Two Cents

Kitchen

I’ve been meaning to write another blog for awhile now…but time just slips away (surprise surprise). However, after reading this article: “Is Parenthood the Enemy of Creativity”,  I just can’t help myself but to take a moment and write a few thoughts of my own on the subject.

Stop doing so damn much! We get sucked into busying ourselves within every sweet second of our life (I am a huge offender of this thing). Specially while living in LA and doing all the business of being an actor and trying to get my work out there and be seen and noticed. Then to add on top of that being a new mom, the list of “must dos” and “should dos” is staggering and even debilitating.

I’ve had to take a step back and really look at this long list of things I “need” to do. Who is telling me I need to do it? My society or my instinct? This goes for both actor things and mom things. Here’s an example – that is actually quite timely due to recent events: Actor workshops. I hate them with a passion. I did a few because I was told they were what you needed to do in order to get any “real” work in this town but every time I went to one, everything in me cringed. The desperation you feel in that room is just awful, and you can’t help but become a part of it. In a town where you already feel quite helpless, this was just another thing to put you in your place.

So I stopped. The money I would have spent on workshops I spent on my own projects. New filming equipment, money for crew (or at least feeding crew), for submission fees for festivals, for classes that actually helped my acting muscles, etc. And now I feel a heck of a lot less shame – and helpless!

This idea can continue on to other actor-y things: building a twitter following, a large Instagram or YouTube presence, sending postcard after postcard, sending out a million envelopes with your headshot and resume in them, going to a bunch of parties to mingle and make industry contacts…. You can get so caught up in all the things you’re supposed to do to help make your career and get you noticed as an artist, and yet if you don’t spend time and passion on you art, what have you got to give?

Nothing in this town is certain. You could win an Oscar one year and in the next people could be asking “whatever happened to…?” There are no guarantees. You can book a commercial or a t.v show, get excited and tell all your friends, and then get edited out! I think what it comes down to is the work itself. Are you doing work you love and are proud of? Or are you focusing on taking the steps for success -whether that be financial or social. What is important to you? If its popularity and success, then fine! Go for it. But the only thing I have time to focus on, care about, and know I have a little control in is my own work. That means in the scenes I put up in class, the short films I write, shoot, and put out into the world, and even taking time to see the world around me and enjoy it.

So now I switch gears (a bit) and go into my dealings with being a mom. I feel it is very similar in my approach. I can get so caught up in what society is telling me I need to do as a mom! The amount of books I’ve read is… pretty ridiculous. I also find it funny that I am drawn to books and articles that basically reinstate what I already thought was good parenting. Isn’t that what a lot of us do? We take a piece of this theory, or that style, or a new program for parenting  (kind of like how some people take their favorite bits and pieces of religions)  just so we can feel less guilty about what we’re doing. And that’s another thing: GUILT!  Oh dear Lord, the way we can pile on the shame and guilt! I think we like it! Because no one likes a cocky parent or a parent that says “I think I’m doing a great job!”. But why not? (now take that idea back to acting – no one likes a cocky actor either!)

So, now to tie the two of these things together and actually relate it back to the article I had read about how being a parent can decrease you artistic abilities… or be the enemy… or whatever. So far I have not found that being a parent has made me less of an artist. It has strengthened my passion for my art, and it has laser focused the precious time I get when I can work on my art. Yesterday I dropped my daughter off at daycare, headed to the theatre for  three hours to work on a one act I’m directing. I then enjoyed a quiet afternoon to focus and work on a one act I’m acting in, then proceeded to my two hour rehearsal before picking my daughter up at 5pm. This is not a typical day, but when I get a day like that I relish it!! I’ll admit I felt a twinge of guilt for a minute or two, but let it go. I’m spending all day today with my daughter, and now I can focus on her and not worry about the art I’m not doing.

Perhaps I’m not quite writing this out as well as I would like… but the point I’m trying to make is that being a parent has deepened my relationship with life and the world – and how can that not make you a stronger artist. Don’t look at the quantity of time you put towards your art, look at the quality.

So that’s my two cents on this early Wednesday morning. The sun is coming up and I hear my daughter waking. Time to get on with the day!

 

PS: I’m super excited to write more about how I’m letting go of my “identities” as mom, actor, wife, etc. ….. but that’s for another early morn.

In the mean time, check out this book: How to Wake Up by Toni Bernhard.

 

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Starting with the basics…again.

I did it. I put up  my first scene in class…. and lo and behold all that fiery passion for the craft has come back full force. It’s so weirdly addicting. I feel so at home on stage discovering a life and story on stage.

