dani gets lost in the wilderness

I’m listening to Brandi Carlile and crying right now.  Right?? SING TO ME BRANDI!!  YOU ARE MY EVERYTHING!!** I mean hell. Britt and I talk on the regular about the things that we scream-cry to in the car. Personal favorites … Continue reading

dani’s poppin’ bottles (of kombucha)

BRITT‘S IN LA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GABLAGFROMYGAHWHAHOWSWEETBABYJESUSGLABBOLDAFLAIMSOHAPPYYYYYYYYYY

I don’t know how I’m going to write this blog post.  I think I’m going to have to communicate only in gifs.  Because after MONTHS and MONTHS of excitement and buildup and anticipation my very favoritest Britt and bestie and soul sister in the entire universe of everything that exists is OFFICIALLY LIVING IN LA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

There are truly no words.  I would like to say that since Britt arrived we have been doing nothing but lying on the beach, running around like two Tasmanian devils, and partying like it’s 1999.  After all, if you have ever been to a dive bar with me and Britt you know that we will play Miley Cyrus on the jukebox, laugh like hyenas, and piss off the regulars until the sun comes up or we get kicked out of the bar.  Especially if we are also in the company of Suz, whom you met in Britt‘s last post.  There is some sort of chemical thing that happens when we are all together that makes my blood turn into liquid neon and makes us all a little crazed in the best possible way.  

Summer 2013: Britt helps Suz make the roadtrip to LA, prior to her own big move in October.

Summer 2013: Britt helps Suz make the roadtrip to LA, prior to her own big move in October.

But with Suz at USC for her Master’s in Social Work and me at USC for my Master’s in Acting, smack dab in the middle of Fall Semester, grad school has completely eaten our lives.  EATEN THEM.  So instead of being like this:

We are more like this:

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I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed about it.  The first day that Britt and I spent together in LA we wanted to be poppin’ bottles and livin’ it up, but we were in coffeeshops and juice bars with our noses in laptops and books, trying to get our lives together.  Truth be told, we probably spent more time pouring our souls out to one another than doing actual work, but it was amazing just to be together and share the truth of our lives with each other.  And right now the truth is WORK.  This girl truly is family to me, and that means sharing the stressful times and the fun times.  With Britt making a huge move and with me in the throes of grad school, maybe it was a little overly hopeful to think that our days would be nothing but sunshine and rainbows.  My girl brings some major light into my life, but unfortunately I still have a cubic shit-ton of work to do.  

And what is the truth of my life right now?  What the hell am I doing all day?

My Life:  Year 2 in Grad School

Bein' a bimbo.  Complete with duck-face.

Bein’ a bimbo. Complete with duck-face.

Physical transformation.  Movement class with David Bridel is 4 hours a week of pure FUN.  Since the beginning of the semester I have worn (literally) a dozen masks, and transformed into a cranky old man, a sweet old lady from Rhode Island, a Bakersfield Bimbo (see above), and a member of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot.  For the rest of the semester, I am working on Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, in which I will get to hate my husband and ruin a few people’s lives.  You know, like you do.

Steph Schroyer improvising a Victorian gown on her model, Amaka.

Steph Schroyer improvising a Victorian gown on her model, Amaka.

Choking on Chekhov.  In our “Space and Movement” class, we are delving into the late 19th century Russian plays of Mr. Anton Chekhov, and it is completely fascinating and difficult to me.  Chekhov is known for telling stories that require you to completely read between the lines in order to know what the hell is going on, which makes it perfect for a class focused on how you use space and movement to tell a story.  If you can’t say what you’re thinking, how does that thought communicate through your body?  Between that challenge and the challenge of immersing myself in a world that existed 120 years ago, this is one of my hardest classes.  

