Are you a pain in the ass? Does your picture come up when you look up the definition of pain in the ass? If so, people will never work with you.
Are you a pain in the ass? Does your picture come up when you look up the definition of pain in the ass? If so, people will never work with you.
And we’re back!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Here’s to a great 2019!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Let’s get right to it, shall we?
I was at a commercial audition recently and we were all put together into groups of four. And as you may or may not know, first impressions are everything when you walk into an audition room. Hell, first impressions are everything when you walk into ANY room (the bank, the grocery store, etc.) How you walk into a room is everything.
In the case of audition rooms, the casting directors immediately get a sense of who you are as a PERSON when you walk in. Is this person’s attitude light and fun? Or is their attitude dark and hostile? Is this someone I want to hire and work with on set? Your life force coming into a room is vital because the people in the room either like you immediately or they don’t. I have been a reader for casting directors. I have cast my own projects. I know the power of life force. You know immediately if you like someone or not just by them walking into the room. It’s ENERGY.
So, I say all of this because whenever I walk into an audition room, I am coming in with life force and I maintain that life force throughout the entire audition. I walk in with certainty. I am interested in the people in the room. I am present. I am aware that there is a camera in the room and that it may already be on. That camera may already be live and streaming into the office next door or into the office in another city. They already may be watching you. Or, the camera may be off and then it comes on right before they ask you to slate.
So, my point is that we need to be aware of our life force in the room. We can’t turn it off or forget about it at any point in the audition room. If we let go of our life force and become dead in the room and that camera is already on and streaming, what impression are we giving to the people watching us? Similarly, if we let go of our life force and become dead in the room and the camera isn’t on, then do we ramp up our life force and get ready again when they ask us to slate? Come into the room with life force and maintain it. In this way, it’s always there. It’s always present. You don’t have to get ready to stay ready. You don’t have to keep ramping up your life force on and off. On and off. On and off. Am I making any freaking sense?
Maintaining your life force during the whole audition is an energy that is palpable and exciting.
So, my group goes into the audition room and my life force is on. I’m interested and engaged in a real way with the session runner in the room. My group stands in a line and I immediately noticed that the other three had no life force. They were not engaged or present. They were just standing there. And the camera is pointing right at us. Again, is it already on? Is this thing on???????????????????
The session runner asked us to slate one at a time to the camera. I went first and I delivered a great slate. I was already living in my life force and so my slate was a natural extension and continuation of it. I didn’t have to ramp up. I didn’t have to get ready to do my slate. I was already in my life force and my slate was the extension and continuation of it. Stay in it. Maintain your life force. I watched the other three actors slate and they all did the same thing: They came to life when they slated and then went lifeless after they slated. It was so interesting and fascinating to watch. They turned on like a lightbulb when they slated and then they turned off after they slated. Not one maintained their life force.
And now by this point, we all know the camera is DEFINITELY on and recording. Don’t assume that just because you’ve slated that you can now go back to your inactive state. Don’t assume that the camera has moved over completely to the next person. Don’t assume that the camera hasn’t pulled out into a wide shot after the slates to get a full shot of the group. Imagine that: The camera is in a wide shot recording all of us and you look out of it. Or you look lifeless. Or you look like you have an attitude. Or you look like you don’t want to be there. I’m looking over at them like: “This is supposed to be fun!!!!!!! This is not a funeral!!!!!!!”
Again, life force. And I don’t mean you do cartwheels in the room and run for mayor hoping to be liked. I’m not talking about phony presentation and over-the-top theatrics. Because that energy also reads negatively in the room. That is also off-putting. Life force is connected to your purpose. Your sense of self. Your certainty. When you walk in, does the room light up? Do you make the room better? When I teach the Professional Development Program class at the Richard Lawson Studios, I ask the students after they watch their auditions: “Would you hire you?”
Back to my audition. So after we all slated, the session runner asked us to share a story about who inspires us. Again, I went first and delivered my story. I was a person in a place sharing a story. When I was done, I maintained my life force and listened with interest to each actor who went after me. I was engaged and present. However, each actor did the same thing again: They came to life when they told their story and they went lifeless after their story. Not one actor listened to the other actors’ stories. They just stared off into space like, “Is this over yet?” Again, like they didn’t want to be there. Like this wasn’t fun and exciting. JESUS MOTHERFUCKER!
