Sunday, April 30, 2006

WHAT!!!! I’m up again at 6am for my Vicodin fix or is Motrin? Yeah, it’s Motrin. Thankfully, the bleeding has slowed down a lot, but the swelling is out of control. I look like an adult blowfish and get this; it’s spreading to my left eye! Yup, I’m developing a black-eye. Maybe I’ll put some steak on it like they do in the cartoons. I gotta tell ya, I’m loving it! I don’t know; it’s just interesting.
This is my med schedule:

12 midnight: Motrin
1am: Amoxicillin
3am: Vicodin
6am: Motrin
9am: Vicodin and Amoxicillin
12 noon: Motrin
3pm: Vicodin
5pm: Amoxicillin
6pm: Motrin
9pm: Vicodin

Plus some crazy mouth rinse, twice a day, which taste like $3 a gallon unleaded fuel. I should put that in my fuel tank and call it a day. I set alarms for all of these and have yet to miss one. I don’t want any trouble with the healing process. The stitches don’t come out for another 10 days.

I think I figured out what I look like. It’s not a blowfish; it’s a car. I look like a freakin’ car! What kind of car? A Chrysler 300. Ya know, one them sh*ts with the big ass grill in the front. Yeah, I got a big ass grill right now! To the casual observer I may not look like a car, but I “feel” like I look like a car.
I gotta really think about this. As it stands now, I don’t have any appointments tomorrow Monday. Who knows, that could change, my agent could get a call for an African-American male, late 20’s early 30’s, that resembles an American-made car with a big ass grill. Don’t laugh, it could happen. Would I cancel another audition tomorrow if I had one? I totally didn’t think about swelling up like this. It’s been 48 hours it should start getting back to normal soon.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Oh Sh*t!!!! I got up at 6am to take some medication and looked in the mirror and said “WTF! Who is that?” I am bleeding and my face is swollen, lol!!! This caught me by surprise. I’m trying to figure out what type of farm animal I look like. I think I look like a badger or better yet a blowfish. Man this is hilarious; I wish my brothers’ could see me. At least the medication is working and I’m not in too much pain.

This is funny except for a couple of things. Remember me not having had a print go-see in a month? Well I have one today AND a commercial audition. Cool, I look like a blowfish! Actually, I went to this same place last month and they requested that I wear my glasses this time.

Print go-see: "IBM" @ Ben Sealy Casting. It'll be my first go-see with my new zed card. Yeah! Thankfully, I didn’t have to speak.

Audition: "Walgreens" @ Deborah Kurtz Casting. This went really well too. I only had to speak for my slate and there were 3 of us in the shot for the audition, so I doubt they noticed I looked like a blowfish. Cool.

Friday, April 28, 2006

V" is for Vicodin! Yeah, today is the day for me to find out what's so great about Vicodin, Motrin, Ativan and Amoxicillin. I'm getting some gum reconstruction, ridge augmentation and bone grafting done in my mouth this morning. Sound painful? It was…at times. The first 6 incisions into the roof of my mouth was a wake-up call to say the least - OMG!

I did some internet research on the dental procedures I was about to encounter; which could have been a mistake. I might have been better off if I didn't know what was going to happen. My appointment was @ 8:30 to start the meds and the surgery was to start at 9:30. About 25 minutes after taking the stuff I started to feel.......well lets just say I was "happy"….and confused.

Thirty minutes later they put me in the chair and all system were go. I had my PDA playing music to distract me, but when I saw needles and heard drilling I couldn't help but be a little concerned. The first incision into the roof of my mouth was like "Hello! WTF!"

After a while all I felt was pressure and I was cool with that...eventually I was out completely. I made it through with a lot of swelling, a bit of bleeding, 4 different meds and a host of stitches in my mouth.

The coolest part about the whole thing was that, since I couldn't drive to the appointment because of the meds, I had the opportunity to ride the bus again. I really like riding the bus/subway and I'm going to do it more often. Actually, I'd planned and looked forward to riding the bus home, but the office staff wouldn't let me. They had a gentleman from the office take me home instead. The best part of that “trip” was being mesmerized by the navigational system in his expensive BMW SUV. I had never actually seen one work, they're pretty cool. It should be an interesting evening for me. I hit the sack for two hours then woke up to see if I could make my audition. It wasn’t to be.

Audition: "The Procrastinators" @ CC Harper Casting. Ooops, I had to call my agent and pass on this appointment. Too much blood, too much pain, too many meds and too little time. Maybe they can reschedule it. See ya, good night.
Oh yeah, funny enough, it’s been almost an entire month since I’ve had a print go-see. Everything stopped as soon as I got my card finished. WHAT?! How does that work? I’m sure I’ll start getting out again soon.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Audition: "Lifting Off" @ AFI. This went really well.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Today was a great day! I put my car in the shop for some routine maintenance, but it turned out I didn't need to get as much done as I thought. So, as a result, it was a bit cheaper than I expected. It's a Honda and if I take care of it, it will take care of me. I do my best to keep it relatively clean inside and out.

The best part of the trip was this: I drove to the other side of town to the shop with my bike in the trunk. After leaving my car, I rode my bike to the subway station and rode the train back to my side of town and rode the bike back to my apartment.

