All you need are Friends and Music

I know my last post was a bit negative so let’s compensate with a different mindset. Some gratitude (a helpful article on how gratitude is effective in the workplace). Some perspective.

Although the world is ending around us, I can still find the silver lining in my personal life. I am truly grateful for my friends and I have such an amazing community of people that I trust and love and am comfortable enough to show my neurotic overthinking woes or my first second third pilot drafts. If I need a hug, they’ll hold me. If I need to vent, they’ll listen. When I’m hating myself and define myself by my failures, they hold me up and look me in the eye, showing me how much they appreciate me. How much they value me. I matter. To them. A simple “how are you.” An email blast to let everyone know it’s my birthday. Watching a movie with me even though they’ve already seen it. A shared meal, shared time, shared experiences.

I work with a lot of kids and I’ve seen how much pressure they’ve put upon themselves. And at such a young age, they define themselves by their limited experiences and accomplishments. Most of the time that’s defined by things, because it’s in front of their faces, because it’s measurable, but it’s not sustainable. I saw high performing overachieving high schoolers get wrecked up by the scores they get, the colleges they get in/or not get in, the student government positions they hold. And when I told them to not define their accomplishments by those things, they asked me point blank, well, what do you consider your greatest accomplishments?

My relationships with others. I’m so grateful that I have been able to maintain friendships with people I’ve known since diapers, since middle school, high school, college, Spain, work, this summer. I’m grateful that I get to be a part of their lives, and share within their milestones (weddings, first borns, second borns, birthdays). This year, I’ve officiated two weddings — that my friends wanted me to be a part of their wedding and to hear what I had to say, was an honor!

I am seen. I am heard. I am loved.

I’m also grateful for music. Especially Spotify. OMG, because I have access to so many different artists, different sounds, moods, tones, beats, rhythms, there’s a song for every moment that I live. It heightens my happiness but also sympathizes with my sadness. How someone I’ve never met can create and share something that truly understands the minute changes, ebbs and flows of my feelings and thoughts throughout the day is OMG fucking mind blowing. It’s a connection that transcends human understanding that is felt within every inch of my body. And I LOVE it. And it makes me happy.

 

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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.

 

Progress Report

Life is weird. Sometimes when it rains it pours, but then other times, when one part of your life is shit, another part is good.  The latter part is true for me right now. On the making rent and having enough money for food, it’s been a struggle.  I’ve interviewed and trained at a number of new restaurants lately, but maybe because I was spoiled at a corporate restaurant (where they have their shit together and there’s a rigid structure to abide by), I have been continuously disappointed by how many restaurants do NOT know what they’re doing.  So, as of right now, I’m restaurant-less.  In addition, maybe that’s a sign to get out of the restaurant industry.  I’m currently living off of unemployment — though I do not intend to for long.  I’ve applied to a non-profit that I have my fingers and toes crossed for.  Wish me luck!

So where there is a lack of abundance of money, I’ve had an abundance of AUDITIONS! Yay!  It’s awesome!  I’ve never had so many auditions around this time in my life! Like I’ve said before, auditions are an accomplishment in themselves.  I haven’t booked anything, but just the whole process of studying the part, the scene, reading between the lines, doing my homework and practicing has made me really ENJOY auditioning.  I’m more confident and comfortable auditioning.  I used to be so nervous and let my nerves shut me down. But now, it’s FUN, it’s weird and it’s a way for me to learn something new.  Last month I had an audition to be a lost Japanese girl in the woods.  My agent called me to assure me that she knew I wasn’t Japanese, but the ppl from the show liked my look and gave me a shot. So to prepare, I watched a YouTube video on the pronunciation of Japanese.  It was really interesting to me, I had fun doing it and I got a callback for it!  I mean who really gets to do this as their occupation?

 

Speaking of callbacks, I got a callback for a movie in Dallas!  I told them I was down to be a local hire, where if I get the job, I’ll pay for my way there and my own living costs to better my chance of getting the role.  To prove my word, for my callback, I got my cousin to hook me up with his reward miles and fly me to Dallas.  I airbnbed/hosteled it and used Dallas’s public transportation (which is awesome btw) for over a day.  How RANDOM. I met the writers, casting director and the director.  The director and I did the UCLA cheer together! UUUUUU CCCCC LLLLLL AAAAA UCLA FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!  I was prepared, did my take on the role and the director said he liked it, but in a surprise tone, as if my take wasn’t what he had envisioned, but was pleasantly surprised when I made the role my own. I didn’t get the part, but I think I made an impression, and if not for this project, perhaps another one in the future.

