Monday, March 30, 2009

Audition: “Secret Project” @ Kathy Knowles Casting. While I was a rehearsing the dialogue for the audition a guy approached me and said, “I know you, we’ve worked together”. I said, “Really, what did we work on?” He replied, “No, maybe it was an audition”. I said, “I don’t know, I think I’d remember you”. Of course, like anyone else, I don’t remember everyone I’ve met and/or worked with over the years, but I definitely didn’t recognize this actor. He said, “No, we’ve definitely worked together”. I started to feel a little embarrassed at this point and right then he said, “OH!, I know what it is…I’ve been editing someone’s reel and you are on it”. Turns out it was a commercial I did several years ago directed by the infamous and legendary Joe Pytka. He and I ended up auditioning together and it went great…nice guy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Today is weird day in my acting journey. Well, not like crazy weird just a little…slightly…weird. It was 8 years ago today that I left my job waiting tables on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. It was always, and continues to be, a huge personal victory for me to have made a living solely as an actor for such a period of time. For the time being that period is over; I am not currently making a living solely as an actor. Yes, the majority of my income is that of actor, but not every single penny like it was for seven years.

It would be easy to say this is a bitter-sweet anniversary and ignore the this date; or even be upset by the fact I’m working another job to supplement and modulate my income, but it isn’t that at all. Especially a position that happens to be at the same place and position I resigned from many years before. It’s simply another challenge being thrown at me and I must say I’m handling it well. No, things aren’t perfect, but I’m not doing bad considering the economic climate and industry turmoil we are currently experiencing. I continue to feel like an exception to the rule(s). I view the decision to rejoin the regular workforce as the best and single most important decision I made in the year of 2008 - I kid you not.

Yeah, besides modulating my income it has given a much, much needed break from the business side of the business. I don’t mean “the business” as in the day-to-day hustle; I mean it in the more serious sense of the future of the business on a career level. We are at a real turning point and things, I predict, will be different in the future. Frankly, paying so much attention to what was going was becoming a real drag for me; so I needed to step back – and I did in a really big way.

I’ve never stopped auditioning or pursuing my career, I’ve just been keeping a very low profile. It’s different for me to be kinda MIA, but I have to say that it’s great to do other things I like to do besides so much acting-related stuff. I’m really excited about my new cameras and the notion of becoming a better photographer. I’m not looking to do it professionally; I just want to be able to one day take great photos of my wife and kids – hopefully I’ll have one and some. So things are good, very different from a year ago, but good nonetheless. I have a lot to be thankful for and I am.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

After working the overnight shift last night and getting, not nearly enough sleep this morning, I drug my delirious self out of bed and skateboarded to CBS Television Studios to attend the SAG Rally. I always hope to see more of my peers on the front lines, but sadly I usually don’t. I think the main reason is, and I’ll go out on a limb here, that most actors aren’t aware how these contract negotiations really affect their bottom line. Trust me when I say that this “acting thing”, as in making a living from it, is being seriously threatened by the studios.

One of the many goals of the studios is to end residuals or at least curtail them a great deal. If we, as actors, lose residuals we lose a major way of funding our pension & health plan. As a 12-year member of SAG with 11 years of pension credits earned that is not good news.

Many of the studios are airing their reruns online. Currently, they are not paying residuals for those reruns. Mostly, those reruns have commercial breaks in which leads me to believe that they are selling advertising. At the same time reruns on broadcast television are becoming less and less frequent. This is a serious issue for actors.

So, in the end, it was a slightly depressing outing, but I felt great about attending. After all SAG has done a lot for me and I need to do what I can to give a bit back.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Audition: “Subway” @ Kathy Knowles Casting. Another one that I think I’m really right for, plus it went pretty well. I often get callbacks at this office so hopefully the trend will continue.

Callback: “Volkswagen” @ Ross Lacy Casting. Yes, I got a callback and it went great. I knew the dialogue and had the right vibe for it. When my partner and I entered the room the creative team was having a little bit of a “behind the scenes” conversation about what to do in the spot from a production/casting point of view. Not stuff that actors typically hear, but having sat in on some of those talks both commercially and theatrically I picked up on it right away. I have to say that sometimes I think it might be better if I knew a little less about the process.

