Category Archives: Acting

More Union Education (or Making Sure Ads Go Union)

You may have noticed that I am posting more and more about union events. I’ve been saying for a while that I wanted to become more involved in the union and I’m finally taking advantage of that! My schedule is fairly regular so I can make plans to attend different meetings and events and I love how this makes me feel continuously involved in union happenings and not that I’m on the outskirts. And this week was another week where I was at union headquarters for another meeting!

So many of the meetings and events I’ve been going to lately have been about commercials. This is a pretty current issue for a few reasons. First, the union will be negotiating the new commercial contract next year so we are getting prepared for that. But also, commercials have always been both union and non-union, but we are starting to see more non-union than before. Many jobs are still union, but we want to make sure they stay that way and that we get even more union commercials.

SAG-AFTRA has an entire committee dedicated to keeping commercials union and that was what this meeting was about. Members of the committee as well as union staff were there to explain more about the plan to get more commercials to be union work and what things have been happening so far.

While I’ve been at several events regarding union commercials, I learned new things at this meeting. These meetings are a response to the growing problem of non-union work and because of what members say in them the union can know what our specific issues are and how to remedy that.

I’ve been pretty lucky. While I don’t audition for commercials a lot, my agents have never asked me to violate union rules and audition for non-union work. In fact, when a commercial lied about being union and when I found out, my agents told me to leave because they didn’t want me to run into any issues. Not all actors are that lucky and they were discussing how their agents are encouraging them to work non-union even though they are union members.

But even though I’ve been lucky since becoming a union member, I know the issues of non-union commercials from before I joined SAG-AFTRA. When I was non-union, I did a commercial that paid pretty decently. It was super easy work and with what I made I paid my rent and bills for a month! I was so excited! But I didn’t realize that because my contract allowed the ad agency to use the commercial in perpetuity (which is common in non-union work), I had no idea then that I would have something that has been on tv for 11 years! It’s a haircare commercial/informercial and I see it on tv all the time. If this was union, I would be making residuals and still be getting paid. But because it was non-union and I didn’t have the protection of SAG-AFTRA and the contracts we have, I only got that 1 payment that doesn’t seem that much when you think about it being split over 11 years.

Because of my experience with non-union work, I’m passionate about making sure that other actors don’t have the same issue. If they aren’t in SAG-AFTRA and chose to do a non-union work, I want them to know what things to look for in a contract so they are making an educated decision. But I am even more passionate about helping commercials be union so that actors will have the protections that we have in our contracts. And that’s why I love getting to know more about the Ads Go Union campaign in meetings and being able to share what I learn with you all. This time, we got more information on recent things that the campaign has done and promoted to other members.

Even if I don’t book another commercial in my entire career, this issue is going to be an important one for me. I know first-hand how easily actors who don’t know better can get into a contract that they may regret later. And I want to see more union work so that my union brothers and sisters have more opportunities to do what they love. For me, my union dedication is all about education and seeing others succeed. And hopefully I will succeed as well.

I am looking to branch out a bit more and find union events about other issues so I can learn more about other union things I may want to get involved in. But for now, I’m just so happy that I’ve been able to get involved in the commercial recapturing initiative and that I will be able to find ways to help out other actors. I do plan on attending more and more events and I will keep finding ways to be involved and to make sure that all actors are educated on the issues.

First Union Working Meeting Of 2018 (or Union Strong For All)

It feels like it’s been a while since I’ve had a meeting with the Union Working group, but I think that’s because things have been so busy for me lately! But at the same time, it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long because I’ve seen so many of the other group members at other events (both social and union related). I feel so connected to this group and I love that.

But since the group hadn’t had an official meeting in a few months, I was so glad that we had a meeting this week. There have been so many things that I have learned about the union that I wanted to connect to my knowledge that I get in the group and I was so antsy to see what I was going to learn this time. And because I love the group so much, I am always trying to get more people involved. I wish that there was a group like this when I joined the union because I was scared to be involved when I first joined. But a group like this is a great way to ease into getting involved in union issues.

