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

 

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!

Artistic Abundance

Happy Oscars day! I want to say congratulations to all of the nominees. It was raining this weekend in LA and it inspired today’s blog entry! You’ve heard the expression, “When it rains, it pours”? Well, that’s what I feel like is happening at the moment for me in my artistic life.

Earlier this year, I laid out my 2018 goals and I’ve been going after them in a deliberate way. One of the goals was to put the actor back into Jorge Ortiz Actor (jorgeortizactor is my social media handle on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram…hint hint…follow me!) And since putting the focus back on acting, I’ve been up three times on stage in my scene study class (and in one of the scenes I did, Richard Lawson used me as an example of the teaching and how I effectively and clearly apply it) I also have a few more scenes scheduled to go up and I have other classmates who want to work with me as well.

My editor is doing the finishing touches on the first cut of a film that I not only executive produced and wrote, but that I also starred in. Actor.

A friend of mine highly-referred me to the playwright, the director and the executive producer of a play that they are launching in June. I met with them yesterday and the meeting went great. I got to select and pitch which role I would be interested in playing should I decide to come on board.

I did a table read last month for a feature film and my performance left a wonderful impression on the writer and producer of the film. This past week, I shared with him a self-tape audition I did and he really enjoyed my work. As a matter of fact, he enjoyed it so much that he is considering me for other parts in his feature film.

I have an audition for a feature film tomorrow (Monday) for a leading role in a feature film. I’ve been working on my sides all weekend and I also have to sing a song! My goal and intention is to book the audition room! I can’t wait to deliver my product.

I’ve also been researching commercial acting classes to take!

On the writing side, a friend of mine recently did research for me on various writing competitions because I am interested in getting my writing works out there!

I’ve been teaching four acting classes at the Richard Lawson Studios since January of this year and really being of service to the students and to their growth. I am maintaining my relationship map and keeping that alive and healthy.

And of course, celebrating along the way!

There are many more things happening this year and I can’t wait to continue sharing my journey with all of you!

Until next week!

Chasing The George!

I Can’t Act!

Hey artistic warriors! Today’s blog entry is inspired by several scenes I have on the schedule for my scene study class. Coming up, I have: Best In Show, Black Mirror, The Out Of Towners, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and a repeat of a scene from Weeds, to name just a few. And I thought about a blog entry I wrote back in August 2015 that addressed the doubts I have about my talents whenever I do a first rehearsal for anything I’m working on.

I wanted to share the original entry below for laughs, shits and giggles. And also sharing this entry to see if anyone else has a similar experience when it comes to picking up material for the very first time (Like a virgin…touched for the very first time…)

Original entry below…this was when I was rehearsing a scene from “I Like It Like That”

On August 2nd, 2015, my scene partner and I began our first rehearsal for a scene we’re putting up in class. We met at a neutral midway point since we both live far away from each other. And “neutral” meaning no coffee shops and no restaurants. Somewhere where we could sit down with minimal to no distraction and start digging into our scene work.

We settled on a small park that was inhabited by a handful of people. It was a very quiet park and we both knew this was a perfect setting for our first rehearsal. We sat on the lawn and became really excited to start working together on this powerful scene. We pulled out our scripts and before we even read one line, we talked about the movie: Our observations; our relationship to each other as these characters; where in the movie this scene took place so that we understood the magnitude of the event and evaluation of what was going on; questions that I had; questions that she had; we talked about how to effectively rehearse and what today’s rehearsal would encompass.

Everything was going great! We were quickly getting on the same page. We were bouncing ideas off of each other. We were very “yes, and…” Meaning that we were building upon our ideas: “Yes, that’s great and how about…”, “Yes, and I can bring this…”, “Yes, and if I do this, then…”

Again, everything was going GREAT…

…Until we read the scene for the first time.

OH MY FUCKING GOD! I WAS SO AWFUL. As soon as I started saying my first line, I was like, “I should quit acting right now. Who the fuck am I kidding? I’m terrible! I can’t act.” That’s right. I said it. I’m a terrible actor and I can’t act. I should just move to Hawaii and open up a surfboard shop by the beach (LOL Does this sound familiar, DawnMarie?) As I continued saying each of my lines in the scene, I could hear discordant piano chords gradually getting louder in my head. Each off-key, jarring chord made my body twitch and jump. My head kept cringing more and more to the left. I could hear missiles getting closer to hitting their target (the target, by the way, was me!) I could hear nails scratching against the chalkboard.

Even WORSE, I could see all of fellow Vassar grad Meryl Streep’s 18 Oscar nominations flashing before my eyes. My eyes crossed. My vision got blurry. I may have even slapped myself to snap out of it and become present again. My scene partner–thinking I was making an inspired, bold choice in the moment–slapped herself as well. I looked up at her and saw Meryl Streep sitting across from me, pointing and laughing hard, while she was surrounded by her 3 Oscars, 8 Golden Globes, 2 SAG Awards, 2 Primetime Emmys and countless other awards. And just when I was about to lose my mind, we finished reading the scene.

Depleted, exhausted and shaking, I looked up at my scene partner and said, “That was really cool. Let’s read it again.”

LOL!

