Thanksgiving Weekend

The boyfriend was able to finish work early, so we left mid-afternoon for the 6-hour drive to Montreal, grateful we weren’t a part of the car crashes that delayed us, stopping a few times for gas and at The Big Apple for supper. Even though I told him a million times how delicious their apple bread grilled cheese with bacon is, he still chose some smoked pork sandwich and must have regretted it the whole time we were eating.

On Saturday we had a First Aid Class at my grandparents’, so we would all know what to do in case something happens. The boyfriend was awesome and stayed for the whole course, even though he had no interest in it.

Saturday night we had pizza and played games at home, which is always a lot of fun.

Sunday morning we went to Jiu-Jitsu at Lee Villeneuve’s. Instead of curriculum, Lee taught us a bunch of moves, then we rolled for 7-minute rounds. We were dead by the end of it, but promised to be back at Christmas.

After a lunch of homemade apple bread grilled cheeses with bacon, we went on a hike with my mom. Someone was under the impression that walking and hiking are only exercise for really old people, so it was nice to show them that while it isn’t the most intense workout, it also isn’t as easy as a walk in the park. And it is so beautiful up there.

We had Thanksgiving dinner at my grandmother’s with my honorary uncle, then the boyfriend and I drove back to Toronto. We had originally planned to leave on Monday, but I got asked to work on set and you gotta hustle.

I did manage to get some writing in on set, then had another Thanksgiving dinner with the boyfriend’s family last night. I ate so much delicious food this weekend that you would think I didn’t have to eat for years, but that is not the case. Smoothies for breakfast it is 😉

 

“Love doesn’t make the world go ‘round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.”

-Franklin P. Jones

~*~ Full ACTRA Member ~*~

Most of this week has been spent wearing my writer and producer hats. We had 3 production meetings for Little Bird (which goes to camera next week!), and I am pushing through a new draft for Prophecy (which comes out next month!). I also made time for a tiny but momentous acting task…

 

Getting my FULL ACTRA MEMBERSHIP!!! For the non-actors out there, ACTRA is the Canadian actors’ union (on the English side). There are multiple ways to join (background work, theater school, a role) as an apprentice, but then you need 3 credits to be a Full Member (unless you get in through a reciprocal agreement with SAG or Equity). I applied for my final permit yesterday, then filled out the application and officially became a Full Member with a new number and everything. I’m a bit of an eager beaver so I’ve already done the online training stuffs, but I have a very busy week ahead of me once we go to camera.

I rounded off my week with some Jiu Jitsu classes and visits to the dentist, then I’m ending it tonight by going home for Thanksgiving. With a shipment of Gata from my boyfriend’s mom because she is the best. Hopefully there’ll be some left by the time we get there 😉

 

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Books, BBQs and ACTRA Con

After finishing a new first draft of Prophecy as the first book in a trilogy, I spent last Monday reading it with a notebook to keep track of things. I find it really useful to write down any important information I reveal about characters (eye color, likes and dislikes, dates, etc.) or the story, so that I don’t contradict myself. It is especially useful when you are writing more than one book in the same universe. In addition to facts, I make myself a list of things that need to be changed or added. This can be for mistakes (if I wrote that she was 12 a decade ago, then say she is 26, I have some math that needs fixing), creative decisions (removing a character, changing their name) or missing information (not enough background on a character, they come out of nowhere, she suddenly has a car that wasn’t there in the last scene…). I do this chapter by chapter, then add notes in previous or later chapters (mention x before they meet her, bring up y so we know she hasn’t forgotten him). Sometimes I’ll just write questions, like “Did she know this?”, “Who is Spencer?”, “Why did he do that?”, so I know I need to figure that out before I write the next draft.

Once I have answered all of the questions and figured out where everything goes, that is when I’ll start the next draft. Right now I am also waiting on my Alpha Reader (my mom), to let me know what she thinks about the story and the characters, so I know if everything is coming across like I want it to, and if the story is interesting for people who are not me. In the meantime, I am working on the novellas, character backstories and some compulsive planning, because that’s how I roll.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday I did background, each of them an awesome experience. I was referred to as ‘our hero’ on one set, booked as SSE and learnt a whole lot on the next one, and wrapped within 2 hours on Friday.

