Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My birthday! What a great day – a great couple of days actually. I can’t think of a better place to be than with my family. I’m always surprised that anyone even remembers it, but my friends and family always do and even some people I’ve never met. Thank you so much!

Something really interesting that happened was a special little girl named Taylor interviewed me. She’s the 9 year old daughter of a longtime friend I hadn’t seen in years – actually it was my first time meeting Taylor. She wants to be an actress and an author. I think she is well on her way.

I’ve been interviewed on occasion in the past and one of the times for the local paper at home in Virginia Beach was the worst. The writer made me out to be this desperate, struggling actor who couldn’t get a leg up in the business to save his life. I’ve never been desperate and I cringe when the phrase “struggling actor” is used around me. That doesn’t mean it’s been easy – it hasn’t, but never for a day have I considered myself to be “struggling actor” or “starving artist”.

That interview took place about 4 years ago when I was working on “Good Morning, Miami”. It seemed that the writer already had his slant on my story and he stuck to it. I just read the article again and I wonder who the heck he printed that story on because it sure wasn’t my story. It made me fully understand when the stars want to be able to have final approval before an interview goes to print.

But let me tell you this 9-year old Taylor was gem to work with, she even recorded every time I said “um”. Sharp kid that Taylor. Did I tell you she baked me a birthday cake? Wow! Thanks Taylor!


Taylor: How Did You Get Your Start in Acting?
Stephan Fuller: Ummm…. I got my start umm… with a local teacher here in virginia beach.

TL: Did You Want To Act Since You We’re A Child?
SF: it wasn’t something that I really thought about, no I wanted to be a racecar driver.

TL: Had You Done Anything Differently In Your Career, What Would It Be?
SF: I’m really happy with my decisions but if anything I would have written more about my time in New York but I’m happy with my decions.

TL: Was There A Certain Actor That Inspired You To Follow Your Dream?
SF: Not particulary. Ummm… I really liked the whole entertainment industry.

TL: What We’re Some Of Your Favorite Actors That You Worked With?
SF: umm… Tom Hanks, Jere Burns, Kelsey Grammar, and Umm…I liked working with Kadeem Hardison.

TL: How Old We’re You When You Started To Really Follow Your Dream?
SF: In my 20’s (does not wish to discuss his age with the press)

Taylor - Author, actress, pastry chef and more.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

DAG!!!! It was not a great day at the track. I fell almost every time I rode including practice. I know can ride much better than I did and KNOW that my youngest brother Todd is not that much better than me IF he’s better than me at all. I taught him most of what he knows!! I think I’m underestimating that fact that I don’t get much time on the bike and that I am inexperienced in race conditions. It’s all good though; the important this that I had a great day of laughter and togetherness with my brothers. There’s always next week…. M Me(28) getting ready to stick it to Jeff(511)

DAG!!!! It was not a great day at the track. I fell almost every time I rode including practice. I know can ride much better than I did and KNOW that my youngest brother Todd is not that much better than me IF he’s better than me at all. I taught him most of what he knows!! I think I’m underestimating that fact that I don’t get much time on the bike and that I am inexperienced in race conditions. It’s all good though; the important this that I had a great day of laughter and togetherness with my brothers. There’s always next week….

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Finally I get to ride my dirt bike!! Yeah! I had a pretty good day of riding in preparation for tomorrow’s race. I hope I can put it all together. I’m not expecting to win or anything like that, but I need to be able to, at least, be a threat to my two younger brothers. When it comes to riding these bike it’s “No pain, no gain”; I should know that by now.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Last week I attended a “SAG Conversations” event featuring Tracee Ellis Ross of "Girlfriends". It was really cool to listen to her speak about her journey. Funny enough, the script that I have not been spending much time on lately is for her as the lead – at least in my mind. I had never met her before, but after 90 minutes of listening to her speak I really think she’s perfect for it.

The coolest thing about her is that with all of her success you believe that she is really thankful. It’s easy to say you’re thankful, but with her you “feel” that she’s thankful and loves going to work. All the best to you Tracee.
There was another “SAG Conversations” event last week, but I missed it because when it showed up on the schedule I had already bought my ticket home. It was featuring Michael Ealy. Mike and I studied at the same place when we were both new in New York around 1996 or so. We had a circle of friends that we would, of course, talk about the business, the craft, work, etc.

