LA Anniversary!

I just wanted to write a quick little “woo-hoo” post since today is my LA anniversary. 9 years I’ve lived here. Originally I was planning on just one, and then life here swept me up. In no way could I have ever predicted my life to be where it is today: back in school, married, kid, home, extremely happy and content. Feels good.

I’m in the midst of homework right now, but I try to post every year on my anniversary.

 

Woo-hoooooo!

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(Insert Witty Thoughtful Title Here)

I’ve been putting off writing this blog for quite awhile because I wanted to wait until I knew what and how I was going to write an amazing blog talking about my next big adventure. But school starts next week and what I hope to do over the next year is write about my experience of going back to school to study Visual Communications at FIDM.

This was a bit of a quick decision to change career paths. At the beginning of October, I came across FIDM while looking up design schools in LA. By mid-October, I had taken a tour of the campus and had a meeting with an adviser. By the end of October, I had applied and created a  portfolio of some sort and was accepted starting the Winter Quarter of 2017. Whew!

I don’t know if I would say I’m altogether changing careers, more like adding more artistic tools to my toolbelt. I’ve been focused on acting for the last 20 years but have always wondered what it might be like to study another artform. I’ve always been interested and fascinated with interior design, style, and decor. I want to know why certain things work, and others don’t.

So I’ll keep this post short. Here on the eve of 2017, my hope is to weekly document my trek back into the school world and to write about this next adventure of mine.

Cheers!

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The First Six Weeks is Like a Stiff Cocktail…And now we’re at 3 months…

Just shy of our 6 week mark I am finally able to sit down and right a post post baby. We’ll see just how long it takes me to write this and publish it. Right now, it is 9:48am on Friday…

I like to think of the first six weeks like a stiff cocktail. Semi-sweet, bitter, a swift kick to the gut, and a cherry on top. Like a well done Manhattan.

They say that time flies when you first have your baby. To treasure every moment. It all goes by so fast and before you know they will be walking.

It hasn’t felt that way to me.

This time has lagged on so long for me. The first two weeks felt like a dark and scary cave. Here we were in our little condo with this tiny little human. No one knew how to communicate with each other (except for Eric and I) and many nights were spent trying to figure out how we could all sleep at the same time for more than 45 minutes. I’ll be extremely honest and admit there were quite a few times where I thought “when does it feel worth it?” And then would immediately cry feeling guilty for having such thoughts.

By the third week my parents came to town to help us out. I’m so glad Eric and I got to have the first two weeks to really get an idea of who we were as new parents and start to have opinions on things. Having the parents in town helped us catch up on a bit more sleep, helped me get through the days now that Eric was back to work, and gave us some good ideas for what could help Cordie when she got fussy. What it also did was help Eric and I discover we had opinions about how to take care of Cordie and that we actually were able to pick up on what she wanted or needed.

At the end of the fourth week Eric’s parents came into town as well. That was an epically crowded weekend. I’m glad all the new grandparents got to have time hanging out together, but dear lord our home was crowded and I’ve never been so happy to have to nurse Cordie and go into another room. A quiet, dark, room, with no one else in it.

My parents left after two weeks here. Eric’s mom is still in town till Sunday. And then, we’re “on our own”. It’s felt like 6 weeks of new parent bootcamp. Or at least what I would imagine bootcamp to be like.

So, here are some things I’ve discovered about myself and about parenting:

I kept reading that breastfeeding is magical and wonderful.

I freaking hated it. I’m getting the hang of it now, but I still don’t like it that much. It hurt, it’s annoying, and I have a time limit when I go anywhere away from her. Thankfully it’s starting to get easier – but you don’t believe it when you’re on day 3 and crying your eyes out. 

I’m no earth mamma

I try to eat organic and bathe organic and live organic… but it usually lasts a day or two. I’ll drink organic milk and then swiftly eat an overly processed Oreo cookie with it. I tried “healthy/safe” shampoo and it made my hair feel weird so I went to the chemically one I liked that made my hair soft. I’m surrounded by forums and posts with moms talking about chemically safe this and that and being opposed to pediatricians that tell them things they don’t like. They want organic cloth to surround their baby in, nature based cleaning things and wiping things and living things…. and I just can’t. I feel like I’ve entered a room I was supposed to go in but don’t feel like I belong. I just don’t have the patience or energy to try to minimize my footprint or chemical intake. I’ll just say an extra prayer of protection each night. 

