Being Myself & Finding My Voice (2020)

I originally posted this blog entry on August 2nd, 2015 and with everything going on in the world, I felt compelled to share it again:

“Thank you for always being you. It’s refreshing.” This was said to me by casting director and human being extraordinaire, Twinkie Byrd, on July 16th, 2015. When she said that to me, I felt really good. It also made me pause for a second to reflect on how much I HAVE changed as a person. To take stock on the journey that I have taken to become the person that I am today. “Thank you for always being you.”

Because there was a time where I wasn’t being me. At all.

I was born and raised in the projects in Brooklyn, NY. Let me be more specific: I was born and raised in the projects in Brooklyn, NY as a gay man. Not an ideal scenario. Growing up in the dangerous projects, and knowing that I was different since the age of five, I was afraid of being killed. So as a result, I shut down and became incredibly shy. I had no voice growing up. No point of view. Whenever I DID speak, I had to be really careful how I sounded. Too feminine sounding? Death.

I was also the fifth child out of six children. My older brothers and sisters didn’t want to hang out with me because they were all teenagers or young adults by this point. They did not want to be seen hanging out with a kid. And so I felt that being me wasn’t valuable or worthy. The only way I could stand out and be seen and heard was to act out. To be somebody else. I think that’s part of the reason why I became an actor. To be seen. To get attention. To feel worthy.

Having no voice and pretending to be somebody else became a recurring theme in my life and it got progressively worse. I desperately wanted to fit in and be liked in elementary and junior high school. I wanted my classmates to see that I could be a cool straight kid. I failed miserably. Students would tease me and not be friends with me. I ended up doing school plays because it gave me a voice. It gave me an opportunity to be seen and to be a star in a way that I couldn’t be at the school cafeteria or on the school playground.

Going into high school, I kept pretending to be somebody else because I still desperately wanted to be accepted and to be validated. Being ME was never valued and high school is all about appearances and all this other ridiculous peer pressure. I wanted to be cool. I wanted to be popular. I wanted to fit in. So much so that I even denied where I came from. Up until high school, I attended an elementary and junior high school that was within walking distance of the projects. So the majority of the school population was made up of students from the projects. We all knew we lived in the projects, so whatever. There was no need to pretend we were rich.

But high school was a different story. I had to take a train into a better, residential part of Brooklyn to attend school. I went to a really good public high school that wasn’t a block away from the projects. For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by white students. And these white students came from middle class to upper middle class families. Many of these white students lived in houses; had working parents who owned one or two cars; had material things; had intelligence; had an outlook on life that was more positive and abundant vs. my projects outlook of negativity, scarcity and death.

So not only did I hide my sexuality, I also hid where I came from. I became Molly Ringwald’s character in “Pretty In Pink”. Molly played a high school character from a working class family who falls for and begins dating an incredibly wealthy student (played by Andrew McCarthy) She was ashamed and embarrassed to reveal to him that she came from the poor side of town. He would give her a ride home, but she always had him drop her off somewhere else so he wouldn’t see where she lived. She always had an excuse as to why she didn’t want him to drop her off at home. Finally, when he insisted on knowing why he couldn’t drop her off at her home, she exclaimed, “Because I don’t want you to see where I live, okay!” She bursts into tears, and even right now, I’m getting emotional writing about it. Damn muscle memory! So, I didn’t tell anyone where I lived.

I even started acting and speaking “white” because I feared that my Latino heritage wouldn’t be valuable. I had an uncle who called me “Kunta Kinte” when I was 12 years old because I’m the darkest in my family. So, I thought my skin color, my Latino heritage, was a bad thing.

June 14th, 2020 Update: How could I forget the time I booked the role of Tulsa in my high school production of Gypsy and the makeup artist made me a few shades lighter so that I could be more passable and more accepting as Tulsa. I remember looking in the mirror after the makeup job was done and thinking to myself with pride, “Wow, this is how I should look.” Thus reinforcing the notion that being darker is bad and that being lighter is everything. With this makeup on, I could not be called Kunta Kinte anymore.

It got even worse in college. I went to Vassar College. Vassar College! A Sister Ivy League School! Vassar declined Yale University’s invitation to merge with them back in 1969! That takes balls to say no to Yale! Vassar is currently ranked #11 amongst colleges in the United States! Vassar had even MORE white people everywhere and a higher economic status: upper middle class to wealthy individuals. On the extreme side of the economic spectrum, I knew a guy who drove a luxury car, who would fly in and out on a private jet and who would wear Gucci, Armani and Valentino as CASUAL wear to CLASS. Girls would go clubbing on the weekends at our underground dance bar in designer dresses, purses and heels during the middle of winter in Poughkeepsie, NY. It is FREEZING cold in Poughkeepsie during the winter! Hell yeah, in this environment, I ran for mayor big time and became Molly Ringwald’s character times a hundred. Ironically, I became open about my sexuality when I went to Vassar, but I sure as hell didn’t say where I lived. I acted and spoke even more “white”. I would say I was Puerto Rican, but not Dominican as well. Why? Because my older half-siblings, who are Puerto Rican, would sometimes make derogatory remarks about Dominican people when I was a kid. And because I wanted to be accepted by them, I believed that the Dominican side of me was wrong. So, I denied that part of me.

