Dear everyone,

Tomorrow marks my 3rd month-aversary here in LA LA Land and I hate to admit it, but LA's really growing on me. I never thought I'd say that in a million years. I never thought anyone could PAY me to say that . . . BUT so far April has been the best month yet . . .

1. More background work, less catering

This is both good and bad. Catering pays double what background work pays (if you're non-union) but it's . . . well, catering. By the way, if you're not familiar with pay scales and union blah blah blah here it is:

Non-union background = $8/hr
Union background = $16.25/hr

How does one become part of the union (Screen Actors Guild, a.k.a SAG) you ask? You must  mysteriously obtain three vouchers. Vouchers are work records that keep track of who is union and who isn't, how long you worked and on what day, what time your meal was, etc. Are union vouchers often given to non-union folks? No. When does it happen? Well, you can be hired to do a special job that they can't find a union person to do such as take off all your clothes, sit up to your neck in water for 5 hours, travel to another country, etc. You can be picked out of the crowd by the director and featured in some way. Or you can ask for one. ASK??!!! Yep. They usually say no but sometimes some nice person takes pity on the $8/hr non-union person and says yes. Or . . .

2. My Life as a Cheerleader

. . . you can show up to set on the day that they only call a few non-union background folks and almost no SAG background folks and the person checking people in just gives you one because he hasn't filled his union quota for the day.   ?   So folks, I only need two more!!!! Then, according to the industry I'm a "professional actor." HA! Anyway, the cheerleading set has been a great place to learn all about how to nab a voucher, where to sign up for higher-paying background work, and general living info. So I kind of take back what I said earlier about keeping your head in a book. Take a book just in case you're surrounded by weirdos but don't isolate yourself. It's a great chance to learn very quickly.

The set is pretty funny. Right now they're filming at the Arcadia Arboretum which is beautiful. However, the place is crawling with . . . . peacocks. My friends, peacocks are the LOUDEST, most annoying birds on Earth! There's going to be a lot of post-production work in the studio to fix the sound on this film because every five minutes one of the peacocks lets out a hideous squawk . . . like a cat dying. They're beautiful to look at but there's definitely a glitch in the design. Life as a cheerleader has been . . . okay. I did learn an actual cheer, got to wear short shorts, and put my hair in pony tails. But I'm really glad that my high school didn't have sports of any kind. A lot of the people on set have actual cheering experience and they are a bunch of . . . not just type A's but SUPER type A's. The one major drawback to working background as opposed to catering . . . aside from the noisy peacocks . . . the sun burns . . . the forced cheery-ness . . . the pay rate . . . is the loooooooooong hours. Last friday, I worked from 11:00 am to 2:00 am. Thankfully there's a wonderful thing called overtime! And they feed us pretty well. Oh! One more word of caution about doing background work: bring your own snacks unless you want to fill up on sugar and carbs. Lunches are usually fine but here is a list of what's on the snack table:

Bananas (tastey if you like 'em green)
Apples (only so many apples you can eat in one loooooong day)
Salted peanuts (salt + hot sun = bloating and dehydration)
Pretzels (not part of any food group)
Potato chips (were once vegetables . . . once . . . maybe)
Red licorice (part of the FD&C red food coloring food group)
Gummy worms (not protein, no matter how realistic they look)
Hot tamales (also part of the FD&C red food coloring food group)
Chocolate-covered donuts (chocolate is not a food group after all)
Cookies (see donuts)
Really bad coffee (caffeine + sugar = crash and burn)
Water (yay!)

So far the funniest, most personable wrangler (who also managed to infuriate me the most) works for the TV show NCIS (which I have never seen). He gave us background folks a short speech about what acting really is. Are you ready? Apparently, acting is only listening and responding . . . that's it! THANK GOD I SHOWED UP ON THE SET OF NCIS OTHERWISE I STILL WOULDN'T KNOW HOW TO ACT!!!! I can say I owe my career to him when I finally make it. Anyway, I guess I've written all this to say that if you're going to come out here for acting and want to learn a lot fast, and don't mind being broke for a while, and don't mind not having a life while you're working 24/7 on sets to get your SAG vouchers . . . then do background work and LOTS of it. Ultimately, it will benefit you.

2. Driving: Tape, my new best friend

I have a new system. My wonderful Blackberry has a GPS in it but since I can't look at my phone and drive at the same time (yet) I have put a roll of tape in my car right next to the emergency sunglasses. I figure out where I need to go, write it down in giant letters on a piece of paper, and tape the directions to the dashboard. All new drivers should invest in a roll of tape. Little Echo is just fine. She screamed at me today when I locked my keys in the car but I just didn't listen. I'm starting to realize that she tries and tries to take care of me when something is wrong but I ignore her cries. I was going to spend lots of quality time with her driving to Utah this weekend to see Lisa and Mike but I decided to fly instead. And I've started calling AAA, Triple Yay!

3. The Biz

I love my acting class. Everyone works really hard and is doing very well. It's inspiring to be surrounded by working, motivated, represented actors. And Craig Archibald, my coach, is one of the most positive and motivating teachers ever (www.nycactingcoach.com/id12.html).

Aside: But if you're in New York, study with Caroline Thomas: www.TotalTheatreLab.com. She'll really whip you into shape!

Anyway, Craig invited an amazing woman to speak to our class last week. Her name is Lauri Johnson and if you come to LA, you MUST pay for a class with her. She gives actors business advice. Lauri started working as an actor at the age of 42 . . . with two kids! And she's working, working, working. Even if you just come to visit try to take a class with her. Nobody has said it better than she has: you're the boss. If the agent/manager/whatever doesn't want to hire you then you don't want them either. Don't waste your time and money paying someone who doesn't really want you. Anyway, there's a whole lot more:
www.laurijohnson.com

4. Carlo Pangalangan

Kenny finally got me to join a great organization called Filmmakers Alliance. I showed up to my first meeting, introduced myself to the group, and ended up landing a role. A very nice young director named Carlo asked me to be part of his short film. His work is very interesting. Think cross between M. Night Shyamalan and David Lynch. The role is going to be fun and challenging because there's not much dialogue, just long interesting moments in the character's life. Carlo showed me the first half of the short that he did with another actor and it's beautifully shot and such an interesting idea that I had to say yes. So we'll get down to brass tacks once I return from Utah.

5. Catering (because I just have to describe this party to you)

Russian group . . . tons of money . . . 99% of the women bleach blonde . . . 99% of the women with giant boobs . . . 99% of the women in extremely tight gowns with plunging necklines . . . 99% of the women with some sort of plastic surgery done to their faces . . . 99% of of the women over 60. See? Everyone wants to look like Paris Hilton and remain 30 forever.  

Miss you! Please write!

On the cheerleading movie set

 Also on the cheerleading movie set.

And the back . . . 

. . . and the side.

Rah.

The Disney Concert Hall as seen from . . . 

. . . yet another film set!