I LOVE riding the train! It reminds me of my years living in New York. I had SUCH a great time in NY, great job waiting tables at The Harley-Davidson Café, great friends and learned a great deal about how to run my acting career. Those things really helped my transition to Los Angeles, which has been fantastic as well. I am just the luckiest guy in the world!!! Okay, I’ll stop.

I wish it was more practical to take the train in LA – at least for me. It just doesn’t really go anywhere I need to go on a regular basis. I think I’m going to take it down to Long Beach one of these days and ride my bike down there.

I spoke to my older brother in Prague this morning (again for free PC-to-PC on and it’s really cool seeing the changes in him since he is a new father. He’s just a little different and seems to be having a ball with his 5-month old daughter Nikita. I thought it was interesting that he looks “up” to our youngest brother, Todd, as a role model of what to be as a father. That trips me out, but I’ll be the first to say Todd is “The Father of the Year”. My kid brother rocks; his children are really lucky to have him to raise them.

I also spoke to my older sister in Birmingham and she was talking about my niece and nephew in Virginia Beach spending a bit of the Summer with her family down South. That got me thinking…a huge part of my going home for a month is so I can hang with the kids. It would really be different if the kids weren’t there. Maybe I should carry my ass to Hawaii for two weeks and Virginia two weeks instead of a month in Virginia. That would suck if the kids were gone the whole time I was home, but I would have to understand; they have other Aunts and Uncles so I have to share them, lol!

Since I purchased an all day pass for the subway; it can also be used for the city busses. So I decided to take the bus to a pre-release screening of “United 93”. I can’t think of another movie that had me welling up in tears in the first two minutes; just knowing what was going to happen. The only other film that really broke me down good was “The Notebook” a couple of years ago. I was still quite fresh in dealing with my mother’s passing and “The Notebook” tore me up good, beautiful film. “United 93” was, for me, extremely moving. My body shook every time they said “LAX” “LAX” “….heading to LAX”. I couldn’t even move when it ended; you could hear a pin drop in the theatre that held hundreds of people. I cannot imagine what those passengers went through.

I’m sure most of us remember where we were when we heard the news of what was happening to our country. My girlfriend at the time and I were awakened by her roommate and she said “My mom just called and said ‘a plane crashed into The World Trade Center’”. Of course, that made no sense. It started to make sense when we soon witnessed second plane doing the same thing. Unbelievable – how could it be?

Several weeks before, a friend of mine, New York actor Dorian Missick, was in Los Angeles and stayed with me for a couple of days. He met with Denzel Washington several times for a role in “The Antwone Fisher Story”, took meetings and auditioned. While here, he booked a guest starring role on “NYPD Blue” I distinctly remember him saying “I come back out on the September 11th to shoot”. Now of course, the date September 11th didn’t mean anything special then, but I hit me like a ton of bricks when I thought he might have been on one of those planes. I frantically dialed his numbers and finally caught up with him – he had just gotten off the plane he was on as all flights had been grounded. Me? I was still shook because two days before the 11th, Sunday the 9th I felt my first earthquake in LA. OMG!!! That was freaking crazy! Nothing by LA standards, but for this East Coast Kid. WHAT!!!!? No more earthquakes and please, no more planes flying into buildings!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Today I attended the 2006 Screen Actors Guild National Membership Meeting. As I have said before, every time I'm in the company of the new guild leadership I feel much, much better than I did with the old leadership. To me, I was never sure what side the old leadership was on. It always kinda felt like they were more about being afraid of the opposition and we have paid for it dearly. Not that things are perfect now, but it does seem much more like we are moving in the right direction.

One of the things I thought was pretty cool was listening to rank and file actors make a suggestion during the Q&A. Yeah, they were able to go to the microphone, voice concerns about a union issue directly to the President of the guild then we took a vote of those in attendance and if there was enough votes it would be looked into further. THIS is where change is made and, believe me, we performers need some serious changes from the top down to survive and thrive in this business climate.

Important stuff - really important stuff. It's only our futures. It's pension, health, dues, pay rates, working conditions, background performers, residuals - oh yes, residuals. I really, really wish more of us would go to these meetings. There shouldn't have been an empty seat in that place. Don't get me wrong, I don't understand everything that is said at these meetings or even most of what is said. I DO understand that it has EVERYTHING to do with my future in the business and if I'm going to being able to make a decent living. Some of it can be kinda "lawyer-speak like" and I usually get lost in that, but every time I go I understand it better than last time.

Friday, April 21, 2006

SHOCKING NEWS!......I was released from being on avail for another "Sprint" national commercial today. Of course I say "shocking" as a joke; it seems getting released is the norm for me these days. I gotta tell you, it's getting old. There was a time when I got a lot fewer callbacks, but if I got a callback there was a really good chance I would book the job. I look forward to the days of having multiple conflicts again.

I'm glad I don't truly trip out over these things. I hear it drives some actors absolutely crazy - getting oh so close, but not getting the job. My take is that obviously I am doing much more right than I am doing wrong and that is a good thing. So I'll just keep it moving in a positive direction and trust that my agents will be patient with me. I will work again in this town! I had 3 really good auditions this week and hope to get some callbacks. FORWARD!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Audition: “Liberty Mutual Insurance” @ Laray Mayfield Casting. This audition went great. I think I “did less” pretty well. Hopefully I’ll get a callback.

