I’m playing Christine in this hilarious, side-splitting musical. Don’t miss out!
A lot of “starving” actors put a time limit on their pursuit of happiness, aka “making it.” I am one of those actors. The typical time limit is five years and if nothing happens within those years, you give up and move on to something else. Tomorrow will mark my four year anniversary with California which means I have one more year left to make my career as an actress a reality. And by “career” I mean “no other job but acting.”
It’s rather incredible how time has flown. Some days feel like I just got here. Other days feel like I’ve lived here my whole life. I’ve been with the same roommate since and she and I have grown to be like sisters. I’ve gone through two major relationships, The Terminator and Mr. Georgia, before deciding that I don’t like being in relationships. I’ve become married to my career. I gained two awesome best friends, Pablo the Great and Number 1, the three of us making the three stooges. I’ve become a runner, a FIRST in my life, and I adopted my very first dog, Toby Lee Orion. I’ve been blessed immensely when I follow the signs, and faced with serious resistance when I ignore them. And as the months go by, the more I love the thrill of not knowing what will happen next.
Every year I say “a lot has happened,” but I feel like this past year A LOT really DID happen. Maybe it’s because I finally accomplished a handful of my goals that I had been pushing off the moment I moved here in 2009.
I FINALLY made myself get a California license, something I slacked on for years, finally got my very first passport, set up my very first website ChristannaRowader.com and my IMDb page, finally got fantastic headshots, landed my first TV role on Discovery ID, signed with Abstract Talent, an agency that actually KNOWS me, attended a handful of casting director workshops, got accepted into SAG-AFTRA, and made my first actor’s demo reel…to name a few things.
I blame Star Wars Episode VII for my sudden burst of motivation. Ever since the news released in the fall of 2012, I haven’t stopped. All I can think about is my career. All I can think about is having just ONE audition for Star Wars. I’ve done everything I can to impress upon April Webster to call me in for a read, sans becoming a psycho stalker. And I won’t stop until all three movies release with or without me. Either way, at least I’ll know I tried EVERYTHING. If anything, Star Wars has jolted me into high gear.
I’ve also put myself in a happier place when concerning my “other job.” After having nightmare after nightmare about BJ’s Restaurant, I finally quit my six-ish year run working for the company as a server. I now work at a fine-dining location where “serving” is actually worth the effort.
But not all has been great. This has been the first year where I’ve auditioned for roles that were PERFECT for me—and by perfect, I mean to say that I WAS those characters—and STILL managed to not be cast. So, needless to say, this has been the most discouraging year as an actress. But, despite feeling hopelessness stalking at my door, I still believe everything happens for a reason. This past month has been the worst, though. On top of not landing any roles that I knew were meant for me, I had injured my leg running and can’t run off my stress and anger now. So I sit and wait and try to think good thoughts and pray that I can get through this and heal up faster. Number 1 said he believes “the fourth quarter” at the end of this year will be a great one for me, that something is coming. Of course, when he says that, all I think about is being in that galaxy far, far away.
Number 1 is probably the only thing left keeping me fighting for my dreams now. His faith in me somehow keeps me alive. And as much as I tell him I don’t want him, I don’t love him, I can’t be his, he’s still there. He’s the first man I’ve met that can tolerate me. A glutton for punishment, I say. But he chooses to carry my world when I no longer can.
The tides have turned in ways I don’t understand, but I’m ready.
Here is an article I wrote for the VC On Stage website:
One of my most favorite musicals I was blessed enough to perform in was the historically based 1776. I remember when I was prepping for auditions how closely related I felt to the character Abigail Adams. Although my peers said I was a perfect Martha Jefferson, I wanted Abigail. She was a woman of strength and compassion and independence. In a way, one could say she represented the soon-to-be country’s independence John Adams was fighting for.
By studying the character through historical accounts from a history major and the letters she wrote to her husband, memorizing songs and scenes from the show itself, I walked into the auditions as Abigail. And was lucky enough to convince the director, Nick DeGruccio, and musical director, Steven Applegate, to believe that I was too. So when my agent called to tell me I got the part, you can imagine how ecstatic I was.
Where is the nightmare? Just wait…
To read more, please click the link: An Actor’s Nightmare: VC On Stage
I was running through the neighborhood. It was my daily run. Something I did to push out all my anxiety and frustration. As any actor can tell you, pursuing an acting career is one hell of a discouraging journey. But it can also be incredibly gratifying. Checking off on your check list is one of them.
