Thursday, August 31, 2006

Shooting “Criminal Minds” in Hawthorne. Hurry up and wait was in full effect. I don’t usually have a problem with it because I understand it, but I missed a director session for a lead in a film. That’s the way it goes, but I will definitely try to get rescheduled because I think I’m really right for it.

I arrived on set, which is an old shopping mall that has been closed to the public. I check-in and get to my trailer. I smile when I see my cop uniform wardrobe, lol! Me, as a cop?

Anyway, the waiting begins. After a while we move to the second location where my scene is to be filmed. It is in a hospital in Torrance. On the way there I drove past the location where I shot the “Wrigley’s” commercial on December 7th 2001. That was a good commercial! They split it into two spots and even ran it on the Wrigley’s Jumbotron in New York’s Times Square. I smiled when I thought about that.

My character was a police tech shooting photos of a victim. The lead actors I worked with; Matthew Gray Gubler, Lola Glaudini and Thomas Gibson were very nice and personable. I had a couple of lines and took a lot of photos. I wish I could have kept that camera; it was really nice. I even got to take photos of my friend, fellow actress Tuffet Schmelzle, in another scene.

Me and Tuffet Schmelzle

This was pretty funny. We were shooting in a hospital room and while I was taking photos of the victim the important people (series regulars) enter and talk to the victim. Me and my fellow worker, who was a background artist, leave the room to wait until they are finished. We were just outside of the window, so you could still see us in the shot. Of course we needed to keep it real and whisper things, show her the photos in the viewfinder of the camera or whatever, ya know, make it seem like we are discussing whatever. On one take I leaned over really, really close to her and said, in my best Barry White voice, "What time do you get off". OMG!!!! You should have seen the look on her face. It was priceless! Babygirl was shook!! I don't think it was so much that I said it, it was more that I said it then, in middle of the scene - we were in the background of the scene.I could see that she was a little confused after we cut so I just let it ride for a while. Then, after a couple of more takes, I told her I was just making conversation "within the scene". She just laughed and got a big kick out of that. She was cool to work with.
As usual, they fed us really well. If I was a series regular and ate like that everyday even I would probably gain. I plan to find out one day. So that was it, another great day on-set. I’m a little saddened about missing the film audition, but I guess having a job is a pretty good reason. I’ve been bugging my agents, which is really unlike me, but I really want to go in on this film.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Last week I was preparing to leave the apartment to do some drops and a friend called to chat. I told her where I was going and she told me about a film being cast in the same building; so I dropped both of our photos off. Today I got a call for a director session for one of the leads of the film; the audition is tomorrow. Problem is I won’t be able to make it because I’m working on “Criminal Minds”. Hopefully, I can get rescheduled.


Stephon, sitting at his desk, is in the middle of a spirited conversation. He is all smiles, laughing and joking. He senses a very slight disturbance at his feet. He looks down, but can’t really see because of the bright light on his desk. Phone call continues…

Stephon (laughing):…You’ve got to be kidding.

Caller (laughing): I’m serious!

Stephon senses something isn’t quite right and wheels around in his swivel desk chair.

Stephon: Oh sh*t!

Caller: What?

His earpiece falls out and he hits the deck. There is a bat flying around in his apartment. He grabs the earpiece and puts it back in his ear. Trying to be cool, he isn’t sure whether to let the other party in on what is really going on. He can’t contain himself.

Stephon: uhh…ooh….sh*t!

Caller: What are you doing?

Stephon: uhh, can I call you back?

Caller: Yeah.

Stephon: There is a ^&(*$% bat flying around my apartment. I’ll call you back.

Stephon drops the phone and grabs a pair of pajama bottoms to wrap around his neck to prevent being bitten and turned into Dracula or Blacula. He gets another pair of pants to try to knock the flying rat silly. He swings – misses. He swings – misses again. He swings and misses a third time.

The flying rat goes for the corner where I first noticed something weird. He is out of view.

Stephon: Sh*t.

Stephon can’t seem to find him and goes around the other side to get a better look. Right then the little POS starts flying again; this time circling the spinning ceiling fan. Stephon, standing with the trusty pajamas protecting his neck, is determined to open a can of whup ass on this intruder.

He swing – misses. He swings – BINGO! He knocks that SOB clear into the kitchen. Stephon cautiously looks at him to make sure he isn’t going to fly away again. He notices that this one is bigger than the previous ones. He then sneaks past him to get a pair of pliers from the kitchen to get rid of him, but not before a headshot session. The proof.


Can you believe that!?!?! I have lived in this building for 8 years and this is the 5th time this has happened. The first time was in ’99, then in June ’02, then sometime in ’03. I didn’t mention it, but it happened about 4 nights ago and then tonight. I have no idea how they get in. Yes, I have screens in all of my windows. The one the other night escaped by going through the little space under my front door. Maybe he got in that way. I’ll have to plug that up. There is an old hood ventilation thingy over my stove that isn’t hooked up, but I think it leads to the outside of my building. I’m gonna have to plug that too. Looks like it’s time for another trip to the rental office. It’s official, I hate this old ass building.

About 4 years ago when this “bat thing” happened the second time, my left arm mysteriously became swollen. I could never figure out why, but it was swollen from my shoulder all the way down to my fingers. I went to the doctor and they sent me to a specialist, but they could come up with anything. I always thought that maybe I had been bitten by a spider or something, but it happened the same night that I had a bat in my apartment. Maybe I am Blacula and I just don’t know it.
Dag! In New York I had rats - LA I got bats! WHAT!!!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Drops, drops baby! It never seems to stop, but at least gas prices are going down a little – just a little.

I had my fitting for “Criminal Minds” this afternoon. I was in and out in less than 15 minutes. I gotta tell ya, I love working on projects. I can’t believe that I actually have two jobs that I’ve booked but haven’t filmed yet. Hopefully, I can book at least another job before I shoot “Ocean’s Thirteen”. A half-hour, live audience, multi-camera comedy or a commercial would be nice. How about another trip out of the country? THAT would be nice – shoot, I’d gladly settle for New York right now.

