Art Has No Deadline
Many people believe that it takes luck to be successful, especially in the entertainment industry. It’s all about the right place, the right time, and who you know. I’m an actor. I’m a producer, a comedian, a writer, a creator, a mentor. I am all of these things because I shape my own destiny. I chose to create my own opportunities. Let me explain how I know this....
When I decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue my dream of being an actor, I was told that I did not have what it takes: I was too tall, not pretty enough, a woman, and most of all, I had a different skin color. I was born in West Africa, but spent my youth in Las Vegas, NV. My mother is African American and my father is Caucasian. Growing up in this blended, multi-cultural, “out-of-the-norm” family, made it difficult to know exactly who or where I belonged. The color of my skin was different, unique, and I never felt fully accepted—I was considered “unusual” or "exotic looking." I repeatedly had to explain to inquiring people why I did not resemble either one of my parents. My ethnic background is German, Polish, French, East Indian, Irish and Liberian. I always let people know that I am all of these things—one does not exist without the other. It is another way I identify with people, showing them I'm just like them. One person’s disbelief that I could possibly have German ancestry led him to suggest I ask my father if my mother had an affair with the mailman! It was difficult not to feel self-conscious about my ethnicity.
I was fortunate to learn quickly that personality goes a long way. I saw that I had the ability to change people’s perceptions, stereotypes, and skepticism by being sincere, funny, and honest. My self-awareness led me to see that I do have what it takes to succeed. So all those discouraging words did not undermine what I have at my core—drive, ambition, perseverance, talent, trust, and most of all faith. I truly believe that there is no such thing as the impossible. I only know how to make the impossible become possible.
And so back to my journey in the Entertainment Industry: I
have been hustling in Los Angeles for the past nine years to make my dreams come true. I start my day at 4:30 a.m. working until midnight. I work two jobs, mentor trouble youth, produce films, host a weekly radio show, act, perform as a comedian, and after completing this article, I can add published writer to the list. I have found L.A. to be the most magical place on earth. The people are open and understanding. There are thousands of artists who work as hard as I do every day—struggling to make the impossible, possible.
Despite all the drive and effort it takes, I also see my colleagues dreams diffuse from lack of follow through, drive, and just plane laziness. This infuses me with even more passion to pursue my goals and dreams. Being an artist is about the journey, it’s a marathon. I have been told countless times that I am talented and will be very successful in this business when “the right part comes along;” but I choose to not wait for my dreams to come true by someone else’s hand. I chose to create them. I stay involved in many aspects of the business because I know where I want my journey to take me, and at the end of the day, after all the hustling, running around, networking, emailing, auditioning, and phone calls, I go to bed at night knowing I am the only one who feels that ultimate goal. I stick to my childhood lesson that hard work pays off. This knowledge and fortitude helps me now as I work through obstacles and continue to work toward my vision.
And there have been obstacles: the numerous auditions, followed by rejection; the endless envelopes stuffed with headshots; the numerous film shoots with no pay. I’ve been told to lose weight, gain weight, cut my hair, grow my hair; be more black, be more white, be more Hispanic—can you learn Russian by tomorrow?!
And then there have been many more successes: my commercials, my plays, the soon-to-be cult film Easter Bunny Kill Kill. I have performed stand up at the world famous Comedy Store on the Main Stage, Jon Lovitz Comedy Club and Ice House. I produced several short films and am now producing my first feature film, which I will act in as well. And the biggest success of all are the many friendships that have developed over the past the nine years. These experiences, these connections bring me closer to my goal.
Someone once asked me how long would I work to make it in the entertainment business. My response is always the same: however long it takes. I am a student of the craft. I’m learning about what fulfils me, fulfills my passion, and magnifies my strengths and abilities. I may not look like everyone on television and film, but with our changing society, I am becoming the norm. I am the new “face” of my multi-ethnic generation, the New Hollywood, so to speak.
Every person has his or her own obstacles and hurdles; every artist has a story to tell, but in the end we are doing it together. I don’t compete with anyone. I have nothing to prove to anyone. However, I do know in my heart this is what I want to do, and that gets me up every morning to work toward my dreams.
