How #Showbusiness is Like #CandyCrushSaga

364254066_640We play it so much we find it hard to sleep at night without getting to the next level. It’s the most successful mobile app of all-time, and people have even been diagnosed as clinically addicted to it: CANDY CRUSH SAGA. I was thinking about this last night in my delirium at 3;00 in the morning because, come to think of it, show business is a lot like the popular candy app. In this business, like the game, some levels are going to seem easier than others. There will be times when we as actors book one gig after another just like going up the levels in Candy Crush. There will also be times when we’ll need a little nudge from friends and family to give us extra lives in order to move to the next stage, there will also be those damned people in the game that are like the gosh-darn chocolate fudge that smother your dreams and try to keep you from your goals. You can’t get to the next level by not meeting the task at hand. If the game wants you to “clear all the jelly” or “move all the ingredients to the bottom,” why would you waste your time trying to just match the same colors together?

We have to remember the objective of our personal journeys and what we need to do to meet our goals. Eventually, we will get to the next level, but occasionally, we’ll be stuck on the same level for months (seriously, I was stuck on level 65 for 4 months.) Not working sucks, but it’s the nature of the beast.  Dry spells are going to happen in this business, but with hard work and determination, along with some concentration and a little help from our friends, we will persevere and make it. No matter what your goal is in this business, it’s all attainable. Everyone’s Candy Crush Saga/Show biz journey is different. Embrace it.  Hopefully this post made sense. It totally made sense in my head. If you play Candy Crush, think about the parallels for a minute. Now if I could only get past Level 76…

Auditions: The Uncommon Job Interview & Why They Are So Stressful

Auditioning is stressful for both the actors in front of the table, and those who are trying to make the decisions behind it. I rarely go into auditions calmly, and if I am calm, it worries me. Some people are really really good at auditioning, but not necessarily acting. And most actors I know say that they are really bad at auditioning. They are also some of the best actors I have worked with.  Casting directors have a job to do and we as actors need to realize that fact. They have a limited amount of time to pick from the pool of actors who audition for them, and narrow that down to the final few until they have a cast. It doesn’t matter what the project is. It could range from a commercial, to a film or television series, to a stage production. Casting directors HAVE to find a cast. Wow. Talk about stress.

Sometimes, I have walked into a room and felt the disappointment in the air, because I come to the conclusion automatically, that I know I’m not who they are looking for. I can see it on their faces. I can hear it in their tone of voice. It’s as if they are saying, “Why is she here?” “Why is she wasting our time?” Apparently, I’ve heard, that until the character walks into the room, they are unconvinced that they are going to find anyone to fill a particular part. Sometimes, I’m really confident when I go into an audition. But, to be honest, I size up my “competition” before I go in the room and end up psyching myself out because all these things run through my mind like, “I’m not thin/pretty/normal enough” or “I seem really out of place.” I have two minutes to “impress” these people behind the table, but sometimes I can sense, that even before I’ve opened my mouth to speak, I’ve been tossed aside.

It’s odd that in the “real world” a job interview takes into consideration your previous experience, skill set, and whether or not you’re truly qualified for the job. In the acting world, it can come down to simply, “I didn’t fit the character description.” I’ve come to the conclusion that the pressure that the casting people feel due to the time crunch, and the stress that I bring on myself about the audition, just makes it an all around stressful situation.

Here’s what I am planning to do to curb my stresses. I’ve been asking myself questions to calm myself down. Michael McKean has a great quote about auditioning. He states, “What’s the worst that can happen? They don’t give you the job? Guess what: You already don’t have the job. The worst has happened! Pressure’s off, so have fun. The main reason we wanted to do this is that it look like it would be fun, right?” Right. I have to remember what made me enjoy acting in the first place. That thing that made the fire in my stomach ignite, is that acting is creative. It’s fun. It should never stop being fun. But we as actors have been so consumed with “nailing our audition” that we have lost sight of why we became actors in the first place. I want to serve the material. I have been asking, “How can I serve your project?” in my mind before an audition, rather than “Are you going to like me?” How can I best help out the people behind the table? Well, the easy answer is, I can be what they want. Yet, of all the audition success stories, they seem to include one key point: The actors were showing who they were. They were showing their best qualities. Sometimes, you just have to bring yourself to your work, and utilize the qualities you already possess. So in the end, we’re not really “acting” at all. We’re us. And that’s okay. I’m going to showcase the best of myself. Take it or leave it. So what if I’m not thin/pretty/normal enough? I’m me. Boom. Stressful situation avoided. Bring on the fun!

The Last Five Years…An Actress’s Reflection

Author’s Note: This was originally written on May 24, 2012, but it was never published on this blog.

Word to wise about me: I’m not your “type.” I never will be. I don’t fit into a clear-cut mold of ethnicity, socioeconomic background or physicality. I’m myself. Accept that. Love it. Take me for who I am (“Rent” reference, anyone?) Five years ago, I embarked on a journey that I’m still on. There have been and are (at least at the moment) bumps in the road. No road is easy, everyone will tell you that. Even those who become doctors and lawyers study their lil’ butts off to “make something” of themselves. Coming up in June, I will have been in NYC for five years and to me, that’s hard to believe and easy to understand all at once. My senior year of college, I auditioned at the New England Theater Conference (NETC) with what seemed like a thousand other actors. I managed to get two callbacks that day: I had a horrid one for the “Diary of Anne Frank” and quite a pleasant one for a theater company in NH.

However, nothing came of those callbacks…but, two weeks later, I received a letter in the mail that Circle in the Square Theatre School was there and wanted me to attend their summer intensive workshop. I FREAKED OUT. I’d always wanted to go to NYC for some form of education, let alone theater school. I still remember that day because I brought the letter with me to Hymnody class to show not only my professor, but friends as well. I was shocked. I even remember the phone conversation I had with my father. Nonetheless, it all worked out and I moved to NYC for what I thought would be a few months of intensive study. It was the most intense, fun, and rewarding summer of my life, and I STAYED in NYC. Who knew that I’d go from having one film credit on my resume to getting my union cards in five years?

The journey is far from over. In fact, for me, it seems to just be beginning. I’ve been studying for these past five years and working towards my dreams. Sometimes I forget that I got to NYC because, yes, I must have some talent in me after all. Over these past few months I’ve been auditioning like crazy. Going to EPAs, getting called in for film auditions. And sometimes I think things aren’t happening “fast enough” or at all for that matter. But what do I know? People could be sitting in a room with my headshot on a cork board debating whether or not to call me back. Who knows?

I’m coming to terms with the fact that sometimes, not knowing, is just fine. I’m a good actress. I’ve finally come to acknowledge it in a sense. I’m unique. SOMEONE will say “Hey, that’s the girl,” and cast me. SOMEONE will. I know it. I work too hard for my efforts to be futile. Something is coming. I just don’t know what yet. But I can rest easy knowing that every time I go into an audition, I get to do what I love. I feel alive. And I want to feel alive as much as possible. So God, and Uncle Steve…If you are reading this from heaven, help me make my dreams a reality. I’ve come so far already. Here’s to five more years in NYC and then some.

Since writing this article nearly a year ago, I have appeared in the play The Boy’s Next Door and worked on various television projects. Oh, and I also started a blog. 🙂