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Dear Santa

This will probably be my last entry of 2011 and I want to end on a positive. The last week has been a little tough and I didn’t want to post until I got out of my slump, which I always do one way or another.

I found out that I didn’t land the film role, which I think I already knew but when you wait to hear back you can’t help but hold out hope. Personally I am surprised at the choice; I don’t think the actress is right for the role. She is a great actress and I like her work but I just can’t see her in this part. Maybe it’s because I felt it was so right for me and she is very different to me that it has thrown me. When you go up for a role which is so close to you in “real life” when you don’t get it, it can be soul destroying. After all who else can play yourself better than you? In this case this woman apparently! Anyway after the initial anguish and disappointment I have once again pulled through.

The recording for the HBO show went really well. Bless my BF we spent pretty much the whole night doing it but it was definitely worth it and as he loves the show as much as I do I think he was quite excited to do it.

It’s my last day at my “day job” today, at least for this year and I am off back to my parents this afternoon so my body is already starting to relax and my mind to unwind. The year has been tough but I have survived! I have had work, albeit briefly and I have met casting directors that I hadn’t met before. I think I have settled in to my new agency now and so I am ready to hit 2012 running. I do hear nearly every December that next year will be my year but I am going to say that next year really is. I turn 30 then (sob sob) so this blog will need to change, I will no longer be on the right side of 30!? My aim has always been to “make it” by the time I’m 30 and so it shall be!

I had a message recently on twitter by a lovely girl who asked me how I do it. How do I keep going when it seems nothing goes right? And well I guess I just do. There is no secret or formula it’s just life and you deal with it. I am lucky enough to be able to follow my dream, it doesn’t always go the way I want it to but I’m still doing it. Giving up is not an option cos what then? I have a great life, my work is not easy and I certainly don’t look forward to getting on the tube to go to my city job everyday but it could be so much worse! I have the support of friends and family (and lovely strangers on twitter!) and I know it will pay off. One day this blog will be turned into a book and sell millions….. at least that’s one of the things on my list to Santa and he nearly always delivers.

Merry Crimbo everybody and here is to an amazing 2012 x

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Go on holiday now, there is nothing going on anyway….

I have had quite a good few weeks, it seems the jobs and auditions have suddenly flooded in.

I was up in the north of the country for a couple of days last week, filming a short scene on a kids show. This was a favour really to the producer as I have worked with him before. I got the impression someone had dropped out or was no longer available at the last-minute and they needed someone quickly. It was definitely done for the money. I did find it hard though. It felt like a step backwards. I couldn’t help but think “what am I doing here” and when some of the crew and cast asked whether I had worked for HBO before I was tempted to lie. I couldn’t have of course as they clearly knew I had otherwise why ask? But from their responses I knew they were also thinking “why are you doing this” But you know it’s Christmas there are parties to go to and presents to buy and I need the cash.

On Monday I got asked to attend a script reading. It was for quite a big American show and often when it comes to read through’s the cast don’t attend. They already have the part and it can be too time consuming so they ask actors to fill in and read on their behalf. This is a good opportunity to meet producers and directors etc. and can also be like an audition for any parts that haven’t been cast. And it is also paid so again a nice little bit of spending money before crimbo.

I have also had some exciting auditions. Mainly for a feature film, shooting for three months Jan to Feb in a nice part of England. It’s a big project and the part I went for is small enough for a relatively unknown like myself to play but also big enough to be remembered for. So it would be perfect. There is some nudity in it but compared to what I did for HBO its nothing!! The first audition went really well, the casting director clearly liked me and I was certain I would be called back. I was and this time it was with the director. Alas this did not go as well. It wasn’t that I did anything any different it would just appear that the CD liked what I was doing more than the director. It has been nearly two weeks now and I still haven’t heard. However as it is a recall we will hear either way, so I suspect that it’s a case of the CD trying to convince the director I am right. It’s so difficult not to get your hopes up, as I have said many times before, but the longer the wait the less hopeful I become. Who knows, fingers crossed.

I would usually say it will be quiet now on the lead up to crimbo but it seems I have been busier lately than I have all year so will not jinx it by saying too much. Perhaps all the “young” actresses out there have already headed off to start their festivities, either way let the good times roll!

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How important is food? Really?

I recorded for the cartoon which was so much fun. When I turned up there was a guy still in there finishing off and as I was listening to him I have to admit it was making me panic a little. He was extremely funny, I mean everyone was cracking up, that is not an act I wanted to follow. It’s good for the cartoon of course; we want it to be funny, just not before I go on!! I wouldn’t say comedy is my forte, I love it and I don’t think I am completely without wit – ahem –  but this guy was pretty much hilarious.

