Friday, September 26, 2008

So I was at The Grove this evening and after attending a workshop at the Apple store I went into Barnes & Noble and who did I see? Me, yeah, on the cover of the Backstage West. Obviously, I knew I was on the cover of the issue, but I hadn’t actually seen it.

Myself & Kito Robinson on the cover of BSW.

I must say it was a pretty neat feeling. I hadn’t thought too much about it before, but I’ve heard from a lot of people that have seen it and that made me feel that it was a bigger deal than I previously thought. I even had a woman that lives in my apartment building leave a dozen copies at my door – I think she works for the publishing company.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I’m on the cover of the current issue of Backstage Magazine – go figure. I was interviewed about a month ago, but had no idea I was going to be on the cover. I’ve written an article or two and been interviewed by the magazine in the past, but I always just emailed a headshot to them. This time, while I was shooting recently cancelled FOX Drama “Do Not Disturb” I got a call to schedule a photo shoot. At that point I had no idea it was for the cover. Even at the photo shoot it was just a rumor that we’d be on cover. I’d kinda forgotten about it until I started getting text messages informing me about it this morning. Pretty cool I guess.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Audition: “Ford” @ Joe Blake Casting. This went really well and I hope and expect to be called back for round 2.

Audition: “T-mobile” @ Ross Lacy Casting. Another one that went
extremely well; they should bring me to callbacks too.

I’ve been burning the candle at both ends lately (what else is new?). Not sure how long I can keep the pace or that I want to. At times the day/night job has my mind in a frenzy; but other times it’s okay. I’m super focused at times and super confused other times with incredible headaches. What to do, what to do…do guys have a biological clock? I think I might…

I have to say that something that’s GREAT is that I have a new laptop and I can take free workshops at the Apple store. It feeds my thirst to learn new and exciting things. I look forward to getting deeper into photography as well and part of me wants to be home working in the family business with my brothers. So much on my mind these days…

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I attended another SAG Town Hall Membership Meeting tonight and, once again, there were embarrassingly few SAG members in attendance. Not to judge, but I don’t understand it, there are 50,000+ plus SAG members in Hollywood and I would think that at least 1,000 would attend some of the meetings. It’s only our futures as professionals at stake. Let me tell you, the AMPTP is trying their best to eliminate residuals, weaken SAG and work closer with AFTRA who seems to be willing to make things as easy as possible for them to give actors the short end of the stick. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s the way it looks to me.

Some of the newly elected SAG board members were in attendance, but none of them spoke. Hopefully, they can help to get things back on track – whatever that means these days.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sleep is a wonderful thing. Good sleep is even more mo’ betta. Once again, I woke up to a missed call from KSA - my commercial agency. In my drowsy state I checked the voicemail while my mind wandered about what the call might be concerning this time – an audition for this afternoon or something else entirely.

I knew that if the voice of the person on the message was that of assistants Leah or Stefanie it was most likely an audition or a callback. I also knew that if the voice was that of my agent, Alicia, there was a good chance it was “something else”.

Sounds familiar huh? Stay with me.

Last night was supposed to be my night off after working 5 graveyard shifts in a row – yup, until 7am. BUT I received a call from management asking if I would be so kind to come in to work for a 6th night . Me, the sucka who always wants to help, agreed to help out.

More accurately, me the sucka who needs to replace his 6 year-old Sony VAIO desktop computer before it completely freezes up and dies; looked at it as an opportunity to make a little extra cash. Extra shifts (and acting jobs) fit in with my plan to get a new laptop in the coming weeks or months. With all of the times I’ve helped them out at the job with picking up shifts it’ll be interesting to see what happens when/if I find myself in a jam and need someone to help me out.

Okay, back to the voicemail. Who would it be? What would they say? What is the difference between making a “brotha wanna holla” and making a “brotha wanna scream”? Again, I have chosen to keep it short.

