2015: The Goals

2015_2When I got the position with Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey, I decided that seven weeks out of the city would be a great way to take some time to reevaluate without getting caught up in the day-to-day hustle of my normal NYC routine.  I always make lists of everything I want to accomplish, and have some pretty epic to-do lists, but nothing gets done.  Most of my time is spent just trying to figure out what needs to get done.  So with this much needed break, I decided it was finally time to figure it all out.  And since it just happened to be at the end of the year, the timing was perfect for creating a plan for the New Year.

My achilles heel has always been the fact that I like to do everything, and I’m very driven about everything.  The result is that I’m always busy, always booking something, and I never have time to get bored.  Great, right?  Well, yeah.  But also not so great because I never have a plan.  I submit and audition for everything, and then take everything that I get if there’s any way at all to fit it into my schedule.  The downside is I never have time to really sit down and evaluate what’s working and what isn’t.

Enter 2015!  This is going to be the year that I start to focus and really start thinking about quality over quantity.  Depending on who you asked, in 2014 I was an actor, vocal coach, composer, musical director, organist, choir director, administrative assistant, singer, photographer, teaching artist, and tap dancer.  On the outside, it looks pretty damn impressive; I photographed celebrities, accompanied Broadway stars, acted in a short film that went to Cannes, was on a TV show, and sang in an ensemble at Carnegie Hall twice.

If you look closer, though, I had a little involvement in a lot of big things.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining at all; I still get giddy thinking about it.  But I’m spreading myself too thin.  If I wanted to stay at this level, then I’d be set.  And it’s already a level I never thought possible.  That being said, I want to climb a little higher.

If I really want to succeed, I think it’s time that I put more effort into fewer things, into bigger things.  While I’m having a blast playing serial killers on Discovery ID, it’s not going to go past that.  No one at Carnegie Hall, except for my roommate, knew I was there.  And while it’s not about recognition, what I’m getting at is I would love to have a bigger involvement in something, take it to the next level.  And in order to do that, I could either create a couple extra days in the week, or I could free up some time but eliminating some things.  And I’m guessing that the more feasible thing to do is free up some time rather than creating some more.

I’m almost done creating some rules for myself which I’ll write about later.  I think the key for me stepping things up is to see how far I can push myself with a plan in place.  I already push myself pretty hard right now, but I’m pushing myself in way too many directions that I always end up back where I started, which is wacky state of sleep depravation and confusion.  Don’t believe me?  Talk to my roommate.

Anyway, it’s after midnight and one of the things I’m trying to change is my sleep schedule.  I’m a night owl but I also work long days so I end up not sleeping enough and from the second I wake up, I start counting down the hours until I can go to bed, which is normally around 18.  So I am going to voluntarily go to bed and wake up with enough time that I don’t have to sprint out the door and see what happens.

Off to bed!

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2015: Looking Ahead

2015So, as I wrote earlier, 2014 was a great year for me.  And the year before.  And the year before.  But that’s because I’m pretty easy to please.  It’s a great problem to have, but it also places me in my own way sometimes.

I’m like a little kid.  It doesn’t take much for me to feel like “this is the most awesome thing ever!!!”  When I’m doing extra work, most of the people around me are complaining about the lack of variety in the catering, or how it’s such a long day.  I just look around and think “but guys, we’re working on a real mooooovie!”  Same for reenactment tv.  And student films.  And shows.  And concerts.  I guess the great news is I haven’t become jaded.  When it comes to focus, though, that’s where I have a problem.

When people get to know me, or at least get me involved in conversation about everything I’m doing, they inevitably ask me what my dream job is.  And I always struggle to come up with an answer.  Again, the good part is that there isn’t only one thing that I’d be happy doing.  The bad part is that with so many options on the table, I never really put enough focus into any one of them.

In a city like New York, if you want to get to the top in any field, you’ve gotta work harder than everyone else around you.  And while a lot of people will tell you that I’m one of the most driven people they know, that drive lacks focus.  What they see is that I’m always on the go, always working, and usually have something fun to post about on Facebook.  But I don’t really have a master plan.  I just submit and apply for everything that interests me, and if I can squeeze it into my schedule, I do it.

I usually only have one day off a month where I’m not running from one thing to the next, and on most days I’m working more than one job.  If you look at the last two weeks before I left for the circus, I worked as an admin assistant for The New York Pops and Actors Equity, I acted in a short film, was the rehearsal accompanist and sang in a concert with Essential Voices USA, recorded a voice for an animated film (which I also composed the theme song for), taught one workshop for Disney and two for A Class Act, directed and accompanied a benefit concert, worked as a church organist and choir director, photographed a press event, and hit up a few auditions.

Insane, right?  That’s literally the two weeks before I left New York.  Was it a blast?  You bet!  Was I sleeping enough?  Not a chance!  Did I get sick because of it?  Of course, silly.  But that’s just what I do!

Now here’s the thing.  I’m finally getting to a point, at the ripe, young age of 35, where I’m starting to realize that I need a plan.  Sure, I’m doing a lot of fun stuff and getting loads of random crap on my resume.  But if I really want to take off, to really excel in one of these areas, I’ve gotta let people know that’s what I do and that I’m damn good at it.  Of course you can do as many things as you want, and I don’t believe that you can only be really good at one thing.  But, it’s a little harder for people to take you seriously if they don’t really know what you do.

