Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Don'ts and Don'ts

I was just reading the book, "An Agent Tells All," and I thought it might be kind of interesting to talk about all the don'ts and bad examples I've seen, lived and experienced over the years since I've been in Hollywood these last 13 years.

I think I have at least 5 really good BAD examples and they are about both friends and acquaintances I've had over the years. The first one I can share because the friend I'm about to talk about doesn't do this anymore. Plus, he doesn't mind me talking about it.

Don't waste the time when you're not auditioning by smoking weed and playing video games.

I know this seems obvious, but there are so many fricking people who do this, it's disgusting. Okay, I'm no teetotaler (I've never used that word before so I don't know if I spelled it right.). I imbibe on the rare occasion. And I don't mean to lecture anyone.

But it's very easy to start a bad habit and let it get worse. Sure, it feels great. You work on occasion, get your unemployment checks regularly, a residual check every once in a while, maybe every week if you have a national running. Why not enjoy life, right? Just kick back, don't let the worries affect you.

First of all, weed makes you worry more, not worry less. How? You worry when the weed runs out. You worry when your buddy just pinched some and stuck it in his pocket. You worry even when he doesn't pinch some because you're just paranoid. You worry when the music is too amped. You worry when the unemployment check doesn't arrive on time. You worry when your supplier hasn't returned your page.

Then you worry when you don't have the latest video game that your friend in Iowa just got in the mail from You worry if you can get your "one-hit" into the clubs without detection. You worry if your parents can smell it in your apartment when they come to visit you. You worry your eyes are too red when you go into an audition. You worry if the casting director can tell if you are baked.

You worry that you are too stiff during an audition because you decided not to get stoned that morning. You worry that someone will see you taking a toke on your pipe in the car after the audition. You worry when your agent calls about an audtion and you were so baked that you didn't get all the information and directions right.

You worry that staying up all night playing Cool Boarders 5 and getting stoned might disrupt your audition the next morning. You worry if the postman, TV repairman, cable guy, maintenance guy might've found your stash and stolen it while you were out getting food. You worry that rats might've eaten your stash. You worry that you might've already smoked your stash.

You worry when you don't have the cash to pay your dealer. You worry that he'll stop coming by with the "good stuff." You worry that he'll probably start selling you "skunky stuff from Burbank."

It's okay, though, because for a while, things will be just fine, as long as you take a hit and relax with some fine mellow tunes and a good video game you can just watch -- not play -- on the TV. Ah, yes, that's it. Just relax. OH, SHIT! I HAVE AN AUDITION AT 10!

Monday, March 28, 2005

Day Something or Another

I'm not sure what day it is of my fast. Third day? That's probably it. The mind gets a little fuzzy while fasting. On top of that, I've been seeing an increased demand on my freelancing services. So, I have a fuzzy mind AND I'm working. Interesting combination.

Went on a hike yesterday in the Hollywood Hills with a friend and she thinks she saw Cameron Diaz in a hat and sunglasses. I said it was probably her, since she is known to take that hike on occasion. But apparently this potential Ms. Diaz was holding hands with someone other than Justin Timberlake. I didn't see them, so I can't say for sure. Anyway, I'd rather not turn this into some Hollywood rumor site.

Today, while doing a freelance gig, an office manager asked if I was looking for full-time work. Because my mind was fuzzy, I immediately said I was only looking for piecemeal kinds of work. What an idiot!! I should've been more professional with my response and had her look at my resume before making any inquiries. Then, if she likes me, she could make me a fair offer.

Also, my freelance agent is trying to hook me up with a contract job that would last for 6 months. If that happens, I'll be starting next week. Man, things can change just like that.

I guess it would be good to start working a real job again. I could use a new car. Plus, I've finished my manuscript and I just want to relax from the creative stuff for a while. I could probably still do the occasional commercial or print job too, so there'd be little compromise.

Okay, this is just not happening. My brain feels fried. No, that's not the word. What's the word? Okay, fuzzy. I'll stick with that one.

Saturday, March 26, 2005


Yeah, I'm doing a bit of it lately. Truthfully, I didn't meet these folks as an actor or while working in Hollywood. I met them while working for different magazines. Met a whole bunch of them. Went to some parties, due to the magazines, and met a whole bunch more.

Celebrities are just people. Only we make them out to be more than that.

Anyway, I'll try to keep it relevant when I do it.

