Pencilled, off-pencil.

It’s not only the rejection that actors need to deal with; it’s the ‘I was so damn close’ situation one must somehow learn to brush off!

Two recent stories…

I went to my first TV audition at the BBC a couple of weeks ago. It was for Doctors and I had to play the role of a Colombian woman. Man, it was literally SO much fun preparing for it. Thankfully I have friends who have much more experience in the showbiz than me and I was luckily able to chat to them about the Do’s and Don’ts before I showed up at the audition.

When I got there I met with both the Casting Director and Director of the show. They opened the door and said: ‘Hi, take a seat. Welcome to Doctors’ (big smiles). I was immediately put at ease to be honest. They guys were really chilled. I got into the room already speaking with my well rehearsed Colombian accent but then the first thing they asked me was ‘where do you come from?’. I said Mexico and thankfully they immediately started talking about my beautiful country. I was wondering whether or not to say that I was ‘of course speaking with Colombian accent’ but that just didn’t feel right. Going with the flow did.

They asked me to read about 5 scenes. I had prepared well so I knew what was going on in the script and I had fun with it. The worst part of it all was the 4 hr drive back home. That was poo!

Anyway, I left and after 3-4 days of not having heard back, I knew I had probably not been cast. Regardless, my ace agent chased them up for some feedback and all they said was that my recording had been sent to the producers.

Rejected? No. For me this is an achievement – well of course I wanted the actual job dammit – but the fact that the guys thought my work was ‘producers material’ meant I was probably competing with strong contenders. That puts a little smile on my face.

Next time.

Argh.

Now this week. Went to casting. It went well. I was pencilled, now I’m not. That’s it. It sucks. I’m sure loads of actors know the feeling. Yeah, it will pass. The world keeps on moving. I have another life.

But still; I think I’m going to invent a coping mechanism for the next time I’m told I’ve been pencilled. Being pencilled is like having your tongue 1 mm away from the tastiest chocolate ice-cream; so when you don’t get it, man it makes me wanna kick something. Lol.

The reality is that despite these unpleasant feelings, when I think about the fun I had auditioning I wouldn’t change it for anything. I once heard someone say that the audition is the work. I believe that. The audition is when you get to be totally creative and show what you’ve got, what you’ve made of. It is a gift really. Some people will like it and will nod with a pencil or a job, some people will not. It’s business after all. I need to remember that it’s business and I need to remember that I’m not in it because it is business but because it is life.

Enough said.

Peace out.

PS. For those actors out there who believe in God, this might be of interest. For the past few months I have prayed to do a good audition (whenever I’ve had one). God has so vividly answered. I haven’t prayed to get the job not because I don’t believe God will give it to me but because I sense it’s the wrong prayer. On the other hand, praying to do a good job at the audition feels right. In terms of the outcome of the audition…well, I leave it to Him and I trust (sometimes impatiently, frustratingly, sadly or irritatingly…hardly ever happily lol, still working on that). I trust.

 

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“Livet må leves forfra, men kan kun forstås bagfra.”

This blog entry is about Denmark, the lovely place where one of my favorite philosophers is from: Søren Kierkegaard.

Why this random blog?

Because I’m once again touring with the Shakespeare in Performance Project in The Netherlands and last weekend we worked in Copenhagen. Random? Yup. Cool? Hell yeah.

This is what struck me about Denmark:

1. Its quietness
At 8 am in the morning this is what Copenhagen Central station looked like. Empty! We were later told that rush hour is earlier than it is in England but still, Copenhagen is super calm, I mean we went out for a wonder on Saturday and we were all wondering where everybody was!

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2. Its Smørrebrød (better known as open sandwiches)
These are exquisite, not only in taste but also in looks.

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3. Its functionality
Three examples below.
a) Plug sockets above one’s seat on the train. They’ve got this so right. It’s a small thing but it saves time; it’s kind of pathetic to admit it’s annoying to bend down to find a socket but I only admit it now after having experienced the Danish system…all you have to do is reach up and ca-ching!

b) Cars have got a sticker of a clock on their windscreen so when you park in a public parking space all you need to do is move the hand to the appropriate arrival time. Eco-friendly methinks.

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c) Free wifi on train.