And finally, I’ve been overwhelmed with the outpour of kindness and support I have received from my friends and my family. I’d be a hot mess if it wasn’t for everyone that has helped me — whether it was covering my tab, or helping me film a scene, treating me out to bingo — I feel loved.  I know that if or when I fall down again, I am surrounded by people who love and care about me. This thought makes me feel stronger and unstoppable. Thank you you guys.  ❤

It’s wedding season and I’m sure this song has been overplayed, but who cares! I love love and it’s really how I feel toward my support system, so here’s john legend YAY 😉

Practice Makes Better

So last month, I had an opportunity to do a taped audition.  I had a whole month to do it.  I got started right away.

1st

The first time I shot the audition, I kept messing up the lines, I was distracted, and I was tired from a long day. Sent it off to my manager for feedback.  I was nervous on what he was going to say about it.  Playing worse case scenarios in my head I thought, now he’ll know I’m a fraud and he’ll fire me.  Fortunately for me he said it was good but that I could do better. This was awesome encouragement.

2nd

So I taped the audition a second time, this time allowing enough time to tape it, was well rested, and I knew my lines.  The more I went over the scene with my reader, the more I was confident, and the more I was open for adjustments. I asked my reader, who’s also a friend if she could tell me if the scene was believable or not.  Now, she’s not a trained actor, but she’s watches a lot of movies (i.e. the general public).  She was able to tell me which parts worked and which didn’t, and made me realize some things I had taken for granted in the scene (i.e. stage directions).  By the end of the shoot, my takes were getting consistent and I could feel the scene working.  I sent it off to my manager and agent for approval, and again nervously waited for the inevitable: their feedback.  Manager already liked what I was doing, agent said it was awesome, but could use more polish, and asked if I could do it for the third time. Actually my agent even said that it was the best he ever saw from me. Yay!

3rd

Alright, third and final time shooting this audition.  At this point I had done at least 20 takes. I had my lines down cold. Knew them so well, that I would answer before my reader even finished her line. As if I already knew what she was going to say. -_- My reader actually pointed that out, and I easily fixed that problem.  Again, my takes were consistent and I was feeling much more confident with the material and myself.  I made bolder choices and stood by them.  I went balls to the wall! Sent it in to my manager and agent and got it approved. Finally!

During this whole process, I was reminded that practice makes better.  Duh. But I also discovered that with other people’s encouragement, it motivated me to be better and actually become better.  I was more confident and more open to their suggestions.  Consequently, then I’m more apt to share my work to others, opening myself up for more encouragement and suggestions. It’s an awesome cycle that I find myself a part of. Thus, here is the taped audition:

 

Find A Hobby

Sometimes this whole business can get me down. So instead of being sad about it, I hang out with my friends and this is what we do.

A$AP Rocky – Fuckin’ Problems (1.2.3.MUSIC Live Cover)

DISCLAIMER: We’ve kept the original artists’ lyrics and they are VULGAR! Like most of our generation, we grew up loving hip-hop music while still feeling very uncomfortable with the choices of words often used in the songs. We would never ever use language like this in any other context – we were merely trying to preserve the original song as it was written.

1.2.3.MUSIC
Vocals – Emily Randall, Jaemin Yi
Guitar – Liam Humble
Flute – Thi Nguyen
DJ – Gabe

The universe listens!

One day, a good friend of mine, Allison Torneros, messages me on Facebook.

Allison’s a free-styling modern urban abstract artist.  She’s super talented and super awesome.  We lived on the same dorm floor (Rieber 6south!!!) and I passed her room frequently because it was on the way to the bathroom. One time she had her door opened and as I was passing through, I saw her in the middle of her room with paintbrush in hand toward a canvas that had latex boobies protruding out of it. To be honest it was weird. But intriguing too. Who doesn’t like boobies? And ever since then, we’ve been really good friends. Now five years later and Allison is doing extremely well.  She’s pretty legit and is coming out with a solo show in LA next month. The show will be made of pieces inspired by her research on creatives – from rising to establish- and their rituals to getting creative.

So she messages me on Facebook asking if she can use me for her show. Uh duh! I would be honored! She wanted to follow me around before I had an audition.  She wanted to see how I prepared, how I got in my element, how I got creative.  My ritual.

