August 31, 2011

Searching For An Agent Just Got Easier

I was recently contacted by the creators of this new website called Find The Best. It's a search engine that is designed to allow the user to filter based on the criteria that is most important to them. One of the great things about this search engine is that it's completely unbiased in it's content. You don't have to worry about companies paying for favorable reviews or top billing when people type in search tags that pertain to their business or trade.

I thought this wold be an excellent resource for actors who are on the hunt for new representation. Using Find the Best, you can filter through agencies based on name, location, or even the specific industries that the agency focuses on! Below, you can click on the link that was created just for Talent Agencies.




I also want you guys to know that in exchange for this post, I have not been compensated in any form other than being gifted a link on the website in order to make my blog more searchable. My blog is not monetized and I do not make money from my blog....yet. LOL

I have only agreed to post this because after checking out the site, I really do think it's a great tool for actors. Finding the right agency for you is tough, and this makes the search so much easier.

August 27, 2011

NEW HEADSHOTS! & The Opinions Behind Choosing To Wear My Hair Straight

I'm so excited about my new headshots! I went back to Laura Rose. I wasn't happy with my last set and felt like they weren't marketing me in the most effective way. I also wanted to experiment with straight hair to see if it affects my audition/booking ratio. Even just an increase in auditions would be awesome!!

I have a new commercial shot, and three new legit shots, all of which showcase a different look/side of me. I know I'm facing the same direction in all 4, but I know my angles and this one is my best and most flattering. Otherwise, I think I have pretty good range to work with and I'm so excited!! I apologize for the slight blur, I re-sized them to make them a bit larger and more viewable.





The following two comments are from the "CBS Diversity Workshop & Headshot Advice" post I made on July 10th. Apparently my choice to try out straight hair was a bit controversial. While the first post is the only one that was left on my blog regarding this issue, it's not the first time that I've been confronted with it.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
"Hey, a friend of mine saw you in the 'staremaster' and told me about you - found my way to your blog. We were so excited to see an actress with great hair! Now I see that that you've decided to straighten it. Now you'll look just like everyone else, it's a shame. I'm sure this woman meant well, but keep in mind that you can hear advice without having to take it! oh well . . . . . . moving on"
Well.......um.....I'm sorry you're disappointed? I'm not going completely straight, I won't even be straightening my real hair so keep your panties on! I'll be wearing a straight hair wig. I will have a couple of headshot options with my curly hair, and I will have a couple of headshot options with straight hair.
I'm very aware that one can hear advice without choosing to take it. However, when a VP of CBS casting recommends that I have some headshot options with straight hair, I'm going to take her advice. I've been considering trying out straight hair for over a year now. This decision comes from feedback and inquiries from multiple casting directors, as well as discussions with my manager, agent, and friends. My manager was all for it, and my agent was on the fence until he saw my new photos and he loves the straight hair.

I will be honest, I spent a lot of time rallying against trying straight hair because I was afraid that I would look like everyone else. Then I finally realized that I was being silly and dramatic. It's just hair. Yes, there are a lot of social and racial implications when it comes to how black women are portrayed on TV and it's an exhausting debate/discussion. Do I feel that wearing my hair straight will make me a more desirable choice for casting directors and producers? Yes. Is it fucked up that I even have to think this way? Yes. But, I also want to work as an actor and I want more opportunities so right now, it's just another way to increase my casting range. That's all.