So, there was always this sense of incompletion and not really being me at any given moment. You always got a percentage of me, but not 100 percent of me. I could be gay in certain situations, but not in others. I could be from the projects in certain situations and around certain people, but not in others. I could be Puerto Rican, but not Dominican. Fuck me with a mental spoon.

Pretending to be someone else was about survival. Literally and figuratively. Both just as terrible. Literally surviving from being killed in the projects. Figuratively surviving from being humiliated and ostracized by my friends, colleagues and peers.

It has taken me a long time to be the person I am today. When I sit down and take a look at myself, I really enjoy my sense of humor, my sense of subversiveness, my intelligence, my wit and my point of view. I’m proud of my sexuality and my heritage. I’m grateful for all the wonderful blessings that I have and that I’m able to share with the world. I’m happy that I’ve gotten to a place where I really don’t give a shit what anyone says about me. The moment I stopped running for mayor, the moment I stopped caring about what other people thought, the moment I stopped wanting to be everyone’s friend for all the wrong reasons (for THEIR validation), is when I truly experienced freedom. What you see is what you get and that’s it. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m done growing and evolving. After all, my intention is to continue becoming a better form of myself, a better version of who I was yesterday. I still have things to work on. This will be a life-long journey to continue being the best, most evolved version of me I can be.

Here are some turning points that were instrumental in helping me get to a place where Twinkie could say, “Thank you for always being you. It’s actually refreshing.”

**After I graduated from Vassar College, I met my best friend Geri at work. We were customer service representatives at the Metropolitan Opera House in Manhattan. We were required to do two weeks of training before we could officially start. On the first day of training, she arrived two hours late and she marched in like a grand diva wearing big sunglasses, high heels, and a huge purse dangling from her arm. My first reaction was, “Who the fuck is this bitch arriving two hours late?” We eventually warmed up to each other and hit it off within a couple of days. She later admitted that her first impression of me on the first day was, “Who the fuck is this yahoo wearing a cowboy hat?” Hey, Madonna’s “Music” album was all the rage at the time and the era and imagery was all about urban, modern cowboy culture. So when the Queen of Everything speaks and begins a trend, I comply.

Geri and I are still very close to this day. She’s beautiful, smart, funny, has great taste in style and has such a foul mouth–which I love. We would hang out often after work, and sometimes, she would drive me home. And yep, Molly Ringwald’s character possessed me once again. I would have Geri drop me off in a good part of Brooklyn, and then I would walk several blocks home after she drove away. This charade kept going successfully until one night, she asked me if she could use my bathroom because she really had to pee. I could’ve died right there in the passenger seat. I started to panic. I started thinking of alternative bathrooms that she could use instead.

But I couldn’t say no to her when I failed to think of alternatives. I didn’t want her to pee on herself. So for the first time in my life, I came clean about where I lived. And after I was done apologizing for where I lived, and then expecting her to throw me out of her car, she looked at me and said, “Jorge, I don’t give a fuck where you live. That’s not why I’m your friend. I’m your friend because I love you. And if anyone is going to judge you based upon where you live, then they’re not your fucking friend.” In that moment, I finally knew what a real friend was. I knew that I had a friend for life. That moment was instrumental for me. I wasn’t ashamed of being from the projects anymore. We parked in front of my building, she met my mom, my mom loved her and probably thought there was still hope for me (Oh snap! More on that in just a second!) Geri got to pee and the rest is history.

**Another turning point was moving to Los Angeles. I now had to become an adult and support myself. To make my own rules and live by them. As soon as I moved to Los Angeles, I had the blessing and honor of studying with and being influenced by two incredible acting teachers. First and foremost, Richard Lawson. He has been INSTRUMENTAL in my journey of self-discovery and empowerment. I always speak about Richard and how he has changed me. But I also need to acknowledge my very first LA acting teacher, Gary Imhoff.

Gary started my LA journey of being myself and finding my voice when about a year into my studies, he told me to connect with my sexuality and to put it up in class as a personal monologue. He recognized that I was acting through a filter because I was afraid of being discovered or outed. So my work was not as rich and fulfilled as it could be. I would act cautiously and carefully. A year later, he told me to reconnect with my roots and put it up in class as a personal monologue. He recognized again that the denial of my heritage was causing me to act through another filter. How could I be personal and real with my acting if I was drawing from a fake place? Connecting to my heritage meant connecting to me, to my home, to my history, to my genetic makeup. Drawing from who I REALLY am and not who I was PRETENDING to be. These denials were not only negatively affecting my work as an actor, but they were negatively affecting my life as well. Both personal monologues became these John Leguizamo-inspired, mini one-man show extravaganzas that received standing ovations. Turning points indeed. Shortly after the second personal monologue, I put up a scene for Gary and during his critique, he said to me, “You sound different. You are more grounded and centered. You even look more black.” I laughed out loud, as did the class. Gary got the ball rolling for me accepting my sexuality and my Latino heritage.

