Well, I took a Big Bite of the Big Apple and tomorrow marks five months since I moved to New York. FIVE MONTHS?!? That’s almost half a YEAR! How the heck did that happen? Hang on to your hats, readers, because time sure FLIES. And I am proud to announce that I will be making my New York acting debut on my five-month anniversary!
I will be performing with a group called AMIOS (Art and Music In Our Souls) in their monthly show called Shotz! It is a one-night-only event of six short plays written, directed, and performed by locals, centered around a given theme. This month’s theme is “E=mc^Shotz” and is required to include some type of experiment, one specific line of text, and a specific action. Now some of you Bay Area folks may have heard of this, because there is a contingent called ShotzSF started from the same group who brought it to NYC. I have to thank Jennifer LeBlanc (actor, playwright, and all-around awesome lady), who encouraged me to get to know this group. I attended their shows in February and March, applied to be the “shadow writer” for April (where I get to write one of the themed plays for that month and get feedback, but it does not get produced), and for May I get to be an actor! Which is kind of the whole reason I moved here, so... It’s pretty great. I’m excited to have people pay money to come watch me perform! Wait... that sounds bad, but you know what I mean...
This is not exactly my first time on a New York stage, however. In March, I was lucky enough to be part of Red Fern Theatre Company’s Spring Development Series, reading stage directions for two new plays: Chalk by Walt McGough (who’s other work will be featured in this Summer’s Bay Area Playwrights Festival) and Stranded on Earth by Eric Coble, (who’s other work is being produced next at Theatreworks Silicon Valley in June, and who penned a play adaptation of the famous children’s novel, The Giver, which was produced at B Street Theatre when I was an intern there). This is all thanks to director Dominic D’Andrea, who I met last Summer in San Francisco’s One Minute Play Festival. It is a VERY small world!
Red Fern was kind enough to give me a small monetary reward for the reading, which means: I’M A PAID, WORKING ACTOR IN NEW YORK! Ha!
Prior to that, my other paid gig was a Sales Training Video I booked through Backstage (a casting website). I had to do a self tape of what I might look like if I talked about Leasing Policies. And they liked it. So I got to spend the day in Washington, D.C. (because it was shooting out that way) and get paid to act on camera. Plus I learned I’m good at reading from a teleprompter and I got to see fellow USC MFA Alum (class of 2013), Amanda! That was a good time.
Meanwhile, rent is a thing, so I’m working as a temp for the Human Resources Department at an international banking and wealth management firm. Because I am an organized, professional, and diligent office worker, and I can do just about any job in any office. So they hired me. I work downtown on Madison Avenue right next to lovely Madison Square Park. So I guess that makes me a MAD Woman? I work for a very nice group, and they’re even flexible with me taking my “lunch breaks” to go audition.
Because that’s why I’m here! So the schedule goes like this: Wake up, get ready for work, go to the building where auditions are being held that day, sign up for an afternoon appointment, go to work, work for a bit, take my “break” to go to my audition, audition, go back to work, go home/do something social and fun to keep me happy! This is not every day, but you get the idea. I might squeeze a run in there, too, because I’m also training for the Brooklyn Half Marathon, which is at the end of this month! Yes, I’m tired...
I didn’t know exactly what to expect when I came here, but I’m learning new things every single day. It’s definitely all about who you know and who knows you. Thankfully I’m now an Equity Actor (the Actor’s Union), so I can get into all the open professional audition calls for the most part. The more I’m seen, the better! And it is certainly the Land of Opportunity...Here’s a look at the numbers:
Total number of EPAs (Equity Professional Auditions/open calls) I have attended: 72
Total number of Callbacks from EPAs: 1!
Total number of Backstage online casting submissions (for various projects): 54
Total number of Callbacks: 4! (and I booked the Sales Training video I mentioned above!)
I’ve also sent emails/self “tapes” for castings, and submitted through other websites, but the point is, I’m working as much as I can to get work! I have to hustle, grind, market, schmooze, train, and keep the thickest skin ever, because I still want this. Even though it gets exhausting and I sometimes feel like I’m not good enough, I know that something positive is going to happen. I just have to be patient, and keep applying myself. Everyday.
My next step is to get an AGENT. Or three. Super luckily, I got to keep my agent STARS in San Francisco for voice over work. I can do that anywhere. I have my own microphone set-up, and there are studios all over the city. So that’s how I paid rent for the first few months here. (Thank you, LeapFrog and Creativity!) It’s tough to get an agent out here, obviously, unless someone refers you, or they see you in something and sign you. But you can’t be seen in anything because the agents cast you. So it’s a total Catch-22 situation. I’m going for all of them, though: Voice Over, Theater, Film/TV, Commercial, heck, even print! I just got new head shots taken (I hope to share those soon!), so I need to get all my materials together so I can send stuff out and get some people in my corner. (Fingers crossed they actually look at my materials!)
Speaking of people, I’m making new friends here; many through friends I knew previously (Hi Ryan! Hi Nicole!)
Ryan, my MFA “brother,” has lived here about eight years (except when we were in school), and actually helped me find my current roommates. I live in a three-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, right on the SE corner of Prospect Park -- perfect for running! Julia and Anna (my roommates) are both actors, and both from the West Coast (Orange County, CA and Eugene, OR, respectively), so we all get along great.
Nicole and I performed in Some Girl(s) at Dragon Theatre in Redwood City, CA, and she moved out here a year prior to me. Except she’s totally badass and just got accepted into an MFA Acting Program in San Diego! I’m so proud of her! (though I’ll miss having her around.)
I live near the Q subway line, so I can take that into Manhattan pretty quickly, and I knew everything would be OK when I first took that trip and saw a gorgeous view of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty in the distance. I say “hi” to her everyday. Imagine Fezzik from The Princess Bride (played by Andre the Giant) when he says, “Hello, Lady!” to Princess Buttercup. That’s what goes through my head.
So short story long, I’m doing OK! I have a job, I have an acting job tomorrow night, I have people, I have food, I have the beautiful, bustling city, and this weekend, I had my San Francisco Giants! (I attended all three of their games against the Mets at Citi Field, naturally).
I’ve even had visitors -- My best friend, Val, who came all the way from Oahu just in time to experience Winter Storm Jonas (the one big snow we had in January). What a trooper! My cousin Amanda...well, she was here to help her friend move, but I got to see her! And my Buttface, Will, who spent his entire Spring Break with me out here, because he’s the best. He really is! I am so lucky to have his love and support!
Other NY highlights include:
- SO. MUCH. THEATER! (Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway, Black Box, Workshop, Experimental, etc...)
- Reuniting with friends from my past (recent and distant!)
- The warmest NY Winter in the last several years (YES!)
- Seeing my California girl Chelsea perform with her old band and hanging out for New Year’s Eve!
- Suzuki Workshop with my sensei/mentors Steve & Robyn in January!
- Substitute teaching a Suzuki Class at NYU (I could write a whole blog just about this!)
- Taking a day trip to West Hartford, CT to see my roommate perform in a show (another state off the list!)
- Being able to hop on a train to see my sister and her family in Hagerstown, MD.
- Visiting Gettysburg, PA with my Dad, (who happens to be a U.S. History teacher)
- Participating in a reading of a new play. 8 people, small room, ink on paper. But read it out loud, and it becomes something special.
- Cronuts. (Yup, I tried them!)
- Telling people “I’m an actor” when they ask me what I do.
As a runner, I can definitely relate to the saying, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” and I am certainly keeping up as best I can. Thank you for continuing to cheer me on!