Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Writer’s Diet Experiment, Day 7

I made it! A solid week of daily blogging about my life as a writer/actor/busy bee. I hope everyone found this slice of my life interesting. Looking back on all the things I did every day to build and drive my career, my main thought is this – no wonder I don’t have time for the gym!

This Sunday morning, I slept in. I mean, really slept in. I had a delicious romantic comedy dream starring Josh Charles and laid in bed for at least 30 minutes trying to figure out if I could actually turn it into a script. Many of my story ideas come to me in dreams, but this time I decided to move on. The story had already been done a million times – which is why it probably crept into my dream.

A few hours writing in bed, then moved to my desk to catch up on online acting submissions. I try to submit myself every day to projects on Actors Access, LA Casting, & NOW Casting, but I was a few days behind.

Even though I prefer to be paid for my acting work, I always look for compelling short films & student projects because they’re great opportunities to get on camera and try new things.

I also put a headshot in the mail for the next ABC|Disney Talent Showcase. I dug out this self-inking stamp I had made when hard copy submissions were the standard. I haven’t used it in ages.

These talent showcases used to be called diversity showcases, but all the networks have taken the word diversity out of their programs. Presumably to focus on a wider pool of talent development, but don’t white actors already have plenty of opportunity? Just saying...

This afternoon was my Relax & Write recital, where everyone read five-minute pieces of writing they’d done in class. The house was packed with people, good food, and beautiful words. I read my fiction piece inspired by the bench in (500) Days of Summer.

Well, that’s a wrap on my Writer’s Diet Experiment! Let me know what you liked about my daily reports below. Otherwise, we now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Writer’s Diet Experiment, Day 6

Saturday began in my favorite Saturday t-shirt doing my favorite Saturday activity – Relax & Write! Wednesday night was a make-up class – Saturday is usually when I partake in the beautiful creative experience that is Relax & Write.

I was able to snag my favorite chair this morning too. This is me re-enacting what my pre-writing meditation looks like.

Filled up on our usual Saturday morning spread -

After another wonderful session of writing and some chatter about our Relax & Write recital tomorrow (which you’ll hear all about here), I headed to my second rehearsal for Modern Family Business, the Web series I’m starring in. We worked on a few episodes, including the one where my character gets drunk on chocolate coffee liqueur.

This is me and my Web series daughter –

I’m blessed and grateful to look younger than my actual age, but in this case I feel a bit silly. Don’t I look more like her sister than her mom?

Click here to read The Writer's Diet Experiment, Day 7

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Writer’s Diet Experiment, Day 5

My Fridays are always filled with guilt. It’s the day of the week when I look back at all the writing, acting career tasks, and personal errands I haven’t done yet. Where my desire to have a social life clashes with my desire to move my professional career forward. So while I’d love to see Extraordinary Chambers tonight or enjoy dinner at Street with my friends, I kept my evening open for writing and sleeping.

Still, I enjoyed a few guilty pleasures today. Lunch with another actress friend I haven’t seen in years. Christine and I used to do 30-40 shows a day together at Disneyland. Now she’s running her own theater company called the Last Metro Company. I lent her a lab coat for their upcoming production of Karl Gadjusek’s play Fubar. Sounds like a fascinating production – can’t wait for it to open on July 1!

In the afternoon, I got an email from one of my writer’s groups that we’d be taking July off. Instead, we’d be using a Google doc to hold each other accountable. I love accountability! I added my goal for the next week. I can do it!

While getting an oil change after work, I sat in the waiting room shuffling through all the short fiction and essays I’ve written during my Relax & Write classes this past year.

Our annual recital is this Sunday and I needed to pick what I was going to read. I had too many favorites at first, but after reminiscing with my notebooks for a while, I ended up choosing my fiction piece about the bench from (500) Days of Summer, which you can read here.

Then headed home to write, write, write. Heading to sleep early now, which for me means 11:30 pm. Good night!

Click here to read The Writer's Diet Experiment, Day 6

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Writer’s Diet Experiment, Day 4

Audition this morning for The Fresh Beat Band on Nick Jr.! Even though I’ve auditioned for them before, I started the day by watching a few YouTube videos of the show to remind myself of the pacing and energy. Always a good idea before any audition, especially since you can find at least a clip of every show somewhere online.

The audition was at Paramount Studios, which has the most colorful maps!

Yes, this is the same studio lot where they shoot Glee! They’re on hiatus, of course, so there were no Cheerios or New Directions in sight.

After the audition, I headed to the Metro Diner in Culver City for lunch with an actress friend who moved away from LA five years ago. She’s moved on to become a skilled jewelry designer – check out her gorgeous pieces at

The Metro Diner is not a diner at all, but rather a Serbian/American eatery with a menu that ranges from healthy creations like Braised Tofu with Quinoa and Kale to Serbian classics like Chevapchichi. Their Burrata over Grilled Sweet Pepper starter is one of the best kept secrets in town for lovers of this creamy, fresh mozzarella. Just look at the size of this mound of cheese!

