Thursday, December 25, 2008

My New Venture

Check cousin Effie Mae had quite the ordeal trying to fly home for the holidays...

:) Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

My Type

Last night in the fabulously fantastic class that I'm in, we tackled Type, the big elephantine monster that I've been afraid to ask anyone about but unsure of how to figure out for sure on my own. It was awesome.

Everyone walked around and handed each other index cards, then you stood and looked at each other, writing down 5 things that came to mind immediately. It was difficult with the people I already know, because you want to try not to factor in personality or personal history. I highly highly recommend doing this...if you randomly find yourself in the company of a small group of kind and well-meaning strangers. Or in class.

Here is what I got. Any emphasis or parentheticals are what was written down. Numbers in parentheses are when I got repeats of the exact same phrase.

athletic (x2)
best friend (x3)
best girlfriend
bookstore clerk
closeted sex kitten (by "closeted" I mean "non-slutty")
clothing store owner
college type
comedic cop
cute (x3)
cute caring girlfriend
cute friend
dry humored friend
early 20s (x3)
excited for the future
free spirited
funny (x3)
girl next door (x4)
good ol' girl
grad student
grounded (x2)
Jennifer Aniston
Laura Linney in her 20s
loyal (this was underlined but blogger won't let me do that)
mid 20s (x2)
middle class (x2)
midwestern (x2)
post graduate student
quirky (x2)
slightly unsure of herself
smarter than she lets on
sports player
spunky (like Punky)
suck up
sweet girl next door mom
tomboy (x2)
works in a German bar
young assistant to shit boss
young mom (x2)

These are a little all over the place, but I can certainly see all of them in myself. If you plotted them all on a Venn diagram of some sort, I'm pretty sure the majority would fall in the same circle. Now I know: I'm perfect for the cute girl next door funny best friend in her mid 20s. Bring it.

Funnily enough, there were two breakdowns today that were pretty spot-on for me. I submitted to both, and already got called in for one. Yay! Hopefully they'll be able to see me when I get back.

Also: if you care about acting, incarceration, Shakespeare, theatre, or any combination of those, watch Shakespeare Behind Bars. They have it on Netflix. It is wonderful and inspiring and heartbreaking and reminded me of why I fell in love with acting in the first place and how I can actually make a difference pursuing what I love.

I get on a plane tonight to go home for the first time in a year and I am absolutely ecstatic. Happy happy holidays to you all, and may 2009 bring us all wonderful things!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

People Make Me Happy

I started the day on a jam-packed bus with four strangers spending twenty minutes very much inside of my personal space, and, oddly enough, it made me pensive rather than annoyed. (Which is certainly a healthier emotion, but I don't always adhere to those sorts of logic.) Consequently, I seem to be very reflective today. I stumbled upon this video called "Where the Hell is Matt?," and I absolutely love it.

I had an idiot grin on my face the whole time I was watching it, and then alternated between chills and the desire to cry. It's possible that I'm PMSing and it's making me over-sappy, because sometimes that happens, but I just love the idea of this man walking up to total strangers all over the world with whom he does not even share a language and getting them to dance with him. The children are my favorite. And I've always been a sucker for large orchestration and scope.

So anyway. I hope you enjoy that.

On the bus this morning, a girl wrestled her way the the front, seemingly randomly, and then sort of petulantly said to the bus driver "Robertson" as we were passing the street. He explained that we were on an express bus that did not stop there. She apparently was not aware of this, and asked him to pull over a few blocks away and let her out, not at a stop. I was sort of shocked when he obliged, and then I realized that people showing kindness to those who don't necessarily deserve it might be one of the things that makes the world go around. You know, besides gravity and stuff.

Friday, December 5, 2008

What did you do this week?

Last night I attended the first class of a sort of marketing/acting industry info/actors support network thingy. It's facilitated by Bonnie Gillespie, so I already knew that the time would be well spent, but I wasn't sure what it would be like. Now I know - it was fantastic.

I was excited by the other attendees, many of whom I previously knew and really liked. The other folks there also seem like really smart, on the ball actors - exactly the people I want to surround myself with.

We went around introducing ourselves and sharing a fun facts (which, after two showcases, I am quickly running out of) and then moved on to my favorite part of the night. Bonnie had us all go around and say something positive that had happened in our careers this week.

At first, I panicked. Things have been really slow and I haven't been doing much. But when it was my turn, I said that I had gotten called in for two auditions, the first in a couple of months, so that was good. And that I am in my first commercial, even though it's unpaid because I appeared on the show and signed away the rights. And I started this class this week. So, all in all, not too bad.

Other folks had booked their first nationals, seen the final product of their pilots, shot co-star roles on network tv, seen their episode of The Shield (to find that their storyline had been cut, but still), and met with agents and managers.
I think all of us realized that if you really stop and take stock of all the things you're doing, you'll be surprised that the list is not as short as you may have thought.

A friend of mine in the group mentioned that she moved to Los Angeles a year ago this week. She's done a fair amount of stuff and is commercially repped and has a manager, etc, which is great in the amount of time she's been here. I realized that I have only been really pursuing acting here since last January, when I got my headshots taken and stopped using my old black and white shots from long ago and far away, and that what I've accomplished in that time doesn't feel like a whole lot, but it's also nothing to sneeze at. And then a very wise member of our group pointed out that anything you accomplish before you've been in Los Angeles for five years is pretty dang good.

I'm so happy to have a positive and supportive group of people to help me keep things in perspective and share tools and successes. Starting this class was the best thing I've done for my career this week.

Sort of negative side note, but I have to get it out: I'm still a little frustrated when I hear about other folks who got called in from the last showcase, when I got nary a peep. But trying to put that out of my mind and not worry about it. There! It's gone! And I'm happy to say that whenever I feel that way, the overwhelming feeling is happy for them for getting called in. I've finally gotten it through my head that another person's success does not eliminate or negate my own. It's a good feeling. I feel like I've shed a layer of petty and insecure and replaced it with a little more maturity.

Time to get ready for January's push. Cause 2009 is going to be a great year.

Monday, November 24, 2008

So, Kind Reader - tell me what to do

So I've never directly addressed anyone who might be reading this, instead preferring to erect a pseudo-fourth wall in the blogosphere, I suppose. The wall is coming down, folks. I have three followers (hey-oh!) and the time has come to elicit response.

So. I am a creative person. When you get to the root of why I want to be an actor and what I want to do with my life and why I'm slogging through the slog I'm slogging and yadda yadda yadda, it boils down to my need to create and feel like I'm contributing something through that creation. When I'm working on a project or I have something in the future I'm working towards, no matter how small it may be, I always feel better.

So. My question to you is this - what do you do when you don't have anything creatively exciting in sight? Or anything creative at all?

I'm not at that point. I have a reading next week that I'm very excited about, and I know that I'm always only a step away from doing something myself to pull myself out of the cubicled fog of 9 to 5-ery, and I still have two more performances of my sketch show. But I want to know what other folks have done to keep themselves from falling into the Depths of Despair that are somewhat unavoidable when creative people aren't expressing themselves.

I see it in myself, and I see it in the people around me. I was always happiest in high school (possibly the only times I was happy in high school) when I was doing a show, and that hasn't changed. The people I love most in this world don't do well when they're not working on or excited about something. It's hard to watch, especially because I recognize the feeling. (Also, right now, it's compounded by being really broke and there not being any work, which is terrifying. I have three friends in the temp world who are achingly desperate for work.)

Self-discipline isn't always my strong suit, but I'm trying to change that. So I thought I would ask for some advice. Any help avoiding a self-imposed mental quagmire filled with self-doubt and questions about self-worth with a side of self-loathing is greatly appreciated.

So. Thanks in advance.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I got a call from an agent! ...that I would never work with

How sad is that?

There is an Agent who shall remain Nameless who has been calling in every actor since the last showcase, pretty much. I'm one of the last of my little crew, and the other folks who have taken the meetings had to put up with a lot of BS and wasted time to get pitched photographers and other scams. (As well as one instance of a person who actually worked with him and ended up putting up with verbal abuse and severe name calling - the kind that is technically sexual harassment. This guy is a peach.)

Also, if I hadn't already had an army of red flags at the ready about this guy, the following phone conversation would have really put me off:
Me: Hello, this is Lauren.

Dude: Hi, this is _ calling from _'s office at the _ Agency. We've had your headshot on file and would like you to come in for a meeting. Can you come in today at 4:45?

Me: No, actually, I won't be able to do that.

Dude: Oh. Well what about tomorrow at 4:00?

Me: Could I check my schedule and call you back?

Dude: Why?

Me:...because I'm on avail for something tomorrow that I'm not sure is going to pan out, is there a number I could call you back on?

Dude: I mean, is it about other representation?

Me: I just really need to check my calendar. If there isn't a number I can call you back at, then that's fine.

Dude: Well, I guess. You can leave a message at _.

Me: Okay, thank you.

I mean...really? Is that rude or am I just over sensitive? Granted, I knew that I wasn't going in as soon as he said the name of the agency, but I wanted to be able to call back so I could decide how to handle it. When he started being pushy, I was really tempted to say "Actually, I've heard horrible things about your boss and have absolutely no desire to come in and meet with him, thank you very much." But I decided I shouldn't burn a bridge. At least not overtly. So saying I needed to "check my calendar" could have been lame, but it also could have been the truth. I also could have been driving. I mean, I wasn't, but good grief!

