Get Busy Living

I have been journaling for as long as I can remember, first as a child, then on vacations, sporadically for a while, before a few years ago when I started journaling consistently, every single day. There are periods where I can look up entire conversations that I’ve had with people, nearly word for word. Lately, something has happened which is really upsetting, but also super awesome. I have become too busy to journal. Or at least to keep up with it the way I did. Which is sad because I liked the idea of being able to go back and know exactly what was going on, but seriously, it is so exciting that I am too busy living my life to be able to write about it.

On the Thursday of my last post, I spent the morning doing self-tapes with friends and watching Buffy, before going to work at 4 points. I didn’t make it to NOGI that night, because Midtown Med Spa, where Ayisha now does Lashes & Blades, was celebrating its anniversary with a fancy event. The people who work there waited in their rooms while clients (and potential ones) roamed around, drinking wine, enjoying food and asking questions. I spent some time batting my newly amazing eyelashes, and even participated in a live demonstration of lash extensions. It was fun to get dolled up and meet some interesting people, such as Ayisha’s friend Sarah, who was in town from Montreal. When the event was over, we all went out for supper.

32148435_1948698335201911_4012389685220343808_n

The following morning, I met Sarah at 4 points for a little photoshoot for her upcoming Extensa Method Training. She teaches stretching to Olympic divers, hockey players, Jiu-Jitsu teams…and that morning she taught some of it to me. It was a lot of fun, and so is she.

Not long after she headed out, Chie arrived for my boxing bootcamp. This was one of the rare occasions where I had someone else with me, but we still followed the same routine of circuit training and padwork. He very much enjoyed the fact that even as he put pressure on my wall sit, I still smiled.

We did some prep for the workshop that weekend, then I did the lunchtime jiu-jitsu class, where we worked on all the chokes. Especially the ones involving the GI. Not my favorite, but who knows what will come in handy during a roll.

IMG_4463

That afternoon, Ayisha had a self-tape to do where she was an absolute badass, so we worked on it and did it a few times, then her boxing friend from Montreal gave us an hour long private session which was intense and soooo much fun. We did the scenes again with this new energy before calling it a day

Back at home, there was basically a party going on, with all my roommates, including the new and unofficial ones, and Christine, who was in town for the Hubert Boorder film fighting workshop. There was talking, food and then we watched Brad’s Status, to support all of the amazing Montreal talent they were lucky enough to have in it.

On Saturday Christine and I went to the workshop, which I will have a separate post on, then we had lunch and went to the Monkey Vault, where we practiced the short fight choreography we had been given. When my partner left, they were still working on their stuff, so I joined in on a new friend’s private parkour session. We worked on vaulting, which was one of my goals for this month, and I achieved some stuff I had been pretty sure I couldn’t do, which was really exciting. It’s really comforting to see that the more you do the things that scare you, the less scary they are and the more you can do.

That night, a bunch of us went out for supper at The Green Eggplant, then we went to see I Feel Pretty. I can understand why some people wouldn’t like the movie, but I did laugh a whole lot, and the company was amazing, so it was an awesome night.

IMG_4356

On Sunday we finished the workshop, running a little more than 2 hours over, which was unexpected, and incredibly generous of our Stunt Coordinator instructor. I absolutely loved pretty much every minute of it. A few of us went for supper afterwards, which is becoming a tradition that I very much enjoy.

On Monday, Christine had to head back to Montreal, but Alyssa stayed, so we went jogging with my roommate and did some padwork before meeting up with some guys who had trained in stunts with her in Montreal. It was a really nice, fun afternoon. Nearly everyone I have met who works (or wants to work) in stunts has been super nice, helpful and awesome.

IMG_4355

I finished off my day with Jiu-Jitsu, which must have been hilarious to watch, because I was sore in many places, and literally had to lift my head up with my hands before I could sit up, because my neck wasn’t quite up to the challenge.

On Tuesday, some people who are either trying to get into stunts, or just want to train and practice their basics, came to the gym and let me join in on their training. I absolutely love training and working on this kind of stuff every chance I get, so it was an amazing opportunity. I recently saw a stunt girl who posts a weekly tally of how many hours she spends training, and while I don’t think I need to broadcast it, I definitely want to make sure that I am putting in the time and working on my crafts. I was told that my job now is to train, and I intend to take this very seriously.

I spent the rest of the day with Ayisha, and this girl is amazing. Not only because I really enjoy hanging out with her, but because she gets things done. Once she sets her mind to something, she finds a way to make it happen, and it is really inspiring to watch. I finished off the day with NOGI, where there were more chokes and a lot of work to never have two butt cheeks or two shoulders on the mat. Definitely good advice, but I may have sometimes gone into a semi-bridge position for the butt cheeks, which was not what she meant when she gave that directive. After class, those who wanted could stay and be drilled on certain useful techniques, especially to prepare the guys who were participating in the Ontario Open. I was incredibly excited when one of the things we were doing was something that I had been taught and could do, while others hadn’t learnt it yet. Not because I felt like I was better than anyone, but because for once I got to help someone who had spent countless classes teaching me all the things. And honestly, I am just really excited when I get things.

IMG_4379

On Wednesday I did the morning boxing class with Chie, where I did my first deadlifts, and was told to be more careful when training, because he can’t work on my kicks when my shins are all bruised. It was still a really fun class where I sort of got to try sparring, and I’m sure I smiled even through the hard stuff.

IMG_4374

That afternoon I worked with Ayisha, then did some BJJ, but I had to leave early to get to a viewing party. Chris River, who is an awesome actor and a really great kid, was on that night’s episode of The Expanse, and he did a wonderful job. It was sweet and sad and cute and watching him and his mom watching the episode had to be the cutest thing ever. The kid is also hilarious, so we were thoroughly entertained.

We ended the night with steak night, which usually comes after jiu-jitsu, but who am I to say no to spending time with friends? (I used to do this a lot…with so many excuses…but I’m working on being much more ‘go with the flow’ and spontaneous and less shy and self-conscious) It was a great night. (or day actually, from start to finish)

I had SP training on Thursday, followed by working/hanging out with Ayisha. We have been working a lot on the film and tv side of things, which will soon include self-tapes, which are something I am very familiar with, from helping out friends, from class and from working as a reader. They’re an incredible opportunity to act and discover a character, and the perfect embodiment of “If you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”. We mostly worked on that and updates for the website until I had to head home to Montreal, luckily with company, because otherwise you get very tired around 2 am…

One of my friends was locked out of his house when we got there, so he ended up staying over at my place, and getting picked up from my grandparents’ place Friday morning while I made cupcakes. I spent most of the day with my mom and aunt at my cousin’s, preparing for her sister’s bridal shower and bachelorette party.

IMG_4466

When they headed home, I drove over to Paragym (and totally got lost walking from my car to the entrance) so I could train with Christine and Alyssa. At first we just did a warm up and worked on our kicks, but then Christine came up with a combo whose sole purpose was to run us through the gamut of reactions. We ran it a bunch of times with the different ways of avoiding getting hit, then filmed ourselves taking the blows, so we could see what sells and adjust accordingly. They were awesome and mostly had to adjust the height of their kicks or the angles of their punches, but I had a lot of work to do. From being too stiff to looking down to a bunch of other things, it took me a lot longer to get to a point where we were satisfied. I still have so much to work on, but every time we meet up and do things like this, I improve exponentially. I am at the complete bottom of the skills level, but that is completely fine with me. I am going to keep training with people and working on it on my own and watching the videos and learning from my mistakes and from other people. Because even if it takes me a million baby steps to get there, eventually, I will get there. And I am completely enjoying the journey, so while the destination will be awesome, it doesn’t really matter at the moment.

