Sunday, January 31, 2010

Oscar, Marianne, Booker T., and me.

Hello my cyber-friends, tonight i find myself wondering exactly what to write about. And I think that perhaps Oscar Wilde said it best. Art can feel more real than life. Because when you are performing, you are your most real. Life takes a back seat. Everything is dilated, outlined, highlighted. More somehow real.

And the only way to create EXTRAORDINARY ART is to be fearless. And it can be petrifying. Utterly. Sometimes a business email or a phone call can seriously scare me because I'm thinking -- oh my gosh, what if this actor says no? what if this director's offended? what if I stretch my heart sooo far and the part doesn't happen and my heart is like a stretched out flourless sack?

But then, this is exactly when we must press on with the most LOVE. For ourselves frankly. Because when we truly love ourselves -- this is when we are loving the whole wide world beyond us. When we are stretching beyond ourselves, we are the best version of ourselves.

It's like that Marianne Williamson quote: (picture in upper left hand corner)

"And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Thus, tomorrow morning when I make that phone call to THE DIRECTOR, I know what I am going to say. I am GOING TO SAY IT. And I've decided that even if he doesn't answer, I will leave the voicemail of my lifetime. I know it in my heart and I will say it as bravely and honestly as I can. Because this is the only time in life that things happen for us -- MAGIC. Is when we take that breathtaking leap and GO FOR IT.

This is precisely how I booked my role in the senior play in high school. How I got into Barnard. How I ended up with William Morris and Broadway as my first agency and gig. How I defied the "norm" when I did was because of an inexorable truth, which is I believe in me. That I am a star.

And anyone who is reading this -- I believe in you too. Faith, certainty -- they are reflexive. Believing in me invariably means I believe in you too.

Tomorrow 3 things:

1. Phone call and/or Voicemail to THE DIRECTOR
2. Email CELEBRITY FRIEND to ask for Sniff book endorsement. Zoiks!!!
3. 25 questions I shall answer about my character Eliza in my movie "Happy Birthday/I'm Dead" as I prep for my STARRING ROLE.

And alas... I begin my day tomorrow volunteering at a school downtown with SFK -- Success For Kids. My friend Jade and I are going to be volunteering as aides in a classroom full of Hispanic students who are at a "high risk" of failing out of school. They are in the 3rd grade. I am SO excited to meet them all. And to begin my day making a tremulous phone call juxtaposed with helping children who are most likely pretty tremulous themselves...
It's like Booker T. said, when we want to lift up ourselves, we need to lift up others.

And so, tomorrow morning, I shall.

Good night my friends. Sleep with the angels.

Facebook, Twitter and the Luck of the Banana.

Quote of the day: "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."
--Computer Scientist Alan Kay.

Zoiks! My cyber-friends... I almost forgot to write tonight!!! That's why this is SO important -- my blog is focusing me, forcing me to keep my word. Hard work and consistency -- two HUGE parts of being successful. And thus... I shall write happily tonight's blog.

Three things to share:

1. I am LOVING Facebook. I am connecting with the most amaaaaazing people. And I give all the credit to my editor, Richard Gore at LaChance Publishing in NYC. Because my book Sniff comes out in August and when we last spoke he was like, "Why do you have a measly 600+ friends on Facebook and I have over 1500?" He basically said, You need more friends. It's good for you and it's good for our book. So I went on a mission. Originally because I knew he was right. What an f'in perfect way to get our books out there!!! I got a 5 book series deal and it's a series of children's book based on the 5 senses. Sniff is the sense of smell, clearly :) And so... I began thinking, who, do I want to be friends with? And at first, I was thinking pure business. Books. My movie. Career, career, career. But then... it started to mean more. Like I wanted to see how my prep school English teacher Peter Quinn was doing. After all, he read The Raven to us by the light of a tarantula cage, lights out in the classroom and with a creepy, but funny (his idea of a) raven's voice. It was RAD. We were mesmerized. And then, I thought of my first voice over agent at WMA in NYC. And then... it all has started to become one big beautiful domino effect. I've been messaging people whom I would love to re-connect with --like Ted Damutz who inspired my one act called, Fingernail Moon. \

And then most recently, AMY HECKERLING who directed Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Clueless, which she wrote and directed. She is AMAZING. And so, I wrote her a facebook email and today, she accepted my friend request!!! I am now connected to Fast Times -- a movie my sister showed me on VHS when I was little... Wow... Facebook, you make it all possible, it's all SO close with you, the seemingly untouchable become "friends" within days. I even connected with my BROADWAY DIRECTOR, JAMES LAPINE. He directed me in The Diary Of Anne Frank -- my first acting gig. At the Music Box Theatre. He messaged me back today -- I haven't heard from him in over ten years. Last time we spoke, I was a kid. My eyes were practically watering when I got his message...

Facebook, how I love thee.

2. TWITTER is my latest crush. I honestly feel like it's 8th grade again and I'm up for the superlative of Most Popular in the yearbook. Yes, I did win that title in 8th grade and yes, I was president of my class... It's been all downhill from there... :) But seriously, ever since Ashton has started to follow me, it's like an avalanche of followers. It is beautiful and powerful. And I am grateful. Because I am SO passionate about connecting with as many people in the world as possible. I LOVE to reach out and connect with people, to inspire someone to laugh or to love more or to feel -- to feel more. Grateful. Something stirring in all of us is the desire to love and be loved. And Twitter inspires me because I read about P.Diddy's being stoked about a store he's opening up in Miami. Anderson Cooper's sensitive reporting in Haiti. Or Harvard Research's updates, which are staggeringly fascinating. And life-changing. Or Deepak Chopra's tweet as he's about to take a walk in the park. It is 8th grade dilated worldwide. I feel like the kid again who wants to be friends with everybody -- to join up everybody and make life better. Warmer. More kind.

