Go Out With A Bang!

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!!

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.

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