The NEXT 100 Days of Self-Taping!

Almost three months have passed since I completed The 100 Days of Self-Taping. It’s incredible how quickly one can fall out of a habit once the expectations and accountability fall away. I had high hopes of continuing self-taping, if not every day, at least multiple times a week. But I have to admit that, acting class and auditions aside, I have self-taped very little on my own. Life and excuses can so easily get in the way. This simply reinforces my observation that routine and accountability are absolutely key for me in practicing my art. Without those, it becomes a habit of saying, “Tomorrow!” And tomorrow never comes.

Rather than continuing to put things off, I am giving myself a deadline, another routine, a new system of accountability. The last time I was a part of a large group of people, led by The Great Discontent, doing The 100 Day Project. This time I will be leading a group of people in 100 Days of Self-Taping beginning November 1st, 2015. The main platform will be Instagram, using the hashtag #100daysofselftaping. If you would like to join me, follow and message me on Instagram. If you would like to tweak your 100 days into another artistic practice, go right ahead and make your own hashtag to track your progress. The main point is to be in this together, cheering each other on. Come on and join me!

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The 100 Day Project – 25 Days

I am 25 days in to The 100 Day Project. YAY! I am so glad that I started doing this and am grateful to The Great Discontent for initiating this. They say that it takes 21 days to create a habit. Well, I’ve passed that landmark! Woohoo!!! I think even after the 100 days are over I will still self-tape on a regular basis, even if only once or twice a week. It is such good practice. Here are a few thoughts that have emerged since beginning this project.

  • Self-taping doesn’t scare me anymore. My agent asked me to tape an audition the other day and my first thought was, “Yeah! Let’s do this.” Rather than, “Ugh. Okay. Let me figure this out.” When I had to tape an audition before, most of my focus went to the logistics, rather than the story I was experiencing. That is no longer the case.
  • Resistance to doing the work will always be there. On the days when it was stronger, instead of being defeated by it, I let it inspire me. One day when I wasn’t particularly feelin’ it I read Dr. Suess’ “Oh, the places you’ll go!” Some of those words I needed to hear myself say outloud. There was also a lot of satisfaction in just overcoming the resistance and doing something!
  • I am so glad I’m also taking Annie Grindlay’s acting class in which I am taped once a week and getting feedback. That is pushing me and giving me some areas to work on, on my own.
  • I am more aware of my strengths and weaknesses, in a good way. Along with getting feedback, on my own I can see where I’ve had some great moments and where I need to grow.
  • I’ve made some delightful discoveries. One being my improvised Awkward Office Lady… which you just might be seeing a bit more of.

I’ll be writing more about this, maybe at 50 and 75, but definitely at 100 days. If you haven’t already taken a look at my journey so far, you can go to my Instagram account and search #100daysofselftaping. You should also check out the thousands of other 100 day projects but searching #The100DayProject. It’s been really cool for me to share in this experience with other people and not just be in it on my own. Alright, 25 down, 75 to go!

Saying, “No, thanks!”

My biggest career goal right now is to find theatrical representation. Don’t get me wrong, I have other goals and projects I am working on. I’m not waiting around, as if theatrical representation is the answer to all my problems… BUT I also know it’s a big step in the right direction!

A couple months ago I had the chance to sign with an agent. She contacted me for a meeting after I had sent out an announcement that I would be on GRIMM. This was super exciting! My first meeting with an agent who could get me auditions for TV and Film in LA!

When we met, I had my questions prepared. I was ready to pitch myself and tell her how I could be an asset to her pool of actors. I was ready to do a monologue, if she asked me to. All, I’m told, great things to bring to an agent meeting!

Here are the highlights:

  • Very first thing, she wanted me to know that I was only allowed to “book out”(be unavailable for auditions and shoots) in June and December. No traveling was allowed any other time. {I totally understand an agent wanting you to be available because they are working really hard for you, so you should be available to audition when they get you one, but this still seemed a bit strict to me.}
  • Secondly, she wanted me to be okay with violence, nudity, language etc. No exceptions or stipulations. {While I may be lenient on where the line is for me on those things, I believe I still have a line and giving up any say in what I’m willing to do made me uncomfortable.}
  • I asked her why she wanted to have a meeting with me and she said I had a unique look. {Great! But I gathered that she hadn’t bothered to watch me on GRIMM or look at any of the footage on my website(info that was one click away in the email I sent). It kind of bothered me that she had no idea how good of an actor I am. I want someone to represent me because they believe in my talent and skills, not just because I have a “castable face”, as flattering as that may be.}
  • She said she doesn’t “type cast” her actors, she lets the casting directors decide how someone should be cast. {WHICH on the one hand is kind of liberating! I could play anything. I CAN play anything! BUT does that mean she isn’t actually doing her job, trying to pitch me where I have the best chances of being cast?}
  • She works with some prestigious casting offices on some really popular shows. {Being able to walk in those rooms as soon as tomorrow is such a tempting prospect!}

