Tinkerbell, a Flapper, and SoulPancake Walk Into a Bar…

I seem to have skipped over a few really cool Acting opportunities that I’ve been involved in over the past couple months.

The first one is a really cool charity called Milk and Bookies that has an annual Story Time Celebration. They have about a dozen local actors dress up as storybook characters and interact with the kids at the event. I got to be Tinkerbell 🙂

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The same lovely people that got me involved with Milk and Bookies, Jonathan Castile and Lisa Wardell, had me fill in for Lisa one day in a Murder Mystery Dinner Theater that takes place on the Western Fillmore railway. It’s a long form improv show that has a different theme every week. The week I worked with them was a 1920’s show, so I got to be a flapper!

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Last but not least, one of the fabulous directors I met at the Phoenix Film Festival, Ben Shelton, is the director of a SoulPancake show called The Flipside. He got me involved in the pilot episode of a new SoulPancake show called The Impression Guys. It aired during YouTube’s comedy week, and is nearing 100,000 views. Fun stuff!!

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On to Phase Two!

My last post left me a little terrified of writing another blog. It got over 900 views from the USA, Canada, the UK, Croatia, Indonesia, the Netherlands, India, Australia, Japan, Trinidad and Tobogo, Malaysia, Ireland, Romania, and the Philippines.

There’s a feeling of, “AHHH!!!! That’s so cool and exciting!!”

But also, “What in the world did all those people find so interesting? And how can I keep them interested??”

So now, two months later, I’ve decided to ignore all of the wonderful new people that stumbled across my blog.

Sorry.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate you or love you from the depths of my soul, but I started this blog to keep my family and friends updated on my life in Los Angeles. So that’s what I’ll keep doing. Feel free to read along or carry on with your life.

SO…

…my life.

The Phoenix Film Festival happened. And it was amazing. Wonderful films and even more wonderful people.

Phoenix Film Festival

Right before the film festival started I decided to embark on a new entrepreneurial adventure:

Virtual Assisting for Directors, Writers, and Producers – www.MiniMeAssisting.com

I seem to have stumbled across a new market. Virtual Assisting has been around for years (believe it or not) and there is a tedious administrative side to independent filmmaking that nobody likes to talk about. But I haven’t found anyone who has brought Virtual Assisting to filmmakers yet.

So, I’m either a genius for figuring it out first, or I’m silly to think it would ever work. Either way, Mini Me Assisting has been born! Tell a friend.

I’ve also hit a bit of milestone out here in Tinseltown.

I’m a big supporter of planning. I even wrote a blog about it…here. But LA has been a little bit different. I tried to throw away any sort of timeline for my goals and just work in phases.

Phase One: Live in LA.

Basic. But it’s harder than it seems. Eat, sleep, drive, and work in LA.

I’m proud to say that Phase One has officially been COMPLETED!

The moment that marked my graduation to Phase Two, was when I found out I got in to the Groundlings performance track classes.

Groundlings

“Oh Tiffany! That’s amazing!…Right? Wait…Groundlings…that’s…good? Congratulations??”

Yes! It’s good!! Groundlings is an improv theater and school. You can visit their website if you want to, but I’ll just throw out some names like Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, and Maya Rudolph and leave it at that. (Right here is where my dad would want me to tell you that a person can only audition for Groundlings Basic three times in their lifetime. If you fail an audition, you also have to wait six months before you can audition again…Groundlings also happens to be one of the reasons I moved out to Los Angeles. So this is kiiiind of a big deal for me.)

Phase Two is training in LA. The thought was that if I’m making enough money to survive in LA then next I need to start making more than enough to survive. I need to make enough to pay for classes.

My “pass” into Groundlings is good for one year, so I probably won’t start taking classes until the Fall.

But I found another studio that I start classes at next Wednesday. Anthony Meindl’s Actor Workshop. There is supposed to be a six month wait list, but I got in about two weeks after I audited one of his classes. How? LA magic.

I’m hoping to be able to move into Phase Three in about six months. I know you’re dying to know….

Phase Three is the part where I find an agent and a manager and I start marketing the crap out of myself.

I actually found an agent about a month after I moved to LA. An agent wasn’t part of Phase One, but I figured it couldn’t hurt. Jesus, Mary, Joseph was I wrong. I fired her over the phone while I was standing in the party supply isle of Hobby Lobby in Phoenix while shopping for my brother’s graduation party. She was dreadful.

So now I’m agentless until Phase Three.

Of course, Phase Three is also dependent upon me having a flexible work schedule. I don’t want to find my dream agent and then not be able to go to auditions. So go tell a friend about Mini Me Assisting.

Unless you know Spielberg. Then just tell him to call me.

 

Tiff’s Gone Granola

It’s gonna be a long one guys…I felt the whole story was important.

I hate New Year’s Resolutions.

The concept of determining the things in your life that you have the power to change and then setting out to change it all at one time is incredibly flawed, and, in my experience, only sets people up for failure and regret.

What I do believe in, is the continual pursuit of self-growth.

Not “continual radical transformations and life altering choices”…just, growth.

