Thursday, May 29, 2008

Audition: "Cox Communications" @ jacob casting. This went okay, but I think I'm too young for it. Who knows though, I could still get a callback - fingers -crossed!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Callback: “Burger King” [skirts] casting. This spot is pretty funny. They kept me to read with several different women. I’m not sure what that means, if anything, but I sure hope they book me. As always, it’s neat to get to see different people do their interpretation of the same material. Some of it was really great and some was quite boring. At any rate I hope I get to shoot the spot.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Audition: “AT&T” @ Joe Blake Casting. I walked into Ocean Park Casting expecting it to be the madhouse that it usually is. It wasn’t. In fact, it was a ghost town. There was only one job being cast with one actress and one actor waiting. “Wow”, I thought, this is “not” what I expected to see. Maybe it was a barometer of how quiet it’s been for me…or maybe not.

Anyway, I signed in, got my copy and started rehearsing the dialogue. After a while, the three of us were called in for a group explanation. The other actor stayed in the room to audition; myself and the young lady left to be next. I was heading to the other side of the room to continue rehearsing when she called my name. I had never seen this really attractive actress before and was a bit startled. She was explaining that she’d read my blog in the past and that it helped her before she moved to Los Angeles. Her fiancĂ© had told her about it. She was so excited and rambling pretty fast when she just stopped and said “I feel like I know you, can I give you hug?!” I said, Of course!” So we hugged.

The timing of it all was just perfect because it was a concrete message that I’ve given something back to my profession and that my contribution matters. If it wasn’t for this “Alicia”(sp) I probably wouldn’t have known that today. It’s easy to forget that my contribution, in the form of this almost 600 pages blog, is read by quite a few people – some actors, some not. Alicia, you made my day, thank you!!!

Afterwards, the audition went really well and I hope and expect to get a callback.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

It is worth it? …hmmm. It’s definitely been worth it, I’ve had a great, rewarding journey thus far. But is it worth it moving forward? I don’t know. I’m at a crossroad…I think.

I’m speaking of continuing on this acting journey. I’m just not sure how much more I’m willing to do. I’m not really close to “hanging it up” just yet, but honestly it crosses my mind…quite often actually. That’s not anything new; I’ve had those thoughts for years. I'm just venting-I've worked too hard, too smart for too long to give up...I think.

These feelings will probably subside once these SAG-AMPTP–AFTRA negotiations are over. It would be so much easier if I could just ignore the state of the business and what we are up against. Many actors do just that and I understand why. Who wants to really read all that literature that comes in the mail from the guild? Who wants to attend the meetings? It’s not fun or interesting to most, but our future as performers depends on it.

