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How to Reignite Passion for Your Job

When you’ve been doing any job for a while–even one that you love, it can get lacklustre. Now, I LOVE acting, but everyone can feel stuck sometimes.

When you’re just starting out on your journey, it can be really easy to feel fired up.

“I booked my first commercial!”
“I got my first major network audition!”
“I got an agent!”

But after a while, it can feel like the same old grind–You’ve achieved the goals you set up for yourself, you’re a real-life “professional actor”. Now what?

There’s an amazing quote I love from the movie Soul:

I heard this story about a fish. He swims up to this older fish and says, “I’m trying to find this thing they call the ocean.” “The ocean?” says the older fish. “That’s what you’re in right now.” “This?” says the young fish. “This is water. What I want is the ocean.”

It’s so powerful, because we always think that if we just reach that next thing, our life will somehow suddenly change. But that is rarely the case. Even the biggest high can get mundane after a while. So the question is, once you’re in a comfortable spot in your career, how do you reignite the passion for your job?

Sure, you can always set bigger goals, larger roles, bigger budget movies, more money–but this can easily lead you places where you didn’t intend to go and chasing things that you may not even want. What you need to do is go back to your WHY.

Why did you want to become an actor?

Or anything else for that matter. Getting back to the reason why you wanted to become a parent, a partner, a CEO or a pianist–that’s what’s going to reignite that passion again, and set you on course for your next goal.

So often we can buy into someone else’s goals–Like keeping up with the Jones’. It’s easy to set money goals–but if you weren’t in it for the money to begin with, reaching those goals won’t satisfy you.

As an actor, it can be hard to pinpoint your why. I know it was for me. Is it vanity? Am I just an attention seeker? Am I in it for the fame and fortune?

But when I really focus and think about it, it’s about story-telling, making someone smile when they’re down, or making them empathize with someone they may never have thought twice about. Showing my kids that if you love what you do, you can make a living off of it. That some things are worth working two/three jobs for. That a marriage is about taking care and supporting each other’s dreams. That you really can have it all–a dream job and a dream home life.

So, what’s your why?

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Don’t Show Up Ready to Work, Show Up Ready to Play!

When we think about “work”, what are some words that pop into your mind? Stress, chore, pressure, nervousness–do those sound like fun?

I’m gonna guess that majority of you said no. But when we show up to our work as an actor, it should be FUN! Whether it’s an audition or on set–we love what we do, and the last thing we should be putting on ourselves is any of those yucky words up there. But we so often do that to ourselves.

We show up worried about whether we’re gonna be what they’re “looking for”, if I’m “good enough”, if I’ll remember my lines, if I’m gonna book the job, or–If we’ve booked the job–whether or not I’m gonna screw it all up. Sound familiar?

We categorize these emotions as just “being nervous”, like this is out of our control. But I’m here to tell you, that’s not true! Physiologically, being nervous is the same as being EXCITED!

Let that sink in.

So all those times that you’ve been nervous or excited about something, the same thing is happening in your body: sweaty palms, heart palpitations, maybe some butterflies in the stomach–we’ve just been telling ourselves the reason why. And based on what our own self-critic has been saying in our head, that’s when we label it nervousness or excitement!

Now that we know that–why would we EVER want to go back to being nervous?

You may be thinking “but how do we change how we think?”

One easy way to try to flip the switch to being excited rather than nervous, is to look at going into and audition or going on set as being there to play, rather than work. After all, that’s what we love about acting–isn’t it?

We’re not supposed to show up rigid in our choices or obsessing about every single line–we’re there to bring the story alive. To be creative and imaginative. To make choices that are personal to us, that will make casting go “hmm, that was interesting”. We’re there to say “yes” to direction, “yes” to suggestions, “yes” to cooperating to bring a piece of art together.

So the next time you have an audition or are heading to set, just remember: Don’t show up ready to work, SHOW UP READY TO PLAY!

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You Want to be a Full-Time Actor? Then Stop Treating it Like a Hobby

Yeah, I said it.

Many people say they wanna get in the game, “I just want to act” they say, yet they will spend most of their days doing something else. I’m not saying that you need to dedicate every second of you life to acting–I mean, most of us still need to work a second job, or have a family to care for. But you shouldn’t be waiting for an audition before you do any sort of prep work.

And yes, going to a weekly class is good, but that does not equate to “working actor” unless you’re doing your homework every night. Now, you might be thinking, “but what is there to do if I don’t have an audition or a booking?”

