Thursday, November 1, 2012

Back to Blogging

I must's been awhile since I've blogged! In some ways it seems like a LOT has happened in the past six months, and in some ways it seems nothing has changed.

Notable events:

I started a new restaurant job, and promptly quit within 2 months, realizing that Brother Jimmy's is the best restaurant job ever, and I only want to work there.

Cinco de Mayo with Sarah P and Kayla B! It was a good time to say the least.

Kenan and Nick visited NYC as Nick's surprise graduation trip!

The Annual UNC Arts Brunch was held, and more fun than ever! So glad William, Geoff and Katie came this year!

I sang at the Annual Actors Fund Benefit, with Brian Stokes Mitchell

My wonderful grandmother passed away. She was 89 years old. It was a really difficult summer because of this.

I was cast and performed in Oliver! with the Irish Repertory Theatre! We performed at the Shubert! What a neat experience... and Sean and Dayna were in it too!

The Saunders Family moved to London. They were one of my favorite babysitting family's, and I love those kids so much. I miss them all the time!

I auditioned for my first big pilot at Telsey + Co. Exciting!

I saw Laura Osnes' cabaret at Cafe Carlyle. Absolutely stunning, and such a fun night with William and Geoff.

I went to NC for Carly and Al's wedding, and had a great time reuniting with my girls in Chapel Hill!

I saw my dear friend and mentor perform the lead role, opposite Matthew Broderick, in Nice Work if You Can Get It on Broadway!

My parents visited! We had a blast.

I participated in The Bridge Program at One on One, and made some great contacts.

My friend Annie visited, with her friend Elizabeth, who's just the sweetest. We had a great time!

I had my 2 year anniversary in NYC

I sang at Marvin Hamlisch's funeral, alongside Idina Menzel, and hundreds of Marvin's friends, family and fans.

I served as Production Assistant for Ground UP's Underground Project.

I went to the US Open with Will for the 3rd year in a row! And my friend Brittany came too!

A prayer was answered, and I started babysitting for a former actress' kids. It's been a huge blessing. I now love absolutely every family I babysit for.

I went to Woodbury Commons - the biggest outlet mall in the country!

I went to Philly for the first time! Love it!

I saw real life Amish people in Lancaster, PA when I went to see my friend Kate in her opening night at the Fulton.

I went to my first Yankees game.

My dear friend Ellen visited! Twice!

I began studying Meisner Technique at Matthew Corozine's intense, and really challenging, but good for me.

Mom visited again!

My choir sang at Carnegie Hall with the NY Pops, Kelli Ohara, Paulo Szot, and Aaron Lazar. The concert was called "Some Enchanted Evening: The Music of Rodgers and Hammerstein."

I joined my first book club! How adult of me!

I survived Hurricane Sandy. My roommate and I were so blessed to never lose power, or really experience much more than a heavy wind/rain storm. The damage in lower Manhattan and surrounding areas was horrific.

So there's the last six months in a nutshell... I promise to be better about blogging from here on out... :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Simple Blessings

I was reflecting back on the last few months, and I've had some really great times, that I've failed to mention in my blog. Sometimes I'm so concerned with the big events, stressful auditions, numerous rejections, or loads of work that I forget to be grateful for the smaller blessings that really keep me going.

Kenan, Ashley and me at Cakes & Ale
The first week of March, I received an invitation to audition for Legally Blonde in Atlanta. The audition was four days after the email I received, and I knew that flights from NYC to ATL are never affordable (thank you, Delta monopoly at Hartsfield-Jackson airport.) I curiously looked online, and saw that indeed, all flights for that weekend were nearly $800. Except was $200. I immediately called my best friends in Atlanta and asked if I could stay with them. They said, "Yes!" I decided that this was God's way of telling me I needed a weekend away from the city. He had blessed me with this amazing audition opportunity, and an affordable plane ticket. How could I not go for it?! I flew to Atlanta, had a really solid audition, and got a callback! I'm still waiting to hear if I booked the job. More importantly, I spent time with Ashley and Ellen, and their awesome roommates. They are always so generous with their time, and we have so much fun together. I also got to surprise my dear friend Kenan! She and Nick were in Atlanta, and so I walked up to her at the restaurant she was eating at on Friday (her hubby helped me plan this), and asked if her food was okay (in my waitress voice). She turned around and was shocked to see me! We had the best time catching up! Every time I go to Atlanta, I am reminded of how much I love the South.