So I am up and go for it and it’s like a sauna in there! I mean I am sweating big time, and it looks like this is through panic and distress but it is genuinely boiling in there. So I take off as many clothes as possible without it looking weird and try my best to cool down. I take a large gulp of water, clear my throat and go for it and well, it’s really bloody funny. It’s at that point that I realise that it’s more about the writing, I mean obviously acting does come into play a little and there were a variety of accents that I needed to pull off but I don’t think I was any less funny than the other guy. Saying that the cartoon is not out till September 2012 so there is plenty of time for things to be cut and voices to be replaced…. I hope this is not the case but we shall see, the cutting room floor is not something I am completely unfamiliar with!

I went to theatre last week with a friend who is part of a theatre company I worked with last year. Going to the theatre always makes me hungry for work, especially if the play is brilliant and there is an actress in it that’s close to my age, and this play ticked both boxes.

After the show we get a wine and chat about it, me gushing about how much I miss it all and that I need to do something creative soon before I explode, and then she offers me three fantastic parts. She wants me to take part in their Rep season. No audition just straight in, with three highly sort after parts for an actress my playing range.

I am delighted, it would be for three months so it would mean giving up my day job AND the money for this is poor. Really poor. There is a small sum and then profit share, and that’s always a gamble. But after a few more glasses of wine and sitting in the theatre bar I have talked myself in to it. So I will be broke for a few months, I don’t need to go out, don’t need to travel that much, don’t need to buy things…. I head home ready to debate it out with the boyfriend. He is the sensible one in the relationship, the one who thinks logically and doesn’t get lost in the fairy tale of it all.

So I have my argument ready, how my soul is being crushed in this corporate world, I need to spread my creative wings. I AM DYING!! There is a bit of a pause before he asks me if I am ok and would I like a glass of water. I say I am fine and sit down. Realising I have been shouting at him for about half an hour in something close to pantomime. But he says he agrees, that I should go for it, that I am wasting my talents behind a desk. So what the pay is not great, he’ll help me out and when it’s over I’ll just get some bar work or cleaning somewhere, whatever, we’ll work it out.

Well this is not what I was expecting but it’s amazing. I am going to do it, throw caution to the wind and really live the actor’s life of struggle and sacrifice! Then I email my agent. She calls me, immediately. “Darling, really? I mean I see your desire to do it, I completely understand they are great roles but let’s think about it carefully” She then highlights all the negatives and unfortunately there are a lot. Not just the money but the time involved, three months is a long time to be out of action. After a thorough but fairly short discussion I am not doing it and I am back in the office…..

It’s depressing. Well not depressing really that’s a little extreme, but I did like the idea of it all. However I do have to be sensible and if I want things to move forward I need to pick my jobs carefully and in the meantime just bloody hang in there!!! I am recording the music video on Monday so that should be fun and I have an audition for a play on Thursday which is a good part, so there are things in the calendar. At least now I can afford to buy things again, and you know, eat. I guess that stuff is kinda important. Sigh

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Patience is definitely a virtue

It’s been an interesting October, consisting of travel, lots of “firsts” and finally “knowing” some people.

 Firstly I went away for the weekend to warmer climes and appeared in a short film. It was with a company I worked with two years ago and stayed in touch with. This was a new challenge for me as it was a short film in a foreign language. The character I was playing was English – funnily enough – but would be speaking in this particular language… at least that was the plan.

 Now I would like to say I spent three weeks practicing – that’s how long I had the script for – but that would be a big fat lie. I procrastinated, big time! I do have a habit of this when it comes to lines, but only because I tend to pick them up quite quickly and I always want to avoid the over rehearsed! I needn’t have worried about that. It was not a language I had studied at school, and apart from the usual hello, good-bye, can I have a drink please? I knew nothing! So when I finally got round to learning them I struggled!

 By the time of the filming however I thought I had it pretty much down. Mmmm, this apparently wasn’t quite the case. My pronunciation was off. So they decided to film it more like line for line and I would be aided by the crew before each take. This however did not work either, because now I sounded too perfect, not an English girl speaking in a foreign language. So in the end the majority of the piece was done in English. I personally think this was better any way and to quote Jessica Alba “Good actors, never use the script unless it’s amazing writing. All the good actors I’ve worked with, they all say whatever they want to say.” I think I have made my point

 Also a first was bringing my boyfriend along. As it was going to be nice and hot and I wouldn’t be working all weekend I thought it would be a good idea if he accompanied me. He also came on set. The best way I could describe that experience would be like having a kid in a car on a long journey. They get bored, hungry, and fidgety and constantly ask “are we there yet”, except he was asking “are you finished yet?” A lot of acting involves waiting! Waiting for makeup, hair, camera set up, lights, director notes…. and many more variables. I was actually filming for around 30 mins and I think we were there for about 7 hours so to be fair it was a long day for him but I think we both learned a valuable lesson!

