cindy chu under the table

5 Things You Can Do For Your Acting Career

Yesterday was a great day, I had a meeting with my new manager that left me feeling inspired and empowered, and then my friend had a one-woman show at the Comedy Central Stage in Hollywood. I went to it only knowing it was a dark comedy about wanting to die and I left, moved to tears, heart aching, stones in my throat. Another inspiring moment. From the sound of that, you might think, “Wow, actors have it easy in LA!” But let’s clear up some misconceptions. The reason I had a meeting was because my former manager switched career tracks and is doing something else now, and that left me in a weird space where maybe I was still with the same company but with no attachment to one particular manager, which meant I’d feel like I was just that kid who hung around a party wanting to be invited in but not knowing if I was welcome. So I asked for things to be clarified with my new contact and he set up a meeting to get to know me and see about working together. We meshed well and know more about one another now and I’m really excited to move forward with the company now, knowing he knows where I’m at and I know where they are in this whole process.

Michaela Myers' stage setup for her one-woman show I Am Vertical, performed at the Comedy Central Stage in Hollywood

Michaela Myers’ stage setup for her one-woman show I Am Vertical, performed at the Comedy Central Stage in Hollywood

Actress Michaela Myers

Regarding my friend’s show, her name is Michaela Myers, she’s incredibly smart, funny, gorgeous, and wow, is she talented! I actually just made her acquaintance recently, in the last few months. I had gotten into the improv comedy scene this year and ended up joining a bunch of different Facebook groups for comedy in LA. On one of them, I saw a request for submissions for a new comedic web series, starring women, & written and directed by women, which is what we need more of in this industry! There wasn’t that much information but I submitted and they got back to me and told me they wanted me to read for a particular character, and asked for a self-tape first. After that, they asked me to come in for a callback in person, and I did, and they ended up wanting to book me for the part. Now, most of you already know a lot of these web series are deferred payment. So you have to decide for yourself whether or not it will be a good project to be a part of, or not. I asked for other projects they’d worked on and they sent me some clips, which got me really excited because they were well-produced and funny, so I signed on. Through that whole process, I met so many incredible people, movers and shakers, and good people to know. I added to my tribe. I learned a lot. I got to be a lead on a show, and have that experience, AND make all sorts of new connections. (Read about our webseries.)

A behind the scenes shot from Under the Table web series. Ashaki Ayoka adjusting a light as DP Nathan Krauss scopes out his shot

A behind the scenes shot from Under the Table web series. Ashaki Ayoka adjusting a light as DP Nathan Krauss scopes out his shot

cindy chu under the table

My co-star on Under the Table, Maggie Monk, took this shot of me massaging Pam with my feet while we were hurrying up and waiting for our next scene

But let’s get back to Michaela. She’s been in the comedy scene. She decided to do a one-woman show and through her network she was able to work with an incredible director to help her put her show together. She made the crowd laugh until our ribs hurt, and then she took us into her deep hole of despair and cry with her, and brought us back to the light of love and laughter. But you know what? She wasn’t even SAG when I started working with her on our web series. Through doing the show (and the producer doing the paperwork PROPERLY) she’s now SAG-Eligible. And she has no representation, but I think after last night, people will be knocking on her door. She has talent. She can write. She can act. She can do comedy, and drama, and dramedy. Even though she didn’t have representation, she was still making her own content and producing for herself, and going out for projects like our webseries, because it’s all part of the experience and process, and all of that can help you become a better artist, a better actor.

Cindy Chu, Michaela Myers, Maggie Monk with their cash on set of Under the Table

Cindy Chu, Michaela Myers, Maggie Monk with their cash on set of Under the Table

So with all of that being said, let’s get back to it. Many aspiring actors take off and move to Los Angeles or New York to make it big and go for their dreams. Many of us don’t have a good network in place or we may not even know what to do when we get there. Here are some important tips that I’ve learned through trial and error and I’m here to share them with you. Here are 5 things you can implement right now.

