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)
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Happy Anniversary!

On July 10th, 2015, I launched my weekly blog, Chasing The George! Happy 4th Anniversary! Wow, what a journey it has been! And I feel like my intention and mission has always remained the same:

Hey everyone! I created this weekly blog on July 10th, 2015 upon the recommendation of one of my mentors, Richard Lawson. I am a working professional actor and writer who works hard and understands the concept of what it means to have a career. So he advised me to create a blog where I would share my advice, my journey, my stories and interests with other artists. A “Hollywood 101” if you will that reveals and shares the sustained effort, work and fun it takes to have a career in this industry.

“Chasing The George” is a play on the phrase “Chasing The Ambulance”. When an ambulance is in emergency mode, they cut through traffic with intention. Nothing gets in their way. Some people will illegally chase after that ambulance because they too can get to their destination faster. While I don’t condone illegal activity, I do love the concept of chasing a career with that same intention and focus. I am the ambulance. Chasing The George is a reflection of my intention and focus to carve out the career I want in Hollywood.

I hope that my advice, my personal stories, my enthusiasm and my sometimes funny and direct approach will inspire you to carve out your own fabulous and exciting career in Hollywood.

So pull up a seat and welcome to Chasing The George.

Thank you to everyone worldwide who has read my blog and who continues to read my blog. I love and appreciate your support!

There are so many more exciting things coming up! I am a working artist who is living the life of a working artist. My wins continue to expand and grow every year. My journey continues to expand and grow every year. My knowledge continues to expand and grow every year. I love being an artist and I will continue being an artist.

Below the picture, I wanted to re-share some of the blog posts from 2019.

Happy 4th Anniversary with fireworks and star

Is This Thing On?????? https://wp.me/p8uI5M-Fk

Are You A Pain In The Ass? https://wp.me/p8uI5M-Fq

Part 2: Are You A Pain In The Ass? https://wp.me/p8uI5M-Fs

Another Day, Another Pilot Written: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-FD

How To Break Up With Your Agent: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-FI

Table Read Adventures: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-FP

How I Booked A National Commercial By Crying: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-FT

How I Did 30 Auditions In 30 Days: https://wp.me/p8uI5M-FW

Where You At?! https://wp.me/p8uI5M-G1

Celebrate! Then Keep It Moving! https://wp.me/p8uI5M-G6

Celebrate! Then Keep It Moving!

Celebration is a vital part of the journey. Celebration marks the journey. Celebration acknowledges the work you’ve done to achieve a win, a moment, a milestone.

I had a wonderful, blessed past week of artistic wins. I was able to share them with everyone in my universe and beyond. I was able to enjoy the inflow that resulted from my outflow. And I was grateful to understand that my wins are a collective. My wins are connected to my friends, peers, colleagues, teachers, classmates, etc. who have helped me get to where I am today.

I want to recap my wins for the past seven days below and how I celebrated. And now that I have celebrated, it is time to move forward with the next step of career administration. I have celebrated, and now it is time to get back in and administrate the next steps for my career.

Here are my wins from the past week and also my celebration of those wins:

**The Doppelganger, a film I wrote, executive produced and co-starred in will play at the AMC Theater this July in Manhattan as part of the Dominican International Film Festival. More film festivals to come!

**A feature film that I am in, Zombie TV, has finally received DISTRIBUTION! It’s a spoof on zombies and reality television. 8 contestants are locked in a house with zombies. The sole survivor at the end of the night wins one million dollars. Does my character win????? Stay tuned!

**I submitted a self-tape monologue to Twinkie Byrd’s Flip The Script monologue competition. The competition was in conjunction with NBC. Out of the 1,200 submissions received, she sent 64 auditions over to NBC. I was one of the 64!

**I was on the set of the SAG web series, The Rejects, playing the role of Kenny. So much fun!

**I had two commercial auditions!

**I had a wonderful meeting with a fellow Vassar graduate about the literary agent world and they gave me so much homework to do!

**I am finishing up my tweaks on the three episodes, the series bible and the season one chart for me new TV series.

I am an artistic warrior!

And here is how I celebrated:

I bought Madonna’s new album, Madame X, on vinyl. (By the way, fun fact: Madonna earned a #1 album with Madame X on the Billboard 200 albums chart and a #1 song, Medellin, on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart today. She extends her record as the artist with the most #1’s at every Billboard chart combined, with 163 number ones!!!!!!!!!!)

Here’s a video montage of my wins from the past week:

 

And here is how I celebrated:

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Where You At?!

Hey artistic warriors! How the hell are ya?! I’ve been gone for a few weeks and I’ve missed you all so much. So, where you at?! We are halfway through the year (can you EFFING believe it?!?! “She’s a woman!” Thank you Miz Cracker)

That being said, I thought this was a good time to check in and assess the artistic journey so far. What goals have you accomplished that you set for yourself back in January? What goals did you set for yourself back in January that you flinched on? “Flinch” meaning to pull back, back away, shy away, draw back. What goals started off with a bang, but for this reason and that, they/you lost steam and momentum?

