Now You See Me, Or Not

As many of you know, since coming to Los Angeles I have been doing work as a background actor. To specify, I prefer not to use the term ‘extra’ because what we do really is not an extra or side element, it is an integral part of every project and essential to creating a believable environment in the production.

That said, as promised to those who have asked, here is a list of the shows I’ve been on thus far, as well as any information I have regarding them.

There is a number on our pay vouchers that I’ve been told corresponds with the episode of the show so we can look up when it will air if we want to. This doesn’t seem to always be correct, but I’ll include the information in case it does match up if you are interested.

A few of the shows I’ve seen, and I have included where you might actually catch a glimpse of me or let you know of the ones where I didn’t see myself. There are a number of the programs I haven’t watched. And some might not have made it to air or I do not have any other information, including some where I don’t know what channel the show is on and unfortunately (or ‘fortunately’ because it means I am busy working) I do not have the time to look each one up. Note that if I don’t know if it has aired yet, I don’t want to include any details that could give away any of the story, including what I am wearing.

“Lethal Weapon”
This is a program I have not seen. According to my voucher, it should be episode four of season two. I might be slightly visible for a moment in my black motorcycle jacket standing in a parking lot as a ‘looky loo’ at the end of a car chase. And there is a tiny chance you might even see my green Subaru Forester in the way background.

“Forever”; Season 1, Episode 2; Amazon Prime Video
This is a new show on Amazon with Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen. In the second episode, as Maya is entering a large office space with cubicles and looking around, I can be seen walking the opposite direction wearing a taupe top and carrying a file box.

“Silicon Valley”; Season 5, Episode 5; HBO; ‘Facial Recognition’
In the first minutes, before the credit roll, I am visible as a ‘makeup artist’ in the green room.

“I’m Dying Up Here”; Season 2, Episode 1 or 22
Though I haven’t watched it, it is extremely unlikely I’d be seen based on where I was placed. Fairly certain the scene is a bar in Tucson.

“Lucifer”; Season 3; possibly episode called ‘Anything Pierce Can Do’
Haven’t seen it. If I am visible it would be as ‘looky loo’ outside an auditorium near the convertible. That car is gorgeous!

“SWAT”
Though I don’t have any other information on this, the scene I’m in is outside a science fair. I’m wearing a purple sweater and khakis.

“Champions”; Season 1, Episode 5
For this show I’m at a graduation standing near the stage.

“Superstore”; Season 3 finale
I looked this up to watch it and as best I could tell, you never see me. However, if you watch it, I was wearing a brown wool hat and down vest. Maybe you’ll catch a glimpse somewhere.

“Get Shorty”; Season 2, Episode 1
You might catch my knees in a scene in a Mexican restaurant, but I doubt it.

“How May We Hate You”
Kat Dennings film that was a blast to shoot on a resort in Rancho Palos Verde on a gorgeous day. Plus, I met a neat woman on this set who has become a good friend.

“Criminal Minds”; Season 13, Episode 22
I am onscreen for a millisecond around the 10-minute mark.

“Snowfall”; Season 2, Episode 7
One of those cases where I walk right behind the main cast; however, it gets cut before you see me.

“Grace and Frankie”; Season 5, Episode 6; Netflix
Coming out in 2019. We shot in a fantastic setting in Malibu, and I made several new friends on this particular shoot including two young women who are creating a web series I am happy to have been invited to take part in, and another great friend who has a feature she is currently sending around.

“Station 19”; Season 1, Episode 10; ABC
Another instance where I watched and didn’t see myself. But I didn’t watch the entire episode or look very closely so you might see me as a lawyer in a blue suit in a burning building, more likely early on.

“The Kominsky Method”; Season 1, Episode 8; Netflix
Will be released on November 16.

“Animal Kingdom”;  Season 3, Episode 10

“It’s Always Sunny”; Season 3, Episode 14

“Get Shorty”; Season 2, Episode 7 or 8

“Prince of Peoria”
Based on the scene we were shooting, it is likely the pilot episode.

“Kidding”; Season 1, Episode 5 or 6

“Get Shorty”; Season 2, Episode 9 or 10

“Troopers”
This is an online show for collegehumor.com.

“Dirty John”; Season 1, Episode 1, 2, or 3
Possibly airing on November 25, 2018. Fun time being on set with one of my favorite women in the business, Connie Britton!

“Are You Sleeping”
Sorry, I have no info.

“This Is Us”
A few weeks ago you could see my back as I stood behind Mandy Moore’s character at the ‘movie premiere’ of her son’s film. Thank you Kathy Harvey for sending me the screen shot!

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“NCIS: Los Angeles”

“Are You Sleeping”

“The Politician”

“For the People”

“VEEP”

“NCIS”
For those of you who have asked, I have yet to be able to find out when this airs, and I promise I will keep trying.

“The Kids Are Alright”; Season 1, Episode 4; ABC
Possibly airing on November 6. Go vote early and be home in the evening to watch this charming new show.

“Unbelievable”
I am not certain if this is a mini-series, and it is slated to come out in 2019. Though I am not generally star struck, I was extremely giddy driving to set for this show because it stars Toni Collette, a woman whose talents I have thoroughly loved watching ever since Muriel’s Wedding. Turned out she was not in the scene I was part of that day, though I would have loved to watch her work in person. With luck, perhaps I will have the opportunity to be on this show another time.

“9-1-1”; Season 2, Episode 6

“Superstore”; Season 4, Episode 7

“I Feel Bad” Season 1, Episode 8

“NCIS: Los Angeles” Season 10, Episode 10

“Lucifer”; Season 4 Episode 6

“Grand Hotel”; Season 1, Episode 6

There you have it! These are the shows I’ve worked so far since starting as a background actor. Each one a unique experience.

Thanks for watching for me, and if you have any questions about any specific ones, let me know!

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10-4 Good Buddy, Headed on a Big Run to the Sky

With my car in the shop,  I figured a walk was the order of the day.

