Down? Don’t stay there!!

27 Jul

Sometimes as artists, we get down.

Now, I don’t mean get down on the dance floor, but of course, we can do that too!

I mean, down on ourselves, when things aren’t quite going our way.

It’s great to see others around you succeeding and reaching new heights, but when we are not getting results, it’s easy to just get down or even get “out”.

Well, being down is ok! Being out…its not quite ok.

Why not?

Well, there will be peaks, valleys, plateaus, ebbs, flows, momentum, dry periods, storms, harvests, overflow, etc…

When the good times come, appreciate them and BASK in all the glory! Be THANKFUL! GRATEFUL!

Operative word….”FULL”.

Stay full! Why?

Well, when the dry periods come, and YES there will be DRY periods…those horrific, sad, destitute and overwhelming, times…you must know how to manage your feelings and handle yourself!

REMEMBER THE GOOD TIMES WHEN YOU WERE FULL!

Sounds easy right?

Well, I am HERE TO SAY, it IS NOT easy…AT ALL, but it can be done! That is the upside.

I am guilty of this…so this is why It’s on my heart to share!

Your attitude when you have everything is the precursor to your attitude when you have not so much.

Life works this way unfortunately. Booo!!!

Whatever your belief system is, it is clear and follows suit.

So, it doesn’t actually matter what you subscribe to, even if you don’t subscribe to anything/one at all.

Your attitude determines your altitude. Someone famous I think said that…Google it!

So, when things get rough and times are hard…remember the happy moments.

The full times; The times of harvest and when the blessings were overflowing. These moments serve as a reminder that IT MUST get better…once again. Life is a cycle. So keep putting the GOOD OUT THERE AND KNOW THAT IT MUST KEEP COMING BACK AROUND TO YOU!

When you’re sitting worried and feeling down, find something in those moments to keep the inertia going. I am NOT saying it will be an easy feat. But, remember to find the strength to do it. You can: Give back, find a hobby, learn a new skill, read a new book and gain a new perspective, join a group, write, hone your craft, teach, dance…do something. Just don’t stay down!

Staying down is for losers, quitters, haters and non-believers!

YOU ARE NOT THAT! GET UP and STAY UP!

http://www.tandakerin.com

Actress/Believer/Do-er/Dancer/Creative Being/Writer

The Thankful Actors’ Journey

8 Jun

Sometimes, we forget to relish in the small victories or even the little things along the way that help us keep our eyes fixed on the prize!

I just need to express how thankful I am. So many days we get frustrated. (We is me) We wonder if God hears our prayers and sees our struggles! (God is everything, everywhere, the Universe, Creator or whomever you’re comfortable with, for Me, God is God in Heaven!) 😁 We wonder if He is moving on the other side of that mountain. It becomes overwhelming and increasingly upsetting when we put so much into this work and get little if anything out of it in return. The point isn’t always to “get something”. Sometimes it’s a lesson or its to simply grow. I’m intelligent enough to know that.

So, the gentle nudges, kind words, reminders to “keep going”, help me/us believe they are all gifts from God to keep us on our journey and path. I’m not saying it’s easy, I’m just acknowledging it. There’s a very ugly side to this business, but I’ll leave that for another post! But here, I want to acknowledge those folks who “gently remind” me with their kind words, those texts I get from another coast or country that arrive to my phone and are waiting for me when I wake up, those PHONECALLS (people rarely pick up the phone anymore) that are unexpected, but are right on time, the texts from Your fellow artists encouraging you because they believe in you and your gifts (sometimes more than you do), the people who sacrifice their time to read sides with you or tape a scene for and with you for whatever you can afford to pay them, the scriptures, verses or inspirational quotes you “happen to catch” daily that you know are a message to you, those tiny jobs that pay little to nothing or that dreadful “extra” or PA grunt work on set just to make the ends meet at the end of the month, the surprise $50 or so your parent puts in your account for “gas money”, the compliments you don’t expect or are pleasantly surprised by seeing to your inbox, email or social media posts, the actual greeting cards you get in the mail that encourage you daily, the strangers who smile at you just because you appear pleasant but you’re crying inside wishing you were spending your days in front of or behind a camera or on set, the people who really do network with you and sincerely want to see you achieve, those auditions you didn’t expect to see to your Cmail and those Breakdowns that you get to see that you know could be your “role of a lifetime”, if you could only get in that audition room, the countless hours or classes, workshops, meetings and generals that you hope will keep you prepared or be life changing a the same, and everything In between.

