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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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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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You want to hear that one?

The auditions are over and I can finally relax. It’s always such a nice feeling when they’re done. Each time feels like an exam, you can’t relax because you think you should be revising/practicing and you’re so nervous that you worry you’ll forget everything on the day anyway.

I get to the venue twenty minutes early and the email was quite adamant that you arrive no more than ten minutes before, so I take a walk around the block. This turns into a nightmare as I decide to go over my speeches again and of course I forget both. I suddenly stop dead in my tracks and repeat shit shit shit. Only then do I become aware of the young mum behind me and the little girl with her asking what’s wrong with the strange lady…. Not a brilliant start.

As I walk in there are about thirty girls all waiting, I learn that we were all told the same time and the auditions would be taking place over two hours. We would be called up in groups of five and all get two minutes each. WHAT?!?!?!? I mean call me old-fashioned but that seems ridiculous. Why on earth would you call everyone at once? At least call people in fifteen minute blocks. There will be some who won’t be seen for two hours. This is not on I think and someone should say something. It’s hardly fair on anyone to just…. and then the first lot of names are called, that would be me…. Ah well, couple of hours isn’t too bad, sure they’ll be fine, can always practice a bit more.

So we go up and the girls around me are far too chatty and excited. I really have no time for this so pop into the disabled loo and go over them again. I am fine with the contemporary piece it is the Shakespeare one that is concerning me. It’s not that I am particularly bad at Shakespeare I just never seem to play it quite right. I blame Baz Luhrmann for this and his Romeo and Juliet. Performing Shakespeare in a naturalistic way yes may sound right to the modern audience and certainly feel right but most would say it is not. So I am trying to break away from the naturalistic and perform Will how it was originally intended.

I was doing this in front of my bedroom mirror the previous night and I could see my boyfriends uncertain expression behind me. I immediately stopped and turned and said “before you say anything, I am performing this tomorrow. Anything you say that is a criticism or “constructive” advice is too late. I can’t change it now, it will just throw me and that is not what I need. So do you have anything to say?” He very quickly said no and went back to reading his book….

There is no more I can do as my name is called and I walk in. They ask me which speeches I have chosen, I tell them and then they say “ok great well lets just hear the contemporary one”…. Of course, how did I not know this was going to happen? If you are seeing nearly three hundred people (oh yes, found that out last week, three hundred going in, only five female places) the chances are a Shakespeare piece would come up more than once. You would inevitably get bored with hearing it. The audition went well I just wish I had spent more time on the contemporary speech, but that’s the way it goes sometimes I guess.

I also had a TV audition on Saturday, that was super, speech learnt, straight to camera, done.

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Surround yourself with success and hopefully you’ll get some!

The headshots have been done and….. they’re not great. Well I thought they were ok but knew that they needed to be more than ok and I needed to have more than just a handful to choose from. So I showed them to my boyfriend who said he didn’t really love any but preferred the ones when I was serious. I then showed them to my dad who said he didn’t really love any but preferred the ones when I was smiling. So that was great. I spoke to mum too but mainly because I knew she would say she loved them all, god bless her. So I am sending them off to the agent to see what she thinks. Although I can pretty much assume that I will be writing another cheque to someone else by the end of the month, sigh. I really hate the whole headshot thing, they’re so subjective, who can tell what’s best? Should the shots be saying something about your personality? Saying what type of person you are and what you might be like to work with? Should they be a blank canvas to show that you could adapt to any role? Or should they focus on your cast type and say “this is the type of character I play well”? Who knows. You can guarantee though what one person will love another will hate.

So after a fairly flat afternoon on Friday I decided to head into Soho and cheer myself up with a drink or three. Ended up being a rather fab night, which is surprising for Soho. It’s not my favourite place to be honest, but I always seem to end up there, largely due to the fact that my boyf works smack bang in the middle of it. I saw a celeb – I guess you could say he is fairly up there, not A list but def B list. Although I think that’s just England, not sure if he has hit it state side yet. Anyway, after a few drinks I knew I had to get a picy with him, not just for me but for one of my closest friends who loves all that stuff! Anyway, as I totter over it turns out he is chatting to a good friend of mine and I notice just in time to make it look like I was going over to see him and it was just a coincidence that this “celeb” was there. I ended up getting opinions on my headshots and giving him some career advice!! He used to be a singer and is now branching into acting. It was great, I kinda left feeling like the “celeb” myself as this star said he loved the stuff I was in and would be grateful of any tips I could give him. Brilliant. Then I set off to meet my brother and his girlfriend who are both on fire at the moment. He has just got a promotion and a pay rise and he’s lovely girlfriend has not only been promoted but now has her own assistant!!! I mean that’s pretty good going, what a power couple. I wanted the night to go on longer than everyone else did though and after pleading with literally everyone to stay out I had to admit defeat and head home.