This request made me nervous. Wow what an honor, I could be in her show! Wait, that’s too much pressure! What if I don’t find an audition in time? Then I won’t be able to be in her show. Then I won’t be able to help her. Sad face.

I wanted to be in the show. If abstractly or even indirectly, I still wanted to be a part of it and give her something to possibly use. This totally motivated me to get an audition ASAP. There was an expiration date to this request and I had about a month to get an audition.  The problem I quickly realize though, was that the industry was in a bit of a hiatus. Pilot season was over and summer break was just around the corner. On top of that, auditions for me didn’t come that often. So what to do?

I prayed. I asked the universe for an audition. I shouted the request out in my mind.  And the universe listened!

It was weird. As soon as I decided that I wanted an audition for Allison’s research, I started meeting people relevant to the industry.  My friend was taking pictures of me in Venice for new headshots and we bumped into her neighbor.  Turned out he’s an actor. (Ok no surprise there when you’re living in LA). But what made him different from the next actor walking by was that he asked for my materials so that he could pass it on to his agent. He just wanted to help.

During acting class, I had lamented to my teacher that I was having difficulty getting auditions, this prompted her to connect me to a guy she knew that I could talk to to brainstorm about getting more auditions. He’s a producer of indie films.

Another friend messaged me on Facebook and asked for my materials so that he could connect me to his actor friend.

During Memorial Day weekend, I saw an old friend and met her friends at a bar. Her friends knew people in the industry and immediately offered to connect me as well! The following week, she gets an email from a friend that has friends at UCLA that was looking for an Asian actress. She connects me to the film students and I get an audition. Fuck yes! Allison follows me around right before that audition.

When it rains, it pours. The universe totally helped me out and brought people to help me, to connect me.  Maybe not for an audition now, but for something later. But not only did my situation changed, I changed. I was more generous with sharing about myself.

In the past, I’ve been resistant to tell people I’m an actress.  I haven’t booked anything, so why tell people that? I don’t make money as an actress, I make money as a waitress.  And if someone were to really dig, I would tell people that I was trying to be an actress.  I would say it dismissively, as if I was ashamed. I would be meek when sharing my materials, I wouldn’t even want to indulge upon my stuff.  Who was I to show you anything?

The thing is, I still haven’t booked anything. I still make the bulk of my income as a waitress. But what really changed was my attitude. My thinking. Which in turned changed my habits and ultimately changed my situation.  When my friend’s neighbor asked me for my materials to pass onto his agent, I found myself at a crossroad.  1. Either I continue my bad habits and let this opportunity slip by or 2. Stand by my stuff and be proud of it. Promote it. Sell it!  Of course option number 2 is the obvious one, but for me, to share my materials with someone is putting myself in a very vulnerable state. To dismiss my stuff and myself before the other person even sees it was my way of quitting before getting fired.  Breaking up before getting dumped. But then again, yes, quitting won’t get me fired, but it also won’t get me promoted as well.  Break up a relationship just to not get dumped, and I lose out in a fulfilling relationship, I lose out in the possibility of a beautiful connection.

So alright, I did option number 2.  And the neighbor was really receptive to my reel and my photos.  This gave me more confidence, and with more people coming by, I shared myself with pride. This created a positive track – I share myself with confidence -> more ppl are confident in me -> more ppl want to see me and help me -> more auditions and hopefully more bookings …

 

Part Time Waitress, Part Time Aspiring Superstar

It’s a chill Saturday morning in sf.  My first Saturday off in a long time.  I’m calling up everyone to hang out, friends, roommates, even family to just give me some company because I reasonably think that they’d be available.  It’s SATURDAY! Jeez louise! Wrong.  It’s finals week, so my sister has school stuff.  My roommate has deadlines, my cousin’s at a wedding, and my friends are seeing their family or families of their lovers.  -_- Super lame.

And that’s why I find myself starting this blog.  Being part time waiter and part time aspiring superstar, I find a lot of free time. I work mostly weeknights in a corporate restaurant to leave time for auditions in the daytime.  Weekends I devote to working in the restaurant for making up for the bad auditions I’ve had.  Which are many :/ and a no bueno.  Auditions are hard to come by in SF, and if I fuck one over, it only forces me to work more hours in the restaurant to make up the money that I woulda coulda shoulda from a gig.  In any case, I tried to pick up a shift today, but none were available. Thus I went looking for friends, but none were available, and so it leads me back to this blog.