1) DON’T JUST WAIT FOR OPPORTUNITIES, MAKE YOUR OWN, & BUILD YOUR TRIBE
You’re going to hear this over and over again. Produce your own content. Write. Film. Put it on Vine or YouTube! You can use your actor friends to collaborate with! Consumer cameras and technology have grown so much that you can self-produce professional looking videos pretty easily. Don’t worry if it’s not great to begin with, the more you do it, the better you’ll get.

2) MAKE SURE YOUR REELS/HEADSHOTS/PROFILES ARE UP TO DATE
Take some time to make sure your various casting site profiles are up to date and if you have new footage you can use for your reels, get those reels cut and updated! Did you perhaps fill out your profile with a bunch of skills you don’t actually have? Go through and make sure you didn’t say you can polka if you can’t actually do it! Don’t put stuff on there just to fill your profile up. Keep it clean and concise and true. I’ve heard so many stories of actors being hired for a “special skill” they listed and they show up to set and aren’t able to perform. They not only make themselves look unprofessional but in turn it looks bad for the casting directors, too. You definitely don’t want to burn bridges that way.
Check out my IMDB page to view my recently updated reels.

3) ARE YOU ON THE RIGHT SITES?
For Los Angeles, if you’re doing commercial and theatrical work, you should have profiles on LACasting, Actors Access, and Casting Frontier. Lesser used ones would be NowCasting and Backstage. If you’re self-submitting, I recommend you pay for a year of Showfax rather than paying submission by submission, it’ll save you money to pay for the subscription and be able to self-submit as much as you want.

4) RESEARCH PROJECTS YOU’RE GOING IN FOR
Are you self-submitting? Are you getting audition appointments from your reps? Know who you’re going in for. What genre is the show? What else have they cast before? For those newer to the game, are these people legitimate or is it going to be a crap shoot? If you watch projects the producing/directing team has made before, and they’re indie, do they look like good projects to be a part of? Your time is like money, and you want to make sure you invest it wisely.

5) PREPARATION PREPARATION PREPARATION
Are you preparing as well as you should for your audition? Do you know the story you’re going to tell in the room? Do you know what your character perspective is? Practice with your actor friends and not your dog or boyfriend or girlfriend (unless they’re an actor, hehe) so that when you go in, you’re ready. If you’re bad at improv, get into an improv class (UCB, Nerdist, iOWest, Groundlings, Second City) and start a practice group outside of class. Do some indie shows. If you’re not in an ongoing acting class, get into one. It’s a bad idea to come here counting on making it overnight, because it takes a lot of hard work and talent and acting is just like any other art. You wouldn’t expect an architect to build a solid house on his/her first try, or a photographer to be able to shoot like Mario Testino right away, you’ve got to hone your skills before you can become a master of your craft.

These are just some basic things you can start with, and I’ll be posting more about other facets of the acting industry as a fellow up-and-coming actor. My hope is that I can save some of you time and money and a headache by giving you some real advice that maybe I learned the hard way, so it’ll be easier for you.

We didn’t pick an easy industry, but we’re doing it for whatever reason, so let’s do it well!

What other topics would you like to hear about? If you have any questions or comments, please comment below!

~Cindy

cindy chu, under the table

After our last shoot day on Under The Table, all the wonderful cast and crew there that day! I feel so lucky to know them all! Top Row L to R: Jessie Hixenbaugh, Andra Whipple, Reed Burkett, Denise Valentine, Gabriela Varley. Seated on Sofa L to R: Lauren Davis, Cindy Chu, Maggie Monk, Nathan Krauss. Seated on floor L to R: Grace Earley, Michaela Myers, Hanna Bowens, and Pam (also featured in portrait above sofa)

Spring Growth

Spring is officially in full bloom, well, at least here in sunny Southern California! Even the tulips are blooming in the colder states like Michigan. My career is also starting to bloom, or so I hope! In the time since my last post, my episode of Those Who Kill finally aired on A&E, although the series was pulled after the first two episodes. It will now return on Lifetime instead.  My featured role as a Model in Limo on abc’s Mixology also aired recently. Here are some screen caps of my appearances:

Cindy Chu, Those Who Kill

Cindy Chu on ‘Those Who Kill’

Cindy Chu, abc, Mixology

Cindy Chu on ‘Mixology’

I also booked my first commercial job in LA, appearing as a rock climber in a print ad.  Here I am with my fellow models.

