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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dressing Up, Baby! Simply Wicked's 13 Days of Halloween

How to follow up the Women of Esoterica's (yesterday's stop on the 13 Days of Halloween) blog post?  How to finish off the tour?  How to hang with all of these paranormal experts when I'm blogging on freakin' Halloween???  I can't take the PRESSURE!!!

*Pant, pant*

I'm okay.

Seriously, though...this is a little bit like trying to take it to the hoop and realizing you're up against Michael Jordan.  So, rather than try to "hang" or "compete" or "not make a fool of myself", I'm just gonna be me, and hopefully we'll all have some fun together.

So, for my little contribution to the Halloween fun, I'm gonna talk about something that actors know all too well.  When you put on a costume, everything changes.  Your walk, your talk, your thoughts, your actions.  Throw a mask into the mix, and holy-Swiss-cheese-morals, Batman!  Costumes and masks can lower (or completely obliterate) inhibitions far faster than any mere libation ever thought of doing.

There's a reason that something gels for an actor when they get into costume (or wardrobe, as they say on a film set).  I can't recall which famous actor said they never really knew their character until they wore the shoes for the first time.

The whole tradition of dressing up for Halloween started with the Celtic Festival of Samhain ("sow-an"), which was a year's end festival filled with bonfires rituals of the harvest.  The veil between our world and the world of spirits was thought to be super thin on this night, so people would dress as spirits to "blend in".  As happened with so much else, Samhain was co-opted by the Catholic church and turned into All Hallows Even, the night before All Saints Day.  Leave it to the Catholics to not only try to take the fun out of things, but then make you get up and go to church the next morning.

There's nothing like dressing like a mischievous spirit to make us want to act like one, right?  When in Rome, do as the Romans.  Is it any wonder that trick-or-treating became a part of this wonderful holiday?  Give me sweets, or me and my puckish friends will have a little fun at your expense.

So, as you go out tonight, remember to be grateful for the harvest, try to blend in with the spirits around you, invite the good ones in, ward the bad ones off.  And gorge yourself silly on all the candy!

As part of this wonderful blog tour (now sadly over), I'm giving away two one-hour online coaching sessions for either acting or dialect training.  So, if you're an actor and wanting some lessons, or you've always wanted to act but have never had the chance, follow my blog and comment below.  You MUST leave either your Twitter handle, or your email address so that I can get a hold of you to let you know you won. :)  I'll announce on the evening of Nov. 2, so that everyone has a chance to recover from the overdose of sugar.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Marketing Our Butts Off

There are so many reasons we retract our claws when someone says "marketing".

It feels selfish.  It feels desperate.  It feels...crass.

And guess what?  It is.

At least it is when we force ourselves to do it.  We all have been given insecurities, usually by well-meaning and slightly misguided loved ones.  Those insecurities can be pretty strong, and sometimes hard to spot.  We're pushing past that whole army of negative voices in our heads when we try to say something positive about ourselves.  Naturally when the pro-marketing, pro-us voice finally emerges, it usually comes with all of that forced energy trailing behind.

We've all seen it.  Most actors at a meet-and-greet fluctuate somewhere between groveling, self-deprecating behavior and preening like the proverbial peacock.  Neither one is particularly endearing.

So what can we do?  Are we just doomed to under- or overcompensate?

I don't think so.

Part of the process is acknowledging the negative stuff that roils around in our heads.  Just identifying those voices as being not real takes a lot of the energy out of them.  What feels like an epic battle turns into something just ever-so-slightly silly.

The next part is really understanding that our self-worth is innate and unassailable.  We are beautiful individuals.  There is no one in the world exactly like each of us.  No one can take that away from us, no matter what they say or do.

And when our self-worth isn't on the line, all of the sudden, self-promotion becomes...if not natural, at least not painful.  We can even progress to the point that we *gasp* enjoy it.

One other thing begins to occur.  Our creativity comes to the forefront.  Our personalities emerge.  We come up with awesome ideas to promote ourselves that no one else could pull off because they aren't us!

Identifying our personal Negative Nancy's, embracing our self-worth and allowing our true personalities to come out and play.  Pretty awesome!

Now, once we're there, we usually have a pretty steep learning curve ahead of us when it comes to effectively marketing ourselves.  For that reason, the next of my online workshops will focus on how to market ourselves as actors!  Keep your eyes on the stream, and as before, if you would like a discount on the workshop, leave your Twitter handle or email in a comment below. :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Simply Wicked's 13 Days of Halloween Blog Tour

So, I've been asked to be a part of Simply Wicked's 13 Days of Halloween Blog Tour.  Awesome.

