LA

Any progress part two...

In acting class the other week we were asked to write a letter to whomever or whatever has held us back from being the actors or humans we want to be... And if you know me, you know I would relish in this... I love a philosophical, deep, over analysed chat (or blog) So I am 'Showing up', as Brene Brown would say. Writing the letter, publicly.

By the way, I have insecurities... ones I have from my Mum, Some from my Dad. Some from school and my friends and my teachers and my enemies and the people that don't like my pics on insta or the stranger that laughs at my hat... I once read an interview with Kate Winslet, when a reporter asked her what her biggest insecurities were and her reply was 'I'm not going to tell you that, because then people will notice them, when perhaps right now, no one else does' She has a point... but I find myself doing the opposite. I have spent years pointing out my insecurities like Eminem does in the last scene of '8 Mile' when he addresses good ol 'Clarence'...

It's armour. And as Caitlin Moran says 'You cannot dance in armour'

In Brene Browns book, the power of Vulnerability, she talks openly about a society in which we live in now, where to have an 'ordinary' life seems quite frankly too 'ordinary' That we are now so accustomed to chasing an extraordinary life. That perhaps our lives are not 'extraordinary', unless we are posting it on Instagram, letting the world know (via a square picture) that we are 'drinking a glass of champers on a rooftop'. Where we don't put in the caption #ispentmylast10bucksonthis

What she says holds true... I don't want an ordinary life. Nor do I think I should have to if that is not what I want. But my perception of 'extraordinary' has changed. Extraordinary being that I have time to do the things I love. That I can do anything and everything I want to do, because, why the hell not.

When I was eight I wanted to do what Bette Middler did to me when I watched her in Beaches. I wanted to tell stories like she did.

When I was seventeen, after a lucky break in Harry Potter I decided I wanted to own a house like J lo and buy lots of things, If I am honest, I think I wanted to be famous.

When I was twenty one, after a year of being out of work, and reassessing, I decided fame was hideous and I decided I wanted to be a real actress and book a massive job so that I could pay my mums mortgage and for her teeth to done. I wanted to have it easy. I wanted to do a few acting jobs here and there, not be in debt. Holiday. Drink cocktails. (I secretly still wanted to be a well known actress)

When I was twenty seven I wanted to just book a job, any bloody job, one job, just give me one freaking job where I can act, so I could call myself an actress. I wanted to tell my family I booked something, I wanted to feel justified in the sacrifices I made, to not having moved on in the last ten years. Most of all, I wanted my agent to praise me, have belief in me. I wanted to feel that he would push me because he knew I had it in me, whatever 'it' was... I wanted him to validate me I suppose.

He didn't.

After booking a life changing job, and then losing it, and ultimately losing any confidence I had left, that agent lost confidence in me and dropped me. Which, for the non actors reading, is an actors worst nightmare. To be agentless. What the eff was I gonna do? Stalk Nina Gold, send flowers to Des Hamilton? Having an agent, made you feel like you were a part of the business. You felt like there was hope and possibility. Without any of the above... I felt helpless.

I am now thirty. In case you hadn't quite caught on. I'm THIRTY. I'M MEANT TO BE A GROWN UP!  And all of the wants I have for success in the business, the want to tell stories and make people feel like Bette Middler did for me aged eight, it's still there, but it's never been more apparent to me, that the whole reason acting was fun, is furthest from where I am at in reality. I am, as you may have guessed from the last post... frustrated, and bored and honestly, completely underwhelmed at the whole dam acting malarkey. I am peed off at myself for putting a lot of eggs, if not all, into one small little basket. I am also at the dumbfounded conclusion, that I in fact, believed that (the industry) would fill a void. That booking a job would make me feel whole, and would perhaps, validate me.

It didn't.

