thi.nguyen

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I am exactly where I’m supposed to be

Joke of the Day! MY LIFE!

No seriously, Joke of the Day!

Actor: I’m an actor in LA!

Snarky Person: Really? What restaurant?

So I’ve recently met a new server at the restaurant I work at, and surprise surprise, he’s an actor. As we were sizing each other up and asking how our respective acting careers were going, (not much since we both find ourselves working at the same restaurant), a stark difference between us stood out like a fucking diaper rash on a pristine baby’s bottom … AGE.

Ugh. He’s a young 26yo pup, around the same age as me when I came down to LA (25) to seriously pursue this. Don’t get me started on the 23yo starlet that’s auditioning up the ass as I cover her shifts since oh-I-have-nothing-to-do-since-I-have-no-auditions-and-all-the-time-in-the-world …

Bitter much, Thi?

The kid asked me, “How long have you been pursuing this?” What a loaded question. To answer this question, I was forced to do the math. I came down here, August 2011, about to turn 25. I am now 31 and by August, it’ll be 7 years. Fuuuuuck. Instinctively, automatically, immediately, I berated myself. You’ve been here 7 years and what do you have to show for it?! You’re in the crux of your 30s and you’re still working at a restaurant alongside highschoolers? You suck, you’re nothing, you should just quit and die as your dream dies too. 

Hahaha, as I write my thoughts out, I literally just lol’ed (I’m so current). Because seeing that thought process on paper kinda makes it sound and look soooo dramatic that it reminds me of a kindergartener crying the biggest tears as her clip gets moved down the behavior chart, from “ready to learn” to “needs improvement”.

I’ve been subbing for a kindergarten class for the past few days and everyday one kid or more cries. Whether it’s my fault or not (telling them what to do, moving their clips down the behavior chart, not giving them a sticker, paper cut, mispronouncing their names, missing their mommy, etc.), they cry as if it’s the end of the world and they’ve lost an arm. So, to make them stop crying, I ask them, “Are you bleeding?”, “Did you lose an arm?”, and “Is it the end of the world?” As they answer “no” to each of these questions and reflect why they’re even crying, I squash their woes with my ace question, “Then why are you crying?” and lo and behold, it’s a fucking miracle, they stop crying and realize they’re being silly drama queens.

So. Asking myself these questions, I know for a fact that I’m being a silly drama queen. At first glance, at face value, on paper, where I’m having this conversation with someone 5 years younger than me at a job I hate, it’s easy for me to dismiss all the progress I’ve made throughout these 7 years. So let’s don’t. 

I’m making the most consistent money I’ve ever made before, being able to afford to travel to Spain, Hawaii, Viet Nam, Nola, or to do anything (i.e. Burning Man, Coachella) whenever I want! I’m driving a car that has blue tooth and windows that work! I have goddamn health insurance people! (Still no parking spot, but oh well. Win some lose some.)

I’m so much more confident than when I was at 25. I don’t get as nervous as I used to whenever I’m in front of people, because I’m getting in front of people more! I’m on stage, I’m making people laugh, I’m storytelling and being vulnerable and sharing myself and people are enjoying it and I get a high out of it and it validates me.

My acting is so much better where I’m making specific choices that make my personality shine because I’m actually proud of who I am. I’m currently rehearsing for a play in which I’m a lead actor!

My writing is so much better because I’m able to tap into my experiences and feelings and express it in a way that I could never have done at 25. I’ve been working on a pilot, writing poetry and short stories that I’m proud of. 

I’m calmer, less neurotic, less driven and less defined by the lack of tangible measurable results. I don’t judge myself so critically and have these unrealistic expectations for myself. I’m just acutely aware of where I am right now and am ok with it. I accept it. I’m not bleeding, I haven’t lost an arm and it’s not the end of the world. I am exactly where I’m supposed to be right now. 

drama queen

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progress

so two weeks ago i had an audition for a commercial. i was sincerely grateful for it because i had gone through a drought and was feeling incredibly useless. it had been over a month since my last audition. unfortunately the audition was on a very inconvenient day.  i found out on a thursday afternoon that i had an audition the next day at 4:40pm.  i had work that thursday night (at the restaurant) as well as the next morning (at the assistant job) up until half an hour before my audition time slot, so that left little time to prepare for the audition (research the company of the commercial).  also, because of this audition, it threw off my plans friday afternoon. i had plans for tea with some girlfriends at 5pm across town and obviously wasn’t going to make it in time with the audition and rush hour. bottom line: i was not mentally prepared nor present for my audition.

friday morning hits and it’s a hot day. my mind’s preoccupied with the upcoming events and i leave my make-up that i’ll need for the audition in the car while i’m at work. work’s done, and i get in my car to make myself pretty for my audition but i find that all the make-up has melted. yup. let’s add that my skin is super dry and i have a sty. there’s a glop of vaseline in my bag and i rub that over my dry ass skin. gross i know. so now i’m not physically prepared for my audition. at this point i’m thinking, well i have no chance of booking this, so whatever, let’s just get this over with.

