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Adventures in Actorlife!

A special segment from our newsletter- each week a special guest tells us a snippet from their life as an actor 

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Kathryn Milewski is an award-winning actress and blogger based in New Jersey. This year, she served on the screening committee for the Nantucket Film Festival and previously judged submissions for HollyShorts. You can find more of her funny stories on vocal.media and her dope music reviews on Live365.com! 

Spider Man Manifestation

Having just seen Spider-Man: Homecoming at my local New Jersey AMC, I walked out of the theater and immediately thought to myself – “I’m going to be in the next one.”

Now, I had no idea how I was going to do it. I had zero connections to Marvel and didn’t have any representation that could pitch me to higher-up casting directors. But I’ve always been a huge Spider-Man nerd ever since childhood, and even though I knew my goal seemed impossible, I figured I’d find a way to do it. This was before the concept of manifestation became trendy, by the way.

 

Time passes and I’m living in a dorm on the Lower East Side. It’s my sophomore year at Marymount Manhattan College, and on Instagram one day, I see an ad. “Casting for Spider Man: Far From Home Supporting Roles! Open Call at our Agency in Times Square!” Oh boy, my lucky day! I go to this so-called “open call” and it’s this large loft space with walls so white, it was like someone bleached them to a crisp. After sitting in a waiting room with several people and learning there were more than one “open calls,” we were led to this huge conference room where this robotic woman gave us a lecture about why we should pay money to join her company’s so-called “agency.” Total scam. I went home defeated, figuring my chances of being in the next Spider Man flick were lower than getting bitten by a radioactive spider.

 

Two weeks later, there’s an extra gig on Actors Access called “Bosco.” The film was looking for teens and young adults to play high school students. The rate of pay for this supposedly Non-Union film seemed suspiciously high, but I figured what the heck, I’m a poor college kid, and applied. The next week, I found out from a classmate who frequently worked as an extra that “Bosco” was actually the production codename for Spider Man: Far From Home. I prayed hard to the good lord that night and the next day, I got a CMail message. I was in.

 

This is where the story gets wild. The night before I was called to set, I received an email saying I was in the “Marylou” group. I asked my classmate what that meant, since he was also going to work the same day as I, but he had no idea. The next morning, I’m walking to set – that gorgeous Franklin K Lane High School you see in the newer Spiderman movies – and suddenly, I get a call.

“I found out what ‘Marylou’ means!” my friend shouts over the phone, “they’re filming both Far From Home and Avengers: Endgame today! ‘Marylou’ is Avengers! You’re in Avengers!!!”

 

To make a long story short…y’know that scene in Endgame where Peter Parker and Ned are hugging in the school hallway after all the events in the film have transpired? Look to the left of Tom Holland’s head during his close-up and you can see a blurry version of me enthusiastically putting my arm over another kid as we walk to our imaginary homerooms. That day was also the first time I ever smoked weed (some NYU kid let me take a hit from his vape pen while we were in holding), the first job where I got a SAG waiver, and there was one point during shooting I looked to my right and Tom Holland was literally standing right next to me. (Yes, his face is just as gorgeous IRL. I think our shoulders touched. So dreamy.) The experience felt unreal, like being in a comic book!

Founder of Demo Reels For Actors and the “For Actors” Newsletter!

Multi-hyphenate Actor, Director, and Editor

Community

I started Adventures in Actorlife, and this newsletter, for several reasons: To showcase the work of actors in our community, to relay experiences that make us feel less alone in this business and hopefully put smiles on faces, and of course to lift the community up as a whole and provide resources to help each other succeed in this crazy business that we have chosen to work in!

This week I decided to write the article myself (for the first time) because I had an experience this weekend that exemplifies all of those qualities, and I wanted to share with you on a personal level.

This weekend I went to the third annual New Jersey Webfest (Started in 2018, and skipping 2020) I have attended this festival every year since its inception, representing 8 series that I have worked on, from acting to directing to editing… all of which have been nominated for awards and most of which have won at least once. 

So now you are probably thinking, “OK Jess, nice (not so humble) brag!”

Well yes, I am extremely proud of these accomplishments- but that is not why I wanted to write this article today. This is the story of community. We talk a lot about networking, and honestly, it is a topic that personally makes me cringe… a necessary evil that I try to muster up the strength to engage in. That is because it can feel so superficial and fake. But, it doesn’t have to! The web series community is an extremely inclusive, supportive, non-competitive community, and I think that all of us in the entertainment industry can look up to this as an example of “a rising tide lifts all boats.” So many of the shows that I have brought to NJ Webfest, and other webfests around the world, were shows that I was given the opportunity to work on because of meeting the other creators at festivals. I admired their work, and they admired mine, which eventually led to the birth of new projects, or new opportunities to collaborate. There are also shows now that are doing crossover episodes with people they have met at the festivals, thus introducing the shows to each other’s audience. There is so much collaboration happening because people are choosing to create with people whose work they admire, and all the work ends up being elevated because of this. Look, these aren’t the days of 3 networks and a few studios anymore! There is room for all good work, and therefore you are only harming yourself and your community when you choose to tear someone down, belittle them, or just ignore them, rather than lifting them up!

So I would like to encourage everyone reading this, on an individual level, and as a community, to reach out to those whose work you enjoy and just tell them that you appreciate it.  Offer this sincere praise without expectation of reciprocation, and without any ulterior motives.  Because if we support each other, then we are all stronger… and a rising tide lifts all boats.

Isabelle Boulton is a Swiss-Canadian actress, writer and producer. Formerly based in NYC, she is currently getting to know the Toronto/Montreal markets and enjoying virtual projects and collaborations.

Candid Communication with Reps

“They’re looking for a Christina Hendricks type. You’re pretty tall and your hair is reddish, right?” “Uh, yeah!” I responded nervously, not wanting to upset my new (and first) commercial agent. I wouldn’t dream of turning down an audition, would I?

 

Spoiler alert: I’m not a Christina Hendricks type. Not even remotely. 

 

Of course, it can happen that a client, producer and casting director aren’t sure what they’re looking for until they see it. And there are definitely also opportunities to cast “outside the box” – unexpected casting choices can lead to fun discoveries, or new perspectives. But in certain cases, a specific story needs to be communicated and something about the actor’s type is necessary to tell that story. So, for instance, you wouldn’t be telling the same story if the actress didn’t have Christina Hendrick’s particular brand of sensuality and sass. And in this case, auditioning knowing that you don’t bring in something that’s important to the story just feels disrespectful to the casting director’s time.  