From someone who has had a very successful career in Corporate America to my current Creative career, I just want to say I’m thankful for all of the “nudges” and “reminders” along the way. It does not make me say I don’t want to still give up lots of times, because more often than not, I want to throw up my hands and go back to my six figure, cushy, draining, and not as satisfying job, but I’m still here. Pushing. Praying. Wishing. Crying. Doing. Pressing. For those who’ve supported me along the way, I’m forever indebted to you and am grateful. You KNOW who you are! With love and Thx. ☺️
For all others, please #Support the artist in yourself or your family. Support is free! If you too are an artist, be easy on yourself or someone you know who is an artist. Share this with them. It might help or inspire! Keep going my friends! #faith

Voting for Tanda Kerin for a wide released Casting Call- The Driver

30 Sep

Hey Folks!

So, I came across something interesting a couple of weeks ago; A widely released casting call. Now, seeing casting calls for roles is nothing new to me…but this was different.
The lead actor and actress in this new film would be chosen by the public! Great concept!
Will that eliminate nepotism or favoritism? Who knows, but I know “Faithism” and that is what I decided to step out on when I made the decision to submit for this casting call!
I am now writing to ask for your support by casting your vote.
In order to stand out, I decided to do something completely outside of the box.
The new film is being produced by Forest Whitaker’s company, Junto Box Films, its called The Driver.
This casting voting system is being done the first time in history! Cool concept! I don’t know about you, but I would LOVE to make history!
So…I decided to do something different with my audition as I mentioned before.
Instead of a regular self taped audition with someone reading off the sides behind the video camera or phone, I prepared by being off book, I asked a friend to help out with actually (preparing) “putting up” the scene and another friend with taping it on her camera to catch the essence of our scene performance. It took us less than 2 hours with a few takes to master it and 2 days to cut and edit and post on YouTube (per the contest instructions).
We were blown away with the final product. I am overtly thankful and even more blessed to have good friends to help me pull this off! Its a necessity in this industry!
Here is the link to view the audition video on YouTube: http://youtu.be/7sD2yuJ6Nfs
However, for ALL voting, you must log in with your FB account from your computer (it will not steal your info, its just to log in to vote) in order to view/vote from the http://www.juntoboxfilms.com/casting website where the voting for this upcoming film takes place. Cast your vote at http://www.juntoboxfilms.com/casting. Its free and easy and simple enough. Can I borrow just 3 mins of your time? (please try from your computer or tablet- doesn’t work properly on the phone- Sorry)
Voting closes in less than 4 days. Can I count on your vote?
Can you please share this with friends? I would appreciate it!
I will keep y’all posted! Follow me on Twitter @TandaKerin or on my Tanda Kerin FaceBook Fan Page! 🙂
Thanks!
Tanda
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What if Hollywood had to adhere to Affirmative Action?

27 Aug

It’s been a while, but I am back to at it…thinking, speaking, writing, talking and being.
So much has taken place since my last blog…YES, ALOT!
Before I share anything specific, I want to talk about the subject matter issue. I write this with no hate in my heart or for anyone. I am multicultural, well educated, exposed, well traveled and have a multiracial family and friend stock. Again, these are my opinions and my thoughts.

So…although I have been acting for quite some years, I have also been in Corporate America for some years and my discipline is in Diversity and Affirmative Action/EEO. These are areas that I have built my corporate career off of. I am thankful for the experiences as they have added quite a bit of flavor to my repertoire as an actor. Over the last few years, I have struggled with the issue I am about to speak about.