There is that bit inside of me that beats myself up, that doubts and questions and has me fearing the worst. The bit inside me that used to be jealous (believing I was not capable also), or envious (that I was capable, and I wanted it too)  'HEY WHY NOT ME, WHY NOT PICK ME FOR THAT TV SHOW'?) That bit that hates having no control, or little control.You hold your breath waiting, it's like you slightly don't begin your life because you think... well, when I'm working, then I will buy a house, get engaged, have babies. You (even though all the self help books tell you not to) somehow end up putting life on  hold. I believe I have made every effort to live, to enjoy the process, get on with my life... Because you grow used to the chase, the journey. You get accustomed to it. Accustomed to this being an actors lifestyle. You actually get stagnant from it. But the scariest thing for me is that you start to accept the no's, more than you expect the yes's.

I want to live my bloody life. Enjoy it. I want a lifestyle (and I don't mean cocktails at 10am on a rooftop... well...) I want a lifestyle that I have been told forever and ever in some form or other sub conscious or otherwise way, that I cannot have. Or that it's difficult to have or who do I think I am to have... 

Brene Brown talks about the gremlins of 'shame' that we all have. On one side there is that voice I have always had in regards to acting and anything I might do, which is 'Your not good enough, you are not a real actress, you got lucky before, you could NEVER do a Meryl' and that is always balanced out, when you talk those Gremlins down, when you ignore them and shut them up, with a good ol helping of '

Who do you think you are?

Who do you think you are to want a extraordinary life? Who do you think you are to think you can act, book a job, and spend time wanting and chasing something that truthfully (the Gremlins tell me) I don't deserve.' I have been tainted with feeling that anything I might think I can do, or I am good at, or is worth doing is perhaps too much, too selfish, too obtrusive, too arrogant, too undeserving, too obnoxious, too self righteous, too try hard, too sensitive, too defensive, too dramatic, too complicated, too extraordinary, too bloody everything...

I went to LA...I definitely spent too much. I bought a few too many cocktails. I Shouldn't have bought that skirt that I will only wear once or that foundation that only matches when I have a tan. I should have pestered casting directors and sat on Scorsese's door step. That time Spielberg walked past me I should have asked for a job making him chai tea with extra lean, no fat almond milk from those special golden almonds. I should have been more confident aged nineteen and believed in myself way more.  I should have not felt small, or made myself smaller. I shouldn't have acted irrationally when I didn't book a job. I should have been kinder, nicer, funnier. More assertive, less aggressive. I shouldn't have sat around doing nothing. Those book ideas I should have written them. Script ideas I should have filmed them. That money.  I should have saved it. Jeremy kyle? How did I waste so many days, months watching it? There are so many shoulda, woulda, couldas in this industry, for the acting job, for the career I wanted.

Someone said to me... don't go to LA if it's an excuse to give it up, if nothing happens. She was right. It is easy to do that. Because god forbid you had a bit of 'extraordinary' God forbid the world saw you trying and it didn't pan out the way they thought it might. But what if it was to discover all of these fears and put them out there so perhaps they are no longer scary any more. 

It's good to finally say out loud I don't think I want acting enough.

I have realised the real reasons why I do want it and have discovered it is definitely OK to not just want it for the love of the bloody craft (

For that I can put on a show every week with my friends and perform it to my Mum and Nan. So I guess this letter is to the fear that I wasn't good enough and to the thoughts that always crept in when I thought that I was!!!

LA Lovin Part 2...

OK, first things first. Getting to LA. Flights over can be a right wallet drainer. I have spent anywhere between £400 and £700 getting across the pond. I find booking to fly on a Wednesday or a Sunday get you the cheapest tickets, and word on the street is if you buy your ticket on a Tuesday, this helps with prices. This could be a rumour but worth a try.

I have flown with Virgin, BA, Air New Zealand, Delta and United over to America and by far the nicest flight for me was with Air New Zealand. I found the service to be freaking awesome, the planes to be new and the flight entertainment to keep me entertained for the whole eleven hours. I have had friends fly budget with Norwegian Air and you can, if you decide not to take much luggage, or take your own food, get a good deal with just the simple flight and no add ons. But depending on when you fly, airlines like Virgin could add up to the same and Virgin is my second best flight. 