After work, I headed to the first rehearsal for a web series I’m starring in called Modern Family Business. This is me and John Schaffer, my web series husband, attempting to look natural while the actress playing my daughter snaps a photo.

We start shooting in a few weeks. Follow the show on Twitter or Like our Facebook page to learn more!

I finished watching this year’s Tony Awards when I got home – Neil Patrick Harris is the bomb – and despaired over missing the New York Philharmonic’s HD presentation of Company starring NPH, Stephen Colbert, Patti Lupone, and a slew of other celebrities. I hope they release it on DVD.

At least my headshots from Reproductions arrived – my stock is officially replenished!

Click here to read The Writer's Diet Experiment, Day 5

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Writer’s Diet Experiment, Day 3

Woke up this morning and did a thirty minute think session about my law pilot. No actual writing, just turning over scenarios in my head while staring at the ceiling. If anyone ever observed one of my think sessions, I’m sure it would look quite unsettling – eyes glazed over, looking at nothing – but it works for me.

Got dressed and headed to the day job. Today was one of those days where I worked too work. Three meetings, five new projects, and about eight pieces of candy from the jar on my manager’s desk. Stress eating!

My day job pays the bills, and for that I am grateful. The fact that I actually enjoy the work and sense of accomplishment it gives the left side of my brain is an added bonus.

Still, I need to constantly remind myself to keep my eyes on the prize. I always say that the most valuable job skill an artist can develop is focus. It’s so easy to get distracted or side-tracked – focus is what drives us toward success.

While at lunch with an actress friend who also works at my office, we reminded each other that we are artists! Our goal is not to climb the corporate ladder. Our goal is our art – writing, acting, and basically being creative as much as possible. She helped me spin a few ideas for the law pilot while we ate burgers at The Habit.

But my overachieving work ethic being what it is, I still worked later than I should have. Before I knew it, I’d stayed an extra hour!

Dang. Grabbed another fast food dinner – I warned you, what I eat is not pretty – and got on the road for my weekly class at Relax & Write.

I’ve been relaxing and writing with Maia Danziger for almost two years and I love it! Maia uses Buddhist-influenced meditation and relaxation techniques to help writers get in touch with their inner creative spirit. She creates a wonderfully supportive environment and my writing is better and more free because of it. Learn more about her classes and buy her book at

After leaving class with a few thousand more words of my novel, I checked my voicemail. A message from my manager about an audition in the morning! To play an officious yet humorous mayor on The Fresh Beat Band. More on that tomorrow!

Click here to read The Writer's Diet Experiment, Day 4

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Writer’s Diet Experiment, Day 2

Yesterday was a big day, wasn’t it?

Probably why I ended up sleeping through my morning writing session. I always try to write for 30 minutes in the morning before going to work, but today I was just too exhausted. I enjoyed my dream about winning a game show for an extra 30 minutes.

While at the day job chomping on ramen for lunch, I received and approved a headshot proof from Reproductions. I have many different looks on my online acting resumes, but only one that I print into 8x10s to bring to auditions. I was running low and Reproductions not only made the reorder process so easy, I got free shipping for being a California resident. Score!

Before leaving the office, I read a short film screenplay that my friend Christopher wrote for me. Inspired by my blog post about missing the chance to be shot by TV cops, he cast me as a hit man. (Hit woman...hit man woman...homage to NBC's Life, anyone?) The script was amazing. He really has a talent for dialogue and compelling scenes – someone hire him.

It’s Taco Tuesday, so after work I swung by Del Taco for my favorite cheap eats deal – 3 tacos for $1.09. That’s $1.19 with tax. I call it the actor’s dinner.

Dinner complete, I settled in to catch up on the last four episodes of The Killing waiting on my DVR.

I spent the first hour retouching some new headshots taken by my friend Christine Tanabe, but eventually got so sucked into the story that I just stared at the screen slack-jawed.
Intense, gut-wrenching stuff! I was on the edge of nausea the entire time – that’s good television.

Veena Sud is so badass – she inspires me to keep writing and exploring the dark side of human nature. I look forward to meeting her for staffing on The Killing Season 2! (Hey, a writer can dream...)

Click here to read The Writer's Diet Experiment, Day 3

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Writer’s Diet Experiment, Day 1

Can Lynn Chen get any more talented? In addition to being an accomplished actress and now filmmaker, she runs a food blog called The Actor’s Diet - “The life of a Hollywood actress. Meal by meal.”