Fasting for Easter

Well, not exactly. I am fasting though. Just started today. Doing the Master Cleanse fast, which you can read about on the Web. I've done this twice before. The last one was for 10 days. I actually invited about 35 people to do it via evite and I think about 25 ended up doing it. Called it the Mass Master Cleanse.

Anyway, I'm not doing it because of Easter but I should probably tell that to people. In actuality, I'm doing it, largely, for vanity reasons: losing excess weight, clearing up skin, allergies, etc. There's some spiritual benefits too, but of course, I can't really confirm or claim those. But if you want to experience a calm, quiet mind for a while, fasting is a surefire way of getting there. Just ask any monk. They'll do fasts that last for 40 days!

One of my friends is doing the cleanse by herself and -- in addition to doing it for my own reasons -- I thought she could use the company. She started last Tuesday, I think, so this is her 5th day of a 10-day fast. I'm going to do at least 5 days. At least 7 would be ideal, though.

The print job I did went well and I even scored a free pair of dress shoes. Really nice ones, too. I knew they couldn't return worn shoes so I asked for them. I found out about this after doing another print job where they gave me shoes to wear. After it was over, the wardrobe person just said to take them home. I usually score socks and a t-shirt at these as well. Yes, it's the little things that matter most.

Oftentimes, if you wore something expensive like a suit, you can offer to pay a discounted price for it. Once in a rare while, they might even give it to you, especially if they had to tailor the jacket and pants.

I was once at a photo shoot for Dean Cain and the wardrobe stylist gave him everything she brought, including suits he didn't even try on. So, I'm pretty damn tickled about my new shoes.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

What It's All About

Some of you may know an actress named Sandra Oh. She starred recently in a popular movie called Sideways, which was also directed by her husband, who also directed About Schmidt, starring Jack Nicholson.

I've known Ms. Oh for a while and actually had the chance to sit down with her for an article on her. She was a great interview, and just a damn interesting person to talk to. Completely in the moment, always, but never "on." I could sit and watch her for hours, even with the volume off.

Ms. Oh will soon be starring in a new series called Grey's Anatomy on one of the networks and I think she will soon become a household name. She completely deserves it.

During our interview, she kept repeating something which is as beautiful and simple as it is ambiguous. Apparently, she had a good acting teacher in Canada who always stressed that "it's all about the work."

Now, I've tried to dissect this statement in various different ways. That's sort of my nature. Dissect, dissect, dissect, get to the core of things. Figure things out. Or at least try to. I've never quite understood this statement, but it has made sense in the oddest of situations.

For instance, when I'm complaining about a non-union commercial that keeps running and running and I don't get a dime from it, I think, "It's all about the work."

When an independent filmmaker decides to shoot a scene for the hundredth time because he's using digital video, "It's all about the work."

When I have to leave one hour in advance to get to an audition across town at 4:30 in the afternoon, well, you know what it's all about.

These statements are great and I hope to come up with one myself some day. One old acquaintance -- an Asian DJ named Theo -- didn't exactly come up with it, but he did popularize a statement (via radio) throughout California and eventually the rest of the country: "It's all good." I know you don't believe me on that one but it's true. In fact, he told me where it did come from: MC Hammer. And I think I know where Hammer got it from: Alan Watts, the philosopher/author.

Actually, I do have sort of a mantra that fits L.A. quite nicely: It's just driving. Every time some bastard cuts me off on a freeway, I just think, "It's just driving." As in, it's not life, it's just driving. Or, it has nothing to do with what I stand for, it's just driving.

Tomorrow morning, I'll be working on a print job. It pays well, for one day's work. Probably leave an hour early to get there on time. Yup, it's just driving. Because it's all about the work. And there's something else, but you already know what I'm going to say.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

So Right About Now...

Right about now, you've checked your watch about 50 times today. You check your phone to see if it's still working and you paid your bill on time. Even the mail can wait today. It doesn't mean much, now that the neuroses has set in.

You want to call your agent but how in the hell can that help things? They don't want to take your call. They know what you're calling about. They ALWAYS know what you're calling about.

I'm not nervous, I'm neurotic. Which is, like, nervousness embodied and mentalized at the same time. I'm thinking of all these things that could go wrong. I've already thought about how stupid, ugly and untalented I am. That's all part of the self-doubt that started as soon as I got the call about being on avail. Now's when the really ugly stuff happens -- while waiting for that all-important confirmation call.