What have you accomplished and celebrated? Do you have a list of your wins since January 1st and have you been celebrating along the way? I have five recent wins that I need to celebrate. I’m telling you this so that I am held accountable as well (To celebrate, I really want to buy a record player and some Madonna albums in LP form released from the year 2000 and beyond: Music, American Life, Confessions on a Dance Floor, Hard Candy, MDNA, Rebel Heart, and of course, the new album coming out on June 14th, Madame X…shameless plug and devotion to the Queen of Everything)

So, where you at my fellow artistic warriors?! Let me know in the comments section below.

For me, on the actor side, I need to schedule a new commercial headshot session. I’ve already picked out my wardrobe and will take pictures of myself in them and send to my agent for feedback. Once I solidify the looks, I will book a headshot session. For me, on the actor side, I need to buy a white ascot for a SAG web series pilot shoot that’s coming up. I had an impulse that my character would wear that. I shared my idea with the creator and they loved it. Also, looking at what scene to do in class from my new casting list. And more things to do…

For me, on the writer side, my focus has been on my new half-hour TV series. So far, I have 1) Three episodes written; 2) I have created a spreadsheet for season one that contains the main characters, their A&B storylines, the episode titles and descriptions, etc.; 3) I’ve written a series bible. My goal is to finish all tweaks by the end of June 2019. For me on the writer side, I want to utilize my relationship map for help and guidance. I’ve already begun reaching out to people (Two of whom I flinched on reaching out to for a while and they offered to meet with me!) For me, as a writer, I want to submit the pilot episode to various writing competitions. For me, as a writer, I want to secure literary representation and pitch meetings.

For me, on the writer side, I will continue submitting my film, The Doppelganger, to more film festivals. Good news coming soon in this area. Stay tuned.

For me, on the 360 degrees of my career, I just joined an amazing career administration group that will kick my ass and hold me accountable. I already shared my enthusiasm with the leader of the group and that I’m coming into this group not knowing anything (meaning that I’m willing to listen and learn…that I don’t have to know everything. It’s actually freeing to know that I don’t have to have all the answers. Ask the next question. Then ask the next question.)

For me, on the 360 degrees of my career, making sure I make noise in order to be considered. To show up more in the rooms I am in. To demand of myself that I be considered. To be uncomfortable. To look at where my energy is going because where I place my energy defines me. Thank you Keili Lefkovitz for this paragraph of advice.

Part of my artistic journey, which I call Chasing The George, is that I’m not perfect. That I make mistakes, but I learn from them. That I don’t know everything and that’s okay. That I don’t know everything, but what I DO know, I know it fucking WELL.

So, where you at my fellow artistic warriors?! Let me know in the comments section below.

How I Booked A National Commercial By Crying

Hello artists! Let’s get right into my new blog entry!

I booked and shot a SAG national commercial on April 17th! This was the second commercial I booked in 2019 and I look forward to booking more this year. I had a blast being on set. I had a blast postulating and envisioning that the awesome crew on set would be the same crew on the set of my TV series that I’ll be executive producing through a major streaming platform like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Apple, etc. I had a blast with my co-star and the takes we did together.

(I won’t say the name of the product until it airs!)

I can’t wait to be on set again! This is where I belong!

Now, in terms of how I booked this role, I truly believe it’s because of the choice I made in the initial audition. When I arrived at the audition, I read over the copy before signing in. I wanted to get a sense of what was going on in this particular commercial spot. I then signed in and sat down.

When the casting director came out, they brought us all in to do a group explanation. I got further clarity of what they were looking for (“They” meaning the clients of the spot and the casting director) The casting director said something really important: “Every person we brought in has been making the same choice and expression. When you come in, please find another creative way to express excitement towards the product.”

Immediately, my training kicked in. I always hear my teacher, Richard Lawson, say “to go the other way.” Know what the scene is about and then go the other way. I knew what the scene was about and I wanted to go the other way in terms of my reaction to the product. Also, I utilized the acting checklist that we use at the Richard Lawson Studios. There is a checklist item called “Evaluation”, which means, “to what degree?” So for me, go the other way and to what degree? Also, we at the studio are aware of a very powerful quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson that says your first impression is genius. To follow that gleam of light that flashes across from within. That you are a genius until proven otherwise.

We all went back into the waiting room. As I waited to be called in, I went over my choice and committed to not changing my mind. I committed to not flinching from my choice. Again, my first instinct is genius. Soon, I was called in. I slated for camera and then delivered my audition. When I saw the product, I became so overwhelmed by excitement that I broke into tears. And then I started blowing kisses to the product. And then a grateful smile broke through the tears at the end.

So, I went the other way. I was so excited over the product that I expressed it through tears…and then the kisses emerged…and then the grateful smile emerged at the very end.

I could hear the excited reaction behind the camera. I knew I had delivered a different and refreshing choice.

