Back to Business

I love having a blog. I love sharing my experiences in the world of the arts, but I also know that there are certain things that I just can't share because it could jeopardize future opportunities or current negotiations. Well, I've finally settled a whole bunch of those things in the past week and I am pleased to finally be able to talk about. Last week, I signed with a new agent. I am now officially represented by Teri Ritter at Hines Management. I'm excited at the new opportunities this is going to offer me, but the news doesn't stop there.

After talking about it for more time than I care to mention, I finally went ahead and got myself one of the most important tools any actor today could ever have.

So without further ado, please check out my very first demo reel:

I've talked to so many producers in the last few months and seen so many audition breakdowns that said they'd be doing their casting process through demo reels. It's a great way for them to get to know an actor's range without a lengthy audition process. Heck, sometimes even after an audition they want to see a demo reel.

Getting footage can be pretty hard, but not impossible. For me, it really helped to talk to a professional who knows what he's doing when putting together a reel. If you'd like to get one of your own, I highly recommend you contact Rick Rose at He's the one who did mine and I couldn't be happier.

Week Two - Electric Boogaloo

Well, it's been two weeks now in Toronto and things are better. I started acting classes again.  I can't tell you the immense relief I felt when I walked into that room.  Not only that, I get to work on a scene from one of my very favourite plays: Spike Heels by Theresa Rebeck.

The Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival was also underway.  It gave me a chance to re-connect with a whole bunch of old friends from around the Fringe: Jayson McDonald & Fully Insured from London (ON), Connor & Devon from Dale Beaner & the Turtle Boy and, of course, those cuties from the Peter n Chris Show.

And I even made an awesome sketch discovery.  They're called Haircut.  Just try and tell me you don't love this:



They have a show running bi-monthly on Fridays now at Bread and Circus.  I would be checking it out, except, well this thing happened:

*cue Law & Order Doink Doink SFX*

Tuesday, November 9 - Find out I booked a gig I never auditioned for. Probably because I'm cute and bilingual (oh and because I have an awesome agent and an agency that is celebrating 25 years in the business.  That's important too.)  The shoot will be taking place at Upper Canada Village.  I send my measurements in and learn that I will be shooting on either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday in Morrisburg.

*cue another Law & Order Doink Doink SFX*

Wednesday, November 10 - I have to be on set at 7:30 a.m. on Friday.


Whoa. So I guess I'm heading back to Ottawa tomorrow.  See you on flip side!


L'habit ne fait pas le moine, sauf que...

A good translation of my blog post title for all my anglo readers is pretty much "Shoes don't make the man, except..." I had an audition yesterday.  I refuse to refer to it now as a "big, French audition" as a friend kindly pointed out that even though it's for a lead in a TV series and even though it's in French, it's still just an audition.  No need to make a big drama around it.

Many, many moons ago, I really worried about what I would wear to an audition.  So much so that I think a lot of my preparation went out the window for this superficial aspect.  These days, I had gone all the way to the other end of the spectrum: good preparation but not much of a clue when it came to what to wear.

Before my audition yesterday, I had a little meeting with my agent.  Talking about the audition, she said: "So you're going to wear heels?"

Oh. My. God.

How did I not even think of that?  The show revolves around the local hockey team.  The character I was auditioning for is, for lack of a better word, the local town "sexpot" who works in the sports bar.  OF COURSE SHE WEARS HEELS!

I had chosen an outfit that morning, but I realized I had made a very safe choice.

And here's the weird part: this was not a stretch for me.  I LOVE wearing heels.  I own at least a dozen pairs so why wouldn't have brought some for this character?

Resistance in one of it's simplest forms.

Shoes are one of the most basic things you learn about in acting school.  When you rehearse a play, it's one of the first costume pieces you want brought in because how your character walks says a lot about who they are.

Since I had plenty of time, I went back home and rethought my outfit.  I knew exactly what it was going to be this time.  Instead of just a short skirt and a cute top with my sandals, I went for my teal ankle boots with the silver stiletto heel (second-hand boots that are lovingly worn out), a wide white belt to go over my skirt around my hips, and a top that I took from a friend just in case I ever needed to go to some kind of hoochie bar.

The result:

Though I felt confident in my preparation and in the lines, I now felt confident in the person I was trying to be.  She was me, only amped up to 11.

I won't go into details about the audition except to say that I was happy with my work.  So many external factors that you cannot control go into the casting process so I won't worry about it anymore.  I will, however, say a big thank you to my awesome agent for making sure that all those factors I can control were taken care of.

Just Open the Door

I just got back from a pretty amazing trip to Toronto. Seriously, it was better than I could have possibly imagined. And to think I almost didn't go. In December, I had taken a pretty incredible workshop with an equally incredible lady named Barbara Deutsch. I knew she was coming back to Toronto in February and I really wanted to be there. In addition, I had two TO agents interested in meeting with me who were just waiting until the day I was coming down to schedule an appointment. You'd think I would have just jumped on that right then and there, right?

