Rain raps at my window, and sure enough, another thunderstorm moves us inside while tiny little leaves wave franticly in the wind like ticker tape falling from the sky. Nature seems to be having a summer celebration of her very own. Meanwhile, I’m finding ways to keep my daughters busy indoors. Thankfully, I have stored a stash of crafts in the closet for rainy summer days such as these. So while the kids get busy crafting, I sneak away for a little time of induldgance in just doing whatever I want to do, which rarely happens for this devoted mom.
Now that I have an eleven and eight year old, I realize how the busy days of toting my children around as toddlers are giving way to a slower season with fewer physical demands, leaving me with a few minutes of free time here and there. In those free minutes, I have found myself returning to some of my first loves- things I treasuered before the years of loving my little ones. It’s a rather simple list compiled of exercising, experiementing with food in the kitchen, sewing, reading, and writing.
Today, I find myself particularly drawn to the heart of summer, with lazy days and lemonade its mantra. So in my few minutes of free time, I open the novel I am currently reading. Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers is a captivating story that takes place in Hollywood circa the 1950’s. Given my love for the silverscreen, and having had the opportunity to work on the set of a Hollywood production, the setting of this story makes the plot seem even more appealing.
So my friends, if you, like me and have a tendancy to be drawn to all-things-tinseltown, pick up this book when summer storms force you inside or when your kids get busy crafting. Find a cozy chair, sip some lemonade, and read a tale fit for Hollywood while listening to the sounds of the relentless summer rains rapping at your window. Afterall, even if R&R is not the mantra of parenthood, at least it’s the mantra of summer.
Makenna’s completed craft made from an American Girl sewing kit.
Know when to say No
Having two daughters working in the business of modeling and acting can sometimes pose some interesting scenarios. This week happened to pose one for each child. First, I received a phone call from one of our agents asking if my eldest would be available on Friday for a photo shoot. Of course I said yes and held high hopes that she would book the job. But as the week progressed, my youngest came down with a fever followed by my eldest showing signs of having the flu. Sickness surely was not budgeted into my schedule! As the week came to an end, my youngest recovered for the most part only for my favorite casting company to express an interest in booking her directly for a job I knew she would love, but would also demand rigorous hours she would not physically be up for, having just recovered from a fever. As hard as it was, I faced my inward struggle. Part of me knew it was a win because it was a great opportunity for her, but at the same time I knew it was a loss because she would not have the physical stamina to follow through. So unfortunately I had to apologetically decline my favorite casting company for a direct booking. I had to know when to say no. Then, to make matters more challenging, they asked me if my eldest daughter would be available to work just as her temperature was registering 100 on the thermometer!
As a mother, I sometimes have these kind of weeks when some of the best opportunities happen at the worst time. But I must know when to say no and allow my children’s needs to come before their careers. It turned out that neither of them worked, but I let both our casting contact and our agents know that their strength would soon return and they would be ready for another opportunity next week.
I would love to hear from you. What are some ways in which you have learned when to say no, whether for yourself or for the sake of your child?
Sipping on Social Media
Social media is not always my cup of tea. Most days I prefer to drink from a different cup-one found in a coffee shop, surrounded by the presence of people who I can connect with face to face. But I still try to stay current with the times, as virtual as they are. So I am on twitter and although I feel fed up with Facebook most days, I still stay connected not only for the sake of friendship, but also for the sake of business. And it’s a good thing, because just this week one of my daughters booked a job through Facebook, thanks to a page I “like” whose notifications show up regularly in my newsfeed. Once I saw the job advertised, I submitted her compcard to the company and voila! she booked the job! So even though social media may not fill my cup, it certainly tends to fill other things like my longing for friendship, or even my bank account!
It’s Saturday. The sun is shining. The day feels lazy. There is nowhere to be. No homeschooling to do today. And my husband, Asif just returned home from being out of town for a few days, so the the kids’ contentment levels are very high. Everyone in the house is happy to just be. This offers a perfect window of opportunity for me to slip into our home office and work on some routine maintenance with different casting websites. Since all four of us are in the business, all four of us have different profiles on casting websites, as required by our agents. And with growing resumes and growing children, information changes regularly. Updating these sites is not my favorite thing to do, but it is a necessary thing to do.
When was the last time you updated yours?
Landing a Platform
A Platform exists for a chosen few who are blessed to land one. Take William Shakespeare for instance who wrote, All the world’s a stage, and for him that statement proved true. Shakespeare knew how to command a stage that would long surpass his lifetime, while others like Judy Garland showed us on the Silver Screen how A Star is Born. From William to Judy and even beyond, there is something to be said for landing a so called platform on today’s world stage. Trouble is, several who find a platform today end up wasting it on meaningless things such as twerking.
