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)

“Dear Fat People” Response

2010 to 2015, Cindy Chu

 

I’ve been wanting to write something re: the whole “Dear Fat People” hateful rant video and here I am…

So I used to be a little heavier. The pic on the left is from 2010. I was still happy then, too. The only big difference was I wasn’t making time for myself to keep health a priority. I was always tired and a flight of stairs made me winded. I always ate what I craved, and also mindlessly snacked at work on production jobs where I had to sit for 12-15 hours a day.

“a flight of stairs made me winded”


It wasn’t until 2012 when I saw a good friend change his habits and drop 40 pounds I didn’t know he had to lose that I even thought it was possible for me to get to a healthier place, too.

It’s not easy to keep myself on a workout routine or to choose healthier meals when I’m out, because life is short and sometimes we want to be lazy or eat delicious, rich food.

But I decided in 2012 that it was possible to lose weight, and then in 2013 I decided it was possible to get in better physical shape so that I can run up and down stairs without feeling like I couldn’t breathe, and to feel healthier and stronger and in control of my body.

I did have to make a lot of changes in my habits to get to where I’m at today and I’m still not done. I have goals like “do a pull-up from a dead hang” or “do a one-armed push-up”, etc, and build a better core. But the key here is I’m doing it for me. I’m doing this because it’s what I want. It makes me feel stronger and healthier.

But at the end of the day, humans come in all shapes and sizes! And that is OK! There are people bigger than me or with a higher BMI who are stronger and fitter than me. I know friends who some may say are fuller-figured who can run marathons around me and I wouldn’t be able to keep up at all. And you’re all beautiful.

If you aren’t feeling your healthiest, you can make changes. If you feel awesome and are happy where you’re at, don’t change or crumble because some terrible person judged you who doesn’t even know you. Be the best you for yourself and others, and don’t worry about the rest.

Being skinny isn’t some amazing feat to brag about, and nor is making people who are different than you feel less than.

****************************************************************

This above post was taken word for word from a Facebook post I made recently. I have decided to start blogging about health and beauty and will be posting updates about what exactly I do to stay in shape now. You can get a sneak peek from my first Periscope post:

Cindy Chu Periscope Post re: “Dear Fat People”

You never know people’s stories, so don’t make assumptions about their laziness or think they don’t have feelings about their bodies. We all have body hangups, and negativity doesn’t help. Be encouraging, be helpful, be positive. It’ll go a lot farther than a mean video, and I’m not talking about views.

 

Let’s all love our bodies!

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!)

SUNDANCE 2011

Sundance 2011

Sundance 2011

So it’s almost upon us!  I’m talking about the Sundance Film Festival, of course!  And I’m going.  😀  You may recall in an earlier post, that I played the part of Alisa in the film Salvation Boulevard.  Well, George Ratliff is premiering it at Sundance, so I felt it would be the perfect opportunity to attend for the first time.  My only qualms are that I decided so late in the game, and the ticketing procedures were unfamiliar to me, so I will have to see if I can get tickets once I’m there.

Here are some images from the film (they all link back to what site they’re from if you click on them):

Pierce Brosnan as Dan Day in Salvation Boulevard

Pierce Brosnan as Dan Day in Salvation Boulevard

 

Salvation Boulevard--Dan Day

Salvation Boulevard--Dan Day

Greg Kinnear as Carl VanderVeer in Salvation Boulevard

Greg Kinnear as Carl VanderVeer in Salvation Boulevard

 

I’ll have a partner in crime for my SLC/PC trip: my actor friend Lauren Petre!  She’s also represented by my talent agency, Charlie’s Talent Agency, or CTA.  She also has a film in which she acted premiering at Sundance.  It’s a horror film directed by well-known director Lucky McKee, called The Woman.  We’ll be attending the Wednesday night showing together!  Here are a couple creepy images from the film:

 

Still from Lucky McKee's The Woman--from ShockTillYouDrop.com

Still from Lucky McKee's The Woman--from ShockTillYouDrop.com

Behind the scenes shot of Lucky McKee's The Woman--from soundonsight.org

Behind the scenes shot of Lucky McKee's The Woman--from soundonsight.org

In preparation for the festivities, I picked up a couple more sweaters and some good solid snow boots, so I’ll be ready to wait outside in the cold!

 

The North Face Nuptse Fur IV Boots

The North Face Nuptse Fur IV Boots

It had been awhile since my last haircut, too.  I had my stylist, Josh Thiele of Orbit Hair Salon in Ann Arbor, Michigan, give my mop a good cleaning up today.

 

Cindy Chu haircut

Cindy Chu with her fresh coif

Looks like 2011 is off to an exciting start for me.  I can only hope that this year will be even more successful for me in my pursuit of acting.  As with all actors, learning new skills or just having other skills can be important sometimes.  Take Christina Hendricks, who has been learning how to play the accordion.  Well, while the writers of Mad Men were brainstorming ideas, they decided they wanted an episode in which she played a song at a dinner party.  They found out she played accordion, and so they wrote the scene for her.

This brings me to my point.  I have been earnestly practicing on my ukulele, and recorded another song the other night.  Right now, I’m working on learning yet another, and as soon as I feel I’m performing it at my best (difficult strum pattern!) I will post it, as well.  This one was “Sentimental Heart” by She & Him, and I definitely should have practiced it longer than 15 minutes before uploading any performance, but c’est la vie!   (Pretty sure I can perform it a bit better than in the video now… 🙂 *shrugs*)

And in other skill areas, I finally got out my Nikon D70 to shoot my friends’ event.  The Ann Arbor hip hop duo made up of J Thrill, and D Train, aka Thrill$Train, had a show at Sava’s last weekend, and I was there with my camera to capture the magic.  They were pretty happy with the photos!  They’ve got a show in Detroit next month at The Old Miami.  Check out their website for more details or to download their album free!  These were a couple of my favorite images from the night:

 

D Train says J Thrill looks like "The Most Interesting Man in the World's Son" here

D Train says J Thrill looks like "The Most Interesting Man in the World's Son" here

 

Thrill$Train in all their hot hot glory

Thrill$Train in all their hot hot glory

D Train thrilling the crowd

D Train thrilling the crowd

Thrill$Train playing to a packed house at Sava's in Ann Arbor

Thrill$Train playing to a packed house at Sava's in Ann Arbor

 

As with other posts, I like to promote friends, and I went to a show recently at the Crofoot and discovered this AMAZING new band from Monroe, Michigan.  They are called Jack & The Bear and they play instruments like the banjo, violin, trumpet, accordion, etc.  Absolutely brilliant.  One of their friends uploaded some live video footage from the show which you can check out on their Facebook fanpage.  From what I heard, they are in the midst of recording their first album.  I wish them the best of luck, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see them blow up big time in the next couple of years.

Alright, I guess I’ll hopefully have a few more updates for you when I get to Salt Lake City/Park City, UTAH!  It’ll be my first visit to the state.  Huzzah!

~cindy