What Is Tenacity? And Do You Have It?

Tenacity

photo credit: makeitsweetandneat.com

Tenacity, as defined by Dictionary.com, is: the quality of being tenacious, or of holding fast; persistence. The quality or property of holding together firmly. Origin of the word: Latin tenācitās equivalent to tenāc- (stem of tenāx ) holding fast, derivative of tenēre to hold + -itās -ity

This word has been in my existence for a while now. It keeps popping into my head as a reminder to not give up. To keep going. To hold fast and to hold on. I’m going through a challenging experience that I know is only temporary. It’s definitely challenging, but I remind myself that this too will pass. And I have been tenacious so as to not fall into apathy, scarcity or despair.

With certain temporary modifications set into my routine, I’m doing everything in my power to stay in the game. I am still going to acting class. I am still around other artists. I submitted a self-tape audition for a series regular role. I submitted a self-tape audition for a national voice over campaign. I recently finished the first draft of my business plan for 2019 and have already begun utilizing it. Tenacity.

I recently did a kick-ass cold reading demonstration at the Actors Expo on November 3rd in front of a room full of actors. I am about to do another round of film festival submissions for a film I executive produced, wrote and co-starred in. Tenacity.

On and on I can go with more examples.

Tenacity. I have to hold on. I can’t quit. I won’t quit.

I am grateful to have tenacity in my life to keep me going. I hope that you do too because life will throw us challenges. Will we let those challenges stop us from being artists? From doing the thing that we love to do? Or will we let those challenges defeat us and make us quit?

With the challenging experience that I am currently going through, I’m also looking at where I can reach out for help so that I don’t disappear and quit. Asking for help is so important. Having a community to lean into is important because we can’t go on this journey alone. Positive thinking also helps in terms of the postulates you are putting out there.

So, what challenges are you currently facing and how can you apply tenacity in these areas? So that in this way, you continue doing the thing you love to do. You hold fast and you hold on.

I’d love to read your comments below in terms of what you’re going to do to be more tenacious.

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Are You Ready For 2019?!

I know, I know! It seems crazy to be asking this question on October 28th…but not really because it’s already October 28th!!! This month is already over. 2018 is already over.

Fellow artists, have you begun setting your sights on what you want to target and accomplish for 2019? Now is the time. Do it now. You’re a business. Start thinking ahead. Let your imagination run wild. Dream big and then work big.

A few weeks ago, my classmates and I in the Professional Development Program 3.0 class were assigned to create a business plan for a project we want to tackle in 2019. I presented the first draft of my business plan this past Wednesday, October 24th and I felt a tremendous sense of pride in doing so. And my business plan was well-received by the teacher as well.

As I presented it, I noticed some things that I definitely want to carve out and make more specific, but fuck damn, what a great first step forward! And I’m starting the work NOW.

What I am aiming for is a TV development deal with a major streaming company that is negotiated by a major talent agency that represents me. I will execute a series of goals and administrative plans along the way in 2019 to support the above postulate. Is this an ambitious postulate? Yes. Is it doable? Yes. Will I have to work hard, yet smart? Yes. Will there be people reading this and rolling their eyeballs and saying, “Yeah right”? Yes. But that’s their problem. That’s where their own limits, considerations, stops and flinches in their own careers come in. Don’t project yours onto my career.

I’m done listening to “You can’t do that” or “That won’t work” and “You don’t have the credentials or experience” etc. etc. etc. and then I turn around and see my own ideas being executed by other people who were in the same position as me. They were in the same position as me, but didn’t listen to the nay-sayers. The rules I want to break, I keep seeing being broken by other artists, who again, didn’t listen to the nay-sayers. Like my favorite drag queen, Bianca Del Rio, says, “Not Today Satan, Not Today.”

So artists, what do you want to do in 2019? Don’t wait until December 31st, 2018 to start making resolutions. Don’t make resolutions with no real plan of attack behind them. Do it now. Dream big. Go for it. Get a head start. Make a tangible plan that really fires you up. I look at how far I’ve come in my career and the wins I continue to have. I’m excited for what I see for myself and I have certainty in what I see for myself. I hope you do too!

I’d love to read your comments below in terms of what you want to do and accomplish in 2019.