One of the greatest examples of someone who has made the most of her platform is not someone who twerks on a stage, but someone who rides a wave. Pro Surfer Bethany Hamilton was not necessarily born a star, but rather made a star when all the world became a stage the day she survived a life-altering shark attack. Now more than ten years since the attack, I have a hard time thinking of a better role model for my two young daughters. Last fall we had the privilege of meeting Bethany while working as extras on the set of Dolphin Tale 2. Her bright smile and cheerful greeting immediately drew us in.
The Bible says, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).” I don’t know that any one member of our family would follow in the footsteps of William Shakespeare or Judy Garland or Bethany Hamilton, but I would hope that any one of us would serve that place of position, or platform well.
Who would you recognize as someone who makes the most of their platform today?
Proceed with Caution when Booking Before and After’s (B/A’s)
I’m finding myself in strangely familiar territory these days. Only it’s not the kind of pleasant place where I’m toting a latte or packing a picnic for the park. Instead, I’m staring at my reflection as a thirty-five year old woman wearing the acne-spotted-face of a teenage girl. Those long time weapons of destruction wreaked havoc on my face throughout my teen years, only to return with a vengeance.
It all started with a B/A I booked for a skincare company last summer. For three months I vowed to take a break from my routine-dermatologist-recommended-regime for the sake of a thousand dollars and a spot somewhere on a popular shopping channel. During my rendezvous with a designer face cream, the acne of my past came creeping back. Little did I know how long it intended to stay. Now, months and months later, my dermatologist is helping me find a treatment regime to restore my skin to its clear condition before I booked the B/A that was bad for me.
On the bright side, I booked a lifestyle shoot this week at one of my favorite places to not only vacation, but also to work. And I showed up to the shoot with a smile on my face, thanks to the magic of make up. If I can leave you with the lesson I learned about the industry, it’s to proceed with caution when booking B/A’s.
Taking Risks for the Sake of Moving Forward
Sometimes something certain settles in my heart. Some could call it a gut feeling. Others could call it my maternal instinct. I just knew I had to call it an intense need to take a risk and make a drastic change brought about by a prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Two months ago we decided to pull our children from their highly coveted charter school. The wait list to get in to that school is a mile long, equally the convenient distance from our house to the school. From the outside looking in we had it made, but from the inside looking out, we knew we simply had made a safe choice.
If you know anything about our family, we are not quite the play by the rules, live an ordinary life kind of family. We take risks. We embrace change. We love a good challenge. So when an urgency to homeschool woke me up early one morning at 3:00 am, I knew it was go time. So within a week we took the necessary steps toward making that change possible with hopes that things would fall into place….and they did!
Less than a month later we booked two amazing jobs that I would have otherwise probably not considered had we still been pursuing our former, more traditional style of schooling. The first job was a lifestyle shoot in Key West and the second job was on the set of The Middle at Magic Kingdom in Orlando.
Taking a risk is just that: risky. But playing it safe has rarely helped us to move forward in any capacity of life.
What risks might you need to take to move forward in the modeling and acting industry?
Keeping Up With Christ
Over time I have learned that life should be more about keeping up with Christ than keeping up with the Jones’s. For me, this philosophy even applies to all things industry related. For instance, last spring I spent an entire month pounding the pavement, doing what I could do to find favor in the industry. But in the midst of all my efforts, I realized I was trying to create my own success with my own strength and then simply asking God to bless it. At the month’s end, I felt exhausted and ended up empty handed with no bookings to show for all my hard work.
So I shifted my perspective. In the Bible, Jesus says in Matthew 6:33 to “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need (New Living Translation).” So for the next month I spent time seeking the Lord instead of seeking out jobs. I prayed. I no longer sought success in the industry but sought after my Savior instead. And the months that followed were fruitful.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with a little healthy competition so long as we are encouraging each other to pursue love and good deeds. And there is nothing wrong with searching for the right job as long as the search is on for the right relationship first-a relationship with Christ.
As a mom to children in the modeling and acting industry, I tend to live in a mindset conscious of career and business. Recently I booked a job working on set together with my seven year old and little did I know I was also booking a lesson learned.
Let’s just say she was in a slump when it came to booking jobs, which was fine in her little world of jump rope and sidewalk chalk, but in my world of career and business, I felt concerned. So when the opportunity arose for her to work, I took it. The great part was that I booked both of us for a mother/daughter scene. I thought it would be fun. The not-so-great part was that I took a risk by booking the job on the same day she was supposed to start her new dance class (I’m sure you can see where this is going). The job was local and the part was small so I thought I could pull it off and head to the class as soon as we wrapped.
