act like a champion today

So I just had a breakthrough, even though it’s been in front of my eyes since I was little.

Has that ever happened to you?

You hear something for years and it doesn’t totally make sense/you think you understand, and then BAM one day it hits you?? The marquee finally blinks in all of its’ glory!

Mine went a little something like this:

So, there’s a famous sign: “PLAY LIKE A CHAMPION TODAY” that hangs in stairwell between the Norte Dame football locker room and the tunnel to the field. Tradition states that all the players touch the wall on their way out before game day. My dad is an ND alum, so we had a replica hanging in our basement growing up. Later, as I was choosing colleges- I ended up choosing UNC because I saw that same sign in a stairwell at the theatre department, only it read “ACT LIKE A CHAMPION TODAY”.  A literal sign I should go there.

Now flash-forward to post college, living in LA and my acting teacher said something along the lines of “LA is the Olympics of acting, so you better train (aka rehearse, practice, read scripts etc.) all the time if you are going to make it in this sea of actors”.

And even with all of these sports metaphors, I was still thinking about myself as an “actor” and weirdly that meant I felt guilty about getting help– I needed to figure it all out on my own because that’s what the great actors do right?? They just find the character, they know the beats of the scene, where it needs to go to tell the writer’s story etc. The greats do it all on their own.

And it’s ironic too because part of the reason I love what I am doing is I constantly get to LEARN. I’m a student of life, as corny as that sounds. But subconsciously I was blocking out help.

But recently it clicked. The “BAM” moment happened during another acting class, as the teacher- a series regular actress- said her career changed when she started thinking about her auditions with an athlete’s mentality. No longer were they this big once in a lifetime, must book or fail situations. Auditions became a game. This meant she was still training, approaching the text from a writer’s stand point and making the strongest choices based on what was on the page BUT she then scored herself post audition like she had just played a game of basketball. That took the audition more into her hands and totally changed her dynamic in the room.

*Most* athletes don’t beat themselves up after all of their losses– because statistically you can’t win them all. Instead, they look at game tapes and work on improving their plays so next time around they can give it a better shot. By approaching acting with the same mentality, it has allowed me to reimagine what winning and losing look like. I feel more in control because I know I have the tools, and can keep training on the parts that aren’t up to par (pun intended).

Not saying this is the way. It’s just the way that I now approach my work- and maybe it’ll help you, regardless of your profession. The same principles can be applied.

Now that the marquee’s lights are flashing (thank God!) I don’t need to feel less than because I work through scenes with an acting coach or another actor (aka teammate). And winning doesn’t just come in the form of booking the job. It comes from keep track of growth in the audition room, classroom and onscreen, of being consistent and great at what I do. Being an athlete means showing up to all days like they’re game days; ready to utilize the training, while also trusting your teammates, coaches and your own worth–and ultimately “PLAYING LIKE A CHAMPION” all the damn time.

holiday small talk

Things I love about the holidays:

  1. The food
  2. The booze
  3. The decorations
  4. The gifting
  5. The days where your fuzzy socks/pjs stay on all day
  6. The carols
  7. The friends and family I don’t see often enough

Things I dislike about the holidays:

  1. Catching up with certain friends/friends of friends/family and navigating how to present my life as a creative freelancers who acts, makes wine videos and writes a blog. It can be toughhhhhhhh.

As someone without the “normal” 9 to 5 who can highlight a promotion or change of departments etc. as success (although, luckily, there are lots of creative freelancers emerging at the moment) it can be seemingly difficult to explain what I do or even how I’ve grown. So what do you do??

Me: Grabs a glass of wine, throws on a smile and makes a b-line for awkward convos first so I can settle back with close family for the rest of the night.

Me to Me: Takes a bottle of wine, fat plate of apps and sits by the fire. Tells it my all secrets and avoids people at all costs.

Sooooo you don’t have to do either extreme- take to the “difficult” ones first, or hide. But here are a few things I’ve found helpful:

create your elevator pitch

I know I know, but it makes it a hell of a lot easier if you make a little semi-rehearsed speech. Bonus points for embellishing, everyone does it. And hey, you put it out in the world it might just come right back to you!

enjoy the little things

So you didn’t get a huge holiday bonus like your sister who works in finance, but you know what you did do as a creative?? Probably saw more of the world, reflected, became a better you. Savor that. Please and thank you. Everyday I try to express the gratitude I have- it’ll make it easier to chat with Aunt Lucy and Uncle Pete from Nebraska…wine helps with that too.

lean on your friends

If you’re lucky, some of these holiday parties will include your best friends. If so, buddy up and the build each other up while in conversation. You bet your ass I will brag about my best friends, and they’ll do the same. This tactic works best in front of your relative//family friend who thinks you need a Plan B. You don’t. You just need a fabulous support system. Said nay-sayer is not one of them, but brush that off.

smile

Personally it’s hard for me not to, especially after a couple glass, but for those with resting bitch face try it. I’m not trying to get all puppies and rainbows over here, but I shit you not, throw on a smile and hopefully it’ll access a more positive mindset. If you go in the party with a frown and shit attitude it’s hard to have an amazing time despite all the cocktails you’ll thrown back. But–if you slap on a smile, take a deep breath and try to find the fun in sharing your projects/success/set backs/hopes with the world, you just get the best gift of all: a surprising amount of love, support and kind words you never knew your family and friends had to share. YOU just have to open yourself up to the opportunity.