Until next time!

Why Creating Your Own Content Is Important

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As my team and I continue submitting my film, The Doppelganger, to various film festivals, I can’t help but reflect on how important it is to create your own content. Here we go! A free-flow of reasons:

Ownership over your product.

It’s your own personal voice and stamp being put out there for the world to see.

You’re creating your own ticket to the party and you set the parameters for it (cover charge, location, theme, etc.)

It’s exciting. It’s a rush.

Creating your own product is connected to your purpose.

You can create whatever role you want for yourself in your own content.

You’re not waiting for Hollywood to happen. You make Hollywood happen.

Production is the basis for morale. The more you create and produce art, the better you feel.

It’s the 21st-century, y’all! Come join the party!

A great and convenient way to send a link to your work when you are networking with other people in the Industry and they ask you, “Can I see your work?”

You’re not only creating , but also in charge of, your own narrative. You control what’s being put out there and how.

It has worked wonderfully for Issa Rae to Donald Glover and countless artists in between.

I would love to read your comments below in terms of other reasons why creating your own content is important. And I would love to read what you’re currently creating at the moment!

Why Jorge Teaches: Twinkie Byrd Edition

Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd is the famed and well-respected casting director behind such Hollywood projects such as “Fruitvale Station” and “Being Mary Jane”. Her complete work can be found at: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1359173

I first met Twinkie a few years ago when she came to speak to students at the Richard Lawson Studios. Since she was the guest speaker, we wanted to screen a reel of her casting work before she spoke to the students. Richard put me in charge of finding examples of her casting work and cutting it together to form the reel.

When we played the reel, Twinkie was thrilled and overjoyed. I even remember her turning to me at one point and saying, “Oh my God, where did you find that? I’ve been trying to find that movie!” My detective work, and the fact that we were both from Brooklyn, began a journey of mutual admiration and respect for one another. I’ve also had the honor of auditioning a couple of times for Twinkie and she has praised my acting abilities.

So when I discovered that Twinkie wanted to take the Professional Development Program 1.0 class at the Richard Lawson Studios, I was thrilled! I interviewed her and I asked her why she wanted to take the course. She told me that she wanted to take her career to the next level by incorporating directing and producing into the mix. I knew that PDP 1.0 would be perfect for her because she would have to write, film and edit 10 short films over the course of 16 weeks.

It was also great to see Twinkie, a casting director, have to do auditions in the PDP 1.0 class. She got to be an actor and audition in front of the camera. And because she had been casting for years, she instinctively understood acting. She made wonderful choices as an actress and knew how to work in front of a camera.

Richard and I both taught this class and it was great to see her growth and wins, as well as the growth and wins of other students. For the Final Film project, Twinkie and fellow classmate, Ashley Jackson, collaborated to create a project called “The Counter: 1960”. Their short film looked at the segregation that existed in America during that time. It was a powerful film that utilized a number of Richard Lawson Studios students in front of the camera and behind the camera. It was cast well (of course, Twinkie’s a casting director!) And Twinkie directed it.

The first cut of “The Counter: 1960” was really well done. The story was incredibly impinging. It was ambitious in concept. Richard gave his notes in terms of how they could elevate their film to the next level. They took their notes like pros and their excitement grew.

Twinkie and Ashley decided to reshoot the film from scratch and gave themselves more time to carve out the film (In PDP 1.0, you only have one week to conceive, shoot and edit these 10 short films)

They reshot the film, with Twinkie staying on as director, and ever since they released it to the world, it has been killing the film festival circuit! “The Counter: 1960” has won awards in Cannes and Hollywood and has also screened in Martha’s Vineyard, New York City, Atlanta, India etc.

Twinkie recently posted a message on Instagram that thanked and acknowledged her PDP 1.0 teachers. I was moved because it’s these moments that remind me why I love teaching. As a teacher, I love seeing the numerous and diverse wins that my students have. Whether it’s a student booking a job or finishing a passion project or having a positive shift in their personal lives, it brings me immense joy.

As much as I love acting and writing, I also love giving back as a teacher and knowing that I had a meaningful impact and contribution on my students’ lives. That I had a hand in bringing out their full potential and talents.