Back on the phone with SAG – the story of my life. I’m kidding, it’s not that bad dealing with them I’m just the most curious person in the world. I have questions about everything – even if I don’t ask them all. The episode of “Love, Inc” that I was in aired again about a month ago. Obviously, I’m due payment for the rerun, but the question I have is how much will it be?

Almost all of the TV jobs I have gotten thus far have been on ABC, CBS, NBC or FOX. If “Love, Inc.” was on one of those networks I know that I’d get my original fee for a prime-time rerun. I also know there are some differences in the contract that UPN and The WB work under; hence my call to SAG. I mean, I'm gonna get what I’m gonna get, but I don’t want to expect a coupla G’s but only get 40 bucks after taxes and commission. Some of these SAG contracts we work under are funny like that. Don’t get me started on DVD residuals……..

So I got a nice, personable representative on the phone @ SAG to help me. He gave me a quick answer to my question, but I was suspect. He said I would get the full fee up to a certain amount, but that amount was lower than my fee. He kept using the term “syndication”. My thought was ‘how could it be syndication when it was a prime-time network rerun?’ It’s a first year show and it reran in the same time slot as it did the original time it ran. I mean it could have been true, but I needed to probe a little deeper. He backed off of his original answer and said nobody had ever asked the question. What? He needed to call me back after checking with someone else in the office.

I didn’t think he was withholding information, I just don’t think he really knew the answer. He gave me an answer assuming all 6 networks are equal; which they are not. It used to be The Big 3, then FOX, followed equally by UPN and The WB. In recent years FOX has joined The Big 3 and made them The Big 4, but UPN and The WB have a different contract.

He calls me back an hour later with roughly the same answer. I thanked him and didn’t give him a hard time. He probably gave me the right answer, but to tell you the truth I still wasn’t convinced. Before I let him go I asked him if the merger of The WB and UPN, “The CW” and also FOX’s new network “MyNetwork TV” will be under the same contract as UPN and The WB. I have to say I was very surprised that he had never even heard of the new networks coming this Fall.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Okay, I received my SAG dues in the mail yesterday and I just shook my head as I did last year and the year before and so on... Somebody please explain this to me. How is it that my annual SAG dues are $938.00 and anyone who makes over $500,000 pays the maximum dues of $2,650.00? Wait, I understand "how" because I can do the math, but "why?" Why is it that Tom, Jennifer, Denzel, Brad, Halle or anyone else that earns over $500,000 pays just 3x what little ole me pays. I understand that there are relatively few big earners in comparison to the number of working class actors, but still $2,650 for someone who earns millions a year?

I know the big earners don't need SAG in the same way as someone like me. And I'm not saying that they should be paying the same 1.85% or .5% of every dollar, but maxing out @ less than $3,000 just seems a little out of whack. I might have to bring it up at the SAG membership meeting this weekend.

I have to say at the same time that I received another letter; also from SAG. This was my Annual Summary of Earnings Statement. It showed my 2005 earnings and what my estimated monthly pension would be at age 65 (that’s like 5 years away!). It kinda made feel legitimate; that I have been doing something for the last decade and I have a little to show for it, LOL!! I mean, it wasn’t a lot of money, but it’s something. All I have to do now is keep working - much easier said than done – and keep building it - and of course other things to secure my future.

I looked at a beautiful condo yesterday that I couldn’t begin to afford. I wish I would have had my Annual Summary of Earnings Statement and showed the realtor that I AM SOMEBODY – I have a pension! In retrospect, maybe it was a good thing I didn’t have it.

Audition: "Holiday Inn" @ Ross Lacy Casting. This one went really well and I think I'm really right for it. I even saw Ross, which is rare. It seems like his company is always doing at least 3 or 4 spots at the same time.

Audition: "Mastercard" @ Kathy Knowles Casting. OK, I would really like to book something - soon. That goes without saying, but I would REALLY like to book this. Why? It shoots in Budapest, Hungary. I would love to go to Budapest and to have someone else pay for it would be really cool. The audition went great and I had the best partner, we click immediately. I think they should book both her and I for the trip to Budapest!

Now, I'm not totally green in this category. I've traveled to Madrid, Miami, Tokyo, Washington, DC and even Palmdale for acting jobs. I wanna add Budapest! My passport is ready to go, I can leave NOW. I’ve got all planned out: LA to France for a layover then on to Budapest. I’m smiling right now as I think of my time in Toyko back in ‘02 – that was butta! Shoot the “Mastercard” spot then change my return ticket to roll South to Prague, Czech Republic to see my brother Tommy and my new niece Nikita. Then on the way back stop in New York for a day or two to see friends, down to Philly to see family then, of course, to Virginia Beach to challenge my brothers on the motocross track and back to Los Angeles jet lagged with fatter pockets that are closer to a down payment on a condo. Damn that sounds great!!!!

