----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: February 2005

The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Apropos? No.

Recently, I've noticed businesses with rather odd names. At first, I thought that the businesses were stupid for using what I believe to be inappropriate names. (Hey, this is my blog, so I get to be the judge.) Now, however, I realize the devious genius of their plans. I cannot forget the names of these businesses! I probably won't ever visit them, but I will tell you about them.

First up, I drove by a nondescript sports bar the other day. The only thing I really noticed about it was its name: "Interlude." Maybe it's just me, but Interlude does not make me think of sports. Interlude Sports Bar and Grill...mmm, it just doesn't work for me. Interlude makes me think of romance and soft lighting, not sweaty men battling for a ball. Interlude would be a nice name for a day spa, maybe, but not a sports bar. Why not Halftime, or Time Out, or Penalty Box? Perhaps those are a bit cliched, but at least they have something to do with sports.

The other weird name that caught my eye belongs to a small Mexican restaurant off I-80 on the way up to Truckee. It's called "Jimboy's Tacos." Well, call me prejudiced, but I wouldn't think a guy named Jimboy would know too much about tacos. Chicken-fried steak or roadkill stew, sure, but not Mexican cuisine. I bet Jimboy could rustle up some real good Cajun spiced possum, but I don't trust him with frijoles or flan. Also, the giant billboard for Jimboy's proclaims them to be "Best 2003!" Best what? Best bizarre name for a taco shop? Best honky pretending to be authentic?

Now I am going to be on the lookout for more strangely-named businesses. Have you seen any? Let me know!

P.S.--And what's with town slogans these days? I mean, "Fountain Valley: A Nice Place to Live"? Is that the best they could come up with? Nice is boring, people! Although, reflecting back on my visits to Fountain Valley, perhaps the slogan is apt, after all. My favorite, though, is Loomis: "A Small Town is Like a Big Family." Yep, it shore 'nuff is. Probably because the town's so small, most of you are related!

Sunday, February 20, 2005

I'm Back!

Are you ready for my fabulous news? Here it is!

In my recent "O Happy Day!" post, I let you know that I got an interview with an agent. I was very nervous, but I worked hard on my monologue and picked out a killer outfit to wear. And it all paid off! I now officially have representation!

At first, I was worried that the interview wasn't going very well. I got there on time, but the agent was having a crazy morning, and I had to wait. Then, after I waited for awhile, she called me into her office, but she still had some calls to make, so I just sat there and listened in while she called about 10 guys to get them in to a last-minute audition for a beer commercial. But I felt a tiny spark of hope when, in between calls, she said, "You may be able to tell that I like pink. [She was wearing a pink poncho.] So, I like your sweater." My husband helped me pick out what to wear, and I felt that I had chosen wisely!

Anyway, she finally finished with her calls and was all apologetic, but I really didn't mind. It was cool to see the way things worked. She then talked a lot about the business and the types of jobs that were available and how much they paid. She seemed really knowlegeable and confident and I found myself trusting her. Finally, she asked if I had a monologue. By this point, I was feeling pretty comfortable, and I gave my monologue my all. At the end, she laughed and said it was cute, which is exactly the spirit in which it was intended. Finally, she asked if I was meeting with other agents, or if I wanted to think it over or if I wanted to go ahead and sign with her. Of course I wanted to sign with her! I'd heard really great things about her from a couple of other actors, and I liked to whole vibe of the place.

So, it's a done deal. She gave me a bunch of agency stickers to put on my pictures, and I re-did all my resumes with her contact information. Now, I just have to make a bunch more of my voiceover CDs and get those out to her, since she said that there is quite a bit of work for non-union female voiceover talent right now. Of course, the ultimate goal is to get into the unions, but I need to beef up my resume first.

I feel really, really proud of myself. Working as a professional actress has been my dream for 20 years, but it's been a tortuous road. When I was eight years old, to hear my mom tell it, I was reading the newspaper and found out about an audition for a play and begged her to take me down. She did, and I was cast as the littlest Cratchit in our community's production of A Christmas Carol. I had maybe three lines, but that did it. I loved being on stage. I started auditioning for other productions and I always got a part, but since they were usually musicals and my singing is rather atrocious, I never got a very big part. Once, I was one of the top few choices for Brigitta in The Sound of Music. Not getting that part was one of the biggest disappointments of my young life...I think I cried for about four hours straight. But still, I persevered. The problem was that in 7th grade, when I could finally take drama as an elective, it conflicted with my advanced math class. I hated math and didn't want to be in that class anyway. But my counselor insisted. In 8th grade, it was the same story.