And I love that Twinkie acknowledged the people who played a part in her current success! It’s so important to acknowledge the people who contributed to your journey and success. Your acknowledgement will come back to you a hundredfold. I taught the Audition Bootcamp class this past Friday and I said that more often than not, people only acknowledge the new friends who conveniently show up at their new level of success. I told my class to acknowledge the people who were there from the start. The people who were there when you weren’t a household name. The people who were there when you didn’t have money. Or when you didn’t have a meal to eat. Or when you didn’t have a place to live in. Or when you wanted to quit and they convinced you not to. The list goes on and on.

So thank you Twinkie for your acknowledgement. I am so proud of your success. You postulated at your interview that you wanted to be a director and now you are experiencing déjà vu! You saw it in your mind as a foregone conclusion and now you are experiencing it again in a realized, tangible way. You are such an example of what we teach at the Richard Lawson Studios!

Below is Twinkie’s Instagram post:

Twinkie Byrd

Quick Hollywood Tips!

Happy July! Hope you’re all staying cool in this hot, summer weather! I wanted to give out some quick Hollywood tips.

Slating: This is your opportunity to introduce yourself on camera to the decision makers-the people who will end up watching your audition. This could be the clients of a product on the commercial casting side or it could be the executive producers and/or directors on the theatrical side. This is the first time that they’re seeing you on camera before you even audition. Make it count. Impinge. Be warm, inviting. Think about how you introduce yourself to people in real life.

Playing within the frame: As you prepare for an audition, think about how you can play within the frame. Remembering that the story is key. The story is the most important component. Does playing within the frame enhance the story and push it forward? When you play within the frame to service the story, you impinge the audience who watches it. Do you lean into frame to appear more menacing if you’re playing a darker character? Do you lean into frame if you’re looking to create more intimacy and chemistry? Do you back away from the frame to reveal that you are scared or frightened of the situation in front of you? Do you walk into frame? And if so, where are you coming from? When you come into frame, does it give the audience a sense and reality of where you’re coming from? Playing within the frame can really heighten the story.

Attitude monitors talent: Perception is everything. If you walk into any room with a bad attitude, they see it right away and their first impression of you is not favorable. How are you coming into the room? Do you come in with a sense of life force and a great attitude where the people in the room want to work with you? If we’re looking at a series or a feature film and we’re talking about long days on set, do you want to hire the person who comes in with a bad attitude? Or do you want to hire the person who comes in with a great attitude and makes everyone feel better at the end of the day? Put it like this: Would you hire you?

Compliance: According to Merriam-Webster:

to conform, submit, or adapt (as to a regulation or to another’s wishes) as required or requested. conformity in fulfilling official requirements. Derivation of comply: enfold. EMBRACE.

Follow directions to the T. Be open to direction. Be open to change. If you’re given an assignment, do it. There is gold on the other side of that assignment. It will pay off. Embrace the assignment. Part of training to be a professional is compliance. If you can comply in your training, you will comply when given direction in a casting office or on set. Comply.

Now go and enjoy a cold, refreshing cocktail!

Hollywood

This Is My America

With everything that is happening in America at the moment, I couldn’t find the exact words to express how I was feeling. Then, I remembered the healing power of art. And how I could use art as a way to reveal the kind of America I want. The America I see. The America I know we can become again.

I see America as a place of inclusion. Of color. Of acceptance. Of possibilities. Of freedom. Of equality. Of helping one another. I’m not here to talk about politics, but rather, to express what I want America to be through different forms of art. And I know there are several works of art I’m leaving out, so I’ll continue to add as it occurs to me.

In no particular order, this is my America:

Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 10. “I Am American”:

 

Madonna “Why’s It So Hard To Love One Another” from The Girlie Show:

 

Whitney Houston “National Anthem”:

 

Working TogetherPhoto by Clip Art

 

 

689-03733355                                             Photo by Master File

 

Kids Playing         Photo by Purestock/Thinkstock. Featured in Slate Magazine

 

Citizenship CeremonyHector Colon (left) and Victor Duran, both of the Dominican Republic, wave American flags after being sworn in during a naturalization ceremony in Atlanta on Tuesday. Photo by David Goldman/AP