Oh What A Year
I like to spend the last few days of December figuring out what I want to achieve in the next year, but I also like to take some time to go over everything that I have accomplished over the past 12 months. Every time I do this, I realize that even if I am not where I planned to be, I am still leagues further than I was. And especially this year, even if everything on the outside had stayed the same, I have not. I understand a lot more about myself, my comfort zone is huge compared to what it was, and I actually feel ready for all of the things I have been saying that I wanted. Which I did, but sometimes things happen for a reason, and I’m starting to feel like lately, everything that has been happening has been leading up to where I am now, as well as where I am heading.
I am going to start off with the numbers and work accomplishments, because they are more concrete than what comes after. I had 39 auditions this year, broken down into 22 self tapes, 15 in person and 1 callback. Which I booked 🙂 These gave me 66 days on various sets, of which 35 were background, but 30 were speaking days, where I had a part and got to live the life of someone who is not me. The last day was as a PA/ Dog wrangler, so probably doesn’t count, but I do always say that there is nowhere else I’d rather be than on set, in any capacity. And I mean it. Ca Arrivera Jamais Icitte, Over Easy, The Cohort, Talion’s Law, Augustine, Another 10 Minutes, Overexposed, D33P W3B, The House They Used To Live In, Dick, Follow, Girl on the Run, and so many others. I can’t wait until I spend more days on set than off!
I surpassed my goal for Networking, with more than 40 events, mixers, award shows, film fests, screenings, book signings, wrap suppers, brunches and coffee dates with other actors, or people somehow involved in the acting industry. The best part, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, is that networking has become less of a chore to get myself out there and more of an opportunity to hang out with friends I haven’t seen in a while, or to meet amazing people I admire (or will soon come to).
I got to be a reader for all kinds of really cool projects, with incredible actors, exploring a multitude of characters. I even directed a few sessions, which was really different and harder than it looks. One of these projects keeps bringing me back for table reads and stuff on set, which just blows my mind that I get to be a part of it. Another one I was actually cast in, then slightly heartbroken when my scene was cut, but I still absolutely love the story as well as everyone involved, and can’t wait to see how it all turns out. In addition to my job as a reader, I got to read for a project in pre-production that I am involved with, for a bunch of friends (and new acquaintances) as part of my self tape promise, and for my very own project.
In April, after years of being too afraid to, we shot The Anniversary, a short that I wrote. It was a bit terrifying, yes, but nothing like I thought it would be. It was exhilarating and emotional and a lot of work, but something I can’t wait to do again and again. I learnt so much about scriptwriting, finding a crew, casting a project, shot lists…and I still have so much more to learn, which I will, a little more with every new project I start. Which will hopefully be often. I also want to learn more about post production, so that I can maybe do some of it on my own, and so I will have a better answer when people ask me what I want (most of the time, it was “I don’t know, what do you think?”) Every time I bring it up, I have to thank everyone who gave (or are still giving) their time and energy to help me make this dream a reality. I am eternally grateful.
In addition to the amazing classes with Suzanna (where I used accents, attempted commercials, played drunk, comedy, cried, flirted and kissed people), I tried my hand at Meisner (which is scary for me, because you can’t learn your lines and hide behind your preparedness), took a Chi Energy Workshop, a singing lesson, the Centaur Chekhov scene study and audited classes in Toronto. I volunteered for Comic Con, which was a lot of fun, and since I was mostly manning the microphone in the large halls, I got to listen to all of the panels and basically got mini masterclasses from incredible actors. My roommate also tried to start an Actor’s Meet Up, where we get together and run scenes as a super cool way of networking, but since 3 of the 4 attendees now live in Toronto, it looks like someone else will have to take over? And it isn’t really an acting class, but I am definitely proud of the fact that I passed both my non-restricted and restricted firearm safety courses. In theory, this means I can buy and own certain guns, but I am more interested in what it can mean on sets.
I participated in 3 table reads, one for the English translation of Antoine’s Cow, one for Montreal Girls, a movie in pre-production, and more recently an excerpt of a sci-fi film for Toronto Cold Reads, which I will definitely be returning to in the New Year. The stage has become a lot less scary for me, not just through my time at LAMDA and with these ventures, but from all the time I spent ‘stage managing’ Leave The Therapy Take The Cannoli. I still can’t really call myself a stage manager, but it was a pleasure helping them out and being a part of that famiglia.
