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

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’.

MY HOOD: Harvard Heights

A huge part of what I love about traveling and living in a new country and city is exploring – discovering the cultural differences, the never seeDSC00311 (2)n before, having my senses brought to attention by images, sounds, smells and tastes that are different to what I know, experiencing a new style of life, finding excitement and inspiration. It’s both rich and rewarding to thirst for the new, to weave colorful pathways and vivid stories into the life journey. This to me is worth its weight in gold.

Harvard Heights – the little pocket of neighborhood with roots back to the turn of the 18th century where I live, speaks my language for this very reason. Located in the deep south of Korea town, near downtown LA, the area is like a mash up of Central America, and then just up the road, Korea.

DSC01707IMG_20130522_105325Once, one of the wealthiest districts in Los Angeles – it was an area that in the early 1900’s was home to a large Greek American population. A little east of here they now call the Byzantine-Hispanic district and there is still some distinct Greek presence. ‘Craftsman’ homes and a grand variety of architectural styles were built – beautiful double and triple storied, lofty, detailed looking gems. So many of the DSC01710surrounding streets are a vision, like West Adams, another little pocket (formerly known as Sugar Hill) a few blocks up the road. From the 1920’s – 50’s this area became the hot spot for the wealthiest of African-Americans; many entertainers and celebrities lived here, including Ray Charles. Seduced by the stunning mansions and properties. Interesting huh? IMG_20130528_123736 (2)

This influx of residents seemed to really establish the neighborhood, until the second world war hit. Post war the Greeks started relocating to West LA, a large working-middle class African-American population came and went, and over the decades the Hispanic community developed and never left.

Harvard Heights is definitely not Beverly Hills! It has a somewhat dilapidated feel, but then so does a lot of LA. Beautiful old homes in need of a lick of paint or some that have been separated into 2 – 4 apartments.

Sometimes when I walk around my neighborhood I feel like I’m in another country, somewhere south of the US border. IMG_20120225_155108 (2)The largest billboard for McDonalds at the end of our street is in Spanish. There’s a huge cemetery close by with rolling lawns and some interesting pyramid like catacombs. A beautiful Jesuit school (the oldest of it’s kind in California) is a local highlight, as well as a great Greek Orthodox cathedral with an incredibly ornate interior named St Sophia. Tom Hanks and his wife have donated huge amounts of money to this church I discovered recently at the local Greek Festival. During the day Mexican traders wheel by with food trolleys ringing bells or honking a horn selling corn, drinks and other Mexican goodness. It’s such a novelty!!!

Eenie meenie minee mo! Ice cream truck decisions!

Eenie meenie minee mo! Ice cream truck decisions!

The ice cream truck cruises the streets daily playing tinny electronic sounding theme songs (La Cucaracha is the main stay), men on the corner at the Uhaul truck hire gather outside whistling, hissing and greeting you as you pass by, mobile food sellers hang at the bus stops with bacon wrapped hot dogs sizzling, fruit sellers can be found on random corners, with mangoes and avocados stacked neatly, or there are those that have ice chests with a range of peeled and ready fruit to be chopped into a bag with a sprinkle of chilli on top.

On Friday nights and the weekend there’s Mexican style bbqs outside the stores, DSC00410delicious aromas wafting down the street, the sound of Pentecostal prayers, whooping and congressional praise and cars honking, the Hollywood sign hangs like a halo from the hills and some days there’s a great mist that rolls in from the ocean and clears the vista to grey. Nightly great lights beam into the sky from the Staples centre, Downtown,  and when there’s a game on there’s a great blimp that hovers above with a gigantic movie screen on it’s belly! On weekends Latino dance music pumps from neighbors yards, often jumping castles are erected for celebrations and glimpsed between houses, young and old hang out on their stoops chatting, drinking, smoking, listening to the radio and bbqing. Packs of young boys skateboard and fixie bike it around the streets with studded and plugged ear lobes and great Bieberesque sweeping fringes. I practice my basic Spanish greetings daily and have a number of trader friends that share a wave when out and about. I love the sense of community.

DSC00412DSC00407I am an avid lover of Mexican food and have been all my life. Everyday in LA is like paradise because I know, should I need a taco fix, I won’t have to go far, no matter what area I’m in. My local Tacos Loco DSC00401serves up delicious $2.50 chicken tostadas with salsa so good I’d write home about it. There’s an amazing Greek Tavera/Deli with Papa Christo running the ship – a man knee high to a grasshopper with a moustache so great it’s wider than his very own face. The cheese and olive selection alone in this joint results in serious  salivation. There are Nicaraguan, Guatemalan, Ecuadorian, Ethiopian, and Japanese restaurants, plus the regular plethora of take out outlets all in a ten minute stroll – burgers, chicken, donuts, burgers, donuts, smoothies, bagels, etc.

The minute you start heading north from my area the gallerias as they’re called – small to large style malls – start popping up everywhere in between Korean bbq houses,IMG_20120413_224601 Pho kitchens, Korean style cafes with interesting names like ‘Cafe Toe Bang’, massage places, acupuncturists, and a distinctly Korean population. The streets that span off from the main street hold some of the most beautiful art deco and French chateau style, mouth opening homes. The architecture draws me off track, just for another little look or to show a friend whilst I ooowoo and ahhhh, isn’t it beautiful?

IMG_20120605_201542IMG_20120408_161959DSC00051A trip to the local Korean mart is almost a weekly outing. Since my recent time in China I’ve become TOTALLY obsessed with dumplings! Thank goodness I can feed my devotion so easily! Aisles of foreign produce, frozen goodies, pickled fern fronds and exotic looking delights tempt me. If you time it right at the end of each aisle some days you’ll find a lady cooking daily specials – steaming delicious parcels or wee cups of broth with chopped fishballs. Inspiration for the next meal!

Welcome to my hood, Harvard Heights and it’s wonderfully diverse surrounds. Come pay me a visit some time… I’m a superb tour guide!