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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Annie Freeman: Versatile, Theater Actress who lives in L.A., loves being on stage, and is damn proud of it!

El Comandante likes to raise his fist in the air to those actors that are committed to their art and who do things their way- REVOLUTIONARY STYLE!  Annie Freeman is one of those actors.  She's always prepared, professional, talented, ego-less, and very generous with her fellow actors.  She gives you so much to work with. She is a GAMER!  Not like the gamer in my one of my earlier entries.  Hehehe!

She is my first "Spotlight on an Actor" type of story, interview, thing....

Our conversation went, something like this:

EC: When did you start training as an actor?  

AF: I started my training in elementary school.  I was cast in a production of the "Wizard of Oz" when I was seven years old.  I was one of the munchkins (laughs).  I remember waiting in the wings and watching everyone in the show, studying their performances.  I learned the lines to the whole show.  My mom was a house cleaner.  She would take me along to various jobs, and I would perform the whole show while she cleaned houses.

EC: Imagination.  Crucial part of an actor's training.

AF: Definitely.

EC: Can you recall, when you were "bit by the acting bug", and decided that this was what you wanted to do professionally?

AF: When I was cast in the "Wizard of Oz". Then, instead of growing out of a childhood hobby,  it grew into a career. I have studied many forms of acting disciplines, dance, musical theater, classics.  I went to a performing arts school in Junior High and High School.  Around High School, I realized that I preferred straight drama as opposed to musical theater.  

EC: Where else have you trained?

AF: I went through the theater program at USC.  During my junior year, I spent a semester at BADA in London.

EC: L.A. is the film capital of the world.  For many actors, theater is a waiting room for to stay sharp while their number gets called for a film or television role.  How do you respond to this?

AF: I think it's unfortunate that theater is "just a stepping stone" for film and television work.  I love working in both mediums, but you don't get the same spontaneity from film work.  There's a lot of stop and start.  It's a different discipline, very visual, and it relies on editing.  I love it too, it's just a different art form.  With theater, you have a connection with the audience.  You have to be on your game all the time.  At the Archway Theater, where I have worked on two productions directed and produced by my business partner, Steven Sabel, we have had the privilege of working with some talented actors who love working in theater and are dedicated to it.

EC: You've done quite a lot of Shakespeare?  Where are some of the notable venues and companies that you have worked in?

I have played Ophelia twice, in London and at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum.  I played Rosalind in "As  You Like It" at the Redlands Shakespeare Festival.  Recently I was Lady M at the Archway's inaugural production of "Macbeth: Shakespeare's Natural Born Killers". 
EC: You created a physicality for Lady Macbeth that I haven't seen in your previous work.  How do you prepare for a role?  What was different about your preparation for Lady Macbeth?

AF: I approach every role differently. Sometimes from the outside in, and sometimes from the inside out. I have had the privilege of studying various techniques, from physical acting methods such as LaBan and Viewpoints, to text training with scansion and determining operative words. As I learn more about the character through reading and re-reading the text, I discover what approach I want to use with them. Steven, the director, and I really worked on finding the center of energy for Lady Macbeth.  She references in the play that she wants to have the will, strength, and drive of a man to fulfill her desires.  Steven and I collaborated on where in the body this drive would be centered and worked from there.  Working with classical text is extremely helpful, because there is so much in the words that you can work off of. Once you understand the text, it's much easier to figure out what direction you want to go with the character.

EC: You're a certified  Yoga teacher.   You apply Yoga to your prep work and to your process.  How is Yoga helpful in achieving the ultimate goal for an actor of "being completely in the moment"?

AF: Yoga helps connect your body to your breath.  Through deep breathing, fluid movement, and held poses, an actor can develop a deeper level of body awareness.  This can help an actor connect his voice with his movements on stage.  In turn, the actor will be less distracted by tension, allowing the actor to get out of their head and live out each scene in the moment.

EC: Lee Strassberg pointed out in his book "A Dream of Passion" that Yoga and meditation are great tools for relaxing the body, but they do not help address the issues of tension that an actor deals with- tension that stems from emotional blocks or trauma.  Obviously you disagree with this point.  Why?

