onceuponarealityproductions

Black Wedding Rings and Abortion: An Ode to Choice.

In Uncategorized on January 27, 2017 at 5:02 pm

Today is the March for Life.

Today is the goddamn March for Life.

Tomorrow marks 1 week since the first march that I participated in. Only, the march that I participated in was the Women’s March.

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A march that stood for so many things. Women’s rights. Standing up to a terrifying time in our country’s history. A march that stood for finding your community and grabbing onto it for dear life in order to find your voice in a time when you feel that at any moment, you could be shunned on twitter by the leader of the free world.

On this day…the day of the March for Life, I would like to reflect on a few realizations I’ve had only recently.

I was recently scrolling through Instagram, and came across a Vera Wang wedding dress collection.

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I wasn’t the type of girl who dreamed of my wedding day growing up.

The extent of my wedding fantasies included an elaborate setup that included the groom shouting, “We must hurry! They’re coming!” Followed by a downpour over the crowd about to witness our nuptials, as people with fiery stakes came running down the aisle. Immediately after, a group of T-Rex dancers graced everyone’s presence, followed by me…the drenched and delighted bridge.

But other than that, no. I haven’t fantasized about my wedding day. But back to the dress. A black wedding dress.

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My brain had never even taken into consideration that black was an option. It was stunning. I felt like my world had changed.

I never realized that I had a choice. I thought white was the only option. And trust me, I look hideous in white. White makes me sad. It’s not me. But this daring vibrant piece…it was art.

After I had this realization, I had to take a step back and re-evaluate other choices that I assumed I had to make.

I was never a fan of the typical engagement ring. You know the one.

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Silver band, perfectly cut stone. That’s not me. That style is screaming for me to lose it down the sink. Or better yet, drop it down the toilet when I’m fumbling with my cell because I love catching up with friends on the toilet.

I love gold bands and gaudy stones. Something that looks like it was dug out of a treasure chest in a grandma’s yard sale.

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And under $50 please! I would be truly hateful if someone spent over $50 on my engagement ring. I’d be like, “We could’ve spent that on a fancy delivery order! You know I’ve been craving sushi!”

After I had this realization, I felt like I had to share the info with my boyfriend. To any stranger on the street, me pointing at $3 vintage rings at the local antique shop would appear like I am nudging my boyfriend to propose. But it’s not the case! First of all, I don’t nudge. It’s passive aggressive, and also, an engagement wouldn’t just be his decision. It would be ours. Something we would talk about. Like, a grownup decision between two consenting adults, you know?

I was just excited to share a new thing with him that I had learned about myself. All of a sudden, I was having all of these new options that didn’t have to be dictated by tradition. One last thing before I jump away from the wedding topic, I would love both my parents to walk me down the aisle. And they wouldn’t be giving me away. They’d be like, “You kids are a good fit. We’re proud of both of you.”

Here’s another realization I’ve had. I don’t enjoy wearing makeup 24/7. And I frickin’ hate even bringing up this topic, because no, this isn’t me going on a #makeupfree rant. I think it’s insanely ridiculous that there has to be movements that pat women on the back telling them that it’s ok that they don’t want to wear makeup. I don’t want a movement. I don’t want goddamn debates over what I choose to wear on my face. It’s my face. Me not wearing foundation doesn’t mean that I don’t care about my appearance or how I’m perceived. Me not wearing foundation also doesn’t mean that I need to be celebrated. I wish I lived in a day and age where it was a non-issue.  Where me not wearing makeup isn’t remotely a thing because people are paying attention to other things that I have to offer this world. On the same note, I truly appreciate women who love wearing makeup. We genuinely love it. Women who treat it like art. Women who are full of life sporting red lipstick.

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Women who express themselves with blush. I applaud all of you. Because it was your choice. And it is my choice.

Another realization I’ve had falls under the realm of success. Success is in the eyes of the beholder. My personal idea of success isn’t a corner office or even a 9-5 job. In fact, both of those sound like my personal version of hell. If you want to quickly swipe my soul, feel free to put me in either of those predicaments. My idea of success is a creative life.

But that’s crazy! ‘Creative’ and ‘Success’ reside on two different planets. You truly are a moron.

For me, personal success is being free to be creative and not tied down by what I’ve been told I’m supposed to do. 

Personal success is doing what makes me happy, rather than implementing a work plan that makes others comfortable. Personal success is staying true to yourself, not living in the shadows of other people’s fears. I always have a choice.