After a few hours, we went to Christine’s for a healthy, protein-filled supper, fun conversations, a clothing giveaway and some UFC videos. I am slowly starting to watch fights as not just a series of blurs until one person wins, but to be able to recognize what people are doing. It started when I went to see Tomb Raider and recognized all kinds of different martial arts and moves, but at the John Stead workshop, it kind of bugged me that I could remember the sequence okay, but wasn’t familiar enough with the moves to tell my partner more than punch, punch, kick. It’s a lot easier to remember the choreography when you can tell yourself right hook, uppercut, roundhouse, than if you just register whether it is the arm or the leg that is moving, which in itself is an improvement on how I used to watch fights. Again, I am a huge fan of baby steps.

On Saturday, there was more prep before the actual bridal shower. Chelsea showed up in a white dress, so she obviously wasn’t surprised, but I would like to hope she was happy with everyone who came and what her mom put together. There were games, so much food and the cutest/funniest video series from her fiancé answering questions about their relationship. I used to love going to showers when I was a little girl, and this one was no exception, but so much more exciting and a big deal because my cousins are like my siblings and we are all growing up. Which was pretty obvious when we got to the bachelorette party. I believe there is a ‘what happens at the bachelorette party stays at the bachelorette party’ rule, but I can say that the food we had catered was delicious (so let me know if you need a take home chef in Montreal), I was overwhelmed and so touched by what people notice and think about me, and I did some more #allthethings. I also somehow agreed to participate in the next jiu-jitsu competition, because I missed all the guys from 4 Points participating in the Ontario Open. This means I have a little over a month to train and get ready for it. I would be terrified, but someone told me it helps to have no feelings when it comes to competitions, so I’m trying that for now.

Finally, Sunday was Mother’s Day, so I spent the day with the women who go way above and beyond what the title implies, and help make me the luckiest girl in the world.

“It’s not about what you tell your children, but how you show them how to live life.”

-Jada Pinkett Smith

Advertisements

A New Guru

This week has been kind of busy, extremely interesting, and has definitely helped me focus my career and what I am looking for right now.

Last Wednesday, 4 Points BJJ launched an awesome workshop that I initially wasn’t going to go to, mainly because I was working, but also because I wasn’t sure if I was ready for it. I mean, I absolutely loved John Stead’s workshop, but I think that even with the little training I have gotten in the past couple of weeks, I would have been able to do so much better if I were to do it again. When every single one of the stunt people I asked, whose opinions I trust, told me to take the workshop rather than wait for another one when I would be better, I decided to go for it. To be honest, there is the part of me that has known me for the past 28 years who thinks that I am kidding myself with this whole fitness and stunts and training stuff, and that it will never amount to anything. It is the much smaller part of me that I have been nurturing for the past couple of years to be confident and strong and believe in myself who insists that I can do it, and that if I want it to happen, then eventually I will get there. She has been making strides in all of these departments, but it is still really helpful when people who care about you don’t think you’re being ridiculous and also believe that you can make it.

After the jiu-jitsu class, Ayisha asked me to come up with a list of my skills, so that we could try and find something I could do to support myself that wouldn’t rely on working for someone else. I personally didn’t see how a lot of my skills could be monetized, but Ayisha clearly has experience with this (and a lot more faith in me) so we (she) came up with all kinds of game plans that would seem like pipe dreams if I came up with them for myself, but sound realistic and easily achievable when she talked about them over steak night.

On Thursday I got a refill on my lashes, because Ayisha has done dozens of sets since mine and seems to genuinely love what she does. It took longer than expected, because she pretty much gave me a new full set of lashes rather than just a fill, and because we spent most of it talking, about life, careers, relationships…it was the start of her becoming more than just my trainer and career guide, she became my entire life guru, and most importantly, a treasured friend. And as a bonus, my eyes were mesmerizing.

IMG_4309

That evening I trained with Thomas, my friend in stunts, who had told me I had to practice every day so that once I had what he had taught me down pat, he would show me more. I beamed with pride as he told me how much I had improved since last week. I think he had expected to have to go over the basics all over again, but I had worked on what he taught me, and really paid attention to every new thing he showed me. To keep me on my toes, he would purposely change the combo once I had it down, moving a move or adding one in, because that happens on set, and if you’re not used to it, it messes you up entirely. I think I am getting better at adjusting when he does this, but the first time he added something in, I ended up trying to punch him and knee him at the same time. Luckily, he was completely expecting it.

Training with him definitely reassured me about the workshop. I think that for years I took fighting and combat workshops without ever getting better, so I really wanted to make sure I was good before going in front of people with any kind of power in the stunt community. What I was forgetting is that now that I am actually working hard and putting in an effort, I improve. So yes, I was a lot better training today than I was last week, but I think that at this point, showing that I am dedicated and working hard and improving is more impressive than my skill level.

Afterwards, I drove back to Montreal so that I could work at McGill on Friday morning. I know it probably seems silly, but if I am going to be going back to see my family anyway, I might as well get some work out of it, and also, I really love the people at McGill, and every time I go back, I get to see a bunch of them. So not going to stop any time soon.

That afternoon my brother took me to see the Avengers for my birthday, which I really enjoyed, but also…when is the next one coming out?

On Saturday, I spent time with my family and wrote a monologue for a French theater project, which I proceeded to film on Sunday and send in. Ultimately, it wasn’t comedic enough, so I will be trying again for the next one, but I am really proud because I struggled with finding a story for the longest time, and eventually found one that I not only think was entertaining, but it was incredibly vulnerable and honest as far as my own childhood experiences.

That afternoon, Christine came to my place so we could drive to Thomas’ and train at his gym. We started with the combo we had been working on Thursday, so I was used to demonstrate, but then we added things and moved things around. I have a little trouble adjusting my hooks to whether they are blocked or make contact once we are no longer using the pads, and I am very slow at the krav maga like thing he taught at the end, but… baby steps.

IMG_4240

After working on my roundhouse kick, which I so did not have at the last workshop, they did a fight choreography and I tried my hand at being a camera person for action shots, which is very different from working the camera during Suzanna’s classes. I have a lot of work to do on reactions and stuff before it would look convincing, so we didn’t film me doing it, but I did get to do a run through, and got tips and pointers so that someday, I will be able to rock the fight choreo as well.

Since we had all been working hard and training, we went out for supper and to the spa afterwards, making it a pretty awesome day. I can’t wait to keep learning and keep training and keep doing all of the things!

On Sunday I had breakfast with a friend of mine and celebrated some really awesome news before driving back to Toronto. I keep meaning to download podcasts, but as it is, I tend to spend most of the drive thinking of things and figuring out what I want with my life, especially when I have someone like Ayisha who encourages me to have opinions and more concrete goals while I am working on the big ones.