Once you have landed, I recommend Air bnb. It's safe and easy and generally I have had all good experiences with bookings on air bnb. The only thing, if you are staying for a long period of time, it can be pricey. When your in LA you get talking to people that have rooms. A good priced room can cost $600 to $800 dollars a month if you find a room through a friend or on Craigs list (I wouldn't recommend Craigs list without being able to meet the person renting in person before hand). On Air bnb for a decent room you could pay anywhere between $1000 and $1600 a month. Here is a gorgeous place I highly recommend in Silverlake.

EAST LA (SILVERLAKE/LOS FELIZ/ECHO PARK/ATWATER VILLAGE

Everyone likes to say it's where all the hipsters reside. I saw a few beards, but not one tash in sight. I don't think the people of the US have been to Shoreditch so Silverlake may seem 'trendy' Yes I said trendy. These areas are right next to each other and are full of cute houses in the hills, by a lake, near the freeway and have an abundance of bars, cafes, boutiques, restaurants within walking distance.








HIKING

One of my fav free things to do in LA. You cannot go a week without at least one hike. There are a few hikes that I recommend. Some more popular than the other, but all with spectacular views. Runyon Canyon is the most popular in terms of busyness. Its the one you will see in pics when you think of LA. Pops up in magazines when people have celeb spotted. Although not once have I spotted a celeb up there. That's a lie, I saw Kathy Griffin up there once. She smiled. Runyon starts at the bottom on North fuller avenue. Parking can be a nightmare, but somewhere within a ten minute walk away you will find a spot, eventually. Or there is another entrance if you start higher up the hike just off of Muhollond Drive. There is a car park here, so depending on what time of day, you can get a good spot. You can park up here on the roads (at your own risk) as if you do not spot where the signs are you could come back to an empty spot where your car has been towed.
There is Fryman Canyon. This is if you are staying north of the valley. Its an easier hike but pretty gorgeous all of the same. One of my favs is Griffith Park, the entrance opposite The Greek Theatre. All the trails up to the observatory are pretty awesome. Myself and a friend hiked for hours and ours without realising the time.
Malibu Canyon or Topanga are amazing hikes. A little further out from West Hollywood, but well worth the hours drive. Pretty and quiet as not too many people head to these in peak times.
For a less strenuous walk there is Hollywood reservoir and the Echo Park hills just behind the lake.




 BEACHES

Whats not to like about a city that allows you to be at the beach within thirty minutes. I mean, I'm sold on the sun and beaches alone. The ones closest to Hollywood/west hollywood are Venice beach and Santa Monica beach. Venice is like Camden on sea. Full of weird and wonderful things. The man selling shit advice for a dollar, or the woman painting pictures of sun flowers with her feet. The guy selling you CD's of his latest studio demo for ten bucks or the shop front selling you weed (legally) don't you know. Well only if you're having night terrors, will they write you a prescription for a draw.
Santa Monica is just up the road. Both here and Venice are busy and full of tourists (like myself) Up further north you have Malibu beach and also Point Dume. Here is where I watched the most amazing sunset I have ever seen, high on top of a cliff point. As if I ever needed an excuse to self reflect, a sunset on a cliff top was definitely one of them.
Just south is Hermosa beach. Similar to the Santa Monica. But less busy. The little town it is in is cute. More rustic. It looks like a film set that a 90's coming of age film might be shot in.
Further south is Laguna. And right next door is my favourite beach of them all. Table rock. It is more of a cove. I did nearly die there when a mahoosive wave whipped off my bikini top and topsy turvied me upside down like a washing machine, bringing me up for air for two seconds and back under. When I finally came up, with my friends boyfriend dragging me out of the sea, boobs out, hair like a drowned rat over my face, I decided I was better off getting a tan on the shore. 






CLASSES

Whilst being in LA felt like a holiday, I was really there to act. Sort of. I thought I'd do some classes. Feel like I was being productive. Learn a few things. I was able to audit (sit in and watch classes) and take some of the classes

Howard Fine was a class I had imagined an acting class in LA would be like. He himself was stern, but friendly, in my memory, he has a tash (I don't think he really does) He talks like the guy from actors studio, which immediately made me feel excited. I got to see at least six couples go up and perform, and every single one of these students could have been in the next season of American Horror Story.

