Los Angeles

New Year's Resolutions - "I hope that in the year to come you make mistakes." - Neil Gaiman

Happy New Year! January 1st may be a cosmically insignificant date, but I still think it's amazing and very cool that we as humans took the coldest, darkest part of the year and chose to make it about rebirth and new beginnings.

Let's talk new year's resolutions.

Like last year, this post is going to be about the resolutions I made for 2017, how I did with them, and the resolutions I've got coming up now for 2018!

2017 Resolutions

2017 Resolutions

Move to Los Angeles: Done!
See 2+ New Cities in the USA: I'm probably cheating a little bit by including Cooperstown, NY since it's not in the spirit of traveling like I had meant, and I technically went there when I was very young, but it was still new to me, so good enough! Cooperstown, NY and Detroit, MI.
Increase my Future Financial Security (401k/IRA, credit score) (fuck you money!): My savings took a pretty big hit from moving across the country, but my credit score is way better now (in that it exists) and, in the spirit of the resolution, I've started saving money again, so I'm counting this as a win.
Get a New Doctor and Have a Check Up: Done!
Be the Blood of the Dragon: Every year I give myself one resolution that I know I can accomplish, mostly for the funny, but also so I can know for sure that I'll accomplish at least one. In 2015 it was not to get anyone else pregnant. In 2016 it was to take less BS. This past year, it was this, because this quality of fire and leadership is a) something I greatly admire about Daenerys in Game of Thrones, and b) want to have. I feel like I let myself get walked over a little bit too much this year, though. There were some aspects of my life in which I really took charge and made things happen and was a leader, and some in which I really didn't. So I don't know about this one. I wouldn't say that I didn't do it at all. But just that I wasn't really consistent with it, either.
Get at Least One of the Following: Agent, Manager, or Union Status: Well, I'm still unrepresented and non-union. The bright side is that moving out here made it very clear that I am not yet ready to be SAG, although I could definitely join AEA. And while I don't have representation yet, I've done heavy research into agencies, and I'm working towards it. So I guess I fulfilled the spirit of the resolution, if not the actual letter of it.
Finish at Least One Feature-Length Project: Nope. Didn't do this one at all. It was maybe a bit too ambitious of me to hope that I could write a feature around producing multiple other projects and moving across the country, but at the end of the day (or, rather, year) I just... didn't do it. Oops.
Simplify Your Material Life: So, so done! I got rid of a ton of stuff this year.
Have/Complete Monthly Goals: I just... didn't do this one, either. After February I decided it couldn't really be a priority. I think that was misguided of myself, but it's what happened.

So... a mixed bag on resolutions for 2017. Some great successes, but not entirely enough follow through. It's unfortunate because I know I can do better. But the year is over now. Meaning that it's time to move on to 2018!

2018 Resolutions

2018 Resolutions

First of all, can we just appreciate how much better the camera quality is on my new phone??

Produce 2+ New Projects: I need to start creating my own work in LA. I also find that I like producing, particularly when I get to produce shows for charity, so they don't have to be huge works, but it's my new favorite kind of volunteer work, and I want to make it happen!
Apply for the Fulbright at LAMDA: Did you know there's a Fulbright available to study classical acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art? The odds are pretty against me, the way they are with any Fulbright, but the opportunity to study humanity and performance through classical theatre in London at one of the most long-lasting and prestigious schools of drama in the world? How could I possibly not go for it?
Start a Retirement Account: Pretty self-explanatory. I'm 25. It's time.
Travel to Two New Places (Domestic OR International): I didn't specify that they have to be cities because there are places I want to go that aren't metropolitan areas, like Joshua Tree and the Grand Canyon. I know traveling new places will be a little difficult from here on out since I'll also be going back to New York a couple of times a year, and that'll be a bit of a financial/time drain. But I have every faith that I can make it happen, especially if I don't limit myself to cities!
Be More of a Bitch: I'm pretty concerned with how much people like me. A little bit too much so. I need to start standing up for what I want, even if that goes directly against what someone else wants. Some random dude talking to me when I clearly just want to listen to music/read a book? Tell him. I think someone isn't pulling their weight in a group project? Let them know. I think there's a line to be walked between being nice, kind, and polite, and being direct, firm, and a little bitchy about getting what I want, and this year I am determined to find it.
Take 3+ New Performance/Skill Classes: I realized I didn't take a scene study class at all in 2017. At first I was saving up for the move, and then money was tight, but god I am aching for a class and community here in LA. My training is slipping and I can be better. So I will be.
Get my Driver's License: I never could spell "license" without a spell checker. But this resolution is also pretty self-explanatory. Over the past six months I've proven that I can get by in LA without a car. But it'll be nice to have the option to rent one. Especially since this is a thing that teenagers can do, and I still can't.
Finish 26 Books: There's too much to learn in the world to not be reading more than I have been.
Have/Complete Monthly Goals: Recycling this one from last year. It was a good idea to make sure every month is productive, and I want to give it a more serious try in 2018. This month, I'm going to get my CA Driver's Permit, solidify travel plans to New York since I didn't get to go home at all over the holidays, and reach out to some commercial agents on the west coast.