I only went to Jiu-Jitsu twice, which sucks, but was also the smarter thing to do. On Thursday I did some Brand Ambassador work on a van, which was a lot of fun, but I sort of fell through the cracks in the early morning. I was praised for my acrobatic abilities in catching myself and preventing what could have been a lot more damage, but I still ended up very bruised with a slice of skin missing (a very thin, small one, don’t worry). I probably still would have gone, but my foot was swollen and gently brushing three-quarters of my legs brought pain, so I decided to wait until the swelling went down to go back to class.

On Saturday I attended the Fall Member’s Conference with ACTRA, which is an awesome opportunity to learn valuable information while mingling with old friends and new acquaintances who share your interests. The day started off with a screening of some TiP projects, which are low-budget, ACTRA-approved films like Get-together and Touched. These are both in post-production stages and waiting to go through the festival circuit, but I would absolutely love to have them screen at ACTRA once they’ve made their way around. It was really inspiring to see what you can accomplish when you get a bunch of actors together.

Next I went to the TAWC (Toronto ACTRA Women’s Committee) Page-to-Pitch Session, where we had industry leaders share how they got their projects off the ground before 3 brave souls went up and pitched us their ideas. It was really interesting to hear these new ideas and then get the feedback that the experts provided, which was sometimes a question I was asking myself, but other times something I completely missed because I don’t get pitched to all the time and just heard the awesomeness of the ideas.

Next, we had lunch, where I caught up with some friends and slightly kidnapped a baby. I had the mother’s permission, but I also claimed her for the next 20 minutes or so, as she tried to devour my hair and my shoulder. It is moments like this (and when the childcare workers bring a baby to the door of our classroom so a mother can breastfeed and not miss anything) that make me realize how incredible and badass mothers are. They get it all done. Everything that I have to do, plus a million other things because they have tiny humans that depend on them for everything. They’re superheroes.

After lunch we attended the plenary session to find out what’s going with ACTRA this year, then I went for round 2 of Page-to-Pitch. This time, 10 ‘presenters’ went to another room with the executives and they pitched in private (with the knowledge and comments from this morning) while we got a presentation on being an entrepreneur, an often overlooked facet of our industry, and figuring out how to analyze your idea and build on it, how to network, etc. Very interesting.

At the end, both groups merged and we got comments and a Q & A session with the executives who went off to hear the pitches.

I learned a lot from these sessions, including the fact that I don’t think I want to be a showrunner. Or write a TV series. At least not for now. I loved the ideas and information and tried to transfer it for books, but I am no Mindy Kaling. Even when I produce a short film, I need to no longer be in charge while I do the acting part. Ideally, I would like to write a book series while acting in a TV series. And producing films with amazing people. Wouldn’t that be perfect?

There was a wine and cheese thing to finish off the conference, so I met a few new friends and said goodbye to my people before heading home for date night. After supper, we watched Murder Mystery, which was filmed in Montreal so I got to see some of my Montreal friends. I enjoyed it, but possible spoiler alert, I went in knowing Gemma Arterton is not 4 years younger than me.

On Sunday I did a few hours of ultrasounds then went to a Barbecue. There was delicious food, excellent company, we watched some of the Emmys, and I got a beautiful notebook from Venice to write some stories in.

 

“Treat your family like friends, and your friends like family.”

Sets and Rents

Being on set every day last week was only part of what made it awesome. I played a high school student, a cop, a bookstore patron then wrote my book in holding without ever being brought to set on the fourth day. Not a single one of them lasted the full 8 hours, so I made it to Jiu-Jitsu on Tuesday and Wednesday, got a whole bunch of writing done and had supper with my parents. Their visit was the other thing that made this week so much fun.

Throwback to my Tactics on Set training with the incomparable Gary Foo. Fellow trainees are Samy Osman and Kiriana Stanton 🙂

My parents drove to Toronto on Friday to hang out with me, so we had supper before I asked my dad to check out my car because I felt like one of the tires was low. Turns out it was completely flat with a nail sticking in it, so we (okay, he) replaced it with the spare so I could drive home.