AF:  I don't necessarily disagree with it. Take for example the role of Ophelia.  I feel that the character was purposely underwritten.  Her predicament was such that she couldn't express her thoughts, vocally, due to fear.  I believe that she carried a lot of tension in her throat.  To develop the character, I had to identify what causes tension in my throat, that would make it difficult for me to speak.  Yoga is mainly about creating space in the body, and with certain characters, you want to be able to have that space and liberation in the body part(s) where their motivating energy is focused. However, due to the emotional situations of some characters, I believe it is more important to tap into where they are restrained, where there isn't that "space". Yoga teaches you how to access those parts of the body, but I believe you must dig deep into the character's emotional core to be able to actually create that tension.

EC: You are currently performing in "The Trojan Women" at the Archway Theater, under the direction of Steven Sabel.  What character are you playing?  How did you approach this character?

AF: I'm playing Andromache.  Unlike Lady M, I developed Andromache from the inside out.  Andromache is dealing with a lot of internal pain due to the war, having witnessed the terrible slaughter of her husband. I use visualization, imagination, and some substitution to relive the pain that she is going through. 

EC: Is there a contemporary spin on "The Trojan Woman" like there was with "Macbeth"?

AF: No. Steven and I felt that it was important to keep the original Greek setting.  Aside from the Getty Villa, there aren't many places in Los Angeles where you can see Greek tragedies in their original context.

EC: Why do you feel this play is relevant today?

AF: It deals with the loss of loved ones due to a war.  That really hits close to home now with troops being pulled out of Iraq.  It's amazing the reaction we are getting from the audience.  I've had people come up to me after the show, not expecting to be so affected by the play.  

EC: Do you have plans to pursue bigger film and television roles?

AF(laughing):  Yes!  I have an agent, and he sends me out.  For now, I'm really enjoying being on the stage.

EC: Do you have dream role?  What is it?

AF: Hedda Gabler.

EC:  Ooohh!  I could definitely see that.

AF: Yeah.  It's a role I would really love to tackle.

Annie Freeman 

Annie has been training in the practice of yoga for more than eight years, and has been instructing students for four years. She completed her 200-hour instructor training in 2009, and has since been teaching a wide variety of styles and levels, including Yoga for Kids, Mommy & Me Yoga, Pre-Natal Yoga, Yoga for Seniors, and Hatha and Vinyasa Flow Yoga for all levels of practitioners. Annie has taught at various studios and fitness centers throughout Los Angeles and Orange County, including Triad Yoga, Sports Club LA, Avalon Senior Center, and the USC Lyon Center. Annie developed the original yoga classes for the NYSP Trojan Kids Camp in 2008, and has taught other workshops for kids at Triad Yoga and YogaWorks. Annie has served on the management teams at YogaWorks in Westwood and Triad Yoga in Irvine.

As a graduate of the theatre schools at the University of Southern California and the Orange County High School of the Arts, Annie has extensive training in theatre arts. She has also studied classical acting at the British American Drama Academy and Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum. Annie’s stage credits include a variety of classical and contemporary roles, including world premieres of original productions. For the past five years, she has also been teaching acting classes for children through after-school and summer programs.

"The Trojan Woman" runs for two more weekends, Thursday-Sunday, Jan. 26-29, and February 2-4. The show will close on Saturday night, February 4th.  Curtain is 8pm for the Thursday-Saturday shows and 2pm on Sundays.

The Archway Theater is located at 305 South Hewitt  Los Angeles, CA 90013, in the heart of the Arts District.

For tickets and information, go to http://www.archwayla.com/ or call (213)237-9933.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Horale! Demian Bichir and Berenice Bejo receive Oscar Nominations! There is hope.

El Comandante is so happy!  Any Latino artist should be proud.  Two Latinos have been nominated in major acting categories for Los Oscars.  I hoped and prayed that this would happen.  I wasn't as active about promoting Berenice's performance, because (my bad) I though she was French.  It wasn't until recently, when I watched my screener of "The Artist" that I discovered she born in Argentina!  Home of the father of Latino Revolutionaries:  Ernesto "Che" Guevara!  Congratulations Berenice!  Besos!

As for Demian: You did it compa!  The Academy voters watched a movie about an undocumented, Mexican,  gardener, and decided that you deserve a shot to win the ultimate award in Hollywood.  Who would have guessed that a film like "A Better Life", under the wonderful direction of Chris Weitz, had a shot at receiving the recognition that it deserves?  It was released in the middle of the summer, well before Academy caliber films are released.  I believe the passion and hard work of many Latino actors, artists, and pro-Latino organizations contributed to the film receiving the recognition that it did, so late in the game.  We utilized the power of social media to get the word out and to encourage everyone to support "A Better Life".  

