MY 5TH YEAR

I just realized I haven’t written anything in a LONG time. I have decided it’s a lot harder to blog when you have a boyfriend whom you spend A LOT of time with. He is not home right now, and LOOK, I’m writing something. It also happens to be a special day for me. My five year anniversary.Photo by Jennifer Ward

It’s been five years since I’ve lived in California, in the same house, with the same roommate. This may very well be the longest relationship I’ve ever had. If I last one more year in this house and in  this state, I will have officially surpassed the amount of years I’ve lived in one place with my parents.

I can’t tell you how crazy-fast these five years have gone! Seriously, I feel like I STILL don’t know my way around. STILL feel like I just got here. But I definitely know the rules and regulations of the “actor’s life” now. Definitely know how actors’ unions work. Definitely know how agents work and managers, casting directors and producers and production companies, make up artists, prop masters, directors, 2nd assistant directors (although that one still boggles me), wardrobe, set designers, lighting designers, stunt coordinators, stunt performers, gaffers, riggers, dancers, choreographers, zombies, headshots, resumes, websites, photographers, and holy-crap-if-I’ve-missed-something-it’s-cause-I’m-stopping-here. I feel better about my career as an actress, although I haven’t been able to even touch indie films or the like. I do keep getting musicals. Which is ironic considering it’s something I’m trying to steer away from. But this year, I finally got in a Musical Theatre West show, which helped me get my Equity Membership Candidate card (EMC). Then I was cast as Rapunzel in Into The Woods with 3-D Theatricals. I had also done another show in Simi Valley playing Christine Colgate and covered for a soprano in a Bruce Kimmel show called Pure Imagination. Not bad, but still a starving actor. Actually it was all pretty awesome. But my bank account disappeared to dust. Being a non-union actor is VERY expensive. But we all gotta pay our dues somehow.

It’s been 5 years and people say if nothing happens in 5 years, then change careers. I don’t know if I can say that NOTHING has happened, but career-wise it’s been slow. Which is to be  expected, I know that. Growing up in a house full of artists, directors, and producers, I know how it ALL works. But that doesn’t change the feeling of uncertainty. If this is where I belong. And how long it will take before I know where I belong. Should there even be time limits? I’m almost thirty years old and where have I gone? Five years have all been crunched into one and all I see are the wrinkles on my face.

I think I’m happy still despite all the things I battle. I have a patient and caring boyfriend/bestfriend named Number 1 who is always making sure I’m still here. He now lives with me and my roommate, which is crazy for me because I always said I’d never move in with a “boyfriend” unless I was married to him. Somehow it just seemed normal. He has a daughter who says she wants to be an actress like me. I told her, “No you don’t….unless you’re crazy.” She always says, “You’re pretty silly,” and I always say, “You mean crazy,” and she laughs, “Yeah, silly AND crazy.” She is my little angel. And so is her father.

Well, I’m not giving up yet on my career as an actor. I’m trying out a long term relationship for the first time with a ten year old daughter in the mix and doing my hardest not to run from complete-panic. Number 1 says, “You always like to have your foot just one step out the door.” I shrug and say, “Well, it’s a race. Are you gonna beat me to the finish or am I gonna leave you in my dust?”

He is a patient man.

And I am a crazy girl.

With dreams of being left in space, alone on the Moon, or building a home on Mars. Knowing there is more out there than on this one little world we live in. Knowing there has to be.

This is why I’m an actor. So I can pretend…and keep on pretending.

I get to pretend again very soon. For an incredible story and play an incredible character. My biggest one yet. And I CAN’T WAIT! A good way start my fifth year.

 

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The time is coming…

 

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 Me as Abigail Adams in the musical 1776, production 2012career 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 GreatPablo and me 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 Number 1 and melove the thrill of not knowing what will happen next.Me and Toby hiking

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.Me on Discovery ID's Blood Relatives

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.

Some acting is happening…

All for one audition…

Those of you who know me know how obsessed I am with Star Wars and have been since I was 13. I can’t tell you what it felt like when news came out about George Lucas selling Lucasfilm to Disney and Disney upstarting Star Wars VII, VIII, and IX, how I received message upon message from people telling me this news while I was at work, and how my heart froze over when I read it for myself the moment I got home. I couldn’t believe it. For years, I would dream about those movies being made, but thought to myself it could Luke looking off at twin sunsonly happen if Lucas would let go of the series and allow other creative artists to take over. And like THAT would ever happen!

So when it actually did in 2012, I nearly choked. I REALLY couldn’t believe it. After I recovered from my own mental shock, I was giddy with excitement. I followed all the news about Disney searching for the right director, all the while I kept hoping it would be J.J. Abrams. He was my first choice; Joss Whedon was my second. When the new Star Trek film had been released in 2009, I said to my best friend Mat that if ever “in some alternate universe” Lucas would let go of the Star Wars series, J.J. should be the one to direct the last three films. So when I had heard that Abrams initially turned down directing J.J. AbramsEpisode VII, I cried out, “Why?!?!” Then, out of nowhere, I turned to God and prayed, “Please make him change his mind, PLEASE!” And so when Abrams actually DID change his decision, I thought wryly to myself, “I wonder if prayer works on my OWN career…”

But I didn’t pray for myself at the start. I’ve never been very good at prayer in general. Something about praying about one’s own career felt more like a waste of a prayer, as if God really did exist (which I believe he does), He would say to me, “So you wanna be one of the main characters in Star Wars, but you don’t wanna ask for world peace…typical human.” Instead, I began wishing upon matching numbers like 11:11 and random shooting stars, all of which when I think about it now feels like a waste of a wish. It’s not like 11:11 is gonna give a crap about whether or not I get into Star Wars. 11:11 cares more about getting to 11:12. And those shooting stars? Well, they burned off before they even got a chance to hear my wish.

