Crybaby

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The only time I feel kinship with male porn stars is when I have to cry on camera. It is the actor-version of a porn star having to ‘get it up’. You can’t fake it….and there is no fluffer for tears.

In real life, I love a good cry….and seem to cry at the drop of a hat.  Tears help me through the loss, hurt, and the slings and arrows that each of us have to wade through in life.  But I can also find myself crying over news stories, commercials, books, weddings, births, beautiful songs, breathtaking choreography, particularly anything that is unexpected compassion…stories involving animals or children… people overcoming adversity or rising to a challenge, people being their very best selves…  Let’s just say there are a lot of things that resonate with me and can bring me to tears. I’ve learned there are topics and conversations I have to avoid, because they immediately pull me down to a level of emotion I can have a hard time crawling out of. 

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The beauty and the horror of the world can overwhelm, and yes, it can feel so good to let go. To dive into big emotions and let those waves wash over you. But having to cry ‘on cue’ is another animal entirely….it gives me massive compassion for guys with erectile dysfunction. Your “tool” works on any normal day – but under pressure you can experience performance anxiety. You can find yourself sobbing during rehearsal, then with cameras rolling, with the sun going down and needing to get this shot RIGHT NOW, and with dozens of eyes on you silently screaming ‘cry!’, you may find your self dry as a (…yes, I had to do it …pun somewhat intended) bone, and you suddenly wish there was a form of Viagra to produce tears. That is where the training kicks in.

Acting is hard to describe to ‘civilians’. It is manufacturing truth. But it is TRUTH. At the dawn of movie history acting was dismissively described as ‘shaming’ or ‘posturing’. But acting that connects with the audience is committing so fully to what is happening in the scene that you are blurring the line between you and your character – really living that experience, being fully in the NOW.

Your goal is to be so ‘in the moment’ that all emotion floods naturally, and you can’t make a wrong move. It’s not about TRYING (that never works, and just looks like you are TRYING- which is painful)… it’s about BEING.  In the midst of the chaos on set, that can be more of a challenge than you can imagine. The pressure to deliver results and to deliver them this second can be terrifying.  If only there was a little blue pill.  

Apparently this is a fear I was meant to face, as almost every job I’ve had for the last two years has asked/required me to cry. I’ve had my daughter kidnapped, my lover murdered, was kidnapped myself, forced to kill someone to save my children, I’ve been beaten up, had loved ones killed before my eyes, been emotionally unstable, raped and tortured. Whew.…it’s been a brutal couple years. (Btw, universe, let’s try some lighter fare for a while!)

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Not long ago, I had a writer friend excitedly call me to discuss an idea for my character in a project we were working on together. His idea was that in every episode of the season, my character would burst into tears which he commented “will be easy for you because you cry on cue”. Though the idea was actually hilarious for the character, I thought about punching him in the balls. I have no idea how to cry on cue…though I wish I could. It is instead often a stressful and misery-making task, that leaves you emotionally drained and often in a funk all day. Yes, there are those rare, mysterious birds who are able to drop tears at a moment’s notice…some special ‘muscle’ they have control over, like the random people who can wiggle their ears or arch either eyebrow….but they are few and far between. I’ve only known one actress who could truly cry on cue and she booked a lot of jobs because of it. I was surprised when she admitted she always believed she was a fairly bad actor because she never felt the emotion, she just had the ability to control her tear ducts.

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There are behavioral psychologists who study emotion and how our bodies function, and it is fascinating to hear them talk about studying actors during performance. That the best actors truly transform themselves and their most intimate body functions follow obediently along… they sweat, pulse races, pupils will dilate, faces will flush and tiny muscles that are impossible to manipulate on cue…will nevertheless be stimulated when one is truly crossing the line between their life and the life of the character.

Reminds you of the elusiveness and the purity of good acting. It is also the reminder of the respect you must have for the character between action and cut. You can’t be flooded with your own life, your own junk (unless it is helpful).  You have to be so engaged with the life of the character that you experience it all and it feeds your performance. I remember an acting coach talking about watching an audition for the role of a woman who had just lost her husband. The audition had a distracted quality. When asked, the actress admitted she was unfocused, that she had car trouble on the way to the audition, that she had missed an important call and had other things on her mind. The director stopped her…. while all of that was undoubtedly true, he made a point that I’ve never forgotten. During that 5 minutes, none of her sundry issues should have mattered… everything was about having enough respect for the character to be fully in that moment living and breathing her life. And a woman who has just lost her husband, doesn’t care about the car trouble, or the missed phone call, or the rent that is due…. so in those 5 minutes, neither should you.

