Sexuality and Taking Control - "My sexuality is a part of me that I really like. But it's not the totality of me." - Portia de Rossi

A few weeks ago, I was cast in a female-based sketch comedy group! Yay me!

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I was super, super wary when I was first auditioning, though. Because the group is called Hot and Funny, and the person who directs the sketches is a guy. I've seen plenty of "sketches" that are littered with terrible excuses to get women naked, and I'm not about on screen nudity. Thank goodness he included a couple of really funny sketches in the invitation to audition, because I was considering just not going! But I went, we clicked, and it's turning out to be so much better than I had expected. So it's made me consider the ways in which I do and don't use my sexuality.

The first thing to say about the way I usually use my sexuality is that I... don't. I typically play young, intelligent, and innocent. I'm an ingenue. And that's a hard role to play if someone can Google my name and find naked images of me. So I won't do any kind of sexualized nudity, and I'm cautious and hesitant to do scenes that take place at the beach, the pool, or in a shower. There's one time I got into a fight at an NYU seminar with a ton of student directors because I said that nudity is usually a crutch, and they were all convinced that when THEY used it in THEIR films, it was art. I wasn't buying it, and they were not happy with my ability to argue my point of view. It was awkward all around.

But being in this group is making me properly consider how to use my sexuality in a way that purely benefits me without delving into the inappropriate or over-sexualized. It's making me consider for the first time how I can use the fact that I'm ultimately, you know, an attractive young woman and have it work for me through my own initiative, as opposed to banking on it for making men want to talk to me who might be influential.

It's something I'm still exploring. But I love the idea that I use my body to make things that I think are funny and good, not just projects I think will turn on other people.

Is it Bragging if I'm Really Just Proud of Myself?

I was going to write a post about talking with people when you don't really have anything to say, but as I got into it, I quickly realized I didn't actually have all that much to say on the topic. ~Irony~

But there are a few quick announcements I want to throw out there for my Thursday post! Turns out, people think I'm a good actress, and they like casting me in things, and that's been especially true over the past couple of weeks.

First, I was cast in an NYU short called Ideal Versions of Us. In fact, I was cast in that, shot it, and, because it was shot in a three camera studio, the director finished with post incredibly quickly, so I already have it back! Here's the thing:

Second, the same day I was cast in Ideal Versions of Us, I was also cast in a short for the International Film School of New York called Acceptance, and I shot it the next week! I don't have that back yet, but I'll put it up as soon as I do.

Finally, remember how I mentioned last week that I had "rocked an audition earlier today"? The director agreed with me about that, and I've been cast in yet another short this summer called Burnout. That one is filled with all kinds of special effects, so believe you me, you are going to see plenty of pictures and things from it when we start shooting on Saturday.

Who says the summer is slow?

Live from New York, it's Saturday Night Weekend Update! - "You thought I was gone, didn't you?" - Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton, SNL 2008

D'ya think Lorne Michaels is gonna sue me for using his thing? I mean, I don't think he would. It's such a famous phrase that once I thought of it, I couldn't think of anything else. And it does technically describe what I'm doing, so I'm technically in the right. Right?

You're all getting a rare Saturday update because I've been getting so much footage in from so many interesting, beautiful, and emotionally spot-on short films I've done that I just couldn't wait to share it!

First and foremost is the short I made inspired by the Studio 360 It's a Wonderful Short contest: "The Subscription". It's sweet, funny, and intense, all while being 30 seconds long! Anyone who knows me and how much of a not-so-secret romantic I am can absolutely believe I made this movie.

Written and Directed by Emma Lieberman Director of Photography: Thaddeus Bouska Production Sound Mixer: Julian Seltzer CAST Becca - Emma Lieberman Rachel - Amanda Jane Stern Thomas - Jesse Boone

Secondly is a film called "Arranged". My Jewish identity is very important to me, but this film is an exploration into how far I would let that take me. I'm also not wearing any makeup at all in it, which I'm pretty sure basically makes me Scarlett Johansson. I'm fairly certain that's how that works.

