Do You Celebrate?

Happy Sunday! Not too long ago, I posted a blog entry about what a win is and what defines one. For example, is it only a win when you book a job in the entertainment industry? I wanted to shed some light and a new perspective on what a win is. Here is the link to that particular blog entry: http://wp.me/p8uI5M-mS

Well, now that you have a greater understanding of what a win is, and you’ve had some wins in your life and in your career, what did you do to celebrate them? Did you take the time to celebrate that win or did you forget about it and move on to the next thing on your “to do” list? You know, that list of things you keep crossing off and you keep crossing off and don’t ever acknowledge the progress you’re making because you’re only focused on the end goal? “I just want to keep crossing things off my list and then I’ll celebrate! I can’t stop moving now!”

Celebration is important. The definition of celebration is: To observe (a day or event) with ceremonies of respect, festivity, or rejoicing.

How cool is that?! To observe a win you’ve had with respect, festivity or rejoicing. Sing praise! Rejoice! Hallelujah! Give back to yourself for the work you did to achieve that win. Celebrate! Woo hoo! Sing out loud from the rooftops how kick ass you are! But wait. How many of us actually celebrate? How many of us actually carve out time to celebrate that win we just accomplished? Remember, now that you have a clearer understanding of what a win is, celebration should be a frequent part of your journey.

Celebration should be immediate. It should be done quickly in order for you to cement the win. To cement the accomplishment. Don’t let time pass because then you will forget the win you had. When you celebrate, you are planting your marker on the ground as an acknowledgement of what you’ve achieved. You are staking your claim with celebration. You are claiming for yourself. When you celebrate, really give it to yourself. Remind yourself why you are having this celebration in the first place to really cement it in even more. For example, when I get celebrate with a massage, I think to myself during it, “I’m getting this massage for that kick-ass callback I had. I’m getting this massage for that kick-ass callback I had.”

Celebration is a form of respect for you and the work you’ve put in to achieve something. Something you’ve moved forward. A discovery you made in the journey of your life and career. Life and this career is already challenging as it is, so celebration keeps us on the path. It reminds us that we are winning and advancing forward. If you don’t celebrate along the way, you lose perspective. If you don’t celebrate the little things along the way, you’re not going to celebrate the bigger things either. Crazy, right? You’re thinking you’re only going to celebrate when you win that Oscar. Or that Emmy. Or when you get your first series regular role. Or when you sell your first script. “I’ll finally celebrate when I get that big thing!”

The irony is that if you wait to celebrate until you achieve that big thing, you won’t enjoy nor celebrate even then! You’ll finally get that series regular role but you won’t celebrate because you’ll think to yourself, “But yeah, it’s a series regular role on a smaller network. I wanted a series regular role on HBO!” Or “I won an Oscar, but it’s only for supporting actor!” “I booked my first role, but it’s only five lines!” Your expectations are higher than your gratitude. Celebration keeps you in gratitude and it helps you to see the through line of your journey. Celebration keeps you present versus you only focusing on the goal ahead and not taking stock of your progress.

Celebrate and honor the audition you had just as you would celebrate the series regular booking. Celebrate it all because it’s all part of the journey. They are all connected. The audition led you to the callback and the callback led you to the network callback and that led you to your booking, etc.

You can’t and won’t enjoy the bigger things if you don’t acknowledge and celebrate the little things as well along the way.

And celebrations don’t have to be expensive. They don’t have to cost you a ton of money. Actually, you will discover different categories of celebration. One celebration will be appropriate for one type of win while another celebration will be appropriate for another type of win. For example, when I have an audition, I’m not going to celebrate afterwards by taking a trip to a beautiful, tropical island. I’ll most likely save that for when I sell my first feature film script.

So, as you move forward, start looking at ways you can celebrate and how you can organize them into different categories like small, medium and large celebrations. In my DOIN’ (Declaration of Independence) aka my business plan, I have my celebrations categorized into small, medium and large celebrations. I even took it a step further and defined for myself what wins would constitute a small, medium or large celebration. This helps me so that I can apply the right level of celebration to the win I just had.

Check them out below and I hope to hear from you about your own list of celebrations!

**Below is just a few examples of what kind of wins would constitute a small, medium or large celebration for myself:

Small celebration:  Audition; callback; put up a scene in class; film festival acceptance; film festival screening; finish writing a scene in a film script or episodic script; submit script to a writing competition; etc.