I had a good weekend, I went to the theatre to watch the company I worked with last year, new show. It was interesting, the acting was great and the direction was tight but the story kinda lost me. It was ambitious, the play was adapted from five plays into one, and I think it may have been a case of three plays too many. But it was a nice night with the actors after; they were all willing to chat about the show and share opinions. It was press night when we went and I happened to sit next to the woman who had slated our play last year. I didn’t know until after and I think that was probably for the best. Thankfully there was no yawning or fidgeting on my part that may have distracted her. I’m guessing she’ll be negative though, I’m assuming she is a failed actress. Hiss…… I also went to the cinema and watched Black Swan, wow, what a film! I won’t go into a full on critique as there are professionals out there who would review it much better than I but, I thought it was amazing. Very dark and at times hard to watch but mesmerising. It was slightly tainted by the alarmingly noisy audience, I mean it really was unbelievable! Conversations, sweet wrappers, drinks opening, laughing at really random moments… I want to go again but to a much smaller cinema, may be more expensive but totally worth it.

So another week and a positive attitude. Agent has the headshots so no doubt I will hear from her shortly and decide what to do for the best. I am doing lots of gym work in the mean time though, forgot to mention that at the last audition I was probably the fattest one there and because I will never give up on my carbs I am going to have to do a hell of a lot of exercise instead.

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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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And pose

Met my commercial and voice over agents yesterday. There are three of them! All still very exciting as you can see. They were lovely and very keen to get things moving. They asked me about previous commercial and VO work and I soon discovered that money wise I could be doing better. But that’s what they’re there for and hopefully soon I’ll get some good auditions. They asked me if there was anything I didn’t want to do and I recalled the time I had to sing about oven chips…. They replied “oh we don’t do those ones darling”. Fabulous. Why is it that all agents and CD’s seem to follow the stereotype, there are so many ‘darlings’ and ‘lovies’, no wonder we get a hard time! Anyway I told them what adverts I had done and also the monies I had received. They then asked me about my head shots. They are a little old now and although they like them there doesn’t appear to be one of me smiling. I quickly told them the reason behind this, the photographer at the time told me “you might want to keep your mouth shut darling, your teeth aren’t your selling point”…. Yeah, he was a treat, loved handing the 500 pounds over to him. To be fair he was on to something. The fact that I had paid off my student loan and then got my teeth done made them laugh. They said “Right, what’s next? Shall we go for a car? Holiday? Bit of lipo?” I laughed a bit nervously at the last suggestion and at once sucked my belly in…My other agent was in as well so I popped my head round to say hello, she also mentioned the head shots. I shouldn’t complain really, they have lasted me five years and strictly speaking you should change then every 18 months so they’ve done me well.

It’s difficult choosing a good photographer, as the photo’s are the first thing a CD, director will look at, they have to be strong. I have seen some shocking pictures, and my smiley ones definitely fell into the horrific category! I love that Ricky Gervais has a picture of him peering round a wall and laughing, there really is no need for him to have the generic picture is there. There are some hilarious ones, I was having a little look through on my agent’s website with my brother and his girlfriend and the variety is fairly impressive. One girl appears to be facing a fan and another has that swished, just turned to camera look. I don’t think I want to go down either of those paths but that’s why the photographer is important. They direct you to a certain degree so you have to trust their judgement. Anyway that’s what I have to look forward to next month, and after spending all that money on my nashers, which by the way will be officially all mine as of Feb when my last instalment is through, there will be some smiley ones in there whether the photographer directs that or not!

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You’re how old??!!

So I had been having a little think as to why I hadn’t heard anything back from the previous auditions, (I’m aware it may be because they weren’t that long ago) and I have come to the conclusion that it could be to do with age. Or at least that was what I was thinking until I decided to share this view with my day job colleagues. The roles were all for late twenties and early 30s. I never usually go for these roles it’s usually late teens, early twenties, so when asked if I had heard anything I told them my suspicions, to which they replied, “Really? But aren’t you nearly 30 anyway?” Now, yes that is true but still, ouchie. Apparently yesterday was statistically the most depressing day of the year; I wouldn’t go as far as to say it depressed me but it’s never nice to be reminded of your “old” age. You may think I am being melodramatic and late twenties is not old, but I’m afraid in tinsel town it ain’t young either! However, perhaps its time to embrace this new chapter, to grow up and start thinking like an adult, and stop with the silly jokes and sarcastic behaviour. It’s only a short post today but my fingers hurt, must be arthritis setting in.

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