A little over a month ago, some emotions were heightened and folks were up in arms when a casting office shared a breakdown for a film about a famous rap group that is currently in production. Needless to say, the breakdown was not only politically incorrect, but sexist, racist, classist and a bit discriminatory.
Here is something like how they went: (Not the full actual breakdown, words have been stricken)

“A group GIRLS: The hottest of the hottest. Models. MUST have real hair – no extensions, very classy looking, great bodies. You can be black, white, asian, hispanic, mid eastern, or mixed race too. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: xxxx subject line should read: A group GIRLS

B group GIRLS: These are fine girls, long natural hair, nice bodies. Small waists and nice hips. You should be light-skinned. Beyoncé is a prototype here. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: xxxx subject line should read: B group GIRLS

C Group GIRLS: African-American, medium to light skin with a weave. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: xxxx subject line should read: C group GIRLS

D Group GIRLS: African-American. Poor, not in good shape. Medium to dark skin. Character types. Age 18-30. Please email a current color photo, your name, Union status, height/weight, age, city in which you live and phone number to: xxxxx subject line should read: D group GIRLS”

Now, I cannot prove the validity of this breakdown, because I have seen other breakdowns for this film and they in no way were as explicit or broken down as the aforementioned. However, I do understand the roles were for “Extras” and were being handled by an “Extras Casting” office. That office has since “apologized” and retracted the breakdown, so maybe it actually was true that it was posted, but were later taken down. Again, its alleged that these breakdowns were posted and actresses were “encouraged” to submit. Either way, the language is wrong, ignorant and disturbing. It would not fly in Corporate America or with a federal contractor, so why is ok for Creative America?

Let’s be clear, I have seen some VERY shady, very racist, very crude, rude and ignorant breakdowns over the years and I think in my early years, I might have even gone out to audition for a few…not knowing any better. Thank God for experience and time. These kinds of breakdowns, however are not new. These kinds of descriptions are not usually as blatant as the aforementioned, but they do exist, everyday. Of course, there are some subtle changes and we might even see an EEO policy or two on a breakdown especially if it’s coming out of a major network or studio. Great step in the right direction, but I am not sure who is noticing. Now of course, we see many “any ethnicity” or “please submit all ethnicities unless otherwise stated” on breakdowns…the problem with that, sometimes, there are other breakdowns that do not “state” any specific ethnicity at all….code for “White/Caucasian”. It can be confusing to someone who isn’t familiar with how breakdowns work. Is anything changing? Well, it depends on what lens or scope you’re looking at it through.

This issue of race/color and the attributes that go along with those races and colors are not new…anywhere actually. We live in a society that links and ties people with generalizations and groups and stereotypes. Not all of us feed into, believe or fulfill those tags, but that does not mean that it does not exist. Granted, there are many actors of color who have been awarded heavily and praised for their work and who continue to be pillars of change and catalysts that bring information to Hollywood. Every now and again, hope shines through that change is being made and rays of light poke through the layer of “inconsistent and not so real reality”. Please, do not get me wrong, barriers and molds have been broken. Strides have been made. Changes are upon us. Thankful that there is something to aspire to, but at the hands of what kind of role? We are still working on glass ceilings, but we still have a way to go there too. Who is winning? The other issue, (for another blog and another day) are the number of breakdowns for women vs. men? Gracious! Male dominated much? It’s kind of staggering! Again, I ask…who is winning and what if there was a standard or regulation to adhere to?