On Saturday we stopped on our way to a celebratory lunch so I could attend a Go-See. I had never been to one before, but here is my assessment. When a show needs a lot of background or stunt people, they hold a go-see, where everyone who fits their broad categories will come and either hand in their resume (for stunts or dancers and such) or get their picture and measurements taken (as I did). I got a star in the corner of my sheet, so I think I’m good.

I want to mention that although right now I am focusing a lot on the writing and taking a lot of background work, I have not given up on the acting dream.

Lunch was fun and delicious, at Glenn Abbey golf course, then we went back to Toronto and I dropped my car off at Canadian Tire. I just had time to walk home before my parents came to pick us up for supper at my boyfriend’s parents’. It was their first time meeting each other (my parents and his) and I think it went fabulous. We had so much delicious food, excellent company, and only a few embarrassing stories.

On Sunday I tried to get some writing done before we went for brunch at Mars Diner. It was too loud for us to hear the music, but the food was yummy as always 🙂 We got my car and I drove back to Montreal with my parents and got to see an almost-finished version of get-together, which is looking amazing. I am so proud of what we have accomplished with this project, and can’t wait to share it with the world. Or work on the next one 😉

“Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.”

-Frank Tyger

July 2019

I took the month of July off from Jiu-JItsu because of the whole vasovagal syncope thing. I still got to practice a bit with the 4Points Summer Camps. We did Jiu-Jitsu and Obstacle Courses in the morning, then spent the afternoons acting. Every week of camp, the kids got together to come up with a story idea, write a script, then put it all on camera. Dave is editing the videos and I can’t wait to see how it all turned out.

 

I spent a few days in Montreal for my cousin Steve’s birthday party and a Baby Shower for my two nephews. Chelsea and Rikki will either be grateful or super annoyed by my semi-constant presence. Hopefully their babies will love me for it.

While I was in town, I also went to a shooting range with famjam, and met with JF for cover designs. Let’s just say I was beyond excited.

Speaking of covers, Johnny finalized the poster for our short, get-together, and it is amazing!

We celebrated the boyfriend’s father’s birthday, but I had to wait a few days to see my dad for his. We were supposed to film the Encounters, but setbacks piled up until we had no choice but to postpone. Luckily, Hubert and I met and got the first steps ready for our next project. He is all about building momentum and I am all for it.

I also had a doctor’s appointment, where we still don’t know what caused the fainting, but she is still looking into it, which is reassuring for me.

I finished the month in Montreal, where I celebrated my niece’s birthday, went hiking, worked for my Uncle, finished my July CampNanowrimo project and researched a trip to Hawai’i!

As for August, I have been fully immersed in preparing for something HUGE that happens tomorrow. Except for the 2 days I spent in the heat dressed as a turtle, but such is the hustle. I am so nervous and excited to share it with you all!

 

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”

-Amelia Earhart

Hike. Write. Repeat.

I started writing this post with the intention of publishing it a few weeks ago, but something happened on the morning I was going to finish it that made me reluctant to post it at all. Writing it the way it was planned felt like I was being dishonest, while editing it to include my new circumstance felt like I was looking for attention. But this is where I share my story and get held accountable, so here it goes.

June was a very fun and productive month. I got booked through a stunt coordinator for 2 days of SSE (Special Skills Extra) on a movie. I got to wear a really cool costume while making sure the stunt performer didn’t land on anyone in the crowd. Definitely something I would love to do again.

A problem I was pretty excited to have was that I booked so much work that I had to cut my trip to Montreal short. I spent a day in Quebec with my mom for the Premiere of Deep Web on the 9th, had a fake Father’s Day on the 10th, then drove back to Toronto after little more than 24 hours.

What was supposed to be a couple of days turned into a full week of background work as a high school student. It was long days with a lot of downtime, since they were mostly filming by section, but I was in heaven. I brought my laptop with me and got to finish my 5th Draft of Shards of Glass while we were in holding. There was an entire day where I was only used for 30 minutes, so I was basically paid to write. Whenever we were called to set, I brought some loose pages with me and plotted out a 17 book series. I am so excited for all of the things I will someday get to write! This was probably my most productive week ever.