I was lucky enough to go to Max Decker as well as Anthony Meindl. Max Decker is wonderful value for money, but he only goes on recommendations and takes you on once he has interviewed you. The classes are improv and often feel like a stint on SNL. That isn't a negative. There is some amazing talent in the class. Funny and otherwise. It challanged me beyond belief, and I felt out of my depth every single week. Which can only be a good thing, to poo yourself before each class... its a learning curve.
Anthony Meindl was everything I needed from class. A scripted/cold reading class where you get therapy and more. The ethos of acting/being is similar to the things I believe in and it was more about learning to be comfortable in your own skin than 'acting' as such. Worth every single penny. He has classes in London too :)

Other recommendation are Beverly Hills Playhouse and Ivana Chubbuck.

WORKSHOPS

People slate casting director workshops, but I highly recommend them. Big casting directors take these and it's worth getting seen in these workshops, especially if you don't have a manager or an agent. All the companies state that they are for educational purposes. And they are. You learn some sides, you read to a casting director, you film your scene, and in some cases they send you the tape for you to view and analyse and critique.
The actors Green room... (Pricier than the latter)... and The actors key were two that I used and recommend.


    








Other than the aforementioned there are gaziollions of things to do in LA, and I am not even mentioning half of them. If you are lucky enough to get time, try and go to The Getty museum and The Getty Villas. Venice canals are a must, there resides my future house and neighbours... Visit Downtown. The arts district, the market there, its all wonderful and full of amazing cafe's and restaurants including the rooftop bar at The Perch. Their steak and truffle fries make my fanny tingle. Echo park paddle boats are a fun morning out and the french maple bites in the lake cafe are worth every belly cramp if bread doesn't agree with you. The Observatory at the top of Griffith park is a gorgeous place to visit, especially at sunset and the planetarium  is open until 10pm. If you have a car (which you must) drive to Joshua tree in the dessert, or up the PCH to San Fran. Head to Malibu or Santa Barbara for the afternoon. Whatever you do spend fours hours driving to Sequoia national park. I have never in my life seen nature or trees quite like it. Get some positive vibes and a dose of wankyness (I love both) at Cafe Gratitude, get creeped out at the museum of Jurassic Technology (it has nothing to do with dinosaurs. Buy some gifts in the little boutiques like Yolk, See some comedy at UCB, have coffee in Lamil in Silverlake and a macaroon ice cream in Milk right opposite. Eat kale until you turn green, drink fresh beet juices until your poo turns purple. Spend hours and hours in Wholefoods or Trader Joes, Go watch a drive in movie, take a million pictures of palm trees. Reflect, tan, enjoy and be grateful of every second, because despite what you have heard. It's a special city with a lot of freaking amazing adventures... and food, to be had.






































                                 
                         


















A list of places to eat, drink and be merry

EAST HOLLYWOOD

Lil Doms... serve the best Pancakes East of Hollywood. 

Local... Cute little restaurant with an abundance of vegan options and fresh juices. The owner is the nicest man.

Forage... An amazing Vegan place with the most delicious cashew cheese quesidillas.

Hyperion Public... Scrummy whiskey sours and a tasty kale salad. (Who said Kale?)

Black Cat... a dark dive bar, a little bit like something you would find in London. Open until 2am.

Thirsty Crow... B.O.G.O.F Old fashioneds on a Monday night.

Alcove... Cute outdoor seatin (a little manic to get seated of an evening, and its order at the bar) but they do the most amazing cakes East of Hollywood. The slices are the size of a third of a normal cake and are homemade and make me dribble as we speak.

Home... Perfect outdoor seating and scrummy brunch menu, actually, the menu is massive and there is so much to chose from.

La Casbah... Cute place for coffee and cake and internet.