Sarah P, Kayla, me and Sayrah on St. Patrick's Day!
St. Patrick's Day was probably the most fun night of my year thus far. Our group of friends were all people who knew each other from different places, but we got along so well! These girls right here are the best friends a girl could ask for! We went to Otto for dinner, and then to Stone Street, where we hit every bar!

Will & me at Rockefeller
Easter SUnday is obviously a special day for all members of the Christian faith. It's always a little hard not being with my family, but it's usually difficult to go home just for the weekend. This year I had to work both on Good Friday and the evening of Easter. Easter morning definitely made up for all of that though! Will and I celebrated by going to St. Thomas for church, and then walking down to Rockefeller Center to see the gorgeous flowers and decorations! After that, we went to David Burke Kitchen in Soho for a yummy brunch! My girlfriends also had brunch there at an earlier time, so we all got to see each other! I'm so blessed to have great friends in this city!

My girlfriends and me at David Burke

Will & Me after brunch

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

London Calling

I just returned from London, after a wonderful week! In short, I babysat for great kids, and spent time with my awesome aunt. In more detail, I explored nearly every playground in London, discovered the best chocolate in the world (Candy Buttons), and came home with a beautiful new dress from the same shop where Kate Middleton purchased her engagement dress!

I arrived late in the evening, and Anne picked me up at Paddington Station. It's an interesting feeling to arrive somewhere without a working cell phone. Half of me loved being totally disconnected, and half of me felt really out of control. We went home to Anne's and stayed up all night talking!   

I babysat all day, every other day that week. Highlights included the duck tour, swimming at The Harbour Club, and riding Holland Playground's zip line. I was really blessed to be working with a family I'm very close to in New York. They treat me like part of the family, and do things like insisting I order a glass of wine with lunch. It doesn't get much better than that, folks! The kids all 3 have their own, fun personality, and I got to know them even better in London. Some of my favorite quotes:                                                                                                                           "Emily, I'm going to barbecue your bottom like a basket of boneless chicken wings." -4 year old who was not happy that I told him it was time to clean up.
My man, Henry and me!
Mr. and Mrs. Personality
Little Ruby

"This brush blew over from Buckingham Palace. The queen uses it to clean her horses." -6 year old referring to the scrub brush she found on the terrace of her flat.

The greatest family ever!
In addition to babysitting, I had a so much fun  with Anne, Sebastien and Lily. Seb and Lily are perfection in human form. They are such good kids, and truly a pleasure to be around. Whether it was telling jokes at the dinner table, or showing off hip hop moves (Lily has a fierce coffee grinder), we were always laughing.
My wonderful cousins. Love them so much!
We went to see Matilda the Musical on Wednesday night. The show was SO well done! They had choreographed swing sets, the most colorful stage I've ever seen, and a hilarious actor playing Ms. Trunchbull.  I can't wait for the show to open on Broadway in the US because it is truly a masterpiece. After the musical, I thoroughly embarrassed Seb when I hailed a cab NYC style. Apparently they don't scream or run after taxis in London...oops!

With Anne, I also had a delicious dinner at a French restaurant. 
 tried lots of new food and loved all of it! Anne has the most incredible group of friends. After dinner, we went to the Arts Club (most exclusive private members club in London) to celebrate her friend's birthday.  I met a lovely Swedish boy and enjoyed a dance or two. :) 
Anne and me outside The Arts Club
My dinner at Orrery
The next morning, we went and had amazing luxury pedicures at Beauty Works West, and then I was on my own for the afternoon. I navigated the city solo, only taking one cab all day, and went shopping at all the best places! That evening I cooked lasagna (success!)