Thanks for your post.
Anonymous said...
"I think that woman is wrong. your small chin, button nose, and apple cheeks read sweet and innocent. Especially your eyes. But you definitely convey a grown and sexy element in pictures and on camera. I see you as the sweet sexy love interest. Maybe even playing the part of a girl who comes on sweet at first but has underlying motives. I think that your hair since it's grown out gives you extra sex appeal and makes you stand out. You would be a major contender for the usual celebrated Hollywood beauties if they would just be fair and balanced. I have seen the stern, take charge, attitudinal role from black women time and time again, and you just don't have that look. :( But anyway, I wish you much success very soon, and a long career. Good luck."
Thanks a lot for your post!
Sweet and innocent is not really my type, but I DID think of you when I posted the headshot with me wearing the coral shirt. I think that photo conveys that sweet sexiness that you referred to, so I think you definitely have a point! Fern Orenstein was right that my old headshot was reading girlish. If you look at the types of roles that I book, none of them are girlish. Most of my characters are strong, sexy, smart, and opinionated. There's noting wrong with that. I'm not sure why it bothers you to see black women play strong/opinionated/tough roles. Plenty of non-black women play these kinds of roles on TV and film, why is it a problem when black women do it? While I can agree that many times, some black actresses turn their performances into....caricatures, it can be done with finesse too!
What you said about me being a contender for the usual Hollywood beauties is incredibly sweet, but Hollywood isn't fair and balanced! It's just not. And let's be honest when it comes to hair. When most people think of sexy feminine hair, they think of long flowing hair, not a full highly textured afro. That's the truth, right or wrong. I think my fro is sexy, and if I could cast myself in all of my dream roles, I'd be set for life. But I can't.

Not yet, anyway. ;)

August 24, 2011

My First Role In A Major Feature Film

So, on the 15th. I shot a scene in my very first major feature film! It's a new film called "What Maisie Knew" and it's starring Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood) and Julianne Moore (The Kids Are Alright). I played 'Waitress' (lol) and had one line.

I originally auditioned for the role of 'Hostess', a role that had about 8 lines. I was placed on hold a few days after auditioning and was told that I was being considered for either the hostess part or or the waitress part. I had not seen the sides for the waitress part so when I was booked as the waitress and saw that I only had 2 lines (which was later reduced to 1), I'm not ashamed to say that I was very disappointed. And may have cried a little.

Which, in hindsight, is pretty stupid.

It's stupid because I booked a role in a major film, after auditioning for Avy Kaufman (a huge feature film CD in NYC) for the FIRST TIME! This means that I will certainly be called back in to audition for her in future and possibly for bigger parts. I was simply weeping for those meaty 8 lines, and that solid two minutes of screen time. The part that I got was not nearly as interesting, but it was still a huge accomplishment and I'm very thankful for the opportunity. They could have easily booked different girls on both parts.

I had a fabulous time on set. For one, rather than having a trailer, the day players were put up in their own hotel room at the W Hotel in Union Square. I got to order room service, lay in a plush bed, and watch tv (ok...sleep) for 4 hours while I waited to be called on set.

While it took only around an hour to shoot my scene, I got to chat with the incredibly sweet (and gorgeous) Alexander Skarsgard in between takes. We start the scene next to each at the bar, in the background, and then I walk into the shot to deliver my line. He reminded me to enjoy my moment and made jokes about not dropping my tray of drinks.

This experience was a great reminder to me that things don't always work out the way you plan, but they always work out for the best. :)

****
Progress Report

In other news, I've stayed pretty busy over the last few weeks. In addition to the feature, I also booked/worked on the following:

1. I booked another day player role in another feature film. It shoots in Connecticut on the 31st. I play "Sexy Hostess" and have two lines!

2. I shot another SAG national commercial for Home Goods. It's a holiday spot so it probably won't start running until late October, early November.

3. I shot a supporting role in a NYFA short film. The footage is going to be great for my reel and because there was a SAG contract, I'll be paid (eventually) for my work. The film was shot on a RED camera and the footage is so beautiful! I got to play a character that is blunt, intense, and kind of nasty. I had a blast!

4. I also booked a print job for HTC. It was a two part shoot for me and was a VERY long day. In the morning, I played a BMX biker chick which I had no idea I'd be doing. It was kind of odd, being put on a bike at a skate park with 3 skate boarders, but it turned out to be really fun. We just rode around the skate park, the actual park, and posed in front of a really nice cafe.

In the afternoon, I shot a picnic scene with my 'boyfriend', another 'couple', and their two cute 'kids'. The photographer was a lot of fun and this was probably the most physical shoot I've done to date. I was sore the next day when I woke up.

