Rising Up

What kind of people spend 12 hour days in the woods, or sitting on hay bales, or at ski resorts, or in the mountains, and then end the day with pizza hot tub parties and a lil rose?

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My kind of people.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Yeah, well, so is glamour.

Filming and everything that comes along with it is super appealing to me. My teenage self would be like YES this fulfills all type A personality / challenge traits I seek in life as well as the ultimate creative goals of individuality and group projects. Check. Check. Check.

Sometimes, though, you meet a group of people who seriously change your life.

*Cue the music*

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I’m sorry, but I can’t help but think about how this would make a great series. Me, talking about these people I met on set, and how our lives all intersected and how we got to where we are, and then we flash five years in the future and it’s awesome and you know, I play myself because. Obviously. OK back to what I was saying.

What became overwhelmingly obvious after spending only two days with this group of people was that we all had been experiencing huge life changes. Each of us in our own way, had made some kind of decision and then bam – this project popped up.

For me that included a complete decimation of my former life, including my home, relationship, and career focus. Never has the phoenix rising from the ashes held so much meaning for me! Fitting I’m posting this on Easter. My career, my mood, my health and overall well being have improved immensely. And I really believe that my new friends have had a big part to do with it.

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We all come from different backgrounds, are different ages, and have different life experiences. But as I have had time on the long days to talk with these people one on one and share many non-stop laughs as a group, I realize that we have way more in common than not.

The weird thing about working in film is that you meet people and you spend a ridiculous amount of time with them. You become closer than say you would with a normal acquaintance who maybe you have a beer with once a week or see at a party. The film goes on for several weeks and then it’s over. Every project, whether it’s been film or theater always feels like a break up at the end. You get together, you have this weird routine that will never be replicated again and then suddenly….gone.

I guess my point is that we all spend a lot of time trying to find the right people to have in our lives, when I have realized that all the best people have just come into my life by me just letting them. I really believe good people attract each other and we all have something to learn. Sometimes you gotta just let people in.

IMG_1187I love my life and I am so happy to be around people who really care about what they do and don’t take themselves too seriously.

This next week is going to be a wild ride. From filming, to Tribeca, to major changes, my life is full. So thank you to those people who have been helping me transition into the most beautiful place I have had yet to be so far. I couldn’t do it without you.

*Cue music*

Medium Shot: Casey chortles to herself, pets her dog.  End Credits.

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The 2016 Revolution.

 

Hamilton. Because: Revolution.

This year I wanted a revolution.

Well, be careful what you wish for, AM I RIGHT?

When you want a really big life, you have to make room for the really big things. And I guess what 2016 has taught me is that sometimes you have to sweep out all of the tiny little things that just take up space in order to allow for better things to come.

I always tell my friends and colleagues when they are feeling down about something..”Hey, think back to what you were doing exactly five years ago and think about how far you’ve come.” Right now I’m going to take my own advice. Hold on.

Ew. I just got an image of myself in short red hair. We all make mistakes.

Earlier this year I read that book about tidying up. Like you and your mom and neighbor probably did. And I really started treating items in my house differently. I got rid of five bags’ worth of clothes and..crap. I kept getting this feeling like I needed to downsize, get lighter. None of it really made sense to me until now.

This year I stopped chasing things that I thought were important to me for a really long time. Because I am a hard worker, I assumed that I should automatically take part in certain projects, do the SAME thing as every other actor, and overall just shut up and stand in line. But I’ve seen what it’s like on the other side, where  I create my own work and do my own thing… Do the thing no one else is doing and watching as people frown and say, “Are you sure that’s a good idea?” I gotta tell ya. It’s awesome.

I decided to just do what I wanted. I got back to my very first love, something I have always relished in..making other people laugh.

I LAUGHED A LOT THIS YEAR. I LAUGHED TIL I CRIED.

I also cried til I laughed.

It’s been a year, okay?!