I invited so many actor friends to go to the meeting and a bunch of them were hoping to make it. I totally understand how tough it can be to schedule around day jobs to attend events, so I also tried to let people know that we try to live stream as much of the meeting as we could in the Facebook group. But I was so excited when my friend Sarah said she could make it! Sarah and I were in the UCB class together and I don’t think we had seen each other in person since class! And she’s going to be joining the union soon so I thought it would be perfect for her to attend the meeting and hopefully get more involved in the group.

Before going to the meeting, my friend (who is one of the core members of the group) asked me if I could help out a bit more at the meeting. I’m always happy to help and he needed me to run the live stream on Facebook for the group. I figured it was a great opportunity to use my newish tripod and iPad stand and I could live stream from my iPad. It would be easier than doing it on my phone (and would keep my phone free for me to take notes). So I spent a lot of the meeting making sure that the live stream was working (we had some WiFi hotspot issues), but it still allowed me to pay attention to what was happening.

This meeting was really interesting for me. With the special guests we had, a lot of the discussion was about influencers and how that affects union work. This was almost the other side of the event I was at last week where it was mainly influencers learning about the union. This time, the union members were learning about influencers.

We also had a guest who discussed how to maximize using Instagram. I’m not the best at Instagram and I’ll admit that I don’t always have the prettiest photos up there. It’s a wide variety of photos and that’s fine if I want it to be that way. But there is a better way to represent my life on social media that could benefit me as an actor (and probably as a blogger too) and I’m going to be more aware of that from now on. I’m not going to make my social media only show the best things of my life because I do believe in staying honest. But I do want to make it look more like the professional that I feel I am in my career. The guest really gave me a lot to think about and I love walking away from our meetings with a little bit of homework so I stay involved and active.

Besides all the amazing guests we had at the meeting, the leaders of Union Working shared this incredible video that they created. While Union Working has been about SAG-AFTRA a lot, we want to be pro-union for all unions. The group is supportive of all unions and we want to make sure that unions are protected. In this political climate, many politicians are anti-union and trying to encourage workers not to unionize. But we know that as a group we are stronger. Unions protect workers and allow us to have collective bargaining to make sure that everyone benefits from contracts. I’m so excited that Union Working is expanding their reach and I can’t wait to see what unions we are able to partner up with.

I know I’ve said this before, but if you are an actor in Los Angeles I highly encourage you all to check the Union Working website, social media, and hopefully attend a meeting. You can also check out the YouTube channel for more videos. If you are an actor somewhere else in the country, still check out the group and maybe you can start a chapter of Union Working where you are. And if you are a member of a union and want to connect with Union Working, reach out on their website and social media. We are all working together to better unions for everyone in all industries.

Another Educational Union Event (or Merging My Acting And Blogging)

As I continue to work on my union education, I seem to find more and more events that I really want to attend. Some of them are events that they have from time to time at the union that I’ve never attended before and some are new events that I’m so excited to be a part of. And this week, I was invited to attend an event that was brand new and perfectly suited for me!

SAG-AFTRA and Tubefilter came together to co-host an evening to discuss influencer marketing and the FTC guidelines we need to follow. While I don’t do a ton of sponsored posts on here or on social media, I do have them from time to time (I try to limit them to only things that I really believe in). And I know that there are some rules I need to follow in order to follow what the FTC requires and I wanted to make sure that I was doing everything properly. And since many sponsored posts can be under union jurisdiction, I loved that the union was involved in this conversation to answer questions.

I’ve learned a bit about some of the rules I need to be aware of because of other union events I’ve attended. Until recently, I had no idea that things I did on my blog could be under my union’s jurisdiction. I think this is something that most actor/bloggers aren’t aware of yet and I know that SAG-AFTRA is starting to get the word out now that guidelines are starting to be a bit more clear.

At this event, there was a panel that had a lot of amazing panelists. They included a YouTube creator, an employee of the FTC, and a union representative. While there was a lot of back and forth because some rules are still a bit unclear, I think the tone of the entire event was that we all want to work together to figure out how to create policies that protect us as creators and still follow FTC guidelines.

The meeting really reminded me of the Union Working events with how people may be coming from different sides of an issue but we understand that by working together and being strong as a group it will benefit us the most. And while not everyone has the answers to everything, people are bringing up questions that are helping those higher up to understand the issues we are facing and the concerns that we want answered. Sometimes, the answers to questions was to say that they didn’t know, but I highly respect people who aren’t afraid to say that they don’t know (instead of making up an answer).

