Carl AKA The Creeper. Awkward auditions. Part 2.

It’s about 6 months or so into my LA experience – a casting comes through for a short film about a white girl who’s never dated a black man. This character has a love of hip hop, and figures it might be time to go beyond her usual dating preferences and try something new. It said it was a paid comedy, and I thought it had the potential to be quite a laugh.

I submitted, and not long after the phone rang. A Russian sounding man introduced himself, “Hey, I’m Carl, I’m the producer on the project you submitted for”. We had chats about the film, and he explained at the audition I’d be meeting with a guy who was playing the male lead, we would interact a little to see what the chemistry was like, and then go into the work. I was told to dress nicely, like I was going on a date. OK, seemed pretty straight forward.

Come audition day, I had no car, so was on the bus in all my dressed up glory. High heels, full face of make up at midday and a tight-ish dress. I didn’t have too far to go, but once off the bus, the street I needed to get to was blocked by a fence of sorts. The only option to get to the street without doing a massive detour (which would result in me running late), was to climb the damn thing! Picture me, in heels, hoisting myself over this waist high wire fence, whilst attempting not to flash myself at any passing cars. What was I thinking?!

I get to a gritty looking prefab apartment complex and walk into the dusty looking courtyard. I hadn’t anticipated it being a private residence, have no apartment number and start to wonder what to do. Did I save Carl’s number? My instincts are screaming dodgy, but I’m here, so I wait it out for a minute or two, looking up to the landing that squares the courtyard, when a tall black man in black slacks and a white shirt slinks into sight, and comes casually down the stairs.

He shakes my hand, introduces himself, confirms I’m here for the ‘audition’ and we proceed to stand there and banter a little. It feels somewhat awkward, but I’m just trying to go with the flow.

Then he asks me, “So, what do you know about this project?”. I tell him I spoke to the producer Carl and he told me a bit about the production. He queries “Ohh, you spoke to Carl did you?”. “Yup, yes I did. He was a Russian guy, I think”. His face lit up. ” He sounded Russian?”. “Mmmhmm”, I responded.

THEN, he does the BIG REVEAL!

“That was actually me! I was testing out my accents, and that’s so awesome you thought I sounded legitimately Russian”.

Cue, back up against the wall. “Whha, whaa, WHAT!? Are you being serious? Because right now you’re starting to freak me out.”

He goes on, “Oh, I don’t mean to freak you out, it’s just I’m not having a lot of luck with online dating, so I thought this would be an interesting spin on meeting girls and doing something different, ya know..!?”.

I can’t believe my ears. I feel frozen, stunned to my very core. At this point, I’m grateful a neighbor walks through with his child, providing me a flash of security it what now feels like an out of this world scenario.

I proceed to tell this guy what an ass he his, deceptive, dishonest and a waste of my time. I turn my back and start walking away when he says “Noo, but I seriously do have other projects I’m working on, there’s a bunch of stuff I’m doing”. I keep walking.

I call Actors Access – the reputed website where the casting originated, and report this scumbag. Then comes the email from ‘Carl’, apologizing, asking for another chance and sending me a link to his current project – him reciting poetry over moving black and white footage of naked women by rain stricken window panes – suggesting maybe this is something I’d be interested in!!!!!

Jesus wept.

As they say, the rest is history – lesson learnt, the hard way. And, thank goodness I’m still alive to tell the tale…

 

 

 

 

 

Awkward auditions. Part 1.

JULY 2015.

Ever had one of those auditions where you bombed so hard it was straight up embarrassing?!? I’m just gonna assume all you actors out there have experienced this, AT LEAST once!?? And maybe it didn’t suck as much as you think, but at the time, OMG!

Well, that was my afternoon a few weeks back. Let me start by saying it was not the razzle dazzle audition of a lifetime, but it was a chance to be seen, to do my best and possibly book a very nice paying, (seemingly) easy series of commercials. The special skill for this audition was teleprompting – which I’ve claimed I can do. Now that was a fib, kind of. I mean there was that one time…

Days after the September 11 terrorist attacks, Mum and I happened to be in New York City and ended up in the audience for the Ricky Lake show. I bet you’re wondering where this is going, but they selected yours truly to read a ‘welcome back to the show’ paragraph of dialogue from a teleprompter. I was like an old pro, delivering the goods, no worries. So, fast forward to 2015, my expectation is to go into the audition room and nail it…I’ve had experience after all!