Don’t tell me I have to cry. Don’t write in the script that the character is uncontrollably sobbing and expect that to be gospel. Maybe it’s ego – but demand something of me and I’ll instantly want to refuse. Just tell me to be in the moment…trust that as the actor you’ve hired, I’ve done my work and I know my character and whatever should happen WILL happen. Acting should be like real life – which isn’t always predictable – sometimes you keep it together when your world is falling apart other days the tiniest thing makes you fall to pieces. I find it far more interesting to watch someone fight to not cry. Just like playing drunk is about fighting to look sober.

So…it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to…at least I hope I will…I plan to.   I’m really gonna try.   But if an actor-version of Viagra does come along, sign me up for a sample.

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Breadcrumbs & Pots of Gold.

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Are you?   There is a certain smugness…a self-satisfaction artists often have.  Even when their mojo isn’t working, they are still attempting to do what they love, chasing their dream.  It’s a luxury not everyone has {discovering what their dream is, let alone being able to attempt it}.   It’s a strange journey, freeing and also one that makes you a bit of a prisoner.  A love affair you stubbornly cling to even when it starts to fall apart.  Persevere though you’ve been cheated, faithful to the promise of a happy ending.  It’s a marriage contract between your reality and your dreams. For better or for worse?  For richer or for poorer?  When do you throw in the towel?    I’m far from throwing in the towel, but I am ready for some change.

Currently, when asked about my career – I describe it as a ‘tapas menu’.  Luckily, I have several little things going on (2 films, a radio show, 2 popular web series, videogames, staged readings, etc) but I’m looking for a new main course.   I’m tightening my belt hoping the entrée is just around the corner.     I’m ready for a feast!

I’ve been talking to friends about this new ‘illusion of working’.    In the past 5 or so years, the economy of acting has drastically changed.  Partly when the writers strike happened which changed the landscape of the industry and the contracts, and partly with the advancement of technology and digital filmmaking.   It means that on one hand more work is being done than ever before, more quickly and for less money.   On the other hand it means it is harder than ever to stand out and get attention, so the studio work is ever more difficult to land.  It also means the pay for all of this work has dropped dramatically.

It is easy to suddenly feel how overwhelming the odds are…but you have to remember there ARE opportunities out there.   Keep walking forward!

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I’ve been working a lot the past few years, and I am shocked when I realize you can work consistently and find your bottom line has been ‘dropping like its hot’.  I find this crazy-making, but I also find this is par for the course in my peer group.     We are all hustling to get traction and reach the jobs that are steady and can still provide a living.  To book those jobs that can still turn into amazing opportunities that will potentially butter your bread for a lifetime – at least if you manage it right.  But those jobs are scarce.

As pay rates keep going down each year, you have this widening gap, between wealthy super stars and those struggling to make it work. It feels a bit like the death of the middle class actor.  The actor who worked all the time and made their living ONLY acting, but wasn’t super famous (hey I know that guy…but what is his name?).  There has always been a misconception of how the working-actor lives.  The public only hears about the mega pay-day that the top stars get, but this is entirely unrepresentative of most of the industry.   Its like comparing the CEO to the secretary.

Pretty soon I fear seeing actors hanging out outside of studios like day laborers in front of Home Depot.  Just hoping that someone will drive by and pick them for a day of underpaid, under-supervised, underwhelming work…but still work.

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Aaaaaaahhhhhhhh!   But then I calm down and reassess.  Things are different now.

Almost everyone I know is doing jobs now or accepting pay now that they would have never considered 10 years ago (sure I’ll do that short film for free- or that ‘co-star role’  or that web spot, or that {hopefully} viral video…’you never know what will hit!’)  You can’t help feeling like you are going backwards – but you also have to accept this is the new reality.  Readjust your thinking.  It’s the wild west and you have to carve out your piece of the pie.  Mine for the gold.  And we’ve gone from out right ignoring all of the ‘ultra low budget breakdowns’ to actively hoping some of them will hire you.   Pragmatically, you don’t want to lose your insurance….but it’s also about building your career, your homestead brick by brick, now that we are in this new frontier.

