This past October 10th was Mental Health Awareness day. With the weather changing, and the holidays rapidly approaching it really made me think about ways to keep your mental health in check.
1. Call a friend who makes you feel understood. We all have that one friend or loved one we can be completely honest with. We can talk about our financial struggles, memories of carefree times, or our goals for the future. Reach out to that person to schedule a time to talk for an hour and genuinely listen to each other. Every time I do this I feel ready to go out and kick ass.
2. Go for a walk at lunch. I do this literally every day. So many people sit at their desks all day and it can make the day feel like one long florescent light dream. Going for a walk in the middle of the day clears your head and makes the second half of the workday fly by.
3. Journal. Sometimes you just need to write out what is bothering you. Then you can rip it up, burn it or throw it away. Whatever you need to feel relieved.
4. Talk to a therapist! Check your benefits at work, some offices include a certain number of therapy sessions for free or a smaller fee of 35 dollars a session. There are therapy apps like Better Help that have online counselors you can message.
5. Pray. When in doubt the good old Serenity prayer is always a favorite of mine. When you relinquish your struggles to God you instantly feel lighter. For My yoke is easy, my burden light – Matthew 11:30.
6. Work out! Endorphins make you happy and happy people don’t kill their husbands.
7. Laugh. Watch a comedy show, read old memes you saved in your phone, Youtube stand up comedy or old episodes of Ridiculousness. Whatever will make you laugh.
8. Take a day off of work and do something you love. Treat yourself to a baseball game, a new art exhibition or something as simple as your favorite sandwich.
9. Remember that all feelings are temporary. Joy, sadness, feeling blah. It is all temporary which is great because you can change it!
What are some things you do to stay mentally healthy?
This weekend I saw The Art of Racing in the Rain. As a car enthusiast who used to race cars on occasion with her friends, (sorry mom!) I knew this would be an interesting film. While I am a complete sucker for Milo Ventimiglia and Amanda Seyfried this film had beautiful lessons about life. One of the main rules they teach you when riding a motorcycle is where you lean, you will go. If you lean to the right, your bike will head to the right. In The Art of Racing in the Rain they say, “In racing, they say that your car goes where your eyes go. The driver who cannot tear his eyes away from the wall as he spins out of control will meet that wall; the driver who looks down the track as he feels his tires break free will regain control of his vehicle.” Meaning if we focus on the negative things in our life we will continue to spiral into depression, loss, and stress. If we choose to be aware of the negative things happening around us but stay positive that everything will work out in our favor, then it usually will. We can all use the reminder to focus on the good in our lives. Especially when pursuing a career in the arts, which is full of unnecessary opinions, rejections, self-doubt, and occasional financial hardship. However, it only takes one person to change your luck. One music producer to sign you, one person to buy your painting, one person to cast you on a tv show to put you back on top.
Another one of my favorite quotes from the film states, “This is a rule of racing: No race has ever been won in the first corner; many have been lost there.” Perseverance is the key to success. It doesn’t matter how far behind on your goals, it only matters if you quit. One of my friends always says a year from now you’ll look back and think wow if I had quit I would’ve missed out on so many opportunities. No one comes into this world with all the wisdom to be a CEO or knows the exact steps to get there. We all have to finish what we are truly passionate about, then the success will come.
“You should shine with all of your light all the time”.
So many times in life I have allowed other people to dull my sparkle all for the sake of preventing conflict.
As I have gotten older, I have learned that anyone who does not want the best for you is not meant to be in your life. Holding yourself back is never the correct answer and prevents you from reaching your full potential. The one critique I consistently got back on my theatre juries in high school is why are you holding back? I never thought I was. I was going as far with the character as I possibly could. Now that I am in a studio that is supportive and positive, I realized I was holding back. Why? Fear, fear that I would deal with more judgment, drama, and stress than I already was. I did not feel like my classmates had my best interest at heart, or that I could trust my teachers enough to give me a parachute that would open. Now I have that. I know to go into every in-person audition, every self-tape and give it my 110 percent. So that no matter what happens I am proud of my performance.
I don’t know about you, but 2018 has been one long crazy rollercoaster ride. This year has been a huge year of growth for me. I learned the difference between being friends with people and being friendly with people. After all, some people are genuinely meant to be in your life for a reason or a season. Other people are there to push you to reach your full potential. In some cases that meant teaching me not to get too comfortable in my current job, not to trust so easily or let anyone else’s opinion speak louder than your own. So often I have let comments other people make prevent me from doing what my heart tells me. It finally clicked in my head that it seriously does not matter if someone feels you should have done “x” this way or you should not have pursued “x” degree. You are the only one who knows what makes your heart feel fulfilled. Just because someone else does not see your vision, does not make it any less real or important. I realized I’ve had a bad habit of hanging onto relationships purely for the sake of not being alone. This year taught me that there is nothing wrong with being alone. When you are patient the right people will come to you. The true friends that I’ve made over the years have made plans with me and popped up in Atlanta when I least expected. A couple even called and confirmed to me I was on the right path when I had been auditioning a ton and praying for a sign that I am in the right place and heading in the right direction.