Here I am, I’ve rescheduled/cut back hours at work so I can make the audition. The chunk of dialogue I need to deliver has been emailed out pre-audition, I’ve rehearsed it, it feels pretty comfortable, I’ve spent about 30 minutes primping myself and at least an hour in driving to do this thang. I get there, here we go!

I walk into the casting room. Two faces. One of which I know from a couple of prior castings. “Oh hey, good to see you”. Yadda yadda ya. The greetings go all good. I ‘slate’ my name to camera – claim I’m an ‘expert’ in teleprompting. Their words not mine. The required dialogue is written on a board to the left of camera. How hard can this be, right?

It seems, in this moment, near impossible. I proceed to right royally hick, halt and himmer over the first two sentences. I sound like I’m a robot, when I’m supposed to be having a ‘conversational Skype like conversation’. The casting director stops me, “Ahhhh, I really need you to make it more natural”. Yup, I totally understand. I get a bit looser with the dialogue, but then start doing these overly dramatic hand gestures, like some sort of chopping motion. They tell me to tone down the hands. I try again, now I’m really just lost in the chaos of my mind. They give me further suggestions, which I unintentionally throw out the door. By this stage I am simply struggling to get through the dialogue with any fluency or life. Several attempts later, I’ve managed to well and truly sink the ship. Needless to say, I did not get the part.

Talk about face palming all the way home! (: This experience made me think of previous auditions over the years in LA… ones that have been rather memorable.

There was an indie feature film in which I was down to the final two people for one of the main roles. I was feeling lukewarm about the script, but none the less, very excited to be seen. I get into the room and there’s about 6 people in there, including the person I’m reading with – who has a real life baby attached to them! And, the baby is not even turned inwards towards the mother’s chest, she’s all arms and legs and smiley face out front, like an alien growth from this woman’s body, a metre away from me. Now, honestly…how the heck am I supposed to do my audition with an 8 limbed double headed creature sitting across from me?!? I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Was this a test?! As I attempted to sit down, I was so spellbound by this situation I missed the center of the plastic chair beneath me, landed off center and cracked the side of it. Awkward grimaces all around. The audition is a blur of moving limbs and attempted stealthy focus. I did not get the part.

Then there was another indie film, but this one had a dynamite script and the role was bang on perfect. I wanted this super bad. And got the call back! I wasn’t down to the last two, but I was in running for the lead female role. I was pumped. In the room I was auditioning with a guy being considered for the male lead role. In the scene we’re performing, the script reads my character lunges to grab a dollar bill out of his hand. Well, somewhere in the action my scene partner comes towards me, and me towards him and I reach out…and…gouge him in the freaking eye!!!!!!! Ohhhh Jesus!!!!!!!!! He repels backwards. The casting table rise in horror. The victim exits the room holding his face, and I sheepishly look to them and exit the room, now improvising in character, to check if my fellow actor is OK. We enter back into the casting room and further dramatics unfold as he believes I’ve scratched his retina and predicts a bloody eye, “not a good look for his next audition” he says scathingly. The room is silent, except for me apologising profusely. Of course it was an accident. I did not get the part.

And then there’s Carl…now this story takes the cake. The creepy cake…

Read all about Carl in my next post, coming soon!!! xoxoxoxoxox

Business is booming baby!

It’s Friday February 27th and I’m chillin’ in my new apartment. YUPPPP!!!! NEW. art deco. (I LOVE art deco) studio apartment!!! Having lived in the one spot since arriving three years ago (Ardmore ave), I have ventured out on my own and am now in downtown Korea town, or K-town as the locals call it.

It was a weird transition, moving from a big 2 storey, 5 bedroom house with a yard, drive way and bunch of housemates, to a studio apartment of medium size, on-street parking that’s like a nightly competitive sport, and coming home to just little old me. I’ve never had my own place. Always found myself in share houses, or before that, living with my Mama.