On Monday, I had a blast at pole dancing, learning a new combo, working on my inversions and trying a bunch of spins after class. My 10 class pass is almost over, and I think I might have to get a new one…

IMG_4251

That afternoon I went to 4 points, where I pretty much live now. I gave myself goals for all of my classes for this month, and in jiu-jitsu, my personal goals were to not always be the one who taps out, and to try and get back on top rather than just staying at the bottom. I am pretty sure I was always the one who tapped out, but I did spend a lot less time underneath. Or at least trying to not be underneath rather than letting it happen. One thing I hadn’t put as a goal but that I am really enjoying is that generally, when we are going over the technique, my partner and I can figure out the moves without having to ask the teacher or someone who is more advanced than we are.

On Tuesday, I had Jonathan and Shiva over so we could work on writing the short we want to film. It felt great to be writing again, and I am so excited about this project, and all of the future ones we will do together.

Once that was done, I met up with Ayisha at 4 points and we went for lunch and talked. I joke and call her my life guru, but at the same time, there are so many things in my life that I am pretty complacent about, or just don’t really care either way, but when she asked what I wanted in certain areas, she wouldn’t let me just say whatever. She asked me questions and made me think about what I actually wanted, in an ideal world, rather than what I am willing to accept. It sounds so simple, but it makes a huge difference in how you go after things, and how you value yourself. A snowball effect has been happening since last summer, that gave me confidence, propelled me to move to Toronto, introduced me to Ayisha, and got me to finally be going after all of the things I always said I wanted, but never actually did anything to achieve. It is amazing to see the tiny moments or opportunities that have completely derailed my life, but in the best way possible, hopefully setting it on course.

When we got back, we did a self tape of a scene I had done in class with Suzanna and absolutely loved, to put it in a package to send to agents. I don’t think she would have been helping me like this if she expected me to be bad, but she was pleasantly surprised that I could act. If nothing else comes of it, at least it was a fun afternoon of doing what I love.

IMG_4296

That evening, I did the NOGI jiu-jitsu class, where I really went for it. I usually hate using chokes and submissions, and would rather just spend my time trying to escape and keeping the roll going, but this time I tried things. I gave up what I thought was an upper hand in order to try something new. And I used chokes. Successfully. Like I actually got people to tap out. A friend once told me it was the greatest feeling in the world, and I teased them for saying that of choking people, but I kind of get it. Being able to do something you weren’t able to do before…it’s pretty cool.

IMG_4306

On Wednesday I spent another day with Ayisha, which is becoming a trend that I have no intentions of stopping (did I mention that I now basically live at her gym?). She did my hair, I checked out her website, we did some self tapes (hers for a part, mine for fun) and went out for lunch. I am continuously flabbergasted by how much time and effort people are putting into helping me out and nurturing me and supporting me in this world. I spent so long believing I wasn’t worth it, and listening to the people who implied this, that I didn’t see how many people are like me, and would rather help people out than tear them down. Or maybe I’m just finally finding all of the awesome people?

That night I did the jiu-jitsu class, where I once more worked to not be at the bottom, tried to do the techniques without asking for help (I’m a lot less familiar with the Day 2 curriculum) and actually held my own quite a few times. Whenever Ayisha is there filming/coaching me, it is always way more exhausting than usual. When she tells me to get back on top or re-guard or what not, I often exasperatedly tell her “I’m trying!” but there is no doubt that I try harder and do a lot better when there is someone there, cheering me on and not letting me be lazy about anything.

IMG_4302

Finally, we went out for steak night, where I am the only one who never has steak. We stay out until midnight just talking and getting to know each other, which is awesome and makes it so much more fun, on Wednesday nights, but also in class. If you’re seeing someone every day for at least a couple of hours, it’s way more interesting when you’re friends, rather than just bodies to roll with.

“Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.”

-Victor Hugo

Getting Back Into It

After a couple of days of MMIs and turning 28, I flew to Punta Cana with my mom and grandparents. I had planned on being much more athletic, as my suitcase could attest, stuffed with workout clothes and running shoes, but instead, I spent a week just walking the beach, relaxing and hanging out with my family.

IMG_4163

Less than 12 hours after we landed in Montreal, I drove to Toronto for the TAWC meeting, where we found out who the recipient of the Nell Shipman Award will be. If you don’t know who Nell Shipman is (I definitely didn’t) look her up, because she was an all-around badass. She wrote, produced, directed and acted in her own movies, where she often did her own stunts.

Friday night, I went to Gyros gym for the MWF Madness gymnastics class. I was more reluctant to go to this class than any other (except parkour, because I could potentially fall and die) because I feel like I am expected to have improved from the first class, where expectations were incredibly low.

I haven’t specifically been working on any of it, except for the handstands, but a huge part of my problem has always been my fear (and lack of confidence) rather than not actually being able to do it. So, for the trampoline, knowing that I was able to do everything last time removed any fear. Learning falls in jiu-jitsu made me not afraid (but very entertaining) as I continuously fell to the floor while trying to figure out the 2 leg kick things (I did eventually get it, but made some people laugh before I got there). As far as actual gymnastics, I achieved a back roll (rather than a backwards shoulder roll) which was awesome (because I was definitely not getting it last class). And although I’m not there yet, I completely went for it with the handstands. I normally do them half-ass when I’m out in the open, because of my own fear of losing control once my balance shifts, but this time I went for it. It is still scary to tip past the point where it is easier to just fall back down, but I have more faith in myself? Allen, the teacher, was telling another student who was working on handstands that he would get the next step once he could hold his handstand against the wall for at least 30 seconds (or maybe a minute? Not sure).

“I can do that.” I told him, not mentioning that I can hold it for probably 2 minutes, because I would rather be up against the wall for longer, and have to roll out of it less times, than to have to do a dozen short bouts. So, I got the next step! They’re really baby steps, and I know that, but I would rather do it right and be confident in my skills, even if it takes longer, rather than to power through things I can’t quite do, or don’t feel comfortable with.

I am super proud of my progress, but the best part is probably that after facing my fears this class, I won’t be afraid to come back next time 🙂

On Saturday, my stunt friend was in town, so we trained. By that, I mean that he taught me the basic fighting stance and some punches for film fighting, which will be super beneficial for shadowboxing, and because that’s why I am learning to box. It’s homework that I am actually doing, because once I get these things down, I get to learn new things 🙂

That afternoon, I went to a pole class, where instead of learning a combo, we learnt how to combine spins. I didn’t know most of them to begin with, so I learnt a whole lot of new things.

IMG_4214

On Sunday, I went to the Monkey Vault for a parkour course (all about bars), which was awesome and really entertaining. I find parkour is a lot less scary when you aren’t afraid of the bruises (which I no longer am), so I just throw myself into things (like spins or vaults, not stationary objects) and probably get more bruises than I should, but I also get to find out what I am made of. My friend was staying for the flexibility class, so I did that as well, then a few of us went out for food. All 3 of these women were so sweet and welcoming. At the end, I said I would see them at the monkey vault, but they told me that they do other things too.

“Like what?” I asked, expecting more exercise classes.

As their list of things I was now invited to went on, I realized I wasn’t just being invited to a weekly exercise group, I was invited to be their friend. Which is way better.

IMG_4219

On Monday, I went to another pole class and learnt a cool combo, with the teacher just assuming I was awesome and knew all the spins. It turns out I didn’t know the essential spin that most people learn their first ever spin class, the fireman. At the end, she wanted to work on pole sits, but I asked if we could do inversions instead, and finally made it upside down. It still needs work, but when the teacher got on my pole to demonstrate what I was doing wrong, she realized that it was super slippery and was impressed I even managed the class, let alone hanging upside down on it. Unfortunately, the slippery pole was not the cause of my imperfect inversion, but I’ll be back with a vengeance next week.

