Can you believe it, we finally made it to the end of 2019. This year has been the most fulfilling thus far. I think we all know it has been a complete dumpster fire with student loan debt at an all-time high, a reality star running the country one Tweet at a time and mental health issues increasing. I for one have taken this year to focus on being as healthy as possible mentally and physically. Sometimes that meant ignoring social media for weeks at a time since I was too busy working, working out, and going to acting class. I maximized my time by reviewing lines for my self-tapes on my lunch break and shooting them as soon as I got off. I’ve seen my self-tapes grow leaps and bounds in the shortest period of time. I’ve auditioned for various roles, Networks and directors I have admired for years and only dreamed of having the opportunity to work with. I’ve managed to juggle a full-time job, auditions, submissions, partner work, weight loss, networking, catching up with old friends and travel. I started a Youtube channel since I’ve wanted to for ages and thought it would be a fun way to dive into film. If you want to see the world through my lens please subscribe to my Youtube channel.
This year, I finally understood what my favorite acting coach was trying to teach us about life. So often we try to understand the lessons God is teaching us quickly so we can move onto obtaining whatever thing we are chasing – whether that thing is love, financial freedom, a promotion or a materialistic item. While I completely agree that these things are important the question, I always ask myself is what makes your heart sing? What do you truly feel drawn to? Sims always said, “Life is a journey, not a destination. You all are so quick to get the destination you skip over the whole journey.” While we all knew he meant we should stop and smell the roses, I truly believe it is so difficult to sit still and observe the world when there are so many distractions. Even as I went out to dinner with friends, we observed every other table in the restaurant on their phones while out with their spouses, children even the grandparents playing candy crush instead of engaging with their grandchildren. Honestly, it’s no wonder there is a mental health crisis. How can you tell if someone is struggling if you haven’t even noticed their change in body language, behavior and lack of communication? I for one am thankful for the group I have that enjoys taking the time to talk eyeball to eyeball and people watch while discussing our future plans.
As I flew to Chicago to join a friend on a last-minute girl’s trip, I realized I felt completely peaceful. I felt centered for the first time in a long time. Proud of the work I’ve done this year in my acting career and the shift in my day job. I stopped allowing other people’s comments to affect how I act and feel. I allowed everything to roll off my back like beads of water on a duck’s feathers. I feel hopeful that even though my love life can often be a dark comedy at times – that my person will come when he’s fully ready. I met a stranger who confirmed to me that he is coming, God just needed to work on him a little bit longer. Which immediately lifted a weight off my shoulders that I did not know I was carrying.
I am so grateful to God for safely allowing me to travel to Mexico and Chicago, to continue to love the woman I have become, pay off my car, and one of my student loans. I am so excited to end this decade and began the next one with 2020 vision as I carry all the lessons I have learned into the future. Cheers to you all! What are some of the lessons you learned this year?
Hello beautiful people! Back in September I got to go to Tulum Quanta Roo, Mexico for my birthday. By far one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. The city was robust with traffic and it was great to have authentic Mexican meals. The seafood was so fresh and affordable (think 13 USD for octopus), the butter was the best I’ve ever tasted and the spicy margaritas priceless. This year has definitely felt like the best year yet. Everything seems to be falling into place. I’m so grateful for the blessings God has placed in my life. I know that every hard time, every negative person or situation was a way of God pivoting me into a better opportunity.
I picked up this gorgeous maxi dress in Tulum. The beach side of Tulum had tons of clothing boutiques. I loved that this dress was made of natural materials and hand painted. The owner mentioned the pieces are one of a kind since they are hand painted. I selected was on of the few in this style. The artisans vary from Venezuela, Colombia and the Caribbean. I am working on a Youtube Video that will show clips from this store.
I also picked up a piece from Pepe Soho Studio. After meeting Santiago the gallery manager and getting a full demonstration on these pieces, I had to have one. I have a tradition of buying street art from every place I visit, and I bought three in Mexico. Two from an original Mayan family in Coba and the third from Pepe Soho in Tulum. Each piece of photography is printed on a special metallic reflective paper that reflects light and glows when you turn the lights off. The art work is not only vivid in color with the lights on, but glows like a nocturnal piece with the lights off. Every fall I reflect on the year and feel incredibly grateful the lessons of the previous months. What are some things you want to accomplish before December 31?
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?
Two weeks ago I celebrated my birthday in Tulum, Mexico! I decided to vlog a little bit while I was there so that footage will come out next week on my YouTube channel Keri Elaine. If you are following me on Instagram you can check it out on my photos and highlights to get a preview!
