thi.nguyen

let's go.


Leave a comment

Why does the dream feel so …

Impossible?

:/ I know time is a social construct, but with every passing day as I look at myself in the mirror, lines are getting more defined and my hair is fading color … the dream of getting from the couch to the screen seems even more out of reach than ever.

Why does time matter? I look at younger people with envy and wistfulness. They have their whole lives ahead of them. When did I get so jaded, so discouraged, so insecure?

I’ve been going to a lot of weddings lately. While everyone is pairing off, I’m still single. I’ve been single longer than I’ve been with anyone combined. I’m not saying being with someone will make me happy. If anything, I think I’m more comfortable being on my own. But it’s not because it stems from a desire for solitude, but from a need for protection. I don’t think I’m deserving of anyone just yet.

But Thi, why define yourself by your success or lack thereof? Because that has been my reality my entire life. My mom came here to make something of herself and her kids are a reflection of whether or not she succeeded. If her kids fail, she has failed. As the first born, that pressure is insurmountable and I am left feeling shut down.

Melancholy. Mood of the moment. up_on_melancholy_hill_by_katarrhe

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Writing

It is my belief that if you can write, you can do anything. Especially in this town.

Writing for me comes easily when I know what I’m talking about. When I write about myself, whether it’s through this blog or a fictional novel that is based on my life*, cake. But when I attempt to write about something that I think will sell (based on what I’ve already seen on TV and movies), in a format I’m not all too familiar with (screenplay) duh, just so I think it can forward my stagnated acting career, I fall short. By a lot. To the point that I avoid any progress on the manuscript. Le sigh.

I know that when the going gets tough, you just have to plow right through it, to not give up! I just have to keep on writing! But I can’t. (Not with that attitude). It’s daunting to write about something for an audience I’m not all too familiar with.

The set up. So I know someone that has a production company in Viet Nam. (Yo, if I can’t make it here, I can maybe make it out of here). She says that the movie industry in Viet Nam is booming. Exponentially.  But there is a lack of scripts.

There’s my opportunity!

The catch. The story must appeal to a Vietnamese audience. I am not Vietnamese. I’m American. My friend said that Vietnamese humor is completely different than American humor. Vietnamese people love slap stick, obvious physical humor. I’m an American that find slap stick humor out of date and am more accustomed to sarcasm, irony, dry wit — which would never appeal to the Vietnamese public. Another le sigh.

I didn’t let this minor discrepancy hold me back. Oh no, I started writing this script … last year, about a month after my friend told me about this opportunity. Too bad I’m still not done with it and it has been over a year. Pathetic Thi!

Instead I concentrate on what I do know. Myself. Oh the so self-involved American. Get. the. fuck. over. yourself. But at least I know what George Martin feels like. I’ve procrastinated, just like he has in his Game of Thrones books. (Maybe he doesn’t know who’s going to win the throne, thus he procrastinates). I wrote more blog posts on my day to day life, I’ve edited my old fictional novels based on my life, I’ve avoided that script that I know nothing about.

And here is where I must ask myself, is that so wrong? Is it so wrong to stop writing about something I don’t know and concentrate on something I do? I’ve gone to panels that spotlight writers in the industry and I’ve noticed that overwhelmingly they are mostly comprised of da da da DA … white 30-40 year old males. Unsurprisingly. This would explain the prolific and wide range of white male roles on television. These guys aren’t racist, they’re just writing what they know, themselves. Different versions of themselves and their friends. If they were to write something other than themselves, it would come off as a caricature, a stereotype, a sloppy cover up of something they know nothing about.

I am not getting any younger, true. Ugh, the countdown to my 30 year old demise is looming near. Hollywood isn’t changing quickly for me to be the next star any time soon (I just got an audition as waitress, yaayy). So what must I do? I must write. I must get better. I must be part of the change I want to see.

The solution. Just keep writing. Maybe I’ll find a balance between the script for Viet Nam and find a little of myself in Vietnamese’s sense of humor.

*Some of you have asked me where you can find my fictional novels. Here they are:

love quest image              identity quest image


Leave a comment

#OscarSoWhite Is Not the Problem

it's a trap meme

Yup. The Oscars is only a distraction from the REAL problem. The studios and the execs, the gatekeepers that decide which movies to greenlight and budget every year are the ones to blame. The Oscars are merely a reflection of what is out there and yes, while most people nominated are white, it’s because the pool is largely comprised of movies with white actors. The movies that campaign for their actors to win awards are the ones with the most budget for sending out screeners, getting ppl to notice, to watch and to remember those films. Although there were a number of films with Black actors this year, movies such as Tangerine and Dope that were very well acted, were barely mentioned in the media, much less pushed in the faces of old white men of the academy to be in their radar. Unless, of course the movie is about some form of slavery, in which a feeling of white guilt is felt and only then does the movie get nominated. Check video below.

