No matter what… when you have kids they come first…..LIKE IT

On Tuesday was pretty much the biggest thing that has happened for me in my career as an actress thus far.  The DVD The Power of Love was release.  I have a major part, am in the opening credits, in the closing credits my name is under Vivica A. Fox, there is a picture of me on the back of the DVD and I am listed as one of the starring actors in the credit box.  I am in the trailer and the deleted scenes…. It was a big day for me.  I found it at Blockbuster and made the manager take several pictures of me holding the DVD.  I screamed in the car.  I screamed when Sedona got in the car and I screamed when I got home.  I couldn’t wait for the family to sit down and watch it with me.  Big day for mom! It has been a long hard but fantastic journey.

However, it was pizza Tuesday at my neighbors where the families of the street gather to eat and be merry so we went down there before the big presentation.  Jett, my son wanted to ride his bike with another kid around and around and around the block.  I gave the ok.  I was down there for about 5 minutes when his riding buddy comes to me and says that Jett wiped out…… my stomach dropped.  You just never know what you are going to find.  I jog about a block or so still not seeing him just not thinking.  I am also clutching a bag with DVD’s in it.. I dont know why I didnt just drop them.  My mom had ordered a million DVDs from another movie I was in and I was going to give them to some of the neighbors and show a couple the Power of Love DVD… (I was excited and wanted to share my excitement.  I’ve been a bit gloomy and sick lately)  As I turned the corner and saw Jett, I was pleasantly surprised to see that he was at least standing.  I could tell he was holding back the tears…. that is until I got there.  Then they started.  When I was a kid I wiped out so many times… so many scrapes and cuts… they didn’t even make helmets.  Jett has just never wiped out before on his bike and he probably thought he was invincible.  I barley let him ride around the block, he wears a helmet.  When I was a kid we would ride on dirt, grass, rocks… I fell every other day.  My grandma would get out the Bactine …. man that hurt.  I would suck it up and then go back to playing.  Jett didn’t even want me to really look at his wounds.. cleaning them… OMG…..the tears the screams, but that was when we got home.  At the accident site I surveyed.  Nothing was broken. His one elbow was pretty messed up and he had like a puncture type wound on his stomach, but it didnt go all the way through so it wasn’t really bleeding…. some other scrapes, but overall he was LUCKY.  A neighbor came with a van, another neighbor came to help.  We really have to best street in the world.  After we were shuttled home now was time to really note the injuries and CLEAN them…. OMG you would think I was trying to kill him.  I always know the best thing to do when the kids are sick, hurt or have a nightmare is to sit them in front of the TV to side track them.  It helps… but only so much this time.  The night was spent sitting watching whatever he wanted, TRYING to clean off some dirt.  I did manage to get Neosporin on everything;) Friends came by to try and cheer him up.  Again… best street in the world.

However…. my boy child….. the screaming and crying… OMG…. I had to really really put my foot down.  I am the mother.  The wounds can get infected.  he was really making me mad.  When ever I would reason with him saying its either me or the doctor or hospital, they cant get infected.. you want your arm to be cut off?, he would cry and tell me that I was scaring him… “Worst mother in the world”.

The night was spent watching horrible cartoons with him and try to feed him, clean him, ect. It was also spent calming down his sister who can not handle it when her brother cries so she was crying.  I being what I am, a mother.  I pondered that the day was no longer mine.  It was his, and I was just fine with that.  I made him. He is my baby.  He didn’t want to watch my movie.  He wanted his cartoons and that was just fine with me.  The movie could wait. I was lucky he was still here.  Life can change to shit in a flash.  The most important thing in life is family… Never forget this….never forget.


My Daughter Is Not Me.