There are sooooo many yummy places to eat in walking distance, it’s ridiculous! Mexican wood fire rotisserie chicken, Pho noodles, Malaysian, Japanese and more Korean BBQ houses and karaoke bars than you can poke a stick at. Not to mention the foot and body massage spots on every other corner…starting at $20 for a one hour session.

It’s a different feel from Harvard Heights – my old hood. It’s a real mash-up of Korean, Hispanic and young artsy peeps. This area is busier, more apartment buildings, beautiful historic architecture. One breathtaking building around the corner has great turrets that reminds me of something out of a Disney movie.

It’s been super nice decorating, setting everything up, and putting pot plants on my window sills. Slowly my tomatoes, lettuce, basil, eggplants, nasturtiums, swiss chard and various other flowers are growing. I’m taking on what feels like a more ‘adult life’. Creating a home exactly the way I want it. I’ve been here for 5 days and the initial state of disorientation has passed and I think I could get used to this arrangement. Now to work out the best parking ninja moves!? Hmmm.

Life in LA has grown and grown. It’s been a fierce journey my friends. But ultimately satisfying. Brilliant. Lots of lessons learned.

I have had a super busy last 6 months. In fact much of 2014 was ripe, and stuff started to sprout. I had more auditions and bookings last year than I have had EVER! So, that was great for a start.

I just wrapped a week ago an independent feature film, titled YOU based around the Sandy Hook, Connecticut 2012 shootings. Directed by dynamic Sri Lankan, Linton Semage, it was not your everyday kind of film making experience. We rehearsed over the course of 2 months every Saturday morning. It was like collaborating on a stage play. Very physical and theatrical. Our director only spoke basic English, so everything was translated back and forth adding an extra challenge to the equation, AND we were dealing with an abstract and symbolic story line, something non linear, with poetic sounding language. Ha! It was hard to get my head around at first. What does this all mean? But part of the process was trusting and allowing the director to show us his vision through rehearsals and the creation of this piece. And, it was fascinating!

The shoot went great. I played two roles – both the shooter’s mother, Nancy Lanza and a general symbolic representation of a mother who has lost her child.

20150220_073917One of my favourite days shooting was at The Big Sky Movie Ranch, where Little House on a Prairie, Django Unchained, Saving Mr.Banks and numerous other productions have been filmed. It was soooooo pretty and remarkably green, with wild flowering lupins as far as the eye could see. A 6000+ acreage of rolling hills and beauty.

We shot a very moving scene under a huge, lone, ancient oak tree. Under this tree was a shrine with candles and flowers in memory of the children who were killed. It was so quiet whilst shooting. Just the wind and us. It felt very powerful.

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Chillin’ with Bill Nye.

Now, back to 2014. I shot two ‘pilot’ projects that were super fun. One was with the ‘Science Guy’ Bill Nye,  playing a wacky intuitive. It was an NBC production called The Science of Attraction, that never came to light.

The other was a hilarious parody of ‘The Bachelor’ called Green Card for Love. I played the rural Russian hoare, naturally. This production didn’t make it beyond initial filming also (the nature of the beast). BUT! You can watch the trailer here.

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About to go on stage. The Vagina Monologues.

Then there was some theatre opportunities. I was a conservative British woman talking about the discovery of her clitoris in The Vagina Monologues, and in Suite V a free thinking and liberated mother with two mixed race sons in 1970’s Los Angeles. I did comedy, drama, and even got to have a boogie on stage. Voila! What more could you want?!

I shot a print and video commercial for Megafon – a Russian mobile carrier. It was a super easy days work; lying on a couch reading a magazine with my ‘boyfriend’. If only days like that rolled around more often!

I helped make a short film called Only on Mondays with some LA friends and was stoked when it was accepted into The Hollywood and Vine Film Festival and took out the Best Acting in a Short Film Award! It’s a cute and quirky film about a community of women who have alcoholic others and meet once a week to relax and get their drink on!

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In the studio with Chuckii Booker.

I even had the opportunity to record with producer/singer/songwriter Chuckii Booker. This cat is crazy talented and has been Lionel Richie’s musical director for eons. I was introduced to Chuckii through a friend who asked if I’d write and sing a hook for his track that is still in development. I also wrote, rapped and sang on a hip hop track with my old housemate, Marty. We’ve got a film clip coming soon.