A friend called me today. "What are you doing?" "Waiting for the phone to ring." "Oh. That's really exciting." "Yeah, and the paint drying on the wall, too, while I'm at it." "Why don't you go to the gym?" "Are you kidding me? How can I work out thinking I might've missed an important phone call??!! Don't you know all the stories of jobs lost because of a missed phone call???!!!!"

Okay, the conversation didn't exactly happen that way. But it's true. I'm afraid to miss a phone call right now. That REALLY sucks. Not just missing the call, but being AFRAID to miss the call. Capital S on that one.

I don't want to go out because I'd be in public with this neurotic behavior. That's not good. Not good for anyone.

Anyway, right about now, you should really ask yourself, "Do I really want to be in this business?" I'm in it and I ask myself that question all the time.

A friend asked me once if I ever have these moments of darkness when I'm contemplating not having any "irons in the fire." My answer? "All the time." All the fricking time....

Can't Decide

So, not only am I up (on avail) for one job, but the print aud I went to on Saturday as well. It seems two different companies want a laugh at my expense and keep me in suspense. Consequently, I'm laughing and crying at every little emotion that comes by me. Even exercise won't calm me, nor the homemade soup I eat for comfort on occasion.

My language feels a little discombobulated right now. Perhaps it's because I was just catching up (online) with an old friend from Singapore. It's weird how my energy can meld with another's, even though we're like 10,000 miles away from each other.

Anyway, I can't really decide if I should be happy or upset about this "avail" thing. I've had issues with it before, but now I'm sort of settled at the thought that it's a vote of confidence for all who are important in my acting life: agents, casting director, clients. Just wish I could cash these votes in at the bank.

I just filed for my next round of unemployment benefits and those should start coming in about 2 or 3 weeks. I was getting close to seriously dipping into my reserves and that's mighty uncomfortable. So, I'll have 6 months to really buckle down and get paid.

What do I do? Start looking for a job? Get more training? Knuckle down and get work? Yes, I think so. All of the above.

As for looking for the literary agent, last week, I sent out two query letters to agents whom I had a contact with in the last five years or so. Haven't received a response yet and it's been over a week. I suppose it's on to step two: Looking for referrals. I can't think of any better time to start digging out those business cards I've collected over the years and start emailing and calling.

"Hi, it's me. I haven't spoken to you since you gave me your card several years ago, but I'm asking for a favor. Do you know any agents you can refer me to? I hope you remember me. I'm Asian with black hair and brown eyes."

Well, I'm fishing but it's a step above doing a general mailing. That's when it gets expensive and time-consuming. Oh well, I still have 6 months.

Getting a commercial agent is actually a bit easier, if you can believe it. I had a few referrals but those absolutely didn't work. Just buy something called "The Agencies" at your local Samuel French bookstore and find out which agencies are looking for what. It's dependable and current and everyone trusts it. Seriously. It may look like a few pages of colored paper stapled together, but it's priceless for finding that all-important first agent.

Oh, of course you need headshots. Good ones will suffice. After you can afford it, you can buy the great headshots. Or refer to one of my earlier posts about getting "free" headshots from a great photographer.

If you can't decide if your headshots are good enough, just email them to me at I'll tell you. And don't print up a whole bunch until you get the agent. They'll want their logo and your name printed on the front.

Color or black and white, you ask? Black and white still works for theatrical. Color for commercial and print. That's what's going on right now.

Oh, by the way, let's say you're reading this from Bumphukt, Iowa, and you know a good photographer down the street. He says he knows what's happening in the big cities. After all, he's a professional.

Save your money unless you need the expensive practice. Things change here all the time. You need to take your headshots in Hollywood in order to compete with folks in Hollywood. And the most important thing to remember is this: The most expensive headshots in the world are the ones you've paid for and didn't use. So, get an agreement with the photog if you're paying a lot of money up front that you want some retakes if it doesn't turn out well. Get it in writing if you can.

Duplicate photos are very cheap in Hollywood now. I went to a place called Reproductions on Cahuenga near Universal City. Got color PHOTO dupes for a very good price. Not just paper dupes. You can actually find these places on the Web and shop around.

