Friday, November 27, 2009

I just returned to LA from Virginia Beach, my hometown, for the Thanksgiving holiday. I hadn’t planned on going home for Thanksgiving, but several family members, including first and seconds cousins, I hadn’t seen in years were going to be there. The trip was “mostly excellent”; there was one element that was quite challenging, but that was nothing new really. I’ll try to dwell on the “mostly excellent” part. All in all I’m really glad I was there to share with everyone.

On my flight back to LA I had a layover in Dallas and while I was standing on the jet way, waiting in line to get on the plane, I noticed this kid in front of me with some of the coolest hair I’d ever seen. Judging by his attire and swagger and immediately thought he was a rat. Growing up in Virginia Beach a rat is a kid who is excels in many action-sport type athletics. For example he might be known as a surfer, but if you gave him a skateboard he’d do well right away. Same with skiing, snowboarding, etc. BMX, mountain biking, motocross, etc.

Anyway, so I‘m checking this kid out and I noticed he was wearing a Volcom backpack. Volcom is a surfing/action sports apparel company. Upon further inspection I saw that he was also wearing Volcom pants and a Volcom jacket…along with DVS shoes and a Vestal watch. Most people, although they may own many products of a certain brand, they don’t actually wear that many of the same labels together at the same time…unless they are sponsored athletes.

The kid was talking to another guy who was a little taller and looked a little older – they were speaking Spanish. The taller guy looked, maybe 20 and the dude with the cool hair was maybe 18. So I’m checking out the older guy and he was wearing a Red Bull hat along with a Red Bull pullover. I had it in my mind the guys were really talented, sponsored kids in something action sports-related; I wasn’t sure what it was, but I figured either snowboarding, skating, skiing, bodyboarding or surfing. My hunch was skating or surfing.

The line is moving slowly, but I finally get on the plane and to my seat, 28F, (I was born on the 28th and my last name starts with an F, so I chose 28F) and guess who is seating in my seat. Yup, the cool, crazy-haired kid. I give him the point and the nod and he gets that he’s in my seat. He moves over and I plant myself in the window seat.

After we got settled I asked him if he is a surfer or a skater and he eagerly answered “surfer!”. He’s from Costa Rica. I told him about some surf breaks that I had ridden, back in the day, in Southern California and he was quite surprised that I knew anything about surfing. His plan is, after a few weeks in California, to go to Hawaii on the 7th of December for the first time. A little later he asked me how long the flight was – 2 ½ - 3 hours I told him.

Quite a bit of time passed and we hadn’t said anything to each other so I figured I’d use some of my newly acquired Spanish on him. So I turned to him and said “QuĂ© es su nombre?” His face lit up and he replied, “Me llamo Carlos”. I said, “Mi nombre es Stephon”. He came back with “mucho gusto”. I hit him with, “Igualmente”. He tried to keep going, but I raised my hands in defeat; I had no more Spanish to tap into. He said my accent sounded pretty good. I told him I had taken a short class at a local college. What he didn’t know was that I actually rehearsed for like a full 60 seconds before I said my first line in Spanish to him, lol! I was nervous that I would stutter or something.

So after the plane landed and we were taxiing into the gate I asked him if there were any videos of him surfing on the internet. “Yes!!” he replied, through his slightly broken English; “Google me, my name, Carlos. Carlos Munoz. I write my name and email. Are you on Facebook?” he asked. I told him yes and gave him a business card while he wrote down his name and email address. I told him I was going to check him out when I got home.

Moments later, at baggage claim, Carlos had caught up with his traveling buddy, Diego. I went over and asked him if I could get a photo with him…and his cool ass hair. His friend, Diego, took a snap shot of the two of us.

Me and Carlos Munoz - Supa star surfer @ LAX. Just
16 years old. Big hair, doing big things.

Later, when I got home, I searched for Carlos on the internet and it turns out he is only 16 years and is the Costa Rican National Surfing Champion and reportedly the hottest prospect to come out of South America. The kid is the truth on a surfboard…and yeah, we’re Facebook friends. I’ll definitely be following his career very closely.