On the 15th, we had a production meeting for Touched, where we got to explore our filming location. We were incredibly lucky that Hubert’s friend had his house for sale, so we got to film in a multi-million dollar home. Once the Touched meeting was done, I had a coffee date with Steph, our 1st AD. She was also the 1st AD for get-together, but this was my first time sitting down and actually getting to know her. All I can say is that I wish I had done it so much sooner, and can’t wait to spend a lot more time with her.

The 16th was the boyfriend’s birthday, so we did whatever he wanted to do, which included open mat. Not sure if I’ve explained this before, but Open Mat is where a bunch of people practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from different gyms come together and roll with each other. You get to try out your technique on people who weren’t trained exactly like you, learn new things and in my case, roll with people my own size.

On the 17th we met with our business rep at ACTRA and I applied for my permit, which gives me my 2nd of the 3 credits I need to be a full ACTRA member. I spent the next 3 days working as a Brand Ambassador, which was stressful with all of the pre-production stuff going on with Touched. In the future, I would try my best to not book work up to the day before we go to camera on something I am acting in and producing.

I’ll make a separate post all about our 2 days of Touched, but suffice it to say it was an awesome experience that I hope to be repeating soon, and often.

The day after Touched was a day of rest, and to celebrate a year with the boyfriend <3

I did my last day of background on a show I was doing continuity on, had our last TAWC meeting before the summer break, then drove to Montreal.

Once there, I established a routine of Hike, Write, Repeat. I would wake up around 6 in the morning, go for a hike on Mont St-Hilaire with my mom, then spend the day writing/reading my latest draft out loud with my mom to make sure it all sounded good. I can’t thank her enough for the countless hours she spent helping me edit Shards of Glass.

Of course, I also did things like hang out with my grandparents, have a book meeting with JF and watch my niece play soccer, but Hike, Write, Repeat was the routine. I was all set to continue this routine on Friday. I brushed my teeth, got dressed, sort of slipped/mostly caught myself going down the stairs, walked it off, then woke up with my mom trying to shake me awake while crying on the phone with 911.

This wasn’t my first time fainting. It happened like that in May 2012, and I passed out one of my first days as a reader, but that time I woke up as soon as I hit the floor. This time, I had no recollection of crossing the room to where I passed out against the couch, then apparently flung myself backward, slamming the back of my head against the side of a table before convulsing on the ground. Which is how I woke up. All I knew was that I did not like seeing my mom cry like that, so I sat up as best I could, ignored the pain in my head and tried to assure her I was fine and she didn’t have to worry. She ignored me and called an ambulance, who brought me to the hospital. They drew lots of blood, monitored my heart and I totally bombed the neuro exam, but they didn’t seem concerned. Whereas last time this happened, I wasn’t allowed to drive for 2 months while they made sure I wasn’t epileptic, this time I was given the okay to drive 6 hours to Toronto the following day. Not because I was fine, but because they couldn’t figure out a cause. They labeled it a vasovagal syncope, with no actual trigger. They told me it could happen more often now, or never again, they had no idea, but they could mostly guarantee it wouldn’t happen while I was driving. Let’s just say I wasn’t reassured.

My mom would re-enact my episode a lot over the next few days, partially as a distraction from the heartbreaking funeral we were a part of on Saturday, but also to convince herself it wasn’t that big of a deal. Still, she would occasionally look at me and start crying, and she avoided being alone with me again.       

On Sunday I convinced her and my dad to go on a hike with me, because I knew that if I didn’t go, they would be nervous and maybe never let me go again. We got caught in a torrential downpour as soon as we reached the top, which I felt really bad for, but it also shows that I have the best parents in the world.

I drove back to Toronto, with a friend who did most of the driving, and had a game plan in case I fainted during the tiny bit at the beginning where I was the driver. So overall, a pretty awesome month, but not all of the excitement was welcome.

I could have made this post and left out the fainting episode, but it happened. I have been taking it easy and am seeing a doctor in Toronto to try and get to the root of the problem, so no one should worry, I am fine. If anything, now you know that random fainting episodes do happen, not just in the movies, and please, if ever something happens to you or someone you love, don’t just put it off or assume you’re fine. Listen to your body. Take care of yourself. You need to stand up for yourself like you would your best friend or little sibling. As L’Oreal says, You’re Worth it.