3. I finally sent my letter to Garry Marshall on friday. I'd sent him one in the summer and never heard back. But then, I did some more research -- I watched the special features of Pretty Woman and learned that he believes in bananas. That they bring him good luck. And so he features a banana in each one of his movies. I went from store to store looking for a banana sticker. I refused to mail his letter until I found one.

And I did on friday. I put the sticker next to his name on the envelope and then on the bottom, I wrote: "From a girl who also believes that bananas bring good luck."

We shall see what happens... Either way, I'm happy that I researched, sent the letter again and didn't give up. I found a little something -- a banana sticker with a smiling face in this case -- to go one step beyond your average letter. Hopefully that banana will indeed bring me luck. And I will receive a phone call from his office. Because I love PRETTY WOMAN and how he sees a star and makes them shine brighter than most directors can even see...

p.s. The top picture is the COVER OF MY BOOK, SNIFF!!! It's still rough and Isabelle The Great Illustrator is still perfecting it, but how amaaaaaaaazing???!!!

Love to you all. And to all a good night.

Friday, January 29, 2010

quote of the day: "If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else."
-- Booker T. Washington.

Well, my friends, today was a dream come true for me.

And as I'm down in Del Mar with one of my best friends, Bitsie Tulloch, at her lovely Nana's house and the family awaits me downstairs as they eat ice cream and contemplate Scrabble -- plus intermittently yelling up to me that I am being missed-- all in jest of course :) But I get the point -- I'm wanted downstairs... And thus, I am going to keep this one short & spicy.

1. Persistence is the key. I wrote Morgan Freeman a letter last fall, expressing to him how grateful I was that he saw my monologue and left me an inspired, "I feel like I've been baptized" voicemail. And I didn't hear anything back. Perhaps because I put a headshot in the envelope. Mainly to show him that I too am an actor. But when I hadn't heard back a few months later, I was talking to my friend Alex, a wonderful assistant at CAA, he told me not to include a picture. Just write a letter, he said.

And so, I sat down again a few weeks ago and called Morgans' agent's office and spoke with Leif, his agent's very cool assistant, and let him know to be expecting my letter. And no picture. No need -- because when I thought about it -- all I wanted to do was to say thank you. And that I feel he acts, as Maya Angelou wrote, "with God in his throat." And so I thanked him. And told him I find him to be so special and that I would love to work with him. And today, he asked me to be his friend on facebook. And so, dear Morgan Freeman, if you happen to be reading this -- please know that YOU MADE MY DAY. It was Christmas for me today, on January 29th in Los Angeles, 2010. My own private Christmas. And you my lovely new "friend," you were Santa.

2. Ashton -- my wonderfully supportive and hyper-intelligent friend -- is following me on twitter!!! And I'm already being deluged with twitter followers which is SO HOT. To quote Paris. Hehe. But, seriously -- I am SO digging Twitter. And I truly admire him for his kindness -- he and Demi started an organization called DNA to end child sex slavery-- for his inventiveness -- witness Punk'd or how he has revolutionized Twitter -- and for his work ethic -- he said he was like this in high school, always belonging to over a dozen clubs and feeling like there is always more and more to be done in this world. He has inspired me to create my own success. Write my own script, and bring others along for the ride. So, thank you AK.

3. And finally, I am going to leave you all with one thing. I am calling the director tomorrow and putting myself out there. Let him know I am that kid in high school senior year who is dying to be in the school play and he is the beloved drama teacher. And that this would indeed make my senior year... Ahhhhhh. Nothing to lose. Hopefully he'll answer. Either way, whatever happens -- I am STOKED to take a risk. And to let someone whom I find extraordinary know that and feel my excitement about the oppportunity to work with him. It would make my year.

Love to all of you in cyber-land... Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.... (hehe!) But seriously.. Keep reaching.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

MJ, Garry, Jon & Dreaming.

Quote of the day: Seen on the license plate frame of a car on the 10 freeway: "My other car is your mama." Nice.

It's nearly midnight and I'm watching "This Is It" in my apartment. I saw it three times in the theater -- I wrote a play about MJ called "Billie Jean at the Graveyard" for our Little Bird Theater Company. And I took both of my actors out to see the movie. I treated myself once too.

But the reason I'm opening with MJ is because I attended his memorial. And this was the beginning of feeling like anything in the world was possible. Like I was no longer this little girl with outsized dreams from my small town in New Jersey. Because when I was growing up, I saw MJ as untouchable and the idea of attending one of his concerts or even being near him felt utterly impossible. But I was SO passionately talking about him with everyone after he died this summer (much to a lot of their chagrin!) and so, when my friend Kristin 's sister-in-law Michelle's friend Justin from Michigan texted her that he'd won two lottery tickets to attend the memorial, Kristin texted me within five minutes to let me know that I would be going.

I'm still wearing the wrist band. It reminds me to be extraordinary. To not let one day pass through my fingers without stretching myself and taking a risk. Because had I not been so unabashedly talking about how much I adored Michael Jackson, I never would've ended up in those VIP seats at Staples Center watching Stevie Wonder and John Mayer and Queen Latifah pour their hearts out celebrating my childhood hero.

1. The thing is, this singular experience, attending his memorial, is a lesson I am applying to all aspects of my life. Have the courage to speak about what you believe in and magic will happen. People will call you because you wrote a letter, a GREAT DIRECTOR, will call you. MOVIE STARS will attend your play because you so excitedly asked them to come, a NATIONAL ICON TV STAR will make HUGE phone calls on your behalf because you found a play and produced it and found a director and cast the male lead opposite you, and created a benefit show and well, you know... "If you build it, they will come."

Sigh. Happy sigh.

And they did come. In fact, they keep coming... Because I vow to never stop.