And on that note, I’m stepping off the apple box and dropping the mic. Enjoy all the festivities this season!! Sending my love your way and many thanks for reading and supporting my career.

Merry Merry!!

xoxo Natalie

 

 

life lately, laundry list style

Happy Friday! I’m up early and heading to model (this is becoming a trend) for a fun Studio DIY project- if you don’t follow her look her Instagram, she always brightens my day.

Any who, ever since returning from Scotland (I got back exactly a month ago (sayyyy what??!), I’ve been on the go- read, there’s always something going on/ never a dull moment/ pencil me in for that event! You get the picture. So, here’s what I’ve been up to lately, laundry list style:

life Lately:

  • Back in acting class
  • “Modeling” for ModJewel (use code MYFIRSTMOD for 10% off!!)
  • Auditions–yay!!!
  • Create and Cultivate POP UP in Beverly Hills for a dose of inspriation and boss ass ladies.
  • The Taste of LA with @missfoodieproblems AKA eating and drinking all the food on the backlot of Paramount.
  • I’m in a play! It’s about one-night-stands, and actually closes tonight, but I’ve had a blast being back on stage.
  • There was a baking night, and I made a silly Instagram story to go along with it. Raw cookie dough was consumed.
  • No notifications- well almost. While I was in Scotland I turned off ALL the notifications on my phone, and since returning I’ve only turned on texts and phone calls. It’s so refreshing and I feel like I’m checking my phone a lot less.
  • Hi Fall!! Yesterday marked the first official day of Autumn, and, yes, this is a weirdly placed point, but in my stream of consciousness. I want LA to get about 15 degrees colder- can you do that Mother Nature??
  • Taking a few minutes to daily (errrr almost every day) to “meditate”, aka lighting these candles and journaling. The power of positive thinking works wonders.
  • COLLEGE FRIENDS VISIT!! (post to come about “things to do in LA with out-of-towners”) And we went all around town naturally, and ate VERY well.
  • Taking solo hikes sans music. It’s great for the soul.
  • Watch Sophie’s dog, realize I cannot/am not ready for my own dog. It’s like having a child. NOT READY.
  • Attending birthdays, late night karaoke and an Emmy’s party…. and the very unwelcome hangovers associated. Usually cured by a donut.
  • AND then in between life happening, I’m mad at myself because I didn’t make a wine video this Wednesday. Trying to let that one go, as there are only so many hours in the day.
  • I recently bought this GIANT DESK CALENDAR in attempts to plan my life/blog content out in a more organized fashion. I’m becoming my mother, and totally ok with that. She’s the best.
  • Planning on a couple trips these next few month and eyeing Northern California, New York (again I know!) and Austin for the BBQ and Tex-Mex.

Enjoy your weekend!

P.S. If you’re in the Midwest slash on the East Coast eat an apple cider donut for me. Thanks (they realllly need to get on that trend in LA!)

why scotland?

Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye

It is currently 5:45am in LA and I’ve been up for about an hour. Hello jet-lag! If you follow me on Instagram, I recently wrapped up a 10 day trip all around Scotland.

What exactly was this trip about? I’m glad you asked!

Let’s set the scene: It was around 9am July 5th when I received an email that made me “blink twice”. Not going to lie, my eyes were a liiittle fuzzy (thank you one too many celebrating America’s birthday) but Istoria clothing designer, Rachael Forester, had written asking me to model her freshman collection in Scotland.

  1. I am not a model by today’s standards, but sweeeet
  2. A TRIP TO SCOTLAND- sign me up!
  3. Wait a second…is this too good to be true? There must be some catch…
  4. *checks out Rachael’s social media/blog* no catch, this seem very legit
  5. *check out photographer’s Instagram* ohhh I recognize this page
  6. *Calls Rachael to confirm I am not being cat-fished* she is the real deal
  7. HOLY SHIT I’M GOING TO GO TO SCOTLAND FOR WORKKKK

But how did they find me?? As fate would have it, around June 20th, I left this comment on Sophie Kuller, the photographer’s, post (her last name is pronounced “cooler” btw)IMG_0030

That comment “so special #docklife” made Sophie look at my profile which spiraled into her showing Rachael my profile when their initial model backed out. Crazy coincidence and lucky- but I also realized that had I not been blogging, making silly wine videos, or just being me I wouldn’t have gotten the offer. They saw an authentic person behind the glass of their iPhone screens.

And that my friends is how I booked the job!

