Life is a Dance: How I Booked My First TV Series
by Alexis Carra
“The body says what words cannot.”--Martha Graham
I’ve always danced—since age 2, I have danced. It is my soul language, my first language, and the one where I feel the most at peace—completely myself. I chose to dance professionally because I truly had no idea what else I could do that would fulfill me and challenge me the way being a dancer does. After four years of a university education, I moved to New York to pursue my dreams of dancing on Broadway. Those dreams came true a year and a few months after my big NY move. And so I did it. I had the privilege of performing on Broadway stages in shows such as Wicked and Sweet Charity. I got to come in and out of stage doors as fans and audience members waited for autographs and took pictures.
After 6 years of pounding the pavement in NYC and soaking in audience laughter, clapping, an orchestra booming, backstage ballet barres and Wednesday matinee’s, I made a leap into the unknown and moved to Los Angeles. I wanted a change, I wanted warm weather, and I was ready for a new kind of challenge. It was time to stretch my creativity and artistry.
Little did I know becoming a film and TV actress after being on Broadway is a lot more challenging than I thought. I really knew nothing about the industry in Hollywood and what it takes to persevere and be successful in Los Angeles. That choice to take the leap has become the best thing I could have ever done to my heart, soul, creativity and character.
I’m one of the lucky ones, I know. There is an immense amount of talent in the City of Angels. I have seen it in so many classes, workshops, theatre pieces, improv/sketch shows and short films. My friends are ridiculously talented people—some working and some not working nearly as much as they should be. I feel immensely grateful and humbled by my recent success and what it’s taught me.
This past year I’ve been working mostly on a pilot I shot in March of 2013 called Mixology. It is a dream come true story. The show features an ensemble cast telling the story of 10 singles in a Manhattan bar searching for love and connection. It was created by genius writers, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who wrote the hilarious film The Hangover, and produced by Ryan Seacrest and ABC Studios. The fact that it is a large ensemble created the possibility for me to actually book a network TV gig despite not being a celebrity already. The process of getting the show involved several auditions and what we call in the industry “tests,” and even a reshuffling of some of the cast in which I was involved every step of the way testing with different actresses to play opposite of me. Step two of the dream come true story is that the show actually got picked up to series (meaning ABC loved it and wanted to make a whole season which consisted of 13 episodes). And now step three: it’s finally airing. We have arguably the best time slot in TV to start a new comedy, airing after Modern Family, Wednesday nights at 9:30EST/PST and 8:30 Central. I absolutely adore the cast, our creators and Executive Producers and ABC has been a wonderfully supportive, fun network to work for. Oh and did I mention it shoots in LA practically down the street from me—pinch me, I’m dreaming. All of that is incredible and I could not be happier for each of these accomplishments, circumstances and outcomes.
Amongst all of these external validations, I keep checking in with myself about what I’m learning and what I’m most present to. I ask myself these questions to stay centered, grounded, and present. This whole journey has taught me the power of staying focused, positive, and grateful. It has taught me that when I set a goal so wild and filled with passion, that even if that actual goal is not the outcome, who I am BEING to achieve that goal is the most fulfilling reward. I know my hard work, persistence, and clear intentions helped me in reaching my dreams; and at the same time I know that if the commitment to these dreams and how much I gave, putting my whole self into them was missing, the goal itself, even if it was achieved is less fulfilling. Set a goal so big that you can’t achieve it until you grow into the person who can. If you all haven’t listen to a podcast I did called Inside Acting I encourage you to listen as I share more details about the process and what transpired from the journey of getting Mixology. I also became so clear about how comparing myself to others really does not help. I’ve always known that intellectually, but shooting this series and soaking in how incredibly grateful and excited I was to be on set each moment, I saw that comparing my scenes or lines or feelings to anyone else robbed me of the fun, and it actually felt more self centered even though I was worrying about others— I was really just not trusting myself.
This show represents a breakthrough in learning that I am not what I achieve; I am who I get to be in achieving the goals—passionate, energetic, courageous, loving, supportive, outrageous, fun, sexy, silly…to name a few! That may not make sense to some of you and if it doesn’t then perhaps consider looking at what matters most to you and what kind of visions and dreams you see possible for yourself—stretch yourself! I see the value in living each day so fully that when I lay my head down each night on my pillow I know I gave it my all not matter what I chose to do that day. As an actress it’s so important to value who I am inside out and not what I do.
At this point in my career and life, having made the full transition from professional dancer to actress, I see how it’s all a dance. Life is a dance. Maya Angelou said, “My life has been one great big joke, a dance that’s walked, a song that’s spoke, I laugh so hard I almost choke when I think about myself.” I can really relate to that feeling now after being in the entertainment industry for the past 14 years. I see dance as a metaphor for soaking in each step and each movement along the way—just as I did since age 2 moving to the music, taking one step at a time. And so I’ll keep dancing no matter what it is I’m doing, I’m always being the dancer in my life. Think about the last time you danced like no one was watching and how it felt--and now imagine what it would be like if you carried that spirit into every area of your life. Everyone can be a dancer! #dance
Check out the Mixology this Wednesday on ABC at 9:30PST/EST and 8:30 Central.
To follow me check out my official Alexis Carra website or follow me on twitter @alexiscarra.
Alexis Carra is a member of The New Hollywood. 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.