I used to panic and obsessively go over my lines before each acting class. I was sure I was going to forget something even though I never did in any of the previous classes, or during the times I acted in high school. Maybe it was the added pressure of having to watch myself on screen or being in front of new people. In between scenes I’d go over my lines again and repeat them in my head during other’s scenes. That’s how I am about most things in life. I check over everything, and then I double check. And I check a ton more just for the fun, or not fun of it. A key piece of advice my acting teacher has been giving us that I’m starting to get the hang of is this: fuck it.
I realized last week that I wasn’t anxious about getting up and doing my scene. The lights, the ten people staring at me didn’t bother me. I didn’t have to spend the previous minutes working up my courage to get up there or giving myself pep talks. It was our turn, I went up there, I did it. Another thing he says is the uncomfortable become comfortable by doing the uncomfortable. And it’s working. The last class my partner and I improvised at least a page of dialogue after the scene because we just kept going until the teacher called cut. I hate improvising but I was able to do it easily and it was kind of awesome.
Now that I’m more comfortable I’ve found other areas to obsess over. I’m focused on how I do everything. I go up there and do the scene then I wonder is this a good enough connection to my partner, what am I showing on my face. And I watch it back and wonder do my eyes move too much, why didn’t I wear makeup this time, yes my voice really sounds like that. So this is the next piece of advice I have to master: fuck it. Again. Another guy in class used to get nerves so much that he would sweat through every scene he was in until he got comfortable. Now that he’s started sweating again he thinks it’s because he’s a perfectionist and he’s putting too much pressure on himself during each scene. I’m not sure of an un-cheesy way to say this but our teacher stresses the importance of believing in yourself. So many people in the business will give you notes and things to change about yourself and most of them won’t know what they’re talking about. So you have to know yourself and what you can do then do it and stop worrying. No one is perfect. And yes my voice really sounds like that. But a woman there called it unique instead of high pitched and thought I might want to look into voice over work too.
My current aspiration: Get a fucking headshot already
The screenwriting book I’m using talks about using lean yet descriptive writing to introduce characters. So probably not the string of adjectives and lengthy backstory I sometimes create. It’s also important for characters to have a unique trait. For example, the girl with the dragon tattoo has a dragon tattoo, Blair Waldorf always wears headbands. Or she used too, I don’t keep up with that show as much anymore. I can pare my descriptions down, but I think I need more work on giving characters something distinctive.
Another thing my acting teacher said is to always be working on my five senses. Which basically means to be aware, to experience what’s happening around me and take it in. This is difficult for someone who is always spacing out. So I’ve decided to try to start observing people and documenting their quirks. Maybe this will give me inspiration when developing my own characters, or at least give me an acceptable reason to people watch without being too creepy.
So person number one, a waiter at work: He’s a boy having a love affair with water. He slurps it out of a tiny paper cup with a straw and always exclaims “this shit is so good”.
What is your favorite drink?
Mine is water too. I don’t drink anything else, except for alcoholic beverages. Okay so maybe a margarita is my favorite drink, but thankfully I drink water more.
Is it too early to start a New Year’s resolution? I’ve probably tried to use this one atleast five times in the past and I’m never serious about them anyway. It’s like how Lent used to be, I’d think of something to give up so I’d have that response when people asked but I never really did it. I’d say I was giving up pop, or chocolate, or pepperoni but really those three things were some of my main food groups when I was a kid. Plus, Sundays didn’t count so things went downhill then. I’d try for a few weeks then give up, and I cared even less about New Year’s resolutions. So while I’m not going to make it an official resolution I do aspire to stop biting my nails. I say this every few weeks, then my nails start growing out and I can’t help it. I bite them if I’m stressed, or when I’m not paying attention, or when I’m not doing anything else.
I remember in high school a girl said she could stop biting her nails when she had a role in the plays because her characters didn’t bite their nails. I had one role in senior year, Corrine. I knew Corrine was an alcoholic lesbian but nowhere in the script did it say anything about her nails. Who knows, maybe she was an alcoholic lesbian nail biter. It seemed just as likely as anything else. I tried the approach that ‘no my character didn’t do that’ but by opening night she definitely did. I’m a tiny, unassuming, generally quiet girl who usually worked backstage during shows. I came out in a short skirt, with a butterfly drawn on my chest as a tattoo, holding martini glasses. All I did was make sarcastic remarks and hit on another girl. At one point I was stroking her hair. My friends thought my performance was going to get our drama teacher fired. My grandmother said it was like no catholic school play she had seen before. No one was paying attention to my nails.