I love the feeling of being a fan, impressed by the talent of others.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I’m leaving on a jet plane today to go home to Virginia Beach for the Thanksgiving holiday. Hopefully it’ll be a nice break from Los Angeles.

After my friend Jon dropped me off at LAX I went inside the terminal to get sorted to check my bag. A Indian woman, who said she was blind, approached me. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but of course you wanna help if you can. Yeah, I was suspicious, but it seemed like she was really blind and really needed help.

She had a piece of paper in her hand with flight choices on it from; the prices were starting @ $213, but the dates were from Nov. 9th…2 weeks ago. Weird.

As a precaution; I kept my bags on the other side of me, away from her, but I didn't wanna stand too close to her in case she was gonna reach in my pocket…ya never know.

She wanted to deal with United Airlines, but didn't have the phone number.

I believed she was blind; she had the standard walking stick with the red tip and the sensibility of someone who couldn't see.

I googled United Airlines (we were in the American Airlines terminal) on my phone and called them for her. I told the rep what the deal was and asked the blind woman for the dates and city she wanted to travel to. The flight he quoted was triple what she had quoted on the piece of paper; then he put me on hold to check further. At that point I had to go check my bags, but told her I'd come back.

I came back and she was still on hold with the rep. A few more minutes and I HAD to go. So I took her to the counter and the ticket person seemed familiar with her, but she also seemed like she might be just brushing her off.

I kept looking at the woman and then the ticket person and back; I wasn't sure she was going to help the blind woman...or if the blind woman was a scam artist...or if I was being punked. My eyes started watering and I told her I was sorry, but I had to catch my own flight. I was freaking out! My heart didn’t want to leave this woman without being able to finish what she asked me to do, but if I missed my flight it would’ve been bad news. The ticket agent assured me that she would deal with the blind woman when she had a moment. I stood there, about to burst into tears, and said I was sorry and walked away.

I know I'm being a little dramatic, but I just couldn't imagine not being able to see and doing the just the simplest things that I now take for granted.

I went to get in line for security and it was waaay too long for me to be able to get on my flight so I went back to the ticket agent and she walked me all the way to the front of the line to the actual security conveyor belt. I had no idea they had the power to do that and it was my saving grace because there is no way I would have made my flight otherwise.

I rush through the security check and get on the plane and the weirdness continues. I got to 32D, an aisle seat, and an Indian man has the window seat. Before I can even sit down he hands me his camera and wants me to take a photo of him. He seemed nice enough, but it felt a little weird.

A moment later I'm finally getting settled and opened a bag of chips to snack on; I eat a few. About 15 minutes later he pulls out the biggest bag of chips I've ever seen and offers me some. I then feel bad for not offering him some of mine-I only had a normal, little bag.

So just before we land in Philly, when everyone shoot be seated, he gets up to use the restroom. When he returns he sits in the middle seat…right next to me. What??? That seat had been unoccupied the whole 4+ hour flight. I'm thinking "What the Hell is going on?" Then after we land, but were still taxiing he gets up and moves back to his window seat. I was just about ready to be a hero and take his ass down. Was he in cahoots with the blind woman? It was just bizarre. I wanna go home…now.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Birthday, my mom, Louise Fuller - I miss you; I love you. RIP

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Audition/Tape/Producers: “Enlightened” @ Cami Patton Casting. This one went okay; yeah, just okay. Okay, isn’t good enough. Not here in Los Angeles; the big game, the Super Bowl. Okay ain’t good enough. Get it right Stephon.

Audition: “Budweiser” @ Cathi Carlton Casting. This went great. I have to get a callback on this. They need me for this spot!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Audition: “Progresso” @ Kathy Knowles Casting. This was fun and, of course, I think I’m perfect for it.

Audition: “The Ad Council” @ Michael Sanford Casting. Ugh, this one, not so much. I don’t think I’ll be getting a callback for this one. Too bad, it would have been a chance to work with kids.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Shooting “Grey’s Anatomy” @ ABC/Prospect Studios.

