Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hi, I'm Jessica, the Chick Who Doesn't Return Your Emails or Phone Calls

Don't take my rejection personally.

Hi, I'm Jessica, the chick who doesn't return your emails or phone calls.  But don't take it personally, I do it to everybody.  Because I'm an idiot.  Really, I have no idea why I can't seem to do something as simple as returning a call or sending an email, but this is a bad habit I need to break starting right now!  While I spend time focusing on my physical appearance I need to also work on my professionalism.  Being professional and on top of my game could make or break my career (it's at least as important as my appearance, if not more so) and I'm not going to let something as stupid as a missed call or email ruin everything.

Starting today I'm going to respond to all emails the same day and return all calls the same day.  Not that my phone is ringing off the hook or that my inbox is filling up, or anything, but you get my drift., right?  I will also make sure to send any emails or make any phone calls that were promised in person with someone.  In other words, I'm going to stop being a flake!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I'd Like to Thank The Academy

Wow!  This is such an honor.  First, I'd like to thank the Academy for this award.  I'd like to thank all my theatre teachers and acting coaches starting way back in elementary school; Jackie Capps, Pam Eakin, Heather Bryson, David LeMaster, Rhona Leber, and Ed Muth just to name a few.  You helped fuel the flames of my passion for this craft and have made me a better actor.  I want to thank my wonderful husband, Dennis.  It's not always easy to love a crazy actor, but you've always been there for me and supported me as I reached for the stars.  You always told me I could do anything and never doubted me.  I love you and I wouldn't be where I am today without you.  I want to thank my Mom for never telling me that I shouldn't act and never telling me to "get a real job."  I love you.  Thanks to the director for helping me achieve such a performance and to the casting director and producers for trusting me with this role.  Thank you so much.

Yes, I've had my Oscar acceptance speech written in my head since I was thirteen.  Whoopie Goldberg hosted the Academy Awards that year, and at the end of the show, she looked in the camera as if she was speaking directly to me and said, "This is for all the young people out there who want to become actors.  If you are dedicated and work hard enough you can follow your dreams and perhaps someday be on this stage," or something to that effect.  It was epic.

A few years ago, I visited a friend in Los Angeles.  It was my first time in Hollywood and it was Oscar season.  I was doing the tourist thing next to the Kodak Theater, when I stumbled upon a free exhibit about the history of the Awards.  To my surprise and delight, at the end of the exhibit, you got to hold an Oscar.  A real, honest to god, Academy Award.  I nearly feinted!  I waited in line with butterflies in my stomach.  My palms were sweaty.  I had to keep reminding myself not to cry in front of a room full of strangers when my turn finally came.  All of the people in front of me just picked it up, goofed off, then moved on.  I, however, took the time to practice my speech and prepare for the day when it would be my turn at the podium.  I took hold of Oscar, steadied myself, and began my speech.  Quiet fell over the crowd of people waiting behind me.  All eyes were trained on me.  And when I finished my speech, a round of applause exploded from everyone watching.  I had given Oscar his proper respect.

My Precious.  Someday you will be mine.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Waiting for the Right Time

I hate to admit it, but I'm dragging my feet when it comes to my professional life.  Well, I guess that's not entirely true.  A more true statement would be:  I'm not really being as proactive as I should with my career.  At least that's how I feel.  In the fast paced world we live in, we've become accustomed to instant gratification, and I'm not immune to wanting results now, and with minimal effort, if you please.  That makes me expect instant results in my career and when it's been a whole 6 weeks since the start of the new year and my idea to reinvent myself, I feel like I should be auditioning already and booking parts and on my way to being the next household name.

When I start to feel anxious and panicky that things aren't happening fast enough, and when I feel like I'm spinning my wheels going nowhere fast, and that I'm never going to get back into this industry, I need to take a deep breath and remind myself that there's no magic wand to wave and no special button I can push to make things go any faster. Slow and steady wins the race.  Despite what people may think, stars are never overnight sensations.  I heard a saying once that for every overnight sensation at least 10+ years went into making them an "instant" success.  Ten years is a bit daunting, but it's a good saying to put perspective on things.

And honestly, I don't think I'm quite ready to start the audition process again (although I really, really want to get back out there).  Part of the advantage to taking such a long time off  from the Industry is the opportunity to turn myself into the most marketable and, therefore, most castable actor I an be.  And I am not the most marketable nor the most castable actor right now.  I am not going to let myself go out an audition until I'm ready, both physically and mentally.  I think I need to set clearly defined goals to reach before I put myself out there again.  And I need to work towards those goals.  I have a bad habit of making lists and setting goals and then not doing anything about them.