 

This is not a lesson about type. Although I had graduated fairly recently when this took place and I’ve since deepened my understanding of my type, I already understood enough to know I was probably not going to be a good fit for this particular casting. This is a lesson about what I wish wee-baby-Isabelle-who-was-just-starting-out-in-the-industry understood about what to look for in reps – a common understanding of where I fit/what we were selling and open communication.

 

Hearing “Great work, but we really do need someone with such-and-such physical characteristics” became a regular occurrence with this rep. As did sitting in a waiting room feeling like I was in a game of “one of these things is not like the others.”

 

I’d like to give that agent the benefit of the doubt and think that his intention had merely been to get me in the doors of certain casting offices, so that I could book those rooms and be invited back to audition for roles for which I was a better fit. But feeling that he didn’t understand where I fit and had that proverbial “throw spaghetti at the wall” approach to his submissions made me realize that this agency was not a good fit for me. Since then, I’ve been an advocate for actors approaching their relationships with their reps as a true partnership, inviting conversations about type and strategy. Even if that means having a tough conversation clarifying where they fit, or turning down a particular audition.

Award winning actor based on the East coast, Jency has her Masters in Education, teaches yoga, and now studies puppeteering with her daughter. She is also the host of the iHeart Radio podcast “lights, camera, rolling…MOM!” a show for moms, by a mom, with stories from moms in the entertainment industry.

THERE’S NO RIGHT WAY

It was 12:00 in the morning and an alarm goes off on my phone. I jumped out of bed and scurry downstairs, grab some water, go sit on the couch, and fling open my computer. When that alarm went off, it meant something big was about to take place. I scrolled through my computer, anxiously looking for something specific and there it was – that shining moment that every actor mom lives for – the feeding schedule of their newborn!

That alarm was my next feeding schedule for my daughter and for some, if you aren’t on schedule, the whole day gets thrown off. But it’s those little moments of being a mother (or parent) that make you realize that you bring a different mindset to your professional career as an actor. As a parent, you understand that there isn’t “one way” to raise a child. Sometimes what works for others doesn’t work for you and what works for you, doesn’t work for others. Some parents feed 100% vegan and organic while others slap a hotdog and french-fries down for dinner.

You realize that just as in parenting, there isn’t one specific way to have a career in this industry. What works for some, might not work for you and what works for you, might not work for some. Some are able to have studied for years and have one co-star, others can sign with an agency with no credits and book a series regular within a few weeks. There isn’t a textbook way to have a career in our industry. Our paths to where we are going are all different. As parents, there isn’t one way to be a parent. As a professional, there isn’t one way to be successful. Each one of us has an alarm that goes off at some point in our lives and careers, all at different times; and that’s something to be celebrated

Kathryn Milewski is an award-winning actress and blogger based in New Jersey. This year, she served on the screening committee for the Nantucket Film Festival and previously judged submissions for HollyShorts. You can find more of her funny stories on vocal.media and her dope music reviews on Live365.com! 

The Girl In the Green Sweatshirt

Sometimes the simple act of saying you’re an actor can get you into the craziest – and coolest – of places. For me, that happened during the New York Film Festival premiere of Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite.

It was the first time I had ever been to a film festival, so like a total clueless newbie, I came in a chunky green sweatshirt and sweatpants I used for pajamas while everyone else around me was dressed in tuxedos and fancy dresses. Because I didn’t have a ticket to the premiere, I stood on the standby line with a bunch of other unlucky attendees. It was getting close to showtime, so I assumed I wasn’t going to make it, until…

“Is anyone here alone?” said a beautiful blonde woman who must have been in her 30’s or 40’s. She had an English accent, and there was this elegant, confident air about her. She held up a ticket to the premiere.

Everyone was scared to respond, but I was actually alone, so I said, “I’m alone!” She handed me the ticket and I asked, “do I need to pay you back for this?” She giggled and said, “Oh no! Consider it good karma for the night.”

 

As we enter Alice Tully Hall and take our seats, I notice several people are stopping by my new blonde-haired friend and asking her where her husband was. I found out he was the one who was supposed to have my ticket, but for some reason, decided not to come to the premiere with his wife. Clearly, she and him had some influence in the industry. She asks about my life, and I tell her I’m simply an actor and film student at Marymount Manhattan College.

The movie plays, and of course, it’s amazing. After applause, she looks over at me and says, “I have to run home and put the kids to bed. I have two tickets to the afterparty at the Tavern on the Green. People from the film will be there. Would you like them?”

 

***

At first, I told her it probably wouldn’t be a good idea, since I was severely underdressed. But she said it would be good networking for me, since I was an actor. “You can bring a friend with you. You’ll be the Girl in the Green Sweatshirt!”

I loved the thought, so I giddily took the two tickets and followed a bunch of rich elderly people to Central Park. When the gatekeeper saw 20-year-old sweatpants-clad me, he had to check my tickets twice. I definitely didn’t look like I belonged.

To give you an idea of how high-brow this afterparty was, one of the first people I ran into while walking around was Nicholas Hoult. (He plays a supporting role in The Favourite.) I wanted to compliment him on the film, but his security guards looked at me like I was a crazy fangirl who had just hopped the fence. The green sweatshirt needed to go. So I decided to call my college roommate and offer her the other ticket (I had to assure her numerous times I wasn’t making anything up), and she brought me a nice dress to change into.

Here are some things we did and saw while at The Favourite NYFF afterparty:

  • Saw tons of people crowded around Taylor Swift to try and talk to her while she was eating shrimp cocktail (her boyfriend, Joe Alwyn, was in the movie).

  • Passed Killing of a Sacred Deer actor Barry Keoghan, who was dressed in a bright white tracksuit.

  • Got free alcohol from the bar despite being underrage.

  •  Ingested THE BEST FREAKING FOOD we have ever eaten in our lives. I’m talking fresh fish, really good kale salad, bruschetta, and cute desserts. My roommate and I kept eating these crunchy chocolate treats I can only describe as churro bites. At one point in the night, a waiter gave my roommate and I a whole tray to pick off of because it was getting late and he had to get rid of them.
  • Got our pictures taken at a photo booth. While on line, a journalist woman gave us all the juicy gossip about different attendees that passed by.

 

Leaving the party was bittersweet, since my roommate and I knew we’d probably never be invited to a party of that caliber again in our lifetimes. Afterwards, I found out the lady who gave me the tickets was Emmy-nominated director and producer Alexis Bloom. She’s a big name in the documentary filmmaking world (check out her IMDB), and her husband is actor Fisher Stevens. I tried to thank her for the tickets by sending an email to Fisher’s production company, but got no response. I hope she’s doing well, and I’m grateful she let me experience a taste of the high life simply because of my passion for acting and film. It made me realize the only reason I’d want to become a famous actress is for the good food!

