You guys know that I am a big supporter of creating your own stuff. Whether it's a webseries, a blog, a podcast, a YouTube channel - the idea of "if you build it, they will come" is always murmuring in the back of my head. Also - my mantra is "Why not try?"
This is true for a couple of reasons - people who make their own stuff have an ownership over their career. They are not waiting for someone to give them a job to feel creatively fulfilled. They are doing it themselves. That's powerful.
I want to give two examples: 1 personal and one about a person I (sort of) know.
I'll tell mine first because it is far less interesting, but still applies.
About a year ago I decided to start a podcast. I was listening to a bajillion podcasts while I hiked in my neighborhood in the Hollywood Hills and I don't know what gave me the idea that I could (or should) do it but I decided to. I love unsolved crimes - I love mysteries - I love Old Hollywood. There isn't a podcast out there that combines the 3 that I could find, so I started my own.
My fiancé is an amazingly talented graphic designer and I went to him and said "Okay, so I'm starting a podcast. Think 'Nancy Drew grew up, moved to Old Hollywood, and started a podcast' and I want each episode to come with maps so the listener can 'help solve the case.' Thoughts?" He was so sweet and so supportive and went to town on my graphics.
So next came the content. I started researching unsolved murders in Hollywood and found that in the Greater Los Angeles area the most interesting murders all happened from the 1920's to 1940's so I decided to focus on that. I told my fiancé that and he made graphics match that era.
I picked my 8 murders I was going to profile on the show and starting writing. Each episode takes about 15 hours just to research, 3 hours to record and 3 hours to edit. So each episode takes about the time of a part-time job.
At first I sprinted out of the gate - I was working on the show everyday. I was excited about it. And then the inevitable happened: I got burnt out.
And then I got a bad review. That lowered my ratings on iTunes and then I got another on Stitcher. They said I sounded like a "college project." Who was I to think that I would write, record, edit and manage a podcast on unsolved murder when I am not in the field of voice overs, producing, forensics or anything of the sort.
I walked away from the show for about 3 months. I took a break. And then I looked at my plays on SoundCloud.
My show had over 10k listens in just a few months with just 4 episodes out. How?
What I wasn't taking into account was that there might be other people who are interested in this topic but there are no podcasts out there like it (hence why I started it) or podcasts that have the interactive feature of maps and addresses. I'm not saying that my show is perfect, far from it, but now, a year later, the show has over 27,000 listens on just SoundCloud alone.
"If you build it, they will come." The internet is a weird place man. Put it out there and people will find it.
So I slowly started working on it again. I wasn't putting episodes as frequently - until I had a major opportunity fall into my lap. A large social media platform wanted to turn my show into series with a network on their app. I hadn't even thought that this side-art (more about that in another post) was something that could turn into something that would actually help my career.
I was meeting with the head of casting of a major network and she had a book on her desk about William Desmond Taylor - who is known as "Hollywood's First Murder" - so I asked her about it and it turns out that she is a huge unsolved true-crime fan as well! I was late to my next meeting because we were talking about theories and suspects and not even a week later, casting directors who worked under her started bringing me in to read for parts.
It's okay to get burnt out. It's okay to take a break. It's okay to regroup. BUT - you can't quit because it's hard. And something being "hard" is not the same as "losing inspiration" - you can get your inspiration back.
Who is ready for a MAJOR inspiration bomb?!
There is is this girl that I know through a friend named Stephanie. Stephanie is super talented. Stephanie wrote a webseries with her friend Brian. That webseries has been bought by Lionsgate and Anonymous Content to be made into a real series for a major platform. She is getting paid to be the creator, writer and star. All from about 30 minutes on YouTube. Don't get me wrong, she is SUPER TALENTED and put in crazy amounts of time, energy and work into creating an amazing show. But she did it - SHE CREATED IT. And now she is literally living her dream. So you can too! Put in the work, get rid of excuses, and make it happen.
You can do it - I believe in you!