I showered and headed toward a coffee shop because I had a blog post in mind I wanted to write. It was a 50-minute walk, and along the way, when I reached Ventura Boulevard, I did some window shopping and browsed boutiques along the way.

My phone in hand, ready to respond to any texts with job opportunities that might pop up on my screen, I entered a little shoe store. The woman behind the counter greeted me with a friendly, “Hello” then went back to whatever was consuming or distracting her on her own phone.

A moment or two after I entered, she said something to me, but the door was open so outside noise prevented me from hearing her clearly. Or maybe I just didn’t want to believe what she said.

I asked her to repeat it, and this time there was no questioning her words.

“Burt Reynolds is dead.” She nodded toward my phone then looked back down at hers and said, “I’m surprised you didn’t hear about it, it’s all over social media.”

I froze and took in the news.

“How did he die?” I responded as my eyes began to well up.

“Heart attack,” she replied without looking from her phone.

I slowly walked around the small shop, my sunglasses concealing my tear-filled eyes, not really able to see anything, just trying to catch my breath.

Eventually I wandered out, headed down the street and made it to my destination.

A huge fan of his Smokey and the Bandit movies, I loved Burt’s on-screen and off-screen persona, and his mischievous, yet loving, connection with Sally Field and her character. I always got a blast out of watching his law-breaking, fun-loving ways with his sexy, devilish grin.

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Bandit: For the good old American life: For the money, for the glory, and for the fun… mostly for the money.

He has said himself that many of his choices were for fun, and that if he’d done it differently, perhaps people would have seen that he had genuine talent, but that by the time he realized this, no one would take him seriously. Personally, I think if you take a moment, you see his talent, though probably more prominent in his later years like in his  Oscar-nominated role in Boogie Nights.

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It’d been my intention to write about something else today, but as I sit here, tears streaming down my face in Starbucks in Studio City, all I can think of is Burt’s passing.

The man at the table next to me, apparently more motivated by my sobs than deterred by my headphones, asked how I’m doing. I summoned a weak smile and said I was fine and asked how he is. He said, “It’s really hot.”

Was it hot in here? I couldn’t tell. All I know is that a fantastic leading man, with a twinkle in his eye, and a sweet grin has died, and the tears keep coming.

One of my favorite of Burt’s onscreen moments is the one below from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. To me it doesn’t feel campy or overdone. It simply feels genuine.

It’s interesting how with some people, we feel their loss like they’re part of our lives.

Thank you, Burt. I will always love you.

MAMMA MIA! HERE I GO AGING

It is September 1, 2018. Which means it is six weeks since I said to myself I was going to write about my birthday, in July, as a means to catch you up on my adventures in LA.

I’ve started numerous times, and each time the post would get longer and longer. I’d find myself overwhelmed as I attempted to put in so many details of the goings on in my life, not only what I was doing around July 23rd, but everything else I’ve been up to in the months since I’ve written. And as I would drown in the details, I’d surface for air and abandon what I’d put down thus far with the intention to return another day.

So today I am going to restrict myself to my birthday and actually complete this post and share it. Today!

I’ve had some wonderful birthdays. There were the years that were extravagant, like being kidnapped to Las Vegas to see Mamma Mia on the stage on my birthday eve, George Carlin on the actual day, and Elton John to round off the weekend. And beautiful parties by the lake with dear friends. Cider on the patio in Ireland, and Mudslides in Hawaii when I was a flight attendant with fun crews. Some more intimate, like breakfast of cupcakes and special gifts from my sweetheart to support my creative side.

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My sweetheart had photo shoots scheduled in Colorado so we knew he would not be here for the actual day. However, we kicked off the celebration together in early July when he came to visit. An entire day in Santa Monica on the 4th, enjoying the scene, and taking it moment by moment. Nowhere specific to be.

Also during his visit we hung out at my friends’ new coffee shop, Bixby Joe in Long Beach, then had dinner with them. And though he has no interest in the movie36805411_10156176243075861_7387389009485365248_n, we spent a hot afternoon at The Grove at a Mamma Mia 2 Here We Go Again promo event because, well, it’s July, my birthday month. And, well, ABBA.

This birthday was different than any other. I’ve had past years where I would worry and fret over what plans I would have. What would I do and who would I be celebrating with. Regardless, I am a Leo, and my birthday would be made special in some way! However, having moved to California a matter of months ago, I wasn’t sure how I was going to celebrate it. Though I have some wonderful friends here, this town is really so spread out that it is a big deal to get together with people from different areas of LA.

Early in July, my roommate Kristina, who has a crazy-busy lifestyle as she holds down three jobs, mentioned we could perhaps do something together if her schedule allowed. I was grateful for the gesture; however, my birthday was on a Monday, and the beginning of the week is usually nuts for her, so I was ready in my mind that she might not be available.

I told her I would love to go dancing. She immediately mentioned several places that would be fun. The planner in me was of course relieved. We didn’t know exactly where we were going to go, but I knew I was going to be doing something…hopefully.

A few days later we were chatting and discovered she has roller skates and I have roller blades. We discussed going skating together sometime. I told her I’d always wanted to skate by the beach. She got the fabulous idea of us going to Venice Beach on my birthday. I’d heard of the infamous Venice Beach and seen it in movies growing up, and it was on my wish list, so I got excited at the thought—we would go skating on the path along the beach and get dinner and drinks on the boardwalk after.

We both knew there were several things that could put a kink in our plan. If I received an opportunity to work on that day, I could not afford to turn it down. And her Mondays are very busy, so we’d have to see how the day went.

One thing I could count on though, was the release of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again the week before, a great way to kick off the weekend of celebration. A huge ABBA fan (since the 70’s), and no secret, a fan of Meryl (though I knew her presence was minimal in the sequel) as well as Christine Baranski and Julie Walters, of course I had bought my ticket to opening night. So on that Thursday evening, I was excited to be sitting in the ArcLight Theater, where I’d specifically picked to see the movie since it is actually in Hollywood.