Over the past three months I have been on a hard-core weight loss and fitness journey. I had been working out in the gym doing a combinations of kettle bells, squat rack, videos on a Wexler and Zumba. However, my weight seemed to go up. I only ate out twice a week at deli’s and was eating vegetarian and occasionally vegan meals. I knew macros were a combination of fat, carbs and protein. I just didn’t know how many grams of each I should eat everyday. Once I worked with my trainer I found out I was eating about 30 percent protein and 60 carbs when I should be eating about 50 percent protein and 30 carbs 30 fats. I also learned fats are processed like carbs so if I ate an avocado and peanut butter to just eat veggies with my protein instead of a brown rice bowl or sandwich. I also started cooking 90 percent of my meals at home. I eat out for two meals a week and one is ad a fabulous salad place. The other is whatever my heart desires that week. I worked out 6 days a week for two hours consistently weight lifting, and running the stair master.
The main thing I have learned aside from macros is that you have to change up your workouts every four weeks. When you hit 5-6 weeks you start to platue. That’s why your workouts start to feel really easy after three weeks even though you upped the weights your lifting. So don’t be afraid to take a kickboxing class if you have been running or Pilates if all you done is weight lifting. I lost 17 pounds over the course of 4 months after 90 days on a training program. Over all I feel so much healthier. I had tried being Vegan in the past and seemed to put on more weight. I now know that Vegan diets don’t work for everyone and that’s okay! I still use a Vegan protein powder and eat mostly veggie-based meals, but I know my body thrives when I have some animal and plant proteins together. Are you on a fitness journey? What is your favorite workout activity?
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 joined a phenomenal new acting studio back in April. This has been the most supportive and fulfilling acting experience I have ever had in my life. The last time I felt this challeged and secure was my sophomore year in high school. This studio thinks completely outside the box and has a way of challenging and transforming actors. This past week’s acting class was about intimacy.
A word that can strike fear in the hearts of many an actress. Why you might ask? While we make a career out of being emotionally vulnerable in front of the camera, the thought of being physically exposed as well can be emotionally draining, exhausting and terrifying. All you can think is ugh, now I have to bear my soul and potentially my body to 60+ crew members made up of, make up, hair, AD, grip, producers and ect.
Since you often have a lot of people around when filming, even on a “closed set” which should only have crucial crew members. Our fabulous instructor took the time to ask us what we feel comfortable showing? Nothing? Your butt, side boob or topless? It was interesting to hear each woman’s opinion on what she feels okay with sharing to the world depending on if it seriously supports the characters development and arc throughout the series or not. We all agreed that the amount of topless nudity just for the sake of being topless in film and television is absurd. There are so many bro movies out there that just have women topless for the sake of adding sex to the film while all the men are fully dressed and the women only have two lines. There should be some criteria for if the role has to have nudity, or inplied nudity to support the character.
If it was a series regular or guest star reoccurring role; then it would be worth it for the screen time. If the character grew up being a tomboy, runs her own entrepreneurial businesses, surfs or is a total hippie; then it would fit the character more. Some surfers are comfortable running around pretty much naked, which we the audience could believe. Still we discussed how to choreograph a scene much like we would in stage combat for fight scenes or a dance for a musical number. While intimacy coordinators are becoming more popular you can not rely on them/every set to have your best interest at heart. There is a huge learning curve right now and some directors are more cautions of assisting the scene because of the #metoo movement. Most of the time they expect the actors to figure out the intimacy scenes on set on their own. So we women (and men) need to take intitive to choreograph the scene ahead of time with our friend or scene partner. Making sure to cover what we do not feel comfortable showing, but offer an alternative. Of course which body parts are being shown of camera is discussed and negotiatied before we have even accepted the role and set foot on set.
My favorite part of the class was seeing how beautiful it is to be powerful and in control of your body. Seeing each set of scene partners play both roles (the class is all women and we each took turns playing the man and the woman in the scene), take tips on how to help your guy partner in the scene. How to break the ice when this could be your first day and scene with your partner. How badass it is to be confident because confidence is the sexiest thing you on and off camera.
Mascara is by far the one makeup product I always use aside from my eyebrow pencil (necessities am I right?). For years I’ve used Dior Show mascara and loved it, but I decided to try Hourglass recently when one of the girls at Sephora recommended it. What I love about Hourglass is they are a luxury brand that do not test on animals and 1 percent of all profits goes to protecting animal rights. While I am not vegan, tons of my friends are. It has made me way more aware of what I am putting into my body, on my skin and consuming clothing/shoe wise. I have been trying to do my part by eating mainly fruit, vegetables and getting a lot of my protein from vegan protein powder. I still love a leather good I cannot lie, but do not shop half as often as I did 4 years ago. I like to think that every little bit helps, like using a recyclable water bottle at work everyday instead of a plastic cup.