Here are 5 things you should be doing everyday to help hone your craft:

  1. Feed your mind. Read at least 10 pages of a book that empowers you and opens your mind. Acting is a mindset game, so get that mindset good and strong.
  2. Meditate. It’s not just for hippies and monks anymore. EVERYONE should be taking a few minutes a day to meditate. There are so many free apps out there now to help you along. I personally love guided meditations. Two free apps that come highly recommended are Headspace & Soulvana, Also, check out Wendy Braun’s Actor Inspiration for Actor specific meditations.
  3. Work your body. Whether you’re a leading lady or a character actor–you need to have stamina. Days on set can be quick, or they can drag on and on. You need to be able to handle it all. That doesn’t mean you need to run a marathon, but go for a walk, jump on a trampoline, do some stretching.
  4. Get creative! Tiktoc, Reels, Facebook, podcasts & blogs–I don’t mean consume them, CREATE THEM! Don’t be the one scrolling through social media just seeing what others are posting. Use it as inspiration, sure–but you should be excited about creating your own content and putting it out for the world to see. And who knows–the right casting director might just see something they like and bring you in for an audition.
  5. Make genuine connections and keep them. You are the sum of the people you surround yourself with. So if you spend most of your days with a 5 & 7 year-old like me–You need to be connecting with other people–mainly other working actors. And you might think that that is near impossible during the Covid times, but I have met and made so many new friends during this time, because I’ve put myself out there and opened myself up to new conversations with people I’ve never met.

    That means joining Facebook groups directed at actors, saying yes to script reading groups, commenting on other people’s posts in a genuine way, reaching out to people you’ve never met to ask questions–Heck, ask them to join you in a live to have a conversation about the industry! I’ve done that twice by-the-way and both times were great conversations that lasted over an hour–but I guess I’m a chatty one.

And if you’re already doing those things, that’s FANTASTIC. Add working on accents (general American is most commonly used), taking workshops and webinars, reading scripts on your own, pick a scene from a movie/show that you’d love to be cast in and just do a self-tape, look for local monologue/scene slams to participate in, make a list of gear you’d like to add to improve your self-tapes, subscribe to coach’s blogs to get daily/weekly inspiration.

My point is, if you want acting to be a full-time job, you need to work at it on a full-time basis.

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What To Wear To An Audition

I thought I’d go back to some basics. What to wear to an audition is a popular item in the Google search bar, and you’ll likely find a lot of information.

Most agree that what is best, is something that is solid, no logos/patterns, in a complimentary colour. Think, blues, purples, greens, pinks. Nothing too strong like bright red, because you don’t want it to be too distracting, but nothing too dark, especially if you’re like me, and have long dark hair.

White is usually considered a no-no because it can sometimes mess with the colouring/white balance on camera.

But most of the confusion happens when you’re auditioning for a role where a typical uniform is involved eg. doctor, mechanic, police officer, nurse etc.

You might be tempted to go in full gear, or try to run out and find a “costume” to wear. PLEASE DON’T! Casting does not expect you to have a full wardrobe of every costume you might ever play. It’s more important to dress in the essence of the character.

What does that mean? Well, when I audition for a role as a nurse, or doctor, I don’t go in scrubs, with a skull cap and a stethoscope around my neck –but I do wear a loose fitting v-neck that kind of resembles scrubs, basic jeans, runners, and my hair pulled back to complete the look.

If you need to dress for a police officer, I do not show up looking like the entertainment at a bachelor party, but I do wear a blue denim button up shirt, usually done up to the top, and dark jeans.

Making sense now?

Every once in a while, you might get casting that asks for a lab coat. That is rare, and even then–it is not expected of you to have on hand. Instead, you might want to get a white/light grey cardigan that you can drape over your blue v-neck t-shirt.

Other items you might want to have on hand to ensure you can cover the essence of most character roles are:

-Blazer & Button-up: for those CEO/Business Professional roles

-Demin/Khaki jacket: for those “down and out” roles, it also works for roles that call for you to be outside (more on that another day)

-Athletic top: depending on your body, you might want to have a tank top, former fitting t-shirt for roles that require you to show a little muscle.

Once you’ve been auditioning for a while, and especially if you’re tracking your auditions–you’ll start to notice a trend. Then you can have your own audition wardrobe that you keep in tip-top condition, always ready to go. That way you can focus on your actual audition, rather than what you’re gonna wear.

If you’re auditioning a lot (2-3 times/week) for similar roles, you might want a few variations. For me, I get called out for: business professionals, suburban mom, doctor/nurse. So I’ve got a couple blazers (one light, one dark), a couple of button-up shirts, couple v-neck tees, and my go-to blue v-neck for nurses/doctor roles. Every once in a while, I’ll get called to be a love interest, so I reserve a few nicer, date-night tops for those roles. Very rarely, I’ll get called in for the cop/sheriff/security guard role. I have one dark denim shirt and black jeans that I wear for that every time.

What’s in your audition wardrobe?

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How To Make Super-Specific Choices In Your Audition

Last week I gave some compelling reasons as to why you should always read the full script before every audition. If you missed it, you can find it here. But, what if a script isn’t provided?

Often times we’ll open up a breakdown and it will say specifically “Scripts cannot be provided at this time”. This can be for many reasons, maybe it’s still a work in progress, maybe it’s to protect the script from accidentally being distributed. It’s not really important. What is important, is how are you going to use what you do have access to, to build the best darn character you can.

Here’s a few top tips on how to make super-specific choices in your audition:

  1. Read the breakdown like a detective: Most actors will skip right to their own character breakdown and try to cater their audition to something like : “Uptight mother who is very protective of her kids”. While this is a nice glimpse into what you can play–it’s also a sure fire way to ensure your audition is EXACTLY THE SAME as everyone else’s. The casting director is gonna get a WHOLE BUNCH of auditions of women, playing an uptight mother who is protective of her kids (yes, the obvious choice is going to be obvious to everyone). So, how do you set yourself apart?