I bought a large popcorn, and peanut M&Ms (hey, it was my birthday, and yes, I mix them together!) and found my seat and settled in for the ABBA extravaganza on a Greek island. I absolutely loved it. I laughed out loud along with others, I danced in my seat, and at times I cried. As the credits rolled and the lights came up, and most others stood up and headed out, I stayed glued to my seat. I always watch the credits all the way through out of respect for all the crew who worked to bring the movie to life. And as I sat there this time, bursting with emotion, one thought came to mind. I don’t want to leave. I wanted to see it again. So that is exactly what I did.

After the little treat tag scene after the credits (if you left, yep, you missed it!), I went and used the washroom, then headed to the ticket counter. It was a 9:30PM showing, did I want to stay that late? (I’m laughing to myself right now as I even type that. Of course I did.)

Brimming with elation at the experience I’d just had in the theater in Hollywood, caught up in the emotion of being in LA where I now live, the reality that I’m not getting any younger, and heck, I still had popcorn left, I purchased a ticket to the later show.

As I stepped away from the counter, two women who’d been in line behind me informed the guy at the ticket booth they’d just seen Mamma Mia 2 and were going to watch it again, too! I loved that I wasn’t alone in my reaction to the movie and that these two women were also inspired to see it again immediately.

I felt the same way the second time watching it. As a matter of fact, I’ve had the same experience all seven times I’ve seen Mamma Mia 2. Yes, you read that correctly. Seven times. And as I type this and listen to the soundtrack I’m wishing I could go again today to see it.

I love Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. It’s not for everyone, I understand that, but it is so what I need right now in my life. It is fun. It is joyful. It has laugh out loud moments. It has tearful moments. I’ve described it as the movie that Meryl deserved the first one to have been that it was not.

After the second showing, I came out of the theater into the night and went to the parking garage, then headed back to my apartment beaming as bright as the glorious moonlight and neon that surrounded me.

My friend Liz, who I met doing background work, posted on Facebook when I ‘checked in’ at the theater before the first viewing asking if I wanted to see it again the next day. Heck, yes I did!

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And that’s exactly what happened. She invited another fabulous lady, and the three of us went to a screening of it Friday evening. And her friend had the same reaction I did and said she understood why I’d gone immediately after to watch it again the night before. Walking through the lobby afterward, we saw a doorway in the cinema that had the next screening of Mamma Mia 2 posted above it, we looked at each other mischievously like young school girls, and veered into the dark theater as the previews were playing and sat in empty seats. Yup. I was seeing it for the fourth time in 24 hours. And I loved it just as much.

The weekend came, I looked forward as my birthday arrived, whatever it might bring.

Monday, July 23rd, my actual birthday, I didn’t book any work, so what I felt like doing during the day was hanging out at home binge-watching the show Nashville and taking care of a few administrative things on my to-do list.  I didn’t know if any plans for later in the day would work out.

Halfway through the day, Kristina took a break from work as she wisely does most every day and we did a yoga workout. She commented that her work day was going surprisingly easy and suspected she’d be able to finish up in time to go skating as we’d hoped to.

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Turns out she was able to complete what she had to and around 5 o’clock, we hopped in her car and prepared ourselves to join the the bumper to bumper cars on the 405. She grabbed her CD case and said to pick whatever I wanted. As we cruised down the highway jamming to Beastie Boys, we were shocked and delighted to discover traffic was not bad at all.

We parked in a beachside lot kind of between Santa Monica and Venice and put on our skates. I was a little concerned because I haven’t been on my rollerblades in awhile, and especially not in very populated areas where there is higher risk of crashing into someone. Kristina, familiar with the area, and a good skater, led the way. Shortly after we began gliding down the path with the little restaurants, souvenir shops, and pubs on one side and the glorious Pacific to the other, nervousness slowly changed to exhilaration.

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I couldn’t believe it. Here I was on my birthday, the beginning of the next year of my life, easily, though cautiously, weaving in and out of tourists and locals, pedestrians, bikes and skateboards, the breeze from the ocean on my face, and the sound of the chatter in a place I’d always dreamed of being on the infamous Venice Beach boulevard. Wow!

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We skated awhile, down the path by the beach, then turned back and skated directly on the boulevard. We skated by an adorable ice cream place called Turn Dough. One thing I knew I wanted that day was ice cream! Kristina said if I wanted some I should get some. Eying how big they were, I said if she would share it with me I would definitely get one of these scrumptious looking ice cream dishes. So worth it! How fun to be at a tall table oceanside with our skates on sharing this wonderful treat.

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It was huge, but we did finish it, her leaving most of it for me. And we went, rolling back down the boardwalk.

Though I know the area has changed significantly over time from what I’ve seen in the movies, it was still so exhilarating to experience the atmosphere of its sandy paths, open air shops, street performers, skateboarders, and combination of tourists and locals everywhere.  To check out some performers we saw, watch this movie.

Most of the businesses were local and new to me, but as we skated along, ahead I saw a familiar sign—Ben & Jerry’s. Yup. A free scoop of ice cream on your birthday. No way I could pass up more ice cream when it was free.  Then it was back to the path.

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After the skate, we went to her car and removed our skates. It was time to head down to the beach.

Though I’d visited California various times in the past, and I’d been in LA for months, I’d yet to put my feet in the Pacific Ocean. I’d only been in this ocean in Hawaii when I was a flight attendant. So here it was another first for me as we waded into the water. We relaxed as sunburnt tourists packed up their towels and umbrellas and shuffled off the beach and peacefulness surrounded us, our feet in the sand and taking in the ocean air, watching the sun set. Kristina found a Frisbee that had been left behind and we jumped and lunged at it as we tossed it back and forth at the water’s edge.

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Eventually it became too dark to see the Frisbee so we simply sat and soaked it all in. Familiar with astronomy, Kristina pointed out the planets to me in the breathtaking night sky. We took a few moments to embrace the moment, breathing in the calmness that surrounded us in the dark.

