Being an unknown actress…

 

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.

3 Year Anniversary with California

 

Exactly a year ago, I was in rehearsals for Cabrillo Music Theatre’s production of Annie. I was playing Grace Farrell, my first lead in California. I got to work with Norman Large and Sally Struthers. It was one of the most memorable show experiences I had had at the time and felt so blessed to be apart of it! Sally Struthers playing Miss Hannigan and me

Playing Grace Farrell led me to my first agent, Steven Dry, with Connor Ankrum & Associates. He started me out on my first run of auditions. The first one sucked. I completely screwed it up. It was my first audition where I actually knew that when I turned and exited through the door, I wanted to shoot myself and bury myself in a hole. It was stupid-dumb-bad. And to make matters worse for myself, it was the first audition I had that my agent scheduled me for. I wanted to cry.

I redeemed myself, not right away, but eventually. As the months passed, the auditions were few and far between. It was a slow season for the theater world. Equity houses were closing down without hope of reopening. Union actors were leaving the union just so they could get more work. It wasn’t looking good for California theater. It still isn’t…

Nonetheless, the shows must go on…I don’t know how, but they will.

A few months more went by and I finally signed with my first commercial agency, Brady Brannon and Rich. So I experienced my first round of commercial auditions and callbacks. Let me tell you!!! They are SOOOOO easy. You don’t have to prepare ANYTHING. Just show up and look right. Such a change compared to all my theater auditions, where you have to prepare 16-32 bars of an up-tempo and ballad, bring dance clothes, dance shoes, and whatever else they may want you to do.

I didn’t land a commercial yet, but had mostly callbacks, so I thought that wasn’t too shabby.

Around winter time, I had finally made a good group of awesome friends. I hadn’t really made any since I had moved; I got close to some, but didn’t find anyone I could trust yet. So I finally found some people I could love AND trust. At the same time, I also lost contact with my friend and ex The Terminator. The confusing relationship finally reached its end since I had moved out to California.

During this time, I had met William Shatner. I actually got to hang out with him ON SET, Bill and mebeing apart of the crew. My life was complete at that point. If I had died the next day, I wouldn’t have cared. I also got asked out by four different crew guys that same day. Overwhelmed would definitely be the word for THAT.

For a while there, I wasn’t landing any shows. I was getting callbacks, but nothing after that. It was a serious dry spell. But a part of me was grateful for it. I had time for other things in my life that I normally wouldn’t have if I were in a show. The show-life takes up MOST of your time. Eventually, I was invited to audition for The Movie Guys, a comedy webisode about movies ‘n such. I got in and was able to become SAG-eligible, something I had been thinking pretty close to impossible considering I wasn’t really doing any union related stuff until then.the movie guys

I was ecstatic that I had the ability to call up SAG and say, “I wanna sign up and pay my dues!” I couldn’t believe that doing New Media was a way in.

And then, just to mess with me, my “dark side” decided to come out and be a pain, and I started cutting again. I hadn’t sliced up my leg since I was in college, so it was a serious wake-up call when it happened again at 26 years old. I finally accepted the fact that I was born with something I had no control of. I wasn’t allowed to take any more birth control, according to the nurses, because of the severe depression I was feeling again. They took me off it, and then put me on Prozac again. I hadn’t been on it for a while, but after my bad cutting experience (taking a butter knife at work and going at it on my right leg), I decided it was best to stay on the Prozac indefinitely.

Once I accepted my “craziness,” (as I like to call it), I felt a sense of equilibrium. And, funny enough, things started making sense and being good again. I got cast in The Music Man, playing Marian Paroo, which was one of my dream roles. A friend of mine told me to Lida Roseaudition, and I got it. It really is about WHO you know. I wouldn’t have known about the audition if my friend hadn’t told me about it. Needless to say, I was thrilled when I got the part.