4. Its ‘utopic’ feel
Everything seems to be too perfect in Denmark. The houses are all perfectly painted and the streets are clean. The views are like something taken out of a book.

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5. Its slick (Ikea type) design
This is based on the only Danish home I know but still, its style was very different; no carpets, lots of clean white walls, super cool bold lamps and views like this one where you can actually see Sweden on the other side. Mental.

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6. Its free-spirited education system
Again, this is based on the only school I’ve ever worked at in Denmark. Plus, it was an international school. Who knows if all schools work in the same way. Most probably not. However, it’s no news that the educational system in the Scandinavian countries is quite unique and what struck me the most about their style was its sense of, erm, freedom. Schedules had been modified because we were coming but it felt like it was absolutely fine to change schedules a million times. We worked on the Merchant of Venice with the students; this pic is of some art work they did.

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Please note: These views are based on a two day experience of the country. Limited but real. And in case you’re wondering…this is what the title of this blog entry actually means: “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”. What a wise dude Kierkegaard was.

Peace out! X

August: Osage County (the movie) – Why it worked for me.

It’s a story about family – nothing new there – and broken relationships – nothing new there. The plot is pretty average in my view, but it’s fantastically written and I think the cast did a superb job with their characterizations. It did feel like every single character was pivotal in the story though, and when performed by top class actors, there was a tendency of it being a bit too much, too intense or simply too good to be true.

I don’t think I’d have been hooked into a story about a broken family had the acting not been that good; I was totally intrigued and interested to see how each character would progress in the story.

And why do we all keep loving Meryl Streep? Because behind each of her characters – no matter how dark, crazy or funny – she finds such pleasure that it spills out of the screen. I realized this in watching her in this movie…I kept asking to myself, ‘How can she do that without it being fake or over the top?’, ‘How can she be so dramatically real?’ She can because she loves to play. How do I know this? I don’t but I do.

Sometimes when I go to a screen audition, I’m overly conscious about acting small to keep it real. You know what? Sod that. If Meryl Streep has fun going nuts, I will too. I must remember that. Jimena, just think Meryl.

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Shakespeare in Performance Project (week 2)

Week two was all about the LOLs.

We started by getting ready to perform/direct Oliver Twist! Yup, it turns out that the Shakespeare in Performance Project also does a bit of Dickens.

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The highlight of the week was definitely Monday night which involved being unexpectedly pulled over by Dwayne, aka Douane – border control (all clear of course), and a 6 hour long karaoke night; so fun it was hard to wind down.

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Tuesday was a day off and it was also a big food day. All we did was sleep and eat. Mc Donald’s never tasted so good and we then went to an all-you-can-eat Chinese place called Wok near the hotel where we stayed for our final 3 nights.

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We worked at Metameer school over the next three days. This school has different campuses and on Wednesday we worked in one of the coolest buildings I’ve ever seen. Here are some pics of us (team), the kiddos performing and the school…

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On Wednesday evening one of the teachers invited us over to her place for tea; we had Sunday soup (a Dutch tradition) and homemade quiche. It was lovely.

Evidently, one of the things I loved about the tour was the experience of it all, but from an acting point of view it was great to learn about Shakespeare in an educational context. I performed short scenes every day and played characters such as Quince, Mercutio and Henry V which I normally wouldn’t of course. Directing the plays was also great in that it challenged me to study the characters in a different way and it was fascinating to see what the students would come up with sometimes. Most kids would just do what they were told but there were always some nice and unexpected surprises.

Finally, one of the things I loved about my experience in The Netherlands was being so in tune with God. I learned this job on the go and every day we had to amend the workshops slightly. Last minute changes tend to freak me out a little but praying every morning helped me to ease up and take each moment as it came without overanalysing my moves. I was less critical about my mistakes and enjoyed feeling the presence of God at random moments each day.

Sad to say goodbye to an amazing team but hopefully I will return in the future.

Thanks for reading me!

Shakespeare in Performance Project (week 1)

Week one down. Mental! I still remember flying back from Mexico last week and getting everything ready for the tour, and now I’ve just got one week left in Holland. Seriously time, chill!

