On May 25th, 2023, I completed the fourth and final exercise that is required for returning students of the Richard Lawson Studios. This exercise was an Improvisation. After re-reading the chapter in “Acting Class: Take a Seat”, I knew that I wanted to focus on being moment to moment, to play what was in front of me, and to “discover each moment anew, fresh, using their imagination, without preconception or roadmap or censorship.” In other words, to not be driven by a blueprint and just allowing the scene to occur.
I had a blast with the Improvisation! And what made this exercise so special was that this was the first time I worked opposite another actor on stage since being back in class. Kelly Tighe taught that evening and she called me and my fellow actor (Jayne Marin) up onto the stage. The stage was already set up with a foldable partition in the center and two chairs that were placed on either side of it. Kelly walked up to me and secretly gave me my prompt for the exercise. She said that I was a priest at a confessional booth. Ah! Now I understood the setup on stage. Kelly went over to Jayne and secretly gave her a prompt as well. Jayne and I took our seats, the lights went down, the stage manager called the exercise, and the lights came back on. Keep reading below 🙂
And as the scene progressed in a patient, moment to moment way, I soon discovered that this married woman, who was confessing her strong desire and attraction for someone else, was actually talking about me. I was the object of her desire and attraction. And through her strong yes and my strong no, we created tension and humor. We created an Abbott and Costello. We created an experience where we impinged each other. We had a clear event and there was so much trust between Jayne and I. The scene ended with us kissing passionately and getting ready to make love. I had finally given in to her energy. I had finally given in to her. Keep reading below 🙂
Kelly opened it up to the class for comments about our work. I also asked for casting ideas and received quite a number of great suggestions. I’m grateful for the work I’ve been able to create through these four exercises over the last five weeks (Environmental With A Crisis, Song & Dance, Personal Monologue, and Improvisation.) I feel like I am placing my artistic stamp on the work and allowing myself to continue failing forward so that I can grow as an artist. And to also have joy and fun in the process! The next stop…SCENE WORK! Keep reading below 🙂
On May 18th, 2023, I did my third exercise as a returning student of the Richard Lawson Studios. This exercise was called a Personal Monologue. This exercise helps us to understand what it means to be personal in our work as actors. You share a true story that costs you something. The definition of cost that I love the most is “whatever must be given, sacrificed, suffered, or forgone to secure a benefit or accomplish a result.” What a powerful definition! No pain, no gain. Right? So you share a true story that costs you something because it helps you connect to it in a visceral way. It evokes emotions that you allow yourself to experience. You discover what’s possible in terms of the depths of your emotional capabilities. And so the degree of personalization, emotions, and experience that you receive from this exercise is something you can then bring to your work as an actor. You can apply that same personalization to any script you pick up, and it will feel as if you wrote that script yourself. Keep reading below 🙂
The second part of this exercise is that you should be working something out in your story. You are confronting something that is personal and vulnerable, something that is holding you back from being all that you can be, and you take this journey to figure out how to get to the other side in order to be at cause with solutions. And all of this is done through the medium of art, through an artistic lens and approach. Keep reading below 🙂
I looked at the evolution of my voice. I shared six milestone moments that influenced and affected my voice over the years. And what I wanted to solve, and what I wanted to get to the other side of, was how to take my voice to the next level to continue being heard. I felt that my voice had plateaued. I felt that I wasn’t being heard anymore, particularly on social media. I got to the other side by realizing that acclamation and condemnation are the same animal on different sides of the same coin. I can’t be seduced by either. I just need to keep doing me, showing up, and doing the work. Keep reading below 🙂
I designed my Personal Monologue as the beginnings of a Ted Talk/one-man show (Fun fact: I’ve done two Personal Monologues before and they were also designed as the beginnings of a one-man show.) Utilizing Richard’s assessment from my Song & Dance exercise two weeks ago, my intention was to fail forward in this exercise. I gave myself permission to fail. Meaning, I took risks. I allowed myself to have an experience. I allowed myself to explore a full range of emotional colors. I made an artistic fool of myself. I took up space. I followed impulses that occurred in the moment. I allowed myself to take a personal and artistic ride because I wanted to get to the other side of what I was looking at. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, I HAD FUN!!!!!! Keep reading below 🙂
Kelly Tighe taught that evening and her assessment was wonderful and powerful. She talked about the power of give, letting go of the results, who to focus on, the reality of social media, and taking a look at where social media serves me. She provided guidance so that I can continue staying on the other side of what I discovered in my Personal Monologue. She also opened it up to the room so that my fellow classmates both in person and on Zoom could comment on my work. Keep reading below 🙂
The evolution of Jorge Ortiz the actor and artist continues!
