guy. We got to chat over a Subway sandwich after sound check, and he's a pretty cool! He's definitely a rising star, and if you haven't heard of him, you will! Then, it was down to the last two, me and this R&B group, Main Girl. Once again, Capone had the audience scream for who they wanted. 2nd Place, Main Girl, 3rd Place, moi! This definitely exceeded my expectations, and I mean, how many people can say that they were a WINNER at Amateur Night at the APOLLO?!?

I went on to perform at the Show-off round on September 29th, along with other winners. Result: Execution. I didn't have many friends there, and the infamous "Bus Groups" were there that night, the people who take pleasure in boo-ing off the talents. Even some AMAZING acts were boo-ed! But then again, that's what makes it the Apollo.

Still, I got to perform at the Apollo Theater!!! I have to send out a HUGE THANK YOU to my friends and family for their support. I couldn't have gotten as far as I did without them. That was definitely an experience that I'll never forget!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Flashmobbin' It & Justin Timberlake: My Experience Dancing in a Feature Film!

This past weekend, I was booked to work as a dancer in a "flashmob" scene for the new Justin Timberlake & Mila Kunis film, "Friends With Benefits," which was filmed in Grand Central Station.

So, what exactly is a "flashmob," you might be wondering? Well, here's Wikipedia's definition:

"A flash mob (or flashmob) is a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and pointless act for a brief time, then disperse."

I had attended an open call at Central Casting about a month ago, and the casting notice had stated that they were looking for people "who have a sense of rhythm and physicality" for an upcoming Major Motion Picture. Being the go-getter that I am, I went to the audition.

I've attended a lot of auditions, and since I'm not necessarily a "dancer," I went into this actually feeling kinda --- nervous. I had no clue what to expect, but I figured the worst thing that could happen is that they won't cast me for this. But I went, and they took our picture, and then had us go up in groups, they put on music, and we had to show what we had. So basically, this was a dance call, without actual choreography, just show 'em what 'cha got! Of course, I went all out and shook my groove thang like my life depended on it, and didn't care how ridiculous I looked in front of the casting director. Audition complete.

A couple of weeks later, I get a call from Central, and I was booked! YAY ME!!! :-D

The shoot was on Saturday, July 31st, going into the early morning hours of Sunday, August 1st. They had us come in at 1230pm to do all of the paperwork, and then go into rehearsals with the choreographers over at Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central. We learned the moves, and did them over and over and over again, basically NON-STOP for 2 hrs. We only had this little time to rehearse, and we had to film the scene at night, so we really had to get the dance moves down pat (since this was for a Major Motion Picture, after all, so we had to look like pros!).

We later went into another space, and rehearsed again, with the entire group of about 400 or so other dancers, this time with the actual music, instead of just counts. Hearing the music really made it feel easier to have the moves "make sense," but since we weren't going to have the actual music playing during the filming, we had to make sure we had the music in our heads and just be able to rely on the beat.

After 10pm, one group of flashmobbers were brought in to film. Later on, they widened the camera angle, and they brought the second group, which included me. We started filming after midnight (so there were less Grand Central patrons, and we could take up more of the space), and were placed in our spots, and paired up with our "official" dance partners.

I was very lucky in that I had a prime spot where Justin walks past during the scene to Mila. My dance partner and I saw that the director and choreographers were moving people in between the takes, just to get the best shots, and we were both scared that we would mess up and get moved, so we made sure that we gave it our all and really looked great for the camera, including making sure that our moves were crisp and clean. We got to keep on spots, and hopefully, our footage will be seen when the film is released sometime in 2011!

Most of the flashmobbers were wrapped at 4am, but I stayed until 5am to film an additional scene, which was very reminiscent of the little extras they add during the ending credits of films, so there's a possibility you might see me in that!

On that day, I officially worked 16 hrs, which was the longest shoot that I've done so far. It was very tiring, and my body still hurts from all that choreographed dancing, but needless to say, it was A LOT of fun! It was such a thrilling experience to be a part of that shoot, and definitely very rewarding!

The next day, I was able to find some pictures on the internet from the shoot from an online celeb news site called Just Jared, and I found myself in one of the pictures (the one above! Can you find me? Hmmm....? Hint: It's all about the glasses)! Now THAT was cool! Check 'em out here!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Getting My 1st SAG Waiver: China, Rain & Illegal Smuggling

On July 16th, 2010, I got to work on Day 1 of filming for the new Joseph Gordon-Levitt feature film, "Premium Rush." It's an action/thriller, and here's the plot according to IMDB:

An action story set in New York City, where a bike messenger picks up a package at Columbia University and subsequently catches the attention of a dirty cop.

The scene that I worked on takes place in China, and I played a Chinese person who was trying to get illegally smuggled into the U.S. Since filming takes place in NYC, we had to act in front of a green screen, which will most likely be projecting the image of a China port.

Since having lost a lot of weight in the past few months, none of my old clothes fit, so I had to purchase new clothes for wardrobe options. However, I'm now small enough to fit into the wardrobe that they have, and actually wore a top picked out for me from wardrobe. It resembled something my grandmother wore, and I got to wear some huge very 80's-looking glasses. I was quite a fashion fiend on set, and actually, the 2nd Assistant Director loved my ensemble the most out of all the other background actors!

One really cool thing about being a part of these film shoots is the
"movie magic" that happens on set. For this shoot, they created "rain," and we basically got drenched. It was actually very nice and quite welcoming, considering that it was 90 degrees out. We all wanted them to bring on the rain!