So I get home, thinking I’m done for the day and my friend Yoko calls to tell me about an open call from Actor Access for “Sony PlayStation” way out in Glendale until 8pm. Glendale!? I just got gas today; I don’t wanna drive to Glendale. So I check the listing and it says they are looking for 5 males aged 18-25, hip, contemporary, college students. Huh? 18-25? Can I play 25? I don’t know, maybe. Yoko was certain I could play 25. I think I was making excuses not to go – not very smart.

Well, after a moment I figured if I don’t go I definitely won’t book. If I go, maybe I’ll book and I’ll buy Yoko dinner. So I decided to drive to Glendale, but not before I checked my database to see who I needed to drop-off to. I had to figure out the places I could drop after hours. I ended up making a huge loop from Silverlake to Glendale to Encino to Studio City, etc. I definitely pays to know this city like the back of my hand, now I can sleep in tomorrow! That’s good because I know I’ll be up until 4am – at least.

Audition: “Sony PlayStation” @ Michael Silberman/Jennifer Perry Casting, POC.

So I get to the audition and I first got thank Yoko for the tip. The guy running it was just super nice to me. I don’t know why, the girls in attendance were way, way more fun to look at than me. So I’m going over the material and I was just a wreck. For some reason, when I get to a commercial audition and they have TV/Film-like sides I get all weird. In the end it went great!! I used props and my all of my nervous energy and by their reaction to it seemed like I brought something fresh they hadn’t seen before. Oh yeah and one the women running the show asked me about “Ocean’s Thirteen”. Who knows, maybe I’ll get a callback.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Audition/Tape: “’Til Death” @ Tammara Billik Casting. Audition/Tape: “’Til Death” @ Tammara Billik Casting. This didn't go so least I don't think it did. I mean it wasn't terrible; it just wasn't one of those where you feel great no matter the outcome. I can honestly say it had nothing to do with the show being under an AFTRA contract. That in itself is a step forward for me. Maybe my apathetic attitude towards AFTRA is waning...maybe not. I just don’t know what AFTRA is doing for me besides competing with SAG for lower contracts…gee thanks guys.

All was not lost because I had a fantastic interview with her; ya know the 60 or so seconds before and after the read. Tammara actually looked at my resume and made the comment, "Wow, you've worked with some great directors and you've worked with Arlene Sanford!" Arlene was the director of the episode of "Love, Inc." that I did. Before working on "Love, Inc." I did research on her and found that she is quite unique in television directing.

What makes her so special isn't that she's a woman director, although I think that's pretty freakin' special; it's that she directs one hour dramas, half hour multi-camera comedies, one hour dramadies AND single-camera comedies. That is a rarity in Hollywood. Arlene and I actually had a conversation about it. I think Tammara was a little surprised I knew that about Arlene and it just so happens that they are friends too. If nothing else maybe she’ll remember me for that.

Confession: Here is the real reason the audition didn't go so great.....Tammara has some insanely, beautiful brown eyes. I was mesmerized by them…no really, you should see them.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Today was good day; I was pretty productive in the streets – which, trust me, is NOT always the case. The heat in the valley caught me by surprise and promptly delivered me a nice headache, but I soldiered through and got the job done.

This was a good new development. There is a really important office in town that used to be on a studio lot. The studio couriers were horrible in getting them their submissions/drop-offs from the mail room in a timely fashion. They recently moved to another studio in town and I went there today and the guard just let me walk on and go straight to the office. I didn’t expect that for me, maybe if I was a female, but I’m not. So I got to hand deliver a general submission to the office. Cool.

Afterwards I went to a spot on Ventura that I hadn’t been to in a while and then I started feeling like I wanted to go home for some reason. I was tired; this staying up until 4-5am was catching up with me. I needed some rest – and some water – and something to eat – and gas for my car, but I wasn’t hungry. I’m starting to think I’m anorexic. Not really; I haven’t vomited since I was 9 years old. Yeah, I played 2nd base for the Plaza Little League Minor Dodgers and guess who the coach was? My DADDY!!!! Yeah!!! LOL!! “Corn pops” (as my brother’s and I affectionately referred to him as) coached baseball, football and basketball and ALWAYS had winning teams. That year the Dodgers were sponsored by the local Pizza Hut. When we won our games, which was most of the time, we would have a pizza party. One time I ate 3 slices of pizza and vomited; it was not a very good experience. That was the last time I threw up and part of the reason I’ve never had alcohol in my life. I associate alcohol with throwing up. I know, weird.

So I just parked for a bit and took a deep breath. I knew I couldn’t go back home without doing more drop-offs; gas is too expensive for that. So I pulled out my PDA, searched “Ventura” and made a quick route to hit some spots.

I was talking to a friend on the phone about how I have targeted certain shows, the “blue-chip shows” and what that has meant. Also, that I’m to the point where I almost avoid shows that are under AFTRA contracts or “SAG at AFTRA terms”. It’s not “the show” itself, it’s AFTRA; I don’t wanna join another guild to do the same work. I mean if my agent calls with an appointment for an AFTRA show I’ll go of course, but I don’t pursue them like I do SAG shows. So up and down Ventura Blvd I go.

When I get back to my apartment more new pages from the “Criminal Minds” script are at my door. No changes for me. Yesterday when I was at the table read I thanked Casting Director Scott David for bringing me in to audition and he made it seem like such a no brainer that I was gonna get on the show eventually. He said, “Yeah, we tried last season and it didn’t work and now here you are”. I mean, I’ve met Scott a couple of times in the past, but I didn’t take it for granted that he knew who I was; especially since last time I read for him it just went okay. They have sooo many actors to choose from, but to be honest, I have done my part to stay fresh in their minds so it makes sense. Maybe I’m underestimating the progress that I’ve made. Something to think about I guess.

Right around 7pm my agent calls with an appointment for tomorrow. Get this; it’s at one of the offices I dropped off at just hours earlier. I slid it under the door, I wouldn’t have remembered that address if I hadn’t search it in my PDA. Just goes to show, there is an unbelievable amount of work here in Los Angeles. In theory, we should ALL be auditioning quite frequently, but I think 20% of the actors get 80% of the opportunities and work – gotta get and stay in that 20%. I pulled that figure of 20% out of my a**. 20%? Do you think that’s accurate or even close?

