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Friday, December 30, 2011


Well amigos y amigas, this is the last post of 2011.  I'm going to leave it on a positive note.

For those that are reading this and have never taken an acting class, the phrase "and...SCENE" is used to let the class know that the scene an actor or actors are working on is finished.  No mas! It gives the audience the ability to let them gather themselves after they have taken this short journey with them.  Trust me, it's really weird when actors don't give you that break.  They finish the scene. They've been crying, laughing, ready to murder each other, and then they turn to you and start talking to you or smiling without letting you know their scene is done.  No Bueno!

So, the "SCENE" of 2011 is finished. What a year it's been.  I started this blog, which was intended at making of fun of the poseurs, idiots, d-bags, and other fools who give actors a bad rap.  I realized that you can only go so far with that.  Some entries became more personal.  Some political, of which I am not an expert.  I didn't want to make this a "MY JOURNEY AS AN ACTOR", type of blog either.  That gets annoying. I'm not a career coach or "Business of the Business" expert to dish out advice on how to get an agent, meet directors, producers, network, or any of that savvy, rico suave, stuff.

I like to tell stories, and I like to laugh.  There are things people say that don't make sense, and I feel the need to point them out.  All of us, whether actors or not, have experienced similar things of which I have written about. Who doesn't like to make fun of people who think their POMPIS is all that?  It's these people that I rag on who don't have anything to back their shit up.  I'll do a special entry to the D-BAG List for this type of person.  I haven't figured out a title for them, but a conversation with him/her would go something like this:

D-BAG:  Hey man. Haven't seen you in a while.  What have you been working on?

Me: Oh. I've been finishing a script on a short film that my friend and I are going to produce, and..

D-BAG: I just finished a short film that's going to hit the festival circuit.

Me: Cool. Just did a casting workshop with a CD that I've booked with.  She...

D-BAG: I just did workshop for the CD of "Boardwalk Empire". It was great. I killed it.  My scene partner wasn't very good. 

Me: Great.  I'm planning to meet with some "name" people to help..

D-BAG: I just did a show and ______ was in the audience.  My company is going to try and get them to attend our next production.  My work really stood out to ______.


This person asks me what I'm up to and then starts pissing on everything I have to say by making it into a competition.  I know someone like this.  Not to be petty, but this actor has one short film credit on their IMDB page.  No! I'm not going to create a link to this person's page.  I would have to add myself to the D-BAG list if I did that.  Tempting, but....NO.

So, where's the positivity?

Communicating to the masses, via El Comandante, has really helped me stay creative and committed to creating my own projects.  Whenever I'm in a funk or not feeling up to writing or working on a scene or monologue, I sit down and rant to you all.

It's like having a really good appetizer.  Because of this blog, I was able to stay motivated to achieve my goals (the main course): finishing the script for the short film I will be working on this spring, getting my reel up on Actors Access and YouTube, developing relationships with some "Name" industry professionals, laying the groundwork for a couple of sketch, comedy, webisodes, and producing a play.  Hijole! I guess sleep is not the plans for 2012.  Who cares?  The world's gonna end anyways, according to my ancestors.

On paper, 2011 sucked!  I didn't book a single, paying acting job.  Not one audition during pilot season or this episodic season.  Only a handful of commercial auditions came my way.  There was an indie film, in which I auditioned for the lead.  I wasn't right physically, unless I planned to gain 130 pounds.  I would have died in the process.  

It was a down year for me, but I'm not pointing fingers at my reps or the industry.  It just didn't happen.  However, I was able to lay the groundwork for what is to be a very prosperous 2012.  This is the year where I really graduate into the Big Leagues.  I'm really excited about the upcoming year.  Mainly I'm excited to share some good laughs with my readers and to continue to preach the mantra of "Revolution and Integrity" for all.

Before signing off, I want to give a shout out to a real gamer.  She is very talented actress, writer, director, who hired me to play a very fun character in her indie, comedy, feature "Black Hearts"- the one shining moment in my professional career of 2011.  Malani Coomes:  You are awesome, beautiful, and talented.  Thanks for thinking of me.  This film is going to rock!

Until next year....

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What Actors need: Big Thinkin', Big Thinkin'!

El Comandante has been locked up in his bunker for two weeks.  The battle to change the consciousness of self absorbed actors has taken a minor set back.  But, I haven't given up!  Never!

Before I tackle my topic, I just want to address the issue of manners.  Tell me something.  If you noticed a scar or deformity on a total stranger's  face, would you ask them: "How did you get that?" "What happened to your face?"  If you answered "Yes" to any of the above questions, please leave your email address.  I will contact you so that we can arrange a meeting and I can give you a nice chanclaso upside the head.  Translation:  smack you upside the head with a wooden sandal.  Mind your f'n business.

Not to get to much into this, but I was taking topical meds for a skin condition I may or may not have (thanks to the thorough, loving, care of HMO health care).  It thinned my skin.  The crazy weather conditions in L.A. (warm days, really cold nights), walking in and out of a freezer at work, coupled with the stress of not making enough money to buy my sweetheart a Christmas or anniversary present, or to make the monthly bills, caused my skin to erupt into a burn.  The burn was later infected, so my face turned bright red.  Don't even get me started on the swelling.  

No joke.  I woke up one morning looking like Jake La Motta. My normal, lovely, olive, complexion had been compromised.