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Playing with stuffed animals.  Those things in the middle of my class are “phonetic pillows” and they are in the shape of the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet.  We have been doing all kinds of fun activities with these fuzzy little guys, and they are helping us learn accents in Voice class.  I am pretty much a big, giant child.  It’s great.  It’s also been helping us to get down New York accents for a black box/studio version of this play:

Waiting for Lefty by Clifford Odets (Original production @ the Group Theater)

And helping me to work on a Swedish accent for an iconic transformation into…

The inimitable Greta Garbo

Thankfully, we do not have to worry so much about learning accents for our FIRST FULL PRODUCTION AT USC…

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Directed by our fearless leader Andrew Borba, looking directorial in the middle there.

Time of Your Life, by William Saroyan. Set in 1939 San Francisco, this Pulitzer-Prize winning play is born of the Great Depression and seething with social unrest seen bubbling under the surface of the people seeking solace at Nick’s Pacific Street Saloon, Restaurant, and Entertainment Palace.  The whole play takes place in a bar by the waterfront, and people come and go, bringing their troubles and joys with them.  This is the only show we are doing this semester that is fully produced (set, costumes, etc.), and it runs November 21-24 at the Scene Dock Theater.  

After that show closes, we will get to focus on our other big project of the semester, Solo Performance.  All semester we are working with Luis Alfaro to write our own one-person plays.  Let me tell you, if getting through year 1 of grad school together wasn’t enough to bond my class, or if the requirement of spending 13 hours a day together this year wasn’t enough, we have been brought together by Luis Alfaro’s class.  This man fearlessly plunges into the deepest darkest places and he accepts no less from his students.  All semester he has been encouraging us to write the story that we need to write, not the story that we want to write, and I have learned so much about the incredible people I spend my days with by hearing their stories.  We are going to have a stunning night of Solo pieces by the end of this semester.  

Last but not least, there is film class over at the School of Cinematic Arts: “The Art of Collaboration” with John Rubinstein and Eugene Lazarev.  We’ve been working with directors in the MFA Film Directing program to explore the relationship between actors and directors in film, and we’ve created some pretty rad projects.  We are screening all of them tonight, and hopefully I can post a little something for you guys soon.

THAT’S IT!

whew.

So although what I want to be doing is partying down with my Britt and/or writing sweet blogs about all the stuff going on, I just get to do the things.  All of the things.  I am exhausted, exhilarated, consumed, focused, determined.  Some days I feel completely overwhelmed and under-rested and unable to bring myself fully to the work.  But by the same token, I get to imaginatively explore all these different worlds and all these different facets of humanity every day, which makes me one lucky actor.  And when I am lying on top of my bed on a Sunday evening, trying to find the motivation to get up and prepare for another week of grueling 13-16 hour days, I find myself in the snuggly embrace of my best friends, the muses that inspire me every single day to take the road less traveled and do the work necessary to get there.  And it is totally worth it. 

Reunited, and it feels so good.

Reunited, and it feels so good.

❤ ❤ ❤

Dani

britt talks feeling weak & finding family

When we wrapped the final day of principal photography for Birds of Neptune (Day 17 for the project, Day 15 for Yours Truly), I cried all the way home. Well, I guess I should say I cried all the way to rehearsal, but whatever. Technicalities. (You know I can’t take a break to save my life.)

For those of you following along at home, you know I’ve been going through some GCOES times, brain frenzy and heart hurt as of late. I’m not going to lie, bringing myself to even write a post this week has been difficult. I’d rather just roll into a ball on the floor and cry, but no, fuck that, it’s BLOG TIME. I don’t mean to sound melodramatic but I don’t know what else to write about.

I feel weak.

Emotionally and physically, I feel very weak.

Every day I second-guess my plans to move to LA. Every day I feel scared of leaving the people I love behind. Every day I feel scared of being left by those I love. I often carry around an overwhelming sadness of knowing that I will ultimately go through this journey alone. I mean, any true expert in their field walks a lonely road to quest for truth…right?

I don’t know.

But it’s okay to feel weak. I need to remember that.