Unfortunately, my finances are incredibly tight at the moment and I just didn't think I could do it or justify it. I was feeling pretty bad. I don't like not being able to do what I really want to be doing because I'm lacking something as silly as money so I was desperately looking for a way to make it happen. I could afford the workshop, but not the trip down... I searched for a ride, tried to find discounted fares, but nothing was working. And then about 3 days before the workshop was set to begin, it hit me: I've been collecting Via Rail points for the last ten years! I have enough points for approximately 6 trips to Toronto.

The relief I felt was immediate. And the weird thing was that as soon as I opened the door to Toronto, everything just came pouring in with ease: the workshop still had room, the agents promptly replied to my emails, friends came out of the woodwork to meet with me (more on that later!), and, best of all, I started getting auditions!

I can't even begin to tell you how well things have been going for me lately, even before this whole trip to TO (which I'm repeating again on Sunday). I'm happy with my job, my Ottawa agent, my acting career and the path it's on... and all of this started happening when I just shifted my perspective on things.

The Little Things

I've had a lot of auditions lately and they've all gone well. For some of them, I was even given callbacks or put on hold. However, there have been no solid bookings. Yesterday, I had a meeting with a Toronto agent. When I told her about this, she gave me one possible reason: "It's your hair."

Excuse me?

"It's very distracting."

For those of you who don't know, I had dyed my hair blond last summer and, though I had dyed it back in the fall, it's now grown into this awkward two-tone of dark and very light brown. You can kind of see it in the banner picture at the top of the page in which I'm wearing the green sweater. Except that that picture was taken in November and I've got over three months or growth to contend with.

Though I hate it and typically wear it up so that it's mostly brown, due to financial constraints I had been holding off on doing anything about my hair. I kept telling myself, "Well once I book a gig, then I'll go fix it up before the shoot." Never once did it even occur to me that this might actually be preventing me from getting work.

Theatre is different than film. You've got plenty of (well, enough) rehearsal time to make decisions on how to approach character looks. But filmmakers, especially for commercials and corporate videos, are working with a very limited time frame. You could have an audition today for something that is shooting tomorrow. They don't have time to imagine what you might look like with different hair or makeup, ect... Also, everything is now done in HD and there is no hiding anything. I don't know how many times I've seen close ups of Olympic athletes whose eyebrows I would like to go pluck.

In film, when you present yourself to these people, what you see is what you get. It is a business entirely based on looks and sometimes the little things do matter.

The agent told me that even if I didn't sign with her, she would highly recommend that I go get my hair done. For one thing, I would look more like my headshot and for another I would look more polished and professional. Like it or not, roots look messy and could give off the wrong first impression.

If anything, this at least means that I have justifiable reason for claiming getting my hair done as a tax deductible expense.

Coming soon - a recap of my adventures in Toronto (it's not over yet!) including a Tweetup with some awesome theatre ladies!

What A Week!

Things were off to a great start last Sunday with the closing performance of BASH'd: A Gay Rap Opera at the GCTC followed by a theatre audition for a company in town. Then I spent some time with a friend and watched Heath Ledger's last performance in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnasus, an odd little film in which I learned it's best not to make a deal with Tom Waits. I had taken the time on the prior Saturday to come in and complete the finishing touches on a big project I was involved with at the GCTC. Oddly enough, my boss also decided to come in that day. There really is nothing better than choosing to work overtime and having your boss catch you at it. It's just like How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, only I was really trying. I was then able to take Monday off without much fuss.

It only got better after that. I received a call from a friend. Apparently their non-union film project got approved for union status and would I happen to be available on Thursday for a shoot? (More on this in my next blog post.)

Needless to say, I was super excited to be on set again and even more so when I contacted my union's branch office and found out that I would be getting another apprentice credit for my work. When you start out with ACTRA (The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists), you typically begin as an Apprentice Member and you need to collect 6 credits before you can become a Full Member. More details on being an Apprentice can be found here. In the past, only one low budget film could be used towards your six credits. The reasoning being, I guess, that anyone could go out and make their own low budget films and get all their credits. However times change and so do some rules and regulations. I am now only one credit away from Full Member status (and some kind of minimal health insurance coverage!)

Oh and my agent also contacted me to let me know that I would be auditioning for a feature film on the Friday. so who knows, maybe I'm not that far away from Full Member status after all...

Somehow, I managed to do all this while juggling 40 hours of work and the big audience development project we had going on over the weekend. Oh and Thursday was also payday! Gosh, I wish all my weeks could be like that, but right now I am just grateful that everything just came together so well.

Living the Dream

Am I truly awake?  Did last week really happen?  I've got the receipts and ticket stubs to prove it, so I guess it did. I took a big leap and went down to Toronto for the week.  As previously mentioned, I had done some advanced prep work and went down feeling confident and apprehensive all at the same time.

