SOS

Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash

It used to burn. Burn bright, emitting incandescent, iridescent light. All the colors of the rainbow, it flickered, it’s fickle, it was alive.

It was, anyways.

Sun up sun down, doors open doors close. I speak but there’s no sound. The walls close in, I push back. I keep pushing back. Push. Push. Push. The wall looms over, rigid, unyielding, monolithic. Its plaster thick, prolific, sadistic. It surrounds me. Bounds me. Tight. Crushes me, suffocates me and shuts out that evanescent light.

I can’t breathe.

So what? What is the point. Point the gun at me because modernity has crushed my soul, my spirit, my waning light. It is replaced by that harsh cold florescent light. A black mirror reflected refracted, cracked, distracted. Everyone is around, but they’re not physically here. They can’t hear. They can’t see.

I’m waiting.

Eyes shut tight, waiting for the inevitable end. The black deep dark abyss gapes wide with no ends. My spirit weakens as it teeters over the edge. She waits for someone to talk her off of that precarious ledge.

It’s not too late.

A familiar face. A twinkle in the eye. A friend. A HUG. Real, tight, surrounds me, bounds me, and I can’t breathe. But this is different. This is real. I feel. I almost don’t believe it. It’s surreal. Arms encircle, wrap and hold me tight. Chest to chest, there’s emanating radiating warmth that ignites. Resurrected! Yes! It’s in sight! Rejuvenated! Yes! Seeping light! Elevated! Yes! Above great heights!

Yes! My spirit glows once again.

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Hey There Lonely Girl


By herself. All alone. Pink pants, stressed shirt. She’s stylish, self conscious. Lips colored with faint fig chapstick, eyeliner lines thin, makeup at a minimum. Red wires wrap her torso, she’s encased in music that’s turned down low. Below the Saturday streets, she waits for the train to take her where her eyes go. She looks up and through the tunnel into the great beyond. Great abyss, great darkness interrupted intermittent with flashing, florescent neon colored lights. Saturday night. Train’s faint light finally in sight. Doors open. Out and in out and in. Stop. And go Stop. And go. But the girl sits. By herself. All alone. Two seats to her one self. She doesn’t look down, she doesn’t look sad. She looks interesting. She looks like she has something to say. But she sits on the outskirts with the window seat beside her empty. There’s no one to talk to. So her mouth is closed as her body encloses that seat empty. She looks beyond it. Beyond her window reflection. Black tunnel, black backdrop, blackness reflected back on those burning bright eyes.

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.

 

I should update more :x

Why would anyone want to follow me if I never updated?  -Sigh- I only wished I had a lot to update.  I haven’t been sent out at all for auditions, so either my agent forgot about me or my headshot is in need of an update.  I think it’s both.  😡 I will update my headshots soon, before the year ends. And they’ll be bomb ass and he’ll remember to submit me.  And I guess it’s ok that I’m not being sent out cuz then it’ll give me time to concentrate on my classes.  Taking 12 hours a week of classes, I’m constantly thinking about the craft.  Taking improv classes at groundlings by day and method acting at playhouse west by night, I’m still trying to find the style that would best garner the emotions out of me.  Both styles are so different but in so many ways are sooo similar.  It really fascinates me, but maybe that’s just me missing the life of a student.

The more I delve myself into acting and get to know her, the stronger I feel that I AM made to do this.  I can do this, and I can do it well!  I’ve been doing some reading on method acting, specifically from the book “Sanford Meisner on acting”.  I guess the main lesson I’ve learned from this book is to “live truthfully under imaginary circumstances”.  This tells me that if you’re gullible, you’re gonna be a bomb ass actor, and doode! I’M GULLIBLE!  Super gullible, to the point that it angers me when I find out that people were just “joking”.  (Hah, joking as in lying! – I’m over it though).  Anyways, this form of acting is very internal and emotional.  Right now I’m in beginners, just learning the basics.  We don’t do real scenes with text. We do a bunch of two person “scenes”.  These scenes consist of a person doing an activity (an activity that requires your full attention and concentration), while another person comes to the door, and if you’re in it, you improv it out based on each other’s behaviors.  The first person must get the activity done, but how do you do it when someone else in the room wants your attention as well?  Person that comes to the door has an objective, whether it is to get a bag of sugar or something more meaningful.  Anyways, this is the set up and you just have to be able to pick up on EVERYTHING from your partner and yourself.  Whether he/she is sad, mad, annoyed, and how they affect you.  How does it make you feel? Live every little nuances moment to moment, picking up small impulses, and only do something when your gut tells you to.  Don’t think, don’t act, just feel. It’s like a gym for your emotions where you take everything personally, express it fully, and let it ALL out.

I find it interesting because society has conditioned us to keep our emotions in check.  Nobody wants to see everyone crying their sob story on the bus every frigging day right? So it’s challenging that with acting I have to unconditioned myself from that.  When I was young, I was such a crybaby.  I took everything up the butt! What makes it even more challenging is that to learn control of my emotions, I have to be able to lose control first and that’s what this class allows me to do. The book totally reaffirms the whole emotional part relative to who I am and my journey to be an actor:

“Any of the negative experiences that life has to offer have impacts of varying degrees … this feeling that you’re being mistreated, that you’re no good, which is a holdover from way back when you were almost an infant, can be a potent force in your acting.  But the confidence that permits you to say ‘I am somebody’ takes a long time to become secure in you.  The problem arises when that feeling of worthlessness is juxtaposed with something that is part and parcel of this business – namely, that you can’t learn to act unless you’re criticized.”