Isabelle Boulton is a Swiss-Canadian actress, writer and producer. Formerly based in NYC, she is currently getting to know the Toronto/Montreal markets and enjoying virtual projects and collaborations.

 

Little Gifts

Have you ever found yourself preparing for an audition, and all of a sudden, the whole world seems full of just what you’re researching? For example, you just got a commercial audition for the part of a contractor, and everywhere you turn you see women working in construction. You thank your lucky stars and you furiously take mental notes on how they’re dressed to make sure to dress as authentically as possible for the audition! You could chalk this up to recency/frequency illusion (aka the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon if we want to get scientific about it) and confirmation bias, but isn’t it more fun to think of it as little gifts from the universe? 

 

When thinking of these little gifts, I’m reminded of my experience on the first feature film on which I worked. I was playing a ruthless journalist who would do anything to get a story. There were many extras in my scene, all of them portraying other journalists vying for the same interview as me. Turns out that the casting call for background performers had specifically asked for former journalists, and as the first shot was being set up, one of the extras next to me struck up a conversation. This man had been a sports journalist in NYC for over twenty years, and he started sharing stories of that very competitive world with me. Between takes, he showed me tricks of the trade, like how to maneuver in order to get ahead of the other journalists. Of course, I had done my research and preparation, but there was a physicality and violence to the job that I hadn’t entirely understood until that moment. I was suddenly grounded in my character’s reality in a new way, all thanks to new details so generously shared by my unexpected guardian angel. And off I went, ruthlessly shoving and elbowing my way to a successful interview as soon as the director called “action.” 

Isn’t it extraordinary how many of these little gifts and connections we discover once we become open to them?

Dan Gregory (Daniel Michael Gregory) is an award winning Actor and screen writer. He is a member of NYC elite Brazen Giant Ensemble. Upcoming films include "New and Forever" starring Yuval David, "Mixxer" starring Tara Reid, and The Elevator starring Oscar nominee Eric Roberts.

Take 2 On Life

The gig that saved me: I was in the hospital with Covid related pneumonia in mid March of this year. Breathing was difficult and I was in a dark place mentally, physically, and emotionally. I barely had enough energy to pee in the plastic container that was clipped onto my hospital bed… once I figured out that was actually the purpose of the gallon container. After my second day I asked one of my nurses what it was and she explained it was for me to pee into so I didn’t need to be unhooked from my various wires every time I needed to urinate. Hmm…. that might be kind of convenient to have when I’m healthy too. I could imagine watching an extended version of Lord of the Rings film and just peeing in a container instead of pausing it and running into the bathroom. Kind of a brilliant invention! A little thermos for a quick relief. This item became my best friend during my stay at the hospital.

While laying in that hospital bed I knew that, in less than a month, I was booked to do the only thing I really enjoy doing (as a job). Acting.

So, I rested, I started eating despite my lack of appetite, and I was sent home with an oxygen machine for two weeks… I had my eye on the ball. This was a big opportunity for me to get on a plane to Kansas and shoot a feature film. I wasn’t going to fuck it up  by dying! I took off my oxygen machine for the final Skype rehearsal. I couldn’t show any weakness. It took all my energy but I delivered.

I got stronger. With the help of my fiancé (award winning Latina Filmmaker- Jayleen S Perez) I was taking my medication, exercising lightly, and working on my character.

A week before filming I was finally covid free. And in a happy coincidence, my beer belly had disappeared as well. The final step was to change my appearance with a soul patch and blond hair. So, I shaved and Jayleen bleached my hair…

Wait… what? Bleached? I thought it was a temporary blonde that would last a week! Not permanent BLEACH! I can’t rock blond hair for the next four months! WTF! But yeah, the stuff I got from Rite Aid is permanent. So at the time of this publication, I’m still sporting some blond.

I flew to Kansas City and met some really cool people. I played my role as the obnoxious social media influencer T-Rav in the upcoming Horror/ Comedy “Cult of Blood” coming soon 😉

It stars Dave Sheridan (Scary Movie) and Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp). I had a blast on set and learned a lot from everyone. I’ve already got plans to work with the director Robbie Lopez again. More chances to do what I love doing best. Playing roles.

Back in New England after 27 years writing and acting in Los Angeles and happy to be home. Just finished my first film script! Life is good, even when it rains!

Hearing and Listening

I have been living in a very woodsy area on Cape Cod since June 2020. What you might not know about the Cape is that it is very quiet. When I sit in my backyard, all I hear are the birds and the breeze. 

I grew up in Newport, R.I. I used to love to fall asleep to the sounds of the buoys and the seagulls. And after living in Paris, Boston, DC, Chicago, NY, and most recently 27+ years in LA, this Cape environment has reignited that Newport DNA in me.

I recognize the smell and feel of the air tinged with salt and moisture from the ocean. I recognize the trees and they seem to recognize me. 

My heart’s desire is to live in heaven while on earth and it’s not really hard from where I sit. 

I say this with surprise because when I left Newport at 18 I had no intention at all of returning. I jumped around for a long time auditioning and acting trying to find myself in the words and actions of others. 

I was busy trying to be an acting success, adapting to my agent and casting directors. I played games, strategized in my relationships, followed the business and cultural norms without question, and let casting, agents and directors be the the authorities in my life. 

I have been on a journey to find myself for a very long time. I stopped acting for good 10 years ago because I didn’t know who I was or why I was in it anymore. I wanted to write, so I moved back to New England, Cape Cod specifically, to wrangle a film I was chasing.  

Instead of lassoing my script and taming it, being in this quiet, my ears opened up.  I listened and I heard something familiar, something I had not heard in a long ass time, my own voice. From there the writing of the script was not a matter of struggling to tame it into shape, but a matter of taking dictation as the characters, whispering in my ear with my own voice, told me what they needed to say. 

So here’s the kicker…now that I am listening to my own inner voice, I also hear a consistent background tonality that is obviously adaptable to human ears because I have ears and I think I’m still human. At least I hope I am because when I really listen, what I hear is “OM.” 

Post-Script

I am dictating this and  believe it or not, when  I said “OM,” Google auto-correct wrote “hOMe.”  Thank you Google auto-correct. You finally got it right.

 

Kathryn Milewski is an award-winning actress and blogger based in New Jersey. This year, she served on the screening committee for the Nantucket Film Festival and previously judged submissions for HollyShorts. You can find more of her funny stories on vocal.media and her dope music reviews on Live365.com! 