Before we get into the side by side comparisons I figure I would give you all a side by side of my eyelashes before mascara is applied.
Hourglass Caution Extreme Lash Mascara
The Hourglass Caution Extreme mascara comes in a beautiful gold metal tube that has a nice weight to it. It adds, length, volume and does not flake off on your cheeks during the day like some mascaras do. The shape of the wand creates a great lift for your lashes and coats each one in its ink black formula. It is 29.00 and I used this one for about 6 months and absolutely love it!
Thrive Cosmetic Liquid Lash Extentions
My mom mentioned seeing an advertisement for Thrive Cosmetics which is a Vegan cruelty-free brand. The tubing has a nice weight to it and is a gorgeous teal green color. Their mascara not only gives your lashes fiber extensions, it also stimulates lash growth. The fibers in their formula have a rubbery feel when you wash the mascara off at night. I must admit I noticed my lashes seem softer and a little bit longer than they were a month ago. You can read the reviews for this product here and it retails for 24.00.
Overall, I will continue to use and repurchase both because they each give a great result and are vegan cruelty-free. Do you have any cruelty-free brands you would recommend?
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!
In April I went to London! If you have been following me on Instagram you probably saw a few of my stories and photos. This was my first trip traveling outside the US ever! My entire life, I have longed to travel abroad, but never had the financial resources to do so. In high school, my classmates would talk about their trips to Paris, the Swiss Alps, London and Cape Town. I could never relate. We often took road trips to different states which were fun, and I am blessed enough to say I have seen about twenty of the US states. However, there is nothing like traveling alone outside your country and experiencing another culture. I always thought maybe one day I’ll travel abroad with a group of friends or a boyfriend. Nonetheless, the one thing I’ve learned this past year is if you want to do something you should plan to do it by yourself! While traveling with other people is a ton of fun, you can not rely on other people to be on the same schedule as you. Sometimes you just have to book the ticket and go! Luckily I have three sets of friends living in various parts of London. One of which is from London and has a twin sister, who I finally got to meet in person after pen-paling it through DM on Instagram. Another friend from high school who went to a University in London along with her brother. Finally, my last friend who has been in London three years with the love of her life and their beautiful daughter. Each group of friends lives in a different section of London, so I knew I would get a full tour of the city!
I must confess I had a slight moment of panic the day before I was leaving. What if I get lost underground while using the tube? What if I get kidnapped like Taken? Will the Brits accept an American girl after all the chaos and ignorance coming out of our White House? I took a deep breath, made sure I checked the weather for the tenth time, downloaded the Citymapper app and grabbed my passport for the plane. This year I promised myself to get out of my comfort zone. Last year was all about growth, change and cutting out toxic relationships. This year is about chasing every opportunity, traveling to places I’ve never been and working on my weaknesses.
As soon as I got on the plane a lovely fellow named Ollie (the first of three I would meet on this trip) talked for about five hours about music, acapella, life, dating, London, and Scotland. I probably should have gotten his Instagram or Whatsapp, but you never know I’ll visit London again and the universe has a funny way of bringing the right people to you at the right time.
My first group of friends took me to tea at the St. James. The art deco decor was absolutely stunning, and tea sandwiches were even better. I had hibiscus tea and tried about 5 different tea sandwiches. The pickled one was my favorite! Our server was so attentive and even went the extra mile to switch out a few sandwiches that my friend did not enjoy.
Later that night I hit up the Ned and drank Mojitos with the girls while we caught each other up on the last year and a half of life. The Ned is right near the tube so it is pretty easy to get to. It was so nice to get the full story on everything going on in everyone’s lives instead of the reader’s digest version. The Ned is in the financial district, but a good amount of people were dressed business casual, so you don’t have to worry about a formal dress code here. The bathrooms are beautiful and so are the ridiculously high ceilings.
Covent Garden was such a cute picturesque area of shops. They even had multiple flower arrangements over arched benches that many women took advantage off. I also got talked into buying my beloved Bvlgari sunglasses here! I will say I got them for about 40 percent off so I could not resist! (Also save your receipts when you are shopping around London. At the airport, you can get your Value-Added Tax back)! I loved seeing the turquoise colored beams and the different art vendors. I picked up this tiny piece from a woman, who uses pencil and watercolor on her pieces. I thought it would be more interesting to pick a piece that did not have a stereotypical red bus, telephone booth or bridge. She also mentioned the piece I selected had a bit of gold paint to add shimmer.