It gives you the exhilarating and terrifying opportunity to think of things in a different way – to channel your inner mogul.   Make it happen in ways that weren’t even considered in the past.  Yee-haw.

I see breakdowns sometimes that just blow my mind – ultra low budget deferred, you must cover your own travel and includes nudity, submit star names only.   Gee, sign me up.  Wait, no seriously, sign me up.    Ok, not really, I do have my standards – but you get what I’m saying.    Also, years ago it would have been impossible to imagine a star name being submitted for this….but lately it’s happening.   This is horrifying on one hand – and amazing on the other.   Everything is in flux.

I ran into a friend at a voice over audition the other day.   The material was quite gnarly.  It was a commercial for a restaurant, but needed to sound like a phone sex add.   We commiserated afterwards that we couldn’t believe we’d gone in for it…we were both disgusted and semi-humiliated by the content  “its the worst thing I’ve ever read, its terrible”. But we also both semi-joked.. “oh, I hope I get it!”    And though we cringed at the material, it was a great paying national job.   And you hate being in that position.   Hoping you book the project, but embarrassed to admit that you did. Not being in the position to turn it down.

When I was younger, I felt like a genius for picking this career.   Lately I occasionally think “why didn’t I go to law school?”.  If only because taking that route makes it easier to predict and count on the outcome.  Stability and predictability can seem like tantalizingly exciting ideas when they are out of your reach.   There’s a very specific frustration that comes along with having just enough to keep you pressing forward, but not enough to confidently build a life/career on.    It makes it hard to find a sense of peace.   Hard to feel you have the security to start a family, buy a house, or take that big trip, or even leave town… for fear of missing opportunities.     But this is a career that has benefits that are extraordinary.   ‘Spoils of victory’  that will take your breath away –they are worth the fight, the struggle, the persistence.

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I once heard it said that out-of-work-actors are to LA, what homeless people are to Calcutta.  That comparison is obnoxious and in obvious bad taste, but there is a grain of truth in the observation of the pervasiveness.  People arrive by the thousands each year, hoping to make it.   Many get swallowed up by the journey. Some are weeded out by lack of talent, or lack of good judgment or lack of funds.  Some come face to face with their own demons.  Some realize they only wanted fame and move on to other ways of getting attention.   That still leaves a wealth of incredibly talented actors in the mix pounding the pavement every day.   The actor who is between jobs is still working – each day attending meetings, classes, auditions, writing, rehearsing – just not getting paid for it.    They are taking the initiative and practicing alchemy…truly making something out of nothing.   Turning something of little obvious value into GOLD.

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There is a renaissance of people doing their own projects.   This is fantastic creatively and I’m lucky to be part of and to watch as so many of my friends aren’t waiting for studios, but are doing it themselves.  Creating brave, smart, unique projects that are inching their way into the mainstream.  But the vast majority of these projects aren’t yet paying the bills.

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I was talking to my sister the other day and telling her about this interesting job I was offered, I ended with – “but of course there is no pay.”   And she said – “oh, you’re doing more charity acting”.   I laughed at this description and also loved it.  Charity acting.   I’m adopting that phrase.   No its not SAG-Ultra low budget deferred…..its me donating my skills for a worthy cause.   Maybe I can write that off on my taxes.

The fear of being part of the ‘has been’ crowd is deeply embedded in all of us. We see fortunes changing every day.  We see both sides of the mountain…the rags to riches and the boom to bust multiple times in one career.  I recently found a book at the used book store that was a compilation of the ‘biggest stars of 1999’  – the shocker of the book is that very few of them are still working, still celebs, still known.    To be big enough to be included in a book like that – and to have vanished a decade later – is stunning.   It keeps you on your toes!

I never want to be the girl that stays too late at the party.   I don’t want to miss my cue to exit.   Don’t misunderstand, I’m hoping this ‘show’  is just getting started and continues to run for years….but I’m aware that is usually an industry with an expiration date. Know when to fold them.  Know when to walk away. I’m feeling at a crossroads trying to figure out the choreography of my next few moves.  How to finally reach the next level that will allow me to share the deep well of work I have burning inside me…and to find happiness during the lean times when the only audience who truly appreciates and witnesses your brilliance is your dog.

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I was talking to a friend recently who knows my work and has great expectations for my career.  She talked about signs from the universe. I am working consistently. I have good feedback. I’ve carved out a career I’m proud of without connections, without knowing anyone.     She told me that I had to focus on the breadcrumbs…that the universe was giving me  – these consistently positive signs that I am still on the right track.