And just to round things out nicely – I was training twice a week for 16 months at Playhouse West in the Meisner technique. It was unlike anything I’ve studied before and I LOVED it. Created by an American man named Sandy Meisner, the school breeds a superb work ethic and emphasis on living and breathing your craft every day, reading plays, educating yourself, rehearsing and remaining inspired.

I got to flex lots of creative muscles in 2014.This here is an incomplete log, but some of the highlights! I’ve had truly wonderful experiences, met some great people and collaborated on exactly the kinds of fun, fulfilling and interesting projects I’ve dreamt of.

Right now I’m sitting on a wide open slather.

It’s time to rise and shine!

Be water, my friend

Wow, I haven’t written in a really long stretch, despite having every intention. It’s been on my ‘to do’ list countless times, but it’s always a case of where do I start when there’s so much to say?!

I am now 3 and a bit years into living in LA and it has been one of the most epic and interesting chapters of my story yet.

I s’pose I need to start somewhere, and the obvious option is this blog post that I wrote a year ago (but never shared). Time for it to see the light of day I reckon…

Here are some reflections after 2 years living in Los Angeles.

April 11th, 2014

It’s 2014.

I remember applying for my 3 year ‘O1 Alien of Exceptional Ability’ visa and looking at August 10, 2014, the date my visa expires, as a lifetime away. And look where we are!

I’ve been in LA just over 2 years. It’s flown by, yet been so dense, so chocked full of life. One incredibly rich, rewarding, maddening, crazy, humbling journey. A pathway that has often felt lonely and stupendously alien. A pathway that has been electrifying, engaging and often breath-taking in all senses of the word.

The first year was hard. Perhaps one of the hardest years ever. I felt tested. I didn’t love it and the more people asked ‘Do you just love it? Hollywood?’, I somehow knew I wouldn’t have the response they were looking for. My experience was far from the razzle dazzle one might imagine, and more a case of survival and learning to trust my intuition. Through trial and error my inner compass has become finely tuned. I reckon if you can navigate this city, you’re set for life. LA is a city of extremes. A jungle. Cue Guns N’ Roses…

Two years deep I’ve really come to know this city. The many corners of it’s vast sprawl. There’s a lot to love, and a lot that’s foreign. LA has so many faces. The gloss and glitz, the fancy, the gorgeousness of the hills, canyons, coastline, historical areas, mish mash of architecture, incredible food, the dank dark pockets, seedy underbelly, the Mexican heritage, weed culture and so much more. What greater Los Angeles and California has to offer seems boundless. It’s a love hate relationship at times, but one I’ll never regret stepping into.

Being here has made me grateful to have Australia as my home. It’s made me value family and old friends on the deepest level. It’s allowed me to ascertain my priorities and seriously up my acting game. There is so much talent and competition here in LA, you must constantly stride, push, pull, go with the flow, trust, know, be ready, game, bold, fearless and generally try not to give too many shits, when sometimes that’s all you can do. Being here is like a right of passage…and somehow I feel like I’ve crossed a major bridge…I no longer feel like a rookie.

I’ve recently decided to go through the process again to renew my visa. A decision I’ve been tussling with for months. All I know is I’m not quite ready to roll out of LA yet. I am only now starting to feel at ‘home’…and see my networks developing and acting world gain wings.

This city is seductive. No doubt. The opportunities are infinite. I love being a ‘Californian girl’ and I think it suits me.

We all know LA is a city of dreams – where people come to try and make it. Get the ‘big break’. But I’ve come to see first hand how fleeting and desperate that can be, and what does it mean anyway?? What is a break? I don’t think you can say anything is certain in this town, or generally within the industry. Breaks can come and go. Opportunities present when you least expect it. Being surrounded by the constant hustle, it’s easy to get caught up in trying to get to the top…whatever that is. Don’t get me wrong…working your butt off, shooting for the stars, recognising achievement, committing to being your best, and encouraging one another to keep on keeping on, is vital.