As an actor and as someone who actually knows the laws that regulate EEO and Affirmative Action, its amazing to me what “Hollywood” or shall I say “The tv/film industry” gets away with! Now, please KNOW or familiarize yourself with the dictionary definition of Affirmative Action and EEO- Equal Employment Opportunity. Then I suggest you read further. Granted, you have some shows/films who have depicted the President as Black (even when we did not have a man of color in the White House); Shows that did not make every Middle Eastern person a terrorist or someone claiming jihad or war on America; Not all Black Women were prostitutes, strippers, weave wearing-ghetto single mammas or welfare crack hoes; not all Black men were Gangsters, Killers, or Bouncers who spoke Ebonics or were corrupt cops; All Black folks were not slaves or somehow fighting the remnants of slavery ie: civil rights; Not all Asians were sheltered, isolated people who were perfect in Math and Science and could only play the “techie” roles; All Latinos were NOT the SAME COLOR and only came from Mexico/Cuba/Colombia and they all weren’t a part of a Cartel, kingpin or gang and they all did not live in the Barrio or shanty towns; All the gay guys were not obnoxious flames and were perfect in how they dressed or were only best friends with the “it” girl because they helped her “dress better” or the obvious Lesbian or Transgender needing to make a statement; Not all White women looked like Beauty Queens or were the only ones who could be the funny girl, girl next door or classified as “All American” who do yoga, eat healthy and is a perfect size 4; Not all White guys were the saviors, overseers, knight in shining armor, guy who saves the planet/girl/town/movie, etc….you get my drift, but the majority of the shows/films, (gulp) did depict these groups this way. Is Hollywood out of touch with reality? The reality of the people who actually watch shows and movies? Are the writers getting away with just depicting what they see in their worlds and are the producers and casting offices so stuck to the script that the freedom to actually give the job to the BEST actor qualified for the role (within reason of the material) not a possibility? Is it the sign of the times though? What if Hollywood had requirements?

Our world also consists of Veterans, many of which are disabled and not just physically, but emotionally. Many of our society consists of people with illnesses, many of which are debilitating and they are forever tied to the pharmaceutical industry for reasons I won’t get into on this blog. I wont get into statistics about different groups, as it will no longer be a blog, but an essay or report, but I will say that if Affirmative Action standards had to be set to roles and jobs in Hollywood, would we have a different kind of diversity happening? Diversity of thought? Diversity of experience? Diversity of roles? What if there were no generalizations, micro-inequities, stereotypes, biases, blatant discrimination and cultural inaccuracies? Would we be bored then? What if there was a standard set on how people were to be depicted not withstanding storylines, script material, etc? Do we blame anyone? Do we look at our awareness? Do we educate each other? Do we create programs that help sensitize and educate? Do we hold studio execs, writers, casting, etc accountable? Do we create and pray someone will give that very experienced, very diverse film maker or writer a shot in the dark to bring something new to the tv or film world?

What if Hollywood had to adhere to Affirmative Action?

Being True

27 Nov

Being True

In this industry, staying true to who you are can be a bit of a task when you are constantly auditioning (for the most of us) to be someone else. How conflicting and contradictory. But we do it…and with such pride and honor.

Well, being “vulnerable”, staying “grounded” and “fit” are just some of the coping mechanisms to “being true”.

A few weeks back, I was submitted for a film that was to be shot in another country. I cannot tell you…I was so excited when I got word I got the audition after being submitted for it…I actually said the words…”I WANT THIS” role when being submitted.

The Casting director, one whom I have met with in the past, obliged; I was invited to audition. GREAT!  I was given the sides AND the script. EXCITING! For any actor, you know how exciting it is to get the sides (and have to learn them) and the script. Hello!?? This is just great! Its just provides a basis for allowing the actor to understand the character better. I think it can also ruin us, as we “know” more than we should about the character and the film and it destroys our sense of drawing from our own choices and experiences because we try to “Deliver” the character as portrayed in the script. IMO.

All text is ambiguous until YOU give it life.

How can I give this character my best “truths”? Staying available to vulnerability and emotion allows you to draw from your personal experiences and give this to the character. This is a truth.  These are only places YOU have been and these are only stories you can portray.

Every week, I try to audition at least 1-2 a week- depending on the work here in NY. Sometimes, I work with others on their projects just to keep myself in a good place. A grounded place so I never “lose my step”, so to speak. Going to a screening, hanging out with likeminded individuals, taking yourself out every once in a while, going to art gallery openings, or live theatrical performances keep you away from the “hard” part about this industry. They keep you grounded. You keep the fire lit. The passion burning. This is being true.

