Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I can't remember where I found this - it might have been posted on Actorsite.com - but in any case, it's one of my favorite inspirational pieces. Hope you enjoy it!

In 1944 the director of the Blue Book Modeling Agency in Hollywood told a young girl who wanted to become a model and an actress, "You'd better learn secretarial work or else get married. You don't have 'the look' or talent for this business."

The young girl's name was Norma Jean Baker.

 She went on to become Marilyn Monroe.

In 1954, the manager of the Grand Ole Opry fired a young singer after one performance. He told him, "You ain't goin' nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin' a truck."

 The young man stayed at it and became the most popular singer (and actor) in America. His name was Elvis Presley.

In 1962, four terrified young musicians played their first record audition for the executives of Decca Records. The execs were not impressed by these young men who gave a "disappointing audition" and "were not a wonderful band musically."

The lads were turned away and told, "Guitar groups are on the way out."

The four lads from Liverpool went on to become The Beatles.

These stories show that through "failure" the soul is strengthened, the vision cleared, the ambition inspired and success finally achieved.

The truth is that you will gain strength, will-power, experience and confidence every time you look "failure" in the face and continue on.

A winner is not the one who never fails, but the one who NEVER QUITS.

(For more inspiration, check out the Treehouse)

Friday, July 23, 2010

To Those Who Teach

I've been taking an acting class called Committed Impulse, and it has totally put my head in such a wildly wonderful spin. It's like when you're a kid and you stand on your head to get a different perspective, or you look through a kaleidoscope. You see things in a different way...

This class has made me aware of acting habits - good and bad, things that work and things that need to be retooled. I've become especially aware of this as I've been going on a lot of auditions lately, because that's where all this stuff comes into play. It's like finding more pieces of a puzzle, and I feel like things are coming together in an exciting and unexpected way.

I just feel more open to the ride which is seriously cool.

And it's made me think about all the teachers throughout my life.

I was talking about this with my brother a few weeks ago, and we both agreed that there are things a teacher will convey to you that may or may not take hold for weeks, months, and even years later. But the seed has been planted.

True, some of those seeds may not really work for you and need to be weeded out, but I think, with anything, you find what works for you.

And with that, I'd like to give kudos to my teachers, from my parents and friends to my grade school teachers like Mrs. Borden in kindergarten and Mrs. Cloyd in Jr. High who saw my potential as a writer and performer and helped me break through all sorts of barriers. Mrs. Cloyd and I are still friends to this day.

 Wynne Hammond was my first voice coach, and she helped me prep for my first professional gig in "Annie" at San Bernadino CLO. She was an incredible lady who had been one of the singers for The Munchkins for the MGM film "The Wizard of Oz." Her stories about Old Hollywood were amazing!

Krista Elhai, my high school drama teacher, was awesome for her wild-card casting. Dennis Anderson also broke the mold by casting me as a tiny Audrey to a super tall Seymour for "Little Shop of Horrors." They both gave me such unique opportunities to hone my craft. 

Carol Fox Prescott
in New York taught me about "acting on the breath and seeking the joy of your own experience." Chas Elliott, a brilliant opera singer, helped me increase my vocal range and open my mind to music I didn't even know about. Thanks, Chas!

VP Boyle's musical theatre and pop rock workshops absolutely rocked my world and sent me soaring! VP is still a great source of inspiration.

Karen Kohlhaas' work at the Atlantic Acting School is absolutely revolutionary! Her monologue and cold reading classes got me out of a rut and reignited my excitement to keep reading plays.

It's something I loved to do as a kid - just hunker down in the theatre section of my local library and dive into a play. I've been doing a lot of that this past year with absolute revelry! Living next to the Lincoln Center Library of the Performing Arts helps immensely!

It was at the Atlantic Acting School that I heard about Josh Pais' Committed Impulse Actor Training, and I am so glad I started taking his class. Such an incredible workout!

Kudos also to my brother, Sean, who is a drummer, and used to teach drumset to everyone from little kids to doctors. His counsel on the artistry of rock and roll and modern art has been invaluable!

We share the wild rollercoaster ride of art, and it's a comfort to do that together!

I am also so thankful for my husband, Rob, who is a master comedian and has helped me with every comic role I've ever done.

And my friend, Tina Sams, helps me stay motivated about the business side of show business.  Thank you, Tina!

There are so many incredible teachers in our lives, people who appear just when you seem to need them. I've been working with a round-table forum of musical theatre folks lately, and we have a blast helping each other fine-tune our audition material. We all have our strengths and insights to help each other out.

I look forward to learning every day and sharing what I've learned along the way!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Practice and Play

I've had a blast with auditions this week, and a lot of it comes down to preparation, practice, and play.

Lastly, there's perseverance, because if you don't stay in the game, how can you play to win it?

Ironically, I hear this all the time at auditions: people waffling, should they or shouldn't they? It's like going to a swimming pool but not going in the water. I say, Dive in!

I know we're all trying to work things out, but it's so fascinating to me, the sense of uncertainty. There was a lovely young actress who was doing her first Equity Principal Audition on Monday, and she asked me, "Do they ever really cast from these things?" You wouldn't believe how common that question is, but I told her, Yes, I have been cast from EPAs and open calls. Showing up is half the battle!