Not All Lost Jobs are Wonderful

As actors, sometimes we tend to be hard on ourselves when rejected from a role or job we really want. But I don’t think we always consider the “what if” scenario of actually booking the job, and how the finished product may not have met our expectations.

In 2019, I got the chance to audition for two roles in a really cool sci-fi indie short film. I loved the characters, the vibes, and the dialouge. It was basically Back to the Future, but for college girls. Everything seemed unique on paper. It was something I really wanted.

I gave it my all in the audition room, but something didn’t feel right between me, the director, and the producers. They weren’t bad people: it’s just that something wasn’t clicking. I tried to make small talk, but they just brushed me off like robots. After reading for the two characters and going home, time passed without a response. It was hard knowing I blew my chances, but like every audition, eventually I got over it.

Time passes. It’s early 2020, before the pandemic. I started an internship at the office of the Nantucket Film Festival, and my manager is showing me how to go through film submissions.

“Oh woah,” she giggles, looking over one of the submissions on the list, “that one sounds like it’s gonna be bad.”

She was mocking one of the films’ titles. Coincidentally, it was that same girl power sci-fi film I had auditioned for the year prior.

I couldn’t help but watch it when I got the chance. And it was…terrible. Surprisingly terrible. The acting was flat, the production design wasn’t as illustrious as the script made it out to be, and every performer in the film looked the same: tall, skinny, and high-cheekboned. They felt more like fashion models than real people. Very unrelatable. Additionally, every actor was white or possibly white-passing: odd considering I saw BIPOC actors in the waiting room.

After I saw the festival judges’ negative reviews for the short, it felt like I had dodged a major bullet. And of course, the film didn’t get accepted into Nantucket. My rejection hadn’t been a failure, but a blessing in disguise. My vision for the film and the directors’ vision seemed to be two totally different things. The moral of the story is this: don’t take all your rejections personally. Sometimes it’s not that you’re untalented, it’s just that it’s not the right, or the BEST, story for you.

 

A member of the Demo Reels For Actors Team, Jennifer Plotzke is an award winning actress and producer with a career that includes film, television and theatre. She is also the founder of the independent film company Poor Monster Productions and a Creative Team Executive at IFT Network.

A ShortS Story

A few years back, I was contacted for a commercial audition. I am rarely offered commercial auditions, so I was very excited! But then my rep mentions, “Oh, and they’ve asked if you could please wear shorts and a T-shirt. It’s for a skincare product and they’d like to see your legs and arms.” YIKES! I don’t even own shorts- ON PURPOSE! I tell this to my rep and add “Would capri pants or something similar be ok?” She says probably but as close as I can get to shorts would be best. Ok…

 

I go to the audition. It’s winter and freezing so I bring the outfit and change at the audition studio. Ahhhh the lovely pre-pandemic days of hoofing it to auditions around NYC with luggage in tow! I arrive, wait in line for the bathroom, and change into my outfit: a T-shirt and calf length capri jeans that I roll up to my knee. I check in with the audition monitor who looks at me and says, “Do you have shorts?”

 

CRAP. I was afraid of this. “No, this is the shortest piece of clothing I own.”

“Can you roll your pants up any further?”

“One more roll and these will officially be a tourniquet.”

She digs into her bag, pulls out a pair of (brand new) gym shorts and holds them up. “Would you mind wearing these?”

 

“Actually, yes.”

…is what I WANT to say, but instead I say, “Sure. I’ll go change.” 

Also, I am 6 feet tall and these shorts look like they were made for an average 4th grader. Furthermore, one of the reasons I don’t own or wear shorts is because I’ve worked in restaurants for many years and all the long hours on my feet have left my legs fairly banged up, so I choose not to broadcast them. But here I am in elementary school gym shorts, coming out of the bathroom to a waiting room with about 75 people, tugging at my shirt desperately trying to cover the postage stamp I’m wearing. It actually FEELS like walking into 4th grade gym class all over again.

***

 

I’m now feeling really self conscious. It’s not anyone’s fault…I’m not throwing blame. I completely understand the nature of the project and why they are requiring what they are requiring. However, I feel ridiculous. Like I’m having that dream where I am wearing underwear in a room full of fully clothed people. 

 

My name is called. As I enter, every head in the audition room turns to look at me and I feel their eyes searing into me like hot pokers.  It’s the one time ever I’ve actually wished they were on their phones or eating during my audition, doing anything but staring right at me! There are so many people in the room and the lights are getting hot, so they’ve opened the windows. In winter. And I’m wearing underwear, essentially. So I’m simultaneously sweating and freezing. Just kill me. I take a deep breath and do the thing. And it’s fine, honestly. But…it’s JUST fine. I wish I had listened to myself and spoken up when I wasn’t comfortable with what they were asking. I could’ve very easily declined the audition and said it wasn’t my cup of tea, rather than going in and doing an audition that I would never have been able to give my full attention to. 

 

The moral of the story is, if you’re going to do it, do it with confidence. If something is compromising your confidence, take that thing out of the equation. If that’s not possible, take yourself out of the equation. Always go with your gut! 

 

Multi award-winning actor/filmmaker who is home with her 2 young children. She holds a PhD in education, has run 7 marathons and has passed Tetris. She is working towards writing and directing her 1st feature film. Coffee helps. 🙂

Getting in the Ring with Girl Boxer

As actors we are always on the hunt for the perfect role, the part that is just for us….

Well, I decided to stop waiting and made the perfect part for myself and a short film/proof of concept that I would want to be watching with a strong female lead.

As a first time filmmaker I wanted  to put my best foot forward and hired the right cast/crew, got all the perfect locations and planned everything ad nauseum. We had a schedule created and equipment rented. Keeping in mind that I have done all this while staying home full-time with 2 young children!

A week before we were scheduled to shoot one of our major locations, an Irish pub, closed….I mean closed forever. We were not allowed in the building. I needed to find an Irish pub that would close its door for us, for a day…on a Friday!!

I am a true believer in personal connections with people. Instead of sending out many emails or calling to find a bar, I packed up the family and we went to woodside Queens where there are authentic irish pubs on every other corner.  I put my son on my back (14 months at the time) and my daughter in her stroller (4 at the time,) and we went knocking on doors to meet the owners of the pubs, tell them our story and see if they would want to work with us. Out of the 4-5 pubs we visited 3 of them were willing to work with us. In the end the location we found was better than the one we lost, we were given the keys and told not to burn the place down. The results were wonderful and my project Girl Boxer has gone on to win many awards and festivals. I am in the process of working towards the feature and I know this will be a success.   

Can’t wait to see what will come next for us!