The panel was about 2 hours long (and they probably could have gone for another 2 hours and I still would have been fascinated) and then there was a bit of a social mixer after. I was sitting at a table with some of my friends so I had a chance to be social before the panel. And after the panel, we came together to discuss what we had learned and what issues we are concerned about. We had a chance to speak with the National Executive Director of SAG-AFTRA and I got to express some of my personal concerns or confusion over the rules. Influencer marketing is still a pretty new system so I think there is a lot of confusion by a lot of people. And since I don’t do it that often I think I had extra questions. But I did leave the meeting feeling much better about the situation and knowing who to contact if I needed to get something specific answered.

I don’t know how big the overlap is with actors and bloggers (or other types of influencer marketers), but I’m very excited to be someone who fits into both categories. I’ve already talked to the union about how they can reach the blogger community to help those who are not in the entertainment industry understand what is happening and what the union is doing for them. I think it’s going to be a very exciting time to see those two worlds come together and I love that I get to help connect them and bring them together.

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Surprising A Friend Headed To Broadway (or I Have More Motivation To Plan My NYC Trip)

I’m sure there are some people who get jealous when their friends have amazing accomplishments, but I’m not one of them. I love to get to celebrate people’s successes and it makes me more motivated to create successes myself! My friend Matt got a job as an understudy on Broadway and he’s about to move to New York! I’m so excited for him and I know he’s going to do amazing in NYC. And to celebrate the move and his job, Matt’s wife Carolina organized a surprise party for him!

I love surprise parties, but I haven’t had the chance to be at that many. So I was super excited to get to be at this one and I knew it would be a great party. We were all supposed to arrive at the party about 30 minutes before Matt and Carolina were going to arrive. I got there a bit earlier and was able to help with some of the set up. There were some really fun decorations to celebrate Matt and his job on Broadway and I helped with filling in some letters on the giant chalkboard.

Right before Matt and Carolina arrived, we were warned so we could get into place. We were all near the gate they would be walking in and we were crouched down so he wouldn’t see our heads peeking over the fence.  It was pretty funny waiting for the gate to open because we were all waiting toward one gate and then I guess the plan changed for them to walk in another gate. One of the hosts was singing and talking loudly so we would get that they would be coming in a different gate and we all turned around and repositioned ourselves.

The story Carolina told Matt about why there were coming over to the house where the party was being held was that they were dropping off a table there. So when we all surprised Matt, he was carrying a table inside. 

Surprising Matt from Jen Levin on Vimeo.

He had no clue this party was happening and it was so great to see how surprised he was! Carolina worked so hard to make this party happen and I am so happy that it went off exactly how she wanted it to be. I was just so excited to see how happy Matt was that we were all gathered to celebrate him!

There were a bunch of people I knew at the party so I spent a lot of time chatting with them. We were all catching each other up on life and other random things and we all did get a chance to talk to Matt a bit. But there were a lot of people there who wanted to talk to him and none of us wanted to dominate his time.

I know we are all going to miss Matt when he’s in New York. He’s one of the leaders of Union Working and his leadership at the meetings will be missed. But maybe he’ll have the opportunity to start a chapter of the group in NYC while he is there!

My sister-in-law and I have been talking about doing another NYC trip soon and we both know we need to do it! And now that I’ll have another friend living there it’s extra motivation to plan the trip! There’s no guarantee that when we do plan our trip that Matt will be performing (as the understudy he won’t necessarily know what nights he performs in advance), but it would be amazing if the timing worked out so we could see him in the show! But even if that doesn’t work out, I know it will be great to get to see him and Carolina again.

I wanted to stay at the party longer, but I was only able to stay a few hours because I had to get home for some work and errands (being a responsible adult stinks sometimes). But before I left, I needed a photo with Matt! And of course, other friends joined in because as actors we can’t resist a camera.

Congrats again Matt on your amazing gig in NYC! I know that everyone is so excited for you and can’t wait to see what other accomplishments you’ll have on your NYC adventure!

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New Year More Brunches (or Awesome Company, Not So Awesome Restaurant Service)

It’s been a while since I’ve had a brunch hangout with my WIF mentoring group. We’ve been meaning to do one, but with our schedules and the holidays it seemed like we couldn’t find a time that most of us could go. We had to keep putting it off, but we finally found time in January to schedule a brunch so we could have our overdue hangout.