Do I still need non-creative jobs to pay my bills? YES. But I would not change a thing. I am an artist, and will always pursue my art. When the going gets tough I am comforted knowing art sees no skin color, financial status, family background, social status and most of all, it has no deadline. With the right people on my side, I am able to continue on my journey. I can see my future. My strong family ties and friendships, along with my own drive, keep me positive and motivated. I am proud of who I am. I make no excuses. I can see the finish line because the dreams I create will one day become my reality. I am an artist among artists, and together we create magic because we have faith.
“The question for each man to settle is not what he would do if he had means, time, influence and educational advantages; the question is what he will do with the things he has. The moment a young man ceases to dream or to bemoan his lack of opportunities and resolutely looks his conditions in the face, and resolves to change them, he lays the corner-stone of a solid and honorable success.”
--Hamilton Wright Mabie
Charlotte Marie www.charlottemarie.org
*Please note that not all experiences, beliefs and ideas are shared by each member of the “The New Hollywood.” We are a group of shepherds, not sheep.
I AM WORTH MY WEIGHT!
by Rachel Leah Cohen
I could hear it with each step I took. DA-DUM. DA- DUM. The theme from Jaws, getting louder as I got closer. DA-DUM DA-DUM DA- DUM...louder...closer...my heart pounding...and I step on the scale...WHAT?!?!?!How in the hell could I have GAINED two pounds when all week I only ate grilled chicken, snow peas and celery. Do you know what grilled chicken tastes like with a side of snow peas and celery? It tastes like a diet.That was me for most of last year, in fact for most of my life. My life WAS a diet. Worse, it tasted like that, day in and day out. I was playing by all of the diet rules, the weight wasn't coming off, and I was a failure. I was lost.In addition to being a dieting failure, I also happen to be an actress. As a creative outlet, I decided to tell my woeful tales of dieting through writing a script.
Didn't really have any idea what I was going to do with it, but as I wrote more and started to share my stories, I realized that I was far from the only big girl on the block going through these ups and downs.
Hell, the block was filled with big girls, little girls, guys of all shapes and sizes...low self-esteem is not picky. We all succumb to it. We all look in the mirror and find something not to like. Something that makes us less than perfect. A fat roll, a wrinkle, a pimple.Strangely enough, as I dove further into my exploration of various dieting catastrophes, I actually started to lose weight. I went to a nutritionist and discovered that I'm allergic to certain foods that were preventing me from doing this before. So, physically, I was starting to get answers. Spiritually, I felt like I was confronting myself through my script, which I cleverly titled My Life Is A Diet. I wrote and produced the first episode and now it’s in the process of being sold to network television. I was releasing all of that pent up negativity and frustration. I was forgiving myself. Ironically, if I continue on this wonderful path and the show goes to TV, I may end up being too thin to play the role of myself because I have lost 80 pounds since this journey began. Ahhh, Hollywood.
You never open a door without closing a window. Seriously, now I'm healthier, happier, and liberated.
In fact, I may be going crazy with my new found freedom, because I've decided to run a marathon. I'd be lying if I said this was a lifelong dream. I actually made the decision after seeing the contestants run a marathon on The Biggest Loser (SUCH a great show) and wondering why the hell I couldn't do it too.
Honestly, though, these are people who had never run before in their lives, and there they were, pushing themselves past their limits, crying and sweating, and it was beautiful. I was inspired.I did my research on marathon training. Five month program, five days a week. Didn't know if I had enough inspiration in me for that. I needed something to run towards. Lucky me, I found Team In Training, an organization that raises funds to fight leukemia, Hodgkin's lymphoma and myeloma. When I started training, I didn't know anyone with blood cancers but that actually made the process more powerful for me. Over the course of my training, I have met people with lymphoma, heard stories of struggle and hope, and I carry ALL of these stories with every mile that I run. I'm running in honor of all individuals battling blood cancers. (See? Hollywood taught me something. When you run low on inspiration, borrow someone else's!)Life tastes a lot better these days. Even if it's the taste of my own sweat and spit as I pass the 18 mile mark. (Can you believe that?!? I ran 18 miles last week!!!) Having this goal helps all of that grilled chicken and celery go down a lot easier.