I always have to remind myself that my daughter is not me.  Even though I KNOW I am nothing like my mother and my mother is nothing like her mother, I always have to remind myself that my daughter is not a carbon copy of me.  She is her own person, her own unique soul.  When she was born and I first set eyes upon her was the first time I had to think about this.  She looked nothing like me.  I called her a turkey turtle bird cause that is what she looked like with her mouth rooting to be fed.  I don’t know if I was supposed to feel some kind of physic connection to her because well…. I didn’t.  It was a hard over 24 hour labor and  I was just glad she was out.  I really wasn’t all that worried that she was taken away to do all the newborn tests.  I was exhausted.  I was loopy.  The nurse asked me if I was worried that she didn’t cry when she popped out and I was bewildered and like…”uh no”.  My mom and husband were all cooing over her and I was still laying on the table getting the after birth out or my uterus back in or something and then the nurse was like; “OK get up and take a shower.”  She didn’t even help me.  I stood up and a flood of blood came out of me on the floor and it was like “no Big Deal… keep walking to the shower”.  When I am in shock I do what I’m told…. I walked to the shower.  I should have said “FUCK OFF.”  The breast feeding Nazi’s came making sure we didn’t use “those evil bottles” and practically forced my daughter on my nipple, nurses kept coming in to check my pulse. All I wanted to do was sleep.  Why was this baby in the room with me? I’m paying $600 per night for the nursery…. PUT HER IN IT!!.  Were they just being lazy and not wanting to do their jobs and watch my bundle of joy while I got some sleep. In fact there were no babies in the nursery.  Seriously? None, of these mothers whom I heard screaming just like me didn’t want some alone time? Some sleep?  What was wrong with me?  I’m obviously a horrible mom. Pregnancy, birth, baby at home…NOTHING was as I thought it would be.  I would not be wearing the same jeans pregnancy out of the hospital like you hear some alien moms do.  I wouldn’t get back into those jeans for over a year after gaining 70 pounds.

Now I’m home… what do I do with this mini me that is definitely not me.  She is tiny.  She cries…a lot… she only sleeps a couple hours at a time.  I come home and my husband has ALL of her baby stuff in my room.  Was just the two of us supposed to be locked in there indefinitely? I’m just to continually put a boob in her mouth, change her diaper, watch her in the vibrating chair thing, and try to get her to sleep?  I didn’t even have a TV in my room.  And wait a minute…… I’m in charge of a human? At the time I had like 10 dogs. I could just lock them all in the hallway or put them outside.  I couldn’t do that with a baby human….. I’d go to jail.  How do I connect with this human baby?  This baby that is not me.  I really think I thought she would be me.  I know me.  I know what me likes.  I remember things I like to do as a child, books I liked to read, toys I liked to play with.  I had this strange feeling that I was going to have to get to know this baby human.  I did not know her at all.  It was a big wake up call for me.  I’m sure I cried. or I was just dazed, like a deer in the headlights… or both.  She was out of my belly. I couldn’t sleep all day every day. Like she wanted me to do stuff for her like feed her and change her diaper.  Her screams and cries would be like nails on a chalk board. I tried everything to comfort her.  Sometimes I just couldn’t… then I would cry… I’m failing.  I would pass her off to my husband and the cries didn’t bother him.  He just called it exercising.  He could sleep, work, watch TV right through it.  he would even video tape her crying.  He video taped her doing everything.  We have about a thousand hours of footage from the first year of her life. Our second child maybe has an hour… it happens….

Right from the beginning she was determined to be nothing like me.  I was a big baby.  I liked to eat.  She was a tiny peanut.  She was not gaining weight and the doctors had me all worried.  They wanted to do all these tests.  The nurse was like “It’s ok, you don’t need to be in the room when we take her blood.  My daughter was SCREAMING… they had just used a catheter to take out urine… I was like “NO WAY” and took her home.  My motherly instincts really kicked in then.  However, yet still I had to always remind myself that she wasn’t me.  I made her, but she was her own person.  I had always wanted to adopt too.  I knew if what ever child was in my arms would be mine.  I don’t care what the baby looked like.  It was still kind of strange to me that my daughter who I know I made did’t look like me. I don’t know why. I was an adventurer.  She is cautious.  I love dogs.  She loves cats.  I loved having my hair brushed.  She hated it.  I would just keep her hair chin length cause it wasn’t worth the battle.  I found the things we did have in common…. snuggling…. I carried her around for YEARS… even after my son was born.  I also let her be herself.  Wear what she wanted (because my mother always dressed me)…. She HATED when I wiped her mouth if it was dirty, so I just didn’t.  THAT drove my mother crazy. My daughter loved the Disney channel and I Iet her watch it when ever she wanted.  I’d put her in her excer saucer thing with a bottle, put on the wiggles and go take a nap.  She was safe and I was tired.  She might not have been me, but she was my extra appendage.  She was with me constantly to every trip to the store or on every trip on a plane. Side note: flying with a baby sucks ass… She was so attached to me I tried to leave her at a babysitter once and she didn’t stop crying and I had to go get her.  I just wanted to like go to the bank and Pamida…. Preschool….. crying…. I’d have to leave when she wasn’t looking…… Her cries would make my heart break.  I loved school as a kid.  I loved being with my friends.  Homework was no big deal.  I hated it, but I got through it.  For my daughter school was HARD for the first 10 years of her life.