    Pay attention to every detail. The title of the production, the episode name, the producers of the project, what network it will be airing on. All of that gives you clues as to what sort of tone/genre they are looking for in their actors’ performance. A movie named “Wedding Murders” will have a different tone from “Wedding Belles”. A show on HBO will be different than a show on the Disney Channel, or a Hallmark Mystery movie may be different than an indie mystery movie.
  2. Look up the production & creative team on IMDb or Google: Now that you know who’s making the decisions, look them up! You have everything at your fingertips now. Find past projects they’ve worked on, get familiar with their work.
  3. Look up past episodes: If you’re lucky enough to get an audition for a show that’s in a 2nd/3rd season, look up an episode and watch it! Figure out the relationships between the series regulars, and who you are talking about or to in your sides. I recently had an audition where some of the main characters were kids. In one scene, I was talking to four of them, some taller, some smaller. If I hadn’t bothered to look up an episode, I would’ve assumed they were all adults and the eyelines would’ve been off. How you speak to a child will also be different than if you’re speaking to an adult.
  4. Read all the characters’ breakdowns and sides: So here’s the big go-around if you don’t have access to the full script. Read all the character breakdowns and sides you do have access to. Often times in one breakdown there will be multiple characters that are being cast. The sides are often available for download. Most actors will go straight to their own sides and download them and start highlighting their own lines. That’s fine, as a first step. But in order to figure out how you fit into the whole story, it’s a great idea to read all of the other sides as well.

    Sometimes you’re referenced in another character’s sides and it gives you a clue as to how another character sees you. I auditioned for a role once where I was a “manager of a restaurant”. Because of this, I wasn’t sure how I should dress–there wasn’t an indication if I would be uniform, or a suit, business casual? But I was able to figure out what I should wear based on how another character saw me in their sides: “…looking at her best friend who was immaculately groomed in a fresh-pressed shirt and slacks…”.

    I recently had an audition where I reference another character “I know you miss Lisa, but she wouldn’t have wanted it like this.” But of course, Lisa was not in my scene, and it didn’t say in the breakdown who Lisa was. You might assume she’s gone–but did she leave, is she dead, is she an ex-girlfriend, sister, mother, daughter? Reading the rest of the sides available to me, I was able to figure it out.

Every single detail you can add to your performance will be able to set you apart from the others. The camera picks up even the smallest movements: eye lines, jaw clenching, raising of an eyebrow, swallowing, these movements are often motivated by a thought. Those small details that you’ve discovered while creating your character will give your actions purpose.

How you say the line: “I know you miss Lisa” might have just the subtlest difference depending on if Lisa was the ex who left him 10 years ago, or the loving wife who lost her battle with cancer 6 months ago.

Understanding these nuances will give your character more texture, be more interesting to watch, and will make your audition standout.

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3 Reasons Why You Should Always Read The Script Before Auditioning

Even if your sides are just two pages.

I’ve been there, you have a few pages, maybe just a few lines for your audition–but you have access to the full script. What should you do?

READ IT!!!!

Okay, if all caps and exclamation marks are convincing enough, here are 3 reasons why you should:

  1. They’ve made it available for a reason. It’s like a little nudge for you to gain further insight into the project as a whole, making sure you’re crystal clear on the tone and genre of the project. Take them up on their offer.
  2. It’s going to add texture to your audition. No matter what, you’re gonna want to know what’s going on in the scene so that you can play your character in such a way that it moves the story along. Are you there to help or hinder the protagonist? Reading the whole script will let you know what your purpose is in the whole story–remember, THERE ARE NO SMALL ROLES! If you’ve made it into the storyline, there’s a good reason for it. Maybe you even appear in more than the scenes available in the sides.
  3. This is THE BEST REASON, the reason you should be hoping and praying for: You might get asked to read for another role, a BIGGER role, and it would really suck if you have no idea who this character is.

    Now, this has never happened to me (yet), but this happened to Wendy Braun, the lead actor in “Donny’s Bar Mitzvah, which premiered last week on Apple TV and Prime. She recently shared the story of how she booked this role, and it has everything to do with being as prepared as possible. She was originally called in for a smaller part, but she took the time to read the entire script. After 3 pages of her 4 page audition, the director stopped her and asked her to read for the lead! She had about 15 minutes to prep for a 15 page cold read!!! Now, Wendy is a pro like no other, so she had read the entire script, and could see herself in that role already while she read it. She understood how the director could see her in this role, and was able to trust her instincts to bring this character to life in less than 20 minutes.

“I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn’t been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been lucky.” Oprah Winfrey

We can’t control when opportunity will come around, but we can control how ready we are for it when it does.

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How Structure Can Give You Freedom

Structure might sound like the worse thing for freedom–but with the right kind of structure, you can find that you’ll have more time to do what you love, and less time stressing about what you SHOULD be doing.

Habits are stronger than willpower.

Ever wonder why your friend can just get up and work out every morning, eat healthy food, and get all her work done and still have time to hang out? Well, it’s not willpower that keeps her on track–it’s her habits.