So now I’m learning about finding the balance and new ways of doing my homework for the scenes. It’s a bit difficult sitting and doing my imagination work on the story at home while also trying to keep Cordie out of the dog food (boy, does she love that stuff!). I have to work towards a new discipline of using my free time a bit more wisely. Also, I hope to become more efficient with my work. Instead of trying to work at getting the entire play believed, just starting with little parts, problems, situations, etc and letting it grow. I have a habit of trying to get everything from the very beginning.

I’m excited to work these muscles again and to see my confidence grow in my work that I put out into the world. Whether that be my own writing or what I bring into the audition room.

My overall career/game plan is still a bit fuzzy but let’s just start with the work. I think over the coming weeks more will clear up.

Mary Blair

PS: I’ve come across Mary Blair’s artwork, and I’m in love!

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Soul Searching on a Sunday Night

I’ve begun acting class again and it is stirring up quite a few soul searching questions for me.

How serious am I about being a professional working actor? Am I willing to make the sacrifices? What do those sacrifices mean? Does that mean I’m putting my husband and daughter second? Am I afraid of true success? Am I afraid of failure? What if I put in all this hard work and I actually am not that talented? Do I have actual goals? Something tangible to head towards? Am I flailing about aimlessly?!?

Do I still want this? 

That’s the biggest question I seem to keep coming back to. Do I still want to be an actor? And I honestly don’t know. But do I not know because I don’t get to act much anymore? Will that strong desire and passion come back once I get to perform again (even if it’s just in class at first)? Or have I given up on the hope and dream but continue to plug along out of sheer habit? I am scared to answer this question. I have found my identity in acting/as an actor for so long that I’m scared to have to go “find” myself if I let that go.

The last time I was in acting class was about 4 years ago. I was a single girl working 5 jobs (none of them acting) and trying to get work as an actor. Now I’ve come back after having moved to a different town (and back), married the love of my life, bought a home, and had a baby. All really awesome things! And pretty significant life changes.

I think I expected to go back to class and pick up where I left off…. but that place (and person) feel long gone. I know I will always love acting. But to what degree and how far do I want to go?

And now I just have the lyric from A Chorus Line going through my head: “Who am I anyway? Am I my resume? Or just a picture of a person I don’t know….”

 

I don’t know what I want. I don’t even know where to begin.

So I’ll just start with a scene. Put a scene up in class and take a look at what we’ve got.

 

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Opening and beyond!

I survived the opening of my show at Hollywood Fringe Festival!

Phew! It got super tough near the end there. Turns out it’s pretty difficult trying to rehearse your show with a 4 month old at home. On Saturday night just after the show was finished I realized I hadn’t actually rehearsed the whole thing all the way through since I had last performed it almost a year ago. Holy smokes! My lighting and tech guy had never actually seen the whole show either due to some tech snafus during our tech rehearsal. But we did it and the audience seemed to have a good time.

Here’s a few snippets from the reviews I’ve received on the show:

” ‘Dear Hollywood’ is like a swig of champagne…bubbly, sparkling, and delightfully refreshing. See it.”

“Julisa demonstrates her silent film background with great success. Her movements are exact, well formulated, choreographed and everything plays to the house very well. Her character voices are spot on and has great range slipping several raspy octaves below her chest voice and nails every dialect that she goes for.”

“Julisa Wright may be the new Carol Burnett if her Dear Hollywood one woman show at the Ruby is a glimpse of more to come.”

“Julisa Wright is an incredibly gifted comedienne! Her timing is fantastic! Her characters are very amusing! Her versatile voice, facial expressions, and physical humor are remarkable! She is charming and witty. She is truly talented – and funny, funny, funny!”

You can see all the reviews HERE.

I also got to do a fun little interview with Ladies Lunch in LA if you want to check that out.

Two more shows to go. Next Monday (June 22nd) and Friday (June 26th). I have a pretty good amount of tickets sold for Monday’s show, and I hope Friday’s picks up soon.

I am so thankful that I get this opportunity to perform. I know I said I was finished with Dear Hollywood last year, but I’m thankful I pulled it out again so I could be onstage once again after having Cordie. It’s a lovely reminder that I will always be a performer and I don’t fit into just one category or title. I hope Cordie grows up seeing her mom do what she loves and I hope it inspires her to follow her dreams as well.

It’s also been really great seeing so many shows at the Fringe Festival. Big thanks to Eric watching Cordie in the evenings and on weekends and pushing me out the door to go out and do what I love. I am inspired by the LA Theatre community and I hope so very much to get more involved over this next year.

I’ll write more after the Fringe is done. The babe is asleep and I want to rehearse a few pieces of my show while I can!

If you’re in the LA area and want to catch one of the last two performance of DEAR HOLLYWOOD check out tickets HERE.

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The Bitter Sweetness of Doing Your Own Thing

In just about 3 weeks my show, Dear Hollywood, goes up once again.