Around the Holidays I found myself in a strange place. I was working at a restaurant, starting a new job as a babysitter, and turning down every audition that came my way.

I went home for Thanksgiving and packed up my camera like I always do, because Thanksgiving is when we take our family picture for our Christmas card.

Except we didn’t take a picture this year. I didn’t even bring it up. Because I didn’t want my picture taken. Ever. Cell phones were maybe ok in dim lighting and from a distance, but I was horribly self conscious about my face.

Why?

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My acne was spiraling out of control. The worst it had ever been.

I went through high school and my first couple years of college without acne. This photo is from when I was 19. It’s completely unedited.

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When acne started popping up right after I turned 20 I freaked out. I ditched the ProActive I’d been using and tried a grip ton of other solutions: AcneFree (from CostCo), Biore (I think I bought every product they have), Epiduo Gel (prescribed by a dermatologist), a pill that I can’t remember the name of that made me break out in hives, MaxClarity (which was discontinued about 3 months after I started using it for “undisclosed” reasons), PerfectSkin (the Kardashian skincare line…this was an all time low in desperation), and PCA (Physician’s Care Association).

PCA is what finally started working for me. I used it for a year and half. It didn’t get rid of my acne, but it made it more predictable and made me feel like I had control.

Last January I decided that I was going to get rid of my acne once and for all! (my last New Year’s Resolution ever) So I racked up about $800 of credit card debt on extractions, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and chemical detoxes.

Things would get better, and then go back to being the same.

When I moved to LA it got worse.

“Oh, it’s just stress.”

I didn’t like that answer. I’m always going to be under “stress.” I’m acting in LA.

Right around January of this year I realized something had to change. Drastically.

My family didn’t send out Christmas cards this year because the family-photo-instigator didn’t want her picture taken. That’s bad.

I wasn’t auditioning. Also bad.

I didn’t trust people to see past my acne. Badness.

My self confidence was plummeting. Bad, bad, bad.

One day while stumbling around on Pinterest, I found a pin that talked about “Oil Cleansing” for your face.

After years of “Oil-Free”, “Oil-Stripping”, “Oil-Absorbing” lingo I thought this was a steaming pile of cooked bologna.

But I also knew that I was going insane – “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Oil cleansing was so opposite of what I’d been doing my whole life I decided go for it 110%. How long was I going to try it to see if it worked? I didn’t really think about it. I just decided that that was how I was going to clean my face from now on. Things couldn’t get any worse at least.

Hey, Tiff, what is oil cleansing?

Basically, the theory is that oil dissolves oil. So, you use a combo of a cleansing oil (usually castor oil) and a carrier oil (like olive oil), massage it into your face, and steam it into your pores with a hot washcloth. There’s all kinds of different theories and combinations of oil. I made a Pinterest board for it.

In an effort to debunk the “your acne is caused by stress” theory, I decided to start doing yoga every morning. I did yoga my last year of college, so I knew the basics. I found a few free videos online and began starting my day with 15-20 mins of yoga.

This all happened almost immediately after I moved into my new apartment.

All of this oil cleansing research led me to my new favorite doctor – www.TheLoveVitamin.com. Check out her story and her site and be as amazed as I was.

The blog writer is a Canadian girl in her 20’s named Tracy. And she claims that acne is caused, mostly, by what you eat.

Lies. Lies! All of it, lies!! I’d been told for my entire lifehood that acne is hereditary, it comes from uncontrollable hormones, and pollution, and- and- and! And it’s not my fault!

Au contraire. Tracy does a way better job of explaining the science behind how and why this is true. But, in Tiffany language, our food is riddled with chemicals and pesticides and artificial crap that the body is not designed to digest. But it does digest it. The consequences of this, are those chemicals interacting with our hormones causing them to act out in something we call, acne.

But not for everyone.

You can see how people who want you to buy their products and services can use words like “hereditary” and “hormones” without it being a total lie.

*Steps off soap box.*

Acne is an outward sign of an infection in your body.

From The Love Vitamin I also began reading about candida and I decided to do Tracy’s Candida Cleanse.

Hey, Tiff, what is candida?

It’s a fungus that grows in your body. Which is totally fine, until it gets out of hand. It feeds off of sugar. And it presents itself in ways like finger/toenail fungus, thrush, and…acne.

Candida Cleanse (in a nutshell): Only eating the best quality meat and veggies. Only.

Rough.

While also taking soluble fiber, a pro-biotic and an anti-fungal.

I spent the first two days throwing up on this cleanse.

And then I lost 10 pounds, and my acne cleared up. After 10 days.

Crazy.

I went ahead and did the cleanse for three weeks. The goal was to maintain my diet by going Paleo after the three weeks, but I missed ice cream a lot, so I’m still working on totally getting on board that train.

A couple weeks into the cleanse I went to an audition to be a spokesperson for a new wrench (yes, a ‘wrench’ wrench) and I rocked the crap out of it. My makeup covered my acne scars, I wasn’t worried about any sort of muffin top finding its way out of my jeans, and I did the work it takes to prepare for a spokesperson audition.

“Oh, so you booked it!”

No. I didn’t even get a callback. But I can tell you with 100% certainty that I was not the look they were going for. Because I did an amazing job at that audition and the casting directors loved me.