“The WGAW and WGAE are on strike. SAG-AFTRA supports the Writers Guild of America in their fight to achieve a fair and equitable contract.” SAG-AFTRA has provided answers to frequently asked questions that actors have as it relates to the writers strike. Below is the link. When you click on the link, you will see the updated strike schedule for the new week, and below that, you will find the frequently asked questions. I hope these answers help my fellow actors in terms of how to support our fellow writers and also as it relates to the work we can and can not do during the strike:
On May 4th, 2023, I did my second exercise on stage at the Richard Lawson Studios. I did the Song & Dance exercise and it went great! Tension holds back feelings and emotions, and that’s not good for us as actors. Song and dance are tools that helps the actor to relax and be in a better position to be vulnerable, to access and embrace any emotional impulses, and to have an experience.
And through this exercise, I received an assessment from Richard that will be the keys to my career in this new unit of time. He said that I tend to get serious and significant. And to what end? Why? Richard has known me for years, so he has seen these qualities in me before. He’s right. I do tend to get serious and significant about my career. My thinking is, “I have to be serious about my career. I have to be serious about my career administration. I have to be serious about everything related to my career. I have to be serious about my art!” LOL. LOL. LOL. Keep reading below 🙂
Richard said that my default position is one of seriousness vs. one of being unmuted. Unmute myself, then experience and enjoy the freedom of expression that comes from that. Experience the joy of this journey that I’m on, and as a result, I will create a program of attraction. How can we “unsignify” so that I can enjoy the process? The main goal he wants me to focus on is to unmute, lead with freedom of expression, and to experience joy because I know a lot and I possess so much knowledge and skill set. I know a lot and possess so much! That is joyful! That should make me joyful and lead with joy! Keep reading below 🙂
He also asked me what percentage do I feel free to express. After some thought, I said I feel sixty percent free. And I shared with Richard why I am holding back from an even larger freedom of expression. I said, “I think I know a big part of that answer. I think being back in this environment, I have to learn to just take the fucking teacher’s hat off and be a student, and know that it’s okay to be flawed here. It’s okay to make mistakes here. I don’t want to put that pressure on myself just because I teach here, and maybe that’s where that seriousness and significance comes from. Versus, I want to take chances here. I think that’s what’s being playing in my head: ‘It has to be like this. It has to be like that because everyone’s watching.’ I’ve taught everyone in this room on some level or another, and I don’t want that pressure on myself.” Keep reading below 🙂
Richard said that in this class, I have a right to take chances and I have a right to fail. The right to fail forward because I’m taking the kinds of chances in the creation of my art. I don’t have to prove anything here. I can come here and fail. Take chances, try, and have my fun. Being in class is not office hours for me. These are my freedom hours, my student hours. Be free to fly! And take that significant face off whenever I feel it. Remove that face whenever I feel it. Keep reading below 🙂
Thank you for this caring surgery, Richard! I am empowered to do this! Your assessment will elevate my career to the next level! Below is a picture of me on stage doing my Song & Dance:
On February 2nd, 2023, I officially returned as a student to the Scene Study 3.0 class at the Richard Lawson Studios. To give you some quick context, I have been a student of Richard’s for many years. Then on March 13th, 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic forced all of us to attend classes virtually. AND WE MADE IT WORK! I remained a virtual student up until August 2020. At that time, I decided I needed to unplug (figuratively and literally) and take a break. Well, it’s true what they say about “taking a break.” A one-month break turned into two, turned into three, turned into a year, turned into…you get the point. However, it didn’t mean I was not doing anything for my career. I was incredibly productive throughout the pandemic, lockdown, quarantine, and beyond. I still am. And I was still a virtual student in the Professional Development Program 3.0 class.