My mantra for 2018 was nothing is permanent. Meaning if you don’t like something change it; change your attitude, make a plan and change your circumstances. Anytime I felt down about not being further in my career I reminded myself that my day job helps me afford to pursue my career on the side, build relationships, learn new skills, travel, take headshots, buy clothes for last minute auditions and live without stressing about how to make ends meet. Between the presidential election depression, most of the country went through and the Time’s Up movement I learned to fall completely back in love with myself. I’ve met some amazing casting agents this year and I look forward to cultivating a relationship with them. Overall, I am incredibly proud of myself for conquering my fear of traveling outside the US alone. I will admit I may have had a panic attack in the underground of London when I could not figure out which of the many tunnels directs you to the surface. Plus, two suitcases and 34,167,825 stairs can be intimidating hahaha. However, I am very excited to travel more in 2019. I met tons of kind strangers that restored my faith in humanity. I know this will come in handy since you never know what city or country you’ll shoot in as an actor. Now I just need to take some time to meditate and set my intentions for this fantastic new year. What are some intentions you’ve set for this new year? I’d love to hear from you!
As an actor, things have changed so much over the past ten years. Before you could Google “commercial or film auditions in (insert metropolis here)” and you would get a list of auditions. The posting would include when, where, what time, an email address and a contact number. Your agent would send you auditions to go to as well. You would either schedule a time slot to audition or show up and wait, cattle call style. You get your sides there or before. Bring multiple copies of your headshot with your resume stapled to the back and go dazzle the casting folks!
Today you need to be on casting sites. On each of these sites, you should have your headshots, demo reel, sizing, contact information for yourself and agency.
Headshots – You need two headshots at the very least. One commercial headshot which should show you in a cheerful friendly way. Think friendly and approachable, and the other is your theatrical headshot. This shot should show no teeth and have a serious expression. You want to show your range as an actor and your personality.
Demo Reel – This should be made up of the best clips of your on-camera performances in film, tv and commercial work in less than 90 seconds. If you only have enough powerful moments for 30 to 45 seconds that is completely fine! 90 seconds is the max, two minutes can feel longer than you think.
Slate shot – A Slate shot is a short clip of you stating your name. Actors Access does a great job of showing slate shot examples here. The purpose is to show your personality and give the casting director an idea of what your voice sounds like.
Sizing – Grab a measuring tape, because you will need to list your chest, waist, hips, and sometimes inseam. Your weight, height, shoe size, and hat size as well.
Once you have a profile set up on these sites, you read through the breakdowns and submit your headshot, demo reel, resume and size to be considered for an audition. If the casting person thinks you fit the description they send you a link to sides for the audition for a self-tape and request a slate shot. Then they will hire you based on your self-tape and slate shot, or they will bring you into the casting office for a callback. Finally, you wait to hear if you got the job or silence.
If you want more experience for your demo reel, you should check with your local universities film and communications departments. These students often have multiple film projects to work on during the school year and need actors. The work will usually be unpaid, but you gain experience, and IMBD credit if they submit their work to a film festival.
Actors Access. This is one of the main casting sites. The site gives you the option of checking breakdowns for the Los Angeles, New York, Vancouver, Eastern Canada, Southeast U.S., Florida, Texas, Chicago, the Northwest and more. You can look at breakdowns for each specific region or just select all breakdowns fit for me. Actors Access also allows you to add a video clip from each project you worked on to your resume page. It is an extra charge but looks incredibly professional if you have the means to do it. If you are looking for theatre work there are casting calls for national tours on here as well.
Casting Networks. Fox is casting exclusively through Casting Networks, which was formerly known as LA Casting. This site has network tv auditions for principal roles, featured roles and commercials. There are also theatre and student films on Casting Networks. One thing I love about this casting site is they list if the job is paying, how much and the type. So you know how much you are going to make, and if it is a commercial or short film before you even open the casting call.
IMDbPro. Internet Movie DatabasePro is perfect for when you have a couple of professional credits under your belt. A lot of the castings on here will say for name talent. Meaning a well know actor, someone people will recognize on the screen. I do not think the ranking system or “STARmeter” matters much to casting directors, but they do want to see professional credits under your name. The STARmeter just tells producers and casting who is most popular currently or most likely has a project coming out. When you pay for IMDb pro, you also can see a list of talent agencies, contact information, message boards, projects in preproduction and ongoing.