So anyway. I hope now that has broken the seal and other agents will call. You know...ones that I don't know to be verbally abusive scam artists.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Oh! I saw a fantastic play in Los Angeles!

And I forgot to talk about it. Shame on me.

Last Friday, I was kindly treated to The Production Company's production of "M. Butterfly" by David Henry Hwang, a play I have loved since reading it in college. I was excited to see it performed, but a little nervous, since the narration is non-linear and the whole play is pretty conceptual and somewhat nebulous in concept.

And it was fantastic. The Chandler Studio is a teeny 33 seat theatre give or take a few folding chairs (which my butt was not happy about sitting on, but that's what you get without a reservation), and the small space was perfect for a play as intimate as "M. Butterfly." I was very impressed and excited to discover the company. I will be sending them a headshot forthwith.

I am amused by the pomposity of this whole post, so I'm going to leave it. ("Forthwith?" Really?)

Anyway, great show! Unfortunately, it closed last weekend, but they did a great job. I'll be eager to check out more of their stuff.

Also, begone, self-doubt "why aren't they calling me" demons!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Forgotten lines and an egg?

That's what my anxiety dream was about last night - we were showing our scene and I couldn't remember any of the lines, so I just let my scene partner do all the talking. And I was holding an egg. Analyze that. I have no idea.

I've now completed my second Cricket Feet Showcase, and it went very well. I was happy with my scene both nights, except for the minor "why aren't they laughing as much as last night?" feeling I already mentioned. That's what happens when your first audience is fantastic.

My feedback was actually fantastic, which was very exciting:

Everyone for the most part was pretty darn good, but Lauren was really good. Shows versatility.

Fun persona for broad sitcom.

Favorite scene.

Good character transition.


So that's great. I felt good about that. But - no one checked the box marked "have actor contact my office." ...why not?

I'm trying not to dwell on that, but it's hard. I've heard of someone else who got tons of rave reviews with no contact requests, but that doesn't really make me feel better for either of us. I am hearing of folks who are getting called in, and I'm super happy for them, but it is really hard to not ask "But why not me?"

I'm trying not to dwell on that and to just focus on the possibility of people remembering me when they need me, and then Wham-O! For now I'm following up with thank you notes with a callback to my scene - probably getting "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" in everyone's head in the process. Heh. I sang that in the scene and it's been in my head 78% of the time for the last month and a half. Now I share.

I was addressing a postcard to an agent that turns out is in the same building I work in, so I took an elevator ride to drop it was sort of anti-climactic. I was expecting the receptionist to see me, gasp, and yell for the agent to come and sign me on the spot. That didn't happen. What gives?

Friday, November 7, 2008

What a week!

I was relieved to the point of tears with the results of the election. Filled with elation and hope and restored faith in the humanity of Americans, a word I can say again now without cringing.

My only sadness is about Prop 8 here in California. I really didn't expect this state to vote to put hatred and prejudice into the constitution. The Prop 8 protest yesterday was right outside my office building. I ran down and wanted to join, but had to leave for the showcase. I took this and some other pictures, viewable at my Flickr page.

As for the showcase, it went very well. I felt great about the scene on Wednesday night. We hit it and the audience loved it. Last night I had a little bit of the second night slump/"why aren't they laughing as much as last night??" blues, so I think I tried a little too hard and it wasn't as real. But I think it still worked. Hopefully somebody wants to meet me!

I felt better about the networking portion, but I didn't really meet anybody this time either. So hard. Argh.

Happy Friday. I need sleep.

Monday, November 3, 2008


I am so so sorry for the "Say Yes to Marriage Rights" ad that appears below - I am doing my best to get it removed. Please disregard. No on Prop 8!!!

Gift-ing and Gift-ed

My favorite acting/showbiz blogger does it again. The Actor's Voice this week talks about The Gift.

The Gift being the ability to walk into a room and realize that what you have to offer is a gift to whatever audience may be assembled. What a great way to think about it.

It also reminded me that what I have is already a gift...the whole reason I am where I am is that for whatever reason I love doing this one thing and I happen to also be better than average at it. That's my gift.

The gift is also being able to do what I love. That's the ultimate gift and what makes it worth pursuing.

Thanks for the reminder, and for the gift of a new way of thinking about my gift. I'll remember the gift I have, the gift I give, and the gift I pursue.

Lauren signing off, heartfelt and fruity.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Actor Jealous

So this is funny.

Today I had a callback (yay!) for another student project with the same director as last time. So that's cool. But that's not what is funny.

What is funny is that there was a guy at this audition and at the callback that had been at the previous audition and callback. We read together and chatted the first time and he was great to play off of, so I was excited to see him yesterday at the audition and then today at the callback.

He and I were paired up when he got there, and then after we read for the director we were each paired with other folks to read again. I was rehearsing with a guy who...well, to euphemize, he probably isn't the best choice for the role. And he was ad-libbing, which I hate. But anyway. While I was rehearsing with this guy, the actor I liked was reading with another girl outside of the audition room. And I discovered, to my horror and then amusement, that I had actor jealousy! He was doing his best with her, just as he had with me, but I realized that my silly actor self wanted him to only do his best with me, not this other chick. I felt cheated on or something. And then I laughed at myself for being ridiculous. Of course I wanted him to do his best all the time. And then I turned back to the guy who still hadn't made it all the way through the monologue he was ad-libbing and continued rehearsing with him.

Unfortunately, my last time in the room was with Mr. Euphemism. I was "released" after that. It's so hard to read when that happens, your actor mind taffy (Thanks Bonnie Gillespie!) starts spinning and you can't figure out if he just saw what he needed or if he hated you or you're good and he was just letting you go or or or...silly. Silly actors.

But yeah. It was fun. I think he should cast me and that guy and that other guy.

Audition: USC Grad film 10/29 callback 10/30

Monday, October 27, 2008

Kicking myself

Yesterday I didn't go to an audition, and now I'm mad at myself.

I really didn't want to go. It was for a student pilot series and the writing wasn't bad and I would have gotten a fair amount of footage and I was pretty right for the part. But I really didn't want to go.

I justified it to myself by thinking that if I didn't want to be there, I wouldn't do my best work. I almost turned around twice, but talked myself into going, and then the last time I turned and drove home.

I knew at the time that I really should go and it's my job and this is what I want to be doing and I'm only hurting myself and it's stupid not to go and blah blah blah...

I let the fact that I lost my weekend to my sustenance job impact the few hours of free time I had, and by doing so, I didn't do what was best for my real job. I should feel bad. I got in my own way and let myself do it.

Blah. I feel whiny. And blah. Happy Monday.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tear Pricks on the Bus

I was reading an article on immigration reform in The Sun magazine, which I absolutely love to read when I have time. It's always timely, thought provoking, interesting, and very human to the point of sometimes being very sad. But it's great. I highly recommend it.

Anyway - the immigration article was actually an interview with Pramila Jayapal, an author and immigration activist. Towards the end of the interview she talked about a note she received from one of the people she had helped - he wrote "If we had never met, I would have dreamed you into being." Tear prick one. What an awesome thing to say.

And then she finished the interview saying this - "I think we have to dream what we want to see happen. And then we have to work for it."

New mantra. Tears prickle happily.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

John McCain Parody

Here is our John McCain parody song from "P.S. You're A Mess."

It was taped during a show, so the quality isn't that great, but it's still fun.

You can also see it at home on YouTube.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Theatre in LA makes me say GAH!!!!

I should clarify.

"Directors" in Los Angeles who think they can just put up a show without having any expertise in or knowledge of directing make me SCREAM.

Saw yet another show that was in desperate need of a director. The "director," to his credit, had some idea of how to cast the show, as I thought 60% of the cast was actually pretty good. But that was where it ended. My friend in the cast said that he never gave them any blocking or direction, they just ran through it. She became the ersatz production coordinator because she made a schedule for rehearsals because she felt bad for the people sitting around every night. Oh, also, this "director" was in the show as well.

I learned some things last night. (Ha! I'm talking about learning again!) This may seem like a conceited statement, and I don't mean it that way - it's more of a confidence thing - but here it is: I no longer doubt that I'm good enough to be an Equity actor. I have oodles of stuff to learn about acting and life and everything else, but I realized that darn it, I am actually good enough. Now I just have to polish myself enough to convince other people of that.

I also realized why I get so upset by unprofessional productions. I love theatre so much that it's physically difficult for me to watch when I feel like it's being bastardized. I am incredibly judgmental and opinionated and stubborn and none of those are necessarily good qualities, but I yam what I yam, and to compound it all, I have pretty high theatrical standards. That isn't to say that I can't pick out the good in a production, but it gave me a little insight into why I walk away feeling bad and then feel incredibly bitchy later when discussing the show with other people who saw it. Bitchy is sort of harsh - let's say nit-picky.

I'm also not a director. It's not my passion nor my area of expertise, and I get frustrated when I see a show that I know I could have directed better. My Directing I class in college wasn't fantastic, but I did learn something.