As she has gotten older she has like “some” of the things I did and played with like Barbies.  It took her 5 years to want to go down a side.  I was rocking the slide when I was under one I am sure.  I put her in dance like I was in and my mother was.  She liked it, but she did’t love it.  Even now she wants to be in dance, but it is just not as important as it was for me.  I wanted to be the best int he class.  She kind of cares….. but kind of doesn’t.  With her friends they always ask her to do stuff and half the time she doesn’t even return the texts. She just likes being home…… I wanted to get the hell out of the house and play with my friends any chance I got.  I guess that is part of being an only child. I wanted out! I drove my friends NUTS to play with me.  I craved attention. She needs it too, but when she learned attention needed to be shared with her brother, she just kind of accepted it.  I’m sure she resents it and will end up in therapy for it, and she will even say she got slighted… but she deals with it.

She is very cautious and worries about death.  We cant even say the word volcano.  I was a daredevil. My parents had me on every roller coaster before I was even tall enough.  We had “tricks”.  At 12 she is finally kind of willing to try some.  I climbed trees.  I walked on top of my gym set.  No way she would do that.  At a trampoline party yesterday she followed around her brother and his friends to make sure they didn’t get hurt.  She is caring and loving and a gentle soul and worries that she hurts people if she says something silly.  She is shy, yet brave and is always willing to try new things (that aren’t dangerous). She has patience and is loving to all.  One day I see her as maybe a teacher, which I would have no patience for or a manicurist (she loves nails).  She is not going to do all the things I did when I was a teenager…. and maybe thank the universe for that…… she will find her own hobbies, and activities that she loves and are a part of her.  She is not me.  She is herself unique. As she grows older I have to especially remember this and not make her feel bad if she chooses paths that are different than the ones I chose.  She is perfect.  I made her. Her soul was chosen for her body and for me.  She is perfectly not me:)

The Fog rolls in Part 2

So, APPARENTLY the end of my last blog did not post.  This is the second time this has happened.  I don’t remember what I said so I reread my post and will tie it up in this way:

This date (now yesterday) each year has been different.  Some years were better than others.  The fact is that every year taught me lessons that I carried on to the next year.  Some things I don’t see as a lesson, but pain and sorrow I could have done with out, because that pain and sorrow resurfaces each year on that day.  I wish that the happiness on the different years would resurface, but unfortunately that for me does not happen as often as it should. Certain dates, and anniversaries with all of us bring us sorrow.  Maybe there was a loss of a loved one, a house fire, a vacation disaster.  Let us hope that there are more dates that remind us of happy times then sad as we get older and older and we not remember the things that we have lost, but the things we have gained.  

As I write the fog is still lingering….. I know it will pass…. it always does…. Eventually the fog will lift and the sun will shine all the way through once more.

