Monday, October 30, 2006

Back in the saddle as a reader for "Privileged" @ Cathy Henderson-Martin Casting. It's always interesting and today was no exception. These were final callbacks; the director had seen some of the actors before and others only on tape. There was a lot talent in the room.

One of the most interesting things was the actor that had a tremendous amount of white space on his resume. Actually, he only had one credit. Seriously; one, single credit. That one credit is the lead in a yet to be released film. The director of this film is a known actor and this is his feature film directorial debut. The agency this actor is repped by is.............ICM. Yup, the kid is with ICM with only one professional credit. Simply amazing.....or is it? I don't think it's all that amazing, but it is rare.

Did he get the film and then land at ICM or was it the other way around? I’m sure the film was shot about a year ago, but there isn’t any more credits listed from that time to now. Who knows? It’s one of the things I love about this business; you just never know.

I read with the young actor last week, but this was his first time with the director. The buzz from his one professional credit preceded him in the room. It was amazing to watch as it all went down.

I passed the Xeroxed headshot (with the single credit on the back) to the director and Cathy relayed the buzz and informed the director that she could get a copy of the film. The actor read and he was really solid again; I don’t think he’s perfect for the role though.

There were only two roles being cast today and the actress who is playing the girlfriend of one of them was there. I guess she'll have an opinion on who gets the role of her boyfriend. I know who I think is the right guy for the role, but of course what I think doesn't matter.

I don't think I've ever seen so many actors take complete control of the room. The guys owned their performances today. By contrast there was another actor who just wasn’t having a great day. He didn’t feel like he was “getting it” although I think he was right for the role; which sometimes is more important. He came back like 20 minutes after his audition and asked to read again; he was allowed to.

Oh yeah, when I showed up this morning Cathy let me know that she pitched me for one of the leads in the film. I thanked her, but I didn’t feel I was right for it and way too old. It interesting that I could be seen as that young though – wow. So just a bit later when the director arrived he said the same thing. I thanked him for thinking of me and assured him that I my position was the reader and if anything else came out of it – great. I was building a relationship and learning; not trying to get a particular job – besides, I had already been offered a role in the film.

Anyway, when the day was almost over the director wanted me to read for this other, larger role. We had one more actor to read and then it was to be me. Let’s not forget that I’d been reading opposite this role for days as the reader. I had to unwind all that and sneak out to prepare. I came back in and read and felt great about it – wrong, but great. The director said the same thing and asked for my direct contact information; so I gave him a headshot and resume and a business card.
So I guess that’s it for this project until I go to work on it next month – that means I’ll have to pay my SAG dues before Christmas vacation.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Audition: “Kellogg’s Raisin Bran” @ Kathy Knowles. I get to this appointment about 3 hours early in Santa Monica so I can make it to Burbank on time to be a reader. I don’t usually like to be in the first group when being put on tape, but today I was and I was in with two other fun guys. I was the third actor there and I saw that the spot had 3 guys so when they walked in I asked them if they wanted to read it together. They did and we clicked immediately.

This is a big campaign. The contract is for up to 6 spots at scale during the first 21 months and 6 more spots at an overscale rate for the second 21 month period. Whoa! Wouldn’t I love to be a part of this.

The actual audition went great! I am so excited, not only because this went well, but a lot have gone well lately. I haven’t booked much, but that will come in due time.

So I make my way over to Burbank with a little time to spare and as soon as I arrived my print agent calls with an appointment for this afternoon. They wanted couples, so I called someone I’ve clicked with at workshops. Fortunately, she was able to make it last minute.

The reader session is usually a great real world workout. Today was no exception. I saw some really talented people for these callbacks. It’s interesting when you see an actor that literally only has two credits and they are repped by Innovative, ICM or UTA. How does that happen? They are a zillion ways it can happen. Young and pretty is one of them. Let me tell you some of these youngsters are really talented, serious artists.

I love to watch these actors break “the rules” – you know the things that “they” say you cannot do. Another thing it shows me is that I am on the right track, doing the right thing. Sometimes the right thing is poising yourself for the next step and the next set of strategies. Things are good for me.

The really cool thing is knowing, absolutely, without exception that I am seeing the next Hilary Swank, Derek Luke, Leonardo DiCaprio, in these sessions right now. I guarantee you that some of these actors I am reading today will be stars in five years.