 

“Don’t like someone. Love someone. Don’t stand up for yourself. Fight for yourself. Don’t be strong. Be indestructible.”

WRAMPS

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of work opportunities, family and writing. There were ups and downs, but overall I am so excited for what I hope is to come.

I have a list of priorities, that I tried to find an acronym for. I eventually ended up with WRAMPS, so that is how I am going to break down this Blog Post.

Writing

As you may have read in my last post, I’m in the thick of the 4th draft of a book I started in 2003. I realized it was partially written by a 13-year-old and I was trying too hard to stay true to that story. So I decided to rewrite it. Instead of starting with a blank word document (which I would have copied and pasted most of the original draft into), I started with a blank notebook. This way I have to rewrite everything and think about my words instead of settling for what was there. I am on my second notebook, and I think the story is definitely getting better as I go along. And I am catching so many bad writing habits that I have, words I like to use way too often.

I am hoping to publish in August, which is possibly overly ambitious (my friend was very convincing when he suggested 6 months, but I’m a little hard-headed). Either way, please sign up for my newsletter. I am aiming to put out one a month or so, and I’ll try to make them interesting 😉

Writing isn’t first because it’s my top priority, this is just how the letters scrambled into a word. However, I make lists and goals and schedule things all the time, and I’m always excited at the possibilities. This is the first time that one of these plans, my writing plan, has given me purpose, and felt 100% achievable.

Relationships

This includes the romantic variety (like date nights, hand-holding and John Wick watching), but also family, which means a busy trip back to Montreal. I went hiking with my mom, hung out with my parents, spent some time with my grandparents, ran around with my nieces, had brunch with my cousin and got a ton of writing & publishing advice for my friend, who happens to be a published author.

 

Acting

This is where I had most of the ups and downs. Basically one down and a lot of ups.

My agent removed me from her roster. I can defend myself against some of her reasons, but it was a valid decision. She raised some good points about my priorities and efforts lately. I have been doing a lot of things to try and move my career forward…but they weren’t the things that my agent needed me to be doing. I submitted a self-tape knowing it wasn’t my best work. Not how I would want a casting director to remember me. I told myself I wouldn’t get the part anyway, so I sent something okay, but nowhere near what I could have done.

The whole thing made me take a good hard look at my priorities and what I am working for. Right now I am so busy in writing and pre-production mode that I wouldn’t be good on a new roster. So I am going to clear my plate, do some research and build up my team.

The ups for acting are obviously a lot more fun. I went to some TAWC meetings. I’m figuring out which amazing writer to bring in for our workshop this month. We had our Nell Shipman Award Gala, which was wonderful and inspiring and magical and everything I hoped it would be. Sherry White is amazing and should give Ted Talks. I tip my hat to my fellow TAWC members, who are so dedicated and supportive and inspiring. They are go-getters who don’t sit around and wait for things to come to them, they make things happen. I am so proud to be one of them.

Monies

Right now, I make my money from Background, Standardized Patient and Brand Ambassador work. I enjoy all 3, for many different reasons. One gives me the opportunity to be on set, one lets me hone my acting skills and all 3 give me the flexibility to be available for big opportunities.  Lately, I really enjoy getting paid to write. There’s a lot of downtime with these jobs, and I have been using it wisely. Being paid to write usually means a book advance or someone paying you to write something, but I still think this qualifies.

Producing

I hope to produce a project at the end of August, but for now, my Producer-brain’s focused on TOUCHED. We went to our meeting with ACTRA, have most of our crew and are missing one location. We even held auditions to cast our leads, which was so interesting. Not because our actresses screamed bloody murder and aroused the attention of the receptionist. Actors need to see what it’s like on the other side of the casting table. The decisions are hard. So many actors brought it and a lot of them made me cry. So many factors make a person right for a part. Most of it is out of the actor’s control. It’s even out of my control, and I was sort of the casting director. I am happy with our choices, and can’t wait to see how it all comes together in a few weeks.