Medium celebration:  Booking paid acting work on TV (co-star; guest star) and feature films (supporting; principal); finish producing a short film; etc.

Large celebration:  TV series order; feature film script sold for development and production; series regular booking; earn a significant pay increase; winning one of the following awards: Oscar, Golden Globe, Emmy, SAG, etc.

MY CELEBRATIONS:

Small celebrations (sampling)

Get a full-body massage

Buy a nice bottle of champagne

Go to a drag show with friends

Go to a movie

Buy a new chocolate I haven’t tried before from Trader Joe’s

 

Medium celebrations (sampling)

Veuve Clicquot or Krug Rose with friends

Buy clothing from Rik Villa or Brandon Kee

Have dinner at a nice restaurant with friends

Purchase painting from a new artist

 

Large celebrations (sampling)

Buy a luxury car

Buy a home

Take a vacation in Hawaii, Cape Cod, the Dominican Republic, France, Spain or Australia

Purchase painting from Kehinde Wiley, Keith Haring, Roy Nachum or Jean-Michel Basquiat

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The Showrunner In Me

The only reason why I want to be a showrunner is because I love telling people what to do.

LBH (Let’s Be Honest)

……

……

……

JK

LOL

LMFAO

TTYL

BRB

According to Google, a showrunner, in the most basic terms, “is the person who has overall creative authority and management responsibility for a television program.”

I want to lead and run my own TV shows.

ICYMI, In Case You Missed It, no one is going to create my career for me but me.

Showrunner: Ryan Murphy, Gloria C. Kellet, Mike Royce, Tanya Saracho, etc.

However, I want to be in front of the camera as well. I want to see my face up on that screen in addition to developing and writing the stories I’m interested in telling. I want to see my face on billboards and magazine covers. I didn’t have anyone that looked like me or sounded like me when I was growing up. THIS IS VITAL TO ME that I represent up there as well. I BELONG.

OTOH, On The Other Hand, when I was growing up, I wanted to be Madonna. As an adult, I still do. Hell, when I come back in the next lifetime, I want to be Madonna.

BTT, Back To Topic!!

DGMW, Don’t Get Me Wrong, I want to be me too. I love being me. And it feels so good each time I infiltrate mainstream public consciousness with my work, my voice, my sensibilities, my art.

So maybe it’s more like Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, Issa Rae, etc. They are behind the camera as showrunners and in front of the camera as the stars.

But damn, I love movies too. AAMOF, As A Matter Of Fact, movies are my first love. I originally came to Los Angeles to be in movies. I love movies and I love being in them.

Hmmmmm, so maybe it’s more like Tyler Perry, Tina Fey, Dan Bucatinsky, etc. They are actors, writers and producers on both the film and television fronts.

Yeah! Actor, writer and producer for film and television.

I want it all!

I want to be in front of the camera and behind the camera. Film and television. Infiltrate the mainstream. Change perceptions. Fuck with perceptions. Challenge perceptions.

DIY, Do It Yourself, because no one else is going to do it for me. Work hard. Build relationships. Make bold moves.

This will be it.

It will happen. I have the talent. I have the intelligence. I have the work ethic. I make things happen. I make a set better. I uplift people. I administer tough love. I am a mensch. I love this explanation of a mensch from Wikipedia: “According to Leo Rosten, the Yiddish Maven and author of The Joys of Yiddish, a “mensch” is “someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being ‘a real mensch’ is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous.” The term is used as a high compliment, implying the rarity and value of that individual’s qualities.”

This will be it.

MMW (Mark My Words)

EOD (End Of Discussion)

P.S.

LBH, I really want to win some Emmys, Golden Globes, Oscars, etc. as that actor, writer and producer just so that I can go to the after parties with my awards in hand and channel Madonna’s dance spirit and outfit below. Riccardo Tisci, Tom Ford, Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Lacroix, John Galliano and Rik Villa will each take turns to dress me.

Madonna

Self-Tape Audition Adventures!

Fellow actors! As you probably know by now, self-tape auditions are becoming more and more common. A self-tape audition is where you are responsible for putting yourself on camera for an audition and submitting it to either the casting director or your reps. You are not auditioning in the casting director’s office, but rather, in a place you’ve set up for self-tape auditions: your office or a guest room or a studio room, etc. Self-tape auditions occur for a variety of reasons and I love to do them when the opportunity presents itself.