I’m tired, really tired. I got off work early this morning; my call time is early this morning.

I’ve been running like crazy for the past several weeks including a little travel and I’m going home for thanksgiving next week. It’s all good though ALL GOOD; I didn’t move to LA to watch paint dry. So I’m not complaining; I’m just voicing stuff.

So I get to the studio and my little trailer and wardrobe and contract are ready and waiting for me. Shortly afterwards the 2nd 2nd AD leads me into the hair and make-up trailer. The first people I see are Sarah Oh and Ellen Pompeo in their chairs preparing for the day of shooting. The two ladies in charge of hair take a quick look at me and say ‘Ha! You’re easy and perfect; see you on set”. Then I go to make up and she takes a look at my skin and says “oh you’re fine, I’ll get you later”. I’m done; free to go back to my trailer to finish filling out my contract.

30 or so minutes later there is a knock on my door and it’s time to go to set for a quick rehearsal. I walk out to the golf cart and Sarah Oh is getting into the front seat while I get in behind the driver. Sarah turns around to introduce herself and says, “we’ve met before…haven’t we?” I was really caught by surprise, but yes, we had met before – we worked on “Arli$$” together on February 6th, 2001 @ the Andrita Stages. I could not believe that she remembered me.

Then the “Grey” in “Grey’s Anatomy” – “Meredith Grey” series lead Ellen Pompeo slipped into the back seat beside me and introduced herself. Sandra immediately told her that we’d work together, years ago and we made the short trip to the stage to rehearse.

We did a quick blocking run-through and then again and one more time before 2nd team took our places to do the camera stuff…I even had a stand-in. I was back in the trailer for a bit and then the call for make-up came. Shortly after that we headed back to the stage to shoot the scene.

It was fun! It’s always fun. I really look forward to the day when I’m acting on a daily basis as a regular on a show…it’s got to be one of the best jobs in the world.

After about 3 or 4 different camera setups we were finished and I was wrapped for the day. Success! It was a smaller role, but I’m thrilled to have booked it. The really funny part is that 2-3 years ago I may have decided to not go in on it, but times change.

Check this out. On a medical show like Grey’s Anatomy one would imagine that they would go through scores of lab coats over 5 seasons. Right? Random tech here, random doctor there. I thought it was interesting that my lab coat had my character’s name embroidered on it and not on a removable tag. I wonder if they do that for all characters because, I assume, that after embroidering a lab coat they couldn’t use it again for another character. That would be a lot of lab coats. That makes me wonder if maybe my character might return to the show in the future…hmmm. Who knows, I sure don’t…one can only hope.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Okay, crazy day on tap. I have 2 auditions, a callback and my rescheduled headshot session. Somehow, someway I will get all of this done. The first audition is at 11am, but the callback is at 11:05 a couple of miles away. The second audition is at 5pm at the same place as the first, but the headshot session is scheduled for 3pm. What to do, what to do.

I called my agent to see if I could be seen for the 5pm one at the same time as the 11am one which I would actually go to @ 10am. You never really because sometimes there are different categories being seen throughout the day; fortunately the answer was yes.

Audition: “Hyundai” @ Ross Lacy Casting. This went great. It was a simple question and answer type dealio and I was firing on all eight – super funny, sharp and entertaining. I don’t know if that’s what they were looking for, but that’s what they got and I had a great time. Afterwards, I headed to the other side of the facility to the 5pm appointment.

Audition: “Freschetta” @ Ross Lacy Casting. This one went pretty good; not great, not particularly fun, but good nonetheless.

I was finished by 10:55 and when I got in the car I had a message from my theatrical agency. The word was that the offer finally came in for “Grey’s Anatomy”; I had auditioned for the role 17 days ago. I was thrilled to be booked on the show! Yeah, it would be nice if it was a larger role, but it’s great to be booked. They didn’t low-ball my quote AND it’s a SAG show. So, so glad it isn’t an AFTRA show. Oh yeah, I shoot tomorrow.