And she means every meal. Since I began reading her blog, Lynn hasn’t missed a day. I’m so impressed by her discipline! She writes about her daily journeys through a culinary lens and the result is always delicious.

Considering I’m attempting to not break my own chain of writing every day, I’ve decided to try an experiment. Blog every day for a week about my acting/writing/producing endeavors, a la The Actor’s Diet. I won’t be taking pictures of what I eat every day – no one wants to see that – but I will show you my daily life through the lens of an artist trying to do a million things at once.

Here goes...

I woke up early this morning to finish reading scripts for a NYC Midnight short film screenplay competition that I’m judging. NYC Midnight runs a bunch of interesting writing challenges, including a Flash Fiction Challenge that I’ll be participating in this summer.

After sending off my notes and top five picks, I headed to my day job. I always keep a notebook at my desk to jot down ideas as they come up throughout the day. Today I banged out a few pages of brainstorming on a new law pilot based on my brother’s life. Hopefully CBS-worthy...

I’m a champion multi-tasker, which isn’t always a good thing, but at work it means I can juggle three spreadsheets while listening to/half-watching a Netflix movie in the background. (No need to tell my boss – I only do this in the afternoons.) Around 5pm, I started watching Falling for Grace, a romantic comedy written, directed, and starring Fay Ann Lee.

It was a sweet film with all the elements of a mainstream romantic comedy. Impressive considering she was a first-time screenwriter, producer, and director. And the always fabulous Elizabeth Sung was just that – fabulous!

Then I got a call just before leaving the office that I was cast in a short film for the AFI Directing Workshop for Women program.
It’s a small part, but the projects are always good and I’m happy to support these filmmakers. I was in an AFI DWW short a few years ago called Open Your Eyes that has absolutely swept the festival circuit – 34 awards in 68 festivals. Amazing!

After finishing the movie, I headed off to Rant & Rave at Rogue Machine Theatre, a sort of spoken word/storytelling evening based around a theme. Tonight, it was Politics. My friend Pattie Tierce opened the evening with a hilarious rant about co-dependency in politics. Accomplished actors Jodi Long and Tucker Smallwood also took the stage.

A thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking night, to be sure! The audience was an eclectic mix of fans, artists, and celebs. I sat behind Cristine Rose and spotted Patricia Richardson and Evan Lysacek among the crowd. Hoping I can grace the Rant & Rave stage myself someday soon!

Then home. Phew! It was a busy day. And I’m posting this way too late. This experiment should be interesting!

Click here to read The Writer's Diet Experiment, Day 2

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Color Me Disappointed. For Now.

I play nurses, doctors, & reporters. It's kind of my thing. I was excited about this particular audition because it was different. At the end of the scene, my character would pull a gun on the cops and get shot. Yes, I was auditioning to play the bad guy. Fun!

My imagination ran wild - a propmaster would have to show me how to handle a fake gun! I'd get to see my stunt double get hooked up with squibs! I'd get to act badass instead of professional! In other words, I really started to want it.

Which made the disappointment that much greater when my audition was cancelled. The part wasn't getting written out of the script. I was just being uninvited to the casting session. Many possible reasons why - the director might have had someone in mind, they could have changed the ethnicity of the role, or perhaps they needed to trim the casting pool to the most experienced actors and I didn't make the cut. I'll never know why.

When I heard the audition was cancelled, I did the first thing anyone in my position would do. I scarfed down a BLT with avocado AND french fries AND a ginger ale. Then I ate a cookie.

Moments later, while sitting at my computer regretting my food choices, I took a deep breath. I wouldn't get to be shot by TV cops, but you know what? It was an honor to be nominated. I beat out a ton of actors to get the audition in the first place. The casting office knows my name now and that means something.

Then I thought about how lucky I was to have this day job that was going to let me go to that audition. In fact, I was lucky to be pursuing my dream, period. I thought about all my wonderful friends and colleagues who believe in me. And I calmed down. I focused on gratitude and got over myself.

Total time? 30 minutes.

I didn't always have the ability to bounce back this quickly from disappointment, but learning how to do it has been one of the keys to my success. Being an actor means constantly looking for a job and getting rejected. Disappointment is part of the game and if I can't roll with that, I might as well make spreadsheets in a cubicle for the rest of my life.

Now I'm not saying you can't be disappointed as an actor. Annoying and frustrating stuff happens all the time in this business. Get angry about all of it! Absolutely - have it out. Preferably in the privacy of your car or home.

But dwelling on disappointment, letting it squash your spirit - there's no room for that if you want to be a successful actor. Because the truth is there's plenty more opportunity down the line. The engine of Hollywood continues and the next audition is just around the corner.

So my prop gun / stuntwoman / bad guy dream role will remain a dream for now. But it will come along soon enough. I know it.