Then I woke up and stopped smiling. I hope I can even make the audition; I have two and they are 10 minutes apart, but clear across town. I've got some juggling to do. I should probably slow my roll and just hope for a good audition and a callback. A brother can dream right?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Callback/Avail “Sprint” @ Francene Selkirk Associates. Cool, I’m back in a shorter line than before. Getting closer and closer to sealing the deal – but still so far. Avails are good; even if it just means sending a notice to my other agents letting them know that I’m close to booking something else. Yesterday when I saw my theatrical agents they asked if I booked the “Sprint” spot from last week. So it all helps, they want to know that you are in the game at whatever level – I think. At least they make me feel that they do.

This callback went great! Actually, I worked on the material in my commercial class last night; that definitely helped. I did it the first time and the director wanted me to tone down the "sell factor", I did it again and then he asked me to do it again without my glasses. I left feeling really good. I didn't get a parking ticket this time like I did at the first audition, I had some not so nice words for that meter maid. I mean, he saw me across the street heading to my car "before" he started writing the ticket. I got his attention and he wrote it anyway, so I gave him $35 worth of what was on my mind. In the end, it wasn't worth $35, but I felt a little better. I try to keep those ticket to a minimum; I ain't tryin' to get the orange boot on my car. No!

Monday, April 17, 2006

This morning I stopped by Debra Zane's new office and thanked her for thanking me for helping her move. This time I met her parents and they were as funny and fun as she is - great people. She gave us all the official tour of the place. Funny, I've been looking at condos in that same area; maybe her new office will be in walking distance again in the future for me.

It seems like every time I go to her office I leave there feeling better than when I got there and I felt good before I arrived. When she was showing the place I saw this stack of scripts. You know how the scripts have the titles written on the spine so you can read the name of them without puling them all out? Well, I'm looking this stack of scripts with names like: Pleasantville, Seabiscuit, Road to Perdition, Fun With Dick and Jane, etc. I dont know, it was cool to see the office copies of these big successful films. What was really cool was seeing the casting binders of films like The Terminal, Jarhead and Dreamgirls (also a life-size cut out of Beyonce) and knowing that I am in "The Terminal" binder. Yeah, I gotta get in more studio film binders!

After that I went to see my theatrical agents and talked about real estate. That seems to be what is mostly on my brain these days - getting out of this apartment. Even though it, most likely, will be some time before I'm able to actually do it; I have to start somewhere and get it out in the air. My agents gave me some tips on things to look out for.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Why is it that I hadn't been skiing in 5-6 years and then I go twice in one week? I don't know, but I'm glad I did. The conditions this time were just ok, but still fun. I brought my snowboard with me and used it for an hour or so, but then decided to rent skis instead. I like snowboarding and all, but hate having to strap and unstrap my boots every time I got on/off the ski lift. Either way, as long as I'm out there making it happen it’s all good. I just love doing athletic stuff.

When I went last week I was actually a little annoyed that I wasn't sore the next day. I was really looking forward to being crazy sore the next day and it just didn't happen. I had planned on being able to sleep the entire next day after taking a hot bath. It wasn't to be; I slept a couple of hours and was raring to go. I think this "trying to buy a condo" thing really has me excited. I just wanna go, go, go!

I asked my doctor last week about my weight and she said that I am a little under weight, but it's nothing to be concerned about. She also said I'm very, very fortunate to be in such shape. So, I am going to give myself a break. Since I don't really enjoy working out at the gym I'm going to cut down my 2-3 days a week (more 2 than 3) to 1+. I'd much rather skateboard, go mountain biking, rollerblade, ski, snowboard, ride my motorcycle, etc. instead of working out at the gym.

Friday, April 14, 2006

I was released from the "Sprint" commercial yesterday; there was a mix-up at my agency and I didn't get the message. Close AGAIN, but close doesn't pay the bills. I'll try and try again.
This is what I was afraid of……sorta. The background agency I worked with last month called today to clear me for several days of background on a commercial. I guess they have to submit my photo to the director and see if I’m chosen first before they can book me. I said yes, but I cannot help to wonder what I might be getting myself into. Well, for one thing, I know it would be a very nice payday; and it of course would be SAG earnings. I qualified for SAG Health insurance for the first time back in '99 and have yet to lose it. So I have to keep that in my mind - gotta get those numbers.

I told them I was clear for the days in question, but in reality I have some dental surgery scheduled. That can wait another week, but to tell you the truth I am really looking forward to seeing what the Vicodin craze is all about. NO, I'm not a dealer!! It's for the surgery. "Vicodin", it sounds so harsh and yet some people really like it. Well I'm going to find out - but it might have to wait another week. Who knows what else will be going on then. I’m not gonna worry about it; I am blessed and things usually work themselves out.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Well, I guess the “Sprint” commercial is moving on without me. I haven’t been officially released, but my avail day is Friday the 14th – which is tomorrow and I haven’t heard anything. Usually the casting office calls to release the actors that are on avail, but not always. It would have been really nice to book, but I’m glad to have gotten two callbacks for Ross Lacy Casting. Plus, most of the time I don’t get paid to audition and this time I did. It will pay for both of my ski trips.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I am so in denial these days it’s not funny. I’m trying to get a lot of things accomplished and it seems overwhelming. Matter of fact it is overwhelming. Sometimes I ask myself if I’m crazy and after pausing for a minute I usually say “no”. I have a healthy amount of confidence in myself, although some of that confidence is masked in denial. I simply deny that some things are not possible. What really helps is that I’m in an insane business. That insanity can go both ways though. I have experienced many great things thus far; the insanity has been good to me.

