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)

Summertime Sadness

Just kidding, there’s no time to be sad! This year, 2014, has been off to a decent start with a booking as a rock climber for a health brochure that I mentioned a few blog posts ago, and then my first commercial booking in LA where I got to hold this adorable Asian baby! I got a lot of compliments on how naturally maternal I looked, and I’ve got to thank all the influences I had growing up and babysitting/nannying for so many amazing children. You never know what jobs you’ve had, or skills you’ve picked up will be useful in your auditions. My last job incorporated rock climbing which I do as a hobby sport, I never would have guessed I’d get a job out of it!

Cindy Chu baby

Cindy Chu holding a cute Asian baby at a commercial shoot

While I heard a warning that summertime is really slow for auditions, it seems the last few weeks have been quite full of auditions for a lot of commercials and indie projects.  I’m part of the slew of actors who really dresses for the part, because why wouldn’t you? I want to deliver myself as the full package, ready to work, and fit the image they may have of the character. This means I sometimes buy clothing just for auditions, and keep other pieces around that maybe aren’t my IRL style but may be useful for certain audition looks.  This one was for a hip girl, stylish, thrift shop, etc. I wore my glasses just to make myself stand out a little more because they’re a very flattering pair, and my last booking, I had worn them in the callback even though they had me remove them for the tape, they still remembered me for them.  If anyone is interested in where I got them, they were from SEE Eyewear.  They probably still have a similar style for sale, although I think mine were from 2012. Outfit Details:

  • Top: Forever 21 (used to be a L/S but I ripped it while trying to do a handstand so I chopped the sleeves off.
  • Dress: Love 21 (offshoot of Forever 21)
  • Belt: Urban Outfitters
  • Boots: Jeffrey Campbell for Free People (I love these boots! Very versatile look.)
  • Thigh high socks: Free People
Cindy Chu

Cindy Chu in a grunge/lady/nerdy look for an audition

Here we have a steampunk inspired outfit for an audition.

Cindy Chu Audition

Cindy Chu in a Steampunk Outfit for Audition

It’s hard to tell from this angle, but I had a pretty nifty undo where most of my hair was in a high ponytail and I curled half of it and teased it, then braided the other half, with a baby french braid from the nape up and around the ponytail base with curls framing the face. I used a 3/4″ curling iron, like this one here.   My favorite hairspray right now is by Bumble & Bumble, the blue can.

B&B Hairspray

Cindy Chu’s current favorite hairspray

Outfit Details:

  • Dress: Love 21
  • Tights: Target (? old pair I had, don’t remember)
  • Boots: Same as above
Cindy Chu

Cindy Chu thinking steampunk thoughts

Cindy Chu makeup

Steampunk makeup look

Makeup Look:

Along with hair, makeup, and wardrobe choices, I’ve also got to stay on top of my physical game. I follow this fit chick Nicole Mejia on Instagram. The reason I follow her is because she has an atypical body type compared to most models you see in catalogs and on runways. She’s petite, and has a natural pear shape with thick thighs. Following fitness girls who have body types that seem more real for me to achieve helps me stay inspired and positive. I also follow some supermodels because they post fun photos, but I know no matter how much I workout, I will never be a lanky 5’10” model type. She has been doing a “Fit & Thick” North American tour, teaching workout classes in different cities across the US, and this photo below was from her early session at the David Barton gym in LA. (It was a super nice gym, btw…) It didn’t seem that hard of a workout during, but man oh man, today and yesterday I got really stiff and sore, and it hurt to walk and to move, period. It was the DOMS, delayed onset muscle soreness, which meant I ripped a bunch of fibers and they are rebuilding. We did a lot of plyo type moves, jump squats, sumo squats, deadlifts, etc. I did get pretty sweaty!

Cindy Chu Nicole Mejia

Cindy Chu and Nicole Mejia at a Fit & Thick tour event

A year ago today, I started my membership at the Bar Method-Marina Del Rey. I signed up with the first month special and then continued on the monthly. While it’s more expensive than a gym membership to Gold’s or Equinox would be, I liked the class aspect, almost like having a personal trainer, and having that made it easier for me to make myself go workout. I didn’t have to think about or plan out what I would need to work on, I just go in and listen to the great instructors. Here I am, a year into Bar Method, feeling pretty fit but hungry for more improvement!

Cindy Chu Bar Method Bikini Body

Cindy Chu celebrating a year of Bar Method under her belt!

Here’s a 4 year progression comparison photo.

Cindy Chu health diet bar method before and after

Cindy Chu’s health transformation over the past 4 years.

And the photo below here, shows a row of pics from before I started Bar Method (top) to now, one year later, comparing front, side and back. Not a huge weight differential here, but you can see I toned up and slimmed a bit around the torso and thighs especially. I didn’t even really realize how much everything had lifted and toned compared to before, so I’m really glad that I took progress photos to document it not only for myself, but to help put more info out there for others who are looking for ways to shape up and get healthier.

Cindy Chu  Bar Method Results Before and After

Cindy Chu’s transformation from starting Bar Method a year ago to today.

After I had my audition today, I stopped for a quick lunch at one of my new favorites, Huckleberry Cafe in Santa Monica. They use a lot of locally sourced ingredients and make their own fresh almond milk, so they have the best almond milk lattes I’ve found so far in LA. I paired it with a long-line caught tuna salad. Portion control is something I’ve worked on for health reasons in the last couple years, and this salad was pretty big. If I eat until I feel full, then I’ve usually overeaten and then feel bloated. Now I try to stop after I’m satisfied, and then just eat again when I feel hungry. This salad here was in a pretty big bowl, so I ate half and took the rest home.

Cindy Chu diet huckleberry cafe

Cindy Chu enjoyed this healthy meal from Huckleberry Cafe in Santa Monica, CA. Line caught tuna salad and a fresh almond milk latte.

Oh, today I finally saw my old co-star Kate Boyer while at my audition, she was at the same place for a different audition. She was just as gorgeous and nice as always. She’s got a film coming out soon, Hollidaysburg, which I actually auditioned for one of the parts in. Look her up! She’s so lovely, inside and out. She told me her mom reads my blog, so shoutout to Kate’s mom!  You did a wonderful job raising an amazing gal. Here’s Kate’s Instagram feed.

Kate Boyer

The Lovely Kate Boyer, Actress and Stunt Woman Extraordinaire

Well, my summertime goal is to find a theatrical agent or a manager so that I can actually start auditioning for all the jobs that I don’t have access to for TV/Features. I’ve had postcards made for mailings, and some cute mini business cards from Moo (click the link to get 10% off, if you need some biz cards or postcards!). What do you think? Hopefully I’ll have a good update for you soon regarding representation!

Cindy Chu

Cindy Chu’s Moo Postcard

Thanks for reading, and hope you all have a wonderful 4th!!!

xo,

Cindy

Time for new headshots!

 

My commercial agent Stephany at Avalon Artists Group wanted me to get some new headshots, and I figured it was about time what with all the hard work I’d been putting in at my local Bar Method studio.  😀  I’m super happy with the photos, and they were from this amazing multi-talented dude named Jeff E!  He’s not only a talented and very easy to work with photographer, but also an actor himself!  If you’re looking for some new photos, too, I’d recommend giving him a call.

 

cindy chu headshot cindy chu headshot cindy chu headshot cindy chu headshot

cindy chu headshot

(This one’s one of my favorites, I feel like a model!)

cindy chu headshot cindy chu headshot cindy chu headshot cindy chu headshot cindy chu headshot cindy chu headshot cindy chu headshot cindy chu headshot cindy chu headshot cindy chu headshot cindy chu headshot Cindy Chu Headshot