Friday, May 20, 2011

Natural Hair Blues

I submitted myself for this contest type thingy. I don't really know what it is actually, but it seemed interesting enough because I get to talk about my ongoing hair battle with being all natural. The ups and downs, the late nights and early mornings I spend yanking at this mop of mine to get it manageable. The question was "Does your hair define you as an actor?" and here's what I sent in along with two photos, a curly and a straight shot.

Response: This question immediately grabbed my attention. I am an African American actress and print model working in NYC. My career initially started slow and I grew very frustrated and contemplated going back to a corporate job in DC. My creative career changed for the better simply by the change in weather. I have naturally curly hair that I usually straighten during the colder part of the year and I let my mane blow freely in the spring and summer. I started attending castings with the curly hair even though none of my photos displayed this look and quite honestly because it takes so long to straighten, that I just couldn't find the time. Not only did I start to book print and commercial jobs but I also gained agency representation from several NY agencies as a freelance model. I believe it is directly attributed to my hair because I'd start to go in for auditions and the Casting Directors would ask "whats your nationality?" with so much excitement and curiosity. It opened the door for me to begin conversation while auditioning and getting one on one time inside the room that wouldn't have happened if my hair wasn't curly most times. The irony is that I used to despise my natural hair and chemically treated it to stay straight. Also, that once this hair of mine got me in the door and I booked the gig, they end up straightening it anyway for the shoots. Go figure!!! But, I cant complain as I've had a very successful career here in NYC. Now I actually put both curly and straight looks on my comp card and headshot so I'm marketed both ways. So I would say that hair does play a major part in this industry. On the other side, my hair has harmed me in some auditions because the CDs assume my hair will be too unmanageable and those are the days I wish I wore it straight LOL. Thanks for listening and hope to hear from you.

Peace yall!

Pause for the Cause

What's the most valuable lesson learned from this production? I don't know if I can answer this question without a lengthy conversation. I've experienced so much over the two months I've been on the team and the list just keeps growing. Some lessons I've learned up close and personal and others I've learned simply by observing and seeing what not to do. I'll attempt to list a few:

- Focus on me or my purpose on the task. Initially I took on the burden of trying to please the cast and director through my unique dual role and its impossible to please everyone. I certainly only have control of myself so that was a task that I'd never complete and quite honestly it wasn't my task to fulfill anyway. I often try to keep the Peace but sometimes you just gotta let others be themselves and burn their own bridge. I can't be a firefighter for everyone because then I get burned.

- Be considerate of my words and the life they bring to my surroundings. Gossiping, Complaining, Venting...whatever one chooses to call it, it all has the power to break down or lift up any circumstance. What I initially thought to be healthy venting between cast members and/or director, I now see were actually me sowing seeds of uncertainty and confusion that contributed to the negativity already roaming through the production. Some things really are best left unspoken no matter how relieved you may feel afterwards.

- Stand strong for my morals and beliefs. I had to realize that my reputation is at stake if I choose to fall in line with the actions of others and be a follower. "No one can diminish you but yourself". So just because individuals have been acting like fools, regardless of having valid points for their actions, a fool is a Fool is a FOOL. And I ain't no fool!!!

- Business is Business. While it's nice to be social with your co-workers and boss, it needs to be within limits. I believe that when you let your hair down too much, your "roots" start to show. Sometimes when those "roots" or true colors start showing, you leave a different impression on people, so it's best to choose your personal interactions wisely when dealing with business.

It has been very challenging to find an appropriateness to separating myself as a cast member and the directors assistant. I'm believing that appropriate separation doesn't exist and that may be the biggest lesson but I believe in "seeing it through" so I'm doing my best. I'll walk away from this experience much wiser because of all the actions that have taken place. But mostly because I took the time to reflect and evaluate myself in all this and seek improvement. So I leave you with this. Life is full of opportunities and decisions to be made. Be sure you take the right opportunities and make the best decisions around that opportunity for yourself and always pause along the journey to self reflect. Pause for the Cause, ya know? In this case, that cause would be my peace of mind, my legacy or reputation, or simply what God would expect of me. If you don't pause, you may end up with a horrible stage play called "Life" and no one will desire to spectate.

Peace yall!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Word is Bond

Bond (n) - 1. Something that binds a person or persons to a certain circumstance or line of behavior. 2. Something that binds, fastens, confines, or holds together.

"My word is my bond!" That just might be one of my life quotes because I pride myself on doing what I say. If I speak life into a task or favor I do everything possible to fulfill it. In fact, if I cant make good on something I said I'd do it eats at me and nags me until I rectify the situation. Of course, I realize in life that plans don't always go as they should but if a plan falls through I'd rather it be at the expense of me exhausting every possibility before walking away. Call it a huge heart or just call it dependable, either way you wont call me flaky these days and I can surely be counted on if I say I'm going to do something.