Cindy Chu, rock climbing, stronghold, la

Rock Climbing print ad at Stronghold Gym in downtown LA

This week I started a 4-week audition technique intensive class at the ever popular Margie Haber Studio.  I’m studying under Courtney Burr and our first session went great!  Can’t wait to go back tonight and learn more.

I’ve been attending workshops and manager meetings, and I hope to sign with either a manager or theatrical agent in the next few months.  Hollywood is a tough egg to crack.  Self-esteem and confidence are always good things to work on in this industry, especially, and I am feeling more of both after working on a photo shoot recently…

My photographer friend Mioara Dragan (who works between Detroit and LA) was in town for LA Fashion Week last month, and we found this contest for Free People, where they would select a photographer, stylist, and model to come to NY for a photo shoot, and we wanted to do something for it.  We decided in some of her spare time we would style some shots and I would play the model.  I was stunned with the results!  She captured me in the way I imagine myself at my best, not knowing I could ever appear that way in real life.  Here are the images, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.  Maybe I’ll stop scoffing now when people ask me if I model.  😉  Oh, and if you’re in need of some head shots, or a wedding photographer, or whatever your needs are, she is incredibly talented and I highly recommend her.

Alright, those are my big updates for now!  My Macbook is about to die so until next time.

xoxo

~c

Entering the Year of the Horse

A happy belated 2014 to all of you, my dear readers!  I hope you have all been having an exciting year so far, although I know much of the US is suffering through one of the most terrible winters in decades, and definitely in my lifetime.  I am thankful every day that I moved to LA before this winter, as I really hate being cold.

ACTING STUFF

Anyway, I’m still on the hunt for a theatrical agent or manager in Los Angeles, which is proving difficult.  I’d prefer not sending out thousands of postcards, and am reaching out to people I know who may be able to put me in touch with their connections.  I know I can do the work, but it’s a matter of finding people who believe in me.

Recently I did a great agent showcase with Actor’s Advantage, run and organized by Shane Russeck.  It was an interesting experience.  All the actors checked in and got their time slots, and then the five agents were in the room, and when it was your turn, you went in, performed, and walked out and you were done.  I haven’t heard anything but I know that sometimes these lead to work for some actors.  Here’s the website if you want to check out an event.  If you go, tell them I sent you!
Actor’s Advantage Showcase

In other acting news, there’s a great new trailer out for Those Who Kill, in which I played Nancy Yuan for the premiere episode.  You can click through to the really scary trailer here.  My friends Kate Boyer and Jordan Trovillion, both actresses I’ve written about before, can be seen in the creepy trailer.  Kate is the one running away from the serial killer and tied up in a chair, and Jordan is dead in a dumpster in a quick flash.  The show will premiere on A&E on March 3!

My shoulder was featured (body doubling) for a split second on the premiere episode of Rake, starring Greg Kinnear.  When I went in for doubling, they had me working some lines with the actors and Sam Raimi, who directed that episode, very kindly upgraded me to cast for my work.  I wish I could have auditioned for the actual role, but my turn will come.  Anyway, I am incredibly thankful to Mr. Raimi for his kindness.  That is the second time I’ve worked in a “background” role and been upgraded, which is very lucky indeed!  When I worked on Red Dawn, I agreed to go in as background with a very high likelihood of being upgraded, and it went through so I became that police station screamer.  (BTW, you can view Red Dawn on Netflix!)  🙂

I’m still very much enjoying my classes at the Ruskin School of Acting in Santa Monica, and we are moving from emotional prep to scenes with emotional prep, which we will be performing as our one year graduation showcase.