I had another self-tape audition yesterday (September 9th) for a feature film. I was thrilled with the part I auditioned for and I had a great experience from start to finish.

Looking back at my experience, I’m proud of:

*Being on go from the moment I received the audition notice from my agent. Being on go meaning that I jumped right away into the work and planned out when and how I was going to get my self-tape done.

*Keeping myself open to the audition preparation process (Subtees Process) and honoring my first impressions with good-humored inflexibility.

*Researching previous work that the director and writer of the feature film did to get a sense of their artistic aesthetic.

*Bringing someone else into the audition process that I trust to read the other characters in the scene.

*Me not questioning my choices.

*Setting up my self-tape station and deciding the best time to shoot it.

*Choosing my wardrobe based upon the headshot my agent submitted to casting. Because a headshot only captures the top half of your wardrobe, I used the clues that the writer gave to inform the bottom half of my wardrobe.

*Having a moment before. Having subtext.

*Being a real person in the scene having an experience.

*Shooting the self-tape audition in about 35 minutes. I had two scenes and I did three takes for each scene, plus a take where I slated and a take for my full body shot.

*Looking at the takes and knowing which ones I was going to keep and which ones I was getting rid of. And being able to look at the takes objectively with no emotional attachment. In other words, looking at the takes objectively to see if I was honoring the story being told and that I was also delivering my product. I was very happy with the product I created and that each take was only slightly different from each other. Every take was still in the same zip code.

*Quickly editing the takes and uploading it to Actors Access for my agent to approve and submit to casting on my behalf.

*My agent loving the self-tape audition and writing, “Great job!”

*Me sending a cool and clever tweet to the casting director afterwards to thank them for the audition opportunity.

*Celebrating my win with pepperoni pizza and champagne.

What was the last self-tape audition you had? How did it go? Or what was your most favorite self-tape audition? Let me know in the comments section below!

Happy 15th Anniversary!

15years-majic-painting

Photo courtesy of Majic Painting

On August 26th, 2017, I celebrated 15 years of living in Los Angeles!!!!!!!!!!

I celebrated by attending a Moët champagne and Veuve Clicquot champagne taste testing, amongst other cool things!

I am so blessed and grateful for the journey that I have been on as a person and as an artist. I am blessed and grateful because I came here to create my dreams and I am still in the game. I am blessed and grateful because I am still living my dreams and enjoying them whereas I have seen countless others give up on theirs. I can’t tell you how blessed I am that I am still living my dreams. I am blessed and grateful to have turned many no’s into yes’s. I am blessed and grateful that I have changed perceptions and enlightened many people on what I can do by honestly being who I am. I learned who I really am by moving to Los Angeles, living on my own and becoming an adult.

I was born and raised in Brooklyn. I went to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. I am from the East Coast. However, Los Angeles is my home and I look forward to the next 15 years here.

I want to thank the following people and things that have contributed to my experience here in Los Angeles. This is just a sampling and not a comprehensive list:

My family: both biological and the ones I’ve created here

My friends past and present

My teachers past and present

Relationships past and present

Places of employment

My former co-workers

Past apartments I’ve lived in

My agents past and present

Actors

Co-stars

Casting Directors

Directors

Producers

Writers

Various crew members who also make the magic happen

Concerts

Writers Retreat

The beaches

Madonna

Harvey Weinstein

RuPaul

Drag Queens

James Franco

Jennifer Garner

Evangeline Lilly

Ryan Murphy

 

Happy Anniversary!!!!!!!!

 

 

When To Get An Agent or Manager

This is a question I hear often: When should I get an agent or manager?

At the end of the day, this is just my opinion. Rules are definitely meant to be broken. However, based upon what I’ve learned and how I’ve applied those lessons to success, this is what I can offer…

Get an agent when you are ready. When you have something to offer to them. Come with a full arsenal of tools that they can work with. If you’re at home and thinking about getting an agent or manager, take a look below to see if these dynamics are in place:

**Do you have a clear vision for yourself and what you want? Can you walk into an agent’s office and clearly lay out what you’re about? I have discovered that agents and managers really like it when someone is clear about their journey versus someone who is not clear about their journey. Having clarity about yourself gives them something to work with. Having clarity about yourself lets them know that you don’t expect them to do all the work. Think about it, if an agent is receiving a 10% commission on every job you book, that means you’re receiving the remaining 90% on every job you book. So you better be pulling your weight and doing the majority of the work in your journey. I have also discovered that some agents and managers are against/resistant to someone who is clear about what they want. For me, these representatives are not worth my time because they are not going to be supportive of or in collaboration with or excited about my dream. We won’t be able to dance together.

