Friday, April 30, 2010

Lets Get This Started

I woke up yesterday feeling much better. I think I just needed to stop thinking about all of it for a while and what better way to do that than sleeping for a few hours. I even got through the whole day without feeling awful! See, it's getting better already. Part of my feeling better was probably because I wrote an email to Raul explaining how sorry I was to disappoint him and the director he was working with, and that I'd leaned to be more conscious of my prior obligations before I auditioned for something in the future. Though I haven't heard anything back, it felt good to take responsibility and touch base one more time.

My friends and family are all being very supportive about my decision. Evan keeps telling me that any choice I make is the right choice, and I suppose he's right. There's really no telling where each job will take me career wise, so all I can do is believe in the choices I make and do my best to make them the better choice. I've decided that this summer I'm going to be working on my career like never before. Along with being healthy and going to the gym, I'm going to set a deadline to get new headshots (and save up to get them printed out too, not just shot!), wrangle myself an agent and/or manager, expand my songbook, look into acting classes.... everything I can think of I'll do.

I was referred to an agent by a guy I did a student film with (which, by the way, recently won "Best Comedy" at the college level equivalent of the Emmys) so I'll be sending in my stuff this week. I found out in this week's issue of Backstage that it's very common for acting schools and conservatories to not go into the business of acting at all. I'm very lucky that AMDA actually did. A large portion of out last semester was focused on informing us about the business side of acting, and though I honestly haven't employed most of this information since graduating, I still have all my papers and notes and that helps me to feel confident. I imagine a lot of this summer will be spent re-reading all of that information that I got while in school.

My point in saying all that stuff about school is, I wrote my first cover letter yesterday. In the past I've gone to Samuel French and picked up the latest print out of agents, large envelopes, and decided who'd I thought I'd be a good fit with, but never ever sent anything out. Also, the fist headshots I ever had taken - at least 4 years ago - are the only ones I've ever had printed out in bulk. So this is the summer I update everything, including my work ethic. It's already had a slow start as of the beginning of last year, but this will be the push.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Whats Done Is Done

Evan told me that the sarcasm didn't come across in the very last part of last part of yesterday's entry, so for anyone that was wondering, yes that was a joke.

Well. I've spent at least half the day crying or wanting to cry so far. I woke up with a headache and a weird pit of the stomach feeling. I figured I'd call Raul, politely turn down the offer, and start feeling better. When I called I let him know that I was very sad to turn down such a wonderful opportunity, but unfortunately I wouldn't be able to take the job. He told me that yes, it was very unfortunate because as soon as I walked into the room the director knew I was exactly what he was looking for. He sounded so disappointed, and that's what broke my heart.

I've decided maybe it wasn't the best choice, but it was the right choice. I'm so afraid that I've burnt a bridge with this lovely casting director. He casts a lot of things and always happily brings me in for projects, and I don't want him thinking I'm not accountable. I also don't want him thinking I'm not serious about my career as an actor. Hopefully he respects the fact that I'm taking into consideration many obligations that I've already committed myself to.

The call would probably have been easier to make if we didn't have a dance rehearsal last night. Now, to start off with - I do not doubt in any way David's vision for this show not the abilities of him or my castmates to put on a wonderful production. We're all going to have fun and give it our all. It's just.... I can dance, but I'm not a "dancer" in the way the industry qualifies dancers. So I get this crazy news yesterday and let it soak in for a while, and when I'm pretty darn sure I've made up my mind, I have to learn some funky stomp dance, and make my hands tap dance with shoes on them. Calling Raul while sore and exhausted was just that much harder this morning.

It's hard to keep my mind from thinking the worst, like I'm being a coward or that I've put a serious roadblock up for myself, but somewhere inside I do know that I'm not and I haven't. I know I'll feel better within a week, my magic 8 ball even told me so, but I really feel like crap right now. But then, I'd feel awful either way. I'm quite literally making myself ill. Evan got me a delicious bagel this morning to make me feel better, and now I can't even imagine eating anything for the rest of the day. And this headache..... ugh.

My hope is that even though I'm missing out on a fantastic opportunity and adventure, I will have more openings for others that I can take advantage of. Now I definitely know that I should know all of my schedules and have my priorities in order before I audition for something.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hello Again

By now I'm positive no one reads this anymore. I haven't posted anything since, what, December? Over 4 months. During that time my dear friend Lauren has put her blog back up, and taken it down, and put it back up again. I really love what she has to say, even if it's just a silly story about her grandmother or her friends I've never met. She's a great writer, and whatever the content it's always captivating. I'm more judgmental than I let on too, so it's nice to know I have truly talented people in my life.

I'm admittedly not the best writer. I don't even like writing very much at all. Have I said that before? Probably. I've probably also mentioned that in high school I avoided writing papers whenever possible, and even sometimes when not writing one wasn't an option. But - have kept journals since the third grade. It's always felt good just to write about things happening in my life. I used to imagine my nieces or grandchildren reading about all the things that happened to me. I also used to imagine being really old, and I would only remember things because of these journals. In the past few years the journal entries have dwindled. The last time I wrote an entry was probably sometime last year. The thing is, things are still happening in my life, I'd say more so now than when then majority of the entries were written. So since I'm at work, and it's a relatively slow day, I'll try for a recap of the past few months...

RENT - I was once again cast as Mimi and we had a successful and wonderful run of RENT in Rancho Cucamonga. The theater was beautiful, with 500 something seats, and a real backstage this time! It was a great experience doing the show with a cast nearly entirely new to me (save for Ben, Casey, and Dylan). Last time I was very familiar with the show, but going into this production knowing the script like the back of my hand, I got a lot deeper with character development and making my personal show more fluid. I couldn't have been more proud of what we all put up on that stage, and for two weekends this cast made some serious magic.

