thi.nguyen

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Recent thoughts

Ugh. Next week I turn 30. And I’ve been very emotional lately. There’s the whole, my body is actually changing. I get gassy when I eat dairy. I have grey hairs. I get hangovers. It takes me much longer to heal from anything. There’s ALSO the whole I’m nowhere near where I thought I would be at 30. No career, no long-term relationship that can lead to marriage, no money, no health insurance, no 401k, no property. NOTHING.

I know the path I chose is harder than most. And I swear everyone and their effing mom has an opinion on my career path — I recently was told I’m delusional and am using the “I’m following my dream” to not have to hold myself accountable for my arrested development.

Look, I was valedictorian in middle school. I was nominated for Homecoming Queen by the boys water polo team. I was runner up for Most Likely to Make You Laugh in high school. I went to UCLA, took on at least 19 or more units/quarter and graduated Cum Laude with a quarter to spare. I have a freakin Masters in Spanish and am fluent in three languages. This was all accomplished by 22. I was projected to do great things.

SO HOW DID I GET HERE? I’m not proud of where I am right now and I think it’s because of my projections of myself when I was 22. My 22 year old self is severely disappointed in myself now.

There’s a thing called SATURN RETURNS where it takes 30 years for Saturn to finish its rotation around the sun. Big changes tend to happen when you’re about 30, 60 and 90. I see that everywhere around my group of friends right now. We’re all turning 30 and a lot of my friends are either getting married, having babies, getting promoted, or even quitting that job they got straight out of college and traveling and rethinking a different career path. CHANGE. REBIRTH. 

SO WHAT? My biggest change happened after 22. When I decided to leave a laid out path of measurable success (school-job-money-security) for the unpredictable and dark non path of acting. Instead of walking on an already paved path, I have to figure out a path from A to B in the dark, while using a shovel I’ve never used before nor have the upper body strength to use it efficiently. Hence the slow and immeasurable progress of this stupid acting career. I swear I’m either really stupid or really crazy.

But Saturn Returns can also mean DEATH. Perhaps a death of something to make room for something else? The same friend that told me I was delusional in pursuing acting as a profession, suggested that maybe this isn’t the path for me. That because I’m so focused on it, I’m blinded from any opportunity that is coming.

But opportunity doesn’t come from nothing. Opportunity has to come from work. And I haven’t worked towards anything else but acting. If I were to quit acting now, I would have no focus. No passion. No direction. That’s too bleak. So acting is the answer. I’m already doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

SO WTF IS THE PROBLEM??! In my teens and early 20s, I was accomplishing a lot and succeeding at a fast rate. I was used to that and carried that projection and expectation of myself into now. When I compare myself and my present to that 22 year old projection, I am deeply saddened. I think to myself that I am about to turn 30 and I have nothing worth celebrating.

And then I remember how STUPID my 22 year old self was. She was writing everything in lowercase. Everything, even her name. Ugh. How annoying. She easily felt the pressures of FOMO. She needed to party party party. Instant gratification. Always impatient, always wanting it NOW! She was exhausting.

Now in my later 20s and about to be in my 30s, I find life to be richer when lived slower. Referring to my last post “Community” where I talk about my first year of Burning Man to my second year, my 22 year old self was the yoloing burnt out first year while myself now is the smell the flowers, make time for the sunrise, tea sipping second year.

So what’s going to be my Saturn Returns? Am I getting married? NOPE. Am I having a kid? NOPE. Am I changing career paths. FUCK NO. I think it’s going to be the DEATH of the 22 year old’s unfair and unrealistic projection of my 30 year old self. She was expecting me to have it all by now assuming that I would stay on the laid out path. She didn’t take in consideration that I decided to dig and find my own path. Which does take longer but that’s OK! With this death, I can actually accept and embrace that success might come later, much later. And it’s OK! Life will be felt deeper. Richer. Fuller.

See, Sarah Paulson who just won an Emmy has some career advice: Don’t Succeed So Early.  I think I’m gonna be alright. :]


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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


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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


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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


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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. 


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don’t tell me

i appreciate your concern

i know you don’t want me to fail

i know you don’t want me to suffer, to be broke, to be sad, to be judged, mishandled and derailed

but if one more person tells me to drop what i’m doing

to stop

to quit

to give it all up

i’m gonna say

fuck you.

don’t tell me to quit my dream.

i already know i haven’t progressed

i already know that it hasn’t been easy

you think i’m stupid? you think i don’t know?

the problem is, is that i do know.

i hear you. i do.

i totally see what you see too.

how that one kid has had more momentum in the past 3 months than me in the past 4 years.

how i’m still living in a roach infested apartment, while friends are buying houses

getting married

making babies

making money

while i’m in the dark, with my tears, my fears, my endless queries.

what am i to do?

quit the dream and get a real job?

shut the fuck up.

stop telling me to quit my dream.

make some money.

do acting as a hobby.

no. if it’s a hobby, it’s not a commitment.

it’s my passion.

have some compassion.

leave me the fuck alone!

don’t tell me

i already know.