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.”

 

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3 Steps to Making a Connection.

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“This business is all about relationships.”Asta and Casey

“It’s all about who you know.”

As actors, we may hear this phrase so many times it ceases to lose its meaning. But think about it. From meeting casting directors, actors, directors, to producers – jobs get booked and not from nowhere.

Starting out, it can seem daunting to try to network and meet new people. Who should you meet? Where do you meet these people? If you haven’t met them yet, how are you supposed to meet them?

I agree with many others when they say you should put yourself out there and go to screenings, go to networking events, and of course, auditions. But I would argue that it starts where you are sitting right now.

 

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  1. Be NICE.

Having a crappy day? Let it go.

Feeling nervous? Doesn’t matter.

Someone cut you off outside? That’s life.

As an actor, it is our literal job to stand in someone else’s shoes and think about what makes them tick. Your audition does NOT begin at 1:05pm in a hot studio in Brooklyn. It begins at 6:30am with the sound of your blaring alarm.

Yes, you are entitled to be in a crappy mood whenever you want. But it’s not a mood most people are going to want to be around. Being nice is also not the same as being fake or pretending to be someone you’re not. It’s being nice because it’s a courtesy to others and you just never know how worse someone else’s day is going!

Be nice to the people walking down the street. Be nice to the person holding the door for you. Be nice to the office manager who tells you which floor to take. Be nice to the assistant. Be nice to the reader. Be nice to the casting director. Be nice to your fellow actors.

If you have no interest in being nice for the sake of being a ..nice person, then remember this: being nice may not mean you’ll be remembered, but being an ass definitely will.

Chances are, if you are nice, you have already made a solid and intentional step towards connecting with another person.

 

    2. Listen.

When you meet someone for the first time, take them in. Notice how they’re behaving, what they’re wearing, and what they are talking about.

Don’t bore us all with you you you blah blah blah. Instead, do another actory thing…and observe. Pay attention. Does the assistant have nice hair? Tell her. Did that actor just blow you away with his singing voice? Let him know. Pay attention. LISTEN. Making a lasting connection means that you have learned something new about another human being. If you have succeeded in this, you are in the progress of making a real connection.

  3. Follow Up.

Frankly, it can be quite easy to take someone’s business card or email and never talk to them again. But it is genuine, proactive, and sound business sense to turn on your computer the next morning and jot the person a note.

Hey, it was cool meeting you cause x y z.

Last night at the event, I told you I would send you a link to a great film resource. Here it is!

Following up seals a new connection. It solidifies the fact that you met someone who you would like to keep in touch with. This doesn’t happen on its own. You must be proactive and let the person know that you enjoyed the interaction.

Also – it doesn’t stop there. If you find an audition, book, film, salon!? – that you think someone would find useful, or better yet, another person you think would be a great connection for them, follow up and let them know!

It can be hard to remember that we are all human beings with complicated, crazy, beautiful lives. We are not names on a spread sheet. We are not meant to be compartmentalized.

The moral of this is: Treat industry connections like friends.  Because chances are, they will be your friends. And in this business, people want to work with – you guessed it – their friends.

 

 

new stuff.

In honor of me going on and on about 2016 being a revolution, I am going to periodically post new stuff I am doing. Accountability. Be all You Can Be. And blah, blah blitz..

-Barre Classes – ass kicking and ballerina habit-forming! That sounds weird!

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This photo is borrowed from http://www.lowcountrypowerpilates.com, so check them out. But those little squishy ball thingies?! SO awesome for a core workout.

-Street Parking – By this I mean, I have been parking in different places when I work at Yale, or tried driving new routes home from places. You know, switching it up. You know what happens when you do that? You see new things, like a cupcake truck that has only one vegan cupcake left and you get to have it!

-FitBit – Now, I am pretty strict about NOT counting calories and instead using common sense and intuitive eating with my vegan lifestyle. However – that being said – I love counting my damn steps. Running, working out, walking city streets..it becomes a game and who doesn’t love a game?

-One Woman Show – I wrote and performed in my own one woman show. I am working on doing it again over the summer with some rewrites. But I finally did it and it was scary and awesome.

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This is a photo from my show, “Love &…” This photo makes me laugh. So many things happening here. Caption contest?

-Bootcamp Classes – DAMN I haven’t sweat like that in a long time. The numbing sensation of breathing so hard (this is quickly sounding like I’m talking about something dirty but I am not apologizing for this) you don’t care anymore, is an awesome feeling. Plus obviously great for the ol’ metabolism and also  endorphin producing. I get super talkative and hyper after a sweat-breaking workout*

*When I was in high school and we would go running, my friends used to tease me for the first fifteen minutes post-run. Why? Cause I would say words backwards.

Example: “Hey Casey, where are you going?” Me “I’m French Class going to.”

“Cool socks!” Me “Thanks, I love socks orange!”

-Ben and Jerry’s Non-Dairy Ice Cream: So far, I’ve had the Double Fudge Brownie one (Solid B) and the Coffee Caramel Fudge one (A-) I still have two more to go!

What new things have YOU tried so far in 2016?

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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.

—–

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

 

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 🙂

Leaving, Going, Starting Somewhere New

Have you noticed that change in the air?

in rehearsal for my show that closed this weekend
in rehearsal for my show that closed this weekend

I don’t mean the end of the summer, though the coinciding seasonal change does emphasize it all the more.

The director of my show that just closed this weekend is moving to New Hampshire for a few big directing projects. Another one of my friends is starting a new job this week. Yet another is moving to Florida next month. Several more of my friends are moving cross country. I find it interesting that changes seem to happen in patterns and cycles with friends. Not only that, but this year in general I have noted more changes than usual from large numbers of people.

And me? I am starting a new job tomorrow at After School Arts Program, a non-profit in CT that provides arts education for all levels and ages. My skills as an actor, producer, production assistant, producer’s assistant, and leader, will all come in to play for this Program Manager position. I have been wanting for awhile to experience something new, learn something different, and meet new people who are passionate about the same things as I am.

It also means prioritizing my independent efforts with my consulting and producing businesses, and of course, acting. It means trusting myself enough to know that I know what is best for me at this time, despite what the outside world may think, say, or do.

photo by Michael C Daly
photo by Michael C Daly

This year has been the first time in my life that I have made decisions based on exactly where I want to be five years from today. There are plans, projects, and changes already in the works that are not ready to manifest yet, but I am pre-paving the way with my attention to where I am presently. I used to believe that thinking this way would feel limiting or keep me from experiencing opportunities as they arose, but that is simply not the case. I feel freer and more creative than I ever have and I am grateful for the chance to further develop my craft as I start on a new journey.

Endings are scary and fun and exciting and hard. Whether you are moving, starting a new job, breaking up with someone, or buying a new car…remember to take a look at the long view and pat yourself on the back for making it this far. Cause we don’t know what’s next and we don’t know who we’ll meet, but all we can do is know where we are today and keep our eyes, ears, and hearts open for the next adventure.

Have a thoughtful and fantastic fun-filled week!