My freshman year of high school, I went to a private school, partly because of their drama department. Guess what? The year I arrived, the school cut drama. As a sophomore, I transferred back to public school and again, drama was my top choice of elective. This time, it conflicted with honors English, and I wound up in yearbook. That wasn't all bad, because it set me on the path to journalism, but I never stopped wanting to be an actress. I even took the only drama course open to non-drama majors while I was at UCLA. For a few years while I lived in L.A., I pursued acting, but first I ran up too much credit card debt, and the next time around, I had wonderful new headshots, only to be diagnosed with cancer two months later. Now finally, finally, I feel like my dreams are coming true.

Of course, I know that having an agent is no guarantee of success. Hopefully, she can get me seen by casting directors, but it's still up to me to nail the audition and book the part. But I'm a lot closer than I was. And it feels great to have a little external validation. I mean, this agent wouldn't have taken me on if she didn't think I could make money for her. And now it's my goal to prove her right! Sooo...here goes!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Entering Fabulousness

Darlings, I have wonderful news to share, but I am rushing out the door for a long weekend in the snow. You'll just have to wait with bated breath until I return on Monday. Sorry for being such a tease, but it will be worth it!

Monday, February 14, 2005

O Happy Day!

I was on site doing some freelance work today, which is why I had my cell phone turned off. I was also quite busy, which is why I was not obsessively checking for missed calls. Maybe that was my lucky charm, because at about 3:30, I realized that my little red message light was flashing. And lo and behold, it was a call from an agent who wants to meet with me! I am so, so excited. Of course, this is no guarantee that I will get to sign with said agent, but I'm glad I at least have the opportunity to show them my stuff. My meeting is on Wednesday morning...I'd better get to work brushing up my monologue!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Yay for Valentine's Day! My dear husband and I didn't celebrate much today, but we had a fancy night out on the town last night. We went to a restaurant that was holding a special food and wine pairing and we got to taste all different vintages of Paraduxx wine, one of my favorites. And he actually got dressed up, which is always a special treat for me. He's usually a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy, so when he breaks out the suit, it's definitely a noteworthy occasion.

Today, my sweetie started his new job and I had a freelance assignment, but he gave me a heart-shaped box of See's Nuts and Chews (yummy!) and I gave him a sappy "to my husband" Valentine's card, along with a subscription to a new magazine he's interested in. Mostly, though, my Valentine's day gift is just getting to come home to the man I love.

P.S.--I want to give a special congratulations to my friends S. and G., who got engaged on Friday night. I wish them both much happiness, and Greg and I were both glad we got to celebrate the momentous occasion with them over the weekend. Love is in the air!

Friday, February 11, 2005

An Observation

I live in a quiet, boring suburban neighborhood, a far cry from the noise, traffic and homeless people that populated my West L.A. neighborhood. Today, we had a flock of wild turkeys wander through our yard. And we also see deer a lot. Although we are less than a mile from the freeway and only about a 35-minute drive from S.F., it is very dull here. It's families and AYSO and pizza party fundraisers. A great place to raise kids, but not such a great place to spend your 20s. But rent's cheap, my husband has an easy commute, and we're trying to save for a house. Anyway, it's mostly life as usual.

That's why this semed so odd to me...someone in our condo complex drives an old gold Buick. Now, in and of itself, that would be unremarkable. But today, this Buick was parked next to my boring Toyota mom-type sedan, and I glanced over and noticed that the steering wheel cover was made of snakeskin. Snakeskin! Who is this person with a snakeskin steering wheel cover? What sort of fascinating interior life does he or she lead? I mean, the woman who drives a beige Toyota Camry and puts The Club on her steering wheel even when she's parked in her own driveway and spreads plastic over her garage floor before she pulls the car in--now that says "suburbs" to me. The snakeskin steering wheel cover does not. I am intrigued.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Make it Stop!