Eventually we brushed the sand off and put our shoes back on. We went to a restaurant she’d been to numerous times when she used to live on the west side of LA. We enjoyed a cocktail and toasted to my birthday and the year ahead for each of us and chatted as we gazed out over the peaceful dark sky over the ocean.

Finishing our dinner and drinks, and as the restaurant closed up, we decided to find somewhere for a nightcap.

We discovered a local watering hole in Venice where two seats were available at the bar, almost as if waiting for us. So there we sat and enjoyed conversation between ourselves as well as the occasional chat with the other barflies! (It is a great dive bar!)

When the bar had closed, we hung out outside with a small group and continued our chatter, then we eventually headed home for a good night’s sleep.

Some years I’ve had big plans for my birthday, some years more intimate. This is the first time though I’ve really, and I mean really, let whatever is going to happen happen and know that I’m okay with whatever happens, and I got to share it with beautiful friends.

And what a magical day the 23rd itself was. A fabulous gift from the Universe to continue my journey as I celebrate a new year of creativity and adventures to come. Thank you Kristina, and thank you Universe!

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Dying For A Place to Live

‘Oh you poor thing.’

That is the expression I get anytime I mention I am looking for a place to live whether I sound chipper or if I have a slight tone of defeat. Strangers or friends, even if they don’t verbalize it in words, the sympathetic look on their face says it all.

Yes, being in Los Angeles on the hunt for a space to hang my hat, stow my stuff, rest my head, heat up discounted frozen burritos, wash off the sweat of the ‘hustle’, unwind with a glass of wine, again…still…is killing me.

What you’ve heard about finding housing out here is nothing compared to the reality. Especially for someone like me who isn’t ready to share a place with 10 recent college grads and argue over whose turn it is to sleep on the yoga mat and who gets the bathtub.

And I’m also not in a position to afford a place of my own yet, since I do not have a steady income. I tell you though, finding my own space is a motivator to keep hitting the pavement, looking for work.

The search for a place to live has been ongoing since I arrived a few months ago. I’ve been fortunate to have several places to stay in friend’s homes, or friends of friends. I figured that would give me time to find a semi-permanent or permanent space to call my own.

Everywhere I’ve found thus far though has been short term, or temporary with the possibility of long-term that ended fairly soon. So even while I have a roof for the moment, I’m spending all my time looking for my next place and not spending time on writing, creating, applying for work. Really. Trying to find a place to lay my head at night has been a full-time job.

Before I headed out here, I was fine with the idea of being “on tour”, couch surfing, as I put it in a blog post back then. But it is wearing on me. I am ready to take the next step with Siri, where I add an address to my name in contacts, and I can tell her “Directions home,” and she will guide the way to my cozy haven where I have a parking space to pull right into, and can walk into my comfortable space and be ‘home’.

Admittedly, I have had an opportunity or two that my instincts told me weren’t for me for different reasons, so they were passed up.

The main issue is parking. Wait, no, what am I thinking? Cost! That’s it! The price of rentals here is absolutely, positively, ridiculously outrageous. Everyone obviously knows it. Even landlords have gone on about how incredulous rates have become.  At the moment with just occasional background talent work, it is hard to justify rates above what I have set for my current budget (as close to $1000 as I can possibly stay with utilities and parking included).

Everyone here has warned me the cost of not having a space devoted to parking my car equals countless parking tickets. No matter how much a person swears to themselves they will be diligent and stay on top of the street sweeping schedule, it is tough, and still results in a lot of fines. I’ve missed out on some cute places in areas I really liked because there was not a parking space. I tell myself the same as other people said they convinced themselves: “This place is wonderful. I love it. I’ll be good about moving my car when I have to. How tough can it be?” But then I remind myself that for times when parking is prohibited on one side of the street for sweeping, that makes parking even more scarce. And do I really want to be driving around and around late at night after coming home from an event, only to find something blocks away and have to walk alone to my door? So I move on and continue my search.

Another huge pain in the butt are the scammers. Most of the scams I’ve encountered are from Craigslist, but they’ve wormed their way into other rental sites as well. This is no exaggeration, I have received at least 15 responses to my inquiries about an apartment like this one:

Thank you for admiring our post.My husband and I need an honest tenant to rent our property located at ### S Sycamore Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036. I am Deaconess Veronica Weisgerber and Apostle Jason Weisgerber is my husband.We are presently in Africa running a non governmental organization that educates the underprivileged ones and also leading them to accepting Christ as their Lord and savior. We decided to make our rent affordable $1050 per month (rent already include utilities; Water,Trash,Electricity e.t.c) so we can attract an honest and transparent tenant.
 
Our Previous property manager were only concern in making their money and never attends to the needs of the our tenant and property so my husband and I decided to handle the rental ourselves.
 
N:B (The document and keys are with us and i have no problem sending it to you through fedEX which will take 16hours to get to the states so you can go view the inside property but the security deposit will be put down before the keys and document be sent,the security deposit is refundable if you do not like the inside of my property after viewing.I will give you a call once you agree to my terms and conditions).
Feel free to drive by the property to view the outside.
 