I'll talk about what actually happened when I got my first agent soon. It's a pretty inspiring story.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

All Kinds

At the Illinois Lottery callback, I ended up talking to some folks in the waiting area. One guy was from Chicago and he looked like a splitting image of either the King of Queens guy or that other show with a guy who looks like the King of Queens guy.

Anyway, he says that because he's from Chicago, he's kinda hoping it'll help him get the job. I mentioned to him that I once went up for a Washington Lottery job, but even though I'm from Washington, I didn't get the job. But later he explained that there's a certain accent that Chicagoans have that usually people mistake for somewhere else like, say, Queens, New York.

So, he's got a good point. Only thing is, the spot doesn't require us to talk, just mime the action. I'm hoping I mimed the action just as good as any true Chicagoan.

There was this other kid in the waiting area who it turns out was from North Carolina. I had to ask because he had such a thick Southern accent. So after a bit of small talk, this guy goes into deep thought for a while. But it was the kinda "deep" that looks sort of "baked," as in from smoking da kine. Then he starts to talk, almost as if talking to himself, about how he used to go into these callbacks "not wantin' it." I instantly understood what he was referring to. All sorts of actors, including myself, have held the theory that you usually book a job when you act like you don't want it. I looked at the Chicago guy and he sort of shrugs his shoulders. I just smile and let the Southerner keep talking. He says that he booked a couple jobs that way. Then didn't book a job for 4 years.

Yeah, that sounds familiar. So, you go into every audition as if you don't want it. Pretty soon, all these casting directors think, "Man, every time I bring the guy in, he acts like he doesn't want the job. I can't figure out why the guy wants to be an actor." Then they stop bringing you in for certain auditions.

I think this sort of thing happens to a lot of beginners. When I first started out with an agent, I booked my first union gig right away. I didn't know why it happened. I was reading with two very experienced actors at the time. Why the heck did I get it? Was I that good? Probably not. I didn't book another union gig for 2 more years.

It's probably what people call beginner's luck. I've tried not to be superstitious about things, but beginner's luck is something I'm starting to put faith in. Perhaps you've heard of some guy who walks into his very first casino, plunks down a couple of dollars in a slot machine and wins $5,000.

I've got a quirk of my own. If I'm not nervous, that's a bad sign. When I'm too calm, my performances are flat. Right now, I'm listening to upbeat music yet I feel like I need to go to bed. It's barely past 9 pm! Nope. Not a good sign.

One good thing going for me is that I got visitors coming in tomorrow. Two are just passing through and two others are staying a while. The last time that happened, I had a good week.

Oh, I also had a print aud on Saturday as a Japanese businessman.

Geez, am I tired or what?

Friday, March 18, 2005

Father of 13 y.o.

Alright, gotta think: square peg in round hole. Square peg in round hole....

Improv Class Must Be Helping

So, I went to a callback for the Illinois Lottery yesterday and kicked arse!! There were a few people there way before their scheduled time. I came five minutes before my appointment, so I had to wait for all these earlybirds to go ahead of me. I sensed that they were very antsy about getting some work. You could just see it in their actions.

Fortunately, I was the only Asian guy in the bunch. It was a room full of white folks, Hispanic folks, one black guy and me.

Then, after a few hours, my agent calls and says they want to put me "on avail." What does that mean? It means they really, really like you. And at some point, they might even hire you for the job. But until then, sit tight and worry your arse off about it.

I've learned that these things can go either way. A few years ago, I did a Nissan commercial for Japan. The production staff had inadvertently left a posterboard up with all the different casting possibilities. Consequently, I saw who the second and third choices were. What's more is that I knew all of them. So, when one of these guys talked about how bummed he was that he didn't get the spot, I spoke very gingerly to him about the mistake they made and that I had done the spot.

Anyway, I'll be sitting on pins and needles for a while. It's not a national spot, so the pins and needles won't be so sharp, but it's work nevertheless, and work is always appreciated.

I also have an audition for the second of those SBC spots I helped write. Very interesting, eh? I gotta go make myself look 40ish now. I'm supposed to have a 13-year-old son!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Soul to Soul

Don’t know why I picked the title. I used to like the group though.

My last couple of entries got me thinking, once again, of this conversation I had with my out-of-town friend. She works in the entertainment industry in Asia as a manager. And, as a friend, she doesn’t like to see me struggle. That’s plain and obvious. As a matter of fact, I don’t like to see me struggle either.