I remember when I had to get a newer car a couple of years ago. The car I was driving, my beloved ’89 Honda Accord, was ready for retirement. It was running hot so I had to put antifreeze/water in it every other day, the driver side door handle was broken so I had to get in on the passenger side for 6 months, the A/C did not work and sometimes it just would not start. I couldn’t imagine how I could afford another car, but I pretty much lived in it and had to do something. It was really bringing me down. Having a car payment of a couple hundred dollars a month was not a pleasant thought.

My brother talked me into checking out the credit union that I was a member of. I was terrified. I just could not afford to do it, I also couldn’t afford not to do it. The credit union ended up being a dream to deal with. They quickly approved me for what I needed, but there was one problem. I had no money extra money in my budget – NONE. I was living very close to the financial edge, but I knew the car situation was going to kill my spirit. It was just getting to be too much to run around everyday like I was for much longer. So I looked online and found the exact car I wanted; fortunately it was priced about $1,500 below the Kelly Blue Book price. I had no idea how I was going make the first payment on the car – seriously. I also knew that at the end of the day I can usually figure things out.

Two years later, somehow – someway, it’s working out and I’ve never been late on a payment. I have to remember that. Because right now I feel like I might be trying to do too much financially. It’s nothing frivalous, just investing in me and what’s mine and what’s gonna be mine. I keep telling myself to look forward to the possibilities. I’m definitely “a half-full and filling” type of guy vs “a half-empty and draining” type. That is my normal way of thinking, but I’m only human and I need help sometimes. “Gotta look forward, just make it happen”. So I say it out loud in my apartment, when I drive, to my family and friends and often times to complete strangers. Yeah, that’s it. “Gotta look forward, just make it happen”. That way of thinking has gotten me this far; why stop now?

On another note, I thought by now I would’ve gotten that very familiar call saying “Stephon, you’ve been released from the “XYZ” spot. Don’t worry we’ll get you on another one soon”. Well, as of 5pm Wednesday evening I was still “on avail”, but they are also still casting. I don’t know if they are still casting the spot I’ve auditioned for 3 times or if it’s several different spots. At any rate, I have a feeling that I’ll be released tomorrow. I really hope I’m wrong. If I’m right I’m going snowboarding Friday.

I’m not being pessimistic, it’s just a strong possibility I’ll get released. Trust me, I would much rather shoot a “Sprint” national than go snowboarding on Friday. I’ll just go Saturday! Here’s an idea; maybe I should just say I’m going snowboarding Saturday because I’m shooting a “Sprint” national Friday. YEAH! That sounds good; that’s my story!

How ironic is this? Since I’ve officially had my new print zed card, I haven’t had a single go-see. I’m sure that will change in the near future. I’m not expecting to get out everyday or anything like that, but I’m really happy with it and I think it will work for me. My agents will get me in the game on regular basis in due time.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Audition: "Sprint" @ Francene Selkirk Casting. Cool, another "Sprint" audition. Heck another audition period. Trust me, I am still thankful for each and every appointment I get. My first audition in LA back in ’98 was @ Francene's office. I've gotten close to booking several times, but haven't closed the deal......yet.
The audition goes well, so hopefully I will get called back to the next round.

Callback: "Comcast" @ Lien/Cowan Casting. YES! Another callback. I was a bit messy in the initial audition, but I remember the notes I got from the session director and I should be able to put it together for the creative team at the callback.

With the season slowing down my hustle has changed a little; I'm not slinging my photos around as much and did my last casting director workshop about 4 months ago. My goal is to make more out of every opportunity. When I moved here 7+ years ago my goal wasn't to get jobs; it was to figure out "how to get the 'opportunity' to get jobs". I've done okay in that area and have built up a pretty good foundation along the way.

It feels great to use my time in a slightly different manner; my acting classes are going really well and I’m excited about attending open houses in preparation for buying a condo. I won’t be buying in the next week/month or anything like that, but I think it will happen in due time. Oh yeah, and I would love to go skiing/snowboarding again before the season is out.

Monday, April 10, 2006

2nd Callback: “Sprint” @ Ross Lacy Casting. Not only is it great to make it to the next round, but I’ll get paid for the 2nd callback (3rd audition) and it pays for the ski trip and more! Funny how things work out.

If you’re curious about the rates:

· 1st and 2nd Auditions: No payment is due for the first hour from the call time or arrival time, whichever is later. For each additional ½ hour, a performer is entitled to $33.45.

·3rd Audition: A performer is entitled to $133.75 for the first 2 hours. For each additional ½ hour, $33.45 is due.

·4th Audition & thereafter: A performer is entitled to $267.50 for the first 4 hours. For each additional ½ hour, $33.40 is due.