I also enjoyed multiple Irish pubs in London with the most delicious shepherd’s pie and roasted vegetables. I was amazed at how many places had vegetarian/pescatarian options.
If you are looking for a chocolate lovers dream then you must go to one of the many Bill’s Soho restaurants throughout the city! I went to Bill’s in Soho and ordered the Melting Chocolate Bombe. It’s a Chocolate dome, with brownie chunks below, chocolate sauce, and they pour warm caramel. I don’t have a picture of this decadent dessert, because our waiter poured the caramel over before I could take a photo so I ate it all hahaha! So you’ll have to take my word for it!
Camden! Camden was a cool edgy spot where the 90 grunge trend originated from. I loved all the individual shops in the marketplace. One vendor had dozens of white T-shirts with an animal screen printed peaking out of the pocket. Another spot had Chinese puzzle boxes. Some took four steps to solve others took as many as twelve. Honestly, the store owner was kind enough to show me how it works because I had no idea where to start! There was something so unique and whimsical about this market with the variety of foods to try as well.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. This is an absolute must for actors, theatre patrons, and literary babes. I did not get to see a show since they are in their offseason. Just seeing the replica of the original globe and reading the quotes from so many of his great works is enough to leave your heart full and your soul hungry to dive into more acting roles.
Shoreditch is one of the few places I looked up before coming to London. I love the concept of taking shipping containers and reusing them in a better way. Anytime there is good food, graffiti, and an eclectic group I am so down! Thus my love of Wynwood. Time outWhen it comes to food there was something for everyone. They had greek food, vegan, create your own wraps, bubble wrap ice cream waffles which look cool, but did not taste that great (sorry😐 ).
The shipping containers below housed multiple clothing, jewelry, and paper goods stores. I’ve been stalking Astrid & Miyu online since they came up in my Instagram feed and I had to pick up a cute earcuff and rose gold initial ring while I was there! Their pieces are so dainty and the sales associates are very attentive.
My friend from high school and I realized we have been friends for over ten years now! This trip reminded us both how much we miss being around one another. Her musician friends were absolutely amazing. They completely adopted me into their tribe and I literally had separation anxiety for a week after I left. We all laughed together so much my abs hurt every day for four days. Us girls went to see a friend perform at a piano bar and she was fabulous! I love all the speakeasy vibes on the underground bars, jazz clubs and nightclubs in London.
Original we planned on going dancing at a Colombia restaurant for live music and dancing. When we got there, there was nowhere to sit and no music playing. So we left and went to Crust Bros. This restaurant had a cool urban vibe, with hip-hop music blasting through the speakers. I will say it gets pretty hot in there since there is a giant pizza oven in the center of the restaurant. However, you don’t feel the heat once you are in there for more than ten minutes. This pizza is the perfect light, fresh thin crust made to your specifications. The owner came over and told us he lived in LA for the longest then came back over here and opened this pizza place, but did not want it to have the typical Italian pizza place vibe. Thus the open loft ceilings, with industrial metal and wood touches throughout. He then mentioned how awful Miami is, I laughed because all three of us were from/lived in Miami for at least three years. When we told him that, he immediately laughed and said damn, well you know what I mean about how people down there can show off and be pretentious. We laughed and pointed out that, that happens in every major US city. I asked him if he knew what the nameless pink neon light place next-door was? WELL, it turns out he owned part of this underground all female club called Tonight Josephine.
Tonight Josephine is an all-female nightclub where you can go dance and drink with your girls without worrying about being harassed by a guy. In order for a guy to enter he has to be accompanied by a woman. This place is covered in Millennial Pink, mirrors, neon light signs, fun wallpaper, and handsome male bartenders. As you enter there is a giant neon light sign that says, “Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History”. I was talking to one of the owners and he mentioned when women enter they immediately start taking selfies in the ceiling. My girls and I were dancing to so many throwbacks when we looked around and noticed most people were taking selfies in the reflection of the ceiling. I could not stop laughing! The bartenders were super sweet and when one of the drinks my friend ordered did not taste good he remade it for her. Each of the bathroom doors had a different celebrity mugshot, Paris Hilton, and Justin Bieber just to name a few. Isn’t it funny how the nights where your plans fall through end up being the most fun? Has this ever happened to anyone else?