Afterwards I went to the print go-see with my friend and it went great! They probably thought we were really a couple; we had a ball on camera.

Monday, October 23, 2006

So I get an e-mail from Casting Director Cathy Henderson checking to see if I can be a reader for the film she is casting tomorrow. Of course I’ll do it. I tell her I’m available, but it’s been pretty quiet lately audition-wise, which means things are going to pick up; I just don’t know when.

Of course, two hours later, my commercial agent calls with an appointment right in the middle of when I am supposed to be reading actors. I call back and check time frames for the audition and I think I can do both.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

AHH! I'm so pissed. Well, maybe irritated is more accurate - really irritated. I received my SAG dues statement in the mail today. My dues for this 6-month period are $469. This wasn't unexpected; I had the same irritation 6-months ago.

The thing is that SAG wants (and gets) 1.85% of every dollar I make up to $200,000 and between $200,001 and $500,000 they want another .50%. That extra .50% really gets me. Not really because I’ve never made over $200,000, but when I do I’ll know I’m getting off easy. Why do I say that? Well, because my dues for the year are $938 and Julia, Tom, Brad, Reese, Denzel, Leonardo, are only $5,300. Wow. Talk about unbalanced. I am not saying that the big stars should pay 1.85% on every dollar, but the current percentages are really out of wack in my opinion.

Oh yeah and SAG has a dues increase proposal on the horizon. Supposedly, it’s mostly to keep ahead of “new technologies” which is very important. I don’t have a problem with the increase they are asking for if it’s truly to help SAG get out from behind the curve and be more aggressive and forward thinking. These contract negotiations are so very important to our futures.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

If you don't blink you might catch me on "Criminal Minds" tonight @ 9pm on CBS.

What a great surprise!! My little brother, Todd, who lives in Virginia Beach, is coming out to Los Angeles on business for an entire week! It's around the same time my older brother, Thomas, who lives in Prague, Czech Republic will be visiting Virginia Beach. I was hoping to get back there to meet Thomas' daughter, my almost one year-old niece, Nikita.

Nikita F - hiding out in Prague...for now.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Print go-see: “Microsoft Windows” @ Paula Van Norden Casting. This go-see felt like a commercial audition; it went great. I would love to book one of these one day...I will...I have, but it's been a while.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Auditon: “Jack-in-the-Box” @ Alyson Horn Casting. This goes really well and I think I’m perfect it. I’ve booked through Alyson in the past and have gotten close numerous other times. Callbacks are Friday.

Audition/Pilot: “The Minister of Divine” @ Susan Edelman Casting. This is a series regular role. I felt great about this one too. I don’t go in on series regular roles that often, but I wasn’t nervous. I did have to work on getting out of the “movin’ the story along” mindset of the smaller co-star roles. This character is one of the stars of the show so I was able to take my time a bit with the dialogue.

It’s funny because I’ve worked with, Suzanne Martin, the creator of this pilot during pilot season ’05. She created and executive produced “Hot Properties” and I was in the pilot, but that credit was removed from my resume when I revamped it several weeks ago. But you better believe I put the credit back on for this particular audition. Sure enough, Susan saw it and asked about it.

She also asked where I was from and I told her Virginia Beach and that I moved to LA from New York. She asked what I did in New York and I told her a little film, a little TV, a lot of background, several commercials, a little stage and I waiting on A LOT of tables at the Harley-Davidson Café. She saw my eyes light up when I spoke of my old job waiting tables and really wanted to hear more. I don’t think she’d ever heard an actor speak so highly about being a waiter. She wanted to know why it was such a great experience and you better believe I told her. I went on and on about the Harley-Davidson Café. She was very surprised to say the least.

I read the scene once, thanked her and left. So we’ll see what happens…hopefully something.

Afterwards I returned a call to my agent, Erin, about the offer from casting director Cathy Henderson for the film “Privileged”. She gave me the run-down of what Cathy said, told me the scene is with Tatyana Ali and asked if I was interested in doing it. Oh, and this was the best part. She said, “Cathy, said she would consider it a favor if I’d do it.” “Sure, I’ll do it” I replied. So that’s a booking, they are sending a script and I work on December 22nd.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I did a bunch of running around today inquiring about advertising for my new consulting venture. It’s weird because I’m having to pitch myself to total strangers. The really cool thing is that I’m totally confidant in what I have to offer; which is a great feeling. I would think it’s like what a Honda salesperson must feel like – totally confident.