So what do you guys think? What are your resolutions for 2018? Do we have any of the same ones? I'd love to see if anyone else has any good ones that I can steal for myself!

Inspiration - "Why don't you put that on your Good Morning Missouri fucking wakeup broadcast?"

Last week, I mentioned that the past couple of months here in LA have been a bit of a slog. It's been difficult staying here for a variety of reasons, and I've even been thinking about moving back to New York - I'm not a "giving up" kind of a girl, but when most of my auditions here are self-tapes and I'm so much happier on the east coast, shouldn't I go back there for a while?

And then, the other day, I saw Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Wow. What a masterclass in acting. What incredible performances. What a brilliantly told story, with each part of it unfolding perfectly. And I was reminded of why I'm here. Because this is what I want to be doing. And Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri casts out of Los Angeles.

Going back to New York is still something I'm considering. When I get the representation I want out here, if I'm still getting primarily self-taped auditions, then I may as well be in the place where I'm happier.

But I've got some specific things to take of first out here. And I'm going to stay and do them.

So this is my fairly short post about the importance of inspiration. I should be able to work without it. But every so often I have to be reminded why I'm doing the work in the first place. And this movie did it.

You should go see it. It is incredible.

Truth and the Pursuit of It - "If you're engaged in a fight with something, then it's not with me. It's with your own blindness." - The Crown

Yesterday, I had an epiphany.

To set the stage for it, I need to catch you up with how much the past few weeks have been. The place where I live is surrounded by massive, blazing wildfires. I finally got a serving job in LA, so I'll be making more money, which is pretty necessary. But until my first set of tips come in, money is still pretty tight for me. I got a callback for a really interesting play here, and while my confidence comes from within, it's nice to have that external validation that I am indeed a good actor, even if I'm not quite what they needed. It's the holiday season, which is one of my favorite times of year, and I am surrounded by cool new friends and great old friends and we're all having holiday parties. But I can't go home at all this year, and New York around the holidays is one of my all time favorite things, not to mention that I miss my family and friends there.

And, on top of and beyond all of that, last week a friend of mine from college died.

I want to take a moment here to remember her. Her name is Miriam. She and I worked together in the theater a whole lot, particularly with the Shakespeare group. She was always sweet and kind, she had this incredible zest for life, and this crazy amazing voice. We had fallen out of touch after graduating, but I would still see her on Facebook - she was an award winning screenwriter, and I admired the work that she was doing, and hoped that we'd maybe even get to work together one day. And it's shocking and upsetting to know that any chance we might've had at reconnecting at all is just gone now. People die every day, but the realities of it when it affects you are always surprising.

So yesterday, I was heading to an audition, and already felt like I wasn't going to get the role. I may be a good actor, but the character is a teenager and I knew I was auditioning with some actual 16 year olds. It's always good to practice audition technique when you can, but it felt like a lot of time to put towards this practice, and I was miserable, and there was nothing I could tell myself to make it feel better. All I could do was use the emotion - the character is supposed to be insecure anyway, so it's ultimately good, right? (For those of you who aren't actors, that doesn't actually help you feel better.)

The epiphany hit me like a freight train or, more fittingly, a speeding car: I don't like LA.

And that's okay.

There are people here who I care about a great deal. There are specific neighborhoods where it is pleasant to spend time. And I know I'll stay because the work I want to do is here. But as a whole, I just don't like it.

I didn't realize how hard I had been trying to convince myself that I do until I admitted that I don't. But now it feels like this incredible weight has been lifted from me. I don't like LA. And that's okay. And just acknowledging that truth makes everything so much easier and better.

