Own it!

So yesterday I went to my business of acting class and we worked on role-playing for important meetings with possible agents, mentors, producers, directors, casting directors, etc.

My biggest critique from my colleagues, and I fully agree is that I don’t have confidence in sharing about myself.  In honest truth, I hate sharing about myself as an actor.  I’ve written before of my insecurities with the “actor” part of me.  I haven’t done much, haven’t gone out to a lot of auditions, nor booked really anything.  What is there to share when asked questions like: “what are you? An actor?  Why? What have you done lately? What makes you unique out of all the 10 bajillion actors in la?  What makes you you?”

My teammates were the shit.  They said, just own it.  Whatever you’ve done, or whatever you haven’t done.  You’re fresh to la, OWN THAT! Spin it to say, I’m eager, fresh, willing to learn, pumped.  You don’t have a lot of credits, OWN THAT! Spin it to where I’m working on the craft with my many classes.  Or the silly rap video that I’ve done.  OWN THAT!

So feeling inspired by what they said, and realizing that I needed to practice internalizing the self confidence of me as actor, I wrote out those questions and answered them as honestly as I could without any judgment.

What are you? An actor?  Why?

My name is Thi like the ice tea, the drink, the letter.  My parents had a sense of humor and I have a sister named Thu and another named Thao.  My parents’ names are Thoai and Thoa so all together it’s Thoai Thoa Thi Thu Thao.

Thi is my first name that’s short for Minh Thi.  It’s a two-part name combined with my middle name.  Yup Minh Thi.  Mintyfreshness.  Yes I’m oh so fresh to la.  I just moved here last September to do the whole acting thing.  To finally take it seriously.

So, who am I? (Logline)I am an actress committed to booking witty, fun-loving, and down to earth roles in high production value and/or creative projects.

Even though I don’t have a lot of credits to my name yet, one of the biggest accomplishment for me is moving to la.  I’ve wanted this a long time but it took a while to even admit it and even be able to say it out loud.   I’m an actor.  I was in denial for so long, trying to find other things that would pique my interests, but doing other things just made me angry because I knew what I wanted to do but wasn’t doing it.

In hindsight, I don’t know why I denied the desire to be an actor when I was sooo made to be an actor.    It’s kinda like Mitchel from modern family how the more they talk about his childhood (how he liked show tunes and musicals and his pet bird’s name was Eliza Minnelli) that it’s kind of a shock as to why his dad was even surprised when his son finally came out. It’s a shock to me how much I denied it when I was turning boxes into time machines and a three story bunk bed into caves, swimming pools, mail chutes, and again time machines (I was very much into back to the future).  I made sock puppets, put on shows and shot dumb videos for class assignments, always wanting to read out loud during language art class.

Do I want to want to be an actor? No not at all.  My friends say, “good luck”.  Believe me, I’ll need it.

Do I have to be an actor.  Without a doubt.  It’s the only thing that will give me fulfillment and peace of mind.  And really I have no plan b.

What are your hobbies? What makes you unique?

I can speak Spanish.  One of the things I did when I was trying to avoid acting was I taught English in Madrid, Spain.  It was super fun and I was the cool Californian with my aviator shades during yard duty.  I swear one of the kids went up to me during recess once and said I looked like Miley Cyrus! Hahahah! The girls loved Miley Cyrus and the Jonas brothers.  So I took it as a compliment even though I never saw myself nearly as cool as Miley Cyrus.  I was more like the Liz lemon or Anne of green gables growing up.  Awkwardly skinny with limbs that were too long for my small frame.  Anyways now I speak Spanish to anyone I can, whether it’s the Latinos in Korea town or with the back of the house people at the restaurant.

I think my Spanish has improved immensely.  I used to speak like this: Yo tengo que ir a la casa para ver a mi novio. (Like a valley gringa speaking Spanish). Now I speak it like this: tengo que ir a la casa ahora mismo (like a boss).

Other hobbies include watching documentaries on Netflix, recent favorites are being Elmo, afghan star, and Herb and Dorothy.

I enjoy a nice cold beer at dive bars and speak easys while the occasional high energy dancing you would find at a Swedish house mafia concert.

What kind of actor are you?

So here’s my ultimate goal: I will support myself as an actor in prime time TV roles and juicy supporting feature film roles.