When I was in 6th grade, my parents gave me a postcard on the first day of school that I kept in my locker and still have today. It reads, “You Never Fail Until You Stop Trying.” Those words keep me moving, physically as well as emotionally.
I'll have more struggles, I'm sure. And my weight might even fluctuate a bit from time to time. But one thing I'm entirely sure of, this is the role I was born to play.
By Beth Gudenrath
“A voice is a human gift; it should be cherished and used to utter fully...” ~Margaret Atwood
What is your voice? Have you ever thought about it? We've all listened to our answering machine message and thought, “Do I really sound like that?” What does it mean to be powerful, filling a space with your voice and presence, without apologizing for being you—even if it is just in “leave a message after the beep?” Your voice reveals so much of who you are and, with your permission, it is a gift of freedom to yourself and others; it can express your authenticity—your uninhibited truth.
What I’m wondering then is this: what is it to speak your mind, to say your piece, to reveal something of yourself, to affect others? Do you often find it hard to say what you really want to say? As human beings we are taught different ways to behave depending on culture and family backgrounds. As women we are taught one thing, and men, in my experience, are taught something completely different. Through this socialization, we begin to form our identity. We learn propriety and manners based on our defined roles in society. We learn what to say or what not to say. “I can't believe you actually said THAT!” Or, “Don't say THAT. It might hurt their feelings.” True. “If you can't say something nice don't say it at all.” Really? “Is that what a real man would say?” If you strip away all of these prescribed ideas, these modes of behavior, we all have one thing in common—we are human. We are all human beings with feelings, emotions, instincts, and desires, who affect and are affected by the world around us.
Imagine a society in which women are taught to challenge, dominate and be powerful by speaking up when faced with adversity; and men are taught that crying and expressing feelings is strong. Imagine if we could be “lady like”, or “manly,” but also give had permission to accept the undeniable truth and complexity of the moment—not denying any part of who we are. Allowing our true voice to be heard and the vibrancy of our beings to affect the world around us in a much more deeper and dynamic way. But let me go back and start at the beginning and tell you my own personal journey in finding my voice.
First, let's start with the definition of voice. Well, simply (or not) it is sound produced by the vocal cords. Our voice, sound, is a vibration. It's an energetic vibration that is put out into the world and gives expression to feelings, thoughts, and our sincerity in a given moment. The 'vibe' you put out can include everything in you, even your nervousness, if only you give yourself permission to accept that truth, the truth of your human experience and speak from it.
When I first moved to Los Angeles from Nebraska I was the perfect definition of a “good girl.” I did all of the right things. I tried to say what people wanted to hear. Basically, I was just plain 'nice.' I wanted to be an actress, but when I got on stage, I could barely be heard. And when something mattered to me and my character, I didn't have the tools to express myself fully. I would become quieter rather than louder, and if I really had to make a point, or if I got upset, my voice would become higher pitched or squeaky. This lack of consciousness in myself, and my body, made me run away from the situation and the story.
I detached myself emotionally and overall I was not as present as I could be.
So, I started going to voice class and began to study a technique called Fitzmaurice. I studied my breath and my body. I studied what I unconsciously do and the ways I protect myself in order to not have to deal or feel. I discovered that not only did being so even tempered not serve my art, but it also didn't help me to stand up for myself in situations I wanted to excel in. I did not know how to say no. Somehow my need to please others became more important than my truth. Which led me, unfortunately, to many bad auditions, crappy dates, and some just plain embarrassing situations.
As I started to get more comfortable in my own skin, and to gain more life experience and self- awareness, I learned that I could say NO. I could speak up! But it wasn't easy. Even to this day I find myself reverting into old habits of submissiveness when confronted with high stake situations. It could be the big audition with thoughts of being judged. It could be the sexy Italian man that just walked in the room. Whatever the circumstances might be, and believe me they sometimes come out of nowhere, all of my power, all of my practice in speaking up and owning myself can go right out of the window. I am back to being that 13 year old girl—awkward and anxious.