The way I look at it is that we actors didn’t always get residuals or have decent wages & working conditions. They weren’t given to us by the studios without a fight and trust me at every negotiation the studios are trying to minimize those benefits. Somebody stood up a long time ago to fight for the benefits that I now get and I have to do my part to help for the people who will come after me. No, I’m not on the Board of Directors of SAG doing the really heavy lifting, but I like to call myself “a good soldier” who can and does enlighten my fellow performers at every chance I get. Sure, I probably take it a little too seriously, but it’s difficult for me to just think everything is going to be okay…it’s only my future.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Tonight was my first shift working on my own after training. It was pretty busy and I think I handled myself quite well. Something funny happened. I waited on an actress that is a regular on a current TV series. I immediately knew who she was, but I, of course, I didn’t say “Hey, you’re on that show!” I just did my job. She was kinda looking at me like we’d met before, but we hadn’t. She finally asked what I used to do before working there. I told her that I was an actor and she said, “I knew I’d seen you before!” It was pretty funny and quite unexpected. I’m guessing maybe she had seen the ”WaMu” commercial.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wow, I had my first training shift last night at my new/old job. OMG! Is about all I can say. This experience is going to be a trip for many, many reasons. It’s so weird to back in the exact physical space that I was 7 years+ years ago. I don’t mean that necessarily in a negative way; just in a way of memories flying back in my head and clouding my thinking. The shift went well; I just gotta get back up to speed and learn my way around.
Audition: “Burger King” @ skirts Casting. Ha! Imagine that – an audition! I was started think I had been dropped by my agents! My last audition was 3 weeks ago; which is a long, long time for me. The audition went really well. The spot is pretty funny - I was slapped repeatedly by the female in the spot. She was great to work with, but realistically, I doubt they would ever cast me, an African-American actor, in that role – I’ll be up for the other male role. What ever works; hopefully I’ll be at callbacks on Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I had orientation for my new/old job today. It went well considering I’ve been away for 7 years. Sure, I have mixed feelings about. I’d obviously rather be booking guest spots on TV or commercial campaigns, but you do what you have to do when you have to do it. The flip side is that I’m enjoying having a little bit of mental space between me and the business. It could be a turning point for me career –wise.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tonight I attended the SAG Town Hall Meeting at the WGA Theatre. Let me tell you, the actors in attendance were fired up – me included. We were lined up before the doors opened eager to get the latest word on the negotiations between SAG and the AMPTP. I really, really wish there were more actors that showed up for these meetings. I find that many actors don’t think it affects them all that much and I can understand why, but this is a business and we are doing jobs that we need to be fairly compensated for. These negotiations affect me and the rest of us working-class actors in the most direct way possible.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Finally! I got to see my new, white-haired elderly friend; and she is going to be just fine. Yeah, she was a little sore, but she’s feeling much better. I was glad to get confirmation that she was okay.

It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve had an audition and who knows much longer it will be. I don’t know and I’m not too pressed about it for some reason. I was on-call for jury duty last week for the 3rd time in the last 5 ½ years. I was hoping to get called in to serve, but I couldn’t even get in on that. Ha! Nobody is interesting in my services it seems, LOL!

I’ve been going through old records and had to do some new calculations and in ’05 I drove over 4,000 miles in auditions, callbacks, rehearsals, bookings, classes and workshops. If I included drop-offs it would have been a total of at least 6,000 miles or more.

I was even surprised by those numbers and don’t know how I kept that pace up for so long. It’s easy to do it for a day, a week, a month or even a year. Try it for 10 years. It’s a monumental amount of work and I’m glad it’s behind me for the most part.

Friday, May 16, 2008

It’s official. I got my old job back. Interesting, to say the least. I’m not tripping out over it either. If anything, I’m tripping by the fact that I’m not tripping.

I stopped by to see that elderly couple from yesterday’s mishap. I didn’t get to see the wife because she was resting, but I talked to the husband. More accurately, I listened to husband. He told me this incredibly long story about…something. I had no idea what he was telling me through his accent, but I trust that it was a great story. He was so animated while telling it; his face just lit up with joy. Or maybe he was saying “keep your dirty paws off of my wife or I’ll breaka your face!” I don’t know.

No auditions for two weeks. Wow. I wonder how long it will last. Another day? Another week? A month? Another hour. I don’t think I’ve had my last audition, callback or booked my last job, but who really knows when the last one is? Time will tell.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Check this out. This afternoon I had gone out to get something out of my car and on my way back to my apartment I sensed “something” was going on. I had no idea what; it was just one of those feelings you get. I stood on my tip-toes to look around and saw, in the distance, a Black woman struggling with a Caucasian man on a 4-wheeled scooter. The kind an elderly or disabled person might use. I sprinted across the street with lightening speed to help, but to be honest, I had no idea what was really happening between the man and the woman.

As I got closer I could see that the woman was in her 50’s and the man, probably in his 80’s. The cart that the man was sitting on was trying to move forward, but the woman was trying to stop him. It was only then that I could see that an elderly, white-haired woman was under the scooter while the man was completely out of control with his hand on the throttle trying to go forward. The motorized wheels kept lunging forward while the Black woman was trying to get the man’s hands off of the controls. The white-haired, elderly woman was screaming “GET IT OFF ME, GET IT OFF ME!!!

