3 Concerning Weight Loss Stories

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Demi Moore is looking thin and frail in recent public appearances. Her protruding chest bones are being featured in the news the day before her 49th birthday while rumors surrounding the state of her marriage to Ashton Kutcher abound. In late September, Sara Leal, a party girl from San Diego claimed she hooked up with Kutcher the night before his sixth wedding anniversary. A friend of Moore’s told Us Weekly, “[Demi’s] very upset, and hasn’t been eating. It’s taking a toll.” If this is true, this reported thinness appears to be the result of a personal trauma.

LeAnne Rimes similarly has been featured in the press recently for looking bonier than ever meanwhile constantly reassuring fans about her weight. The 29-year-old singer says rumors of an eating disorder are entirely unfounded, “I work out and take care of myself, and not in an over-obsessive way. People are calling me bulimic or anorexic and these are real issues and diseases that I don’t have.”

Adriana Lima who recently revealed her diet secret since August. Before strutting down the runway, this stunning Brazilian beauty says she works out intensely twice a day along with following a diet of non-solid foods. And before a show, she asserts she has “no liquids at all so you dry out, sometimes you can lose up to eight pounds just from that.”

The pressure that young people and actors face to achieve the perfect figure when they see ultra-thin celebrities as the norm and the ideal to aspire to is significant. These unrealistic images saturate our culture and contribute to eating disorders, which can be life threatening. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in America–and 95% of those are between the ages of 12 and 25. Twenty-five percent of college-aged women engage in bingeing and purging as a weight-management technique. And the mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all other causes of death for females 15-24 years old. The depressing statistics of eating disorders only gets worse the more you look into them. Clearly, this is a very real problem which should not be marginalized.

thumbnail-1.aspxSo what’s an actor to do? Auditioning for choice roles can require a certain look, but with that it requires ample energy and vitality. Just remember what’s most alluring and attractive is a healthy body and state of mind. Being healthy in mind and body is helpful to all career options, but with the emotional demands placed on actors, this is particularly crucial. And with the media so relentlessly inspecting for any changes in weight, an actor needs emotional fortitude over the long run to withstand the glare of the spotlight.

How do you keep a balanced outlook on weight as you strive in your acting career?

The Dreaded Bad Audition

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"Like, you know things are bad when your central nervous system is quitting on you and you're in an audition..."--Ryan Reynolds

“I’ve had a wonderful time, but this wasn’t it.” —Groucho Marx

Everybody has bad auditions. Some believe in biorhythms, others say certain foods affect our moods and ability to concentrate, or maybe you just had an argument with a family member and are experiencing a lack of confidence—the list goes on.

Always remember this: you are not defined by a bad performance. Rather, your drive and talent define you as an actor. And really, there is no other teacher like failure.

Yes, failure can be a good thing–as long as you’re open to the lesson, and don’t beat yourself up unnecessarily. When you have a bad audition, it’s important to check in with yourself and examine what really went wrong. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself. Maybe you allowed someone in the room to throw you off. Or you partied too hard the night before. Or you didn’t prepare. Maybe you simply need to develop a thicker skin to succeed in this profession. While it’s certainly difficult for all of us to take responsibility for our own attitudes, words and actions, keep in mind there’s freedom on the other side of that challenge. Because you’re not perfect–none of us are–so forgive yourself for being human … and keep auditioning!

What’s your worst or most embarrassing audition story?

For celebriity audititons gone bad, click here.



Make the Most of Your Skills

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“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” –Arthur Ashe

Don’t ever underestimate what you bring to the table in this industry. The various hobbies, interests, and skills you’ve gathered throughout your life may very well enhance your chances of working as an actor.

Take, for instance, Richard Farnsworth, who portrayed the sheriff in Misery and starred in The Straight Story. He was working as a stable hand at a polo field when he was offered a job as a stuntman in films like the Marx Brothers’ classic, A Day at the Races. He appeared in horse racing scenes without being credited in several movies including Gone with the Wind, which launched him into stunt work doubling for stars like Roy Rogers and Gary Cooper. After over 30 years in the business, he moved into acting where his warmth and ease won him an Academy Award nomination for his role in Comes a Horseman.

Danny Trejo was a child drug addict, a criminal, and  in and out of jail for 11 years. In San Quentin State Prison, he became the California prison boxing champion in both the lightweight and welterweight divisions. In 1985 Trejo was offered the role of a boxer in the prison escape drama Runaway Train. “Can you act like a convict?” he was asked. “I thought it was the funniest thing I’d ever heard, I’d been in prison most of my life.” Since then, Danny has become a prolific actor in films such as Machete and Desperado, as well as making TV guest appearances on top-rated shows like Breaking Bad.