As Dani so beautifully stated in her last post, ” (It is about mastering the art of) being in the moment without being attached to the moment. Just because you allow yourself to truly go through an experience doesn’t mean you have to get attached to that experience and spiral down into an abyss of panic, fear, depression, or murderous rage. Just breathe. A new moment is waiting to rush into you. Literally.”

Wow. And that shit is hard to remember! When I feel hurt and scared and alone it is so easy to take the people I love down with me. And that is selfish love.

But you know what? Fuck that. I am not alone. I am not stuck in a bubble. I have found family in dear friends whom I know will never leave me, no matter what my geography. And I have found family in the random people who come together by chance to create something bigger than themselves in a world of art and creation.

Take Birds of Neptune, for example. This team is my FAM. These people, some of them acquaintances, most of them strangers, have seen me at my most vulnerable and have loved and supported me through all of my experiences. They celebrated my 26th birthday with me, witnessed me puking in the bushes from nerves, held me as I cried-off a scene that really shook me, and have taken shots with me after a long 16-hour day of work. They are no longer acquaintances or strangers or “just people are work with”. They are my fucking Fam.

My BON family was my family this week. And thank god for them.

Speaking of….

My Week

Without all this work keeping me busy, I don’t know how I would find my center. It’s always there, pushing me forward, reminding me of who I am, gently reassuring me that everything I experience in life is meaningful and relevant. I am so lucky.

Let’s talk about this movie.

Despite its intensity and absorption of my life for weeks, Birds of Neptune has been so good to me. As I mentioned earlier, this week marked the wrap of principal photography for the film. This is not a picture-wrap on me quite yet, though– I will most likely have another shooting day for pick-ups and there is an additional scene we still need to shoot. But in reality, BON production is wrapped. That is seven months of my time: prep, rehearsal, and production WRAPPED, folks. I can’t believe I am finally on the other side. WOA.

And on that note:

Here are some highlights from my adventures on the BON set this week:

First– having my own stunt double. Seriously, that is just rad (I would have died in this car otherwise, trust me):

BON6

Jesus watching over Craft Services at one of our locations (legit):

BON4

Discovering creative and epic ways to fit a camera the size of a boat into spaces the size of a closet:

BON1

Three words. THRIFT STORE DAY:

BON2 thrift shop

THRIFT SHOP DAAAAAY!!

You GUYS. Thrift Store Day was the BEST Day. Conveniently located next door to one of our shooting locations, I think it goes without saying that we spent our lunch break that day treasure hunting. Among the items purchased by the cast and crew that day were an exercise bike (fifty dolla make you holla!!), a VHS entitled “Multiplication Rap ($0.75), and a book published in 1921 entitled, “Beautiful Girlhood” ($1.50).

I want you all to know that I purchased that lovely gem of a book. There were chapters entitled “A Girl’s Ornaments”, “Opening Flowers”, “The strength of Obedience”, “Making Herself Beautiful”, “That Member, The Tongue”, “The Oils of Life”, “The Girl Who Can Be Trusted” and “Getting Ready for The Great Responsibility”. I mean… holy fuck. How could you NOT purchase that?! It was so fascinating to me because it is equal parts blood-boiling and hilarious. I would love to get this book into the hands of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Because turning back the clock for women is oh-so-funny. At least there was plenty of unintentional sexual innuendo in that book to satisfy my snarky factor so I didn’t stay pissed off about the book’s existence for too long.

But I digress.

Anyway. This week was a sprint to the finish line for BON. A glorious ending. And this week also brought new beginnings as I start rehearsals for Theatre Vertigo‘s “Aloha Say the Pretty Girls”:

Aloha

(c) Gary Norman

And you know, even with all the amazing going on around me, I really don’t feel so good right now. I can acknowledge that, and that is okay.

But also, FUCK that.