So there's my rant for today. I know there is good theatre in Los Angeles. I keep reading about good shows and I keep hearing people say how much the theatre here has improved in the last few years. At this point, not only is it a matter of knowing where to go, but having the funds to do so...but hey, it's a tax write off. For me, anyway.

And I'm friends with a lot of good actors. But even good actors need direction. Myself included.

Also, I'm going to steal an idea I saw on another blog - I'm going to post every audition I go on. Should be interesting. Here is today's:

Non-Union Feature - Stephanie in "Skyler"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Warning: Horribly Depressing Story Follows

This is a real downer and you might not want to read it.

On the way to work this morning, I heard this story reported. A few blocks from where I live, a homeless man was doused in gasoline and lit on fire.

The multitude of disturbing things about this are obvious, and I was affected by those just as anyone would be. But my level of disturbed-ness multiplied when they said where this had occurred, and I realized it was eight blocks away. And then I realized that I had walked past this man.

We have two grocery stores in walking distance from our apartment, and last fall I would walk to the one at Vermont and Western. That walk is a fascinating trip into a land of Korean storefronts and El Salvadorean restaraunts nestled between dark and cave-like dive bars. It's not an area I would walk in alone at night, but during the day the trip is always interesting.

I would walk past this homeless man, whose name I now know because of the gruesome way in which he was killed. He was large and always sat on the sidewalk. He did not look good. It was clear to me that he needed medical attention, as seems to be the case with more of the homeless population in this city than in any other I've visited or lived in.

He never asked me for anything and didn't seem to be begging, but I never gave him the chance. I treated him as I usually do in this situation - quickly, head down, avoiding eye contact, giving him as wide a berth as the sidewalk would allow, all the while feeling horrible about myself and society and wondering what would happen if I called him an ambulance.

In Atlanta, I knew where the shelters were. There were at least five places I knew I could direct people, one being the homeless shelter at the church I grew up in. I spent a good number of mornings in high school getting up early to serve breakfast at The Open Door Community and another church that did a pancake breakfast for downtown Atlanta's homeless population. My family's Christmas tradition still includes a sunrise breakfast on Christmas morning with the guests at our church's Night Shelter. I vividly remember a family friend of ours talking about how he always gives money when he can, because you just don't know what they need, and he was willing to take the gamble on what they might spend the money on. I respected that mindset, and even though I didn't usually give money, I could at least give information.

In Los Angeles, I have no idea where the homeless shelters are. I don't know what kinds of services are available. A quick Google search confirms what I already thought was true - Los Angeles has the largest homeless population in the United States.

I am embarrassed that my response to these people who are obviously in need of some assistance is to duck my head and walk faster. There are a few occasions when that decision has to do with being a woman and getting some sort of "danger" feeling, but that is just a small percentage of the time. Usually I just scoot on by, plagued by guilt and shame for about 45 seconds until I move on. The guilt lasts longer if I happen to be carrying a Starbucks cup or lunch from Baja Fresh.

I'm not currently in a position to give money to people - I'm no longer in the position to buy coffee at Starbucks or eat lunch out. But I was involved in Atlanta in ways that required no monetary commitment, and though I knew that my actions were a small drop in a giant bucket, it at least felt good to be a drop.

I'm touched that people who live around me and are probably raising families on salaries lower than mine reached out to John McGraham, the homeless man that I never knew had piercing blue eyes because I never made eye contact with him. What happened to him is unspeakably horrible, but is just another of the horrific inhumanities unleashed on the outcasts of our society as we drive our cars and drink our coffees and scuttle past with our heads down.

I will do my part. The least I can do is make eye contact and acknowledge a fellow human being sharing our world.

I'm sorry, John. May the next life be kinder to you than this one.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Watching Yourself On Film Is Weird

So this is a new experience for me, but something I will have to (hopefully) get used to as an actor. I got a copy of the film I shot last week, and I am full of thoughts.

1) Watching yourself on film is weird.

2) The camera really does add weight.

3) Wearing flannel pajama pants that are already too big does not help with number 2.

4) I have dimples!? I mean, I knew I did sometimes, but really?? That much?

5) I have some moles I should probably get removed.

6) I need to stop dropping my chin.

7) My nerves still manifest in "actor voice." (Thankfully, this went away, but I was cringing in the beginning.)(And I can still hear my mom and my sister telling me "Ugh! You were using that voice!!!")

8) I'm sort of scary.

Those are the trivial things that I was noticing watching myself for the first extended amount of time on film. All in all, it turned out pretty well and I'm excited to have something to start a reel. I'm anxious to get the raw footage and see what some of the other takes were.

And, since this wouldn't be a Living the Dream Blog Post if I didn't talk about what I learned, here is what I learned: I have no problem investing and committing when the stakes are high. The more intense the situation, the better I am at being convincing and being "in it." Which is sort of obvious, I suppose. I've heard "raise the stakes" about fifty-nine thousand times, but that really is what I have to do. I struggle in comedy and sketch scenes because the characters often aren't fleshed out, and I struggle to find what's important in whatever they're doing. I'm just going through the motions, and I do enough to get by. That's bad. Now that I've figured this out and finally had a personal epiphany about what every acting teacher and director will tell you, I really have no excuse.

So it's good. Good learning experience. Fun to see. Good to know about my moles. And dimples.

Speed reel coming soon. (!)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Shooting fun

Shooting on Friday was a total blast and a complete affirmation that this is what I want to be doing with my life.

We shot sequentially, which I appreciated, since there is a pretty strong dramatic build for my character. But I realized that in order to be able to drop in and out of the performance as required for a shoot, you really have to know your character. The only time I've ever been prepared enough was when I was Dessa in Tongue of a Bird for my senior project - I ended up with a stuffed 4-inch binder full of character work and research, and I loved it.

This time around I definitely hadn't done enough of my actor homework, but I think it will still be good. It looked great on the monitor. I can't wait to see it. I got home late and scribbled "This is what I was born to do!!!" in the bottom of my acting journal. Sigh. More, please. And paid would be nice. But that will come. Right now I just want to do it again!!!

Also, it's pretty fun to see actor friends in commercials - showcase friend in a movie thing for Dove Canada, another one is in a TMZ spot right now (which aired during my episode of Trivial Pursuit, which I found amusing), and my friend Rick is the young dad at the beach on the new Cranium commercial. Success of others is good for all!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Opening Night of PS You're A Mess, and a surprise in class

We opened Saturday and rocked it. It went much better than I expected, since we showed up for dress and couldn't get into the theatre because it was double-booked...the people who happened to be in already were very unapologetic and didn't seem concerned with compromise. But we were awesome in spite of them. I had a great contingent of audience members. Don't know who will come to see me the rest of the run, but I loved having my favorite and most supportive peeps there. And it was fun, to boot. I'm still learning how to fully commit and create realities for sketch characters...more actor homework required because less is handed to you. Glad to have things to explore during the run.

I had a totally unexpected breakdown in my improv class on Sunday, of all places. We were doing sense memory exercises, and started with your bathroom sink, then the car, and then your childhood bedroom. Our teacher no sooner said "childhood bedroom" than my eyes pricked with tears, and to my chagrin, kept coming. I cried all the way through the exercise and couldn't stop.

Sense memory is often utilized by actors and teachers precisely because it is such a great way to tap into emotions, but I had never before been so blindsided by what I found. It was scary for several reasons: firstly, because I'm not completely comfortable in my improv class and there is one person in particular in there that I don't trust at all, and secondly because I completely lost control, which is scary for anyone but especially for an actor, at least in this capacity. I can't utilize my own personal emotions for acting if I can't control how affected I am by what I tap in to.

My vast vault of crap I have or haven't dealt with can be a treasure trove, but I want to access it on my own terms. I never expected to become so overwhelmed in improv class.

It made me feel vulnerable, which isn't a bad thing, but as I was sitting there trying not to break into sobs, my brain was also telling me that I clearly had a lot of unresolved stuff that maybe I should re-evaluate. When I could finally talk about it later, I realized that there is a large part of me that is afraid of losing my stuff by coming to terms with it and dealing with it. Part of me feels like as soon as I face and process it, I'll lose it and won't be able to access those feelings anymore.

I don't think this is a completely reasonable idea, but it did originate in my head, along with all the other things I think of daily that may or may not be ridiculous. I need to find a way to own my shit and work through it enough to be functional. I also need to remember that coming to terms with something doesn't mean you throw it away.

Unexpected deep thoughts from LaLa Land today. I guess I'll take them as they come.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I'm learning about myself, which is good. But some of what I'm learning about myself isn't that good.

I am an unprofessional unprofessional. I'm really good at being professional when I'm being treated as such and all of the people I'm working with are doing the same and acting that way in return. However, I have a very low threshold for unprofessionalism, and it makes me unprofessional in turn. Which isn't good.

Man, that's the second thing on the list of things I have to change about myself. The first being stop lying about the number of things I have to change about myself.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Though the scheduling for the rehearsals of this student film is turning out to be a largish headache, it looks like this guy wants us to do real character work, which makes my excitement mostly surpass my frustration. Yay! Real acting! Now if I can just get him to work with the schedule of my real survival job, we'll be set.