Wow, what can I say, I mean if you’re an actor, lover of Shakespeare, interested in TIE and open to different cultures, the Shakespeare in Performance Project is for you! (www.shakespeareinperformanceproject.co.uk)

Having a cool boss and working with fun colleagues is a real blessing so I’m loving this tour partly because of that. Seeing Marc enjoying himself while at work has been very inspiring and encouraging for me. Of course I get nervous, but in this tour you quickly realize that the job is not about you but about the students; and like in acting, when your attention is on the others on stage, then the real magic happens.

I’m evidently loving the car rides to the schools in the morning; I love reading the motorway signs in Dutch (I try), the landscape (yup, lots of windmills), and the people looking super cool riding bikes. Traveling is one of my passions in life and so having this ‘international’ job is a great gift from God. I have enjoyed meeting Dutch teenagers and seeing how they interact amongst themselves and with us.

Here is a picture of some awesome students we met in a school last week (Marc Norris facilitating – far right); they were so up for getting into costume and having a laugh it was ridiculous!

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This is another photo with one of the teachers at Farel College who gave Katy (fellow actor) and me a pair of school t-shirts to take home with us.

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And here another photo of the three of us having a pizza break in one of the schools.

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But what about accommodation? Well, we are staying in a sort of holiday park called Dennenhoek near a city called Harderwijk. Although we occasionally stay at hotels, Dennenhoek is our main base. This weekend, Marc flew back to England while Katy and I stayed. Here are some pics of what we got up to…

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(Cycled to Harderwijk, visited the windmill with a free tour included, walked through the town, ate nice food, and chilled at home) #awesomeweekend

Only God

This is the first time in like forever that I won’t plan any concrete projects for the new year. No resolutions. No calendars. No nothing.

Only God.

Since I became an independent young woman about eight years ago, I’ve kept a journal where I write my New Year resolutions. It’s been a great way to think about achievements/failures in the past year and write down new ideas for the future.

This year, I sensed it was time for something different. For a while I’ve been feeling like some big change is approaching in my life. I prayed about it with my husband a couple of days ago and indeed it was clear that what I need to do in 2014 is pray and trust.

God knows my desires; He knows what I need and what I long for but for years I’ve taken control over my actions. I act and then I pray; and although I’m happy with my life, I’m not ‘truly deeply madly’ fulfilled. I know that only God can fill up the void but I’ve never had enough ‘time’ or ‘faith’ to let Him.

I don’t know how to live my life without structure so what God is asking of me is challenging. However -yet not surprisingly – it feels right; when uncertainty is exciting and the unknown isn’t scary, you know that God’s hand is near, holding you and protecting you.

Thank you 2013. Bring on 2014.

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Here I’m on set as an extra for Man From Uncle.

“What’s the point in living?”

That’s one of George Clooney’s actual lines in Gravity. I mean, “hello”, of course I’m gonna love the film. It’s been five years (yikes!) since I finished writing my MA dissertation on death inspired on Heidegger’s ‘Being and Time’. Amazing book, amazing philosopher.

As you may guess, death intrigues me. No news there I suppose, I’m fairly sure that at one point in life we all ask the question: What the hell is the point of this? We live, then we die? What for?! For years, human mortality and the meaning of life has stirred my spirit, so if you’ve seen Gravity you’ll understand why it gave my soul an exhilarating boost.

Gravity reminded me that living in the world can sometimes feel like living on space (because I know all about living on space of course), the difference being that on Earth we are surrounded by many distractions that deviate us from asking THE question. We don’t have time nowadays to stop and be on our own to philosophise. If I’m ever on my own, which happens a lot, I tend to be thinking about a million things other than death. Why? Because my phone rings, the kettle is ready, the neighbour is knocking on the door and I’m too freakin scared to feel the void. I mean I much rather go on Facebook to feel the void even more intensely.

But why bother thinking about death anyway? It feels like a ridiculous and complete waste of time. True, but that doesn’t get rid of the fact that I live my life with the big question imprinted all over me, and so I hang out with friends, go out to clubs, buy iPhones, iPads and all the ‘i’ things, wear trendy clothes to ‘seize the day’ and ‘live the now’ as it’s so much in fashion nowadays. I try not to worry about the future because the only thing that counts is TODAY.

But does it?