  To the bathroom attendant at the Hollywood Parlor on Melrose, formerly El Guapo Cantina (again with the El Guapo!):  MIND YOUR F'N BUSINESS!  Your job is simple.  Smile. Offer me a towel, which I'm capable of getting myself, after you have watched the back of my head while I make Pee Pee.  The only thing you should be asking me is "Would you like a mint or spray of Aqua Di Gio?"


On to the subject at hand.  I've taken workshops with the remarkable, Dallas Travers (http://dallastravers.com/).  One of the many things I have learned from her is that the entertainment industry tries to keep actors into thinking "Small". 

Here are some of the sayings that actors always hear:

"Before you can get an agent, you need more co-star credits."

"If you want to get co-star credits, you need to get an agent to submit you for those roles."

"Build your reel up with student films and indie projects, then try to get an agent."

"Do some small theater and get casting directors to attend, so they can see your work". This hasn't worked for me.  I do theater cause I love to work.

"You need to build up more co-star credits to be considered for a guest star role." 

"Once you have enough guest star credits, you can be submitted for series regular."

"After you've been a series regular you can be considered for a lead in a show."

"Once you're a lead in a show, you'll be exposed and people will start offering you film roles."

Take this in for a second.  If one were to adhere to this Mierda line of thinking, we'd all be six feet under by the time we get recognized for our hard work.  The Academy will be awarding Oscars posthumously to everyone!

Dallas always talks about "Thinking Big".  Swinging for the fences.  Training our minds to not think within the confines of the status quo.  In doing so, you will achieve a "Quantum Leap" in your career.  It happens to us in life.  We make correct decision after correct decision.  Next thing you know, BADA BING! BADA BOOM!  You're getting offers left and right, or you're the boss of your own company.  Comprendes Mendez

It doesn't cost us a thing to dream.  Right?  Si se puede, as my people like to say. 

I bring this up, because a good friend and fellow Working Artists Lab collaborator Paul Elia (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3731362/)- who is very talented- approached me about working on a play that he is currently writing.  We sat down and read through a draft.  He began to tell me the details of what the play was based on, which I will not go into.  At one point, he expressed frustration towards some of the people that he wanted to be involved in the project.  Paul wanted to get this show up and running ASAP and possibly perform it at the Fox Theater in his hometown of Detroit (MOTOWN baby).  This ain't no Black Box, 99 Seat theater.  This is a big time venue.  BIG THINKIN'! BIG THINKIN'!

Apparently, the people he had in mind to work on this project scoffed at the idea of putting up the play so soon.  When Paul brought up the notion of taking it to the Fox, they ran scared.

In this story, who would you give a high five to?  The guy who dreams of bringing the show to the masses, or the guy who is only dwelling on what is "Probable"?  I'm not using the word "Possible", because anything is "Possible".  You know where my  money's at.  Fist Bump to you Paul!  Always thinking big.  

I'm paraphrasing what Dallas teaches, so please go to her website to find out more information about her workshops.  She offers some freebies.  She is not paying me to promote her.  In fact, she doesn't even know that I'm writing about her.  I'm just passing along information Dallas has taught me, that has helped me grow as an artist.  

These days, I have no qualms about calling my agent and telling him "I want to be in the next Scorcese or Tarantino movie."  He probably rolls his eyes at me, but I've stated what I want.  It's up to me to go after it.  

Friday, December 23, 2011

Art Can Change Lives.

This is Part Dos of the entry about Demian Bichir being two steps away from getting an Oscar Nomination.

Let's make that one step.  He's going to have to steal Third base, which is not an easy feat, given that the Shortstop is there to fill the gap.  Third Basemen tend to be really agile and fast as well. 

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Sports. Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah (Charlie Brown teacher's voice).  Third Base is the Oscar Nomination, and Home is the win.  The Shortstop and Third Baseman represent the haters who would love to snub a performance in a movie about a Mexican that doesn't belong in a gang or that doesn't relive the "Frito Bandito" stereotype. (See the video I posted in my blog entry about "A Plethora") Entiendes Mendez? 

The Golden Globes laid another huevo on this one.  They didn't nominate our boy.  I was pretty pissed at first, but then I realized the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (the committee that selects the nominees), handed out nominations to "The Tourist".  Yes.  The Johnny Depp/Angelina Jolie movie that everyone ripped apart.  I can't comment, because I had no desire to watch it.  It looked that bad.  Maybe that's why it got nominated under "Best Peformance by an Actor/Actess in a Musical or Comedy".  Someone watched this and thought it was so bad,  it was funny.  Quien sabe?

All I remember is Ricky Gervais, the host of last year's Globes, saying something to the effect that everything was in 3D, except for the characters in "The Tourist".


At the screening of "A Better Life" (at the SAG Foundation), a woman in the audience shared a very heartfelt story.

Chris Weitz, the film's director, spoke about how he screened the film in Washington D.C., hoping that our elected officials will have a change of heart about immigration reform.  

Shortly after stating this, a woman raised her hand to ask a question.  She began by thanking Mr. Weitz for making such a beautiful film.  

The film had completely changed her view on immigration so much that she quit her job at Homeland Security.  She witnessed, first hand, how innocent people (gardeners, housekeepers, construction workers, field hands) who came here to achieve a better life, were being thrown into the same mix with gang members, murderers, human traffickers, and other convicted felons.  