Micheal always struck me as a great guy through and through – grounded, real, passionate and very, very talented. Well, my friend Debbie Campbell attended the event and said that Michael mentioned my name. WHAT?!

The email said:

“I went to see Michael Ealy speak at SAG tonight...are you friends with him? He got to talking about how, in his opinion, life as an actor in NY is 80% craft, 20% business, and how in LA it's 80% business, 20% craft. Then he talked about how he decided to get his business together in NY, and his buddy Stephon helped him out by sharing his marketing strategies and advice.

I figured it had to be you. So I wanted to let you know he gave you some props.”

Yeah, that really surprised me. I mean I did run into him at a play back in the Spring of this year, but I wouldn’t have thought that any advice I’d given him 10 years ago meant all that much. Who knew? I must say that it really made me smile – and shake my head at the same time. Wow, I guess you never know how what you say affects others. Keep doing your thing Michael and Debbie thanks for letting me know!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

My cell phone rings and it’s a “310” area code. I don’t recognize the number. Who could it be? It’s the wonderful Debra Zane. Wow, it’s always great to talk to Deb, but this could be really great.

She had just had a production meeting with Steven Soderbergh and wanted to be the first to tell me that I booked a role in “Ocean’s Thirteen” as one of the security technicians. I didn’t ask how many days or where it’s shooting, my agent will tell me that. I do know this – my scene is with Tony Montana from “Scarface” one of my favorite films of all time. YEAH!!!

I don’t even know what to say. The list of people I’ve worked with and the experiences I have had is just crazy – Spielberg, Hanks, Burrows, Pytka, Grammer, the cast of “Friends”, of course casting pros like Debra Zane, Tannis Vallely and Dori Zuckerman and many more. I am so very fortunate.

As I’ve mentioned before this isn’t the first time Steven Soderbergh has hired me; I booked a role in “Ocean’s Twelve’, but the role was cut before shooting. I hope that doesn’t happen this time. At any rate, there are a few really important people in this town who know my name and that is a good thing.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Jet lag is a beast! I’m still in a daze from not getting enough rest. Between running around with the kids and a family road trip to Maryland for an MX race and I am beat. I need to just sleep for a day…yeah right.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

It’s actually the evening of June 13th and I am on my way to LAX to get the **** outta dodge. You have no idea how excited I am to be leaving for a month in Virginia Beach. I soooo need this vacation to detox from the pace that I continually run at in Los Angeles. The great thing is that I do “truly” leave and disengage from it all. That doesn’t mean I don’t think about my career at all; I just really appreciate being able to take a month off if I want. It also helps that I love going home to have a great time with my family.

I wasn’t always able to do this and, who knows, I may not be able to do it next year for whatever reason, but I’ll enjoy it while it last. Another great thing is that I am already excited about getting back to Los Angeles to have a great TV season and to continue to move forward in my career and the rest of my life.

Monday, June 12, 2006

I think I'm going through a second puberty. Not that I really remember the first one. Why do I think this you might ask? Well, my voice seems to be changing. I sound as if I'm not feeling well, but I feel great.

This has been going on for about the last 5 weeks. So, I've decided to embrace my new sound instead of fighting it. Huh? I hope my face I doesn't start breaking out more than usual.

There is another reason I think I'm growing up. do I explain this? Well it went a little like this.


Men of all ages, ethnicities and physical conditions mill around in various stages of dress and undress. As the camera pushes through the levels of testosterone, it settles on a pair of flip-flops and slowly rises to the small calves of young black male; this is Stephon.

As the camera continues to rise; it the frame widens and we see that this muth*fu** is butt naked. WHAT!? Yeah, he’s wearing nothing but flip-flops, a silver chain, wire-rimmed glasses and quite the pensive look on his face. Is he trying to scare folks? Geez!

Another angle catches Stephon's right hand by his side; camera follows as the hand moves up near his face and a number "100" comes into view. Camera widens to reveal this skinny ass, butt naked black man is standing on a scale.


A thumb and index finger sliding a weight to the right....35, 36, 37, 38....39...........40 What!!!

Stephon: Oh Sh*t! I gained a pound!

Pregnant looking man with plenty of pounds to spare walks by and responds.

Man: I got plenty; you want some of this?

Stephon: Nah, I'm good. Thanks. (to self) Cool, I’m back to 140!

