Orders

We are in the midst of a transition, preparing to move overseas within the next month or so. I’m reminded of why the most agonizing part of labor is called “transition.” Such an unassuming word for so much misery.

I am not by any means saying this is as hard as labor. It isn’t. Not even close. But it is transition just the same, and I am learning a great deal through it.

We cannot really do anything until we get official “orders.” A.k.a., one little piece of paper. Without it, we cannot schedule movers…but we already have a closing date on the house. So at the moment, we are just hoping and praying that we do not have to move everything ourselves, just to have the movers come to a storage unit the next day. I realize having movers is a luxury, I really do. I cannot tell you how satisfying it is to watch someone else pack up all your cr—treasures, load them into a truck and drive away. But we need orders. Things are not going smoothly in that department.

But, I had to laugh, because as I’m thinking of all this, I opened my phone to the “Basic English Version” of the Bible (didn’t know that version existed), and Joshua 1:9 jumped out

“Have I not given you your orders? Take heart and be strong; have no fear and do not be       troubled, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

             It was an incredibly peaceful word. “Kara, have I not given you your orders?” I read this to my husband this morning and he loved it, and we sat and talked about the Lord. We prayed together, as this move has had us both more on edge than any other. Many new frontiers we get to explore. It will be good. But there have been a few instances where my entire face has begun tingling for no apparent reason! Haha! Whew!

I am so glad that God always has a direction for us to move. He is clear, and He is with us wherever we go.

Authenticity

I had an audition today. I was really excited about this one because it was for a character I am very interested in, and it also required an Irish dialect. Dialects are just plain fun! I’m so grateful for my husband who puts up with my walking around the house practicing a voice for days, and he doesn’t even bat an eye. He just smiles at me like I’m wonderful. The kids are not so encouraging, saying they just want me to “talk like mommy.” But I was able to valiantly work through the opposition of my opinionated 5-year-old and practice nonetheless.

I’m also grateful for the reminders from God that my focus should not be on the dialect, but on the character’s heart. And this one is a doozy. An actual person who spent her life serving others, rescuing children from slavery of the worst kind. No pressure, right? So I did my research and prayed and read my Bible and asked God for help. It’s very hard to read about someone who lived that kind of life and not compare yourself to them. But I know acting is what I am called and gifted to do, and if I were to leave it all and move to Africa, God would not be any more pleased with me than He is now.

I walked into the audition room speaking as if I’d just arrived from Ireland. They wanted to know if I’d done any research on this individual, and so I proceeded to share everything I’d learned. Talking about her, I could feel the pressure mounting to be an accurate representation of what she worked so hard for. And all that pressure…for three words. That was the audition. Three words. It was more about the action in the scene than the words (hmm, kinda sounds like life), and I found myself tearing up when I quickly read through the scenario. “This actually happened,” I was thinking to myself, and I had to compose myself before saying the words. The scene ended as quickly as it had begun, and then my moment of learning began.

I looked back at the page again and, again, felt the tears. I knew, however, that I could either control the emotion, or allow it. I made a split second decision to allow it, only for a moment, and they asked if I was okay. I was able to squeak out “it’s just good,” as I handed the script back, and then apologize for the tears. They were kind and forgiving, but I was kicking myself immediately for choosing to allow myself to cry.

Acting is about being real, I know that. But I don’t believe this person would have cried in this situation. She would have been strong, she would have been someone a child would feel safe with. Tears would have been saved for a time behind closed doors.

I was also disappointed because, though the emotion was real, the motivation for letting it show was deceptive. Part of me just wanted them to see I could show emotion. So that in itself was an lie. Maybe it sounds like I’m picking it apart too much, but I’m not. I want to be authentic to the story, not pleasing to a casting director, not ostentatious. It is a constant struggle to not be focused on pleasing others.

However, on that note, let’s end this happy. I learned something extremely valuable. And, when all was said and done, they asked if I was from Ireland. BAM! Learning from the good and the bad. I love my job!

Also, by the way, I noticed the the “word of the day” for WordPress was “ostentatious,” so this seemed appropriate.

