Tag Archives: networking

More Actor Stuff (New Media and Screenings)

In my plan to get back to normal life (which has been a huge focus for me lately), I’m doing so many actor events! I’ve said before that I’ve realized that I should have been doing these more often before, but now I seem to be making up for lost time. It would be amazing if I could do one good actor event a week (and screenings don’t always count since that is just going to a movie) and it seems like that is the trend that I’ve been doing these past few weeks!

One thing that I did recently that is actor related is renewing my membership with the SAG-AFTRA Film Society. I love the Film Society and think it’s one of the best deals out there for union actors! It’s $120 to join and you get so many movies each month. The season starts in June and I think I’ll almost make my money back in the first two weekends alone. There will be 3 movies that I’m going to see then and each time I will be bringing a plus one. 2 of those movies are in 3D (which cost at least $20 each here in LA). So between going to those 3 movies, I’ll be getting at least $100 in value and that’s just the beginning of the season!

I know that I get lots of screening invites during awards season, but this is nice to have as well. A lot of the movies we get at Film Society are the big blockbusters that usually aren’t nominated for SAG Awards so I wouldn’t get to see it as an award screening. And I know that if I didn’t have this membership, I wouldn’t see nearly as many movies as I do because they are so expensive!

Normally, Film Society memberships fill up so quickly and there is a wait list pretty soon after signups go live on the website. But I found out this week that there is still room for new members now and I wanted to make sure I shared this awesome opportunity for those of you in LA who are union actors! Seriously, sign up because I know you won’t regret it!

But besides signing up for Film Society, I also went to the SAG-AFTRA offices this week for an amazing event. I got to attend the New Media Contract Informational Session.

For those of you not familiar with what new media means, that’s pretty much any project that is distributed through the internet. That includes Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube, podcasts (this was a new one for me to learn about!), and any other online video streaming services that we watch videos on these days. For the high budget new media (like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu), there is a different contract that I’m not aware of. This meeting was specifically about the low-budget projects. More specifically, the projects that we as members want to make and need to have under a union contract.

For union actors, we can only work on union projects. And that includes the videos that are put up online. And since I really do hope that I will be creating my own content one day, I wanted to make sure I was as educated on this contract as possible! The beginning of the meeting was with some of the staff who work for the union in the new media department sharing some basic information and some of the ideas that they are working on to make things better and easier for us in the future.

And then the floor was opened up to everyone to ask whatever questions they may have. I got up to ask a question because I was just a bit confused about one element of the contract (I blame my confusion on having worked 2 day jobs earlier that day). But so many other members got up and asked some really amazing questions that I wouldn’t have even thought about. I took so many notes while at the meeting and I’ve already been emailing back and forth with some of the staff at SAG-AFTRA getting some things in order that I finally understand.

These informational sessions will hopefully happen more often now. I think the staff saw how valuable this was for us as members and they were able to understand the concerns and confusion that many of us have with this particular contract. They were so open to listening to what we had to say and took lots of notes on what they know they need to work on next. As long as the next event like this is an evening that I can attend, I know I will be there. And I think that all actors should attend, whether or not they plan on creating their own work.

I know I’ve said this so many times lately, but I’ve just gotten so inspired by attending more and more actor events. I’m so glad that I’m putting this as a priority in my life and I have a feeling that it’s just going to add so much more to my life by being more involved with acting. And one of the next things coming up will be the elections and that means that it’s almost convention time again!

Another Actor Night (or A Diversity Panel)

Like I said in yesterday’s post, I’ve been trying to get back into acting any way that I can right now. While auditions are hard for me to get, there are so many opportunities in other ways and I’m really working on making myself more available to them. When I was at the Next Gen Performers mixer, they mentioned the event that would be happening in April. I assumed I couldn’t go, but it ended up working out perfectly for me to be there!

I spent the day with my parents (this was on their last day in LA) and then after we were done hanging out I got into my car and drove to downtown LA. The event that was happening was more than just a mixer, it was a panel on diversity in the entertainment industry and I was super excited to hear what the panelists had to say.

A lot of times people think of diversity as just ethnicity, but it really is so much more. There is diversity in ages (so not everyone is in their 20’s), diversity in appearance (so not everyone is beautiful and thin), and diversity in abilities (so deaf characters aren’t only played by hearing actors). And of course diversity in ethnicity is a big deal too and that was discussed by the panel a lot.

I haven’t experienced too much discrimination except with my weight, so I don’t always understand the struggle others have due to lack of diversity in roles. But being at this panel and listening to the stories really got me thinking about how I can help and what I want to see in the future with projects that I want to support. I love being able to learn about the industry and the issues that other actors experience and this was the perfect opportunity to do just that.

The panel was about 2 hours long (I was a bit late but I was able to be there for most of it and just took a seat in the back so I didn’t disturb people) and when it was done we all headed around the corner to the Far Bar for the post-panel reception.

I had never been to the Far Bar, but it was a pretty great place! The space was reserved for our group but we were a pretty big group. Every seat was taken by the time I got there and I found some of my friends and we just hung around the bar to wait for the food that was being served to come by us. We spent time just catching up (again, I was around people who wanted to learn more about how I was able to not need surgery) and then I noticed that the Next Gen Performer signs were out for people to take photos with.

Then I volunteered to help get some fun photos with the signs. I walked around helping to encourage others to take photos and then I had a weird idea. The bar had a balcony/loft area and I thought it would be cool to have a picture of the party from above with the signs being held up in the background. I recruited my friend Woody to help me and I think the photo ended up looking pretty fun!

I was just having such a great night out being around other creative people and feeling the positive energy that was in the room. I’ve realized lately how much I’ve missed doing this and how I’ve forgotten how much it makes me happy. It’s so easy for me to be in my normal routine and to not do too much at night, especially if it’s an evening after I workout at Orangetheory. Usually when I get home from a workout I shower, eat dinner, and just relax the rest of the night. But I could make more of an effort to go out after to do things that make me happy and help me network and make more connections to help advance my acting.

Sometimes you need a kick in the butt to take some action that you really should have been doing. And for me, I guess I needed the idea that I would be out of the acting game for a while and then not have that happen to make me realize that I needed to make more efforts to get out there. I haven’t been slacking on my acting career, but I haven’t been doing everything I should be and I know that I can’t just relax and let my career happen to me. I need to get out and make things happen for myself and see what is possible.

I’m not sure what the next actor event will be that I can attend. I need to look at the SAG-AFTRA calendar and see what I can attend and see what other groups might interest me. But my motivation is so strong now to be out there more and I think that this is going to be a really great thing for me!

My Love Letter To The Actors’ Network (or Sorry Kevin, I Couldn’t Keep It Under 500 Words)

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.

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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.

Backstage January Cover

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.

I’ve learned amazing things at TAN as well. My tricks for watching everything on TV or organizing my contacts and calendar come from things that I learned from Kevin.

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 Inside Acting 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.