now, i know the title of this post is “progress” and so far it seems that i’ve done the opposite. patience alright? there was some pluses. i had researched a little about the company of the commercial and knew what colors to wear during my audition, light blue, grey and white. (you want to wear their color palette and not their competitors. i.e. if you audition for disney, do not wear orange, because that is the color of nickelodeon. bizarre industry, right?) i also arrived early to my audition.  unfortunately the audition process was more of a cattle call and i didn’t get seen until 5pm. at that point, i just wanted to leave and go to tea asap. i didn’t even care anymore.

so it’s my turn to audition and after slating my name on camera, the camera guy asks me this question: what do you think our society as a whole needs to focus on more?  ok, so the role i’m up for was ‘student at night school’ so i couldn’t get education out of my head. but education is one of those issues that has been focused on, so what was i going to say? i blurted out this: “the teacher’s union. yes education is a popular issue, but nothing can really be done unless the teacher’s union is broken up and we hold someone accountable.” ugh. even in hindsight i loathe my answer. it is something i believe in, but at that time it just came out so lame. i’m sure it didn’t really matter what i said but how i said it, so i tried my best to say it with as much conviction as i could to overcompensate the lame answer.

next, there was a desk with a notebook and pencil set up. i was to sit down, look forward at an x at the wall which was to be my teacher, take notes, and let my mind wander off in the distance with an optimistic look on my face. this part was easy because by then i just didn’t give a fuck, so i just did what i was told as quickly as i could to get out of there.

with the thought of having no chance of booking the job, i was super surprised when the following tuesday i got a callback. wtf. i thought i blew it, but i guess they liked what they saw.

at the callback, there’s an actual ‘teacher’ and she asks the question, what are the four presidents of mt. rushmore? i’m at a desk by myself and i have to raise my hand and answer the question. i had no prior knowledge what the question was going to be. so i raise my hand as instructed and the teacher picks me and then i realize, i actually have to answer this questiondo i even know the answer? so my mind’s racing, i’m nervous, and i say, “george washington, abe lincoln, jefferson, and … john adams?” teacher says, “close. here’s a hint: one of them is a roosevelt.” i say, “aww, teddy!” and she says, “yup, that’s it! thanks!” and scene. end of callback.

ok, so cool. i did the best i could and honestly at that point i had no idea what to expect. when i thought i did badly at the audition, i got a callback. after the callback, i thought i did fine, so going along with the pattern, did that mean i wasn’t going to book it?

sunday afternoon rolls around and i get a call from my agent. he says, “alright, it’s down to the wire and now it’s just a matter of what direction they want to go. they want you to be “on available” (basically that means on standby) this coming monday and friday in case they choose you and you can come in for a fitting and the shoot.

now, sorry to break it to you guys, but i didn’t get called in on monday, so i can assume that they won’t need me on friday, which ultimately means i didn’t book it. however, i’m in good spirits because wow, that’s like the third round. that’s the furthest i’ve ever gotten on anything. i’ve never really gotten past a callback until now. so booyah, there’s your progress, betch.


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superpumped.

yay! more progress! i’m super excited.  so i just came back from an interview with an agency and i have to say i liked the feeling i got from them.  the guy running the show was so open to me.  he completely welcomed the things i had to show and made time to see my youtube video! he said he liked how i don’t mind getting embarrassed and my creativeness.  when i gave him my monologue, he gave me really good tips and another chance to really show what ive got.  i completely welcome criticism and second chances! and i have to admit, he was 100% right.  the monologue i gave didn’t showcase a range.  it was just one note: excitement.  and he said that it’s fine for commercials and print, for nickelodeon and disney, but if i want to be represented theatrically, i have to dig deep.  i have to find the perfect monologue.  a monologue that has bumps and turns, a journey, a range.  the one i gave was this:

ok here goes, i’m gonna be on a broadway show!! it’s a musical called abracadabra.  this man, mr beckman, he’s a producer, came into our dance class this afternoon and picked out 3 girls.  we have to be at the hudson theatre on monday morning by 10 o’clock to audition for the dance director.  but on my way out, he took me aside and said the job was as good as mine.  i have to call him tomorrow.  i may even have to go into town to talk to him about it.  they start rehearsing a week from monday, then it goes to philidelphia, wilmington, washington, and then it goes to new york the second week of december.  there’s 9 big musical numbers and there’s going to be a big tank on stage that you can see through.  and the big final has the entire cast all under water.  can you believe it?? i’m gonna be on a broadway show!!