I had work in the afternoon, and had to fix some phone issues, before going to jiu-jitsu. It was good to be back after weeks of being away. I think I missed the actual jiu-jitsu and rolling, but I definitely missed the people. I stayed after class to get some career advice from Ayisha, who has partially become my life guru.

On Tuesday, I went to the lunchtime jiu-jitsu class, where I reworked some half-guard passes, then had a really cool conversation with some of the guys, until I got a call asking me to get to set within the hour for some background work. Say what you want about background, there are very few places I would rather be than on set 😉

As for today, I got back into boxing with Chie, spending half of the class on my tippy toes to work on my footwork, then did some SP work before some more jiu-jitsu tonight.

 

“Feel the fear…and do it anyway. Often we think, ‘I’ll do it when I am not so afraid.’ But in reality, it works the other way round. The ‘doing it’ comes before the fear goes away. The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.”

-Susan Jeffers

I chose this quote because part of me debated whether I should share my fears and insecurities in this post. It’s what I have always done on here, but lately, I am trying to be a badass and strong and I didn’t think those two goals lined up. But that’s the whole thing about this journey I’m on; I’m not trying to convince anyone that I know everything and can do all the things. What I am trying to do is convince myself, first of all, that I am badass and strong and capable. Which doesn’t mean getting things on the first try, or even being amazing at them. It means not letting my fear or assumptions stop me from trying all these incredible things I was always afraid of doing. I think that being terrified of something and doing it anyway is the most badass you can be. And admitting that you were afraid doesn’t diminish what you accomplished. It just shows the next person who is afraid to try something that it’s normal to be afraid, but you don’t need to let it stop you. So you will keep getting my worries and fears and insecurities with every post, and I’m not sorry, or ashamed…

“Your Job Is To Train”

When my friend was giving me the advice on stunts and pointed out that I was taking on a lot, I told him, “It’s fine, I don’t have a job.” To let him know I currently have a lot of free time. “No, your job is to train.” He pointed out. I do this for acting, finding ways to work on my craft even when I am not in class or on set, but this week definitely made me feel like I was making it my job to train in the physical sense as well.

On Tuesday, I decided to try out a Jiu-Jitsu class in Beloeil rather than just sticking to my elliptical and stuff I usually do when I go home, away from all the classes I take in Toronto. The teacher, Lee Villeneuve, gave a workshop a few weeks ago at 4 points, so when I found out he had a gym less than 10 minutes from my house, I knew I had to go.

IMG_3990

It started out with the usual warmup of jogging around and side steps and high knees and what not, but all too quickly, we got into cartwheels (which was fine), handstands and a multitude of things I had never done before. I tried my best to follow along, and luckily there were some really nice people who took the time to show me how to do the stuff I wasn’t quite getting. It would definitely be beneficial for me to keep working on all of these.

There was another girl there, so I worked on the techniques with her, and we rolled together for the first two rounds, before guys chose me as their partners for the last 2 rolls. Very much like the guys from 4 points when I first came in, it was a combination of rolling and coaching, but I really learnt a lot. And will be back for sure, not just for the training, but for the people. The girl I rolled with has currently become my inspiration (not that she knows) because she had no background in gymnastics or martial arts or whatever, but a year and a half ago she decided she wanted to get into stunts, so she trained and she worked hard and she made it happen. And that is badass.

On Wednesday I had a dry run at McGill before driving back to Toronto so I could work as an SP on Thursday.

IMG_4004

Once work was done, I met up with Christine, an actress who trains in stunts, that I met in class a few years ago. We were both signed up for an amazing workshop last weekend, so we went for a late lunch where she told me about her journey into stunts and gave me advice on what I should do and what I need in my stunt kit. Who knew that if you needed answers, all you had to do is ask the questions and everyone would be willing to help?

When we were done we went to 4 Points so I could help out and she could catch up with Ayisha, eventually staying way longer than she intended, and working with me for the NOGI class. Since Christine had only ever taken one class before, she went all out, even when we were just working on techniques, which was super frustrating when I couldn’t get it, but also really useful, because when you’re rolling, no one is going to help you (or even let you) sweep them. When we actually got to the rolling, I was with the guys, and one of them wanted to work on his balance when we start the roll standing, so I made many futile attempts to knock him off his feet. I think I managed it once? But learning what doesn’t work brings me closer to figuring out what does…right? We went back to my place and watched a bunch of stunt reels and fight scenes before going to bed.

IMG_4050

On Friday, we started the day off with Boxing at 4 points, with Chie. It was the first time I wasn’t alone for one of his classes, which was fun, but I do also love my private sessions 🙂 The biggest difference is that after the conditioning and the pad work was done, Chie stuck around to help us kill time before the jiu-jitsu class. Just for fun, Christine choreographed a fight, we ran it and then we filmed it, all within the span of a half an hour. When Chie left, Christine helped me work on my reactions to different punches and stuff. It all felt like play.

We learnt some new techniques in Jiu-Jitsu, and got in a roll before I rushed over to Ayisha so she could give me eyelash extensions. I am so clueless in this department that I originally thought she meant those fake lashes you glue on and take off at the end of the day with eye makeup remover. I clearly had no idea what to expect.

I was her first ever attempt, and a complete success, if I do say so myself. It took a lot longer than the glue-on fake lashes I thought I was getting, but I was basically on a bed, comfy and bundled up in a blanket, listening to music and having conversations…the only drawback I can see at the moment is that every time I talk to my roommate, she stops me and says, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear what you were saying, I was too busy admiring your lashes” So not so fun for me, but clearly a good sign for Ayisha.

We were supposed to go to a gymnastics class that night, but my roommate’s boyfriend was in town, so he invited us to a big home cooked meal instead. Christine made a delicious salad with mangoes and avocadoes and tomatoes and cucumbers, then the boyfriend made us a mushroom and steak appetizer, followed by a very rich, delectable coconut curry shrimp pasta. When I did Tough Mudder a few years ago, I was told to carboload the night before, so it was justified, I’m sure 😉

I am going to do a post on the workshop by itself, because there were so many awesome parts to it (and I don’t have the pictures yet), but needless I was blown away by John Stead and his team. We worked on a choreography until 1, when Day 1 of the workshop concluded to make way for the boxing class, which a few of us participated in. Ryan’s class is a killer, but you can’t help but feel proud, strong and like a badass when it’s over.

We ate, then worked on the choreography. It was unfortunate that Christine and I had the same part in the fight, but also really cool, because it meant that we had to learn the other part as well in order to be able to practice with each other. In acting, your scene partner’s lines are more important to listen to than your own, so I think it was probably really beneficial for us to know the other side of the fight as well.

As a reward for a day spent training, she invited me over for a swim, some Jacuzzi and sauna action (not to forget a poolside rendition of the fight choreography) before we went out for supper and talked about the industry, the workshop, and how she has to move to Toronto now.

On Sunday we went to 4 points early to work on the choreography, and I’ll go more into details later, but it was an amazing day. Not easy, but so much fun, and definitely something that I would love to do. I have a long way to go, obviously, but I am ready and willing to put in the work to get there, which was not always the case.

At the very end, those of us who were left went out for supper (we were starving!) and stayed there until 11 o’clock talking about the workshop, the differences between acting and stunts, training options, and I’m pretty sure some acquaintances became friends.