**The community of true friends I have built and nurtured out here has been another turning point. Pulling in the right friends based on love, respect, integrity, drive, passion, fun, no judgements or criticisms, but willing to express tough love to help me get to the other side and be all that I can be. I love you all.

**But the biggest turning point was in December 2009. I came out to my mom…again.

LOL!

I was in a relationship that I was happy with. He was someone that I knew I wanted to introduce to my family. My mom’s birthday was coming up in February and I thought that would be a great opportunity to introduce him to everyone. Only one problem: I needed to make sure that my mom knew I was gay. I first came out to her the summer after my sophomore year at Vassar. She was completely shocked. She was trying to comprehend my sexuality and the Catholic guilt flowed through her: “God made it to be man and woman. Not man and man. God does not want it this way.” After that conversation ended, my sexuality was never brought up again. Neither by her nor by me. And so for years afterwards, I continued living in a blur, in a fog, in front of my mother and in my life in general. Even though I made steps forward in the area of sexuality with Gary Imhoff and Richard Lawson, I was still incomplete and hiding somewhat. This time, however, I wanted to make sure that she was crystal clear about my sexuality. I was prepared and willing to lose the love of my mother so that I could be ME.

I wrote a letter in which I came out to her again. I told her I was in a relationship with a great guy and how happy I was with him and with my sexuality. The letter was positive. It was not about blame or pointing fingers. It was not about dwelling in the past. It was my intention to clear up any confusion or ambiguity. I mailed out the letter and decided to wait at least a week before I called her. It was the holidays, so I took into account how busy the post office would be. When I finally called her, it was the most amazing phone conversation I’ve ever had with her. She told me she received my letter and that she didn’t care that I was gay. She loved me as her son and she loved me for who I was. She also added that she didn’t care what anyone else thought about me. That if they had a problem with me, they could go fuck themselves. She was very happy for me and my relationship and could not wait to meet him. She also said that she never forgot when I first came out to her. She said the reason why she never brought it up again was because I had never brought it up again. Since I never brought it up again, she figured I went through a phase (And that’s why I could see her excitement when she met Geri.)

LOL Jesus, Mary, Joseph, God! If only I had spoken on this sooner, I could’ve saved myself years of—Ahhh fuck it. No point dwelling on the past and what could’ve been. The point was that my mom and I were now on the same page and her unconditional love and acceptance blasted the door wide open! I immediately came into focus. I connected to who I was because I was no longer hiding. I was no longer pretending to be someone or something else. With her love and support, I didn’t care anymore what others thought about me. My brothers and sisters love me as well by the way…the gay AND the Dominican sides of me 🙂

The walls finally came down! I started settling into my body. My true voice started to emerge. I had a point of view. I expressed myself. My true being started to emerge and affected all areas of my life including my art: I’m a better actor, writer and dancer as a result. Other dynamics and colors came to the forefront and made me a complete, whole person. Being gay is just a wonderful part of my make up. It’s not my entire life. Or as one of my good friends, Lindsay, said to me recently, “You’re a power gay. You don’t show it off. You don’t make a big deal out of it. You just are and get shit done.” But I don’t apologize for being gay, nor am I ashamed of it.

Growing up in the projects is no longer a source of shame. Being Dominican is no longer a source of shame.

I am me. I don’t apologize for it anymore. I inspire people. I make people laugh. I am handsome. I am dangerous. I make people uncomfortable. I am a listener. I am a rock. I am a leader. I am a lover. I am subversive. I am light. I am dark. I am tough. I am vulnerable. I am masculine. I am feminine, etc.

I am a HUMAN being living my God-given purpose on this planet: To be an artist.

I hope that this blog entry inspires you in some way. Perhaps someone out there is currently experiencing what I have experienced before. Just know that there is a light on the other side. When you find yourself and your voice, honor it and protect it! Or, if you are already being yourself, I hope you advance that further too because I’m on the journey of self-improvement for life.

I love being myself and my voice 🙂

Is Typecasting A Good Thing?

Typecast:

According to Google: Assign (an actor or actress) repeatedly to the same type of role, as a result of the appropriateness of their appearance or previous success in such roles.

According to Lexico: Represent or regard (a person or their role) as a stereotype.

According to Wikipedia: In television, film, and theatre, typecasting is the process by which a particular actor becomes strongly identified with a specific character, one or more particular roles, or characters having the same traits or coming from the same social or ethnic groups. There have been instances in which an actor has been so strongly identified with a role as to make it difficult for them to find work playing other characters.

There have been instances in which an actor has been so strongly identified with a role as to make it difficult for them to find work playing other characters.

After working with, acting with, coaching and teaching many actors, this is a fear that comes up. And I’ve been asked many times what my point of view is on the topic of typecasting.