Thankfully, I’ve been working out at the gym on the regular and I’m strong like a MOFO! I lifted the scooter off of the woman like the Incredible Black man that I am. You shoulda seen dat sh*t yo! I rolled up like I was gonna save everybody and everything. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time for me to rip out of my shirt and scream like the Incredible Hulk...or Michael Jackson.

So I get the scooter off the woman, comfort her and have her lay still to make sure she wasn’t seriously hurt. She kept repeating, in an Eastern European accent, “I didn’t want to go, I knew something bad would happen”. She didn’t know what the heck had happened except that a damn scooter was pissed off at her for some reason. At that point I didn’t know what had happened either. I slowly helped her get to her feet and guided her to a shady area to gather her wits. Her glasses were bent which gave her a small cut on her cheek; she had a small scrapes on her head and hands and a little abrasion on her leg. Also, her pants were torn and she was quite dirty from being laid the eff out on the sidewalk.

It was only at this point that I got the full story of what happened. The Black woman in her 50’s was a hospice nurse. She was walking along side of the elderly man on the scooter when, all of the sudden, he started going really fast and out of control down the sidewalk. The elderly, white-haired woman was also with them, but she was walking some distance in front of them further down the sidewalk using a walker. She was also his wife. Yup, he had run over his wife with his scooter.

The man on the scooter hadn’t used it for a while and was getting familiar with it again. He’d also had both legs amputated just above the knees and was wearing prosthetics. He was confused and felt terrible about what had happened.

I thought about calling an ambulance, but after a moment or two I assessed that she was okay, just a bit shaken up, bruised and sore. I wasn’t sure what to do next; it all happened so fast. Then the woman asked me if I worked in the area. I replied, “yes”. Then she asked if I had a car. Again, I said “yes”. Next she asked if I would take her home. I said “Of course I would”.

So I went to get my car, cooled it down with A/C blasting, put her walker in my trunk and helped her to the passenger side. We left the hospice nurse and the husband to get home with the scooter on their own. On the way home she was very appreciative of my assistance and I asked her where she was from. She was from Poland and had come here through Canada, had 4 children in the area – one of which is a producer. (I can’t get away from the business, lol!)

I helped her out of the car and up the sidewalk to her home and was on my way. Shortly after arriving back at my apartment I remembered that her walker was still in my trunk. So I drove back to her place to drop it off. She was resting out on the front stoop and was surprised to see me again. She said she was going to be okay. I believed her. Growing up in Poland in the 20’s and 30’s. I’m sure she has seen many things tougher than a silly runaway scooter – even if her husband was driving it.

It totally made my day to be able to help a stranger.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

WOW! Talk about full circle or should I say “fuller” circle – no pun intended. I applied for a job today. Not just any job; my old job at the place I used to work at years ago. I say “fuller circle” as opposed to simply “full circle” because when I worked there I used to dream about “not” working there and coming back in a different incarnation. That exact thing happened when, about a year after I left, I booked a job that was to shoot in Japan and the fitting was held at my former place of employment. I thought that was “full circle”, but today the circle grew another dimension, to “fuller” when I filled out the application. Yes, it felt a little weird, but it wasn’t as bad and jarring as I thought it would be. There were several people that I knew from years ago when I worked there that greeted me warmly. Another thing that was weird was that I didn’t know how much I hadn’t forgotten about that experience until I was physically back in the space. It was a long time ago – but you gotta do watcha gotta do.

It was the logical place to return to. Why? Parking. I’m only sorta kidding. Parking in LA is one of the things that has the potential to drive me absolutely crazy. I’ll see what happens. Who knows, maybe they’ll hire me. At minimum, if I get the job, it’ll help keep me stable while I decide what I’m going to do in the near future. I’m not looking at it as my exit strategy away from my life as an actor, but I can’t help but think about leaving LA as often as it crosses my mind. It’s not a new thought it’s been that at least the last 5 years. I know I can make LA work for me I just have to try harder, be smarter and there are a few things I can change in my life.