I finally decided to return to Scene Study for a couple of reasons. 1) My good friend, Lindsay Hopper, kept hounding me about when I would return. She hounded me via text, via Zoom calls, at gatherings, via smoke signals, in my dreams, via numerous languages, via songs and interpretive dances…LOL. 2) When I looked at my raison d’être (purpose, reason for existence) at the beginning of 2023, I knew that being back in class was integral in keeping it alive and thriving. By the way, if you want to read my incredible blog entry from last week about raison d’être, click on the link at the end, but only after reading this wonderful entry first 🙂 Keep reading below 🙂
Returning to class, I knew I wanted to start from scratch again. I knew I wanted this to be a reset. I knew I wanted to get comfortable with being on a stage again. I knew I wanted to use the class as a space where I exercise my raison d’être. So with those things in mind, I told Lindsay that I wanted to start with exercises before jumping back into scene work (I also have a few scene ideas based upon the research I started doing once I was back in class. I am also interested in receiving a few scene suggestions from Richard and my classmates.) So in terms of exercises, I am on the class schedule for an Environmental With A Crisis, a Song & Dance, a Personal Monologue, and an Improvisation. Keep reading below 🙂
On April 27th, 2023, I did my Environmental With A Crisis exercise!!!! I was both nervous and excited. I joked with a friend and colleague earlier during class and said, “I feel like a virgin again!” The Environmental is the first exercise that every student does at the RLS, and it teaches us how to be a person in a place having an experience (which is one of our acting principles at the school.) In this exercise, you recreate a specific part of your home on the stage. And you live within that environment by doing an activity that engages, absorbs, and involves you. Keep reading below 🙂
I decided to recreate my home office on stage. I brought many things from my office and organized them the same way on two desks that the theater provided. I wanted to bring so many other things from my office, like paintings and my Vassar degree, but I knew there was no way to hang them in the theater space. For the activity part of this exercise, I decided to color in my drag queen coloring book because that engages and involves me. It also soothes me and brings me a sense of relaxation-which is important for the second part of the exercise. Keep reading below 🙂
So, during a class break, I set up my home office environment. Once I finished setting up, I sat down and began coloring in my coloring book. I wanted to get into the reality of my home office and the experience of the coloring book as soon as possible. Once the break was over, the stage manager called the exercise, the lights went down, and then the lights came back up again. And there I was at my home office, coloring in my book. My tablet played songs that I specifically curated on Spotify because these were the type of songs that I would have played while coloring at home. Keep reading below 🙂
The second part of this exercise now involves a crisis of some sort. The actor, at ease in their enviroment and absorbed in their activity for a few minutes, receives a crisis that turns things upside down. The point of this second part is for us to receive and respond to the crisis as a person would. Does the crisis land? Does it impinge? Do we question or doubt what we’re hearing? Do we process it in a moment to moment way? Once the crisis is delivered, what happens next? How do we continue living in our environment after receiving the crisis? Do we make a phone call? Do we continue processing what we just heard? How is our behavior and life altered because of the crisis? Are we able to go back to our initial activity? What would a person do in this situation? Keep reading below 🙂
My Environmental With A Crisis went great! I was so proud of the work that I created after being away from a stage for so long. I had a specific environment. I had an engaging activity. I had a clear event within the environment before the crisis occurred. I was in a relaxed state which then allowed me to receive the crisis better and be impinged by it. I had an experience. I got emotional. I had an inner and outer life. Keep reading below 🙂
I lost my virginity on stage again, and it felt so good LOL. Equally as impinging (no pun intended) was Richard’s assessment afterward and realizing how much love and support he and that room have for me. Richard said to me at point, “You’re back home.” He also asked me what I am after in this new chapter and how I can utilize class to achieve my goals. Pedal to the metal in terms of backward thinking for forward motion with my goals. I got to share my raison d’être as well! Keep reading below 🙂
Raison d’être:reason for existence. the most important reason or purpose for someone or something’s existence.
