I've won an Oscar®!

Okay, perhaps I didn't win an Oscar®, but I did have the chance to hold one and have my picture taken! Here's the low-down:

This past Sunday evening, I attended Oscar Night America in support of the Ellie Fund's "Care for the Caregiver" program. It's a wonderful black-tie evening supporting a great purpose, and people have the chance to dress up (which is always fun), mingle and enjoy the Academy Awards ceremony on about 20 different screens. This year's venue of choice was the Hard Rock Cafe (the new location), which donated the space, the labor, the food and nearly all the alcohol served. Guests were greeted with a red carpet welcome. An amazing spread of items serviced the silent auction, including amazing sports and entertainment memorabilia. (A signed photo of Miley Cyrus, anyone? Anyone?) There was also a veritable variety of crudités, antipasti, and delicious passed hors d'oeuvres, followed by a dainty meal and tasty desserts. I didn't just eat, though. There was great company, too!

I saw my good friend Trudi Goodman, who played the unpalatable Roberta Trett in GONE BABY GONE. I met Bob Wahlberg (yes, related to Mark Wahlberg) and chatted with Miss Massachusetts 2008, Jacqueline Bruno. I spent a good portion of the evening with friends Andrea and Roy, though, catching up.

One of the highlights of the evening was having my picture taken with a real Oscar® statuette. Ernest Thompson (whom I met at last month's Imagine Imaginnaires Awards event) lent for the evening the Oscar® he was awarded for the adaptation of his own play, On Golden Pond, for the movie by the same name so that people could have their photo taken with it. The cost ($10) was all donated to the Ellie Fund. Want to see?

Yes, it really is much heavier than one expects. If I were to ever receive one, I could probably use it for a defensive weapon. (Did you find the typo? I did.)


Not my first refusal

So, last week I was asked to be "on first refusal" for an overnight commercial shoot for a well-known bank. The spot is slated to shoot tonight. I agreed. Working overnight isn't that bad; one is just really tired come breakfast-time. How does first refusal work?, I hear you asking. Well, to "be on first refusal" means simply that the client is interested in using you, isn't sure if s/he/they will use you, but would like for you to hold the desired time(s) for her/him/them. However, as the talent, you are not committed to the project and, if something comes up for you, it's okay. Just call to indicate you are no longer available. I was cool with this. I didn't have any major Friday night plans.

Last night I received an email message with the subject line "EXTRA WORK RELEASE". (Yes, in all caps.) The message read, in part, "Thank you so much for being available, but the job has booked and we can release you from your first refusal." Indeed, it was really nice for the casting agency to "release" me from my voluntary hold. Many agencies don't contact their talent at all if they will not be used. However, it would have fun to work this gig. I don't think I've ever been offered any of the first refusals I've had.


DQ drama and other bits

This past weekend I auditioned for a production company that hires actors for various types of industrial videos and films. What is an industrial? It is a film or video that is designed for providing training and/or information to the viewer. Many times, these projects are created for specific companies and their employees. My friend Albert and I had successive auditions scheduled, so we drove together to the audition location. (Or, rather, he drove while I rode and provided commentary and entertainment We also sang along with the radio.)

Upon arrival, we met the head of the production company and he handed each of us gender-appropriate copy to review. I played Jennifer, a Director. Of what company? I have no idea. But, the text was appropriately dry and unexciting. It has to be because it must impart specific information to the viewer--it's my job as an actor to make it interesting, personal and appealing.

The audition itself was quick, with one rehearsal read prior to the recorded version. The producer was a friendly guy who explained the standard procedure for his company (the client reviews the tapes and decides which actors s/he likes), the frequency with which he shoots (every five weeks, or so), and that he is currently looking for "new" talent (hopefully that will include me!). No, industrials may not be the most glamorous forms of acting, but they can provide a somewhat constant form of income for those attempting to forge a career in the entertainment industry.

Post-audition, Albert and I thought we might treat ourselves to a little congratulatory snack. Albert inquired what I might want and I expressed a craving for that classic Dairy Queen treat, the Blizzard! So, Garmin to the rescue! According to Albert's English Garmin narrator, whom I've affectionately named Hugh, there was a Dairy Queen only 6.4 miles to the Northwest. Hooray! Frozen goodness with chocolaty bits to be had and enjoyed!
See that small, shack-looking structure surrounded by a ring of dirt? That's the Dairy Queen we found--the DQ to which Hugh guided us--and that's exactly what it looked like: abandoned.

It was closed! Perhaps only seasonally closed, but closed nonetheless. I was crushed. Heartbroken. Anguished. Despairing. And, in short, quite crestfallen. What was to become of the Blizzard I had so heartily desired? Well, in short, nothing. I didn't get one. No post-audition treat for me. Alas! We did stop elsewhere so Albert could get a chilled coffee beverage, though.

Perhaps I'll get a gig instead.


Psalm for a Psalmist

Yesterday, in my position as one of the soprano soloists at Boston's Old South Church, I performed Herbert Howells' setting of Walter de la Mare's "King David" as part of the Sunday service. It's a very lush arrangement for voice and piano punctuated by a lyrical melodic line and a poignant story.

My nerves always become agitated before any performance, I think in part due to my desire to do my best. If at any point I fail to become excited or nervous, that would be my signal to cease performing.