2. So, in line with my letter writing -- the 50 letters I wrote over the summer -- I have re-written Garry Marshall. He directed Pretty Woman and I watched it so much this past month that Blockbuster charged me for it! GM also discovered Anne Hathaway and cast her in The Princess Diaries. I would LOVE to work with him. He finds stars and directs them so naturally. I watched his commentary for Pretty Woman and he said that he always has a banana in his movies for good luck. So, I am buying a sticker of a banana and putting it in the cover of the envelope and I am writing "For Good Luck."

We shall see... :):):)

3. I showed the first 25 pages of our script to Jon Sheinberg -- the kind man who appears in the upper left hand corner of the page. He and his wife came to my shows and he has been a big support of me. He loved the one act and has offered to read the script and give notes for which I am so grateful. He was an agent at William Morris and loves reading scripts. he has fabulous taste. His father, Sid Sheinberg, was the president of Universal under Lew Wasserman and is credited with discovering Steven Speilberg, Not a bad credit.

John gave me fabulous notes. He said -- write down 25 things about your character in this movie. What does she like? What scares her? What does she want more than anything? Make her specific. What is she up against? What in ten minutes of the movie will we learn about her -- we need to know her "true essence" at the top of the movie. He said she needs to be dynamic -- and that we are moving in this direction -- and asking myself these questions will help specify and deepen her/the character/me. He also said New York needs to be a character in the movie as well. We need to know that this story can only happen in NYC. And finally, he said it needs to move -- with a sense of action.

I LOVE the homework he gave me, to go deeper into ELIZA, to make her more specific and real and dynamic. My own Holly Golightly/Pretty Woman/Sally mixed together in a big bowl and the result? An utterly original young woman in a movie that hasn't been made. What does it feel like to grow up? Truly grow up. Not played by a fifteen year-old "coming of age" or an exhausted middle-aged woman looking back at her youth, but by a young woman who has treasured her independence fiercely and now -- just now -- is beginning to embrace growing up. With a little help from a dashing prince... whom she invariably ends up saving.

Yayayayayayayayayayayayayayay. Just writing it makes it feel real. Like it's already happening. Which it is.

p.s. Tentatively meeting with a big theater producer for lunch on Monday. He has offered to introduce me to one of Will Smith's big producers... We shall see! Crossed fingers... There's another woman I met a few months ago who expressed interest in financing one of my projects -- I'm calling her tomorrow to see about setting up an appt. for next week. And -- I will be calling THE DIRECTOR AGAIN. ON HIS CELL!!!
Good night all of you lovely readers, nestled in your beds, dreaming, dreaming, dreaming...

Group Therapy

My Balls Out Improv HBO Pilot Presentation, Group Therapy. And how I met Nelsan Ellis...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Gratitude, Tobo's Work Ethic & The Voicemail on The 10...

Quote of the Day:“It was so hot, it was a swedding.”

A man describing a recent event to a friend in Hollywood.

Hello lovely readers,

With Julie & Julia happily playing on my TV in the background, I write with 3 things to share tonight. (p.s. The editor Judy Clain from Little, Brown who emailed me the other day about wanting to see my memoir, they mention her name in the movie!!! The voicemail says, "This is Judy Clain. I'm an editor from Little, Brown..." Holy Shiite!!!!

First off, to the upper left is my beloved and stupidly talented screenwriter, Bekah Brunstetter. The first 25 pages are a DREAM COME TRUE. Honestly, I remember ambling down the streets of Manhattan as an undergrad at Barnard and stopping to glance in the shiny, reflective windows of the advertising buildings and thinking, "Your time will come... Someone will see you and get it." And voila! This writer is creating my "star vehicle" in Natalie's words. And in my words -- stay on the path, keep staring in the shiny windows, and skipping to your own beat -- just knowing that you've got a little somethin' somethin' different. Something to call your own that no one else can ever claim. 25 pages and I feel goooooood... So, the first thing is gratitude.

I wanted so badly to connect with my excellent voice-over agent Marcia Hurwitz at Innovative Artists, but I didn't know what I was going to say to her when I called. I just felt like -- I want her to know how hungry I am and how excited I am to boooooook. And then, I stopped at a red light on the way to Trader Joe's and thought, "How about you call and thank her?" For the meeting we had before Christmas. For sitting down with me. For believing in me for all these years -- she's actually my longest relationship! Zoiks. And so, when I called and her assistant asked what I was calling about and I said to thank her, she immediately took my call. And the thing is, I did want to thank her. We had an inspired conversation and I'm pretty sure we both hung up the phone feeling good. When in doubt, gratitude.

2. My improv teacher the great Stephen Tobolowsky, who starred in Thelma and Louise, said something I think we all need to hear from time to time, be reminded of. He said, "You know what I have that 90% of this town doesn't? "A work ethic. I always come as prepared as I can ever be." He's actually gone to auditions with sides he's cobbled together to give his character more depth and to make for a more flowing audition. Then, he'll give a photocopied versiont o the reader. And they let hi do it. Because they're SO impressed with his f'in preparation!

When auditioning for Michael Mann, he kindly declined to read the sides. He said he had no idea who his character was, or where he was, or what the movie was even about. He said he needed to see a script. When Mann refused him, he said, "Put yourself in my shoes. How would you feel if a producer asked if you were interested in a part, but wouldn't give you a script, or told you when the movie took place or where it was or who was in it, but wanted you to do it. What would you do?" Mann handed him a script. He signed a confidentiality agreement. A few days later, he booked the role. BALLS OUT. He told me, "I was either going to go down sucking because I had no idea what I was doing. Or I would go down with my integrity. Better than that, he ended up working with one of our best. I shall think of him when I read for THE DIRECTOR. (she says with nothing by hope in her heart).