 Coming up I will be recording for a cartoon. I am extremely excited about this as it is not something I have done before, the script is fantastic and it was written by one of my closest friends. Now I  like to think I would have gotten the part anyway but that would not be realistic so for the first time it was really a case of knowing the right people! Now don’t get me wrong I am going to do a good job, this guy would not jeopardise his project for a favour but still I am very grateful to him. I think the show is going to be a hit. He has some big names attached and there is a huge gap for a show like this over here. I do my first recording tonight; it’s not for a main character but for some smaller extra parts.  I am hoping if it goes well this may be something I get asked to do again. My boyfriend asked me if he could come and watch, I said no.

I will also be shooting a music video at the end of the month for a new artist and her first track and, she is another close friend. The song is really good and the concept for the video sounds cool so it seems all my “connections” are arising at once!

 After a fairly slow September this is a lovely boost as we approach the end of the year, a programme I filmed in June is also airing soon so hopefully that will bring some interest too. So to conclude, lessons have been learnt and spirits are running high, seems like Christmas is coming early for me 🙂

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Take me back to the island!

Well its been well over a month since my last confession… no wait I mean blog… and its been a crazy one.

I am at the moment on a monumental come down from what has been one of the best months of my life. This may seem slightly dramatic, and coming from an actress I am aware of how that sounds, but its true.

I finally got a job which I mentioned in my last post, and it was one hell of a gig! I had an ocean view from my apartment whilst I was working in this fantastic location and each morning I would wake and just sit looking out with a glass of oj and the biggest grin I could manage. I did make the most of it and had several moments of “take this all in, appreciate everything” but it was over so quickly I can’t help but now feel a little sad.

The job itself was fun, although filming in such heat (it was late 30s early 40s out there) was tough and I think I was grateful that my part wasn’t so big. In fact I was out there for two weeks and in total I only worked for 6 days. What is the saying?? An actor moans for months about getting work and as soon as they do the first thing they check is how many days they get off. Well in this case yes! I was on a beautiful island, with some amazing people and pretty much had a ball. Everything about the job was perfect. The scripts were great, the crew were very professional, the cast were lovely and the setting was amazing. I even managed to keep my costume! All the little things eh?

Then I had a weeks holiday afterwards to help with the post filming blues. To top it all off, and this part I love, on the way back I get bumped up a class on the flight as they had over booked, amazing.

So you can imagine after a month like that it is hard to suddenly adjust back to reality. I got home on Sunday with severe jet lag and went to the office on Monday. Lots of people have said it’s like I never left. I’m not sure whether that’s suppose to make me feel better but I have been checking both my phone and email every 30 mins in the hope of a message from my agent….

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They’re awful… but for godsake don’t tell anyone!

So I decided to ask my agent for advice regarding the photographer and to be honest I wasn’t a major fan of any of the ones she suggested, which puts me in a bit of a pickle. I have asked her for her advice, she has given it to me and now I want to ignore it…. Mmm, now I won’t be getting the pics done for at least a month so she may well have forgotten the email by then but still it’s annoying. I’m sure she won’t be fussed who I go with as long as they are decent pictures but I don’t want it to seem like a think I know better… but…. Wowsers, there are so many added stresses to moving agents that you don’t think about. With my old agent I would have simply told her that I didn’t really like the look of the photographers and that would have been fine. I’m sure it’d be the same case with this one but I think it’s a little too early to push my luck, especially as I haven’t made her any money yet. But then again I should really be saying she hasn’t made me any yet. This actually fits in quite nicely to the question of the week I was posted on my last entry “What is the craziest blunder you’ve ever heard an agent doing—something that cost him or her their job and (probably) their self-esteem?”

Now I have been fairly lucky to be honest, when it comes to agents. I started off in a co-op, which is effectively an agency run by actors. We all take it in turns to be in the office and act as the agent when we are not working and this is a great way to start out. I learnt a lot about casting directors and the process of auditions. Then my last agent was fab, very personal and honest with me, and now I’m with one of the big boys and so I don’t think, or at least I hope, I won’t experience any mishaps.

