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Acting in my First Feature Film

I’ve been a little MIA these past few weeks and haven’t been keeping up with my blog or Instagram as much as I should. I’m still here! But this week I’m writing all about why I’ve been a little MIA…filming my first movie!

What an experience this has been! I can’t even begin to explain it. It’s crazy to think back on the countless auditions where I wanted a role SO bad and would spend days thinking about it. And this time, the opposite happened. I did the audition and that week just so happened to be a crazy hectic week. I left the audition and didn’t even think about it. I let it all go and decided it was out of my control. The next day they asked me to come back for a callback! After the callback, they called me the next morning to tell me I got the part and from there on out has been an absolute whirlwind.

Expectations & Predictions

Leading up to filming, anything and everything was running through my mind. I journaled about a lot of this because I was SO excited but also completely overwhelmed. My character is one of the main characters along with two other women and we are in almost every single scene of the film, except for a few flashbacks. How was I supposed to memorize an entire feature length script by day 1?! We also got the script in full one week before filming, All I had ever done were scenes for auditions or acting class. What will the other actors be like?! How will I balance my day job/time off?! Will I be any good? Haha. I mean the questions were endless. Like anything else in life, I had to tell myself to stop worrying or playing the what-if game and just focus on doing my job really well.

Set Life

The saying “hurry up and wait” truly came into play on this film. I experienced first hand what it’s like to arrive on set at 7am and begin hair and makeup, be done with that by 9am, and wait around to film until 12 or 1pm. Not everyday was like this, but it’s something I hadn’t quite gone through before. This movie filmed in LA so I was lucky to go home at the end of every day. But. you really have to work at keeping your energy up while waiting to film and sometimes that can be challenging. One day we only got one scene in before lunch. After lunch all I wanted to do was take a nap but we had to push through and get that energy up again.

I also knew the days would be long, usually 10-12 hour days, but our last day the cast and crew agreed to push through and we did a 20 hour day! That was insane. I’m so thankful that everyone on our crew was professional, friendly, and hard working. Everyone from sound, to camera, to the MUA.

Getting into Character

One of the most exciting things for me was putting all the preparation and character work I had done leading up to the film into action. As they would call us to set each day, sitting there under the lights, going over my “prior instant” as my character, right before they would call action, I just LOVED that feeling. Getting to feel like I’m my character and delving completely into this other world made me feel like I’m exactly where I’m meant to be. I love exploring people, their motivations, what makes them who they are, etc. Doing this film only made me more excited to get to dive into other characters in the future.

What I learned / Advice (to my future self, too)

There are so many takeaways from this film, probably too many to list, but I thought I would list a few!

  • Show up prepared.I always feel better when I know that I’ve prepared as much as I can. My acting teacher told me that Meryl Streep shows up to the table read completely memorized and ready to go. That is dedication!
  • It’s okay to ask the Director if you need something.There were times when myself and the other actors felt that we would be able to focus more on our performances and just beour characters if we didn’t have to wing the blocking. We asked to go over the blocking of scenes a few times and that made the world of difference. Sometimes I think the Directors have so much on their plate, it’s okay to ask for things.
  • Be confident in your choices.One day I had a scene with a wonderful actor, Tom Schanley, and it was apparent that he was a seasoned, professional, and wonderful actor to be around from the moment he walked on the set. He really taught me to be confident in the choices I make as an actor. He was 100% confident in his choices and took control of the scene/his character (in the best way, not overpowering).
  • Bring your own snacks!And stay hydrated. Ha, I’m kind of joking but also kind of serious. The crew was so nice and always had great snacks on hand, but it’s nice to have a few snacks on hand you know you love. And staying hydrated and drinking a ton of water was probably the key to me not getting any headaches during the shoot.
  • Be nice and kind to everyone.This isn’t something I necessarily had to learn because I believe that’s how I was raised to begin with, but being on this shoot was a definitely a nice reminder that people take notice. I know that I take notice when people are rude to others or bring a lot of drama and you never know who is about to recommend you to someone else for your next job. I made a great connection on this shoot through the makeup artist and that was such a lovely surprise that I never saw coming.
  • It’s okay to take time for yourself on set.Being on set for long hours, surrounded by people 24/7 can sometimes be a lot. If you’re part introvert like me, it’s okay to chill out in another room or outside for a few minutes to gather that energy back. It doesn’t mean you’re anti-social, you’re just decompressing for a few. Then when you’re preparing for the next scene again, you feel much better!

 

All in all this was such a great learning experience and I will cherish everything from this production. I know I will always continue to learn from every production I’m a part of and I can’t wait to see where this journey will lead me to next.

I’ll definitely keep everyone posted on more details about this feature film when I can!

Thanks for following along!

