I’ve been a member of SAG-AFTRA for over a year now. I originally joined AFTRA prior to the merger vote, and now I’m a member of the merged unions.
And besides having better work opportunities, better pay, and protection on set (something I could have used in the past), there are lots of other things that are out there for union actors.
First of all, there are free casting director workshops through the SAG Foundation. A big controversial thing in the acting world are casting director workshops that you pay for. I don’t want to start a debate on here, but my belief is that you should not pay to audition for a casting director. You wouldn’t pay to have a job interview in a day job, so why would you do it for an acting job? If you don’t understand what paid casting director workshops are and want to know more about them, I suggest watching this video.
Another great thing through the union that actors can take advantage of is the SAG-AFTRA Film Society. You have to pay for the membership and you can only apply in the spring for the upcoming year. But there are free screenings for Film Society members about twice a month (I’ve already gone to “The Great Gatsby” and “Star Trek Into Darkness” and will be going to “Man of Steel” tomorrow). Plus, you get this awesome membership card!
Another membership within the union that you can join is the SAG-AFTRA Conservatory. I’ll admit that I haven’t taken advantage of being a member of the conservatory this past year. I need to get better about that. However they do have a big weekend event coming up next month and I’m planning on signing up for at least 4 classes.
Also, as many people who belong to other unions know, there are discounts available to union members. This page lists just some of what you can take advantage of as a member of SAG-AFTRA. I personally use the IMDBPro discount. And a lot of my friends use the ATT discount (my cell service is Verizon and there isn’t a SAG-AFTRA discount for them).
If you are a union actor, hopefully I’ve given you some new ideas of how to take advantage of your membership. And if you aren’t a union actor, maybe I’ve made you think about joining. Either way, I have to say that for me, becoming a union actor was one of the best things that I’ve done for my career. And whether or not you are a union actor, if you have any questions, you should give SAG-AFTRA a call. They are so wonderfully helpful and really want to make sure that all actors are taken care of.
On Sunday, I went over to my friend Emily’s house. She is leaving on a 2 1/2 week trip out of the country with her brother. She’s an actress as well, so we both share the frustration of not being able to change our look too often (when you change your look, you have to get new headshots that look like the new you).
Since she will be out of the country (and not auditioning) for a few weeks, Emily decided that now was the time to do something crazy with her hair (she’ll go back to her usual style when she gets home). And Emily wanted to go purple with her hair, and I was the first on in line to help her dye it!
Here is Emily’s before picture (she’s wearing a trash bag that we used as a cape to keep her as clean as possible.
Since we were dealing with hair dye, I wanted to be protected too. So I put my hair back (no purple hair for me), and put on some gloves. I totally felt like a mad scientist.
It’s been a while since I’ve dyed anyone’s hair (I used to do my own in middle and high school and I helped a friend once just after college), but I had a lot of fun. The purple dye was much thicker than other hair dyes that I’ve seen, so we weren’t too messy. Because Emily has so much hair, we used two bottles of dye. And after coating all of her hair, we put a shower cap on to protect it (and protect the dye from staining anything in her house).
I know that I got some on her forehead, but that’s nothing compared to what I did to her back.
Thank goodness for the trash bag/cape, but I got a ton of dye on her neck. I apologized a ton on Sunday for that, but I think that any non-professional probably would have had the same problem.
While we waiting for the dye to set, we chatted and caught up. Emily and I both have crazy work schedules, so it’s hard for us to find time to hang out. Plus, I wanted to hear all about the trip she was going on.
30 minutes later, Emily washed out the dye. She doesn’t typically blow dry her hair, so I didn’t get to see the finished look when I left on Sunday. Her hair looked a lot darker than normal, but it’s tough to tell when it’s wet.
On Monday, Emily sent me this picture.
Her hair looks pretty different from her before picture. You can see the purple, but it’s not as purple as I thought it would be.
Overall, it was a fun beauty adventure to have on my day off. It’s not everyday that I help a friend dye their hair such a fun color (and I get to play mad scientist!).