The performance itself went well--much due in part to Harry Lyn Huff at the piano--and was well-received with kind compliments from many individuals, as well as a thoughtful note from one of the clergy. I hope that it contributed to the prayerful contemplation of the lenten season for the congregation.


Time spent with Barbarians

This morning I spent two hours with a cool group of guys at the barbarian group recording voiceover for a new, upcoming campaign for Adobe. I'd never met these guys before, nor had I been to their offices, so it was an experience, as it is with many ad groups.

I arrived about 15 minutes early to make time for any copy I needed to review. I walked up the three flights of stairs to their nondescript door and followed the posted instructions: Knock. A still-yet-coat-wearing guy opened the door and admitted me, saying, "Hey." I said, "Hi, I'm Alecia." He inquired why I had come. I thought he might know I had an 11 AM session per the previous day's email message, but perhaps not. So, I explained. He responded, "Oh, well, I just got here and I'm the first one here. If you wanna take a seat, the other guys'll be here soon". I still didn't know his name. So, I made myself comfy with a copy of Communication Arts and waited patiently.

At one point, Doug, one of my contacts, arrived. He came through the door greeting me "Hi" and disappeared into the next room. (I didn't yet know this was Doug.) About fifteen minutes later, he reappeared introducing himself ("Doug") and presented me with some copy. He thoughtfully and thoroughly explained the project concept and how they see this particular character. He gave me a few minutes alone to review the copy while we waited for his counterpart to arrive.

Eventually, we all moved into their new recording space. (I was the inaugural artist.) In this former men's room we got down to business, laying down several tracks of the copy, with breaks for guidance, suggestion, inquiry and conversation. At their request I also created some--what I would call--ambient noises. (If this project comes out, I'll post a link to its location and then you'll understand this comment. I promise.)

This was one of the most enjoyable recording sessions I've had in a long time. The guys were very laid back, accommodating, professional, and knowledgeable in what they wanted of me. And, if it is well-received by the higher-ups in power, then it could result in more sessions for me. Nice! These are really the kinds of jobs I'd like more of. (Yes, Mom. I know I ended that sentence with a preposition. Sorry.)


Prayer to the Grocery Gods

Yesterday afternoon I auditioned for a commercial spot for a well-known, regional grocery chain. The call was for women--"real people"--of all types. Even pregnant women were specifically sought. I think the spot(s) that will be produced are a continuation of a campaign currently running, in which "real people" showcase their "real lives", illustrating how shopping at this particular grocery store fits into and improves their lifestyles. It's really capitalizing on the "word-of-mouth" brand.

It's hard to know what kind of talent the ad client seeks at auditions like these. They themselves may not even know (other than the fact they seek women). Clearly they have solicited professional actors for the spots, yet they want the spots to be natural-looking. While in the waiting area, we were given specific instruction to be our true selves, not to act, and that headshots were neither needed nor wanted. There was no copy to prepare. And, in fact, once in the audition room, it was much more like an interview. Some of the questions I was asked included:

  • Where do you live?
  • Do you live alone or with others?
  • What do you do for fun?
  • What do you do to relax?
  • Is there a grocery store near you?
  • Is there one of these particular stores near you?
  • Do you shop at this store?
  • What is your diet like?
  • Do you like to cook?
  • Where are you from?
It was an unsually personal type of interview, I suppose, but I was honest and I tried to be as personable and true to myself as I could be. That's all one can do, right? Now it is up to the audition gods to grant this gig.


Something in my ear

Many people know me as a "classical singer" and seem to think I'm only into so-called "classical music". And, since a few individuals have recently wondered what I listen to, I've added a slideshow in the sidebar that will provide a glimpse of what I'm currently into--what I'm listening to while I walk to an audition, ride to an audition, wait for an audition, return from an audition, or memorize lines. (But never music! Never learn music by ear, children. Only by practice.)


I've been Hubbed!

The World Wide Web is a crazy place, I tell ya'. Someone pointed out to me that I've been Hubbed. Me! I find this bizarre. It means that there really are other people out there reading my blog--people I don't know and who have never met me. People like Adam Gaffin, founder of universalhub.com, and poster of the blog entry about my blog. See? Bizarre. True, his posting was made several days ago, but in the scheme of the space-time continuum it was quite timely for human activity, having been posted fewer than 24 hours after my initial posting. Do I expect my world to change overnight as a result? No, of course not. It hasn't. Do I anticipate phenomenal auditions to fall into my lap forthwith? Nope. It would be nice, though.


Shoe me, shoe me, shoe me!

As some of you know, I model shoes from time to time. These past two days, I've had the good fortune to work two shoe shows! One for White Mountain shoes and another for the shoe line Rialto. If you think you know someone who has a lot of shoes, check out these closets:

Mind-boggling, isn't it? The first time I ever walked into a shoe closet at one of these shows, I was bowled-over! These must be something akin to what Imelda Marcos saw in her closet daily. No, I didn't have to show all of these shoes. Rather, this was one of my pre-show set-ups backstage:

Your eyes aren't deceiving you. These are sets of shoes, not pairs of shoes. In the case of this particular show, it was my job as one of the models to help showcase as many shoes as possible to potential buyers and other important individuals. So, matching was not a key component. It was only my responsibility to be quick, be cute, be personable, show the shoes, and not fall while walking.

No, I did not fall. I did manage to break a heel, though! But that happened backstage--whew!