One of her clients is a regular TV star who works constantly and has done very well for himself. He’s famous, relatively rich and probably has done everything in Asia that I’m trying to do here in the States. I mean, we’re talking publishing books, starred in movies, TV shows, released music CDs, everything an entertainer would be more than happy to achieve.

Honestly, I’m not envious. And honestly, I doubt I’d be able to achieve even a quarter of his success anywhere in Asia. It’s a different market and I don’t resonate with it. Plus, I don’t think it’s my calling.

I’m a big believer that, to some extent, we as souls have chosen the circumstances that we will face later in life. That covers the gamut, from the athletic to the handicapped, the beautiful to the ugly, the white to the black, the tall to the very short. And it also covers an Asian in Hollywood.

Why did I choose this fate? Certainly not because it’s easy. Looking back at my life, not once did I choose an easy path. However, that’s not really saying I chose the hardest life either. I’ve had it pretty easy, compared to many in this world.

I’ve had great jobs and great positions. I could’ve lived very well working a regular 9-to-5 job. But I quit that life to pursue something that has no guarantees, no safety net. Of course, I’ve got my safety nets already in place, which is my resume and the contacts I’ve made over the years. If I want to make 40-50K minimum a year, I can make a few calls and I’d be doing that within 3 months time.

But, again, I chose this life. This god-awful rotten excuse for a life that, in comparison to someone in another country or situation, might seem mediocre at best.

I have an Asian friend who is a movie star and he doesn’t live in L.A. either but he is known for his work in America, not Asia. My manager friend asked me why he doesn’t do more movies or TV shows or strive to make $20 million a picture. That’s an easy one. In his words, “I can do that but what would I learn? That I can be more famous and make more money?”

Don’t get me wrong. I want to earn a decent living and have a fair amount of fame. Maybe even a great living and a great amount of fame. But I want to do it in Hollywood, an environment that isn’t particularly suited for me, but one that will teach me a great amount about tolerance, adversity, success, failure, strength, endurance, and personalities of every kind imaginable.

And I want to do it in America. The so-called land of opportunity. Where some people are probably more equal than others.

Okay, enough of all this serious stuff, it’s time to have some fun. My improv class is tonight and that means it’s tightrope-walking time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


The week after a busy week of auditions is that time when you hope and pray that you booked something, or, in the very least, you get a callback. After all, with 5 auditions, ideally you want to be booking a minimum of one of them.

One out of five, you ask? Yes, one of out five. The 20 percent rule. Actually, when I was non-union, I had a 30 percent rule and I generally met that very consistently, year after year. When it comes to print, I've been somewhere around 40 percent. Last year, I booked one job for every two I went out for. Yup, 50%.

That's a great feeling and the type of attitude you need when you walk into that room full of actors: this job is probably mine.

Other actors always complain to me that they're not going out enough or that they book jobs so that entitles them to go out on more auditions. Well, it doesn't always work that way, at least not with me. I remember once booking 3 jobs in a row, back to back. Yeah, I thought I was hot stuff. Send me out, I'm going to book it. Well, I didn't get an audition for several weeks. Lost that feeling just like that. Then, after I did audition, I didn't book a job for several months.

I used to have this ideal that I needed to book a job every month. Not anymore, however, since I've become SAG. But you know, real troopers out there know that at every audition, it's like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. And it's our job to make it fit. Because we just can't wait for the right job to come around that fits us just perfectly so that we can be lazy and just be ourself. No, that's a lame and retarded way to pursue this business.

Real actors book. And book and book and book. You see Glengarry Glen Ross? Remember Alec Baldwin's monologue? ABC. Always Be Closing.

Well my motto is ABB. Always Be Booking. Or else something's not right. And I either need to think about quitting this business or getting my ass fired up and improving my skills.

A few years ago, I spent a week in Australia touring with the Barbra Streisand tour management team. If you want to see someone who has driven herself to succeed, that's Babs. No casting director in New York in their right mind would ever think of casting that face and that nose and that hair and that odd voice. Not unless she made it happen.

Look at me, calling her Babs. Hmm, maybe I AM gay....

Monday, March 14, 2005

I Need to Vent

Journals are meant to vent your feelings and frustrations, and even though this might look passive-aggressive to some, I'm going to vent a bit about some recent events.