So there you have it; I gained a pound. Imagine that. I can't believe that my youngest brother weighs 15 more pounds than me! Maybe one day I’ll get back to my high school graduation weight of around 145-150…..maybe not. Maybe I should shut up and be happy that I can eat whatever I want…whenever I want and however much of it I want. Yeah, I’ll take that.

Oh yeah, my face is totally breaking out.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Audition: "Lincoln Mercury" @ TLC/Booth Casting. Ya know I love to audition @ this office. I’ve booked here twice before and they were both Joe Pytka directed spots. That is always encouraging. Last year I lost a week of my vacation for a last minute booking and I am more than willing to do it again.
The audition went well, I think I understood how it is going to be shot and acted accordingly. Hopefully I didn’t “over think it” though.

You ever see anyone at an audition for a job that you ended up booking and you see that person again and you don’t want to say that you book it? Well, I ran into my friend Denver Dowridge at the “Lincoln-Mercury” audition today. We were also at the “Monk” audition together. Since we are often mistaken for each other I assumed we were reading for the same part. Well, I found out today that we BOTH booked roles in the episode! Different roles, different days. That really put a smile on both of our faces.

On a completely different topic; this doesn’t put a smile on my face. It’s official; I think “SAG at AFTRA rates” sucks. Matter of fact, I think AFTRA sucks. Correct me if I’m wrong, but they seem to be working against getting us actors the best rates. I also reserve the right to change my mind about this at anytime. I don’t know, having two guilds representing the same group of actors doesn’t serve us all that well and as a result we get “SAG at AFTRA rates”. It is horrible.

Today I realized how important a decision I made years ago was. Very early on in my journey I decided to go after what I wanted; I mean really go after it. By that I meant top productions and the people involved. I figured, “why not?” I might actually get some roles.

When I first moved to Los Angeles my focus was television and commercials. Not just any television shows; but what I call the “blue-chip” shows: “ER”, “CSI”, “Friends”, Everybody Loves Raymond”, Judging Amy”, “NYPD Blue”, “Frasier”, etc. The shows they had been around or were going to be around in syndication for years to come. As an actor trying to make a living, residual income is of vital importance.

Commercially, I went after the busiest casting directors who cast for the top level directors. In 2003 I consciously added film to my target list. Not just any category of film; I went after the big studio films. None of this means that I turned down or didn’t pursue other stuff; of course I did. I’ve worked on all kinds of projects, for pay and no pay, with dialogue and no dialogue, names and no names. I just knew where I wanted my priorities to be.

The reason is because I wanted to be able to make a living and work with the best. As a result I’ve been fortunate to work some of the premiere talent in the industry: Joe Pytka, Andy Ackerman, James Burrows, David Kohan, Max Mutchnick, Terry George, Kevin Bright, Bonnie Hunt, Arlene Sanford and of course Debra Zane, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg and many, many others.

What am I getting at? Even I’m confused at this point. The bottom line is that I am really; really glad that I was very specific in the type projects I worked on in the beginning. Why do I say that? Because the “SAG at AFTRA” terms contract that UPN works under is a terrible thing for actors. Did I say it’s a terrible thing for actors? In short, it sucks. Almost everything I’ve worked on in TV has been on ABC, CBS NBC or Fox and some cable. The big network residual pay scale is much, much, much better than UPN’s “SAG at AFTRA” terms garbage. Hopefully, I’m wrong, but I assume that the new CW Network will be working under the same crappy contract.

The difference is this. If the majority of the work I have booked over the years would have been on UPN I would definitely still be putting theft tags on ladies underwear at Old Navy/Beverly Connection @ 4am or better yet, still waiting tables at The Hollywood Standard asking hotties if “fries comes with that shake”. There is THAT much of a difference in the residuals.

Last Fall I did a guest star on UPN’s “Love, Inc.”. I had a great time working on the show and was thrilled to get the guest starring credit. It originally aired in December and aired again in the same time slot in March. Here’s the really depressing part: My residual payment for the first re-run was roughly 10% of my original rate. I found it hard to believe that AFTRA sold us out and undercut SAG that bad. I could be wrong still because everytime I call SAG I get a different answer. Until I find out otherwise I am angry about this. If this would have been on NBC, ABC, CBS or Fox I would have gotten my full fee for a re-run in that time slot.