I left the meeting feeling very torn. I felt that I had done well in the meeting: asked good questions, represented myself well, etc. but I wasn’t sure she was the right fit. The biggest thing that bothered me was not being able to have a say in whether or not I did nudity, violence etc. It gave me the feeling that with her my career could go in a direction that I never wanted.

In retrospect the decision should have been easy. If a situation, person, idea is making you that uncomfortable or uneasy, say “No, thanks!” and walk away. Duh! I ended up calling a friend who has been in LA for a while and talking through my options. She told me, “Follow the peace. If there isn’t peace, walk away.” It was my desperate nature that wanted to latch on to something even if it wasn’t the best, just because it was something. But something is not always better than nothing.
As soon as I decided to NOT go with that agency, I felt at peace. Of course I still wanted representation, but it was clear that this was not the right agency for me. The right agency is out there and I will find it… soon!

Finding the Right Teacher

A couple years ago, when I first arrived in LA I audited a whole bunch of classes and wrote a wish list of the ones that interested me the most. Then, last year I was able to take Annie Grindlay’s Advanced Intensive Audition Experience. It changed my life! Well, maybe not my life, but my acting, which in turn changed my life. With my previous training, I felt well prepared for auditioning and developing a character in theatre(in other words, when you have time to figure things out), but not super confident when approaching the limited time frame you have with film and TV auditions.

Photo of Annie Grindlay from anniegrindlay.com
Photo of Annie Grindlay from AnnieGrindlay.com

Soon after taking Annie’s class I booked The Reel Deal with this audition (even though the show was postponed, I’m still really proud of my work). Then I booked a feature film in Seattle over the summer and GRIMM last fall. Booking jobs aside, I feel more confident going into auditions and I know my acting has improved. Just yesterday, I had a coaching session with Annie in preparation for an agent showcase and I was reminded of all the reasons I love working with her. I left, having worked out the kinks, confident in my performance, and ready to have a great showcase!

If you’re an actor reading this, looking for a teacher, I highly recommend you check out her FREE Workshop/Audit!!! Hey, IT’S FREE–which not a lot of things in LA are. BUT, here’s the thing. I’m raving about Annie Grindlay, but she may not be the right teacher for you, just like I didn’t click with all the teachers who came highly recommended to me. She also may not be the right teacher for me in a couple years. I know at some point I will move on to someone else who can help me with a different area of acting. But for now, I know I’m where I’m supposed to be.

Here are a few questions I’ve come up with to help me find the right teacher:

  • Does the teacher’s philosophy connect with me?
  • Is this teacher helping me with the area(s) that I want to improve?
  • Is my acting better, whether or not this teacher is present? (In other words, is this teacher giving me tools to take home or just teaching me to rely on their coaching?)
  • Do I feel the money I am paying is worth every penny and then some?
  • Can I see/feel a difference in my acting?

Listen to your instincts. If you’re on the fence about a teacher, they’re probably not the right one. Look around. Find the one who speaks to you where you are right now. In LA, there’s bound to be at least one!

Entering the Marathon

Over the last couples years I have been going back and forth between Seattle and LA. My LA stints have ranged from 3 days to 4 1/2 months. Now I am a permanent resident of Southern California and it feels good! For as much as I have accomplished in the last couple years and as thankful as I am that I could live in two cities, I am so happy to be able to focus my attention on one place.

It occurred to me over the last couple weeks as I am settling into this new life, that this time is different. I was telling a friend that I was anxious to get out there, audition, find my agent, dive into pilot season. She stopped me. “Charissa, you have time. You need to make your home and get use to life here. You’ll need that to be able to sustain life here.” Right. Yes. That helped me take a step back and breathe. When I was here before, I had no life to establish; I just jumped right in to the acting stuff. I had a pretty singular focus, with a very limited time line. I was in a sprint. Now I’m in the marathon.

