Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Laura Loves NY kicks off Season 2 with Tanya Perez in Wonderland

I can't believe we're in the middle of January 2019 already! Zoom!

At the end of last year, I interviewed actress-writer-director Tanya Perez, whom I met via Bonnie Gillespie's Self Management for Actors (The NY Ninjas). Tanya's a trailblazer, and when I met her, she'd already been on hit shows like Orange Is the New Black, Marvel's Jessica Jones, Law and Order and Blue Bloods. And last year she started making her own movies.



She shared the screenplay for Veronica with me earlier in the year, so I had an idea of what the film was about, and it was exciting to see how the film transformed on film! Such an incredible story about a woman trying to find a sense of identity.

All year we were trying to get together to film our interview for my web series, Laura Loves NY, but we've both been so busy! It took all year to make it happen, but it was well worth the wait. We sang and danced our way through Central Park on our way to the Alice In Wonderland statue which had special meaning for us both. Such a playful, wonderful day!

It was a joy to edit this piece to kick off Season 2 of my show. What a great way to start the New Year!

Monday, December 17, 2018

The 1st Anniversary of Laura Loves NY

This has been a year of good growth! 3 readings of new musicals bound for Broadway, 3 rich and wonderful characters! 2 sketch comedies with hilarious casts, and then... the creation of my own web series, Laura Loves NY.


I can't believe I started my web series a year ago! I've been so deep into editing my last 3 episodes that I didn't quite realize a year had passed until people on LinkedIn started sending me congratulations. Astounding!

How did it all happen? My coach, Bonnie Gillespie, is a big proponent of creating your own content, and while I've been tinkering with some scripted ideas, Laura Loves NY was born out of my love for sharing New York with others. I met actress-producer Laura Dowling Shea through Bonnie's 100 Day Get In Gear for the Next Tier program, and Laura knew I was trying to figure out film, so she told me about Ela Thier's 6 day film challenge, and we teamed up for a piece. Working with imovie's editing tool and encouraged by Ela's prompts, my eyes opened even more to the sights and sounds of the city. Then I got curious about other people and what they love about the city, so I started booking interviews.

Liz Days was my first guest, and I'm actually re-editing our interview, because I've learned so much since last December! So be on the lookout for a Liz and Laura upgrade! Coming soon! :)

Then Erin Zapcic joined me this Spring before heading to Hollywood. She'd just done a photoshoot with Vogue as the Queen of Medieval Times!


 
 

Then Deb Unger from Gotham showed me around Fort Tryon Park!



I ended up in Hogsmeade with my former Queen from the PA Ren Faire, Kacey Camp. 



 

And that caught the eye of my producer, Fern Lim, for the upcoming web series, Human Telegraphs, who won tickets to Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, so she took me along with her, and I interviewed her too!



I had no idea my passion for filming, editing and talking to other artists would open my world so much! And yet somehow I was asked to interview filmmaker Livi Zheng at the New York premiere of her documentary, Bali Beats of Paradise! 




And I have to give a nod to my former Off Broadway co-star, John Di Domenico, who let me in on his process of becoming a top Trump impersonator and then let me interview him in character!

 


It's been an incredible year, and I'm editing 3 more episodes to release before the year is out, so I better get back to work!

Pop on by YouTube and let me know which episodes you like!


Big thanks to Laura Dowling Shea for being a guiding light!

 


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Bonnie Gillespie

When I moved to New York, like any actor, I took a bunch of temp jobs, which ranged from highly stressful to total boredom. Someone who got me through the tedium of those desk jobs was a casting director from LA named Bonnie Gillespie. She wrote for Backstage and Actors Access, and her down-home vibe combined with a crystal clear knowledge of show biz plus her generous spirit in helping actors fine-tune their tools totally won me over.
Fast forward to a few years ago when I met actress Suzanne Smart who's been on Daredevil, Madoff, and Iron Fist. We were chatting at a casting director workshop, and she told me that Bonnie makes biannual trips to New York to teach the basics of her book, "Self-Management for Actors." So when Bonnie visited next, I was in her class, and it was FANTASTIC!

(Masterclass with Bonnie Gillespie and some NY Ninjas)

I don't want to give away her process. Like they say for the Harry Potter movies/play #keepthesecrets. All I can say is I went in with my headshot and resume, and walked out with a better understanding of how I'm seen as an actor - one paper and in person - and much more! One of the gals in class, Lisa Budwig, created a Facebook forum where we NY ninjas could meet, and from there, I met this entire community of creative artists.