So, there's this woman I once "flinged with" who called me recently about doing some writing work for her colleague. She said there'd be decent money involved and, as a freelancer, my ears perked up. But then she mentioned the ideas this guy wanted to pursue and I began to see immediate overlaps with my own writing interests.

This woman is of the persistent type, which is probably why she has achieved a modicum of publishing success. But she's also the type who acts first, thinks later. (I also think she writes first, thinks later too, but that's a different story.)

Anyway, if I did as she wished, I would've been working for this guy, doing what I've thought of doing myself, giving him all the credit for coming up with such a brilliant idea. Not that I'm a genius full of ideas or anything. I just think that everyone ELSE thinks they are a genius full of ideas and they think that NO ONE ELSE could come up with any idea as original as their own. That's bullcrap.

As it is, I'll probably get sued anyway for having an indirect meeting with this guy. Which means I'll have to scrap any plans of my own that are similar. And that's part of the Hollywood shuffle, folks. Ideas are cheap, a dime a dozen. It's the person who actually does the work and takes action who gets things done. But there are dozens of others who will claim, somewhere down the line, that it was actually their idea and should get something from your success.

Am I paranoid? With a capital P, baby. Do I care if I ever succeed? Naturally, but I don't want some schmuck getting any credit for my artist-related sacrifices. Makes you want to pack it all up and head for Kansas.

That's rant #1. Here's rant #2.

I had a friendly conversation with my out-of-town friend recently about writing. I begin to tell her what I think is a brilliant idea for a story and then she proceeds to give me advice on WHAT I should be writing about and HOW I should be writing it. This is a friend I've had for over 20 years who knows me very, very well. What the frick, man?! Once again, I'm seriously considering moving to Kansas!

Am I too sensitive? Yes. That's me. My personality. It's also one of the traits that enables me to get in someone else's head and think how they think. I'm very good at it. I write great character dialogue because of it. I also can commiserate with just about anyone I meet. So to any of my friends who suggest I am too sensitive, remember who I am: Mr. Sensitive.

On to rant #3.

(oops. had to edit this part out for various reasons.)

I have one friend who occasionally reads my stupid blog entries and she has said that because she is bi-, she is a more advanced soul than I am because I am "just heterosexual." When I first heard that, I thought it was pure ludicrous. But over the years, I've done some reading and thinking and I believe she makes perfect sense. Souls, in theory, are unisex, even though they usually take on a gender identity. Universal love is indeed a very advanced love.

In fact, I use this universal love theory as a sort of litmus test for how others are attracted to me. When women are attracted to me, that's one level. When gay men find me attractive, that's another level. But when lesbian women and straight men find themselves somehow drawn to me, that's a whole 'nother level right there. The tipping point, so to speak.

I do want to end this on a positive note. Seattle was damn lovely. Great weather. Some great friends up there. One almost died over the weekend, at his 40th birthday party. I'm glad he didn't. Otherwise, this probably would be rant #4. And I'd be helluh sad.

Many of my friends will be turning 40 this year, and consequently, they're having their 40th birthday worries, frustrations, breakdowns, rants, vents, paranoias, debates, woulda, coulda, shouldas. But I have one thing to leave you with today.

A girl I once dated was turning 30 a few years ago and this really got her depressed for all the reasons girls get depressed about when turning 30. But she was a different beast, so to speak. I mean, this girl had various problems and excesses over the years. She literally didn't think she would make it to 30. Certainly her parents doubted it too.

At some point, her dad came up to her and expressed this to her, and she just broke down like you wouldn't believe. I have a few more months before I turn a milestone as well. And, well, I'll be honest when I say I didn't think I'd make it this far either. Yup. Lucky me. Poor ol' lucky me. The luckiest guy in the world, as far as I'm concerned. ; )

Friday, March 11, 2005

Advice from the Pros

For the record, I'm no expert when it comes to this Hollywood thing. I don't have any particularly good advice to give, just my experiences to share. Sometimes, I discover something that works. But, most likely, it works for me only. Occasionally, you might find something that works for me also works for you. And I guess that's why somebody might be interested in reading my stupid musings.

With that said, I just went to a book signing by a professional agent named Tony Martinez. This was a private book signing, so we got to ask a lot of questions. He gave a lot of answers. It sounds like agents hate managers, and vice-versa. But one of the surest ways to screw up your career is to get with a bad manager with a bad reputation.