Over the summer, I got some insight into how a friend creates his shot lists by helping out for one. His method involves a lot more people than the sheets of paper I’ve seen others use, but it also gives you the opportunity to actually test out the lighting and angles and distances. Ideally, it would be how I would like to create the shot list on my next project. This was not my only time posing for a camera though, as I participated in prop photos for a friend’s short (they’re amazing, but I’m not allowed to share yet), had the privilege of being photographed by Owain Thomas, photographer and friend extraordinaire, and recently got more shots with a new production company.
I made a multitude of discoveries and worked on myself and my materials through Bonnie Gillespie’s Get in Gear for The Next Tier (and the free end of year one as well), and plan to revisit the wealth of knowledge after rereading her book, Self Management for Actors in the New Year.
On a personal level…I can’t even begin to explain the journey I took over the past year. As a writer and an actor, I often list a lack of life experiences as something that is holding me back, and while I probably only caught up on a fraction of what I have been missing out on, I have discovered so much about myself.
It started out with little things in class, like holding someone’s hands for an extended period of time, slow dancing with strangers, accepting compliments and not so pleasant truths in Meisner (over and over again).
Then everything came together when I spent a lot of days on a set this summer. I was doing background, but I went with the intention of meeting people and being…memorable? I’m used to going on set and remembering everyone’s name, but they mostly won’t remember mine. Which is sometimes because they have a bad memory, sometimes because I didn’t say much, and sometimes I literally just overheard someone else using their name and remembered it. This time, I was determined to actually talk to people, get to know them…be the me I am always too afraid of being, because I’m worried people won’t like me. When I say things happen for a reason, part of me is okay with not being ACTRA yet, because this was the kind of set that I probably wouldn’t have been on if I was a union member, and if I hadn’t been there…I can’t be certain, but I don’t think I would be living in Toronto right now, and my comfort zone would be substantially smaller. It was the little things, like people using my name, or coming over to greet me in the mornings, but it made me feel special and like people actually enjoyed talking to me, and my company, which isn’t always the case. I would show up at our call time, which would be incredibly early, with a smile, so excited to be there and to see what the day would bring. I went in knowing a lot of people, but I left knowing the name of almost every extra on set, a lot of the crew, stunt people…even some of the cast. I became a lot closer to people I had just known in passing before then, and also made some new friends, whose support and advice mean the world to me.
It was through this experience that I met someone who broke down walls I didn’t even know I had, completely overwhelmed my comfort zone and taught me so much. About life, relationships, love, heartbreak, but mostly, about myself. About the kind of person I am (how she’s pretty awesome and I shouldn’t be afraid to share her), how much I can handle (way more than I would have thought), how much I am willing to give (everything, so I should be careful), but also what I want, and the things I don’t want to compromise on. We are still friends, and even now, I don’t regret a single thing. Because of the lessons and the experiences, yes, but also for the way it made me feel. Confident. Desirable. Needed. Wanted. Enough.
After this, I was brave enough to post an entry about an experience I had in the past where I learnt to stand up for myself, that I was afraid of sharing, but felt I needed to. I was confident enough with myself to do background in a bikini, and a revealing bathing suit, which would have (and still) terrified me, but I did it. Then I went so far as to sign on for a shoot where I got held captive in my bra and underwear, which was so far out of my comfort zone, but now it’s done, so the comfort zone is bigger. And I’m not going to say there’s a link with what I lived this summer, but I am now able to cry. Which was holding me back acting-wise, but also in life. I felt so closed off when all the women in my family were crying, and I just sat there, dry-eyed, not really feeling it. I still probably can’t just cry on cue, but I have been able to cry in scenarios at McGill, in class, on set, in auditions, in rehearsals, and most importantly, in my life. My cousin recently said yes to the dress, and my aunt’s tears led to everyone else in the room crying as well. I was about to argue when my cousin pointed this out, because I was so used to being unaffected, but there I was, crying along with them. Happy tears. Silly tears. But I wasn’t closing myself off anymore.
Probably the biggest change was me moving to Toronto in November. Having never lived away from home for more than a few months at a time, this was pretty huge for me, and my family, but like I said in the beginning of this post…I was ready. Or at least I am now. Looking back, it wasn’t the year I joined the union, and my career didn’t explode, but I still think I was right when I said 2017 was my year. Because now that I know I’m enough, it’ll be a lot easier to convince the rest of the world.
I hope your year brought you more joy than sadness, more accomplishments than defeats, but most of all, I hope next year knocks this one out of the park. For all of us.
“Everything happens kind of the way it’s supposed to happen, and we just watch it unfold. And you can’t control it. Looking back, you can’t say ‘I should’ve…’ You didn’t, and had you, the outcome would have been different.”