I read a fantastic article today called "How To Be Outstanding," and it contained quite a few gems that I furiously scribbled into my acting journal:

*When you are clear about wanting something, take action towards its attainment, and persist until you reach it, the universe will conspire to make it a reality. Your energy and determination will move people, and they will find ways to help you.

*The roadblocks you encounter on the way to reaching your destination are actually gifts. Treat them as challenges that you were meant to experience and learn from. They are like small tests that the universe presents us with, as if asking: "How badly do you want this? Have you given up yet?"

*When you listen to your heart, follow your passion, and do what you love to do, it's hard not to be outstanding. You're almost guaranteed to succeed.

And the one I most need to heed right now:
*Insecurities and negative self-talk derived from fear achieve nothing, except to convince us that we are failures and losers. These are lies that only appear real in our imagination.

So. Working on things and taking all of that under advisement. Yes, my life is sort of insane right now. But you know what? I'm that much closer to doing what I want to be doing. I'll make more of an effort to remember that instead of thinking about how exhausted I am.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

PS You're A Mess

Aren't we though?

A good day

Yesterday was a good day.

It actually started rather poorly, with me oversleeping after getting home from rehearsal at 2am and subsequently being an hour late to work. On the bus to work I got a call from the director of the student film I had been called back for, but since I was on the 720 flying down Wilshire with fifty other people, I didn't answer. I waited an interminably long two minutes and then got the beep to check my voicemail.

I had a missed call that I hadn't seen, and it was from the casting director of a SAG commercial that was looking for swing dancers. I kicked myself, hard, because I hadn't checked my messages when I went straight from the Cricket Feet meeting to rehearsal, and she was no longer accessible by phone, as she was already in casting. The next message was the director saying he was casting me as the lead in his student film. Yin and yang in two messages.

The day turned around when the casting director called back asking me to come in later in the afternoon and Xan and I were able to work it out to leave work for the audition. So that was good. We danced well, and they said they were looking for people who were more spontaneous and less professional dancer. That's us. So now we wait.

The cherry was my friend getting free tickets to the musical "9 to 5," which stars Allison Janney, and calling me to accompany her. The music was great, the show was fun, and it was a blast to watch CJ from the West Wing sing and dance. She doesn't sing fantastically well, but she has magnetic presence and really is a great performer.

So that's my overdue update. "PS You're a Mess" opens the 27th, and we start tech on Sunday...I know it will come together, but right now we're certainly at the nail-biting stage.

I'm also doing the Cricket Feet Showcase again in November, and am eagerly waiting for my scene assignment. Tried the networking thing again at the bar after our first cast's hard, man. Especially when you're not drinking.

My episode of Trivial Pursuit airs September 29th, if you want to watch me embarrass myself with my slow trigger finger and go home sad. That's all I'll say. You can find out your local station and air time here.

That's all for now. I bought a Flip last week, so watch out for some YouTube infiltration.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A First

I just got called to be a contestant on the Trivial Pursuit Gameshow. I passed the test last week and now I'm booked. This is hilarious. I'm gonna win big! ....on a game show!

Taping September 2nd. Send me your trivial knowledge.

Also, I over/misuse ellipses.


I've broken the seal. I have officially written two sketches in my life.

Before I started I was psyching myself out and considering not doing the show because I wasn't sure I would be able to write anything at all, funny or otherwise...but once I buckled down and just started typing, it got a lot easier. My first result wasn't fantastic by any means, but I think it's workable.

Last night our group met for the second time, and it was really fun. We went around and read what we had and started throwing out ideas. I think we're all good people, so that's nice. We were laughing a lot and building off of each other's ideas and it felt very collaborative. I feel like a kid in a candy shop, excited and naive and deserving of comments like "Yep, that's what collaborating is..." We decided on a name for our show - "P.S. You're a Mess."

So I'm doing a sketch show, I'm in a staged reading, I'm going to start Level 2 of my improv classes, and I'm going to audition to do the showcase again. I feel good and active. It makes me feel like I'm actually pursuing what I came for and not just sitting in an office all day. Even though I am sitting in an office all day. I do have to pay for 3 out of the 4 things listed above, but....I'm doing stuff. Hard on the pocketbook, good for the soul.

Speaking of which, please excuse the ads I've added to the blog...desperate times call for enterprising measures.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cast! and Cast! and Maybe?

Sunday I auditioned for a series of staged readings with the LA Women's Project. The audition was actually really fun - I did my Dessa monologue and they had me repeat it twice, once in a New York accent and then once as a jilted lover. Then I got to read a really fun scene and after that they asked to see my chicken impression (it's on my resume.) I was the last person they saw and I left feeling great. It was fun.

I was starting to get anxious, but I got a call last night, and I'll be reading several parts in "Jersey City." I guess my New York accent wasn't that bad. I'm excited. This seems like a good group to get connected with.

I also heard last week that I got into the Strait Jacket Society, which is a sketch comedy group that was founded by some folks I met doing the showcase. I'm excited, but I'm nervous because we have to write our own material...and I haven't done that before. I guess I'll change that to yet. I haven't done that yet. Yikes. It's also pay-to-play, which hurts...but I'm hoping it's a worthwhile investment.

And then I come to the maybe. This morning I had the following email from the callback I went to last week:

Hi Lauren~
Hope you're doing great! I am down to 2 actresses for Lettie, and you are one of them! Please confirm back to me that you are still in fact available labor day weekend for shooting and a weekday before that for rehearsal (part of day), also, would it be possible to meet with you one last time on the 20th? Let me know.

I mean, great? I don't know. I thought that was sort of weird. After the callback, shouldn't they just choose? They have it on tape! Ah, the concessions we make for reel building.

Friday, August 8, 2008


Well, I had to.

Even a place as big as Los Angeles can be a small small world - I walked in to a callback yesterday (yay!) and my scene partner from the showcase was inside auditioning. We got to read together. It was pretty funny. We'll see what happens.

In other industry news, I will be auditioning for the game show Trivial Pursuit next week, on which I could win "thousands of dollars." Let's hope I get past the screening test this time. And if anyone knows some good trivia....

Anyway. I apologize for my lack of luster - I've been at work since 5am. Perk of my new job - intermittent 12 hour exam days. Whee....snore.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Speech by Patton Oswalt

Last week Xan and I got to see the comedian Patton Oswalt for just a drink minimum - it was great. He's a very funny man.

When I went to his site to join his mailing list, I found the following speech that he delivered this spring at his former high school's graduation. It moved me very much when I read it, and then I had to be reminded of several aspects of it by my insightful boyfriend when I started to forget. Here is the speech. It's long, but definitely worth reading. And remembering.


Here's the actual speech I gave at my old high school on June 18th. Well, more or less. There were some extra, last-minute thoughts I threw in there. I think the core idea of what I was trying to say was unchanged.

What a great group of kids. What a bunch of smarty-pants, too. Brainy bunch. Very intimidating. Their valedictorian had a 4.35 GPA. That means she took extra classes in a PARALLEL DIMENSION, and then found a way to have the credits count in this one.

4.35? She introduced me, and brought me onstage. And then she shook hands with 2.71. And then I said this:

First off, I want to thank the teachers and faculty of Broad Run High School for first considering and then inviting me to speak here. It was flattering, I am touched and humbled, and you have made a grave mistake.

I'm being paid for this, right? Oh, wait, there's some advice, right off the bat – always get paid. If you make enough money in this world you can smoke pot all day and have people killed.

I'm sorry, that was irresponsible.

You shouldn't have people killed.

Boom! Marijuana endorsement eleven seconds into my speech! Too late to cancel me now!

It's dumb-ass remarks like that which kept me out of the National Honor Society and also made me insanely wealthy. If I move to Brazil.

I graduated from Broad Run High School 21 years ago. That means, theoretically, I could be – each and every one of you – your father. And I'm speaking especially to the black and Asian students.

So now I'm going to try to give all of you some advice as if I contained fatherly wisdom, which I do not. I contain mostly caffeine, Cheet-o dust, fear and scotch.

I know most of you worked very hard to get here today but guess what? The Universe sent you a pasty goblin to welcome you into the world. Were The Greaseman and Arch Campbell not available?

So, 1987. That's when I got my diploma. But I want to tell you something that happened the week before I graduated. It was life-changing, it was profound, and it was deeper than I realized at the time.

The week before graduation I strangled a hobo. Oh wait, that's a different story. That was college. I'm speaking at my college later this month. I've got both speeches here. Let me sum up the college speech – always have a gallon of bleach in your trunk.

High school. A week before I graduated high school I had dinner, in Leesburg, with a local banker who was giving me a partial scholarship. I still don't understand why. Maybe he had me confused with another student, someone who hadn't written his AP English paper on comparisons between Jay Gatsby and Spider-Man. But, I was getting away with it, and I love money and food, so double win.

And I remember, I'm sitting at this dinner, with a bunch of other kids from the other local high schools. And I'm trying my pathetic best to look cool and mysterious, because I was 17 and so into the myth of myself. Remember, this dinner and this scholarship was happening to me.

And I figured this banker guy was a nice guy but hey, I'm the special one at the table. I had a view of the world, where I was eternally Bill Murray in Stripes. I'd be the one with the quips and insights at this dinner. This old man in a suit doesn't have anything to teach me beyond signing that check. I've got a cool mullet and a skinny leather tie from Chess King. And check out my crazy suspenders with the piano keys on them. Have you ever seen Blackadder? 'Cuz I'll recite it.

