Quick Hollywood Tips!

Happy July! Hope you’re all staying cool in this hot, summer weather! I wanted to give out some quick Hollywood tips.

Slating: This is your opportunity to introduce yourself on camera to the decision makers-the people who will end up watching your audition. This could be the clients of a product on the commercial casting side or it could be the executive producers and/or directors on the theatrical side. This is the first time that they’re seeing you on camera before you even audition. Make it count. Impinge. Be warm, inviting. Think about how you introduce yourself to people in real life.

Playing within the frame: As you prepare for an audition, think about how you can play within the frame. Remembering that the story is key. The story is the most important component. Does playing within the frame enhance the story and push it forward? When you play within the frame to service the story, you impinge the audience who watches it. Do you lean into frame to appear more menacing if you’re playing a darker character? Do you lean into frame if you’re looking to create more intimacy and chemistry? Do you back away from the frame to reveal that you are scared or frightened of the situation in front of you? Do you walk into frame? And if so, where are you coming from? When you come into frame, does it give the audience a sense and reality of where you’re coming from? Playing within the frame can really heighten the story.

Attitude monitors talent: Perception is everything. If you walk into any room with a bad attitude, they see it right away and their first impression of you is not favorable. How are you coming into the room? Do you come in with a sense of life force and a great attitude where the people in the room want to work with you? If we’re looking at a series or a feature film and we’re talking about long days on set, do you want to hire the person who comes in with a bad attitude? Or do you want to hire the person who comes in with a great attitude and makes everyone feel better at the end of the day? Put it like this: Would you hire you?

Compliance: According to Merriam-Webster:

to conform, submit, or adapt (as to a regulation or to another’s wishes) as required or requested. conformity in fulfilling official requirements. Derivation of comply: enfold. EMBRACE.

Follow directions to the T. Be open to direction. Be open to change. If you’re given an assignment, do it. There is gold on the other side of that assignment. It will pay off. Embrace the assignment. Part of training to be a professional is compliance. If you can comply in your training, you will comply when given direction in a casting office or on set. Comply.

Now go and enjoy a cold, refreshing cocktail!

Hollywood

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This Is My America

With everything that is happening in America at the moment, I couldn’t find the exact words to express how I was feeling. Then, I remembered the healing power of art. And how I could use art as a way to reveal the kind of America I want. The America I see. The America I know we can become again.

I see America as a place of inclusion. Of color. Of acceptance. Of possibilities. Of freedom. Of equality. Of helping one another. I’m not here to talk about politics, but rather, to express what I want America to be through different forms of art. And I know there are several works of art I’m leaving out, so I’ll continue to add as it occurs to me.

In no particular order, this is my America:

Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 10. “I Am American”:

 

Madonna “Why’s It So Hard To Love One Another” from The Girlie Show:

 

Whitney Houston “National Anthem”:

 

Working TogetherPhoto by Clip Art

 

 

689-03733355                                             Photo by Master File

 

Kids Playing         Photo by Purestock/Thinkstock. Featured in Slate Magazine

 

Citizenship CeremonyHector Colon (left) and Victor Duran, both of the Dominican Republic, wave American flags after being sworn in during a naturalization ceremony in Atlanta on Tuesday. Photo by David Goldman/AP

 

An Ode To Actors!

According to dictionary.com, the definition of “ode” is:

  1. a lyric poem typically of elaborate or irregular metrical form and expressive of exalted or enthusiastic emotion.

That being said, I hope this provides inspiration!

Dear actors,

For all the times:

*We’ve faced rejection

*We’ve compared ourselves to others in the casting waiting room

*Others have sized us up and compared themselves to us in the casting waiting room

*We’ve dealt with horrendous traffic to get to auditions

*We’ve gotten a flat tire heading to an audition

*We’ve had trouble finding parking

*We’ve gone to the wrong casting office

*We’ve gotten a parking ticket after an audition

*We’ve had 3-4 auditions in one day and have had to do the actor wardrobe change in the car (we are fucking masters at that)

For all the times:

*We’ve gotten so close to getting that part and they went with the other person

*We’ve forgotten our lines

*We’ve been nervous in an audition

*We’ve been nervous on stage

*We’ve been nervous on camera

For all the times:

*We’ve been told to give up our dreams

*We’ve been told to get a real job

*We’ve been told that acting is not a real profession

*We’ve been told that we are not good enough

*We’ve been told that we are not important

*We’ve been invalidated and made to feel less than

*We’ve been shamed to celebrate our journey and wins

For all the times:

*We’ve taken crazy jobs to make ends meet

*We’ve worked more than one day job to make ends meet

*We’ve had pasta for dinner instead of steak

*We’ve endured long periods of time of not auditioning

*We’ve endured long periods of time of not booking jobs

*We’ve received eye rolls or chuckles or silences whenever we tell people we’re actors

*We’ve told people with shame that we are actors

For all the times…know that it’s all worth it. We are so blessed to be actors…to be artists. We are some of the most important, influential, impinging people in the universe. And what we do is so much fun, fun, fun! Hang in there. Keep pushing through. Keep showing up and getting the work done. Keep taking risks and walking through the fire. Don’t give up. The universe needs you.