The woman began to cry, because she couldn't forgive herself for being partly responsible for deporting innocent people; knowing everything they risked to get to America and the possibility that they may lose their lives trying to get back to America.

Mr. Weitz, gentleman that he is, thanked her for the courage to share her story.  He offered some comfort by saying, "There's nothing wrong with wanting to protect your country."  There are really bad people trying to sneak into this country- members of the world's most dangerous gang and what not.  However, the people who want to come here and make an honest living aren't the ones we should be worried about.  There needs to be legislation to allow these good folks to stay.  

Last year, I performed in Josefina Lopez' play "Detained In the Desert". It was a protest to Arizona's Controversial, SB1070.  The problem with this law, like many of our laws, is that the language is too vague.  The vague language is what caused the uproar, fearing that law enforcement would exceed its boundaries and begin profiling, randomly asking "suspected undocumented aliens" for proof of residence, therefore violating peoples' basic civil rights.

If you'd like to read the law, you can check it out here: http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/49leg/2r/bills/sb1070s.pdf

One of the points discussed in the play is how people risk their lives, walking in the desert for days, to come to America.

Let's be real.  Migrant workers are not taking the jobs of American citizens.  I have no desire, nor the skill to bend over for 12 hours in a field picking fruit.  I'm scared to hell of heights, so you wont find me climbing up 100 feet, just to trim some rich lady's palm tree, while she's spending $300 to get her torta waxed and Vajazzled, or whatever the hell they do these days.

You know where I stand.  Many would disagree, because "The Law is The Law".

Enrique Morones, who heads Border Angels, (http://www.borderangels.org/) responds to this rationale by saying "So was slavery."

The woman who shared her experience had a change of heart because of this film.  Let's hope our government, America, and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will have a change of heart as well.

Merry Christmas.  Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All.

Merry Cree-Mas!

Merry Cree-mas!  That's how my Tia would pronounce it.  God bless her.  Life has been tough for her this past year.  Te quiero mucho Tia!

I hope you all have a very Feliz Navidad.  Go to town on those Tamales!  This may be a bit traitorous, considering my family is from El Salvador, but I'm partial to Mexican Tamales.  I love the red chile beef, pork, and especially the green chile con queso. Mmm-mmm-mmm! 

For my vegetarian friends:  Watch out for the "non-meat" tamales. The masa is probably made with Manteca- LARD.  Yummy!

Vegetarianism is a new concept to Latinos from the old country.  A meal solely comprised of vegetables is not considered a meal.  It's an ensalada.  A salad, which is an appetizer or snack.  And if it doesn't have meat, take for example a pot of beans, there was some meat product used in the making of it.  Just how it is. 

Eating habits are changing for folks from the old country.  Given the amount of people getting diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol, more folks are adopting healthier eating- including vegetarian meals.  

My mom only eats organic stuff from the farmers' market and Whole Foods.  She listens to nutrition shows and watches Dr. Oz. This was the woman who would would serve us braised pork ribs in a chile sauce with rice, beans, and tortillas, at least once a week.  Of course there was always a salad to start things off.  Gotta balance things out with a gringo tradition.  You know?


I dont' want to make this a health food entry.  I was just thinking out loud about Christmas and food I grew up eating, the mass partying I did around the Holidays (to cover up my deep seeded depression), and how much I really love Christmas!  

From 1997-2005, I spent every Christmas in New York and New Jersey.  I experienced the "White Christmas" mixed in with the "Latin Version" which resulted in many empty bottles of wine and rum.  

Christmas Day was usually a recovery day back then.  Kind of Sacrilegious right?  I remember my Dad always saying, "I'm not drinking tonight, because it's Jesus' birthday."  Ha!  That didn't last long.

When I was a kid, my Mom and Stepdad hosted some orphans from Tijuana for the holidays.  It was kind of weird at first to have these strange kids staying in "my house", playing with "my toys".  There was some fights.  I'll never forget the joy on their faces when they opened presents like G.I. Joes and Transformers, things they never would have gotten.  I felt very blessed.

When we drove them back to the Orphanage, I cried.  I never grew up with siblings.  My Step Sister would stay with us every other weekend.  I love her to death and consider her my actual sister, but  it was a different feeling having "brothers" around all the time.  I hope those kids are all right.  They're men like me now.  Wow.

My mom always talked about how Christmas was about the Birth of our Lord and not about presents.  Try telling that to an 8 year old who just got a bunch of new Transformers.  

Now that I'm almost grown up, I really appreciate what she was trying to tell me.  I'm not a devout Catholic or Bible Thumping, follower of Christianity.  However, I remember my Step Father telling me that whether or not the events actually happened in Bethlehem, as depicted in the Gospel of....can't think of it now; the whole point is a message of Hope.  Hope for Peace.  Hope for the betterment of Mankind.  Hope that we can believe in something pure and greater than ourselves.  

I HOPE that you all have a wonderful and Merry Christmas.  For my brothers and sisters that celebrate the festival of lights, Happy Hannukah.  For those that don't celebrate any Holidays this time of year:  Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Horale! Demian Bichir is two steps from an Oscar Nod for "A Better Life"

Buenas Noches everybody!  Some have you have seen my postings on my FB page, promoting the film "A Better Life", starring Demian Bichir ("Weeds", "Che"), directed by Chris Weitz ("About a Boy", "Twilight: New Moon"- Que???).  