The good news is over the years, I have learned that I am enough. I can stand here, and feel what I am feeling, even if I don't like what it is I'm feeling, and say what I have to say. And in doing so, the person or people I'm speaking to, the audience, responds and pays attention in an entirely different way. Their humanity senses my humanity and there is a recognition that happens in this exchange. The powerful thing is that the voice can allow you to touch someone. Not literally reach out and grab them, but affect the person you are talking to on a level that even their conscious mind might not know. If you allow your humanity to be present in yourself and your voice, the other person, or the group you are speaking to, will feel and perceive your point. Your voice will come across more effectively and deeper than even words can express. You become compelling. You become dynamic, vibrant, energetic, and thus, more resonant. That is power. That is truth. That is being alive! And that is what we are.
Studying my body, my breath, and my voice throughout the years with Fitzmaurice Voicework, and now teaching it, I've evolved. I've grown up and become an adult. (When did that happen!?) I've unleashed this effective and penetrating voice as an actress, as a teacher, and as a woman. I have the tools to truly exist and be present. To not only live in this world and survive, but to make a difference; to take each step deliberately along the way; to walk into the unknown and be ME, in a whole, omnipotent way.
“Once you've found your own voice, the choice to expand your influence, to increase your contribution, is the choice to inspire others to find their voice. Inspire, means to breathe life into another. As we recognize, respect and create ways for others to give voice to all four parts of their nature--physically, mentally, emotionally/socially, spiritually--latent human genius, creativity, passion, talent and motivation are unleashed. It will be those organizations that reach a critical mass of people and teams expressing their full voice that will achieve next-level breakthrough in society.” ~Stephen Covey
For information on Fitzmaurice Voicework, www.fitzmauricevoice.com For class info: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Please note that not all experiences, ideas, and beliefs are shared by each member of The New Hollywood. We are a group of shepards, not sheep.
Secrets to Avoid Holiday Pounds Julie DelaBarre, CN
It’s that time of year again. Yes, the holidays are here and yes, you are going to you eat too much of just about everything. Piles and piles of delicious food, sweet treats and second helpings are on display at every gathering.
Yes, the holidays are here, but they don’t have to sink your spirit and expand your waistline. Avoid holiday blues by eating smart and in sync with your body. Start this festive season off with uplifting habits and smart nutrition for a healthy and happy holiday.
Here’s The Secret!
STEP ONE: HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO!
Despite what you might think, you can have your cake and eat it too. There is a science behind preparing and eating a proper meal. It’s all about balancing our blood sugar levels.
When we eat carbohydrates, be it brown rice, cookies, or fruit, the glucose (the structure of the carbohydrate) gives us fuel. Glucose is what fuels our brain as well as our cells. That is why a low-carb diet gives you a headache and leaves you feeling tired and dizzy. You feel this way because you don’t have any fuel.
When we eat, the fuel from that meal is released into our blood stream to be used for energy, cell repair, and organ function. When we eat an imbalanced meal or just over eat, be it brownies or broccoli, the glucose is released into the blood stream faster than the body can use effectively. Our blood sugar spikes, we feel that ‘food coma’ or sugar high, and our body’s motto then becomes, ‘if you can’t use it, store it’ and our fat cells get fed.
The solution is proteins. When we eat protein we slow down the release of ??
If you want to have your cake, eat your protein first. When you do this, you protect your body from excess fat storage and energy dips. Life is meant to be celebrated, not regulated with rules so strict you can never enjoy another piece of chocolate for the rest of your life. Use this trick all New Year long.
Now that you have an A+ in food science, let’s talk about the secret to success; the soul.
STEP TWO: THE COMPASS OF NOURISHMENT
Nourishment isn’t just eating your protein and expecting miracles to happen, the carbohydrate’s fuel into our blood stream, which allows our body to use the fuel for proper energy use. This means no sugar rush, no food coma, no energy lulls, no sweet cravings, and most importantly, no fat storage, especially during the holidays. The body and the soul need nourishment, and sometimes we get our wires crossed. For the soul, nourishment is a creative indulgence. From painting a picture, going to the movies, learning a foreign language, reading to children, or perhaps volunteering at your local shelter. Creativity nourishes the hole in our soul. It makes us whole.