Anyway, the read went well. I think my partner and I played off of each other well. I was the straight man of the duo and he was more the “larger than life” element. When we finished one gentleman on the creative team asked me if I was the guy from the 1988 film “Diehard”; “Argyle” the limo driver. People have asked me that since the film was first released more than 20 years ago. I’ve even had people not believe me when I’ve told them I’m not him. I must admit that when I saw the film I could absolutely see why some people thought I was him. We are both of similar build, speak in a familiar cadence and look a little alike, but I’m not him…I swear.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Audition: “Volkswagen” @ Ross Lacy Casting. This was fun, loose and I’m perfect for it. I really felt that I found “my voice” during the audition. That’s something I’ve been working on lately is really delivering “me”. You’d think that would be an easy thing to do, but I have always been hit or miss with actually accomplishing it. Callbacks are tomorrow and I hope to be there.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

After I finished shooting the “KY Brand” commercial last week one of the product directors gave me his business card and said the he’d send out some products for me. I emailed him and less than 24 hours later my care package arrived. I guess I should take that as a sign…of something.

The goods!

Audition “USPS” @ Ross Lacy Casting. This seems like a pretty big campaign with a print element to it as well. It went okay; I was a little caught up in feeling that I wasn’t dressed properly. I’m not sure when callbacks are, but I’m not expecting to be there, BUT stranger things have happened.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

I spoke to the entertainment reporter this afternoon. I am completely blown away at how my writing this thing – My Long Ass Bio – has gained any amount of interest. Yes, I say “Bio” because I’d never heard of blogging when I started writing it. I’m sure someone was using the term, but I’d never heard it. Personally, I’m still not too much of a fan of the reverse-chronological order of a blog; I prefer reading my bio that reads forward like a book, but I enjoy maintaining both formats.

It’s funny because I’ve always been intimidated by writing because I have such a hard time focusing, I don’t type well and dyslexia makes updating quite the challenge. That said, I really, really enjoy doing it and am so glad that I have kept up with it. Hopefully, someday I’ll have children and they will be able to read it and get a true sense of what their father experienced while pursuing his career.

I admittedly had a smile on my face after finishing the call with the reporter because, I mean, he must think I have something to say…I think I do. Right? I guess.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

This morning the weather has warmed up to a whopping 18 degrees. 18 degrees! Nice! Anyway, I have a 7am pickup at the hotel for a 9:30 flight back to LA. While driving through Brooklyn, looking out the window at the huge metropolis also know as New York City it seemed so long ago that it was where I was living. Time does fly by.

I’m happy that I actually got to shoot the commercial. I guess that means that I’m about 96% of the way to what I hope to be a 100% experience. It’s already been quite incredible whether the spot runs or not.

I arrived at JFK early so I asked about getting on the 8:30am flight instead of the 9:29, but it was completely full. The lady was wondering why they system didn’t charge me $15 for my checked bag. She was nice, but I don’t think she expected me to be flying first-class – that’s why my bag was free. That’s what she gets for assuming.

On the return flight I sat next to Randall Park, who’d I’d hadn’t met previously, but we ran into each other at the hotel a couple of nights prior. I had forgotten about how I was going to get home from LAX until I was almost to baggage claim. Right at that exact moment I looked up and saw a man with a sign that said “S. Fuller” and next to him was a woman with a sign that said “Park”.

They were the drivers to put the last touches on the last leg of our trip back home. I should always travel like that!

So I arrived at my apartment, took my suitcase upstairs and within 30 seconds was on my way to the casting office of the director meeting that had been cancelled. I knew I wouldn’t see the director, but I wanted to stop by and say hello anyway.

So there you have it; it was an incredible trip. Everything worked out perfectly. The only thing that might have made it better would have been if I was dating someone I would have taken them with me by requesting two coach tickets instead of one first-class ticket. Cool, so now I can add New York, to my list of Madrid, Miami & Tokyo to places I’ve traveled for work. I think next I want to go to South America, Australia or Africa…or downtown LA…I just wanna get another job, LOL!

Oh, I almost forgot to mention. This morning I received an email from an entertainment reporter from a major news outlet with an interview request. Ironically it’s the same news outlet that is my homepage on my internet browser. To be honest, I almost deleted it because I didn’t think it was anything of importance. In hindsight, the subject line was very clear as to what they request was pertaining to. I take that as a sign that I need to slow the heck down and pay more attention and not try to do 1,000 things at once – attention deficient gets in my way sometimes. I’m working on focusing better.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Okay, it’s really cold. This morning it’s 12 degrees. Twelve degrees?? Why? What is the reason for such cold temperatures? How did I even live in New York and brave those conditions? I don’t know, maybe because I grew up in Virginia and we had 4 real seasons too.

I’m chillin’ today; I decided to stay an extra day and hope that I didn’t miss anything back in LA. When production called initially, before they booked my plane ticket, I asked them to schedule me that way so I wouldn’t have to pay to change the ticket myself.