August 22, 2011

Answers To Blog Comments

The following blog comments are from the "Quick Update" post that I made on July 27th. I thought the questions were very interesting and decided to post my answers in case anyone else was interested. I'm sorry that it took so long to post this, I've been trying to queue up multiple blog posts at once.
Anonymous
Anonymous said...
"Hey, just wondering do you have a survival job? or did you have a survival job while you were working on booking steady jobs. Other than the waiting tables lol"
-No, I don't have a survival job, this is what I do full-time. I do work a part-time job 2 days a week (reservationist) and the money is direct deposited into me and my husband's "Moving to LA" savings account. I'd say 98% of my income comes from my modeling/acting jobs.

I used to work a survival job my first few years in NYC, and sorry to disappoint you, but I was a server!!
Jazine said...
"Hey Andrea, Congrats on the CBS Stay at Home Dad short vid. It was funny and cute. You were great. I wish you the very best in your career. I saw Captain America last weekend, and for some reason when I was looking at Chris Evans, I couldn't help but think how stunning you would be in a romantic drama or comedy with him as your leading man! Cheers!"Delete
-That's very sweet of you to say, thank you! I'd do a movie with Chris Evans any day! LOL
Anonymous Jamie said...
"What book have you read that you would recommend other actors to read (acting related)"
-I haven't read an acting related book in a long time. To me, they all say the same things. The book I'm about to recommend isn't about acting, but it can help you cope with the business and emotional sides of acting in a tremendous way. It's a great book for life, in general! It's called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. The book is small and very short, less than 150 pages and so worth the read!
In short, the four agreements are as follows:

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
2. Don't Take Anything Personally
3. Don't Make Assumptions
4. Always Do Your Best

Carl said...
"Do you have any career coaches, your doing it up so big!"
-Thank you! But no, I don't have any coaches. I mean, I do ask my manager and agent for advice. I also consult my husband and close friends when I'm experiencing a decision making dilemma. I think I just have a pretty clear idea of who I am, what I want, and how I can attain it. If one method doesn't work, I try something else.

Jay said...
"Hey, before you had an agent. Where would you look for acting jobs."
-I looked to the major casting sites that are accessible to actors such as Actors Access and Backstage, and then the 'lesser' sites such as Mandy and NYCastings. I don't know of any others that are just as good as these four. If anyone has recommendations, please post them in the commments! And of course, STAY AWAY FROM CRAIGSLIST!!!!

August 18, 2011

Reader Email

I received the following email from a reader and she asked a couple of really interesting questions that I think a lot of actors have. My response is below the email, and it's a bit long. :)

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"Hi Andrea!
I recently discovered your blog and am loving it! I appreciate how honest you are with your bookings and disappointments and even sharing parts of your life (like your bday party pictures). I study acting at a class that seems to be more tailored for the "hobby" actor than the career actor. But lately, I've been getting the bug to be "seen". My biggest challenge is... my nerves. I wondered, how does she calm her nerves? I see that at times you have to do live events or audition playfully eating an ice cream bar. Have you ever had to figure out how to combat your own nerves? I also struggle with my own ability to feel like an "actress". At times I wonder, who do I think I am trying to pull this off! I do wonder if you ever felt the same. Especially because you seem so sure of yourself (it really does come across in pictures!). Also, have you ever dealt with unfriendly competition? How do you handle that if you have?
PS, I'm considering taking classes for the beginner actor at Larry Singer Studios, thanks to your mention on your blog :)
Kudos again for creating your blog, it's wonderful!
Melissa"
****
Melissa, thank you so much for the email (I love how honest and candid you were) and for reading my blog!

I'm sure most actors feel some sense of nervousness when they walk into a casting/audition. For me, the key is to not care whether or not you book the job. And I know that's easier said than done. When I go to a print casting or a commercial audition, I usually have a pretty nonchalant attitude about it. If I book the job, great! If I don't, who cares? But when it comes to TV/film auditions, I have a harder time combating my nerves.