 

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Sam Chat: Purpose & Perspective

If anything, I’m writing this blog post for myself to remember my family’s experience evacuating from our home and the new perspective I gained from an almost life-changing event. If you’ve ever been through something similar that moved you or changed your perspective, comment below because I’d love to hear your story! If you don’t care to read my long story about the actual fire, feel free to scroll to the bottom to the sub-title called “perspective” to see what I feel like I gained from this experience.

I woke up on Tuesday morning at 4am to hear an airplane overhead which I would later find out was dropping water over the Creek fire that started in Sylmar. I went back to sleep thinking it was nothing. By the time I woke up that morning around 8am, the fire was visible from my family’s windows overlooking what we call “the wash,” an area of vast land with trails that people in the horse community ride their horses. The fire was past the wash, across the freeway, and only just cresting the top of a mountain barely visible. This has happened times before in our surrounding area and 99.9% of the time, it’s nothing to worry about. This is about that other 1% of the time.

Quickly by 9am it had already burned ¾ of the way down the mountain. At that point, no one was that worried because like I said this has happened numerous times. By 11, the freeway or those mountains were barely visible in all the smoke. Some concern set in as I watched my neighbors and my Mom worry about how to get our horse out if it came time to evacuate. The streets were already getting crowded and freeway entrances/exists were beginning to close. Then, It had jumped the freeway and started burning the wash. Our house sits on a hill just above the wash and we were told if the smoke starts blowing into our faces, into the direction of our house, that’s when we have to worry. It happened so fast. One minute we thought evacuating was unnecessary, the next we know, it’s hard to breathe, the smoke is enveloping us and our homes, and we’re packing things up as quickly as possible.

The crazy thing about fires is they’re not like a flood. It doesn’t burn down everything in it’s path, inching closer and closer like water might. The extreme winds we had carried embers from mountains that were far off in the distance to our own backyard. One minute we’re looking out our windows watching it from afar, the next we know I can feel the heat.

I can FEEL the heat. The flames were still burning in the wash, embers jumping from one tree to the next. I touched the windows inside my house and they were warm. I went outside where my Dad was wearing motorcycle goggles shielding his eyes from the ash and embers, taking a video of what was possibly the last time we would see our back hill or house as it was. The heat was even stronger outside and the flames below looked so tall. Before I knew it, it was go-time.

My mom was leading our horse out of the arena and down the street. She doesn’t have a horse trailer so we searched high and low for a horse trailer that was already in the neighborhood. People offered trailers from all over, they were even being dispatched into our neighborhood but that was only half the battle. A couple trailers we had lined up were stuck on the freeway as they closed exits down and were unable to get to us. Finally, we were able to get in contact with a kind stranger who said he could meet at the bottom of our street and take our horse TJ to a rescue center. We loaded our 4 dogs into the 2 cars and threw any last-minute things into the backseats. My family has too many cars and not enough people so I drove one car to the next street over, then ran back to get the other. The smoke really got to me by then. My lungs were burning, my eyes were burning, and from the bottom of the street my house wasn’t even visible amongst all the smoke. Flames roared high as our neighbor’s house two doors down was burning to the ground. Firetrucks crowded the streets, cars were trying to get out, and horse owners were trying to lure their horses into feeling safe enough to get inside the trailers.

A horse got loose on our street so I tried to help put her into a trailer before heading back to the house to get the other car. These poor gentle animals were scared out of their minds and had no idea what was happening. Amidst all the chaos though, I looked around and told myself to remember this feeling of a community coming together and unifying under trying circumstances. No one was going to leave a horse behind if they could help it.

Back at our house, my Dad and brother were busy putting hot spots out as embers would land on the trees and brush on our hill and our neighbor’s hill. Firefighters hadn’t yet arrived to our house as they were busy trying to help with structures going up in flames. I know without a doubt if my Dad and brother decided to throw in the towel any earlier, those hot spots would have fed off each other and eventually burned our own house to the ground. Meanwhile, my Mom and I left to get our dogs out of the smoke while my dad and brother said they would be shortly behind.

My brother later told me that he looked over at our neighbor’s house and noticed their car and motorcycle were still in the driveway and we hadn’t seen them all day. He went over there to check it out and started banging on their windows, knocking on their door. Finally the man came to the living room, throwing his arms up wondering what all the racket was. He had no idea!! I don’t know how that happens, but he had no idea there was a fire. He quickly scrambled to get out of there. Not too long after that, their guest house caught on fire and burned down.

It was a long night and a rollercoaster of answers. We got a call from my Dad who was at the house and was positive our house was going to burn down. He was sad, but grateful that the things that really mattered were safe. Eventually, firefighters came to the house and told my Dad and Brother they had to leave now. None of us would know the fate of our house for a while. By some miracle, a few hours later we were told our houses hadn’t burned and if it could survive the night and all the embers raining down, it would be safe.