It was 7pm on Wednesday September 22nd 1993 when I started my first acting class in Virginia Beach, VA. Wow, 15 years ago!!! So much has happened since then! All the way up to and including this morning. It was definitely a life altering decision. I admittedly wonder what things would have been like if I’d gotten along better with my father and never left home and continued to work in the successful family business with my brothers. It’s amazing how often I think about that. Don’t get me wrong; I’m happy enough here in LA and had a great time living in New York, but I have the best time when I’m with my family at home in the suburbs. It’s been a great 15 years and I anticipate that it will get much better.

Okay, I won’t keep what happened in that voicemail THAT short. This is what happened. I woke up this morning at 11am to get ready for my 12pm wardrobe fitting for “Cheetos”. On my BlackBerry was a voicemail message; turns out it was from my agent Alicia which was immediately concerning. I’ve booked 25+ commercials though her and there was no reason I could think of that she, in particular, should be calling me at 9:49am. The call should have come from production or the assistants at the agency, unless it was extreme news – good or bad, but any normal correspondence shouldn’t have been from Alicia.

The extreme news was that one person on the creative team for the “Cheetos’ commercial wouldn’t give his approval for me and that I had been “unbooked”. That’s all I really know. I don’t know if he had given approval and then revoked it or what happened, but I do know that I am no longer a part of the production of the national “Cheetos” commercial.


I wasn’t quite sure what to say. I could tell that it was a very hard call for Alicia to make. She assured me that I should take full victory and ownership of the fact that I booked the spot. She also feels that with all of the callbacks and avails that I’ve gotten we, as a team, are turning the corner to many more bookings.

So that’s it. Just like that, after all that anxiety of getting to the callback from FOX studios and whatnot – poof, up in smoke. This is ANOTHER prime example of when booking the spot isn’t the whole story. Just because you book a commercial doesn’t mean you will get to shoot the commercial…I know from experience.

What to do; what to do…I could feel really bad about this happening to me on my anniversary or I can find the gem in the experience. I’ll find the gem. I look at it as badge that I wear and it’s a testament to the successful career I’m building. Simply, if I book enough jobs this is bound to happen; so in that sense I’m proud to be able to share the story. Now I need a drink! Isn’t that what the cool people do? I’m not and have never been that cool.

I could buy a new pair of shoes. No, that doesn’t fit either. I know what I’m going to do to take my mind off of this and at the same time celebrate my 15th year anniversary in the business – I’m going to get a new laptop – a MacBook this time. Today. Right now!!! Happy Anniversary Stephon!!

Audition: “Honey Baked Ham” @ Ross Lacy Casting. Ironically, this was at the very same casting office of the “Cheetos” spot. I stopped by Ross’ office and thanked him for believing in me and giving me a chance to make a living for all of these years. He said not to worry and that they’ll get me on something else soon.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sleep is a wonderful thing. Good sleep is even more wonderfuller…is that a word? Probably not, but let me tell you; I slept like Rip Van Winkle well into the afternoon.

I woke up to a missed call from KSA - my commercial agency. In my drowsy state I checked my voicemail while my mind wandered about what the call might be concerning – an audition for this afternoon, an audition for Monday, another callback for “Cheetos”, the not so great news that I’d been released from my “Cheetos” avail or “something else”.

I knew that if the voice of the person on the message was that of Leah or Stefanie it was most likely an audition, a callback or “that thing” I’m trying to become less familiar with - an avail release. I also knew that if the voice was that of Alicia there was a good chance it was “something else”.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m grateful every time I speak to Stefanie and Leah, but at this particular time, on this particular day Alicia’s voice would be the voice that would “make a brotha wanna holla!” As I lied in my bed pushing the keys of my phone the voice mail menus seemed to take forever. Finally, I was less than one second away from hearing whomever it was that was going to utter the first syllable of this message to me….