So many of our brunches have been at the same place, but we have been wanting to try a new place. I’m not going to name the place we went to (because I’m not trying to publicly shame them), but we went somewhere new for us that was still pretty close to my house so I was happy about that.

Even though our last brunch was a few months ago, I was pretty limited in what my updates were about. I shared about the SAG-AFTRA convention and how I was getting ready for the upcoming pilot season. And since most of the women in the group are friends with me on Facebook, they have seen some of my random posts about online dating and were asking me about what was happening with that. I used to feel pretty bad about my lack of updates, but I’m more comfortable about it now. I know that I am not in total control of when I will have fun and exciting updates but that when I do everyone in the group will be so excited for me!

But for me, the highlight of our meetings is getting to hear what everyone else has been up to. I think that we all had a bit of a slow time because of the holidays so there weren’t as many updates as normal. But we were all understanding with each other and ended up chatting about more social things than business things.

While our hangout was fun, the brunch part wasn’t as good. We ended up having some pretty bad service. When we arrived, it took a while before we got water (the restaurant maybe had 3 other tables with customers) and then another 30 minutes before we could order. When they brought out the food, they brought everyone’s food but mine at first. I assumed that my food would be coming soon, but after 10 minutes I was still waiting. I told everyone else to start eating, but one of the women in the group got mad and tried to figure out where my food was. Finally they brought it out so we could all eat.

I got the pork belly hash and it was pretty delicious. While we were annoyed by the service, the food was at least pretty good. But the service kept being weird. It took about another 30 minutes from the time they took our empty plates to the time we got our checks. And then I experienced something that was the weirdest service thing.

My bill was about $14 and I put a $20 bill in and expected to get change. I was going to leave some of the change as the tip and when I got my change I took out some money to leave. But then I counted what I had left and it didn’t add up. It took me a minute to realize that the server didn’t take money for the bill. All she did was break my $20 into smaller bills and give it back to me. If I hadn’t noticed that, I would have left only paying a fraction of my bill and not leaving a tip at all. Even with not-so-great service, I still wanted to leave a tip. And if I had underpaid, I would have felt horrible. I’m glad I noticed it before I walked out, but I thought it was so strange.

But even with the odd service issues, the brunch was still a great one. I love getting together with the group and having some time to reflect back on what I’ve done and celebrate everyone else’s victories. I know that the rest of the group feels the same way and it was actually something we talked about at our brunch. We know that most of the mentoring groups don’t meet after their mentoring circle is done or on their own during the year of the mentoring circle. I had that experience in my first group. But with this group, we lucked out because we just clicked. There are 2 members of the original group that don’t participate anymore but a majority of us really do our best to make these brunches.

Even though we missed the last few months of last year, I think we are back on schedule for doing these every other month. We might run into the same problem again at the end of the year with the holidays again, but even if we only meet 4 or 5 times over the year instead of the 6 that we try to that is a lot. And I get so much out of each of these meetings so I will take whatever I can get in a year!

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Union Holiday Party (or Seeing A Lot Of People In A Little Time)

This seems to have been the week of parties. On Monday I had the 300th episode party for the podcast. On Tuesday I was supposed to go to a holiday party but I ended up being too tired to go (I was still recovering from Monday). And Wednesday was the SAG-AFTRA holiday party!

I’ve gone to the holiday party before and knew it would be pretty crowded. But I think I kind of forgot how overwhelming the entire party could be. I was still feeling tired from the week and had spent Wednesday working and working out. As soon as I was showered from my workout, I got into my car to go to the party. I knew I was missing the beginning of the party, but I wasn’t too worried about that. Last time they were running low on food toward the end of the party, but I was feeling a bit off besides being tired and didn’t feel like eating. So lack of food at the party wasn’t a concern for me.

As soon as I arrived and got in line, I started to see friends of mine. That is one of the great things about being more involved in the union. The more events I go to the more I recognize people at other events. It’s still a bit much going to a party like this alone and I had wished a friend could have come with me. But at least I knew I’d be seeing a lot of friends.

