Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Audition/Producers: "Close to Home" @ Schiff/Audino Casting. This is for a one-day guest star role. It went well and I'm perfect for it. I would LOVE to get this one.

Shortly after I get home @ 5:19pm I get a call for another guest-star appointment for "My Name is Earl". Yes!

Within minutes I had printed and highlighted the sides and was reading through it. The role was that of a prosecutor. My initial thought was that I might be a little young, but I remembered how unconventional the show is and just went for it. THEN! At 5:42 my agent called back to cancel the appointment because they made an offer to someone with a name. Oh well. Easy come, easy go. The cool thing is that they called me straight to producers for a guest-star role; which is happening more often for me. NEXT!


Monday, February 26, 2007

Friday, February 23, 2007

I met a really cool producer out of New York today through Casting Director Deborah Dion. Her name is Blair Breard and she’s making moves with some real players in the business. It’s another connection that I feel really good about.

Okay, one of my theatrical agents called this afternoon with info for a producer session for a co-star role in a pilot at one of the busiest casting offices in Los Angeles. She didn't submit me and wanted to know if I'd submitted myself, dropped off a photo or recently met someone from the office in a workshop. She just wanted to know what the deal was before confirming me for the session. The reason why was because it was a two-line role and the last time I was in that office it was for a recurring role. That doesn’t tell the whole story, but my team is trying to move forward.

Oh $?#}, it's about to get interesting. Why? Read on. You see one of the owners of this casting office called me at home yesterday about a mutual friend. It was a short conversation and we didn’t really discuss the business. I don’t audition at this office too much, but I have booked there in the past. So, when I told my agent about the phone call yesterday she said “reeealllly?”.

She knows that I’m on the constant hustle for opportunities, but I explained that I hadn’t recently met anyone from the office and I hadn’t dropped a photo there in at least the last two weeks.

I just checked my records and they show that I did a general drop for this project on January 22nd. I had the name of the project, who was casting, but no roles – I think it came from the Actorsite list. Although I wouldn’t have dropped for this particular role it amazes me how many actors think general drops are a waste of time.

Back to my agent; I told her I thought it was just a coincidence since I spoke to him yesterday. Who knows, I can’t be sure. Even though it was a producer session my agent and I agreed that I should pass on the project. So pass we did. The last time I passed on something at this office was for “Dexter”; they eventually brought me back in for something larger.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Audition: "Miller-Lite" @ Cathi Carlton Casting. This goes really well. There was one thing though; we actually had to hold "Miller-Lite" bottles. Now, you wouldn't think that would be so hard right? Wrong! Why? You see, I've never even had so much as a sip of beer, or any alcohol for that matter, in my entire life. I don’t even like drinking from a wine or champagne glass. The beer bottle just didn't feel natural in my hand so I had to keep glancing at how the other 3 guys were holding theirs. I so desperately wanted that "cool guy drinking-a-beer" swagger. I think I did okay in the end. Weird, I know.

Sometimes I actually wish I drank because it looks so "social and fun", plus I'm fascinated by the bottles. I can sit at a bar and just look at the bottles of liquor and watch people order drinks forever. I don’t know, it’s just so fascinating for some reason. I must say that I did not particularly enjoy selling beer, wine and liquor when I waited tables. It was too much to remember – up, rocks, salt, no salt, top-shelf, well, shaken, stirred, “how many olives?”, etc. WHAT?!
Other times, I witness what beer, wine and liquor can do to people and I think I’m gonna be okay without it. Hangovers, DUI's, $12 Apple Martini's and not being able to make morning appointments doesn't fit to well into what it is I moved to Los Angeles for. I often wonder how much of my accomplishments wouldn’t exist if I lost my edge due to drinking. I also wonder how many cool stories I would have if I was a drinker…hmmm I may never know.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Audition: "Jacks Links" @ Jeff Rosenman Casting. I felt this went well and I'm right enough for it too. Callback here I come...I hope.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Audition: “HBO comic project” @ Deborah Dion Casting. I have to tell you that this woman is one of the sweetest women I’ve ever met. I have a thing with casting directors named Deborah/Debra I guess. It’s a really, super small project that she’s doing and I’m glad she contacted me for it. Good to have that e-mail address on the resume. It went really, really well; Deborah was laughing quite a bit. I have a good feeling about this situation. Not necessarily limited to “this” project, but my relationship with Deborah on the whole.