From there, I got another lead in a show, Abigail Adams in Cabrillo Music Theatre’s production of 1776 the Musical. I COULDN’T believe it! I wanted to play her so badly, I was beyond shocked and thrilled that I actually got cast.1776

I began a working-out life style I thought I’d never have. I started Cardio Barre with my roommate. I started running, something I used to HATE all my life, and now love it! I FINALLY achieved my Victoria’s Secret stomach goal, which I had been wanting to reach since I was 14 years old. Took living with a stunt woman with rock-hard abs to actually push me.

And on top of all this, my romance life became interesting after nearly a year of zilch. Sure, I had been meeting people like The Bartender from Bogie’s, and the crew guys from Shatner’s shoot, but no one I actually felt like spending time with.

But then came Mr. Big (MY version, not Sex and the City’s version). And then Mr. Spock. And then Blue Shirt (aka, possibly Skywalker). All of which I have very unusual relationships with. Two of them are close friends, one of them closer in a more physical way, and the third is one I’m technically dating (as in a date once a week kinda thing). ALL wonderful!!!! I’ve become sort of a Queen Bee, giving my love to all my little worker bees…although I’m really not sure what I’m doing at all. In all honesty, at this time in my life, I admit I have a serious problem with monogamous relationships. But we all go through this at one point or another, right? I panic at the idea of being tied down to just one person right now. And not one guy in my life that I’ve been with seriously has deserved my loyalty, so why try to be loyal at all? I guess I’m answering myself with this one…the one who does deserve it will be the one to marry. WELL I’m not even CLOSE to that, so game on! Time to really live out my loving side. I might as well be a futuristic hippy.

Last night was a perfect ending to my 3 year anniversary with California: a whim on the beach that only happens in your dreams. I had a found a secret entrance to a private beach in Malibu, and a small group of friends and I ventured out into the dark of the night, stripped down to our skimpies and played in the ocean, all the while, of course, wondering if Jaws was laying in wait. It was the whim of the year!

And so the adventures continue! By the way, Cali, did I ever tell you that I love you? Well, I do. Happy 3 years and may the fourth one be ever in my favor!

Blue Shirt

 

So many things can happen in one summer. If we could all remember every little detail we experience, maybe we would finally realize how exciting and interesting our lives really are. We all are living an adventure deserved to be written about. This is why I write. This is why I nag my grandmother, whom I call Mana, to write her story. This is why it saddens me that my grandfather, Papa, never wrote his before he passed away. And this is why I write about the people in my life, because they have an adventure deserved to be documented too.

This summer, I made friends. Good friends. The closely-knit kind I’d been wanting badly. Samantha, Pablo, Katie, Helena, Monique, and many more. They will always be apart of my life story.A drawing of me as Marian by Joseph Lusker

This summer, I got to play Marian Paroo in the The Music Man. Of course, I got a horrendous chest cold during the callback. Somehow survived it, but was out from work the following days. Still got the part. Weird how that works. Anyhow, she was one of my dream roles. I grew up with The Music Man. My family grew up with it too. The musical felt more apart of me than usual. It felt like being home. During the run, I met some wonderful people that I’ll never forget. And, of course, I am madly in love with my opposite, Kristopher Kyer, who played Harold Hill. One of my favorite people ever, truly.

This summer, I got to be apart of The Movie Guys, a comedy group that previews and reviews movies every month. I specialize in the sci-fi stuff, of course. Winking smile I love working with Paul Preston, Karen Volpe, Lee Kias, Adam Witt, and many others. I’ve The Movie Guysmet some very wonderfully funny and interesting people throughout the months.

This summer, I got to sing with the Prescott Pops Symphony orchestra once again, conducted by my father. A year ago, he wanted to book me to sing as one of his soloist, and I kept telling him I couldn’t commit because I didn’t know if I’d have a better gig by then. As the months passed, things worsened for my father at the Prescott college. He was disrespectfully, and without warning, fired through an emailDad conducting by the newest head of the music department at the college, reason being simply a difficulty in communication. And then other soloists were dropping out at the last second for the concert my father was putting on in July. I decided to commit to the concert, not only because I couldn’t abandon my dad, but because I wanted him to know he still had the respect and the support of other singers.