I just shared my DOIN’ (Declaration of Independence aka business plan) with my agent and she was blown away. She wrote:

BRAVO! I think that is a brilliant plan of business action. Very impressive! My pleasure to read such a complete well thought out plan. Keep up the great work towards goals. Extremely proactive of you.

So we are dancing together because she saw first-hand what I’m about through my business plan. And so when I ask her to pitch me to this person or to look out for this TV series in production or this TV series in development, she’s excited to do so because she gets my plan. She gets my dream.

**Do you have specific, current headshots that reflect your first circle of casting? First circle of casting refers to those characters that come easily and naturally to you. Characters you have mastery over and don’t have to work so hard at playing. You walk into a room and we immediately get, “Oh, he’s the college star athlete.” “Oh, she’s the bitchy high school ‘it’ girl.” “Oh, he’s definitely a cop.” “Oh, he’s the gang member.” These specific headshots will help an agent submit you, pitch you and market you into the right neighborhood of shows, films, casting directors, producers, etc.

**Do you have a reel that reflects your first circle of casting? A reel containing a few short scenes that reveal what you can do? It’s one thing to have a headshot, but it’s another thing to have scenes on your reel that show you can actually play these characters in your headshots and that you know how to act on camera. Recently, I added a new scene to my reel as a computer hacker. I uploaded the clip to Actors Access and let my agent know. A few days ago, she emailed me:

By the way you were submitted on a IT tech expert role…Guess what video was attached? Of course, the new one! 🙂

**Are you in an acting class which shows the agent or manager that you are staying current and sharp with your training? That you are working out in an artistic gym? That you are pushing yourself artistically?

These are just the basic dynamics to have in place the next time you find yourself asking, “When should I get an agent or manager?”

Again, rules are meant to be broken. There have been actors who have secured representation without the above dynamics. For whatever reasons, they were able to secure representation without the above dynamics. Maybe those actors were in the right place at the right time. I can only speculate. Ultimately, you have to decide for yourself when to get an agent or manager. For me, I’d rather invest the time to build my arsenal and my artistry first before securing representation. I feel that I would get more mileage out of my journey with them if I do that first.

Until next Sunday!

 

The Revolution Begins!

“Human Revolution” that is! “Human Revolution” is a 22-minute SAG-Aftra dramedy film that I had the honor of executive producing, co-writing and co-starring in last year. This film came to life and was made possible through the collective efforts of the Richard Lawson Studios community. From crew members to actors, many people came through with their love and talent.

My fellow co-producer and I approved the final cut on July 2nd of this year and we’ve just recently entered the next chapter of film festival submissions and seeking distribution!

For myself, my co-producer and our director, our goal with “Human Revolution” was always about the bigger picture. To use this film as a calling card to spotlight what we can do as artists. And we want to do that by submitting our film to targeted/specific film festivals, to seek avenues of distribution and to share it with key influential people on our relationship map.

I’m very excited for this new chapter!

The first film festival Human Revolution was submitted to was the Vassar FilmFest in D.C. on August 4th. Vassar is my alma mater, so I knew I wanted to personally submit there. A few days later, “Human Revolution” was submitted to Slamdance, SXSW, the Atlanta Film Festival and the Taos Shortz Film Festival in New Mexico. Upcoming film festival submissions include: the Sarasota Film Festival, the LA Diversity Film Festival, the Utah Film Festival, the Mill Valley Film Festival, TriBeCa, the Bentonville Film Festival, Dances With Films, etc.

I will keep you all updated!

“Human Revolution”: Four strangers who meet at a weekend transformational retreat center discover that the teachings and life lessons they are seeking are actually found in each other.

Left to right: Angela Robinson Witherspoon, Jorge Ortiz (Chasing The George!), Sayaka Miyatani and Robin Karfo

Human Rev 1

Human Rev 2

Human Rev 4

Human Rev 3