Don’t get me wrong I understand that UPN is not a huge network like the big four, but 10% on a first re-airing is just wrong. So where do I go from here? First, I leave town and get a nice break from it all. Then I return with a vengeance and focus on what I’ve been focusing on for years. It has served me well in the past and it should continue; I just didn’t know how instrumental that decision was when I made it. I’ll still audition for AFTRA shows if they come up, but I won’t be pursuing them like I’ll pursue full SAG productions.

I didn’t think anything could be worse than the DVD pay rate, but “SAG at AFTRA Terms” is much worse in my opinion. Here is an example of DVD payment situation I saw on a website sometime ago.

Thank you SOOO much for your recent email. I have tried till I'm blue
in the face to explain what happened to me on the movie Seabiscuit,
Which you referenced in your email? [Note: we pointed out that the
Writer and director of Seabiscuit each made $650,000 from DVD sales.]

Please feel free to share this information in ANY of your materials as it
will further breakdown HOW LITTLE will show up in the actors'
pockets and how MILLIONS of dollars will be lost in the future.

A few key points on Seabiscuit and another movie I worked on,
Catch Me If You Can.

Seabiscuit - pay rate for me: 1 day, Scale plus 10%. "Take it or
leave it." Sound familiar? I took it. THINKING, great book, big
movie, big budget, RESIDUALS - WRONG!!!!

The movie grossed over 200 million at the box office, then went on
to become the #20 Top Selling DVD of ALL TIME at 6.6 MILLION
UNITS. But I had to split the 12 CENTS that actors got for each of
those 6.6 MILLION UNITS with 90 other speaking roles!

Net pay for me for one day: $538.00
Residuals: $458.00 - And that's for EVERYTHING - DVD, Cable, Pay TV.

Films of this size are skipping cable and syndication and cutting right to
cheap, mass-produced DVD's which offer PURE PROFIT.

Now I will use Catch Me If You Can as my other example:

2 days at $800 (my quote at the time - you'll see why fighting for your quote
is worth the risk of losing the job.) [Note: this is also a good example of
why the proposed 3% increase in minimums is meaningless.]

My residuals for Catch Me If You Can: $5,200. Almost 3 times my initial
salary. Same 200 Million at the box office - BUT - not anywhere near the
DVD sales of Seabiscuit. BUT - A LOT of HBO, Cable and Pay-Per-View.

The DVD issue is worth sending these guys back to the table. Any penny
above what we have now is worth MILLIONS in the long run. The STARS have to come out on this since they have even more to lose than we do. They came out late in the Commercial Strike - I say - bring them out now.

I will send your email to all my friends with that thought in mind that
ANYTHING we get above NOTHING now is worth the good fight. WE MUST NOT be
fed this b.s. from up top. They misjudged us when they tried to sell us on the merger and on the dues raise. I think they're doing that here, too.

Yours in Brotherhood,

[Name deleted at writer's request.]

Please vote NO.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Audition: "Ocean's Thirteen" @ Debra Zane Casting. Yes! This audition goes really well. The material is not being released so we were asked to arrive early and look over sides. Debra & Tannis always do their best to make us actors comfortable. I think, in total, I was auditioning for about 6 parts and hopefully I will get one. That would be a nice call to get while I’m out of town.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Oh no! I mean, Oh yeah! I mean.....My cell phone is ringing and it’s the familiar ringtone of my theatrical agent. I wonder what it's for. I'm leaving town soon and would love to make a clean get away without too many complications. I have to be careful about that way of thinking because last year at this time I booked an "IBM" spot at the very last minute before leaving for a month. It ran really well and I made good money on it. I considered not even auditioning for it, briefly; really briefly.

YES!! It's Caleigh with the appointment I wanted before leaving town.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

This morning my friend, Denice, called with free tickets to a one woman show this evening at The Kirk Douglas Theatre. Well, by the time I got back to her it was too late to get on the list. BUT one of the other people who confirmed wasn't able to make it. The kicker was that I had to pick-up the ticket in the name of the person who wasn't there.

So I meet Denice in front of the theatre and she gives me the name of the person. This is where it got a little tricky. The name of the other person was a very Latin sounded surname. Well, I don't look very Latin. So...let the games begin.


Stephon Fuller, 30's, African American, slight in stature is gathering his thoughts. He takes 10 seconds to prep, trying to get a name that isn't his to roll off of his tongue. After a beat he approaches the window.

Stephon: (The name has been changed slightly.) Hi, Ortega; Mike Ortega. I should have a ticket for pick-up.