So how much faith do you put in breadcrumbs? How do you interpret them…is it great you are working or is the sign that it isn’t more/better work?   How long do you put up with the struggle? And then the “aha!” hits you.  The breadcrumbs ARE the feast.   Celebrate all of the successes – even the minor ones. Don’t miss the extraordinary ‘now’.  Let go of your ‘plan’ and trust that it is all coming together as it should.  Put your best out there and believe it will come back to you.  You will lose your mind if you think of it any other way.

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Sometimes auditions suck a bag of dicks.

Apologies for the vulgarity…but it’s true.

You sometimes sit in your car afterwards…shell-shocked, trying to understand what just happened. I don’t know a single actor without audition horror stories.   Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment – but I find it hilarious to look back at some of these sticky situations.   When you decide to be an actor, you really have no idea what you are getting into.   You picture the work…not the process of getting there.

Some days being an actor, even an actor between jobs, rocks.  Some auditions are gifts.   You are on THE LOT, you have reserved parking (these small things can feel like lotto winnings when they are rare).  It feels glamorous and ‘old-Hollywood’.  You feel part of something important when the project is one you WANT to be part of, with people you are excited to work with. The character speaks to you and you KNOW you can not only do the job beautifully, but you can bring fire to the role that no one else can. You can bring the character to life, and surprise even the writer and creator with your connection, insight and delivery of the material.   You feel like a warrior who is conquering.   When you nail an audition it is magic, – like real magic where you transport someone to another place and time and can bring them to tears, turn them on, scare them, take their breath away, get them to laugh or to REALLY SEE YOU like they hadn’t before you created that magic.  It is incredibly fulfilling, validating and POWERFUL.   You feel invincible – because, when you truly connect, you can not make a wrong choice.  Everything you do sizzles with heaping spoonfuls of YES(!) and they can’t get enough.

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….but many auditions are an exercise in humiliation.

They say actors go on more job interviews in a week, than most people do in a lifetime.   With the stakes being this high and the odds being against you, the pressure is on.  The wins can be epic…and the failures can be spectacular.

Add this to the fact that auditions are freakin’ weird – and you have a recipe for disaster.

Auditioning and acting are two very different skills.   In an audition, you are reading with someone who is usually not an actor and is just sitting in a chair next to the camera, feeding you all of the other characters lines, often monotone, and completely unengaged with you.   There is no interaction between the actor and reader, no props, sets, costumes or anything to ‘fill’ the moment.  Just your read.   For chatty dramatic scenes, or witty comedic banter this is cool… for complicated action scenes, or really any scene that involves any action – this can be absurd. Picture saying your lines while simultaneously pretending to be skydiving, or being killed, or worse – having sex, and you start to picture the cringe worthy event that is an audition. Not to mention you are trying to do the best you can with this crazy situation while your ‘audience’ (casting director, writer, producers, director etc) may be eating lunch or texting or looking through a stack of headshots  (“No keep going”, they’ll say.   “I can see everything you are doing”   What? No you can’t. Not properly.)

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Side note: (I am amused and horrified that they have started including footage of auditions as part of DVD commentary…as mentioned above, sometimes it is magic, but sometimes even for A-listers who were brilliant in the role, the auditions just feel sad and humiliating as they stand there pretending to fend off an invisible attacker using the sides as an imaginary knife.  WHY are they showing the world this crazy part of the process that doesn’t make anyone look good??)

Sometimes auditions are the 7th circle of Hell.

(Most) actors aren’t mimes, so the potential ridiculousness of this advanced level of charades can’t be underestimated.

Picture for instance, you must convince us you are driving a car through a fiery inferno and shooting a gun, after being stabbed in the neck by the alien in the passenger seat,   and simultaneously disarming a bomb in the glove box-  all while delivering a dramatic I’m sorry/forgive me monologue in a South African accent over the phone to your dying wife that should leave us in tears. Don’t forget that the stakes are enormous, not only is making your mortgage on the line – but this is one of those roles in a major project that could take you to the ‘next level’.  And ACTION!   That audition may leave someone in tears, but between you and casting, it’s probably not casting.    It’s you in your car afterwards as you think ‘what the eff am I doing with my life’.

