Recent Posts

On Not Giving Up Hope

On Not Giving Up Hope

Just two months ago, I was feeling incredibly frustrated by my lack of film gigs. Since July of last year, I have been following the steps the Friends in Film program laid out for me. I even found a couple gigs for September…or so I […]

Embracing Your New You

Embracing Your New You

Pre-divorce Melissa and post-divorce Melissa are two very different people. Before my divorce, I was pretty co-dependent. It was very difficult for me to do anything by myself: eat in restaurants, drive anywhere outside of the towns I lived in, talk to people I didn’t […]

Don’t Be Afraid to Tell People What You Want

Don’t Be Afraid to Tell People What You Want

I think I touched on this subject briefly two posts ago, but I was reminded again this week just how important this is.

Brendan Burchard talks about this too in his book “High Performance Habits.” He says (and I am way paraphrasing) to be open and vocal about your goals so others can help you reach them. People don’t know to recommend or help you if they don’t know what it is you want to do.

I always feel kind of ridiculous telling people that I’m an actor or that I want to act. It just sounds like such an out-of-reach thing that no one would seriously pursue. I feel like I’m way too old for such a silly dream.

It wasn’t until I started working on student films and taking acting classes that I realized I should not feel that way. I suddenly found myself surrounded with like-minded individuals. My friends and family are awesome and encouraging, but it is completely different to be around people who have the same goals that you do. It really made me see that yes, people take this career seriously and yes, there are other people a lot like me who are making a living doing the same things I want to do. I realized, for the first time ever, just how within reach this dream actually could be for me.

Anyway, fast forward to January 2019. At the end of my first day as a production assistant, the director asked me what my goals are. I told him I want to act and possibly script supervise, and he told me he could possibly put me in the film. Which he did, the second day I helped on set. He added me as a waitress in one of the scenes and even wrote a couple lines for me on the spot.

Yesterday, my friend Rachel sent me a post from someone looking for local actors for student films. An opportunity I have been looking for on my own, to gain both PA and acting experience, with not much luck. Had I not been talking about this to her nonstop, she wouldn’t have known to send the opportunities she found my way.

I have gotten several roles in local things simply because other people knew I was interested in acting and asked me to be part of it or recommended me to their friends. I would have missed out on all of them if I had continued to keep my goals and dreams to myself.

So, three things:

  1. Don’t be ashamed of your dreams or afraid to ask for the things you really want. Being honest with yourself and others will help you move forward so much faster.
  2. Ignore anyone who may make fun of or laugh at you. They’re probably jealous that they don’t have the guts that you do.
  3. Never feel silly about your dreams. Your dreams were given to you for a reason.

 




How Journaling Can Help You Achieve Your Dreams

How Journaling Can Help You Achieve Your Dreams

Ever since I was in middle school, I’ve found journaling to be an incredibly helpful tool to help with life’s toughest problems. Up until last year, it was just me writing out my feelings whenever I needed to. But in the past year I have […]

How Being a Production Assistant Can Lead to Awesome Things

How Being a Production Assistant Can Lead to Awesome Things

This past Monday I got to work as a production assistant on the same film I worked on a couple weeks ago. We were in the same location but this day was much different than the first day I was there. The first day was […]

The Challenge of Playing Honey in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

The Challenge of Playing Honey in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

Each character I play has its own set of challenges, and my role as Honey in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” is no exception. In fact, it may have been my most challenging role to date, as Honey is, at first glance, a very different person than I am.

When the director first asked me to play this role, I did not know anything about the play. But I was excited that he even asked and I know any role I can get is great practice, so I immediately said yes. Then I went to Google to learn more.

Here is the first description I found about my character: “Honey is the mousy, slim-hipped wife of Nick. She’s definitely not the brightest bulb in the bunch.”

My first thought? “Of course she isn’t.”

I have found over the years that when I actively avoid playing a certain type of character (because I feel I won’t be able to play them very well), my very next character has the exact characteristics I was trying to avoid. That happened with “Pitmen Painters” (I always felt I could not do a British accent, and my character in that was British) and “Rocky Horror” (I have always felt anything but sexy, and our biggest note for that show was to “be sexy”). The last two productions that I auditioned for at Blue Moon Productions had ditzy characters, and I made sure to write on the audition sheet that I would take any role except those. Not to be a braggart, but I am generally not a ditzy person. I did not think I would be able to play that type of role very well.

But now I had to.

My character also grows more and more drunk as the play progresses. I have never been drunk. I wasn’t sure I could convincingly pull that off either.

The very first thing I had to do was find things I had in common with Honey. Our biggest similarity is the fact that we are both timid and shy. I wouldn’t even have to act for that part. Each rehearsal I found a new thing I had in common with my character: we both were prone to bouts of naivete, we had religious upbringings, we are both childless, we feel incredibly awkward in certain social situations, and so on and so forth. I was surprised by how much I was actually able to connect with this character.

I also read several different character analyses about Honey, to see how others interpreted her. I kept the ideas that I agreed with (she’s naive, she’s not very bright, she has a very child-like nature) and discarded the rest.