Because this is what I have learned, and am always learning:

Being vulnerable is hard. Being a human is hard. Loving others is hard. Loving yourself is hard. No matter how much adulting or discipline I condition in my daily life, there will still be things I don’t plan for. You cannot plan on the heart, that is for sure.

But I truly believe that is what makes everything worth it. To love and to risk being hurt. To love and risk hurting others. To love and be loved in return. To find family wherever you go. To know that you are not alone.

Now enough GCOES. I have shit to do.

got shit to do!

Love to you, my dear Family, thank you for being there.

~britt

dani talks discipline

I had to laugh at myself when I wrote the title for this post.  As someone who has totally gone off the rails of our TwoEvilActors blog posting schedule in the past couple of weeks, where do I get off talking about discipline?

But I had kind of a revelation yesterday!  It goes sorta like this…

1.  I can be kind of a brat.

2. Living in the moment doesn’t mean being attached to the moment.

3.  Discipline isn’t about pushing yourself when you feel driven, it’s about pushing yourself when you don’t want to do something, or when you feel like you can’t.

Let me unpack this a little bit.

1:  Being a brat:…

This one time, my friend Phil and I were at Shari’s preparing to enjoy a feast.  Sitting in the booth behind ours was a family with a 2 year old child, and this kid had somethin to SAY about it.

The kid’s Mom, with the patience of a Saint, was trying to get the kid to simply sit in the booth.  As the Mom tried to gently slide this little punk down the vinyl seat towards the window end of the booth, the kid fought with all four limbs like a spider monkey and articulately said,

“I DON’T WANNA SIT THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Phil and I, in our very actor-y way, were absolutely fascinated, not annoyed by this little banshee-monster-devil-child, but fascinated.  Such free self-expression!  Such lack of inhibition!  That kid had the stupidest objective in the world but by God she was pursuing it heart and soul.  One of us, I don’t remember who, leaned forward and said,

“What if adults all acted like this whenever they had feelings?”

And then we both lost our minds.  The world would go to shit, and nothing would ever get done.  But a lot of the work that actors do is being in touch with those impulses and allowing them to live.  After all, most stories that we tell through film/theater/television are not about the day that you repress or redirect your true feelings about your wife/best friend/bosss, they’re about the day that you let loose and then have to deal with the consequences.

Living In The Moment

The point is to find a balance between allowing your impulses to live but making choices about how you want to act on them.  Both as an actor and as a human.  

…What I’m trying to say here is that I KILLED A MAN.  BLOG CONFESSIONAL TIME!!

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Just kidding!  No I didn’t.  …..Or did I?  This blog IS called Two EVIL Actors…..

…But seriously I didn’t.  I really shouldn’t joke about these things.  On to the next thing!

2.  Being in the moment without being attached to the moment…

Those that know me can attest that I’m really not THAT MUCH of a brat, and that I have never killed a man.  But for me, and I think for all of us, “living in the moment” can be kind of an intense experience…

Think about it: if you really allowed into your conscious experience everything going on in your body, mind, soul, emotional life, etc. for even ONE moment, it would be a lot to process.

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Noooo!!!  Don’t freak out little owl!  Here’s the beautiful thing about the whole concept of “living in the moment”:  There’s always another moment!  You’re never going to run out of moments.  Just because you allow yourself to truly go through an experience doesn’t mean you have to get attached to that experience and spiral down into an abyss of panic, fear, depression, or murderous rage.  Just breathe.  A new moment is waiting to rush into you.  Literally.

3. Discipline is for the times when you DON’T feel motivated…

Since last we met, dear readers, I had an overwhelming whirlwind 3-day trip to Boise, Idaho (my place of origin), came back to LA sick as a dog, and slammed into the first week of the last half of the semester like a hurricane.  Last week was a difficult one, but oh my GOD did I learn a lot.