3. Which leads me to my 3rd update... I called back the director!!! Left a voicemail. And now I know what I'm going to say to him when we finally speak on the phone. I feel like a kid in high school -- I'm sooooo excited to talk to him. The idea of working with him? Like winning the lead in the school play spring term senior year. Working with this director IS Spring Term Senior Year.

So... Here's to being thankful, to being balls out & to a rockin' spring term senior year.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Director Called. Yayayayayayayayayayayayayayayay.

Quote of the day: "You still have your MySpace? That's from like the '60's." -- thirteen year-old boy to his tutor in Brentwood.

What a day!!! I am gloooowing... And so, I have three updates to share with you all. Three juicy ones.

1. I purchased a super cool app for my Iphone created by my friend and fellow Barnard Graduate, the very well-respected Heidi Levitt -- one of the best casting directors in the business. She's cast JFK, The Joy Luck Club, and Nixon among others.

It's SUPER COOL. The Actor Genie tells you what is casting in Film and TV in NYC -- who is casting it -- and it gives you all the project's info -- location, studio, producers. It gives you tips from the best in the industry. I found two great leads today (to two movies!) and I immediately contacted my agent and a casting director friend all because of this little $9.99 app!

Perhaps the hugest reason I adore this app is because it puts the power in the hands of the actor. You have access to all the BREAKDOWNS. This app puts you IN THE KNOW. It EMPOWERS you. So -- anyone who has ever asked about breakdowns or about who is working on what and "what have you been going out on?" The answers all lie in this user-friendly, adorable, super-informative phone app.


2. THE DIRECTOR called me back!!!! He is in pre-production on a movie and he called me from NYC tonight!!! I am going to have to save his voicemail to an MP3 because I always, always, always want to remember what it feels like to get that very first golden phone call. Tomorrow, I am calling him back!!! Wish me luck... I am going to be brave (Zoiks! Zoiks! Zoiks!) and tell him that I will fly out to NYC to read for him, I will memorize the script, I will put myself on tape, I will tell him in plain words that... I find him to be extraordinary and I would LOVE to read for him. To come in and read for him. That we've met once and I truly believe we could create something special together -- something fresh and unique. A refreshing new face. A risk. Keeps things exciting! We shall see... :):):)

3. Bekah sent the first 28 pages of the script and it is DAMN GOOD. My friend Matt Richardson and I sat in the dimly-lit Damiano with its eerie B food rating and over a his beer and my chocolate soda, we read it out loud. And we were laughing out loud. She got soooo many details about me just from watching me on stage or from just knowing it for no apparent reason, sensing it -- that I'm like a hummingbird, I love ravioli's, I'd be friendly to a random homelessy man on the subway... I am THRILLED. We are looking to haver the first version of the script by March 1st. I am already setting up meetings with investors!!!

One more thing -- I also called a casting director because a producer friend told me that I could use his name "carte blanche." I got a super cool casting assistant named Katie and she had me email my info over. It felt great -- putting myself out there. Putting ourselves out there.

I may even tell The Director about how in high school, I insisted that I get a role on the school play -- I was kind of a diva (wink, wink Dash!) and I got the part. Chutzpah, my former boss at GMA and dear friend, Joel Siegel would say. Chutzpah.

Life is short and we are young and passionate and we have nothing to lose. p.s. I will say this when I am eighty.

Goodnight my fellow artists and brave souls... tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther... And one fine morning...

p.s. You will be my very first comment -- the first one to break my blogger hymen if you can guess who wrote that quote :)


Hey guys, I just spent like an hour on this juicy, juicy blog for today and it disappeared. I may have pressed a tab or something -- but all the photos and the italics and everything literally disappeared and didn't save... Sniff, sniff. And not the happy Sniff of my children's book. The massively sadly frustrated almost collegiate kid whose paper erased from her computer the night -- late night -- before it's due sniff.

And so, tomorrow morning I shall re-write my evening's blog. As my eyes are weary and my mind needs a rest.

And thus, I leave you all with a Leonard Cohen classic. Enjoy.

Quote of the day:

Brentwood School 15 year-old to his tutor:
"If I'm drifting off while you're talking, I'm just imagining the hotels I'm going to build when I'm older."

p.s. Coming attraction for tomorrow's blog -- I did meet with the producer! I got an email from a HUGE editor and 25 pages of my screenplay arrived via the web tonight!!! Tomorrow morning, we shall delve further and the day will be golden...

p.p.s. Natalie is the one who told me I need my own "Star Vehicle." This one's for you, Nat.

Loooove & Night Night,

Monday, January 25, 2010

Leonard Cohen - Hallelujah

Song of the Day... Let us all be inspired by the amaaaazingly soulful Leonard Cohen...

Judy, Braxton & Tying up "Loose Ends."

Quote du jour: "If my dog were a man, he'd be hot." Girl in the Miracle Mile on her cellphone.
Hi guys! I am in the midst of watching "The Blind Side" on DVD at home, with my Gatsby cuddled up at the end of the couch, both of us under the afghan, and yes -- I am watching the movie again! After I juuust saw it Saturday night, but SB's performance in it is SO phenomenal and I LOVE all of the acting actually -- the lead make who plays Michael is sooo touching that yes -- I so wanted to watch it again! And this, my dear friends, is beloved moment in time. I was sooo sleeeepy today and this -- stopping the movie to blog -- is my treat!