The 2nd callback went well I felt. There were only 6 actors there for 3 or maybe 4 roles. I was the only African-American; there was at least one other African-American actor at the 1st callback. According to the copy, the 4th role was a man then changed to a woman, but they kinda had me doing it. I hope they didn’t think I was “woman-like” because I’m kinda small framed, LOL! Trust me, I am all male.

There was only one actor there for the role of the “Guy 1/Boss” so I’m thinking that he may be as good as cast…maybe. They did a bit of mixing and matching for the other roles. At the 1st audition I was “Guy 2”. At the 1st callback I did all of them “Guy 1/Boss”, “Guys 2 and 3” and here at the 2nd callback I was doing “Guy 4/Woman/Guy 4”. Go figure. Had they already cast the woman or is it really going to be a man? Who knows.

It was interesting to see the different approaches that actors’ take, because when I was in they rotated in two of the other actors and the spot had a completely different tone than with the other two actors. It was also interesting to be aware that I was being watched on monitors by the rest of the creative team in the next room.

So that was it. I did what I had to do and felt great about what I left in the room. When I was signing out me and the other actors were joking about who they would cast. I joked that I was the only Black guy there and that could be really good, really irrelevant or maybe I was fulfilling some quota. Just kidding, I doubt that. So I guess at this point I’ve done all I can do and I’ll either get a booking or a release.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Callback: “Sprint” @ Ross Lacy Casting. This callback went well, which is particulary great for me in this particular office. It’s almost like Ross wants me to make a lot of money in commercials. Afterall, he gives me lots of chances and that’s all I can ask of him. I booked the first audition I had at his office back in ’99. It was one of 3 “Pizza Hut” spots I did, but that was in a whole different era……the ‘90’s. Back then commercial agents were still sending headshots by courier and drop-offs really helped.

For this callback I was part of a group of 3 guys. I gathered one of the guys and then asked the other guy if he would like to rehearse and he declined. Ooops. In the room they had us each read all of the three roles. It felt good or rather great. And I think I’m really right for it. So that was it and they sent us on our way.
Audition: “Comcast” @ Lien/Cowan Casting. This one went okay, I guess. I don’t think I was horrible, but I got some of the words and inflections wrong. I had donwnloaded the copy from online and I wasn’t sure which one was correct. When I got to the audition I was informed that neither was correct; there was another, different piece of copy. So we’ll see. It’s a multi-spot gig.

After the second audition I had to decide if I was still going to go skiing and the answer was a resounding YES!!! So I quickly packed up my gear and got on I-10 East. My friends had gone to Big Bear, but I couldn’t make it there in time and decided to go to Mountain High since they have night skiing.

So here I am on this beautiful drive to the mountains and I’m thinking about how fortunate I am. I moved here almost 8 years ago to further my career and it is happening. I am continually amazed by the reality of that. I moved to Los Angeles on Tuesday, July 28th ’98; my connecting flight came in from Chicago to LAX @ 10pm. I had my first audition the very next morning @ 10:30 and haven’t stopped since. I mean it really “is” my job. I’d planned on going on this ski trip with my friends and I had to pull out at the last minute for one of the best possible reasons……because of my job. THAT is a great feeling.

So I’m on I-15 North @ 4:40 pm talking business with one of my brothers and a call is coming through. It says “KSA” on the screen and I let it go to voicemail. I let my brother go so I could check the message. Of course my mind started to think of what it could be.

· An audition for Monday
· A go-see for Monday.
· An avail from one of last weeks go-sees.
· A booking from one of last weeks go-sees.
· A booking for the “Sprint” spot. (I was not expecting that)

So I call my voicemail and it’s the familiar voice of Don and he says:

“ have 2nd callback…..”

My world went into slow motions at that moment. I’m thinking “WHEN!?!?!?! WHEN!?!?! Please don’t let it be this evening!” You see, I was on I-15 North going 2 mph in a 70 mph zone. There was no way I could get back to the Casting Studios in less than 2 hours with traffic. In a split second I could feel my heart beating in my throat and I stopped breathing…..completely.

Of course I was thinking he was going to say it’s “this evening”.

Back to Don:

“……..Monday morning @ 9am and you are on avail for Friday the 14th….”

My blood started to flow again and my breathing resumed. Needless to say I was very happy to get the news. I called to confirm with Don and continued moving along at 2 mph on the 15 North. Again, it made smile when I thought about the reality of possibly being 15 miles away from the mountain, but needing to rush back to LA……….for my job. THAT’S what I’m talking about!!