It makes me think of something one of my acting teachers, Karen Kohlhaas, says about the uncontrolled aspects of auditions. You can't control if the show/role is already cast, or whether or not they're required to hold the audition in the first place. That may just be a rumor... But if you don't show up, you'll never know! And you'll never get the chance to try out your material in front of casting directors if you don't give it a try.

If you don't go, you don't grow!

How can you learn if you don't go through the actual audition process? Even A-list actors say how nerve-wracking the audition process can be. It's an entirely different game from simply performing. Sure, you go into the room to perform your piece, but you're also there to meet the people in the room and interact with the folks who are trying to put a project together. It's a fascinating process, and I'm loving it more and more each day.

As Karen says, "The steps you take into an audition room are the next steps towards making your dreams come true."

Why not enjoy it?:)

Take a deep breath and go for it! You may surprise the heck out of everyone, including yourself!

(kudos to the All American Girls Baseball League and all the players who stay in the game!)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dreams and a Movie

I dreamt last night that I was Queen Elizabeth I of Renaissance England, which was pretty cool considering I played the queen for an event quite a few years ago.

The Queen was known to go "on progress," to travel about her country and see her people. An acting company I worked for incorporated this into corporate feasts whereupon the Queen would meet local companies. It was a fun job, and I took great delight in being the queen.

I was likened to Bette Davis, swagger and all! :)

In last night's dream, I felt incredibly strong as the Queen, and ironically, I was "on progress," which seems like a good sign.

Speaking of dreams, I just got back from filming a scene for Marty's Magnificent Day-Glo Dreamathon. The cast is mainly from Hemet, CA, and the director is a student at UC San Jose. The film is based on the concept album by Hippie Cream, and the band plays a key role in the film.

I play Marty's Mom in one of the dream sequences, and it was such a blast to join the cast and crew. They'd been filming for a few weeks, and their energy was still wonderfully fun and focused. Great combo!

I also got to hang out with my brother (above), who's the drummer for Hippie Cream. Everyone was simply so cool. It was one of the best film shoots I've been on.

A good time was definitely had by all!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Ready to ROCK!

With summer at full sizzle, I've found myself catching up on some summer movies.

Like Anchorman.

I'd only seen snippets of it before and never really "got" it until I saw the film in its entirety. And believe me, Ron Burgundy and the Channel 4 News Team (brilliantly played by Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, and David Koechner) need to be seen in their entirety! ;) They charmed the pants off me and Christina Applegate! ;)

Then my husband and I caught Taking Woodstock on Cinemax and absolutely LOVED it!

I've always been a fan of director Ang Lee, and I felt he captured the look and feel of that era beautifully!

The cast was phenomenal! Anything with Eugene Levy, Imelda Staunton, and Liev Schriber is pretty delicious in my book!

I swear, Liev Schriber is like a young Orson Welles. He just raises the talent bar with everything he does! Such an inspiration! His cross-dressing ex-marine named "Vilma" in Taking Woodstock is pretty mind-blowing.

And newer stars like Demetri Martin, Jonathan Groff, Mamie Gummer, Emile Hirsch and Kelli Garner (whom I loved in Lars and the Real Girl) added such vibrant beauty to the piece.

Now I'm getting ready to jump into my own psychedelic film! My brother drums for the band Hippie Cream, and they have been collaborating with young filmmaker, Daniel Philip Maggio, for the past year on an independent feature film called Marty's Magnificent Day-Glo Dream-a-thon.

Hippie Cream wrote the concept album, and the film is about a young man who undertakes risky dream therapy to save his grandfather's life. I play Marty's Mom in his first dream about his childhood, and I'm psyched to jump into her shoes because she is the perfect, protective, party-throwing mama! :)

They've been in production for a few weeks, and I join the cast and crew this weekend. Can't wait!

Monday, July 05, 2010

The Gift of Friendship

Something I've always found to be a fantastic bonus about being an actor is that the friends you make during a show are often friends for life.

One of my first gigs out of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy was for the Shakespearean improv troupe for the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire.

I was in CA playing Rita in Educating Rita when I heard about the auditions for the Faire, and I was intrigued. Two of the directors were from LA, and it sounded like great fun, so I went and performed my Shakespeare monologue for them. Then I did a cartwheel, which I think landed me the job since one of the East Coast directors, Benny Reehl, was creating a comedy tumbling show for the Faire.

When I arrived in PA, I was greeted by a lovely actress named Kacey Camp, who would be playing Queen Elizabeth herself!

Kacey was from New York, and she was an exceptionally lovely person and talented actress. She embodied the Queen completely!

She even took me under her wing and gave my character, the lowly thief, some lady-in-waiting lessons. Talk about a Renaissance Reform Program!

When the Faire season ended, I stayed on for the other shows, Poe Evermore and a Dickens' Christmas. Kacey returned to NY, and my husband and I moved there a year later.

Over the years, our friendship has definitely been a buoy for both of us. Kacey moved to LA and has been doing acting work there, and I'm making strides in the NY theatre scene.

Kacey came back to Manhattan for a visit last week, and I tell ya, it was like no time had passed at all. We picked up right where we left off.

It's lovely how some friendships continue to grow no matter what!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom!

I love you! Thank you for sharing so many adventures with me, and thank you for always encouraging me to Live Out Loud each day! Here's to making our dreams come true!