What is your raison d’être? Why do you get up every day to be an artist? What is the engine that keeps you going in the creation, passion, and involvement of your art? I would love to read yours in the comments section! Check out my raison d’être below…plus a picture of me embracing and expressing it as a young kid in kindergarten.
I AM HERE. And I am here to create. Art is the motherfucking vehicle for me. I am the most alive, happiest, and dangerous when I am creating art. I am a star of the worlds I create and I can be whatever I want to be in those worlds. I do not limit myself because others limit themselves or because of societal expectations, prejudices, and stereotypes. I love being seen and heard through art. TO BE SEEN! TO BE HEARD! Because my face matters. My voice matters. My stories matter. You see and hear me because art is powerful. It is universal. It transcends all. The time is now. I have always wanted to be–and have always been–the exception to the rule of what I can do/am supposed to do, and art allows me to do that. When I utilize art to be the exception to the rule, I body slam myself into endless possibilities, and as a result, I body slam humanity into having an experience. And through my work ethic, my professionalism, my empathy, my tough love, my God-given talents, my creativity, my charm, humor, irony, my intelligence, my assets and my liabilities, the world will see living proof and testament that Superman is also brown and queer. Keep reading below 🙂
**I don’t remember this teacher’s name, but I thank her so much for encouraging me to play and be an artist…to live in my raison d’être before I even knew what that word was! See picture below 🙂
Some of you have already been following the news regarding the ongoing talks and negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers. With the Writers Guild officially calling for a strike authorization vote with its members (voting runs from April 11th through April 17th) and with strong vocal support from various writers to vote yes, it is looking more POSSIBLE that a strike could occur.
From Deadline: “Now we need to demonstrate that determination. You can help by voting yes on strike authorization, to give your leadership the leverage to make the strongest possible deal before deadline or to call a strike after May 1st if the companies are unwilling to meet our reasonable demands. Throughout April, WGA negotiators will continue to work toward the goal of a fair contract for writers,” it added.Luvh Rakhe, an exec producer on Dave and Mo, who is on the negotiating committee, explained to members what such a move means.“Asking for an SAV is a step that unions often take to demonstrate resolve and support for the bargaining agenda in negotiations. Passing an SAV does not mean we automatically go on strike,” Rakhe said in a video. “Instead, it would give our West board and East Council the authority to call a strike after the expiration of the current MBA contract on May 1, if that’s what’s necessary to get a fair deal for writers.”Keep reading below 🙂
As actors, what do we do IF the writers go on strike? I would love to use this forum as an opportunity to exchange empowering ideas on what we can do if a strike occurs. It reminds me of when the writers last went on strike for 100 days from late 2007 into early 2008. It also reminds me of when the Covid-19 pandemic shut down the entire world. What do we do when our industry shuts down for an unknown period of time? In this instance, what do we do if Hollywood shuts down…again? And yes, I’ve read articles that studios have stockpiled on scripts and have moved up and rushed production schedules to anticipate a strike, but what if Hollywood eventually shuts down? Keep reading below 🙂
The first thing I can think of is to support the writers. Support comes in many forms. Support the writers. We are all in this together. We bring their words and characters to life. SAG-AFTRA’s current contract expires on June 30th, 2023 and they are going to be at the negotiating table as well with the AMPTP starting on June 3rd. I’ve sat in on a few LA local meetings earlier this year and it was informative to hear fellow actors talk about the issues they want our leaders to bring to the bargaining table such as additional protections, credits, wages, compensation, etc. So, support the writers. Keep reading below 🙂
What else can we do if Hollywood shuts down? Do we just take a break or a vacation? I know I can’t because when things open up, I want to be ready. I want to stay ready so that I don’t have to get ready. No different from what I did when the pandemic shut everything down. I was so productive during that time in order to stay ready. Staying ready allowed me to transition easily into the world of self-tape auditions when Hollywood reopened. I attended different Zoom panels and discussions to broaden my knowledge. I revisited and tightened up a couple of scripts. I attended casting director workshops. And many other examples. So for all of you out there, what can you do to stay active? Here are some ideas: Enroll in an acting class. Learn a new artistic skill set. Read plays. Update your demo reel. Create a business plan for your career. Enroll in a writing class to appreciate the craft of writing and storytelling. Build and nourish your relationship map. Ultimately, look at what YOU need to do to keep your artistry sharp and alive should Hollywood shut down. Keep reading below 🙂
I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section on how we can support our fellow writers and on how we can artistically support ourselves if Hollywood shuts down.