Once I was in the party, I started to try to make a lap around the room the best that I could to see who else I knew there. It seemed like everywhere I looked I knew at least one person so that was pretty awesome. Some of my friends there had been up since 3am that day because the SAG Awards nominations were announced that morning. That put my tiredness into perspective for me!

It was nice to have a fun social event to catch up with actor friends. We didn’t really discuss union issues, there was no need to talk about election season, and everyone was in a fun and festive mood. I didn’t take any pictures, but fortunately I had friends who took pictures with me so there is some evidence that I was at the party!

Since I got there late, I wanted to stay until the end of the party. But things just weren’t working for me that night. I was having a great time catching up with my friends and wanted to do more of that, but I knew I needed to get back home. I didn’t want to drive and feel tired so I wanted to leave before the tiredness started to feel worse. And my body was just feeling worse. I have a tendency to get stress sick (where you get sick right after something that was stressing you out) and I think I got that from worrying about the podcast party. I knew that I could potentially stay longer, but I would be paying for that later and I didn’t want to have to worry about that.

I only ended up being at the party for about an hour or so and I wish I could have been there longer. But at least in that hour I saw so many people who I knew. There were a few people who I saw in photos later that I didn’t get to see in person, but I think I saw a majority of my friends there. I felt like I had been pretty social and got to catch up on life with people. I think a lot of people were feeling tired and stressed so at least I wasn’t alone in that feeling. And my friends understood when I wasn’t acting like my normal bubbly self.

Of course after this crazy party week I don’t have any more big holiday parties that I can think of besides NYE parties. It would have been nice to have all the parties spread out so I could have enjoyed each one (and attended all of them), but things don’t normally go like that. I’m just glad that I didn’t feel too tired or sick to get to the union holiday party and that I did have a great time in the limited time that I spent there!

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Celebrating 300 Episodes (or We Had Another Amazing Party)

I’ve shared on here before when the podcast I work for celebrated 100 and 200 episodes. And this week, we celebrated 300 episodes! I’ve been with the podcast for a long time, but it’s still pretty crazy to me on how many episodes we’ve done. And I couldn’t be more proud of our hosts, Trevor and AJ, for everything they’ve done.

This time, we didn’t do a live recording. Instead, we did a week in the life of a series regular with Chelsey Crisp. We had been working on interviews for a few months and Chelsey even did some interviews for us so we could hear from cast members who weren’t available when we were on set! This interview (or I guess series of interviews) ended up being so incredible and I am very proud of it.

But just because we didn’t do a live recording didn’t mean we didn’t want to have a party and celebrate this milestone episode! It actually ended up being easier not having the recording because we only had 1 location to worry about. I wasn’t stressing out about getting back and forth and was able to focus completely on the party. And I wasn’t doing the planning alone. The podcast community manager, Deb, was the co-planner (and honestly did more than I did).

Since we were only focused on the party, we tried to make it as amazing as possible. We wanted to have a step and repeat again with photo booth props. Adam Emperor Southard (who did my headshots in the past) was able to be our photographer and Deb and I did some shopping and creating for some fun photo booth props. We did have a lot of things on our own, but we also found an awesome 99 Cents store that had so many costumes and props for us to buy! But one of my favorite things we had was an Instagram photo frame that Deb made. It looked so good and everyone loved taking photos with it!

(BTW, all photos in my post were taken by Adam and I highly recommend using him for any headshots or photo shoots you might have)

I didn’t take as many photos this year as I had in the past, but I still tried to get some good ones. I wanted to get one with Grace, who is the podcast PR manager and my Orangetheory buddy!

And I got one with my friend Nick. But him being at the party is a bit of a cool and crazy story. Nick and I were in improv class together 2 years ago. We became Facebook friends while we were in class together but hadn’t seen each other since the class. But the morning of the party, he messaged me on Facebook to say that he just started listening to Inside Acting and heard that the production coordinator had the same name as me and he wanted to know if it was me. I told him it was and that we were having our 300th episode party that night. He happened to be free and made it to support us! It’s so crazy how perfect the timing was with that all because if he started listening to the podcast one day later he would have missed the party and I would have missed getting to see him again!

And of course, we had to get a team photo of the entire Inside Acting team. It’s rare for us all to be together so we wanted to take advantage of this moment!