Perhaps the Academy voters realized that Carlos Galindo's story is also the story of their gardeners, housekeepers, and nannies.  I hope that "A Better Life" will continue to change hearts and that the message will encourage lawmakers to reform immigration laws, so that innocent people who want to make an honest living can stay in America and not be treated as murderers, rapists, human and drug traffickers. 

Of course an Oscar win for Demian would be monumental.  Hollywood may start greenlighting more projects that feature great roles for Latino actors.  Leading roles, even!  Simon ese! However, and I know Chris Weitz would agree, the ability of the film's message to change hearts is what is most important.  Right on homie!

Also see:

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

It's All Good Spike. It's All Good.

You either love Spike Lee's work, or you hate it.  In fact, you either love him or you hate him.  Period. The way he portrays himself in the media rubs many people the wrong way.  Spike comes off as abrasive and arrogant.  He has even been accused of reverse discrimination. Whatever that means?

He definitely approaches Hollywood the way Hall of Fame, NBA Center, Bill Russell approached Basketball- with a serious chip on his shoulder.  These two men have a lot in common.  Both are very outspoken, champion Civil Rights for African-Americans, have or had a bitter relationship with the media, and played or worked for organizations that were dominated by white Americans (Russell for the Boston Celtics, Lee for "Hollywood"). They also share another, important trait:  They were both pioneers in their respective fields.  

Bill Russell is considered the first, African-American, NBA Superstar.  He holds the most championship rings of any NBA player.  A dominant defensive force, he still manged to score 14,522 career points.  Bad ass!

Spike Lee is a revolutionary filmmaker.  His debut indie "She's Gotta Have It" helped light the fire for the independent film movement of the late 80s and early 90s, along with Stephen  Soderbergh, Jim Jarmusch, and others.  Sadly, his name is not mentioned in Wikipedia's entry about Independent Film.  No wonder he's so pissed off.  More on that later. 

Spike, in my humble opinion, is the first, African-American, Filmmaker to really deal with modern day issues of African-Americans such as: racial tension, drug abuse, unemployment, tensions between light skin and dark skin African-Americans, interracial relationships, infidelity, religion, poverty, and police corruption.  In a nutshell, Black people were not always the one dimensional, thugs, pushers, servants, slaves, or threatening antagonist that Hollywood portrayed them to be.  

His characters were normal: students, businessmen, musicians, ministers, radio djs, and sex phone operator.  They ate together at the dinner table like many Americans.  He showed them making love, going out on dates, having arguments, all in a way that defied any Hollywood stereotype. Sure, there was a thug thrown into the mix, like Delroy Lindo's character in the wonderful "Clockers".  But that portrayal was so well rounded.  You feared him, yet envied  his power.  

I think it's fair to say that Spike is always in combat mode.  He definitely stirs the pot, like every great artist.  Yeah, his ego was out of control with the making of "Malcom X".  Big studio project.  Big clusterf*#k of a production.  There was some whispers about Spike saying something about kids skipping school to go see this movie on opening day.  He raised a stink when he requested the media to send Black journalists for press junkets.  When he made "Do The Right Thing", he claimed that only white journalists pressed him about whether Lee's character "Mookie" acted irresponsibly by inciting the riot that burned down Sal's Pizza (Sal being an Italian-Amarican played by Danny Aiello).  Like I said, the guy likes to stir the pot.  So it should have been a no brainer that he would take on the task of directing a bio-pic of one of the most controversial figures in Civil Rights history.  He took some big hits for this one.  It took the generous donations of prominent African-American figures like Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Janet Jackson, and Prince, to name a few, to save the movie from being taken over by the bond company.  The budget swelled to over 33 million.  

According to Box Office Mojo, the total, domestic take for "Malcolm X" was $48,169,910.  It grossed more than the production budget, Denzel Washington was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Malcolm X, and it was well received by many critics.  Yet, I remember all the media focusing so much on the negative attention that this movie was receiving, i.e. the budget issues, Malcolm X's "pre Mecca" views about whites, the fact that it opened third its first weekend.   Spike took some hits.  He always does.