The nervousness generally comes in when you start focusing on the real-life stakes, "Wow, this series regular role can make me a star....I can pay my rent for 6 months from this print job....This commercial will FINALLY make me SAG Eligible!" These types of thoughts are preventing you from focusing on the most important stakes, the stakes within the scene. If you aren't focused on your character and the circumstances, it WILL read in your performance.

And the fact is, chances are high that you won't book the job, regardless of how much the role can change your life, earn you money, give you your SAG card, etc. If you concentrate on just having fun in the room and giving the best performance that you can, it'll be easier to forget the things that are making you nervous.

You also need to remember that the casting director is on your side. They want you do a great job, they want to see you nail it.

In order to cut down on my nervousness, I have a few tricks that have been helping me a lot in the last several months. Keep in mind, this is what I do for TV/film auditions. My number one is showing up early. I try to arrive at least 20 minutes prior to my audition time. This gives me time to catch my breath, cool off and re-hydrate, touch up my hair/make-up, and give my sides one last look. Then, I just zone out. I think about the scene, I imagine it in my mind. I do a few mouth exercises (quietly...) to loosen my tongue. I stretch if I need to, take deep breaths, or lean my head back and close my eyes. Every actor has their own methods for combating nerves and learning to relax. You just have to try a few things and see what sticks.

****

I understand what you mean about not feeling like an actress sometimes. When I first moved to NYC and was studying acting in school, I thought I was the SHIT!! Then, I had to wait tables full time to support myself and wasn't doing ANY acting. Every time I would tell someone that I was an actress and they would respond with, "What have you been in...?", a little piece of me would die inside. For me, I know that the insecurity came from feeling like an actress on the inside, but not being taken seriously by others. Once I starting modeling and booking commercials/indies/small tv roles/etc. it was easier to call myself a model or actress because I could actually answer those annoying questions with real work examples.

But at the same time, that's not fair. When a med student graduates, they are considered a doctor, even if they don't have a job yet. The same with law students, teachers, etc. But as an actor, I have to be starring in a big movie in order to be considered one? Screw that! We put in the work just like other people, it just takes a bit longer for us to reap the rewards. Melissa, if you have the passion and drive, study the craft, and put in the work, you're allowed to call yourself an actress, regardless of how large or small your resume is. They key is learning to take pride in what you do, at any level.

****

I have only had one direct experience with unfriendly competition. This bitch was just plain rude. A few years ago, I went to an audition for a "pilot" (I didn't know any better at the time....) where they were only seeing girls for the character I was auditioning for. When I walked into the waiting room, all of the girls (about 8) were white. I went to use the restroom and as I was washing my hands, there was a girl at the sink next to me, applying her makeup. She asked me what character I was auditioning for and I told her that I was pretty sure all of us were reading for the role of 'Kate'. Then she rolled her eyes and said, "Ugh, these casting directors don't know what they're looking for."

Now, if all of the girls had made up a wide range of ethnicities then her comment would have made a bit more sense. But, all of the girls auditioning were white, save for myself. To me, it was meant to get under my skin. My response to her was, "Well maybe the casting directors are more concerned with talent than skin color." I then walked out of the restroom without waiting for a response from her. I had no desire to entertain her or her negative energy. Stay away from people like that.

Other than that, I haven't had any other experiences with unfriendly competition in an audition setting. I have had run-ins with annoying "bragtors". A bragtor is an actor who brags a lot. Yes, I just made that up and I may need to copyright it. Anyway, these are probably the worst that you will see. When you're in a waiting room with a bunch of actors, sometimes people are friendly and will chat you up. Before you know it, you're forced to feign interest while they check off the details of their 'busy' schedule. You can remedy this situation by pretending to listen to your iPod.

****

Melissa, I want to thank you again for reading my blog and for sending me your email. I answered the questions as best I could, at the risk of seeming long winded! I hope that I've been of help to you and anyone else that reads this post.

Take care!!