This quality I possess has become ever clear as I continue to work on the play production I've made mention of in several blog entries. The whoas, complaints, drop outs, last minute cancellations, and other distasteful actions by others left me a bit bothered. In a perfect world, we'd all have the career, mate, financial status and other desires of our dreams...but life ain't perfect. You have to weather the storm to get to the sunshine and let me tell you that a lot of folks are scared to work in the rain. I'll admit that the actions of the people around me lately have made attempts to enter into my thinking leaving me overwhelmed. They had me wondering if I should still be a part of the project. "Am I the only one that sees value in this project or are these people just lazy and incapable of being creative along the bumpy road?" The answer to this question has been coming to me through constant prayer and conversation with the "appropriate" people. I stress "appropriate" people because initially I did gossip and vent to anyone that would listen and that didn't get me any place I desired to be.

Just yesterday I received an inspirational email that said "God has given you a seed to plant, water, and harvest, be sure you are sowing it in the right ground." This is two part for me. First, I believe that God has granted me wonderful opportunities in this production and I shouldn't squander it away by conversing with the wrong folks about the wrong things. I'd surely be planting the wrong seeds in the ground. Second, I have to ask myself if the project as a whole is the right ground to sow my seeds of talent, organization, commitment, and hard work into? I had a reassuring conversation last night that firmly answers that question with a Yes. I allowed the voices in my ear to distract me and almost take me off this path because I lost Faith and began to doubt. I forgot to listen to the Spirit in me that knows I can stand the strong winds and rain of this stormy phase. Trusting that God will bring me and the rest of the crew through to better days.

So while my motto may be "My Word is My Bond" it now also reads "His Word is My Bond". Staying prayed up and Christ focused is the glue I need to hold life together and push forward. I knew from the beginning that God sent this opportunity to me for a reason and this is one of the lessons I was meant to learn. I'm so thankful to still be on this project and standing strong while others fade and fall. This project is guaranteed to get a bit bumpier along the way but I trust that God is guiding me through this journey. To Him be all the glory.

Peace yall!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Making It Big

Greetings readers! I've been very inconsistent with my entries and I'm proud to say for a good reason... a great reason, actually. I'm making my theatrical debut in New York City on Sunday May 29th and it's been taking a lot of my time away from blogging. I'm still in shock that I'll be on stage with a very strong cast in the heart of Manhattan. I've been thanking God everyday for my creativity and I hope that you will come check me out if you're in the NYC area. I'll be back with some more thrilling updates about what's going in my career. The abundant syncronicity just keeps on flowing in and I want to share it with the world. Stay tuned!

Peace yall!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Brilliantly Bold

God has been blessing me with an abundance of opportunities to strecth my creativity and strengthen my craft. My confidence during auditions, rehearsals, bookings and such have been through the roof and I'm extremely grateful to HIM. I've come to learn that receiving the blessings is only half the task and there will be challenges around every opportunity. This was surely the case with a gig I shot yesterday.

I will admit that I've had to humble myself a bit these past few weeks to remain level headed and not get too prideful. I walked into the building yesterday kind of thinking that this would be a walk in the park. "I booked the commercial so why be nervous and stuff, right?" It had been a long morning for me already with doctors appointments, conference calls, and admin work. Once the production assistant said we didn't have to memorize our lines and that they just wanted us to be ourselves, I got real chill and laid back. Not such a good idea, after I found out that only 2 of the 7 talent on set would actually be used in the commercial. This is a difference of a $200 check or a $1700 check so you can understand my new found urgency. "Dang it, Guess I better get up off my butt and read over this script and be prepared to knock their socks off", I told myself. My energy was slowly coming back and as my second wind arrived I prayed to God for confidence and guidance to get me through this shoot. (Sidenote: I can't count the number of times that God has gotten me through challenges in this industry as a result of me simply pausing to ask for his help.) OK back to the shoot. It's my turn to go on set and I'm a bit anxious because I over heard the clients in the other room say "Damn she's good!" in response to the performance of the actress who went before me. Can you say PRESSURE!?! I arrive to the set, get wired up for audio, and the director comes to have a chat with me. He was super friendly and reminded me that he loved my audition because I gave a very natural and engaging read and that's exactly what they were looking for. Bam!!! There it is, just the extra push I needed to boost this actress into gear and Wow the clients. I was darn good if I can say so without tooting my own horn. I'm always throwing lines out there while on set just in case someone overheard me and wants to add them in. I figure this way is much more humble than telling a director how to do their job. Because us actors have good ideas too, great ideas at times and it makes you much more marketable when you can bring a different angle to the shoot. I said all that to say, the director picked up several of my improv lines and shot them for the commercial. Yay!!! I was so proud of me and received mucho kudos from the director and assistant.

In summary, I have no idea if I'll be selected as one of the 2 actors to be in the spot and get the extra mula. I DO know with 200% certainty that I left an impression and did my very best and then some. I knocked my own socks off on that set with the decisions I made about my character and that's enough of a reward for me. Heavenly Father, thank you for providing me the tools required to do my very best with this wonderful gift of creativity you've given me. It's a combination of all the people, experiences, and lessons you've inserted into my life. I hope this entry encourages a fellow actor or anyone to make bold decisions and go after what you know is yours. Be Brilliantly Bold!

Peace yall!