Five minutes before arriving at the above audition I get a call for a callback for the commercial audition from yesterday. I’ll tell you there really is something to be said for being totally available for auditions. I remember when I lived in New York and I would have conflicts with auditions and work. It always worked out, but there were those times of angst about it.
Callback: “Sony” @ Francene Selkirk Casting. Okay, so here I find myself stripped down to my underwear for the second time in 24 hours. What’s up with that? I guess the universe got the memo that I’m working out again. Anyway, the audition couldn’t have gone any better than it did. I just think I’m too old, but I didn’t let that stop me. I’m not expecting to hear anything more about it, but you never know. My work is done – and done well I must say.

A couple of weeks ago I shot some photos with a photographer who isn’t new to photography, but looking to expand into headshots. We did a quick session and her name is Deborah at http://www.blackrhinophotography.com/ check her out!

Looks like me!


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Audition: “Sony” @ Francene Selkirk Casting. As I’ve said many times; this is where I had my first audition ever in Los Angeles – July 29th 1998 - 10:30am. It was 12 ½ hours after moving to Los Angeles and I got a callback. I have yet to book there, but I get quite a few callbacks and avails – and releases from avails now that I think about it. That is gonna change soon – I’ve been saying that for years!

The role I was going in for was the dad in the spot – 38-48. There was also a wife and the son. The son was to be in his 20’s. As I looked around at who was there I felt like I fit right in the middle of specs for the spot. Not playing old enough for the dad, but too old for the son. After thinking about it I decided to switch categories and be seen for the son instead since I felt closer to being right for that.

Before switching roles I didn’t know I was expected to strip down to my underwear. WHAT?! Thankfully, I’ve been working on getting my LA figure back in check for the moms in the room! Anyway, the audition goes really, really well. I don't if I'll fall through the cracks as far being right enough for a callback, but I definitely did my job. After my group read Francene was talking about the spot with the session runner while I was getting dressed. I was trying to get out in a hurry because they were having sort of a private conversation about the auditions. On my way out Francene noticed me and said “Hey, that’s my blogger”. It didn’t hit me until about 15 seconds later. I don’t really know who reads this stuff, but somehow she is at least aware that is exists. Francene has a special place with me, plus she’s an East Coaster.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Today is the day I give blood at the SAG Headquarters. I used to have a minor phobia of needles, but after my mom passed away I made it a priority to give blood on a more regular basis. I remember once, while giving blood, I was on the phone with my mom and I got word that I booked a role on “Gilmore Girls”, but I couldn’t do it because I was already booked on another show. That was good day. I‘ve been trying to book “Gilmore Girls” again ever since!

Usually, I’m not the greatest at prepping myself for the blood thing; meaning I don’t always eat a meal in the morning of, I don’t always hydrate and I don’t get a lot rest before going in. I’ve never had a problem so I didn’t think too much of it.

This time I decided to do everything “right”. I ate and drank way more than usual yesterday and this morning and I slept like 8-9 hours straight which is really unusual. So I go in and fill out all the paper work, get my temperature taken, ya know all the stuff you gotta do. I’m in the chair, squeezing the ball and my blood is flowing out really well – I usually like to steal a look at the blood bag as it’s filling up. Why? I’m not sure.

When permitted I get up and proceed to the waiting area. It’s California state law that you have to stay there for at least 15 minutes to make sure you’re okay to re-enter the world. I was offered and accepted the usual juice and cookies – I wanted to do this right.