I also started *sigh* running??

This is totally new for me.

I am not a “morning person” by any sort of definition. Unless you’re talking about 2:00 in the morning.

But between my 20 mins of yoga, about 30 mins of preparing my healthy food every morning, and running/working out for 30 mins I was waking up almost two hours before I needed to leave my apt.

Then this led to a crazy phenomenon of me having more energy, and wanting to find more ways to grow, so I started doing Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and now I wake up with an extra hour to write three pages of long hand journaling every morning. (That’s three hours early total, for all you mathematicians out there).

Also, I went “all natural” with my shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, hand soap, and cleaning supplies. I read all the labels on my food now. I rarely eat out. And I drink tons of water.

I even quit Dr. Pepper.

Ok, fine, I had a Dr. Pepper once while driving to Phoenix…it was either that or die at the wheel.

So it’s true. I went granola.

Some rules I have about my new lifestyle are that I will never have dreadlocks, I will always shave my legs and my armpits (ew! girls don’t have armpit hair…), and I will try new healthy things. But I will also not force myself to eat disgusting things just because they’re good for me. There’s too much delicious, healthy food out there to choke down food that makes me gag.

I also know that sometimes I have to rest so that I don’t burn myself out with all this ‘self-growth’.

And that’s the story of how I went granola.

Sorry it’s so long. But I’ll probably have posts about my new delicious Paleo recipes or oil cleansing tricks and I felt like I needed to establish my new lifestyle for the world first 🙂

If you have any questions or want to know more about this process, please leave a comment or shoot me an email!

Oh! And this is me two weeks ago. All of the “blemishes” you see are scars. The scar-recovery process is a much longer one, but they’ve already slowly started blending away as my skin keeps healing.

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Restaurant Etiquette

Let’s get real for a sec…you knew this was coming.

The actress living in LA…working as a server…who has to joyfully acquiesce to the meanderings of obnoxious restaurant patrons.

Instead of posting a rant or venting about things that nobody really cares about, I thought I would put my findings into one helpful post about modern restaurant etiquette. The things you can do or not do to keep from sending your server into a cussing flurry the second they’re out of your sight.

At this point, if you’re thinking “I don’t really care. They’re there to serve me, I’ll do whatever I want.” I am genuinely and honestly sorry for you. That is a human being who is serving you…and you are a jackass (my grandpa used that word one time, so I decided I’m allowed to use it now too).

Or if you think you’re an amazing patron, kudos to you 🙂 Thanks for being awesome. Maybe you have a friend you can send this to!

So here we go!

First of all, you must understand that servers are expected to provide excellent service (duh), but we are also expected to sell a certain amount of food. And alcohol. This is why a server always suggests certain appetizers and beverages when you go out to eat. Some people think is incredibly annoying, but your server would get fired if they did not offer those things. Also, we are trained to offer items that will complement your meal! And we want to make sure you don’t forget anything. If you want your burger with bacon but forget to tell me, then you’ll remember when I offer it to you!

Which brings me to alcohol. Please, for the love of sunshine, don’t be offended when your server offers you alcohol. If it’s a Sunday afternoon and you just came from church with your lovely family and you just spent the morning listening to why alcohol is bad, and your server offers you a margarita…calm yourself. Smile and order a tea. Our performance at work is judged by how much alcohol we sell.

And for goodness sake, bring your ID.

Don’t steal the pen. We have to buy our own!

Children are awesome. I love kids! But there is a dark place inside of me that thinks some adults should be spayed and neutered after working at a restaurant.

Keep your children sitting down. Or at the very least, keep them contained to your table/booth. It is SO DANGEROUS to allow your children to wander around a restaurant. What if someone else has dropped a knife on the floor? What if someone is carrying hot food and can’t see your five year old dancing in the aisle? Not to mention it is obnoxious for everyone else in the restaurant.

If you have kids, they made a mess. Even if you can’t see it. The poured salt under the table. They broke their crayon into a million pieces and shoved it in between the seat. They poured out all the salt packets.  They put their veggies on the floor to make you think they ate them. Kids are expensive. When going out to eat, that means you leave an extra tip because of your kids. Because someone has to clean that ish up.

Last note on kids…. Teach your children how to tip. Teenagers are the worst. If your kids are going out to eat, give them extra money to leave a good tip. And set a good example for them growing up.

Coupons are awesome. So are Kids Eat Free nights, Buy One Get One deals, lunch specials and Happy Hour. Seriously, they’re the best! But your server is providing you with the same service you would have received even without the special. Which means….tip off the original total! 

Now, tips are tricky. They’re something unique to the United States, and everyone has different opinions on them. I happen to be incredibly lucky in CA because I still get standard minimum wage along with my tips ($8/hr). I have a friend in Utah who gets $2.13 an hour. We make our living off of tips.

Tipping étiquette is something that has changed over the years. So here is a current, Tiffany-ized tip table.

10% – Thanks for trying to do your job, but you weren’t that great.

15% – You were pretty good!

20% – That was exactly what I expect when I go out to eat.

