Replacing Sad Anniversary “Death Dates”

I have so many days of the year that I dread because people I loved died on them.  Today, May 2 is the 25th anniversary of my fathers suicide….Wow…. and it gets more painful every year.  I am afraid to go to sleep because I dream of talking to my dad, asking him for advice, childhood memories that are just too happy, and dreams of just loss and being alone.  I also do have flashbacks of our fighting and some memory dreams are just too painful that I get a panic attack and wake up crying.  The panic attacks last for hours.

My mother used to force me to go to the Marriott Linconshire Resort for the week end on the anniversary deaths for a few years.  I just didn’t want to go, but I know what she was trying to do.  Now that I am older and death anniversaries bother me more I have been starting to do things on those days to change my fixation that those days are always bad.

My birthday was never a good day.  My father refused to come in the kitchen and sing Happy Birthday to me for my 16th Birthday.  Every November 4th after that was never the same.  It was never a day of joy, just one I wished I would forget.  When I turned 38 I tried to change that and planned my own birthday party.  People actually showed up and I had too much of a good time, so I threw an even bigger one for my 40th and it was even better.  So while I will always remember that 16th birthday, the bad memory fades when I think about my 40th birthday.

I found out about a year and a half ago that my first husband threw himself in front of a train three years ago.  He left behind two young children.  I am still in shock and I am sure the guilt nightmares will start in a few years.  I can not believe after what he knew I went through with my fathers suicide he would do that to his children.  However, that might have been the point in my life that I really did not share with anyone that part of my life.  I was ashamed, embarrassed, guilty….. I have such sadness for his family.  They are good people.  Todd and I were married on April 15, 1995, Tax Day.  I always remember every detail from that day.  Now I needed something else on that day, so this year on April 16th I threw and after the Tax Day party.  I planned it for about 4 months.  Yes, I know, Crazy, but I needed it.  I needed something fun for my brain to fixate on, or it will fixate on bad shit.  The party was great, but sure enough, as soon as it is over and I don’t have anything to fixate on the nightmares start.

Which leads to this date, May 2, the day my father died.  I can’t have parties all the time, but as an actor in this modern age of technology I can keep myself busy writing and filming ridiculous sketches that really only a handful of my friends watch.  I launched my latest sketch today.  I promoted it for weeks that it was going to launch May 1st, but I thought May 1st was today….. so here I am on my fathers death anniversary launching a ridiculous sketch on Youtube.

My therapist would tell me: “Just try to make it through the day.”  Well this is how I do it;).  I hope this makes at least one sad person laugh, even if just for a minute.  Let’s make it through the day together.


Happy Post… Doing what I Love…. My new acting reels…:)

It has been a hard long journey, but I am doing what I love.

Clip from the feature film Spring

Clips from sketches I was in on Jimmy Kimmel

New Drama Reel

My Favorite Being Vanessa

I can be funny too…. Im not depressing all of the time…. MONTANA

My Trip to Montana…. including singing, puppies, children, camping, buffalo, snow, mountains, and a snake.

My Video Went Viral – Jimmy Kimmel

The sketch I was in on Jimmy Kimmel went viral on Facebook. FINALLY

The (partial) Cast and Crew Of Involuntarily Single

The Cast and Crew Of Involuntarily Single

I am so proud of this project!….. I wrote this a WHILE ago and it applies to this. THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING YOU CAN BE DOING ACTORS!!! And it will most likely lead to something else!!!
Attention all actors: Unless you have an agent, a manager, a publicist, an attorney, a maid, a chef, and a guy that drives you around town from one job to the next, …….if a friend or legitimate normalish person asks you to be in their project fuckin do it even if its for free. As long as its not like porn ( unless that’s what your in to…)……its not going to ruin an image you don’t even have. Plus its called being versatile. Its called “acting”…..stop being a diva and lazy….be grateful and working. You never know other projects it could lead to. Get off the couch and stop your bitching there is nothing out there. …… cause…..THERE IS.

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.

More acting stuff

I would have written up today thus far as a complete and total waste of time (7 hours around LA) disaster, but as most of you know I believe we were put on this earth this time around to learn lessons… here is what I think I’ve learned…..#1 I submit for everything, go on every audition I can, take any job, take classes, do shows, knowing I have to prove myself, build my resume, meet everyone I can, you never know what one audition will lead to as a lot of the things I booked were a fluke/ right place right time/ connection. However, I have booked some things, I have built my resume. I need to start being a little more selective with my time and the projects I submit myself more. I am smarter than the thousands of people that just came off the bus this week. (I almost cried today when the one girl waiting for an audition said she left her son to come out to LA to “make it” and only goes to see him 4 days a month……. she was not going to make it anywhere in that audition) #2 You can actually drive a considerable amount of time on a dough nut for a tire. #3 If people liked you when they met you don’t let them change you later. Stay true to who you are. #4 Sometimes its ok to have the $6 Carls JR guacamole bacon burger #5 So happy I wore jeans #6 NEVER BE INTIMIDATED. SHOW NO FEAR (unless its in the part) I always used to tell my girls with competing on stage: “All it is..all you need is Relaxed Confidence.” Own the stage, the chair, the room, but don’t be cocky. Besides some differences in genitalia we all have the same parts. No one is superior to someone else.

Actors stop bitching

Attention all actors: Unless you have an agent, a manager, a publicist, an attorney, a maid, a chef, and a guy that drives you around town from one job to the next, if a friend or legitimate normalish person asks you to be in their project fuckin do it even if its for free. As long as its not like porn ( unless that’s what your in to…)……its not going to ruin an image you don’t even have. Plus its called being versatile. Its called “acting”…..stop being a diva and lazy….be grateful and working. You never know other projects it could lead to. Get off the couch and stop your bitching there is nothing out there. There is.

Being an actor

Being an actor:
Drinking that bottle of wine last night as my dinner was like a cleanse. I lost 5 pounds….holla for my shoot tomorrow. Why did I do such a stupid thing? Well I will tell you. Being an actor is stressful. Everyone has a different opinion. I have tough skin. I go on auditions and I forget them. I either get the part or I dont. However, it is all the things you fell like you should be doing and your not so you are failing. You need to do casting director work shops, send out postcards, be in at least one live show in order to be able to send out postcards to casting directors to promote you are doing something, be in at least one class; improv; which one? IOwest, Second City, UCB, Groundlings? What you havent gone through all 4 programs? A cold reading class, a technique class; which one? Meisner? Strasbourg? whoever they all are? How often are you going out on auditions? How many call backs? How many bookings? you are failing….. so and so has gone out on 5 pilot auditions so far and worked 7 episodes on Shameless. I dont have a manger yet… I sent my stuff to 400 managers…..I dont have enough IMDB credits, why arent all my credits up yet, I need a new reel, I need new headshots, I need to redo my hair, I need to STOP getting parking tickets. The fact that I booked 5 things, some just off my reel in the past 2 weeks just doesnt matter. Its never enough. Am I prepared enough when I audition. Am I being to flippant? Should I prepare more? Should I have an acting coach for every audition? Who am I ? Who is the character? Am I fucking up? AM I failing? I need money… I need to do more work shops… I need to finish writing that pilot. My book is almost done.. now I have to build a platform for a publisher to even be interested….the house was clean and now is a mess again. The dog is sick, the kid is sick, and I am losing my mind. Do I have gas in my car? Money for the parking meter? This is what it is like to be an actor….