And today was truly a groundbreaking day!!! First of all, I awoke to an email from Judy Clain! And though some of you are -- almost all of you -- are probably wondering who she is -- she is none other than the extraordinarily successful editor at Little, Brown who discovered Julie Powell's blog, Julie and Julia, and turned it into a movie! I met her last summer at the beautiful Breadloaf Writer's Conference in Middlebury, Vermont. She also graduated from Barnard College. And we talked for 45 minutes. She dug the title of my memoir, Mighty Forces Are Gathering on Your Behalf, which is what my Dad would say to my mom when she was sick and needing a prayer. He culled it from Winston Churchill's talks her gave to his British soldiers during World War II. Only my history-loving dad :)

Sigh. Happy sigh. Very happy sigh. When I met her in August, she gave me her card and referred me to a William Morris literary agent. I facebooked her and emailed her twice and didn't hear anything back. But I have to say, I knew like I was talking about yesterday -- when you truly believe your own story -- that she was going to get back to me. And though it took about 7 weeks, she did!

In her own words: Hi Kieren!

Definitely send your pages when you’re ready!!


I lit up like a child on Christmas morning! And the key here is to follow up, stay in touch -- with always gratitude and following your gut. I am STOKED to get my pages to her!!! This was the fire I needed to get me going. And I have to say, I thank my dear friend Kevin Flynn, talented screenwriter, playwright and director, for setting me on the focused path last Spring. He told me to focus on one thing at a time. He told me that you can send in an excerpt from your book. He told me that I have many talents and to not let myself get distracted. Thank you Kev. Since his words, I have gotten a 5 book series deal and now a MAJOR EDITOR interested in seeing my memoir -- which I, full circle moment, started at Barnard!

Second bit of news, I did in fact meet with the successful independent film producer, Braxton Pope. (He's the handsome bearded man below). Cornell Graduate, super-smart -- anyone who describes an interview for a college scholarship as having 3 older people "eviscerating" him is play in my book! We met for drinks at The Wilshire in Santa Monica at 7:30pm. I met him through my friend, the super funny screenwriter, Thomas Moffet who wrote Shrink. We met for an hour and a half and he gave me golden advice. He said, "You only get the first look once. So before you send your screenplay to the two main people you want attached to the project, have it completed and as perfect as can be." He also said he is going to send me some useful information about getting a film funded. We sat for an hour and a half and I asked him a ton of questions about his path and mine and what advice he had for me. He said, "You have great access. Just make sure you have the project perfected before sending it out." And he recommended I reach out to my prep school and to Barnard/Columbia to meet with "money people." And I can tell them that I have certain people "reading" the movie -- which I will shortly!

And this leads me to my 3rd great update! Bekah sent me the first 25 pages of my movie!!! And she said she had so much fun writing it! And that right there makes me feel very good about it. I shall dig into it tomorrow morning! And the picture I attached is because as I was telling Braxton over my glass of cabernet, when I did a reading in New York for Loose Ends, the modern-day classic written by Michael Weller, came and reviewed me. They said that I was "an unstoppable force." (below is a picture of me with two cast members from the reading). And Natalie Portman, with whom I co-starred in The Diary of Anne Frank on Broadway over ten years ago when we were just kids, came to the reading. We remained very close friends. And after the reading as she passed me a bouquet of flowers, she said to me, "You need your own star vehicle, Kier. That was amazing."

And as I sat alongside Braxton and sipped wine and questioned him about movie-making, smiling to myself, knowing that I had the beginnings of my script awaiting me at home, I thought -- "Natalie... I am creating it myself."

The happiest of sighs.

Good night all. And keep dreaming!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Seeing Before Believing.

"If I were a movie star, I would be Aaron Hammond." In My Improv Class today with the great character actor, Stephen Tobolowsky (and you know your guys are going, 'ohhhh, THAT'S who her teacher is!) He's fabulous! After all, he DID star in Thelma and Louise, which makes him okay in my book!

And today, he had us sit up in front of the class and answer his questions. It's a Stanislavki technique for getting under your character's skin -- finding out more about this person you are going to play. And so, he asks this hilarious, super-self-possessed African American guy in our class to come up to the front of the class and sit in the chair and answer his questions, which is the exercise. And there are 4 levels to the questions.

So, he asks Aaron, "If you were a movie star, who would you be?" And his response was, "If I were a movie star, I would be Aaron Hammond." And the whole class kind of wowed. And Stephen -- whom the great casting director and cool friend John Papsidera calls Tobo -- said that in all his years of teaching this class, no one has ever said that. Said themselves. They are always saying someone else.

And I got to thinking -- that is what makes someone a star. Is knowing in the deepest part of yourself that you want to be absolutely no one but you. Because you are filling a hole that exists in this industry. That there is no other star who shines as brightly as you.

And I feel this way. And I thank Aaron for having the courage to vociferate it.

Then, tonight, I had another class and our teacher was saying that in life, you have to tell yourself a story and repeat it to yourself throughout the day and -- especially when things are super tough and frustrating and you want to yelp and squish someone's face in -- she says with a smile! -- you have to remind yourself of who you are. What story you have created for yourself. And when you truly believe it -- your story -- you -- then you succeed.

I also read that Michael Jackson -- after he won only one Grammy for Off The Wall, he went around his house and put post-its everywhere saying, "I am the greatest entertainer in the world." He put them in his car on the sun visor, taped them to the mirror in his bathroom, placed them on his night stand, and on his kitchen cabinets... But the bottom line is, he worked SO hard and he also constantly affirmed his own dream, and he did it. He achieved his greatest dream.

And thus... my blog! Because I am "sounding my barbaric yawp" that I am a movie star and a best-selling author this year. And that because of this -- on a deeper level -- I will be able to reach and help and love soooo many more people in this world.

p.s. Appts for this week -- supposed to be meeting with a successful indie film producer tomorrow night -- I'll let you know how (and if) that goes. I'm meeting with a financier on Tuesday, and tomorrow night the amaaaazing Bekah Brunstetter -- !!!my screenwriter!!! -- is emailing me the first 25 pages of my movie!!! And many more exciting updates shall come this week... :)

p.p.s. My editor has fedexed me two copies of SNIFF -- my children's book -- and I should receive them in the mail tomorrow!!! We are deciding on the final lay out!!!