This past year has prepared me for this moment. To let go of all of the stupid things people worry about (and usually don’t let go of until something catastrophic happens to bring clarity to  their lives) – being good enough, money, what your friend thinks, having the ideal life, wanting someone to do what YOU want them to do, yadda yadda yadda.

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from explodingdog.com

All that’s left for me is knowing how I want to feel every day when I wake up – that sure makes your dreams crystalize faster and with more intention.

When you get really clear on what you want? The people who are NOT clear about what they want start to fall away. I had heard of that before and I think I thought I believed it, but it wasn’t until this year that I really saw people get cleared from the decks, while some others show up more than ever.

Like I said, I started this year asking for a revolution. And I kicked my own ass. And when shit got hard – and did it ever – I held on to my faith and I held onto my ideals and I’m still here intact. And I can laugh about it now. Even though it’s not far from this moment.

I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen next and I don’t know if I’ll be anywhere near where I am a year from now.

But what I do know is that five years from now I’ll be like
“Yeah, I’m better off now, but damn did I make that revolution look good.”

 

Two more chances!

This weekend is the last I will be playing Sister James in “Doubt,” by John Patrick Shanley, a part I have wanted to play for a long time!

Your last chances to see it are:

Tonight, at 7:30pm

Tomorrow at 2:00pm

And then the four of us will do that thing actors must do when their performances come to an end: Say “Goodbye” to this pattern of doing things in a particular way, with a particular set of blocking, props, costumes, set dressing – essentially to something that will never be this way again.

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Theatre is such a powerful and temporary thing. I used to marvel in college at huge and beautiful sets being built up, used for a number of weeks, and then torn down again. It really made me realize that even if we all did the same show years from now, it would never be the same show again.

Theatre can be a reunion, an introduction, or a mingling of the two..but it ALWAYS ends in a figurative and literal..break up.

This show in particular is 90 minutes of non stop emotional escalation. I’ve carried Sister James with me everywhere I’ve been this late spring / early summer. Her experiences have infiltrated my dreams ! It’s creepy, but also tells me that I am in the right place.

I’m proud of this production of Doubt because it’s never black and white, and our awesome director, Hunter Parker, never intended it to leave people with a comforting feeling of “I know who did it.” Instead, it gets people thinking.

Every single person has a different response at the end of the night. I see that as a good thing. Theatre is best when served with thought. There’s a name for a theatre group in there somewhere.

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To my friends, colleagues and show patrons who have come out to see the show -Thank you so much. It has been a pleasure sharing this show with you. So please spread the word! Looking forward to leaving it all on the stage these last two performances.

Looking the Part

“This is a good shot of you.”

As the casting director flipped over my head shot to scan my resume, I sort of smirked to myself as I shifted my weight and listened politely.  After saying “thank you,” of course.

That particular shot was 11 years old. I had just gotten new shots done, but I hadn’t received the files yet, so I was using some older shots that most resemble my current look.

And I knew the actual head shot had nothing to do with anything.

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I have come to the conclusion that when people say you need to “look the part,” what they really mean is “be ready” and what they really mean by that is “be comfortable with being yourself.” When I say yourself, I assume you know I mean your BEST self, but YOU none the less.

There have been times when I have perfected “looking the part,” using 10485% of my classical acting background and training and costuming skills and come nowhere near getting the part.

There have been times when I was called in to audition just after arriving, with no time to look over lines, improvised when requested and gotten the part. (PS the only thing I remember about that particular day was that I had woken up and remained happy before and during my audition).

There have been times when my hair color was growing out, I hadn’t gotten a chance to work out in over a week, and my head shot was hanging on by a thread. It’s where I was. But I was comfortable and ready and I felt fantastic and I knew the sides inside and out. And I got the part.

I’m not recommending being a mess going into your audition. But I am recommending SHOWING UP in LIFE as your best self wherever that may be. Like, here’s a thought.

