Audition Hispanico

Today I auditioned for a company that produces a large number of industrial films. They were holding interviews/auditions for future projects and seeking talent with which to stock their rolls. This is not a locally-based group so audition-interviews were held in a hotel. They seemed rather together, as it were, because pre-audition email communications were facile and audition copy was provided in advance. And, this audition had been a referral, so it was kind of a step up from the standard we-don't-know-you types.

I was surprised how fluidly and how well the interview and the audition went. This group really seems to have its act together when it comes to not only scripting (they have a former Hollywood screenwriter) but also filming (they seem to have a small studio), and they like to do something a step beyond the traditional "industrial", utilizing humor, musical adaptations and--dare I say--dance. Plus, they're friendly and personable, and cover transportation. Hmm...too good to be true?

In this instance, I was of interest for my Hispanic accent. Yes. You read that correctly. My Hispanic accent. Didn't know that, did ya'? Yep. One of my many talents is that I can produce a very authentic Hispanic accent. But, before getting to the actual employ of my Hispanic accent in the audition-portion of the meeting, we had a nice chat about my background as a singer/actor/dancer. It's curious that none of this interaction was recorded in any format, including the actual audition which included two runs and some coaching in-between. Hmm...unusual.

Today's meeting was a positive experience. However, I don't expect to be hired for anything. The audition notice stated that they're seeking "ethnic actors". That's industry code for seeking "everybody but white actors." Asi es la vida.


What am I doing?

Time has been flying by, yet I feel like I've not been accomplishing much. I think it's time for a review for self-encouragement purposes. What have I been up to? Let's see...

In no particular order, I've recently:

The audition front is a bit slow these days. I'm hoping it will pick up again, if only for more commercial opportunities. I'd really prefer film, though. I think it's time to devise a plan...


Velcome to my vlog


A tip-off

Today I had a voice over audition. It's rare for me to be called in to audition for a voice over spot; that's what the demos are for. Typically, I'm called to record a demo or I'm called (and thereby booked) to record some spots. But, what the heck! I'm not above an audition. So, I went in.

This particular audition took place at the CD's office and not at a studio, which is a less-expensive way for the client to try to select talent. (Psst--it's so they don't have to pay for studio time. Shh!) Conveniently, I was asked to read the part of "Woman" and I was paired with a cute guy who read "Employee". Upon entering the room, we could see the client who said, "Hi." There was one stand and one mic and two of us. So, the tall, cute guy kindly agreed to sit on a stool. We both put our copies of the copy on the lone stand and proceeded to read "across the mic", as my audition partner pointed out. We did three takes, taking direction from the CD in-between each. At the conclusion, the CD was complimentary, saying something like, "That was good guys, thanks. You made good changes." I'm beginning to wonder if I should have done more of a character-y voice, though, and less of the "straight" voice that was requested. I don't know. I've never gotten a voice over gig from this CD, so I don't know why things would change, now.

I think it would be good to get this gig. I think it went well. I don't really know how I did, though. It was hard to tell. It's always hard to tell. Someone I know would say, "You always say that, Alecia." And, it's true. I do.

On the way back, I got caught in the havoc that is a sea of over-tired New Englanders dressed in kelly green and white cheering on the Celtics' rolling rally, which happened to be taking place at just that moment. However, the cabbie was so nice about it. He didn't charge me a thing! Looking back on it, I think I should have tipped him, though. Note to self...


A quickie

No, no, no, people. C'mon. Get your minds out of the gutter. Seriously...

I just wanted to say that I'm kind of irked I didn't get that last-minute gig for today. An email went out yesterday morning seeking a variety of people for principal roles in a one-day industrial shoot, scheduled to shoot today. It was basically characterized as a first-come first-served gig: the first people to respond would be those selected for the job. I realize that since I replied to the email 46 minutes after it went out, it was highly unlikely I would be selected. But I didn't have any choice, really. I was at an appointment at the time the email went out. I was nowhere near my email. I may have to suck it up and get an iPhone.

In other news, I am excited about the voice over audition I have coming up. The gig is for three spots that require some character work. I just hope I have the chops they're looking for.

It's true, beggars can't be choosers. Or, in a more updated sensibility, those lacking 24/7 email contact shouldn't whine about gigs not got.


In memoriam

One of my voice teachers, Helen Hodam, has died. This is what she looked like mid-life:

She was so cute. This is how I remember her:

She was still cute. She had a petite voice, a warm smile and a twinkle in her eye.

My first voice teacher, Darlene Wiley, warned me she was "persnickety" but a good teacher. And she was right. Ms. Hodam had a very clear goal in mind for each of her students and was persistently resolute in ensuring that goal was present in each lesson. She was also very outspoken and forthright, never hesitating to tell someone exactly what she thought. As a result, she produced some very amazing students.

She was one of the hardest-working and most independent people I've ever met, and I knew her in her 80s. At that time, she kept a full studio at New England Conservatory and would also teach privately on weekends at her home in Coolidge Corner. Each weekday she would walk two blocks to the T, taking it to the Hynes Convention Center stop, and then walk three-quarters of a mile to the Conservatory, no matter the weather. On rainy days, she had a transparent, plastic rain bonnet she would tie beneath her chin. On snowy days, she wore snow booties and carried her narrow shoes in a bag. On cool days, she'd keep her lunch, a yogurt, on the windowsill, where the air was cold enough to refrigerate it until consumption. Most times it was blueberry.

Once, she left her diary in a cab. It was in this book in which she kept all her appointments. It was the same small black book she'd used for years. She was very flustered and visibly frustrated as a result--a rare appearance for her. She told me several times how she had called the cab company, hoping the book had been turned in. It never was.