I’m turning 32 this year. I don’t want children right now. When I was a teenager, I thought that I would be married and on my 2nd kid by the time I was 28. Now, at the age of 31, I know that I don’t want kids in this very moment. Someday, yes. But not in this moment.

And this choice of mine freaks people out.

But aren’t you listening to your biological clock? You need to shape your life to fit the idea of having a child into it if that’s what you want someday. You might regret not having had a kid sooner. You will be an older mom. You really want to wait a few years??

Let’s be clear about ‘biological clocks’-I’m aware of my age and your concerns because you haven’t wasted a moment in expressing either to me. My ‘biological clock’ is telling me that I’m doing the right thing for me. I’m listening to my clock, and my clock is telling me, Girl, you will be a kick-ass mom someday. You will take your kids to Disneyland and setup the best pillow forts and you will stand up to bullies who mess with your kids and you will always fight for them. But again, it is my choice to wait. My clock is telling me that I have to get my life together, and someday will be the right day to make a family. Not when my life is perfect, because I’m a realist, but someday when it is the best choice.

Today is the March for Life. Here is the final thing I’ll say. I’m very much in support of Planned Parenthood. I’m very much in support of establishments that give women a choice.

Have you ever had the following question go through your head:

What would I do if I got pregnant? Abortion? Have the baby? Adoption? What would I do…

Everyone thinks that the answer to this is black and white. That you know in your heart of hearts what your choice would be. Either you would have the baby or you wouldn’t. Here’s the point I would like to make. No one can possibly know what decision they would make until they are actually in that situation.

I don’t know what emotions would suddenly pour through me if I suddenly found out I was pregnant.

An episode of “Friends” once explained this perfectly. You know the episode. Rachel thinks she’s pregnant. She takes a pregnancy test. Phoebe looks at the test and reveals the results to Rachel by telling her that she’s not pregnant. Rachel, who thought that she didn’t want a baby, starts to cry. Phoebe tells her, “Just kidding, your pregnant! But now you know how you really feel.”

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My thoughts exactly, Phoebe. You don’t actually know until you are there. I’m not in that situation. But there are women who are in that situation. And those women deserve to be able to make the choice over what happens to their bodies. They deserve to make the choice. I shouldn’t have to argue this. This should be a very basic fact, but I live in a world where I get cat-called on the street as men tell me to smile. Where I get told to stay silent and take it as a compliment. Where I get told that I shouldn’t openly talk about depression or it will make me look weak. Where the box marked as ‘woman’ is getting created by men and I’m supposed to climb inside and live up to their expectations.

No more. 

I have been lucky enough to have wonderful men in my life. Both of my grandpas were saints to me. One of my grandpas used to lay a towel down on a wall near my school building because he knew that I loved to climb over the wall every morning to get to class and he didn’t want my school clothes to get wet. My other grandpa encouraged me to be brave and loud and yell my head off while soaring over the water in a speedboat. My dad still gushes about me to people. I know this because in the past, I’ve gone to the dentist or chiropractor only to have the receptionist get teary eyed explaining, “We’ve heard so much about you. He idolizes you.” My brother gets me. I never have to explain myself to him. He always understands, and in that simple act, he is a lifelong support system. My boyfriend wants me to be happy. Seeing me happy makes him happy. He fights for my happiness every single day even when I feel like I can’t fight for my own happiness.

I’m lucky to have these men in my life. I’m lucky that I can make choices that shape my present and future. I’m lucky that I’ve realized that I can rip open the box and dictate my own life and what’s right for me. I always have a choice. And to the people who feel like they can take away that choice. To the people who feel like they can make any of my decisions. To the people who think they have me figured out when I say that I fully support abortion. To the people who would judge what I do with my body and tell me that my clock is ticking:

My body is my choice. It has always been this way. You cannot take this choice away. This isn’t a choice that I’ve suddenly realized like the black wedding dress or the joy of not wearing makeup. I have known this my entire life. My body. My choice.

To the Actors who Hate Online Creators

In Uncategorized on May 9, 2016 at 10:54 pm

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If you’re an actor, you’ve picked a challenging road to head down. This isn’t news to you. You’ve stared the dragon in the eye and said: Breathe fire at me! See if I care!