For ME, the best advice I can give is:

Get typecast. Get typecast so you can get in the door. And as you’re getting in the door, create the evidence for yourself that reveals what else you can do (and, most likely, what you’re more interested in and passionate about.) So that when you’re on hiatus from your series regular role or after you’ve booked X amount of roles as a particular casting, then you’re creating and distributing content to your team, your followers, your relationship map, etc…that reveals another aspect of your casting that you are probably more interested in, more connected to and more passionate about.

Again, that’s just me. You have to make your own personal decision at the end of the day. If you don’t feel comfortable being typecast or if you have strict policies and principles against that, cool. Then be about creating and carving out what you want to do, what you want to play and how you’re going to achieve that.

Ultimately, what do you see for yourself and how do you get there? Follow your instincts.

Revisiting My Oscars Speech

Oscar

Happy Oscars day! Today is my Superbowl! And I love that the Oscars were scheduled earlier this year (February 9th) so that we can enjoy and wrap up awards season sooner rather than later. I revisited a blog entry I posted on March 10th, 2018, in which I shared the experience I had delivering my Oscar speech for Best Actor. And what stood out for me was that what I wrote in 2018 still rings true today. My career is still real and alive for me. My postulates are still real and alive for me. I am still in belief with what I see for myself, with what I am creating for myself and with the wins I am having.

I recently did a video testimonial for the Professional Development Program at the Richard Lawson Studios and when I slated with my name and what I do, it was with full belief and conviction: “Hi, I’m Jorge Ortiz and I’m an actor, writer and executive producer.”

So, take a stroll down memory lane with me below. Have you wavered on your dreams? Have you lost belief in your dreams? Two years later, are you in more belief or less belief in terms of your dreams?

Original Post:

On Sunday, March 4th, I attended what I call the Super Bowl of all awards shows: the Oscars. I live for awards season and the Oscars is the culmination, the peak, of this exciting and hectic season.

I attended an Oscars viewing party at the WACO Theater Center and it was hosted by Richard Lawson. We were asked to come dressed in our Oscars best. I chose to wear a black blazer, black pants and black shoes. I was going to wear a crisp, button-down shirt underneath, but I quickly discovered that dry cleaning stores are closed on Sunday (I was going to drop my shirt off the day before) So I quickly improvised and decided to wear a simple maroon t-shirt underneath. Rock and roll, baby!

As we settled inside the theater to watch the Oscars, Richard made an announcement. He said, “Now you know…because I teach about the power of postulates, I’m going to randomly call up a person to deliver an Oscars speech during each commercial break.”

(By the way, here is the definition of a postulate: A self-generated truth. A prediction. A proposition that requires no proof, being self-evident, or that is for a specific purpose assumed true, and that is used in the proof of other propositions. To demand or claim something.)

I could feel some people in the room shift uncomfortably in their seats and I also heard slight groans and murmurs of protest. Perhaps they felt this was some hokey pokey nonsense. Perhaps they don’t have belief in their own abilities to reach this pinnacle of industry recognition.

Not me. I wanted to lean into and embrace this opportunity! Winning an Oscar is on my DOIN’ (Declaration of Independence aka my business plan) and what better way to get closer to my postulate of winning an Oscar than to deliver a speech in front of a live audience of artists. What better way to assume the position and believe and experience.

On the second commercial break, Richard called my name over the speaker system! “And the Oscar goes to…JORGE ORTIZ!”

As soon as I heard my name, I was in instant belief. I jumped up to my feet and grabbed the glass bottle of mineral water I was drinking so that it could represent my Oscar. I remember seeing people around me giving me a standing ovation and cheering very loudly and happily for me. I remember walking with energy down the stairs and Jordan Bull giving me a hug along the way. I got to the stage and then quickly got off of it and ran back upstairs to give my partner a hug and a kiss! I made my way back to the stage and soaked in the applause and cheers. The lights shone brightly and warmly on me.

I heard Marlo Stroud yell from the front row, “I love you Jorge!”, and I quickly pointed to her and yelled back, “Thank you Meryl Streep!” When the applause died down, I began my speech. The first thing I said was, “Well I guess this means one thing: My IMDB star meter will FINALLY be number one tomorrow! I’ve always wanted that!”

My speech flowed. It was moment to moment and it had equal parts humor, charm, irony and earnestness. I was impinged. I impinged the audience. I would look at my glass bottle Oscar with pride and joy. I ended my speech, and to pay homage to the winners who sometimes walk off the wrong way, I did the same. When I realized I was exiting the wrong way, I played up the mistake and then pointed to the usher who helped me exit the right way.

I walked down the hallway and made my way into the lobby where I was still in absolute belief as people congratulated me on what a great job I had done. So many people congratulated me and I felt like I was in the press room that winners immediately go into to answer questions from the press.

Someone asked me in the lobby, “What kind of film do you think you would win an Oscar for?” I immediately said, “I could see myself winning a Best Actor Oscar for being in a film like Moonlight. A movie that pushes, provokes and inspires.”

This was such an incredible and real experience!!!!!!!!!