On Monday I drove back to Montreal and am working at McGill for the next few days. Which is work, obviously, but it kind of also feels like I am being paid to hang out with my friends 🙂

“The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.”

-Walt Disney

 

Easter 2018

Being back in Montreal means I have spent a lot of time with family, and I like it that way

I also make sure to fit in some work and friends, so I spent a few days at Mcgill, catching up with friends and doing an…interesting scenario. There’s one part of it I am not a huge fan of, but acting and emotion wise, it was so much fun, especially since the whole scenario can take a completely different turn depending on how certain information is processed. No specifics, but I enjoyed my days exploring this character.

After work on Thursday, I went to see a Wrinkle in Time, and then for coffee with a friend to catch up. It is really nice to have friends who are killing it and going after their dreams, because it motivates you to do the same. He’s also really encouraging and supportive, so when I worry my motivation to change is a passing fad, he is right there to assure me that it either isn’t, or I will still land on my feet.

Friday was my grandfather’s birthday, so we had lunch together, and a small miracle happened. You see, my grandparents have an endless pool, that my grandfather uses for exercise every day, but he insists that it is made for one. I usually wait until he finishes, then go in alone, or coerce my mom to come in with me. On Friday, he not only invited me to join him, he showed me all of the exercises he does (which do explain why he usually goes in alone) so that I can work on them as well. Not to mention the 80 years of knowledge and wisdom he brings to everything.

29982954_10160165948810331_1701217960269712738_o

On Saturday, it was my cousin’s birthday, so she had a bunch of people over for a 90s themed birthday party. While most people would use their birthday to sit back and relax and enjoy the food and cake that other people make, she did the opposite and made us pizza pockets, mac and cheese bites, pogos and sloppy joe’s from scratch. Also, if ever you get the chance to try homemade dunkaroos, be careful, because an almost unlimited supply of icing is dangerous and delicious. It was a really fun night of catching up with people I haven’t seen in years and letting loose singing the best of the 90s songs on karaoke.

On Sunday I met up with a friend who is a really awesome stunt guy, and asked him about a million questions about what I should be doing. I told him my plan and got all kinds of advice, then asked if there was anything I was missing. I was expecting some cool new class I should try out, but instead he suggested weight training. Which is really boring and will probably suck, but I have also kind of been expecting that I can’t just spend all my time doing really fun, kickass classes. Regardless, it is always fun when someone doesn’t laugh or try to convince me not to pursue this new venture of mine. I know that I am the one who has to believe it, and I am really starting to, but lately a lot of people (strangers, friends and family alike) have been really supportive and it means a lot.

I left there to go to my family’s Easter celebration, where we still do an Easter egg hunt, even though (as we are constantly reminded) we are getting way too old for it. To push the point home, instead of chocolate we mostly got adult things like toiletries and room fresheners, which they maybe thought was discouraging, but I am so excited about everything we got. And maybe it’s just me, but I love the excitement of traipsing through the house searching for clues, all of us together, like we have since we were tiny.

We also celebrated a bunch of birthdays, including mine, really early because I go back and forth between cities. My grandfather writes us a letter every year, going over our accomplishments, trials and tribulations of the past 12 months. They are the absolute best, so we decided to each write him our own letter this year. Let’s just say there were some tears. My grandfather also decided to do something different, and included a picture in the back of my letter.

IMG_3987

Possibly one of my most embarrassing moments, but then again, it is awesome that he reads every post and keeps track of everything I’m up to.

I ended off my weekend working on my new Camp Nano project, and seeing Game Night with my family. It’s a little more intense than your average murder mystery night, but still pretty cool.

 

“Don’t just count your years, make your years count.”

-George Meredith

I started off my week with a pole dancing class, where we learnt a fun routine that looked way out of my reach before we started, but was looking pretty good by the end of class.

IMG_3952

That evening, I went to the Monday night ‘Amazon’ BJJ class. A huge part of me wants to get completely discouraged when I keep ending up on the bottom, or tapping out, but then I remind myself that I am a beginner, who is still learning, and the reason why I feel like I am doing worse than when I started is because people are no longer treating me like I have no idea what I am doing. Which I think is a good thing?

On Tuesday I worked as a standardized patient, then went to NOGI Jiu-Jitsu in the evening. Being the only girl with a bunch of guys no longer means that I am going to have an easier time and get coached through every move, but I am still learning a lot. And I find it a lot easier to remember why I don’t want to be in a certain position after I have had someone do something to me in that position. For instance, I used to squirm out of someone’s control by turning my back to them, which worked when they were taking it easy on me and letting me. David and Ayisha kept telling me not to show my back, but I didn’t really see it as an issue. Until people started taking advantage of my turning my back. Using it to get me into chokeholds and such. Now, when my back even starts to get exposed, I immediately work on changing my position, because I know it’s somewhere I don’t want to be.

On Wednesday I got a private boxing bootcamp lesson. They’re cool because you get a lot of attention and get worked hard, but you also have to be ‘on’ the whole time. If you slow down or modify a move in a class with a bunch of people, there’s a good chance the teacher won’t notice. If you’re the only student, chances are that he will. Which ultimately gets me a better workout, and sometimes hurts my pride. But I still love it. Especially the padwork at the end, where we learn combos and I feel both incompetent and like a badass at the same time. I know what I have to do, but my body often doesn’t listen. Like with my hands, for keeping my guard up. I think I might need to get knocked out when my hands are down so I’ll always remember to keep them up in the future?

That afternoon, I headed to the ACTRA offices for the TAWC meeting. I’m not sure if I have mentioned this, but I really love how ACTRA Toronto not only considers me a member, they let me be a part of things, like this committee. At the end, we got a crash course on social media, so the meeting ran a little late and I had to rush to get to my jiu-jitsu course.

I believe it was my first Wednesday class, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, and ended up in a class where everyone was at least 15 years younger than me. They still usually manage to get the upper hand on me, which is fine, but sometimes I get to be the one who knows a little more and teaches them something. The moves I remember most are the ones I have helped someone else to do.

I was back to being on the younger end for the 8 o’clock class, which was busier. Afterwards, we all went out for steak nite at a local pub. It was really nice to get to know everyone as people rather than just as jiu-jitsu classmates and teachers. Great food, amazing company…an awesome Wednesday night.

On Thursday I had a friend come over, partially to keep introducing them to Buffy, but mostly to ensure that I wouldn’t find an excuse to not go to the monkey vault that evening. I had thoroughly enjoyed my last visit there, but the combination of class, staying after class and then doing a boxing bootcamp right after had left me with arms that felt dead for nearly a week afterwards.

In the end, not only did I make it, but I brought my roommate and the friend with me. This class concentrated a lot more on jumps, rather than climbing, so my arms were fine, and I started getting more comfortable with a few things. Which is surprising, because my roommate pulled a muscle before we were halfway through the class and had to sit the rest out. In her defense, she was doing awesome up to that point, and came back for the hanging competition, whereas I would have wanted to use my leg as an excuse to not have to do that.

We stayed after class, having fun with the equipment, and I showed them what I had learnt last time I came. I am still hesitant with a lot of things, and know it is my fear that is holding me back, but whenever I trusted myself and tried things, it always worked out for the best.