So why on earth is there so much hate from actors toward online creators (and by online creators, I’m mostly referring to Youtubers)? As an actor, you’ve been denied roles before for a number of reasons: You don’t ‘look’ like the girl-next-door, your not believable as a love interest, your hair isn’t blonde enough, you’re not skinny enough, you don’t have enough classical training under your belt. It’s all so unfair! I totally get it. Half the time, you’re getting denied for things that are completely out of your control and now you have a whole new element to complain about…those damn Youtubers. They’re stealing all the work from the hard-working actors!

First off, let’s define a hard-working actor: To me, a hard-working actor is focused every single day on acting. They’re taking class. They have an agent or are doing everything in their power to find an agent. They’re networking. They’re learning new skills to add to a resume. They’re doing open mic nights or standup. They’re jumping in to be in plays whenever their agent can’t land them a gig. They’re sending out postcards. They’re trying.

I know actors like this. People who are not only passionately saying that they are an actor, but rather, they are doing everything in their power to sculpt their fate or at the very least, be prepared for that moment when hard work meets opportunity. I wish that I could say that I was doing everything in my power to be a writer, but if I’m honest with myself, I’m not. I don’t dedicate myself to writing in a journal daily. I have about 3 projects that I’m halfway done with but I’m stalling on finishing any of them. I don’t seek out literary agents. I’m not submitting my scripts to festivals. I can honestly say I’m not trying hard enough. I can put the blame on myself, but not on anyone else. If I don’t find success in the entertainment industry, its my own damn fault. Because it’s my own damn fault, it’s incredibly easy for me to just not try sometimes. If I don’t try hard enough and fail, then I can just say that I never amounted to anything because I didn’t try. Imagine how terrible it would be if I tried my hardest and it still never worked out? How awful!

The mind-numbing fear of not finding success even after trying your hardest is what leads to people choosing to become the victim.

Stupid entertainment industry. They’re only hiring that online personality for the role because they have a huge social media following. That person is clearly not as talented as me. I’m more talented. I went to acting school and they didn’t. It’s not fair! The system is made for me to fail! I’m going to blame my agent and the studios and Hollywood because it’s not frickin’ fair that that 18-year-old who does makeup tutorials is getting the part that I want!!

Enough. Look, if you’re angry that you have invested your savings account and you audition day after day and are making your way through earth shattering day jobs and you are in non-union plays and you’ve just about had it….I completely understand your frustration. Really, I do. It’s the same way I feel when I used to walk through New York and think to myself, “Why the hell is every single show on Broadway an adaptation or revival? Can’t Broadway produce a single show that is brand new? Are they so afraid that tourists won’t see a new show if it’s not featuring an already established character? Should emerging writers just give up now, because clearly there is no room for us out here?” I’ve had these thoughts on more than one occasion. And not fleeting thoughts either. I’ve stewed in these thoughts and screamed these thoughts, and you know what happened? Nothing. That’s right. Nothing. My angry ass went a year without writing a show. I emotionally gave up. In the first two years of living in New York, I wrote a new play and a new musical and both got produced. On year 3, I sunk into a deep dark hole and the idea of writing wasn’t fun anymore. I played the victim and trust me. It didn’t fucking work.

One day, when I was so homesick for California that I couldn’t pull myself out of bed, I decided to make a Youtube video and talk about my love for Disney. I felt like I had gained a little of my creativity back. I felt like I was connecting with people again. I love writing. It fills me to the brim. But I’m not going to lie, sometimes, writing fills me with loneliness. Hours of sitting alone in my room stuck in my head and talking to no one. When you’re prone to depression, writing (at least for me) can add to it. With Youtube, I felt like I was immediately reaching a community of people who understood me. And it freed me. It re-awakened my creativity and made me want to write again. Most of all, I finally felt like I had more control over my place in the entertainment industry. I don’t have to wait for someone to tell me that they want a video from me or what the video should be about. I get to create the content when I want to. It’s my little baby and I love feeding it and watching the damn thing grow. And if you’ve seen my channel, my videos aren’t necessarily the best thing on the internet, but they’re full of passion and genuine love for the topic. I’m really excited to continue to grow this channel and down the road, I even plan on writing sketches to produce on the channel.

This is why I hate it when people just knock down online creators. It’s so easy to say that it’s not fair, or that online creators are lazy or not talented. But all of those things are cheap blows. I didn’t understand the Youtube community until I was a part of it. I have almost 4,000 subscribers. It’s not a lot, but there’s still so much upkeep on my channel to keep it growing. I get hundreds of comments and messages that I respond to. I tailor all of my content to what is trending on my channel. It’s not ‘lucky’ that my channel is growing. I sit and study numbers and do my research and dedicate a significant amount of time every single day to my channel. It’s a lot of work. But I do it because I love it. I do it because I get to be in control.