It's a wonderful movie about the pursuit of the so called "American Dream".  The story is straightforward.  The acting is realistic and not over the top.  Mr. Bichir's portrayal of Carlos Galindo, an undocumented gardener, showcases the right amount of compassion and vulnerability towards his son, at the same time staying true to his machismo side when faced with confrontation.  

It takes a huge pair of stones to swallow your pride, stand on a corner, and hope that you get some work for the day.  I've hired some day laborers for various jobs.  These guys work their ass off.  I'm not running for the Republican Presidential Nomination, so I'm more than cool to admit doing the right thing by helping a fellow compa out.  Minute Men can kiss my tiny brown ass!


I don't want to draw attention away from what is a major accomplishment for a Latino Actor.  This is huge.  The Golden Globes are next, then the Oscars.  There is no reason why he shouldn't be nominated.  We'll have to give the Academy some serious Putasos if Mr. Bichir gets snubbed.  We'll do it via social media of course.  I'm too cute for prison. 

I spoke to Mr. Bichir at a screening of the film at the SAG Foundation.  I expressed to him how huge an accomplishment this could be for all Latino Actors.  He agreed with me.  

Take a look at the list of Best Actor Nominations, as compiled on Wikipedia.


I'm only focusing on the last 20 years.  Back in the 50's you had Jose Ferrer and Anthony Quinn.  In the late 80's, you had Edward James Olmos.  Since then......Javier Bardem in 2000 for "Before Night Falls".  Pretty fuckin' sad.  Someone would argue that there weren't enough movies featuring Latino Actors, so there weren't many to choose from.  Exactly!

My hope is that Mr. Bichir's performance and this film, in general, will open the eyes of the people holding the purse strings.  Support producers and filmmakers that want to create complex and substantial roles for Latino actors and actresses.  Why can't there be a Latino performer up for Oscar consideration every year?  The talent pool is there.  There are thousands of undiscovered actors who are able to deliver strong performances, worthy of Oscar consideration.  Remember Adriana Barraza from "Babel".  She stole that movie.  She should be working all the time.  She had a scene in "Thor" that was cut.  Chances are slim to none that would happen to Caucasian or an African American Actor.  

I'm grateful that Summit Entertainment took a chance on this one.  If "New Moon" would not have been such a success, Chris Weitz would not have been able to make this movie.  You can probably tell how I feel about the "Twilight" saga.  I don't get it, but it's not my shot of tequila.  If "New Moon" was the reason for getting "A Better Life" made, then I'll be a fan!  Simon!

Mr. Weitz really created something wonderful for the entertainment world.  He showed us how beautiful and rich in culture East Los Angeles really is.  L.A. is more than Hollywood and the beach folks.  It was built by hard working Mexicans and Natives that were here for hundreds of years. I'm thrilled that the film is getting the recognition it deserves.  It has been screened in Washington D.C., in hopes that art can change hearts and minds about the current immigration laws.  

Out of struggle and perseverance comes great art.  The purpose is to showcase a soul bearing, belief, ideology, expression, or point of view, for all to experience and to bring about change.  I think this film and Mr. Bichir's performance is a wonderful step.  

Part two of this story will talk about how this film changed the life of a woman who worked for Homeland Security.  Check it out this weekend.    


Sunday, November 27, 2011

"Como Triunfar en America!"

One fine day, my sweetheart was really excited to show me something that our DVR had recorded.

As usual, I was getting ready to go somewhere: audition, class, meeting, gym, or some other actor "keeping busy" nonsense.  I don't know about you, but when I'm getting ready to go out the door, I get in a zone- the GAMER zone.  I tune everyone and everything out.  I'm on a mission.  Try and distract me, and I'll snap at you like a tiger.  Grrrrrr! Serio.

So my sweety says, "Honey, you gotta see this.  It'll just take a second."  She cues up the program.  It's the beginning credits for one of the episodes of the first season of "How To Make It In America".  The second season was still two months away, and we were both anticipating its return.  However, I was in no way, shape, or form willing to sit through an episode of last season just for shits and giggles.  I had places to go!  She disrupted my "zoneiness" for this?  Ay, ay, ay!

She sensed my frustration, and said "It'll just take a second."

I'm watching the opening credits to the show, featuring a catchy, and poignant (more on this later) tune by the awesome Aloe Blacc.

Check it out here:
I turn to my Honey and say "Can We forward to the part you want to show me?"  

"Just wait", she replies.

All right.  I'm grooving to the cool song and getting nostalgic seeing all the images of New York and its many fine citizens.

The final "Da Duh!" to the song plays.  As the show's title appears, I hear a deep, masculine, "solo en Telemundo" voice announce: "Como Triunfar en America", which literally translates into "How to Triumph In America". For all my gringo friends, Telemundo is a popular Spanish network.  

I broke out of my "zoniness" and started to laugh.  The tiger became a pussy cat for a second and purred happily.  

What is funny about this is two things: A. I wasn't expecting the announcer.  B. Anything dubbed in Spanish is always funny, because it's so over the top, and they rarely match the right voice that fits the character (except for Donkey in the first "Shrek).  Watch your dvd in Spanish, you'll know what I mean.