Your soul wants to be fed just as your body, but with creativity. Emotional eating is the roadblock to a happy soul. Stop feeding and start listening. Recognize patterns in your behavior that surround food. Notice how you suddenly become happy when it’s okay to have a second helping of dessert. No amount of food, no matter how sweet or delicious can satisfy the hole in the soul.
By practicing some sort of creative outlet, you will quickly discover that your soul is satisfied in a way that food can never attain. This is joy. It is at this moment that you will suddenly see your life begins to blossom. This is where real nutrition starts.
STEP THREE: EATING, A SACRED PRACTICE
We live in such a face paced, demanding society. We want what we want. We want it now, and we want it for less! In America, what we want can be found on every corner. We do not go without. This holiday season, don’t dine and drive. Slow down and create a sacred practice for nourishment.
As we listen to our soul and its need for creative nourishment, let’s now begin to also listen to our body. When we feel the hunger pangs, not emotional hunger, growing like a monster inside of our stomach practice eating gratefully.
As I work with clients, I create a realistic lifestyle of nutrition that includes dining out, drinks, and yes...the delicious dessert. The most important element of health is within. It’s the science and soul of nutrition. You can.
Before eating, give thanks for the food before you. For all those involved in preparing and providing the meal. Everyone from the cook, the deliveryman, the farmer, and even our graceful mother earth. Be grateful for all those involved in bringing you this plate of nourishment. Turn off the TV and be mindful and present with every bite. Be grateful for what is before you, all that surround you, and what is blossoming within you.
have your cake and a flat stomach, too. Life is meant to be celebrated, so this year be of good health and of good cheer.
For more information on nutrition appropriate for your goals, activity level and health, please inquire Julie@Julie.DelaBarre.com.
Eat smart, live well, be of good health.
The Zen of Pole Dancing
by Brianna Brown
As a little girl I stripped. Okay, that’s a lie. I did not strip but I did dance in my room for hours and pretended that I had taken dance classes. I’d teach my friends dance moves telling them my “magic” rock would inspire their inner dancer—a rock I had found out on our front porch and on which I drew a music note with a Sharpie. I’d put on performances with my friend at her day care several houses down from mine.
I would even host dance contests with my friends. We would judge each other from the waterbed in my bedroom. I pretended I was in the film “Dirty Dancing,” not really understanding the sexuality of it all, but loving the idea of being lifted up in the air by not just any boy, but one who liked me. I loved to move, to let my body be free — to dance.
Then middle school hit. I realized that performing my much practiced “snakemove” at the school dance, while impressive for showing off my upper arm and core strength, wasn’t exactly getting the cute boy to ask me to slow dance. And so I adjusted myself, like most adolescents, and danced like every one else and with everyone else. I never really understood why at school dances everyone would huddle up to the point where you could barely move, able to smell the person to your left, right and center because you were within inches from them. But I guess it’s like anything else - we all want to be loved, approved of, and acknowledged—so we conform.
Then came the boyfriend who was my example showing me how to break me free from my self- imposed dancing straight jacket. I remember wearing a snow flaked turtleneck sweater that I considered tight to our winter school dance. I was already a bit horrified because I never wore tight clothes so for me it was extremely revealing. My boyfriend showed up to the dance wearing an outfit accessorized with Christmas lights blinking and wrapping all around him—there wasn’t a teenager at that dance who didn’t notice us that night.
After the initial shock and stares, I remember feeling a sense of freedom, being pushed into a dangerous and unknown territory. To not care what others thought while I danced, to recognize that “yes, they are all staring,” and to experience all that and not dying from embarrassment, was a breakthrough.
When I moved to Los Angeles I felt like a nun in a sea of sexually realized girls and women. It seemed like every role I auditioned for either was making out, having sex with some guy or girl, or wearing a swimsuit, underwear, or even nothing! I was always reading to play a stripper, porno star, or some other female character that was clearly more comfortable with her sexuality than I was. I didn’t know how to access this sexuality and sensuality without coming off like an awkward pornostarwholookslikeshe’stryingtoohard. So I resisted the scrutiny and objectification, as I was terrified to be so vulnerable. I hid from it, or faked it, as best I could when I booked roles that required this very essential ingredient.
