Hey everybody!!… First off, if you are the type of person, just have a tiny moment of silence in reflection for everyone battling cancer, we lost my best friend’s mom this week and most everyone knows someone these days who is battling this ever-evolving disease… (moment)…
Alright, It’s been a while since I wrote anything, and that’s because I have literally been working my butt off, trying to play catch up with the competition that’s in New York.
Since moving to NYC on July 1st, the most important thing I can say is… This IS NOT LA. I had myself mentally prepared for the move, but now that I’m here, I see just how much more competitive, not just the acting world is, but the entire city itself. In Los Angeles, everyone is hustling, but with the understanding of.. “oh, hey, if it doesn’t work out today, it’ll work out tomorrow… I’m late 5 minutes to my meeting? it’s all good, the other person’s probably late too, traffic on the 101 is real bad today.”… In NYC, it’s straight Darwin! Survival of the fittest, eat or be eaten; and it’s not just the other actors your jockeying for position with, it’s everywhere… on the subway, in line at Starbucks, playing pick-up bball in the park, crossing the street… everyone is trying to fit 36 hours into a 24 hour day, and if you’re not moving that fast, you WILL get left behind!!
I LOVE IT!!! I’ll take that challenge NYC, lol
Focusing more on the industry now, the hardest part of it all isn’t how much training you have or even how good you are. The hardest part is even getting seen in the first place. That’s where you’ll see who has the constitution for it, and who will find themselves tending bar and serving tables for years to come. When you fancy yourself an “artist”, you want the whole world to understand your talents and see the beauty you are putting forth, but how can you handle when an old, fat, googley-eyed audition moderator looks at you and says, sorry the casting director has decided since there’s so many people here today that they want to “type” people out; try again next time… but I’ve been waiting for 6 hours!!! (“typing” someone out, means if they’re looking for 6 foot tall blonde guys, they’ll tell anyone who is clearly the opposite of that to go home)… OR, when you just KNOW how good you are, how well can you handle 25 straight times of waiting around to get seen for an audition, get your shot at it, and then never hear a single thing from them… that’s why it’s not easy, not because you weren’t talented enough to do it, but because you have to stop asking yourself, why not me? how come they haven’t called me? I know I’m better than those other people… and repetitiously put forth the product that you have, and immediately forget about it… When they say, to be an actor you have to be crazy, it isn’t because you’re sooo focused on the work that you make it to some next level worldly place… it’s because you have do the saaaame thing every single day, regardless of the outcome, and immediately forget that you did it, and move on to the next thing. I’m a huge football fan, and being a good actor is just like being a good quarterback, you have to have a short memory and be able to get hit, down after down after down, and get up just as confident as you were before; even if you’ve already thrown four interceptions.
So, for all my friends and family who don’t know how professional auditions in NYC work. In a nutshell, there are three tiers; Equity, EMC, and non-union. Equity is figurehead of it all, it’s the highest paying, union backed, most respected professional work to get. So at an audition, if you’re equity, you show up, flash your card and sign up for the audition… easy right?… Not quite… There’s only a certain number of auditions that can be seen in a day, so if you want to be sure to get a spot for an audition, the earlier you show up, the more likely you are to get a shot. Some auditions, no one shows up and you have your pick of a plethora of slots, other times you’ll show up 10 minutes before the auditions start for the day and there won’t be a single slot available; tough luck… now you’re on the stand by list, and will only get seen if someone else misses their audition time. But they’re EQUITY, how dare there not be a slot available for them??? As I said before, it doesn’t matter how talented you are, even getting in to the audition room is your biggest battle.
That’s only tier 1… now, if you’ve got some points towards that magical Equity level, meaning you were non-union and got picked up at a union theatre for a show, but weren’t a lead, so you didn’t automatically get your Equity card; they give you points towards it. You get a certain amount of points, then you get the card, until then you are EMC, Equity Membership Candidate. So, after all of the Equity people have signed up for their slots, they will attempt to squeeze in EMCs in any open spaces. Therefore, if Equity is filled up, they will squeeze in Equity stand-bys, theeen go to the EMC list. Thus as an EMC you have even less of a chance of getting seen, so your ass better be at the top of that EMC list, meaning you need to get to the auditions before they start.
NOW… this is where I currently live… in the dreaded non-union world. AFTER the Equity people, AFTER the EMCs, there is a list for the non-union people. You get last dibs, you’re basically on the Practice Squad. Therefor, in order for you to get seen at a highly sought after audition you need to be at the top of the list. Some people show up to these auditions any where from an 2-3 hours before, to then sit around and wait for hours upon hours with the faint hope that they will eventually be called. At less sought after auditions, you will get seen, but then you definitely need to have your thick skin on because they are seeing you out of the kindness of their heart, not because they give a damn that you’re there. The best days, no lie, are actually the days you get there and they straight up tell you they’re not seeing non-union because then you just leave your headshot and go about your day. But nothing stings more than sitting around for 6-8 hours after showing up 2 hours early only to be told, sorry we didn’t have time to even see you. One day I showed up a half an hour early and there were already 40 people ahead of me, and they had started a line… which was winding down the dusty ass staircase. I looked around at these minions sitting on the dusty stairs and said to myself, absolutely not! I may be non-union, but I see where my spot is in line, and I’m sitting my behind in the waiting room and I’ll hop back into the line when it gets to me.
The next challenge is arguably the hardest one… You’re not just crazy to be an actor because of the things I’ve already mentioned… you literally deal with crazy people all day long, and trust me after a while the odds of YOU turning crazy as well are VERY HIGH.