HEALTH & BEAUTY

I was recently googling myself as I am wont to do now and then, (purely for career reasons!!!) and saw a photo of mine that was posted on the Bar Method blog by none other than Burr Leonard, the creator of The Bar Method!  That was pretty neat and also made me feel more inspired to go to my Bar classes to get even more results.

Burr Leonard, bar method

Burr Leonard demonstrating moves at the bar

Cindy Chu Actress/Blogger

Since the holidays have come and gone, I had also gotten really into rock climbing to the detriment of my Bar routine, but it was still exercise!

Cindy Chu, climbing

Cleaning up leads and anchor, then rappelling in Red Rock Canyon outside Las Vegas, NV

But then, I used the holidays as an excuse to eat a lot more than I normally do, and after the new year, I wanted to rededicate myself to my health and fitness, and so not only did I restart my habit of going to Bar a few times a week at minimum, along with walking and cycling, and other activities like paddle ball or hiking, but I also signed up for a 30 Day Challenge through DailyHiit! They have a lot of great routines you can do at home with just a few simple exercise tools, and the workouts are High Intensity Interval Training (hence the HIIT) so are more efficient than spending an hour at the gym doing random exercises, meaning the workout videos they’ve been sending have been just 12 minutes!  Here’s a photo of my halfway point progress:

day15, cindy chu

Day 15 progress photo of 30 Day Challenge from Daily Hiit

As you can see, the differences are very subtle.  What I notice the most is a more defined linea alba  which is that center line down the stomach, a tendinous stretch on the abdomen splitting the two sides of muscles.  I hope there will be even more change come Day 30!

I know I posted about my hair care awhile back, too, and the Shiseido Tsubaki shampoo/conditioner is still working wonders and my hair is so much softer than before, which is helped also by the Aquasana carbon shower head filter I installed.  Since I often do need to style my hair for auditions, I’ve got some great recommendations on styling tools, too.  I received an amazing blow dryer for Christmas and it dries my hair so quickly, and keeps it very smooth, and I can adjust it to no-heat, as well.  It’s the Elchim Ionic and is a pro level tool.

Elchim ionic hair dryer

Elchim Ionic

I also am extremely satisfied with the Hot Tools curling iron I bought last year.  The 1″ size is perfect for creating beachy and classic waves, although, the 1″1/2 might be nice for softer waves.  I got the 1″.  I usually spray some of the Bumble and Bumble Does It All styling spray in for heat protection.

BB does it all styling spray

Hot Tools Ceramic Marcel Curling Iron

Cindy Chu

Styled using the Hot Tools 1″ Ceramic Marcel Curling Iron

I had a lot of fun last night self-taping myself for some roles, and did a quick change in between, and I’ll leave you with this funny image of me.  Signing off until next time!  And please make sure to watch Those Who Kill when it comes out March 3!!!!

Cindy Chu

Double duty

xox,

Cindy

Establishing Myself in LA

It’s been awhile now, but I’m here in LA, Lalaland, Hollywood, what have you, and am very excited to see what this move will bring me in terms of my acting career.  As long as I can remember, I wanted to be a performer and I dreamed of being in the movies, and working in Hollywood.  I’m not doing too bad out here so far, as I’ve signed with Stephany Burns at Avalon Artists Group through a friend’s introduction.  The friend I speak of is none other than Kate Boyer, the lovely redhead who played my best friend in the pilot of Those Who Kill on A&E (Fox21).  She has some killer scenes, so look out for the premiere!

I also just heard that another actor I worked with on Those Who Kill, the very talented Omid Abtahi, has been officially cast as Homes in Mockingjay, the next installment in The Hunger Games trilogy.  Congratulations, Omid!

Omid Abtahi, homes, mockingjay, hunger games

Omid Abtahi as Homes

So far, I’ve been on a number of auditions and had a couple holds but nothing solid yet.  I did pick up a featured gig on ABC’s new show Mixology, so you might see me pop up for a quick second in one of the episodes.  I started a Meisner Technique program at the Ruskin School of Acting, which I absolutely love!  I can already feel that I’m growing as an actor under John Ruskin’s guidance.

sanford meisner, meisner, john ruskin

Sanford Meisner (left) with John Ruskin in 1986

I’m looking forward to producing some new projects with some of my classmates, so stay tuned for updates…

In other aspects of life, I’ve got some beauty product recommendations for skin, hair, and health.