This summer, I developed an unexpected but fully embraced sense of love and support from my aunt and uncle who live in California. There was always love within my family members, but now I feel a sudden closeness to them that I only rarely feel for a handful of people. This feeling is hard for Familyme to describe, but to put it simply, it is the feeling one might feel for their own child…they would kill for them, or die. I’ve felt this way about my parents and my Mana and Papa. There are just a few others I’ve had this feeling for, but now my aunt and uncle have joined this circle in my heart. Sometimes I laugh and brush this emotion off as a fault of my “artistic” side. But it’s there, nonetheless. Now my uncle is leaving for Afghanistan…I can only hope it’ll be boring.

This summer, I also met someone. The man with the blonde hair and the blue eyes. I caught a glimpse of him in the audience during my show. The blue shirt is what drew my attention. And I thought, “he’s cute.” Then I saw him again at dinner with a friend. Coincidence? I don’t know. But I thought it was cool. Because I remember details like that. Just like in a movie. And then he asked me out.

But that’s all I’m gonna say. This story deserves a separate blog.

There’s a little story in all of this, but I think the most important thing to understand is that this was a happy time. I want to remember it well. That’s why I’m writing it now. Because I know when there’s an up, there’s always another down. And the dark side of my brain likes to take over during those downs.

So I hope for the happy times like now to last a long time, and I write to keep it real.

There’s an adventure in all of us, so don’t take it for granted, and remember all the details down to the last blue shirt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yep...

Why Actors Are Skinny

The week before opening night for Annie was a stressful and nearly discouraging one for me. I had never before cared so much about getting the role I was playing just right! The part of Grace Farrell was my project. In the past, I had played characters like “Guenevere” in Camelot and “Louisa” in The Fantasticks, but these women all had some sort of emotional fluctuation or quirkiness about them with personalities an actor could really mess around with.

But Grace was none of these. She was a straightforward business woman from the thirties, a woman with infinite patience and positivity. A real lady type. Strong, but delicate and demure. And never aggressive. And the LAST thing I wanted to do was make her boring!

Being a redheaded, Scottish AND Irish girl myself, it was very difficult to suppress my aggressive nature. And so it became a fabulous challenge, being that Grace was a role I had never tackled before in my career.

Opening night was only a few days away and I still wasn’t happy with my character portrayal. I was doing all I could, channeling Olivia DeHavilland, practicing my patience at The Restaurant (my bill paying job). My lines and songs were down solid, so that wasn’t the issue.

The real issue was that I was beginning to think I was a terrible actress. I lost my appetite and stopped eating. My stomach felt like it would erupt at any given moment. I was clinging to my confidence by a thread. Every night after dress rehearsal I went home in tears. And then, of course, I would get angry because I felt so pathetic. Because I had never reacted this way before. Even on opening night, as my wig was being placed on my head, I burst into tears (which was really stupid considering all the heavy makeup I had on).

As I paced alone in my dressing room, listening to the ensemble sing over the monitors, I rehearsed my lines in “Grace-speak.” I knew I had about ten minutes left before my entrance, all the while there was a pressure behind my eyes threatening to make me cry again.

Stupid, I thought, you’re being so stupid!

And then I recalled what my friend Noelle, who was also in the show playing Lily St. Regis, said to me earlier: “Just have fun and don’t care so much about what other people think of you. Just enjoy it!”

And then I remembered what my mother said: “Remember, in the whole scheme of things, it’s just a show.”

Tactics at making your anxiety go away. The funny thing was, I knew this all along, but I had gotten so caught up with the largeness of the production of Annie and its star talents that I actually let my nerves take over. Nervousness!! Something that Rowaders don’t usually feel. I guess there really IS a first time for everything…

So my ten minutes were up and I stepped out on stage to greet my scene partner Sally Struthers. It was all over from there on out…my anxiety, that is. Winking smile 

Anyway, one day someone said to me, “You are so skinny!”

“That’s because I haven’t eaten in a week,” I laughed.

“Why?” she said.

“Because I was freaking out.”