I found this awesome, pink car on a Mews! I had to get a picture 
Not only was London and absolute blast that hardly felt like work, but it was also a bit of a vacation. I didn't have to balance day jobs with auditions, and run all over Manhattan like a crazy person trying to fit everything in. It was a slower, childlike pace of life, and just what I needed for "Spring Break."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Audition Tales

In honor of audition season, I thought it only fit to share a few anecdotes from the past weeks.

My friend Kayla said something profound the other day. We were on the 5th hour of auditioning, and had probably hit 3 or 4 that day. She looked at me and said, "You know how sometimes you go to the movies and after all the previews you can't even remember what you originally went to see? That's how I feel about auditions. What are we auditioning for right now?"
I went in for my favorite casting director, walked to the piano, and set down my binder. When I went to turn the page and open the music I had prepared, I couldn't find it. WHY hadn't I kept my finger in the right place as I walked in the room?! As I shuffled through my music in a completely silent room, I could feel the judgment on the creative team's eyes. (she's so unorganized, what a loser, is this her first audition etc etc). The CD looked at me and said, "EM! What are you trying to find?" I told him, and he proceeded to walk onto the stage and help me look through my book. We found it together, and he then re-introduced me to the room. He's such a class act, but boy was I embarrassed!
I auditioned for PCLO, one of the top 5 Summer Seasons in the country. I was hoping to sing for my audition, but they announced that they would only see non-union girls for the dance call. Oh goody. Well, I found out it was the opening combo from A Chorus Line. I have learned that one a time or two, so I decided to just go for it. I walked in the room and BAAYORK LEE was there. She wasn't just watching. She was running the audition. I was in awe. They started with "5-6-7-8" and my heart skipped a beat. Before long, everyone in  the room was clapping to the beat,and dancing their hearts out. After we had all learned the combo (10 minutes), they lined is up in groups of two, facing away from the mirror and each pair performed e combo for the creative team. Right before it was my turn, Baayork walked up to me, touched my hand, and said, "You can do this! All you need to remember is to smile your beautiful smile." like a true theatre nerd I started crying. I danced the combo with tears in my eyes. It was the perfect reminder of how blessed I am to be pursuing my dream, and doing what I love.

Kayla and me on a four-audition day.
dance shoes, check! dance clothes, check!
audition dress, check!
rep book, check!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Scorned: Love Kills

Tonight, my first television show aired. My role was tiny, but it was there... on the Discovery Channel.

Here's a link to watch if you're little scene is within the first ten minutes. Don't blink, or you'll miss it!

Living by faith, not by sight.

I've been thinking a lot about the future lately.  I feel as if I'm getting closer to booking really great gigs, which only makes the rejections more disappointing. This week I auditioned for eleven jobs in six days... One would have relocated me to Hilton Head, SC for a month this spring, one would have paid thousands of dollars and completely changed my life from a financial standpoint, and most would have just meant getting paid for what I love. I would have been happy to book any of them, but I did not.

Some of my auditions were open calls. For example, on Friday, I was signed up at 7:00 am for an audition, and was #268. At 5:15 pm, I got to sing my 16-bar cut of "A Little Bit in Love" (approximately 30 seconds). Over half of the people that signed up (Everyone after #300) didn't even get to audition. Regardless, I waited ten hours for less than a minute of time in front of the directors...600 actors waited for their minute too! This business is ridiculous. This of course was a bit crazier than a lot of my auditions...Now that I've been here for awhile, I get appointments somewhat frequently. Appointments mean at least one person involved in the production (casting director, music director, producer or someone else) is very interested in having me in the production, and wants me to audition. Of course the appointments boost the ego a bit, but more importantly they mean I get there fifteen minutes before the audition, do my thing, and leave... no long lines at 6:00 am in the cold weather, and no sitting around all day in a holding room that reeks of stinky feet and hairspray. They're a huge time saver.