I live in a pretty small house (it’s about 400 square feet). When I moved into the house over 3 years ago, I was coming from a 2 bedroom apartment that I had shared with roommates that was about 3-4 times the size. So I did a lot of downsizing before I even moved in.
But as I think everyone does, as I’ve lived here, I’ve collected a lot of stuff. Some of it is amazing (like artwork and furniture that makes living in a small space feel more homey). But a lot of the stuff I’ve collected is just stuff. So this weekend, I spent some time getting rid of things that I didn’t need anymore.
I started with my shoes, since I have so many. With the exception of specialty shoes such as my hiking shoes, any shoes that I haven’t worn in 1 year are gone now. Most of the shoes that I got rid of were sandals that used to be comfortable and aren’t now or shoes that no longer fit. I managed to get rid of 4 pairs.
Next, I went to purses. I followed the same rule as my shoes. I took out 5 purses and still have a bunch that I’m debating about. I tend to use one purse all the time until it starts to fall apart. I have a couple of special occasion purses and one that my grandma gave to me that I will keep no matter what, but there are a couple of purses that I’ve used within a year but I question if I’ll use them again.
While I was on my cleaning streak, I also decided to clean my email. We all get emails all the time that we just trash immediately. So I went through the trash mailbox on my email, and I unsubscribed to a ton of things. I lost count after 20, but at least now I won’t have as many emails to deal with on a daily basis.
I didn’t get to my kitchen yet, but that is next on my list. I know I have at least 7 or 8 reusable water bottles. I should be able to survive with just 2 or 3. I also have other kitchen gadgets that I don’t use that often and I want to find a place to store them so I don’t have to take up room in my kitchen.
There are several more projects that I want to do with cleaning up my house. My closet is something I’d like to tackle but I know it will be hard. I have a lot of clothes, mainly because when I find something that fits and is cute, I don’t want to get rid of it. It’s not easy shopping for me. But I’d really like to try to get rid of some things (and use GwynnieBee to supplement my wardrobe).
This project will take several more weekends (mainly because of the sentimental value of the other things I’m trying to clean out). But hopefully in the end, my house will seem less cluttered (and easier to clean as well).
Whenever I start something new in my life, there is a sense of novelty with it. I remember when I moved into the house that I live in now and I realized that I had my own trash can (as opposed to a dumpster that all residents share). I remember telling my dad how now I have to take my trash can to the curb on trash day like a real homeowner. Now, I’m annoyed on trash day if I’m at work and I forgot to take the can to the curb. I’m sure that I was also excited at first to pay bills. Now they are just something else that I have to do (there is no fun in paying bills).
When I started work again this season, I was having fun bringing my lunch to work. I’d make salads, sandwiches, or bring a bunch of snacks to eat. It was fun to know that I was doing something good for me (and not spending money going out to eat at lunch). But I’m getting bored with my lunches. There have been many days where I’ve just forgotten to pack my lunch, and I have to go out to get something.
I’ve looked up a lot of non-sandwich lunch things, but a lot of them involve cooking or using leftovers. Since I don’t make dinner most days (I really don’t want to cook when I get home at 9pm), I don’t have leftovers.
I’m trying to think of new ways to make sure that I don’t have to spend money I don’t have to spend on lunches every day. Maybe I need to cook at 8am on the days that I don’t leave for work until 11am (and just put the freshly cooked food in the fridge immediately). I don’t know if I really want to do that with my mornings (or make my house smell like that as soon as I wake up).
I’ve also thought of letting my slow cooker go overnight, but the idea of sleeping while something is cooking in my house makes me nervous. But you are supposed to be able to use a slow cooker when you aren’t home, so I don’t know if sleeping while one is going is any more dangerous (and I do have smoke detectors in my house that go off pretty easily).
Anyone have any advice to stay interested with food while I’m dealing with my crazy schedule? I’m seriously trying to stay on the healthy (and cheap) path with my meals, but there are only so many PB&J sandwiches that I can eat in a week (I have one for lunch today).
