March 29, 2009

Strattera Casting

Well, last week a got a phone call from a woman named Ramona Pitera. She is one the agents that I was working with at Gilla Roos. In the weeks since GR closed, Ramona has since opened up her own talent agency called Ramona's Model and Talent. I'm so happy for her! Apparently, many of the casting directors that she had relationships with through GR have been very receptive to her new business and have been giving her access to some pretty good castings. I was one the models on her list that she still wishes to work with so she gave me a call on Thursday. She already had a commercial casting for me that was scheduled for 2pm on Friday. It was for a medication called Strattera, which is used for the treatment of ADD. I would be playing a waitress.

I got to the casting office about 10 minutes early to sign in and all the actresses had photos taken and then printed on small information sheets which we were then instructed to fill out. The actresses were called into the room in groups of two. After slating (stating our name) we did an improv scenario where we had just gotten off of work and one girl had once again forgotten their keys. The girl that I was auditioning with was a bit upset when we left because she said she was told the casting was for print, not a commercial. I felt bad for her.

The commercial is set to shoot on the 2nd or 3rd of April, so I'm guessing I will find out sometime tomorrow (30th) if I got it or not. I need to start making real money again and I need to start soon!

March 24, 2009

I'm officially represented by CESD!!

So, I had my meeting today with Danielle Russo who is a print agent at CESD. She was so nice and was very interested in learning about my life, other goals, where I had grown up, etc. She also said that would be great for a lot of the shoe work that they get because I have the ideal shoe size. One of the other agents there was a really pretty black woman (I'm kicking myself for forgetting her name) with gorgeous natural hair. We spent a few minutes trading hair secrets and discovered that we are both obsessed with Coconut Oil. Okay, back on topic! We talked about how all of the other agencies that have gone under in the past couple of months and she assured me that CESD is in great financial standing and "ain't goin nowhere". Whew!

I also met Stephanie Bellarosa, the woman that I ambushed on FaceBook, and she was sweet as pie. She put me in touch with another client of hers who was repped by Gilla Roos. I can't go into great detail just yet about this because there may be some legal issues that I'm not yet aware of. I also have some news on my legal action against GR and will share tomorrow. Anyway, in case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm going to be represented by them. Woo Hoo! For print, they only freelance and that's great for me because I can still do things on my own. She gave me a giant stack of vouchers for when I book jobs and some labels for my comp cards. I expect to be sent on my first casting in the next day or two.

They said that things have been picking up a great deal lately and they are excited that the slow season is over. So am I because I need to be working and making REAL money again.

March 21, 2009

Acting Class

I'm currently taking an acting workshop based on the Stanislavsky technique. The class is for 5 hours every Sunday and the teacher is Paula J. Riley. I'm having a lot of fun in the class and I feel like I'm getting back on my feet. We have been learning how to develop characters and break down the beats in scenes. It had been a while since I had taken a class so I was a little bit shaky at first. We have our final performance coming up on April 26th. 

I'm actually in two scenes for the final performance. I'm going to be playing Cleopatra in a famous scene from George Bernard Shaw's "Caesar and Cleopatra" where Caesar meets teenage Cleopatra for the first time out in the desert. When I first read the play, I didn't really know what to make of the character because Shaw's interpretation of Cleopatra is so different from we've read in history books or seen in other films about her. She's so young, naive, and doesn't really understand the great power and sexuality that she possesses. It's been very interesting trying to find that child like quality that she has. 

In my other scene I'm playing Estelle in Jean-Paul Sartre's "No Exit". This play is about three people who are in hell. Each character has awful qualities that they see reflected in the other people and it's pure torture. Each person has done something so awful that it's resulted in the deaths of others. They are trapped in a room together for all eternity and while they could be helpful to one another, they are too far gone in their own egos, insecurities, and hatred to do so.  It's one of the best plays I've ever read and I'm so excited to perform it. 

We begin blocking the scenes tomorrow in class and we are supposed to be as fully memorized as possible. I'm having a hard time because I'm the only person in class that has two full scenes and the dialogue is a bit old fashioned in both scenes. 

March 18, 2009

Bad News and Great News

Okay, bad news first. 

Back at the end of February, a good friend of mine was supposed to meet with one of the print agents at Gilla Roos, the same agency that I was freelancing with. I got a phone call from her the morning of her meeting and she said, "Um, did you know that Gilla Roos closed?". What?! I asked her if she was sure and how she knew; she told me that when she showed up at the building the doorman told her that the agency closed and there was no one there. 

They had actually closed the Friday before and no one knew. None of the models were notified and I later found out that even the employees didn't find out until they went in to work, were given their last paychecks, and were told to clean out their desks. Wow. Not only was I furious about them closing with no notice, I was very worried about the fact that I am still owed nearly $3,000.00 for two photo shoots I'd recently done. After having sent out several emails to the owner/president of the agency with no reply, I have decided to take legal action against them. I will provide more updates to that as the situation progresses. 

Now for the great news!! 

My dream agency is CESD. They are one of the best commercial agencies in the country and are very exclusive. I hadn't submitted my photos to them because I didn't think I was at the level that I needed to be in order to work with them. After my agency closed, I submitted to another agency and hadn't heard back. I just found out yesterday that they also closed down a week ago, so while I feel bad for everyone at the agency, I felt relieved that I wasn't actually rejected by them. Anyway, I decided that it's going to be now or never if I'm going to try for CESD. Another model that I have done other shoots with freelances with them so I sent her a text asking if she would be comfortable giving me a referral. She text me back that she had just recently tried to give a friend of hers a referral and that the agents said they weren't going to be bringing in new talent. Alrighty then. 

