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

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!

ddp_00109010

 

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)

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

How I Wrote A Script In One Hour

I am so proud to announce that a film I wrote, executive produced and co-starred in, “The Doppelganger”, is done with post production! My director and I have a solid game plan in place to submit this film to a specific list of film festivals over the course of one year. We just submitted the film to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and Sundance on August 3rd! In addition to the film festival circuit, we will look at distribution platforms for the film.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: There is nothing like creating your own evidence. It’s exciting and it truly takes a village of people to come together and bring your vision to life! I am truly grateful.

The idea for this story came to me while I was scanning shoes at a department store’s bi-annual inventory extravaganza. No joke. I saw the entire story play out in my mind while I scanned various pumps. I saw how the hero of the film travelled from the orphan phase to the wanderer phase to the warrior phase to the martyr phase (Please check out the amazing screenwriting book, “My Story Can Beat Up Your Story”, by Jeffrey Schechter.) I knew what compelling thing the hero wanted. I knew what compelling counter-argument the hero would receive. I knew that Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone would influence the style and context of my film. I knew who I wanted to cast and the people I wanted to work with behind the camera. I knew that I wanted to star in it.

The next day, I outlined the script in 30 minutes. Four days later, I sat down at my computer and completed the first draft in 1 hour. Shortly after, I presented the first draft of my script in class and it went great. My classmates had positive responses and reactions to my script. I made a couple of tweaks afterwards, but I kept everything else I had written intact.

We shot the film on December 10th, 2017 and wrapped post production on July 31st, 2018.

Going back to the script, it came to me so quickly because I was on go. I didn’t question my ideas. I didn’t question my impulses. I didn’t fall into any agreements that this story wouldn’t work or that it would be unbelievable. I allowed myself to be on go with the story that was unfolding in my mind.

Writing can be such a confronting process. I know. I totally understand. I’ve been there where I would rather paint my entire house than to write a script. Where I would rather find the cure for cancer than to write a script. However, I also know that when you have a compelling story burning inside of you, you have to write it. You HAVE to write it. It won’t leave you alone until you do. It will keep bothering you until you sit down in front of a computer and start typing.

THIS story was compelling. The story felt instinctual and visceral. I could not wait to stop scanning those shoes so that I could go home and start working on this story right away.

So if you have a compelling story or idea, make the time to write it. Sit down and write it. Whether it takes you one hour to complete it or one year to complete it, do yourself a favor and get that sucka done!

Thanks to all the people who helped bring my story and vision to life: Lindsay Hopper, Javier Lezama, Hitoshi Inoue, Beth Berlin, Sayaka Miyatani, Jessica Sade Ward, Lauren Elle Christie, Taylor Babb, Courtney Nichole, Craig Taggart, Richard Lawson Studios PDP 3.0 class (What! What!)

You can check out The Doppelganger and my other credits at:

https://www.imdb.me/jorgeortiz