SKIN–For a few years, I was having issues with acne on my forehead.  I’d heard a lot of great things about the Clarisonic from several friends but didn’t think too much about it.  Once I got out here, I figured I should invest in one and check out all the hype.  I could write it off, and everyone I knew who used one swore by it.  Well, lo and behold, look at the improvement from before I started to a couple months after.  I had a minor breakout this week but, you can still see a pretty marked difference.  I had some hyperpigmentation from old blemishes and they got rid of them!

Final grade for the Clarisonic:  A  (** These Clarisonic links I included jump to the specific set I ordered off Amazon, but if you want more info on the brush you can pop over to their direct site http://www.clarisonic.com, but it is cheaper to buy it on Amazon!)

clarisonic before and after

My personal results from using the Clarisonic Aria!

 

HAIR–I have pretty long hair now.  All of that hair is pretty old towards the bottom.  Prone to dryness and breakage, as well as split ends, I tried to be extra gentle with it.  I’d been trying a bunch of shampoos and conditioners, ones with argan oil, moroccan blends, you name it.  Nothing was working that well.  Then, since I’d been slowly switching to more natural products for the home anyway, I thought I’d try the “no ‘poo” method.  I mixed up a bottle of the baking soda “shampoo”, and a bottle of the apple cider vinegar “conditioner” with some tangerine and lavender oil to help cancel the pungent smell.  I also got on a schedule of washing my hair only once every 3 or 4 days, and actually brushing it well to help distribute the oils.  It worked alright, my hair was shinier, but every time I worked out and got hot, it was a little stinky from the ACV.  I eventually went through my solutions, and was looking up shampoos for Asian hair and heard a lot about the Shiseido Tsubaki hair treatment line.  A bunch of Asian women gave it rave reviews for their long hair.  I found a set on Amazon and ordered and have since used it just once and I can literally feel a huge difference.  Normally, the ends of my hair feel pretty crispy and straw-like, and with the specially formulated blend of Camellia oil in their line, the Shiseido Tsubaki has already improved the softness of my hair.  It’s still too early to tell since I’ve only tried it once, but I’d say from the results of using it only once and feeling the difference, that I’m going to love this line.

Tentative grade for Shiseido Tsubaki:  A

Shiseido Tsubaki

Shiseido Tsubaki camellia oil hair care

***I’ll try and update with a photo tomorrow after my haircut!****   Here’s the new coif!  It’s styled here, but I got my much needed trim and the ends are nice again.  Thanks to Arch at 9022!

Cindy Chu haircut

My awesome trim/styling by Arch at 9022 Salon in Los Angeles

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/cindychu/9940780013/&#8221; title=”Found a new hair stylist, Arch at 9022.  Super stoked to find a worthy replacement from my Joshie!  First LA haircut!  He even styled it for me for my audition. ☺️ by cindychu, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7388/9940780013_ae08a0e46a.jpg&#8221; width=”500″ height=”500″ alt=”Found a new hair stylist, Arch at 9022.  Super stoked to find a worthy replacement from my Joshie!  First LA haircut!  He even styled it for me for my audition. ☺️”></a>

HEALTH–Some of you know I lost a lot of weight last year by following a diet that included mostly just legumes, proteins, and vegetables, and that really helped bring my body back under control.  I was still a bit in denial about the need for working out, as I was so tired from waiting tables all the time, I figured that counted for working out.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t truly cardio and it only worked a few muscles.  Once I came out to LA, I couldn’t escape working out.  Everyone here is so fit!  I am in Venice now, and live fairly close to the beach.  I had no excuse to not go for bike rides or runs with the beach right there.  So I started running and biking and walking more.  I also stopped drinking so much, no more after work beers with the crew, and that definitely helped with losing some bloat and cutting down on carbs.  Then a friend of mine suggested I try a bar class for toning up, and I found one close by, The Bar Method.  I started with their intro month special, $100 for the first 30 days.  I took some before photos, and just 2 weeks in I was starting to see some results in my posture and the lift of my derriere, as well as a flattening of my tummy.  It’s an amazing lifting and toning workout, isometric in nature, and is pretty much a blend of ballet, yoga, and pilates.  I’ve never had well-defined abs before in my life, and I’m getting pretty close to that now!  The Bar Method has changed my body completely.  I can’t wait to see more progress in the next few months.