And, as I was ready to push the “publish” button, I got the email saying I got the part! Ha! God is good despite our screw-ups!

via Daily Prompt: Ostentatious

A Character on a Mission

This morning, after covering my two kids in sunscreen, I read the word of inspiration for the day and we headed out for a walk in a wooden wagon. Well, I walked, and they rode along like royalty. I gave the detail of “wooden” to highlight the fact that it was heavy. Especially on a dirt road, dragging 65 pounds of kid and an extra few pounds of halfway-through-my-third-pregnancy exhaustion. And what, you might ask, was my purpose? To see my mother, who was working a mile or so down the road at a neighbor’s house. Had I not told her I would be coming, I would have given up before leaving the driveway. I know that sounds wimpy, but I simply mean, I would not have had a purpose strong enough to drive me to trudge through the dry, hot day. The need for exercise was not sufficient. So why go to see my mother? Because I told her I would. Why was that so important to me? Because I was raised to keep my word, even when it hurts. And believe me, folks, I felt like an elephant trying to walk through pools of wet cement. Somewhat. That’s a bit of an exaggeration. But you get the picture.

I was grateful I had read the word “purpose,” because it gave me something to contemplate, which is always helpful when every temptation is to think of one’s own discomfort. As we walked, my kids asked the typical “why” and “what for” questions, and I was struck by how, from the time we can barely speak, we have a desperate need to know “why.” And “just because” is never a sufficient answer. We want details. And inevitably, when one why question is answered, another is born out of it. “Why is that light there, mommy?”—“So cars will see it.”—“Why?”—“So they don’t run into the ditch at night.” Kids are smart. They know everything should have a purpose. Even if it is just to make you smile, like the statue of David bust I have that I like to set in front of the bathroom mirror to disturb my husband. He is certain “David” is watching him pee. Purpose.

Which is exactly what acting is all about. When I get a script, I have learned to read between the lines. Why am I saying this, why am I moving, why am I here? And the more “why” questions you ask, the deeper and more interesting things become, and the more your character becomes involved in circumstances, the more you become invested in them. Its why it is so fascinating to watch characters that have a purpose. William Wallace in “Braveheart,” anyone? And think of the most depressing movies or moments you have seen in film. It is not necessarily the moments of loss, awful and hurtful as they can be. It is the moment when a chara
cter loses purpose. That is harder to watch. For me, anyway. Sometimes it is depressing, other times I feel outraged. “Get up, Bambi!”

IMG_0416.JPG           I believe, if we followed a trail of “whys” to the very end, we would find one of two motivations—to build, or to destroy. One is life, the other, death. So, what is my character’s motivation? That solves one piece of the puzzle. What does my character think everyone else’s motivation is? That makes things a bit more interesting. Am I threatened by this person, or do I trust them? Do I believe that, though
our methods may be different, our purpose is the same? That affects how I speak to someone, doesn’t it? Do I think I can change someone’s motivation?

All interesting questions and all part of what makes acting so fascinating to me. It is the study of human behavior by living those different behaviors. Which means, that to be a better actor, I get
to study people. Something so complex and fascinating, I will never be finished until the day I die. Why do I study them? Because I love them. Why? Because I love God. Why? Because He is the master builder, and He has built a life for me that I never deserved. So my purpose is to imitate Him by building up. That is the purpose that will motivate me to the end. Despite those heavy loads.

In response to the WordPress word prompt of the day:
Purpose

 

Joy in Waiting

I posted another “selfeo” on Facebook the other day, but I took it back down 20 minutes later. It was filled with lamenting over another part I didn’t get, my children not eating the food I cooked, and my wardrobe needing an update due to gained weight. It was all very funny, I thought. But, I was afraid people would take it seriously and really think I was crying over these things. Because there were tears. But I’m an actor…soo…