If you've never seen the show, I highly recommend it.  The title says it all.  It focuses on the trials of two young New Yorkers trying to succeed in business while "really trying".  It also chronicles the ups and downs of the people in their circle as they struggle (or not) to obtain that almighty dollar, legal or otherwise.  For more details on the show, go to http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1299365/.

If there is one word that describes the montage in the intro, it's "HUSTLE". Everyone is trying to make a dollar.  I especially love the image of the cab driver yelling out the window, because in New York, time is money so you better move the fuck outta the way!  Everyone needs "a dollar", as Mr. Blacc sings.

Spend $$$  to make $0

This brings me to a conversation I recently had with a British actor.  I was hanging out in a local cafe.  It's one of those small places that's set up like a living room.  Everyone has to share the same coffee table.  This gentleman sits next to me, and we begin to shoot the shit.  We were the only ones sans lap tops (so L.A.).  It turns out that he is an actor who is in town taking meetings and awaiting an offer for a his role in an upcoming, "major movie", that will begin shooting next year.  Contractually, he couldn't tell me anything about the project.  I figured it out.  


"I need a dollar.  Dollar.  Dollar is what I need."

We started talking about the business and how different it is in Hollywood than England.  He mentioned that in the U.K., the opportunities for film and television are very slim.  I talked about how t.v and commercials are the bread and butter for many actors in Hollywood.  I also started talking about the things actors do to get their careers going in Los Angeles:  head shots, acting classes, casting workshops, career coaches, branding seminars, on-camera classes, social media coaching, consultants, casting web sites, getting your reels, hosting your reels, networking organizations, meet and greets, money management counseling (cause artists neeed it), hypnosis, colonics, this and that, and that and this.  He turned to me and said "Wow!  You need a lot of fucking money to be an actor here."  You f'n said it brother!

Take into consideration the jobs that actors must have in order to accommodate auditions, classes, and meetings.  These jobs ain't paying you $50k, which is still not lot of money by today's costs of living.  Plus, if you are making a lot of money at your J.O.B., then you're probably spending most of your time hustling there rather than at your acting career.  This means you are taking on a lot of training clients or working more shifts at your restaurant job.  

There are also many people like myself, who are happy to have a job, but the pay is shit.  So there is no money for all the stuff I mentioned above.  A lot of actors have to take on two jobs, like I will have to, just to cover living expenses.  Given all this, it's really hard to imagine anyone "Triumphing" in this business, which people rarely do.

It's guaranteed that a majority of the actors in Hollywood will invest more money in their careers than they will make.  So far, I'm way in the red.  Look, I'm fortunate to have made some money in my profession having been featured in a national commercial, as well as co-starring in two hit series.  It still hasn't translated into an offer in the next "major movie".  It's what most of us want, and it's not a bad thing to want.  I want to be happy, doing what I love to do.  Sometimes, money brings that happiness.  I don't care what people say.  

It's not the ultimate goal, but being able to make a good amount of money doing what I love, will give me the freedom to create my own projects that will give other actors opportunities to earn some $$$.  Giving back baby!  Cause that's how I roll.

I'm not against companies or people trying to offer services that will help actors get ahead.  People want to be in television and movies.  Certain individuals offer ways to help actors achieve this goal. Whether or not it actually happens varies, but actors should be aware of the odds before spending their hard earned money.  

What I don't like is the perceived notion of spending all your hard earned money or "investing in the company of 'YOU'" (a phrase that many career coaches like to use to get you excited) is the "only" way to TRIUMPH in Hollywood.  Acting classes are a different story.  Most people need them.  Even an experienced actor, like myself, enjoys class.  I always learn something from my peers, and I love that. 

I'm not advocating a boycott of CD workshops, career coaching classes, or other services.  Hell!  I've paid for some of these things.  Still do.  I don't regret it.  If anything, they have helped me with being more disciplined about obtaining my goals.

What I am saying is this:  If you don't have the money for these services now, don't sweat it.  Don't buy into the manipulative shit that some people throw at you like, "Well if you are serious about your career, then you'll make the sacrifices to invest in your career".  Get groceries. Pay your rent. Pay your bills.  Get your car fixed.  You need a place to live, food to eat, and your electricity to be on- not to watch Kardashians or when the NBA lockout will end (guilty).  It's important to have  your car working and your cell phone and internet on (so you can read this ;-).

Once you get your ducks in a row, you won't be carrying all kinds of crazy stress when you go into an audition or a CD workshop- which you can attend for free if you are paid member of SAG.  The SAG Foundation offers workshops under their Casting Access Project (CAP).  The crappy part is that you can only register during their enrollment period, which is only three or four times a year.  However, I found out that the next enrollment period is from December 1st-14th.  I have my alert set!



I'm not trying to be preachy, but we all know how hard it is to make some coin right now.  Look out for number one.  Ultimately, it's about you and what you bring to a role when you audition.  You don't want to go in a nervous wreck, because you just got your power shut off.  Unless you are auditioning for a needy, freaked out, crackhead.

In the meantime, focus on working- student films, indies, theater.  Trust me, you want to stay creative all the time.  Yell shit out on YouTube.  Let the world know who you are. I'm embarking on a journey to create work that will get me discovered.  I'm planning to do this without spending a whole lot of money on all that "stuff" I talked about earlier.  I'll spend a little money, but not a lot.  You gotta shell out someting, cuz everyone needs to make a dollar.  Right? 