As the night continued and I watched other speeches, it was interesting to see who was in belief and who had a judgement about it. And all I can say about the latter approach is that this judgement, this non-belief, this doubt, this feeling of it being hokey pokey nonsense are all postulates. That’s right, these are postulates too. Negative postulates. You’re putting that negative belief out there. This self-generated truth, this prediction, this proposition that requires no proof, being self-evident…is all rooted in negativity and doubt. What you put out there is what you get back. So if you don’t believe that you can have an Oscar, then you won’t get it. You won’t ever put yourself in a position of belief to get closer and closer to the postulate of getting an Oscar.

And it’s just not about the belief in getting an Oscar. I’m curious to know where else you have doubts about your own career. Do you have doubts that you can have wonderful representation? Do you have doubts that you can put together a great demo reel? Do you have doubts that you can be a working actor? Do you have doubts that you can do a great audition or put up a great scene in class? Do you have doubts about the power you have as an artist?

“The man who says he can, and the man who says he can not. Are both correct.”-Confucius

What Is Your 2020?

Happy New Year! A new year. A new decade.

What are your goals for 2020?

Goal: the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end. The finish line of a race.

I have identified four central goals that I am actively working on for the first quarter of 2020:

**Secure a literary manager.

**Finish the handful of film festival submissions for The Doppelganger (a film I wrote, executive produced and co-starred in) Accumulate those laurels, hunty!

**Begin submitting the pilot episode to my new TV series to established writing competitions.

**Align with a powerful showrunner and/or powerful executive producer who loves my voice as a writer. Who just fucking gets me. You know what I’m saying? Once we align, we create a game plan for the rest of 2020 to get my TV series picked up by a major streaming company or premium cable network for active development, production and distribution.

These are the four goals that really speak to me for the first quarter of the year. Each goal has an administration plan attached to it that will help me stay on track.

What are you after this year?? And most importantly, who is on your career bus that will ask you the right questions, cheer you along the way and hold you accountable? Art is communal and you can’t do it alone. Let me know what your goals are in the comments below!

Welcome back!

How To Get Your Own TV Series

Ahhhhhh, wouldn’t you like to know (insert evil laugh here) With the proliferation of TV shows out there-propelled no doubt by the presence and growth of different streaming networks-and the need for content that is quickly consumed, it should be easy to land a TV series in this day and age.

So I will give you the answer on how to land your own TV series deal. As you may or may not know, Chasing The George is about the journey I’m on to create and carve out the career that I see and want for myself. And along the way, I share my advice, my wins, my losses which become lessons, etc…so that you can be inspired in the pursuit of your own dreams. It’s important to share my journey so that people can see that there is no such thing as an overnight success. That it takes a sustained effort.

So the answer to landing a TV series deal with Netflix or HBO or Showtime is……..I don’t know! NOW HERE’S WHERE YOU WILL PROBABLY STOP READING. Please don’t. This is a process. This is a journey. If you decide to keep reading, you will see what I’ve been doing to get my newest series picked up.

I’ve been down this road before with another TV series I created a few years ago. With that series, I had a literary agent. I had producers attached. I pitched my series to CBS, Showtime, Youtube, Logo and HERE! My series was pitched and submitted to different production companies. I independently shot the pilot episode and submitted to film festivals.

With my new TV series, this is what I’ve done so far. Hopefully this helps or inspires you. The idea first came to me in 2015 and I wrote a rough pilot for it. It wasn’t until the fall of 2018 that I decided to pick it up again and devote my energy to it. And since then, this is what I have done to arm myself with tools and resources.

**I studied many half-hour shows on Netflix (the pilot episodes only) to get a sense of the style and tone of each show to see what resonated with the style and tone of my new series. Also, I studied when the main character was introduced, when the other characters were introduced and how quickly the problem for the main character was introduced.

**I rewrote the pilot episode of my series based upon the information I received above.

**I created a spreadsheet that lays out the first eight episodes of season one (I decided that 8 would be my magic number for season one) The spreadsheet lays out important information from the characters to episode titles, etc. In this way, the buyer can get a clear map and picture about the possibilities of season one.

**I wrote the second and third episodes of my series. Again, in this way, the buyer can get a sense of my writing style and also see where the series is going.

**I’ve brought in scenes from all the episodes to read out loud in class to see what works, what flows, what doesn’t make sense, etc. Then, I applied the notes I received and brought the scenes back to class.

**I wrote the TV bible for my series.

**I wrote my pitch. And the biggest part of my pitch was articulating WHY I am telling this story and WHY I’m the only person who can tell this story. The next step is for me to start practicing it out loud to see how it flows, to see if I’m engaged and interested, to see if people get the story, etc. And how I came about writing my pitch was through doing research. There are many different ways to pitch and I made my life sane by choosing one approach that I really liked and sticking with it. If I went down the rabbit hole of looking at the many ways to pitch, I would have driven myself insane. I decided to model my pitch after the way Gloria Calderón Kellett does it (she has a video on Youtube where she breaks down how she likes to pitch her TV shows)

**I’ve met with one my mentors-who is in the industry-for advice and homework. And boy, did he give me a lot of exciting homework each time we met. The homework was designed to not only help me hone in on my voice as a writer, but to hone in on literary managers who will most likely be more receptive to repping me as a writer. Also, he guided me to utilize my relationship map for connections and possibilities. And no, I will not tell you who my mentor is LOL.