Back in New England after 27 years writing and acting in Los Angeles and happy to be home. Just finished my first film script! Life is good, even when it rains!

Salsa Dancing With My Eyes Closed

Right before COVID, I began Salsa lessons. The Instructor spun me around, he kept insisting, “Look for me. Look for me.” Let’s face it, Salsa done well is sensuous and sexy. However, what I didn’t realize until my Salsa lessons was that my resistance to “look for” him had everything to do with the dance, yes, and, for me, a lot more to do to with vulnerability.

 

“Look for me?” No thanks. It’s too personal, too revealing, too intimate. 

 

As I began to lower my super-secret invisibility screen over my eyeballs, I realized that as an actor and human being that I had never really unabashedly looked into eyes of another or unabashedly allowed my eyes to be similarly revealed.

 

And I honestly didn’t know what I was afraid of. Revealing too much of myself through my eyes? Seeing his reaction (assuming the negative but even more terrifying if it was positive) to me in his eyes? Or taking in what his eyes were telling me about him.

 

At the same time, I needed to know. So…I decided to go for it.

 

And as he and I stood still, face to face, eyes to eyes for a minute or two, I gradually noticed a light emanating from his eyes. He silently showed me these tiny radiant bits of his soul, and I began to relax because I figured it meant he didn’t have a plan to annihilate me. 

 

As soon as I decided to reveal the radiant bits of my soul, let our eyes touch and take each other in, I began to cry.

***

 

As soon as I decided to allow my eyes speak to his, I lifted from my small frightened perspective into a more expansive peaceful place.

 

As soon as I decided to let our eyes Salsa dance together, I swayed to the rhythm of our.silent connection. His eyes became a kaleidoscope of colors, morphing from bluer than purple, to green, to brown, to hazel, to black and back again.  I saw all of humanity in his eyes. And I knew I had all of humanity in mine.

 

Miracles are abundant when we really see each other. Your miracle becomes mine, and mine becomes yours.

 

Now I relish the opportunity to partner with another human being; in film, on stage and in real life.  I hear my Instructor’s voice, “Look for me.”

 

And I do with one small addition.  I look for us.

Actress, producer, and writer known for her award-winning digital series, MOMTRESS, about a Mom juggling parenting and an acting career. You can see her as the Rabbi in Adam Sandler’s film THE WEEK OF, and in NBC’s LINCOLN RHYME: The Hunt for the Bone Collector. When she’s not acting, writing, producing, or carpooling her teens to activities, she’s walking her big golden retriever while listening to audiobooks.

Bridesmaid Callback?

About 5 years ago, at my first SAG-AFTRA commercial callback, I was excited and ready!  I made sure that I was extra perfect that day.  I got my hair blown-out, I got my nails done, I did a pretty good job on my makeup. I even got a parking spot on the street right outside the casting office! I remember thinking, “This is my day!”  I was feeling 100% ready.

In my first audition for this spot, we were told to wear a bridesmaid’s dress. I show up in my dress and heels, my hair is done, I am camera ready!  I sign in and take a seat.  I look around and see that everyone is wearing shorts and t-shirts, except for a few middle age women who are wearing dresses.  I think to myself, okay, I usually play 35-40ish and these women are 50-60ish but maybe they want a range of ages for this role.  Fine. 

I wait, I wait.  The women in dresses go in and come out.  Then they start bringing in the actors in shorts and t-shirts.  The casting director comes out and looks at me strangely but he just keeps bringing in other actors.  I’m starting to get worried because it’s been over an hour and my parking meter is going to expire.  I really don’t want to get a ticket but hey, it’ll be worth the ticket if I go in and do a great job at this audition.  So finally the casting director comes out, looks me up and down, says my name, and also calls 2 other actors who are wearing shorts and t-shirts.  We go in and the entire team is there.  Not just the casting team but the advertising executives, the copywriters, everyone.

Then the casting director explains that we are at a backyard barbecue and that we’re playing touch football.  What?!  So I chime in, laughing it off like it’s no biggie. “Oh, I thought I was called back for the bridesmaid part” “Nope.” He says. Annoyed that I didn’t get the memo, and not giving me any leeway or any heads up in advance in case I had something else to change into.  I mean, I was sitting there for over an hour! I could have changed! I could have ran around the corner and bought a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.  Why wasn’t I told?! 

But I smile like the good little actress I try to be.  Compliant and easy going. Easy breezy.  And I say, “Okay.”  So I begin to play catch in my dress and heels… and let me tell you that I also cannot throw a football.  I’m pretty athletic but I cannot play touch football or any football.  But I would have done my research had I known that my callback was for a backyard bbq football game.  I would have worked with someone to teach me how to throw and catch a football! Because that’s my job.  So there I am making a fool of myself and shrugging my shoulders.  I decide to try to make it funny that I’m wearing this dress and no one is laughing.  No one. I am met with icy stares and a big thank you without a smile. Which means, get out. You suck. (Sigh)

So I leave, and as I’m leaving I suddenly remember that my car will most likely have a ticket and I say to myself that’s okay. It happens.  I walk outside, it’s raining and I’m still in a dress, with heels, and I don’t have an umbrella.  I walk over to the car and not only is there a ticket but there is a CLAMP.  A clamp on my tire!  Apparently not only did I go over the time period, I also was parked too close to the hydrant.  It’s starting to rain harder now and don’t know what to do.  I see a police car and wave them down and they look at me with some pity and some disgust, this privileged looking lady in her dress complaining about her little black Audi being clamped.They want to laugh. I want to cry. They tell me I have to go pay the $300 ticket and then come back to the spot and they will remove the clamp.  My mascara is running as I walk up the window at this god-forsaken place and they have no pity and no sense of humor. I pay and cab back to my car.  It gets unclamped and I drive home. But when I pick up the kids and we go grab some dinner, I look at them and tell myself it doesn’t matter. There will be better days. And there are and have been and will be.  And no, I didn’t book the job, but hey, I now know how to play touch football in heels!

 

A member of the Demo Reels For Actors Team, Jennifer Plotzke is an award winning actress and producer with a career that includes film, television and theatre. She is also the founder of the independent film company Poor Monster Productions and a Creative Team Executive at IFT Network.

