Thursday, January 31, 2008

January's End

I feel pretty good about January. Got headshots, got some callbacks. In February, I am going to get said headshots printed and sent out to some agents. I am going to get more callbacks. And I am going to get cast.

Today, in honor of it being the last day of the month, I went on an audition. It was for a student film scene of "Sense and Sensibility." Would be a fun project. I got two more auditions for student films on Saturday - I'm going to try to do both. Putting myself out there. Let's go, February. Bring it on.

On Tuesday, Xan and I were extras together for the first time. It was actually pretty delightful. It was for a small industrial for Spanish speakers learning English. We were picnic goers and sat on a blanket. They said we were brilliant. It was nice because it was a small production, everyone was friendly, it was a beautiful day, we were outside, and we were together. We even had a close up.

And just when I had decided that I wanted to leave the line of extra work, one of the lead actors on that set talked to us and made me think again... She was very nice and very complimentary of us when she didn't have to be. She asked what we were working on and we got to talking about extra work, and I mentioned how I didn't really like it, and she said "Well, you two are both so clearly leads." That felt nice to hear. No wonder I hate extra work! I'm clearly a lead!!!

Tomorrow it's back to Trader Joe's... Perhaps February will be the month of quitting. We get reviewed this weekend, and if I don't get at least a 50 cent raise, I'm out of there! Of the jobs I have and hate, though, Trader Joe's is the one that is least conducive to my acting career. Unfortunately, it's also the most regular and schedulable of all my jobs. Catch 22. Le sigh.

I got pretty overwhelmed at Samuel French today...when I had money to spend on plays, I loved going in there. Now I start feeling down on myself and depressed that I don't know the new plays anymore and I don't have the money to buy things. But we did get a book of agents with a list of what they're looking for. So here goes that. I miss my theatre books.

Goodbye, January. Good night, and good luck.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Add being an extra to my list of my jobs that i hate (which is...all of them.)

Yesterday I spent thirteen hours of my life on the set of "17," a seemingly vacuous new Zac Efron movie. The highlight of the day was being in the party scene where spontaneous choreography erupted. And getting to literally step over a prone Zac Efron, after he had been "punched." (It was pretty funny to watch him and the other guy, who looked eerily like a blonde Zac Efron, try to figure out how to punch and where Zac would land. I would bet all the money that has ever been spent on me in my life that neither of these guys has ever been in a fistfight.)

Most of the day I spent sitting alone in a closet (yes, literally, a closet), reading The Sun magazine that I'm quite happy Dad got me for Christmas. Having time to sit and read is nice when it's your decision. Having 8 hours to sit and read while you wait to be used as scenery is not fun. Especially when you're trying to ignore the other people in the very small house that they are using for holding, which happens to be a relic from the 70s complete with orange and brown flower wallpaper and brown shag carpet.

As I sat, alone, in a closet, for about 8 hours, I thought to myself, "Self, you complain about not having any friends in LA, and yet you are sitting in a closet, alone, in a house full of about 150 people your age. Doesn't that make you wonder?"

I did actually make a couple of extra buddies... the guys I was placed next to and I were astonished and then exceedingly irritated by the number of times the PAs had to ask everyone to be quiet on set. We got to talking about it and one of them reminded me that he and I, with degrees in theatre and backgrounds in stage acting, were in the vast minority. Maturity also seemed to be an unpopular trait. But we were cast as "18 to look younger," so maybe everyone else was just a really good actor.

Point being: I hate being an extra. It makes me hate myself and the world. This is not what I want to be doing. This is not how I want to get my SAG eligibility. I came here to act, and to struggle through the ensuing quagmire, but I do have some choice about my path, and I don't think this is how I want to do it. And I'm starting to think that if I don't like something, maybe I shouldn't do it. Which brings me to a conundrum and

Point number two: I hate everything that I'm currently doing. I hate working at Trader Joe's, I hate being an extra, and I hate temping.

Not really sure how to process all this yet. I wish I were in the position to say "Fine, I won't do anything I hate." I never understood what a luxury that was.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Temporary Rant

I wrote most of the following while at an especially heinous temp job this past week - I've never felt so condescended upon (?) or been so happy to walk out for the last time. And they've called the past two days wanting me to come back. Suckahs!!!

This week I received my first of probably 10 W-2s for 2007, this one for $60. (Thank you, extra work...) How much that sucks aside, it got me thinking. My four years at a Princeton Review-ranked college in the Midwest cost approximately $100,000. Thankfully, we didn't have to pay even half of that, but I guess that's the appraisal I can carry with my diploma. It was a wonderful experience and I loved it. I had unique opportunities, was involved in great theatre, and got to study abroad in Russia. It was the best 1/10 of a million dollars I've ever spent.

Since graduating from college, I have worked as a traveling children's theatre actor/director, a law receptionist, a human resources assistant, a substitute teacher, a technology instructor, an upscale grocery store cashier, and a myriad of temp jobs which require an aptitude in phone answering and copy making. My highest pay has been $15 an hour. My average salary for the past 2 ½ years has been $11.30 an hour. Before taxes.

I am an actor. I always knew that in order to pursue this very difficult career path, I would have to work as many other things. I don't mind. I do struggle to make my half of the $1075 monthly rent my boyfriend and I pay for our studio apartment. But hey, it's Los Angeles. I'm living the dream.