Anyway, I don't have a manager and who knows if I ever will. But he also said that it's way harder these days for an unknown actor to get anywhere in Hollywood anymore. Why? Because of two basic phenomenons: Reality TV and veteran movie stars doing TV.

These days, many of the new shows and just pilots for new shows require their talent to be name actors -- celebrities. They want someone recognizable, bringing instant familiarity. That's the reason why Paris Hilton has carte blanche in Hollywood now. Everyone knows her, for one reason or another.

So, this agent, who doesn't represent A-listers, has some stories to tell in his new book, which should provide insight for beginners like me. (I've linked the book at the column to the right, along with some other recommendations the author made.) I bought his book yesterday and will begin reading it on the plane later today. Well, that is if they'll let me get on a plane. Apparently Backstage West just issued a recommendation for the book and it's been sold out at Samuel French bookstore ever since. They said that it's like sitting down in a bar with an agent and hearing him speak.

He gave one anecdote that I want to share. Sean Hayes was an unknown actor with a blank page for a resume. A small boutique agency gave him a chance just on his likeability. So then there was this pilot floating around for several years called Will & Grace. They even shot it a couple of times but no network would touch it. So, along came Sean Hayes and -- BAM -- instant career. I don't watch the show so I don't actually know who Sean Hayes is. I'm guessing he's Will. Then again, he could be Grace.

So with all the doom and gloom being forecasted for the industry, it's the little anecdotes and footnotes of someone making it big that keep you going. But you gotta start somewhere, and you need an agent, just to get in the game. (I'll get to that as soon as I gather my thoughts.)

I used to go to this church in the University District in Seattle. The pastor told this story of the monk who prayed to God to let him win the lottery. So, the lottery came and went and the monk didn't win. The monk asked God about it and God said, "You could've at least bought a ticket."

I should end it there but a friend asked me yesterday to buy flight insurance and put his name as the beneficiary. He said he'd pay me back if the plane landed safely. He claims it's his way of taking care of "everything" for me. And, of course, he'd get to drive a new car to the funeral. But I just called it the $20 Travel Insurance Lottery. I think I won't buy it just to spite him....

Thursday, March 10, 2005


So, I'm scheduled to board a flight tomorrow at 2:55 pm for Seattle. Unfortunately, I have two auditions tomorrow: Illinois State Lottery at 2 pm and Microsoft at 2:55 pm. What to do....

Before I make up my mind, I have to say that yesterday's improv session went pretty well. And I'm not just talking about me. No, everyone did damn well in yesterday's class. Also, it looks like everyone who showed up for the first class stayed in it, including the pretty girl who kills the English language. Actually, I'm proud of her. She knows it's difficult for her. In fact, yesterday, she was hesitant to go up for a character development exercise. Sitting next to her, I encouraged her. She did fine. I went twice during this exercise and had a blast, even though I doubt I was very funny or good in either of my tries.

But there's something encouraging about it. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's the instructors. They even said that they were "talking us up" to some of the veteran classes about how "good" we were for such beginners. But I do feel that after a few more weeks, we'll be way more comfortable and way better at this stuff. Also, I don't know if I mentioned it but we are supposed to do a public performance at the end of April. I was very apprehensive at this idea before. Now, I don't feel so scared. Well, I am scared still, but it's like I've already committed to bungee jumping off that canyon bridge, and now that I'm strapped in the harness, I gotta go through with it.

The thing that this class is helping me most with is the idea of COMMITMENT. Yeah, in bold capital letters. That's something I probably lacked in a lot of things. Improv forces you to make a choice and stay with it. And then forces you to set an objective and ride that baby right through the tunnel. So, this stuff is really helping me with auditions.

Today, I went in for a Sony Ericsson (is it Ericcson or Ericsson?) commercial audition. Had to sing a line in Japanese from the song, Close to You, by the Carpenters. I think I did pretty well, despite the fact that I'm fricking illiterate in Japanese.

So, with tomorrow, that should put my week at, let's see, five auditions, including two separate print calls for Microsoft. This is one of the busiest weeks I've had in a while.

And while we're on the subject, yeah, I'll probably be late for my flight tomorrow and hope they'll put me on the next one. They do that, don't they?