The fogs rolls in

I knew it was coming…. I felt it…. I held it off for a couple of days, but it still came.  If you suffer from depression you know what I am talking about.  I have never found a way to keep the fog completely at bay.  I have found ways for the fog to lift, but it is sometimes random.  Sometimes it lasts hours, days weeks.  I was messaging a friend today who has also been in a funk.  It’s funny how we try to cheer others up, but really don’t care about cheering up ourselves. We just feel stuck… blah….. But damn it ALL of our friends need to be happy.  They have been blessed with wonderful lives.  Cheer up damn it.  As we were both reflecting on this time of year I thought of this date years past.  Last year, the year before, 5 years ago, 8 years ago, 10 years ago, ect. Life can seem such the same day after day.  However, If you look year by year… wow… my life has changed DRASTICALLY.  Each year on this date my life has been completely different then the year before.  Some years are happy and some are sad, but that is a blanket emotion.  The specificity of the emotion/ emotions felt were much more acute.  Last year… last year…. I don’t know what I wrote on FB, and I dont really care to look, but my memory of last year was that I was a MESS.  There was a reason I could “cry on cue” when acting.  Heck, I could cry on cue 24/7.  I had been “theoretically” “punched in the gut midish July and still had not gotten over it.  I took a video of myself falling apart in July just so I would remember how low low can be.  This date a year ago I was faking it.  I decided to plan a birthday for myself November 4th.  My Birthdays had sucked ass since I was 16 and my father ruined it, so every birthday since had been shitty.  I would just remember the incident and not want to participate in celebrating that day.  Even if I was in Disney the memory would still linger….. any Birthday was just…. ok… no matter what anyone did.  So last year because I was trying to get over my gut punching I tried to distract myself by party preparations 55 days before my actual birthday.  Friends will remember the posts.  I bought lights to decorate every tree and bush on my property.  I glued candy to my apricot tree.  I baked like 900 cookies. I did it up. That birthday party was a big deal for me.  I am thankful to everyone that showed up.  So many people cancelled at the last minute my heart was crushing…. but back to this date.  This date is very significant. And I remember the same friend being down and I remember the phone calls and texts because another birthday did not go as planned.  I was supportive and uplifting and happy and positive and was the cheer leader I was trained to be.  The party was rescheduled and all was ok.  Myself, I was pushing…. focusing on my party in 55 days.  I was also focusing on my 20 year reunion that would happen October 6th.  I was excited for that one.  A little too excited as exhibited at such reunion…. that is another story…

Back to the fog…. back to two years ago, 3 years ago, 4 years ago and so forth.  so much change…. so much CHANGE

Two years ago: so many classes and auditions and working for free, and kids, and home work.. house was a wreck…and and and

Three years ago (2010); Kids in new school; settling into California; getting into the acting mode.  Where do I start? I still had a tie to Hawaiian Tropic.  The Grand finale was January 2010….. It was such a part of my life for so long… 15 years.  It was a hard thing to let go.

Four years ago (2009): The race…. traveling all over the country producing finals for Hawaiian Tropic…. stress… pressure…satisfaction…. sadness… elation… highs.. lows…

Jump to 8 years ago: pressure…. sadness…. stress….. pretending to be happy… joy…. sleepless…. tired….pushing…. trying to stay focused on work.. trying to enjoy my new baby…..

Jump to 9 years ago: Happy, satisfied, hopeful, Let’s have another baby and add on to the house AGAIN…. traveling..exhausted… loved…. happy… exhilarated….

Jump to 18 years go: (I had left my first husband in July, my tanning salon, my family, my life, and moved to California) I was neurotic, depressed, hopefully, negative, self conscience, over whelmed, distraught, un nerved, regretful, desperate, confused.

Paying to not get paid

Whenever I post a long rant on FB my friends get all worried.  When I see them they come up to me and whisper ” Are you ok?” When I video rant it gets more crazy, like when I videotaped the hospital staff In Vegas when I was drugged and they wouldn’t treat me.  I got some phone calls and texts and even my mother got calls making sure I was okay…. My mother assured everyone I was fine and just being my normal self.  She has been putting up with me since birth. So to make a note before this post/ rant…. I am not mad.  This is just a topic.  I am in a fine mood.  I just like to write.