Cafe Intelligentsia... Best coffee in Silverlake, nearly. Open until 11pm, so late night internet use and coffee (if you can drink coffee late) here is a must.

Cafe Stella... Best pisco sours and yummy food. French restaurant with outdoor seating and a cute bar area for a night of just cocktails.

Pho... Best one in LA. Vietnamese, tasty, good priced food.

Bon Vivant ... A little like Alcove. The biggest and tasiest cakes. The menu is large and the atmosphere is so so nice. Candles and great service.

Pine and Crane... The yummiest passionfruit shandys sell this place for me. But also the food is to die for. And it's cheap. Always a que it's that good, but you are seated in no time and you order at the bar. The pancake is a MUST.

WEST HOLLYWOOD

Evleigh... A bit sceeny, but a really nce patio setting, dim lights and candles and a really nice side dish menu. 

Skybar... In the Mondrian. Sundays are full of too cool for school young people with v necks and boat shoes (Judgey I know) but also an observation. But the bar is ideal in the week for a late afternoon prosecco. Views are scrummy. The also serve the best fries.

The Hudson... Cute diner set in a stand alone camper van? Has a photo booth, what more do I say. But their truffle fries are so amazing that you have to go here at least once. 

Cabo Cantina... Amazing deals on margharittas so strong that one sends you over the edge. And a plate full of nachos big enough for four people. Cheap and fun.

Laurel Hardware. Another sceeny place, but has a gorgeous outdoor patio area and really nice wine.

Joans on third... My fav place for brunch by far. You may spot bloggers and the like, but the cheese grill toastie is something dreams are made of. Also yummy cakes and iced coffees.

Soho house... The sceeniest of the sceensters. You can only go in with a member, and you may spot the Kardashians (pros and cons) depends what floats your boat as to which side you sit on, but I like this place. It's relaxed and if you want late night snacks and a night cap this place is perfect. Not too pricey... and there is a photo booth. Score!

BLD... The best blueberry pancakes west of Hollywood. The maple syrup comes in a little tin shaped as a house. Perfect.

Terrine... pricey, but the yummiest food. Tapas style, meaty dishes. Do not attempt if you are veggie.

Cheesecake Factory... The most flavours of cheesecake I have ever seen on a menu, hence the name, and the most calories I have ever seen in a slice, hence the ten pound weight gain. It's worth it!

POOLS

What is better than sunning yourself by a pool? Sunning yourself by a pool

Mondrian-West Hollywood, Swanky, young crowd. You can just walk in and grab a drink. Sunbeds are reserved for the guests, but if you go on a week day the pool isn't crowded and you can grab a bed easy.

The Standard-Downtown, modern, boutique rooftop and newly refurbished.

Sunset Marquis-West Hollywood old school glamour. Go grab some lunch and then have a chill by the pool

The Roosevelt-There's a minimum spend of $45 dollars, but for a full day of some food and a drink it's worth it.

Andaz-Nice rooftop opposite The Mondrian. You can get away with just heading up to the pool bar for a drink.

The Ace-Downtown, teeny pool, where all the cool kids hang... but don't actually get in the pool.

BURGERS

In and Out... the most famous burger place... an alternative Maccy D's. Not worth it. The fries are pants.

Astro... Worth a visit.

Unami... So so yummy. The Manly is my fave.

Fat burger... My absolute first choice of all the burger joints in LA.

LA lovin...



My overall time out here is hugely positive. It truthfully has been the best time of my life. The sun and freedom help. The time to think and reflect because you take time out from the real world, is always going to be useful and deeply appreciated. But I have had other trips where I have done similar thinking. But this city, for me, creates a whole wealth of opportunity and chance and inspiration and hope, that no other place has given me. It's a city people are quick to judge and you assume it's full of people, that other people are quick to dismiss. Because why wouldn't you? The preconception is It's a town of flakyness,  of insincerity, insecurity, bravado,  show, false promises and broken dreams. It's surely fickle and in genuine and full of try hard wannabes with distorted ambition. It's a city full of houses with gates and pools and pianos built into the floor with glass panelled stairs and hoovers made of gold, and then you stop off at the traffic lights and a homeless man with a trolley full of stuff,  will ask you for a dollar, and even though you see this back at home, nowhere have I seen the difference be so distinctive and so obvious. A town full of money, and streets full of homeless.


