Welcome to the B. Blog! What's happening right now with me will ALL be seen here. Upcoming performances, auditions, any and everything to do with my journey as a professional actress.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Life Throws You Curve Balls!

Nothing more to really elaborate on. It is what it is. I will have more details later, but until then keep the dream moving forward.

Remember: A dream unattained is not a dream at all, it is a nightmare.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Auditioning and DVDs

Okay, it’s one thing to perform a role on film that’s MEANT for film, but it’s super difficult to execute a piece traditionally meant for the stage on film. What am I talking about? I am talking about sending in an audition DVD for a theatre company.

I love technology! There were a few theatre company internships that I wanted to apply for but I couldn’t make out to their auditions. I mean some were in KY and CA and I just didn’t have enough time to put in time off at my job or set up flight plans…so thank God for technology and understanding theatre companies. A few companies that I was interested in gave me the option to submit a DVD of my work rather than fly out there just for an audition.

Building a DVD
First thing is first, choose pieces that truly represent your strengths, your range, and your drive. This part wasn’t too hard for me, I must admit. I had spent the whole semester preparing certain audition pieces, so this was the easiest part. Next, you need to figure out how are you going to film it. Using your webcam or a simple camcorder, just make sure it is clear and professional. In my case, I was extremely blessed to have awesome friends WITH awesome equipment and they filmed one stellar audition DVD for me. But it’s as simple as using a good camera, finding a program to build your DVD, and burn one.
  • Give a proper, fun introduction...I mean just like a regular audition
  • Use contrasting pieces; not necessarily humorous and dramatic, but emotionally contrasting as well
***Note: Make sure you use a professional looking DVD label on the front of your DVD

Treat It like a Regular Audition
So just because it’s on film doesn’t mean you should turn off any of your audition etiquette. The cool thing about filming is if you flub up, uh….cut let’s do that take again! LOL But yeah remember to dress nice, articulate, and overall just be you.

"It’s crazy in the past I have been ridiculed for being too “professional” at an audition. Not fake…no the words they used weren’t ‘fake’ but…too professional.  And I must admit to this day, I have no clue what that means. What I do think it could mean is that they already have an impression of me before I started speaking. Based off what I am wearing or how I walk or whatever…that being said as long as you KNOW yourself, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise."

 Below is an example of one my audition monologues. You can see more of them on my YouTube Channel!

What's Next?

Graduation May 2011
The big, dreaded question every recent graduate faces… What’s next? So now that I have graduated from college, I have been looking into finding strong and challenging apprenticeship/internship programs that will keep me on track and focused for the next year or so. Yes…I could just go up into New York or out to L.A. and just jump into the swing of things but…that’s not me. I like stability and being at my personal best before venturing too far out.

Nevertheless, I started my quest for apprenticeships/internships by going to the Actors’ Equity Association website and selecting EMC Candidates and Programs and printed out the entire list. Basically, I want to get my equity card and in order to do so I have to either hopefully get cast in a equity theatre house production as a non-union or find a theatre that offers a EMC candidate program and start earning equity points.

So after I printed out the list, I notated two things to myself:
  •           Where?
  •         What does it offer?

Location was a huge factor for me. I decided to contact programs that were in KY, VA, DC, MD, PA, NY, GA, FL, and CA. Why…uuhhh because it was my preference. (smiles)

What does it Offer?
(Here comes the research and time to use those highlighters)
You are researching to find out the following:
  • What type of program do they offer? (Apprenticeship, internship, fellowship, etc.)
  • What is the program’s focus? (Acting, Tech, Administrative)
  • How long is the program?
  • Is there a stipend?
  • Is housing provided?

Most of this information is available on their theatre company’s website; however sometimes it isn’t. So shooting them an email will do the trick.