So, here’s what I have to say to all of the haters: Hating online creators will get you nowhere. If you are pursuing acting, you are pursuing show business. Studios are going to invest in a product that has more of a financial guarantee. Instead of pouting about it, consider this…You have just as much access to the internet as the people you hate. If you’re talented and tired of waiting for your break, then go for it and create your own break. Get your friends together and film a web series and YOU write it. YOU star in it. You are just as capable of creating stuff. The beauty of the age of technology is that we all have access to it. We are all on an equal playing field. The kid that got the part that you wanted has been waking up every day and turning on a camera and taking initiative not knowing where the chips would fall. It’s a risk. You can take that risk too.

Let’s stop saying that it’s just not fair. Because if you truly believe that it’s just not fair, then you are playing in the wrong business. Hold your head up high and think of people like Lin Manuel Miranda. Here’s a guy that never thought the words, “I can’t write a hip hop musical because no one will ever see it and why bother?” He’s a guy who took the higher road and said, “This story would make an excellent hip hop story. And if someone in the world hasn’t thought up the idea to turn Hamilton’s story into a musical, then I’m going to be the guy to do it.”

He never asked permission to create art. He never blamed the industry or complained that he couldn’t get a part or that his writing wasn’t going to get produced. He just did the work. He created his own opportunities. So, next time you want to point the finger, ask yourself, How can I be doing more?

 

The Art of Failing While Pursuing Your Dreams

In Uncategorized on May 5, 2016 at 6:42 pm

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Are you a dreamer? I sure am. And I’m going to be completely honest with you. Dreaming kicks my ass. But when it works out, dreaming actually kicks ass. Have you been told that you’re unrealistic? That it’s cute that you’re still pursuing your dream? That you should maybe have a Plan B? Then pull up a chair, and let’s be friends. I’m in your corner. You’re going to need as many people in your corner as possible, because dreaming, if done incorrectly can be a nightmare. I know because I’ve been there. And I’m alive to tell the tale. So it can’t be that bad, right? Great. Let’s get started.

The Tale of Failing Level One at Groundlings.

Have you heard of Groundlings? If you’re living in LA and pursuing acting, you’ve definitely not only heard of it, but you’ve probably passed every level and used your Groundlings street cred to get you an audition for a co-star role. I auditioned for the Groundlings school and got accepted into the level one class. I was ecstatic. I was making my way as an actor in LA. I had a commercial agent whose office was based out of the lobby in an apartment building in Sherman Oaks and now I had passed an audition to start taking class at Groundlings! I was on my way in the world of Hollywood! I had no aspirations to be on SNL. I had never taken an improv class. But I had heard that Groundlings looked great on a resume so here we go! Guys, I was terrible. I was stuck in my head. The format of the class made no sense to me. I couldn’t let go. Ever. And I was unable to create characters who weren’t happy/peppy. There was a class in which the teacher kept telling me over and over again, I need your character to be upset. Cry. Get angry. Do anything. But don’t make this character happy. I couldn’t go there, guys. This improv class taught me more about who I am as a person, than any acting class has. I have struggled with depression my entire life. Most people don’t know this about me. I’m usually the happiest person in the room. Always smiling. Always securely locking away my dark feelings of sadness deep down where it can’t be touched. This class taught me that all sides of our personality and all of our emotions are beautiful. It is what makes us human. And human is funny. Its relatable. On the last day of class, I finally let go and felt like myself. My teacher told me that if I had ‘let go’ in earlier classes, she could’ve passed me. That is what they wanted from me. So I failed. For years I steered clear of Groundlings. Afraid I would fail again. Afraid that I wouldn’t ever be able to let go. Fast forward to a couple weeks ago, and I was sitting and watching the movie Ghost with my boyfriend during one of the many scenes where Patrick Swayze is able to communicate with Demi Moore as a ghost. I was sobbing my stupid face off and sputtering at the TV: Ah shit, Demi. He loves you! That ghost loves you, Demi. Ditto! I can’t handle this. That’s right, you give him a hug. Go get it, Demi! Believe! He’s really there!