I forgot to mention that the show is AFTRA!!! I wanna freakin scream! Not really, it’s cool. It’s a funny a scene on a new FOX comedy Starring Brad Garrett from “Everybody Loves Raymond” called “Til Death” and I just so happened to see the pilot last week at the Museum of Television and Radio. I know I’ll eventually have to join AFTRA, but I’ll go kicking and screaming – then maybe I’ll pursue soap work too.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Table read: "Criminal Minds" @ Century Studios. It’s always great to be invited to a table read. It usually means you’ve booked a job and that is a good thing.

I arrived at the studio and found my name card on the huge table where the actors and the production team was to assemble. There was at least 45-50 people in attendance; it was like it was a table read for a pilot. That caught me by surprise; I didn’t expect to see so many people; including from the studio.

So I was seated next to Casting Director Scott David and associate Gina Garcia and once everyone was settled we all introduced ourselves – yup all 400 of us; which was cool to see who everyone was behind the scenes. I was about person number 17 and by time it got to me things needed to be shaken up a little – at least I thought so. I was gonna take a risk and be that example of what NOT to do while at a table read for a major network show. I figured hey, this ain’t my first time at the rodeo; I didn’t have to walk around scared to be myself. When the introduction got to me, instead of saying “Stephon Fuller, “Tech” I said “Stephon Fuller, “Single Black Male” and “Tech”…the entire room went silent for a split second followed by a roar of laughter - it really broke the ice. It could’ve went really bad, but sometimes you just take the risk. Then, person #24, another black actor, said the same thing – funny again – it was like a residual.

So we started reading the script and in the begininng there was a little jab at Shemar Moore’s character and he responds “What the &^% does that mean?”, then he said something about being a “single black male” – another residual!

Something that was interesting was that you could barely hear the series regulars read their dialogue. I think, us, the guest cast, knew our jobs are a little less secure - you could hear us loud and clear.

About ¾ of the way through the script “Garcia” appears, she is played by Kirsten Vangsness. “Garcia” receives a phone call from “Morgan” requesting a bit of information; Morgan is played by Shemar Moore. They had very little dialogue, but let me tell you, the sexual tension/chemistry between those two was absolutely off the chain. I don’t know who said in order for a woman to be sexy in Hollywood she needs to be size zero or something close to it. I also don’t know if Ms. Vangsness used to be a phone sex operator or maybe she still is, I don’t know, but THAT is one sexy woman. They brought the room to a stand still.

Anyway, another cool thing was seeing fellow actor Tuffet Schmelzle; I know her from networking at Actorsite. It’s great to see others you know at auditions and on set. On the way out one of the producers stopped me and laughed about the “Single Black Male” comment; he thought it was really funny. …hmmm maybe he could produce a pilot…I’m just sayin….

You know, I often talk about other things that interest me in life. Make no mistake, I love being in this business and I appreciate everything it has brought to me. I’ve had some great experiences and met some great people along the way. I say that because it was a wonderful feeling being in the room for the table read and I don’t want it to seem like I could care less about being in this business. Do I think parts of this business are laughable and absurd? Yes, absolutely. Do I want to be a series regular on a great show? Yes absolutely.

Audition: "Toys-R-Us" @ Craig Colvin Casting. This audition went really well. My character was a father with a wife, a son and a daughter. My “wife” – HOT! My “daughter” - CUTE! My “son” – CRAZY! That kid was a damn trip! I thought he was gonna blow the place up for real. He was just like angry or something at 7 years old! What the heck was he angry about? Not like mad like “little kid mad” – ya know tired, hungry and irritable. The dude was pissed like an old ass man going through a divorce. 7 years old! We were all in line to slate our names and he didn’t want to stand next to his sister. I asked him to stand next to his sister to slate and he answered, “how do you know my name?” “And that ain’t my sister”. It was just so funny.

Actually, the little terror probably knew what he was doing. In the spot, me, “the dad”, was supposed to represent a 9 year old kid and he was supposed to be a little more mature. I think it worked. I would LOVE to be on set with him all day; could you imagine the stories I could tell.

Monday, August 21, 2006

What a day today. It started out with a conversation with the lady in the rental office of where I live. I got word that at least one newer tenant in my building is evidently paying lower rent than me, by a significant amount. This tenant has been in the building waaaay less time than me. I wanted to discuss it with the leasing agent. I caught her off guard when I arrived in her office and asked for a price list. She kinda talked around it a bit and tried to be vague, but I was ready for her. It was funny because I’ve lived in this building for 8 years and I’m always nice and polite. Let’s just say that she saw a very different side of me this morning. She saw the firm businessman who had his game face on. The more vague she tried to be the more information she unwittingly gave me. I wasn’t nasty or anything like that and I didn’t make a scene, but I was very, very firm – but respectful. She knew I wasn’t happy when I left. I understand that she doesn’t own the building, but I think she has room to work with. I was livid when I left her office, but I felt so much better. I love it when I get really pissed off about something, it gets the blood flowing.

Anyway, after that the rest of the day continued to be productive. I got quite a bit done mentally and in a business sense. I did some drop-offs and bought some financial software to put myself on a budget; which is difficult for me since I never know how much I’m going to make.

I think this was the highlight of my day; just seeing the numbers. I have no freakin idea how I’ve been able to make my sole living as an actor for 5+ years. No idea. When looked at my expenses and I know that I meet them every month AND I’m able to spend 6 weeks a year on the East Coast and drive a decent car I felt like a rockstar. I mean really and today was the perfect day for it. It’s great to have auditions and all that stuff, but seeing those numbers did it for me today. It was empowering and makes me want to do a lot more.

So right after I got home I received a call from production of “Criminal Minds” saying a new script with revisions is on its way to be delivered. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten revisions on a drama before. Of course you get tons of revisions on comedies, but I’m sure it’s not the first time for a drama.