If you’re in the habit of waking up, rolling over, hitting snooze, maybe checking your socials, then dragging yourself out of bed just to end up on the couch. I’m gonna go ahead and guess that MAYBE you might find yourself running late a lot, or feeling like there aren’t enough hours in a day.

Sound familiar?

Here’s where cultivating habits can help with that. Habits are behaviours you do so often, that you don’t even need to think about it anymore. Some are healthy, and some are not. What we want to do, is develop healthy ones that will help us reach our goal.

First, we want to set up some goals. Many of us THINK we have goals, but what we actually have is just some vague ideas of what would be nice to have. For example: “I want to be a full-time actor.”

Okay, well, we need to establish what that looks like. How many acting jobs per month? How much money will you make? What sort of acting would you like to do (episodics, film, commercials)? Check out my post here for more help with setting goals.

Now that you have the what, lets look at the how.

You need to develop a system where you are working on your craft DAILY. Yes, that’s right, even actors need to work on their craft. Many people think acting is just, easy stuff, you just get up there and say a few lines “naturally”. But it’s not that simple, and us actors, know it.

You decide on what working on your craft looks like, I’m not gonna delve into that here but you can read another post I wrote that can give you some ideas here.

Now we decide on when. Scientific research shows that the hours just after you awake are when your mind is most capable of creative output. But, I know many artists who feel night time is when they truly shine.

No matter when you choose to do your creative work–put it in your schedule. Set a time for when you’ll do this consistently, no matter what. Even if it’s just for five minutes. Eventually, once you’re used to it, you will be able to add more time in, or adjust the timing to suit your needs.

As a creative, I find that I will get distracted easily when I’m trying to get my work done. Whether it’s a notification on my phone, or my 7-year-old telling me riddles. If I don’t have a schedule to stick to, I’ll end up getting nothing done. So scheduling it in, turning your phone on airplane mode, and telling your family members that this is YOUR TIME to not be disturbed is very important.

I personally have my entire day planned out in time slots, from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed. This doesn’t mean I don’t deviate from time-to-time, but it gives me structure, so that I know if I complete my task earlier, I get more free time, or if I’ve taken too long completing my task, I might need to reschedule some things. And here’s the thing, I also schedule in FREE TIME, or breaks, so that I don’t feel guilty when I’m just watching Netlix, or scrolling on social. I’m not thinking, oh, I should be doing this/that–I’m not SHOULDING ON MYSELF. And that feels great!

The more often you follow your structured schedule, the more naturally it will become. Then you will feel like things just work more fluidly, like a ritual, and you’ll be able to find more freedom in not having to stress about when you have to do what. Structure will give you freedom.

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How To Book Roles If You Don’t Have An Agent

Where to begin with self-submitting online.

Last week I spoke about how to find a new agent. This week, I wanted to highlight what you can do if you don’t have an agent, or if you’re just not ready for one yet. Why would an actor not be ready for an agent you ask? Well, for me, when I was getting back into acting after a few years off–My husband and I both had full-time jobs, and two kids aged two and under. I really wanted to be able to control the number of auditions I was submitting for, and be super-clear on all the specs, dates, and pay, before taking a day off to go to an audition. You don’t always get that kind of visibility with an agent. In the past, I’ve had agents send me off to auditions, and once I’d driven 40 minutes to get there, I realized that I wasn’t available for the shoot date, or that the project itself was going to pay me less than what I’d lose for taking a day off work.

I know it’s not all about the money–but sometimes, it is.

So I decided that I was going to self-represent for a while, and see how it went. Doing a internet search, you’ll find many sites that offer actors an opportunity to submit for projects–and you’ll even find groups on Facebook. Like anything, you should always do your own research and be careful as to what information you are sending to whom.

Here are some sites I have personal experience with, and would recommend.

Mandy.com. It used to be free and I did get some jobs on there. A PSA, a photoshoot for a bank, some student films, a role in a movie, and a lead in a short film. None of these paid very well, but I did get some experience, and my first IMDb credit. Mandy is now a paid subscription service, so you can sign up to get casting notices for free, but you will need to pay a subscription in order to submit. I personally felt it was a lot of money for the quality of productions that were listed there–most are all non-union projects.

Casting Workbook is a site that many agents use to submit you for roles. This is where you’ll get a combination of union and non-union breakdowns, but only some of them allow you to self-submit. It is subscription based, but they offer a free website, multiple photo uploads, lots of free interviews with casting directors and other industry professionals, self-tape app, and ability to upload a demo-reel. There are other features that have been newly released, and I urge you to take a look around to learn more. For the price, I think it’s worth it, plus, if you sign on with an agent, you will be required to get signed up anyway.

Casting Networks is a newer casting website that I recently signed up for at the advice of my agent. I don’t get many auditions from here, but it is used by one particular casting house in Toronto. The good thing about it is, you don’t need to pay to get started, and the basic package is a very fair price. I haven’t used it to self-submit, but the website boasts “More roles are booked through our site than anywhere else worldwide.” I’d definitely recommend checking it out.