And then this banker – clean-shaven, grey suit and vest – you'd never look twice at him on the street – he told me about The Five Environments.

He leans forward, near the end of the dinner, and he says to me, "There are Five Environments you can live in on this planet. There's The City. The Desert. The Mountains. The Plains. And The Beach.

You can live in combinations of them. Maybe a city in the desert, or in the mountains by the ocean. Or you could choose just one. Out in the plains somewhere, perhaps.

"But you need to get out there and travel, and figure out where you thrive.

"Some places you'll go to and you'll feel yourself wither. Your brain will fog up, your body won't respond to your thoughts and desires, and you'll feel sad and angry.

"You need to find out which of the Five Environments are yours. If you belong by the ocean, then the mountains will ruin you. If you're suited for the blue solitude of the plains, then the city will be a tight, roaring prison cell that'll eat you alive.

He was right. I've traveled and tested his theory and he was absolutely right. There are Five Environments. If you find the right combination, or the perfect singularity, your life will click…into…place. You will click into place.

And I remember, so clearly, driving home from that dinner, how lucky I felt to have met someone who affirmed what I was already planning to do after high school. I was going to roam and blitz and blaze my way all over the planet.

Anywhere but here. Anywhere but Northern Virginia. NoVa. You know what a "nova" is? It's when a white dwarf star gobbles up so much hydrogen from a neighboring star it causes a cataclysmic nuclear explosion. A cosmic event.

Well, I was a white dwarf and I was definitely doing my share of gobbling up material. But I didn't feel like any events in my life were cosmic. The "nova" I lived in was a rural coma sprinkled with chunks of strip mall numbness. I had two stable, loving parents, a sane and wise little brother and I was living in Sugarland Run, whose motto is, "Ooooh! A bee! Shut the door!"

I wanted to explode. I devoured books and movies and music and anything that would kick open windows to other worlds real or imagined. Sugarland Run, and Sterling and Ashburn and Northern Virginia were, for me, a sprawling batter's box before real experience began.

And I followed that banker's advice. I had to get college out of the way but once I got my paper I lit out hard.

Oh this world. Ladies and gentlemen, this world rocks and it never lets up.

I've seen endless daylight and darkness in Alaska. I've swum in volcanic craters in Hawaii and saw the mystical green flash when the sun sinks behind the Pacific. I got ripped on absinthe in Prague and watched the sun rise over the synagogue where the Golem is supposedly locked in the attic. I stood under the creepy shadow of Christchurch Spitafields, in London's East End, and sank a pint next door at The Ten Bells, where two of Jack the Ripper's victims were last seen drinking. I've fed gulls at the harbor in Galway, Ireland. I've done impromptu Bloomsday tours of Dublin.

I cried my eyes out on the third floor of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, all those paintings that Vincent and his circle have to each other as gifts because they were all broke some cold Christmas long ago. I've eaten crocodile in the Laneways of Melbourne Australia and ortolans on the Left Bank of Paris, France.

I've been to Canada.

I've been to every state in this country. I've been to hidden, subterranean restaurants in New York with the guys from Anthrax and eaten at L.A. taquieras with "Weird" Al Yankovic. I held the guitar that Hendrix torched at Monterey Pop and watched Woodstock '99 burn to the ground. I've lingered at the corner of Bush and Stockton in San Francisco where Miles Archer took a bullet in The Maltese Falcon, and brooded over the grave of H.P. Lovecraft in Providence, R.I. I've hung out with Donny Osmond and Jim Goad, Suge Knight and Aimee Mann, Bill Hicks and Don Rickles.

I've done stand-up comedy in laundromats, soup kitchens and frat houses, and onstage at Lollapalooza and Coachella. I've toured with bands, been to the Oscars and the Superbowl, and been killed in movies by vampires, forest fires and air-to-air missiles.

And I missed the banker's lesson. 100%, I completely missed it.

In my defense, he didn't even know he was teaching it.

Telling me about the 5 Environments and urging me to travel? That was advice. It wasn't a lesson. Advice is everywhere in this world. Your friends, family, teachers and strangers are all happy to give it.

A lesson is yours and yours alone. Some of them take years to recognize and utilize.

My lesson was this – experience, and reward and glory are meaningless unless you're open and present with the people you share them with in the moment.

Let me go back to that dinner, 21 years ago. There I was, shut off from this wise, amazing old man. Then he zaps me with one of the top 5 pieces of information I've ever received in this life, and all I was thankful for was how it benefited me.

I completely ignored the deeper lesson which is do not judge, and get outside yourself, and realize that everyone and everything has its own story, and something to teach you, and that they're also trying – consciously or unconsciously – to learn and grow from you and everything else around them. And they're trying with the same passion and hunger and confusion that I was feeling – no matter where they were in their lives, no matter how old or how young.

I'm not saying that you guys shouldn't go out there and see and do everything there is to see and do. Go. As fast as you can. I don't know how much longer this world has got, to be honest.

All of you have been given a harsh gift. It's the same gift the graduating class of 1917, and 1938, and 1968 and now you guys got – the chance to enter adulthood when the world teeters on the rim of the sphincter of oblivion. You're jumping into the deep end. You have no choice but to be exceptional.

But please don't mistake miles traveled, and money earned, and fame accumulated for who you are.

Because now I understand how the miraculous, horrifying and memorable lurk everywhere. But they're hidden to the kind of person I was when I graduated high school. And now – and it's because of my traveling and living and some pretty profound mistakes along the way – they're all laid open to me. They're mine for the feasting. In the Sistine Chapel and in a Taco Bell. In Bach's Goldberg Variations and in the half-heard brain dead chatter of a woman on her cell phone behind me on an airplane. In Baghdad, Berlin and Sterling, Virginia.

I think now about the amazing thunderstorms in the summer evenings. And how – late at night, during a blizzard, you can stand outside and hear the collective, thumping murmur of a million snowflakes hitting the earth, like you're inside a sleeping god's thoughts.

I think of the zombie movies I shot back in the gnarled, grey woods and the sad, suburban punks I waited on at Waxie Maxie's. I think of the disastrous redneck weddings I deejay'd for when I was working for Sounds Unlimited and the Lego spaceships my friends and I would build after seeing Star Wars.

I think about my dad, and how he consoled me when I'd first moved to L.A. and called him, saying I was going into therapy for depression, and how ashamed I was. And he laughed and said, "What the hell's to be ashamed of?" And I said, "Man, you got your leg machine-gunned in Vietnam. You never went to therapy. Humphrey Bogart never went to therapy." And my dad said, "Yeah, but Bogie smoked three cartons of cigarettes a day." And how my mom came down to the kitchen when I was studying for my trig final, at 2 o'clock in the morning, and said, "Haven't you already been accepted to college?" And I said, "Yeah, but this test is really going to be hard." And she asked, "What's the test for again?" And I said, "Calculus" and she closed my notebook and said, "You'll never use this. Ever. Go to bed or watch a movie." And how when I got my first ever acting gig, on Seinfeld, my brother sent me a postcard of Minnie Pearl, and he wrote on it, "Never forget, you and her are in the same profession."

I didn't realize how all of these places and people and events were just as crucial in shaping me as anything I roamed to the corners of the Earth to see. And they've shaped you, and will shape you, whether you realize it now or later. All of you are richer and wiser than you know.

So I will leave you with some final advice. You'll decide later if this was a lesson. And if you realize there was no lesson in any of this, then that was a lesson.

But I'd like all of you to enter this world, and your exploration of the Five Environments, better armed then I was. And without a mullet. Which I see you're all way ahead of me on.

First off: Reputation, Posterity and Cool are traps. They'll drain the life from your life. Reputation, Posterity and Cool = Fear.

Let me put that another way. Bob Hope once said, "When I was twenty, I worried what everything thought of me. When I turned forty, I didn't care what anyone thought of me. And then I made it to sixty, and I realized no one was ever thinking of me." And then he pooed his pants, but that didn't make what he said any less profound.

Secondly: The path is made by walking. And when you're walking that path, you choose how things affect you. You always have that freedom, no matter how much your liberty it curtailed. You…get to choose…how things affect you.

And lastly, and I guarantee this. It's the one thing I know 'cause I've experienced it:

There Is No Them.

I'm going to get out of your way now. Get out there. Let's see which one of you is up here in twenty years. If you're lacking confidence, remember – I wouldn't have picked me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The California Experience

It only took 11 months, but I'm now officially a California resident - I've survived my first earthquake.

We're on the 12th floor of a fifteen-story office building, so we felt the floor rumble, then somebody said "Did you feel that?" and then our entire building was swaying back and forth. I looked over to my coworker, who is a native Californian, and she was crawling under her desk. So I followed suit.

In retrospect, it really wasn't that bad, but the twenty seconds of feeling an entire building rolling around was pretty disconcerting. The 5.4 magnitude is the biggest they've had since 1994, but we were thirty miles away from the epicenter.

My other coworker, who was not under a desk, took this picture:

They were making fun of me. But this Southern girl will go under the desk again if the need arises. I'm hoping there is another 14 years of seismic stillness.