It seems like anything he does, the media will always be waiting for Spike to say or do something that makes them "uneasy", so they can pounce on him.  It's like the tattle tale kid that can only get his revenge on the bully by ratting him out for something lame.  The people I know that have issues with Spike happen to be white.  Is it because his movies have strong, black, characters, that are empowered?  Is it because the white characters in his movies are often portrayed as racists?  Shit!  Hollywood has portrayed minorities in a negative light throughout its existence.  What's wrong with holding a mirror to Hollywood and giving the town a taste of its own medicine?  

I can't recall an example of an outspoken, white, filmmaker, on par with Spike Lee, that has received as much negative attention as he has.  I honestly don't think there is one.  And if there is, I'm sure Hollywood would create enough spin for that person to make us forget all of his or her breakdowns, outbursts, and other run ins.  

Spike has never had a public run in with the law, been through rehab, received a DUI, or any of that nonsense that many celebrities do. So what's his crime?  Being an outspoken, African-American, filmmaker?  So what if he talks smack to NBA players that play against his beloved Knicks?  Jack does the same thing at Lakers games.  I don't think he gets in their grill, a la Reggie Miller, but Jack certainly talks some smack.  Everybody loves Jack.  It's amazing how some public figures can get away with outrageous behavior, while others cannot.  Not to say that cheering for your team is outrageous.  

This brings me to a report about a profanity laced outburst he had at Sundance.  After a screening of his latest film "Red Hook Summer", a Q & A was held where Chris Rock asked what he would have done differently had the movie been financed with studio money.  Spike financed the film with his own money.  According to the article, Chris Rock asked the question in a joking manner.  Spike didn't find it funny, which led him to go off on the tirade.  How bad it was, who knows?  Only those that were there actually know.  I do, however, think that this story will reinforce any negative pre-conceptions people may have about Spike Lee. I don't think it's fair.  But, fair is never part of the equation in the spin game.

Many years after retiring from basketball, Bill Russell reconciled with the media and the city of Boston.  He's become an ambassador of the game.  He played tough, stood up for the rights of Africa-Americans (at at time when it wasn't popular to do so), and didn't give a shit what fans or the media thought of him.  He played to win.  

Although his films have never been considered huge, commercial, blockbusters, Spike Lee has won over many critics and received multiple awards for his contributions to the arts. "Do The Right Thing" and "Malcolm X" have been selected for preservation in the National Film Registry, by the Library of Congress, as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."  Will he one day get the love the way Bill Russell now gets it?  Who knows?  I don't think Spike will ever stop swinging.  
It's all good Spike.  It's all good.   Spike would probably say, "You're mother(expletive) right, it's all good."  Keep fighting man!

State your piece.  Love Spike, or hate Spike.  If so, why?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Stop Acting!

I obsess about acting sometimes.  Actually, I do it quite often.  It tends to happen when I'm not working on a play or shooting something, which happens more often than not throughout an actor's career.

I replay performances by brilliant actors in my mind, marveling over their mastery of the craft.  Thoughts like, "Wow!  How did they get to that place?", or "What tools did they use to create the physicality of their character?" run rampantly through my mind.  Sometimes, marveling too much can bring you down and make you second guess your own talent.  It's these times when I'll take note of a simple, amazing performance by a modern day master.

If you have the time, take a moment to watch James Earl Jones in this episode of "Frasier".  His scene doesn't occur until the middle of the clip.  It's worth the wait.  We're so used to immediate results these days, that the thought of sitting through some great comedic acting for three minutes is nerve racking to some.  Just chill.  Enjoy the work.

I know what you are thinking.  We're talking about James Earl Jones here, the man with the most commanding voice in show business.  He's Mufasa, Darth Vader, and "This is CNN".  He could read the ingredients to the label of processed food, and we would all be captivated.  Only he could turn the words "Xantham Gum" and "Dextrose" into an awe inspiring performance.  But, slow your roll for a minute.  We all got our own thing.  Maybe not the most commanding voice.  Maybe we can't cry on cue.  Some of us are not at that level, yet.  However, we all have something to say.  You may not think it's interesting, but it's no one else's process.  The fact that it's uniquely yours, makes it interesting.  Feel me? 

