Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cosi cosi

Chad and I are taking Italian language classes for our upcoming trip to Rome, Florence and the Amalfi Coast. I'm very enthusiastic in trying to say things correctly in Italian, but I keep mixing in Spanish. Whoops. I do the homework each week for both (cheater!) Chad and I, yet Chad speaks Italian much better than I do. Not to sound like sour grapes, but Chad was born in Naples, Italy (navy brat) and spoke some of his first baby babble words in Italian. I think he has a distinct advantage.

So, um, do you like... stuff?

Today's blog title is a reference to a classic line from an episode of The Simpsons in which Lisa makes friends with some cool kids while on vacation. Chad and I say this line when we want to talk to each other, but don't know quite what to say. I've been feeling less than inspired to share info lately, but want to say hi. So, um, do you (gentle readers) like... stuff?

I just got home from my weekly acting workshop. The first week, I did well in my performance as a polygamist cult wife (one of three) who goes a little overboard with eBay purchasing. My instructor commented that I was off to a great start. Yay! Last week, I seamlessly went from smiling, joking trophy-wife to crying, shaking, crazy-with-grief-wife in my scene. My instructor commented that I knocked it out of the park and should be proud of my work. All the other actor-type-people wanted to be my best friend. Wooo-hooo! This week, I was supposed to play a faith-healer in a dramatic scene where I absorb a boy's cerebral palsy into my own body and heal him. The stage directions included liberal use of the word "convulsing". Ewww. I did not want to convulse on stage. Nope. My performance was not good. My instructor said, "Jennnnnn..." and shook his head. Boooo...

Lots of people I went to high school with have gone on to great things in the entertainment industry. Alan Tudyk has a thriving career acting in films. T.J. Thyne has been in films, commercials and now stars on the TV series Bones. Jeremy Schwartz has been in a few TV shows, some commercials and is now the announcer voice of Comedy Central.
Carl Greenblatt has voiced, written and animated cartoons such as SpongeBob Squarepants and is the main creator of Chowder on the Cartoon Network. These talented, fun people were once my peers. I am simultaneously inspired by, and completely demoralized by, their great national successes in comparison to my very modest local work. I'm sad that I waited this late in life to start my acting career in earnest.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Batgirl for Pay

We've all done things we're not terribly proud of to earn some money. Yesterday, I spent two hours dressed up as Batgirl walking up and down a four block area of 6th Street. Get your mind out of the gutter as I explain... I was one of the hired actors for an urban scavenger hunt called Go Game. Teams of contestants are set lose with a mobile phone tricked-out with GPS, email and text capabilities. They are also given a little lunchbox containing a digital camera and a few tools to help them with their scavenger hunt. Dressed as Batgirl, I was one of the people that contestants had to find. Their mission was to stage a tabloid photo with Batgirl caught doing unsuperhero-like activities. The teams were pretty creative and had me posing as a purse-snatcher, a bike thief, a mugger at an ATM, boozing it up at the shot bar (it was just cranberry juice!), getting caught in a (fake) surprise kiss, etc...

The game was lots of fun and the contestants were super-nice. The weird part of the day was waiting for teams to find me. Passing cars honked at me. Everyone who passed me on foot said, "hi Batgirl," or "hi Batwoman". Only a few people asked me why I was in costume. Several tourists (one couple all the way from Canada) took photos with me. Everyone felt like they could approach me and talk to me, which was kind of weird and different for me. My husband sums it up well, that I was "flying my freak flag" and thus a magnet for comments and interaction. No one (really, not one person) said anything rude to me.

Not that I will parade solo up and down 6th Street in racy costumes on a regular basis, but there are worse ways to earn paycheck.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Schmoozing Won't Land the Role

When asked for advice on how to make it in showbiz, Steve Martin likes to reply, "Be undeniably great."

I was very fortunate to attend a Q&A session with four of Austin's most prominent casting directors on Monday evening. When I first arrived, I felt intimidated as fellow-actors introduced themselves and asked which talent agent represents me. I sheepishly stammered that up to this point I've had no trouble booking my own work, thus no need for an agent. Then I became absolutely invisible to each one of those people as I watched them scan the auditorium for someone else to schmooze with, someone important, someone with one of the famous agents. I started to think that the evening was going to be a complete waste of my time, and would not yield anything useful.

Then the casting directors started their panel discussion. Every instinct I've ever had about professional acting was confirmed. These casting directors do NOT want gifts, birthday cards, holiday greetings or to be stalked. They want actors to show up on time to auditions, prepared with script pages, headshots (that actually look like you) and résumés in hand. They want actors to conduct themselves in a professional manner. They told us that if you're rude to the receptionist, that's points off, because no one wants to cast a diva. One casting director treated us to an anecdote about a certain producer who camps out in the waiting room incognito and observes how people conduct themselves.

Yes! Yay! Hooray! I'm so happy to hear all of this! I am professional, punctual, polite and prepared. I have zero interest in schmoozing or stalking.

I'm sending packets out to three talent agents this week to seek representation. While I don't need an agent for theatre/stage work anymore, I do need an agent if I ever hope to work in TV, films or commercials. Send happy thoughts my way.