This summer I had laid out many specific goals in order to have a possible chance to audition for the upcoming Star Wars film. I’d attended casting director workshops, many of whom had even the smallest connection to J.J. Abrams. I finally created my first actor’s website, and now have only a few more checkmarks left. One of them was creating my first actor’s reel, which I’m still waiting on doing. Another was my admittance letter to SAG-AFTRA actor’s union, something that would make my profession as an actor much more legitimate. And then, if all went well, I could have a better chance at an audition for Star Wars VII.
I had submitted a proof of eligibility form, but didn’t hear from SAG-AFTRA for over a month. So I called and discovered I had submitted the wrong for to the wrong place. Go figure. That’s typical of me. I never got accepted into the Tisch school of NYU because I didn’t complete the entire application. I’ve learned to always call because of this mistake. I submitted the correct form to the correct location, but still waited anxiously. I had read plenty of forums on how long people wait for SAG to get back to them. I was expecting to wait 6 months. But I was hoping that because of the joining of the two unions, SAG and AFTRA, things would be different.
And so I ran. Ran to get it out of my system, to feel stronger, to exhale out my anger and inhale new hope. I ran past the mail lady driving through our neighborhood and pushed the thought of “mail” out of my mind. I slowed down when two horses nearly bolted from the sight of me going by. I ran up the steep hill, feeling the beating sun sucking the sweat from me, passed through the hillside path, and came out on the other side of the neighborhood, back to my home street. And there was the mail lady again and the two horses I’d frightened.
Maybe there was mail for me this time. This was my daily regiment. Hoping I had a special envelope waiting for me. I felt 18 again, waiting to be accepted into something I wanted desperately. I waved to the mail lady and ran straight home to our box, opened it up and grabbed a large envelope that was reminiscent of what I mailed out. “James Riva” it said. One of my roommates. As per usual, not for me.
I collected the rest of the mail in disappointment, beads of sweat finally able to run down my face without the sun taking it from me, and pretty much accepting I’d have to find another way to get into the union. I walked in the door, enjoying the coolness of the house and sorted out our mail. SAG-AFTRA for James. SAG-AFTRA for Heather. SAG-AFTRA for Heather again. One more for James. Another one for Heather. Another one for Christanna—
Wait—what?! Oh God! I clutched the envelope like a baby and, like anyone, I was apprehensive about opening it, as if the letter would kindly say, “no.”
And then, of course, I ripped it open…
As you can imagine, I pretty much did laps around the house, bellowing at the top of my lungs.
It’s more than an incredible feeling when you can check something off the list of things to accomplish. It rejuvenates you, encourages you to keep going and fight for what you want. Even the smallest things, like this letter, can boost a person’s life to a whole-nother incredible level.
And this was a BIG checkmark for me. That’s one wall down, just a few more to go…
When asked about how life as an actress in California was going so far, this is what I said:
“Perseverance is paying off, but I still remain the "starving actor" at the moment. I’ve been to many callbacks for commercials and theatrical shows, but no snags on the commercials as of yet. That’s okay though, I’m focusing on feature film. That’s where my heart lies, in the thick of storytelling where reality and adventure collide.
I have two agents, one for theater and one for film/commercial/print and such. Steven, my theater agent, is super cool and dry-humored. He thinks I’m a goof, I’m sure. Jan and Terry, my film/commercial agents, are pretty energetic enough for me.
But I do most of the work and find a lot of auditions on my own, which is how it is here. Except for the film industry. But I’ve been attending many casting director workshops as of late and that helps. Right now is hiatus time, so auditions are few and far between, but I’m hoping when August comes around, things will get slammed for me. My main goal is to get an audition for the new Star Wars film (which I’m sure you’re gonna laugh at me about—who doesn’t) so I’ve been focusing most of my efforts in searching out THAT particular casting director.
I don’t really like most musicals lately. I find them annoying and less realistic. My favorite one was 1776, but that was perhaps because it felt like I was doing a movie on stage with John Williams scoring. It felt so real and true. No breaking out into song and dance for no reason, which I can’t stand. But maybe it’s because I’m at a stage in my life where I’m sick of it and want more than anything to tell a story that can really impact people all over the world. I’m sure when I’m older, I’ll revert back to wanting to do stage or musicals. But for now, film is all I want.”
That pretty much sums it up. Only become an actor if that really IS all you can do. OR if you have super-duper tough skin and have an unrelenting “never give up” sense of attitude. OR if you were born into it and roles come easier to you. OR if you seem to be surrounded by luck ALL THE TIME. OR if you marry rich and you have a ton of free time and you’re bored and you can do as many auditions as you want without worrying about your “other job” getting in the way and needing the money to support your livelihood because you don’t have a “job” because you married rich and you’re bored. THEN you can be an actor any time you want.
…I would love to marry rich…
Lol, I crack myself.