I very much support the idea of embracing the present moment but I really don’t buy the idea that our mortality is somewhere out there in the future, on that distant day when we’re each destined to die. Our mortality is as present and real as the coffee I’m sipping right now and I believe that inviting it and accepting it as much as we accept life would make us live our lives differently. How do I know this? I don’t. I simply wish I did and naively (perhaps) hope it does. I want to be able to talk about my funeral with people dammit, instead I avoid the void and talk about sex, drugs and rock n roll. And Instagram certainly.

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Typical

Someone: Oh, so you’re resting?

© Ten Ten Theatre (5)

Here we go…

Well, part of my job as an actor is to support fellow actors by going to see their shows; so lately I’ve been to see colleagues in plays such as Mansfield Park at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Jekyll and Hyde at the Southwark Playhouse and The Planet and Stuff at the Polka Theatre. When not supporting people I know, I still invest in theatre and cinema trips because I often learn from the experience. That happened twice this past month when I went to see The World of Extreme Happiness at the National Theatre and Captain Phillips at the cinema. Drastically different stories both with incredible performances.

I also make sure that I keep my body fit. At the moment I’m taking flamenco lessons at Escuela de Baile in North London and I’m also trying to attend physical theatre workshops regularly. I’ve met very interesting people in these workshops and work opportunities have actually come out of them so what better! Picasso once said: “Inspiration does exist, but it needs to find you working”. I’m also still taking violin lessons to keep my musical skills active and I’ve got a brand new American-Latino accent kit waiting to be opened because I intend to get the ‘Chicano’ accent under my belt soon.

So to answer your question, no I’m not resting.

S: But how do you afford all of these fun activities without a proper job?

These fun activities are part of my ‘proper’ job, it just so happens that my job is fun. How do I afford it? Simple, I work. Recently, I’ve done freelance work as social media coordinator for a theatre company but I’ve done all sorts of jobs, anything from life modelling to Spanish tutoring, or doing extras work.

S: Oh, you’re an extra.

I’m an actor who occasionally works as an extra yes, similar to a City banker who may give a business talk at a university conference. Not only has this work sometimes helped me pay the bills but it has also enriched my knowledge of film. It all depends on how you approach the work itself; I sometimes try to get close to the action so I can learn, listen to the director and see actors like Sean Penn do their thing. Being an extra is quite a humbling experience actually.

S: Interesting.

Among other things, you’re damn right it is.

Physical Theatre Course – LAMDA (week two)

Day 1

A day of practical learning:

1. Put the attention in the other person. It’s not about me; it’s about the other. If you stick to this rule, the real stuff happens, you actually stop worrying about what to do next because things simply flow.

2. If you put your focus in the other person your instinct will match your partner’s. Surprisingly true.

3. The three rules of improvisation are: LISTEN, ACCEPT, COMMIT

These rules make perfect sense in my head but I found them tricky to apply. The moment we started to add real words into a scene my mind started to take over and the focus was totally on what I wanted to say and where I thought the scene could go. This made the whole scene feel distorted. I’m glad it happened because it was evident that a busy mind is a huge obstacle in keeping the focus in the other person.

IT’S NOT ABOUT ME.

I also noticed that I panic with words. I feel much more comfortable in my body than in my mind and when my mind needed to be activated to come up with a name or a situation I felt like I needed to speed things up. It was actually like being in an audition; the exact same thing has happened to me many times in front of a panel. It sucks.

My personal task for the rest of the week:

Put the focus in the other
Accept and go with the flow
Keep it simple (the hardest for me)

Ta dah!

Day 2

I can’t remember. My brain is sort of dead today.

Oh I remember now. What was cool about today was trying a monologue from Othello for the first time in front of people. Although I didn’t perform it per se, I had to use it to explore my voice and I feel like I can start working on it now. It’s great I’ve got the words under my belt especially since I belong to the ‘Dreading Shakespeare’ club.

Day 3

We did lots of work finding our voice which was fab. We then did exercises based on Grotowski, which I LOVED SO MUCH! I want to get trained in that technique now. The exercises took me right back to my training days when I was an athlete 13 years ago.

Something awesome about today was that one of my brave colleagues suggested going to Southbank to do some street performing! A bunch of us went along and although I was only an spectator, I felt inspired by my colleagues’ will and fearless attitude.

PS. We got kicked out of the street which was in all honesty hilarious. (We needed a permit)

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Day 4

Last day. It was wonderful. I feel renewed, grateful, energized and ready.

MOVING ON.

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