Clerk: As he begins to look on the shelf. Ortega.

Stephon: Yeah, Mike Ortega.

Clerk: He looks at me kinda funny ....hmm, do you have ID on you?

Stephon: Ah no, I left it in the car.

Clerk: He starts looking again. How do you spell it?

Stephon: I'm starting to sweat bullets at this point. I wasn't sure how to spell it(again, the actual name has been changed). Looking into the glass I could see Denice's reflection behind me, but of course I couldn't ask her how to spell "my" last name. O-R; it could be under "Mike".

Clerk: Oh, there it is.

Stephon: Cool. Yeah, that happens all the time. (cough, cough) It could have been me though, my voice is kinda hoarse. Thanks.

Clerk: Enjoy the show.

I quickly made my way over to Denice and we slipped inside. We laughed and she said.

Denice: You deserve an Oscar for that performance.

Stephon: OMG! I thought I was so busted!

Denice: He didn't even ask me for ID.

Stephon: Well, things are different for women like you. I don't get the perks that you get. We are in Hollywood afterall.

Speaking of Denice, outside of being an outstanding actress she is also a professional organizer. So if you have a mess that you can't seem to straighten out she might be able to help. It's called Goddess Organizing with Denice Sealy if you get a chance check her out.

Oh yeah, the show was great and the space was beautiful. Makes me want to get back on stage.

Friday, June 02, 2006

...hmm...what to do...what to do? Here is my dilemma. I know Debra Zane is casting "Ocean's Thirteen" and of course, I'd like to audition. I have great reason to believe Debra & Tannis will call me in if I'm right for anything, but I'm a hustler at heart, so hustle I must.

Part of my dilemma is that I'm leaving town soon and would hate to possibly miss the call......if they call me at all. So maybe I'm sorta nudging things a bit…at least in my mind. Debra cast me in "The Terminal" and "Ocean's Twelve", but my scene in "O12" was cut before I got a chance to shoot it; so I'm back with a vengeance. Maybe Mr. Soderbergh will give me another shot.

....what to do...what to do...

Well, this wouldn't hurt. My newest agent, Caleigh, isn't aware of my relationship with Debra & Tannis. This would be a perfect time to fill her in.

I didn’t call to ask her to "put in a call". Matter of fact I didn't want her to; I really just wanted to bring her up to speed and complete the equation of what my connection was with this particular casting office.

The conversation with Caleigh went great as I filled her in with the details. I mean it's not a big deal, but it's more significant than the relationship I have with most casting offices in town. She agreed to not call on my behalf, but we’d give it time and then figure out what the next step would be.

tick tick tick tick - time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future.

After talking to her and hearing her enthusiasm for making it happen I didn't want her to "not" call the casting office if she thought that was the best way to go about it; she is the agent afterall. I also didn't want her to call to "pitch me" per se because, I don't know, it would be just weird because I know them so well. At that point I said "there you have it; do whatever you think will work". She said "okay, I'll call and let you know what comes of it, if anything. I said, "Cool, sounds great."

A couple of hours later she e-mailed me back with an update; which was great, funny news. Not an appointment, but great, funny news nonetheless. So there isn't much more I can do at this point, we'll see what happens...or not.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Shooting: “Monk” on location in the Hancock Park section of Los Angeles. Today is my second and final day on the show. Again I arrive at basecamp and the usual “hurry and wait” thing was nowhere to be found. I barely had time to get into wardrobe and make-up before the van was ready to take us to set. No complaints; I’m just used to sitting around passing lots of time on set. So anyway, my scene partner, Craig Patton, and I were surprised with all the coverage they were doing on us. I’m sure it’ll be a flash when it airs, or “if” it even makes the final cut, but one can hope. The house we were shooting in was amazing; not really, really huge but beautiful…and with a nice sized yard. Between shots Craig and I got a chance to chat with the director, Mike Listo, who has been working non-stop for months straight producing and directing television. Mike is also a producer/director on “Boston Legal”. Matter-of-fact he noticed on Craig’s resume at the audition that he had worked on “Boston Legal”. So I guess it’s true that they do read resumes; at least in some cases. After 4 or 5 hours we were wrapped and done for the night. This was another great work experience and I am thrilled that I finally booked “Monk” on my 6th attempt. I guess that means NEXT! Me and my scene partner Craig Patton working on set on "Monk"