Friday, May 4, 2012

Day 167: So You Think You Can Act. Act. Act. Back to Reality (NYC Layoff)

For those of you who write:  "How did you like the weather in LA?"  "Will you do a blog post on your favorite restaurants in Minneapolis?"  "Visit any fun museums in Denver?".....

I apologize in advance that I will never post about these things.... well, not on purpose at least.  

I bring this up because, believe it or not, my time on this tour is wrapping up soon.  And even as I re-read my most recent post, lamenting my life's "misfortunes", I can hear my mother's voice saying with accent:  "Don't be an asshole.  You're life is good and you are an ungrateful person.  Take the time to stop and smell the bean curd." (no.... a racist joke is far superior to the truth that my mother has never in fact asked me to smell a bean curd.)

And without a the AMERICAN IDIOT tour, what the fuck will the Asian-AMERICAN IDIOT blog be about? 

"All I know is, she was right.  I am an idiot
It’s even on my birth certificate in so many words."

I guess that will never change.  This blog has been about my experience with the show but the theme has always been the same.  My experience in the theater.  So perhaps the show may change in the future but my life as a theater artist will not.

This week's entry based on many tweets:  "I want to be an actor, do you have any advice?"

I preface this with: I always have advice.  I don't fancy myself a guru on anything, just opinionated and sometimes dangerously so.  I have advice that has proven itself to be good for me and at times disastrous for me.  In the end, you are in control of your own life's path....

Rewind.  "In the end, you are in control of your own life's path".  That is all the advice you need in life really.

Let me break it down just a few steps further.  Just three steps:


But what that forces you to do is to get a really good sense of who you are, what you want, and how you view your ability to accomplish things.  What you will soon realize is that no one can truly stand in your own way but yourself.

I am fantastic at being my own worst enemy.  And often times I'll blame it on others.  Example:  She says, I'm not right for the role. He says, I don't sing like that.  They say, that experience is not my cup of tea.

Fuck what he/she/they said.  But, in fact, it is not their fault.  Everyone has opinions.  But it is MY fault if I let others identify who I am.  This sounds generic and redundant but really think about it for a minute.  Have you really ever been open to the idea that "I am the master of my own fate"?

Ask yourself.  "What is it that I want".  Then be more specific.  Then be even more specific.  And then, prepare to bust your balls.  

"I want to be an actor"-  "I want to be a musical theater actor"-  "I want to be in rock musicals"- "I want to be in American Idiot"---  that is the a progression that I used to my advantage.

But then the voice in your head goes... You don't have any acting training.  You don't have any singing training.  You don't sing like a rock star.  You don't know how to play guitar!  Oh fuck, what should you do.....

Um, not to sound like a total douche.... but this was true of me at some point and only I had the power to change all that.  It took time.  And at times it looked impossible-

Because the voice in your head takes a devilish tone like Golem:  It's too late, these fuckers have been doing it since they were 4.  You don't have the money to take lessons.  You live in Tulsa not NYC.

Drop kick Golem into the lava and find a way.  There is always a way to make something out of nothing.  That is the whole basis of theater, is it not?

Yes, some kids have rich parents.  Yes, some kids have won the gene pool lottery.  Yes, some kids just happened to fuck the right producer.  But that was never my path.  This kid just took a double shift at a TGIFridays, and never fucking looked back.


A. You can sleep when you're dead. 
B. You're never above doing anything.
C. It may seem cult-like but the Power of Yes is what gets shit done in the world.

Ask and you shall receive.  I've heard this a thousand times.  But be prepared to receive nothing (again, nothing is something).  It doesn't hurt to ask.  Ask someone on a date.  Ask someone for advice.  Ask someone to give you a chance.  Ask ask ask ask ask......  and most always someone will NOT be able to give you exactly what you want.  Then ask ask ask ask ask ask again.

