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!

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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

How I Got An Agent Offer In One Week

Hello everyone! Hope this new blog entry finds you all in great health and spirits. I’m really excited to share today’s blog entry, so let’s get to it!

On March 7th, I received a phone call from my agency informing me that they would be stepping down as a SAG-AFTRA franchised agency. And as a result, they wouldn’t be able to represent me anymore because I’m a union actor. They said that they could still represent me till mid-April, but that I was also free to start looking for new representation.

The phone call lasted a few minutes, and when we hung up, I was actually cool. I didn’t freak out. I didn’t start looking at the “loss” in this situation, but rather, the opportunity in this situation. I didn’t go into a dark place knowing that I would have to start an agent search from scratch. I didn’t look at the “burden” of having to start all over again. And look, there are millions of reasons for me to worry and stress over starting a new agent search.

For example, we are still in pilot season, and traditionally, that is considered the worst time to look for an agent. Pilot season is an insanely busy time for agents and they are not looking for nor have the time to interview and accept new clients. Actors are told to submit to agents after pilot season because that’s when agents drop some of their clients.

However, if you know me by now, I didn’t let that stop me. I said, “Fuck it. I’m going to start my agent search now.” Yes, that’s right! During pilot season! Why wait till mid-April when I can start now? Do it now. Do it now. Do it now.

I looked forward. I didn’t look at the burden of the workload ahead of me. Why? Because I know how to administrate the hell out of my career. I know what actions to take to get an agent. I know how to book the rooms that I walk into. I have a solid resume. I have a solid reel. I know my casting. I know what I want as an artist. I have a business plan. I have so many pros at my disposal. I’ve acquired agents before and I can acquire them again.

I set an intention to get an offer in two weeks. I got to work on March 8th with the first phase of research. I generated a list of agencies that spoke to me in terms of their mission statement and other qualifying factors that resonated with me. (The second phase is to reach out to my relationship map to see if anyone can act as a referral for me)

But back to the first phase and making sure that I followed it through to completion. I went through the list of talent agencies on IMDB Pro and focused on agencies in LA. I went to SAG-AFTRA’s website to get a list of SAG-AFTRA franchised agents. I cross-referenced both websites and created a spreadsheet of my target agencies.

I submitted to a total of 15 agencies. Each agency had different submission requirements and I tailored each submission to them. By Sunday, March 11th, I received an email from one of the 15 agencies asking to meet with me. I met with them on Thursday, March 15th and I received an offer from them.

One week later.

I went from not having an agent to having another offer.

What are the lessons I/we can take away from this?

*Intention without hesitation.

*Knowing that if I have to start all over again with something, that I have the tools necessary to get back in the game. That I have a system of actions, a structure, that will always get me back in the game.

*Rules can be broken. That it’s okay to go the other way. “Don’t submit during pilot season. That’s a no no.” I decided to go against that thinking and went for it. The turn over rates at agencies are frequent all year long. My intention put me in the right place at the right time.

My Oscar Speech

Oscar

On Sunday, March 4th, I attended what I call the Super Bowl of all awards shows: the Oscars. I live for awards season and the Oscars is the culmination, the peak, of this exciting and hectic season.

I attended an Oscars viewing party at the WACO Theater Center and it was hosted by Richard Lawson. We were asked to come dressed in our Oscars best. I chose to wear a black blazer, black pants and black shoes. I was going to wear a crisp, button-down shirt underneath, but I quickly discovered that dry cleaning stores are closed on Sunday (I was going to drop my shirt off the day before) So I quickly improvised and decided to wear a simple maroon t-shirt underneath. Rock and roll, baby!

As we settled inside the theater to watch the Oscars, Richard made an announcement. He said, “Now you know…because I teach about the power of postulates, I’m going to randomly call up a person to deliver an Oscars speech during each commercial break.”

(By the way, here is the definition of a postulate: A self-generated truth. A prediction. A proposition that requires no proof, being self-evident, or that is for a specific purpose assumed true, and that is used in the proof of other propositions. To demand or claim something.)

I could feel some people in the room shift uncomfortably in their seats and I also heard slight groans and murmurs of protest. Perhaps they felt this was some hokey pokey nonsense. Perhaps they don’t have belief in their own abilities to reach this pinnacle of industry recognition.

Not me. I wanted to lean into and embrace this opportunity! Winning an Oscar is on my DOIN’ (Declaration of Independence aka my business plan) and what better way to get closer to my postulate of winning an Oscar than to deliver a speech in front of a live audience of artists. What better way to assume the position and believe and experience.

On the second commercial break, Richard called my name over the speaker system! “And the Oscar goes to…JORGE ORTIZ!”

As soon as I heard my name, I was in instant belief. I jumped up to my feet and grabbed the glass bottle of mineral water I was drinking so that it could represent my Oscar. I remember seeing people around me giving me a standing ovation and cheering very loudly and happily for me. I remember walking with energy down the stairs and Jordan Bull giving me a hug along the way. I got to the stage and then quickly got off of it and ran back upstairs to give my partner a hug and a kiss! I made my way back to the stage and soaked in the applause and cheers. The lights shone brightly and warmly on me.

I heard Marlo Stroud yell from the front row, “I love you Jorge!”, and I quickly pointed to her and yelled back, “Thank you Meryl Streep!” When the applause died down, I began my speech. The first thing I said was, “Well I guess this means one thing: My IMDB star meter will FINALLY be number one tomorrow! I’ve always wanted that!”

My speech flowed. It was moment to moment and it had equal parts humor, charm, irony and earnestness. I was impinged. I impinged the audience. I would look at my glass bottle Oscar with pride and joy. I ended my speech, and to pay homage to the winners who sometimes walk off the wrong way, I did the same. When I realized I was exiting the wrong way, I played up the mistake and then pointed to the usher who helped me exit the right way.

I walked down the hallway and made my way into the lobby where I was still in absolute belief as people congratulated me on what a great job I had done. So many people congratulated me and I felt like I was in the press room that winners immediately go into to answer questions from the press.

Someone asked me in the lobby, “What kind of film do you think you would win an Oscar for?” I immediately said, “I could see myself winning a Best Actor Oscar for being in a film like Moonlight. A movie that pushes, provokes and inspires.”

This was such an incredible and real experience!!!!!!!!!

As the night continued and I watched other speeches, it was interesting to see who was in belief and who had a judgement about it. And all I can say about the latter approach is that this judgement, this non-belief, this doubt, this feeling of it being hokey pokey nonsense are all postulates. That’s right, these are postulates too. Negative postulates. You’re putting that negative belief out there. This self-generated truth, this prediction, this proposition that requires no proof, being self-evident…is all rooted in negativity and doubt. What you put out there is what you get back. So if you don’t believe that you can have an Oscar, then you won’t get it. You won’t ever put yourself in a position of belief to get closer and closer to the postulate of getting an Oscar.

And it’s just not about the belief in getting an Oscar. I’m curious to know where else you have doubts about your own career. Do you have doubts that you can have wonderful representation? Do you have doubts that you can put together a great demo reel? Do you have doubts that you can be a working actor? Do you have doubts that you can do a great audition or put up a great scene in class? Do you have doubts about the power you have as an artist?

“The man who says he can, and the man who says he can not. Are both correct.”-Confucius