As the months went by, my obsession grew stronger and it was all I could do to not lose hope. I know I’m a “no body” actress that came out to California late in her career, coming from a state I where used to say that “if there was a bright center in the world, Arizona would be the farthest from it.” But on the positive side, I grew up my whole life in theater and I am no stranger to the creative arts. When I moved out to California, I Episode "Buzz Kill" in Blood Relativeslanded two leading roles in musicals within two years and also landed my first leading role in a television show called Blood Relatives on Discovery ID within the third year.

And I’ve only been out here for three years! This is why I’m severely discouraged about having the chance to audition for Star Wars. I just landed my very first tv spot this year, there’s NO WAY I would even be considered for an audition for a major feature film. It’s not like I don’t have an agent; I have two. But they can only do so much. I, myself, have submitted as many headshots, resumes and cover letters to production companies, casting directors, and directors knowing very well that my mail will most likely be thrown out or disregarded. I’ve attended casting director workshops solely for the networking purposes of getting myself out there. And I’m quite sure I annoyed my agents enough by bugging them to keep a look out for Star Wars audition breakdowns.

Yes, I’ve gone INSANE. There’s never been anything I’ve ever wanted this badly in my entire life. Except for being an astronaut, but the reality of not being able to pass the eye exam was discouragement enough for me to not even try. This time, however, I’m trying harder than I thought myself capable, sans looking like a complete psycho. Because really, when you think about, I have nothing to lose. Truly nothing to lose by driving the casting directors and production companies crazy with all my mail…And it’s all for ONE audition. One chance to prove that I’m right for the character, right for the epic story of a universe far, far away. And then if I’m STILL not what they’re looking for, that’s life. But at least I can I say “I tried.” Or “did” because…really…there is no try.

Yes…I am a nerd. I can’t help it.

So I’ve gone back to praying to God about leading me in the right direction to have a chance to audition, hoping against all hope that it won’t be considered selfish or a waste of a prayer. Because at this point, I’ve done all I can. At this point, I need all the help I can get.

Binary suns...in a galaxy far far away

IT’S MY BIRTH…wait for it…………………………………………..

 

A lot of changes have happened over the past months since I last wrote. A lot of mental changes and feelings and other things I can’t quite explain. At first, I thought maybe it was because I was feeling the “three-year itch” being an actress. I’ve gone into turbo mode. I am, for lack of a better word, throwing myself at people as if to say “HEY I’M ALIVE AND VERY TALENTED!!! LET ME PERFORM FOR YOU!!!” Then I thought it was because one of my most favorite movie series was being added on to and it switched on my “I don’t give a crap-fighting for what I want” mode. Star Wars was something I lived in since I was 13. Hell, I’ve even written my own stories to the series! Memorized every line of Luke’s. Wanted to be Luke, AND was in love with him. I even compare the guys I date to Luke Skywalker. THIS, alone, is proof of my obsessive compulsiveness. Or was it the fact that all my past girlfriends were married and having children, and I wasn’t. Or was it…simply…the feeling of the clock…ticking.

My birthday is in a few hours. There were many moments where I felt like I should write, but tonight felt like the right moment.

I have a dog sleeping in my bed right now. Tiny, white and cream colored, with long silk hair, and gentle eyes and a quiet demeanor. I rescued him yesterday. It seems like everyone was having babies…and I produced a dog. I named him Toby Lee Orion, aka (just) Toby. Yeah, so I wanted a little touch of sci-fi to the name, I couldn’t resist. I don’t know what’s gotten into me, though…I’ve never been a “small dog” person. I guess you could blame it on my whimming personality. But I feel there’s something else changing in me.

I mailed George Lucas a letter yesterday as well…AND Kathleen Kennedy AND J.J. Abrams AND Disney. I mailed them because I am THAT desperate to have a chance to audition for Star Wars, I’m starting to feel a little nuts. But I figured I have nothing to lose, because currently in the film world I am pretty close to nothing anyhow, so what better thing to do but send George Lucas and friends a “Hello, you don’t know me, but I love you!” letter…for those of you who don’t know me, the “I love you” part is completely satirical……so I say……

I also have a boyfriend that I can’t admit is a boyfriend because the term freaks me out SO much, I immediately turn off and don’t want him anymore. But as long as he stays in the friend zone, I want him. This may also prove I’ve gone officially nuts, but haven’t seen a professional yet… He’s my Number 1 and he’s my best friend. He’s also my intimate lover. But labels really sit sourly with me…to the point of an upset stomach…to the point of me running like there’s zombies after me. EXACTLY!

My mother asked me recently if my motivation as an actress has been spurred on because of the new Star Wars movies and I told her, “Yes.” As a child, I really wanted to be an astronaut. Truly, I still want to be one, but because my bad eyesight wouldn’t be able to make the cut AND when I was young I didn’t think of myself as smart enough, the dream of being in space was limited to just pretense. But an actor CAN travel space within the mind’s eye. So, yes, I know the new SW movies have become my main motivation in life. There’s nothing I want more. There really really is nothing!

For the first time, I’m taking workshops with casting directors that work for J.J. Abrams, sending out headshots and resumes to people I don’t think would ever even care to look at (that’s why I’ll be sending them out every month Winking smile) , buying my first dog that acts like a fabulous stress reliever, and pulling along a fantastic guy/person because I can’t seem to relax in a committed relationship.

So as a result, I have spent more money this year than I EVER have just to somehow make sense of things in my personal life and catch someone’s attention in the Star Wars world. And every bit of it has felt worth it. Because I know that if I don’t get a chance, at least I can say I didn’t try my all……in BOTH worlds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAY! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! to me because I’m a MayDay baby