I caught up with my friend, Genine, who lives uptown. While having lunch with her my agent calls with an appointment for tomorrow in LA. It’s scheduled about 20 minutes after I’m supposed to land…hmm, not sure I can make that. Actually, it’s a meeting with the director and not an appointment to read material. It’s for Debra Zane’s office and I have a bit of a history with them.

My agent, Caleigh, said not to worry about coming back early and that they were going to send my demo reel over instead. Okay, but of course, I’m still thinking about getting on the red-eye tonight even though I really don’t want to. Or maybe I can get on an earlier flight in the morning.

Later I caught up with another friend, former LA-based actress turned New York-based Tanika Brown-Mckelvy. We had a great time catching up and laughing. She’s definitely doing her thing and not wasting time getting in the mix there. She’s even working with some of the top-notch commercial agents I worked with when I was in based there. It’s interesting to watch her use LA experience and apply it to now being New York based. Usually it’s the other way around. Good luck Tanika!

Last night, in the lounge at The W, I ran into a friend who lives right down the street from me in Los Angeles. It was crazy, we hadn’t seen each other for several months and we run into each 3,000 miles away. Her name is Celines Toribio she is doing her thing too. Before that I had run into fellow actor Christopher King who I met when I lived in New York. He then moved to LA for a few years and is now back in New York. Funny enough, ironically the friend that was with him had auditioned 3 times for the “KY Jelly” commercials too – small world.

Monday, March 02, 2009

My 6:30 pick-up to take me to the location in Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Stages was running late due to snowy road conditions. It was FREEZING; I mean colder than I've been in years. We got about 8 inches of snow and it was in the 20’s temperature-wise.

I arrive on set, get set-up in my room, order an omelette and right away I'm called to wardrobe. This part trips me out every time it happens. Within 30 seconds of entering the wardrobe room with 3 women I've never met I've stripped down to my underwear. There aren’t places a man could pull that off in “real life” without getting arrested.

It’s really weird because I’ve always been very self-conscious about my body. Just like I was when I decided to wear a tank-top in the audition. I was self-conscious then too, but I wanted the job and was fortunately able to not be “self-aware”.

I’m a small, slight dude; always have been. So, of course, growing up I was constantly reminded how skinny I was and that I had a bird chest – ya know, all things kids say. The saving grace was I was a bad mofo on my BMX bike. Hells yeah!! Haha!

Just last week I was getting a new battery put in my watch and the jeweler thought the watch was for a woman. What? So I have skinny wrist. Leave my a** alone! Stop abusing me, LOL! Don’t get me started on my little ears….whatever.

So, Melissa, the wardrobe lady gives me 8-10 different tops and pants to try on – including a my own tank top and boxer shorts. I was really, REALLY hoping that I wasn’t going to be on national television wearing a tank top and boxers.

So I’m chilling in my room and the moment of truth comes. It’s Melissa with my approved wardrobe and you guessed it – they chose my own tank-top from the audition and boxer shorts. Why?!?! A few minutes later she came back with these super-duper-slim-sorta-lyrcra like booty-ass shorts for me to wear under the boxers. I’m like, “What the heck are these?” Are they for my wife? I mean I was already wearing black briefs under the boxers.

At this point I had to put my game face on. The choice had been made for me to be in shorts and a tank so I had to suck it up and be strong. I was ready to protest and go commando and shit, but thought that might not be a good decision. I’m just kidding – sorta. In the end; I decided to keep my briefs on and wear the super-duper-slim-sorta-lyrcra like booty-ass shorts over my briefs.

Me wearing super-duper-slim-sorta-lyrcra like booty-ass shorts-they even let me keep them.

Can I talk about my wife in the spot? I was so curious as to who my wife would be. I could have just asked production, but I decided to wait and be surprised. I was looking around on the plane, but figured she could be based in New York. Sure enough, she is based in Brooklyn. She is: Broadway Actress-Singer–Songwriter-Musician-Playwright-Harvard Grad and all-around cool sista Eisa Davis! How did I get so lucky to share the stage with this one? My blessings continue…

The Director, David Shane from New York-based production house O Positive, was a complete pleasure to work with too - an actor’s director. Instead of saying “Action!”; he actually said “Acting”. How cool is that?

Usually, as actors, we hear very little about the behind the scenes part unless we book and even then you may not hear much. They were auditioning for this series of spots in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. I only auditioned once, but everyone else I spoke with went in 2, 3 even 4 times. It’s always fascinating to me as to how these things come together.