Look at it this way, if you were going to hire a wedding photographer, would you hire someone who has a legit wedding photography business with hundreds of weddings in their portfolio, or would you hire a photographer who has shot a couple weddings, some fashion shows, a little bit of travel photographer, who has also catered weddings, worked them as a dj, and baked a couple wedding cakes?  I think the answer is clear, and I think you know I’m the metaphorical photographer/caterer/dj/baker.

The ball’s gonna drop in a few so I’m gonna take a break, but I’ll be back next year with more on my 2015 plans!

Happy New Year!

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Lesson of the day: Check your messages. All of them.

frustrated-with-computerAs usual, the lesson of the day means that I screwed something up.  Luckily, the lesson of the day isn’t actually a daily post; because that would mean I’m making way too many mistakes.

This morning, I decided to catch up a little on the casting websites that I’ve let slide the last few weeks (another lesson, don’t ever let them slide).  I logged into my Casting Networks account, and saw that I had a new alert.  I opened it, and it was a very lovely email from the director of a project I submitted for a while ago.  He said that he loved my submission and wanted to cast me in the role I was interested in, and to check my availability for shooting on April 19th.  Well, it’s April 25, and I just saw the message.  I thought that Casting Networks sent an email to let you know you had a new message, maybe not.

Anyway, it’s my fault for not keeping up with the websites, especially after I’ve submitted for roles.  And the date that he was shooting is literally one of three days in my planner without anything scheduled.  I could have had a great time shooting on a day when I was probably sitting at home watching Breaking Bad.  And how knows, it could have been great footage for my reel, too.

While it doesn’t change anything, I did email the director, thanking him for choosing me, and apologizing profusely for dropping the ball, and wishing him great success.

Now it’s time to check the rest of the casting sites and hope I don’t have missed opportunities there.

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Flylady knows best

flyladyI think a woman who goes by the alias (or would it be called a handle) Flylady is really going to come through for me.  I first heard about this magical woman from my sister, when I was living with her in Hawaii last summer.  Flylady has created a remarkable system to keep your house clean and your life a little more organized.  I’m so unorganized that I forgot about this website for the past year and a half, but better late than never, right? I’m still getting into the groove of her system, which I’m sure I’ll write more about later, but what really appealed to me was what she calls The Home Blessing Hour.

Basically, you have six tasks that you commit to doing to ten minutes, no more or less.  She insists you use a timer.  When it goes off, whether you’re finished or not, move on.  You can do it all in one sitting, hence the Home Blessing Hour, or you can do one of these ten minute tasks a day, in addition to the main tasks of the day.  Her list includes things like a quick dusting, polishing mirrors, purging magazines and catalogues, and changing your sheets.  I’ve started using that system with my own list around the house and it’s been incredible. It is so much easier to tackle those odd housekeeping chores when you go into it knowing each unbearable task will only lats ten minutes,  Dusting the top of the kitchen cabinets that haven’t been touched in a year?  As long as it’s only ten minutes, I can handle that.

But why limit this principle to housekeeping?  What I’m going to try, and see if I can make it work, is use this for staying on top of all the online submissions that we all need to do to get auditions and work.  I have subscriptions to Actors Access, Casting Networks, New York Castings, Backstage, which I pay for so I should get my money’s worth.  In addition, I need to stay on top of Actors Equity, Playbill, and if I’ve got time to spare, I’ll check Mandy.  What normally happens is I’ll go through phases where I’m completely on the ball with one or two, and then weeks will go by that the others don’t get checked.  I just get overwhelmed, so I tell myself I’ll reserve a huge chunk of time to do it “later.” I definitely have an hour of time a day to check the casting websites; more than that, to be truthful.  My candy crush progress will show I have more than enough time, so the excuses of being too busy won’t work.  Neither will all of the posts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.  But let’s be honest, I’m not going to get work off of Candy Crush.  But missing an audition that is casting a male, 30-something, caucasian actor who can play piano–there have been several–because I didn’t see it online, that can cost me a job.

The best time of the day to submit is in the morning.  If a casting director has posted something that morning, or the night before and it’s not live until the offices of the casting site are open, they are going to start combing through submissions right away.  They want to hurry up and move on to scheduling auditions, so they can then cast, and then start filming (theatre auditions aren’t nearly as down-to-the-wire as film and TV).  I’ve submitted for an audition and been called by a casting director in less than an hour to tell me more about the role, confirm my availability, and then book me.  Sixty minutes after I hit submit and I had the gig.  I had the look they wanted for the character, my resume showed them I’d done similar work before, and I was available.  With so many people in New York, why wait?  Everyone who was submitting after me didn’t even know that they weren’t being considered because the role was filled.  Obviously this happens to me all the time and I don’t even know if.  If a casting assistant is told to schedule a certain number of guys who are my type for an audition, she’s going to do it as soon as she can so she can move on to the next assignment.  She’s not going to be waiting for me to find the time. I’m going to try and stick to a ten-minute system in the morning and see what happens.  I’m not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, so committing to jogging when I wake up is out of the question.  But sitting at the computer, having my pot of coffee, and trying to get a job?  That I can do.

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