So, I don’t know how well my attempt is going to work this time. I was even biting my nails as I wrote most of this since it was on my mind. But, I’m going to try again.
I met a guy at work named Ted tonight and I instantly liked him because of the character in How I Met Your Mother. I watch a ton of TV. If I hadn’t just gotten off work I’m sure there’s some clever way I could phrase that but I’ll just say: it’s a freaking lot. So probably I should be liking or hating everyone based on the name they share with a TV character but this is the first time it happened.
The last few seasons of HIMYM haven’t been my favorite but I keep watching anyway. When I first started the show, Josh Radnor and Colbie Smulders were the only two I was unfamiliar with. I instantly loved scotch drinking, gun toting Robin but Ted took more time. Though I love some of the other characters better, there’s moments with Ted that have been my favorite. Basically anytime he talks about the mother, or the scene where he envisions hugging everyone that led him to a crucial point in time that brings him one step closer to the mother. His character just has such a genuine heart sometimes. When I think of Ted I smile because of how sweet and hopeful he can be.
There’s an episode of the show where Ted can’t wait to be old, he wants to sit on his porch and play games with his friends. The moral of that story is that the journey is important too, you can’t just skip to the end. That’s what I need to be remembering these days. It’s hard to enjoy life now sometimes because I think about everything I want to be doing. I wonder why I’m not in LA now, I want to be working there immediately as an actress, and I know it doesn’t happen like that. I know it takes time. I know I need money. There are many logical reasons as to why I’m still here but when it gets cold, or I feel like I don’t get to do enough writing or acting here, or my mom is playing every Christmas movie on the Lifetime channel, I can start to wonder why I’m not somewhere else.
But there are good things about being here. I have tons of supportive friends and family, I found an acting class I really like, my dogs are here, and I’m incredibly cheap so having a free place to live is wonderful. There’s moments about being here I like each day, I just have to enjoy them instead of wanting to leap forward. I’m just at the start of my journey.
I did a scene in my acting class last night. It’s an on camera class so each time I have a minor freakout about how my hair looks on the screen and whether my voice really sounds like that. It does but I pretend it doesn’t. One day I’ll have a voice that sounds older than a seven year old girls and one day I’ll get used to on camera acting. Which is part of the reason why I chose the on camera class. It went well, I got compliments from the instructor but it wasn’t good enough for me. I can’t keep any amount of space clean for a day but when I’m performing I guess my perfectionist streak comes out. Overall, I love the class and am happy to be in it. I feel so energized during and after the class.
Today, I’ve been working on some writing. I’m more comfortable with creative writing so I don’t worry about it being perfect because I have confidence in my abilities. I can’t edit but I love writing other than that. But I realized I have two stories where someone gets attacked at a dinner table. Which has led me to researching the easiest common household knife to stab someone with. I hope no one is secretly checking my internet records.
Now, I have no plans but to relax on the couch and watch my Tuesday night TV shows, starting with Glee. I think the quality has gone down since the beginning but as long as Brittany and Santana are on the show then I’m watching it.
When I first started working, I remember my parents celebrating every job I found. We’d go out to dinner and toast my new work. Whether it was a job steaming clothes in the back of a tiny thrift store, working retail, or tending to a garden, they were happy with each new step. Then I got a few internships and that was like a promotion. Now, I’ve graduated college and I should be getting my first entry level position somewhere. However, I recently started working as a waitress. We haven’t celebrated this new job.
My parents and I both put money into my education and I’m thankful I received it. I think they were just at a place where they didn’t fully understand what’s going on. What’s going on is I’m changing directions. I’ve been interested in acting since I was little. I wrote all through college. I wasn’t sure I would be able to make a living at either of these professions. Recently I decided, I don’t care. I’m always going to want to write and act, they were always the dreams in the back of my mind. Trying to make this happen is ultimately more worth it than finding a “stable” job at a place I’m not interested in. I feel like celebrating this new job because it’s a start, everything in my life right now is. I’ve often been a shy and private person, but I’m starting to open up. My parents have now told me it’s okay for me to do whatever, because the key to being happy is doing what you’re passionate about, and that’s different for everyone. Seriously, my dad had this insight because he got a new job doing the kind of accounting he likes. I can’t even begin to explain it because I don’t understand a word of it but he’s been thrilled since he started because he loves the work.
There’s a lot of things I want to do. I’ve joined a writing group, am taking acting classes, and am starting to save money so I can move to LA. I also have other goals, I want to try new things and learn as much as I can. I have a lot of things to aspire to and I’m ready to get started.