25% – Not only were you an amazing server, but I can tell you went above and beyond for us (this is kid territory, hint, hint). You’re probably one of the best servers I’ve ever had.

30% – You were amazing, your smile is contagious, and we all enjoyed ourselves so much because of the environment you created for us.

30%+ – All of the above…plus we’re rich and we like to bless people.

If you can’t understand my cool tip table, it means that 20% is a standard tip.

What?! That’s so high!

I don’t make the rules, I just know that 20% is what everyone expects where I work. Although, most of us are content with 15%.

If you ever tip less than 10%, you shouldn’t go out to eat. (This is where most teenagers fall.)

When it comes to ordering your food, read the menu. We have absolutely no problem answering questions about the menu, in fact, we like doing it! But it does get annoying when people ask if we serve burgers at Islands. Nope, we’re a pasta place. .::sigh::.

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want! Most restaurants can take the sauce from that thing and put it on this thing while adding a little bit of that other thing.

Ask for your condiments when you order. If you know you like ranch with your fries…then ask for it when you order your fries. If you know you usually like more dressing than is normally on a salad…then ask for more when you order the salad. If you eat BBQ with everything, then ask for BBQ when you order. But, if you forget, then ask later. We’d rather you have your meal the way you want it than not ask for ranch because you don’t want to be obnoxious.

We don’t spit in your food. That’s disgusting. And after eight months of working in a restaurant I have never seen or heard of anyone intentionally contaminating the food. We’ll complain about you, but we won’t mess with your food.

Tell the manager if someone was awesome or terrible, or if something was awesome or terrible. They want to know!

Not all drink policies are created equal. Even when drinks are refillable, not all places do automatic refills. At Islands the first one is automatic, but after that you need to ask for it. So please don’t get upset when your drink isn’t full all the time.

If you’re eating alone, welcome to the club! I do this all the time. Learn to embrace the bar. Servers are only allowed to have a certain number of tables (in most restaurants). And if you’re going to sit and read a book for an hour and half while you enjoy your wine and snack on your dinner then only tip $2…you should sit at the bar instead of taking up someone’s table.

I think that’s all I’ve got for this round! I know I have lots of friends who are servers…anyone have anything to add?

And feel free to ask questions! 🙂

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Having a Plan

I’m a bit of a planner. I thrive on organization and lists. I love crossing things off a list.

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I’m also a dreamer.

Oftentimes in life, my plans for the future only exist in my dreams.  I think about my plans, I dream about my plans, I obsess about my plans, and then I plan on making my plans happen.

Plan is a funny word.

In the Fall of 2009 I was a Junior at Arizona State University (Sun Devils, represent!) and I had a guest teacher who had us write out a five year plan for our lives. It wasn’t a five year “career” plan, it was a life plan.

I wrote a plan. I turned it in. I saved it on my desktop.

It was in writing this plan that I first put a timeline on wanting to move to LA, it was the reason I got involved with the Phoenix Film Festival in the Spring of 2010, and it was the reason I got a new job at the time.

I kept this plan updated over the next couple years as my life and my goals changed, and I just found my “Life Plan” from February 2011.

Here are all the things I accomplished on my two year plan (in order):

-Contacted Chad Hudson Events in LA (This is where I wanted to get a job when I moved to LA. He actually e-mailed me back a couple times but he wasn’t looking to hire anyone and he didn’t need any interns.)

Got new headshots.

-Created a website.

-Graduated summa cum laude.

-Got paid for acting (national Petsmart commercial!)

-Quit my job at Desert Star Construction.

-Completed my demo reel.

-Made conscious efforts to make connections in LA with filmmakers and casting directors.

-Took a trip to LA.

-Moved to LA.

-Found a job in LA.

-Got an agent in LA.

-Found a place to live in LA.

For full disclosure, here are all the things in the plan that I did not accomplish:

-Create a voice-over demo reel.

-Pay off student loans.

-Join SAG.

-Have a job at Chad Hudson Events.

-Land a role as a lead in a feature film (this actually happened, but then the project was cancelled…so I’m not letting it count.)

That’s it! Between those two lists, that was everything on my plan. The timeframes in which some things were completed were a little different than my original plan, but that’s a-okay with me.

Usually I write blogs to inform my friends and family of my adventures in Los Angeles, but today I’m going to challenge you.

Yep, you.

Write down your plans!

It will keep you accountable to yourself to make your dreams come true. It might feel silly, after all, you know what you want…you’re you! But write it down anyways. It makes it concrete, physical, tangible. And it’s harder to argue with something that you can touch.

“But, Tiffany! Where do I start?!”

So glad you asked 🙂

  1. Grab a blank sheet of paper or open Microsoft Word (this is an important step…without this step you thing’s won’t get written down!) (<–That was sarcasm, friends.)
  2. Start with where you want to be in one year. Then work your way backwards. Figure out what you have to do in the next six months, and then in the six months after that to get to where to you want to be in a year.
  3. Then go a little bit longer term. Think two years. After you’ve accomplished your one year plan where do you want to go next? You don’t have to be as detailed in this plan, just list out the things you have to do to get to your two year goal.
  4. From there you can go as far as five years out or even ten years out. Your five year mark might only have one goal listed, and that’s ok! You’ll keep your list revised and as you get closer you’ll find more detailed ways to reach that goal.

