Creating The Evidence…Again!

On Friday, June 30th, I will be shooting a new scene for my actor reel. I want to make sure that I keep my arsenal, my actor package, current and marketable. I’ll be playing a computer hacker along with friend and fellow actress, Lindsay Hopper, who will also be playing a computer hacker. I’m excited to add this visual piece of evidence to my actor tool kit because this is a part I can play. I’m excited to share this scene with my reps so that they can use it as another tool to promote me with.

I’m excited that the script and production design are influenced by Mr. Robot to really hone in on a specific world of computer hacking. I’m excited that I asked Lindsay, “Hey, can you write a short scene for my reel where I play a computer hacker?”, and that she wrote the scene immediately. I’m excited that I’ve been working on my character so that on the day of shooting, I can let it go and trust that the work I’ve done will be there.

I’m excited that I have the ability to create the evidence (from filming my own products/projects to writing pilots and feature films) I’m excited that I’ll have a filmed scene for my reel that matches the computer hacker headshots I took earlier this year.

Creating the evidence puts me in the driver’s seat. Creating the evidence opens doors to opportunities.

What are you currently creating and working on? Let me know in the comments section below!

Auditions

LLL d 31_5418.NEFCasting directors in a scene from “La La Land” / Lionsgate

On Monday, June 5th, I had the honor and privilege of being a reader for a prominent casting director who was casting various roles for a feature film. As the reader, I brought each scheduled actor into the room and read the other characters in the scene they were auditioning for. A reader gives the casting director the opportunity to focus on the actor who’s auditioning, to take notes on them and give re-directs if necessary.

This was my third time being on the other side of the casting desk. The first time was when I was a reader for an AFI short film that was being cast by another prominent casting director. The second time was when I was casting for my own TV pilot. With this project, I read the entire script for context and I rehearsed the scenes I was in so that I could impinge and affect the actors when they read with me.

Being a reader this past Monday was a great confirmation and reminder of things I already understood about the casting process and I wanted to share it with you all:

1) Don’t take it personal if you don’t get the job. There are so many reasons why you don’t get the job. Reasons that are out of your control. This particular casting director (and the director of the feature film) was looking for something very specific with certain roles. So either the actors had it when they walked in the room or they didn’t. In some cases, several of the actors had one dynamic of the character, but lacked another dynamic of the character. All good and talented actors that came into the room. But again, nothing personal. The people behind the scenes are putting together a complicated puzzle and have to make sure the pieces fit looks-wise, age-wise, type-wise. One actor was too tall. Another was too short. One didn’t look high school enough. One didn’t look nerdy enough. Our job as actors is to deliver a strong product and book the audition rooms so that we can be brought back for other projects in the future. Remember, casting directors are not just casting that one project…they are casting other projects down the line.

2) Don’t take it personal if the casting director seems “unfriendly” or “cold”. This particular casting director was literally juggling 10 different things in between each audition session. It’s not that they were cold. This casting director loves actors. It’s just that they were dealing with a myriad of things regarding the project. In between actors coming into the room, this casting director was calling one particular agency to see if they could resolve a scheduling conflict with an actor they already cast in the feature; or they were working out a deal memo; or they were calling Breakdown Services to re-release a breakdown for another character; or they were on the phone with the director and producer of the feature film to let them know that they might be losing one of the lead actors due to a scheduling conflict.

3) Make strong choices. The actors that booked the room made strong choices and delivered a product. One actor asked me before we entered the room, “What do you guys want to see from me?” I answered, “Do what you prepared and they’ll give you a re-direct if necessary.” Don’t ask or figure out what the casting director wants to see from you. Create your product and deliver it. Show us what you created and how you brought this character to life. Give us the answer. Believe in what you created.

4) Don’t apologize. Apologizing before you start your audition, apologizing during your audition or apologizing after your audition doesn’t serve you. Apologizing leaves something in the room that doesn’t need to be in there. Apologizing leaves this icky feeling/energy in the room. Once you apologize, it gives us an “out” to not root for you. Once you apologize, you’re shaping our viewpoint of what you’re about to present to us or what you just presented to us. Don’t apologize. Do your best and let us have our own opinion and viewpoint about your audition. Don’t apologize for us and leave us with an apology.

5) Casting directors are rooting for you. They want you to be the answer!

This was a great experience and I hope to do it again!

Why Training Is Important

It keeps you sharp.

It keeps you fluid.

Stay ready so that you don’t have to get ready.

There’s always more to learn.

There’s always something to learn.

Dancers train. They go to class consistently and work out on the dance floor. The best ones make it look so effortless because they train.

Athletes train. Athletes train. Athletes train. They train so that they can compete and perform at the highest level possible. Optimum. They make it look so easy too.

As an actor, I always want to stay sharp so that I’m not relying solely on my persona or tricks. I never want to feel like I’m rusty or catching up. Training allows me to have a system in place to get the job done. And then to repeat the work over and over again. No guessing work.