Living in LA has forced me to think long and hard about the acting game. For the most part you’re surrounded by it, it some shape or form, and for this I am truly grateful. It’s the very reason I decided to make the move. To be a part of the buzzing hive. To be surrounded by people with creative dreams.

I’m learning to take myself and the actors journey less seriously, growing less attached and remembering it’s essentially about playing and finding the fun. I’ve realised the industry is a circus, an unpredictable beast, a constant rollercoaster, a marathon.

It can be so easy to stumble into holes and focus on the wrong things. But through my trips, falls and resurrections I’ve discovered an essence of what’s important when on this creative path, that can most definitely seep into general life.

It’s about doing what you love and being excited about it, on whatever scale. It’s about finding and creating the opportunities to do whatever this thing is, to the best of your ability. Creating relationships with people who speak the same language. Releasing expectations. Doing, sharing, discovering, practicing, experimenting, and knowing you’re but a tiny seed in this infinite cosmos, and why not express yourself to the fullest? That to move forward, you’ve got to work hard, every day. You’ve got to stay inspired and motivated. When you know and love who you are, find your truth and follow your intuition, then you can razzle dazzle with the best of them, and simply ‘be water, my friend’.

The Assimilation Game

You know you’re assimilating when…

You start to write the date backwards.

The emphasis in words begins to change, eg – pro-ject to proj-ect, pro-gress to prog-ress.

Petrol becomes gas, jumper > sweater, boot > trunk & bonnet > hood (car terms),  tracksuit pants > sweat pants, grill > broiler, bbq > grill… this list could go on and on.

L’s and U’s disappear from words – traveller > traveler, flavour > flavor, E’s and R’s trade places – theatre > theater and Z’s start replacing S’s – realise > realize.

Oh, and you no longer pronounce a Z as ‘zed’, it’s now ‘zee’.

You walk into auditions with an American accent and find yourself spinning stories of being one of those ‘mystical & real’ Angelenos.

You learn to sift through the bullshit when it comes to castings and everyday interactions.

You talk about film festivals, actors, directors, casting people, producers and the ‘biz’, all the time.

Denny’s restaurant chain feels like a trusted family member – one you can call on at all hours of the night or day and walk out feeling a solid sense of satisfaction.

Rad being used in conversation doesn’t feel awkward anymore and the 80’s flashbacks dissipate. You also start saying things like ‘they were blowing up my phone’ (calling/texting A LOT) or ‘raging face’ (to have tons of fun).

You start saying ‘sure’ and ‘right’ all the time; it becomes the new ‘yes’.

People working out at the gym in denim and/or loafers doesn’t make you shake your head quite so hard.

Kale comes into ear shot or conversation at least once a day.

Turning right on the red light (legal here) becomes normal. Though somewhere deep down inside I always feel like I’m winning when I do.

You get used to re-winding or pausing that movie/TV show because the helicopters (or ghetto birds) flying overhead are deafeningly loud at times.

You start eating salsa with your eggs on the regular.

Hot sauce pretty much accompanies everything.

You make sure to read bread labels and check the sugar content which is more often than not rather high.

You develop a ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’ mentality in regards to the ‘LA Cruise’, a lane changing technique that has complete disregard for indicating on the road.

You look back on your days of catching the bus and wonder how you ever did it.

You have an extensive back catalogue of happy hour and brunch spots.

Gluten free, vegan, lactose intolerant, and all those with particular dietary requirements out number those that do not.

You warmly embrace and like to conversate about KCRW radio station.

You find yourself overwhelmed by the number of TV shows being produced and find yourself watching 5 different series at once.

You start surfing.

Rain becomes a magical force that has you glued to the windows and feeling rather poetic.

School nights become hotter than weekends to hit the town.

Red carpets, bright lights and movie trucks become part of the everyday landscape.

20140223_155327You realize parking a good half meter from the curb and on a slight angle is totally acceptable  and although unsettling at first, much like everything else, becomes another quirk you eventually take on!

I’m sure there’s plenty more I could add to this…

18 months into the game…and here we are then! Getting Americanified!

Pieces of the puzzle

JUNE 2012

Propped up at the front desk of Meridian Day Spa I write. Today I am both receptionist and massage therapist. Last Friday I was a journalist. These are not acting roles, but the ventures on which I ride and survive. Coming to LA was more than just living the dream. It was a window to making creative dreams a reality – acting, writing, singing, recording and making my own projects. Giving birth to all the ideas that knock about in my imagination. I think I’m off to a good start.