With my 3 year anniversary of living in LA coming up, I wanted to share my Resource List with you guys.
Before I moved to LA, I started making this list - headshot photographers, acting schools, managers, everything - (I think I still have the original list somewhere). My aunt bought me the "Acting is Everything" book from 2000. The gesture was really sweet, but by that point the book was 14 years old and super out dated.
But it gave me the framework for what to look for when making my own list.... so without further ado I give you the.......
-Aquila Morong Studio - Deborah Aquila Advanced Scene Study
Auditioning & Business Side
-Lesly Kahn & Co
- Brian Reise
-Lesly Kahn & Co
-Annie Grindlay Studio
Other Studios to Check Out
- Warner Loughlin Studio
- Anthony Mindel
- Ivana Chubbuck
- iO West
Melrose Headshots ($99 Sale)
Theo & Juliet
Books To Read
- You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
- Making it in Hollywood by Scott Sedita
- The Artists Way by Julia Cameron
- The Power of the Actor by Ivanna Chubbuck
- 8 Characters of Comedy by Scott Sedita
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Where to Look for Apartments
- Zillow - apartment rentals
- Craigslist LA (if you dig)
- Yogaworks - 1st Week Free
- CorePower Yoga - 1st Week Free
- Sweat Shoppe - heated spin - 1st class $10
- Basecamp Fitness - Free First Class
- Off Camera with Sam Jones
- Ultimate Health Podcast
- Secret History of Hollywood
Is there something I didn't cover here that you would like to know? Email me at email@example.com!
Side Art - noun - creative outlet you have so you don't lose your mind while waiting for your agent to call.
Do you have a Side Art? If you don't, you need one.
It Gives You A Sense of Control
When I put out an episode of my podcast, I get the best high. It is my art. I did it. I control it. And I get to share it. On my terms. There is such power in that. You aren't just sitting around waiting for your agent or manager to call. You are making your own thing. Webseries, YouTube channel, blog, podcast, recording a song - ANYTHING! You have control over your Side Art. And that's huge for your confidence.
It Can Give You A Leg Up
When I was doing general meetings with networks last year, I sat down with a woman who is head of casting of a major network and on her desk she had a book on William Desmond Taylor - who is known as "Hollywood's first murder" and the subject of one of my episode's of Hollywoodland: Unsolved. We spent so much time talking about our theories on that case that I was late to my second meeting that day! Not even a week later - she told casting to bring me in for a big role on a new show. I sat next to an idol of mine - we were auditioning for the same show. It was the most surreal experience. I didn't get the role, but I got into the room (and have continued to) because of my side art.
It Will Give You Something To Be Proud Of
You know that super shitty feeling when you go home for the holidays and your great aunt Barb doesn't get how life in LA works and is asking why you aren't on a show yet? Having a side art gives you a talking point. Working on a screenplay? Producing a webseries? Starting a photography business? Your Side Art can give you enough to get through that conversation - and do it in a way you're proud of.
Side Art is your thing. Don't put limits on yourself. Go for it. And don't be afraid to ask for help.
Keep going - you're doing great!
In my humble opinion, Co-Star auditions are the hardest. You've got very little to work with, they see everyone (and their mother), and they are so quick - how could casting have even possibly known what you can do?
I haven't had a co-star audition in a while and yesterday I got a "same day" audition for a co-star role on a big comedy show from a huge casting office. It was 11:30 and the audition was for 5:30 that afternoon... in Santa Monica.
The scene was fairly simple - an assistant to one of the series regulars, setting up their jokes, the usual. But it was hard. And then I remembered the feeling I had when I was going out for co-stars a lot: flailing.
Flailing - /flāl/ - VERB - wave or swing or cause to wave or swing wildly.
"his arms were flailing helplessly"
Yep. That describes a co-star audition to me perfectly.
Why are these silly little under-5-line auditions so hard?
The co-star is meant to set up the series regular or the guest star
Your job is to deliver the joke, for them to hit the punchline. As a co-star you are a human prop. Your job is not to be interesting, it is to be reliable. Your job is not to stand out, it is to be a springboard for the person who is actually on the show. It sucks, but it is true.