Acting Outside The Box

Several years ago a friend of mine was casting a pilot and wanted me to read for one of the roles. He sent me the script, I opened it and said, “This role is for a man.” He said, “Hear me out.” He wanted to cast this role outside the box and told the director he wanted to bring a woman in to read for the part. The director wasn’t sold on it, but was apparently intrigued because he agreed to see me. The character was really wacky and out there (think Chris Meloni in Wet Hot American Summer) and the casting director thought I could bring something different and completely unique to the role. So I agreed to give it a shot. As I prepared for the audition, it dawned on me that I had infinite freedom with this. They weren’t going to have any expectations whatsoever because I didn’t fit the role description…on the most basic level. So there was no bar. What a glorious feeling for an actor to have such an immense amount of room to play. And as I leaned further in to that, I fell madly in love with the role. I was having such a wonderful time creating it that I suddenly wanted it really, really badly. But I reminded myself that this was a long shot and they would probably ultimately go with a man in the role and I should just do my best work, book the room and let it go. So I made my choices, did the work and headed to the audition. 

 

When I got to the studio my actor brain took over and I was suddenly insanely nervous. I went to “that place” where I was convincing myself that I wasn’t what they wanted and that I definitely didn’t belong there. In an attempt to calm my nerves, I reminded myself how much I loved this role and how much fun I was going to have performing it…even if the two minutes in the room was the only time I ever got to do it. The casting director came out to meet me and said, “I can’t wait to see what you do.” I took a deep breath and went into the room.
 

Ten minutes later it was over. And it was the best audition of my life. No audition before or since has gone that well and I will never forget that feeling. In that instant I subconsciously gave myself full permission to let go of everything and just have fun. And I did. We all did. It was an incredible team and we had such a blast together in the room. I got the call later that day that they loved what I did. “You blew them away. The role is yours.” 

 

The moral of the story? Never doubt the power of your unique self. Never doubt that you can change someone’s mind. Sometimes they really aren’t sure what they’re looking for and it takes you and your work to show them the way. Always be open to outcomes, even if they’re outside the box.

 

…and sometimes you need to send a woman to do a man’s job. 

 

A professional actor, writer and musician born and raised in New York City, he is currently writing his first book "The A$$holes Guide to Everyday Living" and prays to God all his successes and endeavors come to fruition before the meteor hits

Blacklist Faux Pas

Have I ever told you my Blacklist faux pas? If you know me then you know I’m filled with faux pas, as a matter of fact the words “Jesus f*ckin Christ Jimmy!” exit people’s mouths more than I care to admit, but oh well, it makes for good antidotes. So after like 13 or so auditions for The Blacklist I finally book it. Many of the auditions I did for them ranged anywhere from a 10 sentence paragraph to a 2 page scene, but what did I end up booking? One line, “Son of a b*tch” as SWAT commander. Ok cool, a gig is a gig and with the news that The Blacklist was ending I was happy to get it.

I show up for the shoot, check in and head straight to the most important spot on set, CRAFTY!  As I’m filling my pockets and plate with goodies I see what would be my “SWAT team” already in full SWAT gear wardrobe. Hmmm, they got the background guys already dressed up I thought… Let me go over and introduce myself. 

“Hey guys what’s up?”

Cold nods hello. 

“So I’ll be your commander today, haha” 

Still cold nods and stares of acknowledgement. 

Hmmm, these guys are a little standoffish, usually background actors are pretty engaging  and jovial and like to mix it up and converse with other actors. Maybe I should break the ice with some humor? 

“So I’ll be your commander today, don’t worry I’ve led many men through battle”  

AND… more cold stares with some “Yeah ok” smirks. 

Ok, tough crowd. Maybe they’re in character or crafty isn’t that good?

 

I get into wardrobe and head to lunch before we shoot our scene. I’m sitting with my “team” and I start talking to one of the guys, nicer fellow a lot more engaging (phew). He starts telling me a story about his train ride to set and how there was an altercation and how he thought he was going to have to make an off duty arrest. 

“Wait? You’re a cop?” 

“Yeah, we’re all cops.” 

I look at all of them now looking back at me. One of the other “team” members states,

“Yeah we’re an actual SWAT team from Yonkers.”

Another team member adds “and tactical consultants” 

Me, “Guys! I’m am soooo sorry I thought you were…. you’re not gonna snap my neck or anything are you?” 

Turns out most of them were special forces war vets as well. Once I acquiesced to beta male status and let them make fun of how wrong I was wearing my swat gear (I honestly thought the helmet went on that way!) they turned out to really awesome guys. They totally let me do my thing as SWAT Commander and even taught me about being a “Hall Boss” and showed me actual insertion tactics and treated me like a team member. You can see part of that scene on my latest reel edited by the very talented Jessica Green (yes it’s a plug!). Moral of the story? Ask first, assume nothing! 

Back in New England after 27 years writing and acting in Los Angeles and happy to be home. Just finished my first film script! Life is good, even when it rains!

MaryElizabeth Barrett Photo

The Journey

My particular journey for many years has been to excavate, encounter and release the hidden about myself. Those things I have collected and stored away under lock and key or sometimes even proudly displayed on my super-secret trophy shelf of self-righteousness: the fear, the shame, the grief, the anger, the regrets, the self-abuse, any part of myself that I am secretly proud of but would prefer not to be made known to the general public.  

I have been in the process of shining a light on what I have hidden in my corners or what scurries up my cellar wall in an attempt to escape detection as my divine flashlight approaches. I realized a few days ago that my specific journey in life with this process is being renewed and reborn through the writing of my film script. 

This particular stretch of time since April 2019 when I began writing, I know now, had already been preordained before my newborn baby feet hit the planet. I see that now so clearly. 

I know now that the writing of this movie was an agreement I made before I said “yes” to Buzz and Claire’s (my parents) desire to have a second child. I had surveyed their territory at 31 Ayrault Street in Newport, RI from the Waiting Room of Reincarnation, and I knew going in (and coming out) what to expect. I knew that even though it was not what I may have wanted; it was exactly what I needed. My life with my close family members became the fodder of the seed of my script. 

Forgotten life events, stashed away feelings, thoughts, emotions, and even my dream life from the past have come together to be re-known and re-claimed in an astounding way in the writing of this screenplay. 

This rewriting and reclaiming of my life had been on my Cosmic-Divine-To-Do List for 20+ years. Every once in a while, I sauntered up to the home of my characters, knocked on their front door, and asked them to come out and play with me. For 20 or more years they yelled from inside their home that they hadn’t finished their homework yet , to “go away” and to come back another day. 

In April 2019, the characters showed themselves to the doors of my mind, my heart and my soul and said they were ready. Since then, we have been playing, laughing until it hurts, crying until we felt our bones finally dry out from overflow tear storage, and astonishing each other with our new-found open-heartedness and lightness of being. 

