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.

 

Podcasts

In the midst of surviving by the skin of my teeth (making rent) in this hard ass no effing point but tons of consequences thing (life), I managed to do a podcast with my good friend Krista Turner. Through her, we did a podcast (broken up into 2 episodes below) for Van Nguyen, host and leader of AZN Confidence — a dating podcast for Asian Americans about building confidence, networks and relationship.

Disclaimer: By no means, do I call myself an expert about asian confidence. Ironically, I have suffered from the lack confidence. But like a phoenix, I will (if not yet) rise from the ashes and fly! If you’ve read any of my blog, you’ve noticed that I’ve improved upon the confidence factor, right? Right? Anyone? If anything all I can really shed light on is based on my own experiences and observations. Also, Krista is pretty articulate on the podcast and she compensates for my loopiness on the audio.  Enjoy!

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 7.58.12 PM

Episode 11: Rock That Passion, Own It Up and Make It Your B%#CH! We talk about first impressions and owning your passions.

Episode 12: Krista and Thi Talk About Life We talk with Van about life and what it means to be Asian in America.

 

FREEDOM

Today was my last day at a job I hated. It made me money, but it also made me very unhappy.

It wasn’t flexible. We were so short-staffed. and to help out the team, a lot of us were working doubles (lunch and dinner shifts). This was supposed to be a part-time job for me, to make enough money to survive but to also be flexible enough for me to commit to my acting career, yet I found myself working 40 hours a week.

I have never in my adult life worked 40 hours a week ever (lucky me). and especially for something that wasn’t toward my passion was unbearable.

Something had to change. So I put in my two weeks. During those two weeks, I was stressed out. There were thoughts of, oh my god, I don’t have a job lined up yet. I’m not gonna make as much anymore. am i gonna be ok?  Just yesterday I had less than $100 in my checking account. I was so stressed out that I completely forgot my other commitments. Completely. Had I made a mistake?

And then life gives you signs. Or maybe I was searching, whatever, who cares!  Friends, coworkers, industry people said, “Good for you,” once I told them about my two weeks. I mean why commit to something that doesn’t progress your passion? Why not use that 40 hours for something you DO care about? And so what if I’m not gonna make as much money? I’m gonna be fine … right?

There was a sense of tranquility as I sat on the bus on my way home from work today. Somewhere in my gut, I knew everything was gonna work its way out. I don’t know how I’m gonna do it. But I really am gonna be ok. I know it.

Here’s a pic of my celebratory sundae, rejoicing my FREEDOM.

sundae

And don’t worry. I do have two part-time jobs lined up. Both jobs are flexible, thank god, because I have a lot of things coming up toward my acting career. Yay! Below is what to expect from me and please do. You’ll keep me in check 😉

– Currently writing a script with my friend. I write myself in it, he’ll direct it and we’ll both have experience.

– Will write a script for a Vietnamese audience. Again, I write myself in it so I can be in it and maybe be a star in Viet Nam!

– Acting more. I auditioned for a theater group and made their list for guest star roles. SWEET!

– Do some storytelling stand-up.

And finally, I’m not gonna let my fear of not making rent impinged upon my FREEDOM to chase the dream. I got credit cards! #mycreditormycareer

Querys and Ponderings

What am I doing?

This past holiday I went home (to the bay area) to spend some time with my family. As my mom’s asking me how I was, I felt that there were still some doubts and worries regarding my career choices. Although she tried to “reassure” me, saying, “it’s fiiiine, I’m ok with it. It’s fiiiiine,” I could hear the strain in her voice as she kept repeating this phrase. Now, I know in a past post I had written that my mom is worried about me. I have no stability, I have not booked any roles, I haven’t had an audition in almost two months, and my income is solely dependent on my part time jobs. But in the last post, I was invigorated by the challenge and was incredibly hopeful to appease my mom’s worries.

Now I’m doubtful. What am I really doing? My mom’s mind frame got to me. I started worrying for myself. What if I never book anything? What if I’m stuck at the restaurant as a server forever? What if this dream only becomes merely that? A dream? Am I delusional to think it could happen for me? God, even writing this out makes my heart stop. I know this kind of mentality isn’t healthy, but it got there. Maybe I’ve been watching too much walking dead, but I had to think about zombie apocalypse/worst case scenarios.

This past week I went to a panel of casting directors to learn a few things about the business, and especially during pilot season. Again, I was reminded all too acutely that the odds are stacked up against me.

During pilot season, these casting directors…

-Get over 3000 submissions per role

-Hold over 100 auditions a day for that role

-Said that even if you are the top three choices, you have to not only repeat what you did (that could’ve been two weeks ago), you have to do it live in front of maybe 15 executives that hold your financial stability in their hands. Not only that but in the moment before, you were in the waiting room with the other potentials that either look like you or are better versions of you. One could even be famous!

It’s daunting. It’s intimidating. It’s nuts. I am reminded of an analogy that describes the whole audition process. It’s like a surgeon coming in to show if he can do heart surgery without any knife, body or table.

What the fuck am I doing?

But after every storm, there are still those rays of sunshine bursting through. As discouraging as everything may seem or even get to, the casting directors last words were moving. Essentially they said “do you.” if you wake up in the morning thinking about it, if you go to sleep at night thinking about it, if you really want it by the tips of your skin — then this is what you’re meant to do. Even if you don’t make money or be famous, you know that in the end, by just doing your passion, you will feel fulfilled. Everything else will follow on their own. Success deemed by society (accolades, recognition, money, fame) will come if you truly do you. Don’t think about what other people want. If you do your passion religiously, you’ll be good at it, and people will flock to you. Trust in yourself and your experience. Trust in your preparation and just say the words.

Ok.

I learned a lot from that panel. They really encouraged making your own content and with the ease of technology to share it. With that said, I’ve been working on a webisode of my own to feature me. It was an idea worked between me and my friend Daniel. He was the one that said, “It doesn’t happen overnight.” he was the one that encouraged me to just produce, to just make, to just do (so Ira Glass). So here’s the first video of my webisode. I’ll post a video up once a week probably round Friday or Saturdays. Just look under the video tab for new ones. “Tanks to technology ;)”!