   
I may have bitten off more than I can chew by producing this show all by myself while finally getting the hang of having a baby around. But I’ve missed performing and being on stage so much since I wasn’t able to do much during my pregnancy. And also because when living in LA and pursuing the professional acting career, actual performing tends to feel few and far between. I wish I were involved in a theatre company or any sort of ensemble company at all. I miss going to my acting studio classes. I miss being part of a cast and working as a team to create art.

So here I am trying to promote my show, rehearse, re-write, and stay motivated during Cordie’s naps. Sometimes I get an hour or more, sometimes just 30 minutes. She falls asleep and suddenly a long list of things that need to be done starts to run through my head. Do I send personal e-mails to invite more friends to my show? Do I try to rehearse one of the monologues? Do I try to figure out how to write a press release? Do I finally make lunch for myself? Go to the bathroom? Or do I start 5 things all at once and then get nowhere by the time Cordie wakes up again.

And it’s not easy asking for help. This has been a huge lesson to me these last couple months…well actually even when I was put on moderate bed rest. What I forget is that Eric and I are not the only ones who like to help others. We will quickly come to the aid of a friend or help back an artistic project we believe in. We love to see our friends succeed and to feel like we are doing something good for the world. And by not asking for help from others, I may in fact be robbing them of a chance to do what they love as well.

Here I’ll be open and honest. This is tough stuff doing a solo show. This is new territory for me and I find I’m fearing an empty house at my show. That is a possibility and I know it happens to other solo artists as well. Specially when you are first getting started. I need to remember that this is all laying down the groundwork and foundation to give me the skills and tenacity to continue to do this and write/produce more shows. I’m trying to make this show as easily accessible to people as well. The ticket prices are pay what you can. I would love to come close to at least breaking even on this and right now the only thing I could think of was creating a “GoFundMe” account (here) . What sucks is seeing it at $0.

I believe I have a good show. I want to share it and entertain people with it as well.

How do you keep your self confidence up when you see you have a total of 165 tickets to sell (all 3 shows included), you’ve “sold” 7 of them (mostly comped), you need about $800 to meet the costs of producing your show (and you’re at $0), and you’ve invited 100 people on Facebook and you see 7 say they are coming. I’m doing the Fringe on a rather small scale because anything bigger would scare me. This may all seem trivial, but it’s how I’m feeling. I look forward to writing about how this all turned out.

 No matter what, I get to do my show 3 more times. People will be there to see it (the numbers don’t really matter) and I will have learned many lessons about doing a solo show at a festival in the safety of a town I don’t have to travel to. And $800 is a rather small amount for producing a show. We’ll survive if we have to pay the entire thing out of pocket. 

I hope you don’t mind my candor with how I’m feeling leading up to my shows next month, but I doubt I am alone and it helps to know that. 

Thank you. 

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There and Back Again

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I was so happy to be able to take my solo show to my hometown. The support and love I felt from my friends, family, and the locals I didn’t know quite as well, was overwhelming. I am truly grateful for the opportunity. A heartfelt thank you.

The month flew by rather quickly. I had a blast teaching at the theatre camp with the kids. Teaching improv and a bit of filmmaking as well scene and monologue studies. I learned probably just as much as they did, if not more. I discovered a joy in teaching (and also the frustration of competing with cellphones and the younger attention span). But overall, I could see myself doing this again. I love sharing the knowledge I’ve learned over the years. I laughed at hearing myself say things I had had other teachers say to me. One day it was my high school director coming out of my mouth, another day it was my college director, and yet another day would be me spouting things I had heard from my LA acting coaches. It was great. Glad to know so much has stuck with me.

July was a perfect month to get away from LA for a little while. Refocus on what I want and then be able to hit the ground running once I returned.

Today I signed with a new commercial agent. In two weeks I’ll be shooting the movie I’m directing. I’ve sent out e-mails to local theatres to see where Dear Hollywood will go next.

I look forward to the coming months. There’s a lot I see before me.

Let’s go!

 

(I’ll miss you Pacific Northwest. Until next time!)

 

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Beginning of the New Adventure

This first week back in my hometown has been a great one. Week one of teaching and I’m loving the kids. I’m not too surprised by how much I enjoy teaching improv to them. And to be able to share my passion for theatre with kids who are just at the beginning of their own theatrical journey is quite inspiring and rewarding.

Of course it’s not all easy. This is quite new territory for me. Every day I’m challenged to find new improv games and figure out how to build upon what was taught the day before and also at what speed to go. Also, how do I keep a middle schooler’s attention for longer than 5 minutes?!!

I had no delusions that this would be easy. I knew this would be a challenge and I’d have quite the steep learning curve, but I like challenges.