Channing Tatum parlayed his work as an exotic dancer in Tampa Florida into a leading role in the dance movie phenomenon Step Up. The Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller starred as Tarzan the Ape Man due to his formidable body and prowess in the water. And the recently deceased Bubba Smith started his career as a bone-crushing defensive end, and ended it as the beloved Moses Hightower in six Police Academy movies.

Whether you’re a chess enthusiast, computer programmer, post modern painter, or ping pong dorm champion, chances are your skill will dovetail nicely with a cool film or TV project out there.  But make sure to keep your resume up to date, because if casting directors aren’t aware of your prodigious skills, they ain’t gonna know to call you in for the job!

Memorizing by Role—Not by Rote

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If you’ve ever felt anxious looking over your character’s lines, wondering how on earth you’ll ever be able to cram all those words into your brain and retrieve them when the pressure of an expecting audience looms, here are some helpful tips.

As an actor who is being required to memorize lines, realize you have the advantage of playing a role. So, instead of going over lines as you sit in a rehearsal room, try saying your lines as you roughly stage the scenes—without sets or costumes. Michael Boyd, the artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, believes once dialogue is entered into an actor’s brain, the words are like “broken bits of memory” requiring a combination of memory, emotions, and movement to be reached. Thus, give yourself physical cues, and learn your required motion (i.e., walking into the living room with a snicker on your face) to assist your brain in recalling the information.

Also, remember that you are ultimately communicating with an audience. Boyd suggests to say your lines aloud to somebody as much as possible–even when you’re just starting out.

And then, make the lines your own, allowing yourself to become that character in that particular situation, using those specific words. This internalization of the role will help transport you into the proverbial zone.

For more detail about this topic, please click here.

Free Zombie Training This Weekend

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Is the horror genre recession proof? Paranormal Activity 3 is number one at the box office and just grossed $52.6M in its first week. The force of horror is undeniable as it consistently thrives despite never quiet doing well with critics. Why are we so fascinated with ghosts, boogiemen, ghouls, and creeps? Well, if you’ve ever wanted to star in a horror flick, or if you’ve been dying to make like the undead and take over downtown, now’s your chance to get in on some serious zombie action. The Long Beach Zombie Walk will be held on Saturday, October 29, 2011—and they’re marching to break the world record! The current world record stands at a staggering 4,800 zombies in Seattle, WA. In Long Beach this weekend, the gates will open at 2 p.m. where music, vendors, food, and over a hundred make-up artists are eagerly awaiting to turn you into a soulless corpse. The Dead Man’s After Party and haunted house might be worth teetering into as well. But it’s the Zombie Walk at 8 p.m. where you can help make world history. For more details, visit http://zombiewalklb.com/.

And, if you’re just not that into zombies, you might want to cuddle up at home this weekend with some thrilling, spine-chilling movies. Check out CNN’s listing of spook-tacular shows you can watch on the tube this weekend.


Life Lessons from a Morgue

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Six months ago, Lindsay Lohan was given community service in a morgue with duties including mopping floors, stocking restrooms, and washing sheets. She was apparently spared cleaning actual crypts where the bodies are stored. If the reality of a fading career was not evident to Lohan at such a lowly point, will her returning for 16 more hours of service at the same morgue have a real impact on her psyche? Lindsay was once a child star with all the possibilities in the world ahead of her, when she’s now struggling to get work in a very tough business. Robert Downey Jr. and Winona Ryder have managed to come back after problems with the law, but in order to do so, they made a deliberate choice to regain focus, energy, and professionalism. And a tried and tested rehabilitation process includes comic appearances in lighthearted films, sitcoms, or satirical shows like Saturday Night Live. Getting back into the public’s favor is doable when you show you have a sense of humor and are in control of your life again.

Speaking of taking control of one’s life, let’s look at another child star, Natalie Portman. Portman burst on the scene at the ripe old age of 12 with a heartfelt and nuanced performance in The Professional. She’s since starred in over 30 films and recently won the Oscar for her blistering performance in Black Swan. Natalie attributes her success to “wanting to be a positive role model.”

Let’s face it, not just anyone has the talent of Natalie Portman, but there are clearly lessons to be learned from such a serious and focused professional; something Lindsay would be wise to open herself to. We’re given only so many opportunities in this life and in this business; here’s to making the most of every opportunity out there—starting with learning life lessons from a morgue. And here’s to Lindsay getting back to work!