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Auditions are spinning the roulette wheel.   You never know what you are gonna get.  And whatever that is, you show up and do the best you can with what you are given.  After 15 years working, I still have auditions arrive and think ‘what am I supposed to do with this material’?  How can I pull this off without looking like a complete asshat?

I have endless examples of audition material that is heinous and embarrassing…. But instead I’ll focus on the situation itself.  Regardless of the material, auditions can be insane.  Here is a sampling of crazy things that have happened when I was auditioning….and btw, these are not tiny projects…this is the real deal stuff.

Being in the waiting room, thinking you are on a final call back for a project – but overhearing the casting director in the next room, on the phone discussing how they already hired someone for this job, but called you back in because they want to put you on tape, to show the actress they did hire, what they would like her to do.    Yes, this happened.

Being asked to audition in a famous producers living room because they didn’t want to come into the office.   Getting there and having to do a dance routine (expected, as this was the role of a dancer) but almost being attacked by the large pet Doberman Pinscher  who interpreted my high kicks as threatening to his owner.    Yes, this happened too.

Being asked if I could be taller, have bigger boobs, if I could pass for Eskimo, Iranian, 15, 46,  if I could bring additional funds to the project, if I could get some of my famous friends interested,  – or this one – if I wanted to be set up on a date with their brother.  Umm, what?

Having the reader suddenly try to inappropriately touch me or kiss me in the scene.  #ewww  Not threatening, just not acceptable!

Having the reader who was suffering from an obvious hangover, stand up, walk across the room and throw up, in the middle of my read.   Yes, for real.

Having the casting director lose it during my audition – just start sobbing, and that turning into me counseling them on the divorce they were in the middle of.

Having the sprinklers in the building go off .   Yep.

Having my car stolen from the studio valet.  (Returned about 30 minutes later when they realized I was looking for it…it was ‘borrowed’ to go pick up lunch.  What?  Yes.)

Having the casting directors dog throw up.   I tried not to take that personally.

Having the reader make it all about them – trying to book a job they aren’t even in the running for.  This backfired on them, but was awkward for all of us.

Or this one…I recently auditioned for a project where they were casting two characters in the session – the character I was going in for…and ‘Missy’ a transsexual.  I have to admit, I was intimidated by how stunning most of these ‘Missy’s’ were in the waiting room.    So, I walk into the  office for the reading and should I be offended or complimented by the fact that the CD started reading me for the Missy role?   I chose to  feel quite fly.

There was a show (no longer on the air) that had a bit of a love affair with me.   They brought me in 17, yes you read that correctly – seventeen– times in 2 years  (15 times straight to producers) and never hired me. Things like that blow my mind. So close, yet so far.

Or this gem:  A friends of mine was testing for a huge new series and was thrown out of the building at the final callback for network because the company president was offended, and found it disrespectful that he was wearing flip flops instead of ‘real shoes’ to audition for his project.  (the flip flops were appropriate to the beach-bum character, and worn at each previous audition, btw)

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Sometimes the frustration comes after the fact-

I had a producer come up to me at an event a few years after I had auditioned for his series.   He was excited to come up and re-introduce himself and tell me the ‘funniest story’ about how  “He loved me at my audition and wanted to cast me as a lead role in his series, but they lost my photo and couldn’t remember my last name and eventually gave the part to another girl.   But it wasn’t that big of a deal, the series only lasted a year.  Isn’t that hilarious!”      No, that’s not even a little bit funny.  You and I have totally different definitions of what qualifies as amusing.  Would you excuse me a minute while I go cry in the corner?  Thanks.   Even if he was exaggerating…that story sucked.

Being replaced at the last second after being hired, when they found a bigger name to take the role.    Ouch.

You never know what is behind the door.    It may be your dreams coming true.     Or it might be fodder to entertain your friends over dinner.     The absurdity blends into one giant kaleidoscope of mayhem that you have to wear like a badge of pride to avoid being sucked into a downward spiral.  Luckily, the moments you covet, the ones that really stick to your ribs, are the ones where the magic happens.   Where you hold the audience in the palm of your hand and bend them to your will.

Fresh faces – actors just off the bus, with no expectations, (and no resume) book more than their fair share of work. I imagine casting is often attracted to the girl who is just happy to be there and doesn’t care what she is asked to do.  She’s game for whatever and doesn’t know any better.    It gets more frustrating as you get older – you have less patience with the gamble of what is on the other side of the casting door.  You feel you’ve paid your dues and have less tolerance for the goofy experiences you feel should be far behind you at this point in your career….and I’m sure that can occasionally feel off putting to those in charge.