Well let’s make the best of it. So I’m reading this book called “waiter rant” by Steve Dublanica.  It’s about this guy’s personal experience of being a waiter.  He never saw himself as a waiter but somehow he ended up doing it for hella years.  Anyways, in one part of the book, he describes the kind of people that have become waiters.  There are many kinds of people but the no surprise category and the one that mostly speaks to me is the “endless procession of models, painters, writers, and actors – who struggle to make ends meet as they chase their American Idol dreams.” <—— that’s me! OMG! The author makes a better point when he says this:

All this talk about waiters and acting reminds me of that old joke.
“My son’s an actor in New York.”
“Really?  What restaurant?”
That underscores the bitter reality many artists who wait tables struggle with on a daily basis.  When asked what they “do,” they usually reply, “I’m an actor,” or “I’m a writer.”  For the first couple of years that’s okay, but after several years working in the restaurant biz, if the bulk of your income still comes from waiting tables, you’re a waiter (123).

So with the bulk of my income coming from waiting tables, I’m a waiter.  And the thing is, it’s true.  As much as I aspire to be an actor, as much as it is my dream to be a superstar, my present now is that I’m a waiter.  When people ask me what do I do, I tell them I wait at this restaurant and that they should all come and visit me! Actually, I went to this social gathering for people in the media and film business in the bay area a couple of months ago. Everyone was either a producer, director, writer, actor, etc.  So when people came up to me asking me what I was and expecting one of the above answers, I said I’m a waitress.  I wasn’t comfortable saying I was an actress.  I had never gotten paid for a gig, I’m not union, and I’m barely starting out.  But I guess what makes me kind of proud to be a waiter is that it reminds me that I’m in the position to go for my dream.  I’m making it possible to go on auditions, to meet new people, to help out on low pay/no pay projects.  When I’m actually doing something that I care about, not making money on those projects doesn’t really matter.  And I guess it reminds me of that quote from Whoopi Goldberg’s character in sister act 2 to Lauryn Hill’s character,

“If you wake up in the mornin’ and you can’t think of anything but singin’ first .. then you’re supposed to be a singer. girl.”

I wake up in the morning thinking about acting, about movies, emotions, characters.  I go to sleep reading IMDB, Wikipedia on actors, Rottentomatoes, etc. I’m supposed to be an actor, and I know it too.  I’ve actually known for a while since I was in middle school.  But for the last year, I’ve finally conjured enough courage to pursue it.  Why not you know?  For so many years, I was in denial.  Protecting myself under the safe zone of school, I did the college route.  I chose a major I didn’t care about.  Actually I chose a major that was the most eclectic so that I could find a class that sparked my interest more than acting.  Ironically the classes I loved most were my acting classes and I only did those as a hobby.  I never could shake the nagging feeling.  After graduation, realizing I didn’t want a job with the major I didn’t care about, I moved to Spain.  Hahah what the hell am I doing in Spain?? DOODE! IT’S SPAIN! I taught English to grade school Spanish kids and got paid for it, whilst getting a BS major in Spanish (that’s a whole different adventure/blog).  Anyways, did that for a year and realized that I was holding myself back.  I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t satisfied, I was restless.  Anxious, to get my ass out of Spain and do something about my dream.

And then lo and behold, the universe spoke to me via Facebook (FB’s everywhere).  A friend of mine had posted a quote on her status and it said, “it’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” maybe I only see what I want to see, but damn, it beat all the friggin Farmville updates on the feed.  That quote sparked my want to live to pursue the dream.  (It also sparked me to read the book that that quote came from: the alchemist by Paolo Coelho, it’s a must read, changed my life). I came back to the U.S., got headshots, sent them out to nearby agencies (I’m from the bay area so I sent them all out to SF), and got rejected from all of them, well except one.  One of them was a one-woman show.  She never responded to my cover letter and headshot, so I called her up.  She apologized for not getting back to me, she was busy, but she was interested.  We met at a cafe in SF where she fed me delicious almond croissants and we hit it off.  She said Asians were in (I’m Asian) and I fist pumped to myself.  That was 10 months ago.  She sent me on auditions for print ads all over SF for the last 10 months, and I finally booked a gig, my first one through her last week.  It took 10 months, but what a way to finish off 2010 huh 😀