so this monologue is from neil simon’s brighton beach memoir.  the character is a 16 year old girl named nora.  i’ve always done this monologue because, well i look like a teenager.  i have a very commercial smile, and i feel that i can definitely pull this off, which i have.  i’ve gotten compliments on this monologue, but never a critique.  and now that i’ve gotten one finally, i’m grateful for it.  i can improve and find a monologue that not only challenges me to push my craft but to make me look/become versatile.  this monologue is like playing a song with two fingers intead of 10.  i need to find a 10 finger monologue!  the guy here told me he’d be down to represent me for commercials, but he’s willing to give me another chance to show him depth so he could possibly represent me theatrically.  and that’s what i like.  he believes in me!  that’s why i’m getting a second chance.  that’s why i’m SUPERPUMPED!!! after the whole interview, i got some movies and books so i can find the perfect monologue.  if you’re reading this, please help me.  i welcome any suggestions.


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the plan.

so hanging out with a friend yesterday and he asks me, so what’s the plan? what is the plan? did i just come out here to get discovered? no, of course not.  this is my to-do list (and yes, in a particular order):

1.get a haircut (my hair’s shaggy and my layers are gone. it’s long overdue)

2.update my headshots (because of my new haircut and style -i recently got a perm- and also it’s good to have multiple head shots, my last one was 2 years ago)

3.update resume (revamp it and add this website)

4.buy the ross reports at sam french (essentially this is the list of agencies in town, i’m going to mass spam them with my updated headshot and resume)

5.email contacts and leads of possible agents and friends

6.network network network (friends of friends that know people)

7.take a class (whether it’s improv or the meisner method, must work on the craft)

what have i done?  well for starters, i’ve registered for la casting which is basically craigslist for actors.  there’s a lot of reality shows and music video castings on there, but once in awhile there’s some good opportunities – i.e. character pieces for a student film, so you never know.  what’s so bad about reality shows and music video? nothing really, they’re just not for me. i don’t want to be a reality star nor a youtube sensation, i want to be a serious actor.  reality usually requires a certain personality. i dont want to be a personality or a celebrity, i want to dress up and play interesting characters.  what about music videos?  a lot of the time, casting for music videos asks for hot sexy women … what’s wrong with that? listen, i’m grateful for my mass comm degree for this reason: i know how to market myself. even if i were to believe in myself that i am hot and sexy, other people might not believe that.  i’m not believable as the seductress vixen and i’m ok with that.  look, i know being an actor you have to versatile, but honestly if the audience doesn’t buy it, it’s not working.  i’m marketable as the girl next door type, nerdy dorky best friend. i’m 25 but i look like i’m 16. i have long limbs and walk on my toes. i’m an awkward teenager.  if i can get roles like these and pull them off, i’ve won the audience.  once i’ve won the audience, what next? i have two options: either let myself be typecast, or find challenging roles that allow me to showcase my versatility as an actress.  look at adam sandler.  for years he played the funny guy, obnoxious loud frat goof guy.  he played it well and people liked him for it. and then he did punch drunk love.  forget about type casting.

lastly, i’ve started this tumblr. through it i can keep track of my progress (or lack thereof, god forbid it). i can keep tabs on myself.  other people can keep tabs on me (assuming that they read this blog).  i can set up goals and see by the end of the given time period if it has been accomplished.  and that’s it really if you think about it.  i’m not gonna be a superstar overnight, it’s such a broad concept, how does one make a to-do list for it?  by being specific.  by deciding on a specific goal within a specific time frame, accomplish it, and then move on to the next one. after a bunch of these little specific accomplishments, maybe one day i’ll get there. so what’s the first foreseeable goal? to get an agent by the end of the year. wish me luck!

 


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antsy.

so i was talking to my friend about how me A is tired of me B, etc etc, and i posed the question: “how do i get space from myself?” to her. she said a couple of things: #1 that i sounded schizo and #2 that she just didn’t have time to think of these things. she was busy with work and her bf, that the thought never really came up. with point #1 she put me on the defense and i explained myself through ethan hawke’s character in before sunset. in the movie, he says:

I know what you mean about wishing somebody else wasn’t there. It’s just, usually, it’s myself that I wish I could get away from. Seriously, think about this. I have never been anywhere that I haven’t been. I’ve never had a kiss when I wasn’t one of the kissers. You know, I’ve never gone to the movies when I wasn’t there in the audience. I’ve never been out bowling if I wasn’t there making some stupid joke. 