Friday afternoon, as I sat in Starbucks (I had to get away from the musical theatre girls waiting at the audition studio) next to a 60-year-old looney tune who was still trying for her "big break" and thought I wanted to hear about it, I began to wonder what my goals were. Is my goal Broadway? Sure, I'd get $1600+ a week, and love my life, but I'd also do eight shows a week, rarely get a holiday, and do very little aside from eating, sleeping and performing. I started to feel huge amounts of anxiety as I thought about the ideal situation that would result from all of my hard work... Is it really worth never moving back to the South? Is it worth dealing with the constant rejection for the rest of my life? Is it worth piecing together hourly jobs of tutoring, babysitting, and waitressing to come up with rent each month?

My answer...for now, yes, and that's all that matters. While I definitely had a hard week, I have realized that my passion for the arts is still there. I'm here in my dream city, doing what I want to do, and I'm grateful for that... in the meantime, I'm going to try to not worry about the future as much, and enjoy the present. I'm going to take each audition as it comes.  I'm going to enjoy the awesome things about New York, and not the lack of Southern-ness in my life.

In her book, Jesus Calling, Sarah Young writes (from the perspective of God):
Follow me one step at a time. That is all I require of you. In fact, that is the only way to move through this space/time world. You see huge mountains looming, and you start wondering how you're going to scale those heights. Meanwhile, because you're not looking where you're going, you stumble on the easy path where I am leading you now. As I help you get back on your feet, you tell Me how worried you are about the cliffs up ahead. But you don't know what will happen today, much less tomorrow. Our path may take an abrupt turn, leading you away from those mountains.  There may be an easier way up the mountains than is visible from this distance. If I do lead you up the cliffs, I will equip you thoroughly for that strenuous climb.  I will even give My angels charge over you, to preserve you in all your ways. Keep your mind on the present journey, enjoying My Presence. Walk by faith, not by sight, trusting Me to open up the way before you. 

I am thankful that God has blessed me a passion for acting, and with the perseverance necessary to continue to pursue my dream. I am thankful that God has given me friends and mentors to help me climb the "cliffs" up ahead. Within the last six months especially, I feel like I have gotten to know more and more mentors in the city who believe in me. Some are casting directors, some are vocal coaches, and some are simply older and wiser actors who have been in my shoes years ago. They all bring different joys to my life, but the commonalities are that they are fiercely talented at what they do, they bring me up instead of tear me down, they speak honestly, and they behave with integrity. They are great examples for me, and provide constant encouragement.

One of my wonderful mentors ends her studio class by having us state a positive affirmation.

Tonight, I affirm that I am grateful for the here and now, and that I have been too blessed for the past 24 years to be stressed about the next 10.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Apartment Makeover!

This past weekend, Mom and Dad came up, and brought some decorations for my apartment. After my former roommate moved out, the walls, floors, kitchen etc. were left pretty white and bare. It didn't really feel like a home. So for Christmas, I got some decorations... rugs, tables, lamps etc. It's pretty hard to bring things to New York on an airplane, so Mom and Dad drove up!

Here's a picture of my newly renovated Living Room!

In addition to the decorating (which took up most of the weekend), we did get to see two shows, "Porgy and Bess" and "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." Audra McDonald, Norm Lewis, and Darren Criss were all fantastic. We tried to get lottery tickets for "The Book of Mormon" but as per always, didn't get them. We enjoyed restaurant week lunch at Porterhouse, and a yummy Italian dinner at Lupa. It was so nice to have them here, and to show them my life here...Brother Jimmy's, the neighborhood, Ripley-Grier Studios. Other highlights included a three-hour trip to Target and a beautiful snowfall!