I just think what I offer is more unique than most of what’s out there because I’m a working actor that is currently in the game on a daily basis. Most that are teaching about the business don’t have that same perspective – I don’t think. Anyway, I should probably start getting on some panels around town to speak and get the word out.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Dag! I passed on another co-star audition on a show I really wanna get on. My agents and I are trying to get more guest-star and series regular appointments. There was an extra twist in this particular situation that made me decline because I might have gone in on it, but I felt it was more important to sit this one out. It’s always hard to turn down an appointment because I would rather be auditioning or on set than not. It’s also important know when to rely on the advice of the agents that I have hired to work for my company; they help to “save me from myself”.

Reader: “Privileged” @ Cathy Henderson Casting. I read 35-40 actors today; women and men, mostly adults. I’ve read hundreds, if not a thousand actors over the years, and I always see something new. What I saw today amazed me. I kid you not; it’s very interesting how these productions come together.

I read actors from ICM and down to actors that had no representation at all. There were some higher profile people who came in for meetings that don’t actually read for all projects. Surprisingly enough, some of them who were only scheduled for meetings, volunteered to read.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Shooting "Michelin" @ Hayvenhurst Studios, Van Nuys, CA. My call this morning was a very casual 10:30am; which was nice, but even if the call was 4:30am I would've been there with a smile.

So arrived, checked in, got settled and, of course, found the craft services table. Gotta get my junk food fix. After a while it's into wardrobe for client/ad agency/director approvals; then it's "hurry up a wait".

Soon enough, our contracts were presented to me and the other two engineers in the commercial. Ooops…There is an issue on the contract. The “Dealer A” box is checked, but it doesn’t say “National Network” anywhere. It doesn’t usually say “National Network” on the contract, so that didn’t concern me, but it did concern me a bit that “Dealer A” was checked.

My agent, Alicia, explicitly told me what the booking was: National network and cable - intended use; new media to be negotiated (written in the ‘special provisions’ area of the contract); internet, if used to be paid at scale.

Now, in reality, it doesn’t mean much when we actors are told that a commercial audition is for national network, cable, regional, seasonal, foreign use, etc. Why? Because it’s all “intended use”. In the end, they can run it however they see fit – and that goes both ways. After booking my “IBM” last year as a national network spot they added an internet spot to shoot two days later. It paid triple scale and shot on a Saturday which is double pay – I made a lot of money for 2 ½ hours of work.

When I called the ad agency to find out when it would run I was told that it would not be running on network, just cable. In the end, not only did it run a lot on network, it also ran in a whole bunch of foreign territories – THAT was a very nice surprise of a check. I was told that they ended up using it on network because their next campaign was behind schedule. So you never know how it’s gonna turn out.

Anyway, me and the other two actors were on the phone to our agents to figure out what to do. Alicia, was unavailable, so my other agent, Brooke, was right there to help. I told Brooke what Alicia said at the time of booking and what I was going to write on the contract. I did that and faxed it to her from the studio and she approved.

This part was a little funny. After I got off the phone with Brooke I went to the production office to turn in my contract. My fellow actors in the spot were already there. They were talking to the 2nd AD who was handling the paperwork and “another gentleman”. I didn’t know who the “other gentleman” was. Mind you, out of the three actors, I was the youngest looking and probably, based on appearance, the least likely to understand the contract – judging by the cool a** hat I was wearing and phat a** phone I was carrying – no Bluetooth earpiece though, I ain’t THAT cool.

I just remember the 2nd AD saying something to me and me responding “No, I’m going to put what my agent told me to put. I’ve written in the special provisions section “new media to be negotiated”.
Complete silence followed......I could feel everyone looking at me.
Then the “other gentleman” said “that’s the internet”. I said, very firmly while looking him directly in the eye, “No, it’s not. The internet is not the same as ‘new media’. The internet already has recognized jurisdiction, ‘new media’ does not. “New media is webisodes, mobisodes, things playing on ipod’s, etc. That is not the internet, the internet scale rate is, I believe, $1,500 for 1 year, ‘new media’ doesn’t have a scale rate as of yet.
“New media” is covered in the new two-year extension to the commercial contract going into effect at the end of the month, but it still won’t have a scale rate. That is up to our agents to get us the best deal they can get.