If you are in a rut with monologues or auditions or just not “feeling it” lately, take a break. Go do something (else) fun! Go out dancing! Meet up some friends and don’t talk about acting. Learn to crochet!

Last year I had to take some time to get some perspective, but when I really think about it, all it ever really is, is getting back to myself.

Cause it’s not really about the role. It’s about you playing the role. And life is really about you. YOU are the main character in your life. So, shouldn’t you look the part of you?

Slow Clap…Right? Nailed it.

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One of my new shots,  mid-laugh. Credit: David Noles Photography NYC

 

“Whatever life takes away from you, let it go.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

Recently, I had the uncomfortable experience of being sucked into some drama. Unfortunately, I don’t mean the kind on stage and screen, though that has been keeping me busy lately too.

Over the years, one of the hardest things for me to accept was the fact that when people moved away, or a lot of time goes by, or when people change, you have to let them go. In some cases, when someone is blatantly disrespectful or cruel, it is easy to do. But I find that I can be so nostalgic about a person, place, or thing, that I often forget that things don’t always just “stay the same” because we feel the same way about them.

Something that has helped me ease through transitions, loss or a knowing of a permanent change to come, is to stop labeling them. It’s not good or bad. It just is. And when it just “is,” I don’t have to feel so attached to it and I don’t have to take it personally.

Out of nowhere, (at least at the time it felt that way) a friend of mine dropped something on me that was so surprising, it didn’t hit me what he meant by it until I had walked a few blocks away. You see, something is changing in his life and while I don’t know all of the details, I do know what happens when you label friends, family, people, events, and it ain’t pretty. But that’s what he’s done.

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Right now I’m giving it some space because I had all of the following reactions: surprise, hurt, anger, blame. And I had to remind myself that it is NOT about me. Whatever comes of this, it’s not really about something I did or didn’t do. It’s about how people relate to each other and how they process change. Part of me was quite sad about this, when I began to think about how things might be different in the future. I resisted the thought of it.

Then, I remembered that often times we have outgrown something long before we realize it. Whether you lose a job, a sentimental object, or a friendship…Sometimes it’s for the best and it doesn’t have to be painful. It just is.

I’m a fighter. Not physically and not like RAWR I AM GONNA YELL AT YOU (though I am capable of both). I fight for those I love and for my integrity. I plan on holding up my end of the bargain, but at the end of the day (I have turned into someone who says that phrase..sigh lol), I can only control my reaction. That’s okay and that’s enough.

 

Cookie time.

Sometimes, you just gotta bake some cookies.

There’s a good chance that if you are reading this in the US, you may have experienced quite the winter storm this weekend.

Kathleen Zimmerman and I were dreading the snow because we had been planning our joint collaboration planned for January 24th for over a month! Luckily, the sun did come out on Sunday, melting a lot of snow and allowing for safe travel for guests of the Kehler Liddel Gallery.

Her opening was a great success, with a steady inflow of people coming and going, and my devised performance piece was received well by a great crowd who decided to stay and see what the heck I was going to do.

Sometimes, these adrenaline-rushed, awesome times are followed by Mondays where a lot of planning, back-to-the-grind logistics and overall management of life is in order. I actually love the crazy actor’s life pace of never really knowing what’s coming next.

However, I went a little crazy on my to do list today, and decided it would be a good idea to take a step away, and focus on baking some cookies.

I present to you: Vegan Cinnamon Shortbread Cookies

It’s pretty simple, which is why I liked making them. The only other effort required is rolling them into shapes, which is also a good therapeutic maneuver.

Step 1: Combine 1/3 cup Earth Balance (or coconut oil), 1/2 cup granulated sugar (anything organic and vegan), and a tablespoon of vanilla (I never measure vanilla cause I always like to put in a little more than a recipe calls for) and blend.

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Step 2: Combine 3/4 cup almond meal (Bob’s Red Mill is best in my book), 3/4 cup gluten free baking flour – the one I have pictured is VERY good and gives the cookies a nice firm texture), a pinch of salt (I use himalayan for the mineral benefit. But I mean, these are cookies, so. Yeah.), a teaspoon of cinnamon, and then blend into the mixture.