Now, my favourite casting site, where I have received the most audition success–with and without an agent, is Actors Access. You can sign up for free, and you can even pay per submission. But, for the approachable price of $68 USD/year, you get unlimited submissions, plus free sides from Show Fax (some casting directors will send the sides directly to you, but some expect you to look them up). This is where I was able to book my first role on a TV series by self-submitting, plus have I had many other successes through my agent. You’ll have to pay extra to load extra photos or video content, but for the amount of work you’re able to submit for–I didn’t find a need to load anything else other than what was offered in the basic package.

Other websites I’ve found helpful and are free: Groundglass Casting, Brunch, and eBoss Canada. Simply sign up to receive casting notifications, and apply when something fits.

The main difference I see between having an agent and not, is the amount of auditions I get. Even though I get some auditions from my agent that I could’ve self-submitted for–I receive MANY more auditions that I didn’t even see. Either they do not allow for self-submissions, or the breakdown is sent directly to agents.

But, if you’re currently unrepresented, getting work on your own will only help your chances of getting signed on with a good agency. Also, you get to keep all your money!

Like anything, take your time to do the research, take care of yourself and trust your gut. If it seems too good to be true, or seems fishy–ask lots of questions, find an actor’s group on Facebook, and see if anyone knows anything more about it. Do some digging, the acting community is large, and (mostly) friendly. Also, feel free comment below and I’ll see if I can help 🙂

Until next time, all the best!

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Failure and Confidence

Why losing actually builds more confidence than winning.

To the average person, you’d think that the more someone wins, the more confidence they’ll have. The more games you win, the more likely you’ll have the confidence to take on more opponents. The more “winning” your looks, the more likely you’ll have the confidence to walk into any room/job interview/audition/date. Right?

Not necessarily. The problem with always winning, is that the very thought of failure can be debilitating. Think about it, the defending champ always has more to lose than the underdog, and the supermodel getting dumped, always makes the headlines. It gets to a point where that “winner” is so scared of losing, they decide never to try for anything other than what they know they’ll nail on the first try. And that is a problem if you want to grow.

Growing means challenging yourself, pushing your boundaries, making yourself a better person–whatever that means to you. That’s where failure is actually an ally rather than a foe. Because if you try something new, and you fail–and you get back up and do it again–you not only realize that the world didn’t end nor did you die a horrible death, but you are actually one step closer to achieving your goal.

The reason is because you develop RESILIENCE. That’s something you can never have enough of. Because once you realize how resilient you are, not only will you be courageous enough to be bad at something new, you’ll be excited to learn from the experience, and try again until you conquer it.

Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx told Business Insider that her dad would celebrate their efforts rather than the outcome.

“What it did was reframe my definition of failure…Failure for me became not trying, versus the outcome.”

Now to tie this all back to acting. There are times that you won’t want to do an audition. Whatever the reason, it’s not my brand, I’m not ready for this type of role, it’s not worth my time–I’m not gonna get it anyway…I implore you to try.

Every audition is a chance to practice and hone your skill. I used to HATE self-tapes. I liked having an audience, I liked just cruising into the room and concentrating on just me. But, over time, I’ve been able to figure out the best and easiest way to turn out self-tapes (I’ve done 52 self-tapes this year alone).

The thing is, the more you do them, the easier they get. Now, I can usually bang out a self-tape in about 30-60 minutes–That is, once I’ve done all the prep work that I normally would for a live audition. And the most important thing to remember is, that even if you don’t get THIS job, you still get seen by industry professionals and you will get more auditions, and maybe even a role off for another role.

You heard that right. I once read for a supporting role (the first one I ever got the chance to read for). I was nervous, the thought of “I’m not ready for this” crossed my mind. But I did the work–memorizing and internalizing nine pages of sides in about 24 hours, and submitted the tape just before the deadline.

Did I get the part? No. But…about two weeks later, I got an email with a role offer from the same movie, but a different role. A role I didn’t audition for. Then, a few months later, I had the chance to audition for the same director, and booked a bigger role, on another movie–OFF MY SELF-TAPE!

To sum it all up, I’d like to remind you, that failure isn’t bad. Use the experience to grow and develop your resilience, then try again. This will not only give you more confidence, it will give you more opportunities. I’m gonna end this with a famous quote from a fellow Canadian Wayne Gretzky:

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

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Mindset and Auditions

How changing one can drastically improve the other.

Ever have the excitement of receiving an audition notification quickly turn into a downward spiral of self-doubt? “They’ll never pick me” “I’m not pretty/handsome enough for this” “I’m not ready to be a lead/supporting/principal actor?” “I don’t have the right accent for this” “I don’t look like a Ms. Jones” “This is gonna’ be a complete waste of time”.

I totally have.

But, I still went ahead, did the work, and just said “I’m gonna have fun”. Sometimes I get the role, and sometimes I don’t. That’s the thing–there are soooo many reasons why you might not get the role, and MOST of them have NOTHING to do with you. But, if you go in there expecting to fail–that’s exactly what’s gonna’ happen. And that’s not just for auditions, it’s for anything.