I feel that the epitome of ultimate success to my story is to host SNL.  But the goal is to support myself as an actor.  Bottom line.

With such a young face, of course I’m going for the 18 to play younger roles, high school students, quirky best friend, nerdy smart girl, intern, freshman, in shows like glee, the secret life of an American teenager, community, vampire diaries, MTV scripted shows.

What have you done so far in LA? What’s your experience?

Like I’ve said, I’m fresh to the LA acting scene.  However, I’m really involved with honing the craft, taking a bunch of casting director workshops just to get my face out and about.  I’ve been taking method acting at playhouse west, improv at Groundlings and UCB, intentional acting with Loren Chadima, and even scene work with thecastingdirector.com.  There’s so much opportunity to learn the craft and to work at it and I’m really passionate about finding the right method that gets me in the zone consistently and to fully immerse myself in the character and make it my own.

When I’m not in class, I try to collaborate with my colleagues and make my own projects.  With the internet and technology so easy and accessible, it’s a crime not to take full advantage of it.

I recently made a rap video.  It’s on YouTube! Someone challenged me to it, and I wrote it, rapped it, and shot it with my friends.  I did it because I could!  And now I use it as part of my reel.


Little Update

So today I signed with another agency.  Actually to backtrack a little, I signed with the manger a few weeks ago, and he connected me with this agency.  I had a meeting with this agency and they seem cool, so I’m represented across the board with them (commercial, print, and theatrical).  It’s a good thing because I don’t have much credits on my resume.  How am I feeling?  Anxious apprehensive. It’s weird though.  The first time around when getting an agent in la, I was super excited/nervous, went in, did my monologue with gusto, and the agent said I wasn’t good and needed to be like Meryl Streep.  In hindsight, I had no chance if he was going to compare me to her.  And that’s why it didn’t work out with the old agency.  They never sent me out on anything, and when I finally got an audition, it was for a Disney mom.  They didn’t understand my look, my brand, or me.  My manager was the one that told me to boot him and to go with his connection, thus leads me to today’s agency.  Let’s hope I get more auditions.  More auditions leads to more bookings which leads to more credits which will ultimately lead to superstardom. Whoot whoot fingers crossed.  Let’s go.


The Business of Acting

So lately I’ve been taking workshops and classes on the business of acting.  The main things I’ve gathered is making and building relationships, specificity, and a positive attitude.

Building relationships: this is key.  Especially with casting directors/associates/assistants.  They’re not the gatekeepers to my success, they’re my biggest supporter.  I went to this workshop that talked about breakdowns.  A breakdown is when a project needs casting, it’s posted online, and actors can submit themselves (or agents/managers submit them) electronically.  Anyways, within 30 minutes, I saw a live post get over 1500 submissions.  Jeez louise.  I felt sorry for casting directors because they have to look through all those profiles, reels, headshots, etc. to fill in that one spot.  For actors, it’s a crapshoot … if you don’t know the casting director.  You’re just another one in the pile.  That’s why it’s best to build relationships.  If I can build a relationship with a casting director, he/she may even think of me for a role (that I’d be perfect for) even before the part is posted.  Thus, making their life easier and me with an audition.  They don’t want to look through 1500 submissions. Nobody does.

Specificity: I have to know what casting directors I want to know and which ones should know me.  I’m a particular brand. I look very young, so my brand is the quirky student/friend that can be seen in shows like vampire diaries and the secret life of an American teenager.  So, I have to target casting directors of those specific shows.  By being specific, I have a method of going about my career, instead of slipping my headshots and resumes in random car window shields.  Being specific also helps with acting.  When given a role to audition, you’re usually competing with many people that look like you and can read.  So, what makes you different?  The choices you make for that particular role.  The attitude, the mannerisms, the character.  An actor is not about reading and memorizing lines, but bringing a character from paper to life.

Positive attitude: if you can visualize it, you can do it.  And I can, most definitely.  Of course it’s hard to stay positive when the industry is saturated with bad people trying to take advantage of you and bring you down.  But it’s also up to us to let all that shit effects us or not.  There are a lot of good people out there too and fortunately for me, I’ve had a lot of people root for me: friends, family, and industry people.  There are enough roles for everyone!

I guess with all this in mind, it makes the whole career choice not as bleak and hopeless. I just have to trust in myself and the universe and everything will be ok 🙂