Let's hope I make mine soon, before I get fired for hurling mashed potatoes or orange chicken at the next person that gives me their cordon bleu critique of free samples.  Ay, ay, ay!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

El Comandante's List of Pros, Troopers, Gamers- Actors that Inspire Us to Keep Going!

We are all thankful for many, many, things- A "plethora" of things, as the "Infamous El Guapo" would say.  Yes!  Another "Three Amigos" reference.  Okay?  Atencion!  Por favor.

I started this list reflecting on those "types" of actors that give the true artists a bad name.   So far we have:

Numero Uno:  Anything You can do, overcompensating by bragging about all my credits, and who I studied with, and the parts I almost got, Guy.


Numero Dos: "I'm too cool to do actual work, but I still want to be the lead" Guy/Gal.


The list will continue.  Trust me!  However, this being a Holiday that was mythologically started by some undocumented gringos, who supposedly made peace with the natives by breaking bread with them, sharing their eating customs and offering a big, stupid, horn thing filled with apples, squash, corn, and other crap, accompanied by a smiling turkey that didn't know it's fate.  Hey man! The turkey, like the natives, thought he was going to be part of the new gang homies!  I still remember those cut out figures that the teachers would put up in class during this time of year.  Stupid.

You have my permission to copy and paste the above rant on all the Republican Candidates' Facebook and Twitter pages.  I don't beg, ever, except for forgiveness when I use to come home way too late in a drunken stupor.  But, I'm begging you to remind these candidates, because they like to bring up "Illegal Immigration" at their debates.  Their ancestors were f'n illegal for Che's sake!


There are many actors that inspire me.  It's not only their talent.  It's their work ethic, their drive, their desire to always improve their skills, take risks, share valuable information with other actors, help another actor out by referring a fellow actor to an agent or manager.  An actor like this is a TRUE GAMER. A PRO.  They deserve the title of WORKING ACTOR.    I know who you are all thinking of.  Thank you.  I appreciate it, but I'm not in the business of self promotion.  



The best way to illustrate the qualities of such an actress is through a little anecdote.

Once upon a time, in the land of Nueva York (New York), there lived a very talented, young, rising star, latino actor .  He worked hard at his craft: class once a week, scene work twice a week, stood in lines in the snow for auditions to non-paying gigs, etc. All this work was an addition to the many shifts he worked at his pinche restaurant job.

This young actor really started to shine while taking classes at a remote acting studio on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, two train stops south of Harlem.  I gotta throw in a little street cred for this guy.

In this class, many of the actors were allowed to take risks: discovering emotions that they are afraid to tap into, doing exercises that may seem unconventional, that allow the actor be free and find the truth of the scene.  It was a safe haven for actors.  Scary, but safe.

One day, because of his busy schedule, he could not attend his regularly scheduled class. He decided to make up the session in one of the other classes that his instructor taught.

Some of the students he recognized, because it was not uncommon for the actors to make up classes on other days or nights.

On this particular day, the young actor we are speaking of, was paired up with a beautiful, raven haired, doe eyed, actress.  She was about the same age as he, maybe younger.  There was something about her that made our hero sense that she was relatively new to the game.  

They began the usual "connecting with the other actor" exercise. What I'm feeling?  What's she's feeling?  What I'm getting?  What she's getting?  They would then began to communicate their emotions on a moment to moment basis, using their respective monologues.  It was a way to help the other actor listen and respond to what they were getting.  Totally organic!  Whole Foods would be so proud.

So, the moment to moment went on, and some sparks started to fly between the two.  At one point, the actress took off her shirt for the young actor.  Mind you, the teacher, and other students were witnessing this "moment".  She had on her sports bra, so there was no cause for alarm.  This teacher had some boundaries.  "Don't grab or hit anyone in the face."  That's pretty much it.

So this "moment" is continuing, and the connection is getting stronger.  The lovely, young, lady decides to grab the actor's hands and place them on her breasts.  She then begins to lie down on the floor, pulling him down with her.  "Oh MY GOD!  I LOVE THIS CLASS!", thought the actor.

The "moment" evolved into some kissing.  But of course, it was all about the reality of the moment.  This was an acting class, not bootycall.com!  Some would argue otherwise.  

Once the exercise was over, the teacher commended the young actress on her risk taking and for being so trusting, yet being "new at the game".  A-ha!  She was indeed new to acting.

The teacher then turned to the actor and thanked him for his generosity, and for not "protecting her because she was new yet not pushing her farther than she was willing to go", a common mistake with less talented and less considerate thespians.  

Once the class was over, she sort of disappeared into the Manhattan streets, like the "Little Mermaid" (not the Disney version) into the sea. Sniff. Sniff.   

Most actresses in Hollywood are so absorbed with how they will look, that they often hold back from going to those scary places.  They don't want to make an ugly, angry face, or they don't want to mess up their hair, or they're too sore from pilates, yoga, cleanse diet, etc.  JUST GO THERE GIRL!  Be the committed actress of the story.  Wrap yourself in the moment!  DO IT!  Be a TRUE GAMER!

I'm thankful for every actress that is like the one in the story.   I raise my glass to you.  You are Numero Uno on my Awesome List.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"All I want to do is act, but.....You need to write too!"