But we also needed to get a fun team photo to take advantage of all the props we had! Besides the Instagram frame, I loved our speech bubbles. Many of them had phrases that the hosts say often on the podcast and they thought it was hysterical that we had those speech bubbles.

But we didn’t just have a party with photos, we wanted to make it seem more like an event. Since our 300th episode was focused around one episode of “Fresh Off The Boat” that Chelsey was filming, we decided to screen the episode at the party. But what the guys didn’t know was that Deb and I planned a surprise for them before the screening.

I reached out to all of our past guests, past team members, and current team members asking for anyone who was interested to send us a video of telling the guys congrats on reaching 300 episodes. We got several videos back and I worked on editing it down so it was a more manageable length to watch. They had no idea that we did this and I was terrified that the surprise would be spoiled by someone. But it wasn’t (even when it started to play without sound and we had to start over) and it was obvious from looking at the guys that they were so touched that we did this and they had no clue that we were planning any sort of surprise like this.

And if you are interested in watching the video we made for them, you can check it out here:

We also had a raffle where we gave away a lot of fun prizes. Everyone seemed really into the raffle and I think we will have to do it when we have our party for the 400th episode in about 2 years. We were giving away headshot sessions, coaching sessions, demo reel editing, and other fun things.

And while I was stressed out for pretty much the entire party (I just wanted everything to go perfectly), I did try to take some time to sit back and reflect on this milestone episode and the incredible community that this podcast has created. I loved seeing listeners meet each other for the first time, talk to the guys about how they loved one episode or another, and just have a fun time at a party that we were throwing. It was a really special night and I feel so lucky to have been a part of it.

I told both Trevor and AJ how proud I am of them at the party, but there are seriously no words to express how I feel about these guys. They created this podcast that has turned into a resource that so many actors use to educate themselves about the industry. We get the best guests and we are so lucky that guests are now reaching out to us instead of us always reaching out to them. I know that this podcast is going to continue to grow and it will only be getting better. Saying that I love them both and that I’m so grateful to them only scratches the surface of how I feel. I am just so incredibly lucky that they are my friends and that I get to help them with the podcast.

Now that we finished our 300th episode, I’m already trying to plan how we can top it when we have our 400th episode. Fortunately, I’ve got about 2 years to work on that and I’ve already got some ideas of what I want to do. I know that I don’t have to keep topping myself with these milestone podcast events, but I like to have something to work toward. And I know that Trevor and AJ deserve only the best when we have these milestones.

If you are a listener to Inside Acting, thank you so much for your support! I am so grateful to all of our listeners because there would be no podcast without them! And I just want to make sure that I keep the podcast as great as our listeners expect it to be and I hope that I can keep that up!

Vulture Festival (or TV Writers and A Sing-A-Long)

This past weekend was the Vulture Festival in LA. This was the first year that the event was held in LA and I was invited to come check it out! Vulture Festival is a weekend-long pop-culture event with panels featuring actors, writers, directors, and other people involved in film and TV. I was super excited to check this out and even more excited that I was invited to be press coverage there!

It still makes me a bit giddy to get a press pass for something and this time it allowed me to attend different panels. There weren’t reserved seats for press, so I tried to get there early for the panels I was attending. But because this happened on what ended up being a crazy busy weekend for me, I could only attend 2 panels (one on each day).

The panel I attended on Saturday was with Damon Lindelof (the creator/writer of Lost, The Leftovers, and lots of other amazing shows) and Mike Schur (the creator/writer of The Good Place, Parks and Recreation, and other hit shows).

This panel ended up being pretty incredible. While they both talked about their shows and they had a really great working relationship together, I really appreciated how they discussed the state of the industry. They discussed all the various sexual harassment issues happening now and they both acknowledged that they were a part of the problem. It takes a really good person to admit that you have done things that now looking back could be sexual harassment and that the other person involved might have felt like they couldn’t say anything because the person saying it was someone in power.

They also discussed how one way to stop the power issues that cause sexual harassment is to have more diversity in the writers room and in powerful positions. If it is a boys’ club, there is a risk of that mentality becoming something that isn’t positive. But if women are viewed as equals in the industry, this problem hopefully will decrease.