Monday, July 21, 2008

My Life in Art

No, I am not purporting to have insights equal to those of Stanislavski. But the title is relevant.

I'm taking an improv class at iO West and it's fantastic. I've never studied improv and it's scary and challenging in the best ways. Our instructor, Paul Vaillancourt, is a wonderful gentle man who happens to be a hilarious improv genius.

Yesterday was our third class, and I was off. During the first two classes, I made mistakes and "said no" (breaking the primary rule of improv) and wasn't great, but I also had some nuggets of goodness. Yesterday I just didn't do anything I felt good about. I found myself taking down the same notes ("Keep it in the present. Personal - make the scene about your relationship to the other person.") as I had written the previous two weeks. I was frustrated with myself for not being able to let those notes sink in. When Paul asked if there were any questions, I asked "How do I learn to listen and how do I get out of my head?" ("Oh, is that all?" Was his response. He's a funny guy.)

After class, Paul asked me to stick around. He asked if I was enjoying the class, and I said yes, very much so. Then he told me that he though I was being too hard on myself, that every time I left the stage during class yesterday my head dropped and I seemed really down. I didn't realize I was being quite so transparent, but that is certainly true. He asked if I was frustrated, and that was when I realized that I was.

Paul said he sees something in me and thinks I can be really good at improv, but that I'm probably having the same problem that he did when he started. "You have some background, right?" he asked, and I said yes. He explained that a lot of times people who have theatre background have to unlearn a lot of things from that before they can really be good at improv. He said the learning curve can be plodding and frustrating and then it just skyrockets.

As is often the case when I'm being paid a compliment by someone I respect, or when an authority figure of sorts is kind to me, I was fighting back tears a little bit while we were talking. I was so touched by what he was saying and by him taking the time to pull me aside. I was a little ashamed that I had worn my emotions so clearly on my sleeve, but that is par for the course for me. As is being too hard on myself.

It's been a rough few weeks, which has been hard on me and the one who has to live with me. (Thank you.) I've been low and spiraling and unable to rally. I don't blame it on the showcase, but I do think my expectations were a bit idealistic. (If it were that easy to get an agent, everyone would have one.) I wasn't prepared for what I would do after the showcase, when I had to keep plugging even without my desired feedback or being immediately cast as the lead in something groundbreaking and huge.

When I was thinking about what Paul said, I realized that I am and up to now have been completely results-oriented. It has served me well, and that way of thinking combined with my ambition and drive are why I am where I am now. My path was curvy, and so is the road ahead, but I never lost sight of what I ultimately wanted, which is to be an actor. I am an actor. And now I have to change my way of thinking.

This town and this career require a shift from results based thinking to process-oriented thinking. Obviously, this is also the best mindset for being receptive to learning, in improv class and in life. But that is a big shift for me. I don't do well when I don't get what I want, and I need to stop focusing on that. I have to enjoy what I'm doing when I'm doing it and stop worrying about whatever comes next. (Which is a catch 22, because in order to stay sane when you're auditioning all the time, you have to leave the room and forget about the audition and say "What's next?" a la Jed Bartlett of the West Wing - you can't dwell. But.)

Which brings me back to my lofty blog title - Paul was talking about improv, reminding us to keep it personal and present - "That's life," he said, "and art imitates life. That's what makes art interesting."

Since moving here, I've been down on my choice, feeling like I had chosen an acting track that wasn't based in the art of theatre, which is what I signed on for. I've certainly had the struggle, which to me is part of the joy of accomplishment when it comes, but I've felt like I didn't have the art. And that's why what Paul said yesterday smacked me in the face.

Improv is art. I am doing art. I am learning art. I am living art. I am art.

I thought I had lost that, and I haven't. It's with me, and it's undeniable, which is why myself and so many of the people I care about most are still doing this thing, in whatever way it is points them towards what will make them happy.

I have to stop being so hard on myself, and I have to get out of my own way. That applies across the board, to all facets of me and my life. But it took Paul saying the word that I've rarely heard since moving here - art - to remind me that I am pursuing my dream - I am living my life in art.

I forgot that. I won't let it happen again.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Showcase done. Depression ensues.

Well, only a little. But everyone else in the showcase really felt like a cast, so I think we're all having show withdrawal, even though it was technically a showcase. I suppose it's good to miss the people you worked with.

I did not get the desired "have actor contact me" requests from anyone, which was a bit of a let down. Bonnie told us that she got overwhelmingly positive feedback and very few requests for meetings for anyone, which she thinks probably has to do with the possibly impending SAG strike. So there's that. But as she said, we're on their radars and they know about us, so I'm trying to keep that in mind.

The house was packed both nights, which was great. Our scene went better the second time, as there were no major wardrobe malfactions, just a little accidental flashing. (Not by me.) I talked to some people afterwards and had a good time, but I didn't meet any agents. Met a couple cool writers and other actors. Networking is hard, man.

Here are the comments I got from the industry feedback forms, with names removed:

Good work! -- anonymous agent


Favorite scene. -- anonymous manager

Very fun.

A little "played at," but very fun. -- anonymous casting assistant

Good effort. Maybe a little more. -- anonymous manager

Nice! -- anonymous non-industry

Too over-the-top. -- anonymous production company rep

Lauren is such a joy to work with and so much fun to watch. She is
committed, smart, and talented. Cannot wait to cast her again!

Most of the comments were anonymous, but whatever. Good to know. And I agree with both of the negative ones to a degree. It is helpful for the learning.

So. Now I'm composing postcards and trying to figure out what is next. It's tempting to feel like I'm back where I started, but that just isn't true. I've made some industry connections and a lot of friends. And those are just plain good to have.

Also, I got a full time job. Did I mention that?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Showcase Night One

I do love a live audience.

The showcase went great last night. We had a fantastic, loud, energetic, ready-to-laugh audience and the 248 seat house was packed. A friend in the audience said she saw the industry people scribbling away during our scenes, so hopefully that means good stuff.

My scene went okay - my partner is supposed to get dressed during the scene, and her skirt ripped in half and then she dropped her shirt. I changed the blocking a bit to try to let her gather her clothes, and we got a little off, but we saved it. The audience was laughing and no one backstage could even tell anything had gone wrong. I was a little frustrated, but I got over it. We handled it well. And we'll do it even better tonight.

After the show, I talked to a few people, but not as many as I had hoped. As a friend pointed out, it was a little anticlimactic, but we decided that if we were agents, we would turn in our notes of people we wanted to see and go home. So hopefully that's what happened. I'm anxiously and somewhat obssessively checking my email.

This is sort of fun - Xan is quoted on Blogstage, Backstage'

And, finally...I GOT A FULL TIME JOB!!!! I put this in excitables because it is salaried with benefits and an actor friend will be my boss and it's flexible enough for me to leave for auditions and shoots and such. It's a good thing for the time between now and when I can fully support myself acting.

Exciting week. And we're gonna rock it again tonight!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Stuff and stuff

It's been a while.

June flew by and the Cricket Feet Casting Actor's Showcase is next week! I'm super excited. My scene is going really well, and the director we've been working with, Chil Kong, is amazing. He offers these amazing three word nuggets of direction that totally change the scene. It's been wonderful to work with a director again, even if just on a three-minute scene. And I do get to chase a girl in a sheet while wearing heels. It's pretty fun.

I have a week to become a master networker and not be afraid to talk about myself and tell a story where I am the central character. I'm working on not being nervous about performing for a theatre full of people who could potentially give me a job. I'm excited, and I'm trying to fuel the rest of the nerves into more excitement.

It feels so good to be doing something that propels me forward. I'm excited for July 9th and 10th and what will come after.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


As I spend the last afternoon of my 2--th year answering the phone for other people for twelve dollars an hour, I realize something - I've learned a lot and I've done a lot of growing, and there is certainly more of that to come, but I realize that also to come is the best. The best is yet to come. And tomorrow is the first day of it coming. It will be here. The best. Tomorrow. And then the day after that. And the next day. And the best will keep on coming. For as long as I will let it, as long as I stay out of the way.

This is going to be a good year. I look forward to it.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Guess who got cast in the Cricket Feet Actor's Showcase? WE DID!!!! All three of us - myself, Xan, and Xan's sister - will be appearing in front of millions of the most important people ever two nights in July.

I'm exaggerating somewhat. But I'm excited.

The showcase is the brainchild of Bonnie Gillespie , a casting director here in LA (who happens to be from Atlanta) who also writes a wonderful column, which I have previously referenced here and read religiously.

We are well into Phase II, folks. Phase II!!! Whee!

Friday, May 16, 2008

YouTube rocks

Here is the scene from Female Trouble. It's pretty funny. I'd love to know what you think! I've got the melodrama/campy/ridiculous piece down, I think...

Wednesday night was our audition for the CricketFeet Showcase, and we rocked it...we're supposed to hear something by tonight at 8pm. Cross your fingers.

Monday, May 12, 2008

When I bomb, get callbacks

Apparently. Last week I got called back for the Brecht show, the audition I almost didn't go to because I felt so unprepared. I botched my monologue somewhat but left just being proud that I stayed and didn't psyche myself out. And then I got called back. Nuts.