**I also realized I can do a “For all the times” entry for writers and producers as well!

**Is there anything up there that I’ve left off? Let me know in the comments below!

Finding An Agent Is Like Dating

Hey gang! A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog entry about how I started looking for new representation and that I received an offer in one week. I ended up not signing with that particular talent agency and I have since continued the search for theatrical representation (I received an offer for commercial representation on May 4th and I accepted that offer)

A few days ago in my PDP 3.0 class, I was chosen to do cold stand up comedy. I talked about how searching for an agent is like dating. Listen to my stand up comedy below and find out why! I would also love to read your agent dating stories in the comments section below.

 

 

What Is A Slate?

And why it is so important!

When an actor auditions for a film, a TV series or a commercial, they are usually asked by the casting director, casting assistant or session runner to slate for the camera. “Give us a slate for camera” or “Please slate for camera”. Or something similar along those lines.

A slate is an industry term in which you introduce yourself on camera right before you begin your audition. “Hi, my name is Jorge Ortiz”; “Hi, my name is Jorge Ortiz and I’m reading for the role of Anthony”; “Hi, I’m Jorge Ortiz”; etc. There are many variations on a slate depending on the instructions that the casting director gives to you. In the case of self-tape auditions, the instructions provided may ask you to include your height and location in your slate.

So, slates vary. But the point is that you are introducing yourself on camera right before you begin your audition.

And why is that important? Because you are introducing yourself to the decision makers on the other side of the camera. You are introducing yourself to decision makers who will be watching your auditions later.

This is your opportunity to let your personality shine through. This is your opportunity to let us know who you are because your slate is our very first impression of you. Is your slate warm, open and inviting? Does it make us say, “Wow, I like this person. I want to get to know them.” Does your slate come from a place of a great attitude that makes us say, “That’s someone I want on my set for the next 4-6 months.”

Don’t throw away your slate by coming across as unsure, tentative, nervous, hostile, unclear, mumbling, monotone, etc. Or they quickly state their name and move on to the scene. I’ve seen a number of actors in the classes I teach throw away their slates. Rather, impinge us with your slate. Make us sit up and say, “Who’s that?”

Think about how you introduce yourself to people. Or how you say hi to your friends. Bring that quality, that energy, into your slate. It’s open, warm, inviting, friendly.

However, that doesn’t mean you phone it in. That doesn’t mean you run for mayor and make your slate over the top. Because at the end of the day, we see and sense that too. It reads as phony and trying too hard. It makes us go “Ugh! They’re trying way too hard. Ease up. Relax.”

Here’s the key to a great slate. The slate starts before you even come into the room. Your slate is connected to how you feel about yourself. Your life force. Your purpose. Your sense of self. If these dynamics are off, then your slate will reflect that and be off as well. Your slate, how you introduce yourself to a group of decision makers, is connected to you. If you are connected to yourself, then there will be a certainty in your slate.

A great question that comes up all the time is, “If I’m playing a dark character or if I’m auditioning for a heavy, dramatic scene, then how do I slate? Do I slate with an upbeat, positive attitude or do I slate as this dark, heavy, dramatic character?”

This question really comes up because actors want to stay in character and stay in the zone of the material they are auditioning for. They feel that they will lose the character or lose being in the zone if they have to slate as themselves and then jump into the character. They feel that they won’t be able to get back into that heavy, emotional character or scene if they have to slate beforehand with an upbeat, positive attitude.

At the end of the day, it’s a personal decision. I personally like to come in as myself so they can see me, the person. My job is to come in as a person first and then get into the acting second. I want them to see my personality right away and know that I am easy to work with, fun to work with, a joy to work with. And then we’ll get into the acting part of the audition. Auditions are about being a person first and then acting second.

And because I’ve done the work beforehand, I know how to quickly transition into character and into my moment before once I’ve slated. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, and you want to stay in character and slate as your character, go for it. I would just say that at the end of your audition, recapture the room by slating again as yourself. In other words, slate again at the end of your audition as yourself so that they can see your true personality. They’ll say, “Oh wow, they were in character the whole time and then they slated as themselves at the end of their audition.”