 

(Being in) Shape

This one is mostly jiu-jitsu, which I have been missing out on lately because of work. I can’t complain, but I hope to get back into the groove and work on my moves 🙂

 

“The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark.”

-Barbara Hall

An Exciting Month

We’re secure! By that, I mean that there is a little lock icon beside the website url because I fixed the security issue and people should be able to find the blog again. Amanda 1, Technology 0, right?

This past month has been pretty consistent as far as working for the gym and doing Jiu-Jitsu classes, doing background as a high school student and living a multitude of lives as a standardized patient. There’s also some new/exciting things happening.

For starters, I turned 29 and celebrated and had a wonderful time. Then I realized I only have one year left to accomplish my 30 by 30, and slightly panicked. But I’m okay with hustling.

I filmed a little short with a friend of mine, where I got to be sassy and get yelled at. You can see the full clip here.

I took an acting class at Armstrong Acting Studios. It has been ages since I was in a consistent acting class and it makes me miss Suzanna‘s so much. I loved continuously having scripts to work on, characters to live and friends to see!

I competed in the Ontario Open. I fought hard and was proud of myself, but tapped out to an armbar I probably should have fought harder against. Still, I left with a Bronze medal, that makes me want to work harder to deserve it next time.

We had our monthly TAWC meeting, a meeting to prep for the Gala next week, and we had the Post-Production and Film Festival Strategy Content Development Session that I put together. There weren’t that many people this time, but everyone there was really interested and asked good questions. I definitely learnt a whole lot. Filmmaking is a million tiny pieces coming together, and although it sometimes seems so daunting and scary, it is also so exciting and I can’t wait to do more of it.

I celebrated Easter with my boyfriend’s family, which included egg fights. Not in the sense that you throw eggs at each other, like I misunderstood, but in a very civil manner, you have a one on one egg smashing competition. It’s nice to have that family vibe here in Toronto when mine is all in Montreal.

I did some Brand Ambassador work at the Blue Jay’s Games, though you wouldn’t recognize me if you saw me. I’ve been a giraffe and a turtle so far, with an amazing view of the games during my breaks.

I went to Montreal for less than 24 hours to celebrate my badass cousin, Rikki, getting her MBA. I also managed to hang out with my nieces and spend time with my family, so the visit was 100% worth it.

The two most exciting things on my docket right now are Touched and Shards of Glass. Touched is a short film I am co-producing and acting in, which we will be filming in late June. For now, there are all kinds of production meetings and research and paperwork and getting it all together so we can start preparing for the next one. It’s the kind of project I am so excited to be a part of that I keep thinking it can’t really be happening. But so far it is 🙂

Shards of Glass is a book that I started writing in 2003. Then I chose it for Camp Nanowrimo in July 2015. Since then I have been half-heartedly editing it, cutting my darlings, building up the courage to eventually share it with someone who isn’t my mother…and now it will be the first book that I will publish. August 15th if all goes well. I will definitely keep you all posted 🙂

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

-Nelson Mandela

Nano, BJJ and Being Social

I had a pretty standard week, work-wise, to start off April. I worked at the gym, did some Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes, hopefully made some progress…mostly the usual, with the addition of camp nano, where I am trying to write a book within a month. I have it all plotted out, so I thought it would go super smoothly, but I decided to try my hand at time travel, which means there’s a lot more research and figuring out to do.

Socially, I was more productive 😉 My parents came to town on Tuesday, so we went out for supper, then for lunch on Wednesday. On Thursday I met up with my Toronto Ninjas and remembered how much I miss hanging out in the SP room at McGill between scenarios, just talking about acting and careers and plays and auditions and everything that comes with a life in the arts. Someone said we should do a meeting like that every month, and I will do my best to hold us to it!

On Friday I did some background work, which is a perfect combination of socializing, acting lessons and catching up on work I’ve fallen behind on. It also sometimes gives me way too much time to contemplate where I’m going and what I’m doing, which is good when it leads to concrete actions, not so great when it’s just a realization. Hopefully I’ll be back soon to finish up all the figuring out I was doing 😉

Saturday I was slightly exhausted thanks to an overnight shoot, but I made it through the kids classes and the end of takedowns. Then I went home and napped before going to a birthday party.