Best of regards  Veronica Weisgerber
You can reach me through this number +2348126414201 or let me know when to give you a call if you can’t call internationally.
I will love to speak with you

Of course I responded immediately and not only paid the deposit but also sent my bank account number just to be sure. Yes, sarcasm!  Driven by the anxiety of what began as an adventurous search for a cozy, safe place to live turned into a battle for a bedroom.
Other than parking, another HUGE issue out here is ageism. I have been looking for people who have an apartment with two bedrooms and two bathrooms because although these places are generally more expensive, I’ve decided a private bathroom is another must for me. If someone else doesn’t care about clogs and mildew in their sink and tub, that’s their thing, but I don’t want to have to scrub up someone else’s hair every time I go to shower. So, an apartment with one other person with our own bedrooms and bathrooms, and only the living room and kitchen for common areas seems like an affordable way to go.
So, I’ll be reading a post on a Facebook LA rentals group and begin to get excited. In my budget! Private bedroom and bathroom! Parking space! Utilities included! In an area I want to live! Where do I contact them now? How do I snatch up this great space before anyone else gets it? Then, inevitably, as I look for contact information I get to the line…”Mid-20’s looking for someone same age.” Seriously. I’ve been reminded LA is a huge attraction for trust-fund babies. I am sure some recent graduates have respectable paying jobs to allow them a luxurious residence. However, it is incredible how many 20-somethings are affording $2000 rent.
It is a time-suck with all the searching online, driving around, phone-calling and emailing. My sweetheart reminded me, “You are a director and a producer. Finding a place to live is your production.” Or at least that’s what I heard through my gasps and sobs as I sat listening through my earbud, in my Subaru at the curb, sun beating down on me through the windshield, feeling sick to my stomach because I had to move in two days and I still didn’t know where I was going to go. And in the few months I’ve been here I’ve somehow managed to expand my stuff from the belongings that fit snuggly in the back of my Forester when I arrived from Colorado to three carloads! And that includes a rug I just had to buy at a thrift store when I wasn’t even sure I’d be in my last apartment for more than a month, because hey, it really pulled the room together.
Suffice it to say, regardless where I moved, it was going to be a schlep.
The time and effort that go into looking for housing have been taking up my creative energy. I don’t want to “produce” a place to live. I want a haven to appear. A simple sanctuary where I can breathe, meditate, write, read, watch movies, enjoy a glass of wine, pee when I want, not have to reach over a pile of dirty dishes to use the kitchen sink, use my blow dryer and electric toothbrush (yes, I mean my electric toothbrush!) without concern that the noise is disturbing someone.
I am so grateful for the reminders from people why I came to LA. I didn’t come out west to pursue a full-time gig looking for places to live. Besides, it doesn’t pay anything. Instead, it costs–time, money for gas, pieces of your soul.
A few people have reached out to me with connections, links, advice, for which I am very grateful. And one by-product of my hunt has been meeting some fantastic women and making friends through it all.
Last week when I began writing this post, I had no idea where I would be living this past weekend.
Finally, as I stuck with it and continued the search, through blood, sweat and tears at what I felt was the last minute, I found a place in Los Feliz where I could live for the remainder of April. The woman whose apartment it was had to leave town for a few days so I rushed over to see the place and meet her. Though she didn’t ask for any money to hold it, which was fine since we didn’t sign anything at the time, we verbally agreed I’d move in Saturday morning.
This was a relief to an extent, but I would have to lug everything I have here up a flight of steps and then schlep it all somewhere else in only three weeks later. As much as I was dreading the thought, I tried to accept it is all part of living in LA.
Living the dream!
Those arrangements made, on Friday, the day before I was scheduled to relocate, I met with another woman whose second bedroom/bathroom in her apartment would be available soon, this place in Sherman Oaks. I was hoping to get something lined up for May instead of spending the next three weeks on edge as I continued the quest.
After touring her place, she invited me to sit down on the couch. Neither of us being 20-somethings, it was nice to be in the company of another woman who could relate to the benefits of sharing a place with someone closer to her age. Eventually she asked when I was looking to move. I took a breath and said with a slight laugh though I’m sure my eyes were serious, “Tomorrow.” She wasn’t sure if I was kidding or not, so I explained that I was needing to be out of where I was the next day regardless and I had a place I could go for three weeks. Sitting here with this adult, I didn’t have to spell it out for her. Instead she was the one who said it out loud, “So, you could move there but then you’d have to move again in three weeks?” I laughed and nodded.
I could see her thinking. She was going to be renting the bedroom eventually, but it is a big deal to have someone come into your space with such short notice. Even in the best of circumstances, it changes the dynamic of how you live.
She pondered it a moment. We discussed a few matters to make sure we were both on the same page. Then she said, “Okay.”
We both were almost in shock at the spontaneity of it all. Neither of us was used to making this type of decision without long deliberation, spreadsheets of pros and cons, weighing benefits and costs.
Then we hugged on it. Wow, a kindred soul.
Her apartment is on the third floor. On her balcony she has several bird feeders. She explained that since her sweet dog and cat have passed away, and especially with the drought out here, she does what she can to take care of the wild birds.
As we sat on her couch, there was something peaceful about their chirping and fluttering. She told me the different types of birds as they’d land and peck at the seeds she had for them. Reminder, if you’ve read my blog since my time with Daddy, we often spent time in the courtyard or at the park sipping coffee and watching the birds. There was even a nest outside his bedroom where we watched on as eggs were laid, babies hatched, momma feeding them, and one by one they learned to fly on their own. so often when I see birds, especially in this type of atmosphere, I feel Daddy’s presence really strongly.
IMG_3592-1At one point I glanced out and asked her in a hushed voice so not to frighten it, what the huge bird was that had landed on her railing. She turned and was shocked. “It’s a hawk! I’ve seen them on the branches of the trees out there, but they’ve never done that before. It’s a sign.” I hoped it was a good sign, and she said indeed it is/was, it was a sign of power. Curious about the symbolism of the hawk, I looked into it a little bit, so if you are wondering too, more on the hawk below.

The decision that I would move in the next day made, I expressed my concern for how to let the other woman know. Since my new ‘roomie’ has lived in L.A. I thought she might have some insight how to respectfully let the other woman down. It is difficult for me to feel I am backing out on anything that others might be counting on. As she and I thought out loud, we came up with a text I felt comfortable sending. I received a message back, “No problem. Thank you” Whew.

So this past Saturday I loaded up my car, three times, and made the move northwest to the next leg of my journey.

My new roommate has some unknowns of her own, and might need to relocate with her job which was one of the things we chatted about beforehand. I told her this was fine with me because I am still exploring and looking for work. So ideally if I have a place to regroup as I’m now starting to make connections and learn the area without committing to a location for a long-term lease, that would be perfect. So we both know in the least we are here through the end of May.