Tonight, I'm going to go hear an agent talk about his new book, which is all about being a Hollywood theatrical agent. But not the kind of agent that represents A-listers. Just a regular agent working for a regular agency full of regular ol' actors. Apparently, his book is full of anecdotes about actors, which should be insightful as hell. I'll probably toss him a headshot after he talks. What the hell, why not? I'm about to take a leap next month anyway.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


Of the 2 commercials I help write, I just got an audition call for one of them. Strange how that happens. This is at Westside Casting today at 2pm. My agent said to dress "casual" which could mean many things. But the way the concept was described to me was upscale Armani-casual. Well, guess I have an edge. Also, I had some time to prepare for the scene. I doubt anyone knows the scope of the scene like I do.

Of course, this doesn't mean I'm a shoe-in for the job. But it will give me more information than the next guy. Starting to feel sort of like Gordon Greco of Wall Street now. And, yes, greed IS good.

Today, I'm playing tour guide with my friend from Taiwan and then I'm taking her to the airport. After that, I gotta run to Little Tokyo for the Cold Tofu workshop. Don't want to miss a class.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Crazy Week

Things have gotten a bit crazy lately. I finally gave up that freelance gig. Felt bad about it, but I really wasn't qualified to do the work. Oh well...

Last week's improv class was a bit of a downer for me. I really sucked in that one. I'm talking about it now because I don't feel so bad about it anymore. Must've been all that soju I drank in Koreatown this past weekend.

My friends from Seattle came down and one of them ran the L.A. Marathon. He did a great job and finished at about 3:47. I drove and ran all around the marathon route trying to catch up with him. Managed to catch him twice, but missed him at mile 22 and at the finish line. He brought some friends with him and we all had a pretty fun weekend. Went to Prince and Manna in K-town. Fat Fish in West Hollywood. Toe Bang in K-town. And, uh, let's see...oh, yeah, went to Sake House on La Brea and on Sunday went to The Standard downtown.

I definitely have to lose some weight now. I pigged out on chicken and Korean BBQ and drank way too much beer and soju, not to mention all the sushi and martinis I had at Fat Fish.

Today, I went shopping with my out-of-town friends on 3rd Street Promenade and bought a shirt at Zara, a new clothing store that kicks ass. Oh, we also went shopping for track jackets on Melrose on Saturday. My friend was trying to buy a Fred Perry Laurel track jacket but couldn't find any. So, we finally found one today at Fred Segal in Santa Monica.

(Sorry this is so incoherent but it's all I can muster right now. After I'm done with this, I gotta write a couple of TV spots for SBC Communications. Kinda weird, too, because I'm writing them with characters that I could play. More power to me, I suppose.)

I have an audition tomorrow for Microsoft and then I'm picking up another friend (this one from Taiwan) from the airport. She's staying for one night, then leaving for Seattle. Then I'm off to Seattle on Friday for a couple of days. I think I'll be partying up there too.

Man, what a crazy week.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Class Tonight

So, my second session of the Cold Tofu beginners workshop is tonight. Unfortunately -- or fortunately, depending on how you look at it -- I have zero butterflies in my stomach. Maybe it's because I have an idea of what to expect and who I will be working with. Or, maybe it's because I've been doing this darn freelance project and all I can think about are nucleotides, cell-mediated immunity, and something called Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy. Anyway, my brain is ready to explode. An improv session will be a welcome relief from this medical stuff. (Did I already mention how dumb I am?)

So, this month, my rent went up. Great. Doesn't my landlord know I'm an unemployed actor?

I got another holding fee for the Ford job. Still haven't seen the commercial on mainstream TV but I did catch ESPN yesterday and saw a new ad for the Five Hundred. The footage looks very similar to what I performed, but the road looks completely different, like it was shot on a cobblestone street. I just can't remember if I was driving on cobblestones. It was at the Paramount lot in the New York location. Does anyone know if the streets are cobblestone there?

In the ad I saw, I couldn't see the driver's face, just his arms. The clothes were the same -- black sweater -- but all you see is the guy's arms. Without a face, it's very difficult to determine anything. The driver might as well be a background performer.

On other fronts, I worked on a start-up magazine recently and it looks like the first issue just arrived to the office. Can't wait to see it. Plus, I got productive and printed out the manuscript for a novel I've been working on for the last couple of years. It's in its second draft and after one more edit I'll be sending it out to potential literary agents.

Ah, that's an interesting thing to talk about: agents. Next time, I'll go into how I got my acting agent. Looks like I'm about to go through a similar process anyway.

OK, time to carbo-load my brain.