Since my old walking shoes had a big hole in them, I needed to get new shoes before doing any more big walks. I had a full work week last week, but I had time after my half shift on Friday to do some serious shoe shopping.
Shoes and I have a funny relationship. I love shoes, but they don’t love me back all the time. Because of my hip issues, I have to be careful about what I put on my feet. A few years after having my hip surgery, I discovered that shoes with wobble boards in them (the ones that claim to burn extra calories and work out your butt) are the ones that are most comfortable for me. I don’t believe that they burn extra calories, but whatever allows me to walk for hours without pain works for me.
I have a lot of shoes from FitFlop, but they don’t make workout shoes. So when I discovered that New Balance had shoes similar, I bought a bunch of pairs. I had one pair at my house and another at my parents (so I didn’t have to fly with sneakers taking up a lot of room in my carry-on). But the ones with the hole in them were my last pair, and those shoes were discontinued a while back.
Since I loved my New Balance shoes before, I figured I’d try another pair of New Balance shoes (and no, they aren’t paying me to say this). There is a New Balance store near my work in Santa Monica, so I went on Friday.
This was no ordinary shoe shopping experience. Instead of telling the sales people what shoes I wanted to try on, the salesman (whose name is escaping me) brought me over to the shoe fitting area.
I stood on that platform and there was a computer that took measurements of my feet and where I put pressure when I’m standing. During the measurements, I also told the salesman about my hip issues and explained what type of shoes I’ve like before.
After the foot analysis, the salesman brought over the shoe that he thought would be best for me. He also brought over an insert to put in the shoe to simulate what the wobble board did for me. The shoes weren’t as cute as my old ones, but they are pretty nice.
I’ll admit, the shoes weren’t as inexpensive as I’d like. But now that I know what shoes (and inserts) work for me, I can be on the lookout for the shoes being on sale (and then I could stock up). I’ve learned the hard way that being cheap with my shoes doesn’t work, so I’m glad that I went for the ones that didn’t hurt me.
I’ve had the chance to do one decent walk with these shoes. And they aren’t the same as my old ones, but they don’t hurt either. I think I just need to wear them in a little bit and then they’ll be perfect.
Sometimes, you have to spend a little more to make things work for you, and workout shoes are one of those things.
I had an audition for a tv movie yesterday. Everything in the audition room happened the way it should happen. I said my lines, I got a smile from the casting director, and I left the room quickly. However when I was leaving the audition, I did almost get trapped in the hallway (there were two doors between the audition room and waiting area and when I closed one door it was so dark I couldn’t find the handle for the other door). I have no idea if I booked this job, but to me, it’s more important to impress the casting director so that they want me to come back again then to book every job I audition for.
But overall, this was a typical audition. But those few seconds of being stuck between the doors made me think of some of my bad auditions, and I figured I’d share some of them so you can all enjoy some of my not-so-graceful moments.
One of my absolute worst auditions ever happened when I was auditioning for a job in a theme park. We were all held outside the audition room and were only taken in one at a time. I probably had waited about an hour or two before it was my turn. I walked into the room, and right in front of the boss’s table, I fell banana peel style on the ground (and by banana peel style I mean I flew up into the air and landed hard on the ground). After trying to recover, we all noticed that there was a huge puddle of water on the floor. Someone who auditioned before me must have spilled it and I was the lucky one to walk right into it. After the audition, I was taken to the first-aid at the park to have my toes taped because they were looking pretty bad. I didn’t need first-aid, but I’m sure that they did it for their protection. I didn’t get that job.
I also remember an audition years ago for an employee training video for the fitness industry. In the audition notice, it was written in bold and in all caps that ALL ACTORS MUST READ THE SCRIPT EXACTLY AS WRITTEN. NO IMPROVISATION ALLOWED. I took this very seriously so I worked very hard at getting all the lines exactly as they were on the paper. I was partnered up with another actor in the audition and we got started. I read my lines as written but the other actor was making everything up as he went. I still said my next lines as written even though it made absolutely no sense. I wish that I had the courage to have asked the casting directors if I could try that scene again (hopefully with a new scene partner), but I didn’t.