On Sunday I did a little lifting, spent the day with my boyfriend’s family and the night with my BJJ sisters. We obviously talked a whole lot about Jiu-Jitsu, indulged in homemade acai bowls and Turkish tea (there may have been some pizza and peanut chips and other delicious treats involved), and discovered the 80s classic, “No Retreat, No Surrender”. Some things age better than others, but we had a wonderful night and got a bit of an ab workout from all the laughing.

Now that the competition is less than a month away, it’s time to get back on track with healthy eating, consistent training and all the essential elements of an 80s training montage…

“Winners are not people who never fail, but people who never quit.”

A Hustling Actor

Monday was the official start of my no-carbs to get down to competition weight, so every time I had a craving, I put it down in a list of foods I would have once the competition was done. Our subway stop happens to have a Cinnabon inside, so even though I have never gotten one from there before, on Monday it killed me as I headed to my Standardized patient work. We did 3 scenarios and although it was definitely weird to have my partner play my husband in the first 2 scenarios and my father in the 3rd, I think it all worked out in the end.

That night we only went to the 8 o’clock class of BJJ, but I was put in for the last bit of situational rolling of the 7 o’clock class. When our class actually started, the competitors went off to one side, then we drilled while the others did technique. We did our guard passes, take the back and back escape, collar chokes, kimura sweeps and bridge and rolls. I was with someone newer, so I did a mix of what the competing adults were doing and what the competing kids were doing.

I chose her for the first roll at the end of class, and while I don’t think either of us got any submissions, I definitely didn’t hustle like I should have. I was too busy avoiding the blue belts, (and getting kicked in the head) which won’t actually be an issue at the competition. Then, I went against one of the teens who is competing. I got an Ezekiel and a collar choke, but he escaped my armbar and didn’t let me get my kimura on him. He’s also definitely going way too easy on me. Next, I went against one of the adults who isn’t competing, and tapped prematurely for things I usually don’t even tap for, because I was worried about getting an injury before the competition. Before last I was with a blue belt who went super easy to let me work on things like getting out of bad positions, which wasn’t quite competition hustling, but was really nice. Finally, I was back with my training partner, who submitted me with an armbar. Which sucked because she doesn’t usually submit me. And I can argue that it was because there were blue belts in the way that prevented me from doing my escape, but I also think I didn’t hustle enough and kind of deserved it.

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On Tuesday I knew I wouldn’t be making it to class, so I lifted in the morning, then headed out to my standardized patient work. We’re not allowed to talk about the scenarios or what happened, but I will say that #metoo was a huge topic of conversation today, and it’s incredible to see the difference even a year makes. Perhaps I was keenly aware of it because after work I headed to Hot Docs so I could hear Tarana Burke, the original founder of the #metoo movement, speak. It was a special treat from the TAWC committee for my involvement with the Content Development Sessions, and there were a lot of the ACTRA women there. It was a thought-provoking, inspiring night and I am so glad I had the chance to be there.

Once my evening was over, I headed to the gym so Arsen could drive me home. Having officially switched my weight class registration that morning, there was no going back on the no carbs and strict diet to make weight. Knowing this, he had meal prepped for me a recipe that he fixed so it would be delicious but have none of the things I wasn’t allowed. #bestboyfriendever

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On Wednesday I woke up with keto/no-carb flu. My body is definitely not used to no carbs and no sugar so it retaliated by making me tired and nauseous and sick. Luckily, I had myself a banana and powered through because I had work to do. I had to finalize things with the director for our content development session on directing and watched the final cut of a movie I shot the summer before last (it was cool because the script was changed after I filmed my scenes, so I had no idea how it ended).

By the way, I say I powered through because it sounds dramatic for the blog, but you need to be healthy. I actually called my coach, told her how I was feeling and she gave me more details into what I was allowed to be eating and how I should be compensating for the lack of carbs in my diet. Like eating a lot more protein and vegetables. I did not just keep starving myself and hoping it would go away. But I didn’t give up either. I just readjusted my plan to make sure I could perform and make weight. In a healthy way.