I later found out that gentleman was the person listed as “producer” on the contract. He is the Senior VP/Executive Producer for the advertising agency. Ooops!!

Not Ooops, I was very respectful, just firm. I knew what I was talking about. Then the other two actors had more questions about it and added the same to their contracts. I ended having a great conversation about the advertising business with the Senior VP.

Since I didn’t get in front of the cameras until after 4pm I couldn’t help but think “I could have been at Warner Bros. shooting “Ocean’s Thirteen” and chillin’ with Al Pacino”, LOL!!! Just kidding. No, of course that crossed my mind. Would you believe me if I said I never thought about it – trust me, I’ll continue to think about it, just like I think about “Ocean’s Twelve”. It doesn’t have a negative effect on me though.

The shoot went great. The director, Cris Blyth, was wonderful to work with and I had long conversations with the art director and copywriter of the spot. They were very open with their part of the process which I am fascinated by.

The spot has a tremendous amount of special effects and isn’t scheduled to run until mid-February. For some reason I have a really good feeling about this one. I’m not sure why, it just seems that all of the elements are there for it to be one those really good ones.
Gustova Rex, Ajay Mehta and myself.
Getting ready for some green screen shooting.

Well, my work is done. Now, I would love to book more spots before this one airs.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Audition: “Two and a Half Men” @ Valko/Miller Casting. I went in for two different co-star roles and felt good about both of them. Ooops, that's not totally true, there was one thing I wanted to ask about before I read, but I forgot. Ya know when you get sides that have a bunch of stuff crossed out and your character is sprinkled throughout the scene? I've been tripped up by that in the past, but this time I paid close attention to the drops and pick-ups, but there was one line that wasn't crossed out; I wasn’t sure if the reading was to read it or not. When that line came up I waited a beat before responding and it came off kinda funny.

In my experience with this office they usually give callbacks in the room. I didn't get a callback, but I didn't get a sense that anybody else got one either. My understanding of the casting process is pretty keen. So maybe it's not next week's episode or they are a little ahead in the casting process. It doesn't really matter, if I get a callback I'm sure I'll hear about it.

Shortly after I left that audition my commercial agent called with an appointment for this afternoon - gotta love the same day calls.

Audition: "Wal-Mart" @ Barbara Divisek Casting. This is a holiday spot and it goes well. Callbacks are tomorrow; hopefully I'll get one.

This "Ocean's Thirteen" thing keeps getting cooler and cooler. When my scene was cut from "Ocean's Twelve" I left myself on IMDB until they removed it. This time, for "Ocean's Thirteen"; I wanted to remove it myself. I think that is a sign of growth. The role is no longer mine; it belongs to Paul Walia and I look forward to seeing his name listed.

Okay, to the supercool part. When I was navigating through the menus of the imdb site to delete the credit; there was a box where I had to explain why I was deleting the credit. Without thinking I wrote, "I had to back out because of scheduling conflicts". Right then, at that very moment, it resonated with me. "scheduling conflicts" are you kidding me!? I LOVE that! I've seen that very phrase in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter for years. Wow, Stephon Fuller pulled out of a studio film because of scheduling conflicts. I won't make it a habit, but it sure sounds interesting. I think this "rite of passage" and "earning my stripes" thing is very real.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Reader: “Privileged” @ Cathy Henderson-Martin Casting.

As I’ve said in the past being a reader is an unbelievably, eye-opening experience. I had a lot of fun reading today for casting director Cathy Henderson. Most of the actor were late teens to early 20’s. Many of them were represented by agents and managers in the upper echelon of the business: ICM, Gersh, Innovative, Brillstein/Grey, APA, etc. It was quite obvious why some of them had the representation that they did, others not so obvious. Not that any were really bad, just inexperienced. It’s amazing how few credits some of them have, but others have been working for a long time.