Whatever modicum of anything they give you when they finally do.  Use it.  Cherish it.  Turn it into a positive for yourself:

I once asked a writer if he had any time for me to audition for a piece that he was workshopping next week.  He was well known in the business.  He said he didn't have room for me then, but he'd keep me in mind..... I called bullshit on him.  I said, "Thank you, but if you have a 10 minutes in the near future, I'd love to sing for you live one day. But I understand you are busy.  Here is a demo I did myself as a sample of my work.  Would love to work with you in the future."  I lied, I paid $300 for that demo and have been shopping it around since.  I replaced the lead in the workshop next week as that actor came up with a conflict.

This shit happens all the time.  Put yourself out there.  And ask for help constantly.

And when you start to feel guilty..... like a whore in church..... or even like a whoring actor asking for opportunities, you will have these two saving graces, to remove that guilt, in your back pocket:

1.  I work and study hard at my craft and I can back up my work with integrity.
2.  Karma is supreme.  When someone asks for help in the future, I will be the first to volunteer with a hearty "Yes!" 


Is this an affliction of the generation I'm a part of, the business I'm in or the product of Chinese immigrant parenting-  the idea of "what I have now is not good enough"?

My opinion: what you have is neither good nor bad.  The path you stand on is just a path.  It is YOU who decides on if it is a good path only if it points you forward.  It is YOU who chooses to walk or run or do pirouettes in a floral sarong.

"Stop and smell the bean curd."

What is acting?  Bringing a truthful representation of life on stage.  Being able to access your emotions and experiences to inform the work you present to an audience.  Having an opinion on everything and everyone.  That is acting to me.

And so the brilliant thing about the craft of acting is that you are constantly studying:

-I went to the grocery store today.  I know what it is like to be responsible.
-I went to see a show today and I thought the writing was terrible.  I know what I would write instead.
 -My ex-boyfriend posted on his facebook that he's in a new relationship.  I know what it is to be unjustly devastated.
-I saw this man call a stranger a cunt.  I wanted to punch a wall for her.  

Just by living life you have won the day.  That is worth a celebration!  If that isn't convincing then:

-Take a dance class
-Take a voice lesson
-Just make enough money to afford a voice lesson
-Book a show at the local community theater
-Memorize your favorite Jim Carey monologue
-Script the conversation your mother and father had over coffee

Any of these things is worth the same celebration as if you booked your first Broadway show.  You may disagree, I bet you do.  I challenge you to!  But, I would like to re-examine the business of theater.  Often times people wonder what the secret is to booking a show.  What makes someone stand out.  There are thousands of talented people.  There are thousands of good looking people.  But who gets the job?

The answer:  The person who the creative staff could imagine themselves working with happily for several weeks, months, years to come.

Theater is a business of PEOPLE.

So if you are in constant celebration, you are instantly attractive to me as a real and pleasant person.  That, in turn, changes how I view you.  I put you on my list of people I want to work with.  Although, there is one side effect:  You also get to live a happy fulfilled life.


I can already hear the pessimists out there rolling their eyes at this sudden Buddhist-like transcription being pawned off as "Acting Advice".  Noses titled towards the sky because I'm telling you to dream big and you can succeed.

To those holier-than-thou-arrogants,
All I have to say is this:

For years I have collected playbills from dozens of Broadway shows.  I examined every headshot, studied the bios of the actors, taken every theater quiz, read them cover to cover including actors recommendations to restaurants.  I never threw a single Playbill out, ever. 

You should see my childhood bedroom!

I only ever dreamed that one day my name and my picture would grace the pages under the Playbill logo. 

Well to them I say, "SUCK IT.  I win."

Best of luck to you beautiful crazy fuck nuts out there.  Me and your future self are rooting for you!



  1. I have a box of Playbills. Every single one. I'm glad I'm not the only one who saves them all.
    And just so you know, I've heard Amanda say "SUCK IT. I win." more than once. :P

  2. Dear Kelvin,

    You have managed to make me cry on more than one of your blog posts. I love your honesty and everything you have to say. I'm so inspired by your trials and tribulations and by your amazing success! I wish I could give you a hug.