The Blind Side of Life.

Okay, this is going to be a short one because -- Zoiks! -- I juuust got home from a movie and I juuust remembered that I forgot to blog today. And my promise is to blog every day, but alas... I am going to blog twice on Sunday and call it even. This is honestly going to work on what's hardest for me. The consistency of success. Making it happen every day. Not just when I "feel like it." Or when it's convenient. Success is every day getting out there and doing something that stretches yourself beyond your comfort zone.

So... alas... Here I am. Gatsby needs to go outside for a pee pee. (I need to stay inside for one :) But I shall keep my word and blog quickly!

I drove to The Mann's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, in front of which I passed Michael Jackson's star on the Walk of Fame and saw a girl kneeling down to smile near his name as her friend snapped a photo...


And I ambled up the stairs to the 9:20pm screening where I met my friend Jade for this movie I've been hearing sooo much about -- mainly because I wanted to watch Sandra Bullock. I wanted to see what won her the Golden Globe. I wanted to witness a piece of her magical, record-breaking career. And she was ON FIRE. What an f-in performance! I LOVED the movie. And I know that there are cynical types out there, perhaps some scowling hipsters who are thinking, "That's such a cute movie." But the thing is -- it's a TRUE story. And beautifully written and directed. Understated performances. The lead was fantastic as well -- so difficult to be quiet in a role and still commanding, endearing. And he absolutely was.

And it inspired me. Because this was a story of each person in that house -- including Michael (the African American boy they take in) -- going beyond what made them comfortable -- in an effort to help someone else out. In order to love. And ultimately they all became more extraordinary human beings as a result of pushing themselves. Of pushing each other. Of going beyond what is expected. And loving.

Yep, this was my day. About seeing this movie. And also, I am SO digging reaching out to college professors on facebook, prep school teachers and friends, playwrights, ex-boy friends... Daily I am doing it. Why? I am streeeeetttttccchhhiiinnnggg myself. I am making myself uncomfortable. I am looking out for my own blind side. And I going for it.

Love. Love. Love.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Rainy Friday... Sunny Ambitions.

Dialogue of the day: Marta, my best friend from Barnard College, describing her two new goldfish:
"I finally found a name for them this morning. Buddy Holly."
Me: "Wait. I thought you had two fish."
Marta: "I do. Their names are Buddy and Holly."

Where Gatsby wishes he were today... On this rainy Friday in Los Angeles... He wants to close his eyes and mysteriously reappear in Lancaster where he can run around freely and jump in the water and play endlessly... preferably with bones hanging from the sky!

Today is a rainy day and thus I am baking chocolate chip cookies from scratch! I needed motivation -- because as I trekked to Santa Monica to meet up with the entrepreneur, Mark E. Roberts, it was sleeting and pouring rain and suddenly sunshine was bursting forth! And though our lunch was yummy and he is super intelligent -- a bit of a golden child -- we are meeting next Tuesday to discuss my film. He has produced films before -- with Joshua Jackson and Dennis Hopper. And moved down to LA from SF where he was an electrical engineer for ten years. He told himself he needed a reason -- a real substantial reason for moving down to LA and so he applied to UCLA Business School and he got in. And what was super cool about it -- is that he said he had absolutely no doubt whatsoever that he would get in. The truth is -- the belief comes before the reality. It's like I was just telling Marta -- what you believe -- truly believe -- the world believes back.

And so I am excited for our next meeting. To see what he can create together.

And then. I took a HUGE RISK today. And I called a director who called me a few months ago. After I'd written my 50 letters. Okay. To explain -- I sat down in July and I wrote 50 letters to people in the industry with whom I wanted to work. And I felt like Horton Hatches The Egg. I wrote the letters in Echo Park at Downbeat on Friday night. I wrote them in Vermont during my writer's conference last summer. I wrote them in the guest room of my Dad's house in NJ, I stayed in on weekends in LA and wrote them. And what I did was -- I wanted to go beyond just "I am an actress and you are a director" and so "I want to work with you." I researched them -- I found out for example that Rob Reiner has an organization with his wife called, I am Your Child Foundation. And they basically aim to help children from lower income families and I felt a connection -- because my mom was a trailblazer for Head Start in the 70's and 80's. And so, I wrote him about this. And Spielberg about The Shoah Foundation. And I waited and waited, like Horton... And I heard nothing back. Except for the occasional returned letter with the wrong address.

And then, at Lulu's birthday party at Mozza Pizzeria, I got a phone call from a director. An amaaaaaaazing director. One of the best in Hollywood at the moment -- and actually for over the past ten years. And he asked me to call him back and I did and then he did and we kep missing each other. And I called him a few times after that. And left messages. And sent a Christmas card.

And so. Today I called him again. And we shall see. His films are quirky and intelligent and original and his actors are almost always -- in fact I believe they are always nominated for Academy Awards. And I would be honored to work with him.

p.s. -- I am learning the lay out here, so please bear with me :)

I am hatching the egg, so to speak. So -- not a huge day of seeing results -- but a day of planting seeds... And hatching eggs...

And wishing that the sun would shine so that Gatsby can play again!!!

p.s. Down below is an excerpt from my memoir, "Mighty Forces Are Gathering On Your Behalf." Enjoy! If you are reading this... :):):)

Cruel, cruel summer…

I was in the sixth grade then – well, on my way to seventh. It was a sticky, hot Jersey summer. A Cruel, cruel summer as the song goes. And I had this friend Rachel whose mother happened to work for my uncle who was a therapist. So, I remember my parents calling him on the phone to get some advice. And I could just picture the graven look on his face. His mustache seemed to make things more serious, as if it were hiding his true mouth – a frown or a tremble or maybe even a smile – like things will work out.