I decided another approach. Most people would just mail in their comp cards right? Well, I didn't want to be just another face in a pile of comp cards and headshots. I went back to the CESD website and looked at the lists of agents in the print department. I found the name of the director of the print department. Okay, this is when I switched over to stealth mode. I looked her name up on FaceBook and once I saw that she has listed her employer as CESD, I sent her a message basically telling her how I've always wanted to work with them and that I had been doing great work at my last agency before it closed (providing links to all of my work), also that I was requesting a meeting for representation. 

A little over an hour later, she wrote me back asking me to send the message to her work email address because she wanted to forward it to the other agents in her department! I was flipping out! Then I joked to my fiance that she wanted the email so that she could blacklist me to everyone she knows (*insert hysterical laughter*) and that I was doomed. This all happened on Monday. Yesterday (Tuesday) I got an email from another agent at CESD scheduling a meeting for next week! I'm so excited about this meeting and I'm very proud of myself for being gutsy enough to do something that most people would be too afraid to do. It paid off for me and I can't wait to see what happens with this next. 

I also have a meeting at the end of the month with an acting manager. One of the agents I worked with at Gilla Roos referred me to her, which I'm very grateful for. I'm not really interested in working with a manager right now, but I'm going to take the meeting anyway because you never know what can happen. She wants me to perform two monologues which I'm absolutely dreading, I hate monologues so much. 

March 17, 2009

The Road to Where I Am Today In Acting and Modeling

Well, I don't want to make this endlessly long so I'm going to condense it as much as I can while still being descriptive. I began acting when I was 14, I'll be 22 in about 2 weeks so I guess that would be close to 8 years now. WOW. I don't really count the first 3 or 4 years because I didn't learn much, haha. I performed in several plays, but as far as technique goes, I didn't really learn anything until I moved to NYC in September 2005 after enrolling in Pace University. 

I studied the Stanislavksy technique at Pace, and while I enjoyed my meager 3 hours of acting class per week I was miserable there. The bulk of my week was spent doing crappy freshman duties on set and in costume and I felt I was not getting the education that my nearly $35,000 per year tuition should have provided. I got the chance to perform in some really great plays, including The Vagina Monologues, but it wasn't enough. So I withdrew after being accepted into SFT (The School for Film and Television), now known as The New York Academy of Dramatic Arts which is a two year conservatory specializing in Meisner technique. 

I  LOVED this school. I was in a great section with some really great students and I very much enjoyed the curriculum because it was all acting, all day, every day. Heaven. Don't get me wrong, it was very hard work, but I was having a blast. The downside is that it was very demanding. Too demanding for me. I was struggling through what was the most difficult year of my life. I was going to school full time and working two jobs in order to support myself because I had to leave the dorms when I left Pace. I was living on my own and I was drowning. I had no choice but to leave school and take some time to get on my feet. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do and I wish I could have stayed. However, I needed to move on and withdrew in December 2006.

I got a set of crappy headshots done and decided it was time to start submitting myself for indie films and student films. I got a few auditions here and there and finally booked an indie feature film titled Pressure. I would be playing a principal character but shooting would not be for at least 6 months. By the time Pressure was ready to begin shooting, I had booked two short films. One titled It Wasn't For Love in which I was playing the lead (yay!), and another titled Drug Related where I was playing another principal. Awesome! 

Around that time, I decided that it was time for some better photos and after getting new headshots taken, I went to a reproductions office called ModernAge in midtown Manhattan. While there, I met an employee named Peter Gravina who also happens to be a pretty awesome freelance photographer. He told me that he loved my look and asked me if I'd ever considered modeling. Well yes, I had thought about it, but I never thought I would do it. Pursuing acting is difficult enough, did I really want to add another unpredictable profession to it!? So, long story short, I took his card and we set up a shoot (haha). A few weeks later we shot some really cute photos and he told me about a website called Model Mayhem. It's a social networking site for those involved in the modeling industry. Basically everyone from photographers, models, hairstylists, makeup artists, etc. He told me to put up a few of my photos and headshots.

I put up about 4 photos and within weeks, my inbox was flooded with requests from photographers all over NYC that wanted to shoot with me. After a couple of months of TFP shoots and portfolio building, I got a phone call from the marketing coordinator of Shake-N-Go hair who wanted to PAY me to model hair extentions, wigs, and the like!! Yes! Now, this was only the beginning for me. I shot three films and began doing paid modeling gigs throughout the rest of 2007. 

After taking about 6 months off in Texas for personal reasons, I came back to NYC in April of 2008 with a whole new mindset for both businesses. I was smart enough to keep in contact with all of the people that I was working with prior to my hiatus and was able to jump right back in to modeling. In regards to acting, I decided that I was not at the level that I needed to be at and felt that it would be foolish to submit myself for projects. So, I put acting on the back burner and decided to set myself up financially with modeling so that I wouldn't have to wait tables anymore. In September 2008, I submitted a few of my modeling photos online to Gilla Roos, a boutique commercial print agency, and less than two days later I received a call about freelance representation. Within a month of meeting them in October, I booked my first major job, an ad for Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo birth control pills. In December, I shot an online ad with Carson Kressley (Queer Eye) for Caress Skin Care. You can see the link in the side bar under "My Work". In January, I booked a major hair ad for Kaneka Hair Care. In between all of this, I've done many hair shoots for Shake-N-Go and have several pages in various hair magazines. 

So this brings me to where I am today. There are a few recent events that I will touch on in one of my entries over the next few days.