Now my whole life is here. I need a safe space. I need balance. I need routine. I need sustainability. All of that will take time to establish. During the Superbowl, a car commercial came on with the tortoise and the hare. They twisted the ending of the beloved story a little bit, BUT it reminded me that slow and steady wins the race. I’m not in this for a couple months. I’m in this for life. Taking a couple weeks to set up my life is working towards that end goal. A runner wouldn’t consider going out there without the proper gear. I’m making sure my gear is together as I get ready for the long haul.

Let the LA marathon begin!

CAST on THE REEL DEAL: Season 1!!!

Hello family, friends, and fans,

If you follow me on any other social media platform(Twitter Facebook or Instagram) then you have already heard the news: I have been cast on the first season of the new reality TV show, The Reel Deal!!! If you’ve been following me at all over the last few months this is not the first time you have heard me mention this opportunity. It has been a long audition process starting back in February. If you look back at my previous posts you can follow all the steps I went through to get to this point. In some ways I still can’t believe that I have actually been cast. You work so hard for something and when it actually comes true, it feels a bit surreal. From the beginning, I remember thinking that THIS time, I actually had a shot at this. It seemed like everything in my life had perfectly alined and that all my recent experiences had prepared me for this show. I have never had that feeling quite this strongly before. For sure I have really, really wanted to be cast in something, very badly. But I have never felt the calm confidence that I was perfect for this and this was perfect for me. On May 29th, starting at 8 AM, The Reel Deal starting announcing a cast member every 10 minutes. I woke up a little after 8 and thought, “Oh, I guess I should check to see what’s happening.” Two cast members had already been announced. I went to Facebook and told my friends to start following the casting by searching #TheReelDeal. I switched back to Twitter and seconds later they tweeted THIS:

Let me tell you, it is one of the weirdest ways I have ever been told I was cast in something. No phone call. No personal email. No, the WORLD knew at the same moment I did. Two minutes later my Aunt(who is not on Twitter and is barely on Facebook) called me to Congratulate me! I couldn’t figure out how she knew(I’d barely had time to tell me husband who was right next to me). She said her best friend had been on Facebook… where I had told people to watch Twitter and friends had already started congratulate me before I even had the chance to announce it… and she sent my Aunt a text. CRAZY world of social media updates!!!

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 10.25.12 AMLast Thursday was quite a whirlwind. So many tweets. So many congratulations on Facebook. And then I had to go nanny… because yes, I still have a normal person job. Then I went to perform in my play that night. By the way… I’M IN A PLAY RIGHT NOW! Come see “Diana of Dobson’s” at Taproot Theatre. And my wonderful cast greeted me with cheers and THIS written on the mirror in our dressing room. After the show a few friends went out with me to celebrate! Even as we were sitting around the table in the bar and someone turned to me saying, “Aren’t you just SO EXCITED?!” I didn’t know what to say. It still hadn’t really sunk in yet. You work towards something and think about it in this hypothetical realm for so long; it takes a little time to let that sink in to the realm of reality(no pun intended).

It’s been almost a week now, so I think it’s actually sinking in now! July 10th-17th I will be in LA filming a reality show about film-making. I will be one of 25 actors, 5 directors, 6 writers, and 6 composers, who will be divided into 7 teams to be led by 6 celebrities to each make a movie in 4 days! WOW! I can’t wait! Stay tuned for all the updates to come!

P.S. I can’t end this post without saying how thankful I am for each and every one of you. So many of you have gone out of your way to tell me how much you believed in me, saying “Of course you were cast!” That is so kind… but I am also aware there are so many reasons I might not have been cast, having nothing to do with who I am, talented or not(as evidence by the many talented people who did not make it on Season 1). Regardless, thank you for believing in me even when I couldn’t manage to believe in myself. Even when I was so tired of auditioning and NOT getting cast. Even when I doubted the trajectory of my life and if it all was worth while. Even when I was ready to quite. THANK YOU ALL for standing by me and cheering me on. I really have no idea what this opportunity means for my career. It could go no where, but I am now in a place where I realize that the end is not the goal, the goal is to live each day with purpose and enjoy the journey. I AM ENJOYING THE JOURNEY! Thanks for riding along!

Interviewed by the Ballard News-Tribune!

As a part of being a Finalist for The Reel Deal, press releases went out to all of the local newspapers about this exciting opportunity. Seattle’s local paper, the Ballard News-Tribune, contacted me letting me know that they would love to do an interview. Last week, I was able to talk to Christy Wolyniak for about 40 minutes and answer her various questions. We not only talked about The Reel Deal, but my experience as an actor and my new production company, Light a Match Productions! Enjoy.

Read the article Here!!!

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