Seven weeks. I have a ‘home’ for seven weeks.

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Sherman Oaks has a very different vibe than West Hollywood where I’ve been, and loved, the past two months. And though the atmosphere is definitely more suburban here, Ventura Boulevard with a variety of restaurants and shops is only a mile from my current home.

My “current home”. It is temporary, but that works for me. I don’t know where I’ll be in seven weeks. But I do know that for now I have time to write, attend networking events, go have a glass of wine with my new apartment-mate. And for now, finding a place to live is only a part-time job.

Below is what I discovered about the symbolism of a hawk. Nature/the universe truly steps in when we need to be reminded of our individual strengths to cope with challenges on our personal journey.

“The hawk’s gifts include clear-sightedness, being observant, long distance memory, messages from the universe, guardianship, recalling past lives, courage, wisdom, illumination, seeing the bigger picture, creativity, truth, experience, wise use of opportunities, overcoming problems, magic, focus.

Hawk is associated with the number 14, with the tarot card Temperance. The Temperance card represents the teaching of higher expressions of psychic ability and vision.”

From Hawk Power Animal

I’m here.  Now!  The adventure continues!

And by the way, ’14’ has always been my favorite number.

Run Like A Girl

Happy International Women’s Day!

This morning the inboxes from my various email addresses were flooded with headlines and articles regarding International Women’s Day. I’ve been thinking leading up to it how cool it is to be in Los Angeles for this special day, commemorating women’s rights. Although, when I woke up, I wasn’t sure why that would be. I didn’t have specific plans to do anything to celebrate ‘women’. I mean, it isn’t as though we had a big organized march or protest. I didn’t have a brunch planned with a group of ‘besties’. I didn’t put together a sit-in outside a politician’s office who votes against equality for women. I’m not doing anything in particular.

Then I realized why I am so glad to be in L.A. for International Women’s Day…because last year I wasn’t here.

I’m not sure what I was doing 365 days ago. However, I am certain I wasn’t sitting in a coffee shop across from the Directors Guild of America recalling what an inspiring night I’d had the evening before listening to a panel of prominent directors and writers including Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya; Lars and the Real Girl), Angela Robinson (Professor Marston and the Wonder Women), Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton (Battle of the Sexes; Little Miss Sunshine), Larry Karaszewski (The People vs. O.J. Simpson; Ed Wood) as I am right now.

A year ago, I wasn’t in California looking for a tribe of filmmakers whose films, through hard work and collaboration, we can bring to fruition and to the silver screen.

I hadn’t met the fabulous women who in the short time I’ve been here have shared their experiences with me, and who have offered suggestions for avenues I might wish to pursue, and who I might even end up collaborating on a project with. No particular plans at the moment, but things evolve!

As a matter of fact, it was wonderful last night when at the reception after the panel discussion I bumped into a woman who I met at the Film Independent Spirit Awards Viewing Party I attended last Saturday. We hadn’t a chance to speak much then, but yesterday we found out we don’t live far from each other. And the woman she was with is fairly close as well, so the three of us are going to get together and learn more about each other and our projects.

Inch by inch!

Also after the panel last night, I introduced myself to Valerie Faris and told her how much I absolutely love Little Miss Sunshine. The topic of the panel was Real Life vs. Reel Life. I shared with Valerie a story of a phone call I received from my mother in 2006. We were talking about other things when my mother asked if I’d seen a certain movie. She went on to say how much she thought it was ridiculous and so unreal. ‘Those things don’t happen’ and ‘people don’t behave that way’.

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With the Little Miss Sunshine directors.

She was talking about Little Miss Sunshine. I laughed out loud. Indeed I had seen it, and the hilarious thing was, I’d seen it several times and enjoyed it because I related to it in so many ways. I shared this with Valerie because it very much supported the ongoing conversation about when making a movie based on a real life person or events, that everyone has a different perspective of ‘real’.

Valerie laughed and I handed her my card and let her know I am looking for work. Yes, I stood and spoke with the co-director of one of my favorite movies and gave her my contact information.

I wasn’t doing that last year on International Women’s Day.

Another director I was fortunate to see in person since I’ve been in La-La Land is the amazing Ava DuVernay (A Wrinkle in Time; Queen Sugar; Selma). So inspired as I listened to her speak and share her experiences, I only looked away once to write down something she said:

“Make a film like a girl.”

Wow. That spoke right to me like a message in a bottle arriving, floating at my feet.

My personal inspiration comes from telling women’s stories. That is my ‘wheelhouse’. Yet, for some reason, sometimes I find myself reluctant to express that publicly. There is the concern that I might be passed over for an opportunity if someone considers me to be in a different niche.

Additionally, most projects I’ve worked on, other than my own, have been headed up by men, and I’ve garnered some fantastic experience from them. Yet, when it comes time to shooting my own films, I see a difference in my approach. For instance, even before Frances McDormand’s encouraging speech, I knew I wanted to have inclusion riders.

However, what I am saying, I think, is that sometimes I hold back from being a ‘woman’. I shy away from who I am.

The ‘feminine’ in me has so often in the past been criticized as a weakness, there is fear no one will want to hire me, or I will be considered inept if I behave like myself.

In the audience of some people I meet, I am even hesitant to mention I’m a director and writer because I am afraid they will start using some advanced lingo and I’ll be outed as an amateur.   A poseur. I’ll have set back women’s rights by 50 years.

A few times I’ve noticed as I left my apartment, though I’d like to wear a dress or skirt, I put on pants.  If I happen to meet anyone that day who would be looking to hire, I want to make sure they see I’m capable of working on a crew, the thought being that wearing jeans or activewear makes me look ‘stronger’. On the flipside that would mean a dress makes me look weaker.

How am I ever going to find my tribe if I am not flying my ‘colors’?