The city can be strange. My time here has been off kilter a few times. You do lose yourself slightly in a world that is somewhat, unreal. But the only reason we feel that it is 'unreal' is because we are made to believe we should live another way. That life in the sunshine, not brutally working day to day, is a treat. It's something only the special or the lucky do. Only the talented or the rich. And in some regards, I still believe it. If you don't have money it is harder to live a certain lifestyle. Days with spare time and evenings with spare sunsets.  But... its not entirely true. I met many people out there living on the same budget I live on at home. They work, they hustle, they get up early or work until late and not everyone is cruising around in a matte Bentley.


As a side note... LA looks hideous in the grey overcast days. If it rains, it's like a tropical storm and the whole city looks horrendously dull. Also people cannot drive here in the rain. To be honest,  I find that people cannot drive here full stop. Aside from the fact that you can turn right on a red light, and pedestrians can cross the road when the lights turn green for the cars, they also do not say please and thank you whilst driving at all. They do not wait to see if you are letting them into your lane, they will just go (and mo you down in the process).  They will speed up if you're trying to get into a lane, so that you cannot maneuver yourself over.  Driving here can induce heart burn, headaches and outright rage. But there is always Uber... which comes with its own risks all the same.



LA is massive. I feel it's hard to do more than two things in one day. You can try. But it takes time. Everything here seems to take time. From the moment you wake up until the time when your head hits the pillow, you wonder how an earth your day was so full and busy with not actually getting stuff done. It's an odd concept.  People will ask, what you did that day? You feel exhausted. You quickly went to the bank and then popped to the grocery store, before heading on a little hike and then having a coffee meeting later that day. All of that just there would take maybe 3 hours back home. Here, for some weird time warpsy illusion, that would take you 8 hours. You cannot 'pop' anywhere, and nothing is just a 'little'... Everything is epic, everything takes time, and nothing happens quickly. Because in between all of that you have to sort your stuff out for the rest of the day. Make sure it is with you. Because you don't want to have to be heading back 30 minutes in the opposite direction to get your heels for later. You then drive, use the sat nav and maybe get lost, more than likely sit in tons of traffic on the 101 and wish that you had listened to Google maps when it had showed you all red roads. Once you arrive, you have to find a space. It can take you 30 minutes just to find a one and then when you do, you spend 10 minutes reading over the sign more than 100 times. Because the signs here are the devil. They are sent to try you. Confuse you. They try and lure you into a false sense of security and make you think you can leave you car there for a good while and then you come back to a parking fine because you had parked an inch too far away from the curb or your bonnet was a centimetre too small for the road you were on between the times specified.
Once you trust that you can, you head off to hike. And the hikes are spectacular. You don't want to just do a little hike, you want to get to the top. You want to take in the epic views and contemplate life and your dreams and what your going to do next, and whether your car may have been towed because you think you may not have tucked your wing mirror in between 8.12am and 8.17am. You take your time, you catch your breath, you take a selfie, you take another... and then you have to get back down. All of this and you haven't even got to your coffee meeting yet. So yes, things do take a while here. There is a lot of space in-between places and horrendous drivers whilst getting to them places. But still, the pros out way the cons.



LA is full of beautiful things. Cute coffee shops, amazing restaurants, great classes, blue seas, pretty houses, lots of sun and sand and kale...



Firstly I feel obliged as and actor to give some info that I know other actors have been asking regarding my time here. What classes are good and are workshops worthwhile? Do you have have a chance to meet Quentin Tarrantino and is it appropriate to give him a hug or ask for a job in his next Sci Fi meets Greek tragedy film (this is not inside info, please don't sue me)


So in the next blog post (I thought it best to divide into two because I do talk a lot) I shall give my top tips on having a scrummy ol time here, whether your an actor or not...