I began coaching with Bonnie, because I wanted to dive deeper. Then I met actress-producer Laura Dowling Shea through Bonnie's Get in Gear for the Next Tier, and Laura gave me a big nudge to start filming my own work, and she connected me to Ela Thier who helped me with some of the "how's" of filmmaking.



Bonnie always says, "Flip out your phone and just DO IT" with regards to self-taping auditions, so I figured, "Let's put on a show!"

I thought about my love for New York, and how I have friends and family who can't get here easily, so I created my web series, Laura Loves NY, as a way of sharing my love of the city with others. An incredibly cool bonus is that I've been able to interview other artists who love this city as much as I do. I always ask them their favorite place in the city, and we usually film there.

Last month, Bonnie was in the city, and I had the immense honor of having her on my show. Dive into the deliciousness!




Monday, November 19, 2018

Laura Loves Bali: Beats of Paradise

One of the things I love about New York is that it's a melting pot of cultures and film festivals. :) So when I was asked to interview director Livi Zheng at the New York premiere for her beautiful documentary, Bali: Beats of Paradise, I was SO psyched!


The film is GORGEOUS! It's about a Balinese performer-dancer-musician, Nyoman Wenten, who teaches gamelan in Southern CA where I grew up! Talk about a wild connection.
The film also shows how Wenten collaborated with Grammy Award winner, Judith Hill, to bring Balinese music and dance into the modern world.


Judith Hill is a fabulous singer-songwriter in her own right, and their collaboration is delicious!

I was fortunate to interview Judith at the New York Premiere as well, and she shared some behind-the-scenes stories on learning the Balinese dance for her music video, Queen of the Hill.

I also met American composer Jody Diamond who's been teaching gamelan and arranging for this ensemble of instruments and artists for almost 50 years! She had awesome stories about Lou Harrison whom she worked with in Joshua Tree, and she told me how the instruments "found" her when she was a college student, and that a chance encounter where the instrument "played her" became a lifelong profession.

Catch all this gorgeousness in my web series, Laura Loves NY:


Bali: Beats of Paradise is currently playing in theatres in New York and LA, and I hope you'll treat yourself to this beautiful film! It'll leave you breathlessly inspired!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Haunted by a Song

Have you ever been haunted by a song?

When I met Russell Kohlmann in the West Village to film the Pride episode of my web series, Laura Loves NY, we walked into an area of Christopher Park where 2 musicians were playing. And Russell said, "This is why Laura Loves NY because you can just stumble upon a random performance in the middle of the day."




Turns out the song was Riptide by Vance Joy, and it is delicious!

 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

A Walk Through Fort Tryon Park with Deborah Unger

Earlier this year, actress Deborah Unger joined me on my web series, Laura Loves NY, and she showed me one of her favorite spots in the city: Fort Tryon Park.



It is an absolutely LUSH experience, and I can't wait to go back! It's at the tip-top of Manhattan, but it doesn't take long to get there. The subway got me there  - from the West 30s to 190th Street - in a half hour!

Interestingly enough, after my walk in the park with Deb, I've seen signs everywhere about how it was 242 years ago that the British occupied Manhattan. They took over in September 1776, and as Deb remarks in the video, General George Washington and his troops initially LOST to the British! Wow!

I'm thankful to all those who fought -and continue to fight - for freedom.

As Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote, "History is happening in Manhattan, and we just happen to be in the greatest city in the world! In the greatest city in the world!"


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The people who helped me get through 9-11

Getting ready for work this morning, I flashed back to 17 years ago, wondering if I was doing the same thing... getting ready for work, heading out into the big city to take on the day.

We can get stuck in routines, you know? So today, I look back and thank the people who helped me get through that day:

Rodney Newby, my boss at Sony, had the wherewithal and presence of mind to send us all home when it had been confirmed this was a terrorist attack. Rodney continues to be a pillar of strength and compassion and innovation. I am so thankful for his friendship.


My husband, Rob. Getting home to him meant everything to me. It still does.


Maryanne Schwartz, our friend from the PA Renaissance Faire, with her sister, Tina Sams, was the first one to call us on our landline. Thank goodness we had one because all cellphone service was dead. Hearing her friendly voice was a soothing balm, and our friendship continues to be a beacon of hope and tenacity.


Then there were more calls from family and friends. My mom. My brother. Rob's family.


My Dad was stuck in Hawaii but we connected days later.

Just knowing we were able to check in with each other and make sure everyone was ok was a blessing that not everyone had that day.

Thinking of everyone who was affected by this tragedy.

We are all in this together and have to look out for each other.