And so is the life of an actor…

 

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Grace

A Hawaii Whim

Four months ago, my parents were discussing their Hawaii trip with concert leader Ed Lojeski. The trip would consist of four rehearsals and two large choral and orchestral performances for the Fourth of July. It was a concert tribute for the men who died at Pearl Harbor, and all the men in service to this day, called Salute to Valor. My parents, along with choral groups from all over the country, were to be singing on the battle ship USS Missouri.

And, as usual, I would not be able to join them. My parents have been all over the world. I have never stepped outside of the North American continent. It was only a month before the time of events did I know I was suddenly signed up with a plane ticket and a book full of music with a large solo waiting inside.

So my whim to Hawaii began. I finally was going to step off North America and fly half way down the planet to one of the most popular vacation islands ever.

My parents had arrived on the island a day before, but as soon as I arrived, we dived into Pina Coladas, Lava Flows, and Mai Tais. Once rehearsal started, we wouldn’t be able to “party” too much. But I think I squeezed in as much as I could. Winking smile

The banana pina colada was my favorite.

Being that Pearl Harbor is located in Oahu, I didn’t get to experience the tropical island feeling as much as I would have liked. But I shouldn’t complain. On one of our days off, we did get to go snorkeling in Hanauma Bay. Exactly where I wanted to be!

Getting some sun and heavily covered in sunscreen.

It took me sixty seconds to get used to breathing under water before I turned into the water baby I used to be, and started hunting coral sharks. Didn’t find any though. They were sleeping beneath me, hidden by the coral. But I did get to play mermaid with the other fishies, one of them eyeing me oddly before disappearing. I wanted so badly to go deeper into the caves, but knew without gloves and other proper gear that I had better refrain from my adventurous instincts. Probably not a good idea to get hurt before the concerts.

I did find a ring, though, amidst the coral. Smile My treasure

Gave it to Mom.

Later, we explored Pearl Harbor’s USS Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri. Also, we enjoyed being entertained by the luau show, The Creation, while we drank Mai Tais with Ed Lojeski and TV host Wink Martindale. Definitely had a full day of swimming, exploring, eating, drinking, and watching gloriously tanned and ripped Polynesian men in skirts dance barbarically…oh, sigh.

The rest of the week was spent in rehearsals with tropical dinner breaks. I hate rehearsals, but I can’t complain when they’re on a luscious island. The first concert was inside a large theater.First concert. This was where I sang my solo, “O My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose”…phew, what a title! I had some big shoes to fill with this song considering it was my dad’s staple. He was the only one who could sing it and blow people out of the water. But because of Sweeney Todd where Dad played Judge Turpin, his voice had gone to the bass land and couldn’t warm back up to tenor heaven in just a week. In order to sing “Red Rose,” you have to be able to float notes. So he said, “You got it, baby. Do it well.” Great…

As intimidating as it was to replace Dad, the audience seemed to really like it, giving a roaring cheer as their response. Dad still won’t let it go… I’m on the hunt for a recording. It’s not very often that I actually feel proud of one of my performances, so when I do, I’d kill for a copy.

The second concert was performed at the stern of the USS Missouri, followed by fireworks over the ocean and accompanied by the Pacific Navy Band, who were incredible! And MORE Mai Tai’s were to be had!

All in all, I sang my very best, Mai Tai’ed myself out, wore skirts and sundresses every day, and remained braless for the entire trip.

And I DID get leid… Winking smile

Auditions, Auditions, Aw come on already!

I have been auditioning…A LOT. Which is great! This is exactly what you’re supposed to do when you wanna be an actor or singer. How many times did our professors in music or theater school drill into us that doing 100 auditions will land us 1 gig? I happened to grow up this way too, following my dad around as a child in Chicago, hearing stories of all the rejection he went through every time he auditioned. But I saw him succeed and so I knew his hard work paid off.

Now I’m on the same path. Instead of moving back to Chicago or New York City where theater is rich and alive, I moved to California…where theater is, well, surviving. Don’t get me wrong, there are great companies here, just not that many. And not many auditions to jump on either. Let me just show you all the things I went after these past few months…

UNIVERSAL STUDIO’S JAPAN WICKED Not me.

CATSDefinitely not me.