After about two hours there I was offered a small part in the film; which I said yes to. Later I thought I might have made a mistake, thinking maybe it wasn’t the right decision…hmm. Not to worry. It’s a young director who will do more in the future I’m sure.

After leaving the casting office I stopped by KSA and talked with my commercial and print agents and filled them in on my consulting plan. They were very supportive and excited for me. I’m excited too. I made some phone calls inquiring about studio rental in New York; so I am trying to make things happen.

STEPHON FULLER launches consulting firm!

How well do you know "The Business of the Acting Business"?

Working actor, Stephon Fuller, is now available for group consultations.

Are you working hard enough?
More importantly, are you working smart enough?
How to use casting director workshops?
What about drop-offs?
Are you targeting the right shows?
Who has the power in your career?
What are your expectations - realistically?
What about the 90%/10% theory?
Are you "really" putting it out there to give yourself a fair chance?
Are you kidding yourself?

Learn from someone who is currently working, making a living in the acting business. Speak to someone who truly understands what an actor experiences on a daily basis. Learn alternative methods to build a solid foundation for your career.

The first seminar in Los Angeles will be Sunday, October 22nd, 11am-2pm - $100 per person.

Also - Attention New York actors planning to move to Los Angeles. Get current insight on what to expect in the LA market. Don't spend 2 or 3 years figuring it out? A workshop for New York actors planning to move to the LA market is in the planning stages. Let me know if you're interested. Please pass this onto any actors you think it may be useful for in any market.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Audition: "Lincoln" @ Sheila Manning Casting. Another same-day call; I seem to be getting more and more of those. Cool, no complaints from me. I'm just glad I have such flexibilty with being able to be totally available. Afterall, this IS what I moved here for.
The audition went great! It was four different holiday spots that we were reading for and I felt great about all of them. The session runner was the same gentleman who ran the initial audition and callback for the “Michelin” spot. He was happy for me that they actually booked me.

This “O13” plot keeps getting thicker. Well not really thicker; “better” might be a more accurate term. Remember yesterday when I mentioned that I read a post on that another actor had his availability checked for what I thought to be my role in “O13”? Part of his post about a certain agent included:

“In fact I just got a call this morning from them checking my availability for Ocean's 13 next week.”

I responded to the post “good luck with “O13” – and I meant it sincerely, I had already pulled out. I had no reason to beieve that this actor had any idea who I was.

Well, this afternon I get an email from him saying that he’d been reading my blog for a LONG time. What? Yeah, he also auditioned for the role I got in “The Terminal”. WHAT? This is too crazy. He knew he didn’t get the “O13” job back in June because he read in my blog that I got it. He was disappointed, but happy for me – even though we didn’t know each other.

Anyway, he wrote because he felt guilty because it was my job to begin with and now he’s been booked on it because of my situation. His name is Paul Walia and fortunately he included his phone number in the e-mail. I decided to give him a call.

He really thought I was having a hard time dealing with it, but I quickly cleared that up. I mean sure, it wasn’t so great two days ago, but once I stepped back I knew someone else was going to get a great phone call – that made me smile.

I demanded that he shed no tears for me. There are many other ”O12” and “O13”’s out there for me – I know it. I didn’t even start focusing on studio films until 2003 and since then I’ve booked 3 of them – there are many, many more in my future. I really believe the “rite of passage” and “earning my stripes” angle. I said to Paul “enjoy it, man. Have fun!”, afterall we’ll both be working at the same time. Paul Walia is a great guy and I trust that he’s going to make the most of this opportunity.

Later I stopped by to see my agent Caleigh so I could give her a hug after all of this “stuff”. She felt much better after she talked to Debra herself. Deb assured her that my status in her office is not in danger in any way, shape or form. The dynamic was a little odd because I chose to handle it myself with the casting office where typically the agent would have handled it and informed the actor. I HAD to step up to the plate on this and be very hands on to ease my mind. I can’t think of another office where I would have done the same, this was a very unique situation.