This has been the joy-love ride of my life. The script is finished and headed for its first Table Read in a week. It’s somewhat difficult to let my characters and the story be birthed into a larger arena because it’s provided me with so much joy while requiring me to be a human spelunker, diving deep through the layers and exploring the underwater caverns of my inner most me to get as close as I can to finding my truth. That part hasn’t necessarily been easy, but it’s been incredibly freeing.

I am so profoundly humbled. 

And all I can say is thank you to the characters who talked in my ears. They were all quite bossy (the apple falling from the tree thing). They described the scene to me and told me what they wanted to say. I was a stenographer. I took dictation.

I wouldn’t have wanted to have done anything else. 

 

A veteran of the New York indie film scene, Jack Mulcahy is living proof that miracles do happen; that is, if you work hard enough. “Luck is the residue of design...”

Jack Mulcahy Brothers McMullen

Winning Sundance- Against All Odds

Every time I have a film in competition at a film festival, I can’t help harkening back to the 10 days when The Brothers McMullen, our tiny little $15,000 feature ~ the 18th and final pick in dramatic competition ~ took the venerated Sundance Film Festival by storm and altered forever the course of low budget indie filmmaking.

It was the 10th year of Robert Redford’s Park City party, and the festival itself was beginning to get crushed under the weight of its own fabulousness; it was losing sight of the appeal, and essence, of what low budget filmmaking was all about.

Truth be told, the festival needed a film like McMullen, as much as McMullen needed a festival like Sundance. And considering we’d been rejected by every-single-film-festival up until that point (including Long Island and the Hamptons ~ go figure), this was most likely our last shot.

We made the most of it.

Among the wonderful films in dramatic competition with us that year were Party Girl, Safe, Once Were Warriors, New Jersey Drive, and Living in Oblivion, some of which had budgets upwards of $30M.

After the first screening at the venerated 400 seat Egyptian Theater on Main Street, the buzz was real and it was deafening, and, quite honestly, a little overwhelming. Our lives, as we knew them, were about to change.

The momentum continued to build with every subsequent screening.

After the second one, it was rumored that 20th Century Fox’s new art house division, Fox Searchlight had already negotiated a deal to buy the film for $5M. What!? The reviews from both the NYT and LA Times were glowing. Film critic Roger Ebert called me by name and stopped me on Main Street to congratulate me.

Not two minutes later, I ran into Samuel L. Jackson (who I’d played softball with in the B’way Show League a couple of years before when he was doing Once on This Island). I started to introduce myself and he cut me off with: “I know who you are, motherfucker!” We both laughed. Knowing he was a judge on the Grand Jury Prize commission, I tried to get some sense of how our film was faring. He looked at me, winked, and said, “Good luck, Jackie!” And he was gone.

Again …what??

And so, when Saturday night finally came, we were all huddled in this massive tennis bubble. 2500 of us. The air, electric. The tension, palpable. Stars of the indie film community were everywhere. Steve Buscemi, Cathy Keener and the Lost in Oblivion crowd sat directly behind us. Parker Posey was all over the joint.

Personally, I thought we were a shoo-in for one of the lesser prizes like the Audience Appeal Award. Never in my wildest dreams did I think … the unimaginable.

Finally, Samuel Jackson took the stage, and announced that we were indeed the winners of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Film. Absolute pandemonium!

As I shot out of my seat, both arms raised to the heavens, a pin-light in the ceiling hit me directly in the eye. And I knew in that very moment it was my mom, acknowledging that her boy had done good. The tears were tears of great joy.

I would wish those feelings ~ of achievement, of possibility, of validation ~ on every actor and filmmaker who dares to make the effort, who hangs in there, against all odds, and succeeds. At least once…

Keep swingin’.

 

Back in New England after 27 years writing and acting in Los Angeles and happy to be home. Just finished my first film script! Life is good, even when it rains!

Resistance

This week I found myself pissed off at everything and everyone, experiencing a lot of resistance and unidentified anger. One thing I know about myself is when I’m feeling homicidal because a paper bag won’t fold the way I want it to, I’m in the middle of some kind of a shift. I’m releasing something, an old belief about myself.

And as the universe loves to do, at the very same moment I was looking for my sharpest knife to shred said paper bag to smithereens, I received a casting notice from an agency. They asked me to send them a selfie for a potential photo shoot. The requirement for this photo shoot was a full body shot of “the most glamorous me in my most glamorous clothes.”

The “glamour” shot really shook me up because the last thing I think of myself as is glamorous. To the point where I felt that even doing the selfie would just be friggin’ embarrassement . A real imposter trying to be somebody she would and could never be. Not sophisticated enough, not cultured enough and definitely not pretty enough. In other words, a circus clown in a dress.

And as it happened my friend, Barb, asked me how the acting was going. I told her about the casting call and how disappointing I was that I didn’t have any “glamorous“ clothes. Then boldly proclaimed, “What a bummer! Can’t do the shoot!” 

Next thing I know she has me stuffed into her daughter’s 2 sizes too small prom dress, held together in the back with clothespins (a big shout out to “Say Yes to the Dress” for that clothespin idea) and sparkly silver shoes (also two sizes too small).  The shenanigans began from there. We went to her patio. Between the snow flurry and the wind, she shot pics and I twirled and danced like a lavender fairy. It was playful. It was, in fact, a (s)hoot and a half.

The too small dress was a big fat photographic illusion, but the lesson the Universe sent to me wasn’t an illusion at all. I was stuck in an old belief about myself that didn’t serve me anymore. I realized that I have my own special glamorous flavor. I thought, “Own it Sister!” And I did.

I played. I was free. And I allowed myself to be my specific and, dare I say, unique and glamorous 69-year-old Self.  And when all was said and done, I did it all for me (except for a few broken-doll poses I had to do for Tyra Banks, just because.)

Sometimes my spiritual curriculum shows up as huge upsets and turmoil in my life. And sometimes the curriculum is about finding those tiny hidden beliefs that I’m just not quite good enough, showing those beliefs the door, putting on a lavender prom dress and bedazzled shoes and being free.

Sam Platizky is an award winning actor, writer, & producer. In 2010, Sam founded Narrow Bridge Films, which has since produced 4 feature length films, 14 short films, a web series, a sizzle reel/trailer for another feature, and is currently in production on a horror anthology made up of 9 shorts and a wraparound.

Samuel Platizky Picture

That Time I Worked for Martin Scorsese

I don’t always do background work, but when I do it is usually because it’s for a project I want to work on, or it’s with a director I want to work with, so when I got a call to come in for some work on the pilot of Boardwalk Empire directed by MARTIN FRICKIN SCORSESE, how could I refuse? I couldn’t have said yes quick enough. Even if I never even saw him on set, I could always say, “Well, I worked for Martin Scorsese” for years after. 