I have been thinking about this topic for a while.  I’ve been hesitant because most actors will not talk about anything publicly that is negative because of fear they might get one less audition or job or because they are perfectly happy with the system, and that’s great.  I’m glad it is working for you. I’ve been in the entertainment industry since 1995.  I got my Sag card in 1996.  I stayed in LA until 2000 and then for ten years I produced and hosted live model search events for Hawaiian Tropic around the world.  I’ve been back in LA for 3 years pursuing TV and Film.  I am HAPPY.  I’ve worked my ass off.  I know it is hard.  The past 3 years I have been a machine submitting to everything … I mean EVERYTHING on,,,…… student films, infomercials, low budget, ultra low budget, no budget.  I have done a million things for free just to get back in the game, meet people, get imdb credits and most importantly; footage for my reel.  I have done classes; Cold reading with Brian Reise (love him; need to go back- on a break), went through the year long improv program at IOWest (cost $350 per 8 week term 7 terms), and 2nd City ( cost $350 per 8 week term minimum 7 terms- its complicated).  I learned so much.  Best thing I ever found.  I didn’t even know about the improv community.  It has helped me guide my career, making me smarter, quicker, again great for the resume and has helped immensely with auditions/ work.  I am so in the negative financially, but I expected it.  I knew it was coming. I planned for it…. somewhat…. and I can still get help from my biggest supporter… my mother… who still wants me to get a part time job at night. (I’m trying… ).  I knew that with every new agent and manager I would have to get new pictures.  Which by the time you add the cost of touch ups, printing, make up / hair and the posting costs on Lacasting, actorsaccess, ect easily sets you back $500 a pop……. I’ve done this now at least 5 times in the past 3 years.  It is financially straining to be an actor, but again, I knew what I was getting into. Making sure my roots are highlighted, gas, parking, parking tickets, towing, food, living expenses ahhhh.  You need a job just to afford being an actor….. but there is a catch.,…. It has to be a night job because you have to be 100% free during the day “just in case” your agent or manager or MORE likely YOU gets  you an audition… and what if you actually book it.. AHHHH the pressure.  I have two kids in school.  There are no to/from school buses.  They need to be dropped off and picked up every day.  The there are the after school activities and HOMEWORK (which has been manageable this year- cant complain).  However, then you have to like feed the kids three meals a day and like make sure they are clean and do laundry and dishes and shit.  However, AGAIN…. I knew what I was getting into. I am HAPPY damn it:)

What I also planned on when I came back to LA was casting director workshops.  You pay anywhere from $30-$50 EACH TIME to read a scene to a casting director and they adjust you and you do it again and/ or you get notes on your performance; scale 1-5, headshot, personality, ect.  Every actor I know does them.  How else are you going to meet casting directors when you are just starting out? What if you don’t even have an agent or manager?  Its the obvious best choice.  Every agent and manager I have had wants me to do them.  I did them before I started my Hawaiian Tropic career and I wonder if that is in part why I took an “acting in LA break”.  I went to 50 in under 6 months and was called in to audition NO TIMES.  It was kind of taboo in 1999.  NOW its the rage. In the late 90’s I was going out like 3 times a week when I had a great manager and I didn’t even get one audition from all of these workshops I paid to go to.  Did I suck?  Maybe I sucked?  But my feed back forms said they liked me.  They gave me all 5’s…… Well then I was 25.  I didn’t know all I know now.  I was in a rush to be working NOW NOW NOW.  I was in my 20’s panic mode of “I need to be successful now.  Right now!”…..Cue Nervous breakdown…..

Ten years later coming back….. again, again, again… I knew what I was getting into.  Again I started doing the casting director work shops. I did 48 in under 4 months… I was called in once….. for a one liner…. from a CD who has a great reputation for bringing in workshop actors from roles he casts on a TV show, which is great.  I’ve heard of numerous people that have booked gigs with him after doing work shops and then been called in to audition for a part on his show.  What a great way to get your foot in the door to get some credits. To help you in the daunting task of finding an agent and a manager by having a “recognizable credit”.  It shows the potential agent/ manager someone thinks you dont suck.  “Look…. I booked this myself. Casting directors know me and like me!”  But what about people like me…. I’ve done like 100 in my life… I’ve been called in once.  I am in a horrible competitive demographic.  I am in the- “Mid to late 30’s woman who had some kids and now is getting back into the acting game.” I am competing with women who never took a break from Hollywood and have an arm load of credits and great representation.  They have been around.  They know people.  I know this and that is why I have done so many jobs for free to build my resume.  But it makes me wonder? Do I suck?  Like I cant be brought in for a tiny part like to say ” Do you want some coffee?” Like I think I have talent enough for that… wait ANYONE has talent for that.  My plumber could pull it off. I have booked some major shit…. ON MY OWN.  These workshops? who’s shopping?  Not me. I’m broke from doing them. What is the actual ratio that people are being called in?  I once asked a casting director in the Q&A how many work shops she did a week. (she was caught of guard and a little pissed off, but I wanted to know.  what was I up against?)…. I don’t remember the specific number…. but it was A LOT.  I still have mixed feelings on Casting Director workshops and I can’t say I’ll never do them again.  If you dont have an agent or a manager how would you meet any?  Only agents and managers get the breakdowns and can submit their clients for the good gigs.  That’s just the way it is. For TV Co-star or Guest star parts the Casting Director probably gets 1,000 submissions.  If you met them even 5 years ago maybe they will remember you to give you one of the 10 slots to come in and audition for the role.  I will say that the whole Casting Director work shop thing has gotten out of control.  I get so many e-mails a day from so many different places with the same casting directors bouncing around from one to the next.  I also think there should be a limit of how much can be charged.  Heck it should be free.  They should WANT to meet new actors.  It makes their casting job easier.