We rewarded ourselves with some Burger Priest and a whole lot of Buffy

The next morning I went to another boxing bootcamp where it was just me and the teacher, where I got quite a workout in. He also tends to film snippets of me doing the moves, so while I feel like I am doing them right, I get to watch the videos and make the necessary adjustments. After the circuit training we learnt a new combo where we focused on speed, which was really fun. At the end, he stayed longer to show me how to kick.

Eventually, he headed out and I stayed for a jiu-jitsu class, which has always been me and 2 other people so far, but this time we were a bunch of us. We worked on some techniques, with Ayisha giving us all kinds of pointers, then there was rolling, which we don’t usually do on Fridays.

Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 3.27.45 PM

I went home and worked on things, such as releasing the trailer for The Anniversary and getting it on imdb, which I am super proud of. We are in the final steps of post production and I can’t wait to see the finished product of my first filmmaker adventure.

I had full intentions of going to gymnastics that night, but just as I was finishing supper, my roommate invited me out to some parties with other actors, so I spent the night networking instead. Or, you know, making friends and cultivating relationships, which is super important career-wise, and good for the soul.

On Saturday, I was one of the volunteer actors for a Director’s Workshop at Ryerson, where I met an amazing director and a lovely group of actors, then got to be directed by one of the students. It was really interesting to see the different approaches different directors take to the same material.

I had some time to kill, so instead of going back home for a few hours, I caught up on some movies. Annihilation, Pacific Rim: Uprising and Tomb Raider were the ones I saw, 2 of them with my roommate, and I was thrilled to see that all 3 featured some amazing, badass, strong female characters for young girls to look up to, that I would absolutely love to play.

IMG_3942

After the movies, my roommate and I headed to the closing party of the Canadian Film Fest, where we got to support local filmmakers, mingle and dance the night away. It was an awesome, inspiring night and a peak into a world I can’t wait to really be a part of.

On Sunday I went to a pole dancing class and had a lot of trouble pushing through the pain of squeezing my bruised shins against the pole. But we also learnt a really cool and (I found) easy spin that was not painful. So silver lining!

Afterwards, I had some friends come over for an afternoon of brainstorming and coming up with an idea for a short that we could shoot together. We started out by figuring out everyone’s goals for the project, and by the end we had a story that met all of them. I can’t wait for our next session, and all the amazing projects we hope to do together.

Monday I packed up and headed to 4 points, because although I had to drive to Montreal, I didn’t want to miss more classes than I had to, and especially not the Amazons class on Monday nights. I left before the rolling, but at least I got in my techniques 😉

 

If you have a good idea, get it out there. For every idea I’ve realized, I have ten I sat on for a decade till someone else did it first. Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE.”

-Joss Whedon

What doesn’t kill you

IMG_3431

I am not a model. I went to a model search thing when I was about 12 years old with my cousin, and they told me I would never make it because I was too short, and my parents weren’t tall enough to imply that I would grow much taller. However, I have had some really awesome experiences lately with photographer friends, so when I saw a request for models for a bridal shoot, I figured, why not? I was a little surprised to find out I would be bringing my own wardrobe and it was the hair and makeup that were wedding themed (not the dress), but I still had a really fun time. I had my first ever experience with fake lashes, and got some beautiful pictures out of it.

IMG_3384

As soon as we were done with the photoshoot, I drove to Montreal with Johnny, for a couple of days of family and income taxes. One was a lot more fun than the other.

We drove back to Toronto on Tuesday, so I could work at Michener, then try out a Krav Maga class. A friend started taking it and said it was a really fun workout, and you learn self-defense, so it seemed like a win-win situation. I arrived as class was starting, so I jumped right into the elbow moves. We learnt them, then were told to get into groups, grab some pads and practice. I was lucky enough to end up with a guy who is also a krav maga instructor, so I got a lot more practice than everyone else, and learned quite a few things that the others didn’t. And it was really framed as a self-defense class rather than a workout, which was a bit scary in what it makes you think about, but also a really interesting approach.

29197211_10156595275494239_6201275971845226496_o

After krav maga, I went to 4 Points for the NOGI class. It’s an hour and a half class, where the first hour is spent learning new techniques, and then we roll for the last half hour. The one who knows the technique better is always the one who does it first, so that wasn’t me. However, I was really proud when my partner was having trouble with a certain technique, and I was able to help him figure it out. When it came time to roll, I tried more things, actually using armbars and kimoras rather than just trying to not have them used against me. When someone asked if he should take it easy on me and let me do all the attacking, I told him to just go for it and I would tap out if he was hurting me. Rolling has become a lot harder now that people aren’t going as easy on me, but I am also learning a lot more. In one of my rolls, the guy not only didn’t hesitate to put me into submission, he went straight to choking me or armbars, anything to make me tap out. The one time I thought I might have a bit of an upper hand, he just stood up, so I was hanging off his neck and shoulders, upside down, and then he turned around in circles before bringing me down to the floor. We restarted every 10 seconds because I kept having to tap out, but I was still incredibly proud of myself. Because even though I knew he was going to have me on the ground and tapping out within seconds, I literally just sat back up every time and went for another round. There are a lot of things in life that are scary because they are unknown, and now I don’t have to be afraid of being twirled in the air, choked or whatever, because I know it really isn’t bad.

On Wednesday I did a boxing bootcamp, then spent some time with the roommates before going to dungeons and dragons. I am really enjoying these games and wondering why I didn’t start playing years ago. Also, I think LARPing would be awesome.

On Thursday I went to ACTRA for the Respect on Set workshop, where I had the chance to meet some fellow members, and actually learnt a few things that could definitely be helpful in the future, and would have saved me a lot of trouble if I had known it years ago.

After the workshop, I went to my third pole dancing class, where I learnt a new back spin, as well as sits. Apparently, sitting on the pole for extended periods of time isn’t exactly a question of building up strength, but of building up a tolerance for pain (or discomfort?). ACTRA’s website suggested asking yourself if you have a high threshold for pain before becoming a stunt performer, so I guess there are benefits to building it up? We also tried elbow hangs, which I managed with help for a few seconds, but my pain threshold is not there yet.

IMG_3886

Friday was one of those days where I was THAT GIRL. I went to the boxing class, where I was alone again, so I got a thorough workout, and learnt a new combo for the boxing. At the end, he asked if I wanted more pad work or conditioning next week. Pad work is obviously more fun and feels like much less of a workout, but I am aware that I need to build up my endurance and my core and my hips and all those fun things, so I did not take the easy way out. I’ll hate myself next Friday, but in a good way.

After, I had a Jiu-Jitsu class, where we learnt some new techniques (or at least new for me). One of them I had absolutely no confidence that I could do, and wasn’t sure I really wanted anyone to try it on me, but I kept my fears to myself and trusted the guys I was learning with. Turns out it really wasn’t bad being the one who is thrown, and I actually managed to throw the guy who twirled me around on Tuesday over my head. It wasn’t like he was putting up a fight, because we were learning the technique, but I am still pretty impressed that I managed it.

That evening, I drove to MWF Madness, which was recommended to me probably because they work on stunt stuff on Wednesdays (according to the website), but Fridays are for gymnastics. Which I love so much in theory and would really like to get better at. We learnt a bunch of cool jumps on the trampolines for a warmup, then did stretching and stuff before tumbling. There is a list of skills to go through and I was starting below the newbie line, but I am very looking forward to moving my way up. At the end, it is open gym for everyone to work on whatever they want to work on, so I got some advice and worked on my back rolls, handstands and trampoline work. Both he and my boxing coach gave me things to work on before I see them again, so looks like I will be shadowboxing and spending some time upside down this week.