Got fitted for my costumes. Got a period appropriate haircut at the studio. And then the big day came. I found out, on the day, that I would be an FBI cadet in, not one but, two scenes for the pilot. The first scene would be a bunch of cadets doing various training exercises. Some would be firing guns, some would be working out, some would be running laps… At that point in time, I had been a bit of a runner, so when they asked, “Who wants to run laps?” I raised my hand. Why not? 

Got my costume on shortly before the scene, and it was a little big, but it fit. If the scene was a walking one, I would have been fine… But it was a running one. Have you ever tried to run in pants/shorts that are too big? They fall down. So, I told the costume person, and they didn’t have much time, so they pinned It a bit tighter and sent me out to set. 

I got outside, and even though this was a bunch of extras, MARTIN FRICKIN SCORSESE was directing the scene. I was directed by Scorsese! Bucket list item achieved.  I started to run, and even though I was doing my job, the pin wasn’t doing its job… and my pants started to fall down. Right. In front. Of Martin Scorsese. I wanted to make an impression… That wasn’t the impression I wanted to make. 

And there was no scene in the finished pilot of the FBI cadets training. It got cut. 

 


A veteran of the New York indie film scene, Jack Mulcahy is living proof that miracles do happen; that is, if you work hard enough.  “Luck is the residue of design...”

Jack Mulcahy HeadshotGuerrilla Filmmaking

 

Guerrilla filmmaking, even at its best, can be challenging. Case in point: Day 14 out of 16 shooting the Brothers McMullen…

We desperately needed to get the two graveyard scenes – the opening scene where Mom tells Barry (Ed Burns) she’s going back to Ireland to find her one true love; after having just finished burying our father. And the second scene where I am standing at dad’s grave, on St. Patrick’s Day, telling him I wasn’t going to be the same kind of lousy man he was.

Well, we were supposed to shoot the scenes at Calvary Cemetery in Queens, which is so massive it has actual streets running through it! One problem was we were chasing light after shooting all day on Long Island. The second problem was…the gates to the cemetery were closed!

Thinking on his feet, Eddie decided to scrap my scene, figuring we would get it at some other time, and we would just set up on the sidewalk and shoot the scene with mom, having the headstones serve as the cemetery background.

So, I’m leaning against the DP’s car watching them start the scene when something catches my eye and I actually had to yell: “Eddie, you gotta cut!!” Mass confusion! I said: “Look at the headstones behind you! They’re in fucking Hebrew!!” Well, that wasn’t gonna fly (although, in retrospect, it would’ve been hilarious)!

So, we packed all our stuff up and just as we were about to chalk it up as a lost day, another thing caught my eye: a small section of wrought iron fence had been replaced by some cheap temporary fencing. I told the DP Dick Fisher, to back the car up, cut that fencing open, shoot both scenes and get the hell out of there. A bit ghoulish, but that’s exactly what we did. Both scenes made the final cut, and the rest is independent movie history.

 

Brooke Hoover

Brooke Hoover is an actor, writer, comedian and artist originally from Louisiana living in Jersey City. She has a knack for heartfelt humor and loves doing yoga with her rescue dogs.
www.brookehoover.com/blog

Brooke Hoover Self-tape             

My Momma, The Self Tape Queen

 

“Momma! I just got an email from my agent to ‘put myself on tape’ for a movie shooting back home! Take the paintings off the wall, make sure the dogs stay quiet, read these sides and get familiar with them and look at my teeth really quick, do I have spinach in them?!?!?!”

I had been preparing for self tape auditions long before the self tape trend became not just a trend but a necessity during these times. I jumped on the Hollywood South local hire bandwagon several years ago so auditioning this way was to become par for the course.  This was my first self tape and all I knew was I needed some smoke and mirrors to make our quirky 1880’s row home look as sterile and well lit as possible. Oh and also I needed someone to record me and read with me – enter Momma. Twenty-four hours later, I was en route to New Orleans for the callback and a month later, I was back home again for the shoot.

That’s one of the success stories. Not mentioned above are the hours Momma and I spent frantically trying to create perfect three point lighting by propping lamps on top of yoga blocks and recipe books, cursing why we ever tossed our Encyclopedia Britannica collection. The amount of T-R-E-A-T-S given to our dogs to keep them quiet while I was self taping. The times I told Momma as the reader to, “Tone it down Momma and just talk like a normal person!”

With self tapes, my Type A self becomes Type A Plus – a neurotic actor, DP, director and stage manager all rolled into one who barks orders at my momma like she’s a dutiful unpaid PA “doing this for copy and credit” who’s also supposed to read my mind.  Momma will only take my ridiculousness to a certain extent.  So, during every self tape escapade, we do the dance of Momma saying “stop taking this sh*t so seriously, baby!” and me ever so dramatically catting back, “Momma, I have to take this sh*t seriously. This. Is. A. Business!!!”

Enter COVID-19. The world got quiet for a hot minute. We got terrified, watched the news non-stop and reflected on what was important. And, then…everyone started talking about self tapes and posting photos of themselves in front of blank walls.  Ring lights became as coveted Tickle Me Elmo back in the mid ‘90’s. I was thankful I already owned one (a ring light, not a Tickle Me, Elmo) even though it is incredibly top heavy and we have to anchor the bottom with dumbbells while Momma holds the actual ring part while reading the sides with me.

I realized if self tapes are a part of our new normal, I have got to work on making them joyous. (Doesn’t that sound like a word all of these actor guru people popping up would use?) I had to start trusting Momma and her abilities. She birthed me naturally, lived on top of a mountain solo for a decade and hand fed exotic birds from eggs. Surely I could entrust her with framing me appropriately, telling me if my makeup was too whorish for a secretary or if my hair was too crazy for a detective. I encouraged her to give me acting notes, which often were: Don’t do that GD theatre voice, Brooke. Maybe do it with an accent this time. Baby, do it this way. (Man, I love line readings. Really, I do. They’re refreshing.)

The first self tape audition during the pandemic I got pinned but then was released. That doesn’t matter because the self tape process itself has just become more fun, more free. I am letting Momma handle the what used to be the hours long set-up like the bad-ass stagehand she has become and I am focusing on grounding myself in the present moment of the scene – with Momma standing right across from me holding up our Godforsaken ring light.

In this self tape world, home turf advantage doesn’t always apply. I have started focusing on the things at home that are working for me instead against me. One of those things, or, people rather, is of course Momma. In her, I have a wonderful PA, hair and makeup artist, wardrobe assistant, DP, director, reader and support system. Even if she gives me line readings.

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