I held onto this idea just as I held onto my stuffed animal dog-bear – one of those terminally cute, but what was he exactly? Kind of stuffed animals. He was a Gund. I took him with me to Rachel’s townhouse where she and her Mom lived and I held him and somehow felt safer. Rachel and her Mom took me in like the good Jewish broken family they were. And we talked about things.

“How is your Mom doing?” Cheryl managed to get out, her smallish eyes, red on the edges. “She’s with my Dad,” I replied, my fingers digging into Dogbear’s neck. Rachel stared into the mirror and swung her one leg out in front of the other, which created a sort of displeased, chic look which we were all searching for when we were twelve. We wore Benetton and Esprit – but we wanted to look a little upset about everything, pissed off really at the state of things. And Rachel had mastered this look – her head slanting, about to fall off her neck, her feathered hair in place. And her sleeves always pulled up, as if ready for some hard work. Hard work never to be done.

And here I was. In the middle of them – “What would you like for dinner, Kieren?” Cheryl managed over her dust busting in an attempt to clean up the globs of hair her Persian cat had most recently shed. My eyes were puffing up from the fur. “Oh – whatever you have, is fine,” I said, my mouth barely smiling. I secretly loved being taken care of – by another Mother. Something about it felt so special – Cheryl’s Coke and Cheryl’s salad. The other once again. The middle once again. Ahhhh… I was home – just not mine.

And the thing is, Rachel was also super popular then and that’s what I wanted more than anything – to be one of those girls – the popular crowd in junior high is akin to royalty and Rachel was the queen. I was merely a kid who went from roller skating while singing Muppet Movie songs with my decidedly unpopular neighbor, Christine -- to being recruited into the popular crowd – made up of girls from mostly divorced parents, out of Brooklyn, Jewish, and ready to gang up on you at any given moment. Part of me was thrilled; internally swooning, that I was an easy recruit – the thrill of the potential gang-up, the envy over the Esprit outfits they flung around haphazardly, the feeling of being wanted by the best was intoxicating and still… the other part of me longed to be roller-skating. But I had to grow up – I was now twelve and elementary school was a pebble in the dust, a forgotten road. I had arrived. I was going to be cool – I was learning the ways to dress and I was noticing boys noticing me. I was a constant phone talker. I wore Reeboks and quoted from, “We are The World.” I led the girls around school as if they were my pups and I even became President of my class. Also, my Mom was dying.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Umami & Nelsan & John Wells...

Hey guys,

Welp, I have some pretty cool updates for today's blog...

First of all, Umami Burger was OUT OF THIS WORLD!!! I am a vegetarian and the Umami Burger Vegetarian was stupidly yummy! I ended up chatting with the funny staff.

Quote of the day: Joey, the newest waiter to the staff: "I quit singing when I quit doing sit ups."

Nelsan Ellis, my beloved talented friend and the amaaazing star behind Trueblood's Lafayette, was a no show!!! He'd partied the night before and alas... I trekked out in the rain on my lonesome and thankfully, Adrian the manager, Joey a super funny waiter with whom I invented a POWER BALLADS music list for Umami -- made everything better! It's located at 1520 North Cahuenga Blvd. between Selma and Sunset. In this super cool brick passageway before you hit Urban Outfitters.

Definitely order the sweet potato fries!

And yes... dear Nelsan owes me one -- and I think I'm gettin' his ass to take my ass back to Umami.

Onto juicier career updates:
Paulie Cuschieri emailed me his script Quinn for me to take a look at homeboy is SUPER TALENTED. I LOVE the role of Catherine!!!

And... last night, I went to a WGA Party -- they send me stuff because I play Paula Abdul in this demonstration against Freemantle -- I'll attach the link tomorrow :) You're gonna laugh your arses off! I think :)

And I'd read that John Wells -- creator of "West Wing" and "E.R." was going to be there. And because I am BALLS OUT this year. Because I know this is MY YEAR. I typed up a letter to him -- no headshot, Jade and I decided I did not want to be so presumptuous. And after having IMDB'ed him, I edited it 3 times and got to the party juuuust as he was leaving. (his pic is attached too!)

And like out of a movie... I watched him walk past me, my letter in my capacious bag, and I thought -- "Kieren, if this really is your year, you need to be uncomfortable. Put yourself out there." And I chased him down the street. When I caught up with him across the street -- and yelled, "John!" after him, he kindly said, "Oh my gosh, I didn't mean to make you run after me!" And I said, "Oh no. It's worth it. I am a believer in you and the TV you create with such intelligent, poignant and colorful characters. I've written you a letter because -- I am... inspired."

And he was lovely. And thanked me. And I skipped back to the party! And imbibed in a free glass of wine :)

Risk-taking!!! Exciting...

And Lesly Kahn the career coach sent me a lovely letter -- she wrote, "YOu're bound to break through any day now."

And as the jews would say, "From your mouth, to God's ears."

Yay!!! Have a lovely day all... And take risks.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wine with Paulie, Tea with Joannie & Umami with Nelsan!!!

Please click on the above link to be inspired... Because Lord knows we all need some of that these days!

I just had tea this morning with one of the best talent managers in this city! JOANNIE BURSTEIN -- we worked together when I was living in NYC and now we are great friends! She has a great family -- adores her children and her husband. She reps Patrick Dempsey and Keri Russell, Lake Bell among others... And she was SO inspiring about my year! She said to me, "Kieren, you keep doing what you are doing. You are doing everything right."

I am off to have lunch at Umami -- Ashton swears by it! I'm meeting with my amazingly talented friend, NELSAN ELLIS who plays the devastatingly original and moving character of Lafayette on "TRUEBLOOD." He is also a writer and filmmaker. A Julliard Graduate. Super excited to hear what golden advice he can send my way!