Then I get another call from production; this time inviting me to the table read tomorrow afternoon at the studio. That’s another first for me I think. Yeah, I’ve never been to a table read for an hour drama. Cool. I have to remember that, for me, “table read” means I’m still auditioning. So I have to keep that in mind; that some of the producers/writers will be seeing me for the first time.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Wow. I'm in over my head I think. Nothing alarming. I'm just trying to get so much done right now. To be honest, I think I’m kidding myself. I just don’t see these things adding up. So I have to go on faith; which is what I do often. If I look at the big picture it’s daunting, but if I take things day-by-day it’s manageable, at least in my head. Maybe that’s why I’m getting these headaches lately, not as often as before though. It’s really exciting; I feel like I have the world by the tail.

I’ve been seriously wondering why I don’t eat normally. It’s amazing that I can go most of the day without eating. I have to force myself to eat before I leave the house. I usually eat because I know I need to eat something; not because I’m hungry. I’m sure nutrition and hydration are an issue for me. I’m doing a lot better with eating and drinking thing than I was a year ago. The weird thing is that I love food; it’s that I have a small appetite and I eat very, very slow. If I eat too fast I’ll get sick.

I attended a first-time home buyers seminar today; for 8 hours! It was to get a certificate for the program, if I even qualify as low-income. Can you believe that? That I may not qualify? That’s unbelievable. It was a really long day, but it was kinda cool to be in learning atmosphere. I’ve been thinking lately about taking a class at one of the local colleges. I think I’d like to take a class in ceramics, woodworking, metals or maybe a basic electronics class. Funny, they are all classes I took while in junior high and high school. Being an auto mechanic really interest me too. I just really like working on things. I could take another class in photography; that might be interesting or maybe typing. Now THAT would really help me.

Anyway, after the seminar I spoke to my older sister in Alabama for two hours; that was great. I’m really proud of my sister; she’s a great wife and mother. We don’t talk as often as I talk to my younger brother’s, but we really get deep when we do talk. Today’s conversation was very necessary – trust me.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Audition/Producers: “Standoff” @ Stordahl/Terry Casting.
Surprise!! This morning @ 10:14 I’m sitting at my desk going over material for the producer session this afternoon and my agent calls to inform me that they “changed the concept of the character” and the appointment has been cancelled. Okay. Well, it comes and goes. I’ll get ‘em next time. That makes this a really slow week, but last week was really busy so it all works out.

Then @ 10:33, funny enough, while still looking over that same material (I don’t know why, it was only two pages); my agent calls back. No, she didn’t say “Stephon, they just have to have you on the show and they are going to find something else for you”. No, she didn’t say that. What she did say is that “Criminal Minds” just called to check my one hour quote. She wanted to confirm that her records of previous quotes were correct. They were and she said “Thanks honey, I’ll try to get you more money”.

I guess that’s a good sign. Hopefully, they won’t also “change the concept of the character” and I will actually get the booking. Quotes and bookings are two totally different things and quotes don’t go on the resumes and they definitely don’t pay the bills. I guess I’ll know something soon - one way or another.

So @ 2:39 Erin leaves a voicemail letting me know that I have, in fact, been booked for “Criminal Minds”. So when I called back one of my other agents, Caleigh, answered the phone and knew I booked. It’s always great when the news spreads through the office. So Caleigh transfers me to Erin and Erin says, “Stephon, I have the “Criminal Minds” booking and some other news for you. I’m thinking, did they hire me and fire me in the same phone call?” She gives me the details of the booking: it’s a day of work next week AND she was able to raise my quote! I gotta tell ya, Erin is no joke when it comes to fighting for her clients. It’s so exciting to hear her on the phone to casting offices. Oh yeah, and I love when she does this. The last thing she always asks after giving all the details is, “do you wanna do it?” I LOVE THAT!! Something else I really like is that this booking came from a drop-off on a day that I really didn’t want to do drop-offs, at least I’m convinced it did.

So what was the other news? Remember that producer session this morning for “Standoff” that was cancelled @ 10:14 because they “changed the concept of the character”? Well for some reason they decided they wanted to see me – NOW! So I pulled my sides out of the trash, warmed them up and made my way to Fox Studios. I wasn’t sure what I was going to wear. I didn’t want my wardrobe to overshadow the work and character, but I did want to walk in the room and have everything flow. The character is a resident in a hospital and I have a set of scrubs and decided to wear the top. It felt like it was the right thing to do.

Of course once I get to Stordahl/Terry Casting it’s “hurry up and wait” which is how it goes sometimes – no problem. There were quite a few actors waiting in a fairly tight area and I saw this one dude who didn’t look like he was there to audition. At first, I thought one of the hot girls there was his girlfriend and he was just, I don’t know, waiting for her to finish. He kept like fidgeting, pacing; just seeming real, real nervous and again it was in pretty close quarters. One by one the girls were leaving, but he was still there. He didn’t have sides, a headshot a backpack – nothing that I saw. He just really seemed out of place; like he was super claustrophobic. I tried to ignore him, but he kept drawing me in with his odd behavior. He wasn’t making a scene or anything like that; he was just like a fish out of water it seemed. It almost seemed that any minute he was going to yell “ALL YA’LL muth$^*(%^& ON THE FLOOR – NOW!! and take us hostage. I was like, “yo, this kid is trippin’” or maybe I’m trippin’.

Anyway, after a while people were thinning out and they called his name to audition! My man went in the room and killed it…..I could feel it through the walls. Now get this; his character DID have hostages!!! Ain’t that some sh*t? Dude walked past me on the way out and I was like oh snap!! That was crazy; I won’t forget him and his commitment to his character anytime soon. So he left and I swear to you three minutes later that casting associates came out looking for him, but he was gone. She called his agent and 6 minutes later he was back. Evidently, the production team saw something that they wanted to see more of. I checked his name on the sign-in sheet so I could look him up and he is Charles Duckworth. Funny enough, the character I was reading for ends up being a hostage of his. I would like to work with this kid; so here’s to both of us booking.

After a while longer I finally got my chance to audition and it went great!! It wasn’t a lot, but it sure felt good. The director seemed to be really happy with what he saw.