Apparently I'm wicked enough to be a part (who knew??) and interesting enough to have garnered the coveted October 31st date.  Yikes!  No pressure.  :)  That, or they figured that everyone would be too busy on Halloween to read blogs, so might as well slot the actor in there.  That's so thespian-ist!

Seriously, though, I want to thank Jo Lynne Valerie (@JoLynneValerie) and Amy Williamson (@AmyFWilliamson) for including me in this awesome blog tour.

So, here's the skinny, with all the bloggers and the days that they'll be blogging.  You will notice that most of them have some sort of give-away (including yours truly), so check them out, follow the blogs and COMMENT!!  I apologize for getting this up a few days late:

Day 1     Oct. 19              
Amy Williamson   *Hostess with the Mostest*  ParaScream Radio, Stage Actress, TV Personality, League of Extraordinary Women of Paranormal and Horror
Give-away: YES

Day 2     Oct. 20              
Jo Lynne Valerie  *Hostess with the Mostest*  Paranormal Author, ParaGoddess, TV/Radio
Give-away: YES

Day 3     Oct. 21              
Larissa Sarah  *Featured Blogger*
Give-away:  YES

Day 4     Oct. 22
Monica Koetz  *Featured Blogger*
Day 5     Oct. 23
Conjure Oils  *Featured Metaphysical Expert*
Give-away: YES

Day 6     Oct. 24             
Scott Noir  *Published Author of Erotica, Studly Man,  "Smoldering Prose"       

Day 7     Oct. 25             
Fan Spotlight Day 
Featuring: Psyche Soul Goddess *ParaGoddess In Training*
Featuring: Lily Oak  *Publisher of Hope Open, owner of HedgeWitchery Books*

Day 8     Oct. 26             
Kayleigh Jamison  *Published Author, Spiritual Woman, Bookish Diva*
Give-away: YES

Day 9     Oct. 27             
Intense Whisper  *Featured Blogger*
Give-away: YES

Day 10     Oct. 28             
Donna Carrick  *Published Author of Fiction, Active Participant of #WriteChat on Twitter, Huge Hearted Gal*

Day 11     Oct. 29             
Dyan Garris  *Featured Blogger Visionary Mystic & Author of the Award Winning Finalist Money and Manifesting *

Day 12     Oct. 30             
Women of Esoterica  *Featured Paranormal Expert*

Day 13     Oct. 31             
Ben Hopkin  
*Featured Actor, Acting Coach Helping Other Actors Create Magic in Their Performances*
Give-away: YES

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Balancing Act(ing)

Talent.  Training.

You will hear actors (and artists in general) argue passionately about these two words.  Talent is innate.  Talent can be taught.  Talent should be kept pure.  Training is essential.  Training is limiting.  Training is for those that aren't born with talent.

Here's my take on it.  Are there individuals who are born with extraordinary gifts?  Sure.  Do they amaze and astound us?  Indubitably.  Are they exempt from the need to train?  Weeellllll.....

My belief is that talent and technique (or training) should be balanced.  Talent without training has a tendency to be erratic or unstable.  It's exciting, but it's really chaotic.  It may be stunning for one performance and miserable the next.

That said, training without talent gives us precision without life.  We get performances that are impressive in their detail and almost overwhelming with their accuracy, but leave us feeling...cold.  Not exactly what we're looking for, right?

Maybe we should stop for a second for me to tell you what I think talent is.  Talent is that spark that lives inside us.  It's our voice.  It's what makes us individual and unique.  It's a combination of everything that's beautiful and also flawed and broken in our souls.

Some people are born with an ability to immediately access that without walls or defenses.  Others have to learn to drop those barriers, and that can take time.  In other words, I don't believe that talent can be taught, but I do believe that accessing our talent can be.

Training is a way to focus and crystallize our talent.  Not only can training help us access our talent more readily (if it's good training), it can refine our expression of it.  On the other hand, training or technique can be a mask that we hide behind so that our souls don't feel so exposed.

One is not a substitute for the other.  They are the Yin and Yang of the Tao of acting.  The talent is the feminine...mysterious, dark, unknowable (ooooh...deep, right?).  Training is the masculine...ordered, precise, active.

A good teacher is one that uses the training process to better access the soul of a performer and magnify that energy through the focusing lens of technique.  In other, more simple words, they get you to stop hiding and to be specific and active.