The conversation was a blur and I don’t want to bore you with details so I posted the rest of it here…I choose to keep it short…

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Audition: “SuperValu Cub Foods” @ Craig Colvin Casting. This was so fun! I got to play the dad of 3 young children; a girl and twins boys. I knew it was about chemistry so I immediately tried to connect with them so we would come off as a family on camera. While the session director was setting up I asked the kids how old they were. They were all 6 years of age. Then, right away, I said, “let me guess your ages”. The first boy I guessed 7; he laughed and said, “wrong”. For the little girl I said 4 and she said, “no!” and the other little boy - I paused, squinted at him like I was really going to guess correctly this time and then said 15! They all laughed and were charged up and ready to go. By that time the session director was ready to put us on tape. It went wonderfully; I hope we all get callbacks! Do I look like I have 3 kids? Who cares…

So I've been at my day/night job for 4 months now and it's working out okay I guess. As I've said in the past it's been a great diversion from being so involved in "the biz" and talking about it what seemed like all the time. I also like having a tighter schedule, but don't get it twisted...I'd rather be on a series than slinging burgers and delivering raspberry mojitos...and I firmly believe that being on a series and more is in my future.

Part of the reason why the job is a positive thing is because I'm an "idea man". I'm always coming up with ideas about things in general – I can’t help it; they just flow. I'm not saying they are always great ideas, but they are always worthy of a listen. Sometimes it gets in the way because I can easily get buried in “hmmm…how can I make this…” rather than just “keeping things simple”. The job gives me that outlet…even if only in my head.
Yeah, I’m currently working at the restaurant fulltime, but that doesn’t make me a “company man” per se. I care much more about my personal future than I do the job; after all, “the job” doesn’t care about me either. The job cares about making money and so do I. So maybe it’s a good fit for the time being.
Sometimes my mental state while I’m there swings wildly. It’s never too negative, but usually quite interesting – at least to me. One minute I’m taking a drink order from an A-list celebrity and the next I’m being asked from someone from the Midwest how I can possibly work the graveyard shift on The Sunset Strip. That usually leads to:

“well, I’m an actor and I need my days free for auditions”;
which leads to “Oh yeah, what have you done?”;
which leads to “ah, a little of this and a little of that”;
which leads to “anything I might have seen?”;
which leads to “…yeah maybe…I’ve been fortunate to work on some pretty cool projects over the years, but it’s been kinda quiet lately;
which leads to “Like what projects?”
which leads to “well the last commercial was….”.

Yeah, that’s how it usually goes. Last week, after an exchange like that with a table of out-of-towners at 4 in the morning I had this AMAZING feeling that I was “living vicariously through ‘my own past’” while talking about the jobs I had done. It completely blew my mind!! For an entire day I wasn’t sure what to make of my thoughts about it. I was confused. I was proud. I was tired. I was ready to get my a** back on the horse and book some freakin’ jobs!
I guess its all part of the gig as an actor. I feel like I’m doing what I need to be doing. I don’t know how long I’ll last at the job because; physically it’s just so hard to keep the hours and burn the candle brightly at both ends.

I’m never hope to not have auditions scheduled for the next day, but I have to say that I’m really looking forward to sleeping most of the day tomorrow. It’s been a long week and I really need the rest.

No word on the “Cheetos” avail. After so many calls to release me from commercials avails in recent years; I’ll take “no news” as “good news”.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Shooting: “Do Not Disturb” @ Fox Studios. Day 2. This morning started with the hustle of trying to get rescheduled for the “Cheetos” callback at Ross Lacy Casting. My call time for “Do Not Disturb” had been pushed from 11am to 12pm so I asked my agent if it was possible to be seen by the creative people earlier instead of my scheduled time of 4:30pm. She put me on hold and called the casting office, but the answer was “no” because at that time they were doing an entirely different spot with an entirely different creative team. Okay… Plan B…whatever that is.
I’ve worked enough multi-camera sitcom days to have a great feel of how “show day” is structured and I believe there is a good window for me to be able to make my appointment. I knew when my scene was scheduled for rehearsal and I knew what time the network run-through was. Sometimes the 1st or 2nd AD can be a little difficult about releasing an actor, but I think it’ll work out. I informed David, the 2nd AD, last night of my “situation’.