I think that’s why so many people hate themselves. Seriously. It’s just they are sick to death of being around themselves. Let’s say that you and I were together all the time. You’d start to hate a lot of my mannerisms. The way, the way every time that we would have people over I’d be insecure, and I’d get a little too drunk. Or the way I tell the same stupid, pseudo-intellectual story again and again. You see I’ve heard all those stories so of course I’m sick of myself. 
But being with you it’s made me feel like I was somebody else. I mean the only other way to lose yourself like that is, you know, dancing or alcohol or drugs, or stuff like that.

with point #2, i acknowledged that she was right, and really her point reiterated the last part of the monologue. her distraction is work and her bf. i have neither, thus i was feeling this way. so i’ve decided to find my own distractions. work and bf will come when they come, but in the mean time, i’ve made up my mind to make working out a routine, to read everyday, and to do things that will hone my craft: writing this blog, looking for monologues, looking for auditions, watching inside the actor’s studio, studying great actors in their most dramatic or comedic roles, etc. i have many long term goals, but without the daily tasks and commitment towards those goals, i’ll never achieve superstardom.

so i was looking over past emails, and found an email to myself 3 years ago. i haven’t changed. here’s the email:

Goals:
1. to be proud of wanting to be an actor (to stop being in denial of my ambition)
2. to work on my craft through a dramatic and comedic monologue
3. to work on a cover letter, resume, and head shots

Progess:
1. I have been admitting my ambition to people without regret or shame (read journal).
2. I have been looking for some monologues through the Arts Library, but still haven’t found one that I like enough yet.
3. I have done a rough draft of a cover letter and resume. I have also found a photographer and will be taking pictures at the end of May.

Journal:
Coming to the end of my college career, I realize that I am at the same spot I was 4 years ago. I still don’t know what I want to do with life. Actually, I do know, I always knew. I just never wanted to admit it. However, the realization that my ambition of being an actor still haunts my mind tells me that I can’t deny it any longer. There’s still a part of me that thinks it’s a pipe dream, so unrealisitic and childish. Part of me wants to grow out of it. That part of me took over for a long time, spurring me to find other ambitions, other venues to make a career for myself. Instead of taking drama or trying out for the school plays in high school, I did water polo and swimming, sports that didn’t require tryouts and looked good for college. Maybe I didn’t have the self-esteem to tryout for anything because I was always afraid of rejection, of failure. I did everything but acting in high school, clubs, honor courses, and sports. I did well at whatever I did, but I never felt a passion for any of it. My only motivation was to get into a good college. I wanted to get into UCLA. Why? In my mind, LA was where I could pursue my acting dream while hiding behind the good name it had. I didn’t have to tell people what I wanted to do with my life … yet, so I told everyone that I didn’t know and that UCLA would help me. Too bad it didn’t. I was a mass communication’s major because it was the most eclectic major there, picking and choosing, trying out different classes, trying to find something (other than acting) that would strike my fancy. It only did the opposite because the jobs in that field (public relations, publicist, manager, etc) catored to actors and entertainers. I didn’t want to plan the scene, I wanted to be the scene!! I WANT TO BE AN ACTOR DAMNIT! Without any motivation to go further academically and without the passion for anything else, I can finally admit to myself that I want to be an actor. Now to admit it to everyone else and to let them know that I’m serious about it.



One of my best friends made me realize that because I never took acting seriously, he doesn’t take me serious about being an actor. I was stressing over my dismal financial situation when my friend was trying to comfort me. He said, “it’s easy to find a job,” in which I replied, “but I don’t want any of those jobs, you know what I want to do.” He then said, “but thi, you have to grow up and take responsibility. you’re not special, so just get a serious job, be responsible, pay off your debts and then do the acting thing when are serious about it.” What he said not only hurt but offended me. It lowered my self-esteem (you’re not special) and it pose a question in my head, “why can’t acting be the thing that pays my debts? why can’t acting be the serious job?” This ultimately led me to realize that he didn’t think I was serious about acting, but this wasn’t his fault. It was mine, all those years of brushing it aside, it was hard to admit that I wanted to be serious about it. I just shut my mouth and said he was right.

Today I was trying too hard. I threw away all the things I had learned in the past. It was just a cold read, but because I was so nervous, I kept letting other people perform ahead of me. And then when I realized I was one of the last to go on, I thought to myself, because I had waited this long, I should memorize the script. Because I rushed myself to do so, I was not confident when it was my turn and I fell apart. This experience made me realize that I have to be calm, keep going, never break character, and apply what I have learned (glancing at the script, you don’t have to memorize, stay still if it’s a close-up, no hand motions). I had learned all this with my other acting class, and it had all gone out the window when I made myself memorize something I didn’t have to. My focus was off and I studied the wrong things. However, with this out of the way, I can only improve right? 

to be fair, i have made more progress than 3 years ago. i do have my headshots and i am on my way to get a set of new ones with a different photographer (jazzing it up, the past photographer was great, just want to explore different styles). i have some copy of student projects for my reel. i have photos from past productions and pritns to build my website before i go to la. i’m planning to go to la. i’m telling more people that i want to be an actor and i’m not as ashamed of it as i once was 4 years ago. i’ve gotten an agent. i’m not scared anymore. i’m just antsy! i need to get this shit started!