We woke the next morning at a friend’s house to good news that our house had made it throughout the night. Those high winds made every scenario unpredictable but we couldn’t be more grateful. Even through the next few days we weren’t out of the clear as hot spots kept popping up, but the main fire had moved on. The smoke was intense and even now we are working to get the smoke out of everything— the house, our clothes, our cars. But I don’t care. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that none of our animals or my family or irreplaceable things weren’t lost in the fire.

A New Perspective

So many others in the Creek fire, the Thomas Fire, the Lilac fire, they all lost precious animals, belongings, and homes that they treasured. A few hours after we had evacuated, I was sitting in my smoke-filled car with 2 of my dogs in the backseat, my Mom’s car in front of me with our other dogs, my eyes just burning from the smoke and ash, my blonde hair almost stained from the ash. My phone had been blowing up ALL morning. Friends near and far were calling to see if we needed help. Friends I hadn’t talked to in a while were offering to make calls on our behalf to find a horse trailer, my best friends were offering anything they could, people were offering to bring their trucks over to help us, offering their homes for us to evacuate to. Seriously, people were amazing. Even though I couldn’t respond to half of the people at the time, I had a moment to myself in the car and just thought…how incredible that there are so many good people in this world. And when I thought about if I were to lose everything…what’s really important to me? It was an overwhelming sense of quality over quantity. That the quality people were there when we needed them most, were offering their help and hearts, and that most possessions don’t really matter.

Sometimes we place so much emphasis on materialistic things on a day to day basis. We’re blogging about our favorite clothes and accessories, the latest deals on whatever it may be. And so often I really do try to write blogs with more weight, more gravity. But everyone gets caught up.  We’re so invested in social media, showing people where we are and what we’re doing and who we’re with. But during this experience, all that faded to the background and I felt SO grateful and blessed to have the people in my life that I do, that my family was safe, and that our friends opened their home to us. It wasn’t life or death for us, not even close. But I felt in my heart the tragedy that so many others were going through. It really made me think about my purpose. During something like this, my days were filled with tasks so different than my day to day. It made me think that when I’m back to a “normal” routine, what’s my goal here? What REALLY matters? What’s my purpose? For me this experience solidified my purpose, my passions, and not taking things for granted. Because in some odd way I felt that if I lost everything materialistic, what would still be standing and strong is my purpose, my passion, and my drive. (Besides my family and animals by my side 😉

Thanks for reading and drop a comment if you’re having a “me too!” moment.

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Best LA Coffee Shops To Get Work Done: Valley Edition
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Best LA Coffee Shops To Get Work Done: Valley Edition

If you know me, you know that I can’t live without my coffee. I wake up every day and need that cup of Joe to bring me to life. Today I’m talking all about the best LA coffee shops to get work done in the Valley. Honestly, there were too many to choose from in the LA area so I had to break it down. I’m a Valley girl, born and raised, so I’ve gone to my fair share of coffee shops but these are a few of my favorites that I always always return to and I’d love to share so y’all can check them out if you haven’t yet!

 

Simply Coffee – Burbank

I love this hidden little gem! It’s right off Magnolia boulevard, but you probably wouldn’t see it if you were just driving by. This tiny little coffee shop is quaint with only a few tables inside, but it’s perfect for writing without too many distractions. Their pastries are baked fresh every morning, which it makes it pretty hard to resist. That, and all their coffee is Stumptown Coffee. If you’re a coffee lover you know how good Stumptown is. I also love that they support local and have a wall of t-shirts and other things.

Insta worthy: Their tree stump tables and succulent wall outside!

My picks: Nitrogen Brew Coffee on a hot day

 

Aroma Coffee & Tea Company – Studio City

If you’re visiting Aroma during peak hours, you’ll probably see a line of people out the door, but it’s for good reason. This has been my go-to favorite for years now. I love coming to this cozy café (probably because it was originally a house) and it’s the perfect place to claim a corner and get to work or indulge in a little people watching – where else are you supposed to get inspiration from, right?

I used to come here when I was in high school with my friend Lexy for our caffeine fix and to get some writing done. We would always get asked if we were doing “homework” to which we would pass out our “business cards” and say “Nope, we’re writers.” We were definitely 20 years younger than everyone but it makes me laugh looking back, we didn’t care!

After you’re done drooling at their pastries, there’s plenty of options to find a seat and wait for your food, but my favorite spot is out back on the patio. While the servers will bring your food and drinks to your table for you, Aroma doesn’t provide Wifi. This may be a downer to some, but I actually like that it forces you to stay off the internet if you’re coming here to work. Unless I’m working in Final Draft, I usually like to go old school and bring a notebook here. So for me, this is definitely one of the best LA coffee shops to get work done. If you want a cozier option, head inside by the fireplace and settle in. The old hardwood floors give this place such character, making you feel right at home.