Exactly five months have passed since I made my home in the City of Angels. It’s been a bumpy journey, full of highs and lows. Starting again is both delightful and fraught with doubt. There’s been an ebb and flow of excitement, promise, loneliness, frustration, fulfillment, magic, madness and exhaustion. As I type, I think of how much I’ve achieved in this short space of time. My cravings seem neverending; a hunger and curiosity that drives me forward. 7 years since graduating from acting school and many personal and creative mountains climbed.

When reflecting on my journey here in LA and the weeks and weeks of struggling to find work, a home, being offered measily wages, dealing with nut jobs on a daily basis, trying to understand the Hollywood brush off (where people literally say I’ll call you back in 5, and then don’t) I feel I am now gaining some stabililty. My head is slowly working out this city – a city unto it’s own. A rule book that changes it’s margins daily or on days can be non existant.

I managed to find work finally and have a part time position as a massage therapist at a lovely spa in the gay epicentre of west Hollywood. I work with a fabulous and friendly group of mostly gorgeous gay men and am developing some loyal clients that love the Brabenec style massage. ‘Dang girl, that was better than sex!’ annouced one happy client and another simply clapped as I exited the room repeating ‘Bravo, bravo’. Hilarious! The 50% pay cut is hard to swallow and relying on tips a whole new world of earning, but I am so very grateful to have this stability and appreciative customers. Up until recently I had a second job at another massage location very close to home in Koreatown – it was actually like working at a circus. Way too many indians and not one chief. It was a new business,  losing money hand over fist. Somedays I’d sit for 7 hours and see no clients and as my wage was based on commision and no flat rate, I would leave without a penny in my pocket! A depressing and time wasting exercise. Korea town is dotted with cheap massage spots – the competition is rife and prices low; an hours relaxation massage at Lotus where I worked, cost a bargain price of $29. I was making $15. My fellow therapists were a Korean guy named Golden in his late 50’s with minimal English skills, a love of wearing fishing style or silky vests always emblazoned with an American flag stick pin and a tool belt with all sorts of unnecessary tat hanging from it. Golden was a character who somedays tried to have 3 massage clients on the go at once, bouncing from one to the other in a frenzy of hands and oil, pummeling and pinching. He had no second thoughts about having a chat on his mobile whilst massaging, or switching up the relaxation music to blast Korean talk back radio whilst I was in session. Then came Essence, the cherry on the cake. Essence started just as I was in throes of bailing out. A 22 year old, with sugar daddies in Beverly Hills that ‘pay her bills’, 2 kids and a completely uncensored manner meaning I heard all about her sexual exploits, family drama and fisticuffs. It was entertaining for about 5 minutes.

I keep busy auditioning – I’ve booked a few great projects, submitting for acting work, networking, writing odd articles for an online magazine, studying, exploring LA, dating, tapping away at my personal projects, pottering in my vegetable garden and working out. I’ve joined the gym across the road from work that has an outdoor pool and after 5-6 hours of solid massaging I slip across and do some night swimming under the Cali stars, then soak in the jacuzzi surrounded by gossiping gay men and serious faced, gold laden Europeans.

I’ve become a dab hand on the public transport system and somedays have traveled all compass directions and home again without a hiccup. Public transport gets a bad rap, but it’s served me at the best of times. It seems so many people have never ridden on it as it’s perceived as too difficult or inefficient. It’s certainly not the London underground, nor uber sophisticated, but it works and is cheap. A weeks pass for train and bus costs 20 bucks. Unreal! Although travel can be long and annoying at times, I relish the chance to read, script study, chat and look out the window.  The character study one can do is priceless (: Saying this the convenience of a car is undeniable and in the coming months I’ll be looking to hit the road in my own vehicle, including home visits with massage.

So the smaller pieces have fallen into place. Hallelujah! Now it’s working towards something bigger – a break, some kind of in. A game of patience, hard work, luck and determination, plus a healthy sprinkling of faith. My life as an actress in LA.