         Start by googling the theatre company. This way you can see their main website, read reviews, etc. Once you find out the information you want and need, create a spreadsheet to document your findings. On the printed out EMC list, highlight which programs are definite YESs, NOs, and MAYBEs. I used yellow for my YESs, blue for NOs, and pink for MAYBEs. This is so you won’t repeat yourself. Trust me, the list can get quite confusing and time consuming…

Contacting the Company

  • See if they have an application
  • Email or mail them a nice cover letter stating your interest in their program and ask if they offer a program in your field of choice.

Out of the hundreds of theatres listed on the EMC program list, I emailed oh…about 30! And sent actual postal mail to 9. In response, I’ve gotten a lot of “we’ve already chosen our interns” or “we don’t offer a program in your field”. However, I’ve gotten two nibbles: The Actor’s Express in Atlanta and The Black Rep Theatre in St. Louis!

I will keep you posted…

Sunday, May 1, 2011

To Cry or Not to Cry....- Emotional Connectivity

'So can you cry on cue? Or... oh you're an actor, so can cry on the spot, right?
Uh...NEGATIVE! I'm not a switch. I am human. LOL. But we get that a lot as actors. Crying, building up emotion, instant anger, all that is a challenge in itself. Tears are a result housing up emotions and finally releasing them. Yes, there are many actors that can turn on the "water works" with the snap of a finger and I say "more power to you!" :) But for those we are like me who cannot, hopefully this blog can assist you.

So how do you connect emotionally to something you have never dealt with before? Well, there are two methods that I choose to explore: Emotional Recall & Substitution.

Scenario: You are on stage/on a movie set and you have a scene that deals with a murder tat has taken place. The murder was of a little girl around the age of 2 or 3. 

Now hopefully you've never committed a murder or had to witness one, yet we have all seen plenty of news stories about it. Or know someone who has a tragedic story they've told you, and one way or another they have effected you. It may make you angry or bring you to tears; whatever it may be it caused you to be effected 'emotionally'.

Emotional Recall

Courtesy of Old Dominion Theatre from "Persephone Wept"
I've been using this for years to access the emotional region of my characters. Other words for it is 'sense memory' or 'affective memory'. Basically, internally you are trying to recall the sensation from a traumatic, emotional event rather than the emotions themselves. It's a lot safer if you ask me. As for in our scenario, I would use a news story that I seen in the past and the feeling I got from watching the families be so hurt over losing their child. On a more personal note, I remember teaching a class and we took a field trip to the mall and one of the kids that was in my group went missing. DON'T WORRY...only for like 3 secs but it felt like hours! My body was in shock and was panicked. So for the scenario above I "recall" that emotion of feeling fear and substitute that into the scene.

Courtesy of Old Dominion University from "Fragments"

This is a new one for me and I found that it works best for film actors. Basically, it's similar to the concept of Emotional Recall except instead of actually trying to recall a particular or specific moment to gave an emotional reaction, you simply substitution something else in. For example, remember the student I lost at the mall? Well, I would use him as my emotional stimulus RATHER than the feelings I felt. Got it? Like I said the two are VERY similar.

I was first introduced to this technique last summer while I was taking Tasha Smith's Actor's Workshop in DC. Check out the link to see more about it.

Facts about Emotional Recall and Substitution

·      Emotional Recall was a term coined by Lee Strasberg for his "Method" Acting. However, Stanislavski was the first to develop such a technique. He called it "Affective Memory". 

·      Affective Memory was first used at the Moscow Art Theatre

·      One of the first plays to showcase this technique was Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov

·      Substitution is based off Stella Adler's technique of Substitution.

·      Substitution also stems of from the roots of Method Acting 

·      Her version of the Method is based on the idea that actors should conjure up emotions not by using their personal memories, but by using the scene's given circumstances. 

For more information about Emotional Recall and Subsitution, reseach the follwing: Stanislavski, Lee Strasberg, or Stella Alder.