 

“But, Tiffany! What if my plans change?!”

Nope. Don’t ever let your plans change. Once you make your plans, you need to follow through with them.

JUST KIDDING!!!!!!

Let your plans change! This is your life plan. Your life plan. Not anyone else’s plan and not some rigid business plan. It’s okay when things change. Unexpected things happen all the time that you have no way of planning for in your life plan. Like finding a billion dollars buried in your backyard (not in the lottery, gambling is silly).

Priorities change. People change. And when they do, change your plan. But save a draft of your old plan first…it’s fun to look back on what you wanted your goals to be. For instance, in 2009 my 4-5 year plan included getting married. It’s four years later, and no husband yet. (I’ve chosen to leave my relationship status off the plan in the future 😉 )

Right now I’m updating my plan. All the things I didn’t accomplish in the last two years are fo-sho on my new plan (except working for Chad Hudson) along with a few new things that I’m sure you’ll hear about soon.

Happy planning!

And if you need some motivation, this is my favorite viral video of the month:

Still Waiting for Spielberg to Call

I moved into a studio apartment in Silver Lake last week, and I LOVE it! It’s exactly the right size for me in a wonderful location right in between my two jobs. And I’m alone. I’ve always hoped I would have the opportunity to have my own space before I got married, and I’m acting exactly the way I thought I would – decorating, redecorating, organizing, reorganizing, eating healthy, baking cookies for neighbors, staying up late, getting up late, and putting post-it notes and pictures alllll over the place. This is coming on the tail end of actually sharing a bedroom with my roommate. So I’m letting myself get giddy every time I unlock my door!

The one down side is parking. The building is so old that it doesn’t have a parking lot, so we’re left to wander the streets and fight to the death in a battle royale for parking in whatever little sidestreets we can find. It’s not that bad. I walked a block and a half one time. And I had my very first ‘perfect’ parallel parking experience. It was a normal sized space (not the typical Smart-car-sized-space I usually squeeze my car into) and I parallel parked in two moves. Wha-bam!

Here are a couple photos: IMG_1195

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On the side of my refrigerator you’ll notice notes and cards and pictures. These are all people who have written me  encouraging things, and since I eat food out of my refrigerator every day I’m forced to look at them and smile every day. Forced encouragement…sometimes thats the only way it happens out here.

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My new shower curtain might be my favorite part about the whole place.

My TV still doesn’t work. There’s a theory that it’s actually my blu-ray player that is messing it up, but I haven’t had the opportunity to test that theory by using a different device…because I don’t have any different devices…

I’m still working at Islands. Exclusively as a Server as of today 🙂 I’ve been doing a mix of serving and working expo/takeout for a couple months now. But it’s all serving now. Dolla, dolla, tips!

In December I also started babysitting a three month old baby girl named Brynn three days a week. She is now five months old (math!):

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If I showed you this photo in person you would say, “She is so cute!” And then I would reply, “You have no idea. This baby is the most adorable, happy, giggly, wiggly baby in the world. I absolutely love taking care of her.” Her parents are really cool too. Mom is an artist for The Simpsons. That’s right. As in, The Simpsons. Right about now is the time I wish I’d ever actually seen an episode…

Between these two jobs I work nine days a week (math?), so I haven’t gotten to do any more background acting in the past couple months. And I’m okay with that.

One of my tippy top priorities this year was to find a church that I love asap. And I think it may have happened. I heard this from about a million different people before I left Phoenix, and then I got distracted with a different church…but now I’ve seen the light and started going to Reality LA. Pastor Tim preached the best sermon I’ve heard since I moved to LA this last Sunday. You can check it out here if you want to.

On Wednesday nights I go to a free improv class in Hollywood that is one of the highlights of my week. I love being funny. And watching other people be funny. This is to help keep me on my toes so that I’m ready for The Groundlings as soon as I’m able to audition.

Auditions still happen sometimes. But I’m still kinda focused on existing as a functioning human being in Los Angeles. Once I can go grocery shopping without stressing out I’ll start being  more aggressive about getting out there more. I don’t really have a success/failure timeline. I’ve heard the question “How long are you going to stay in LA?” Forever. This isn’t an “if I don’t make it in three years I’m giving up” situation. This is an “I’m going to live in Los Angeles” situation….and I’ll pursue acting while I’m here.

I’ve started swing dancing a little more often at LindyGroove. But my schedule is changing at work, so I might be back to doing the Tranky Doo alone in my living room.

Still looking for a husband.

Still looking for a girlfriend who won’t judge me for hating coffee, spontaneously bursting out in Disney songs, crying about Dr. Who, and who doesn’t get concerned when I try to make deep, philosophical exclamations about life.

Still waiting for my eyeballs to heal. Not gonna lie, the last three days have sucked like a vortex.

Still waiting for Spielberg to call.

Family. Friends. Food. (…and dancing)

Last Tuesday I drove to Phoenix after my afternoon shift at Islands.

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Lots of smiling.