Things were off to a good start when I arrived.  I had an Ottawa friend who was auditioning for the Stratford Conservatory and we met for lunch.  We followed that up my a trip to TheatreBooks and the World Biggest Bookstore.

Here's a little bit of info about me.  I don't just love books, I adore them.  The treasure trove of information found in each and every one, waiting to be unlocked and discovered;  the personalities hidden within the words;  the stories waiting to take me away to places unknown...  It's all incredibly sexy and addictive.  I'll go throw genre phases - these days it's books on marketing, new media, and spirituality (or marketing your spirituality through new media) - though there is always room on my book shelf for plays, plays and books about plays. There's just something about the written page between my fingers that just makes me so very happy.  And I'm good to my books (I never bend corners or write in them), so I rarely get any paper cuts.  I'm starting to run out of room though.  Guess I'll just have to get more bookshelves.

I got to see a few shows while I was in town too.  First up, there was a wonderful adaptation of Miss Julie by Canstage.  This play really made me realize that for an audience to understand the themes in the original piece, it does have to be updated.  In this case, we're in 1964 Mississippi aka Freedom Summer two days after Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act.  I can't even find the words to tell you how much sense this adaptation makes (granted there are a few groaner moments, but these were Strindberg's fault - I mean come on, a bird in a cage?  Gee, I wonder what that refers to?).  There's also incredibly strong chemistry between the main actors and the esthetics for the show are just wonderful.  I really appreciated the Marilyn/Jackie O dichotomy you see in Julie (unfortunately, she'll never be a Jackie), but that might just be because I've been watching too much Mad Men lately.  Anything from that time period just tickles me pink these days.

Next, I saw a musical without knowing that's what I was going to see.  A friend invited me to see A New Brain by Acting Up Stage with him and it was a refreshing surprise.  Thanks to my dabbling in stage management with the fine folks at Zucchini Grotto, it turns out I already knew a few of the songs in the show.  It also made me realize that I prefer the smallish, independent musicals to the big budget ones.  Though I'm in no way an expert, I'll take Evil Dead: The Musical over We Will Rock You or The Phantom of the Opera.  That said, and I'm sorry to say this to all the purists out there, I really did like Mamma Mia!.  Shut up!  ABBA gets a free pass from me.

Anyway, its a good thing I like the little new musicals, since I then went out to Sheridan College to see a friend in, yup, another musical.  It's called Big Time Operator and it's a new show set to the music of the Big Bad Voodoo Daddies.  I'm a huge swing fan, so this was a bit of a treat.  Though this was as cheesy as musicals get ("bad" guy finds out he has a son, meets a "good" girl, falls in love in like 5 minutes and decides to change his whole life around if he can just stay out of jail, happy endings all around - It's like Grease meets... something else and swing music - Sorry, I really don't know my musicals), it was a lot of fun.  I was actually really impressed with the choreography, though the prop "drinks" could have been anything else than what they had.  I didn't realize so many speakeasies served daquiris.

To top that off, I had a great meeting with a Toronto agent that I need to follow up with and a fantastic reference from some former teachers, which led to an audition prior to my departure.

I also somehow managed to work out everyday for five days, which is some kind of record for me, and the long train rides gave me plenty of time to write and, of course, read.

And now I'm back in Ottawa, finishing up some grant applications and organizing a fundraising event before jetting off again.  This time, I'll be off to Kitchener to see a staged reading of a show I wrote and after that, well, I'm not sure.  Will I be popping by Toronto to meet with that agency again or to shoot an industrial video?  Or will I be heading back to Ottawa to study clown with the craziest bunch of Fools I know?  Only time will tell, but until then I'm just enjoying the sweet, scary embrace of the unknown.

Doing Nothing at All

Approximately two to three weeks ago, I send out packages (resume/headshot/cover letter) to 6 different agencies in Toronto.  Last week, I do my follow up phone calls to "make sure they got it." From one agency, I get an automatic email saying they got it.  Three go to voicemail.  One emails me personally and asks for a demo.  The last actually takes my call, but unfortunately can't seem to find my stuff.  They'd look for it and get back to me.

So, I persevere.  Reply to the email.  Call back the guy who's still looking for my stuff...

No answer.  What now?  WHAT NOW?!?

Well, there's nothing I can do.  Honestly.  We live in this digital world where we get so used to instant everything, we forget to take the time to breathe and just let things develop.  As the guy in this video says "Give it a second!  It's going to space!"


So stop.  Just stop, breathe, and let it happen.  You know what you're capable of.  You know you're ready for opportunity whenever it's ready to knock.  Go do something else.  Go to the gym, go do your groceries, go meet friends (and do not talk about what you are doing).  Go!

And you know what?  It works.  I go to the gym and now I have a meeting on Thursday.  Turns out last guy did find my package after all.