Works Cited

Adler, Stella, and Howard Kissel. The Art of Acting. Applause Theatre & Cinema  Books,  2000. Print.
Osnes, Beth. Acting: an International Encyclopedia. Abc-Clio Inc, 2001. Print
Rotté, Joanna. Acting with Adler. Amadeus Press, 2000. Print.
Strasberg, Lee, and Evangeline Morphos. A Dream of Passion: the Development of  the Method. Plume,       
       1988. Print.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Raising Awareness, Raising Hope

"Before I begin talking about my acting journey and process with working on Raising Awareness, Raising Hope, I would like to send a special prayer to all the victims and victims' families of the tsunami in Japan. Thru the miracle of hope and promise, the sun will always rise again."

"Today, the great lie is that - women are not equal to men...." That lines is the true definition of what Raising Awareness, Raising Hope represents. Thru the compilation of poems and scenes, this show reinstated, in me, what my true calling is. And it is not only acting, it is informing.

All these women, black and white, we all came together to give a powerhouse performance of women over coming repression and oppression. Purely beautiful. Of course, it was a learning experience for me. It came down to actors vs spoken word artist. True, we are all the same when it comes down to using our words and our emotions to convey message but the process was a little...scattered, if you will. I was stepping into an ongoing show and process. It was a little scary on my end. In my mind, I worried if I'd be able to connect with women in the time that we had to prepare for the show. I believe it was about 2 and a half weeks we had to get ready. But BOY did we get it together or what!?! (smiles)

REMEMBER THIS: Please take care of yourself physically...at all times. Physically, my body was so strained and stressed. Not because of the show, but because I hadn't taken the time to check in with myself first before jumping into another project. But, it was truly worth it. Especially because i had been so down lately about everything. By working with these women, I was able to hear stories and viewpoints from many different perspectives.

Brittney S. Harris as Young Girl# 2
I had to tap in my character work on this show. I portrayed a young girl being forced into marriage by an abusive father, a teenage with HIV from Swaziland, and political leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. It was fun. Especially, this was the first time I got to play around with accents and dialects. As for physicality, the frailty for the little girl was easier to tackle than the fragility of the HIV diagnosed teenager. The underlining trait that all of my characters explored was the trait of vulnerability. I used the method of substitution to relate emotionally to all the characters.

Cast of Raising Awareness, Raising Hope

The show went up at the Venue on 35th Street in Norfolk, VA under the direction and producer Patti A. Wray. I have to admit Patti was the first person to give me a taste of community theatre outside the theatre academic arena. AND I LOVE THE VENUE! It's such an intimate space and for a show like RA-RH the powerful message of the show truly resonated in this space. Grunts of confirmations from the audience, the sniffles from holding back tears, men...MEN! sitting there nodding their heads in agreement with these messages...AWESOME!

Back in Business...

Long time no talk or update. Sometimes as actors we go through dry spells. Like not getting any work or getting cast or calls interested in what you have to offer. Nothing. But I have to admit the absolute worse kind of dry spell is when you are emotionally dry. Deprived. Your spirit for what you love has diminished. Gone. When you step on a stage, it is just a place not a home. When performing drains you as much as not performing. When teaching doesn’t mean a thing. When you are tired of not performing, just so tired that somehow deep down you begin to brainwash yourself to “think” you can’t do this anymore. That’s bullcrap!

Since September of last year, I have been evaluating my talent. Me as a performer. Performing is something that comes natural to me. I felt it and until September 2008 I didn’t give a fuck if no one else did. However, I let…opinions and challenge influence the thick skin that I thought I had. I was questioning everything about me. My ability to speak to others and communicate. It was so tough. I mean it got down to the point I started bringing myself down even more.

Pray? I tried. I couldn’t pray about it. I didn’t want to talk about it. Mainly because I couldn’t describe what I was feeling. Was it that I was bitter I wasn’t getting work or getting cast? No. Was it my faith or lack thereof? No. It was…me. You have to have a solid foundation in yourself in order to be in this business. Why? Because there will always be the ones to bring you down. The ones that question your abilities: your talent, your worth. And this is not all about acting, people. This is about life. But as actor isn’t our job to be a representation life? We are manifestations of life through the form of media. Even though in my neck of the hood I may blend in, I cannot let that set me back.

Trust me, I am not preaching; I am reevaluating.