Fortunately, I had some understanding of both the acting world and the necessity to own ones sexuality, from my theatre teacher in high school, Mrs. Potter. Every play I was always cast wearing something tight—whether it was leather pants in “Jesus Christ Superstar” to a spandex unitardin“AttheHawk’sWell.” Ithelpedopenmyeyes,butitdidnotfullypreparemefortheovert sexualityinLosAngeles. Iwasraisedtobeagoodgirl. Icamefromaconservative,Christian.
So imagine their shock and horror to see their grandchild engaged in a lesbian kiss on “Smallville,” playing a internet voyeur on "CSI: Miami,” a high-end prostitute on “Criminal Minds;” or doing a love scene in “Timberfalls” and posing in a swimsuit in the magazine, Maxim.
My brother and I had a conversation once regarding women being over-sexualized in Hollywood. And as much as I agreed with him I also told him it is an aspect of human nature and that doesn’t mean it’s unnatural or wrong—just because I play a stripper or prostitute doesn’t make me one. Art is about exposing life and aspects of humanity. One day I’ll play a mother, a senator but for now I have to embrace this aspect of my human nature and tell these stories with authenticity. And so I find myself overcoming my inner resistance and healing my wounds regarding my sexuality— owning it!
In my mid-twenties I found a pole dancing class. I think this was a round the time that Oprah introduced the world to Sheila Kelley, who was teaching ladies how to strut their stuff. I was incredibly nervous to take my first class. To be in a dimly lit room with strangers, slowly moving my hips, while my mind raced with “am I doing this right, I hate this, what’s the point of this, etc.” The first few levels were very elementary and every one was still slightly self-conscious. We “learned” how to touch our own thighs slowly, to arch our backs and put our hands through one’s hair; learned to sway with the music and let the music move through our bodies.
And a point in a more advanced level, the little girl inside who loved to dance, move, perform and befreeofjudgmentreawakened. The ladies in the class felt free to dance and cheer each other on as we stumbled in our stilettos. I began naturally climbing up the pole and performing incredibly difficult upsided own tricks with ease. I was becoming present in the moment, the sound and beat of the music, loving my body for my curves and being able to let myself move. It was liberating and freeing beyond description. To dance without the rigidity of left foot here, right foot there, blah,blah,blah.
To be able to lie on the floor and have my finger tips really touch and feel the cold hardwood floor and to all of myself to enjoy it. To have no idea what I was going to do next but to simply turn my brain off and allow my body to lead. I realized that this form of dancing, thisself-expression,thismovementwassacredandhealing. It wasn’t for a guy or partner. It wasn’t to have someone like me. It wasn’t for approval. It was for myself. A gift to myself to remember what it was like to play, explore and be present—to be Zen.
I love dancing in general and I love pole dancing. I’ve never had a boyfriend watch me do my tricks on the pole because it’s not about that for me. It’s about uncovering a strength and power that comes from knowing my sensuality. Pole dancing has given me immense inner strength and self-confidence, and allowed me to explore parts of myself that I’m now able to utilize in my work. I hope that every woman who reads this and is inspired to explore this part of herself jumps without abandon and fearlessly runs with it.
I caution that, like finding a good therapist, it’s important to find the right studio and teacher so you feel safe and open to be vulnerable and explore. As women, we are taught so many “shoulds” in regards to our sexuality, and it can be frightening to challenge and face these beliefs and fears.
So, I leave this wish with you. May we all touch our curves with appreciation, spin around poles with abandon, enjoy the fabrics that we wear, allow ourselves the time to indulge sitting in our own skin, listen to music that inspires us to move, and express ourselves however we please in that moment.
"DANCE as though no one is watching you, LOVE as though you have never been hurt before, SING as though no one can hear you, LIVE as though heaven is on earth." -Souza
Please note that not all experiences, beliefs and ideas are shared by each member of the “The New Hollywood.” We are a group of shepherds, not sheep.
Posted on 01/08/2010 by Brianna Brown