As soon as I returned home from the audition the messenger arrived with my package from “Criminal Minds” – script, paperwork; it even included a “day out of days” schedule. I’d never gotten one of those before in the package; it’s cool to see how the entire 8-day shooting schedule is laid out.

Tonight I went to the Museum of Television and Radio to see the new pilots from FOX and “Standoff” was one of them. I’ll just say this, Gina Torres’ lips had me mesmerized – completely. Those lips are not of this world. They should change the name of the show to “lips” – Crazy!

I have to say, blogs are really funny things. Lisa, thank you for your offer I really appreciate it.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I hate this, I hate this, I hate this. The mother of a dear friend in New York passed away last night. I knew Genine’s mom and she always treated me like family when I lived in New York or would visit. I met Genine in a chance meeting back in Virginia Beach in the early 90’s. My family, she and her friends had a lot of fun together going skiing in the Poconos Mountains several years in a row.

Her mother had been ill of late and it wasn’t totally unexpected that she passed, but having been through it it’s nothing you can really, truly prepare for. I don’t know what to say to her. There just aren’t words to express; just like there weren’t words to express when I lost my mom. I wish I could go to New York for the funeral, but I can’t really afford to do it.

Of course, this makes me think of my father. I haven’t spoken to him in 3 years and sometimes wonder if I’ve already spoken to him for the last time. I’m fully aware that I am taking a big risk and that could be a reality, but he is taking the same risk in having spoken to me for the last time. Truthfully, I don’t think I ever cross his mind. I can’t imagine why I would.

Sometimes I wonder how I would really react if something was to happen to him. What if he got sick; would I make special trips to go see him like I did my mom? I really don’t know. I can’t be sure that he would even want me to see him. It’s amazing that I was just home for a month and I didn’t see him once – by choice. At the same time I knew at any moment all that could change. We just don’t get along; he has no respect for me at all – never has. I don’t even think he likes me; now or ever. Fortunately, I have other family members I can turn to for support. It would be nice to have a connection with my dad – in theory; especially since we’re just a phone call or a plane flight away. It’s tragic; it’s sad and really stupid. I don’t know what else to do other than stay out of his way.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Audition/Producers: @ April Webster Casting/Scott David. This is great. Why? Because I’m pretty sure it came from a drop-off that I really didn't want to do on Friday. The audition went well I felt. It’s funny because I was reading the material one way, thinking I was interpreting it correctly but then decided to change up the pacing of the scene and a whole new thing came out of it. All of the sudden it made way more sense. It took a while before the producer session started so I had time to change my take on it. I also saw fellow actor Angel Oquendo at the audition as well.

I met Angel about a year ago when he was on a scouting trip from the East coast. I have to say I knew instantly he would have an immediate impact I this town. There is a specific set of things I feel helps greatly in getting things moving and he has them. It’s the right amount of business acumen, talent, a look, an attitude, a hustle, being patient while at the same time being impatient, etc. Miss any one of those things listed and the picture can be totally different. I can think of someone else I had the same feeling about too. Of course what I think doesn’t mean a whole lot – I thought I would have booked something by now, lol!!!

When I finally got in the room, I read it once, the director gave me some direction and I did it his way. I felt great about it and was on my way.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I gotta tell ya, I didn't want to do drops today; I didn't want to leave the apartment at all. My printer was acting up and I was in kind of in a sour mood; not for any real reason though. Maybe I was just tired from a busy week.

Anyway, I forced myself to get out there, in the street, with a mean look on my face to prove I had a bad attitude. Traffic, gas prices, my printer, parking, etc. it just wasn’t my day. And you know what? It’s okay.

So I arrive at my first address and lo and behold I had the wrong place. The address was correct, but I went to the wrong place thinking I just knew where I was going. Great! I then remembered where the correct place was and I didn’t want to go to that studio lot because last time I was there the security guard, thinking he was doing me a favor, called the casting office to say I had something for them. There are situations where that would have been cool, but not that particular day. So I didn’t want to go there – I just wasn’t in the mood. So I didn’t go, but I couldn’t just go home. Gas is too expensive to not even try to get something done.

I pulled out my PDA and logged in the zip code of the area I was in. I couldn’t imagine doing what I do without my PDA; it’s such a big part of keeping things straight. Even though I know most of the addresses around town in my head my PDA is a major part of the whole operation.

So a couple of other offices in the immediate area came up and I decided to drop-off my photo. The first office I stopped in had just finished casting their last episode of the cable show they were doing and only had a couple of more days before the office closed. I’d met the casting associate before and I think she remembered me. She was very friendly and told me not to leave a photo because nothing was going to be saved when they close up shop. I appreciated that and I felt that I got something accomplished even though I didn’t actually leave a photo.

On to the next, and most definitely, last stop before heading back to my apartment. I’ve been to this place before and know the drill, but went into the wrong door. I think I was actually trying to avoid the security guard, but he came out steered me in the right direction – which I knew, but for some reason I tried to avoid him. The older gentleman was so nice and polite that he totally disarmed me. It made me think about why I wasn’t having such a great day. I couldn’t come up with a good reason; so I released whatever it was – if anything at all. So, even today, I reluctantly got something accomplished.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Print go-see: “IBM” @ Ben Sealy Casting. I think this took a whole two minutes including the paperwork – in and out in a jiffy. When I was signing in, the young lady running the session asked if I would consider doing background – I left it blank on the size card. I sorta said said “no”, but only sorta. Then I asked how much, she said “$300 - $500 a day”. I said, “ahh, well”. She then said I’ll write “ask” on your card, I said “okay, thanks”.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Audition: “Delsym” @ Gabrielle Schary Casting. Man, this was a little crazy. Why? Well, the product is a cough suppressant and in the spot, myself and 3 others were in an elevator with one of the people coughing… like for real, nasty, “I should slap the s&*t out of you” offensive coughing. I wish I could’ve seen the look on my face. Man, this other actor was right over my shoulder doing his best actor cough. It was pretty disgusting. Fortunately, I don’t get sick often. I should get a callback just for being a sport about it, but then I guess all of the ther actors deserve the same huh?