**I’ve recently met with a big TV producer (thanks to someone on my relationship map creating an intro for us) to ask questions about their professional journey and to start building a relationship with them. My mentor above encouraged me to ask the producer if I can do “takes”. I asked the producer and they were open to it! And no, I will not tell you who this producer is LOL.

**I’ve recently connected with a TV writer (thanks to someone on my relationship map creating an intro for us) so that I can ask them questions about their professional journey and to start building a relationship with them. And no, I will not tell you who this writer is LOL.

**I need to start reaching out to literary managers from the homework I did. Relationship map? Query letters?

**I will keep listening to the people I admire and respect on social media. Engage in genuine ways. Ask questions. Let them see that I am about it. One of the things on my to do list is to read this thread that a working writer posted where they honestly answered questions they received about submitting scripts to selling them to attaching directors and producers to a project, etc. In this way, I can see a different point of view.

Okay, I’m going to stop here. There are other things I have done this year and there are many other things I still have to do. Thinking inside the box and outside of the box. Tackling from all angles because there is no one way or answer. I think you get the point though.

Maybe this helps you. Maybe it doesn’t. If you have other ideas, please let me know in the comments below. What good moves have been effective for you in getting your series out there? Do I need to rent a plane and spell out a message over Hollywood?

Have a good week!

That First Moment When…

Hello artists! How the heck are you?!?! Wow! It’s been a MINUTE since I last posted a blog entry! My focus over the last few weeks has been on putting the finishing touches on the pitch package I’ve been building for the new TV series I created and developed.

I hope your summer 2019 has been filled with exciting artistic possibilities and opportunities!

As consumed as I have been with my new TV series, I had a moment one day that reminded me of why I entered the entertainment business in the first place: I was a little kid when I first watched Christopher Reeve play the role of Superman. Christopher Reeve played the role of Superman in the 1978 movie.

It was several years later that I would watch this film for the first time…and it changed my life forever. I KNEW right then and there that I wanted to save the planet with my super powers. Every time I watched this version of Superman as a kid, I would tie my baby blanket (which I still have) around my neck and “fly” around my room…visiting places on Earth and beyond…and fighting any bad guys in the process.

I knew that I wanted to be Superman. I wanted to be on screen and fly and save and protect and be a hero. I knew that I didn’t want to be a normal person. I didn’t want to be an anonymous entity. I didn’t want to be ordinary. I didn’t want to be like everyone else. I wanted to be someone. I wanted to stand out. I wanted to be a star. I wanted to fly. Superman represented what I wanted to be and so I started my journey of being an actor…an artist…an entertainer. Superman made a difference in his world………….and I wanted to do the same in mine.

Superman was the moment I knew I wanted to be an artist.

What was THAT MOMENT WHEN YOU KNEW you wanted to be an artist?

I’d love to read your answers in the comments section!!!

See you soon!

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Spending My Summer With Ryan Murphy et al

Hello gang! I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.

On June 15th, I met with a mentor of mine for coffee in the Hollywood Hills. As countless luxury cars pulled in and out of the parking lot, I told him that I needed some help and direction in the TV literary world. He’s a literary manager and also a fellow Vassar graduate. I’ve known him (and his wife) for several years now. I’ve been to a few events they’ve hosted from Christmas gift-wrapping parties for needy families to casserole parties to a writers retreat at the Sturtevant Camp in Sierra Madre, CA.

I told him that I needed to navigate the TV literary world with more focus and clarity because I was a little bit all over the place. I also asked him about how to obtain a literary manager. We spoke for a while and he gave me a lot of homework to execute that would help me get more focused in this area, more focused on which literary managers would be best for my writing voice and to discover opportunities for minority writers such as myself.

After taking pages of notes, I was excited to tackle the homework he gave me. One of the homework assignments was to identify 25 TV shows/movies that I would have killed to work on as a writer. He told me to create a spreadsheet and to include different columns of information for this homework assignment.

Side note: At the time of our meeting, I could only identify two TV shows that I would have killed to work on as a writer LOL.

After our meeting, I immediately got to work. I started watching lots of TV shows and movies to find my voice in them. Does this TV show or movie sound like my voice? Does this TV show or movie sound like what I’m interested in writing? I would watch at least two episodes of each TV show to see if I would add it to the list or not. I typed in specific genres that I was interested in. I looked at recommendations from Netflix, Hulu and IMDB (i.e. if you liked “Black Mirror”, then check out….) Next thing I knew, my list of shows started to grow.