Let me tell you something. This brother right here can ski. I ain’t trying to say I’m the man or nothin’ like that, but I can get down wit the get down. I hadn’t skied in like 5-6 years, but I think I got better during my layoff. How could that happen? I think riding motocross helped out a lot. I have a much better understanding of the sport than I did 5 years ago. I was out there skiing not just getting a ride on some fiberglass. That is my same approach to riding motocross and my career. The question is: Are you simply getting a ride on that motorcycle? Or are you “riding that mofo?” I had a shift in attitude and it helped a lot. It was a blast.
I fell a couple of times, but they were nothing more than “welcome back, you’re gonna feel this tomorrow” falls. Actually, the first time I fell I watching this little girl who could not have been more than 5 or 6, but she was at the top of the mountain. I was wondering how the heck could someone that young learn to ski that well in such a short amount of time. Obviously, I know the answer – it’s an activitely that her family enjoys. I love seeing kids out doing positive things with their families. I can definitely see my family in the future participating in alot of outdoors activities.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Awww man!!!! I booked out with my agents and I was all set to leave tonight for Big Bear Mountain to ski this weekend. But @ 12:22 this afternoon the phone rings……it’s my agent……..and it’s a callback! Ugh!! I don’t mean “Ugh!!” Trust me, I’m not complaining. It’s not everyday that I get a callback for Ross Lacy. Ross calls me in more than any other casting director in LA and, in all honesty, my callback ratio is not the greatest with him.

I really believe that the commercial class I’m currently in helped me particularly for this one. So, needless to say, this is a good thing. It’s funny because I was accepted into the advance class based on my cold read in the interview and resume, but I opted for the intermediate class instead. One reason was that I felt it would move at a slower place; I really want to “get it”.

When I first considered taking the class I discussed it with a friend. The friend was like “You’ve booked like 25 spots! Why do you need to spend $400 on a class?” My response was “Maybe those 25 spots could’ve been 60 if I was really on my game.” I explained that, case in point; I was up for the new “Washington Mutual” campaign that is now running. That is a 10 spot campaign. If I booked that I would be much closer to buying a condo. The African-American actor that they booked is also from KSA. His name is Wayne Wilderson and he works A LOT. I wanna be like Mike…I mean Wayne. I’m kidding, I’m gonna continue be me I’m just wanna book more.

I fully believe that I have gotten a lot of things in my career that, in theory, I wasn’t supposed to get. There is no way that my experience with “The Terminal” or going to Japan to shoot the Honda commercial or going in for a 3-line part on “Good Morning, Miami” that turned into 14 episodes is normal. Most of it is because of thinking outside of the box and going against the flow. To me, it doesn’t feel like it going against the flow it’s just mostly logic…..with a bit of Zen thrown in. Hence, I describe myself as “Logically Zen”. Yeah, I can definitely get a little “it’s in the air” on ya, but I’m almost always firmly based in logic…..almost.

I realize I didn’t choose a career where things are just going to happen out of the thin air. I’ve always believed in “Making things happen, not waiting for them to happen”. I’ve watched people take that “wait and see” approach to their career and I just don’t think it works. I’ve also seen people bust their tails, do everything right (whatever that is) and just not get the breaks along the way. It’s not easy no matter how you slice it.

Back to my point…yeah my point…what was my point? My point was I could hang on to those 25 commercials or I can keep trying to make things happen. I think I know what I have to do.

So I booked out and then got the call for the callback. I again e-mailed all of my other agents again letting them know I was going to be in town, a least in the morning because I was still considering driving to the mountain after the 10:30 callback. Of course, a couple of hours later I get another audition for tomorrow. It’s @ noon so I might get there early and still meet my friends at the mountain or go to a closer mountain with night skiing. I wonder if e-mailing my agents a second time made a difference in getting that second appointment.

I’ve just wanted to go skiing/snowboarding for so long. I haven’t been in like 5 years. I could never find anyone here in LA to go with. I used to go with my family back East, but motocross has completely taken over.

Today I also went to look at some condos from the listing that Kelley, my talent agent turned real estate, sent me and some I looked up on my own. It was kinda weird, but it felt great. The first condo was still partially under construction and the front door was open so I went in. I didn’t want to talk to anybody so I stayed in stealth mode. Funny enough, it felt a lot like doing a drop-off.

I don’t really know what I’m looking for just yet, but I have to start somewhere. I feels great to be moving in the right direction. I also have to say that my family is wonderful. I had a great conversation with my older brother who lives in Prague; he is a new father. We spoke PC-to-PC for an hour…… Yeah, free. We used I really want to go for a visit this Summer, but it doesn't look like it will happen.

My new niece in Prague - Nikita

My two “little brothers” both have more experience in the area of real estate and have been incredibly helpful. One of them made it very clear that he will be there to help me in any way possible. That just meant the world to me. I guess I’m still on my “just got my taxes done high”; I hope I don’t crash and burn.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

YES!! One of my favorite days of the year – the day I get my taxes done. Why? Well, it’s usually a very good day. My tax preparer, Laura L. Stewart, has always made my visits an uplifting experience. Now I haven’t always felt this way about getting my taxes done, but Laura changed all of that…’s a long story, really long, LOL!

Anyway, she understands the entertainment industry and guides me in the right direction concerning my business as a performer. I always leave her office feeling like I accomplished something during the previous year. Maybe it’s because I see exactly how the numbers lined up for my business. Don’t get me wrong, they are not large numbers by any means, but they are “my” numbers and I solely make my living as a performer. It just kinda does something to see what I can deduct as operating expenses and what I invested in my future over the previous year.

Even years ago it was always interesting to me to hear other aspiring actors say “it’s like running your own business”. I would think to myself “No, it IS running your own business”. This is as real as it gets. My earnings as a performer are reported to the IRS just like when I worked at Old Navy or The Standard or anywhere else.