And last night, I had drinks at Bodega with the about to be HUGE up and coming screenwriter, PAULIE CUSCHIERI. His movie starring Anthony Hopkins is coming out later this year!!! It's about Leonardo Da Vinci!!! He sent me a script to read -- we shall see :):):)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Editing Sniff with my Publisher!!!

Honestly guys -- and I hope you are all out there, reading this... :)

I dreamt of saying these words when I was little -- the word "editor" could have turned me on as a teenager!

I feel SO stoked to have an editor -- Richard Gore -- and he is fantastic! It is SO fun to be on the phone together -- putting together punctuation and picking specific words to make the story the best it can be!!!

Perhaps I am revealing myself to be a nerd -- but those who know me intimately know that I absolutely, unabashedly am one :)

So... tahdah!!! I'd like to share with you all what my out of this worldly talented illustrator emailed me today. Pages 2 through 6 colorized. Enjoy!!!

And also -- a note of inspiration to all of you -- I wrote this five book series 8 years ago when I was a kid and I just got the book deal last year. So -- timing is "of the essence," as Shakespeare said. An illusion. Hold on to your dreams and never stop. They will come true exactly when they are meant to... Keep pushing them into the sun. And soon -- they shall catch fire. Zoiks! I hope that was taken as I meant it.

p.s. If you are interested in hearing MF's voicemail to me, make a comment and I will out it up. (And then, out of respect to the great man, take it down.)


Monday, January 18, 2010

Passing the Time - Monologue

This is the monologue that my amaaaazingly generous friend John Beck, who works at NASA, and happened to be working on a project on Outerspace with MF insisted upon showing him. And Morgan ASKED if he could leave me a voicemail!!! And he said to me, "I found it amazing.... You've got what it takes."

And whenever I have a doubt creep i -- like, "Who do I think I am with these big, big dreams, I listen to Morgan's voice and my faith settles back inside of me and I find myself smiling... :):):)

Editing my children's book, Sniff!

Sitting at the cozy, colorful, and bustling Novel Cafe in Santa Monica, editing my children's book, Sniff! It's the first book being published in my series of children's books based on the five senses. It comes out this August.

This feels GREAT. To be editing my book that I wrote like 8 years ago when I was a kid who'd juuuust moved out here.

I'm attaching an illustration for you guys to see. I hope you LOVE the illustrations by my amaaaazing illustrator, the one and only Isabelle Decenciere as much as I do :)

p.s. Later on, I am going to share with you guys the monologue I did, which compelled MORGAN FREEMAN to leave me VOICEMAIL!!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Improv Class with the great character actor Stephen Tobolowsky!!!

So... today in Burbank, I had my second Improv class with Stephen Tobolowsky.

How does this play into my dream -- making my movie? This is such an extraordinary opportunity to streeeeettttccchhh as an actress! I feel blessed to be in this class -- and most of the people in it are not actors. They're just regular people -- and it's super inspiring... A class that's demanding that I write down what I see and how it affects me -- so, I'll share with you what I heard today on NPR. And honestly, I am in class at the perfect moment because with our screenplay and with my books -- I am not only witnessing life, but I am also chronicling mine -- for the first time. (I've included the photo from our MIX TAPE One Act Festival -- this is the character we are bringing to film later this year! Her name is Eliza.)

So -- this minister who was with Martin Luther King, Jr. when he was assassinated, told the interviewer he remembered that when he heard the shot, he wasn't sure what it was -- but then, he looked out into the crowds and saw everyone ducking... And then, he looked back at Martin and he had a hole in his face. And then, he fixated on his tie -- Martin's tie knot had flipped upside down from the impact of the bullet.

And when asked what he would preach about tomorrow in celebration of his dear friend -- he preaches in Chicago -- he said that Robert Louis Stevenson was a sickly child and that he would spend a lot of time in his room... And he would take his lantern and climb up the ladder towards the the dark night and whenever the lantern would light up the night, he said he was "poking holes in the darkness." And he said that this is what Martin was doing -- "poking holes in the darkness"

And with my memoir and kids books and my movie, this is my intention -- to poke holes in the darkness -- love more, expose new talent -- show the world that now is the time. And that dreams know no age or experience or time -- they live in us and when the moment hits, we MUST poke holes in the darkness...

Friday, January 15, 2010

I Have It! part 2

This is the second part of my play. Enjoy :)

I Have It Part 1

I Have It Part 1

Page 1 of SNIFF!

Day 4 of becoming a movie star life and a best-selling author.

Day 4 -- yes, I missed blogging yesterday -- but I shall NEVER miss again! Promise to myself.

Okay, today I have decided that -- after speaking with my great friend Robbie -- that I am going to wait until after I have received 25 pages of the movie script from the great and talented Bekah, before I bring it to the attention of the 2 people I am most excited to attach to the movie. One perhaps as a director. One perhaps as a producer and/or star.

These two guys roooooock. And they are friends and fans. I am attaching the link below so you can all see the play they saw me in which brought them aboard as fans! My movie is called -- well, the working title is called, "Happy Birthday/I'm Dead."

Check it out.

Now -- I need to jump in the shower and edit my children's book, Sniff! And re-write the first chapter, the opening of my memoir. It's called, "Mighty Forces Are Gathering on Your Behalf."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 2 of assembling my dream...piece by piece!

Today I started to edit my children's book, Sniff! I also finished my bio for my story being published in Women Reinvented.

And I thought about my film -- and got a little overwhelmed thinking about it -- but good overwhelmed -- like, "Wow. I am really doing this."

I am looking to assemble a crew, including a DP. I am putting together my cast list. And beginning conversations with potential director and co-star.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

i am making a movie!!!

it's been my dream since i was little to be a movie star and this is the year that my dream is coming true...

i have bought the feature rights to the one act i just starred in and we are making a movie!!! my goal is to shoot in NYC this fall...