When you go to an audition, maintain your life force from start to finish because that camera may already be on, you don’t know who else is watching you from another room and you also don’t want to rev up, amp up, re-ignite, turn on and off your life force. It’s like turning a car on and off. On and off. On and off. Turn that sucka on and let that engine purr from start to finish.
As 2018 comes to a close, I hope all of you have a chance to reflect on the numerous wins you’ve had this year. A win is anything that is an accomplishment. Something that moved your life or career forward in some way, no matter how big or small.
This being my last blog entry of 2018, I want to continue the tradition of letting the last entry be a listing and celebration of some of the wins I’ve had this past year.
Arrogant (definition means “claiming for oneself” and “pride”) So have some arrogance as you generate your list of 2018 wins. You’ll be shocked at how many wins you DO have!
Below is my list. Check it out. Let it inspire you to remember your own wins. Let it inspire you to see the different types of wins that exist.
See you in 2019!
A sample of my 2018 wins:
January 1st: Made it to another year
January 13th: Celebrated another birthday
January 20th: Drove down to Tijuana to do research on a scene I was doing from Weeds
January 21st: Attended the SAG Awards screening at the Alex Theater
February 1st: Put up a scene from Weeds
February 9th-12th: Went to San Diego for a mini-trip
February 15th: Put up a scene from Best In Show. Richard Lawson opened up my work to the class
February 17th: Acted in a table read for the feature film, Support
March 3rd: Met with the playwright, the director and the executive producer of the play, The Blade Of Jealousy, because they were interested in casting me in one of the leading roles
March 4th: Attended Oscars viewing party at the WACO Theater Center and delivered a kick-ass Best Actor Oscar speech to everyone in attendance. An once again, I predicted the Best Picture winner: The Shape of Water
March 5th: Auditioned for a leading role in the feature film, Moon Made
March 14th: Paid off my Wells Fargo credit card debt
March 23rd: Received a residual check from SAG-Aftra for a feature film I was in, Balls To The Wall
March 31st: Saw my favorite drag queen in the world, Bianca Del Rio, on her sold-out world tour, Blame It On Bianca Del Rio
April 3rd: Auditioned for the feature film, A Kiss On Candy Cane Lane
April 21st: The Haeggstrom Office submitted me for a series regular role (they don’t even represent me!) but I am friends with someone who is represented by them
April 22nd: Acted in the Homeward LA production at the WACO Theater Center
April 26th: Submitted myself for a series regular role in Tales Of The City
May 3rd: Did a scene from Black Mirror. Richard opened it up to the class
May 3rd: Received an offer for commercial representation from Green & Green Talent Group
May 8th: Officially signed commercially with Green & Green Talent Group
May 10th: Commercial audition for Fox Sports
May 11th & 12: Attended Drag Con!
May 14th: Commercial audition for Fed Ex
May 19th: Shot the scene from Black Mirror for my theatrical reel
May 22nd: Met with the LoveStone Agency for theatrical representation
May 23rd: Commercial audition for Honda Pilot
May 24th: Applied for the NHMC Television Writers Program
May 29th: Did a kick-ass prepared audition and a kick-ass cold reading for TV episodic director, Lily Mariye
May 31st: Acted in two scenes for scene study class: Girls Trip & Elaine Earnest
June 1st: Commercial audition for WALLY
June 4th: Got a callback for WALLY
June 6th Commercial audition for Universal Studios
June 7th Put up a repeat of Weeds in scene study class
June 8th Audition for Amex
June 11th Audition for Thermador
July 9th Audition for Google Chrome app
July 10th My weekly blog, Chasing The George, celebrated its 3rd anniversary
July 26th Finished paying off my Citicard credit card
July 31st Finished post production on The Doppelganger, a film I wrote, executive produced and starred in
August 3rd Submitted The Doppelganger to the Santa Barbara international film Festival and to Sundance
August 7th My blog qualified for the Word Ads program on WordPress
August 11th Submitted The Doppelganger to the Atlanta Film Festival
August 13th Audition for Toyota
August 15th Meeting with MZA for theatrical representation
August 16th Got a callback for Toyota
August 18th Submitted The Doppelganger to the Maryland Film Festival
August 26th Celebrated 16 years in LA!