My husband and I have both been hearing lately about how our priorities should always be to bring God glory. That is our purpose in life. Acting is my passion. It is not my purpose. If the best way I can bring God the honor He deserves is by maintaining a grateful attitude even when I don’t get the part, then great. I am really okay with that. It doesn’t mean I’m lazy and don’t spend time preparing for every audition, but it does mean I am able to let go very easily. Once I walk back out of that room, it is in God’s hands. Sometimes I’ll go home and practice a couple more times with the direction the casting director gave me, just to see what I was missing. But I still know, it is no longer in my hands. It really takes the pressure off! I don’t find my validation in jobs. I find it in the early morning when my makeup is half off and my hair is disastrous and I’m holding a cup of coffee reading about how God cares for His people enough to speak to them from a burning mountain or walk among them and eat with them and hear their stories. I am so grateful for Him.

We are in the midst of some big life decisions (who isn’t, right?) and the thing that has kept us going on a path that really doesn’t make any logical sense is the fact that we know God spoke, and we know our story is not about us, but about Him. I’m okay with taking our time. I keep coming back to Proverbs 20:21 which says “An inheritance quickly gained in the beginning will not be blessed in the end.” It helps me keep the right perspective. In some ways, acting has been a lifelong pursuit, but on paper, professionally, I’ve been doing this for about 1.5 years. Meaning, I’m still in school, pretty much. I’m getting my degree by going to auditions as much as possible. I hope for the best and try for the best, but it is not lost on me that I have much to learn.

I just finished reading “Abraham Lincoln: A Biography” by Benjamin P. Thomas. What an incredible story of difficulties, failings, mistakes, frustrations, and every once in a while, victories. But not gained without the tenacity of a man who had been put through the furnace multiple times, tried by friend and foe, and suffered losses I cannot imagine. His road to the presidency is discouraging even to read, with so many political losses it would have been enough to deter nearly anyone. After one of these “failures,” in Chapter 7, Thomas writes,

“Apprehending that he had no future in politics, Lincoln did not repine. He began at once to make himself a better lawyer and a more enlightened man, and the decision made the years of his political retirement, from 1849 to 1854, among the most fruitful of his life. For as he put aside all thought of political advancement and devoted himself to personal improvement, he grew tremendously in mind and character.”

This time was essential to Lincoln to prepare him for the difficult presidency that lay ahead. “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” Jeremiah 12:5.

I know this all sounds very deep for an actress who just had an audition for living room furniture, but it is reading these sorts of things that keep me encouraged in life, not just in my career. I have another audition tomorrow, which absolutely thrills me! So here we go again!

 

Loving Film

I finished a film yesterday with Brainhouse Productions. I was with them all weekend, all of our scenes being shot in a tiny basement room no bigger than 12*10 ft. Sounds shady, right? Oh my goodness it was so much fun! I left the house with the dumbest grin on my face, and this morning I’m still just so grateful for the opportunity to make something.

I love every bit of film. I love watching the crew—lighting, sound, camera guys/gals…and I am so impressed by everyone coming together to create something, all the while solving problems of shadows and framing and all that other stuff I have so little comprehension of. I love watching the director, who has such specific desires for every single shot and angle—he has the big picture in mind and the vision, and everyone coming together to make that happen, or even make suggestions based on their own expertise.

In theater, the light and sound people are always in some far-off box in the shadows, and the prop people are backstage in black waiting to quietly slip in and out between scenes. In film, you are constantly surrounded by everyone, and I love it. It feels so very collaborative. And you realized just how small your part is as an actor. I find it amusing that it is always actors who get the attention, while the people who made their job possible pass in front of the public eye with no recognition. When I’m on set, I don’t talk to them very much simply because they are so busy! They have this job to do that is ever-changing and it’s best to stay out of their way and just do what they ask. I just watch and admire. And wonder when/if I could ever get a filmmaking degree…

Acting is my absolute passion, and I’m getting better at acting completely out of sequence, not worrying about whether the camera is inches from my face or in super-awkward positions that are impossible to describe here without sounding incredibly wrong! Haha! I’m sure that raised a few eyebrows.