Actors Who Didn’t Let Shyness Stop Them

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Lucille Ball’s teachers at the Anderson dramatic school probably thought they were doing her a favor when they advised her that she was “too shy” and would never make it in show business. Fortunately, Ball did not take these words to heart, and she went on to become The Queen of Comedy as well as a television pioneer. Ball once said, “One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore faith in yourself.”

Tom Cruise struggled with shyness and dyslexia as a child. His family had to move a lot as well, so he was continually uprooted from schools, which limited his ability to form lasting friendships. Cruise said, “Because I grew up in so many different places, I was used to rumors [about me]. You know, I didn’t have the right shoes, I didn’t have the right clothes. I even had the wrong accent.” He credits his mother with helping him learn to survive and overcome, insisting, “People can create their own lives.”

Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks are also known to have suffered through painful shyness as well. So the next time you doubt yourself before an audition, remember you’re not alone. Don’t allow those feelings stop you. Instead, keep your posture upright, breathe, emphasize the positive, and give yourself credit for your bravery. Lucille Ball maintained, “I’m not funny. What I am is brave.”

Once you habitually change your way of thinking to emphasize the positive, your confidence will blossom.

Playing a Liar?

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What draws us to movies like The Ides of March, A Few Good Men, and The Graduate? Drama speaks to us largely because it taps into an inherent truth of life: Sometimes we tell the truth, and sometimes we lie. Research suggests people are lied to between 10 to 200 times a day. And that stranger you just spoke to for 10 minutes? Chances are you both lied to each other 3 times.

As an actor, what tools do you have in your arsenal when playing the part of a lying character? Deceptive speech patterns, revealing body language, and deceitful attitudes intrigue us, and have inspired many books, as well as TV shows like Lie to Me. According to the author of Liespotting, Pamela Meyer claims we all resort to essentially the same behaviors–some counterintuitive–when we seek to deceive. Whether we speak a tad more formally, give too much detail, freeze our upper bodies, peer just a little too deeply into someone’s eyes, or smile in “duping delight,” we give ourselves away. To capture an authentic lie when you are performing, it may help to see a breakdown of what actually occurs to an individual when he or she lies. Likewise, you can explore the subtleties people use when they are speaking honestly, and with decency. To hear Meyer’s revealing talk (and to hear why people hesitate to befriend her) click here:



Christopher Walken and a Note on Inflection

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There’s no one quite like Christopher Walken. With his unusual speaking manner and fresh take on body language, his command over his characters keeps audiences captured whether they’re disturbed, frightened or laughing.

How does he do it? He has often spoken about habitually taking liberties with the punctuation on scripts he receives:

“I use punctuation, but I finish the sentence and put [in] a period but it’s not necessarily where somebody else would. I think everybody should talk the way they want. You go to school and you all sit there and all learn to do the same thing. I guess it’s necessary, but it’s too bad also in a way. Kids, you know, get kind of restrained in a lot of ways. I probably wouldn’t get a job as an English teacher.”

“I have this theory about words. There’s a thousand ways to say ‘Pass the salt.’ It could mean, you know, ‘Can I have some salt?’ or it could mean, ‘I love you.’ It could mean, ‘I’m very annoyed with you.’ Really, the list could go on and on. Words are little bombs, and they have a lot of energy inside them.”

Whether you’re reading from a cue card at a commercial audition, or memorizing your lines from a script, consider Walken’s advice: “… Start to say your lines and if it sounds right, usually I stick with that. If it sounds right, it probably is right.”

Follow Your Passion

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Steve Jobs personifies an enormous source of pride for our nation; his passing has ignited our interest to investigate what made him such a success. His quotes serve as inspirations for anyone striving for excellence in any career. Throughout his career, he stated that passion was the driving force behind his ingenuity, hard work, persistence, aim to serve, and overall success.

When he was fired from Apple Computers in 1985, he did some soul searching and realized he was “in love” with his work with computers. In his 2005 Stanford University commencement speech, he stated the only way to do great work is to “Love what you do…Keep looking; don’t settle.” He added, most importantly to “..have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become—everything else is secondary.” His other quotes about passion include:

“I was worth over $1,000,000 when I was 23, and over $10,000,000 when I was 24, and over $100,000,000 when I was 25, and it wasn’t that important because I never did it for the money.”

“When I hire somebody really senior, competence is the ante. They have to be really smart. But the real issue for me is, Are they going to fall in love with Apple? Because if they fall in love with Apple, everything else will take care of itself.
 They’ll want to do what’s best for Apple, not what’s best for them, what’s best for Steve, or anybody else.”

Apple is the preferred platform in the entertainment industry, and it certainly has provided us at Casting Frontier a remarkable foundation to offer our technological services. We are grateful to Steve Jobs’ contributions, and hope his words invigorate your career as an actor.