When I think about it, it kinda makes sense that I was very hands on because when I got the booking Debra called me directly on my cell phone with it. She said, “Stephon, I don’t have very many numbers in my cell phone, but I have yours and I want you to be the first to know that you booked “Ocean’s Thirteen”!! And you have a scene with Al Pacino”. THAT was personal service, so I think it’s full circle that I acted in the same manner. We actors have to “drive the car versus being driven”. I’m a driver.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

OMG!! I slept HORRIBLY most of the night. I tossed and turned until about 5:37 am when I woke up and got on the internet to double check exactly who it was who called me from production. I had a bright idea. So bright that I got back in the bed and slept like a baby until 9:14 am. I had a dream that I was on a movie set. Not just any movie set, but the set of “OCEAN’S FREAKIN’ THIRTEEN!!” I even had a wardrobe fitting. I woke up with a smile on my face thinking it had all worked itself out. Well, after being up for about 45 minutes I figured out that I wasn’t in a makeup chair with some hot female all up in my grill making sure I was camera ready. It was just a dream, actually I was sitting at my desk in the same great predicament I was in last night.

Yes, I said “great predicament” and I mean it too. No matter what happens, this is a beautiful thing. I look at it as a “rite of passage” or “the earning of my stripes”; meaning that if you work enough in this town this WILL eventually happen. You WILL find yourself in situations like this. It WILL suck and you WILL move on. So maybe “I have arrived” and this is a gateway to bigger and better things. So, what to do, what to do.

I’m out. Yeah, I’m out. I’m stepping down. Peace, I’ll catch you next time. Release it. I would say “I can’t believe I’m pulling out of this film”, but you know what? “I CAN believe I’m pulling out of this film” and it’s okay – I think. I need to be very hands on with this one – I think. I’m gonna drive my narrow tail to Debra Zane’s office and do it myself, in person – I think. Unless my friend Jon “saves me from myself”. He lives on the way to the office – I think.


I arrive at Jon’s place and tell him what my plan is. He’s like “whoa, whoa, whoa”. I then bring him up to speed with what has gone on in my head and he’s pretty much in agreement. As I’m leaving his house I tell him for some reason I don’t think Deb and Tannis are in the office today so I don’t really know where I’m going and he says “why don’t you just call instead of driving over? Especially if you don’t think they’re there?” “Good question”, I reply. I pondered for a moment and replied, “because I’m a ‘get out there in it kinda guy’.

“Yeah, sometimes picking up the phone is just too easy. I like being out in the field and actually living it”. I said, “the whole reason we are even having this conversation is because I’d rather be out in it than just pick up the phone. That’s how I got “The Terminal” in the first place which has lead to “O12” and “O13”. Jon nodded in agreement; we’ve known each for more than 20 years. I got “The Terminal” from walking to Deb’s office and dropping of my headshot – through the slot in the door. With that, I was on my way.


I’m about a mile from Deb’s office and my cell phone rings; it’s the ‘619’ area code. What? 619? I answer and it’s wardrobe from the “Michelin” spot asking me to bring a couple of things to my fitting this afternoon. What fitting??? I TOTALLY forgot that I have a fitting this afternoon in Santa Monica. I don’t usually forget things I’m getting paid for, but this slipped completely off my radar. My heart is beating a mile a minute because I didn’t know what else I might have forgotten. When I got the “O13” call yesterday I was in the middle of putting together advertising materials for my new consulting endeavor and that just went completely went out the window – I had some momentum going too. I actually had a meeting last week with the owner of TVI Studios – don’t know where that will go, if anywhere.

Anyway, I was reminded that I’m being paid to try on clothes this afternoon – good, no great! For the second time in 24 hours I find myself in Debra Zane’s parking, just sitting in my car. What to do, what to do. I’ve been looking forward to this job for 4 months and here I am getting ready to tell the casting director that I can’t do it. What?! Yeah, it’s time to handle my business.

I walked through the beautiful atrium with my head held high and stopped at the front door. I looked at the door handle, took a deep breath and attempted to turn it - it’s locked - as expected, but the lights are on. I wanted them to be there today because I needed to get this taken care of for all parties involved – it was wearing on me, but I was confidant – until I saw Tannis peek her head out of the back office. She saw that I was at the door, but I was in a shadow so she didn’t know who I was until she got closer. Tannis was 10 feet away, walking to let me in and I didn’t look so confident – in fact, I looked pathetic. Tannis, a former child star herself, sensed something was wrong.