I have had a headache for two weeks now. I cannot make it go away. Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Vicodin, expensive prescription migraine medications--nothing works. (Maxalt is $10 a pill. I want my money back.) I went to the doctor today, but alas, she was as frustrated as I am. She told me to have my eyes checked and stop one of the medications that another doctor prescribed recently. If the headache is not gone by Monday, I'm supposed to email her. But I actually have fun stuff to do this weekend. How am I supposed to enjoy it when my head keeps hurting?

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that it's just stress. Well, I do my best to manage my stress with a healthy diet, regular exercise, plenty of sleep, lots of water, blah, blah, blah. What more can I do? My headache isn't quite bad enough to keep me from functioning, but it does put me in a very cranky mood and it makes it difficult for me to focus. And I get dizzy sometimes. And my sense of taste is off. Wheee! It's fun to have a "delicate constitution."

P.S. No word from any other agents. No acceptances, no rejections. I feel like I'm back in high school, waiting to hear from colleges. Only this time, if I get a fat envelope back in the mail, that's bad news. At least when I start my new job, I'll have less time to obsess over all this.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Gainfully Employed Once More

I got a job offer today. Not an acting job offer, unfortunately, but a real, legitimate, well-paying job offer. I haven't formally accepted yet, but I plan to tomorrow. The people seem nice, it's a good amount of responsibility and it's in journalism, the field I actually earned my master's degree in. Plus, I'll be making the most money I've ever made. I know I should be really, really excited. But mainly, I just feel relieved. Relieved that we'll be able to pay our bills and actually save some money for a change!

So why am I not jumping for joy? Precisely because it's not an acting job. Call me crazy, call me naive, but when I sent out all my headshots, I really thought that this was it, that I would find an agent and start auditioning and actually start to make some money as an actress. I know it's not that easy or that quick, but I felt like I was really prepared this time. I also know that just because I have this job doesn't mean that I won't be able to work as an actress, should I get an agent and start having some auditions. I just won't have such a flexible schedule.

All in all, it's really for the best, though. I think I will like working for this company, and I think I'll like my coworkers. I won't be writing about them, of course, since I have learned my lesson that blogging and working should not mix. But it seems like a growing company, and they are very excited about hiring me. It's great to be wanted. And the money is very welcome, indeed. It's also a much better career move for me than my last horrible job was. So I guess it all works out. I think I'll be more excited once I actually start, too. And as for the acting thing, who knows what will happen? I'll just have to see how it plays out. So yay! I am once again a productive member of society!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

I Spoke Too Soon...

Alas, in one of my last posts, I said that at least no agents had sent my materials back yet. Well, I hadn't checked the mail that day, and once I did, it became clear that I had spoken too soon. There, like a reproach, was the self-addressed stamped envelope, fat with my rejected headshots and voiceover CD. The agency had inserted a form letter, but they hadn't even listened to my CD...it was still in the bubble wrap! I was disappointed mainly because this was an agency that had called in my friend for an interview, so I thought they were open to new talent. However, I recently saw that they had advertised for fit models ONLY on Craigslist, so maybe that's all they need right now. Or maybe they already had my "type." Or maybe they just thought I sucked.

I was very depressed about that rejection, and it was only compounded on Saturday, when yet another white envelope was waiting for me. I was actually grateful that there's no mail on Sunday...at least it spaces out the rejection a little. I was beginning to feel like a failure, I told my husband. He basically told me to buck up, that this wasn't some great disaster, that I couldn't expect everyone to want me, that several agencies still have my materials and may still be considering me. That's true, of course. But I am beginning to fear that no agency will want me, and then where will I be? It's hard to find auditions in this area...Backstage West lists mostly L.A. jobs, Craigslist is full of porn ads, and other online information is hopelessly out of date. I feel like my dream may be dying on the vine, if that's not too overdramatic an image. But if this is truly what I want, I must persevere through adversity! Ad astra per aspera! Onward...upward! Exclamation points make me feel a little better!

In other news, I have a third job interview at the same company tomorrow. Let's hope something good comes of it...

Friday, February 04, 2005


I actually had a nice, easy day as a sixth-grade sub yesterday. First period was P.E., which I wasn't exactly dressed for. Luckily, I didn't have to do any running around. That always seemed so hypocritical to me in middle school and high school. The P.E. teachers tortured us, but they just got to stand around in their nylon pants with their whistles and clipboards. I didn't get a whistle and clipboard, but that was fine by me.

