I am the type of person who has to be busy. I have to be working on something at all times. Feeling stagnant in my career is basically my worst nightmare. So in between waiting for the phone to ring I had to do something. I'm not sure how much actual difference it makes, but it does so much for my mental space for me to feel like I am at least WORKING on something.
1. Audit An Acting Class
Even if you love the class you are in now, you should know what's out there, the different teachers and their styles and what they are known for. I currently love my studio, but I am looking around at others because I don't want to get too comfortable or stale. I stayed at my last studio for too long and while the work was always challenging, I didn't feel like I was growing the way I had been when I first started there. I got too comfortable. And after I realized that I took a little bit of time off then started looking around at other studios - where had my more successful friends studied? Once I figured that out, I audited those classes and then picked one. I am going to a lecture at a new studio tomorrow just because. It's a studio I have heard a lot of good things about and I'd like to know more. Even if the audit is dumb or boring, you can check that studio off of your list.
2. Build Your Internet Presence
I am slowly coming to the conclusion that my delusions of being famous on Instagram might never happen. I'm kidding. But truly, I see the girls in LA, who have these amazing lives on Instagram and they get cool shit for it! And we all know that social media has a card in the "who gets cast" game at the bottom level. So where are your numbers? Are they rocking and your brand is totally on point? Are you're getting tons of impressions and interactions as well as putting out consistent, great content? Then skip this section! But for the 99.9% of us regular peasants, this is something we have to work on. I started a podcast last year called Hollywoodland: Unsolved. (Think Nancy Drew grew up, moved to Old Hollywood and started a podcast). And while the show doesn't translate into Instagram followers - I do have over 21k plays on just SoundCloud alone. When casting directors ask what I can bring to the table - that is always near the top of the list.
3. Know What Your Brand Is (and run with it)
I want to play a cop. Basically, I wan to be Mariska Hargitay. But alas, I have about 5 years until anyone will take me seriously as a cop on TV. So what do I do about that now? Well, I recently learned that I don't know how to hold a gun and holding a gun is pivotal to being a cop (duh). I also realize that while I look too young right now, I also don't have the physical strength to play a cop/detective. Nothing bugs me more than watching frail women play these badass roles - specifically Johannan Braddy on Quantico - because that's not realistic nor is that healthy. Now, I'm not trying to be a total beefcake, but I am working on my endurance. So what's your dream role? What do you want to play? What do you enjoy? Gal Gadot did a photoshoot as Wonder Woman SIX years before she got the job.... just saying.
4. Work On Loving Yourself
I am reading You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero and it's changing my life. She ends every chapter with "Love Yourself" and a reason that applies to what that chapter covered. We all know confidence is key and loving yourself is the basis for confidence (true and genuine confidence). Recently I was in an acting class where the teacher made a killer point about confidence in relation to your acting career. "If you're worried about whether you should sit or stand, then you do not have the confidence for them to put a pilot on your shoulders. Own your shit. If you want to sit, sit. If you want to stand, stand. And never apologize for offering up your headshot in an audition." PREACH!!! You are a beautiful, creative being. Own your choices. There is only one of you that can tell the story like you do. You are special. So put in the work and act like it!
You know how you meet people and you automatically know they are awesome and that they are "your kind" of people? That's how it was when I met Annie Heise. We met (so cliché) in an acting class in the fall of 2016 and after our first rehearsal (where we didn't do much rehearsing) we became legitimate, cry at happy hour (me, not her), friends.
Annie is one of the kindest, most giving, hardworking people I know. I don't know anyone who is more honest with themselves about who they are, what they want and where they are going. Annie is a rad human. Which is why when I told her I was starting a blog she was so excited and when I told her I wanted to feature one badass actress a month, she so kindly agreed. (And not just agreed, was excited to help. Because that's how awesome Annie is).
So - why this post? Every month I am going to feature actresses who are kicking ass and doing their thing in Los Angeles. Why? Because, I know for me, it's motivating to hear of people who are actually doing it. People who have moved to Los Angeles and made it work for themselves. Everyone's story is so different and there really isn't an end to this journey. (We all forget that sometimes!)
Without further ado - My interview with The Blacklist (NBC), The Good Mistress (Lifetime) and Madoff (ABC) actress Annie Heise.
Ans: Can you tell me a little about yourself and how you got started in acting?
Annie: Spring of my senior year of high school was when everything really started - I auditioned for Into the Woods, a Stephen Sondheim musical, I played the part of ‘The Witch’ and from then on I just knew. I was off to journalism school the next fall, and was just doomed from the beginning… (laugh)
So I left after one semester and enrolled at the University of MN (I am originally from the Twin Cities, MN), I took my first acting classes, learned what monologues are, took singing lessons, and dance classes… I began researching college BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) acting programs. It’s different than a traditional Bachelor of Arts - there is a core acting curriculum with few outside classes and there are usually only 10-12 students and you take every class together for four years. I was told about Carnegie Mellon’s program and auditioned and somehow got in! Around graduation time we all traveled to NYC and LA to do a “showcase” - scenes and monologues for managers, agents, and casting directors. LA was where I ended up!
Lucky, I left school with a great group of representation and they set me up really well - I was able to meet lots of great people in the casting community and here I am!
Ans: NY or LA? Or both?
Annie: BOTH! For different reasons… a lot of people say go where you want to live. Which I totally agree, having a life outside of the grind of the entertainment world is a great way to stay sane. I have lived in both and here is a bit about my experience briefly…
Ans: What was your favorite project you have worked on?
Annie: THE BLACKLIST - a very exciting project to work on. They write as they go… so you are always on your toes. Also this was my first time being written for… which felt like a dream!
Ans: What was the hardest thing you've had to overcome in your acting career?
Annie: Changing agents and dry spells… but the realty always is nothing is the end of the world or end of your career. It’s a process, enjoy the journey!
Ans: Who has been the most instrumental in your career life?
My manager - she really understands me and looks out for me. I feel creatively taken care of as well as business wise. I think it’s important to feel good about your manager… they are the ones that are in it for the long haul (ideally).
Ans: What advice do you have for people trying to break into the industry?
Annie: Always show up and always have a good curious attitude. Be open! It is a building process, it’s like a brick house you are slowly building. You can’t control much in this industry… but you can always be prepared for when opportunities do come your way.
What's the best life advice you've been given?
Annie: YOU ARE ENOUGH.
Ans: How important is it for you to have like-minded artists around? How did you build that community for yourself?
Hmmm this is an interesting one… I need to balance my artist friends and my real world friends. I think building a community happens organically, I try to keep people around that make me feel good about myself and inspire me. I really don't like competitive friendships, so those I stay away from.
Oh hey there
Thank you for stopping by. My name is Ansley and I am a creative being. With not much to show for it. Feel the same?! Welcome! For all of you artists out there who are just hanging in there - this is for you!