Though it might not be a huge contribution to the U.N. or other women around the world, as a woman, I think a way to honor International Women’s Day is to honor myself. And I decided it doesn’t have to be in a special, huge gesture.

One little thing that can make a difference for me.

I’ve been thinking about changing my blog banner photo for awhile to something depicting the direction of my life now. The other was complacent. And though it’s fun–wearing a dress and sitting by the river with a glass of champagne–my life now isn’t about lounging demurely, I’m up and running–like a girl. The old picture is gone. That is one thing I am choosing, today, to embrace being me. The woman, the girl, and the balance of sometimes masculine.

Tonight I’ll wear a dress and have a glass of champagne or wine in Hollywood with a new woman friend and watch Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle In Time.  Like the LA woman I am.

“Inch By Motherf—— Inch”

If you’ve read my posts in the past at this time of year, you know I love awards season. And obviously this is the biggest weekend with the Independent Spirit Awards yesterday afternoon, and the Academy Awards this evening.

I have watched the Academy Awards since I was a young girl laying with pillows and a blanket on the red carpet of our living room watching the gala on an old tube TV.

In those days the daydream was that I would one day win an Oscar for acting which was my original foray into this industry. However, with time, things change. Instead of being an actor, I’ve found my creative place behind the camera directing and writing.

In past years, I’ve viewed Hollywood’s biggest night from a variety of places. My own home curled up on the couch alone with a bottle of wine, hotel rooms around the world when I was a flight attendant, friends’ extravagant parties, and I hosted a red carpet event for several years.

The Film Independent Spirit Awards, started over three decades ago, didn’t come to my attention until they’d been around for about 10 years. Taking place the day before the Oscars, those also became a staple to my awards show viewing.

So the irony was that this year, I now live about 30 minutes from where the Spirit Awards are held, and 12 minutes, yes 12 minutes, from the Dolby Theater where the Academy Awards take place, but I had no idea where I was going to watch them.

We don’t get network TV channels at our apartment, and the only party I knew of was a viewing party for the Oscars with a high, $60 ticket price–high for me anyway.

Film Independent has a Spirit Awards viewing party at their offices which is free for certain members at a higher tier than basic membership, which is where I reside.  Doesn’t matter anyway, because when I inquired, a kind woman told me there was a waitlist.

Last week, the days leading up to the ‘big’ weekend that I might not get to watch, was one with extreme ups and downs for me. People ask me how I feel since coming to L.A., which always surprises me because even with the low moments, I am still so glad to be here. However, I understand how even people who are socially apt can become lonely in this city of 4 million people. Not having a place to watch the upcoming awards only reinforced that I have yet to find my tribe.

I have met some wonderful people here, and one of them, a screenwriter, has become a friend, showing me around a bit, taking me to gatherings and filling me in on events I might be interested in. However, last we spoke she said she would be watching the shows at a couple of  gatherings with longtime friends.

Time ticked on.  Then, I was thrilled to receive an email that a spot had opened for the viewing party at Film Independent for the Spirit Awards. And I could bring a guest.

Things were looking up!

FI Screens

I considered if there was anyone I knew who would be interested in going with me. On a whim, I asked my screenwriter friend, mentioned above, if her plans were still on or if she would like to join me. As it turned out both of her gatherings were cancelled this year for various reasons. She was definitely in!

And it was so fitting because she and I met in January at screenings for Film Independent voters of the Spirit Awards.

After she said she would love to join and appreciated the invitation, I took it a step further and asked about her plans for the Academy Awards. She wasn’t sure. We both knew of a party, but tickets were pricey for me, even though there was a $10 per ticket discount if you bought two. (Talk about penalizing the singles!)  I took a chance and asked if we could watch them at her house.  She liked that idea.

Not only was I going to get to see both awards shows, I was going to have the fun of partaking in both days with a new friend, Tish, in Los Angeles.

FI 2-shot

Yesterday, Saturday was Spirit Awards day, so she picked me up and we headed to the Film Independent offices on Wilshire Boulevard.  We stepped off the elevator and the first thing to see was a Film Independent step-and-repeat , a photo studio background with the sponsor logos. There is nothing that says ‘Hollywood Party’ like a designated spot for taking photos in your fancy attire.

FI ML

We took a couple pictures before heading into the party. After checking in, we scouted out a place to watch the festivities. The show only minutes away from starting, Tish spotted what might have been the last two chairs available. Since I had heels on, I was particularly grateful.

Now that we had seats, we headed to the bar for a cocktail and the buffet for some snacks–a cheese plate, strawberries, pretzels, and chocolates.

Along the way I met a few other Film Independent members. I guess because I was probably the most dressed up person there, one man pointed to the screen where the show was about to begin and said to me, “You are going to be there soon.” I smiled at the notion, told him it was nice meeting him and took my seat. I didn’t want to miss a thing.

Here I sat dolled up in my favorite red dress, next to a kind new friend, in a small crowd of fellow cinephiles from all over the world who have come to L.A. to strive in their own unique ways to be telling their stories, all of us members of this organization created solely for helping those movies get made.

As winners were announced there’d occasionally be applause or reaction in some regard from my fellow viewers.

After a couple awards had been given out, I took a moment to look around the room for what I could see. To take this all in.

My eyes began to water. I didn’t know anyone there very well, but still I felt a part of something.

After the show and most people had disbanded, we lingered to chat with a few different folks. I exchanged cards with some of them and we made plans to get together and discuss more about our projects and our personal goals.

As we headed to the elevator, a bright-eyed woman posed in front of the step-and-repeat as her male companion took her photo. Timid for a moment, she began to jump into some fun poses as he clicked away.

It can be nerve-wracking having your photo taken,especially when there is an ‘audience’, so I admired her willingness to go for it. As I watched the scene, I suddenly stopped when I noticed her face. It seemed familiar. Did I know her, or did she remind me of someone?