“Formula is the devil!”

This goes along with my trouble with breastfeeding. The first night we brought Cordie home we ended up giving her a bit of formula – and instantly felt we had failed as parents. Bullshit. Now six weeks later I’ve eased up on myself. If I need to go run an errand and whoever is at home baby-sitting for me has to give her a couple ounces while I’m gone – fine. My baby will not become obese by a few ounces of formula – or if that’s the only thing I could give her she would be fine. 

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And now here we are at the 3 month mark!

As you can see, me sitting down to write has not happened much since I began this post. But it’s nice to look over what I wrote and I’m happy to post it as well. Those first 6 weeks were really tough. At 3 months Eric and I feel like we are getting into a groove of our new normal. Cordelia (lately) has been going to bed between 7 and 8pm. She wakes at about 4am to feed, then sleeps until about 8am. I could not be happier.

I also now feel like I can play with her and she interacts with me. I love my days at home with her (something I never thought I would say!). This has been a gradual thing for me to love. Fortunately, the day before Mother’s Day I came home from a long day of workshops/meetings for The Fringe Festival and held Cordie in my arms and something clicked. Like the stories you hear from moms who hold their baby for the first time and instantly fall in love and know their lives will be forever changed and they could never imagine life without their little one…. ya, that happened to me. 12 weeks (to the day) after beginning my contractions with her. I am not ashamed to admit it. I hear other moms took some time falling in love with their babies, but you never seem to see it mentioned in our more public society.

I hope to write more soon. And I look forward to writing about the last improv show I did and prepping to do Dear Hollywood again. But goodness gracious, this post has taken me 6 weeks to finish and post. So here it is.

Cordie

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A Great Reminder

How is it that I can so easily forget the wonderful at home feeling I get when I’m on stage?! Why does it take me so long to get back up there?!

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to perform improv again. It feels like it’s been ages. It was great to take the Groundlings class last fall but to perform in front of an audience again was thrilling. I love love love being on stage and falling into a character and playing out a scene. What was extra great was that I didn’t feel like a student anymore. I was playing with friends who’s work I’ve long admired and I didn’t feel pressure to try to be funny. Just honest. The desire to be “good” and “funny” and “the best” use to haunt me in class and when I used to be on a regular playing team a couple years ago. Perhaps it’s the changes that have occurred in my life over the past couple years that have helped me feel a little more settled and grounded. I still want to continue to improve in my skills but with a less frantic need to be perfect. I finally feel like I can slow down and learn from each experience. Failing in a scene doesn’t scare me nearly as much. All I want is to get better and that takes time. I’m ok with that.

It was really great performing one more time before Cordelia arrives. I was reminded of what makes my heart so happy. What makes me feel most alive. All of these months I’ve been so focused on the pregnancy and trying to make it to full term (no worries of that now) that I lost sight of something that is very deeply ingrained in me. I love performing and entertaining. I won’t lose that when Cordelia arrives. That will always be a part of me and I don’t ever have to give that up.

Long Hard Tuesday Promo

So thank you, my friends, for inviting me to play. I look forward to doing it again in the very near future.

Photos thanks to Stephanie Pressman

 

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Cutting back the distractions to get to my heart.

I feel an increasing need to be genuine, sincere, and honest with myself.

Perhaps some of this could be due to the fact that Eric and I will be expecting a baby next February. I have a new urgency to clear out the clutter of distractions keeping me from creating my own work and depending on my own creations to move me forward in my career. And I hope to be a good example to our future child. Following my heart and doing what makes me feel alive and happy even if it seems to go against what everyone else is doing.

For me, this means no longer going to casting director workshops, mailing out postcards, or other type of mailings. Not spending time looking at and submitting on casting websites. I even removed myself from a couple actor groups on Facebook. They made me feel like I wasn’t doing enough and I never seemed to have anything to add to the community. Hacking away at these distractions.

Now of course this is not to say that these things don’t work for other actors. I have seen them work for friends many times and a few times it even got me some great auditions, but no longer does it make my heart happy to be running down all these avenues. I’m not sure it ever did, really. I felt like I was constantly on a hamster wheel getting little to nowhere. I may have gotten somewhere eventually but I don’t feel like waiting it out. I’d rather get off this crazy spinning wheel and stand still long enough to figure out what I really want to do.