The callback was quite a learning experience. There were 7 of us, all around the same age and called back for the prostitute roles. While we were waiting, several made psyche-out attempts ("Well, I'm pretty sure that I'm here for the role of so-and-so" and "Well, I read the play and downloaded the music off of itunes....")...I tuned them out and read a magazine.

He had us improv some dancey-movement type of stuff in small groups, which was fine, but then we had to do it over and over because two of the groups didn't follow instructions. After all that, they had me play the clarinet and another girl played the accordion (which was freaking awesome - i have a new aspiration). After that, the other girls jumped up and each sang a song, of varied quality. And after all that - this was where I wanted to shout "Seriously?" - one of them jokingly said "and I can juggle and play the piano and..." and they all chimed in - seriously, all of them except for me and the accordion girl - listing their various talents and abilities. I kid you not. It was ridiculous. It was done in a joking manner, but they weren't joking. The desperation was palpable. And intensely awkward.

So I left. I haven't heard anything, but that's alright. I didn't really want to play a non-speaking prostitute.

For your clicking enjoyment, the How To Throw A Baby Shower video finally showed up on Videojug - it's fun. I have a somewhat embarassing "cameo."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

To The Person Who Left Me This Note

Firstly, Welcome to Los Angeles. You obviously haven't been here that long. Either that, or you have a personal vendetta against trees and are going to attempt to use up the world's supply of paper by leaving such notes on every parking job you dislike.

Second, if you have time to leave such notes in the morning, you are probably a) expendable, and shouldn't be coming in to work, b) coming in to work too early because you have no life, c) allowing time to leave pissy notes for people, because you have no life and it's the only way you can get off, d) channeling your road rage and should not be trusted to drive in this city, e) being That Guy in the Starbucks line who is making everyone else miserable, or f) all of the above. And you have no life.

Third, you have the handwriting of a second grader. Good thing mommy and your secretary do all your communicating for you. You should probably leave it to them.

And, finally, those white lines painted in the parking deck are for parking between. They outline and demarcate a space to be filled by one car, in this case, one that falls into the "compact" category. Apparently you were confused by that. Don't worry. You'll get it.

Thanks for saying hi and have a nice day!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

That was fun. Can we do it again?

Filming my first student film scene only confirmed what I have known since I was five - I want to be an actor.

That was a blast. Too much fun! I'm full of superlatives! So. We filmed a three minute scene from the 1974 John Waters movie Female Trouble. I got to play Dawn, the Tranny. It was a blast. For this class, they only got one take, with three cameras rolling. We watched the result from one of the cameras last night after they shot, and it looks great. I'm so excited to have this for my reel. Xan and I really lucked out - the other two girls in the scene were fantastic, and the student director was great. I was so jazzed when we left last night. What fun.

As my first film experience, it was a total slap in the face as to how different it is from theatre. (Well, obviously, but I'll elaborate to make myself sound less dumb.) So many of my theatre instincts had to be checked for this - don't turn out to the audience, don't project so much or the boom operator will hate you, don't look at the audience/camera, keep it smaller, don't balance the 'stage' by spreading out from the other actors, stay close to them, stay in the frame. With this role, I was supposed to be over the top, so some theatricality was appropriate, but it was still a lot to think about. I also saw myself on film for the first time...time to get back on the diet. I'm thinner than I've been in years, but I need to keep at it. And I need to stand up straight. For real. But it was a blast.

This was also a fun project because it was partially and elaborately playing dress-up. I love that. And I love having my make-up done. For your viewing pleasure - Lauren as Dawn the Tranny:

I learned a lot about myself and my acting this week - I am very confident when I have a character/caricature to hide behind. I have no problem going crazy, being big, making choices. A throwback to children's theatre, perhaps? But when it comes to being natural, being simpler, more quietly complex, I struggle. At least right now. I had an audition on Tuesday that I walked out of knowing that I sorta sucked - I was actor-y and unnatural. The student-written dialogue was a little spotty, but I really don't think that's the reason. I've got to figure out how to be real people, and how to be more of myself with characters that are more similar to me. Sounds like it's back to basics for Lauren. Time for a class.

In other news - WE QUIT TRADER JOE'S!!!! I'm very happy about it. Seemingly as an affirmation, there has been a lot of acting stuff going on for both of us already this week. We rehearsed and shot the scene, Xan got sent on two auditions by his quasi-agent, he got called in to interview for being an HBO stand-in, I got an audition for a featured extra in a Bruce Willis film, and I got called to do a spec commercial on Sunday. We're smokin'! Being an actor is awesome!*

(* Can you get paid for doing this??? Can I get paid for doing this? Please?)

Keep it coming. As soon as I get my copy of the scene, I'll post it here. I'm so excited!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Vacated and Back

New Orleans was great. We had a fantastic time, heard great music, and I got to reconnect with an old friend, which totally made the trip. I would not want to live there, but I do love that city. Also, parades make me cry. Not sure of the reason for that, but when all of the bands were coming by, I was fighting back tears.

Last night I helped audition for the student film scene I'm doing, which is indeed happening. We're doing a scene from "Female Trouble," a 1974 John Waters movie. I'm the lead who, in the movie, is a man in drag. It's a blast. I get to be campy and huge and not worry about it.

The director asked me if I knew any male actors, so...Xan and I have our first project together. There you go. The guy is really nice, and I think it will be fun. I'm just glad to be in something. My first real reel material. Ha.

It was hard to return to Los soon as we got on the plane, the atmosphere was different. Everyone seemed a little more selfish and self-absorbed. I've got to figure out how not to let this place make me crazy. Ideas?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Not an artistic week. But Vacation is IMMINENT!

It's been a rough week. I've been feeling the burn of no day off in 6 weeks, and have been substantially burdened by the Temping Blues. But it has all paid off, because I am thirty minutes away from not having to come back for a week. One Whole Week! Which I will spend dancing and moderately consuming Adult Beverages in New Orleans. New Orleans! A Vacation! Wheeee!

Also, I got two exciting emails today - two projects that I don't have to audition for. One is from a student that I auditioned for a few months ago, who left a very nice message that he couldn't use me in that one but would keep me in mind for future projects. And lo and behold, he did! He sent me a message asking which role I would like and telling me when the shoot is. Hot damn.

The second is some project where I will be "non-speaking featured, but not an extra!" So we'll see. But whatever! This is good. I like it.

Thank you, headshot!

Until my return, when I will be jumping back on the more ways than one.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Being in things is fun

Friday's shoot was quite fun. I was early, which I am learning more and more is always a good idea. Things happen when you're early. This time, since I was the first baby shower attendee to arrive, I was used in one of the external shots - score. I was getting presents out of the car and another girl came and stole one of my presents from behind my back. If I'm lucky, you'll be able to see my bum sticking out of the car door. Double score!

It was quite fun, though - we were shooting two videos for VideoJug, a humorous how-to video site. The video is going to be voice-overed, so we just got to improv being at a party. The producer was very specific and gave us each little objectives for the shots. It was very professional and great that she was so specific. It made me excited to see the final product. I have been checking for it on the website somewhat obsessively, but I have not seen it up there yet. Once it is, I will definitely link it.

Working 7 days a week and working in an office are making me feel like I'm strapped to the life-sucking machine from The Princess Bride - if only Christopher Guest would show up in my life, it might improve. But for now, I need a day off.

Also, since I'm trying to embrace the Los Angeles mindset, I've scheduled a rhinoplasty/liposuction session with a reputable but highly affordable cosmetic surgeon. It's great cause they'll do both at the same time so I only have to pay for one round of anesthesia. What a deal. The doctor thinks he can really do something for the dimples in my elbows. I'm really excited. Here is the doctor's profile.

Will definitely post the videojug links as soon as I see them, and maybe the photos of the new me!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cast without auditioning round two

So it happened again - hopefully this time it will pan out. While on lunch today I got a call for a short film about a baby shower that I had submitted for on LA Casting. She wants me with no audition! Woohoo! I have very little information about it. But she wants me!

Last night I had an audition for a different short film, one about the end of the world or something with a very cheesy script that I entertained Xan with on our drive over. When I got into the room, they had me slate (state your name and contact info) and then show my profile from both sides. Then they had the Already Cast Star Who Wasn't A Star come stand next to me so they could see us together, and then face each other and hold hands, to show our chemistry. It was pretty ridiculous. As soon as this guy stood up I new I probably wasn't what they had in mind - I was 2 inches taller and 15 years younger. Oh well.

The best/worst part is that this casting director has a "service" where he sends you a link to your audition video - yeah. I've never seen my audition video before. It was very scary. It's pretty bad, but worse than that is the still that shows up with my name underneath it - it's HEINOUS. A truly unfortunate screen shot. I think I'll try to grab it to illustrate:

Oh God. It worked. I'm sorry! But it does make me laugh. It's. So. Bad. It's a good thing I think I'm a lot more attractive than I apparently am.

Friday, March 21, 2008

This place is a racket, you play or go home

So last night I paid to audit an acting class. I'm not sure of the technical definition of "audit," but I think paying twenty bucks probably goes against it.

We sat in on a masterclass, and we were 2 of 22 auditors, which I did some quick math to determine that they made an easy $440 off of our butts just being in the seats...this town is a racket. Anyway.