No wonder we're all in pursuit of such obvious truth as artists. It's wonderful.

Happiness, Depression, and Creating Art - "I needed color." - Jim Carrey

In my sophomore year of college, one of my exes was dating one of my friends, and I wasn't jealous, per se, but it wasn't something I had experienced before and it was weird. I spent a lot of that first semester feeling lonely, unwanted, and just generally sad.

When I was an underclassman, I also made a lot of vague, passive-aggressive Facebook statuses. What do we call it when it's subtweeting but on Facebook? Because it was that. I did that. But at one point I made some angsty status about my sadness at least good fodder for my artistry as an actress and a writer, and one of my friends - an actress I deeply respect - commented on it, saying that she does her best work when she's at her happiest.

Especially since my last post about how hard the first month in LA has been, I've been thinking a lot about happiness and depression and the art that comes out of it.

I've considered all of the great artists who experienced incredible pain, to the point of taking their own lives. Robin Williams (it's the anniversary of his death today, too), Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Heath Ledger, for example. They all created art that has brought us incredible joy and meaning, even though they were also in excruciating pain.

I also think about awards show speeches, though. I know, I know, awards shows don't really matter, they don't represent the things that "real people" actually watch, and all that other crap. But I also love them, because you get to see peoples' dreams coming true. And in almost every thank you speech, the honoree talks about the people that they love, and the support they feel from them. These are people who have blessed lives in many ways, and while we can all point to examples of celebrities who have various demons made public, I think it's also fair to say that many of the most successful ones can and do lead happy lives, and they also make joyful and meaningful art.

And maybe it's just a combination of both? I watched this short documentary about Jim Carrey and his work as a painter where he talks about how he used art to take him out of a depressive place and into a much happier one.

For myself, I know working on my art has been much more difficult over the past month. Part of it is also that I don't have a structure for doing it, or a place to share it. But I've also just been sad, and that makes it so much harder for me to work, even if it's the work that I love and enjoy doing. Even in the evenings, time I would usually spend writing, or researching, or watching new movies and television, I've instead been binging episodes of shows I've already seen multiple times. They're comfortable, and I just can't make myself want to do anything else.

I'm not sure how to get out of it or change it. Maybe I just need a group to help me out? If I were to join a scene study class, I would be forced to work, after all. And it's definitely possible I'm thinking about it the wrong way around - maybe it's not that I need to be happy to work, but I need to work to be happy. My life is always at it's best when I have the most stuff going on, after all. That's money that I don't have, though. So I'm not really sure what the next step would be. I'm sure I'll figure it out, or I'll start getting more work in films as I stay here longer. Something will change. It has to. Everything has been so in flux in my life, it doesn't make sense that this could be the one thing that would stagnate.

And, I have to say, I have gotten such an appreciation for those who deal with mental illness. It's been exhausting for me, and my experience is just a month of high but normal levels of stress from moving. I've always known that mental illness = bad, but if it's been this difficult for me, I can't imagine what it's like for people who experience it on a chronic level. I consider myself to be a fairly strong woman, but they have a strength that I will never know.

Stress and Relief - “It’s a good idea always to do something relaxing prior to making an important decision in your life.” - Paulo Coelho

If I never have to contact a utility company again, it will be too soon.

Almost a month ago I flew out to LA with a one month sublet in West Hollywood and some very simple goals in mind. II was going to find a job and a permanent home, and then once I was settled, I could start taking acting classes out here, look for LA representation, et cetera.

God, what a stupid plan.

Don't get me wrong, I did it. I found some temp work, and this week I have an interview at a restaurant I'm excited about. And I just signed the lease and set up utilities for my new home in North Hollywood. I definitely made it happen.

But this past month has been one of the most stressful, depressing months of my life.

It might have been that way regardless. I just left my home and the greatest city in the world to come to a place where I have friends whom I love and cherish, but it's not the same as the roots I had there. The job hunt is always stressful. The apartment hunt is always stressful. Trying to find an owner who will let you lease an apartment when you don't have a job is even more stressful. And I did it while seeing things happen with my support system in New York and knowing I would've been a part of it had I stayed. I've been homesick like I've never experienced before in my life, and even though I'm known for my consistently positive outlook, I've found that almost impossible to maintain. I'm used to the vast majority of days being good days for me, but I've found myself counting the good days here because they've been so much rarer.