Hello! The first quarter of the year is done, and a second one has begun. Time flies by, doesn’t it?! I thought this would be a good moment to reflect on some of my career wins of 2023. I’d also love to read your wins in the comments section below. This career is for life. It can get easy to lose perspective and think we are not gaining, growing, accomplishing, or winning. It’s easy to forget how great we are. So it’s important to take stock of our wins so that we remain in a state of gratitude within the “grind” of our careers. It also lets me see the A to B to C to D of my progression from one day/week to the next. I see exactly how I have been putting this puzzle together for what I want to achieve this year on the acting and writing sides. So sit back (or lean forward), jump into some of my wins, and I hope to inspire you to take stock of your wins and share them with others.
Acting wins: *Self-tape audition for a role in “Hacks”. *Uploaded my new theatrical headshots onto Actors Access, Casting Networks, Casting Frontier, and IMDB. *Created a pitch “For Your Consideration” email for my agent. *Came back to Scene Study 3.0 at the Richard Lawson Studios and started attending the first four weeks via Zoom. Now, I’m physically back in person. *Submitted my picture and resume to a feature film. *Secured commercial representation. *Celebrated the 29th annual SAG Awards and concluded my time on the SAG Awards Nominations Committee. *Celebrated the Academy Awards. *Casting director Stacey Pianko provided feedback on my self-tape audition as part of the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Casting Access program. *Emailed thank you message to Stacey Pianko. *RSVP’d for another casting director workshop with Emily Fleischer through the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Casting Access program. Keep reading below 🙂
Writing wins: I was gifted the latest version of Final Draft to continue rocking and rolling on my writing. *Submitted my feature film script to the following writing competitions: Page Awards, Script Pipeline, and Screencraft. *Submitted my half-hour pilot script to the following writing competitions: Page Awards and Script Pipeline. *Re-edited my TV series bible. *On February 12th, I started posting my weekly blog entries again!! *Read different industry articles. *I generated 12 story ideas utilizing chapter one of “My Story Can Beat Up Your Story” by Jeffrey Alan Schechter. *Researched classes at the Sundance Collab. *Reached out to different organizations to take my blog to the next level. Keep reading below 🙂
Ongoing acting and writing wins: *Watched different shows and movies to find scenes to do in class. *Posted updates consistently on Instagram stories, Facebook, and Twitter. *Weekly relationship map outflow. *Practiced sides weekly to keep my memorization skills sharp. *Adhered to my policies every single week. *Writing sessions every Wednesday with Kelly Tighe for the feature film script being developed in PDP 3.0. *Looked up casting director workshops through the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Casting Access program. Keep reading below 🙂
At the Richard Lawson Studios, we teach the concept of “arrogance”. The particular definitions we focus on are “claiming for oneself” and “pride”. Pride in what I am creating and accomplishing. And if those definitions don’t inspire you to let your light shine, then I’d like to share a quote by Marianne Williamson that Kelly recently reminded me of:
I ended up generating 12 story ideas! I also mentioned last Sunday that I would complete the second part of the story generator exercise in chapter one of “My Story Can Beat Up Your Story”, by Jeffrey Alan Schechter: Try to give your story ideas a strong wish fulfillment, emotional dimension, market-savviness, and originality. Any that don’t hit all four points, take out behind the barn and Old Yeller ’em. Of the ideas that survive, put the best one aside for later.
Here are some of my observations. 1) Of the 12 story ideas I generated, two were a YES because they fulfilled the four categories above the strongest. Four story ideas were MAYBES, and six were a NO. These maybes and nos were weak in at least one of those four categories. Keep reading below.
2) With the exception of three story ideas, I was able to find similar movies within the same zip code for the other nine story ideas. And at some point, I’ll watch the trailers of all the movies I wrote down during my research. Fun fact: For one of the story ideas I generated, there were a ton of movies already made about it. Who knew that feature films about bakers were so popular? LOL. Keep reading below.