What struck me the most about Mr. Jones performance is how you could tell that, as the character, he believed every line he spoke.  Despite the fact that his character is blind, you could actually witness him visualizing his memories.  You believe the history he shared with his wife, and the history he shared, listening to Dr. Frasier Crane's radio show.  This is where I had my "Duh! That's how you do it!" moment.  The lines create the history of the character.  They are a map, as one of my brilliant acting teachers Richard Seyd would say.  You just have to trust your craft, which is the scariest thing in the world.  

We're all scared of sucking.  But, when you take that leap and have that genuine connection with the material; that's when the audience and your fellow actors are with you.  In turn, you inspire someone else.  Now, if we can all get a shot to put our mugs on t.v. or the big screen to give people the chance to "marvel at our mastery".  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Holiday Theme Blog Entries

Thursday, January 19, 2011- 14:38

I find it interesting that my entries revolving around holidays or memorials do not attract as many readers.  

Could it be, as the ever so wise Jefe from "Three Amigos" fame, asks, that my faithful readers think that I am doing some run of the mill celebration or remembrance on those days?

Could it be, that the entries suck?  My readers quickly spread the word and tell people to stay away.

Could it be, that people don't care about anything with a theme?  Maybe I should take a Kardashian, sensationalistic approach to my entries and use titles like:  "Hookers and free booze!"  "Find the right stud!"  "Cougars are everywhere and ready to fuck on a whisper!"

That would require me to throw my standards out the window.  I'm not complaining at all.  It's just very interesting.  Perhaps, I need work on my titles.  Then again, I didn't utilize every Social Media avenue to promote those entries.  

Maybe people don't give a shit about my personal reflections.  Hey!  I can't be "on" all the time.  

One thing that is for sure, I am maturing a bit.  I'm finding things to write about that I am excited to share.  It's not like I didn't want to write about those other topics, but there is certainly a level of sensationalism in my earlier topics.  I like witnessing my growth.  

I'm going to keep on going on, stirring the pot and continuing to keep the conversation going.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Dr. King and Peaceful Revolution

The Spirit of Revolution is remembered today on the anniversary of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  I would like to take a moment to also remember Medgar Evers, Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez, Ghandi, and to all of the souls that lost their lives fighting for the right to vote, to have equal opportunity in education, and to be treated as equal human beings.  You will never be forgotten.  

Last year, we witnessed the Spirit of Revolution rise from dormancy.  Revolutions in the Middle East, Protests in Wisconsin, riots in London, and the birth of the Occupy movement.

There will always be injustice to fight.  In order for true change to happen, we have to look within.  "He who casts the first stone..."

I am flawed.  I am a hypocrite, but I strive to hold my head high and do the right thing in the face of adversity.  Those that I mentioned above had the courage and risked everything to do the "right" thing.  Dr. King and Medgar Evers were assassinated for their plight.

I want to leave you with a poem that one of the "Muses" asked me to share with you.  These are not my words but the words of the "Muse".  Serio.

Challenging the status quo,
we fight, get beaten.
Flogged into submission,
taken aback by our woes.

Out of the ashes, Phoenix rises.
A chance for change,
Delivering hope, executing justice,
at the expense of AMORAL laws!

A dream turned into a vision,
a vision into a battle,
Never to be cornered without swinging.

The spirit of equality, an entity so great,
Will never be quelled by money, greed, laws, power, or hate.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"Moneyball" and the audience for character driven dramas.

El Comandante is proud to be a union member.  This last week, I received my screeners of "The Artist", "The Help", "The Descendants", "Bridesmaids", and "Moneyball".  I also received the codes to download "The Iron Lady" and "My Week With Marilyn".  Cool stuff.  After all, I pay dues and hope to get work that can pay me in the thousands for only a few hours work.  It's not always about the money, it's the thrill of being a part of something greater than yourself, such as a big ass movie or television show.


For the past few years, I've been hearing about the dwindling audience for dramatic movies.  I'm not going to get into statistics, but it's fair to say that movies like the "Transformers" franchise get all the praise for their box office returns rather then their critical acclaim (not good for that franchise).  Although "Moneyball" and "The Social Network" did pretty well at the box office, they certainly didn't pull in the receipts of 90's dramas like "Schindler's List", "Saving Private Ryan", "Apollo 13", and "Forrest Gump".  Those films opened well. However, it was the word of mouth that helped those movies, eventually, achieve the "blockbuster status". Check Box Office Mojo for all the numbers when you can.  As an example, last fall, I saw plenty of billboards pumping "J. Edgar".  Clint Eastwood directing Leonardo DiCaprio in bio-pic.  Great credentials there.  It topped out at $36 mill.