We did take after take. After take after take. I think we did more takes than all of my other commercials combined. Some of that may have to do with the fact that we were shooting on video instead of film. I hope they got what they needed to make it right…I think they did. Most of it was Eisa and I sitting next to each other on the bed, but there was another part that was a little…more interesting.

So there I was in a tank top and boxers; her in a little – ya know the little things women wear to bed that they look oh so fine in. I’m sorry I just love women…they’re just cool…and most everything about them.

Anyway, we are lying in bed as husband and wife and it’s just weird, fun, but weird, but that‘s the gig as an actor…thankfully, lol! Me, the skinny bird-chested brotha, with the wrists of a woman never expected to get acting work and be less than fully dressed. So it’s a real head trip for me. In the WaMu spot I felt that I was a little bit on display physically too. It kinda makes me feel that I should take going to the gym and staying in shape a little more serious.

I’ve been asked what it’s like to be in a bed scene with a woman. Of course the first question is “Is it exciting?” LOL! Sure, it’s exciting, but not THAT kind of exciting. I mean, I’m a professional and it’s important for your partner to be able to be professional as well. BUT with that said, I can see how things…enough. I’ve only done it one other time; meaning a scene in the bed with a woman – a revisit.

Eisa and I were wrapped, had lunch with the crew and I was taken back to Manhattan. I was completely exhausted, maybe a little jet-lagged and collapse in my hotel room. I woke up later and walked around the City and got on the subway to explore.

51st & Lex on the 6

Sunday, March 01, 2009

It’s 5:15 in the morning and I’m getting in the shower to prepare for my trip to New York. I didn’t get in the bed until 4:45 so I’m dragging a little. I have to learn to sleep more! I want to sleep more; I’m just always doing something. The car service to LAX, provided by the production company, calls at 5:45 for a 6am pickup to let me know they are downstairs waiting.

There were a few construction detours on the way to LAX and I guess the driver was trying to make up for lost time. By the time I got to the airport I was nauseous from being tossed around in the back – ugh! Lots of jack-rabbit starts, quick stops and swerving left to right is no fun in the back seat of a Lincoln Town Car.

With the exceptions of going through security and customs I really enjoy flying and being at the airport – especially flying for free. I’m a people watcher that’s generally more comfortable watching people than being watched by people and airports are great for people watching.

So I get checked in and, to my surprise, learn that I don’t have to pay the $15 for my checked bag because I’m flying first-class – cool, saves me $30. I was aware that the East Coast had a was due for bit of weather, but the gentleman sitting next to me said New York could get a up to 12 inches of snow. This was really good news. Other than skiing/snowboarding I hadn’t been in snow for a long time so I welcomed the inclement weather.

We landed at JFK about 20 minutes early, but waited 45 minutes on the tarmac for a plane to clear our gate; then another 45 minutes to get our bags. The car service called as soon as I landed to let me know they were on time, but I told them it was going to be a while. I was hoping the driver wouldn’t leave but I guess delays are a part of what they do.

I guess this is my ride!

I finally got to my hotel, The W - Lexington & 49th, as the snow flurries began to fall. It was great! After getting settled I put on my winter coat and went for a walk around my old stomping grounds as the flurries turned to snow.

Sixth Ave & 50th

Walking through Times Square was a really neat thing because I used to live in the neighborhood when I first moved to the city; 450 W 46th St. between 9th & 10th in Hell’s Kitchen. I used to walk through Times Square on my way to walk everyday.

I remember Times Square seeming so crazy and insane 14 years ago. I also remember the open air drug market, in the park ‘round ‘da way on my street; and the prostitutes, LOL! Wow, it was a little much for a youngster from the suburbs of Virginia Beach, but I handled it well. I would walk through Times Square at 2am on my way home from work vowing to one day make sense of it all. By that, I mean not feeling so overwhelmed by the City.

Truthfully, I didn’t have time to be overwhelmed because I moved to New York with $200 to my name. I had to hit the streets to make it happen or go to Plan B. Plan B was also to make it happen. Besides, how overwhelmed could I be making $3 an hour plus tips? Mo money, Mo problems. No money, No problems. I didn’t have any problems.

I remember back in 2002 seeing myself in a commercial on the Wrigley's Jumbotron in Times Square. I was so excited about that; especially that I only found out because a fellow actor saw it and called to tell me about it. So being back in NYC for work is a dream come true and I expect to do it many more times in the future.

Me in front of me on big screen - 2002
Anyway, my frigid self made it back to the hotel to get rested for a 6:30 pick-up to take me to the location.