Partway through, I definitely realized that what I should've done was get a longer, but still short-term sublet. Like, three months or so. That way I could take the time to find a day job - the right day job - and not worry about being able to tell landlords that I'm employed. Take the time to explore the neighborhoods of LA. And let my roommates get out here so we could do the house search together, instead of insisting that I could do it all myself.

But especially over the past week and a half or so, I've had way more good days. I started really reaching out to and connecting with my friends here. My birthday was amazing, filled with friends whom I love. I've started auditioning for real, because the idea that I had about not focusing on acting was dumb. It's the whole reason I came out here in the first place. And once I move in and start getting paid, my whole life will be way less stressful.

And I can't wait until my new roommates get out here, too! We'll all be starting our new lives together, and they're such awesome, quality humans.

There is a friend in New York with whom I've had extensive conversations about happiness. What does it mean to be happy? How do we feel things? Can we detach ourselves from emotions? Can we do so selectively? Can you understand happiness without feeling sadness or other dark emotions? I can't say any one of us absolutely knows the answer to any/all of those, but I'm pretty sure I'm at least going to appreciate my upcoming happiness much more for knowing how stressful not having the things I'm about to have can be.

The Seminar Post - "Thanks, SpongeBob. I'll alert the New York Times."

I knew that moving across the country would be hard at first. Like, I knew that. But there's a huge difference between intellectually understanding it and really feeling it. This past week in LA has been hard, man.

But instead of thinking about how difficult it is, I want to talk about one of the things that made me happiest before I left: Seminar!

You guys, I am so proud of this show. And it is entirely because of the incredible cast and crew.

Rachel Goodgal is an incredible director. She had this incredible eye for finding exactly what was missing from a scene, or knowing what to change about our set or blocking to change the feeling of the entire moment for the better. And best of all, she's so good at directing actors, probably because she is one herself! She never tells us how to feel

James Horgan played Leonard, and you never would've guessed that this was his first play. He was so cool and cunning and so different from how I originally pictured Leonard. In my initial concept for the show, Leonard would've been much snarkier, more emotional, and openly sexual. But he is proof positive that being open to the unexpected can only make a creative project better.

Conversely, there is no point at which I could ever have pictured anyone other than Justin Andrew Davis playing Douglas. He does pretentious and overly intellectual so well, but the thing that makes it so good isn't the wry humor that comes with it. It's that he's such a kind, thoughtful, and compassionate person just as a human, and that comes through in his performances as well giving them this beautiful layer of depth you otherwise would never see.

I was so excited to get to work with Wesley Cady as Izzy. She's one of my oldest friends, and she's getting her MFA from Wayne State, but this is the first time we've ever done a creative project together! She's so natural on stage - there are few actors who don't feel the need to do something, but she just is. She just sits there and listens and that makes her absolutely mesmerizing.

Last but not at all least is Christopher Erlendson as Martin. Firstly, the show wouldn't have happened without him. There were several times when I had issues finding a venue and other important things and I seriously considered dropping the project. He's the one who kept finding solutions to problems I thought were impossible. I couldn't be more grateful that he did. And he was an extraordinary Martin. There was one night where we spent hours in rehearsal just discussing character and relationships; I've never seen anyone so devoted to a project as he is to everything he chooses to join. (He has a couple of shows coming up, too! Check out the new production of A Kreutzer Sonata at The Secret Theatre in New York in August! And then Magic? later this year!)

I also want to give a shout out to The Artist Co-op, who so graciously let us use their space! It was the perfect location for this particular production - immersive and creative - and their whole set up both ingenious and genuinely useful for artists.

There are many things about producing a show that are really, deeply frustrating. But this experience was the best reminder that it can be so worth it.

Travelling Across the Country - "To what extent do you know that I'm moving to LA?" - Me, lately, a whole lot.

Yesterday I flew to Los Angeles. Now I'm here.

Over the course of the day I fluctuated from being deeply excited to explore a new city to not wanting to ever leave New York to being determined to make this happen to wondering why the hell I was doing this to myself to desperately wanting to produce something and act in it here so I can find my fellow People Who Do Things. And I would go through all of those within the span of five minutes.

There's a difference between intellectually knowing that my friends in New York are still going to care about me and not feel like I decided to just leave them, and actually emotionally believing it. And I don't know how to convince them that they're still important to me when they already know it.