I arrived at the callback, right on time, at 11:05. It goes really well for me; not so well for my “wife”/partner. The director was pretty direct about how he felt about what she was doing. I felt bad for her; I definitely been in situations where things weren’t going well at a callback or audition.

I rushed back home to get ready for my headshot session when the Grey’s Anatomy wardrobe department called to schedule a fitting for 4pm. Nope, can’t do it. I told them I could do 2:15 and then head straight to my photo shoot. They agreed to that. I arrived, tried on their choices, and was in and out in 8 minutes. From there I went straight to see the photographer, John Ganun.

I don’t particularly like doing the headshot thing, but I’m usually able to put my game face on and have a successful shoot. The headshots that I’m currently using are almost 6 years old and they still aren’t bad…even after all this time. But I feel that it’s time to put something fresh into the marketplace. The shoot went well; I think we got some good stuff. Exhausted, I went home to get a little sleep before going to work and then to shoot Grey’s Anatomy directly afterwards.

Friday, November 13, 2009

This morning (after working all night last night) I drove out to Sun Valley High School to participate in a WGA-sponsored program to read scripts that some of the students have written. It was a blast! I think we read 7 scripts and I was in a about 5 of them.

It’s crazy because, we the actors, have almost zero time to prepare. We all just jumped in and went for it. In two of the scripts my character name was “Jose” so I used my newly acquired Spanish accent – funny and fun. I’ll be doing more of these in the near future. While I was working with the kids my agent emailed me to say that I’m still pinned for Grey’s Anatomy – wow, it’s been 2 full weeks since I auditioned and they still haven’t booked the role. I guess they haven’t “moved on without me”…at least not yet.

Afterwards, I drove home. Not yet to sleep, but to change clothes for a commercial audition.

Audition: “Taco Bell” @ Ross Lacy Casting. It went well and I’m right for it. NOW I can go home and sleep.

While asleep, my agent sends me another message informing me that the casting office for Grey’s Anatomy called to ask for my quote, but it still isn’t an official booking. That is great news. They didn’t say, at least not yet, that they won’t pay my quote (it isn’t that high) AND the fact that it’s a SAG job. Thankfully it isn’t an AFTRA job. Right now, SAG money is the best money for me.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

I was scheduled to shoot new headshots today, but at the last minute, a same-day audition came up and conflicted with the time.

Audition: “Febreeze” @ Craig Colvin Casting. It had a great time and a great partner to work with. I still have never booked a job for Craig, but I sure appreciate him keeping me on his regular list of actors he calls in.

I rescheduled be my photo session for Monday. Hopefully, I can get it done then. Shooting headshots is a very anxiety-ridden process for me. I don’t feel all that photogenic, but I’ve gotten great results over the years.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Audition/Print go-see “Intel” @ Katie Taylor Casting. You know how these go; quick-fast, and in a hurry. It was over just as it started. They should book a brotha.

I still haven’t heard anything further about Grey’s Anatomy; I guess I’ll assume they’ve moved on without me. That’s okay, but for some reason, I still think I’m gonna book this job…not sure how if I also think they’ve moved on. Maybe I should call my agent and ask.

My agent said, yes, I am still in the running for the job. That was great news, surprising and great.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Over the weekend I went to Phoenix to visit my friend SonHui and see the Grand Canyon. Believe it or not I didn’t know that the Grand Canyon was located in Arizona. I always though it was in Colorado; I guess the Colorado River made me think that. Hey, I’m just being honest.

It was great to get away for a bit. I have a 115+ vacation hours at my “other job” and I need to use them so I bought a plane ticket. It is a breath taking thing to see. I have a hard time imagining just how long it has taken create that wonder of the world. I think, one day, I’d like to go back and take a mule ride and/or go white water rafting.

Back to work tonight…at the “other job”.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

My agent called to say that I’m still in the running for the job on Grey’s Anatomy”. Actually, it seemed more like I’m “the choice”; they just aren’t sure exactly what day it will shoot. They want to make sure before they book so they don’t have to pay for another day. I’ll take that as great news.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Audition/Tape: “Land of the Astronauts” @ Morman/Boling Casting. This is a SAG Modified Low Budget feature starring David Arquette. It went okay. It involved me, as a doctor, working with a patient that wasn’t really there. It went okay.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Today I was a member of a roundtable session with executives from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) along with about a dozen other actors. We discussed what IMDB is to us, as individuals, how we use it, what we wish it would do that it currently doesn’t, etc.