THE FANTASTICKSWas me at one point, but not this time.

THE PRODUCERSWish I could be.

HAIRSPRAYAlmost me.

That’s about it. I’m also doing this sans agent. If I had an agent, I’d be getting into a hell of a lot more auditions. And speaking of agent/more auditions, this would also assist me greatly in getting into film and television auditions, a whole nother beast I want to conquer. I once said as a young 13 year old, “I want to do film because Dad already did the theater scene.” I just remembered that right now as I’m writing this… But CAN’T do it without an agent because they’re the ones that can sweet talk the casting director into seeing you when you’re a NOBODY. Like me. Slightly frustrating, let me just tell ya.

Now, of course, I will admit that I have been able to get a few auditions with low-budget short films, but not enough to actually bump me up to 100 auditions. I want 100. GIVE ME 100!!!

—Side-track: just remembered I had a crazy dream last night about being an announcer for the Oscars and my dress was getting caught everywhere and then I couldn’t read the teleprompter so I was all stressed out, but somehow didn’t care too much cause I kept joking around, but then I forgot what I was announcing in the first place. Best Leading Actress? Leading Actor? Crap.

ANYHOW! Moving on.

Nearly every audition I did went really, REALLY well. This is why it gets frustrating because when you know you did your best, and even the panel of auditors genuinely compliment you, but you STILL don’t get cast, it might drive you crazy. But not me. I’m immune, like, vulcanized.

Here is a breakdown:

WICKED I got called back twice. Had the auditors smile and clap after I was done, but didn’t make it to the third round. NEXT!

CATS I sang well, but didn’t stick around for the dance call cause it was freezing outside and I had already been waiting for 5 hours in the cold to sing, so I wasn’t thrilled about waiting for another 2 just to dance when I know I’m already not a very strong dancer…Mr. Georgia already scolded me on that one. NEXT!

THE FANTASTICKS I sang really well, also got asked to sing a part of the show, got called back to read, I did well at that too and the director asked me to stick around, but then when the monitor called out the girls’ names who will stay for another read, my name DIDN’T get called. Rough. FORGET ABOUT IT!

THE PRODUCERS was with a company I already worked with. Again I belted my little heart out, looked hot, and even overheard the artistic director, who knew me, whisper to the director that I was “very talented.” Got asked to sing a little more to show off my range. NO callback. Ugh. But that’s probably because when the director asked if I knew how to tap dance, I hesitated and said, “kinda.” Bad, girl, bad! MOVING ON!

HAIRSPRAY was actually a callback resulting from the season audition I did for PCPA. Season, meaning, you audition for more than one show. I got called back for one of the leading roles, Amber, in HAIRSPRAY. My original audition was very successful. The producer said he really liked me, then asked if I could dance. This time I said yes with no hesitation. Then he asked, “do you consider yourself a dancer or a mover.” I hesitated something like 2 seconds, but then quickly answered “dancer!” He nodded, saying, “Good, that’s what I wanna hear.” So then I got called back, barely survived the dance audition (ha!), but then sang riDICulously which resulted in the director coming up to me and shaking my hand before I left. Probably because he thought I sucked at the dance audition, felt bad for me, and then was surprised I had any talent at all. I haven’t heard anything from this one yet, but rehearsals don’t start until the summer, so it’s hard to forget about it.

That is it for now.

So why did I move to California? Well, cause the weather is freakin awesome! AND because I really DO want to work on film, in film, a writer for film…direct my own film, create music for film, edit my own film, produce my own film, model for my…nah just kidding.

Gotta say though, when you do as many auditions as you’re supposed to, you got to FORGET about them and move on to the next. Cause you will be rejected 99 times. But the 100th time will be a good one. I’m not even close to 99. I’m, like, at 20, so I gotta a long way to go. Thank goodness my boyfriend, or manfriend (cause he’s way up there in manhood, but perhaps boyfriend fits better cuz he’s so…boyish), is good at lighting fires under my…butt……………

Sorry, that sounds SO wrong. Let me rephrase: Mr. Georgia is really good at pep talks! Ha!