Tip before you go: If you’re just ordering a drink or pastry, there is a separate line for that when you walk in. Keep this in mind, it can save you so much time if you’re caught waiting in the popular dinner time line!

My picks: Their salads are HUGE and so good (Kardashian style huge). I’d also go with a hot Vanilla Latte with an Almond Croissant or their Bread Pudding – best I’ve ever had!

 

Romancing The Bean – Burbank

Walking into this romantic little café, you’ll find plenty of people living that laptop lifestyle across the many tables this place offers. I find that to be so helpful, there’s nothing worse than making the trek to a coffee shop to get work done, only to find they only have 4 tables. I love the way this coffee shop is decorated, “modern but romantic” would be a good way to describe the black and white color scheme and the super cool chandeliers in this place. Their organic coffee and teas are so good and I love meeting up for lunch here too!

My pick: Organic drip coffee and try their Famous Chicken Curry Sandwich, it’s so good!

To check out: Mindful, a neighboring store that carries handmade and unique art and artisan gifts

 

Philz Coffee – Pasadena

Yes, I know. Technically this is in the San Gabriel Valley but oh well. There are a few locations around LA but I’ve been to the Pasadena location a couple times to get some work done! Finally this NorCal favorite has made its way down here to SoCal! I love the way that Philz coffee operates – you tell your barista what blend of coffee you like (light, medium, dark) and also how you take your coffee (cream, sugar, etc.) and they make each cup individually for you right there, it’s so cool! They have just a couple tables inside, so you’re better off finding a table outside. My favorite spot is by the fire pit, which is also across from Sunlife and trust me, I know the struggle of wanting to have Acai bowls every day of my life so you might have to pop over there after. There’s also seating along the side of Philz, for a more secluded area if you don’t want to be distracted or you’re introverting and don’t want to have small talk with anyone— we all have those days.

My pick: Tesora blend (Medium) made “Philz Way” which is medium sweet with cream

What I love: This location features a lot of local artists work inside, which is AWESOME!

 

Copa Vida – Pasadena

I’ve been here during the weekdays with my laptop in tow and I love this place! Right off Colorado blvd, it’s quaint enough to where you feel like you found a good hole in the wall, but big enough to where you don’t have to stalk people for seating. Their “Go, Enjoy, Experience” approach to coffee is how they categorize their coffee, with each category representing a different type of coffee bean, pretty cool right? The space is modern and airy which I love, and they offer wifi Monday-Friday. Yes, no wifi Sat-Sun 9am-3pm!

My pick: Vanilla Latte or a regular cup of coffee

For locals or those on-the-go: While we are talking about the best LA coffee shops to get work done, morning rush hour can get hectic when all you want is a cup of coffee. Copa Vida has an amazing “honor bar” for those who don’t want to wait in line. Simply go to the self-service coffee bar, grab your coffee, drop your cash in and you’re good to go! I think it’s pretty cool that they still have faith in humanity to be honest, especially these days you know?

 

Gayle’s Perks – Northridge

This one you’re going to have to trust me on. Tucked away in the corner of a Northridge shopping center, you would never even know this is here! I stumbled across this café when I wanted somewhere else to study other than the library when I was going to college at Cal State Northridge. This little coffee shop is so cozy, it’s the perfect place to get some work done! They have a leave one, take one library and the most amazing crêpes. Out back is a modest cute little patio with tables if you’d rather work outside.

Things to know: You can’t use your card if it’s anything less than $5 so bring cash if all you’re getting is a coffee!

My picks: Peanut butter banana with cinnamon crêpe and a coffee

 

Backdoor Bakery – Sunland

“Where is Sunland?” is the question I get all. The. Time. Off the 210 as if you’re heading to Pasadena, you’ll find Sunland and Backdoor Bakery—a real hole in the wall that will give you reason to return. The pastry selection alone is worth the drive here, with crazy good combinations like their chocolate orange croissant, but it’s the atmosphere that will keep you here. The staff is so welcoming and kind here, and during the week there are plenty of tables to get work done. The chalkboard wall menu adds that hipster-vibe that makes this place pretty cool, along with most of their ingredients being organic and locally sourced.

My tip: The weekends are crazy crowded, especially during breakfast time so try to visit during the week. They sometimes have a 2 for $2 coffee and croissant deal weekday early mornings.

My pick: Scrambled egg breakfast. It’s all organic or house-made including their bread, and organic ketchup!

What I love: They also support artists, from featuring local artwork to open-mic nights.

 

Thanks for reading about the best LA coffee shops to get work done (in my option!) Do you have any favorite LA area coffee shops you like to go to? Tell me in the comments below what part of LA you explore the most and I’ll do my next coffee shop roundup on that side of town!

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The must-have list of Best LA Coffee Shops To Get Work Done in The Valley

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