Now how does this relate to me? It is 2016, fucking 2016 where we have the internet, self driving cars, phones that act as mini computers and cameras that fit in our pockets, where in major metropolitan cities, cultured cities, are filled with a diverse, eclectic mix of human beings — Black, Latinos, Asian, Native American, etc. It is 2016 where most if not all of these ethnicities have been around much much longer than the fast and ever evolving technology listed above. Machines are evolving more so than human beings??? And yet, Black people are barely being recognized now??? WHAT THE FUCK. Blacks make up about 13% of the U.S.’s population and Latinos make up about 17% of the U.S.’s population. Check out the census here, circa 2014. If Blacks are the minority that is most represented in Hollywood out of all the other minorities, the next up is going to be Latinos, and then, only then is it going to be Asian. But it is 2016, Blacks are in movies but are not recognized, Latinos are still playing stereotypes and wow, Asians just got their first and only family sitcom (Fresh off the Boat) since circa 10 years ago (All American Girl).

I saw The Revenant recently. I’m glad that there were real Native Americans in the movie. However, it made me uncomfortable when Leo said in his speech that he would share his Golden Globe award with the first nations and indigenous people. That’s as if a man were to pocket his ballooned paycheck yet demand equal pay for women. Leo is sharing his award, but is he going to share the award money he gets (3 million bump) if he wins the Oscar? And what about this option? Don’t just say something, DO SOMETHING. Leo has the clout, the power to maybe fund, greenlight movies that have a Native lead, instead of taking the lead himself. He has the power to promote such movies and get them in theaters, get them seen! There’s nothing wrong with making a movie about a guy that survives a bear attack and seeks revenge on the men that left him for dead, fine. But couldn’t an equally good movie be made about the Native Americans finding their kidnapped daughter from the French fur trappers as well? This was the B story of that movie when it could’ve been the A story.

Hollywood is changing yes. But at a pace that my impatient heart dies every time I see a predominantly white cast.  I FUCKING CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE. It’s at a point where it doesn’t make me angry or frustrated, it makes me sad. A strong feeling of despair that I might not ever ever get on the screen, not even for a role such as Student #2. How pathetic.

Let’s add on that from the auditions I do get, one was for a pilot that was basically describing me (20s, Vietnamese, teacher, mega watt smile), in which my audition was cut short to 5 minutes because the girl that auditioned before me was a well known name (she was half Vietnamese, half Black and looked Black, ugh) who got to audition for 20 minutes. Or I had another audition for a movie where the character was fresh from Viet Nam, where she was described as fierce and emotional, so I played her dramatically, only to find out a month later, TODAY, that the tone of the movie is a comedy. Acting is a numbers game where the more auditions you have, the more chances you’ll book. You’ll also have more room to blow auditions because another one will come. But what if it doesn’t come, or you have to wait an entire year for the next? What if I can’t increase the number of my auditions because there is NO DEMAND for my look.

And then I look at Master of None:

Hah, our stories are kinda fresh and original now.


Leave a comment

Year in Review

Let’s face it, 2015 was not my year. A lot of it was out of my control, but a lot of it was my own fault.

  • Got let go from all representation
  • Quit high paying job due to emotional abuse and bad management for low paying job but supportive management and flexibility
  • An assistant job that didn’t go through
  • 6 weddings
  • Traveling plans that didn’t go according to plan
  • Travel costs
  • Spending more than I’m making – BROKE
  • Severe credit card debt
  • Laziness and no motivation

There were a lot of tears over the year. A lot of “WHAT IS THE FUCKING POINT?” moments. I’d stay in watching hours of television and seeing great people on shows and thinking, “Wow, those people are so good, why would they ever need someone like me?” Getting closer to 30, I’m seeing my friends advance in their careers and relationships, making more money and babies and here I am, broke out of mind and can barely make rent. IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY. But it is. I chose this path and I HAVE to just wipe away the tears and stop comparing myself to others. It’s driving myself crazy. So I refocus. Take control of things I can and celebrate the accomplishments, and there are accomplishments, YAY!

  • Got new representation
  • Got meaty auditions and callbacks
  • Had a more active role in my theater group
  • Quit the low paying job to be a substitute teacher for LAUSD
  • Star Wars (not an accomplishment, but it reminded me why I chose this path).

It was because of Star Wars that got me into acting. The possibility of being part of a world and story so awesome was enough of a motivation to pursue this crazy life still.

Nothing’s changed. Still chasing that dream. Let’s. Fucking. Go.

Han Solo and I in 2004

han solo and me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vader and I in 2015

darth vader and me


Leave a comment

Master of None

Love it. Because I can totally relate to it. It’s awesome to see people of a similar background as myself on television. Bravo to Aziz Anzari and Alan Yang. The episode that really got me to really latch on to the show was titled Parents. It was just such an honest and funny episode about the hardships that parents of first generation kids go through so that their American kids  (not FOBS, thank god) can grow up and have an easy and secure life. The episode even showed how these American kids sometimes don’t realize what their parents went through and take their struggle for granted, often times forgetting to show gratitude to their parents.

It called me out yo! It brought to my mind, thinking in hindsight of all the effed up things I did that dismissed my parents’ hard work (i.e. wanting Lunchables instead of my mom’s homecooked rice for lunch). I not only didn’t realize that my troubles were nothing compared to their troubles in a war driven country, but I made it a point that my troubles were far worse than theirs (i.e. kids making fun of my non American name vs. leaving their home country and trying to make a life in a foreign one.)