If you're looking for that kind of instruction, do yourself a favor and sign up for my online acting classes.  If you have a computer, a webcam and internet connection, it doesn't matter where in the world you are, you can take classes with an amazing!  Look at the top of my blog page for rates and the sign up.  If you want to take class at a time that's not listed, contact me at actingwithoutthedrama (at) gmail (dot) com and we'll see what we can work out.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I'm Too Old for This $#!+

No, this blog entry is not about Mel Gibson, so relax!

This is more about the character that Danny Glover played in all 25 (it was 25, wasn't it?) of those Lethal Weapon movies.  Roger Murtaugh.  So old.  So tired.  So close to retirement.

And each time, he gets dragged into all sorts of shenanigans by his slightly crazy (boy, if only we had known HOW crazy) partner.  There he is, running around, risking life and limb and saying repeatedly, "I'm too old for this $#!+"

And yet, each time, he does it.

These were the thoughts that went through my brain as I shot my latest commercial.  It was for a new product...a really kick-butt flashlight, and they had us running up hills, over vales and through rivers.  Yes, you read that right...THROUGH rivers.  And it was cold.  Like 35 degrees Farenheit cold.  And that's not an exaggeration like my earlier estimation of the number of Lethal Weapon films that have been made.

Basically, we spent two nights running wind sprints while soaking wet until about 3 or 4 in the morning.  In boots.  And short sleeves.  And snow.

Okay, there was no snow, but you get my point.  It was more than enough for me to think to myself, Seriously, I AM too old for this $#!+!

But here's the thing about both Murtaugh and me.  We do it anyway.  I can only speculate on what Murtaugh's reasons are, but I assume they're similar to mine.  We do it because we love it.

I've had easier shoots.  I've had warmer shoots.  I've had shoots with more comfortable shoes.  But I haven't had shoots that were more fun.

So, maybe I'm not too old.  Maybe I never will be.

I'll tell you one thing, though.  I'm going to make sure that I stay in better shape, because that next morning was NOT FUN!!

So, to benefit from the knowledge that I've gained through my own training and experience, take a second to go to the top of this blog and sign up for my online acting classes.  They are just $125 per month, and they are awesome!  I look forward to working with you!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Preparing to Get an Agent (or How to Tap Dance without Tap Shoes)

This isn't the first time I've talked about this subject (you can find that posting here).  It more than likely won't be the last.  There seem to be very few topics that we actors like to talk about more than AGENTS (except for maybe ourselves).  We love them.  We hate them.  We want one.  We want a different one.  We have oh-so-many stories to tell about them (mostly bad).

In short, we can't stop talking about them.  Help...I'm talking and I can't shut up.

So, we're going to go over some salient points.

1)  Don't move to Los Angeles or New York to try to land your first agent.  Period.  End of statement.  If you already live there, don't despair, just know you'll have to work harder.

2)  Before you begin to set up meetings with agents, make sure you're prepared to do so.  Not sure what it means to be prepared?  Don't worry.  I'll be giving a workshop that will include a checklist.

3)  Don't just sign with the first agent who says "yes".

4)  Don't expect your life to drastically change the moment you've signed.

5)  Don't stop looking for work yourself once you've got an agent, because no one will ever represent you better than you will yourself!

6)  It's always better if you can get an agent to set up a meeting with you rather than the reverse.

7)  Always be working.

8)  Treat any prospective agent with respect, honesty and LIKE A REAL PERSON! (because...well...they are)

9)  Once you've signed with an agent, keep those lines of communication wide open.

10)  And probably one of the most important--don't assume that this advice doesn't apply to you.  Is it possible that your experience will be different from mine?  Absolutely.  Is it likely that it will be different from mine and everyone else's that I've had the pleasure to work with and teach?  Unlikely.

Okay, so some of those points may have been eye-opening, even disheartening.  But that's why you're here, right?  To hear from someone who's been there how not to have to go through all the same crap?  Because, trust me, I've been through some serious poopy poop.

You may not have perfectly understood everything I just listed there.  For those that have been through it, most of what's here will make perfect sense, but it may sound like gobbledegook if you've never been there.  That's okay.  Working in the industry is a process for all of us.

The industry is not set up like others, where you go to school, intern, get offered a job and start working.  That doesn't mean that there isn't a fairly standard pattern that can be followed to help you get where you want to go. 

There are no guarantees here.  Guess what?  Last time I checked, there are no guarantees anywhere in the job market.  Real estate agent was a pretty hot job a few years ago. (Yikes!)

So, rather than flog a dead horse here, I'm again going to be offering an online workshop talking about getting an agent.  As always, I'll try to keep it cheap, and as always, I'll give you a discount if you leave a comment here with your twitter handle or email address.  I look forward to hearing from you all!