About an hour after I got home I was toast. I could barely function; I couldn’t do anything but lay down and lay down is what I did – for several hours. Normally, after giving blood, I’m ready to go the gym, ride my bike, attend a workshop, go to an audition or anything else I might want or need to do. So what did I learn? I learned that sometimes “the right way” to do things isn’t necessarily “the right way” for me. I think next time my preparation for giving blood is gonna be Jack & Coke on the rocks and a cigarette – Lucky Strike - no filter……

I’m kidding. I just don’t understand what happened. It’s kinda like me not ever wanting to get a flu shot – I’ve never had the flu and I feel like if I get a flu shot I will definitely get the flu - immediately. I’ll have to find a happy medium between my “rock-star” approach to giving blood and “the right way”.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Audition: “Las Vegas Tourism” @ Kathy Knowles Casting. I get here 4 hours early with hopes of being seen because I'm shooting indie film "Privileged" today. Plus I have another audition I'm trying to get to before my calltime.

I arrive. Oops.....at first, the session runner, Marvin, doesn't think I'm there for the right category; I'm the only African-American guy in the waiting room .....tickticktickticktick...then he says "ah come on in". Once we get to the audition room he checks the master list and, sure enough, I was on it for the "Hero guy".

This brings up something else that shows how great my commercial agents are and how well they know me. I always look at the "race check box" on the SAG audition sign-in sheet. So, so many times I am one of very few African-American males being seen. That convinces me that my agents don't look at me as simply a talented African-American actor, but a talented actor who happens to be African-American - a much better place to be in my opinion. It’s simply a much larger category. My theatrical agents do the same thing.

This audition goes really well and the spot is hilarious. I gotta tell ya, this guy Marvin, that runs the sessions at Kathy Knowles Casting is incredible. I must admit, it took me a couple times of auditioning for him before I got used to his style and learned to appreciate him.

At first he came off as kinda of bitter and callous; then "I" started to "get it". Marvin is my best friend in an audition; he's not bitter or callous he just knows WTF he's doing. He let's an actor know when he/she is on and when they are not. Maybe, since I’ve learned appreciate him is why I get a good number of callbacks and avails at this office.


I'm scrambling to make it from Santa Monica back to Hollywood to get to this next audition – and it doesn’t look good. I think they are going to be on their lunch break, but all I can do is try my hardest. I don’t like missing auditions.

So I get to The Casting Studios and “Studio 2” looks completely deserted. I could have just walked out then, but I figured I should at least ask someone. So I went to the front desk and explained my situation to the gentleman telling him that I think they may have already broke for lunch. Before he could say anything a woman walked behind me and said “…not yet, sign-in, I’ll take your Poloroid”. YES!!! I made it.

So I signed in and read the copy and saw that there were 3 scientists in the spot. Five minutes pass…..ten Minutes pass and no one shows up. What? So the session runner, Mike, reads it with me and it goes GREAT!! My head is spinning, but I was so happy to make both of auditions and still be able to get to the movie shoot on time.

“Privileged” – Parking - South La Brea –

I arrive and am taken to my trailer to get settled. I see one of the producers, Philippe Denham, and he caught my appearances on “Brothers & Sisters”. I also reunited with one of the other producers Keith Shaw; I spent many sessions as the reader for this film several months ago. Before long we are shuttled to the set for a blocking rehearsal. That is where I met who I’ll be working with, Arlen Escarpeta and Tatyana Ali. We did a few quick rehearsals and then it was back to base camp.

While Arlen and I were in getting our make-up done the make-up lady couldn’t remember which one of us was in “Weeds”. I didn’t say anything at first because I didn’t know if Arlen had done an episode too. One of these days I’ll get used to hearing that people actually see some of the stuff I’ve been on.

Anyway, we get back to set a while later for A LOT of takes and a lot of fun. Acting is always fun for me. Jonah Salander, the director, Arlen and Tatyana were a complete pleasure to work with. I was there quite a bit longer than I thought I would and it was cool I have a feeling I’ll be working with this group again in the future. Whoa!! What a productive day - two and auditions and a job. NEXT!!!!

Arlen Escarpeta, Tatyana Ali and me on set "Privileged".