But I guess because they didn’t have a secure life, that was what they strived for, becoming home owners and working towards retirement — which my dad has recently accomplished. And because they provided a secure life for me, it gave me the freedom to have the desire to be an actor and to not even consider security as a dream.  This brings about a distance that I have with my parents and their culture.

I love that this show and this episode is on a popular medium. It was well done and I hope that people who didn’t have similar parents, who can’t relate, can still enjoy it. Nothing really got resolved in the episode because it was acknowledged that there’s always going to be a distance between first generation kids and their immigrant parents, but that’s life. It’s reflective!

Another thing that I love about this show is that Aziz plays an actor. His character is booking much more than I am, but it shows that a nonwhite person with immigrant parents can still have a career in acting! It gives me hope and motivation to continue the pursuit of my dream. And I really need that hope.

2015 has been really hard. I went from one job that paid a lot of money but made me feel shitty about myself to a job that has management treating me like a valued employee but I make shit money. The first half of 2015, I was busy worrying about my happiness and now, with the second half of 2015, I’ve been worrying about making rent. I’m tired of worrying about something that isn’t acting and it makes me wistful for the security that my parents had provided me when I was younger, because now I have to provide it.

Lastly, what I love about this show is the diverse cast. It brings to mind how I grew up wanting to become like Harrison Ford. Granted, he’s a great guy/actor, but it got to the point that I wanted to be exactly like him, like a white man. It got me to basically dismiss my Vietnamese heritage (which ironically made me special and diverse) and ultimately further the gap between my parents and me. With such a diverse cast, more diverse people will see that they can be on television, that they can be a part of a medium that is accessible by everyone and we can have more of an open minded and inclusive society. I’ve only just learned that it’s ok to be who I am and to embrace it, to share it and to ultimately be integral of something bigger than myself that could possibly make an impression on someone other than myself. Thank you Aziz for giving me that hope.

 

aziz


Leave a comment

Storytelling

I’m a good storyteller. I am.

I recently finished this storytelling class that I took from the Nerdist and our class show was yesterday. Each person took turns telling their story. It could be whatever we wanted as long as it was compelling, showed a transformation of ourselves (before and after) and was under 8 minutes. The most valuable information I took from this class was that each story has to have a compelling dramatic question and hopefully by the end of your story, you leave the audience satisfied by providing an answer to that compelling dramatic question. My teacher John Flynn was super awesome and gave me really good feedback. I started out good and I only got better.

For the class show, our names were pulled out of a hat and depending when our name was drawn determined when we would tell our stories. Lucky me, I went first. And to my surprise I wasn’t nervous. I usually get mad stage fright, but this time I didn’t. There was a level of excitement, it wasn’t anxiety anymore. And maybe it can be attributed to the fact that I went first so I didn’t have time to stress over it and get nervous and psyche myself out. Or maybe it was because I had prepared this story for 3 weeks now during class. But even with so much preparation, I was scared that the story would lose it’s novelty upon show time. Fortunately, I’m a great storyteller and implemented feedback from my class and teacher during my previous telling of the story into the final telling where it brought out just the right amount of laughs and emotions from the audience. Success.

I actually did an open mic that concentrated on storytelling a few weeks before my class show. It was my first open mic. In that one, I was super nervous. But after getting your named pulled and the audience is waiting for you to come on stage and just do your thing, I had no choice but to move my legs onto that stage and start spitting out a story. I told about a Spanish lover named Alejandro. I killed it and after it, I realized it was actually really fun. I had enjoyed it.  Maybe storytelling can be my niche, my way, my avenue of getting to acting.

When I first started out on this journey to pursue acting, a lot of people thought I had courage, that I was brave to go for a dream. After 4 years with little/no success/progress, some people are now thinking that I’m foolish to continue. Actually one friend told me to quit (but he also came and supported me on my class show — hmmm -shrugs-). Another friend real talked me and kinda discounted all my efforts in the past 4 years. He said it looked like I was just trying a bunch of things and not committing, that I was just trying to get by. His advice was to do one thing, that one avenue and commit to it — be the best at it and that will eventually lead to acting.

I believe that his advice is sound. But I feel the need to defend myself and not let him discount my efforts in the past 4 years. With acting, there are so many paths to get to it. I have been trying different things and not being the best at them because I got to the point where it just didn’t feel right anymore, it just wasn’t fun for me anymore, i.e. Twitch. I tried Twitch for a month and quickly realized that that was not my path because I found gaming to be such a chore when I had to do it consistently. It wasn’t fun anymore, and it wasn’t my avenue. But I’m glad I tried it, because it’s one less thing for me to get through to my actual avenue.

Could storytelling be that avenue? I have no idea. But from the start of it, I like it better than Twitch. Yes, storytelling makes me feel uncomfortable and exposed, but it also gets me excited to figure out a good story and to practice it at an open mic. That first open mic was fun because the audience was so open to listening to my story. I fed off from their reactions and their compliments and it was fun just to reenact a good story from my prolific memory collection. Besides, why not? I’m an awesome storyteller. I am.