Great! We finished the network run-through at 3:15 which gives me plenty of time to drive from Fox Studios to the Casting Studios on LaBrea. I think my category for the callback starts at 4pm so hopefully I can be one of the first groups and get in and out before my 4:30 appointment time.

When I arrived around 3:45 there were already some actors there for what I think was a different spot or a different part in the same spot.

It took FOREVER for them to start my category; I’m sure it just seemed that way because I needed to get back to the Fox lot….in afternoon traffic. Actually, it was looking like I was going to have to just leave without getting seen at all because I really had to get back to Fox…after all they were paying me and the “Cheetos” callback wasn’t.

Finally, they started my category and I was in the 2nd group. It was over in a flash and I did the same exact thing I did in the first audition. With that I ran all the way back to my car and was on my way. I made it back to Fox right as lunch was over. Other than being hungry it worked out perfectly.

I went to my much nicer dressing room, put on my sharp, tweed suit and went straight to make-up. Of course make up takes me all of 3 minutes and I was ready for the cast pre-show speed read of the script. We read the script and the show was ready to start. Working on a sitcom is a lot of fun and I hope to get on more in the future. There aren’t that many multi-camera shows left, but I’m going to try to get on them before it’s too late….especially the ones that work under SAG contracts and not AFTRA.

As soon as we finished the cast speed read my commercial agent called to tell me that I was on avail for the “Cheetos” commercial. Nice! Of course I’m available!

About 7:30 I got a call from a fellow employee at my night/day job to ask me to cover her overnight shift tonight. I have to tell you that I was really looking forward to getting a good night sleep tonight. I’ve been at Fox since 12 noon, drove across town full of anxiety and back for a callback, missed lunch and don’t expect to finish until 11pm tonight. I’m kinda beat. BUT in this particular situation, for this particular person I felt I had to do it. I would’ve have felt terrible if I’d said “no”; so I said “yes”. I told her that I probably wouldn’t be there for the 11pm start of the shift, but I could most likely get there by midnight. What was I thinking? I’m not Superman…I don’t even play one on TV.

A couple of hours later our scene was up; I was playing 1 of 3 reporters at a press conference. It went well. Yeah, I completely blew one take, but I had several good ones too. I’ve learn to not worry about that stuff so much; it’s all going to be pieced together from 4 cameras anyway and director knows when he/she has what they need.

Vanessa Mizzone, me and Allen C. Lui.

The casting directors, Brett, Colin and Tessie were all in attendance and I also got to talk to the co-executive producer Kirk J. Rudell. Kirk was also one of the writers/producers of “Good Morning, Miami” that I worked with in ’02 &’03. He said he saw me on the tape and thought “of course were going to hire him”. Cool! You never know if you’re being remembered or not. With that, I said good-bye to everyone, changed out of my cool-as** tweed suit, went by my apartment to pick up my uniform and was on my way to my day/night job. 12 noon to 11pm; then 12 midnight to 7am…what was I thinking when I said yes…at least I’m getting paid. Actually, it’s all good because I know I’m going to need someone to help to me in a pinch too one of these days.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Shooting: “Do Not Disturb” @ Fox Studios. The look on my friends face was priceless when she saw me at rehearsal this morning. I was going to call her over the weekend and tell her I got the part, but I figured I’d wait and surprise her on-set. I’m talking about the friend that I worked with on “Dollhouse” recently. Actually, she was sorta my stand-in even though she didn’t end up needed to actually “Stand-in” because we were pretty much finished as soon as we started. She’s a regular stand-in on “Do Not Disturb” and she put the energy out in the universe that I would be working on the show in the very near future. I think she is magic!

Even funnier is that on Friday, shortly after I auditioned for the role, but before I received a call that I was the choice; she was reading the role for the producer’s run-through. Weird, huh? Even more weird is how I have an attractive, blonde woman standing in for me in the first place AND she’s way curvier than I…way more.