In The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield, he claims that an artist's true enemy is RESISTANCE.  It shows up in many forms: addiction, depression, fundamentalism, even as our closest friends or significant other.  

RESISTANCE becomes extremely powerful when we, as artists, choose to do something that is really meaningful to us.  Such actions include: writing our first play, taking an acting class, auditioning for a role that scares us, picking up the phone and calling that manager or producer that we've been wanting to work with, starting a charity to help underprivileged youth, or starting up the piano again after years of watching it collect dust.

RESISTANCE will never kick in when we decide to apply for a job at a bank, work as a tele-marketer, advertise the hottest strip club with a sandwich board, or choose to work handing out free food samples (at a very trendy/popular grocery store chain) to stupid adults that feel they are entitled to their pill cup sized, serving of mashed potatoes and free coffee and "How dare the food and coffee not be ready" when they mug up to the plexi-glass germ guard that somehow screams "Please stick your feces covered hands underneath and feel free to grab what you need, because I'm only standing here in a cholo hairnet, apron, Hawaiian shirt and rubber gloves to look cool." Not to mention the assaulting questions like: "What are you serving?" and "Mmmmm...What's for dinner?"  You hear them all freaking day long.  It's written in big ass letters across the plexi-glass, but they're too busy sticking their caca hands underneath it to notice.  Stoo-pee-Dos!


The Fitzgerald Within
You're used to these little rants by now.  Hehehe!  Five years ago, I was fortunate enough to go through LAByrinth Theater Company's, Master Class Intensive.  It was a five week workshop where actors participated in many disciplines of theater production.  We learned about producing, movement, dance, fight choreography, production design, improvisation, storytelling, acting (of course), and writing.  One of our writing teachers was multi-award winning, Tony nominated, playwright, Stephen Adly Guirgis("The MotherF#@!er With the Hat").  It was such an awesome experience.  Here was a guy that was writing roles that I could actually be cast in.  Believe me, I let him know how much his worked inspired me on many (somewhat drunken) occasions.  I'm glad he's still my Facebook friend.

Mr. Guirgis started out his career as an actor.  In fact, I watched him perform in LAByrinth's production of "Guinea Pig Solo" by Brett C. Leonard (also one of our writing teachers for the Master Class).  Obviously, Mr. Guirgis' body of work speaks for itself.  The guy can write and act.  He's really good.  When he talked about writing vs. acting, he said something that really just sunk in a few months ago.  "With writing, you have more control."  I completely understood what he was saying, but RESISTANCE had such a hold on me, that I chose not to write anything, until very recently.

"But, I'm an actor..."
As an actor/writer, you can develop and create material to perform in.  There are endless possibilities.  You don't have to rely on the decisions of a producer to offer you the part, or worry about your phone not wringing, etc.  You are in complete creative control.  The Muse is talking to "you" and "you" alone. This sounds awesome and empowering. Right?

Well, fear of sucking kicked in. Even though, deep down, I knew that I had a talent for writing.  However, I was an ACTOR!  My goal was to be on stage or on the screen.  I didn't want to be a writer who sometimes acted.  At that time, the actors I knew that were writing, had chose to write, because their acting careers didn't take off the way they had hoped.  We were tending bar and waiting tables side by side.  They were approaching forty. Chingada! I'm having an affective memory moment right now, because my heart is racing remembering the faces of those actors, transitioning into writers, who are no longer in the game.

I allowed RESISTANCE to keep his hold on me.  Over the years, I became more depressed, drank too much, had no money, and had very little acting opportunities.

All right!  All right!  I'll write!
Last year, I was in a new play by Josefina Lopez ("Real Women Have Curves").  When my run was over, I decided to stay involved with her theater, CASA 0101, and take a writing class.  The wheels started turning again.  All of a sudden, all these great ideas started sprouting.  As I write, I've had to narrow them down to two projects that I'm developing that will allow me the opportunity to act and write.  Honestly, I'm so f'n happy!

I feel like I'm actually accomplishing something, and my confidence as an actor has skyrocketed.  It turns out that life really is the best acting teacher.  Which leads me to the mocoso (snotty) actors that inspire this blog.

A lot of young actors today come out of these Academies and Conservatories with dreams of being the next star, which is awesome.  Can't knock the hustle baby!  I've never attended one of these schools, so I can't speak from experience.  My opinions are based on the conversations I had with graduates of these schools.  They are taught many facets of acting and theater production (costuming, set design/construction, sword fighting, dance, voice).  I've never heard one of them talk about a writing class that was part of their curriculum. 

I guess being a waiter is a good transition from an academy, because you end up "waiting" for that phone to buzz with a text or email about your next audition.   

I'm not getting many auditions, so what do I do?
I've heard from a few casting directors that they receive anywhere from 1000-2000 submissions for one line roles.  The interns weed out your picture without a thought.  BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!  Then they pass along their selections to the associate, who will pass along their selections to the actual casting director.  

Nothing you can do about that. You could bitch about your representation, but then you might get some Karmic backlash for that.  After all, we're never wrong.  Right?  There's nothing we can do about it.  Shit!  We're only in charge of our own destiny.  So, worry about the phone not ringing or use those creative muscles to actually create something.