On Saturday an hour long open mat rolling session turned into an hour of technique and a half an hour of rolling with a Jiu-Jitsu champion and stunt guy from Montreal, Lee Villeneuve. I am now used to being the only girl in a lot of these classes, but I hope the guys aren’t too disappointed when they are paired with me. Today, Lee was teaching all the techniques, so it was even new for the people who had been training with David for a long time. This meant that although I always assume that the other person knows so much more than I do about whatever we’re learning, this time we could actually help each other figure it out. And while I usually ask which hand goes where and which way do I turn, this time it was more of a mental game, because we could either wait to ask the teacher what was wrong, or we could realize that grabbing here creates a space there, and putting the leg here makes it easier to go there…it was really exciting for me.

When we got to the rolling, I obviously wasn’t one of the few who got to roll with Lee, but I do think I got better with each time. I used the technique we did on Friday to throw someone over my head and instead of just “Once more unto the breach” with the guy who twirled me over his head, I tried to hold my ground a bit, or stay up, to at least delay the moment where he would get me to tap out. Because learning how to lose and go back for more is great, but you also need to learn how to hold on and fight rather than to just resign yourself to a defeat. All in all, it was an awesome class. And a really cool week of new classes and pushing boundaries that is totally worth the bruises and the pain.

 

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche

This week was busy, which is just how I like it. It started off with work at Michener, with a bit of suspension of disbelief when my ‘scene partner’ went from playing my 23 year old husband to playing my father. Either way, it is always so much fun to be able to play off of someone in those scenarios.

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 11.48.04 AM
New demo reel 🙂

When work was done, I headed over to 4 points to be one of the Amazons at the 7 pm class. Women are welcome in all of the classes, but if one feels like she would rather try a class when she knows there are other women who will be there, she can sign up for this one. There are guys too, but we outnumbered them this week. With 10 girls and slightly less guys, I ended up being paired with a girl who was there for her first ever jiu-jitsu class. The teacher came over to make sure I had the technique right, so I did it on her a few times, then guided her through doing it on me. There was a lot of uncertainty and trying to figure out which side to do certain things on, but we made it through. I also told her that it would be a good idea to stay for the second class, because while I struggled through figuring it out, most of the guys who showed up for the later class know what they are doing and have been incredibly helpful in teaching me the techniques.

28870819_10156577252384239_6105714388323270656_n

For the rolling, I completely made the mistake of acting like all the guys did with me, where they won’t attack or take the upper hand, they just wait for me to figure things out. At the same time, I really appreciated that my first ever time rolling, when I knew nothing. There was someone I had rolled with last week and they had simply used their strength against me, grabbing my wrists tight enough to bruise, so I was slightly reluctant when paired with them this week. A few moments in, I asked them how long they had been doing Jiu-Jitsu and found out it was their second week. I actually knew more than they did! So, instead of trying to win or get the upper hand, I talked them through the techniques they could use to get out of my guard, or to get control over me, without just using all their strength. I tapped out 3 times that roll, but it was because I showed them how to overpower me. Which still feels like a win in my book.

On Tuesday I worked all day as an SP, starting with an incredibly topical role that brought up a lot of conversations, most of them really inspiring, while some comments reminded me why a #metoo movement and #believeher is so important.

In the evening, I had a scenario that hit so close to home during the dry run, having spent the week at the hospital in a much less severe, but still similar situation. This week I was thankfully out of that situation personally, but it was incredibly easy to put myself into that emotional state. The tears poured freely, even with the frequent time-outs to discuss how things were going.

28951747_10156078513770561_1207589025171374080_o
Wine and cheesing at the ACTRA Member’s Conference.

On Wednesday I had a fitting for some background, then came home to sleep because I was under the impression that I had an overnight shoot, followed by a 5 am call time with potentially no time to sleep in between. Luckily, that wasn’t the case, but it took a while for me to find that out.

I had brought my car to set before, but this was the first time that I was actually asked to drive it in the scene while being background. The part that worried me of this was after they call cut, when you have to back your car back up to the original position, while the crew and the other extras who had crosses are all wandering around because they know the street has been blocked off for them. After the first take, a guy told me to honk twice to let everyone know I was backing up, then said he would guide me, so he went behind my car and walked backwards, gesturing with his hands for me to go straight or to turn, telling me I was doing great. At one point, we had to stop for another car to turn around, so he waited by the side of my car and said, “This is what happens when you get BG for ND drivers.” into his radio. He kept telling me I was doing great, and I have no idea if he meant me, the car we were waiting for, or just the lot of us in general, but I felt slightly offended, and like he was underestimating me. True, I was nervous about this part, but I had only ever done exactly what I had been told to do. After future takes, he left me on my own, so I did the 2 honks and drove progressively faster to get back to my starting position.

We wrapped around 1 am, and my call time wasn’t until about 11, so I went home and slept before driving to Hamilton. It was nice to spend international women’s day on set, with a bunch of other women. There was also a stunt happening, with a very energetic and demonstrative female stunt coordinator, which I find super awesome. Especially given the date, but also just in general. Some people couldn’t wait to go home, as with every day on set, but I loved pretty much every minute of it. I met some cool people, saw some brilliant performances, and my reaction game was on point.

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 11.34.48 AM

On Friday, to celebrate my day off, I went to a boxing class, where I was the only student, so I basically got a private lesson. It was a totally off day for me, where I found myself assuring him that I can normally do a much better, real pushup. He thought it was really cool when I told him I wanted to get into stunts, but he didn’t let me off easy. I still had to punch as hard, and he insisted my technique would need to be even better, because when he sees me on tv one day, he wants to believe that I am someone who actually boxes.

I stayed afterward for the Jiu-Jitsu class, where we were three, but there was some time between the 2 where I got to roll a bit with my boxing coach, then I worked on my handstands, because having a padded wall is almost just as good as a person who promises to catch you.

The techniques we learnt in jiu-jitsu were pretty straightforward, but I was really lucky (and a little frustrated) to have someone who was not going easy on me. When learning new techniques, you go until the other person taps out, which I usually do once they get to the end of the moves, because we’re just learning things and I assume you’ve got the gist of it. My partner, however, did not tap out until he actually had to, and purposely tried to hold his position and make me work for it. In the moment, part of me was obviously exasperated that he was making everything harder, but I also appreciated it sooooo much, because he wasn’t underestimating me, he was showing that he believed that I could do it, and was making me prove it. Which I did. It was more of a struggle than I would have preferred, but it was so much better that way.

28872325_10156571024999239_6269344198395166720_o
From the Action for Film and TV Workshop

 

“Being strong doesn’t mean you’ll never get hurt. It means even when you get hurt, you’ll never let it defeat you.”

Becoming ‘That Girl’

This week, I got to spend 3 days on set doing background, which was really cool because I love being on set, and because there were stunts, so I got to watch and learn a bit and get reacquainted with some cool people.

My first day not on set, I headed downtown for a Toronto Ninjas meetup, which is the name given to the people who use Bonnie Gillespie’s wealth of information. It was awesome to catch up with some fellow actors, make new friends, find out about interesting events or classes that are going on, and just talk about acting and the industry. I had to leave early for a dry run at Michener, but even that was a lot of fun.