On another note of being back in my hometown, it has been really great getting to show my husband around the Pacific NorthWest. We went up the north side of Mt. St. Helens one day and then yesterday I took him to the south side so we could hike through the Ape Caves and Lava Canyon. I hate the idea of having to drop him off at the airport tomorrow.

But this month already seems booked up. Teaching in mornings, rehearsing my one woman show in the afternoons (I will hopefully be performing Dear Hollywood here in 2 weeks), and then prepping for the film I’m directing when I return to LA. I’m hoping to throw in a few more workshops for adults while here, but nothing is set yet.

I look forward to the coming weeks and I look forward to reporting my adventures with you.

Hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July.

Cheers,
Julisa

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Embracing My Own Path

I sat at the computer ready to write some sappy “I feel sorry for myself because I’m an overwhelmed and confused artist” and then I watched this video:

What a great speech. I love Charlie Day and his show and his path that he took.

Seriously though, I sat at the computer this morning feeling overwhelmed with this LA world and feeling like there is a never ending list of things you “must-do” to become a successful actor in LA. I got up to pour another cup of coffee before writing and it was like I had walked up and out of my weird sappy mood. I looked behind me and couldn’t help but laugh.

Who is this girl who feels sorry for herself? Boo hoo, you haven’t booked anything in a year. So you haven’t gone on an audition in quite a while. Etc.

Wake up! I have a lovely home with an amazing husband. I just wrote, produced, and starred in my first one-woman show. I get to teach theatre for a whole month back in my home town this July, and in August I’m directing a friend’s short film.

Sure, I get overwhelmed sometimes (a lot of the time) with all the amazing things I want to do and learn. The list of classes I want to take is endless. That’s part of never wanting to be done learning. That is part of being an artist. And, yes, I wish I was part of something bigger. Part of a creative community. Ok, so I need to get off my ass and go participate. It will mean sacrificing some of my evenings but in the long run will pay off.

I don’t want to knock the tough times. I’m just acknowledging and admitting that I have been in it lately and now I’m making a choice to try and get out. Hopefully get a glimpse of the bigger picture. Breathe. I am on my own unique path. No need to compare myself with anyone else or where they are on their path. I release my need to prove myself to everyone else (this is a daily thing to remember).

And I could not be more excited and happy to be teaching in my hometown in just a little over a month. I’ll write more about that later.

Now I must pour another cup of coffee and begin to watch my show that I filmed and work on making it better for next time.

Happy Wednesday, dear friends.

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Remembering Why I Do What I Do

I can’t watch this without smiling from ear to ear.


I love both Danny Kaye and Luis Armstrong. Their pure joy and love of performing and entertaining is contagious. And both of these men were at the top of their game. Always improving and a force to be reckoned with. I hope I’m that someday. A force to be reckoned with. Not in a weird conceded way but just always playing to the top of my ability and constantly working and becoming better. I hope to inspire others to do their best as well. Every time I get an opportunity to perform (auditions included) I want to exude an air of this is what I love, let me share it with you.

It’s a challenge. What I would like to do is just sit around, watch inspiring movies, and wait to be handed something on a silver platter. The problem is is that I won’t be ready to take whatever is given to me by just thinking in my head I have talent. I need to work on it daily. There are days when that is really really REALLY tough. And some days I succumb to just sitting on the couch watching movies or t.v shows I wish I  was working on. Some days I have to push through and make myself write something or practice working on a script of some sort. And a few days it’s a breeze and I make huge strides in my work. Like I said, it’s a challenge. But when I’m resisting something the strongest it usually is an indicator of where I need to go.

I am constantly reminded that fame is fleeting and is only sometimes a byproduct of pursuing and working on  your craft. The true joy (hopefully) comes from working on what you love. If it isn’t, maybe it’s time to reassess what’s going on and what you want.

I want to be great. I want to continually be getting better. To inspire people with my art. Grand scale or small, as long as I give it my all 100% of the time. That’s what I want.

 

Happy Wednesday, my friend.

 

Oh! And my show goes up again this Saturday. Just FYI

Dear Hollywood 4.26 (c)

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Happy Birthday Charlie: Year 6

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I love that the anniversary of my moving to LA coincides with Charlie Chaplin’s birthday. It makes it’s doubly special.

I am so very grateful for these past 6 years. I’ve learned so much and am very happy that so many of my first LA friends I still call friends today. I may not have accomplished all the things I had hoped by now but through the years, the tough times and the smooth times, I have let go of some plans, made a few new ones, and better yet – hung on strong to the goals that I really desire. Somedays it all seems a bit fuzzy or overwhelming. I wonder if I should give it all up. But those thoughts quickly vanish. I would much rather keep plugging along. Letting the little victories come as they may.

Last year was quite a doozy. I look forward to this next year. I have my hopes but I look forward to the surprises even more.

Thanks for following me on this journey.

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