There is going to be a production of RENT at the Hollywood Bowl late this summer, and of course many of my castmates went out to audition for that. I unfortunately wasn't able to stay and be seen on the day of the singing call, but once my boss heard that she offered to take half my shift the next day so I could dance. I've never considered myself a fantastic dancer, but I really impressed myself and didn't screw up once. I didn't get called back, but I wasn't really expecting to be. I was a little bummed, but as soon as I found out they're casting the likes of Vanessa Hudgens and possibly Justin Timberlake, I was a little less hard on myself. None of us had a chance, and although it may not be fair, it's ok.

*A little tangent - I'm usually very good about going to an audition, doing my thing, and then just leaving and forgetting about it. That really is the best way to deal with being in this business. No one ever lets you know if you don't get something, so if you hang onto every audition, you're in for a world of depression. But since finishing RENT, it's been hard to live up to my philosophy of letting go. My brain wants to analyze everything I did for a few days after the fact, and when no call or email comes to interrupt those pesky thoughts, it's easy to get frustrated with yourself.*

I also auditioned for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee in the OC. I've been having trouble relaying the correct tempo of my songs to pianists, and so when I started singing my song it was almost in cut time, which did not at all lend itself to a good audition on my behalf. I suppose I could have stopped, clarified, and started over but.... ok fine, it was Jason Robert Brown and apparently his music isn't easy to play. But I could have sworn this song was! I mean, even I could probably play it and I'm hardly a pianist. Anyway, for whatever reason, I continued to sing my uptempo as a ballad and did not get called back. If only I had a better audition, I think I would be perfect for this show. So I couldn't get that off my mind for a few days. (I later found out that the girl who got the part I was aiming for is married to someone involved with the production. Great.)

Our music director David from RENT held auditions for a production of Godspell which he's directing/music directing, and again many members of my RENT cast showed up. I sang Janis Joplin and was called back for the next day. Due to getting out of work late, I showed up to the callback an hour late, missing the dance portion, with just enough time to sing a little before we moved on to monologues. I don't know why, but I felt really terrible about it. I told my friends and roommates as soon as I got home that I sucked and was sure I didn't get cast. A little melodramatic, I know. Much to my surprise, I got a voicemail when I left my house the next morning (because I rarely receive calls at my house, due to the awful service in Echo Park), it was David calling late the night before, saying he was excited to work on another show with me.

That was a big sigh of relief for me... I remember going out to a late lunch with Ben and Loren (Angel and Collins from the Rancho RENT) right after the Putnam audition and telling then how very much I needed to be in another show. It's so hard to close a show and not having something lined up. Luckily I do have my day job at the waxing studio, which I love very very much, but of course that doesn't engage me like being on stage. I never knew how much I like being busy until I got back into acting.

The touring company of Mamma Mia held auditions last weekend. I sang the National Anthem at the Rose Bowl for Walk MS, and headed over to the studio. I got there around 10:30, and I believe I was seen at close to 5:30. Luckily I knew a few of the people there so I didn't just have to read or play sudoku the whole time. But there was also another guy there, and it was pretty apparent he didn't belong. That sounds harsh, but you have to understand.... everyone else at the audition, as with every other audition I've been to out here, has studied in some way, and put forth a lot of effort to be the best we can at what we're trying to do. Then along comes someone like this guy who probably didn't even realize the stage production came before the movie. He didn't know what a hardcopy was (headshot), and when I asked if he was a fan of ABBA he didn't know what I was talking about. With as many people as there were there, it makes me a little angry that people like this will show up and take a time slot from someone more qualified and deserving.

Well now we're all caught up to the present. Two days ago I got a call from a casting director that I know who has cast me before and and asked me to come in and audition for various things. There's a project I submitted myself a long time ago that he's casting for, and although I wasn't sure that I was really right for the role I studied up and went in for it anyway. The thing about this show is that it's in Colorado, and the commitment would be all summer long. I realized there were conflicts with Godspell, but I figured that in the slim chance that I was actually cast, I'd figure it out from there.

I went in yesterday for the audition. I got the offer today.

I guess I shouldn't have auditioned if I knew there would be many conflicts with the show I'm currently in. My justification for that is this: I've been so used to not getting cast or called back for things I've auditioned for in the past few weeks, I figured I'd go in to at least get my face in front of another director, see a lovely casting director friend, have some fun and then walk away. It was a nice change to leave feeling ok, rather than immediately thinking I did awful and pouting for a day and a half.

So here's what is on my brain right now: Turn down or drop out? Money? Prior commitment? Summerlong "job security"? Loyalty? Responsibility? Opportunity? And to top it all off, my day job that I do love so much. I don't want to screw anyone over there probably most of all. I'm very lucky that it's so flexible and I really do enjoy what I do there.

I've talked to my mom, my co-workers, my boss, and briefly to Evan, but in the end it's down to me. I don't want to be the girl who always drops out of things for something better (like I did for RENT the first time around), and I don't want Raul, the casting director, to get the impression that I come in for auditions on a lark and can't follow through (like I did earlier this year when he called me back for a role and I decided it wasn't for me).

My co-worker Jill said that if this is the worst of my problems, it really ain't so bad. True, yes. I wish I could do both, but unfortunately it won't work out that way. It's the old "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation.

Well I guess that's you get for being so very talented. *Sigh* Oh the life of Nicci Claspell....