I wish I could promote myself the way she promotes me. Every time I’m on set with her she sells me as this person that’s really, really on the move. I have to learn to just “go with it” and “be that guy”. It’s hard because I feel so silly being promoted like that as I’m naturally pretty low-key. Oh well, I’m trying to embrace that part of the business and be more willing to “get out there” and “work it”. I’ve always been terrible at the networking and schmoozing part of the biz, but I’m trying to get better in that department.

It’s been 3 years since I’ve worked on a multi-camera show; so I’m definitely looking forward to the live audience dealio. So after checking in I was shown to my dressing room; which was an interesting experience…I’ll leave it at that. The director, Bob Koherr, treated the cast & crew to a trip to a coffee catering canteen truck. Since I don’t drink and have never had a cup of coffee in my life I opted for a Strawberry/Banana Extreme smoothie and it was the best Strawberry/Banana smoothie ever! Thanks Bob!

After a while I was introduced to regulars Niecy Nash, Jerry O’Connell, Jessie Tyler Ferguson and Jolene Purdy – all very nice, funny people. We rehearsed/camera blocked and I went to wardrobe and that was it – I was wrapped for the day. I have to say that I felt like a grown-a** man in the suit they chose for me. Maybe the clothes DO make the man… Tomorrow is shoot day.

A couple of hours later I got word that I have a callback for that “Cheetos” commercial I auditioned for last week. I had a strong feeling this would happen and I really hope that it all works out and I can get released long enough to make it to the callback. I kept all of my agents abreast of my availability so we’ll see what happens.

Oh yeah, I was told that I would have a different dressing room tomorrow for the long shoot day. That is a good thing.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Another overnight shift last night. I gotta tell ya; this overnight stuff is BRUTAL and I DO NOT recommend it. It’s just so hard to get the amount of rest that I really need; not that I got the proper amount of rest before I started working there, but still.

Anyway, I had a commercial audition scheduled for 12:30pm. I figured I’d get in the bed by 8:30am, wake up @ 11:30am, shower and make my way to the Valley. Lo and behold, just as I was preparing to go to bed my phone rings at 9:14am. It was a number I didn’t recognize so I let it go to voicemail. The call was from a casting office asking if I would come in to audition by 11am. I called back and told them I would be there and then e-mailed my agent to give her the info as well.

This was the same office, same show and same episode of the audition that was cancelled 2 days ago. Multi-camera shows have way more rewrites than single-camera comedies and one-hour dramas.

When I arrived at the audition I saw several people I knew; some of which I’d work with in the past and some I hadn’t seen in some time. I’ve been keeping a low profile for most of the year which has been working out really well for me, but it was great to see some of actors that I’ve been in the game with for years. One person was Lydia Blanco who recently tested at the studio and network level for a pilot. Lydia and I worked together in “The Terminal”.

Audition/Producers/Tape: “Do Not Disturb” @ Greenstein/Daniel Casting. The role was that of a reporter and everyone I saw looked right for the job – including me. It went pretty good in the room; I’ve had better, but it was good. The woman, who I assume was the writer, offered some feedback; I did it again and was on my way. It is known that, especially, in half-hour comedy it’s really important to stick to the script. I had a little something I wanted to add, but not in a “oh I added this because I thought it would make it better” sense.

I added it in a down-low type of way – under my breath and to myself, but loud enough for writer and casting directors to hear me. I did it in the same way I added a line while working with Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks on “The Terminal”. It was just kinda a natural next thing that this character might say. It seemed to go over well enough. So that was that - we’ll see. I should hear something (or not) soon because today is Friday and I believe it starts Monday for a live audience shoot on Tuesday. With that I was on my way to my commercial audition.

Audition: “Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr.” @ Francene Selkirk Casting. I must admit I was really, really tired for this audition – I worked all night and hadn’t slept at all. That isn’t the reason why I sucked in it, but still, LOL! It was pretty simple, but I just couldn’t get it right. BUT!! I think I’m really right for it; so maybe I’ll get a callback despite dropping a bomb in the room – hey, it happens.

