January 22, 2011

Tips For Great Skin + My Skin Care Regimen

As an actor/model, it's really important to have nice clear skin. You will look younger and healthier, you'll probably book a lot more work, and makeup artists will love you. I have really great skin and get tons of compliments on it. I'm not going to lie and say that I don't work to keep it that way, or that my skin is always perfect. I had acne for a couple of years when I was a teenager and those were some hard times. *cries*


In order to clear my skin, my doctor at the time prescribed me some face cream that contained large amounts of benzoyl peroxide, a chemical that is common in many face washes today. I no longer use such harsh products on my skin, but I have perfected a regimen that keeps my skin clear most of the time. People ask me all the time what I use on my skin so here is my regimen:

As far as my skin goes, my regimen is pretty simple. I thoroughly cleanse my skin using cleaning cloths that come in packs of 30. These cloths remove makeup/dirt/oil really well. Olay Daily Facials Deep Cleansing Cloths are the brand, but I actually use the generic version from CVS. The CVS brand has a better texture (and they're cheaper) than the Olay, and gives me better results. The link that I gave you actually shows both brands side by side.
After cleansing with the cloths, I wash with Ambi Even and Clear Exfoliating Face Wash. Then I use Neutrogena Pore Refining Toner. I just take a cotton pad, pour a bit on and swipe all over my face. After it dries, my final step is to moisturize with Ambi Even and Clear Moisturizer with SPF 30. Ambi products are marketed to "women of color" but women of all ethnicities can use it. I've known whites and Asians that use the products.

This has been my regimen for the last 3 or 4 years and it sounds more complicated than it really is. The entire process takes 3 minutes unless I'm wearing heavy makeup from a shoot. I do this in the morning and at night.

*Key Tips*

NEVER SLEEP IN MAKEUP. I don't care how tired/drunk/sick/lazy you are. Break the habit now. Drink lots of water (I mean TONS of water), exercise regularly, and eat lots of fruits and veggies. Nine times out of ten, if my skin is acting up it's because I'm dehydrated or I'm not putting enough nutrients into my body.

Always wash your face immediately after exercising or sweating, even if you don't shower right away. Always moisturize your skin, even if it's oily. Use an oil free moisturizer if you have oily or acne prone skin. The Ambi moisturizer that I use is oil-free. And unless makeup is being applied, don't touch your face or let other people touch your face. Our fingers carry a ton of dirt and bacteria and it can cause breakouts. I broke myself of this habit when I was a teen. It can be hard because, most of the time, you don't realize that you're doing it. But trust me, you will notice a difference once you break the habit.

And finally, don't pop pimples. I know it's REALLY hard, but your best bet is to get a really good concealer and just let the pimple run it's course. Popping pimples irritates the skin and leaves behind dark marks on your skin. I recently popped a pimple on my cheek and that dark mark that it left has been plaguing me for the past month. Don't do it!!

Now of course, it's important that you tailor your regimen for yourself. Perhaps a different moisturizer may yield better results, or the toner leaves your skin too dry. Find what works best for you, this post is just for all of the people who are interested in trying what I do. Finding the right regimen can be trial and error. Hopefully it helps someone out!

January 8, 2011

Working As An Extra

If you are truly serious about being an actor and want to be taken seriously as an actor, then I highly advise against working as an extra. Allow me to take a moment to shatter some misconceptions about extra work.

1. Extra work is acting.

Extra work is NOT, and I repeat, is NOT ACTING. It's not, I'm sorry. There are actors and there are extras. If you were an actor, you would not be placed in a separate holding area, you wouldn't be yelled at like children by the second ADs and production assistants, you would have first pick at craft services, you would have lines, and you would get paid a hell of a lot more. This leads to me to misconception #2.

2. You can put extra work on your resume.

It does not go on your resume and if you are guilty of putting extra work on your resume, you are telling anyone of real influence (agents, producers, casting directors) that you are an amateur and that you have no idea how this business works. I see it time and time again: I'm talking to someone about past projects and this person is bragging about how many TV shows and films they've "acted" in. You are thinking to yourself, "If you've done so much, why don't have an agent/SAG card/manager"? Then you see their resume and see a score of "characters" named 'dead body #67', 'cafe patron', 'audience member', etc. All of these are listed next to HUGE television shows and films. If you somehow manage to catch an agent's eye and are granted a meeting, I GUARANTEE they will ask you about your credits and will most likely want to see a reel. When you tell this agent that you were just an audience member on "Glee", or a dead body on "Fringe", you can kiss that agent goodbye. You've just wasted their time and they will not be happy about it.

3. It's a great survival job and you'll have time to pursue your acting career.

The day rate for SAG extra work is around $135 a day. That's before taxes are deducted so we're talking around $100 a day. You are generally notified a day or two in advance of your call time and shoot date. In order to make an okay living as an extra, you'd have to do this almost every day of the week. Then you are on set ALL day long so where you'd find time to pursue a true acting career is beyond me.

4. It's a great way to gain set experience.

Meh. I'd say doing extra work once is a great way to get a bird's eye view of what generally goes on on set. But there is a huge difference between the set experience of an actor and that of an extra. The job of an actor is much more technical and involved. The extra has no real bearing on the story being told, and they are easily (and cheaply) replaceable. Extras have one action per scene. For example: You are told to walk to the left of the bar carrying a tray of cocktails and set it down. Don't cross in front of the actors or you'll be reprimanded. You do this over and over until the scene is wrapped. Actors deal directly with the director and assistant director, they are usually given better holding areas and trailers, they are provided costumes (extras are sometimes given costumes on larger productions), and they are all around treated better. It just doesn't compare. Trust me.