These days, if you're film doesn't have a $50 million dollar opening, it probably won't reach the $150 mill mark to be considered a true "Box Office Success".  Consider that dramas with big stars attached hover around the $50-$75 million dollar price tag.  

"Moneyball" was tricky, because the previews led you to believe that it was a triumphant, feel good, baseball movie.  In a sense it was.  This wasn't "The Natural", "For Love of the Game", or "Field of Dreams".  Mainly, it was a character study about a man with many conflicts, who achieved something no one would have ever imagined: put together a playoff team that won 20 games in a row, on a shoestring budget.  It resonates well with many in the movie making business. 

So, how can the average person, especially women, identify with this story?  For starters, everyone has dealt with opposition of some sort.  The threat of losing a job, looking foolish, fear of failure, or being a single parent, are all issues anyone one of us has struggled with.  Right?  In order for us to be invested, a good film has to create sympathy for the protagonist.  I think the film did this, without hitting us over the head with melodrama or other film gags.

The film was rather quiet- no overbearing scores or dramatic musical cues.  The acting was superb in that the silences between Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) and A's manager, Art Howe (Phillip Seymour Hoffman)were so rich.  The film was an acting lesson in "less is more".  I don't want to say that the pace of the film was slow, because people will associate it with "boring".  Through moving images, as a good film will do, the life of the protagonist (Beane) was analyzed, leaving the audience time to take the journey with him.  A role like this is an actor's dream; something they can chew on.

I guess my issue with why this film didn't make a chingon of $$$ ($150 million and up) is, because Hollywood (like any business) is a "strike gold now" industry.  Development and slow growth is caca!  You give a show 3 episodes.  If the ratings suck: Adios!  The film opens at $10 million: TANK!  

I want Hollywood to continue investing in films like this.  For selfish reasons, it gives me the opportunity to land a role in a movie that I would be proud of.  Do you think anyone is going to make a film like "The Deerhunter" or "The Godfather" today?  HA! 

I also have to remember that my peers who would have flocked to see a movie like this 15 years ago, probably have families now.  It's tougher to get away to see a movie when you have a family to feed, mortgage, car payments, etc.  You have to get a sitter. Pay her $10 an hour to watch your kids for three to four hours.  Now you have to sport the cash for dinner and a movie.  We're talking about a $200 night out.  That's a car payment ese!  

Perhaps the direct to dvd or direct streaming option will no longer have the stigma attached that movies starring aging, action stars (that can't act), once did.  Things are changing all the time.  Years ago, no one would have thought that an A-List movie star would be doing television.  Commercials?  Sheeeeiiiiiiiit!  

It's all happening before us.  It's sad, because nothing can replace the experience of sitting in a theater, enjoying a wonderful film.  Only the video game and "sexting" generation will be able to enjoy this privilege while Tweeting, updating their Facebook status, or "sexting" someone other than the person they are on a date with, during the midnight screening of "Paranormal Activity IVL" or "Devil Inside MY CULO".

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Movies, Memories, and Magico

El Comandante has a soft spot in his heart.  Movies, popcorn, and candy fill a large part of that spot.  What's amazing is how movies can trigger specific memories, emotions, and senses.  

I can recall the sight and smell of the old theater on Alvarado (now an indoor swap meet)where I saw "Star Wars" for the first time.  I remember the color of the living room carpet and the pizza my family ordered when I first saw the "Muppet Movie" on this new service, ON TV- the precursor to cable.  I'll never forget seeing the first "Superman" at the Chinese Theater.  Every time Superman would display a feat of strength, my Dad would lean over to me and say "If you drink your milk, you will get that strong." I hated milk as a kid and can't stand the stuff to this day.  Got Nothing!  Give me Tequila!