I didn’t have to come back until Monday night, so I got to stay for almost a whole week 🙂

I planned my trip around a Lindy Hop workshop on Saturday with Lindy Rockstars Dax Hock and Sarah Breck.

Wednesday

Surprised mom at work and brought her Starbucks. She made me play my saxophone. I’m still really good…compared to fifth graders.

DFA! Lunch with Grandma and Dad at Uncle Sam’s. Philly Cheesesteak ftw ya’ll.

(A DFA is a “Delicious Food Alert”. I have a list of places that don’t exist in LA that I try to eat at when I visit Phoenix. They will be denoted with a “DFA”!)

Coffee time with Miss Arab USA 2012 at Desert Ridge. Oh, did I just drop a title like that? I did. Her name is Suzanne. But I call her Suz. Because we’re friends.

Dad got me a keyboard so I could have music in my life back in Lala land.

DFA! Paradise Bakery for dinner. While watching two episodes of Once Upon a Time with the ‘rents.

Thursday

Breakfast Club with Kyle. The restaurant. Not the movie.

DFA! Pane Bianco. So scrumptious. As always. Lunch with Matthew.

First massage in four months. I already need another one.

Tried to sell all my clothes at Buffalo Exchange…I got rejected at both of them.

DFA! Dinner at Oregano’s with the lovely Jennifer Keck. That pizzookie didn’t stand a chance.

Surprise time! Showed up to my small group’s Thursday night get together. Fun fact: Everyone has a different way of saying “oh my gosh” when something unexpected happens.

Friday

8am – LASIK appointment. My eyes are still dry. The fit’s gonna hit the shan pretty soon here if things don’t get fixed. It’s almost been a year.

Got my oil changed. I had barely driven 3,000 miles since I moved (4 months). That’s an all time record low for me.

DFA! Lunch with Grandma and Dad at Chick Fil A. Yes, they have Chick Fil A in Hollywood. But it’s far away and it doesn’t have my Grandma.

Drilled some fear into the flagline at North Canyon. They got a superior and a flag caption the next day. Holla!

Saw my kiddos. ❤ my Raumies.

DFA! My mom’s chicken pot pie.

Dance time at Fat Cat.

Saturday

Einstein’s for breakfast.

Dance workshop!! Changed my life. But, really, I’m gonna start dancing more in LA. I ❤ it.

Tenth Avenue North/Audrey Assad concert with the broski and his girly. Best concert of my life. Also the third concert of my life. But it was the best one 🙂

Then to another dance party. Ball out jeans anyone? Anyone? No. Ok.

Sunday

Family day 🙂

DFA! Il Primo Pizza and Wings.

Costco trip. Ballin.

Watching football on the couch with Daddy.

Naptime.

DFA! Jimmy John’s with Chelsea.

Monday

Perfect Pitch with Grandma.

DFA! Sauce.

Facial at Desert Bloom Skincare. My skin is not happy in LA.

Hobby Lobby with Mom.

Pack up.

Drive home.

Psych! Stop at Jen’s on the way out of town.

Then drive home.

The Fabulous Bill Dance

This morning I worked on a new show called The Mindy Project. Call time was 7:00am and I was cut at 11:30am. They never used me.

That left enough time for me to get to North Hollywood by 12:00pm in time to register for background acting with Bill Dance Casting.

I first heard about Bill while working on the set of Suburgatory. One of the other actors was working on some new movie through him called Saving Mr. Banks.

After finding out more about what this movie actually is, I knew that I wanted to be in whatever database could get me working on projects like that.

Academy Award Watch! Consider this the post I can refer back to in a couple years when Saving Mr. Banks is nominated for multiple Academy Awards. I called it. Don’t you forget it.

Registration was fast and easy.

And Bill Dance might be the most fabulous person I’ve met in Hollywood yet.

He casts ‘background artists’ and ‘background actors’ but you would think he was casting principal roles for Spielberg the way he talks about his work.

He doesn’t cast ‘extras’. We aren’t “extra icing for a cake that gets thrown into the garbage can like we aren’t important”. Background artists are an “integral part of art imitating life”.

He’s right.

The whole reason ‘background artists’ exist are to make a scene look natural and real. We are an integral part of the process in which art attempts to imitate life.

I love it.

He even got teary eyed a couple times when talking about the projects he has worked on. Passionate is the right word here.

Then he took all of our photos himself and shook our hands on the way out.

I hope he casts me.

Because he’s fabulous.

And he cares.

People don’t care about much out here.

Hey, Mom! Look at me!

I kinda feel like stabbing the internet in the face for what it’s just done to my Friday. I’ve spent four hours creating and re-creating this post after two failed attempts at uploading.

This is where you can find all the dates and stories for my background acting.

I’ll keep it updated as I get more gigs.

Pretty Little Liars

Work Date: 7/23-25/12

Air Date: 10/23/12 and 10/30/12

Stories: There was a head made out of meat as one of the set pieces and in between takes, Ashley Benson, Troian Bellisario and I would try to figure out what the teeth were made out of. Also, at one point in the episode Tyler Blackburn takes off his mask and waves to his girlfriend. He was having trouble figuring out how to take off the mask without covering his face and making it awkward. So I helped him figure it out and he gave me a high five.