Another audition for a commercial was a little crazy. I don’t remember what type of commercial it was, but I remember that the premise was that the character I was auditioning for was caught in bed with another character by my character’s husband. In the audition notice, they asked us to wear skimpy clothing to help imply a state of undress. I wore a tank top and shorts (with a sweatshirt to wear over the outfit when I was walking to and from my car). Once in the audition room, the guy I was paired with stripped down to a speedo. It was pretty funny, but I wish the other actor had given me a heads up.
The final story to leave you with today was another commercial audition. All I had to do in the audition was climb into a duffel bag and zip myself inside. I might not be the skinniest girl out there, but I am pretty flexible (I can do the splits and bend down and touch my toes with little effort). So in the room, I got in the bag and got it zipped up. The only problem came when I was trying to get out of the bag. I got a little tripped up in the bag and straps and had to get out of the bag while sitting and pulling it off of my feet.
So there are some highlights of some of the crazy auditions that I’ve been on. Most of the crazy stories happened years ago, before I knew how to stand up for myself (and before I had union protection). There are so many more stories that I could tell, and I know that there will be more stories to share that happen in the future. But I wanted to give you all a glimpse inside my sometimes crazy life.
Today, The Actors’ Network will be closing their studio doors. TAN (as we members like to call it) has been around since 1991, and I’ve been a member since 2006. Kevin E. West, president and founder of TAN, asked the members to share a favorite story of something that happened at TAN to put on their blog. It was requested that our posts not be more than 500 words. I wanted to share some things, but couldn’t keep it under the word limit, so I’m putting it all out here.
I first heard about TAN in 2004. I was at Loyola Marymount University in my first semester of my senior year (I finished early so this was during the spring semester). I took a theater class called Performance Training 4 (I believe it now is called Career Development). This class was taught by a manager and his goal for the class was to prepare us for the real world of acting. So he took us all around town so we could meet casting directors, agents, managers, photographers, and actor organizations. TAN was one of the places that we went to, and I remember being very impressed by it from the first moment. However, after I graduated, I tried to have a “real” job. It wasn’t until I was laid off in 2006 that I decided to pursue my dream for real. And one of the first places I went to was TAN. I became a member in October 2006.
One of the first things I attended at TAN ended up changing my life. This is a long story, so sorry in advance.
It was in November or December of 2006. An editor from Backstage West was doing a focus group at TAN. Initially, I wasn’t going to go, but Kevin sent out an email asking for more people to attend. Since I wasn’t busy that day, I went. While in the focus group, a few of us suggested that they follow around actors that are trying to make it so they can share their stories with everyone else. While we loved reading about actors who are successful, they weren’t relatable. And the editors decided to follow me and four other actors around for a year and write monthly updates on what we had accomplished.
That’s me in the blue on the front of the cover looking super short (and much thinner). I wasn’t paid for the articles I wrote, however I did get a free subscription to the magazine. And in August of 2007, I saw an ad for Halloween Horror Nights auditions in one of those Backstage Wests. I went to the audition, booked it, and had an amazing time. I met some truly amazing people including one guy named Todd. He mentioned he had a great agent and that I should submit myself for representation. I did, and got a meeting. I brought my articles from the past year to that meeting, and based on those (and a great referral from my friend Todd), that agent decided to represent me. And I’m still with that agent (and super happy with her and the team that she has created).
I know it’s a long path, but if I never joined TAN, I wouldn’t have been in that focus group, I wouldn’t have been featured in Backstage West, I wouldn’t have seen the ad for Halloween Horror Nights, never would have met Todd, and I doubt that I would have met my agent or would have been offered representation. This is all due to TAN.
I’ve also met so many amazing people at TAN. Some of my best friends are people who I’ve met in various lectures there. I’ve also met some amazing casting directors there. And I know for a fact that there is one casting director who cast me because of seeing me at TAN and at least two casting directors who have brought me in for auditions because of TAN.