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Okay, so I call the ad agency in Chicago to get an update on the “Michelin” commercial. The person I usually talk to isn’t in so I leave a message for her. Not two minutes later my commercial send me an email informing me that I’ve been outgraded for the “Michelin” spot. What? “You’ve got to be kidding me?” I just stare at the email thinking it’s gonna change, but it didn’t. This was not the news that I hoping to hear. As I've said in the past; "booking the job" is not always enough.

I took a deep breath and called my agent. She had already requested a copy of the spot so that we could judge for ourselves. I told her it was possible that they got rid of all three engineers, but I’d be a little surprised if it was only me that was edited out. Could be though, we’ll find out when we get the tape.

Well, with that news, I’m not gonna be making any dental surgery decisions today or tomorrow. It’ll have to wait until I figure something out; it’s not like I’m bleeding, plus the pain is totally gone.

I’m not feeling so great right now so I decided to go to the gym – which I don’t particularly enjoy, but I knew it would help get me centered again. On the way I stopped by to see Debra and Tannis @ Debra Zane Casting. Since they cast “Ocean’s Thirteen” and I pulled out to do the commercial I wanted to update them of the latest development – plus I like them, they are nice.

We all got a great laugh out of it and I was already feeling better. They then informed me that the group of guys that I was to be with in the film got to go back for re-shoots. Wow, more days on the film. We all agreed that this is happening for a reason – I’m not necessarily sure what the reason is, but there is something behind it. It makes for a good story – I guess. Well, I’m proud to say that I’ve been hired 3 times by Academy Award winning directors…and it will happen again.

So on to the gym…I do my two hours of sweating, running, lifting and more sweating and when I get in the car I have a message from my theatrical agent. I usually leave my phone in the car when I’m at the gym because I just don’t want to hear from anyone during that time, but I should probably change that. I don’t really like being at the gym in the first place and if I’m getting calls it’s all the more reason to not lift those dumbbells or do those leg presses. But business is business and it would be worse if I missed a timely call. So I think the answer is to carry my phone, but turn the ringer off and check it periodically during my workout – yeah, that should work.

The message came in just 5 minutes before I got back in the car and it’s a last minute audition for a pilot at Fox Studios. It’s a co-star role and my agent wasn’t sure I’d go in, but she figured she’d try anyway since it’s a pilot. The call stemmed from meeting someone from the casting office at Actorsite recently. After the last couple of days I’d had of course I was going in. So I rushed home to get cleaned up to get over to Fox. When I saw the sides, I thought I was too young, but I wasn’t going to let that get in the way of my performance.

When I finally found the office on the Fox lot there was snow outside on the ground. Snow? Yeah snow. I actually walked over and touched it. I guess they were shooting something earlier that required snow. It reminded how much I love what I do. It’s the “playing” that is so fun. Snow on the ground in Los Angeles – you gotta love it.

Audition/pilot/tape: “Life” @ Megan Branman Casting. When it was my turn to go in to read the casting associate looked at me for a second and thought I was too young as well. She suggested I read another role as well. I paused and thought about it. Then she told me I was more right for it, but it was smaller. I paused again; then we both agreed that “no”, I shouldn’t read for the other, smaller role. My agents and I have this conversation often about trying to move up the ladder to get more guest star roles and beyond.

Even though I play a bit young for this smarmy lawyer the audition went really well. She thanked me for coming in and we also talked about moving up the ladder in my career; she even gave me hug on the way out.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

So it’s 9am and I arrive at my dentist, Dr. Rashti’s office; I’m not in a great mood, but when I walk in a kid is waiting in the lobby. I like kids. Then everyone in the office starts talking about how they saw me on “Brothers & Sisters”. I don’t know why that still catches me by surprise anytime someone sees me on the tube, but for some reason it does.

Anyway I sit down beside the kid and say “Sup?” he say responds “Sup?”. That put me in a much better mood and within a couple of minutes me and this 8 year old were kickin’ it about motorcycles, video games, his stepmom – the artist, his favorite subject - math and video game cheat codes. We were definitely connecting until it was my turn to get in the chair.