The biggest topic was, of course, the “age thing”. Why do they list our date of birth? Why won’t they remove it if requested? It doesn’t affect me so much, because early on, back in the day, I entered my own date of birth June 28th, 19?? They acknowledged that having the age displayed can cost an actor a job in some situations; especially women. They’re trying to figure out a way to make everyone happy. Maybe placing it somewhere else within the profile and not on the front page could be an option. Maybe giving the actor control over it; I’m not sure I see that happening. The thing is that the casual viewer and some industry professionals do want to know an actors actual age. They’re trying to please many different groups of people. I’m not sure what the answer is, but they are looking into coming up with some sort of solution.

The StarMeter is a measurement of how many hits any page gets. It’s updated weekly. Pages get hits for any number of reasons some organic, some not so organic. No matter the reason, a hit is a hit and they all count.

Another hot topic was actors with the same or very similar names with credits that get mixed up with each other and the difficulty in getting them corrected. They recommended going through the traditional channels of adding/changing data and if that doesn’t work contact them directly. How do you do that??? Since you can’t really get them on the phone. How do you contact them directly? I think I have a few ideas. Plus, now I know where they live…or work rather.

That led to the issue of not being able to contact a human being on the phone. They discussed the notion of having a customer service department.

We spent a bit of time on the resume feature. Most of the actors in attendance didn’t use the feature, but the few that did gave their reasons why. Myself, I don’t use the feature. I don’t have anything against it; I’m just don’t feel I need to pay extra for it.

Why is it so difficult to remove a photo once it’s on the site? I don’t know; I’ve never tried to remove any photos. I didn’t really hear a straight answer to that. One actor said he was able to remove photos without issue. Being able to rearrange the photos was discussed as well.

We discussed being able to view credits in a different order other than chronologically. Also, the possibility of being able to highlight certain credits. Maybe, on your profile you could have something like “As seen on”; then have 3-4 of your favorite/best credits listed at the top of the page.

Another possible future feature that was discussed being able to have “favorites”. So if there is a group of 20 actors careers that you follow you can get to their profile very quickly with a single click. We talked about a feature of kind of a “Who knows who” type of thing. It might be similar to the degrees of Kevin Bacon type of thing, but more usable in the sense of being able to build and track relationships.

The tracking of commercials was brought up. I think that would be great. Yeah, now can put them in your “other works” area, but I think commercials warrant a legitimate category. That way casting/producers/directors etc. might have an easier way to track actors in commercials. Many film directors direct commercials as their “day job”. I think it would be great to compile that info as well.

I suggested being able to click on a director and, at a glance, be able to see what casting directors he/she has worked with. Same with producers, writers and the like. Most of this data is already there; it would just be making it easier to view at a glance.

We kicked around the notion of being to attach a video clip to a given credit – rights/clearance issues could be a problem.

Much more was discussed, but that’s about all my ADD-having ass can muster right now. I will say that it was an honor to be in the same room with the other actors in attendance. Some of them I knew, others I knew of but had never met and still others were brand new to me. I was proud to a part of such a sharp group of people who are very, very serious about their business. I also thank the IMDb executives for hosting such an honest roundtable to get the ear of us in the trenches.

After the meeting my agent informed that I am still being “pinned” for Grey’s Anatomy.

Monday, November 02, 2009

I was supposed to hear something today about whether the “pin” in me for “Grey’s Anatomy” is to become a booking or a release, but there was no news…I’ll take that as good news.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Last night I went to pick up mail at my old apartment. It was weird being in that space that I had lived in for 11 years and seeing it set up for someone else and it’s a woman. I knew they would put tile in the kitchen the moment I moved out and of course they did. It looked great.

I saw “Precious” this afternoon. Simply incredible work in front of and behind the camera.