And finally, I present to you "Trapped"! I genuinely wasn't sure whether to call this a drama or a comedy, and that makes it one of my favorite kinds of films.

Right? They're pretty intense.

I was also in a sketch show with The Mailroom NYC at The PIT earlier this month! There isn't video of that (yet) though, so I don't have fancy proof. You'll just have to trust me that it happened and was hilarious. But don't worry. I'm pretty trustworthy.

Next up as of now is another screenplay I'm working on! Still untitled (god, titling things is the worst) about a couple of young lawyers having to work together towards what they both know is an impossible goal. Looking to shoot towards the beginning of 2016, so be sure to look out for that soon!

Self-Promotion for Creatives - "I think writers are the most narcissistic people. Well, I musn't say this, I like many of them, a great many of my friends are writers." - Sylvia Plath

I've been thinking a lot recently about the lines between self-promotion, letting people know what's important to you, letting people know what you want, and conceitedness/self-centrism.

After all, we all know those posts that actors make on social media that go somewhat along the lines of "On set for #ProjectWithAVagueTitle! Find out more about it at www.link.com!" and have a selfie of them attached with them in hair/costume/makeup. Or posts by writers that all have the same joke: "Just Googled 'skin color after being strangled with that string people use to tie up meat. I'm a writer, it's for a story, I promise!" And I feel for people who make these posts, especially because I've made them myself. It's difficult to let people know that you're working, get them excited for your next project, and let them know what that project is in 140 characters or fewer. But it's also so desperate to prove that you can Live The Dream that it always turns me off. Like, congrats on working, and I'm excited for the people who are doing it! But when you have a Twitter feed of almost nothing but these posts, it gets old, and nothing stands out.

Having noticed this, though, I know I've gone too far in the other direction. I don't like to post things unless I've got something to say, or an interesting/funny way to say it. That means that if you go to my Twitter or my Facebook feed, you'll find that it's actually pretty funny! You'll also find that I just haven't posted about the things in which I've been cast because there are only so many ways to post "Been cast in this thing and I'm super excited for it!" Of course, that also means that if a casting director were to visit either page, they wouldn't know about all of the work I've been doing recently.

Here's another issue I've had with self-promotion on social media: I absolutely hate to sound like I'm bragging or self-absorbed. Probably because I am a little narcissistic and self-absorbed. But it means that I miss out on letting people know about things that are important to me. For instance, it was my birthday the other day. And I really wanted people to acknowledge it because my birthday is kind of a big deal to me. But I also didn't want to have to ask them to acknowledge it, or tell people about it at all. I just wanted them to know. Turns out, people aren't mind-readers. Don't get me wrong, I had an excellent birthday, I managed to let it be known a little bit beforehand that it was coming up, and tons of wonderful friends reached out to me on the day to wish me a happy one. But it was still a concern for me in the days leading up to it.

I can't say I'm entirely sure what the solution to all of this is, but I do have a theory. My theory is based on watching the people who do manage to do self-promotion well. And I think the key to it is to have something to say. It can be small, but it has to be there. Desperately thrusting your accomplishments into the void and hoping that somebody notices is not useful to anyone else. But neither is keeping them all to yourself. It's about offering something to the people who might end up actually listening, be it a joke, or a continuation of a discussion, or even an argument presented in, say, a blog format. It's just about giving people something to engage with. That's my theory, anyway.

And so, all of that said... check it out! This past week I did not one, but two spec commercials with NYU - I'm pretty close now to having a commercial reel together! I got cast in Play-Prov with the Alan Chan Comedy Team, and my first rehearsal with them is tonight! And I'm going into pre-production on Just the Tip; I have a director and a producer, and now we're looking for grants so we can have funding for the short! (And you have no idea how much it makes me giggle that I'm the executive producer when I always swore I'd never be an executive-type. It also gives me a massive power trip.)

...See, I may grandstand, but there really are only so many ways to convey this kind of information