What made this shoot special was for me was that I RECEIVED MY VERY FIRST SAG WAIVER!!! I had never received one before, so needless to say, I was SUPER PSYCHED when I saw that this was a gig that was waivering non-SAG. It was really nice to be treated/paid as Union talent, and even though I still need 2 more SAG waivers to earn my SAG card, it feels AWESOME to know that I'm now on their radar!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Apollo Amateur Night Auditions

It's been over a month since I last updated my blog, so here we go:

I camped out overnight for
Apollo Amateur Night auditions! Yep, I slept (well, not really) on the streets on Harlem, outside of the legendary Apollo Theater. I was the first person in line and got there at 930pm on Saturday, April 10th, for auditions that were to start on Sunday, April 11th at 10am! I was first in line, but then quickly arrived a father and his friend who were camping out for his daughter, and a mother and daughter who flew to NYC just to audition. More people later trickled in, but the first three acts were the only ones who were given Apollo wristbands. YAY!

It got cold outside overnight, a stark contrast from the nice spring-like weather we had earlier on. Throughout the night, there were bums asking us for money, hoodlums wanting to start fights, and giant RATS were running around. Who said that trying to get your chance at stardom was supposed to be glamorous??? There were no bathrooms around, so people had to go to White Castle to use the bathroom, but you had to buy something to get in. White Castle in da 'hood was quite an experience!

Before we knew it, the sun finally started to rise, and it was morning. YAY! I was excited that Starbucks was now open so I could get my Zen tea with honey (my usual "Before Audition/Performance" beverage of choice). Everything seemed all nice and calm in Harlem, and then a man who claimed to be "Owner of the Apollo" went nuts, knocking over things, and handed random people in the line a $20 bill. When he approached me, he knocked over the barricade next to me, and put the $20 bill in my hand! I NEVER get any free money, EVER!!! And some kid in line asked me if he could have it. Uhhh....NO!!! So I was $20 richer! He ended up doing another crazy things, like getting into the middle of the streets and taking off his shoes, knocking on peoples' car windows and giving them a $20 bill, and getting on top of cars and kicking down the trunk. A whole bunch of cops appeared out of nowhere, so that was fun! A typical morning in Harlem.

NY1 covered the auditions, and since I was the first person in line, they interviewed me and had me sing and play for them (at this time I was delirious from no sleep and being awake at this point for 22 hrs). I was also interviewed for a book that's in the works, and the section of the book I was interviewed and photographed for was about "Artistic Passion" --- since obviously, you have to be passionate about your art if you're going to camp out overnight in Harlem! It was pretty cool getting interviewed for stuff, so I guess me being completely nuts for doing stuff like this somewhat pays off!

It was about 930am, and they started to hand out numbers to everyone. Mine was #1! They only were seeing the first 300 acts, so that's why I made sure to get there as early as possible. They had us all get into the building in a calm, organized manner, fill out some paperwork, and off we go!

They brought in 15 acts into the audition room at a time. It was a large room that was painted completely black, with pictures of Apollo legends in the background. There were mics set up, so they station you at one, do a real quick sound check on you, and you do your thing. Since I was singing and playing ukulele, they had a lower mic for my instrument as well as for my voice. I sang "Dream a Little Dream of Me" (at this point, being awake for over 24 hrs and absolutely delirious), and then I was told afterwards that I was done. I had no clue if they wanted me to stand to the side, or start walking out of the room, so they had people walking me out. NY1 was also filming the beginning of the auditions, and the reporter asked if i could stick around so she could interview me. So I walked out of the room, and waited, not sure what my fate was.

After waiting for a little bit in the exit they had me leave out of, I found out the NY1 people left the building, and the reporter actually was expecting me to wait for her OUTSIDE. (Once again, over 24 hrs of NO SLEEP, and DELIRIOUS!) So I went out there, and this kids dance troop was being interviewed with their Apollo "golden ticket". Hmm...so I figured, "Yeah, I didn't make it." I got interviewed, and said that this wasn't my time for the Apollo. Turns out that this interview ended up being shown on NY1 on a loop A DAY that day! Well, even if I didn't get selected by the Apollo, at least I got my 15 min (or 30 seconds!) of fame!

I let it go, and figured, well, maybe I should've done something more poppy, like Celine, or Mariah, or Whitney. But I figured, they probably get sick of hearing the same songs over and over and OVER again. So I figured to go with something a little different. Though I realized that "different" sometimes doesn't pay off.

On April 21st, I got a call in the afternoon, from Kathy at the Apollo. I'm thinking "Oh, they're calling me with my official rejection phone call." She continued talking, and then told me that I was SELECTED TO PERFORM FOR AMATEUR NIGHT AT THE APOLLO! I was just so ridiculously excited, I even said to her "Are you serious???" cuz I just still didn't believe it! She gave me all the info I needed, with the date of August 18th, sound check info, etc. I was THRILLED!

I have a tendency to be really hard on myself (what performer ISN'T???), but sometimes when I DO end up getting to notate a "success" in my "Performing Career Journal," it's just that much more rewarding and exciting. And yes, I've been keeping a journal to keep track of all auditions and "successes" just to see where I'm heading in my career since I started this crazy journey in January! It's something I want to be able to one day look back on as a reference, and see what I had to do to get where I will hopefully end up!

Life is full of challenges. If you don't succeed, try, try again. Or just...as hard as it is...try to MOVE ON. Go out and wow some other folks. Sometimes you'll get those magical phone calls when you least expect it. :-)