She was notoriously frugal. All of her students noticed that her weekly schedule was written in pencil in her classic hand on the same raggedy sheet of paper. And when a change was made, she would calmly erase marks and write a new name, sometimes going over it twice when the name was hard to see on the now-grey paper. I am convinced she used the same scheduling sheet for the duration of our relationship.

Ms. Hodam kept a small file on top of her piano that contained folders named for each current student. In each folder were copies of the music the student was working on at the time. Some were suggestions she had made and others were pieces selected by the student. It was with her that I learned how to pick repertoire.

As time went on, friends and I noticed that her memory was not as strong as it once had been. She would begin to confuse students in lessons. She would think I was Claire and then wonder why I didn't know any of the arias she was playing. And play she did, despite the limited flexibility in her fingers. Her reading was quite good and her interpretation was always very musical.

Two and a half months after my last lesson with her she suffered a stroke in her home and fell. Thankfully, a repairman scheduled to work in her home discovered her and help was called. I never had the chance to to study with her again. She never taught again. She spent some time in a rehabilitation center and was then moved to a long-term care facility.

Ms. Hodam always called me her "last coloratura" and I was proud to be so. I still am.


Reminiscin' this 'n' that

You may not know that I used to work at Disney World. In fact, I used to work for Walt Disney World Entertainment. (It's quite possible you've had your photo taken with me and you didn't even know it!) However, I didn't start out there. I began my first few months with Disney as a "quick-service food and beverage hostess". I worked frequently in Liberty Square, Adventureland and Frontierland. (It's quite possible you purchased a baked potato, a sweet potato, a churro, some Dole Whip®, or some Zephyrhills water from me and didn't even know it!)

I have a series of name tags, as I worked during a very exciting time. I have the pre-25th Anniversary name tag, the 25th Anniversary name tag, and the one pictured above, the post-25th Anniversary name tag.

Soon after beginning work there, I began scouting for auditions and going on as many as possible. And in just a few short weeks I was cast as and "approved in" several well-known characters who, for now, shall remain nameless. (That's another blog post.) I was based in Epcot; still the best zoo by my recounting. One of the great treats of working "sets" and "specials" was getting to meet so many great kids. Many times, they'd give us special notes and pictures and stickers, one of which is showcased here. Some were really personal notes, and some were just pages from coloring books. It was the overseas guests that really provided amazing gifts. (But that is for another post.) I wonder where Sarah is now?


Not quite tragic

It's been a busy weekend. I had to purchase and learn how to smoke a cigar. (Don't worry--it was for an acting class.) I went to four hours of class on Saturday. Sunday morning I went to work at Old South Church and then another six hours of class after that. All-in-all I have to say I was rather mediocre in all things.

My first cigar store stop was a total bust. Only the bartender was present and she knew nothing. The knowledgeable owner would return in three hours--too late for me. So, she referred me to another store only a few blocks away. Conveniently, the salesman was kind and understanding, allowing me to ask as many naïve questions as necessary to make my scene believable. The scene called for a high-end, pre-Castro Cuban cigar which was entirely beyond my budget, but the character would mock it as though it were a low-end, Romeo & Julieta. So, that's the one I bought--the $6.25 R&J. I should have also carried a Dunhill lighter. Did I? Heck no! Those suckers are way expensive. I couldn't even find someone to loan me one. So, I ended up purchasing a cheap Bic that was rectangular-ish in shape. After a quick lesson in lighting and smoking, I was set and I hustled my sweaty self to class in the South End.

I met up with my scene partner right before class. He's a kind and friendly fellow, but I could tell straight away that he and I were on entirely different pages when it came to interpretation of the scene. The scene should have been quick, witty repartée, á la Ocean's Eleven or the remake of the Thomas Crown Affair, delivered with a wink and a smile. Instead, it was dragged down into the depths of melodrama. The instructor's train was late, so we had a bit more time to hash it out, but I'm not sure it was worth it.

The first portion of class was instructive and worthwhile, and I met and made several new friends. While it ran late, it wasn't so late that I didn't have time to run home, plan my outfit for the filming of the scene the next day and rehearse my lines yet again. Oh, and find something that mirrored a table-top humidor.

The next day, I sang at Old South Church in a very warm sanctuary and then hustled my very warm self to the remainder of class. My singing was so-so. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't my best and I couldn't seem to make it better, which was irksome. While waiting for the penultimate scene paring to wrap the shooting of their scene, I ran my lines in the foyer with my scene partner while touching up my make-up and doing my hair. And, at that point, I thought the scene might actually go well. But then, once we got into the classroom and began to shoot, it just fell apart. I did my best, but my best wasn't my best. I didn't feel focused on my character. It wasn't fun. Ergo, it wasn't funny. Watching the footage only confirmed my self-analysis and grade of 5 on the 1-to-10 scale.

Did I smoke the cigar? Nope, I couldn't light it in class. Did I smoke it in the end, when all was said and done? Nah. I gave it to a friend who enjoyed it.


On Standby

On several occasions during the last couple of weeks, I've walked past the Surrogates shooting locale. (I auditioned for this movie awhile back.) I can see a wide variety of the action, including the approximately 150 parking spaces the throng of trucks and cabs and cranes and tents and porta-potties are occupying. (I imagine there are a bunch of angry condo owners in the Back Bay.) It's a building on the corner of Mass. Ave. and Comm. Ave. For months part of it had been vacant and there was a large sign advertising something like 17,000 square feet available for lease. Now it's ocupado. Last week a good friend of mine even had an up-close star-sighting with a raingear-clad Bruce Willis.

Clearly, I was not cast as a result of my audition; I'm only watching from the sidelines. So, for now, this is as close as I'll get.