Every single day, you are constantly attempting to decipher reality from fiction. Not in the lines you’re saying or the words you’re singing, but from the people you are performing with and the people you are performing for… I am happier than all hell that I did something else with my life before getting into this because I see through the smoke, mirrors and BS of the entertainment industry. NO ONE wants to tell anyone else how they “feel” in real life… feelings… the thing you’re taught is the MOST IMPORTANT key to being a great actor, how you display your feelings in your work… Yet I watch everyday as people side step each other and tip toe around, with a smile on their face and malice in their heart.
From the casting director point of view… they will rarely ever tell you how they feel, unless you are awesome. If you’re thinking in your life, I just want the casting director or the agents to tell me what I’m doing wrong; then you need to pack it up and ship out. That’s what CLASS is for, to find your voice, to find your niche, to figure out your strengths and weaknesses… but people get caught up in wanting immediate feedback on site, not realizing the work that goes into being confident. That’s definitely the number one thing I’ve seen people just racking their brains about. I just sit back and watch and hope they have some life experience in another job because worrying for more than half an hour about what a casting director thought about your performance will drive you nuts after your 50th audition.
“You never want to burn bridges.” – every actor has been told or heard this statement in their lifetime, and it’s just a general statement in all professional industries. The problem is… people don’t actually understand it’s meaning. Don’t burn bridges means, if you don’t like one of your colleagues, you don’t run across the desk and punch them in the face, spit on them, and say “Yo mama’s so ugly…” – why because they might be your boss someday, or they might want to cast you in a show and all they will remember is the black eye you gave them and the spit that went into their nose.
WHAT IT DOES NOT MEAN – is to never tell someone how you feel about them, to never criticize someone for fear that they will then criticize you to everyone else, or to allow someone to bother you and not voice yourself because you think it’ll make you look bad. This is what turns someone crazy.
A buddy of mine is a musical director… told a singer he was working with, you’re not hitting the notes, so I want to switch you to a lower chorus part. He was confronted later by someone else, being told “that was really mean what you just did”…… It is your right as a person, to let people know how you feel. He’s the director of the music, the kid wasn’t hitting the note, he told him to switch parts… can someone tell me how that is wrong?… because he didn’t sugarcoat it and make the kid feel good about not being able to sing the part… I call BS!!!… (as much as I call BS on little kids getting 11th place ribbons and such. You can feel how you want about it, but I would guarantee the person who told my friend he was “mean” for being honest, has a “science fair participant” ribbon and a 8th place Pinewood derby trophy.)
At an audition, people are hanging around, you see different people getting up to go talk to each other. Someone will leave and you’ll hear, “man, I hate when that kid comes over and talks to me. He creeped me out in a show I did with him, and I wish he would just leave me alone.”… my response, “have you ever told him that he bothered you?”… “um… oh, nah nah nah, I feel like that would be mean.”…. WHAT!… That is a crazy person’s idea of solving a problem… I don’t want this guy near me because he creeps me out, but rather than either tell him or closing myself off from communicating with him; I think I’ll sit with him, smile, and ask how his day was… seeing that interaction and hearing the person’s response afterward damn near made me feel crazy hahaha
I am the king of the smile, the handshake/hug, a comment or two, and then walking away. I’ve rarely ever felt badgered or bothered by someone, because when I don’t want them around, I make sure they aren’t. Though I may not need to say, “hey, leave me alone!” every time (because it’s true, you can tell someone to leave you alone, and they will completely ignore you) I ensure with my body language and lack of desire to communicate with them, how I feel. No need for sugarcoating, and not burning a bridge… but then the most important part is, you have to let it go!… So what if the person tells their friend that you ignored them or told them you don’t like them, so what?? You didn’t do anything to harm them, so in the end the world is at peace, aaand when you do it that way there isn’t any unspoken animosity. Meaning, that in the future if this person was to be your boss, they just might remember that you’re both a hard worker, good actor, and a person who doesn’t just tell everyone what they want to hear… sure sounds like someone I’d hire.
I said all of this to say, when you hear about a friend or like a family member’s child, etc. who goes out to try and make it as an actor – Be as supportive as you can be and pray for them. This IS NOT any easy job, if you’re not strong it will wear you down to the nub, if you have any insecurities – they will be exploited by everyone, and if you don’t figure out very fast how determined you need to be, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle forever.
As for me and updating you all with everything that’s happening… I got signed by The Mine agency this past week and couldn’t be happier about it. I have been mailing and emailing them since April and I finally got an interview and boom, I’m in. This is great regarding the audition scene I was talking about earlier, because they help by setting me up with an appointment, so I don’t have to go in and sit around all day every time I want to audition, just some times from now on. Rehearsals for the show Lombardi that I’m doing in Smithtown, NY are up and running and shows will be from Sept. 8 – 30. I’m so happy to be back on stage I can’t even express it, aaaand the same person, Tommy Kail, directed both In The Heights and Lombardi on Broadway… maybe I’ll get to do a show with him one of these days, instead of after he’s already made it famous. The little music side project I mentioned like a month ago has taken forever because I’m trying to get people together for it, but I’m trying to have that done by the first week of Sept… aaand I finished another draft of the musical I’m writing, met a person I would like to start working on choreography with and who knows, in the next year, this doggone side project/dream I’ve had since high school might actually make it on a tiny stage somewhere!!!… Staying motivated, determined, and focused are the only things that ensure success. Gonna keep bustin my butt and breaking legs!!!