Anyway, on the way back to my car I saw this stunning woman approaching from the opposite direction. The closer she got more unbelievable she looked. As she got even closer I saw that she looked familiar. It was Ion Overman that I worked with on “Love, Inc.” last year. We chatted briefly; she was heading to an audition as well. THAT is a very nice young lady. I hope she isn’t going to the same coughing audition I went to. Nobody should cough on Ion – it’s just not right. Actually, nobody should cough on any woman that is as nice as she is.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Wow, today had me running around a bit and everything went smoothly. One great thing was, for the first time in a while, I didn’t get a headache. I was going to go to the doctor and get checked out, but I am trying to rest more, eat more and drink more water. Like any normal person I love to sleep, but I think I love to work even more. 8 hours of sleep is usually waaaay too much for me, but I think it’s smart and healthier to sleep more than I currently do. I love food, but my stomach must be the size of a grape, I eat very little and very slow. I have to make it a point to eat before I leave my apartment in the morning – and I have to kinda force that. It’s nothing for me to not eat anything until the afternoon. I just don’t really think about it. I don’t understand it, although I think I gained some weight while I was on vacation. Imagine that!!

Audition: “Wal-Mart” @ Ross Lacy Casting. Okay, this audition requested that we wear pajamas to it. Okay, I have pajamas. So I’m trying to figure out what to wear to the audition so I could easily change into my pajamas and I just didn’t want to do it. Maybe it was because I live really close to this particular place I was going to the audition. I didn’t want to get out of the shower, get dressed, change 20 minutes later into pajamas at the audition and then change back into my street clothes.

So, I decided to just wear my pajamas and skateboard to the audition. That way I wouldn’t have to change clothes. So if you saw a thin brotha, skateboarding down La Brea Ave around 10:30 this morning, wearing flip-flops and white socks with a headshot/resume in his hand it might have been me. Matter of fact it WAS me.


Yesterday, while leaving the same audition facility I saw a man pushing a shopping cart, that included probably everything he owned, wearing nothing but a black T-shirt and tennis shoes. Nothing else…except his blonde, sun-bleached hair. NOTHING ELSE. His ass was chillin’ like it was Monday morning; and you know what? It was Monday morning. I had never seen that before; his butt was just hanging out there for everyone to see. I’m much too shy for that, but I was willing to do the pajamas thing. It was pretty sad to see somewhere so down on their luck. I hope he finds something to wear. Anyway, the audition went well; I felt really free.

Audition/Producers: “The Other Mall” @ Ross/Silverberg Casting. This is an ABC Family Half Hour Pilot Presentation. Based on my decision to pass on the producer session for “Without a Trace” Why am I going in for this co-star on this show? Good question.

“Without a Trace” is a show that is going to be around, I would guess, at least 2 more seasons if not more. Obviously I’m on the radar of that casting office and didn’t want to possibly book the particular role I had an appointment for. I figured I’d take a risk, pass on the audition, and hopefully, I’ll get a chance to book something a little more substantial in the future. The season is young. It’s one of my “blue-chip” shows and I treat them a little different than others.

The audition goes okay. I read it once, got direction (which I though was a good sign) and read it better the second time. Truthfully, I thought there was another role I was more right for, but I didn’t get to read for it. I didn’t ask either. A plus was that this is an AFTRA show and I didn’t have my usual nasty attitude towards AFTRA shows, that is a sign of moving forward, because I do not like AFTRA very much. Well, it’s not that I don’t like AFTRA, it’s just that I would rather not have to join AFTRA.

Audition: “Verizon” @ Kathy Knowles Casting. This one went great and I believe it shoots in Vancouver next week. Callbacks are Thursday; I hope to be there.

Me jumping over my VW bug back in the BACK in the day!! This isn't when I fell on my head. Norfolk, VA.
This is me taking care of business on the half pipe back in da 80's!! Skills baby! Virginia Beach, VA.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Audition: “American Standard” @ Jeff Rosenman Casting. I’m not sure how this one went – I didn’t have a great feeling when I left or even a good one really. The session runner seemed happy with the performance, but I think he was pulling my chain. Or maybe…well…maybe not.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Audition: “The Game” @ Suzanne Goddard-Smythe. “The Game” is a spin-off of UPN’s “Girlfriend’s”. Both shows will be on the new CW Network this Fall. When I studied at Amy Lyndon’s Cold Reading Technique Class last Fall, one the guys in that class is one of the leads on the show, Hosea Chanchez.
...hmm...I'm not sure how this went. It wasn't a whole lot of dialogue, but I missed a major beat in the scene that I shouldn't have missed. It was right there on the page, but I didn't get it. Danielle Diller, the casting associate, pointed it out and I got it right the second time around...on to the next.

Okay, so one of my agents, Erin, calls this afternoon with a producer session appointment for "Without A Trace" - a show I really want to be on. Funny enough, I was doing drops yesterday in the building where this casting office is located. I stopped, looked at the door, pondered for a bit and decided against going inside and dropping a photo. Why? Well, my friend Denice dropped one for me a couple of weeks ago and I sent a postcard not too long ago as well. I didn’t want to be a nuisance, so I let it ride.

I'm glad I didn't drop a photo yesterday because, of course, I would've thought the call today was at least a semi-direct result of it. Thankfully, I’m certain my agent did not submit me for this particular role; so it tells me that I am on the mind of this office without too much prodding - THAT is the place to be! Actually, I'm glad my agent didn't submit for this role. Why? It's a very small co-star; that doesn't seem to have any chance of recurring. The exact type of roles I should do my best to not do anymore.

What to do, what to do. Well, me, like most other “professional auditioners” aka “actors” know how important it is to have an ample amount of appointments. On that level I wanted to attend the producer session tomorrow. I could tell by the message that Erin left I was being requested for this. She said she’d e-mail the sides and to take a look it and see if it was something I wanted to go in on. A little while later I viewed the sides and was real iffy about going in; which probably meant I shouldn’t go in. This is where I got a little sneaky and tried to prevent my agent from “saving me from myself”. What did I do? Instead of calling Erin back to confirm, I replied to the e-mail saying I was going to attend the producer session. I did call because deep down I knew I shouldn’t be going in and I probably didn’t wanna face that – I just wanted to have an appointment.