First of all, despite the physical and mental stress I was under, my work actually reached a new level in my classes.  In the process of training, whether you are training to be an actor or a distance runner or whatever, the progress can feel painstaking and gradual on a day-to-day basis.  Rob Clare, our Shakespeare instructor this semester, told us, “Shakespeare isn’t hard–it’s just gradual.”  And this lesson applies to all kinds of rigorous training.  It is gradual.

And one day you might wake up and be totally sick and deeply exhausted and it forces you to just surrender to the experience and you realize, “Oh my God.  I can just trust myself and let go and all of my hard work will still be there.”

And then a week later you wake up still totally sick and exhausted but you discipline yourself to show the fuck up mentally and physically and you realize, “Oh THIS is what discipline is.  It’s putting in the work every single day whether you feel like starting or not.  It’s trusting that on the other side of the pain or exhaustion is a new experience, and it’s worth it to get to the other side.”

Before, I viewed “discipline” as being motivated to do hard things.  But for me as an actor, I think that discipline is the thing that grounds you in the practical WORK part of being a creative professional when you really feel like being a brat.  

Again, it’s a balance.  Creatively, it’s a balance between setting up a structure in which you can do the work and just allowing yourself to exist in the moment and follow your impulses.  Personally, it’s a balance between disciplining yourself and indulging yourself…

That’s right y’all, I’m ending my LATE POST ABOUT DISCIPLINE with a message of self-indulgence.  I’m a work in progress, people, and maybe I feel like being a brat today.  

Have a great Wednesday night, friends.  Treat yo self.  

D

britt talks GCOES

I just finished writing down a list of worries and fears into a notebook and then chugging a 16oz coffee. I think both of these things were good decisions.

I’m not going to lie, you guys… this week has been a bit of a struggle for me. It has been one of those weeks where I felt the need to change my iPhone, personal laptop, and work computer backgrounds to inspirational shit like this:

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photo3unstoppable-T-Rex

..that’s how you KNOW its bad.

In a nutshell, this week has been a whole lot of Brain Mess and a whole lot of GCOES.

What is GCOES, you ask? Oh, friends…

GCOES is this:

mutha feckin GCOES.

mutha feckin GCOES.

… “Glass Case Of Emotion Shark”. I’m pretty sure it’s my spirit animal.*

But really. I can joke about anything to make myself feel better (and it almost always works), but I also believe it is important to let yourself feel and fully process the not-so-happy stuff. It is valuable for me to feel that heart-break, that stress, that fear… so I can own it. Because I cannot change what I do not own.

Dani said to me a couple of days ago: “Remember to surrender. Control is just an illusion anyway.”

Wow. D. You save my life and my sanity everyday.

I need to “remember to surrender. Isn’t that beautiful? I mean, it’s so true that even it rhymes, people! So one would think it would be way easier to remember. But it’s totally not. Giving up control, especially for me, is difficult.

The Surrender post was a pretty big deal for me to write back in January. It allowed me to give myself permission to publicly “come out” about my plans to move to Los Angeles and to stop defending my personal and professional decisions to others. Even if I end up in a gutter somewhere, I’d much rather be chillin’ in that gutter as a result of acting on my instincts than sleepwalking through life, unfulfilled.

See how the GCOES is coming out?! It’s awesome. Let that crazy GCOES flag fly. Who cares! I’m GCOES and proud! 

GCOES must be here to teach me something. I have made the choice to not settle for Comfortable. I have made the choice to tell those I love how I feel about them. I have made the choice to be vulnerable, knowing that my heart will get hurt. I have made the choice to be a good human. I have made the choice to spend quality time in limbo, waiting for the pieces to fall into place.

And you know the best part of being in limbo? This song.

At least for me, Radiohead makes everything okay.

And also, dancing.

Mad, mad, dancing. In your underwear. To something embarrassing like Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” or Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA”. I may or may not have done this already today…maybe.