In this concrete jungle, it might be nervewracking, especially for the actress of color…the roles are far few and in between, its hard as heck to create your own projects without the right funds, the classes are astronomically priced, we must keep up on whats casting, we sometimes do menial background work- just to stay connected to being “on set”, we send out postcards and updates about ourselves to stay current and relevant, we gotta eat right and sometimes, the money doesn’t buy us the “best” food, we have to “look” the part- so looking right…all the time is important, we must PAY to meet people to want to “book” us or manage/represent us, we must spend money we don’t have in order to make money we pray we can get…there is so much more to mention, but…if you’re an actor in NY…you know what I am talking about…through all of this…you have to stay “Fit”.  Yes, EMOTIONALLY FIT!  Strong enough to stay….well…strong. In every aspect of the word.

I did get a call back for the film. That audition went even better. I even had a private one on one lunch session with the director. It was pretty great. I was happy to connect on a “person to person” level rather than actor-director level.

The choice was not his, to be final for the role. Since it was being shot in another country, the role was going to be made by another stakeholder. I was really happy with my work and my ability to be true. It came down to myself and another actress. Sadly, I was not chosen for the role, but I was still happy with myself for sticking it out and being truthful. This was ALL I knew how to be and it showed. I was given great feedback, nothing negative and the choice ultimately came from someone who did not have the pleasure of getting to know “me” in a “one on one” setting, but my passion was true and it showed in my taped audition performances.  Sometimes it does not matter how “True”, “grounded” or “fit” you are…not every role is yours to be had. But keeping those attributes in mind while auditioning, getting call backs and creating your own work are well worth the effort.

So get on out there…be true. True to you. No matter what your passion is…be true to it.
Visit http://www.tandamercer.com or Follow Tanda on Twitter- @TandaMercerActress

Give yourself permission

25 Nov

Recently, I had the pleasure of auditioning for a casting director I had been trying to get in front of for YEARS! Yes, years!

Although it seemed like I waited what seemed like for HOURS to see her in the audition room, the wait was well worth it.

I had been studying the character breakdown, making choices, giving my character some life experiences and I had been breathing life into this character.

Well, when I got in the room, I was given one note about the character…”Play”.

THIS is the MAGIC word for ANY actor/actress. (*jumping up and down in my head*) I think I was more psyched more to hear the casting director say that than anything. This also presented an internal conflict. Not for the character but for me as a human. It meant the casting office did not “know” what they wanted to see, but they figured if they went with enough improv they would eventually hit the right note.

I had to have a “private moment” with myself. Not the private moment for the character, but for me…as a human.  After doing a few jedi mind tricks on myself, I decided…f*ck it! I am gonna throw everything OUT and just GO! I gave myself permission in a split second to just give the character something way left than what I already provided her with. The feedback was great.

I was kinda friggin impressed with myself…and I got some awesome notes in response. I wasn’t even given any corrections or anything. The casting director then gave me another note…or adjustment. She asked me to “be myself” (well, hell, I can be that person all damn day, that’s easy! LOL) the next time around; I did. After which, I got an even better response. Sh*t! I am on a roll…I thought to myself. For a split second I could see my name in the credits of this “docu-film”. Internally…STOKED!

Next time around, the casting director asked me to be “sexy, but nurturing.” (Huh?…with a “What the hell are your talking about lady?” sense of what she meant going on in my head) So, in no time…I delivered that. After patting myself on the back…and feeling like a champion…(Visions of Rocky running up the stairs to victory and my theme music playing) I just KNEW, I was all they were looking for.

I was happy to make this breakthrough.

Ahh…this may seem like a small fete, but on the contrary. It’s an emotional breakthrough to be able to deliver exactly what’s asked in that audition room and get the feedback to “prove” it.

As an actress giving myself permission to roll with my best interpretation of what a character is portrayed as, is all I can do. My job IS to audition….regularly.