I guess Erin didn’t get my return e-mail because an hour later she called again to see if I wanted to go in. I try really hard to be a great client and don’t them to have to make unnecessary phones calls to me. So I called her back and told her I thought I was going to go to the session. She didn’t put me under pressure one way or the other, but said, “Why don’t you think about it and call me in the morning; the appointment isn’t until 4:30pm”? I said, “Well, I’ve seen the material and it is what it is”. THAT is when it hit me that I need to let her do her job. I said, “Yeah, okay I’ll think about it because I do need to draw the line with these types of roles”. She replied, “Okay honey, call me in the morning and we’ll go from there”. Cool.

I thought about it and hated to miss the session for, what I consider a “blue-chip” show. I used the same logic for going in on “The Game” today and decided to pass. 20 minutes later I called Erin back and told her that I would pass on the audition and hopefully they’ll call me for something more substantial in the future. She said “ok” and that if I changed my mind again, just call her in the morning and we’ll get you in. That is a prime example of my agent “saving me from myself”. Thanks Erin.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Audition: “21st Century Insurance” @ Jessica J. Casting. I did a spot for “21st” back in ’02, it never ran though. I did get a year or so of holding fees, a bonus for being a policy holder (I was at the time, but now my car insurance is through Costco) and a penalty payment for some reason I never really understood.

The audition was simple, no dialogue, just some nodding in agreement mostly. It’s amazing how if I’m not careful I can do too much of even that. I think I kept it real – at least I hope I did.

Audition/Producers: “The War at Home” @ Susan Vash Casting. It’s straight to producers for a guest–star role. I booked the last time she called me to producers for a guest-star role. Maybe I can start a streak!

I know I sound like a broken record, but I felt really good about this audition. I did what I wanted to do and left it all in room. I took a risk and changed some of the rhythms of the writing. One paid off with a big laugh. The other might have fallen through the cracks. Regardless of what happens – or not – I felt like an artist when I left.

Something interesting happened right before I read the scene. One of the producers/writers/director was looking over my resume and commented on my multiple episodes of "Good Morning, Miami". Someone said ".....and 14 episodes of "Good Morning, Miami!", then the producer said, jokingly, "I thought it was 12". It threw me a little because I don’t know why he said it. Anyway, I made a joke about it we all laughed and got to work. If you count the episodes on my imdb, there are only 12 listed, but I actually filmed more.

So my question is: did he actually look me up online or was he, in some way, associated with “Good Morning, Miami”. I was over there at the show so often that there is no way I wouldn’t have known who he was if he was at “GMM”. So I’m going to go with the notion that he looked me up. Cool. As a result, I’m going to change the 14 episodes to 12; I don’t want anyone to think I’m padding my resume.

Of course after the audition it was time to roam the Warner Bros. lot to see what was going on. Doing that is always a super inspiring thing for me. For one, I get to drop off my photos at various offices, two it brings back great memories of having worked on the lot and three it shows me some of what is in my future.

The first stage I walked passed was where “ER” is filmed; I had fun working on the show back in ’03. After that I wandered my way around dropping photos and just taking it all in. Something I had never noticed before over there was a Berlin wall monument. I would have like to take a photo of it, but I didn’t have my camera.

After a while I came upon this huge…something under construction. I couldn’t tell what is was; it almost looked like a stage that was being built for…say…U2 to perform on or some thing like that. I stared at it for a while and couldn’t come up with anything so I finally asked a nearby security guard. It might seem weird, but what he told me gave me the chills. It was one of the sets for “Ocean’s Thirteen”!!! It was just sorta surreal to look at that set and know that I have been chosen, not once, but twice to be a part of Steven Soderbergh’s productions. Hopefully, this time I’ll stick.

The set being built was a helicopter pad to be on top of one of the hotels – it was massive and there was a ton of guys working on it. I just walked away and shook my head asking myself how I got to be a part of that?

Afterwards, I made my way to Katherine Eckerts office. Katherine, a longtime associate and casting director with Tracy Lilienfield’s office recently opened her own office casting “Old Christine” for CBS. I met Katherine years ago in a workshop and she brought me in for “Good Morning, Miami” which obviously turned out to be a fantastic experience for many, many reasons. I’ll always appreciate her thinking of me because she knew it was going to be a multi-episode gig and it really made a difference in my life.

Anyway, I got to the building and chilled just for a bit; looking at the WBTV production cast photos on the wall and such. Then I spotted a young lady who I thought was Katherine’s assistant. After assessing the situation, I stuck my head in the office and asked if I could leave a photo for Katherine. The assistant was very nice and the photo was literally in Katherine hands 5-10 seconds later. Just as I was making my exit, dragging my feet of course, her assistant, Ana, stopped me and said Katherine had a moment to chat with me. This gave me a chance to congratulate her on her new office and another crazy huge reason I won’t mention. They are starting production next week and she said she’ll try to get me in for something.

Before I left the lot I wanted to check out Stage 16. That is where the “O13” casino set is being built. OMG!!! It blew my mind. They are building a freaking casino on the stage. I don’t know if it will compare to the set of “The Terminal”, but it looked pretty cool nonetheless. On my way there I stopped by where I worked my first TV job after just 4 months of being in Los Angeles – Stage 24 – The Friends Stage. Wow, I really remember that experience; I even remember where I parked. I worked on a pilot over there last season, “Hot Properties”. Yeah, the Warner Bros. lot has been good to me. With that, I made my way back to my car with a sore knee from all the walking with the wrong shoes – Ouch!

Shortly, afterwards one of my agents calls with an appointment for tomorrow. I could tell he didn’t submit me for it because he was like “it’s a small role, look it over and see if you wanna go in on it, if not, don’t worry about it”.

This is great for several reasons:

He wouldn’t submit me for this particular co-star role. They are looking for bigger and better things for me.
I am on this casting director’s mind, in this case, without my agents’ assistance.
My agents didn’t just turn it down unbeknownst to me.
My agent is involved in the situation which helps me protect me from myself.
I have the final say on whether to go in or not.