Whether you’re heading into a sales meeting, or going on a first date–if you go in thinking you’re not “right” for this, then you definitely won’t be. No one wants to buy something from someone whose vibe says “you can do better”. And sorry, as an actor (and potential life partner), you’re definitely in the business of selling yourself. Sorry if you don’t like the sounds of that–but it’s the truth.

As an actor, you’re selling your look, your interpretation of the character, your ability to take direction so that the story can be told the way the producers/writers/director envision it, and ultimately, your personality. So, don’t sell yourself short and go in with the mindset that says “You don’t want me”.

Instead, change that mindset easily by focusing on what you bring to the table. Do your homework, then really picture yourself in that role. If your hang up is say, you’re not good-looking enough–first of all–they have your headshot. As long as its current, clearly they think you are. But if you still can’t let that go (I know, it can be hard), think about the how you can help change the way “good-looking” is interpreted on screen. Beauty truly runs deep, so if your look is less than conventional leading lady/man, then highlight that je ne sais quoi in you that makes you stand out. Trust me, you have it!

This little shift in mindset works and will give you the confidence to walk into any audition feeling prepared and confident. Here’s a short list to help you prepare:

  1. Your look: Like we talked about before, you are being called in because they see something in your headshot that says “I can do this”. All you have to do is go with it.
  2. Personalization: This character is going through XYZ, if that was happening to me, right now, how would I feel? When I am feeling that way, how is my behaviour? By asking these questions, you bring your personalization into it. No one can be a better you, than you. And you’re selling you, remember?
  3. Flexibilty: Like any human being, you likely won’t behave exactly the same way every time say, when you’re sad. One day you might be crying, another day you might mask that sadness with anger etc etc. Make the choice that you think fits the character best for your first take, but remember the other choices in case the casting director wants you to try a few different ways. Flexibility and being able to take direction well is another key factor in getting cast.
  4. Good vibes: The stereotypical tortured artist or Diva is not what cast and crew (or anyone really) want to be around all day. Don’t be fake, you don’t have to be sunshine and rainbows–but being a polite and kind person is always welcome.

It’s that simple. Change your mindset, and change how you show up in the world. Comment below if you have any other hang-ups that you’d like to discuss, or how changing your mindset has helped you. I’d love to hear from you. Until then, break a leg!

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“Done is Better Than Perfect”

Quote by Sheryl Sandberg

Because perfect might never get done.

I love this quote because it reminds us that we don’t need to overthink everything. This is super relevant to many areas of your life, but for actors, I’ve made a short list to explain my theory and why it will make your life that much better if you adopt this mantra.

  1. Self-tapes: It’s super tempting to try to get the “perfect” take. But when you do them over and over again, it will start to show. Casting is less concerned with you getting every word correct, and more about the story you’re telling. Think about it, when you go into a live auditions, you get one, maybe two tries at it. You need to stay in that mindset so when they call you in for a live audition (virtual or in-person), you need to be ready to nail it. Do the work before, then trust yourself. If every self-tape takes you hours, you’re gonna start to dread doing them–and that will show, too.
  2. Organizing: I know, I know, what does organizing have to do with acting? Well, a lot. Have you ever seen someone walk (or run) into a casting office for an audition, bag hanging off a shoulder, frantically looking for the sign-in sheet, script crumpled in hand? I have–actually, I’ve been that person. It doesn’t feel good. In order to be present and in the moment, you need to be in a state of peace. But when you’re not organized, it can quickly snowball, leading you to roll into your audition like a ball of stress. It’s not good for you, and it’s distracting to others. Even though you might not have to go in to a live casting studio anytime soon, you still need to treat virtual auditions the same. Create an in-home workspace that makes it easy for you to stay focused. We all know that stress is no good–but a messy environment can lead to stress. So make a point of setting up a nice go-to audition space. But don’t think you need to go from living room to pristine home studio in one go. Do a little bit every day or few days. Tidy up a special corner of your living room that you already know has good natural lighting, or invest in a $50 ring light on a tripod that can be tucked away neatly. Having this designated area, no matter how small, will allow you to easily take on the task of auditioning from home with ease.
  3. Networking/Connecting/Social Media: Ever had an idea pop into your head like “I should reach out to the casting director and congratulate them on that Emmy win.” or “I had such a good shoot that day with so & so, I should find them on social and add them as a friend.” or “this is hilarious, I should definitely post this!” But then you struggle with what to write, or how best to reach out, or you worry that that person won’t even remember who you are, or nobody will like your post and you’ll look stupid? I have! But here’s the truth: NOTHING TERRIBLE WILL HAPPEN. The worst thing would be that you hear nothing back. But, that doesn’t mean that people didn’t appreciate you reaching out. Not everyone operates the same way. I sent a “Happy Thanksgiving” email to a casting director I had a connection with eight months ago. I didn’t hear anything back, but a few weeks after that email was sent, I got invited to read for a role. Coincidence…maybe. But maybe, just maybe, my email jogged their memory and they thought, “oh yeah, I forgot about her, bring her in.”
  4. Personal Development: That includes working out, learning something new, meditation–all of that. Doing a five minute stretch after a long day at work is better than just slumping down and binging Netflix. Reading five pages of book you’ve been meaning to read for weeks is better than not picking it up at all. Sitting in silence and taking five deep breathes is better than just caving into one distraction after another. You get the point. Something is better than nothing. Every little bit counts. Eventually, you’ll create a habit, then instead of five minutes, you’ll be doing 10, then more and more, next thing you know, you can play a song on your guitar! Invest in yourself–it’s worth it!