So I’m in the chair getting ready for my cleaning and explaining the extreme pain I had been in. I say “had been in” because it had mysteriously subsided a great deal. I explained to Dr. Rashti how bad the pain was and she x-rayed the tooth and it looked fine. She poked it, put ice on it and examined it repeatedly and couldn’t find anything wrong. WHAT? Just yesterday I was damn near in a fetal position in extreme pain until my brother Jeff called and laughed at me. I don’t think I ever laughed that hard while in pain. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t in pain any longer; the Vicodin I had taken just to get to sleep last night had worn off.

Anyway, during the cleaning Dr. Rashti found some other stuff and took another x-ray and asked when I had my wisdom teeth removed. I thought about it for a second and then remembered it was when I was working at The Standard in like 2000 I think. Wow, I hadn’t thought about that for a long time. She then asked if one had broken off while being extracted. I thought…….Oh no, yeah, it was all coming back to me. One DID break and the dentist couldn’t get the broken piece out – which now makes no sense to me. I honestly don’t remember exactly what happened, but I remember it happening. Aw man!!

So I got the bad news that I need have surgery to get the rest of the tooth removed. I also was informed that I grind my teeth really, really bad and need to have a night guard made. This put me in a terrible mood, not like mad at anybody, just frustrated. I left there with my head spinning and just sat in my car damn near tears. I was beside myself. I needed a moment to clear my head – before my audition in a couple of hours.

The last time I had dental surgery I underestimated what I was going through and it all snuck on me. I ended up with a black eye and a swollen face - fo real. This is not nearly as serious, but still it’s just not what I had planned – dental stuff ain’t cheap and my Quicken budget program is asking question like “WTF?”. What to do, what to do.

Alright, I wasn’t going to call the ad agency about my “Michelin” commercial, but I’ll call them tomorrow to see what the status of it is. I don’t wanna commit to paying for this stuff until I can get a clearer picture financially.

Audition: “Xerox” @ TLC/Loree Booth Casting. I always like going here to audition; well I like going most places to audition, but I’ve booked twice here in the past for the legendary commercial director Joe Pytka.

I’m not sure how this went; I just wasn’t all there mentally, but for some reason I wasn’t too concerned. I felt I was right for the spot and they know I can do it and they’ve hired me before. I think I’m right enough for it, so we’ll see. So I left there just not too sure, but that’s okay. You can’t win ‘em all.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Oh no, I think I have a cavity…or worse. I’ve been in denial for the last couple of days about this slightly, nagging pain. Last night the alarm went off and was almost writhing on the floor in pain. Thankfully, I saved some of that Vicodin from my surgery last year. That’s stuff really works! I mean really. I still don’t get why some take it if they aren’t pain, but maybe that’s something I don’t need to understand. This afternoon after the gym and GSA Contract seminar at SAG I took some medication and got in the bed – I was in terrible pain. It felt like someone was drilling into my temple. I HAD to call 1-800-VICODIN. I have a dentist appointment tomorrow – hopefully I won’t be drugged up for my audition in the early afternoon – especially because I think it’s a Pytka spot.

Speaking of General Service Contracts (GSA). OMG! Those things are potentially vicious to say the least. I have one, but I’m not too concerned about it, because I don’t believe I’m in a relationship with vicious people. But some agents are definitely running game on people – educate yourselves folks!

Yesterday I rode my bike all they way to the top of Griffith Park to the observatory; 16.25 miles roundtrip – that uphill part was a BEAST!!! I did it without stopping even once. Maybe I’m in better shape than I give myself credit for. Next time I should actually go in the observatory; I haven’t been in there since 2001.
No news on the "Verizon" print avail. I really hope it doesn't get "too" interesting. Whatever is supposed to happen will happen - I suppose.


