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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Being an A-Team Player

 

While reading a script for a film audition , one of my friends popped into my head. Then another. I jotted down their names and the roles I thought they would fit, and finished reading the script.

When I was done, I shot an email over to the director and suggested he audition an actor I know who I thought would be great for one or two of the roles in the script. I emailed my friend and told him about the film.

He auditioned for the director and actually booked one of the lead roles.

Wanna hear something weirder?

I casually mentioned the name of the leading actor in the film and my aforementioend friend Dan couldn’t believe it: The actor was his old roommate. They used to live together in LA and I had actually met him before. Now, all three of us will be working on a film we’ve been cast in this fall.

Here’s how I see it: We are in this together. When I see scripts or castings that make me think of someone, I immediately make note of it because I am thinking of them for a reason. The above example is a great example of what happens when you balance putting yourself first with sharing resources with others.

This weekend I mentioned a gig to a friend that I am involved with, of which I thought she would be a great. She said she didn’t want to take any work away from me and I told her there was nothing to worry about!

The scarcity mindset that is so prevalent in the entertainment industry is exactly what holds everyone back. Words like “Competitive” “Fierce” “Scary” etc serve nothing but to keep people down. I don’t believe in competition and I don’t believe that there isn’t enough. I do believe that we each have to be the best versions of ourselves, learn as many lessons as possible, evolve our craft, and perform at the highest caliber on and off screen.

There is a timeline for everyone, and no one can predict where one break will come from or where a series of breaks will lead. But the key is persistence and being generous with your time.

While at the Cannes Film Festival, I learned a valuable lesson. Not about the red carpet, celebrity status, or even making big deals. Rather, the people who hustle, the people who are most successful, are always looking out for people around them. Offering help, experience, service, and resources. Not hoarding it all away in the corner.

I am an A Team player. I work hard, constantly get better at what I do, and help people whenever I can.

Are you an A Team player?

 

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.

 

 

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

 

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!

Peach Vegan Nice Cream

Yesterday, during rehearsal, as I struggled to open the door to go outside (after the director warned us that it does get stuck), one of my fellow actors LOL’ed at me and the fact that I couldn’t open it. Clearly, he may not know me as well as many of you do. I am, in fact, a bit of a klutz. He said, “Did you even eat anything today?” Again, the fact that I am generally food motivated on a good day is something he has yet to learn about me.

He then went on to explain that was one of the reasons that he stopped eating raw vegan. Because he wasn’t “strong enough.” There is an overwhelmingly large majority of people out there who still believe that strength comes from the flesh of animals and the hormone and antibiotic laced pus-juice that also comes from animals. Hey, we all just wanna live, right man? You do you.

But in case you are scared of becoming vegan or want to know more about it, I suggest two sources. Rich Roll, an ultra endurance athlete, and Rawfully Kristina, both of whom eat in different vegan ways. I delve a bit into both worlds. For example, this morning I had veggie hashbrowns cooked in coconut oil with a side of multi grain bread with raw honey. For lunch I made about a cup of rice and sauteed it with some veggies and a homemade peanut soy sauce. Yum!

I am not weak. I am not anemic. In fact, most people don’t even REALIZE that anemia has more to do with a lack of fiber in the diet than it does with “animal protein.”

Anyway, the summertime is the perfect time to eat “lighter,” but still pack a punch with your meals with high-fiber, high-water, high-nutrient and high-flavor foods. As an actor, I find that eating at least one raw meal a day, especially when I am on the run, keeps my energy up infinitely higher than slamming several cups of coffee.

So, today, I thought I would share with you my latest obsession. Vegan Nice Cream.

Vegan Peach Nice Cream
Vegan Peach Nice Cream

Last year I won a 16 cup Cuisinart from William-Sonoma. Which was awesome. But lately I have been whipping up some bad ass vegan nice cream in it more than anything else really.

Vegan Peach Nice Cream:

1 1/2 frozen bananas

1 ripe and juicy peach

1/2 cup coconut or probiotic water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon cacao nibs

I think it goes without saying that all of the above ingredients should be organic!

So, take 1 frozen banana (I freeze mine in halves so they are easier to work with), throw it in the cuisinart, along with the vanilla extract. Add 1/4 cup of coconut or probiotic water. Blend. You may need to stop to push the chunks of banana down, but blend and blend and blend, for about a minute total.

When you open your food processor you will see something beautiful: A soft serve consistency of banana. This will be the base of the nice cream. Slide it into a bowl and set in the freezer.

Next, cut up your peach, the half frozen banana, the rest of the coconut water and blend and blend. It should take less time as it is not completely frozen. Next, pour it around the edges of the base of your nice cream.

You can then swirl it with a spoon in any way you desire! Top with cacao nibs!!

This is a light, easy, delicious, ZERO cholesterol, cruelty-free snack! You could also eat it for breakfast (as I have definitely done) for a great high-vibrational start to your day.

Hope this helps you think outside of the ice cream carton the next time you think of some summer treats.

Enjoy!

PS – I also broke a plate yesterday. Has nothing to do with my diet. Just sayin’.