But there was a lot of funny stuff discussed too. Mike Schur talked about how Damon Lindelof helped him when he was creating The Good Place. And they both talked about how series finales of shows can cause lots of debate. While I haven’t watched a lot of their shows, I was inspired leaving this panel to watch more of them because I want to support creators/writers who really are good people and want to make this industry a more accepting and supportive environment.

And on Sunday, I got to go to the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Sing-A-Long panel.

I knew this one was going to be packed, so I got there early to get a good seat. I lucked out by getting a seat on the end of the second row. This panel included actors, writers, choreographers, producers, and creators of the show. They talked about a lot of things about having a musical comedy on tv like how sometimes the songs are finished the night before the actor has to record them. They also discussed how the show has taken a more serious turn but that there is still comedy in those darker moments.

And throughout the entire panel, they had sing-a-longs with different songs of the show. Most of the time, the actor that sang it in the show sang it at the panel too. But a lot of people in the audience sang too (I didn’t since my singing voice is horrible). But to me, I loved watching how much everyone who wasn’t singing loved seeing their co-stars and co-workers singing their hearts out and having fun.

It’s so clear that everyone on this show has a blast working on it and they know how lucky they are to be a part of something so special. I can only hope to get to be a part of something like this one day.

And one of the coolest things that happened at the panel was that they premiered a song that will be coming up on the show. It was the first time it had been shown and most of the actors hadn’t seen the final cut either. Everyone on stage and in the audience was laughing so hard and I can’t wait for this episode to air (I believe it is the next episode).

I really wish that I had been able to attend more panels over the weekend. I heard amazing things about so many other panels but the schedule just wasn’t going to work for me. But now I know to be on the lookout for when the Vulture Festival will be back in LA because I want to save the entire weekend for it! It was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt and I wish I had more time to explore there. I had only been there once or twice before and I wanted to check out more. There was also an event after each panel at the pool that I had to skip out on because of needing to get back home.

But even though my time at the Vulture Festival was limited, I had a great time and left feeling very inspired and creative. That’s exactly how I want to feel every day!

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Final Union Working Meeting For 2017 (or A Commercial Roundtable)

I’ve been so lucky to get to be a part of Union Working for a while now. Their meetings are always so inspiring and I’ve learned so much from attending. I’ve made some awesome friends and I’ve been getting more and more involved with the union, which has been a goal of mine for a while. I know that there is much more that I can do, but I’m taking steps in the right direction.

The meetings for Union Working are about every 6 weeks and the meeting this past week was the last one for this year. It seems like a lot of things are winding down because of the holidays but I know that it will be back in the new year. But since this was the last meeting for the year, the group did one of the best meetings they’ve ever had as a 2017 finale.

Usually the meetings have a guest speaker who answers questions from the group about what is happening in the entertainment industry. A lot of the focus is on what is happening with commercials but other things come up too. But for this meeting there was a roundtable discussion. So instead of just one guest there were multiple guests. And the questions were asked to everyone so we could see how different people in the industry have different answers and they got to learn from each other as well.

In the roundtable we had staff from SAG-AFTRA (even though the group is not officially affiliated with the union we do have staff members who have spoken before), casting directors, agents, actors, and even the creator of one of the online submission services that is used for submitting actors for auditions. It was a really great variety in the panel and I was impressed by who they were able to get.

There were a lot of topics that we’ve heard about before, but it’s always great to hear someone else’s perspective. And to listen to the people on the panel debate amongst each other was interesting. Sometimes they helped to form ideas as a group that could help actors together. Or they learned why one idea or another wouldn’t work based on what we as actors have access too. And some of them weren’t aware of all the limits or abilities of the union so I’m glad that information was able to be shared with them.

The idea of this meeting wasn’t necessarily to walk away with actionable steps but to leave with ideas that we can use toward working on things for the future. I was more inspired than ever to keep working hard for my union and to keep trying to bring more people to Union Working meetings. When they start again in the new year, I want to try to get one friend to each meeting I go to. These meetings are great for members of the union but they are also great for those who aren’t members yet. There are many things I wish I had known when I wasn’t union. I probably would have been much smarter about my career and I probably would have joined the union sooner. But now that I’m in, I want to see all professional actors as union members so we can continue to strengthen the union.