Also, New York is so important to me. It's my hometown, it's the "concrete jungle where dreams are made." I've discovered who I am there, I've fallen in love there, both with the people and the city. I picked my major in college because of just one street in Manhattan! (Okay, maybe it's not just Broadway, but New York is THE place to be for theatre in the US.) It's shaped every aspect of who I am. How could I possibly leave it?

But I've barely been here twelve hours and LA has already so fully welcomed me. I had several wonderful friends who I knew from before who couldn't possibly make it more clear how excited they are for me to be here. I had to promise a few of them to text as soon as the plane landed, and I'm so psyched to see them. In my Lyft on the way to my apartment, I had the most lovely conversation with my driver and fellow passengers. My roommate in my first sublet here is kind and friendly and so, so helpful. I already have social plans for tomorrow (since today is all about recovery from flying and jet lag) and people are going out of their way to invite me to events and direct me towards people and resources that could be useful. So many actresses come to LA, and I am absolutely the freshest off the plane, and it feels unfair that so many people should be wanting to help me, but I love and appreciate it nonetheless!

And LA is so beautiful. The weather here is perfect. LA people kept warning me as I was arriving that I'm coming into a heat wave, but it's just heat without the intense humidity, and it's kind of lovely. And I get to take advantage of it, because there's a pool?? In my apartment building??? It's amazing to me.

It's still hard to know that, unless I get an East Coast gig or a major audition for me comes up there and I can't self-tape for it, I probably won't be back in New York for six months. I have a thing about never letting people see me cry in real life, but I couldn't stop myself when I was in the plane and it was taking off. Good thing I had a window seat so only the girl in my row knew I was doing it.

When Seminar went up this past Saturday (!!) (More on that soon!) the rest of the cast gave me flowers after the show for my last performance in New York.

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We went out for drinks afterwards, and I was overwhelmed by the feeling, the wondering how I could ever leave New York.

I can't wait to have the same feeling about LA.

Processing Life Events

So, several life changing things have happened to me and the people around me this month.

-I left my day job.
-I found a place to live in LA, meaning that my move over there is Really Happening.
-One of my close friends from middle school got married.
-A friend of mine took me to the Tony's.

From a year and a half long dream fulfilled (I liked my day job well enough, but it's not like I ever wanted to stay a server) to a childhood dream fulfilled (I wenT TO THE TONY'S OH MY GOD), it's been an intense month. And I'm still processing pieces of it.

For instance, my friend getting married. She and her girlfriend have been together for years, so it wasn't really a surprise to anyone. But it was still so wonderful to have a day that's all about them and their happiness. You know how there's always that one bridesmaid who is up by the altar just sobbing with happy tears? Guess who has two thumbs and was the bridesmaid that did that?? THIS GIRL. But it's also made me think a lot about what it is that I want in my personal, romantic life. Casual dating just isn't doing it for me. So what comes next? What is it that I want? What are the steps I would have to take to achieve that, and are there any that I can actually do? I don't know.

My feelings about moving to LA also keep fluctuating wildly on a literally minute-to-minute basis. I can't wait to explore a new city, and see what else there is for me on the other side of the country. I love film, and I'm about to be in a city that is absolutely dedicated to it. And I've gotten very comfortable in New York; too comfortable, I think, and I want to always be outside of my comfort zone. But also... how am I supposed to leave New York? Amy Poehler talks about "finding your tribe" in Yes, Please, and I'm well aware that I have finally really found mine only now as I'm about to leave. I have people here I love both working with and also just being around. And now I'm supposed to leave them? I'm aware that it's not forever and we'll still be friends and they'll still think of me for their work and everything, the same way I'll think of them. But I can't believe that I have to start all over again. I know I would have to do it eventually anyway. That doesn't make it fun.

Anyway, the point is, it's been one hell of a month. I've loved it. But oh man, there is so much to feel and I don't know how to process all of it just yet. Good thing I'm going somewhere where I won't have much of a social life so I'll have time to myself to do just that, huh?

On a separate topic, but still important, I'm doing one more show before I leave New York!

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Come see Seminar on Saturday the 1st at 8pm at The Artist Co-op! It's a script in hand reading, and I'll be playing Kate (along with having produced it). You can get tickets at seminartac.brownpapertickets.com. I'm sure I'll write more about this one soon, too!