5. It's a great way to earn your SAG card.

If you are serious about being a professional working actor, you are doing yourself a HUGE disservice by gaining your SAG card through extra work. For one, the process of collecting three SAG waivers is erratic at best. There is no rhyme or reason as to how they are given out and you usually have to work as an extra several (if not dozens of) times before you acquire all three.

So, say you've worked many films/shows as an extra and you managed to get all 3 waivers. You just joined SAG and think that all of the big opportunities will start pouring in from agents wanting to sign you, casting directors giving you auditions, and producers wanting to hire you. Um, wrong?

Your resume is pretty much non-existent (extra work doesn't go on there, remember?) and you have no reel or a very meager one. Well, your weak resume is going to turn off most prospective agents and when they ask for a reel, you'll have nothing to show them. So now, you can't get an agent and you need an agent in order to be seen by high level casting directors. Forget ever meeting a producer and convincing them to hire you based on the amazing audition that never happened. No job for you.

Now you say, "Well I can build up my reel by doing indies and student films". Wrong again. You're part of the union now, which means that you have single-handedly cut yourself off from the plethora of student films and non-union films that actors use in order to gain acting experience and reel material. You can be fined and permanently lose your SAG status by doing non-union work. I've been SAG-eligible for over 6 months now (well I'm technically a must-join) and I don't plan on joining until I have to. There's too much amazing non-union work at my disposal right now.

Many newbie actors are so caught up in joining SAG that they forget the process of working your way up to a professional status. You have to crawl before you walk, and walk before you run. Start out with student films and non-union films so that you can build up a REAL resume with real on set experience. Then you can use your best scenes on your reel. Once you get some great work under your belt, you can start shopping yourself to good agents and managers. A lot of agents don't care if you aren't SAG, but they do want to see a good amount of set experience, good training, and a great photo. If they really believe in you (and you've given them all of the tools that they need), being non-union is small potatoes because a good agent can get you seen for SAG projects. Then, when you become SAG eligible from booking a principal role on a national commercial, or a co-star on an amazing show, you can feel like a true professional that earned their card the right way.

So, in conclusion....

I hope that I have not offended anyone, I'm simply speaking the truth. It's better to read it here, than to be told by an agent or casting director why you're not being taken seriously as an actor. And for what it's worth, I have worked as an extra. I did it once my very first year in NYC....before I knew any better. It only took one time for me to realize that it was not going to be the right path to get to where I wanted to be. Plus, it was hellishly depressing to watch the stars of the TV show that I was working on do what I'd been dreaming of doing for half of my life.

Now, I will say that if you have already built up your resume with student films and indies, you have a good reel, good headshots, and you are still having trouble getting a legit agent, you still have better options than doing extra work to gain union status. It's much easier to get a commercial agent than a legit agent. Commercials are a great way to earn your SAG card. If all else fails and your dream agent won't take you on unless you're SAG, then and only then would I recommend extra work as a way to get it. But, if you're doing everything that you should be, you're working hard, and keeping your skills up, you should have no problem getting the results that you desire.

Progress Report
I had three commercial auditions this week for: Special K, Kindle, and Payless. I received a callback for Special K that took place on Friday the 7th, and I'm also holding for the shoot dates. It shoots next week in Toronto and if I book it, it'll force me into joining SAG since I'm currently a must-join. Fingers crossed!

January 4, 2011

PILOT SEASON!!!!!

OMG OMG OMG!!! I'm so excited about pilot season! Can't you tell I'm excited!! Oh yeah, Happy New Year! But enough about that, back to pilot season....

Why am I so excited about pilot season? Well for one, on Dec 21st I signed with Clear Talent Group. This means that I have started 2011 with a full roster of representation including: a manager, 3 print agents, a commercial agent, and a legit agent. Reason number 2: IT'S PILOT SEASON!!

For those of you who don't know what pilot season is, it's the 3-4 month period between January and April where the bulk of brand new TV show pilots (the first episode of a TV series) are cast and shot for the network executives to view. They purchase the pilots that they like (it's called "picking up" a pilot) and then those TV series go into full production for the fall lineup. Booking a pilot is like the holy grail of acting. The most coveted roles on pilots are the series regular roles, also known as the leads or stars. These are the main characters that you love or love to hate. If a pilot gets picked up, goes to series and becomes successful, you now have steady work and income as an actor for the next 5-6 years.

Depending on the success of the show, you can make from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars per episode. Hour long dramas have around 12 episodes per season, whereas sit-coms have around 22. Imagine making $100,000 per episode on an hour long drama....that's $1.2 million per year. The more successful the show, the more money you make...now can you see why pilots are the holy grail?

I got to audition for a couple of series regular roles on a couple of pilots last year when I was freelancing with Talent House. It's a very scary/overwhelming experience to walk into the CW offices and read for a part that could launch you into super stardom and a whole new tax bracket. Keeping it real, I wasn't ready. I was nervous, insecure, and I know that I didn't give my best. This year, I'm ready.

I've spent the last year doing everything that I can to make sure that when I go into the room, they see their next series regular. I've improved my look (I'll be blogging about that soon), gotten back into class, worked on my auditioning, and pursued legit representation. Now that I'm signed to a legit agency and I have an agent and manager that believe in me and will fight for me, I know that I'm going to be getting some amazing opportunities in the next few months.