I hope this post helps you look at some of your daily tasks a little differently. drop me a line if you have any tidbits you’d like to add, or any new things you’ve accomplished by adopting this mantra.

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DON’T BE A JERK

Some easy tips on how to be a person people want on set.

October 26, 2020

Hello Again!

I just got back from set yesterday. I had a wonderful shoot in Ottawa and decided to drive down the night before to ensure that I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for my call time the next morning.

It’s important to always give yourself extra time so that you can confidently and calmly head to set. You’ve probably heard it many times before, but first impressions are so VERY important. Even if you’re normally a nice person, one rushed morning can give you a bad wrap for a long time.

On my way back on the 4+ hour drive to Toronto, I listened to the fabulous Maya Rudolph on the podcast ‘In the Envelope’. If you’re not listening to that, you definitely should. It has such insightful commentary that you’re sure to find helpful.

One of the pieces of advice was “don’t be an asshole”. I know, it seems self-explanatory, but I’d say that most of the people who are assholes, don’t know they’re an asshole. They don’t do it on purpose. It’s usually a bad morning, or a bad night’s rest, or a chain of events that has left this person in a bad mood. Or, just plain ignorance as to how they could’ve done anything any better.

I have compiled a short list of how to not be a jerk or an asshole on set. These are really easy and simple tips that will ensure you become a cast member that crew and other cast want to be around.

  1. Arrive early! As I mentioned earlier, being rushed can put anyone into a bad mood, and things can have a domino effect from there on. Give yourself plenty of time. Then you can waltz on set, figure out where you’re going, get your Covid assessment done, maybe grab a bite or a drink from craft, then saunter your way into your trailer or holding area. Crew will be impressed that you’ve arrived early–but if they’re in a rush and not ready for you, be considerate–and just hang tight. That’s the best time to snap a few photos of #setlife (but be sure to read your agreement before sharing any photos on social media).
  2. Read your call sheet thoroughly! This again, may seem self-explanatory. But most of us don’t know just how much information is on a call sheet–it goes well beyond your call and lunch time. It will tell you what scenes are happening when, if you’re before or after a set shift, or before or after lunch. These are all great clues as to how to handle your time. If you’re in the first scene of the day, be sure you are ready and on standby. You do not want to be the cause of a rolling delay for all the other scenes. If you’re after a big scene and maybe a set shift–you’re still gonna be ready and waiting–but you know there will likely be a delay, so don’t make any plans for after shoot just yet. Another really important thing you should look at–all the names working on the production. There are a HUGE number of crew you will be interacting with, from hair and makeup, to costume, to the multiple AD’s, transport, and of course–the Director. Know their names, it’s especially important now because everyone’s got a mask on. It might be hard to hear what people are saying, but you should know before you sit in the chair to get your make-up done, who it is that’s behind that mask. They’ve taken the time to figure out who you are, please have the courtesy to figure out who they are, too.
  3. Have fun! Don’t take yourself too seriously. Yes, you might be prepping for a dramatic scene, yes you’re trying to stay focused, but you should’ve done enough of the work beforehand that you can be relaxed and laugh a little. Everyone is under pressure, but there’s always room for laughter. I’m not suggesting you prepare a stand-up routine, but the worst is when you walk on set with your head in your script giving off a “don’t bother me vibe”. Be open and always say hello to anyone you come across. And if you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. Laugh at yourself a little, fix your mistake, and move on. I recently mistook someone’s elbow shake as an opportunity for them to cordially link arms and escort me to my holding area. Did I feel like an idiot when I realized that is NOT what the 2nd AD was there to do? YES! Did we have a great laugh about it and continue to have a great shoot? YES!
  4. Your food might be cold. This is the thing–when you’re on set, everyone eats when they can. Just because you’ve requested something doesn’t mean it’ll arrive when you want it. There’s no point asking over and over again. If you have a medical issue and you’re required to eat/drink at a certain time, ensure you let production know, and always bring your own snacks. Otherwise, just start getting comfortable with cold food and coffee now, and when it is hot–rejoice! It’s your lucky day.

And that’s it. If you want more detailed information on how to read a call sheet to get the most out of it, comment below so I can refer you to some resources, or do another blog on that one topic. Until next time-Break a leg!

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Advice for Actors

Tips to being a virtual meeting rock star.

Hello World!

This is my first first blog post in about 8 years, but I hear it’s just like riding a bike.

The world has changed drastically since then–and even more so in just the last 7 months. One prominent change is the use of virtual calls/meeting spaces, such as Zoom or Google Meets.

It’s been used for business meetings, cocktail parties, classes, and virtual auditions. For those that are just slowly getting back into the game, or haven’t yet had to attend a virtual meeting in a professional sense–I wanted to give you some quick tips on how to look like a pro every time!