After getting home I decided that, yes, I would go in on it. Why? Well, I don’t get called for this type of shows too often and who knows how long it might take to get back in this office and it’s always nice to be auditioning. Plus, I really like this casting director and I’d love to book something with her.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Got feet? Got Photos? Gotta get movin! Drop-offs - Make it happen... yourself a favor - don't wait for it to happen.

I am really, officially, OFFICIALLY back in town. How do I know this? I’ll tell you how I know this.

Auditions @ Ross Lacy Casting.
Callbacks @ Ross Lacy Casting.
Avails @ Ross Lacy Casting.
Phone calls from my agency to let me know that I have been released from avails @ Ross Lacy Casting.

Yup, I was released from the “McDonald’s” spot I was on avail for. Yeah, I know shocking.

What is going on? I don’t know. I know I’m doing a lot right, but not enough to get invited to the VIP section/(booking). I’m getting to the party, which is cool, but I’m missing something. I ain’t gonna stress over it, I’m just gonna trust it like I’ve always done. NEXT!!!

The other night I was surfing the net and I came upon a website of an agency in a smaller market. It made me think about how unprepared most actors are when they arrive in the major markets of New York and Los Angeles. To be honest, I think, it makes perfect sense that they would be uninformed. Why? Well, there is so much misinformation going around; information that isn’t based on anything concrete. Wait, maybe “misinformation” isn’t the right word; maybe it’s because I don’t necessarily agree with much of the information that’s out there. I also think there is a lot of very general information out there; kinda one size fits all stuff.

I thank my lucky stars that when I started out I refused to ask anyone for advice; I made my own way – and I still do to this day. The reason for not asking for advice wasn’t because I didn’t trust others; it was because I always wanted to break it down further. Breaking down and understanding the casting process and all of its different scenarios can be your best friend in this business. I describe it as “looking up the skirt” of the business. It helps if you look up the skirt and, most importantly, understand what you see. You have to understand the gears of the engine not just that simply the engine runs.

It’s also important to understand how agents and agencies work. They work extremely hard to get appointments for their clients. It’s up to us to understand the dynamic and help it work for us. Never forget that we get “90% and they only get 10%”. That, in itself, should clear up a ton of questions. Agents have many clients they are trying to get opportunities for, but we only have ourselves – it’s important to really understand that equation and what it means.

I often hear actors say “my agent isn’t sending me out”. Usually the situation is much more complicated than that. The agent may, in fact, not be submitting the client, but the more telling statement might be “I’m not getting appointments”. I think the latter statement is better because it poses the question of “why”, which gives you the opportunity to “look up that skirt” and see how this agent/actor/CD thing works.

Why am I going on this harangue about this? Because I get so frustrated that some of my friends aren’t going out as much I would like, lol!! Who cares what I think? Obviously not this town! Anyway, I ask myself, “why aren’t they getting the appointments?” – I ask quite often actually. I come up with really good answers too. Of course the answers are from my point of view.

Some have a very casual approach; others are really confused. Some don’t have the staying power; others use the “start and stop” method. Notice I didn’t mention talent being a factor; it’s pretty much a given that these are talented people. Matter of fact I am often amazed at the talent I am surrounded by. I once dated a woman who is one of the most talented actors I have encountered – ever. I’m not even sure if she’s still pursuing the business. The rat race of the business in Los Angeles wasn’t really for her. If I ever get the chance to get her an acting opportunity you can believe I will.

I’ve always felt that one day I would write a book on the business of the business. I’ve also felt that I would explore the lecture circuit. Whether or not I actually do it on a larger scale remains to be seen. Who knows?

I see many University grads land in this town without a clue as to how the business really works. I would think that it would make sense that their last 6 weeks or so in school was devoted to the business of the business. I could be a guest speaker!! You got 3-4 hours to spare?

I really feel I have valuable insight into the process to share. I also have the “regular working-class actor” experience. It would be great for them to have a name actor speak, but I think it would be much more useful to have someone who is in the trenches on a daily basis to tell them what they might expect.

I think of when I was first starting out in Virginia Beach there was no one to guide us in any way, shape or form with “current” information on how the business worked. I had a great acting teacher, but I knew I’d have to learn the business on my own. For some reason I knew that a lot of what I was hearing was BS from the more experienced students so I carried my ass to New York in a hurry. They weren’t being malicious or anything like that; they just were repeating baseless information. It was always “they said”. Who the heck is they? I wanna meet “they”. I still haven’t.

Usually, when I go home I sit in on my old acting class and answer questions for a bit. I can tell by the questions where they are in their quest. I’d leave them with a very realistic view of what it’s like out here in the major markets. After 3-4 hours with me they would walk away knowing that they better get their butt in gear or that maybe this business is not what they thought.

You’ll have to excuse my rant; I’m just really irritated right now about some actors I know not getting the appointments they need to realistically move forward. Key word “realistically”, I don’t mean booking a national, a co-star or guest star and thinking everything is freakin’ peachy. It ain’t, trust me. You’ve got to build a “body of work”. I know this first hand; I left my job waiting table 5+ years ago I know what it takes to make this work and I’ve got a long way to go.

It can be beautiful, but d*** it’s a lot of work. I have never though it was rocket science to figure out how to do this, but it has, at least for me, been an overwhelming amount of effort – trust that! I am amazed that I have been able to go home for a month in the Summer for the last 5 years. I was never able to take a vacation before I became an actor – go figure.

Why do I even give a crap? Why I am sweating as I type this? I don’t know. Should I be happy that they aren’t getting seen? More for me, huh? Nah, there is enough out here for those that truly want it and are willing to do what it takes to get it for more than a day or a week at a time. You have to be “patiently, impatient” and “Logically Zen”. Of course you don’t have to be, but it works for me.

So if you see me in “Brother wit an attitude, Ohio” or “This guy thinks he knows-it-all, Texas” conducting a workshop on the business you’ll know that this got the best of me. I feel a lot better now.
A woman in boots always warms my heart...
...but so does a woman waiting for the bus
... a 'lil hip-hop never hurt nobody.
When you drive as much as I do you see
some interesting sites.