They don't know what they want
Have you ever walked into an audition and there is every type of person there - tall, fat, short, black, white, purple, etc? That's a co-star audition. It feels a lot like a commercial audition to me - a "book a look" almost. As long as you said it they way they wanted and look they way they wanted, you will get the part, most of the time. So if you don't get the part, don't take it personally.
They are deceivingly simple.
You don't have to do 97 pages of backstory, because you don't have the information to do 97 pages of backstory. You just have to walk in, say your line and then leave. That is harder than it looks because as actors we like to DO. We like lines and direction. So it's hard when we have to just be. But that's what co-star work is. Again - a human prop. If you've booked a co-star before, you go the part because you could hit the mark, say the words and looked the right way. And if you didn't get the part - it's not a knock on your talent.
You don't have enough to work with.
So you feel out of control. You don't really know the context of the scene. You don't have a big character description or an episode synopsis and in come cases, you don't get the sides until you get there. So you're guessing. And remember - everyone there is guessing too. They have just as little information as you do.
Don't feel bad if you don't book the co-star roles. It is nothing about your talent if you don't. But if you do, congrats!! Bring on the residuals!!
Keep going, you're doing great!
We live in a go-go-go world rushing from one thing to the next. We are all guilty of it, especially in this city. But if I have learned anything in my time in LA is that self-care is necessary for you to live your best creative life.
If you aren't nurturing you, how do you expect to give your best?
I have tendency to burn my candle at both ends. And recently I decided I wanted to change that. I wanted to live an "artistic life" where I had time to work on myself and my art while still paying my bills (of course). So I started making small changes... and they have had big results.
Self-Care Comes in Different Forms
For some, it may be a month massage. For some, it may be keeping up with you manicure/pedicure. It may be putting on music while in the shower. Whatever makes you feel pampered. Do those things. Don't spend a bajillion dollars pampering yourself, but do do things that make you feel good. Clean your apartment - from top to bottom - and then buy some fresh flowers. Go on a hike and listen podcast that you're interested in but haven't had time to dive into. Put on a mud mask, light a candle and read a book. Do little things because they make you feel good about you. Carve time out - everyday - for this and you will see a change.
Show Yourself Off
I am guilty of hanging out with friends in old, sweaty gym clothes - like a shirt-from-a-middle-school-play old - with no makeup on and my hair up in a dirty, messy bun. I wrote if off as "I worked all day and then worked out and now I am spending time with my girls. They don't care what I look like." But I did. I show up looking like a low-key trash goblin and they show up in normal people clothes with a normal amount of makeup on and at least a little effort put into their hair. I'm not saying you need to be dolled up all of the time, but I am saying that the way you present yourself is a reflection of how you feel about yourself. "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have" that is SO true as artists. Are you giving off a "successful and happy" energy or "overworked and defeated" energy?
Self-Care is a Daily Practice
You know that one friend you have who is just the most fabulous person living the most awesome life? I bet they practice self-care. Daily. Keep your house clean. Eat your veggies, keep yourself feeling good about yourself. That will raise the energy you are putting out there and raise your confidence - and we all know "Confidence is KEY!"
Self-Care shows Self-Love
Most of us struggle with Self Love. We are so harsh on ourselves and they way we talk to ourselves is no way we would ever speak to a friend. And that needs to change. Because you are a beautiful, talented, amazing artist and the world wants to hear what you have to say. Self-Care might sound silly at first - or even selfish - but it will make a huge difference in the value you put on yourself. If your super amazing, fabulous friend was in town you'd turn on the shower radio, give her your nice towel from Pottery Barn and light a candle in the bathroom for her - so why wouldn't you do it for yourself?