Nine days later, I attended the callback and delivered the same audition for the casting director and the clients of the product. Again, I didn’t flinch from my choices. And again, I sensed that they enjoyed my performance. I left my callback and drove home. That same night, my agent called me at 9:30pm to say that I was on avail. I was happy and grateful to be on avail. I was grateful that my choice impinged the room not once, but twice. Two days later, my agent called me to say that I booked the commercial!

Now, will I cry at every audition? No, of course not. However, I will always listen to my instincts as it relates to the character and the scene at hand. What is going on in the scene? And do my choices support the story that needs to be told? Because at the end of the day, the story is everything.

Until next time! Happy Easter!

Table Read Adventures!

Hey everyone! Let’s get right to it!

On March 23rd, I had the pleasure of acting in a table read for a new TV series in development. The writer wanted the first three episodes of the series read out loud. I was cast last minute because the other actor had a scheduling conflict. I jumped at the opportunity and got to work on this leading character.

The writer emailed me the first two episodes that my character was in. I enjoyed the writing and I also enjoyed the chemistry between my character and one of the other leading characters. I made my choices. I carved out my subtext. I knew that when I attended the table read, I wanted to impinge, I wanted to be moment to moment, I wanted to let the scenes occur.

I arrived early. EARLY AS I ALWAYS DO (LOL)  There were a lot of actors cast for the table read, the writer was there, their business partner was there, and the casting directors were also there.

I took my seat and the reading began. I did great! I delivered what I had worked on and I also delivered on what I wanted to have happen in the room.

The reading came to an end and I started saying my goodbyes. I thought I was done. I was in the first two episodes, I delivered and now it was time for me to say goodbye before they read the third episode.

As I’m saying bye to the writer, he said to me, “Oh wait. You’re in the third episode as well.” I said to myself, “I did not know I was in the third episode. I never received that script.” But like the true professional that I am, I said to the writer, “Great! Let’s do this.” I sat back down and grabbed a copy of the third episode script. This was literally a COLD READ.

However, because of my training, and because I had already done work on my character, I was able to act on a high level during the third episode. Again, the third episode was literally a COLD READ for me. I had not seen any of those lines before and I did not have an opportunity to read through the script at the table read. I just sat back down, grabbed a copy of the script and we jumped right in.

Again, because of my training, I knew to be present, to be moment to moment, to listen, to impinge, to be impinged, to trust my impulses and instincts, to not judge anything that came to me. I knew that I was continuing the life of my character in the third episode. Overall, I did great for a cold read!

When we finished the third episode, I said my goodbyes again and was able to leave without any additional surprises.

So, I wanted to share that with you all!

How To Break Up With Your Agent

Hello artists!

I wanted to write about this because a colleague of mine recently asked me how to break up with an agent. There was another person present in the room and they jumped in and offered a viewpoint. Their viewpoint was negative (“Fuck them.” “Fuck the agent.” “They drop clients all the time without letting them know, so why should you let them know you’re dropping them?” etc.)

After this person shared their viewpoint, I offered mine. For me personally, I don’t like to burn bridges. I don’t want to establish a reputation in this town for being unprofessional and for having a bad, negative attitude. This is a small town and word travels quickly.

If I want to end my business relationship with an agent or manager, I write an email that has a sense of ethics and principles behind it. I don’t blame. It’s not filled with anger. I don’t point the finger at whatever upsets I have with them. It’s a respectful letter to end the business relationship, and at the end of the day, I sleep better at night because I ended it cleanly.

The problem is that most actors complain about their agents, but what are YOU doing to strengthen the relationship? Are you providing them with clear casting? New headshots that reflect that clear casting? Are you providing them with new demo reel material? Are you in training in acting classes? Are you utilizing social media and your relationship map to build relationships with people in the industry? Many actors don’t do shit, but then want to blame their agent for not getting them out. So before you break up with your agent cause “they’re not working for me” or “my agent doesn’t get me out”, take a good look at your part in this relationship because it takes two to tango…unless you’re into threesomes and orgies.

Many actors are ENTITLED and/or DILETTANTE. They don’t want to do any of the work, but still expect to receive all of the benefits, accolades, job bookings, etc. Fuck that. It doesn’t work like that.

So with that being said, here is an example of a letter I sent to an agent a few years ago. I left this agency because the agent was hostile. However, I still kept my letter clean.

Dear so and so,

Hope you and your colleagues are having a great week. It’s been a little over a year since we started our journey together. I want to thank you for all the work you and your colleagues have done for me from submissions to making my acting profiles more specific.

I’m writing because I’ve been assessing my statistics and journey as an artist, and after much thought and consideration, I am officially giving my official resignation to your agency. As of today, I would like to officially step down from your client roster. It’s a decision I feel is best for me at this time.

Again, thank you for everything and I wish you, your colleagues and your clients much success and artistic fulfillment. I will do my part and remove your agency from all my acting profiles as soon as possible.

Please let me know you received this.

Take care and thank you again.

Best,

Jorge Ortiz