Second period, I had a prep period, so I got to read my new novel--Jonathan Kellerman is always good for a little brain candy. Then it was break. Then I had the "publications" class of eighth-graders who pretty much did their own thing with no guidance from me, as per the absent teacher's instructions. Then I had a social studies class. They had to read silently for 10 minutes (and really, what about "silent reading" is so hard for children to grasp? It means, don't talk!), and then they watched The Prince of Egypt. How nice that animated films are being used to entertain and inform today's youth. Forget about primary sources, like, oh, I don't know...the Bible! I mean, I'm all for separation of church and state, and I realize that you can't make kids read the Bible in class, but if you want students to learn about Moses and his interaction with the people of Egypt, is a Disney flick really the most educational way to go? Whatever. Anything to get them to soak up a little knowledge, I guess. And really, who doesn't love a nice duet between Pharaoh Ramses and Moses?

Then, it was time for lunch from 11:40 to 12:15. Honestly, who eats that early? But it wasn't that big a deal for me, because after lunch, I had another prep period. Yay! More free time. And finally, I ended the day with a language arts class, where the students were supposed to read a story and answer the questions at the end. Many of them attempted to answer the questions without reading the story, but their work was so clearly wrong that I made them redo it. Maybe I should have just let them turn in their wrong answers, but I thought that if they had work to do, maybe they would talk less. Ha! But at least they made more of an effort the second time around.

I got called by the Subfinder again last night, but the assignment was for a P.E. teacher at the high school, so I had to decline. Yes, I needed the money, but here's the thing: I am 28 years old, but I still get carded on a regular basis, whether I'm having dinner with my family or buying a nice bottle of wine at the store. My 25-year-old brother, however, never gets carded. So, I look young. And while I can project an air of authority when I'm up in front of a class in my conservative slacks and sweater, I am far less confident of my ability to do so while in workout clothes and sneakers on the field with a bunch of high-school kids. Plus, high school guys sometimes think it's funny to try and fluster the sub by making inappropriate comments about her appearance (i.e., telling her she's hot). I was not in the mood to deal, so I declined the job. Besides, I hated P.E. when I was in school. Why would I want to re-live it as a sub?

Some Good News

The good news isn't from any agents, unfortunately. But on the upside, at least I haven't had anyone return my materials in the self-addressed, stamped envelope I so thoughtfully provided, either. Patience is a virtue. Perhaps I need to write that out 100 times over the weekend.

Anyway, the good news is that I have been called back for a third job interview at one company. I hope they're not just playing games with me. Also, I have been approached about another job opening at a different company. Perhaps not the most scintillating work, but it would probably pay well. And finally, I have been invited to a photo casting at a company that provides "real people" for advertising photo shoots. Obviously, none of these events are any assurance that I will actually get a job, but it's nice to be wanted.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


We've been having beautiful weather lately and I've managed to get outside to enjoy the sunshine, but I think it must take a while for the sun to interact with your brain chemistry and improve your mood, because I still feel as depressed as I did when it was gray and gloomy outside. I feel like I have nothing to look forward to. I was so excited to send out all my headshots and voiceover CDs, but now I am beset with fear. What if all the agents hate me? What if no one even wants to meet with me? Then what? Is it the end of my dream? Do I go to law school, as my father urges? I haven't heard anything from the agents, but they probably only received my packages today. Instant gratification! That's what I want!

At least I will be making a small amount of money tomorrow--I'm substitute teaching for sixth graders at the local middle school. I think I'm going to have some math classes, too, which is frightening, because it's been a looong time since I've done math. The kids are probably better at it than I am! Better bring my calculator. Maybe I can use my acting skills to fake it.

My father also thinks that I should write a book or pitch this blog as a column to our local newspaper. I am glad that he holds my writing skills in such esteem, but I am crippled with self-doubt. This is really just an online diary for me, and if it occasionally amuses the reader, so much the better. But I don't really think I could be amusing for a mass audience. And while I would love to write a book, it seems so overwhelming! Books are so long! Honestly, I get enough rejection as a freelance writer and an actress. Do I really want to take on any more by trying to get a book published?

Okay, I think I've indulged in enough pity and doubt for one evening. As Scarlett O'Hara might say, "I won't think about that just now. I'll think about that tomorrow." And maybe tomorrow will be a better day.