There was one instance when I was made to audition for a play which required me to sing. I CANNOT SING. I was very surprised that I was still advised to go as I think sending a client up for a meet when they are just unsuitable for the job does more harm than good. There are certain circumstances when it is good to go for a job even if you’re not convinced you’re completely right for the part, to meet the director or team involved but I think when you are just going to be crap you really shouldn’t. Anyway I painfully made my way through a Dylan song, thought as he isn’t exactly known for his beautiful voice this could be the best bet. Needless to say I did not get recalled and neither have I since heard from said director. This I think was more of a faux pas on my part; I think I should have just said no. There was also another time when I had done a really good audition and the director asked me to smile so they could see my teeth and for some reason I pulled the widest smile ever, so much so that even if I had had normal teeth it would have looked weird. Didn’t get a call back for that either. It’s funny sometimes the way you behave in an audition, it’s as though you suddenly lose all common sense and have no control over what you are actually doing and saying. I have on far too many occasions left an audition or a meet and thought “what the hell was that?!?”

I know the question was related to agent blunders as oppose to actor blunders, but actors are so wary of bad mouthing anyone, especially agents, that you don’t really here of blunders often. Honestly it really is a cutthroat business, any slight against someone, especially someone who bitches about someone else, is a no go. This reminds me of my first job actually which, looking back on now, was quite frankly wrong on so many levels. I wasn’t a member of equity then, I doubt they would have hired me if I was! Anyway, it was for a touring show and during the rehearsal stage we were to be staying at the director’s house (alarm bells should have sounded here) and we were to be paid 50 a week………… yes that’s right 50 a week, not per day, which is still below minimum wage, but per week. Anyway this was my first job and I was all excited so was prepared to let it go but I have advice, quite right at the time, to email them about the money situation. Now I worded the email very carefully, I didn’t just say ‘you’re not paying enough’, I said something along the lines of due to the low pay during rehearsals would it be possible for me to get some evening or weekend work whilst I am up there to help support me. Reasonable enough but as soon as I pressed send my tummy knotted a little. Well I waited for the contract to arrive and it didn’t. I called and they said it was in the post and when I called for the third time one of them finally had the balls to tell me that there had been a mix up in the casting and I wasn’t right for the part. I was devastated. Of course it was all rubbish, there hadn’t been a mistake they just didn’t want to pay more money and as they knew they didn’t have a leg to stand on they decided to cut me off instead. It actually resulted in them asking me two weeks later to reconsider, the girl they had given it to had gotten pregnant so wouldn’t be able to do the whole run. There was no pay rise and no apology but I took the role. I don’t regret it, it was a wonderful experience but I will never work with that company again and anyone I know who thinks of doing so I will warn them in advance, but then I didn’t make a point of bad mouthing them either. You never know who may know who and there is always the risk of there being a connection you wish there wasn’t. I know this post has gone off on a bit of a tangent but still all relevant, when it comes to blunders and general fcuk ups they unfortunately are not always made too public. I guess it’s a case of some things are better left unsaid, if someone is crap sooner or later it’ll come out. We hope!

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Merry Christmas!

Well the years nearly over and time to reflect. It’s been quite a good one for me, considering the times we’re working in at the moment. I’ve had some good jobs cash wise… one in particular paying for my new set of nashers. I’ve had good jobs experience and challenge wise and I’ve made some good friends and contacts. I have also changed agents. Yes, my amazing, lovely and supportive agent, who became one of my dear friends, is now no longer representing me. It was a difficult decision and a very hard one but I felt it was time to move on. I was with her for three years and they were three great years, I gained some invaluable experience and had some good times! I will miss her, she was very patient with me, I tend to be a little persistent and also worry about what’s going to happen next! I think on average I probably emailed three or four times a week, I also had her mobile number and totally abused that privilege. But if you want to get somewhere you have to push it sometimes. I am often told not to “bother” people or make a nuisance of yourself and I would like to say to any new actors out there that that’s rubbish! I didn’t go to drama school so I had to work hard to get people to take notice of me. I knocked on doors and if they didn’t answer I just knocked louder. I wrote letters and followed those up with phone calls and then emails until someone answered. And now I am with an amazing agent, one I never thought I’d get to be honest. I didn’t go to drama school, like I said, I don’t have connections so to speak in the industry (my mum and dad have “normal jobs”) and there was no easy way in for me. A very talented actress friend of mine once told me there are two types of actors in the business, jumpers and builders. They both end up in the same place they just get there in different ways. Well I am a builder and it’s been bloody hard but I wouldn’t swap it for the world. I know what its like to be desperate for work, depressed at not getting anywhere, worried that “its” never going to happen, and now I am so grateful to be where I am. I actually wrote to the agent I am now with a few years a go and I got a very nice rejection letter. I kept hold of that letter and it is currently stuck to my fridge. If at first you don’t succeed then just keep bugging!

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