I was chatting with some girlfriends the other night – swapping war stories – and we all agreed we had a bit of a chip on our shoulders that had built up over the years from dealing with so many strange and disheartening experiences.

We came up with a new motto:    We are cashing in our chips!    

Leaving our chip(munk)s behind: Image

Starting fresh.   With renewed optimism and eager to play.  Just don’t ask us to mime.

Want more audition horror stories?  Check out this great show:   http://www.worstauditioneverblog.com/

Or the fantastic documentary Showing Up  at  http://www.showingupmovie.com/

Bonus thought:   *Chipmunk on your shoulder is much cuter than a chip. Image

Adventures in Cleavage

I walked onto a set about a year ago and was quickly whisked off to wardrobe to be fitted for a dress for the scene I was about to shoot.   As I undressed, the wardrobe stylist looked me up and down and said (in a sorority girl delivery) “awwww, your breasts are so cute “.

Umm, what?!

Did I hear that correctly? Surely not.  Cute?  Cute?!  Of all the adjectives I would like to hear used to describe my breasts, cute is probably not in the ballpark of what you want to go with, if you are trying to buddy up to me.     Not to mention, I was there to be sexy – and damnit, I was sexy, not cute!

For the record, my breasts may be small – but they are mighty.  I’m very happy with them.  I grew up as a dancer, and I have always loved a ballet dancers sleek, streamlined figure. I find nothing as sexy as the sensuality, grace and strength dancers have.  I feel sexy, powerful and fierce when I am in fighting form.  I happen to love my body.  That doesn’t mean I don’t see a million flaws that I am constantly battling, but I know when I am focused and working out and treating myself well, I am grateful and happy with what I was given….including my delicious ‘A’ cups.   And even after moving to Hollywood where the impression is that you need “Double D’s” to get attention, I still feel the same way. It never crossed my mind to wish for a bigger rack.  I’m sure I’ve lost out on some roles, but not roles that truly appeal to me.

None the less, breasts do play a big role in my work life.   I was recently discussing with friends, the on-screen adventures my breasts have had through various characters and wardrobe.  While I haven’t done nudity, I’m endlessly fascinated by the illusions that we can create for film and television.  How we design characters to appeal to an audience or to tell their story through their look.

Enter Livia stage left:  Image

Holy Boobs Batman!  I was floored, truly flabbergasted looking in the mirror at my Xena wardrobe fitting. The wardrobe department were miracle workers and savvy architects! I had these massive breasts out of nowhere.  I found them to be ridiculous and also loved flaunting this powerful new tool I didn’t normally have. [ I also clearly remember the awkward phone call with my Dad who asked if I had surgery after watching my first episode.   Doh!  ]

When I mentioned my amazement at my décolletage to Lucy Lawless, she joked that the actresses on the show have generally the same length hair, same skin tone and same breast size…because upon arrival, the magic machine that was the vanities department on Xena transformed you with hair extensions, body make up (we were all various non-human shades of  “Barbie!”) and spectacular bras and padding to make us as visually appealing as we were skilled with our weapons (which was also a cool illusion).

Foolishly, I made the rookie mistake of reading online feedback about my debut on the series. This was my first experience with online criticism and the venom that online anonymity can encourage. It was a lesson immediately learned: Its none of my business what you think of me.  I have to put my best (breasts?) out there and let it go.  The opinions of others can’t determine your satisfaction with your work (or with your appearance).

This aside is applicable to my cup size because I had a mini-meltdown upon returning to New Zealand and getting a new set of wardrobe – without the massive padding.  Had my characters new found religious fervor somehow deflated her bosom? Not sure.  Normally I would not have batted an eye and just rolled with it….but after my recent reading of message boards and reviews, all I could think of was how many people would potentially be discussing and critiquing my body, my private space – and I was (to my horror!) suddenly in full blown tears while standing in the wardrobe room being pinned into my costume.  I had no personal interest in having big tata’s….but I didn’t want the sudden absence of them to create the opportunity for a renewed focus on my body by thousands of very vocal people online.   I just felt too vulnerable.  The wardrobe department and I talked about continuity and for better or for worse, as you can tell from the pictures, the rack was back!