3) From doing these chapter one exercises, it helped me to revisit an idea I’ve been wanting to develop further for a while. I was able to carve out this idea a little more, and it won’t leave me alone. I ran it through the four categories and it came out as a yes as well. Keep reading below.
4) I was pleased that I was able to set up the orphan status for each protagonist I created over the 12 story ideas. Some were more orphaned than others, but they were all orphans. What do I mean by an “orphan”? According to “My Story Can Beat Up Your Story”, every protagonist travels through four character archetypes within a feature film (orphan, wanderer, warrior, and martyr.) Each archetype represents a specific moment of the protagonist’s journey, and they help them fulfill a complete arc of change from beginning to end. Every protagonist starts as an orphan of some kind. They stand out or are different in some way because of their choosing or because society sees them as that. Some unfortunate or challenging circumstance has already fallen upon them when the movie starts or will fall upon them. We immediately empathize and root for the protagonist because we see their orphan status in the first act. Keep reading below.
5) Even though I came up with 12 story ideas, there were only a couple that I would consider developing further. Again, I’m not being critical of or judging what I generated. What I mean is that I want to be passionate about the things I write. I don’t want to devote my time to writing a script I’m not passionate about. Being passionate about what I want to write was a big takeaway from this exercise (and a reminder.) Now, I think it’s time to throw my hat into the ring and take this nine-week feature film course through the Sundance Collab. I just have to choose which idea to take with me!
Hello my fellow artists! Last Sunday, I challenged myself to generate 7 story ideas in 7 days by utilizing the story generator exercise in chapter one of “My Story Can Beat Up Your Story” by Jeffrey Alan Schechter. Here is the link to that blog entry: 7 Story Ideas in 7 Days. Part 1.
And as promised, here is part two where I update you all on how it went! Below, I have italicized Jeffrey’s prompts for context. I also copied and pasted the story generator website at the end so that you can try it at home!
Pick a description from Column A such as “ugly,” “creative,” “brave,” etc. Turn that word into the ultimate expression of that description: “ugliest,” “most creative,” “bravest.” Pick a profession from Box B such as “astronaut,” “soccer coach,” “school teacher,” etc. The first few times I did this, I wanted to be intentional with the pairings. Meaning, I went through the descriptions in column A until one resonated with me. Once that happened, I went through the list of professions in column B until one resonated with me as well. Then, I paired those words together to arrive at a newly-invented character. For example, Bravest Disc Jockey. Keep reading below.
Set the timer on your phone for five minutes.Without stopping to think, crank out a story idea for the “somethingest character” you just randomly invented. The “ugliest blacksmith” or the “most fearful pilot.” Once I invented a character, I was on go. I followed whatever impulses came to me. I did not question or critique the spontaneous story idea I was generating in real time. Once my five minutes was up, I let it go. I didn’t dwell. I moved on to generate the next character combination and story idea. There were a few moments where I stopped in the middle of a story idea, and it was in those crucial moments that I made sure not to get in my head or become critical. I just told myself to be patient and see what else occurs. There were a couple of times where I chuckled (in a good way) to myself because the story I was generating was so fun, wild, and imaginative. I was like, “Wow, look at what I’m writing down. This is pretty funny and cool!” Keep reading below.
The next few times I did this exercise, I decided to just pick a description from column A and a profession from column B without thinking about it. Just quickly pick one thing from each column and generate a story idea. I wanted to see what would happen if I went with this approach versus the one above where I was more intentional with the pairings. I was pleasantly surprised with this approach because I still found myself generating a story idea for each character I created. Keep reading below.
I ended up generating 12 story ideas! I’m proud of myself because I came up with something each time around, no matter the type of story, the genre, the boldness of it, the simplicity of it, etc. Now that I have done this part, I need to tackle the next steps of the chapter one exercise: Try to give your story ideas a strong wish fulfillment, emotional dimension, market-savviness, and originality. Any that don’t hit all four points, take out behind the barn and Old Yeller ’em. Of the ideas that survive, put the best one aside for later.Keep reading below.