There was a hangout at a bar after the meeting was over, but I needed to get home to get some work done and go to sleep. Last week was a bit of a rough week for me with sleeping due to the nausea issue so I really was making an effort to try to get to bed sooner than normal. I missed the social aspect of going to the meetings, but I know that leaving was the best thing for me and that I’ll have plenty more opportunities to go to bar hangouts when the meetings start up again next year.

Even though this is the end of the Union Working meetings for the year, it’s not the end of my involvement with them for the year. I was asked if I’d help out with some work that the group is doing and I’m pretty excited about that. I don’t have all the details about what I’m doing, but I’m just happy to be involved. That’s all I’ve wanted to do and it was an opportunity that presented itself to me and I’m taking advantage of it.

I’m so grateful that I was given the opportunity to be a part of this group. I’ve been able to do so much this year with them and I can’t wait to see what next year will bring for the group and for my involvement with them.

Enjoying The Gala (or Having An Awesome Friend Date)

I’ve already written about the SAG-AFTRA Convention, but I left out the gala. To me, the convention and the gala almost seem like separate events. Part of this could be because the gala is a ticketed event so not everyone who is at the convention goes. But to me it was a no-brainer that I’d be going to the gala again because I had such an amazing time the first time!

When you buy your tickets for the gala, you have the choice to get 1 ticket or 2. Last time, I got 1 because I really didn’t want to stress about finding someone to go with me and I was already overwhelmed about everything. But this time, I decided to be hopeful about what has been happening with my online dating adventures and got 2 tickets. And I did try to ask someone who I’ve gone out with a few times if he wanted to go with me, but that really didn’t work out.

So with my extra ticket, I decided that I should make it a really fun friend date! And fortunately my friend Ben was happy to come with me! Ben is also a delegate so he was already at the convention. And he and I have been saying that we were overdue for a hangout so this was the perfect opportunity for us to catch up!

Last time, the gala was at WB studios so I had to drive over from the convention. But this time, it was at Universal Studios and there was a shuttle from the Sheraton Universal to the gate so it was much easier to get to. And the union staff arranged for LA delegates who didn’t have time to go home to change to have a meeting room to use as a changing area. It made things super easy for us and I was ready to go right when the shuttles started.

When Ben and I got there, we lined up to check in and ran into a bunch of friends. And as soon as we passed the metal detectors the first thing we saw was the red carpet. I figured we should do photos while we still all looked really nice so we lined up for photos and the interviews they were doing.

At the end of the red carpet was the open bar. I enjoyed water while my friends got drinks. Even though I invited Ben to be my date for the night, I figured we both be off on our own (which would have been totally fine with me), but we ended up sticking together. It was awesome getting to hang out so much and we seemed to be pretty lucky with things. We went inside to the lobby of the Globe Theater (where the dinner was going to be) to check things out and the doors to the theater opened up right when we were at the doors! So we went inside and managed to get a table in the front and center of the room behind a reserved table.

At our table we had some friends that we knew as well as some new friends we just met. It was so nice having a fun night out where we weren’t worried about the politics of the union and just got to have fun. At the gala, they give out awards and things were split up a bit. We had some awards and then there was a break to go to the buffet for dinner. The food was really good (I think it was better than last time) and there was also a dessert buffet. And after we ate, the awards continued.

It was so fun watching the union honor those who have done awesome things. And having friends at my table was fun because we could chat to each other about the weird and cool things we were observing. And once the awards were done, it was time for dancing. But I was so tired that I decided against dancing. But I wanted to make sure I got some pictures with people while we were all dressed up and fancy!

Ben was leaving around the same time so we headed out together. And then we realized that we never took advantage of the photo booth setup that was near the red carpet. There was no line there so we were able to do a photo with each of the backgrounds they had for the green screen set up. And I think we were both feeling a bit crazy and tired so the photos are pretty weird even for me.

But they were awesome and I’m so glad we took an extra minute to do that before getting the shuttle back to the hotel. And once we got back there, I said goodnight to Ben (who had a meeting for convention that night super late) and I headed home to try to get some sleep before having to get up super early the next morning.

I had an amazing time at the gala. The gala on its own is already great, but getting to hang out with an awesome friend makes things so much better! And like I said in yesterday’s post, I’m already waiting for the next one in 2 years. I know I will be going to the gala again because it is one of the highlights for me for convention weekend.