Monday, 18 February 2013

California Dreamin' (Or: That Time I Ate My Way Through LA)

Almost a year ago today - or, a year ago from Wednesday - my BFF, Mike, and I took off on a very early flight from Bellingham to Los Angeles. What seemed like hours and 18 flight connections later (that might be an exaggeration, but seriously, 3 flights for a straight trip down the coast seemed a little excessive) we arrived in sunny, dreamy California! This trip was our chance to get away, get a little sun and get a taste for life in LA as newby actors.

I had already taken a "suss things out" trip a few months earlier with my mom, and checked out a few studios for potential classes. Based on my research from that trip, I had already signed up for a couple classes before arriving there the second time. This time, I had a two week intensive (focused mainly on auditioning) with other international students, and a two day sitcom workshop to look forward to! It was very exciting indeed!

I hadn't left myself too much time to panic once I arrived there, since my intensive started the next day. I booked it down to West Hollywood - or, as I got cooler, WeHo - to Margie Haber's Studio! If you're planning on taking classes with Margie, you should know her studio is located on Santa Monica Blvd and La Cienega...I say this because A. it's totally a cool area, and B. La Cienega is really hard to say, and can come out as something offensive if pronounced practice that.

The course was the International Studies Program. So in my class, we had students coming from Ireland, Sweden, Canada (woot), Australia, Hong Kong, France, Germany know...Miami. When you stick a bunch of people from different countries in a new city, and join them together in classes that usually run about 8 hours a've pretty much got a group of people who are going to become very good friends, very quickly. So, while I learned a lot about acting and all that stuff...this is a list of really awesome things I got to do with really awesome people:

-Go see The Groundlings Improv
-Eat delicious salads (and cookies) daily from Trader Joe's
-Learn that homeless people in LA are a little less friendly than those in Vancouver
-Eat free pancakes at IHop
-Ride the ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier
-Drink cheap wine in my WeHo (see what I did there?) hotel room
-Drink sake with a MoTown legend. No big deal.
-Walk down Hollywood Blvd and try to convince the Oscar's officials that we were "Media"
-Go to Margie Haber's annual Oscar-Viewing party at her house!!
-Party/inadvertant slumber party/greasy-hangover-curing breakfast, with awesome people

(Our group at Margie's house for the Oscar's!)

There are so many amazing memories from all of the random, fun things we did! As far as my first intensive went, I learned so much about myself as a person and an actor. I really had to learn to push myself and get out of my comfort zone. No more Taylor Hesitatings. And the results of breaking out of my usual "think first...and then think 17 more times...and then maybe do" routine, were incredible! I got some feedback from our various teachers that really set me on the right path to moving forward. It meant that in future auditions, I could leave behind all of the energy I used to waste on wondering if I was good enough, and put it towards just doing my work!

It was a gruelling two weeks, but it was well worth it. By the end of it, we had met about 4 really great teachers, and had read for agents and casting directors! It was incredible! And with class over, our new family in LA had more time to continue to bond. And bond we did! Although, there wasn't a ton of down time between then and my next workshop.

The workshop was a sitcom class, taught by the hilarious (and ginormous!) Brad Garrett...he played Ray's brother on Everybody Loves Raymond. (Oh yeah. I just name dropped. It might happen again) This class was awesome! When it came time for each of us to introduce ourselves, I, in the spirit of comedy, claimed that I was taking this course because I had decided it was time to transition out of porn. Yep. So if you're looking to make an impression...but, you know, a good impression...I'd go with a different opener. Luckily, for me, he had a good sense of humour and gave me a laugh. He also gave me some very encouraging feedback!

The day after that class was over, I was all done in LA and heading to Puerto Vallairta to join up with my mom, aunt and uncle to take some beach-time to process everything that had just's a tough life.

I find myself reminiscing constantly over my few weeks spent in LaLa Land. It was the experience of  a lifetime, and I still have very strong connections to the people I met there. It was a chance for me to see a new city (one that I plan on visiting again very soon!), learn more of my craft from new faces, build up some amazing, really sleezy name dropping stories (did I mention I was in class with one of the Supremes, met Sophia Bush and partied with a former child star? I didn't? Ok good...because that would be really tacky if I bragged about those!) and learn to take care of myself a bit. I fell in love with LA...and am currently looking for an American husband so I can go back and stay*! Thanks to everybody who made it so wonderful for me :)

Here's a little, wonderful video one of my classmates, Amy, made for all of us!

*If you work for the government in any way or whatever...I'm totally joking. Ha..ha..!