Like I mentioned earlier, don’t throw away your slate. Really communicate and impinge us with your slate. Your slate is our very first impression of you. An actor I know-who works all the time-had an opportunity to do a directing fellowship with a major television network. They were in the room with the executive producer and creator of a major TV series. They were watching the auditions (the selects) that the casting director forwarded to them. The actor told me that the executive producer and creator would skip over auditions right at the slate. The executive producer and creator would say these things after certain slates: “Too nervous” or “Too green” or “Not confident”.

They stopped the auditions right at the slate! They didn’t watch any further. So you could have done a great job in your audition, you could have thrown the fuck down, but they didn’t watch it because your slate was lacking in some way. They’ll never know how great of a job you did because they stopped watching your audition at the slate.

So, don’t risk your slate. Practice, practice, practice!

How To Make Yourself Valuable

How to make yourself valuable on set or in an audition room. When I taught the Professional Development Program class on Monday, April 23rd, I had a great and passionate discussion with my students about where in their lives they could make themselves more valuable in a certain area. Where could they put in a conscious effort to improve an area that will make themselves more valuable in the casting rooms and the sets they work on.

Help us help you by being the best you can be. By making yourself more valuable, we want to work with you over and over again. When you’re valuable, the exchange and collaboration is more fun and easier for both parties involved.

 
Help us help you.

 
I’ve been on set as an actor, director and producer. I have sat on the other side of the casting desk. I have taught hundreds of students at the Richard Lawson Studios since 2010. I have interviewed hundreds of potential students for the Richard Lawson Studios. From the above experiences, I’ve compiled some quick tips that I want to share that have helped me become more valuable to others.
 
Arrive EARLY. Need I say more?
 
Actually, I will. Arrive EARLY. Give yourself the respect and experience of being early so that you can be present and focused and so that you don’t have people waiting on you. Cause what happens when you’re late is that a domino effect occurs. You run late to set, it affects the other people on set as well. They are now behind schedule. The DP is losing light. The producer and director are running out of time in a location. Scenes get pushed. The budget increases as a result. People have gotten fired for being late. So always be early!
 
You run late to an interview with me and a domino effect occurs. I now have to either push other interviews back or, as it has happened many times before, the next person arrives and they now have to wait until I’m done. Which now affects their schedule and their day. And it affects and throws off my day too. Help us help you.
Have a great attitude. Make the room or set better in terms of your attitude and energy. Art is collaborative. It’s a team effort. Let’s have fun! Make them want to work with you again. Make them want to bring you back again.

Follow the instructions to a T. Make their job easier. Don’t have them trying to figure out what you submitted. Don’t have them trying to figure out what you intended. It wastes their time and it will end up in the trash bin. For example, when it comes to self-tape auditions, follow all the instructions provided or they will not view your audition. If you’re submitting your materials to an agency, follow their instructions to a T. Otherwise, they will not view your materials. One agency website states, “If you do NOT use this form, but instead use the casting people’s contact button, you will automatically go straight into the trash…because you’ll be showing me right off the bat that you can’t follow directions! ​Need I say more?!” Help us help you.

Don’t take short cuts. It will eventually catch up with you and set you back. The short cuts will backfire. Do the work.

Make it easy to find you! I can’t tell you how many actor profiles I see on IMDB with multiple contact listings. And I don’t mean the actor who has the contact info for their agent, manager and entertainment lawyer listed on their profile page or the actor who has the contact info for their agent and publicist listed on their profile page. I don’t even mean the actor who has the contact info for their LA agent and NY agent listed on their profile page. I’m talking about the actors who have several LA agencies listed on their page. It’s so confusing because I don’t know who you’re actually repped by! Actors, please know that you can edit your profile pages and keep them current. I don’t have the time, nor do others in the industry, to call several agencies in LA to find out which one you’re with. CLEAN UP YOUR PAGE! Who are you actually repped by? Help us help you.

Don’t disappear on set. Don’t have us looking for you. You’re wasting valuable time when you disappear. Inform your second AD of your whereabouts. Be a professional and be on stand by, ready to go. Help us help you.

 
What other tips can you add to this list? I’d love to read your comments below!

Homeward LA (Art Making a Difference)

Art is powerful. Art creates change. Whether it’s a movie, a song, a painting, a book, etc. Art has the ability to make us move towards change. And as an artist, I love using my art to create and inspire change. That’s why I am honored to be a part of Homeward LA.

Homeward LA is a 10-day citywide event from April 13 to April 22, where over 20 productions of monologues based on stories from people who have experienced homelessness will be performed by actors all around the Los Angeles area. I will be acting in the April 22nd production at the Richard Lawson Studios at the WACO Theater Center!

Together we will experience stories from the lives of those who strive to find their way home, increase awareness around the homeless crisis facing Los Angeles, and raise funds for The Midnight Mission, an amazing nonprofit organization on Skid Row.

If you are interested in attending, please click on this link:

http://bit.ly/homewardla

Homeward LA