Most of my acting happens in my current grocery store and temp jobs. I get to pretend that I am pleased as punch to not only scan every item in the customer's overflowing carts, but then proceed to bag said 200 items that are falling off of the counter as the customer stands and watches me impatiently, not offering to help, or, better yet, talks on their cell phone as they have throughout the entire transaction. That's what I do on the weekends.

On weekdays, such as today, I sit at a reception desk, utilizing my Bachelor's degree by answering calls and pressing corresponding buttons. When people come in, I ask if they would like coffee or tea, a bottle of water or perhaps a Diet Coke, and then, after they are done, I get to clear away and clean their dishes. I don't mind. They don't work here.

The best part, though, is when the people who do work here bring their dishes to the kitchen and promptly place them in the sink, so that I, the temporary receptionist, can handle their half-empty, lipstick-stained coffee cups, their crusty oatmeal bowls, and their dishes shellacked with whatever disgusting substance they smeared on their bagel, and consequently onto their plate. Apparently, higher education renders you above placing things in dishwashers. Well, little do they know that I, too, am a member of the elite club who hold B.A.'s, or, more appropriately, B.S.'s.

Except that they do know. When I reported for receptionist duty, I was asked to look for something in the email inbox. When I did, I saw an email with my name as the subject, and, since Outlook has a handy feature that makes the first line of the email visible without opening the message, I read the question "Did she go to collage [sic]?"

I don't know why they wanted to know. Perhaps they previously had a trainwreck of a temp who couldn't lift a phone receiver and press the 'transfer' button. But, funnily enough, that isn't something you learn in college. And neither is cleaning up after yourself.

I was angry, and I don't think inappropriately so. Throughout the week, I was subjected to amazing amounts of condescension, and surprise every time I showed aptitude at, well, anything. ("Lauren, can you print the Breakdowns off? Do you remember how to do that?" "Yes." "Oh, really!?") One of the assistants asked no one in particular how to spell something, and when he received no other response, I told him, to visible shock. I'm not sure what they thought they would get, but apparently I surpassed their expectations.

Which made me wonder. Is an office environment simply another food-chain hierarchy set up to put people in their supposed place? The condescension and "I'm above this" attitude are the same things that bother me with the customers at Trader Joe's.

I don't know the answer, and I don't want to think that I feel I've earned a higher spot simply because of my education and opportunities. But I sure wish people would stop treating me like a peon. And put their own damn dishes in the dishwasher.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I got nothin.

I got two callbacks. I'm trying to see that as getting something. But, apparently, I did not get cast in the Shakespeare show, either.

I'm struggling with that, because I felt really good about my audition when I left the callback. I did well with the language, I changed up my character, I had fun. And I was really excited about it. And it was paying. And I really want to get cast in something. I mean, I would have cast me. Obviously.

I was talking to my boyfriend's sister about it, and she was saying that she had read something that said if you can find a way to say "so what" it really can help you move past the dissappointment. So I'm gonna try it. So what. F 'em.

That sort of works. I feel a little lift, especially with my personal addition to the "So what."

I feel the need to shout my input from the bottom of the pyramid - scratch that, in this metaphor, I'm more appropriately in the tomb, under the pyramid, buried as one of the servants to the pharoah who was killed upon his death - anyway, from wherever I reside down below, I call up, "Please! Studios! Negotiate with the writers, for the love of Ra!" (Going with the metaphor...I'm a dork.) It's amazing how even little ol' me is affected by this writer's strike and the accompanying lack of work. How can my pilot happen without my writers??? It can't!

Time for a Trader Ho's update - working 7am-3pm for the third day in a row tomorrow. I've found a new customer behavior pet peeve - thrusting a cell phone at me and telling me to listen to whoever is on the other end of it, requesting a product. I ain't your secretary. Not cool. The least you could do is ask if I want your ear germs pressed to my face while I converse with a completer and utterer stranger than you about a food item that I care nothing about. So yeah. Don't do that.

Here I go, my rallying cry for things to come my way - Auditions! Callbacks! Speaking roles! Positivity! Money! Woohoo!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Because I Am. Living the Dream.

Since I have the much coveted profession* of being an actor in Los Angeles, CA, the center of the known universe, I feel it's high time I started chronicling my experiences. May this blog heretofore serve as inspiration to any and all aspiring actors, hopeful LA transplants, future Temping Superstars, or career-driven Trader Joe's employees. Because I am all of those things. I can set an example for all.

*I have yet to land a 'professional' acting gig in LA, since I refuse to count being an extra. But you, dear reader, (aka Dad, since you're probably the only one who will read this) will be the first to know when I do.

What I've Recently Been Up To:
Got some headshots taken. I like them. Molly Hawkey is brilliant.

I got not one, but TWO callbacks!The first was for Noises Off and did not go well. As the (somewhat senile - really, I'm not just bitter) director put it, he hoped that next time we could "connect." Me too.

The second was for Shakespeare Live! (I've always wanted to be in a show with an exclamation point in the title.) I left feeling good about it, but I haven't heard anything. The callback was Wednesday night, but I'm not despairing yet.

So there you go. My first post. Promise I will dispel the annoying use of lofty language. But the hyperbole is here to stay.