Oh right, back to what the actual job was, modeling. Now I’ll expand more on that later when I can release all of the pictures, but in short, I had little experience. Sure, I have had my headshot taken but I hadn’t modeled clothes since my short-lived career as a Carson-Pirie-Scott-Sunday-Coupon regular. The images below are gems, I know.

2016_08_24_08_40_09
you know you owned pants like those at one point 😉
Circa 2001
Second from the left, circa 2001

Despite being green, I didn’t think twice. Here was a fantastic opportunity and I couldn’t say turn it down. So I started flipping through fashion magazines, Pinterest and Instagram to see how the model’s were posing these days. And a little over a month later, I hopped on a plane for Scotland.

a little light help from the bounce board
a little light help from the bounce board
princess vibes in this caped jumpsuit
princess vibes in this caped jumpsuit

Can’t wait to share more images. Have a glass of wine or whisky tonight, after all it’s Wednesday! Cheers!! #scottishfrecklegirl

acting advice: where to begin

I was recently asked by a rising college senior, let’s call him Greg, what “THE most intelligent move post college?” should be upon graduation for beginning his acting career.
Below is my response:
I am not going to bullshit you in my email, I’ll lay it out for you and hope it serves as a tool to help you make your decision.

You cannot make a wrong decision (unless you choose to go climb a mountain without proper supplies- I wouldn’t say it’s wrong, just foolish)

My hope in telling you that is to take off the pressure, not add to it. Graduation and entering the real world is a big transition, so don’t add on to that adjustment by hemming and hawing over what’s “THE most intelligent move post college”. Learn to trust your gut.

Treat Whichever City you Land in as if you are entering the olympics

When you go to LA/NYC/Chicago and enter your preferred field of TV/Film/Theatre/Improv, treat it as if you are entering the Olympics-that’s relevant right?! There are loads of talented people and even less-talented people who you will be competing with. Your job is to train your ass off so walking into an audition is just another “race in the pool”. Yes, you want to book the role, but you must be striving for your personal best, not your agent/manager/best friend/neighbor/girlfriend/co-worker etc best. Your job is to analyze the text, know what the writer’s aim for the scene is (she’s been hired after all, you haven’t yet), figure out your relationship with the other character and bring yourself to the scene.  I’m still practicing that. All. The. Time. And honestly will be throughout my acting career.

Regarding rejection, it happens all. the. time.

 Unlike the Olympics, you won’t have the benefit of seeing your “score”. So how do you deal with all of the countless “no’s?” You keep doing the work, you get a massage, go for a hike, find a solid group of friends. I can’t stress that enough.
Find your tribe and cling to them. Meet every week and hold each other accountable for tasks. As an actor we are building our own business.
That’s something that’s not highlighted enough in college.  You must realize that you are your own product and despite acting because you “love the craft” that’s only about 50% of the job. The other half (arguably more) is self-promotion/business.

YOUR TOOLKIT:

-professional headshot
-formatted resume
-acting clips
-solid training
-be realistic about what your type is: ask people/friends who aren’t biased what roles they’d see you playing. If you’re getting a lot of “mean girl” or “computer nerd” DON’T play against that initially. That will only help Casting Directors, Agents and Managers effectively pitch and cast you. And for you, that makes choosing scenes and headshots a lot easier. Play to your type!

get off your pedestal

Currently, I wait tables as my steady source of income. Do I wish I could stop today and only be making money via my art? Hell yes. But as actors we are freelancers, and until you reach a certain level the odd-jobs will be necessary to stay afloat. Bottom line: don’t think just because you went to university that you can’t do “menial jobs”. Obviously hold onto your self-worth, but realize that 99% of creatives, especially in LA, start at the bottom of the totem poll. Show up and be a team player- not someone with a sour attitude who bitches about XYZ.

Acknowledge jealously and be gone with it

There will be others who book jobs faster than you-don’t fall into the trap of sitting in jealously, the faster you learn to do that, the more open you are for other opportunities.
Everyone has a different path to success

Take vacations

AKA don’t be scared to leave for “fear of missing an opportunity”. There will always be others. Operating under the veil of fear will never your friend.

Relationships are key

Building them into lasting friendships is even more so. Don’t be the kind of actor who only reaches out when you need something. Become a trust-worthy ally. Casting Directors will bring you back because you’ve shown up in the past and rocked it, Directors will bring you back because you treated everyone respectfully, Casting Assistants will eventually become Casting Directors and will remember if you brushed them off. You know how Jennifer Lawrence worked with David O. Russell 3 films in a row? There was a trust and respect element there. Aim to bring that to all the people you meet!

define your own success

Read this post about I wrote on this topic.

and last but not least: you are a badass

Pursing acting is tough as shit, so keep reminding yourself that you are a badass. There will be lots of highs and lows, but they will all be easier if you have a healthy amount of self-love.

Hope this helps!! Let me know if there are any other specific questions you have and I’ll answer them too.