You may need to add a TEENY bit of liquid. I used a little bit of cashew milk, probably less than a 1/4 cup.

 

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Step 3: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and then using whatever non stick baking surface you have (I use a silpat because I am obsessed with it! If you don’t have one, seriously consider making a purchase), roll about a tablespoon of dough in your hands in either a ball or if you want to get fancy, you can make a crescent shape.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Step 4: When the cookies are done, you can let them cool slightly for a few minutes. Then slide them onto a plate and while they are still warm, you can dip them and sprinkle them with some powdered sugar. They are so pretty and a nod to the snow outside and a delicious snack.

Or breakfast. Probably gonna be breakfast for me at some point this week. Cause I have no shame.

Here’s to a productive week! Be sure to take the time to smell / bake / taste some cookies to bring a little sweetness into your week.

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They may not be perfect. But they sure are tasty.

In Review

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It is a balmy 50 degrees the day after Christmas. It hasn’t been a white one, but I am perfectly content with that. The afterglow of the holiday is still lingering in my house and I am grateful for the opportunity to have my family spend time here over food, drink, games, and stories.

This year in a word has been: unexpected. I could not have predicted the events if I had tried.

Coming off the whirlwind of 2014 with travel around the world, production planning, awards ceremonies, and film premieres, I was left feeling shocked, happy, and a bit unsure of my next step. So, I spent the majority of last winter writing up a storm while trapped inside due to the stormy weather outdoors and did a lot of thinking. Those who know me well may say perhaps too much thinking.

So for me, 2015 was a lot about boiling everything down to the essence of why I was doing art in the first place. It wasn’t until I decided to give up trying to perfect the search of the next “career move” that it found me in a series of fortunate synchronous events.

I made a drastic choice that left a lot of my family and friends scratching their heads. And I couldn’t explain why, but I knew that this year, if I did something completely new and different and perhaps off the course, I would find what I was looking for. I couldn’t explain how I knew this, but I did.

I was right. It took some pain this year and it took some tears, but I arrived at a fresh perspective in my acting work. Right near the end of the year, I landed a wonderful role in a feature film I was able to work on with old friends in the industry, as well as new friends whose work I had admired on the big screen from a young age. Around the time I booked this job, I suddenly had this familiar sense of clarity that I honestly don’t think I have had so viscerally since I first graduated college, determined to make a go of this whole acting business.

I know what to do now because I know how to listen to myself. 2015 was about scraping away the gunk, shaking off the old, unplugging from beliefs and throwing out the same stories to get back to the whole point of performing and bringing joy into other people’s lives by virtue of what I do.

My January 2016 is already booked solid with work. This fall, right after my birthday, I gave myself the best gift of all: the gift of yes and no, determined by no one else but me. I am only going to work on projects that make my heart race with excitement. I am going to work with people who respect my time and want to create beautiful collaborations together. I want to share my creative talents to make the world a healthier and more fun place to be.

You know that Tolkien line, “Not all who wander are lost”? That’s exactly how I feel. I knew I needed to wander a bit to get back to where I was always headed in the first place. I highly recommend wandering, and letting go of the need to control everything. Because once you do, only the important pieces of your life stay in place. The things that are holding you back and holding you down will simply fall away.

Business people might tell you “organization and planning is key” to any successful venture, but I would argue that things need to get messy first. Sign up for that class you always wanted to. Go for a walk. Go drive somewhere and get lost. Once you have struggled a bit, you’ll come back to your office or studio and look at everything in a new light. You’ll know what to throw away, what to keep, and more importantly, what organization principles will work best for you.

Biggest lesson of 2015?

Joy should be easy. And your work should be your joy.

PS. If you haven’t read this book yet, do it. It’s a game changer. But go take a hike first 🙂