She greeted me and asked what was the matter. I told her I booked the commercial and the whole date change thing – they were kinda aware of it because my agent had called last week. Deb came out, gave me a hug, told me not to worry and that these things happen. We talked about scenarios that could work and couldn’t come up with anything. It just wasn’t meant to be. They assured me that I’d be back in their office; which I never doubted. A load had been taken off of me; I immediately felt better.

We proceeded to talk for 30 minutes and I knew I had done the right thing to handle this myself, in person. Ironically, the actress I was scheduled to work with in “Ocean’s Twelve”, Margaret Travolta, was working today on “Ocean’s Thirteen”! Funny.

They were so understanding, supportive and happy that booked a national commercial. I’m glad I didn’t “just pick up the phone and call” instead of showing up in the flesh. We talked and we laughed and they shared stories with me, as they usually do. I really wish I could write, in depth, about the things I learn from them, but I think I run my mouth enough as it is.

We talked about so many things, one of which was my plans to start consulting on “The Business of the Acting Business”. Deb and Tannis were VERY supportive of that idea. So it worked out really well and I am moving on to the next project – which is a NATIONAL COMMERCIAL on Monday!! I am really excited.

It’s funny, at first I was thinking if there was any casting office I wouldn’t have wanted this to have happened to it would have been Deb’s office. In hindsight, this was the best office that it could have happened at because of my relationship with them. I feel great about what I did and they way I handled it.

While talking with Deb and Tannis my friend, Gwendolyn Oliver, left a voicemail. Gwen and I interned and were readers at Henderson/Zuckerman casting a long time ago. She had recently spoken to Cathy Henderson and mentioned my name. She gave me Cathy’s number to give her a call to catch up a maybe help out with a project she is working on.

Afterwards, I drove to my theatrical agents’ office to tell Caleigh how it went, but they were gone for lunch. She called me later and was not happy with losing the booking, but very understanding nonetheless. We’ll get another one soon.

Before I even got a chance to call Cathy she called me. It was great to catch up with her and I’m going to be her reader on Thursday; if I don’t have any conflicts. It’s been a little quiet this week audition-wise, so I have a feeling I might get a call for Thursday. Hopefully, it will all work out.

This makes me think of something. One time when I was a reader for them back in 2000 I got an audition for “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, but I had already committed to be a reader and I didn’t want to cancel. Plus, there was a role I was right for in the project and since I was in the room with the producers I almost felt like it was a callback. They couldn’t change the time of the “Sabrina” audition so I passed; my agent at the time trusted my judgment and was understanding. Well, Dori Zuckerman; overheard from the office assistant that I passed on an audition and offered to call Rick Milliken’s office to make sure I was seen. She called and got me seen and I ended up booking the role on “Sabrina” AND getting a part in the project I was a reader for. How cool is that?

My next call was to Alicia, my commercial agent. She had been trying to help the situation so that I might be able to do both, but it wasn’t to be. I told her I pulled out of “O13”. She was saddened that I had to do that, but happy things were settled. I told her about my “right of passage” and “earning my stripes” outlook and she agreed wholeheartedly. We also talked about me being a consultant on “The Business of the Business of Acting” and she was also very supportive.

So, to the fitting for “Michelin”. It goes fairly quick. I have a sneaking feeling that this is going to be a good spot for me. I don’t know why, but I do. There are 8 people and I am the only African-American male – there are other elements that give me a good feeling too.

So, I guess it’s truly on to the next.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The plot gets thicker.... I had a feeling this could happen. Well, I knew it could happen, but I had a feeling it actually might happen. My shoot date for "O13" is still moving in a not so great direction and looking to collide with my shoot date for the "Michelin" commercial. In fact, it has collided.

There are injuries; some minor some major. I tried to be safe, wore my seatbelt, obeyed speed limits, checked my tire pressure, etc. I saw this accident as it was happening and was hoping I could swerve to avoid it.

The exact time of the impact was 11:53 this morning when the UPM of "O13" called to say that another day had been added to my booking. I gripped the steering wheel tight.

He added that the additional date was Monday. I slammed on the brakes and started sliding sideways. That's when I hit the wall; the airbag immediately deployed and the car burst into flames. I was able to get out of the vehicle before the explosion that followed. As paramedics arrived on the scene I sat dazed & confused; I was shook.