I went to both classes that night to make up for the fact that I didn’t go the day before. We were only 2 adults at 7, so we were paired together for lots of escapes from positions like side control, 100kg, knee on belly, which are super useful to know, because I am always stuck in those. We did some situational rolling, then I had a few rolls with guys that are a lot newer, and younger than me, who I don’t think usually submit me, but each did tonight. So not so confident going into the 8 o’clock class.

I was paired with another competitor and we worked on our takedowns and submissions and sweeps and just all kinds of things, but not in the easy way where you demonstrate that you know the technique…we did it in the hard way where you try to do the technique while the other person tries to not let you. Like when you’re rolling. Which isn’t my strong suit.

One of the guys I rolled with that night was newer, but really strong, and maybe because I was more experienced than him (and because I submitted him a few times the last time we rolled), he actually went really hard. I’m used to almost all the guys being stronger than me, but they usually also know technique better, so I feel safe that they know what they are doing every step of the way and won’t just use force half-hazardly. I don’t know about his weight and size versus mine, but I do know that I did not enjoy it, and it was the first time during jiu-jitsu where I teared up and kind of wanted to cry once it was over. I didn’t, but I can’t explain why I felt that way. Maybe I was overwhelmed by the competition and the lack of sweets in my life, but it was the first time I wasn’t smiling. I was really quiet when I mopped the mats, went shopping and drove home. It wasn’t until we were alone in the car and I told Arsen what happened that I felt better. Not that the guy did anything wrong, but admitting that I had felt that way? I don’t know.

On Thursday morning I had a job interview, then went home to prepare for an audition for a show that is currently airing (by watching a few episodes. Which is a good and a terrible idea sometimes). Then I got ready and headed out for a commercial audition. I can’t wait until I am doing so many of these that they don’t faze me at all and I know exactly what I am doing. I had prepared my lines 2 different ways, whether they were going for a more ‘uplifting commercial’ or ‘gravity of the situation’ vibe. When I got in the room, he asked me to do it 3 times per take, in 3 different ways. By the end, I repeated the line about 9 times and I think only 7 of them came out as what I wanted them to be and 2 were more like…how can I make this different than what I have just been doing? I do think 7 out of 9 isn’t bad, but I am also grateful for this learning experience, so next time I’ll prepare more variety and won’t be caught off guard.

I went home and got ready for some background work, then rushed to Ayisha for a 5 minute self tape. It was a single line that I had already done my homework for, and 5 minutes was literally all I had before I needed to leave for Mississauga. Luckily, I went to the best, so we got a couple of takes, got a slate and I was out of there before my parking even ran out.

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The background work ended just before 3 am, so I let myself sleep in on Friday, then spent the morning preparing for my audition that afternoon.

It was a very interesting kind of audition, because while you usually have a script that you get to discover and make choice and make your own, this time the script was from an episode of something that is already out there and has already been done. Without giving details, it’s kind of like there was a movie they were turning into a tv show, and you know they want you to match the person who played your character in the movie, so you watch it and see that your audition scene in pretty much word for word what happens in a scene in the movie. When I went to Ayisha to work on it, she had told me to copy what I saw in the movie. When I met with her, she tried to tweak things based on what the script said, so we ultimately decided to pretend we had never seen the movie, and to make the character mine, to the best of my abilities. We ran it a bunch of times, finding different levels and motivations before I headed to the audition.

Even though I was nervous about the audition, I was also so excited to be in a casting office again, auditioning, and I was confident in the work that I had done. I went in the room, did the scene once, she told me I did a good job, thanked me and I was out of there.

I did get a bit of a “that was it?” feeling as I was walking out, but I stumbled into a friend and left feeling more like a working actor than I have in a while. Maybe working isn’t the best descriptor…a hustling actor. That’s what I felt like. Someone who hustles and makes things happen/their dreams come true.

That night we went to BJJ class for a special session with Endeavour rehab, where they showed us a bunch of warm ups and exercises for our competition the next day. I made some snacks for the competition and then we went to bed, as ready as we could be.

“Victim means you succumbed, but survivor means you overcame.”

-Tarana Burke