It's crazy, because the internet is like this 1800's Gold Rush for actors, where there are plenty of opportunities to put yourself in front of millions of people. You have to take the bull by the huevos and create your own stuff.  If you wait to find a writer, producer, and director; it ain't ever gonna happen homie!  Sure there's a lot of crap on YouTube, and RESISTANCE is probably telling you, "It's not worth it.  Everyone is doing it already.  You're behind the times.  No one will ever see it.  There's too much already out there.  It's not original."  

What have you f'n have to lose?  Remember that fool that cried for Britney Spears?  He got some coin.  And that was CRAP.  Imagine what your creative mind could come up with?  Start with writing something.  Anything.  You'll be surprised at the wonderful things that will happen, and you'll be keeping those creative muscles going.  You'll start to become aware of new and awesome choices for that scene you've been preparing for your audition, workshop, or class.  

The more you keep the Muse at bay, the more you'll be bitter, and you will end up like the millions that fade away like the mists of Avalon.  Okay that was crap.  You get the message ese!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Back to the List! D-Bag Numero Dos: "I'm too cool to do actual work, but I still want to be the lead" Guy/Gal.

The idea for this blog came out of frustration with the many numbskulls and flakes I have encountered in the acting business. There are some "types" in this town that make you pause, shake  your head, and go "Ay! Ay! Ay!"

When I lived in New York,  actors would cram into little theaters to audition for a role in a non-paying, non-equity, black box, bathroom, basement, or outhouse theater production.  Rain, sleet, snow, floods, or swamp ass humidity (which caused serious chafing), actors showed up.  They were hungry and wanted to work. They wanted to work on their craft and be seen.  It's that warrior like hunger to be a working actor that I miss from New York City actors.  Although I was born and raised here in Los Angeles (Echo Park baby!); I am proud to consider myself a New York actor.

In that same spirit of creativity and a warrior like desire to get better at my craft, some friends and I started a creative company called Working Artists Lab.  I wanted to bring the same spirit of unity that spurred the formation of companies like LAByrinth Theater Company in New York (who I studied and worked with) and Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago.  Both started out small, meeting in basements of churches and black box theaters.  

Man!  Did they expand into something great.  Some of LAByrinth's notable members are: John Ortiz-Founder (Before Night Falls, Miami Vice, Narc), Stephen Adly Guirgis- Playwright (Jesus Hopped the A Train, The MotherF#@%er With the Hat, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot), Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Capote, MI3, Along Came Polly, Moneyball, Ides of March), Sam Rockwell (Choke, The Green Mile, Cowboys and Aliens).

A few of Steppenwolf's members are:  Gary Sinise- Co-Founder (CSI:NY, Forrest Gump, of Mice and Men), John Malkovich (In the Line of Fire, Dangerous Liaisons, Con Air, Being John Malkovich), Joan Allen (The Contender, The Upside of Anger, Manhunter).

Pretty damn Chingon!  Right?  Sadly, this desire to get together and create new work or push one's creative boundaries has not been too evident here in Los Angeles.  At least in my experience.

I worked with an upstart theater company from 2009-2010.  We did an outdoor Shakespeare show, using the caves at the Old L.A. Zoo as our stage.  It was a hell of a lot of work, but the show was a success.  I thought I found a company I could grow with.  

During the time of the Shakespeare show, the company would get together and read new plays, devote one night to working on acting exercises and scenes.

Then, the meetings started to become a party, less people showed up, and what we referred to as AA (Actor's Anonymous), should  have developed into an actual AA meeting.  I started to see signs of flakiness in actors and people started to show up to rehearsals late, not having lines memorized 2 days before the show opened, lack of response to texts and emails about production matters.  This was happening with the board members, mind you.  Show was over, on to the next.

Our next project was this massive undertaking of "Alice In Wonderland", which we called "The Alice Project".  We should have called it "Alice in CacaLand".  All of the actors put in so much work to get this show running that divisions happened.  It didn't help that we had a director that was only there half the time.  Not my choice, by the way.  

There were also many, many, dramas and issues going into the show, that many people just chose to stay away from each other.  By the time the show finished, we were all so sick of each other, and I drank enough to fill many many beer halls and liquor distilleries.  Throughout this time, the same people were showing up late, not responding to emails, not fulfilling their commitments, and many of these actors had big, juicy, weenie, roles too.  How f'd up is that?

The signs were there, I got the hell out of that steaming hot pile of mierda.  

After some time, my buddies and I started Working Artists Lab.  It's funny, because I invited some of the former members from the above mentioned company (all who left the hot mess that it was), to come play, work on your game, and just have fun.  No response.  NADA!  I thought things were cool.  Even if you have no desire to work with my group, a simple email or text to say "No thanks" or "Too busy" right now doesn't take much.  Right?  

Looking back, I'm the pendejo.  Some of the people I invited to play were those actors who had lead roles and didn't have their lines memorized or just showed a general indifference to things.

WTF was I expecting when I invited these fools?  I'm the type of brother that likes to give people the benefit of the doubt.  Probably one of my biggest downfalls.

It stings.  I ain't gonna lie.  I like to have a lot of people at my parties.  But you know what?  Quality is king.  The handful of my peeps that show up to work on scenes and monologues are the real rock stars.  They are the ones that I will refer to an agent, producer, manager, or director, to help them get ahead.  I know that they are troopers, and their heart is in the right place.  

The other fools get added to my D-Bag list.  So it's all good.