Most of us are going through life on autopilot - I am so guilty of this - but when we turn off autopilot it is almost like someone turned the lights on. You are doing things with purpose. You are aware of the beautiful trees on your drive to work, your mom's cute laugh whenever you tell her anything even resembling a joke, how really really really good this new coffee you bought is. Pay attention to your life. Be "woke" as the kids would say. Don't go through life on autopilot - notice what you are grateful for, check in with your emotions if you don't feel in the best state "what is actually upsetting me right now?" and then acknowledge it and deal with it, give your body some deep breaths. Breathe in and use your lungs. Be present and pay attention to the beautiful life you have. Because it is beautiful.
I have a lot of amazing people in my life. A lot of people doing amazing things. A lot of people living, truly, their best selves. And that is inspiring as hell.
With the 2 month hiatus I took from this blog I had a lot of time to reflect. June and July I felt creatively drained, uninspired and like I was pushing a boulder up a hill. This is not a new feeling, but it is one that I wanted to examine this time. So while I was taking a creative break (I mean everything, all writing, my podcast, everything), I spent time with some of the badass artists in my life (I'm not going to name names, not because I don't love them and don't want to give them credit, but because I thinks that is tack as hell). Without further ado, here is what I learned from them:
1. Confidence. confidence. confidence.
All of these badass ladies have this in common. They have unwavering confidence. That doesn't mean that they walk around life without a care, but they put work into themselves and they are proud of it. They know what they bring to the table, they don't apologize for who they are and they go after what they want. I think I am relatively confident, as most of us are, but I have found myself floundering, making jokes at my expense and putting myself under others when I am around those who I think are "better than me." Which is BS. So - I am going to put some work into those silly little voices in my head that tell me that I am "less than" because I perceive someone a certain way. Because - confidence is key. They genuinely believe in themselves and don't need anyone to tell them they are awesome. Because they already know it.
2. Who you surround yourself with matters. A lot.
As motivational speaker Jim Rohn put it - we are the sum of the 5 people we spend the most time with. Look at your life. Who consumes your time? Are they strong, creative loving types? Or are they negative, complaining, self-obsessed types? Who you surround yourself with matters and affects you more than you think. Never has this been more true that in the last few months for me. I have a friend, who is hardworking, self reflective, kind, beautiful and loving and every time I spend even an hour with her, my cup is full and I feel awesome about myself and everything in my life. On the contrary, I have a friend who I love and spending time with them is draining to say the least. Our conversations are usually negative and about things that aren't fair. Now, don't get me wrong: we all need to vent to someone. We all need people to confide in. But the difference is doing that with someone who is a "giver" vs someone who is a "taker". Givers will offer strong, fact-based critiques that make you evaluate your choices while making sure they aren't leading you to some conclusion they want you to have - there's no ulterior motive outside of wanting you to be your most mindful self. Takers, on the other hand, will take whatever pain and hardship, lead you to where they want you to go, and it will typically favor their feelings about themselves at your expense. All of this affects your view of yourself and your view of the world, which in turn, affects your creative life. The badass ladies in my life, for the most part, don't allow that kind of negativity into their headspace. It is your job to be aware and take the self care you need - is it okay to make yourself #1. How would the badass ladies handle this? They will, of course, be a friend to any type of person and would never make them feel bad about themselves, BUT they don't allow that person to be one of their "top 5." This is hard, but you have to put yourself and your mental state first.
3. They go for it. always.
Whether it is self-producing an album or starting a niche clothing line, these badass ladies don't let the "what if's" and "I can't because" get in their way. If they want something, they go for it. Full steam ahead!! Are their going to be challenges? Of course. Welcome to life. But you know the saying "either you make excuses or you make it happen." Everyone has the ability to do exactly what they want to do. And I know what you're thinking... that little voice in your head is saying "well, Ans, I can't because I don't have an agent." "Well I can't because I don't know how to write." "Well I can't because no one is going to read/watch/listen to what I make and I'd feel stupid" - this, my friends, goes back to confidence. You are awesome and you can do it.
Live long and prosper friends!
I am not a professional nor are these accounts based on anything other that personal experience. Do with it as you will.
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!