And thus, my version of Honey began to take shape and come to life. It felt weird at first, letting go and acting in a way that is so different from how I act around other people. But eventually, I found myself having a lot of fun playing this type of character.

So, takeaway number one: Do the things that scare you the most, because that is how you grow. These roles have challenged me, but I came out on the other side a better, more confident actor (who is surprisingly good at British accents πŸ™‚ ).

Takeaway number two: I learned one of the reasons why I love acting so much. It’s been bothering me because I didn’t really have a clear reason why I want to be an actor. I just know I enjoy it and I feel it’s something I need to do. But I realized acting is really therapeutic for me. I get to yell and scream and ugly cry and show how angry I am. I get to be giggly and act a fool. I don’t do that in real life. At work I have to be professional, no matter how irritated I get with people there. In public, I always try to put my best foot forward. On stage, I get to release all of that. I don’t have to hold back or put my guard up. It’s incredibly freeing.

I keep learning the same lesson over and over: do the things that scare you. Try the things that you’re afraid to try because you feel you won’t be good at them. The only way to improve is to do them. And besides, you might surprise yourself and find you’re better at them than you thought you would be.




Jana Acevedo, Seamstress

Jana Acevedo, Seamstress

To say Jana is just a seamstress seems like such an understatement. I went to high school and college with Jana. I watched her go from acting and creating costumes in our small town to working for some of the biggest T.V. shows and films […]

My First Production Assistant Gig and What I Learned

My First Production Assistant Gig and What I Learned

This last Sunday, I had my first gig as a PA. (A production assistant is basically a person who helps run errands or help set up/break down sets or whatever production needs help with.) What was supposed to be a 12 hour day (9 a.m. […]

Why You Should Ignore Your Critics

Why You Should Ignore Your Critics

I recently came across this picture on the Pinterests:

It reminded me of two very specific people in my life: an acquaintance of mine and a certain local writer who reviews plays for the newspaper.

The first one harshly criticizes everyone, so I try to not take it personally when they turn their attention to me. Their problem is clearly with themselves. All I can do is continue to be nice to them when I am around them.

I’ve been avoiding even talking about the second one because I’m still kind of embarrassed by being singled out in his article. But I have to because it made me realize a few things that I thought might be helpful for others.

His biggest critique was that he couldn’t hear me. I already know about my issues with projection, but that made me feel all the more frustrated about it. I couldn’t be miked because of all the blood that was getting splashed around and I had to sing (in my lowest register) over 3 instruments and 2 guys. The odds were against me and no matter how much I worked on projecting at home, I still could not sing over all of them. He also didn’t like my costume (it made the poor guy uncomfortable πŸ™ ), which I thought was a harsh, unnecessary comment on his part, considering all the R-rated jokes and some of the other costumes in the show.

I know that’s not the worst criticism I could have received, but being the only one who received a negative critique definitely did not feel good.

As far as I know, that’s the first time that person has ever seen me.Β He doesn’t know that it took me several years to even muster up the confidence to audition for a musical. How many hours I have spent practicing singing and dancing and acting just to feel comfortable stepping foot on stage.

He doesn’t know how proud I was of myself in this particular role. Playing Annie was a huge accomplishment for me. It was my first big musical role and my first solo in a musical. I spent all of my free time practicing and thinking about and preparing the very best that I could for that role. Just the fact that I was able to get on stage and sing and act in front of other people was a big step for me. There was a time in recent history when I could not have done that.

After the article came out, I was embarrassed to even show up to the rest of the performances. I felt like I had failed the cast. I just wanted to hide. But I could not. I had to tell myself that I was doing the best I could for where I am in my acting journey. I had to ignore my critic and remind myself of all the ways I have grown and continue to grow as an actor/singer. There was nothing I could do about the costume (and, quite frankly, didn’t want to. I liked it.). But I put projection on my mental list of things to work on and focused on just having fun and enjoying the fruits of my labor for the rest of the performances. (Having such an amazing cast and crew also helped. They made me feel a whole lot better.)

People who criticize you only see one part of your life. They have not seen and experienced all the things you have gone through. I think if people could see all that, they would be a whole lot nicer to each other.

I’ve learned that, at least for myself, I cannot compare myself or my journey to others. I cannot let anyone’s negative voice in my head. I did that for far too long and it just ended up holding me back. The only way I’ve been able to come this far is to surround myself with loving, encouraging people and to focus solely on improving myself. I remind myself of all the compliments I have received about my performances and, as hard as it is, push the negative ones from my mind. If they are constructive, I take what I need from them. If they are just negative for the sake of being negative, I have to ignore them.

Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for trying for your dreams. It is amazing that you are brave enough to even try. A lot of people aren’t.




Self-Doubt and an Answered Prayer Deferred

Self-Doubt and an Answered Prayer Deferred

A few posts back I wrote about how I was ignoring the answers to my prayers. After that, I didn’t ignore them, per se, I just put them off for a bit (…several months). One thing I need more of (and I’m sure no one […]