And over the past 7 years, there have been times where I questioned if I was doing the right thing. I felt like I was right in my heart, but sometimes my head liked to disagree. And all I had to do was go to TAN and hear some great motivation from Kevin or one of the amazing guests and I felt like I could take on the world.
Outside of TAN, I have to say that Kevin has been a wonderful supporter of me. He made a quick appearance in the twitter documentary that I produced. He also was a guest on InsideActing Podcast (I’m the production coordinator for the podcast). He has always cheered for me for my victories. And yesterday, when I went to say goodbye to the studio, he told me how much he enjoyed that I did 5Ks. I had no idea that he knew, but again, I love the support.
I’m sad that something that has been such an amazing part of my life is closing. It won’t be gone forever as the membership is now going to be 100% online with webinars, but I will miss going to the studio, seeing my friends, and leaving with amazing information.
So, thank you Kevin for creating such an incredible place. I’m so happy for you that you are going to be able to focus more on your acting career. After running TAN for 22 years, you deserve it! I hope you know how much TAN has meant to me. I know that I haven’t attended events lately as much as I would have liked (hazards of having an evening thrival job), but I still use information that I got from you from 2006. I know that I would not be the actress that I am today without TAN. It has taught me, motivated me, and made me a businesswoman instead of only an artist. I will forever be grateful for everything that you have done for me.
And I’m putting in the request again, Kevin, that we need to have the Holiday party still (or some other annual TAN gathering). That way, I’ll know that I will at least get to see you once a year.
For some reason, I can’t get it in my head that little victories are the steps that I need to take to get to big victories.
I should be ecstatic that I did my last 5K 10 seconds faster than my previous one. But all I can think about is how I am still over a minute slower than my goal time. But when I’ve talked about this with friends who run races, they talk about how they want to be 3 seconds faster or something like that. So 10 seconds (or 26 if you are counting how much faster I am now than my first timed one this year) is amazing.
I have the same issue celebrating my weight loss. I saw a friend online who mentioned that she lost 15 pounds since January and is now only 5 pounds away from her goal weight. That’s amazing! But for me, losing 20 pounds since I set my goal last year is not impressive at all. It’s a drop in the bucket for what I’m trying to do.
I know that in the past in my life, I’ve seen these victories as setbacks. Why have I only lost 20 pounds and not 60? Or 80? It’s a failure. This is why I hesitate to set goals for myself. If I don’t make it, I’ve failed. I haven’t had a partial win.
I don’t know how to change this mindset. I’ve discussed it in the past in therapy (I’ve stopped going because my new insurance doesn’t cover it and my therapist and I agreed that I was ok to stop). One of the things my therapist suggested doing was to not have goals for things related to my weight or health at all. That way, I’d never seem to fail.
But clearly, setting goals does work for me because I did my 5 5Ks in 6 months! Maybe I need to set goals that I can control more, but what counts as control? I should be able to control my weight, but it doesn’t work that way. I should be able to control my speed for my 5K, but again that doesn’t seem to happen for me.
I don’t know if I’m trying to get answers by writing this on here or what, but I needed to let it out. I know that I should be celebrating my 10 second victory this week, and I’m going to try to. I just wish that I didn’t feel like I was faking my happiness.
After doing 5K #5, I expected to hurt a little. It’s the reality of my life. I ended up hurting a bit more than usual because Sunday happened to be a bad day for my hip, but that’s ok.
But I was really surprised when I was getting dressed for the rest of my day on Sunday and discovered a huge blister on the back of my right heel. The blister was about the size of a quarter and it hurt a lot!
I immediately went to check out my shoes. I thought maybe there was a little pebble in my shoe that I didn’t notice or something like that. I didn’t expect to see this.
It’s hard to tell in the photo what is going on, so let me explain. The grey part is obviously the lining of the shoe. The yellow is the foam padding that is underneath the lining. And the white is the plastic that is used to reinforce the heel of the shoe. And on the edge of that plastic there is a piece that is breaking off. And my heel was rubbing up against that for the entire race.