As my boyfriend sat watching me cry and yell at the TV, he started rolling over laughing. I was crying and he was laughing. And it finally made sense to me. When we are genuinely feeling the extreme of whatever we are feeling, it can be hilarious. Because it’s real. I was being real. And that’s all that Groundlings wanted from me. Not a happy/smiley/seemingly perfect girl. They wanted me. Flaws and all.

The Tale of Performing for No One.

I moved to New York a couple years ago, because like many others, I dreamed of Broadway. I dreamt of spending my days writing in my Soho loft, and grabbing a cab to the theater at night (more specifically the Cort. Or Lyceum. Of all the Broadway giants, these two are my dream babies to be produced in) to sit in the house and give notes and make adjustments as actors said my words out loud. I dreamed of parts of the script not working, and I would delete entire scenes and everyone would panic and say, “You’re deleting that scene! But I  loved that scene!” And I would sit for a few minutes and scribble out something brilliant. Something better. Then, just to show off,  would delete that scene and write a whole new and more spectacular one. This was my dream. When I first moved to New York, I had a lot of energy and I didn’t give two shits about what anyone thought of me. I walked into a cabaret space and said that I wanted to rent the stage for 2 months to self-produce a play I wrote. The producer who ran the space was intrigued. I had just moved to town. Did I have the resources to fill the space? Of course I did!

Side note: I came from an acting background. I was used to being rejected. I loved being rejected. I was once asked if I could tap dance and I said ‘yes’ so that I could land a primary tap dancer spot. I would learn how to tap dance later.

So that’s what I figured would happen this time around. I would learn how to fill a house later. I just had to get my damn foot in the door. And my confidence worked! I landed a two month contract. I auditioned folks for the show and found a wonderful cast. I even found a girl to run the box office. We were a kick-ass all female ensemble. I had just moved to town and I was nailing it! Nothing could go wrong!

Here’s the thing: Even on the most smallest level, theater in New York requires an obscene amount of promotion for even 5 people to show up. It’s ridiculously competitive. There were nights we had 10 people in the house. I gave out comp tickets left and right. I also made the terrible mistake of assuming that I would make a profit off the show, and that money would go back to the cast in the form of stipends. Can you see how many mistakes I’ve made so far? A lot. But people trusted me to steer the ship. And on one particular night, I steered the ship into a rock. Not a single soul was in the audience. I was shattered. I felt like a loser. People kept telling me, “You should be so proud of what you’ve accomplished! It takes balls to get as far as you’ve gotten!”

But here’s what I knew to be true: I had friends who had babies. I had friends who were literally raising humans. I had friends who were pursuing a Master’s degree. I had friends who were achieving their goals. And I felt like the universe was telling me, This is clearly not the right path for you. You are failing miserably. Stupid dreamer. Don’t you think everyone wants to run off to New York and write plays? Sure they do! But they don’t because shit like this happens. So go back to your 3 day jobs and closet-sized apartment, because all you’ve accomplished out here is higher levels of anxiety.

On the night that no one showed up, I was also told that my contract with the theater would be cut short. There was a bartender working the lounge who wasn’t going to make a dime that night because I had failed. There was a cast who had no one to perform for, because I failed. There was a venue owner who was stressed out, because I failed. But there was my tech sitting in the back who saw the empty theater as an opportunity to perform one last time full out and we could get as crazy as we wanted. This talented young man has a wildly successful career because he finds a way to make things work. We performed the full show that night. It took me months to not want to cry whenever I thought about this night. And then, a few months later, the following happened:

I was working as a porter at a Broadway theater. I was backstage cleaning a toilet in a dressing room when I happened upon a familiar face working on the crew for the new show that was loading in. It was the girl who ran the box office on my failed show. She was a PA on this new show on Broadway and I was cleaning the toilets. You won’t believe this. I didn’t cry. I didn’t feel upset. I felt blissfully happy. It was solid proof that good things come to people who take the right path and work out the kinks. Here was a girl who ended up working for free because my dumbass didn’t budget her stipend. And now she was a PA on Broadway. Shortly after, one of the actresses from my show was in a new show and getting rave reviews by the NY Times. Again, I was thrilled. She survived. She had performed for no one and she had risen above it and continued to pursue her dreams and it worked out for her.

I scrubbed the toilet extra hard that day. It was going to work out for me someday, because that’s how the universe works. The universe was teaching me that when it comes to success, you can’t race to the finish line or skip a step. Sometimes, you have to take the baby steps and take the time to learn. Even if it means learning the art of failure. And I’m great at failing! I’m even better at overcoming my failures! Watch out world!