So how am I doing in this class?  I think I’m pretty good with picking up things from my partner. Can I get emotional?  Definitely, but I feel like I really need to be pushed there by my partner.  I’m only as good as my partner.

What about improv at groundlings?  Now where method acting is inward-out, improv is more outward-in.  BIG EMOTIONS, exaggerated to the point that it’s comical.  We do two people scenes where the audience gives a location, i.e. the gym. The two actors in the scene must set it up with the three fundamentals: who, what, and where.  Who the characters are and their relationship to each other, what they are doing in the scene, and where they are.  Since it’s improv, anything goes.  We do a lot of space work to indicate the present action within the scene (i.e. using the elliptical). We make up on the spot the relationship, “oh! You’re the best gym instructor I’ve ever had”.  And with improv, everybody is right.  Never deny, if my partner says I’m the best gym instructor, then damn right, I am the best instructor.

Improv with groundlings is not about feeling it truthfully and projecting it to your partner.  It’s more about making shit up, and justifying it later.  For me, this style works too.  Because the more I justify it, the more I can fool myself into thinking it’s true and then logically act it out truthfully.  It’s kinda like when I auditioned to take classes for groundlings.  The instructor told us to be sad.  I didn’t think back to kids bullying me back when, I just crinkled up my face and sobbed loudly, and surprisingly that got me really emotional where tears came out.  Outward in.

How am I doing in this class?  I dunno! We play a lot of games and I’m having fun.  It really allows me to think out of the box and then justify it later.  It really allows me to think and be creative, to kinda build upon my repertoire of weird ideas and imagination.

Both styles of acting: improv and method are similar too where working with your partner is extremely important.  That’s really my biggest gripe with my agent. If acting is a communal thing, reacting to your partner, listening to your partner, how can he judge my acting capabilities on a monologue?  -_- Well whatevers, I’m going to excel in these classes and hopefully show my agent that I’m made to do this. That I can be really good at this someday one day.

 

God I suck at auditions!

Ok, today was “work on my craft day”.  I was motivated after a mediocre audition. Ugh.  I know I can do better but when you’re encircled by critical eyes, bright light shining on you and the camera is rolling, everything I learned about cold reads went out the window.  Out the window.  I’m stumbling over the lines, I’m not reacting when the reader is reading his lines.  I moved too much, I tried too hard, and kept my eyes down on the page.  Why?  Cuz I was nervous! As much as I want to be an actress and I strive for it, I still get nervous.  I get stage fright.  And to think, I thought I was better than these guys.  The thing was, I’ve been to this exact audition before, with the same people at the same place for the same role.  But the last time, I didn’t audition.  I walked out because I knew that they had no idea what they were doing.
I walk in the audition, and basically it’s one big room.  A bunch of girls are waiting in these fold out chairs.  There’s fruit, snacks, and water bottles spread out on a table.  And the people running the show are stalling.  No camera is set up, no light is set up, not enough copies of the script are out either.  There were about 30 girls auditioning at the same time.  There were no time slots but first come first serve.  And since it’s all one big room, we get to watch each other’s audition.  Ugh.  Here’s another thing, I was up for a spunky Asian lesbian girl role.  There were three other people in that room up for this role.  And the rest, 25 something other white girls up for the white lesbian role.  But the guy running the show said that they were going to see the girls for the other role first because there were more of them.  Really?  Why not see my role first since there are less of us??!!  Not only that but it was supposed to start at 1:30pm, but the guy says, “oh we’re giving you girls more time, so we’re going to start at 2:30pm.” really?? So, I come in at 1:30pm and am expected to wait until god knows when for my 5-minute audition?? Really?  I left by 1:50pm.  NOT WORTH IT. I remember thinking to myself, if they were to do this shit in Los Angeles, they would be eaten alive!

So, I walked out and didn’t think I would hear from them ever again.  But I did.  A few weeks later, I get another request to audition.  But this time they put on the audition note, that each audition were to take 5 minutes and that we were expected to come in for our given time.  WOW! They knew they were dumb and improved a full 180.  I walked into my audition today and was satisfied with the set up.  Yes, it was the same big room, but they had a divider to section off the waiting room and the actual audition room.  The camera was on, the lights were set, and it was as professional as I would expect it to be.  The only thing that was off was that they didn’t ask me to slate.  Instead, they asked me what I liked about the character I was up for.  I said I liked how she was spunky and Asian (ugh could I be any more racist?) and that I could relate to her because I’m Asian.

Alright, so it was a humbling experience today because here I was thinking I was better than they were.  I’ve been to so many auditions that I knew how to set up one when they didn’t.  But when they fixed their error, they leveled the playing field.  And then it was my turn to show them what I had.  So much pressure!  First off, nowhere in the character’s description said that she was Asian.  I only assumed because I only saw Asian girls up for the role.  Nevertheless, to highlight such a thing totally contradicts what I’ve said and thought about Asian roles in the media (my views on Asian roles will be in the next post).  Second, I didn’t know the lines very well and kept reading off the page.  When I didn’t read off the script, I was stumbling over the lines.  When I was reacting, I reacted too much and went off my mark.  Blegh.

With such a bad audition, I came home to record myself auditioning.  I recorded myself reading monologues and doing speeches to just see what other people see.  It was hard to watch because I’m my biggest critic and I cringe to see my face on the screen.  I have fat cheeks.  Normally I would immediately delete the videos but I’m keeping them to keep track of my progress.  These in a sense are the before shots.  I’m going to practice and record myself for each practice so that I can see what I need to work on (such as stillness, enunciation, reaction, cold reads) and to actually see if I improve on them or not.  I must and will work on my craft.  I have big dreams but it’s nothing without the work ethic.  And no more sucky auditions!