Being home for a month helped me do that. I rediscovered my love and passion for performing to a live audience and for entertaining people with my own work. I also discovered how much I love directing and coaching. So I’m very excited to find more project to direct – whether it be my own or someone’s project I love.  More solo shows and more directing, that’s what I’m looking at.

Now don’t get me wrong! If I get a call from one of my agents about an audition I’ll be very happy to go and still hope very much to book the job. But no longer do I give the phone power, or anyone else out there. I am not just waiting to get the opportunity to maybe possible perform for someone. I’ll be busy at home writing up new works and busy on the weekends filming and performing. I would much rather “be discovered” busily working on my own projects. This gives me time to really work on my craft and I trust much more that the right doors will open at the right time. The right person will see me doing the right project and a new door opens. I just can’t seem to find time to work and knock on every possible door out there.

These are new thoughts as I begin working on a new role  – “mother”.

So we’ll see how these thoughts and revelations evolve…

What an adventure.

Danny-Kaye-

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Setting Dear Hollywood Aside.

I’ll be performing Dear Hollywood one last time this year. August 29th at iO West on the Main Stage. 11:30pm.

I’m excited to perform this show one more time and then set it aside for awhile. I’ve been working on this story for about 5 years now. First with the silent film and then over this past year with the solo-show. I’m ready to move on a create new work and stories. I’ve got a few up my sleeve that I’m ready to let loose.

It has been such a great experience doing this show and seeing how it has transformed. I am proud of all the hard work I’ve put into it and so thankful for those who have come out to watch and support. Special thanks to my awesome husband for all of his support and the many re-writes we’ve worked on together. We make a good team.

Ok, so for ticket info click HERE.

And here’s a little taste of the show for you:

Dear Hollywood: Live – Highlight reel from Julisa Smith on Vimeo.

 

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Next Big Adventure

 

 

I’m heading to Longview, WA for a month!

 

Starting in July I’ll be back in my hometown teaching at a theatre camp for middle school and high schoolers (details here) . I’m pretty darn excited about this. I started going over my old notes from all my improv classes and shows and such. Sometimes I forget just how much I’ve learned in the last 6 years.

 

It may be selfish, but I look forward to learning a ton while teaching. I don’t really know what to expect but I look forward to the challenge and the adventure.

 

It will be nice to take a step away from LA for a bit as well. It’s so easy to get so wrapped up in the biz and forget to take a moment and listen to my heart. I look forward to being home. Visiting the places that were so important during my groaning up. And the little things like walking the lake and reading on our front porch swing in the evenings. I love it.

 

Slow down. Share what I love with others. And see what’s to come next.

 

 

porch swing

 

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The Challenge

Just a quick post for today.

I’ve challenged myself to read one play a day. Not sure for how long though. A month? A year? I think I’ll just start month by month. There are so many great plays out there and I’ve read or seen so few of them.

My hope is that it will somehow magically sink in and help my writing and acting. By reading different styles and falling in love with a wide variety of characters I’m sure it will have some positive effect.

This challenge is also in response to that haunting feeling that I missed something by not continuing my schooling. We’ll see…

My friend Caitlin has also joined me on this challenge. It’s fun to have someone else do this with me and also keep me accountable.

To follow my daily posts you can check out my Twitter or Instagram to see what play I’m currently reading.

 

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I’d love it if you would like to join me. #1PlayADay

 

Happy Wednesday, friends.

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A Fine (Red Carpet) Line

Red Carpet

As a handful of my friends know, Sunday night I was at the Oscars. Quite the fun experience – although someday I would like to be invited, nominated, or hosting. Which ever, I’m not picky. Working at the Oscars is an experience that I am thankful for. I know of some people who refuse to work there or even hold someone’s Oscar statue because they think it is bad luck or don’t want to have that “experience” until it is their turn. Some friends down right despise the whole ceremony. I understand where they are coming from. And part of me agrees. A tiny part.