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I have since grown a thicker skin (as is obvious from this boob blog). You MUST have a sense of humor as an actor.  You are a tool, a prop.  (As is your cleavage.)   The fun and occasional frustration of that fact, comes from your appearance and how it is used.   It makes each audition and each job a bit more of an adventure and is sometimes nerve-wracking or frightening when you are forced to use a flaw you would rather hide. I’m lucky, in that I’m a bit of a chameleon on screen, playing a wide range of looks from buttoned up and demure to wild and crazy. I love that I can represent so many types of women and turn femininity on its head by tweaking the presentation.  It always amuses me that Hollywood seems to want to categorize you when we all know the work itself is about creating illusions – and that very few women fall into 1 stereotype.

Career wise, my chi-chi’s have now gone on to have a diverse career in their own right:

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In real life I  never wear a padded bra…i hate it. It feels foreign, uncomfortable and not like me.

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….but I am endlessly fascinated by the illusion one can create with wardrobe in every day life too.  Two photo examples below – these were taken less than 45 minutes apart at the same photo shoot.  And bras weren’t even involved. #Wow.

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Oh, and I’m fully clothed in this shot.  Jeans, sneakers and a strapless shirt.  Only my shoulders are bare….but that’s the beauty of illusion.

I heard a semi-celebrity spout on TV the other day that she couldn’t understand why anyone would remove their implants. She couldn’t imagine the prudish hell that must be living with small breasts.    I laughed out loud at this.  Trying to compartmentalize sex appeal or womanhood down to one body part is, to be blunt- idiotic. I can certainly ‘bring it’ as much as any augmented blonde.  The beautiful thing about women is how different and dynamic they are…and that applies to their minds, personalities, and bodies as well. Fake breasts are not my thing.  Voluntary surgery freaks me out and feels like a slippery slope.  But I firmly believe that everyone should do what is best for them.   I have friends with implants, who love them.  I also have friends who regretted getting them. I’m lucky to have an amazing group of women friends who span a tremendously diverse array of shapes, sizes, types, etc.   What I love most about them is they each feel 100% authentic. They have worked to be completely, fully themselves. The amusing irony of life is it sometimes takes enhancements to reach that – and we all have different forms of enhancement – if not breasts, maybe its tattoos or piercing or even a haircut or the clothes you wear…. We get to create ourselves in this life – each of us is our own make up artist, wardrobe stylist, writer, producer and director. We all star in and create our own story.

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The lesson:  Love what you are given.  Celebrate it.  Work with what you’ve got (you’d be surprised what all you can do!). Or If you are certain making a bigger change will make you feel that much better – go for it….but make sure that change is not masking something else but helping you create fully who you truly are.  Nothing is sexier than a woman who loves herself completely – and no amount of exterior ‘enhancements’ can change the truth of that.   There is nothing sexier than true confidence.  Nothing more attractive than real happiness.  And that comes from inside – not out.

P.S.  I like your t*ts in that top.     😉

Being a Hepburn in a Hilton World

This is the title of a book I haven’t read, but fully assume I would love….because I instantly adore the title.    It resonates with me completely.

I love being an actress….but I sometimes hesitate to say I’m an actress.   It often opens up a somewhat awkward situation.   If the person I’m talking to doesn’t already know my work then I am usually asked to run down a list of some of my most popular projects and they may not have seen any of them, or worse don’t remember me… and it just sort of bites – and is awkward and anticlimactic for all involved.  Many people are instantly charmed by the idea of meeting someone ‘famous’ (to whatever degree) but that can quickly turn to disappointment if you haven’t worked on their favorite show or are unwilling to spill any gossip.   But the bigger reason I often refrain from chatting up my profession is that if people aren’t already familiar with your work they think either ‘oh, she’s a wannabe actress’ – Cue the old joke:

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or many people hear the word  actress and  they picture this:

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or this:

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or (insert tabloid cover of some wannabe starlets life mid-meltdown, here: _______________).

And its true those “actresses” exist…..but I’m happy to report that I don’t really know any of these women… and it makes my skin crawl to think of being potentially perceived that way.  That is not who I am drawn to or who I draw to me.  And doesn’t represent my LA experience at all.  Though I know those ‘actresses’ exists – probably in the tens of thousands in LA, truthfully, I have almost no experience with these women. I hate being lumped into that category…and until you ‘make it big’ there is always a segment of the population that may choose to see you this way.

