Making Things!

Within just the last couple months I’ve had the opportunity to work on projects as set decorator, production designer, and window display artist. Since writing my last post I have been able to set my fears aside and focus on the joy that comes from creating things and learning as I go. What I’ve enjoyed the most is having my imagination explode with ideas when handed a project. I’d like to post about each project individually but as of right now I’m up to my armpits in freelance gigs.

I’m looking forward to posting more photos of the projects I’ve been working on. One of my projects was fabricating the props for Nordstrom Window displays (appearing in storefronts the first weekend of September).

This week I’m busy working as production designer for a fun fantasy short – let’s just say I’ve got a lot of magical wizardry to whip up before Saturday’s shoot!

Next month I’ll be designing the set for my old high school’s fall musical, Seussical the Musical. More fun fantasy and imagination work there!

And only 3 more weeks of the summer quarter. Lordy, I hope I find time for my homework and finals.

 

 

 

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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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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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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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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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Dear Hollywood – from page to stage

Whew! I did it!

And no way could I have done it without all the amazing support from my husband, family, and friends. Thank you.

It feels good to finally get the show up on its feet. Now it’s on to refining, adding, subtracting, and booking it at another venue. This is the fun part. Thanks to my friend Dustin for filming it I can go back and see what worked and what didn’t. I’m ok that it’s not perfect. It will continue to get better the more I do it. Besides, this is my first solo show attempt.

I am very excited to see how this will evolve over the next year.

Here is a little highlight reel for those who weren’t able to make it.

Thanks again!

 

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

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Discovering the Madness of Writing.

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday was my deadline to have the first draft of my solo show completed. My goal was to have 15 pages of script but I only ended up with 12. I won’t beat myself up since it felt like it had completed it’s arc by page 12.

Getting to just that little bit of 12 pages was way tougher than I thought. How often do I get lost in the romance of the idea of the artistic life while avoiding the actual work.

While writing this story I woke up and went through my day with dread, depression, toddler fussiness, and intimidated by what my standards are for this project. Looking at a blank page you wonder how you can make things up out of thin air. But when an idea floated in and my pen went to work – it felt like something magical just happened. Something I will continue to work for. The key is to clock in and do your time. Be patient.

Working from home is nearly impossible. Too many distractions for me and not the best self-discipline. So for the price of just a plain cup of coffee a day I walked to my neighborhood cafe and wrote for 1-2 hours every day. Since my story is about LA and the modern Hollywood types, the cafe that I write at is full of them – producers, directors, and casting people from the studios. I couldn’t help but think to myself the irony of actually getting discovered there while writing. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?

And now it’s on to editing. You can’t get to the next stage unless you have something to work from. The script that I have finished on my desk right now could look a lot like my show on the 29th or it could look like just a distant relative of it. Who knows.

I enter through to the next stage.

I think I like this writing thing. And creating my own work. I have a new shade of pride.

Dear Hollywood promo 2

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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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