AmbikaLeigh

Ambika Leigh

Then I knew.
We caught eyes and I asked, “Are you Ambika Leigh?” She smiled and said, “Yes.” I could see the apology in her expression as she didn’t recognize me. And no wonder, it’s been about 11 years since we’ve seen each other!

Yes, here I was in Los Angeles, California, at an event where I knew one person coming in and I bump into this wonderful, talented woman I knew years ago in Colorado.

I was planning when I came out here to reach out to Ambika at some point. However, it had been so long since we’d been in touch, and my world is so much in disarray, I didn’t want to impose. Well, the universe imposed for me.

We hugged and she asked what I was doing there. Excitedly I told her I’d moved to L.A. and her eyes grew wide. She teased that I had better not have been here more than a week since I hadn’t reached out to her yet. Guess I might not be as much an imposition as I had thought.

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Ambika, 2nd from right.

She asked where I was sitting during the awards show and we realized we’d been sitting on exact opposite sides of a column separating the back of the room.

After more hugs she introduced me to her boyfriend, David.   When I asked Ambika if she knew another Colorado transplant, Roe Moore, her boyfriend mentioned he did. Hearing my question, two nearby exclaimed, “We know Roe!” So, of course, we had to do a “We Know Roe” photo and I posted it to her on Facebook.  Roe commented on the photo that she felt like she might be the next Kevin Bacon, as in Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

FI Group Shot

Ambika and I agreed we need to get together soon, then said our good-byes and parted ways after one more big hug.

AmbikaMeDavid

l to r: David, Me, Ambika Leigh (sounds like the name of a song!)

After a long, fantastic day yesterday, today holds a comfortable evening at my friend’s house sharing a bottle of bubbly, and of course ballots filled out with our predictions. This weekend provided me the best of both worlds.

As I settle in for the Academy Awards show to begin, who knows where I’ll be watching these or the Spirit Awards from next year. Maybe I’ll be there in person. Regardless, I’m reminded, as tough as it is to live with patience at times, things, like making friends and getting jobs, don’t often happen in leaps and bounds. And as Oliver Stone urged when giving the keynote address at the 1989 Spirit Awards, he said “stick to your soul and to hell with your egos; it’s inch by motherfucking inch.”

POW! Holy Batgirl! It’s Women Storytellers!

Last year, I was elated to hear there was a Batgirl film in the works. It was a Joss Whedon project which was fine with me at the time because I felt he was decent at how he portrays women characters. However, I also thought how fantastic it would be if a woman wrote and/or directed this newest female superhero story.

Batgirl was the first superheroine I knew and admired. I loved the Batman television series from the late 60’s (watched it in syndication) and was absolutely thrilled each time I had the opportunity to see the third-season episodes when Barbara Gordon/Batgirl was in the storyline. She was a librarian and I was a book nerd.  She was a smart BatgirlMotocrimefighter. There was no one else on TV like her. She had her own agenda and wasn’t portraying a victim, or someone’s wife. And oh my god, she rode a motorcycle! She didn’t take back seat to someone else on their ‘hog’. Batgirl was her own entity.

I remember asking my mother if I could be Batgirl for Halloween. I don’t recall her reasoning why I couldn’t, but I think I ended up going as Topo Gigio that year. And to be honest, I’d have to look up who Topo Gigio was. Not sure I knew even then. But I’ve never forgotten Batgirl.

Fast forward to 1997, it was a huge letdown when Batman & Robin turned out to be the  disappointment it was. I remember being so excited that Barbara Gordon (though her name was Barbara Wilson in the movie) was being brought to the big screen. I sat there in the theater, almost in disbelief, and waiting, hoping that if I watched long enough the movie would transition from it’s laughable state to being something entertaining and inspiring with Batgirl in the story. It never happened.

While Batman & Robin was in the theaters, I was often told, “You look like Alicia Silverstone in that Batman movie!” I’m not sure if it was because we both had long blonde hair or because I wore a black leather jacket or what, but I’ll admit, I liked the comparison because it was Batgirl.

Knowing a Batgirl story is in the works, I am anxious to know how her story will be developed.

So, although I originally wanted to trust the movie to Whedon, I was so excited to hear he stepped off the project this past week because pretty much everyone is saying the same thing I was thinking–with the white guy known for superhero movies out of the way, this movie needs to be in a woman’s hands.

To me that opens up the likelihood to bringing more dimensions to this female character.

And as Scott Mendelsohn of Forbes puts it:

“We’re past the point where a female-led genre film, be it a bawdy comedy or an action thriller, is in itself a big deal. The next stage of evolution is actually hiring women to write and direct these movies on the regular. Sure, female filmmakers shouldn’t just be hired for movies about/featuring women in the lead roles, but until that becomes normalized, situations like Michelle MacLaren directing Chris Pratt’s Cowboy Ninja Viking (nice work, Universal) or Catherine Hardwicke directing something like The Fighter will be all the rarer.”

When Patty Jenkins was brought on in 2015 to direct Wonder Woman, which had been in the works since 1996, people took notice. Jenkins had her fans and her critics as she undertook the massive story. And she was able to bring a superhero to the screen who is confident and compassionate, two traits the world needs more of in characters that are role models.

Here is a huge opportunity for the decision-makers of the filmworld. Roxane Gay, (Bad Feminist, Difficult Women) offered via Twitter to pen the Batgirl script. And what is so fantastic is the reply she received from DC Entertainment–if Roxane’s serious, she should contact them.

And journalists and other enthusiasts are putting forth a number of suggestions of other female writers and directors that would be a great fit for bringing the Batgirl story to film.

And as Batgirl Yvonne Craig demanded back in this fabulous 1974 PSA as she saves Batman and Robin from an explosion, whoever does take over the project, their pay should be at least equivalent to what Joss Whedon’s pay would have been.

Batgirl needs an opportunity to stand on her own platform. She needs to have a story worthy of women and men, and little girls and boys, who are looking for strong female role models. She needs to have a woman at the helm. And we need Batgirl.  And her motorcycle!

And you know how I’m going to dress for Halloween next year!