Saturday, February 03, 2007

This blog completely blows my mind sometimes. I mean, I’m not a writer in the traditional sense. Even today I’m concerned by how my grammar and text flows. This bio/blog is more words than I wrote the ENTIRE time I was in grade school. When I started it I had no idea I would be read as widely as it is – however wide that is. Obviously, I knew I was putting it on the WORLD WIDE WEB, but still, I didn’t think it would turn into what it has. The consultation session I had yesterday stemmed from the young performers mother finding my writing from many, many states away and urging her daughter to book a session with me. Really? Wow!

Several days ago I got an email from a New York Casting Director that said this:

Hi Stephon,

I found your blog while googling Xxxxxxx Xxxx and I'm hoping you have contact info for her as I'm trying to get her in for an audition! If you are still in touch with her would you let her know I am trying to get ahold of her:

Xxxxxx Xxxxx
Xxxxx/Xxxxxxxxx Casting
XXX Ninth Avenue
Suite XXXX
New York, NY 10036

212.123.4567 Tel
212.123.4567 Fax

Or if you feel comfortable giving me her number that would be great too...her SAG and AEA info is outdated.

Many thanks in advance for your help!

All the best,

Xxxxxx Xxxxx

WHAT?!?!?! The actress she was looking for is someone I waited tables with 12 years ago at The Harley-Davidson CafĂ© in New York. The reason I wrote about her in my blog was because one of many times I was back in New York I went to see her in a play – actually I think I’ve seen her twice on stage while back in the City. I had a number for her and left a message, but I wasn’t sure how current it was because I hadn’t spoken to this actress in 3 or so years. So I called another New York friend her in LA to get a more current number and left another message. I then called the Casting Director to let her know that she should be hearing from the actress soon. The actress got the message and was thrilled to have gotten the info in a timely manner. I thought that was pretty cool.

On another note, I just found out that my friend, Lydia Blanco, just booked a guest lead in a pilot and is going to Vancouver for 10 days. How cool is that? I remember meeting Lydia when she got to town not to many years ago and was non-union. We have some conversations about who I felt was the single most important casting director to know in this town and it didn’t take too long for her to become SAG - through that very person. So much has happened for her since then. We both worked on “Good Morning, Miami” and “The Terminal”. One of these days I’m going to get to work in Vancouver; I hear it’s beautiful. Reminds me that I need to get my passport renewed Go Lydia!!


Friday, February 02, 2007

Airing: “Monk” on USA @ 9pm EST/PST. I shot this back in May; I thought they scrapped the episode, but they had split their season and that is the reason for the delay.
YES!! NO!! Yes. I guess. My print agent calls this afternoon to give me the news that I am on avail for the “Verizon” print ad from yesterday. I’m thrilled about the news, but of course there a little potential complication. One of the two days I’m on avail for is the same day I’m scheduled to work on the film “Privileged” that I booked back October. Huh? Why does this “scheduling thing” keep happening to me? I mean I’m not booked, but still. It was the same thing with “Ocean’s Thirteen”; book something months in advance and then when it finally gets close to do the job another job conflicts. Well…I have a great answer as to why this keeps happening. It’s because I am a working actor. The more I work the more I will have these issues. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t wish for scheduling conflicts, but it’s good that people know my name…at least a little bit.

I have to say that I am really enjoying this consulting thing. I am meeting actors in town that are looking for direction and I really, truly feel like I’m providing them with what they are coming to me for – alternative ways of thinking. I don’t pretend to have “the answers”, but I have definitely learned a lot along the way. Plus, I’m an expert on “my opinion” and I stand behind it.

Today I had a session with a young lady who is my youngest client to date and the some of the advice she’d had been given made me cringe. I mean terrible advice that equated to way too much wasted time in her young career. I was really glad we had a sit-down and I look at today as being the first day of the rest of her career. I don’t think some “industry professionals” realize the impact of some of the things they say to actors; especially actors arriving from other markets that have no reason to know any better. This is not an audition; it is someone’s career and future. You cannot get these wasted days back.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Print go-see: “Verizon” @ Gayle A. Means/Lynch Studios. Okay this is 5th time I’ve been in for “Verizon” in the last 5 weeks. Does this mean anything? I don’t know, but they should book a brotha soon. It went well, you know how print is; in and out in a jiffy.