When my list grew to 15 shows, I hit a wall. I was like, “There is no way I’m going to find 25 TV shows/movies.” I emailed my mentor and asked, “Is 25 a hard number? Or can I have less than that?” I asked him this question knowing fully well what his answer would be. I knew that 25 was a hard number. And that he gave me 25 TV shows/movies to push myself, to explore and to think outside of the box. He emailed me back and he confirmed everything I already knew. So, I recommitted to hitting the magic number of 25. And I’m glad I did because I didn’t want to take any shortcuts. I wanted to fully comply.

On July 27th, I hit the magic number! When I found my 25th show, I cheered! I was so happy and ecstatic. It took me almost a month and a half, but I got to spend my summer with Ryan Murphy, Ava DuVernay, Steven Canals, Tanya Saracho, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Ryan O’Connell and so many other amazing creators!

I discovered/reconfirmed a few things in this assignment:

*I am interested in the following areas for TV: urban dramedies; stand alone sci-fi episodes; comedies where the lead character is truly an outcast.

*My writing heart resonates with half hour TV shows.

*When it came to identifying movies, urban dramas made the list. Although, I also love comedic apocalyptic films like Shaun of the Dead and The World’s End (both written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg)

*ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! When I saw the amount of creativity in each show, the storylines, the kind of different/dynamic leading characters, etc., I realized that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! There is an audience out there for any show and storyline. There is no way that my own TV series can’t be picked up. All of the shows I watched (whether they made the list or not) reconfirmed that my series has a place on TV. No one can ever tell me that there isn’t an audience for my work after seeing all of the TV shows and movies I’ve seen.

So, ladies and gentleman, here are the 25 TV shows and movies that I would have killed to work on as a writer because they resonate with my writing voice. In no particular order:

  1. Pose
  2. Black Mirror
  3. Pen15
  4. Room 104
  5. Electric Dreams
  6. Weird City
  7. The Twilight Zone (the reboot)
  8. Special
  9. Bonding
  10. Shrill
  11. Difficult People
  12. Schitt’s Creek
  13. Ramy
  14. Barry
  15. Atlanta
  16. Fleabag
  17. Vida
  18. When They See Us
  19. Tales of the City (the reboot)
  20. Looking
  21. Moonlight
  22. Gun Hill Road
  23. Quinceanera
  24. Roxanne, Roxanne
  25. Culture Shock (part of the Into The Dark series on Hulu)

Happy Anniversary!

On July 10th, 2015, I launched my weekly blog, Chasing The George! Happy 4th Anniversary! Wow, what a journey it has been! And I feel like my intention and mission has always remained the same:

Hey everyone! I created this weekly blog on July 10th, 2015 upon the recommendation of one of my mentors, Richard Lawson. I am a working professional actor and writer who works hard and understands the concept of what it means to have a career. So he advised me to create a blog where I would share my advice, my journey, my stories and interests with other artists. A “Hollywood 101” if you will that reveals and shares the sustained effort, work and fun it takes to have a career in this industry.

“Chasing The George” is a play on the phrase “Chasing The Ambulance”. When an ambulance is in emergency mode, they cut through traffic with intention. Nothing gets in their way. Some people will illegally chase after that ambulance because they too can get to their destination faster. While I don’t condone illegal activity, I do love the concept of chasing a career with that same intention and focus. I am the ambulance. Chasing The George is a reflection of my intention and focus to carve out the career I want in Hollywood.

I hope that my advice, my personal stories, my enthusiasm and my sometimes funny and direct approach will inspire you to carve out your own fabulous and exciting career in Hollywood.

So pull up a seat and welcome to Chasing The George.

Thank you to everyone worldwide who has read my blog and who continues to read my blog. I love and appreciate your support!

There are so many more exciting things coming up! I am a working artist who is living the life of a working artist. My wins continue to expand and grow every year. My journey continues to expand and grow every year. My knowledge continues to expand and grow every year. I love being an artist and I will continue being an artist.

Below the picture, I wanted to re-share some of the blog posts from 2019.

Happy 4th Anniversary with fireworks and star

Is This Thing On?????? https://wp.me/p8uI5M-Fk

Are You A Pain In The Ass? https://wp.me/p8uI5M-Fq

Part 2: Are You A Pain In The Ass? https://wp.me/p8uI5M-Fs

Another Day, Another Pilot Written: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-FD

How To Break Up With Your Agent: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-FI

Table Read Adventures: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-FP

How I Booked A National Commercial By Crying: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-FT

How I Did 30 Auditions In 30 Days: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-FW

Where You At?! https://wp.me/p8uI5M-G1

Celebrate! Then Keep It Moving! https://wp.me/p8uI5M-G6

Celebrate! Then Keep It Moving!

Celebration is a vital part of the journey. Celebration marks the journey. Celebration acknowledges the work you’ve done to achieve a win, a moment, a milestone.

I had a wonderful, blessed past week of artistic wins. I was able to share them with everyone in my universe and beyond. I was able to enjoy the inflow that resulted from my outflow. And I was grateful to understand that my wins are a collective. My wins are connected to my friends, peers, colleagues, teachers, classmates, etc. who have helped me get to where I am today.