Screen Shot 2018-03-04 at 10.52.36 PM

I went home and worked on my new demo reel, which is looking amazing. And by worked on it, I mean I watched what my super talented friend had put together for me and told him what I thought, so I can have an incredible demo reel that I am really proud of.

That night, my roommate and I went to audit Lewis Baumander’s acting class. I saw some familiar faces, and some great performances. It was really interesting to see him work with the actors and have some great discussions with us. Last, but definitely not least, he seemed like a hardworking, genuine, supportive person, which is nice to have in a teacher, or anyone you work with.

Screen Shot 2018-03-04 at 10.45.42 PM

On Friday, I tried the lunchtime Jiu-Jitsu class, and received my first GI. I did karate as a kid, so I’ve had kimonos, but this is me as an adult, not just dabbling in something sport-related, but actually committing to it and investing in it. In myself. It’s just another ‘costume’, but to me it’s huge and exciting and I’m really happy about it. Like I’m a part of something

28641471_10160025357305331_838996865_o

I rushed home after class to shower so I could make it to Anthony Meindl’s workshop. His studio was one of the places I trained when I was in Los Angeles, and more than just attending classes, I absolutely loved auditing his masterclasses, so I was really glad to get to watch him work again here in Toronto. His enthusiasm and love for actors and storytelling is incredible to be around, and it is inspiring to see how simple things can elevate and bring truth to a performance. A fellow Toronto Ninja performed a monologue and she was heartbreakingly beautiful.

Now the title of this post refers to ‘that girl’ in an awesome way. I mean, I definitely would have rolled my eyes and thought ‘that girl’ was crazy, back in the day, but now that I am becoming her, I have to say she is so much more than that. (but yeah, obviously crazy) You see, after more than 12 hours on set and getting up long before the sun, I headed to Jiu-Jitsu classes on both Monday and Tuesday. Hour long workouts used to be my max, and I especially enjoyed the warm up and cool down parts of them. These days, when the hour class ends and they ask if I’ll stay for the next hour and a half, I’m like “Of course.” I am bruised all over and finding out what it’s like to roll with people who don’t take it easy on me because I’m a girl and I’m new, but I am loving it. I am loving the way it makes me feel when I’m done. In general, and about myself.

28424669_10160032110700331_2271119132419770155_o

On Saturday, I went to my first ever parkour class at the Monkey Vault. It was with a teacher and 2 other women, who had each been coming off and on for the past 3 years. We started with easy things, like vaults, then the obstacles got higher and higher until we were scaling walls. There was a rod to hang on to, but I haven’t always had that much faith in my own strength, and if my arms had decided to give out at certain points, I may have tumbled to my death. Or a brain injury. Or at least a lot of pain and some broken things.

This summer, I told a new friend who is really awesome in the stunt community that I wanted to be a badass and do my own stunts and stuff. He was really supportive and on board, until he asked, “Are you afraid of heights?” and my answer was, “Yes, but I do it anyway.” That wasn’t good enough for him.

Over the past few months, I have been discovering that a lot of the things that scared me were because I didn’t think I could do them. I have already shared how having trouble lifting myself up while tree trekking made me train to do pull ups so I could go back and not be afraid anymore, and it’s like this for a lot of things. It’s scary if you think you can’t do it, but if you know (or trust) that you have the strength to catch yourself, it’s incredible what you can accomplish. I mean that metaphorically, but also literally.

I was ‘that girl’ because after staying after parkour class to ‘play’ until my arms couldn’t hold me up anymore, I drove to 4 points for the boxing bootcamp. On Sunday, everything hurt, but rarely have I ever felt that fierce and accomplished. Part of me is terrified that this is some phase, or burst of motivation that will fizz out and disappear soon, but I am so excited to be becoming THAT GIRL, who goes to the gym instead of home to sleep after a long day, who does more than one workout in a day, who does the things that scare her and pushes her limits until she is doing things she only ever dreamed she could.

“This is a door. Kick it open and come in.”

“I think the greatest thing our industry does is erase the lines in the sand, we should keep doing that as the world tries to make them deeper.”

-Both from Guillermo Del Toro

Action for Film & TV with Tazito Garcia

On February 25th my roommate and I headed to 4 Points for a workshop with Tazito Garcia, called Action for Film and TV. While we waited for everyone to show up, he told us that this industry (acting, stunts, entertainment) is heavily based on relationships, so we should all introduce ourselves to the people beside us. Knowing this to be entirely true, I figured we were off to a good start.

We got a handout and went through some ground rules and learnt the difference between Hong Kong and Hollywood style fighting, which was really interesting. His goal is to eventually have us all doing Hong Kong style, so we don’t need editing or camera angles or cheating to look awesome.

It wasn’t long before we were all up on our feet, learning the footwork, which kind of felt a lot like a dance. We learnt a few different attacks, (jab, cross, hook, upper cut, hammer, back hand) as well as the reactions (it was fun for people to try and figure out which way their head should go based on where the punch was coming from). When we moved on to doing the punches with a partner, I was paired with someone I am pretty sure was there to help out the teacher, not to take the class, but he had told me, “A little” when I asked if he had done any of this stuff before, which is exactly what I would have answered. But so not the truth for him.

IMG_3817

My favorite part of the workshop was the flips. We started by falling back onto the mat, then throwing ourselves backwards onto it, then we did front rolls and flips (one with no hands guided by Taz).  It wasn’t that I didn’t think I could do them, because I have been doing front and back rolls in jiu-jitsu, but flips had always seemed like a bigger deal, and something scary. I’m not implying that we really did actual flips, at all, but what we did, I wasn’t afraid of, and flips seem like something I could work up to in the near future.

We learnt a sequence of punches and reactions, that ended right before a flip, but we never got to that part, because we were already way over our time. We ended with a Q & A, but there weren’t a lot of questions, so it was mostly Taz telling us about the industry and how stunts work. It was about 30 minutes after the time we were supposed to end at, but he invited us to stay after and ask more questions or practice.

My roommate and I decided to stay, and got some help with rolls and flips, before Taz showed us the end of the sequence we had been working on earlier. We tried the flip a few times on the mat, and then we did it without the mat. It may have knocked the wind out of me a bit the first time, but I think I did it more than 20 times before we left the gym, 2 hours after the workshop was supposed to have ended.

IMG_3802

This whole stunt thing of mine may seem like a crazy pipe dream to a lot of people, especially the ones who know me, because I definitely don’t come off as athletic or physical or someone who would do stunts. It may also seem like it is coming out of left field, but I have been working towards this for years, I just didn’t believe I could do it. I self-talked myself out of it. I needed to find the confidence to actually seriously give it a real effort. Thanks to that and some amazing people who have been giving me advice and training me and supporting me, I am actually believing that I can be a badass. I am trying things that terrified me and realizing that they aren’t really so scary. I am discovering that a lot of things seemed impossible because I wasn’t putting in the effort or I decided that I couldn’t before I even tried. Turns out that if you try, and work at something, you have a way better chance at making it than if you just say you want to.

This isn’t me looking back on my journey once I have succeeded, this is me at the very beginning of what will be a very long and hard journey, saying BRING IT ON 🙂

“I can’t do _____ YET.”

-Tazito’s mindset advice. It’s not that I can’t do a backflip. It’s that I can’t do it YET.