The class was good. She seemed to really know what she was talking about and was good at pushing the actors, relentlessly in fact, which I appreciate. It's all scene study, so you work up scenes and then present them for the class. I think I'll start taking there, probably in May, as it's $275 for a month and you have to pay for anything you miss that isn't work related. This town is a racket. have to buy her book. This town....

But. As negative as I am, it does seem like the kind of place I would like to study, and I think her name would be a good one to have on your resume, which you can put on there even before you make it into her masterclass. Because you don't start out there. Oh, no. After the 3 hour class, she "met with us," which consisted of her taking a cursory glance at our resumes and, in my case, and I think probably most others, saying "Introductory level. Monday nights okay?" I expected to be placed at the bottom, but it was still a bit of a blow to feel like my credits weren't even considered. Whatever. Small fish. Big pond. Swimming upstream. But I'll get up there, dammit.

Also, I hate name-dropping. It's so tacky. Xan pointed out that that is how she can sell herself, by listing the people she's worked with, and that perhaps she doesn't do that when there aren't auditors there. Maybe not. But it was pretty funny - she was saying how Eva Mendes only had three or four lines in the movie Training Day, but you remembered her in the movie because of the work they (they being she working with Mendes) did on her scene. I don't remember her from the movie. Xan does, but he pointed out that it was because she was naked.

I feel like a rat. And a guppie.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I rocked it

Last night was the actor showcase for the casting director for Grey's Anatomy, and it was awesome. We rocked. I had a really fun side to read and it went really well. I was a little nervous because he didn't redirect or ask me to try it again, but I think that's alright. There were only a few people he didn't have read it twice. But I felt good about it.

I was pretty impressed with the caliber of the actors, which was a good thing, since we went into it blind and didn't really know what to expect. I still think it's a little shady to pay to read for casting directors, but since that's the only way I can see them right now, I think it's worth my $38. I'm glad I don't regret it.

It's fun to walk out of something knowing you did well. I'm pumped.

Monday, March 17, 2008

And another thing.

I miss the camaraderie of a good play with a tight cast. Nothing compares to the feeling of working hard to accomplish something together, where everyone trusts and relies on each other equally, and you deliver an awesome performance and the audience is noticeably impacted. You enjoy all aspects of the show, from getting ready together beforehand to hanging out backstage to partying afterwards. When the show is over you are sad, and you miss those people that you spent so much time with for a month or two.

I'm starting to realize that until I form or join a theatre company, this may not be my experience in theatre. At least not in Los Angeles. So far I've found that it's flat out hard to find people who care as much about being in a play as going to audition for a carpet-cleaning commercial. It's hard to find people who are willing to make a commitment to be there the night of every performance, even if they have to give up something that was previously scheduled. It's hard to find people who are good actors as well as being able to listen and follow directions without questioning the director.

I am used to smart actors who care about their work and the aspect of being an ensemble. I miss that. There were a few other women in this past show who seemed to be of a similar background. But we were certainly in the minority. And we were the ones who were on time.

Closed my first LA Show

Well, short and sweet. That was that. Diary closed after the four scheduled performances. On balance, it was a good experience - I met some people I liked, broke the casting seal, remembered how much I want to have acting be my job, learned a lot about what it means (and doesn't mean) to be in a play in LA, and enjoyed the rush of performing, as I always do. I'm glad I did it. But I'm ready to move on. To quote President Jeb from the West Wing, "What's next?"

Tonight we are going to read for the casting director of Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, and Friday Night Lights. I'm going to get cast on Grey's Anatomy and Xan is going to get cast on Friday Night Lights. I'm very excited.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Blog about another Blog

So Xan was right. He's been trying to get me to read this for weeks, and I finally did. Thank you.

This guy writes a column about various actor type things - this one is about sticking it out in LA. My favorite part is the guy saying that if you don't live _in_ LA instead of near/around/proximal to it, "you are what we call, 'Thespianclosebut nocigarus.'"

Here is the article: Movin' Out

My show is done after this weekend, and I am currently at a temp job for two weeks that they want me to extend to six weeks. I desperately need the money, but I also want to be able to keep auditioning and not lose my momentum...hard to know what to do. But if I work for six weeks, I would probably be set for another four at least...decisions.

Also, Xan and I are doing a cold reading workshop on Monday in front of the casting director for Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice. We're going to get cast on those shows.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

We're Open!

And it actually went great. We had an abysmal rehearsal on Thursday and then we came early on Friday and fixed things and last night went very smoothly. I remembered the words to "Ne Me Quitte Pas," which I had been trouble three audience members enjoyed it and said it went well. We felt good about it. Some minor kinks to work out, but a very good opening night.

Now that the show is open, I have to make up for the 15 weekdays of not working in order to go to rehearsal, so I'm working for the next 16 days straight...but it's good. I need the money. I'm hoping to use the time to write agent letters and such. Hopefully my temp job will be like the others and not require much of my attention.

I got my headshots printed and I'm really not impressed with the quality of the prints. They are on crappy paper and look like I could have done them on a personal ink-jet printer. I feel like I can't take them back, though, because I saw a proof...Live and learn. I guess this is why the place was cheap. Sometimes you can't go for the cheapest option. Headshots appears to be one of those times.

It feels so good to's been a long time. Especially since I was in something I cared about.

Friday, February 29, 2008

A week from opening...

and we haven't finished blocking the show. I really am back in theatre!!!

Rehearsal today was pretty good...we finally got to my monologue, which I appreciated. I have to sing "Ne Me Quitte Pas" and am struggling some with the French, since I don't speak it. I also learned that I sing a verse in English as well, so I've got to find that. I need some time this weekend to work on it, but I'll have to make it, since I'll be working (finally - March is going to be fiscally ugly). But. It's necessary, as I don't want to make an ass of myself during the performances. Most of the rehearsals we haven't had the full cast there, which is frustrating, and people are often pretty late, but I think we'll pull through. I'm trying to just worry about myself and make sure I know my stuff.

We auditioned for "Bus Stop" the other night, and I felt good about it. But then they posted again online and had another round of auditions, which had not previously been scheduled. Hopefully that doesn't mean that we sucked. Fingers crossed - there were perfect parts in the show for both me and Xan. We'll see.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I Want a World with No Takebacks

Thursday morning I got a call from someone who wanted to cast me in a student film without me auditioning. "Yeah! I go to Bethel (which is in Minneapolis) and saw that you went to Macalester and I'd love to work with you. We shoot Saturday." Flippin' sweet. I got cast without auditioning. That rocks.

And then she left me a message while I was at work Thursday night, and she took it back. She un-cast me. "Hi, I talked to you earlier, I decided to go with someone else, it had nothing to do with you. Sorry." WTF???

Who casts someone without auditioning them and then uncasts them before they even see how good they are? Probably not someone I want to work with, that's who. Sigh. But I'm still miffed. And I still need to do some film stuff.

We start rehearsals again today - we haven't rehearsed since last Tuesday because the director is opening another show. I'm a little nervous. I'm not exactly sure why.

Friday I went to an audition for a poker commercial. When I submitted, it said "must have experience playing Texas Hold'em" and I decided that if I got called in, I'd learn how to play. Well, I did. So I learned, and in the audition, I won against the three people I was playing. It was pretty funny. I had to lie about my Texas Hold'em experience. He asked what kind of player I was, and I said I had a problem being too aggressive of a player. "But sometimes it pays off! (Insert phony laugh here.)" Haven't heard anything. Yet.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Much excitement is necessary, because I GOT CAST IN SOMETHING. Finally. After six months of auditioning. Yay!

Last week I went to an audition that I wouldn't have been able to go to, but my temp job fell through. So I learned the monologue from the show the night before, and I went. I was going from Santa Monica, and it took me over an hour in traffic to get there, I was in the room for 7 minutes, and I sat in another hour of traffic to get back.

While in the room for 7 minutes, I managed to forget the last 3/4 of my monologue. This has never happened to me. I've botched things before and skipped parts, but never like this. The monologue went "Poof!" and it was gone. Nothing. I couldn't even remember the ending. So I stopped and said "I'm sorry, I lost it." After that, he looked at my resume and saw the "Guys and Dolls" credit. He asked me to sing "I've Got the Horse Right Here" or whatever it's called, so I did. And then I left. Feeling terrible. Because I totally blew my audition. I was upset, because of the few things an actor has control over in an audition, knowing your lines is first. And I blew it. I drove through traffic full of self-loathing, talked to my sister, yelled at some stupid drivers, and felt a little better.

Jump shot to Sunday morning, I check my email and see a note from the email address. I opened it, thinking it was a "Thanks for auditioning, but you sucked, and we chose someone who sucked less" email, but it wasn't! It was a "you're in the show email!" I was shocked. Elated. Flabbergasted. Ecstatic.

The show is called "Diary of a Catholic School Dropout" by Layon Gray, who is also directing. It's been in rep basically since 2003, with a different cast every month or so. We are the 92nd cast. I really like the script, there are 9 women and we all have monologues as well as some dialogue together. Layon called it a "choreoplay." We've had two rehearsals so far, and we go up March 7th.

I am so excited to be working. It feels fantastic. I needed this. Thank you, Universe! (The Secret can't hurt, right?)

Let me know if you want to fly to LA to see it! You can sleep on my couch!