Who I do know…. are fiercely talented, creative, inspiring women that bring it!  Some are famous, some have been famous, some are on the upswing and some coming back down, some just digging in their heels, trying to get established….but they are all driven, determined and focused on the prize…which is the work.    They force me to get up and be creative and get stuff done…because that’s what they are doing.

They aren’t slyly marketing a sex tape or dating some disaster in the calculated risk that the benefits would out-weigh the horror of such a decision.   No, they are writing films, creating shows, putting on plays, directing their own projects, and thinking outside of the box.  They are doing what has to be done to continue to pursue their art and passion.  They are COORDINATING with each other instead of attempting to step on each other.

And I Love that.  Love with a capitol L and in bold and underlined.  I don’t want to ‘win’ in this career by being good at something where most people are lazy or boring or predictable.  No.  I want to excel in a field where the cream is rising to the top and we are all putting out our best – pushing each other to be more innovative, passionate, focused and brazen in our willingness to do it ourselves if the opportunities aren’t being given to us.  To be more than we even thought possible.  Each day, to be better and stronger and braver than we were the day before.

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When I think of an actress, I think of this:

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or this:

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or  (insert Oscar winning, humanitarian, philanthropic, witty creative genius here_______________)   and it makes me dizzy with the esteemed company I keep within my chosen field.

I strive to be a Hepburn  (or a Garbo, Baker, Lupino, Kelly, Hayworth, Horne, Maclaine, Davis, Loy, Colbert, Leigh, Taylor, Pickford, Dandridge, etc…you get my drift)….. constantly aiming for that level of grace and class, talent and PRESENCE.

They say luck is opportunity meeting preparedness.   Without a doubt the ladies in my circle are prepared…here’s hoping many delicious opportunities to shine are just around the corner for all of us.

Auditions. A.K.A: Delicious Torture

So I’ll post some juicy stories on past auditions in a bit – but for now just wanted to write some general thoughts about the process.

Auditions are evil.  And amazing.  And frustrating, scary, thrilling etc. They are a bit like gambling, or playing the lottery as they are 5 minutes that can change your life.  They are also terribly pedestrian. You walk into a room. You say some stuff.  You walk out.   But what you say and how you say it – both on script and in general – can completely change your future. There is a lot riding on what happens in that 5 minutes.

Every time I book a job, I am astounded by how easy it is.  Wait, that 5 minutes was it? That was all it took? And every time I don’t book a job that I wanted, I endlessly runimate on why not. What could I have done differently? What did I do wrong – or not as right as someone else?  It’s the same 5 minutes.  Even though those 5 minutes are ‘all about you’…the  reason you do or do not book a job is often not about you at all. There are so many things that go into the equation – that you have no control over. So you have to walk in, kill it…and then let it go.  That is hard to do.  You do your damndest not to get your hopes up – but you can’t help it. You do your damndest to not feel like dirt when you are convinced it went poorly…but you can’t help it.
So…its about jedi mind tricking yourself. You must invest enough in the material to give 100% to the moment…but find a way to ‘not care’ enough to let go of it entirely the moment you leave the room. This is something I’m still trying to master.

Who’s that girl?

For years people have told me I should write a book about my Hollywood experiences. I’m not sure if I just have a better perspective than most to see the humor and absurdity in my Hollywood journey – or if my trip has been more ridiculous than others…but I’ve decided to start publicly sharing a bit of the good, bad and ugly from this LA life that my friends and family have laughed at for years.

If you are looking for a play by play of my one night stands or starf*cking, my coke habit, the casting couches I’ve christened, the producers I’ve slept with…you have the wrong girl. Sorry to disappoint, but none of these things have happened to me. I’m not any of the actress stereotypes. I’m just a  midwestern girl with passion for this work – and fierce determination to beat staggering odds.

Even without the juicy gossip, my journey has been full of  spectacular adventures, epic disappointments, hilarious hijinks and circumstances that have reached from one end of the spectrum to the other. I’m lucky enough to have carved out a career for more than a decade…and hopefully lucky enough that this is only the beginning. So check back if you want to hear about the casting calls gone wrong, epic wardrobe malfunctions, on set antics ….or that time I walked in on a porno.

To find more about me visit www.AdrienneWilkinson.com, follow me on twitter at  www.twitter.com/Yo_AdrienneW or subscribe on Facebook  www.facebook.com/adrienne.wilkinson      

xo,     -Adrienne