Not sure why, but I did not get call back or anything…even after I sent the casting director a “thank you” note.

A few days later, I saw the breakdown again…for the same role…They even asked for “resubmissions” of prior actresses for this very same role. I was like…”WTF?” Clearly, these folks have no idea what they are looking for…and that cool.

Regardless of what happens or does not…I am happy to know that my training has allowed me to make the best choices and decisions to breathe life into a character. These set of very technical, yet creative choices are the permissions I set forth in every character I am submitted for and for whom I audition.

So…my advise here…just PLAY…and give yourself permission!  You’ll be so glad you did. I cannot say apply this to EVERYTHING in life, for there is a time and a place, but being able to decipher when to make the choice to “play” is apart of everyone’s process on Earth…and in life.

Break a leg my friends and enjoy life.

Visit http://www.tandamercer.com or Follow Tanda on Twitter- @TandaMercerActress

 

Are YOU prepared?

6 Sep

Were you prepared 2 weeks ago for the psuedo- Hurricane Irene? (LOL) If you, like almost everyone in the NYC area, braced for the worse, but instead saw alot of rain, wind and downed trees instead of what the meteorologists called for which was sheer havoc! Thankfully, most of us came out of it alive and others with some major issues that were eventually and thankfully resolved. Did you have everything you needed just in case it became the worse case scenario? How prepared were you?

A few weeks ago, after a huge audition for a new show, (episodic) the casting director gave me feedback. Feedback that I have heard a few times before from other auditions.

She said, “Thanks for coming in Tanda! That was WELL done! You are so well prepared.”  Standing there smiling on the outside, but on the inside, I was baffled.

I was not sure what to make of that? Did that mean, I did well on the character work? Was I great enough to get the part? What!?!? I took that compliment and began to think about where else in my life I am “well prepared”.

What is preparation? Are you prepared as an entertainer?

Am I prepared should I need to recite a monologue?

Are my headshots “prepared” and printed in the case of a pop up audition?

Are my skills and technique in the craft well enough to show that I am prepared? Am I taking classes or workshops?

Is my website up? Are my business/networking cards prepared? Am I prepared to “sell myself in 30 seconds”?

Have I been on IMDB lately to check out whats been going on? Whats in pre-production? What is shooting in my area? Am I going to the movies and am I watching some of the great actors of my time?

Have I checked in with my manager to see if he/she has submitted me for what might be on Breakdowns that I am fit for?

Am I staying prepared mentally? Positive thinking? Positive visualization? Prayer? Spirituality?

Am I prepared emotionally?…as this industry is a roller coaster of a ride! Am I obsessing over rejections and auditions? How am I preparing for roles? Am I connecting to the character? Im I believable?

Am I prepared physically? What is my appearance looking like? Am I staying well groomed?  Physically fit? Am I camera ready?

Have I made sure the proper updates have been made to my website? Am I “following” the right people on Twitter?

Have I kept up on my mailings, in case of the preparation of a call to a “go see”?

Well…YES! YES! YES! But am I getting the call back?

What else can I do stay on my grind and on my game? What else can I do to remain relevant and prepared for an industry not designed exactly to keep YOU relevant.

In this industry staying prepared to keep one relevant in the business, is the key to longevity. Longevity speaks to how you roll with the tide, the ebbs and flows of this zany industry and your ability to show your resilience. It speaks to how you can grow and mold yourself into being the characters you’d like to portray. It defines how high you go and how low you’ll go. Prepare for Longevity! Prepare to stay in the game as long as your heart is in it!

I think for me the words “Well prepared” resonated…I will continue to be “Well prepared” and with all of the “Yes’s” I place in response to my questions above…YES…the Award Winning Role will always be in my  sights and within my reach!

Wishing you the best of luck and BE PREPARED!

“Luck is when Preparation meets opportunity” ~Oprah Winfrey

 

Visit Tanda’s Website at: http://www.tandamercer.com or Follow her on Twitter- @TandaMercer