The difference two years can make… 😀

before and after, bar method, success, bar method results

Little tweaks, or isometrics, can lead to big changes. 😉

bar butt, bar method, before and after, lift and tone

My Bar Butt

cindy chu, bikini, bar method, before and after

I got a bit too excited about my progress and couldn’t decide between these Topshop bikinis, so I got all three! Eh! 🙂

Alright, so I was working out a ton and thought I was eating right, but I wasn’t seeing a big change on the scale.  I had gained a little winter (ahem, beer!!!) weight in Michigan and wanted to lose it, and I knew I was building muscle and toning up, but I was still about the same weight on the scale.  I decided to start using MyFitnessPal to keep track of my calories in and was shocked to realize why I wasn’t losing very much weight was because I was overcompensating when eating, canceling out my progress working out.  I quickly realized I had to downsize my portions and caloric intake to see faster results.  Since joining and in combination with everything else, I’ve lost about 4 pounds, and am down a jean size to 26.  I was kind of at that size last year with all the initial weight loss but that was through diet alone and I didn’t have the toned look I wanted.  This time around, I wanted to do it all right.  I remember a couple months ago there was a pair of jeans I really wanted from Free People but I tried on the right size and as they were  little low-slung, and I still had a bit more middle, they didn’t look very good.  I went back and tried them on a few weeks later and they fit really well and so I got them, and now they’re even a tiny bit loose.  I really can’t say enough about The Bar Method and MyFitnessPal.

Final grades for The Bar Method and MyFitnessPal: A+ all the way!

If you want an easy way to log your weight on MyFitnessPal and have wifi at home, you can get a FitBit Aria scale, (in black OR white!) and link it up with your MyFitnessPal and it will sync it automatically to your account.  The only weird thing about mine is it syncs my weight as .1lb more than it reads on the scale, which is a little weird but other than that, it’s great, and I love the automatic syncing option.

Final grade for the FitBit Aria:  A-

fitbit, aria, scale

My FitBit Aria scale, synced and ready to go!

And in case you want to check out what it’s like at sunset in Venice, which is when I like to go out for a jog, here’s a little clip of tonight’s sunset.  😀  (Couldn’t figure out the Instagram embedding…you’ll have to click through!)

Needlestick!

Some of you who are following any sort of Michigan film news will already know that Needlestick, an upcoming indie thriller to be shot in December, was recently approved for the Michigan film incentives.

Big congrats to Steven Karageanes, writer and director of “Needlestick”!  We met years ago when my short “Qing Lou Nu” was screening at the same film festivals as his “Pink Slip”.  I was fortunate enough to attend the auditions for Needlestick on Saturday.  My wonderful and talented friend Jordan Trovillion is already cast in Needlestick and you can view her in the awesome trailer here.

I’m really excited to see more projects finally starting up in Michigan again, and just wanted to share Steven’s good news with the film community!  Whoever they cast, I hope the project is a giant success!

I hope everyone had a great weekend post-Thanksgiving!  Here’s a pic of me in my high school reunion outfit.  Wheee, dressing up is fun.  I gotta be honest, it felt pretty good showing up and knowing that my hard work with my diet paid off and that I felt really comfortable in my own skin.

Cindy Chu

I’ll blog about my whole diet later in its own thing for those of you who are interested.  It’s pretty easy, but does require a few changes and commitment!  But I’m living proof it works!  Just take a look at me a year ago.

Image

Look for my weight-loss post later this week!

Have a lovely week, friends!

xoxo,

Cindy