Animal Practice

Work Date: 8/13/12

Air Date: 10/3/12

Season 1, Episode 3 – “Clean Smelling Pirate”

http://www.nbc.com/animal-practice/video/clean-smelling-pirate/1419484

Stories: Oh, Tyler Labine. He was the best. Seriously, nicest guy ever. He introduced himself to me. Talked in between takes. And then he became my first celebrity Twitter follower. There were also brief conversations with Justin Kirk and JoAnna Garcia Swisher. I had the interesting experience of being on set the day after the series premiere…that happened to interrupt the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics. Drama!

Criminal Minds

Work Date: 8/27/12

Air Date: 10/31/12

Season 8, Episode 5 – “The Good Earth”

**If you follow this link there are lots of pop up ads, but you can watch the episode for free. You can see me walk across the background at 32:35 holding the little girl:

http://www.free-tv-video-online.me/player/180upload.php?id=z23ycqih9go3

Stories: It was excessively hot outside. The little girl I was “mommy” to and I had so much fun. Shemar Moore smiled at me.

[NO PICTURE]

Ben and Kate

Work Date: 9/13/12

Air Date: 10/30/12

Season 1, Episode 6 – “Scaredy Kate”

Stories: I freaked out when I saw Maggie Elizabeth Jones. She’s adorable. Adorable. There was a guest starring actor who looked familiar and I decided he was Lucy’s husband from 7th Heaven…but after a little more  research I found he’s actually that guy’s brother. His name is Geoff Stults. He was a different kind of adorable. This is also the second time I’ve been cast as a ‘mom’. Hmm.

Body of Proof

Work Date: 9/14/12

Air Date: ?? It will be the fourth episode once the third season starts.

Stories: This is the one where they told me to make sure I left lots of time for traffic to get to Santa Clarita and so I would up getting there an hour and a half early. Hooray for Carl’s Jr! I was also featured in this one as a girl who comes out of the subway after a shooting and doesn’t know whats going on. Very exciting.

Hello Ladies

Work Date: 9/21/12

Air Date: A long time. Like, next year. It’s a new HBO show and I worked on the pilot.

Stories: Stephen Merchant and Kevin Weisman would talk to the group of four I was standing in because we were the closest to their car. At one point, the car was supposed to be parked but it somehow got knocked out of park and it started rolling down the street with Stephen Merchant holding on to the handle. But they were excited because it was a really funny take!

Suburgatory

Work Date: 9/26/12

Air Date: 12/5/12

Season 2, Episode 7 – “Krampus”

Here’s a YouTube clip of the scene I’m in. You can see me at 2:16.

Stories: I had a special moment when I saw Ana Gasteyer from SNL’s ‘Delicious Dish’. I found out that Parker Young is also from Arizona…so we’re getting married next week.

The More Exciting Story: This was more exciting for me because of the lot we shot on. They used my car on this one so after I drove onto the lot and turned the corner I found myself here:

It’s Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls. I ate lunch in the gazebo. When  a movie or TV show films on a lot (not on location) they typically tear down the set once it’s finished and build something else. It won’t be there forever, but the fact that it was still there for me to experience was pretty cool.

[NO PHOTO]

Friend Me

Work Date: 9/27/12

Stories: Sorry there’s no picture. I take part in a fun athletic activity (no spoilers!) and I’m wearing gray leggings and a light turquoise tank top with a neon pink sports bra.

Air Date: I’m not sure if this will ever air. Sadly, I recently found out that one of the co-creators of the series committed suicide about a month after I worked on the show. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friend_Me

How I Met Your Mother

Work Date: 10/4/12

Air Date: 11/19/12

Season 8, Episode 7 – “The Stamp Tramp”

Stories: Don’t look for me. Seriously. This was less of  a “have my family and friends watch” experience and more of a “I’M ON THE SET OF HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER” experience. It was amazing. The first scene was with Jason Segel and a very attractive actor who as not been announced as a guest star so I’m not going to tell you who it is and then I won’t get sued for spoiling it. When it was time to shoot, Jason Segel came skipping out of his trailer saying, “Hey! We get to do acting!” Yes. Yes we do. I had fun watching him have fun. The second scene was with Neil Patrick Harris and Cobie Smulders. I knew the chances of seeing NPH on this set were pretty high, but I didn’t realize how much I would kinda freak out. He really is a legendary child actor turned star who is incredibly, uber talented. If you don’t agree with me, watch his opening number for the 2011 Tony Awards. My favorite part of the night was when Neil and Cobie (yeah, we’re on a first name basis now) had finished the rehearsals for their scene and it was time to shoot. They went off into a little corner and danced for five seconds. It looked like a little ‘lets get hyped to shoot’ dance…but it also looked like it could have been choreographed. Favorite. Also my car was parked outside of MacLaren’s.

Update!: You CAN look for me! There was only one tiny flash of an opportunity for me to be seen, and fate took that chance.