Part of our conversation always leads to real estate. I’m trying to position myself to jump in the world of a mortgage. It’s something that I need and want to do if I’m going to stay in Los Angeles. This “rent thing” is for the birds. After Laura calculated my refund she plugged in some numbers to show me what my return would be if I was buying instead of renting. It just convinced me more that I need to leave the world of renting an apartment.

Some things I am super aggressive about and others I just take baby steps forever! Ugh!! I’ve been talking about real estate for a while to my friends, but I need to step it up and face it head on. I think it’s time. It was just so exciting to hear her talk about how she purchased her home. I thanked her for the pep talk and told her that our conversation was going to be instrumental in me having a great day.

Laura L. Stewart
Overflow Tax Services
Registered Tax Preparer
Bonded – Experienced
(818) 219-3071
11914 Kling St #2
North Hollywood, CA 91607

Afterwards I went to 2 of my 3 favorite places to shop, Costco & Target the other being the 99 Cents Only Store. I was shopping for my new place!!! At least in my head I was. At Costco I saw a bedroom set and it looked almost foreign to me. I’ve been living in this studio here in LA for almost 8 years. I haven’t had a chest or a dresser since I left Virginia Beach in ’95! The notion of having a bedroom would just do crazy things to me. I wouldn’t know what to do with so much room and I’m only talking about a 1 bedroom condo. Buying would be so inspiring for me to continue to move in a positive direction…….I think.

Here is where reality sets in. Real estate prices in Southern California are legendary. We all know that. But you know what? I refuse to believe I can’t join the club of homeowners or at least having a mortgage. Yeah, doubling what I pay now in rent sounds like an insane undertaking and it is….BUT, I think I’ve been looking at it the wrong way. I’ll find a way to make it work. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Find a way to make it work. That is exactly what I have done in my career. I have found a way to make it work.

When I consider the number of people who come to this town every month to be professional actors it gives me confidence. And it should. I can’t think of many more difficult ways of making a living; yet I have been relatively successful. Go figure. Can buying a condo be more difficult than making a living as an actor? I doubt it. I know people who have bought property in the last couple of years and if they can do it I can too! I think THAT is how I should be thinking. That way of thinking got me out of Virginia Beach, that way of thinking got me out of New York and that way of thinking will get my narrow ass in a condo! For starters. I have much bigger plans than just a 1 or 2 bedroom condo.

I am so excited these days! I feel I have real snap in my step; like I’m really eager to get things done. I remember when I was a waiter at The Harley-Davidson Café in New York. The young lady I was dating at the time was a hostess who had been promoted to a server. One night there was a shift where I was her assigned trainer and the manager commented on how fast I moved on the floor.

Greet my tables!
Would you like that in an HDC souvenir glass?
Get drinks at the bar!
Get your side work done!
How long on table 45?
Can I get you another Sam Adams?
Would you like that wrapped to go?
Check Please!
Well, hopefully next time you’re in The City you’ll stop back in and see us. Bye!

They asked me why I was in such a hurry. I’m thinking “Do I really move that fast?” I wasn’t aware of it, but I thought about it later. It was because I was so happy to be working there; it was like the greatest job! Ha! I used to come into work 45 minutes early in the morning to make sure everything was set up right. Yeah my time waiting tables in New York was great! As a server, I was running my own business. I felt I was largely responsible for the outcome of my shift and what I earned; I wanted her to feel the same way. She turned out to be a great waitress.

After leaving Costco and Target I did some drop-offs and even dropped a few of my new zed cards to some places where I’ve been to print go-sees in the past. That snap in my step feels great. I even called my dentist called to prepare for some extensive dental work I am trying to budget. I also talked to my little brother about Money Market accounts, Certificates of Deposit and his idea of building a strip mall back home.

The other day I got a letter from one of my former agents who left the business to spend more time with her daughter. She has since partnered with her husband as a Real Estate agent. It’s funny, because when I said goodbye to her on her last day at the agency she said maybe one day I’ll be another kind of agent for you.

CUT TO: A couple of years later.

This evening I called her at home to catch up with all that has happened since we last spoke and to talk real estate. It may not seem like a big deal, but it was HUGE to me to get these thoughts out of my head and into the space of a professional. Even though it was just an informal conversation it was great for me. This was the next step I needed to make. I’m still going to move at “my pace”, but I now know what my next move is.

Obviously, if I’m going to purchase something I have to bring in more income. Last October I decided that at the end of the year I’d take a break from casting director workshops. I’d done a lot of them over the years, mostly at Actorsite, and they’ve been an absolutely incredible investment in my career. I'm sure I'll do more workshops in the future, but right now I'm changing my approach a little. So I studied at Amy Lyndon’s for several months and then I started a commercial class @ Carolyne Barry’s. I need to tighten up my game, so that’s what I am doing. Also, hopefully this brand new energy in the print arena will lead to another revenue stream. I am thinking more about consulting too. I’ve been saying that forever. I do consult on occasion, but I should be doing it more.

I wonder if the snap in my step will wake me up to go to the gym in the morning…..hmmm. I doubt it.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Audition: “Sprint” @ Ross Lacy Casting. I think it went well.