There is something that has REALLY pissed me off lately though.  The workshops done by agents and managers.  My friend who is in her 20’s has been doing them to try to get some representation.  She is young, little credits, ambitious and just wants what we all want…. to audition.  Maybe it is my motherly instinct but knowing that she is paying for these agent work shops to hope upon hope she will get representation and she hasn’t gotten one bite yet, not even for commercial representation MAKES ME MAD.  She’s cute.  She used to compete for me with Hawaiian Tropic.  She placed and won a lot.  I hired her for numerous promotions.  Now I have always gotten my representation the old fashion way; either by referral into an office and then won them over or mailed out a head shot and resume to EVERY single agent and manager in town in hopes I would get called in to win them over.  It is expensive.  It costs 1.20 just for the postage and there are over 300 agents and 300 managers in LA.  I would only get one or two calls per mailing.  I can see the allure of just paying $20 per agent workshop.  However, who are they calling in?  Who are they actually signing? I keep getting e-mail after e-mail from workshops to meet agents… and its always the SAME agents.  This puts me over the edge.  How can these agents take money from these young actors just starting out and not even sign them?  I don’t know if I would want an agent that did work shops.  Shouldn’t they be working for the clients they have? Submitting them for roles?  Making calls for them?  How do they have the time?

When I worked for Hawaiian Tropic what I liked about the model search is that they never charged an entrance fee to compete.  It was a model search. To find models to work for the company.  The girls competed for prize money.  Sometimes I used to pay girls even if they didn’t place.  Everyone knew we were making money from the location to have an event.  These girls took their time and energy and showed up for me.  I can’t even imagine charging them to help me make even more money.  It would have been just wrong. (* side note- Little Miss did charge fees- different thing- don’t condone it either though.  Wasn’t my thing)  .  Actors/ models starting out have no money.  How people can take money from them to make their jobs easier and profit boggles my mind.

The counter argument is that so many productions have moved out of LA casting Directors, agents and managers need the money.  Well they they should get a part time job that does not involve taking money from actors.  If you are saying that there are less jobs in LA then what do you even hope to offer these actors?  These actors are getting part time jobs just to do workshops.

Every day more and more e-mails flood my inbox with people wanting money from me…. to “help me”.  I think I’d rather help myself.  There are sooooo many opportunities now that were not available in the 90’s.  You couldn’t shoot your own webseries or sketch. You couldn’t submit yourself to projects on line.  There was no LAcasting or Actorsaccess.  I had to go through the productions listed in LA weekly and Backstage, figure out mailing addresses by getting a booklet from Samuel French book store and self submit via THE MAIL a head shot and resume blindly, hoping that the production even had a role that would fit me.  Call your friends, use your phone to video sketches.  I do.  Build your own reel.  Take real classes from real teachers not from ones who had a recurring role on Miami Vice in the 80’s and hasn’t worked since, but real teachers who will help and guide you… who have helped and guided other actors who are now working.  I personally feel like there are more opportunities now than ever before with how far technology has come.  The problem is people don’t understand how much power they have just in their own selves.  Make work for your self.  Make it so agents and managers seek you out.  I actually have a manager now who tells me: “Vanessa you are so talented… slow it down… your pictures are just horrible and you look like a hooker.” ( I got new pictures..again).  Someone believes in me….. other than my mother… Its CRAZY!

If you are a woman its gonna be even harder.  There are more parts for men and less men actors than women.  Its not fair.  (Its mostly my men friends I hear getting called in from CD workshops, but I could be wrong).  This is it for me.  I am an actor.  I am not ever going to give up.  I will make my own work if I feel like I havent been busy enough or do a sketch show or start an improv team.  I have a long way to go. I figure AT least 7 more years to even hope to work somewhat steadily and actually get out of the negative.  But, I know I will get there eventually. Everyone can.  Just dont give up.  There is a part for everyone.  You just have to find it.