And on that note…

I know you all will now use the term GCOES in your everyday speech. It is okay. You have my blessing. Go forth and spread my genius. #GCOESandproud.

all my love,

~britt

*(Full credit given to my dear friend Suzzane for finding this GCOES gem on the interwebs and integrating it into my everyday vocabulary.)

britt talks not enough time

So yeah, for those of you following along at home, I missed my weekly (Monday) post this week…whoopsie! Better a day late than never, right?

Just as Dani described in her last post of feeling upside-down (both metaphorically and literally, the yoga-genius), I too feel as though my whole life has been turned on its head and my concept of time has been thrown out the window. Things in different areas of my life have begun to spin out of control (for better or for worse) and take on a life of their own. Time speeds up and then slows down and then takes off at the speed of light again, hardly allowing me time to catch my breath.

This week, I’ve been experimenting with time. How can I make more time for things that are important to me? For relationships that are important to me? Is “being this busy” making me a selfish person? Sometimes I feel like it. I am so lucky to have so many amazing people in my life who love and support me and I hate feeling that I am neglecting them. Or maybe this is simply The Exhaustion talking, turning me into a stressie-guilt ball that is constantly bouncing off the walls to stay awake. But in a time when things are taking off career-wise, you are expected to answer that call, right? Put everything else on the back-burner? Put some relationships on hold…or get rid of them all together? Brave the change alone? Is that what you are supposed to do? I don’t know.

I have no idea anymore.

Yesterday was my last “official” day of work at my desk job for four weeks (I am an accountant, mind you, so this is a “big deal”). I am taking time off to shoot for the feature film, Birds of Neptune. I’ve never taken a leave of absence from my job like this before, and I must admit–it makes me nervous. If someone can take over my duties for a month, that means I am replaceable… right? Eeep!! Don’t think about it Britt, just take the jump! One day at a time.

One day at a time. That was the name of the game this week. One moment at time. Let’s catch up, shall we?

My Week

I’m pretty sure that I didn’t get a decent night’s sleep (mostly by choice, but let’s also remember that I’m living with four college boys ) all week. But I need to tell you… at this point in time, I wouldn’t change a thing. Sometimes you to push through weeks like this before you are able to see some incredible pay-off.

This week, rehearsals for the workshop of Amir Shirazi’s musical, Crumbs is in full swing with the cast!! How exciting.

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This whole process has been truly fascinating. Each evening at rehearsal we have had a revised libretto to go over, new music to learn, and new material to feel out as an actor. It’s like being at theatre camp!! It is so fun. I love being able to see new work take shape and to observe the playwright’s process. I am honored that Amir allows for my input and to be a part of this experience. We are all excited to share this beautiful project with an audience next weekend.

Birds of Neptune begins shooting in six days and we have been working hard this week with rehearsals, photo shoots, costume fittings, music rehearsal/studio sessions, and me trying to learn how to roll my own cigarettes. Bam.

with actress Molly Elizabeth Parker

(c) John Campbell w/ Molly Elizabeth Parker

It is exciting to see the designers and crew added into the mix, to see the art department come in and change the interior design of the house/set while we are rehearsing in it… I can feel everyone and everything buzzing with anticipation of its first official shooting day.

I was lucky to get called in to audition for NBC’s Grimm again this week for two different roles. And thanks to some great coaching and a day off of work, I got called back for both roles!! That was an exhausting couple days (I was trying to meet a payroll processing AND audit deadline at my day job at the same time… when it rains it pours, right?). No dice for Grimm yet, but each time in the room is a step forward.

I also had the incredible fortune this week of booking two commercials: one shoot on Wednesday for a South Dakota car dealership with r-west and one shoot on Friday with R2C Group. This gave me some peace of mind money-wise, as I am nervous to leave the stability of my day job… ah, thank you Universe! Just what I needed. And hopefully a good tax return along with that. 🙂

And as I rush to get this post out in-between things today, forgive any typos, poor sentence structure, and/or just flat-out Crazy Person Talk, okay? Thanks friends. Oh, how I love you.

… it’s a working day.

Love,

britt