It’s no wonder why I have a blister! But I don’t know why I wore my shoes down like that. These aren’t super old shoes, but I’ve had them for about 2 years. And I know that you are supposed to replace your shoes every 300 miles or so, but I guess I just thought that since I don’t do distances over 5Ks, I had more time that the 3-6 months that most websites say.
I have a tough time finding shoes that I like, and sadly the walking shoes I have now were discontinued. They are the New Balance True Balance shoes (the ones that they falsely claimed toned your legs more than other shoes). I did a search online for the shoes and while I did find some on a few sites, none of them had my size.
I’m thinking of trying to go get a real shoe fitting for new walking shoes. Since I know that my New Balance ones fit me nicely, I might bring them with me to the New Balance store in Santa Monica and see what shoes they recommend for me.
Now that I’m doing more than 1 or 2 5Ks a year (and still hope to do a 10K sometime in the future), I probably should look at taking things more seriously and not just as a hobby. I do need to be more aware of the wear on my shoes so that this doesn’t happen again (blisters suck).
Hopefully I’ll be able to make it to the New Balance store at some point this week and I can update you all on some cute new walking shoes!
Yesterday, I completed 5K #5. I still can’t believe that I did it! I remember when I was writing this post and wondering if I would ever get it done.
At the time I wrote that post, the 5Ks I had in mind were the Color Run, the March of Dimes March for Babies (which I ended up missing because I was at the dress fitting that day), the Revlon Run/Walk, and then doing the Universal Studios one again. That would be 4 and I figured I would find another one before the end of 2013.
I never would have guessed on January 1st that I would complete my goal by June 16th. Part of what helped me get it done was just taking the risk and signing up for races that I didn’t know well. It does make me have a bit more anxiety during the race (because I don’t know the course that well ahead of time), but I’ve learned that using Google maps I can help reduce some of my panic and be more prepared.
Anyway, back to my recap of my race yesterday. I signed up for this one because it was extremely close to my house (the start/finish line was just under a mile from my front door) and there was a discounted entry for employees of the Culver City Unified School District (technically, I am still employed there as a substitute teacher).
Yesterday morning was not my best morning. I woke up in pretty bad pain. If I didn’t have a race, I probably would have spent my morning doing stretches and waiting for painkillers to kick in. I didn’t have that option, so I did some stretches and took some painkillers and hoped for the best. Because of needing to do extra stretches, I was running late. So instead of walking to the start line, I ended up driving (looking back, I wish I rode my bike as there were areas to lock bikes up right by the start/finish line).
The 5K started before the 10K, so I went to the start line and hung to the back of the pack. And of course, I took a before picture.
I found that shirt at Old Navy and felt it was pretty fitting since that shirt expresses how I feel about finishing a year-long goal in half the time.
I was one of the last people to start the race. One of my fears is being the last person to cross the finish line, so I tried to focus on staying ahead of at least a few people. For the first 2 miles, I was in pain. It sucked, but I pushed through (I’m only regretting that a little now as I’m still in pain). But I kept going and was very happy when I could see the finish line in my sight.
I ended up crossing the finish line 10 seconds faster than the Firefly Run, which means that I’ve taken 26 seconds off of my Hollywood Half 5K time (the first officially timed race I did this year).
And my self-portrait finish picture.
I was very happy that 4 people finished the 5K after me, so I wasn’t last. And right after I crossed the finish line, the winner of the 10K crossed. So it was pretty cool to see that.
Sorry for the short recap of this race. It wasn’t a super eventful race for me and I was by myself so I didn’t take a ton of pictures. But it did get me to my goal, and that will make this race very memorable.
So what’s next? I still have a few other 5Ks in mind, but I don’t know if I want to set another goal (like doing 10). If I do that, it will be awesome, but I also have to keep in mind that races aren’t always the cheapest things to do. I will do the Universal Studios one again, and there’s a Santa Monica one I’m looking at towards the end of the year.
But for now, I’m just super happy that I have a nice collection of bibs and medals.