But for me, I know that it is very few people that get to be there that night (when you think in relation to the whole world and those wishing to go). So I am thankful for the opportunity. Secondly, I’m the type of person who likes to scope out a situation before being in the spotlight. My first commercial booking was a breeze thanks to all the work I had done as part of the crew. So I like to imagine that when it is my turn to attend the Oscars I’ll know my way around real well.

Thirdly, I like the feeling that this is something that is possible. I feel like I’m walking right along side that red carpet. The line between where I am and where they are is so thin. For some it might keep them separated all their life, for others there might be a slit in the wall and someone gets to come through…. I wish I could think of a better analogy. Maybe it’s like some people are walking down the hallway in the airport and some are using the moving sidewalk. Sometimes you can jump through that gap and join the fast track. Right now I’m walking along side, but we’re all in the same hallway.

So, for a little snippet of what my evening was like:

The last time I worked the Oscars I got to be at the front door handing out programs to everyone. Saying hello and greeting everyone. Amazing. This year I was placed up on the third floor manning the door to the smoking lounge. I’ll admit I was considerably disappointed. But I still got to see a fair amount of celebrities (like Michael Fassbender, Whoopi Goldberg, Paul Dano, and a handful of others). When the show ended I helped people get to where they needed to out the front doors and to their limos. After the theatre was empty my friends and I walked the red carpet and took a fair amount of photos. Got to see Liza up close and personal twice. Near the limo pick-up there was a complimentary coffee station so I sipped a hot chocolate, sat on some steps and watched the parade of Oscar winners leaving the after party with their lovely statues. I big night for some, and for others it was just another party.

As I headed home I thought about where all those fancy people were headed. Off to the after-after parties or just home. Some had families to greet them and some had an empty room.

I went home to my husband, puppy, and a script on my desk for my one-woman play that goes up on the 29th. I couldn’t be happier.

Cheers to the dreamers.

See you next year, Oscar.

-Julisa

PS: My two favorite Oscars hosts (ever) are Bob Hope and Ellen. Ellen, you rocked it this year.

 

My awesome co-workers. The fabulous Dolby Theatre Tour Guides.Dolby Tour Guides

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Let’s Break the Rules!

I’m getting restless. Sometimes when I get this way I try to do something drastic. Well, a “safe” drastic. Like change my hair to having bangs… or dying it one shade darker. You know, drastic!

This restlessness has lead to an idea for a fun headshot photo shoot where I will pretty much be breaking every rule for headshots. My mission is to make casting directors smile (perhaps even chuckle) when they see my headshot pop up on the submissions boards. I’ve seen what they see. Page after page everyone one looking the same – especially once you get to the 5th or 17th page of submissions.

I’m bored with following all the rules and playing “nice” and being the good student just waiting for her turn to come…

As Judy sang, “I don’t care, I don’t care…”

This little glow of a lightbulb started a couple weeks ago while I was fortunate to be a reader for Mamma Mia auditions (for the Vegas show). I got to see so many wonderfully talented people and I envied their ability to sing 8 shows a week. Who could belt rock songs and dance long choreographed routines. But what also stood out to me was that a good handful of them all sounded or looked the same. I overheard one of the people at the table mention the actor was good but too mechanic. “Over schooled”. Over schooled?! How is that possible? Here I’ve been kicking myself for not having anything more than an associates degree. Funny how traveling around the world, having real world experience in the business and working in more than one area of the industry I still sell myself short. Lame.

As a lot of us are aware of the Oscars coming up. I’ve seen a handful of the films nominated and I have to admit…I’m a little underwhelmed. I feel that a lot of films these days are just playing it safe. They can’t even come up with a witty title for a sequel. You just slap a number at the end of the title from before. I loved The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel…but I just read they are coming out with a sequel titled…wait for it… The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2. Come on. The cast is mostly British…I expect more from my favorite artists from across the pond.

Oh, excuse me. 21 Jump Street’s next film is … 22 Jump Street. So, there’s that.

Sigh.

So. I’m excited to try branching out a bit more. I don’t like being molded into something I’m not or into something that is just supposed to be “right’.

There were more things I was going to say, but this post has taken me most of the week to write because I’ve been avoiding it or doing what I like to call “creative procrastination”.

Hopefully I’ll get more on track by next week.

Or will I?

I don’t know!!!  I’m a rule breaker!!

 

Pup and Me 2.14

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