Between shots, you sit out and talk with other actors about where you’ve been, where you’re going, pets, and in my case, kids. The guys I worked with were great and so perfect for their parts, I had to watch their scenes even when I wasn’t in them. Again, with a big dumb grin on my face. It all fills my heart with joy. The film should be ready in about 3 weeks, I’m so looking forward to seeing how they put it all together!

I’m off to see my other joys right now. So grateful for my kids and my husband who has helped make all of this possible!

The Gift of Starting Small

More and more I realize the gift of starting out small. In these stages I can make decisions regarding where I am willing to “go” as an actor, where my boundary lines are, without having the added burden of being overly successful. Haha, does that make any sense? I see these young people who found success so early, before they were able to really establish a firm foundation, and their morals are tested and they give in. The temptation is great even when you’re the “little guy.” I’m sure some would consider me prudish, but I know the decisions I make now, in the seemingly meaningless* roles, will decide what choices I make in the future, when even more will be at stake.

I will admit that sometimes my boundary lines seem a little wavy. I am willing to play a kidnapping psychopath (okay, beyond willing. I’m thrilled!), but I won’t cuss. On the outside, it looks very petty, but I spend a lot of time in prayer over everything, and sometimes God just shows me things I can’t see on my own. I was telling Him this morning that I can reason my way into anything. But I don’t want to use my reasoning, I want to follow His wisdom. And He spoke to me regarding a role that I was very easily able to reason myself into doing. But what He said was black and white, had nothing to do with human reason, and was the simple answer, “No.”

My husband and I had just been talking about how we want our kids to simply say “Yes ma’am and yes sir” when we tell them to do something. They can ask why later, but we want their initial response to be pure trust that we have their best interests in mind, because we do. And we were both realizing that we don’t always do that with God. Many times my first question is “why?”, rather than just trusting that the God who created me, loved me, died for me, actually cares enough to have my best interests in mind.

So I sent the email turning down the part before asking God that lovely why question. And I actually find myself less inclined to ask it this morning. God is good, He always has been and always will be.

In the meantime, I have a voiceover demo to prepare for, and I want it to be excellent. That is how I’ve been filling my time lately. I even got myself a shnazzy microphone! Exciting times, with a lot changing and happening. Somewhat difficult at times, but always good.

 

*I do not consider any role to be meaningless, and I see no less value in a student   film or short than I do in a feature. Its all about people.

Evil Brit, Sexy Robot

Or, did I get that mixed up?

Whoo, buddy. It’s been awhile, but I’ve been sick and tired. I know you have all been anxiously awaiting news on the progress of my illustrious acting career, so here it is.

I was struck with a cold which left me groaning through the night (unintentionally—I actually woke myself up groaning. Never done that before), so, naturally, it was prime time for a voiceover audition, right? Never mind the fact that it felt like a rock was lodged in my throat, I donned my sexiest British accent and beckoned young men to join me for a pool party. They don’t need to know that my eyes are bloodshot, I’m in flannel pajama pants, and I’m like a cat in water. They also don’t need to know that, once I do get over my fears and start to swim, I defy the laws of physics and actually move backwards. Really. I’ll never forget the swim coach saying, “…I don’t understand…I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve never seen anyone move backwards when they’re paddling.” But, I’m an actress, so I do what I want!

I had another audition today for two separate roles. One of which was a panicked mother. I inadvertently made one of the crew laugh—considering it was supposed to be a dramatic sci-fi, I’m thinking I didn’t get it…hmm…The other part was for an evil robot/woman, which I really wanted. But, keep in mind, I still have my cold. So despite my best efforts to channel my inner Terminator, I’m pretty sure I just sounded like a pissed off Winnie the Pooh. Watch out, Hollywood, here I come!

Truly, I would love any one of these parts. Especially when I go to the audition and I automatically like everyone on the crew. People are so fun! I want to work with them and I’m excited about all the projects going on. So I am still optimistic, in between my bouts of dry heaving. Sexy, huh?

I’ve started a voiceover class and a Stanislavsky class. I have already had a few blessed “aha” moments that will stick with me for the rest of my career, but I’ll talk about those another time:) Happy New Year!