As it turned out, we ran too late to make it over to the dance studio that day. Then came the tears. I felt like I just wanted to receive the worst-mom-ever award right then and there. In my mind, she had the next nine months to dance in this class, so taking the job was worth the risk. But in her seven-year-old mind, that perspective could not be grasped and I felt terrible. Still, when it came time for us to go on set, she followed instruction, had fun and finished strong. I felt extremely proud of her and let her know by taking her out for dinner and ice cream afterward.
Time has passed and she has participated in that ballet, tap, jazz combo class. This week she started learning a fun jazz routine set to Halloween music. And while she learned to make the most of a disappointing situation, I learned to proceed with caution when booking future jobs on the same day as important events in a simple world filled with jump ropes and sidewalk chalk.
We seemed to soar through spring with a pocketful of New Year’s resolutions and a page of notes filled with our lists of to do’s. Then summer arrived and plopped down on our plans. Our New Year’s resolutions crumpled as our schedules seemed to sag, and the modeling and acting season slowly came to a stop.
Then somewhere in the still of a summer afternoon, when the humidity seemed to hang low like the sun, I saw something I couldn’t see when I was busy soaring through spring. I saw simplicity all around me. And I started to relish in the not-so-rushed way of life. Sometimes it’s appreciating all the little things, so that when put together, those little things in life make a bigger, brighter picture.
And I thought more about a verse in the Bible that says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” (Luke 16:10).
Now, with fall just around the corner, our New Year’s resolutions are not so new. So as we reacquaint our routine with the faster pace of spring, we hope to embrace this modeling and acting season with more than just a pocketful of resolutions. In the last few weeks we have gone on some castings, updated our information on casting websites, ordered new business cards, and checked in with agents. Our efforts have not been glamorous, and our returns have not made us rich, but we embrace this new season with the simplicity we found over the summer. Our desire is not to get caught up in a list of to do’s, but to be trusted with very little and found faithful, so that we can be trusted with much in this new modeling and acting season.
Each time my agent calls to tell me I booked a job, or a member of my family booked, I get an adrenaline rush racing through my veins leaving in its wake the wonder of what kind of experience the new job will be. In some ways, landing that job is my idea of winning the lottery, or better yet, finding God’s favor and thanking him for his provision. So I stay on standby throughout the season, keeping my smart phone as a constant companion should an urgent phone call or email come in.
But what happens in the summer months when the season slows down and the adrenaline rush dwindles? I try not to allow the off season to sabotage our progress in pursing a career in modeling and acting, so I keep working even when I am not working. You can do this too-
- By updating all of your info on different casting websites
- By making time to get your receipts organized (this is especially helpful when tax time rolls around)
- By shopping sales for those much needed solid colors that enhance your wardrobe
- By updating your pictures if necessary
- By booking an acting class to add to your resume
- By printing a new batch of business cards
So keep working, regardless of whether or not you are booking. And when the season picks back up, you’ll be glad you kept on moving forward!
If Networking Had a Name
If networking on and off set had a name, it could be spelled c-o-n-g-e-n-i-a-l-i-t-y. Having a congenial disposition draws people in, and drawing people in to your own personal circle is a means of networking. So if networking on and off set could be defined, it would be making a connection with people, and the best way to do that is with congeniality.
Networking among Talent On Set
Earlier this year I worked as background talent on the set of a commercial. For most of the day I was paired up with another fellow female talent who was very congenial in the way she conducted herself. Once we were wrapped, we exchanged contact information and checked in with each other occasionally over email as a means of encouraging each other to move forward in the business.
Networking among Talent Agents and Casting Companies
Two of my favorite ways of networking, or having the congeniality to draw people in to my personal circle is by checking in with agents before booking a job, and being sure to thank when I bank after booking a job. I try to check in with agents on a weekly basis, either through a phone call or email to let them know I am actively interested in booking. Once an agent books me then pays me, I like to remind the agent that I am congenial by thanking them. So on the day I deposit the check, I also drop a thank you card in the mail to my agent.
Networking among Talent Off Set
I try to surround myself with people who are like minded and have a common goal of furthering a career in modeling and acting. This has been the best way to draw people in to my personal circle with congeniality as I attend monthly meetings to be mentored, encouraged, challenged and informed about all things industry related. So I network with talent off set by attending a regular coaching session with Tampa Models and Talent (http://www.tampamodelsandtalent.com/).
If networking on and off set had a name, it could be spelled many different ways. The way I have chosen to spell it is with c-o-n-g-e-n-i-a-l-i-t-y.