August 27th My blog entry, How I Wrote A Script In One Hour, got published in Medium and Thrive Global
August 30th Signed with MZA for theatrical representation
September 7th Commercial audition for a national PSA for Teachers/PTA members
September 22nd Submitted The Doppelganger to the D.C. International Film Festival and the Florida Film Festival
October 3rd Got a series regular audition for a new TV series titled, People Just Do Nothing
October 8th Had successful eye surgery
October 21st Leased a new car
October 30th Voice over audition for a Slender Tone fitness product
November 3rd Did a kick-ass cold read audition in front of a packed room at the Actors Expo in Hollywood
November 14th Had a successful glaucoma surgery
November 15th Submitted The Doppelganger to the Phoenix Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival
December 1st Commercial audition for LA Tourism
December 4th Commercial audition for Diet Coke
December 5th Did an audition from All American in class
December 12th Re-introduced a new half hour pilot I wrote
December 12th Commercial audition for Facebook
Overall 2018 wins:
Taught many classes at the Richard Lawson Studios
Did numerous prepared auditions and cold read auditions in my PDP 3.0 class (Professional Development Program)
Increased my financial abundance
Quality time with my partner and friends
Made new friends
Supported many friends in their personal and professional endeavors
Hello fellow artists! With 31 days left in 2018, is it time to slow down? Are the upcoming holidays tempting you to wait until the new year to get back into the game with your career? For me, this is not the time to slow down. Rather, how can I go out with a bang this year?
How can YOU go out with a bang this year? Is there a project that you can finally bring to completion? Is there a project that you’ve been putting off that you can finally begin? Is there a call you need to make to your agent? Or a meeting you want to have with your manager?
I believe that there are a plethora of artistic and administrative things that can be done over the next 31 days. For example, I had a great audition today. I have another audition on Wednesday. I presented the research I’m doing for my half-hour pilot a few days ago in class. I am still submitting my film to film festivals. I am still working on my relationship map in creative and engaging ways. I am still utilizing social media to put myself out there. I am going to re-post a fun project I did at the end of 2016 (“Elf On A Shelf”) on social media from now till December 31st.
And I know what you’re thinking: “I, I, I. It is always I” And you know what? You’re right. This is about me. You have to be a little selfish in the pursuit of your dreams and in the creation of your career. By the way, “I, I, I. It is always I”, is a line from the movie, “Lean On Me”. A little fun trivia for you all!
There’s something really powerful about ending the year with a bang. It’s like a stamp. A touch down. The boxer who triumphantly throws their hands into the air. You throw down till the very last day and the universe sees that. It’s a powerful energy that you have put out there. I think some people lament the end of the year and lose steam because they get caught up in whatever losses–or perceived losses–they have. They focus on the acting jobs they didn’t book or the projects they didn’t start or the film festivals they didn’t get into or the writing competitions they didn’t get into or whatever. So they throw in the towel and wait until the new year to tackle their careers again.
I’m like, “Fuck that.” Focus on the wins you’ve had. Focus on the lessons you’ve gained and how you can improve the next time around. See what wins you can have over the next 31 days. What new relationships can you start developing? What shows are you interested in targeting? Start reading the industry trades to see what’s going on. See if you can land yourself more auditions. Thank a casting director for the great work they do. Buy a self-tape kit for your self-tape auditions…and then practice auditions at home. Re-arrange your office. Or buy an office, a base of operations from which to work from, if you don’t have one yet.
And the key to all of this is to look within and ask yourself, “How do I want my year to end?” So that the actions you take are personal and specific to you.
And I know what you’re thinking, “I, I, I–” Just kidding. Yes, Hollywood starts shutting down during this time of the year, but that’s just one piece of the puzzle. Refer to the above again to get a sense of the things you can do to end the year with a bang.
The possibilities are endless. Have fun with the process. End the year with a bang. And remember to celebrate along the way!!
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.
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!
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!
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:
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!