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8:07 AM - SUN 4.20.14
Acting Is Easy (Who Knew?)

Acting Is Easy (Who KNEW?)

Easter is a holiday that doesn't hold much meaning for me, religiously (clearly), or in a secular sense. I don't have any standout memories of it from childhood, so it has no nostalgic value.

And since I'm not religious and don't have children, it doesn't have any present-day relevance either (Since I'm not currently at full-time status at WW - and haven't been working regularly on Sundays for awhile now - I'm not even getting a paid holiday today, so basically, today is just...Sunday).
Friend and fellow actor Mike M. was recently on a podcast called "The Brooklyn Buddha", and he posted it on Facebook (Mike plays "Tommy" on Shameless).

In talking about "Tommy", Mr Buddha opined that the character was something of an asshole; he asked Mike, regarding "Tommy's" fellow barflies, "I mean, does he even like Frank, or the ugly guy?".

For the record? I'm "the ugly guy".

Would have been nice if Mike had needed to pause a moment, maybe ask "Who are you talking about?" before answering...but he didn't miss a beat before identifying "the ugly guy", to BB and the listening audience, as "Kermit".

That stung a bit.

(For the record, I didn't have to "pause a moment" to know who "The Brooklyn Buddha" was talking about either. And Mike never did answer the question of whether or not Tommy likes Frank, or "the ugly guy".)

It made me think, again,about that ugliness (Like when a YouTube commentor described me - after watching my Progressive spot - as "one fucking ugly dude"); for better or worse, that ugliness is now a commodity, the "product" I have to offer.

That doesn't mean I've made peace with my looks, by any means, but it does mean I think of them as more of a "mixed-bag" than I used to; it's not fun to be called "ugly", on the one hand, but on the other hand, I've now made thousands off being "ugly".

I'd much rather be good looking, I just would. As an actor and a "civilian". I think it would have made life a little nicer, a little easier to navigate (My looks were a big part of the reason it took me so long to do what I'm now doing - I wanted to be a "Leading Man", and I knew I wasn't going to be seen that way. I saw my looks as an obstacle I'd have to overcome, and I didn't know if I could).

But I've got what I've got to work with. And I guess that's a "better late than never" life-lesson - Focus on what you've got to work with, and work with it, instead of obsessing endlessly on what you you lack.

(Or something like that...)
Mon 4/21/14 (10:03 am)

Some good things that have happened recently:

1. Am getting a surprisingly large tax refund (I made the bulk of my money last year through acting, and those monies are taxed at a much higher rate than for what I make at WW. I also had over $8000 worth of deductions, primarily in agent/manager commissions).

2. Made a mistake and spent $220 on uploading video clips on Actors Access (There was a lot of duplication, so I spent twice as much as I should have). My manager set me up to expect a major battle in fixing it and getting my money back - this is not an entity known for its customer-service - but it was a relatively painless, drama-free couple minutes on the phone.

3. My most recent bout of "car troubles" - after recently getting a new battery - turned out to be nothing, just a loose battery terminal (The mechanic said, "Just give me $20 and we'll call it good", which seemed fair, for them to check it out, run tests on the battery and alternator, and have my car take up space in the garage till I could come get it).

4. Because a scene I was in made the "Previously on Shameless" clip at the beginning of each episode, for two weeks running, I recently got a lovely check for those two appearances(One more reason to want to have meaningful things to do on the show).

Okay, so some of those things aren't really "good things that happened" so much as "bad things that failed to happen", but you get the idea - I have reasons to be happy.

But I'm not happy.

I'm temporarily relieved that my demise is not imminent, but it feels like there's a fairly big divide from that to "being happy".
Thurs 4/24/14 (10:45 am)

A couple days ago, my friend Chris S. (Who I'm friends with on FB, but haven't actually seen IRL in years, even though we're both here in LA) invited me to attend a lecture - structured as two lectures, with a break in-between - by actor/acting coach Jack Plotnick.

It was very positive and upbeat, the basic message being "Acting/Auditioning is really easy if you just get out of your own way" (And he made it pretty easy to listen to him talk about how easy it is - It took place at a theater in Hollywood, and only cost $10, which he was donating to charity).

I found it very helpful and inspiring, and was glad that, after an epic struggle, I managed to tear myself away from my tv and computer to hear it (Seriously, I battled with an epic case of inertia till about 20-25 minutes before the event).

One of the most interesting things he had to say was that, in his own audition preparation - this was for dramas specifically - all he does is familiarize himself with the circumstances, and memorize the lines.

He doesn't make decisions about how he's going to "play the scene", or even learn his lines by saying them "conversationally" (At this point, he doesn't even say them out loud).

That's pretty amazing to me, because I've defined myself as a "good actor", in part, because of how quickly/easily I do just that (Come to a conclusion about how the scene "should" be played, while memorizing the lines, speaking them out loud pretty much the way I plan to do them at the audition).

His thinking - and I think it's pretty valid (In part because he books a lot of work) - is that, by making all those decisions beforehand, you squeeze the life out of the scene, that if you don't know what's gonna happen, and they don't know what's gonna happen (as they watch you), there's way more potential for something interesting to happen than if you just walk in with your planned-out, prefab "thing".

He had a lot more to say than that, but a lot of it did seem to boil down to "trust yourself", and connect to the joy of acting (Rather than listening to "The Vulture" - The part of your ego that tells you all the reasons you're not good enough).

He teaches some workshops, which I guess can be hard to get into, but I'm going to try and get in, because I think this stripped-down, get-out-of-your-own-way, "acting is fun if you let yourself have fun with it" approach is just what the doctor ordered.

(I know I'm now even more eager to start getting auditions again, so I can start putting these ideas into practice.)


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