Before I start auditioning again, I need to:
  • figure out my "type"
  • update my look to match my type
  • loose a little more weight--at least 50% of the total pounds I plan to drop
  • update my headshot
  • take at least 1 screen acting class (before submitting for film auditions)
  • get control of my audition anxiety (especially before submitting for film auditions)
While I work on those things to get me physically and mentally ready to audition, I should probably also formulate a business plan for myself.  It's so easy to forget that acting is a business and the product I'm trying to sell is myself.  Plus, there are so many different ways to achieve the goal of professional actor that I know I'm going to need to create a road map for myself to follow.  This is a personal journey and I can only follow my own path.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Image and the Business

No matter what anyone wants to admit or believe, the way you look is the number one factor in getting or not getting work in the acting world whether on stage or on screen.  Especially on screen.  The screen is completely unforgiving.  At least on stage an actor has some distance from the audience and can hide/fake appearance.  But on screen, what you look like is what you look like, often with an unflattering extra 15 pounds that the camera somehow adds.  So being thin and pretty can give an actor or actress a leg up on the competition, especially when that competition is already thin and pretty

I'm not saying that talent doesn't have anything to do with getting cast or not, because it certainly does.  But if you don't fit the look the production is going for you never get an audition to show off your talent.  If a casting director is looking for a 20's to 30's actress for a part, they're looking for a skinny/fit 20's to 30's actress (they won't come out and say they're looking for skinny, but they are), so if I were to submit for that part, they'd see an average (i.e. not thin or fat, i.e. too fat for thin parts and to thin for fat parts) 20's to 30's actress and I'd get put in the dump pile.  Likewise, if a casting director were looking for a fat 20's to 30's actress I'd also make it into the dump pile, thus not getting any auditions to show off my talent and possibly getting cast.

I don't really like the fact that this industry is so focused on looks.  But I can't change how the system works; I can't take on the entire entertainment industry and try to change how it's always worked.  I'm not a crusader; I'm an actress trying to get work.

So, what can I do?  Change my image!  Loose weight!  Get in better shape!  Update my look!  Become fashionable!  So that's what I am going to do.  There are a lot of things I need to do to get my career back on track.  I need to take some lessons on film acting to perfect my technique.  I need auditioning workshops to get over the anxiety of getting back to auditioning.  I need to get new headshots to better market myself.  I need to start going back to mixers and screenings to meet people and network.  None of these things would be worth much if I don't change the way I look.  I don't need to drastically change things--at least I don't think I need to drastically change, but I do need to change them.  So that's exactly what I'll do.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's been a while

It's been a while since I've done any serious acting. I try to do at least one production a year, and since moving to Houston 10 years ago I have managed to be on stage at least that much. A few years ago, I even managed to make the lion's share of my income by acting--not that the lion's share was much, but I did live as a working actor. And let me tell you, it was hard. After that year I questioned whether or not I was on the right path and if acting really was my life's passion. I felt demoralized, unsuccessful, depressed and a level of frustration I had never experienced before.

So I decided to take some time off to reevaluate how I felt about the industry. I became a massage therapist (partly to have a flexible schedule should I ever seriously return to acting), I got engaged to my long time boyfriend, spent a year planning the wedding, and I continued to do at least one show a year.

During this time, I constantly thought about acting. At first I had negative feelings about the industry and was relieved to no longer struggle to be a part of it. I was tired of being poor and eating Ramen noodle soup every day. I was tired of being judged on how I looked. I felt like the acting scene in Houston was as clique-ish as middle school and, try as I might, I was never cool enough to fit in. I hated seeing people who had never acted before get cast in something just because they were friends with the writer/director/producer when there was an endless supply of "real" actors practically begging for work. I was sick of it all.

After a while, my feelings began to change. I wanted to start chasing my dream again. One play a year was just not cutting it! But I was afraid that I had let too much time pass. I hadn't done any film work in years. All the directors, producers, and screenwriters I had met over the years would certainly not remember me. The plays I was in during this time were all at my college theatre; it was all unpaid work at a theatre I loved, but did not push my skills or career to the next level. I had gotten terribly out of shape, and in an industry where image is almost everything I wouldn't be able to compete with other actors who simply looked better than me. I felt defeated and resigned to my decision to not be a part of it all. I had burned my bridges and there was no going back. I had made my decision to quit and I just had to live with it and all the regret that went along with it. A lot of the other things I wanted in life depended on me being a responsible adult and earning an equal living to my partner; if I wanted a wedding and a house and a baby meant never again pursuing my career seriously. After all, how can a mortgage get paid on an actor's salary?

I became resentful at the world for being in a position to have to choose between a comfortable life and my dream. I was angry that I couldn't have it all--a house, a family, financial security and being a successful actor. Why couldn't all those things go together? I saw no reason why they couldn't go together, but I didn't know how to make them go together. So I continued to do my one show a year. I told myself to be happy with that. It's too late to get back into the game.

But then I realized something. It's not too late. I can still go after my dream. Just because I'm married now and want to buy a house, start a family, and open my own massage spa doesn't mean I can't lay down the ground work to launch my acting career again. Sure, it's going to be hard. I'm going to have a lot of work to do, but I can do it. It's not impossible!!! And it's probably a good thing that I took so much time away from my career. In reality I wasn't as successful as I would have liked to believe I was. All those bridges I think I burned weren't very big bridges to begin with and they certainly weren't the majority of the bridges I need to cross. If anything, I have an advantage. I get to start fresh. I get to make new connections with people, I get to change my image, I get to be who I want to be in this industry. I get to start over, and I couldn't be more excited!!!
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