This wasn't supposed to happen this way...or maybe this is exactly how it's supposed to happen. I auditioned for "Ocean's Thirteen" on June 7th and got the booking phone call directly from the casting director, Debra Zane, on June 20th while on vacation in Virginia Beach.

Several weeks later I got my work date of October 12th. Great! Since my part in “Ocean’s Twelve” was cut from the script I was especially excited to be a part of the project and to get a second chance at working with director Steven Soderbergh.


SFX: Cell phone ringing...

Stephon: Hello?

UPM: Hey Stephon, it's Basti from "Ocean's Thirteen" production.

Stephon: Good morning; how are you?

UPM: I’m good thanks. Hey, it looks like we’re going to get into your stuff on Monday and most likely Tuesday.

Stephon: Really? You’re kidding.

UPM: No, that’s the way the boards look.

Stephon: Wow, I’m already working on that day.

UPM: That’s why I wanted to contact you early to give you a chance to figure out what you wanted to do.

Stephon: I appreciate that. Alright, I’ll figure it out……..


Back to me sitting on the curb surrounded by paramedics. I've got a serious gash on my left leg, but other than that I'm okay. I’ve lost a bit of blood, but I think I’m gonna make it.


The first call goes to Caleigh, my theatrical agent handling this job. I give her the news and of course she is not happy. Then I ring Alicia, my commercial agent. Of course she isn’t happy either, but she also knows that the commercial booking is in first position since I was clear when I committed to the date. We discuss the legalities of this situation - and trust me, there are legalities. It’s “O13” that’s ahead of schedule.

After hanging up the phone I just sat at my desk and thought…and thought…and thought…and thought some more. How could I get this to work out? Honestly, considering the news and knowing what needs to be shot I didn’t think it would work out. The elements just weren’t there, but I wasn’t going to give up without a fight.

Things have worked so well for me, in my life in general, that I had a feeling that this time I was gonna feel a little pain…and I was ready – at least I think so. I didn’t know what to do. I thought of a zillion different scenarios and none of them seemed to really work – even in my head. It was slipping through my fingers – “like sand slipping through the hour-glass, this is a day in my life.”

So I hop in my car and drive aimlessly; I stop by my friend Jon’s spot – he wasn’t home. I usually bounce things off Jon. It’s funny because we have totally different thought processes so I have to constantly fight to make my point. It’s a good thing because it forces me to challenge my way of thinking and you’d be shocked at what goes through my head. But he wasn’t home and I was on my own – hey, that kinda rhymes…..

15 minutes later I found myself in casting director Debra Zane’s parking lot just sitting in my car. I wasn’t even sure why I was there. I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing. I walked up to the office and it was dark and the door was locked – good. The locked door was “saving me from myself” – I think. I didn’t knock or ring the bell. Deep down, I knew that the door is usually locked and they may be in the back, but I needed an excuse to not push a situation that I wasn’t sure about.

I could have just had my agents handle things, but I knew I needed to be very, very hands on with this one. Debra and Tannis and very, very special to me.

I just stood outside the door for a while just sorta pacing and probably looking mad suspicious. After a while I went back to sit in my car.

This isn’t something I would want to happen with any casting office in town, but Debra Zane and Ross Lacy???? WHAT!!! These are two of my biggest supporters in casting. In 2006 I have had auditions, callbacks or 2nd callbacks a total of 20 times at just Ross Lacy casting. Debra has booked me on 3 studio films. Finally, I get my head together and get on my way.

This is funny – really funny. Late tonight, I was on the forum reading a post about agents. An actor had responded to a topic and in his post this was included:

“In fact I just got a call this morning from them checking my availability for Ocean's 13 next week.”

WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I betcha that is my freakin role!! LOL!!!! How funny is that? I couldn’t do anything but laugh – out loud. Here is an actor who auditioned for this movie BACK IN JUNE and didn’t get the role, but now he gets a call because of my drama. This is the casting process at work and I love it – even if I may lose something in the process. I don’t know what’s going to happen at this point, but I’m really happy that somebody just might get a great surprise of working with Al Pacino – I wish it was me, but You can’t have everything. I’ve been the recipient of the wonderfulness of this business so many times and I’m willing to share – if I have to, lol!

Make no mistake, I have NOT given up. Not yet!