I want to recap my wins for the past seven days below and how I celebrated. And now that I have celebrated, it is time to move forward with the next step of career administration. I have celebrated, and now it is time to get back in and administrate the next steps for my career.

Here are my wins from the past week and also my celebration of those wins:

**The Doppelganger, a film I wrote, executive produced and co-starred in will play at the AMC Theater this July in Manhattan as part of the Dominican International Film Festival. More film festivals to come!

**A feature film that I am in, Zombie TV, has finally received DISTRIBUTION! It’s a spoof on zombies and reality television. 8 contestants are locked in a house with zombies. The sole survivor at the end of the night wins one million dollars. Does my character win????? Stay tuned!

**I submitted a self-tape monologue to Twinkie Byrd’s Flip The Script monologue competition. The competition was in conjunction with NBC. Out of the 1,200 submissions received, she sent 64 auditions over to NBC. I was one of the 64!

**I was on the set of the SAG web series, The Rejects, playing the role of Kenny. So much fun!

**I had two commercial auditions!

**I had a wonderful meeting with a fellow Vassar graduate about the literary agent world and they gave me so much homework to do!

**I am finishing up my tweaks on the three episodes, the series bible and the season one chart for me new TV series.

I am an artistic warrior!

And here is how I celebrated:

I bought Madonna’s new album, Madame X, on vinyl. (By the way, fun fact: Madonna earned a #1 album with Madame X on the Billboard 200 albums chart and a #1 song, Medellin, on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart today. She extends her record as the artist with the most #1’s at every Billboard chart combined, with 163 number ones!!!!!!!!!!)

Here’s a video montage of my wins from the past week:

 

And here is how I celebrated:

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Where You At?!

Hey artistic warriors! How the hell are ya?! I’ve been gone for a few weeks and I’ve missed you all so much. So, where you at?! We are halfway through the year (can you EFFING believe it?!?! “She’s a woman!” Thank you Miz Cracker)

That being said, I thought this was a good time to check in and assess the artistic journey so far. What goals have you accomplished that you set for yourself back in January? What goals did you set for yourself back in January that you flinched on? “Flinch” meaning to pull back, back away, shy away, draw back. What goals started off with a bang, but for this reason and that, they/you lost steam and momentum?

What have you accomplished and celebrated? Do you have a list of your wins since January 1st and have you been celebrating along the way? I have five recent wins that I need to celebrate. I’m telling you this so that I am held accountable as well (To celebrate, I really want to buy a record player and some Madonna albums in LP form released from the year 2000 and beyond: Music, American Life, Confessions on a Dance Floor, Hard Candy, MDNA, Rebel Heart, and of course, the new album coming out on June 14th, Madame X…shameless plug and devotion to the Queen of Everything)

So, where you at my fellow artistic warriors?! Let me know in the comments section below.

For me, on the actor side, I need to schedule a new commercial headshot session. I’ve already picked out my wardrobe and will take pictures of myself in them and send to my agent for feedback. Once I solidify the looks, I will book a headshot session. For me, on the actor side, I need to buy a white ascot for a SAG web series pilot shoot that’s coming up. I had an impulse that my character would wear that. I shared my idea with the creator and they loved it. Also, looking at what scene to do in class from my new casting list. And more things to do…

For me, on the writer side, my focus has been on my new half-hour TV series. So far, I have 1) Three episodes written; 2) I have created a spreadsheet for season one that contains the main characters, their A&B storylines, the episode titles and descriptions, etc.; 3) I’ve written a series bible. My goal is to finish all tweaks by the end of June 2019. For me on the writer side, I want to utilize my relationship map for help and guidance. I’ve already begun reaching out to people (Two of whom I flinched on reaching out to for a while and they offered to meet with me!) For me, as a writer, I want to submit the pilot episode to various writing competitions. For me, as a writer, I want to secure literary representation and pitch meetings.

For me, on the writer side, I will continue submitting my film, The Doppelganger, to more film festivals. Good news coming soon in this area. Stay tuned.

For me, on the 360 degrees of my career, I just joined an amazing career administration group that will kick my ass and hold me accountable. I already shared my enthusiasm with the leader of the group and that I’m coming into this group not knowing anything (meaning that I’m willing to listen and learn…that I don’t have to know everything. It’s actually freeing to know that I don’t have to have all the answers. Ask the next question. Then ask the next question.)

For me, on the 360 degrees of my career, making sure I make noise in order to be considered. To show up more in the rooms I am in. To demand of myself that I be considered. To be uncomfortable. To look at where my energy is going because where I place my energy defines me. Thank you Keili Lefkovitz for this paragraph of advice.

Part of my artistic journey, which I call Chasing The George, is that I’m not perfect. That I make mistakes, but I learn from them. That I don’t know everything and that’s okay. That I don’t know everything, but what I DO know, I know it fucking WELL.

So, where you at my fellow artistic warriors?! Let me know in the comments section below.