  1. If you don’t have your own Zoom/Google account, ensure you sign up for one–it’s free! Even if you are sharing a computer with someone else, you don’t need your potential boss or casting director to know that. You can do this on a laptop/computer or on a mobile device. Most recommend using the former so you can keep your hands free to take notes, or just to stay loose if you’re in an audition.
  2. Do a test run. Call up your buddy or a relative, and make sure that your internet connection is working properly. You want to figure it out early if your internet isn’t strong enough to keep a connection. You also want to ensure that your name is showing up correctly and not just something generic like “Laptop 9234” or worse, another person’s name entirely. Not having your name show up could cause extended periods in the waiting room, as the host struggles to figure out who your are–or worse, you could not be let into the meeting at all. Often times, hosts only want to allow those that are invited into the meeting, if your name doesn’t show up, they could just assume you’re not invited.
  3. Now, like all meetings, get there early. You’ll click on the link provided by the meeting host. Then you will likely be put in a waiting room to be added in once the host is ready. This will give you a chance to ensure your camera and audio is set up properly. Have the webcam angled as close to eye level as possible. You don’t want it too high so people are looking down at you, but you also don’t want it too low so people are looking up your nose. Headphones are usually recommended, but not necessary–especially if it’s an audition.
  4. You’ve made it! It’s a bit awkward at first, but just smile and say hello. If you’re entering as others are speaking, you can just do a wave until invited to speak. If you start speaking at the same time as someone else, it will cut them off. Not a good first impression. If you will not be speaking for the time being, try to stay as quiet as possible. The mute button is your friend! Don’t be afraid to mute yourself so that any sound you may unintentionally make (opening a pop can, cough/sneeze, shifting of your equipment) won’t cut off someone else mid sentence. Your mic is very sensitive. But pay attention–when it is your turn, you’ll have to unmute to talk.
  5. Feel free to stop your video if you need. There will be times where you maybe need to blow your nose, or your dog/child runs up to you, or you need to leave to use the washroom. You can stop your video, but still see hear everyone else. It just allows others to continue to pay attention to what’s actually going on, rather than getting distracted by what you’re doing. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen way too much of a person’s personal grooming or family conversations that have taken me away from concentrating on the speaker. PEOPLE CAN SEE YOU!

And that’s it for starters! Comment below if you’d like to see more advanced Zoom tips, such as how to change the photo of you for when you do turn off your video, how to easily change your screen name, how to amp up your internet connection, or how to change the level of your webcam to to achieve the perfect angle.

Why You Need to Stop “Shoulding”on Yourself and How to Stop

You may have heard the term before, or maybe not. But full disclosure-I didn’t come up with it. The advice of stop “shoulding” on yourself, or to not “should” on yourself is not just a catchy term. It’s extremely important way to look at the work that you do, and why you’re doing it.

Let me give you some examples:

“I should go for a run, but I’d rather lay in bed for another hour”
“I should read this book, but I’d rather watch this new Netflix series”
“I should call my mom, but I’d rather ….”

You get the point. I’m sure you’ve said a version of these sentences to yourself before. Whether it’s a chore you have to finish or a task you were told to do by a teacher once–if you aren’t going to do it joyfully, it is REALLY worth doing?

Now, you might be thinking, well, yes.

“If I don’t go for a run now, I won’t get the chance to do it later, and then I’ll never lose those 10lbs”
“If I don’t read this book, then I’ll never understand what all my classmates are talking about”
“If I don’t call my mom, she’ll keep nagging me and I’ll hear about how ungrateful I am at Christmas”

Okay okay, I get it. I mean, the toilet isn’t going to clean itself, is it? But here is when you need to decide if something is a MUST DO or a SHOULD DO. The difference is that one is needed to function optimally as a human. Examples include: working your Joe-job to pay for your acting classes, eating food that is healthful enough to keep you alive and well, and okay–maybe you do need to give your mom a call at some point.

The main difference between these columns is the WHY.

When someone says to themselves that they should do something rather than they need to, is usually because they’re not fully convince of the why. For example, you hate running, so why do you HAVE to run everyday–is that the ONLY form of exercise you can do? Or if you don’t mind running, just don’t like to do it alone, maybe find a buddy. Then it becomes something you look forward to rather than dread.

You don’t like reading–What about an audiobook? Better yet, why are you pigeon-holed to this one book? Perhaps you’d read if it was book you actually enjoyed?

The point is, aim to always enjoy what you’re doing, because otherwise it’s a waste of your energy. And I’d say that’s even for your “have to dos” as well.

A perfect example for me is housecleaning. I HATE cleaning. It’s time consuming, I feel like it’s not even my mess because I live with 3 other people. But then I started listening to podcasts and audiobooks during that time. I made it into a little quiet time for me, and now, dare I say–I look forward to mopping my floors, because I can catch up on my pocasts!

So the key here, is to not just blindly tell yourself that you “should” be doing something that someone told you about once. You need to figure out a way to get the same benefits from the task, but in a way that is joyful to you. Ask yourself “why should I be doing that?”, and “can I do it any other way?

I hope this helps you to stop “shoulding” on yourself. Drop me a line in the comment below and let me know what shifts you made.

Until next time, keep kicking butt and breaking legs.