One thing is that it’s more difficult trying to make a living booking co-star roles. So my approach is to relax a little more and not put so much pressure on myself. I’m not thrilled about doing those roles in the career sense, but at the same time I love being on set even in that capacity. There is no question that more guest-starring and beyond roles are in my future; I just have to keep moving forward. So I’m going to trust my foundation that I’ve so carefully built and get smarter with my hustle - whatever that entails. That doesn’t mean I’m going to sit idle; it just means that I’m looking at some things a little differently.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Part of this journey is being able to “do whatcha gotta do when you gotta do it”. That being said it looks like I’ll be rejoining the work force. I’m not sure in what capacity, but I have some ideas so what we’ll see what works for me.

I was looking at my earnings over the years on the SAG website (not that it’s been THAT much, it hasn’t), but I can say that I’ve earned several hundred thousand dollars over the course of my career - all under Screen Actors Guild contracts. Now the key is to keep earning and moving forward with a positive attitude onto bigger and better things.

My problem is that I’ve gotten bogged down with the serious side of the industry. It’s hard not to considering the current state of the entertainment business. Sometimes I wish I could just remain oblivious to the inner workings of Hollywood, but it might be my future so I have to have to pay attention to the really important stuff. Honestly, it has me completely drained and beat up, but I can’t complain because there are many more people that are actually doing the real union work. I’m more like a good soldier who has always done a great job of informing fellow performers, attending meeting and when needed, being on the picket lines.

We actors didn’t always get residuals, pension & health benefits, overtime, etc. Somebody, many people, had to fight for these provisions in our contracts. I feel as though I HAVE to participate in the process to protect these benefits for and make things better for those who will come behind me. After all someone did it for me.

Things are changing in this line of work and I don’t know how the chips are going to fall, but it’s going to be different. I’m already feeling the way new media is affecting the landscape as this tough business gets tougher.

Example: My “Bones” episode hasn’t rerun on network, BUT it was available – online - for months after it first aired and I didn’t receive a dime for that additional use of my work. The online version had 4-5 commercial breaks for which, I assume, the network received advertising dollars, but the actors received nothing. I’m way past the point of just being happy to book a job and see myself on TV, in a film or a commercial. It’s a job, a job I love when I get a chance to perform, but a job nonetheless.

I’ve worked plenty of acting jobs for free and will do more in the future I’m sure, but for those jobs I knew up front that it was going to be free. The play I did several years ago was free, heck, it actually costs me money to do, but I had an absolute blast doing it and I knew what I was signing up for in the beginning. The “Bones” appearance wasn’t meant to be free.

I am thankful that I have the experiences behind me that I do. By that I mean my foundation and infrastructure, the team that I’ve built over the years and credits that I’ve earned. I’m tired and I think I need to slow down in order to help myself move forward.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

”Miscellaneous Commercials”. You gotta be kidding! No, not at all. That is what I found as I was looking into some old financial statements. An envelope labeled “Miscellaneous Commercials”. Wow, that was “back in the day!” when I always had at least one commercial running, or just filmed one or one being held by the ad agency…at least one. I gotta get back on the stick and get some jobs. I must admit I smiled when I saw “Miscellaneous Commercials”. It’s not like I’ve done THAT many, but more than most.

At times it’s easy to forget exactly how much I’ve accomplished in my career. Just being able to say “career” is a huge accomplishment. I don’t take it for granted; I have been very, very fortunate – not to be confused with lucky. It took me years to be able to say I was a professional actor on my own personal level. I was a “waiter/actor”, then an “actor/waiter”, then simply “an actor with a career”. “Actor”; that is exactly what it says on my tax returns.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Audition: “Charter Communications” @ M Casting. I had more dialogue in this audition than in a lot of my theatrical auditions. I read for 3 different roles – I’d like to book one of them.

Afterwards I had a meeting with my new agent at my commercial agency and I like her a lot. Hopefully we can book some jobs together.