Again, tons of pop up ads, so proceed at your own risk. I’m the flash of purple at 2:06

http://www.free-tv-video-online.me/player/vidbux.php?id=bbhqznxpns3w

The Background Actor

If we’re friends on Facebook then I’m sure you’ve seen the photos and posts of me on set doing background work. I like to drop names alot and act like it’s a big deal, but I feel like I’ve been taking advantage of my friends and family by not telling you what background acting really is.

It’s easy.

I mean really easy. I went to an orientation with Central Casting (the largest background acting agency in LA/NY) three days after I moved out here and then I started submitting myself for work. There’s no audition and there’s barely a casting process.

It kinda goes like this:

– I have a day off from Islands every week…sometimes two days.

– I call the Non-Union Female Central Casting work line (you can actually call it if you want to, it’s just a bunch of recordings: 818-260-6130) to see what is available for the one or two days I have off. This work line is updated randomly throughout the day, so it’s always different. As someone trying to find work, it’s really really amazing that you have no idea when there happens to be new work available. It just makes the whole thing that much more…exciting? Hassle-free? Enjoyable? Kill me. It’s awful.

– If there happens to be something on the one day that I have off that I actually fit the description for (caucasian-looking, female, 20’s-30’s, average sizes, over 5’7″) then I can start the gleeful task of calling in to submit myself for the show.

– There’s also something fun called a “doubling period” which means that you can’t work on the same show within 30 days (sometimes it’s 14 days, sometimes it’s a whole season, sometimes there isn’t a doubling period and you can submit all the time)

– There are 515,000,000 Non-Union talent registered with Central Casting. Yes, Five Hundred Fifteen Million people. The vast majority of those people are not actively seeking work. They came to registration but then found fame and fortune the next day so never wound up working, or they found a day job, or they went back to wherever they came from a month later, or they spent one day on set and realized they’d be treated like crap so they never submitted again. Whatever. There’s still a grip ton of people registered and looking for work.

– So, when a casting director posts a new call on the lines, there are literally thousands of other people trying to submit themselves for the call. Which means….their lines are always busy. I tried calling over 200 times one day to submit myself for a call and never got through. But re-dial is a girl’s best friend. It’s annoying but it’s easy.

– Once you actually get through, a casting director will answer the phone by saying “Casting, first five?” The first five digits of your social security number are like your ID for them. So you give them your first five and then tell them your name and then there will be a 1-2 second pause, after which you will either hear “Can’t use you.” Click. Or they’ll start asking more specifics and eventually book you and give you another number to call to get directions to set and information about wardrobe. So. Many. Phonecalls.

– Once you’re booked you have three jobs: 1) Show up early. (Waaaay more difficult than you might think in LA).   2) Bring the right wardrobe.   3) Do what you’re told.

– There’s also something really fun when background acting called a “bump”. It means you get more money 😉 Like any time I’m booked with my car I get an “auto bump” which is $15. Or you if you have to change wardrobe you get a $5 wardrobe bump or if they asked you to bring a prop you get a $5 prop bump. Some background actors have these bumps memorized and you hear them asking the AD about them at sign-out. “I think I felt some rain earlier, do we get a rain bump? I was asked to carry something heavy, can I get a bump for that? Someone stepped on my foot, can I get a bump?” You hear it all. And usually the answer is no. The AD will tell you what bumps they’re allowing.

– And, no, I will not tell you how much money I make background acting. That’s so rude.

– Just kidding. It’s not a big deal. I make $64 for 8 hours. Which means that they own me for 8 hours. If they choose to only use me for 5 or 6 hours then that’s their decision, but I get paid $64 no matter what. As Non-Union talent, for hours 9 & 10 I get paid time and half, which is $12/hour. And anything over 10 hours is double time ($16/hour).

– 15 hour work days are my favorite. And I’m actually totally serious about that.

I don’t know if this has shattered anyone’s dreams about what I’ve been doing out here, but I thought you all deserved to know the truth. Literally anyone can do this if you live in LA.

There are a few things you can always count on though when it comes to Background Acting:

  1. Someone will tell you that the food they’re giving you is “exactly what production is eating”. It’s a lie.
  2. Another background actor will tell you how long they’ve been background acting.
  3. Another background actor will tell you about how amazing or awful a star is in person on another show.
  4. Another background actor will complain about the weather.
  5. Another background actor will tell you about their auditions.
  6. Another background actor will give you advice on how to make it in LA.
  7. Another background actor will give you advice on how to get a Union voucher.

 

Sometimes “another background actor” are all the same person and you end up murdering them at the end of the day.

Or you end up Facebook friends with them because they cornered you and you had no choice.

Somehow, after all that, I absolutely love it. It might get old someday. But I love being on set.

It is kinda rough though. Being so close to your dreams that you can touch them. Literally, actually touch the people that do for a living what you only do in your dreams. And to also be in front of people who could change your life. If that director or that producer or that casting agent or that talent happens to notice you, they have the power to make your dreams come true. It’s unnerving. And it has to be the last thing you’re thinking about or you’ll seem desperate and draw attention in a negative way.

So along with showing up on time, bringing the right wardrobe, and doing what they ask me to do, I also pay attention. I watch people and make eye contact and smile. Because that’s about all I can do.