What I just described is an interesting phenomena that occurs 80% of the time when I first pick up a script for scene study class or sides for an audition. The first read through is so horrendous and I always question my abilities as an actor. Does anyone else experience this? If so, I’d love to know why it happens to you too. And look, I’ll be honest, Meryl Streep has never laughed at me, but I’ve heard and experienced those discordant piano chords. I think part of it has to do with starting from scratch. I’m picking up a script again for the first time and embarking on a brand new, unknown journey. I’m starting with a clean, blank slate that I now have to start filling in and piecing together bit by bit. It’s that first step into the unknown that is the worst.

Bottom line: Can I build another scene from scratch again and deliver a fully-realized performance? (Even though I have delivered fully-realized performances countless times before.) Will this finally be the scene where people discover that I can’t act? That I am a sham artist? That I am a fake?

However, by the second read through of the script or the audition sides, I feel better (That’s how I felt when my scene partner and I read through the scene again.) I got through and survived the first read. I got it out of my system and no longer felt this expectation to deliver an Oscar-winning performance. I am now open to actually receiving what’s on the page. And then I read the script or audition sides a third time. And then I read it again. And again. And again. Each time, I gain more understanding of what’s happening. I know which questions to ask. The picture comes into focus more and more.

I believe another reason for this phenomena is that I want to know and have all the answers right away. Instead, I have to remind myself that part of the journey with rehearsing a scene or preparing for an audition is the willingness to have patience and not know the answers right away. To trust that by doing the work, the answers will eventually come. The “ah ha” moments will hit me along the way.

And like I mentioned earlier, this phenomena doesn’t always happen. There is that remaining 20% where I immediately connect with a new scene and I know exactly what’s going on and how to play it. Interestingly enough, however, whenever I have to do a cold reading at an audition (where the casting director gives you the sides on the spot and you have a few minutes to look them over), I DON’T experience this phenomena. With cold reads, I put no pressure or expectation on myself because it’s a COLD read. I know that they know that the performance I’m delivering is based upon the few minutes I’ve spent with the sides. I have a few minutes tops to figure out what’s going on in the scene, what’s the relationship between my character and the other character(s) in the scene and to make one or two strong choices that supports the story.

My scene partner and I have had more rehearsals since our initial one and I am having fun with the process. I am gaining more clarity and certainty with the scene and with my character. I am honoring my genius and instincts. The unknown is no longer an issue and doesn’t scare me anymore. I am piecing together the wardrobe of my character and have taken my character public on two occasions so far. By taking the character public and interacting with people, I’m enhancing my belief as this character. If the public believes who I am, then my belief is enhanced as well.

We are exploring subtext. We are figuring out WHY we are saying each line. We are looking at the chapters in the scene (a new chapter occurs when there’s a dynamic shift in the scene). We are looking at our relationship. What makes this night different from other nights? What’s the moment before? What is this moment about over here? Why do I turn off the music? I bonded with my scene partner’s child this past Monday for a few hours because in this scene, I’m arguing with my sister about the way she’s raising her child (my nephew). I need a nephew. I need to have a real kid that I can connect with and fall in love with and fight for. My scene partner and I even took a picture with him so that I can frame it and make it part of our set (Specifics equals belief) We had another great rehearsal today where we connected to what the scene was about!

So our rehearsal process is progressing beautifully.

What allows me to build confidence in my work is a set of solid training tools which helps me to create and construct things from scratch. To take words on a page and bring them to life. Tools are vital. Without them, you’re fucked. You’re kind of hoping and praying that you’ll get lucky and deliver a great performance. And let’s say you DO deliver a great, solid performance. Great! But you have no idea how you did that. How you got there. So, when you’re asked to repeat it either by an acting teacher, a casting director or a film director on set, you’re fucked because you don’t know how to repeat that experience or moment. You were just winging it. I’m glad I have tools to work with to help me understand how I got there and how to repeat a performance. I have structure that helps me be free and play within it. I’ve done the work. Now I can go play.

So whatever your acting training is or wherever you currently study, use those tools to embark on the journey of the unknown and into the known.

And yes, I CAN act. See you soon, Meryl Streep.

My 2018 Goal

Hey kitty girls! I couldn’t resist. RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3 premiered on January 25th and I am getting all my life right now!

We’re still in January and 2018 is still very much new and filled with wonderful possibilities. I wanted to share with you all what my goal is for 2018. I recently shared that my birthday wish was to continue honoring my imagination as an artist. Which I love! So, what is my goal for 2018? What am I focused on?

When I look over my DOIN’ (Declaration of Independence aka my personal business plan), one of my postulates is:

I am a household name infiltrating and conquering mainstream Hollywood through my film acting work and by creating TV and Film content that is just beyond the margin of comfortability (Daring and artistically free content that falls within the wheelhouse of HBO, Showtime, Netflix, A24 and powerful indie studio houses)

Which is great! I still love and believe in this postulate. However, as I looked at it, I realized that in order for me to fulfill that postulate, there was a prior step that I needed to accomplish. There’s a step that comes before becoming a household name and I need to achieve that first. And that is to become an industry name first. I want name recognition and name value with industry professionals (e.g., producers, writers, directors, casting) That fellow colleagues know my name and respect it because of my professionalism and hard work.

So the goal for 2018 is to close the deal on at least one writing and one acting project that puts my name in the entertainment trades (e.g., Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, IndieWire, etc.) I have created a DOIN’ specifically for this goal. My 2018 DOIN’ as I call it. I’m so excited to have a plan of attack to make this goal happen in 2018. Close the deal so that fellow colleagues in the industry take notice of my name.

What is your 2018 goal or goals? I’d love to read what they are in the comments section below!