Two hours later at 2:49pm my agent called me to tell me that I’m “the choice” for one of the reporters for “Do Not Disturb”. They just needed to make sure it was going to stay in the script before making the official offer and that I was available and interested. Cool!

Then at 4:04pm my agent called with the offer of the 2 days of work. So I accepted the terms and that was that. I must admit that I was expecting more in the way of “’da Benjamins” and considered doing a “no quote”, but after talking to my agent about it figured that it was worth the trouble for this type of booking.

I am really looking forward to working on a multi-camera show in front of a live audience. It’s been 3 years since I done it and there are only a handful of those types of show currently on the air.

Later I was e-mailed the script and the co-writer of this episode is, Kirk Rudell, Kirk was a writer/supervising producer on “Good Morning, Miami”. Maybe the 12 episodes (really 14 episodes) that are listed on my resume worked in my favor – who knows.

The neat thing is in this business you really never where the day is going to take you. I had one appointment scheduled today and ended with 2 appointments and a booking. It also tells me why I’ve always included my direct contact info on my resumes. I was called directly for this job. Who knows, the casting assistant could have stopped trying to reach me after not getting my agency on the phone because they weren’t open yet. We wouldn’t even have known I was being considered if she chose to just go “NEXT” on the list.

Oh yeah, I forgot to say that I am thrilled again that this show is under a SAG contract and not AFTRA.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Audition: “Cheetos” @ Ross Lacy Casting. YES!!! This went great! I had the best time. It was so simple, but I think I was perfect – I think. At least it felt perfect – eff that, it WAS perfect! Where’s my callback??? I think I’m really right for it so we’ll see what the future brings.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

So I worked overnight last night, came home and got in the bed about 9:30am with an alarm to wake up @12:30pm to rehearse for my 2:30 audition for Fox comedy “Do Not Disturb”. That’s the show that, last week when I was working on “Dollhouse”; my friend said she always thinks I’m going to book a job on.

I woke up about 10 minutes before my alarm was to go off and lied in bed running lines before I was actually going to find the energy to get up. Right then my BlackBerry rang and it was a message from my agent saying that the audition had been cancelled because the role had been cut. Aw man! I was feeling good too! Oh well, what can you do? That’s they way multi-camera shows work – constant rewrites. Who knows; maybe the role will get written back in or another role will surface. Stranger things have happened. So, my narrow a** went back to sleep. Not for long though; I woke up a little while later and did some general drop-offs around town.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Audition: “Healthy Choice” @ Ross Lacy Casting. This one went okay I guess; I made an amateur mistake – I went in before I was ready. Simple as that; I should have taken another 5 minutes to get the dialogue where I needed it – but it was still fun ‘cause my partner was cool to work with.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Audition/Tape/Producers: OMG! When my agent called with this appointment I could tell that she REALLY didn’t want me to go in on it and I understand why. It was another really small co-star role. But the thing is that I’ve been dropping off photos around town; specifically to people I have worked with in the past. Well, that’s not totally true I’ve been dropping off to a lot of places, whether I’ve worked with them or not, but this particular place has an associate who hired me last year. I was trying to jog her memory.

Maybe it worked, I don’t know, but the thing is I didn’t want to drop-off within the week and then not come in when/if they call with an appointment. I mean, there are situations where I would do that, but I felt that I wanted to go in on this. I didn’t want the word to be “well, we keep getting his photo and postcards in the drop box so why is he refusing to come in?” I actually do drop-offs in different ways to different offices depending on which one of my agents cover that particular office. It can get a little dicey sometimes, but hey, “a brotha needs to work – knowwhatimsayin?”

Anyway, the audition went okay. The best part was that they talked about the other job I had booked through the associate. That was cool because they know I’m hirable. So, on to the next and, hopefully, more substantial one.