Sadly, I will never forget how heartbroken I was when my Dad came to pick me up at school to take me to see the new movie with Han Solo, as I referred to him, "Raiders of the Lost Ark".  I was in first grade.  My parents had just divorced. I didn't know what custody was, or why I couldn't go with my dad.  He was my pops!  My mom tried to explain it to me.  Something about him taking me from her.  It just didn't make sense.  I was taken home by the babysitter.  No Han Solo movie that day.

Happy or sad,  each movie is a reminder of a special place and time in my life.  Those moments made me who I am, fueling me with the emotions that I would later put into my work.  Who knew that a moving picture in a dark room would captivate me so much that I would devote my life to pursuing the opportunities to take people on their own journey and be a part of making their own special memories?  That's worth more than any statue or star on the sidewalk to me.  No lie.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Resentment, Regret, and Fear

I don't think that I've ever met a Cuban who thinks Fidel Castro is a wonderful leader.  For starters, any Cuban I would have discussed this topic with, would be residing in the USA.  This means that: A.) They left Cuba in exile or defected while visiting the USA.  B.) They managed to obtain a visa to immigrate to the USA via a government lottery. C.) Were born in the USA of parents who arrived here via A. or B.

Castro and the Cuban embargo are serious hot button topics with Cuban Americans.  Dare you suggest that the embargo is outdated, useless, and causing more harm to Cuban residents, and watch a shit storm of Ricky Ricardo rants fly at you. "coño"  this and "coño" that.  You can't even get a word in.  They'll go on for hours on how Castro is evil.  He's worse than Hitler.  On and on and on and on.  Their hatred towards Castro is an obsession.  My dad, likes to get a rise out some these obsessive, Castro haters.  Hmmmm?  I wonder where I get it from?  Anywayzz...Just to watch someone go on a rant, he'll say stuff like "Castro provides you with free health care and free education.  How bad could he be?"  or "The literacy rate is close to 100 percent."  Man!  Watch the rants fly.  It's almost comical.

My dad would make this quasi-spiritual claim that "Their obsessive, collective hatred toward Fidel Castro is what fuels him and keeps him alive for so long."  There have been incidents where Fidel has fainted and been hospitalized.  Cubans in America take to the streets in celebration, only to find out that he's going to pull through.  Sike!  Maybe there's some truth to my Dad's logic.

You might be thinking,"Comandante!  You're a revolutionary.  Shouldn't you stand by your fellow revolutionary brother?"

I honestly don't know enough about Castro to justify stating how horrible or great he is. I haven't lived through what many Cuban Americans have.  

As an actor, I witness this type of obsessive "hating".  Many actors go through their careers hating on others, the industry, their agents, the casting directors, the terrible theater companies, the scams, photographers, workshops, etc.  All of this resentment is focused on bringing others down, rather than trying to tackle the  source of the resentment.  I meet so many people who wallow in negativity, because things aren't going so well.  Shit!  We all go through the ups and downs.  It's part of life.  We don't have to live in it though.  It stinks in there.  You know?  

Everyday, something or someone that did me wrong pops into my head.  I start thinking about what I would say to that person, or how I would have done things differently.  Sometimes the scenarios get heated and violent.  After a while, I'm like, "WTF man?  It's all in your head.  That person is not even in front of you.  That thing happened a long time ago."  Before, I would just go to the bar to drown my sorrows.  I guess you could say that "I've seen the light."  

I came to the realization that focusing my energy on creativity and extending myself to fellow artists is going to serve me better.  Since the attitude shift, I have accomplished more goals that will lay down the foundation for a thriving career.  I'm inspired to write my own material, and I'm taking more creative risks.  As artists, this is what we live for.  

In a couple of more days, people will be breaking all of their resolutions.  Fuck resolutions! They're meant to be broken.  Be bold.  Start a revolution.  Make the shift.

The revolution is not a physical one.  It's about the revolution within.  I strive to live my life with integrity, positivity, and compassion for all.  My war is against the ego, which is responsible for feelings of resentment, which lead to regret, which lead to fear, which lead to evil actions towards others.  I kind of sound like Yoda there, without the jumbled phrases. "Speak and write clearly do you".  Yeah, yeah, chiquito verde (little green one).  This revolution "will not be televised".

I realize this entry sounds a bit like if "My Journey As an Actor" hooked up with "The Dos and Don'ts of the Acting Business".  It's really not.  My motive is simple:  to provide you with the wisdom to keep you off my D-Bag list.  Happy New Year!