Training is also important because as we get older, our casting changes. So we need to start understanding those new characters and how to now play them. We have to step into the shoes of these new characters and understand who they are. How they behave. Training will help us to do that.

Training is fun!

Training gets you to a place where you don’t have to think so hard or work so hard. It’s in you and you work more efficiently.

Training keeps you on the artistic path when the bullshit of life and the naysayers of life want to take you off of it. This is a fucking tough business. No mother-effing bullshit. When I come into class every Thursday night or every Friday morning, I’m re-charged and re-inspired to keep going.

Training allows you to make mistakes and figure out the answers to them. Make the mistakes in class. Fail forward in class. Now, mistakes happen in the outside world too. However, with training, you can manage those mistakes like a pro! And they’ll appreciate you very much for it!

My ideal situation is to be a working, professional artist (actor and writer) working on set and then coming back to class whenever the project is wrapped or whenever we have a break in the shooting schedule. Come back to class. Come back to ground zero. Come back to where it all started. Re-energize and then head back to set.

Train.

Find a class that speaks to you, that challenges you and that has a great, supportive community. Train and take your craft to a higher level of creation, output and experience.

Train.

Cool true story: I was at a small focus group recently and they asked us if we wanted to make an extra hundred dollars. We all raised our hands immediately. The moderator said, “Great! I just need one volunteer to sing a full pop song in front of the group.” Everyone put their hands down except for me. I quickly said, “I’ll do it!” Because of my training, I jumped in and was on “go”. Because of my training, I didn’t question myself or judge myself or be self-conscious any step of the way because I followed my first impression with good-humored inflexibility. I’m a genius unti proven otherwise. Because I work hard and put many hours into everything that I do, I was able to deliver on the spot. Cold. No preparation given. I didn’t have to warm up or make excuses. I started singing “Like a Virgin” by Madonna. That was the first song that popped into my head and I didn’t judge it. Everyone was impressed as soon as I started singing. I connected with each person and sang to them. After I sang only the first verse and chorus, the moderator stopped me and gave me the extra hundred dollars. He jokingly hated the fact that I could actually sing.

Training paid off in this situation-which had nothing to do with acting or an audition…this was a focus group. Training put me on go and I sang really well and I connected with each person. I delivered at a high level and impinged every person in the room.

This Week, I Commit Myself:

To sit in the front row.

To speak my mind immediately.

To follow my impulses and instincts.

To lead.

To dance while in the passenger seat of a car when a good song comes on or when the driver dances.

To spice things up.

To dance in the streets.

To make extra money.

To be myself without apology.

To hold my own space.

To dance without consideration at the top of acting classes.

To continue administering my acting and writing careers.

To engage in conversation with a new person.

To ask various industry people for something I want.

To excite my agent again with a new piece of administrative evidence that will push my career forward.

To be submitted on 3-5 TV series and 3-5 feature films.

To impinge!

A
postulate is something I see for myself and claim. A prediction. A
proposition that requires no proof. Being self-evident. A postulate is
what I see. It’s a way of life. I have to live it and be it. I will do
these things above to live out my postulates, to be my postulates. Live
them now so that when I eventually achieve them, it will be
déjà vu.

On Sunday, October 23rd, I will give a full report on the above commitments.

I Sent My Business Plan To My Agent

As
I gear up to shoot a pilot presentation with some fierce artists, I
wanted to first share with you all a great and powerful action I took on
my journey as an artist. On September 12th, I signed with a new
theatrical agent. A week later, I emailed my agent a copy
of my DOIN’ (which stands for Declaration of Independence) A DOIN’ is a
business plan, a concise road map, for your career. This powerful
document is part of the training and development of every artist at the
Richard Lawson Studios.

I
emailed my DOIN’ to my agent so that he could see what I’m about as
a whole, 360 degree artist. This is who and what I’m about. When I
pulled up my DOIN’ on my computer, I read my dreams in a new unit of time and was blown away by them. I have some large dreams! And I loved reading through the specific administration plans I created to get closer and closer to achieving my dreams. I was also
amazed by how much I had already achieved and I took pride in crossing
things off my DOIN’. I was also very happy to see that certain administrative actions were now a routine part of my life.

I also added some new things to my DOIN’
and made a few things more specific–which is totally cool because your
DOIN’ is a living document. A business plan evolves and changes as a person/business evolves and changes. Your
DOIN’ should be alive, passionate, personal, specific and fluid. You
grow and your DOIN’ grows as well.

I
emailed my DOIN’ to my agent with such a tremendous sense of pride. My subtext was, “Wait till you get a load of this!” By sending him this document, we are
starting off on the right foot. There are no guessing games. This is it.
It’s all laid out and transparent.

Within a few days, he responded and said what a great job I did. He was really impressed with my DOIN’!

Onward and forward!