Tears, Breasts and Babies: Reasons Why Women Don’t Belong in Hollywood

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(This article was originally published in The Indie Chicks 7/30/15)

“Women don’t go to movies.” “Women aren’t interested in making movies.” “Women are too emotional to be directors.”  Oh, and my personal fave: “Women can’t hold cameras because their breasts get in the way.”

It’s exhausting talking about the sexism that pervades Hollywood. It’s not up for debate, look at the statistics, it’s a thing:

Out of 87 Oscar ceremonies, how many women have taken home Best Director trophies? A whopping grand total of 1. In 2013 of the 16 biggest paychecks earned by actors per film, how many were women? Zilch. But at least we have a ton of female protagonists on screen these days, right? Funny you should ask: Of last year’s top 100 films, only 12 featured female protagonists.

Hollywood is a boy’s club.

Personally, I never set out to carry a torch as a female filmmaker. I came to LA simply to be an actor/singer. I fell into writing and producing when I realized that being an actress can be soul sucking, depressingly competitive and demeaning- EVEN when you “make it.” Maggie Gyllennhaal was keeping it real when she admitted that at  37 she was told she was too old to play the lover of a man who was 55.

Maybe laugh instead of cry, right? Either way, this town doesn’t seem to be changing. Not quickly, anyway.

When my writing and producing partner, Sara Fletcher, and I created our short film, “The Girl in the Green Dress” about 2 isolated 1950s housewives experiencing a bit of a taboo connection– we thought, “Wouldn’t it would be cool to do a period piece and dive into a world that is nothing like our own?

The truth is, the confining world of a fifties housewife is not as far a cry from my own world as I’d like to think. I’ve been bullied by male filmmakers into submission. I’ve been sexually harassed during auditions. I’ve played parts that have made me feel dirty and cheap.  As a woman in Hollywood in 2015, I, too, have felt isolated.

In fact, our director, Johanna Goldstein was right there with us. “ As a woman director I’ve had my judgment and abilities questioned in a way that I’ve never seen my male counterparts experience. The issue could be as small and seemingly innocuous as an assumption that female directors are more inclined toward drama and romance than sci-fi and thrillers (my favorite genres).”

So what do we do?

I’m not going to claim to have the magic fix. But here’s what I’m going to say:

It’s not a fluke that the female driven Hunger Games franchise kills it every time. It’s no mistake that Sandra Bullock’s performance and star power pulled in over $716 million for Gravity.

It’s not a revelation that comedy heavyweight Judd Apatow’s most successful film is Bridesmaids.

We, women, are half the damn population of moviegoers! We are half of all film students! We have the innate ability to tell stories about well-rounded female characters who aren’t there simply to serve a dramatic function relating to love and sex. We have perspectives uniquely our own because we are mothers and daughters and sisters and grandmothers. We have stories inside us that are poignant and epic and life-changing.

So to all our female filmmakers out there: keep fighting, keep muscling your way in. Continue telling your stories, even if it means shooting it on your phone or some camcorder you found in the garage. Don’t let the stats deter you.

And female moviegoers: please support your female filmmakers. As Martha M. Lauzeen says, vote with your dollars.  A win for one of us is a win for all of us.

Right now, more than ever, we need each other. Hollywood needs us.

They not only need us, they WANT us. They just don’t know it yet.

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The World Does NOT Need More Dreamers

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(This article was first published in the June 2014 issue of Indie Chick)

I live in Hollywood, the most infamously oversaturated town of dreamers on the planet. Everyone from your barista, to your Uber driver, and even your yoga instructor has a script, a headshot, or a demo CD that they are anxious to slip you. To some, this is revolting. As an actress/singer myself, it’s a constant reminder of the colossal amount of competition I face.

There’s a famine in Hollywood. There isn’t enough work to go round and everyone is rabidly clamoring for every last crumb. I’m sure you’ve seen enough America’s Next Top Model to know that when people get hungry, they get bitchy. A couple of years ago, the cold hard truth started to set in: Sitting in my room tearfully asking the heavens WHY I was not “making it” wasn’t helping. Dreaming up all the killer music videos I was going to make someday, was not leading to anything more than feeling antsy and frustrated. When I poured out my guts in acting class, blathering about how tough it is to work so hard and feel like you’re going in circles my teacher said,

Stop Acting like This World Owes You Something

The problem with a big dream, is that too many people approach it the same way they do romantic love. They think that someday, it’s just going to happen. Knight in shining armor, Prince Charming, Ryan effing Gosling, is going to appear out of thin air and sweep you off your feet and you will live happily ever after, in your Hollywood Hills castle. YOU’LL BE DISCOVERED! Here’s the truth: for some lucky bitches, that will actually happen. Maybe you know one of these women. Maybe you ARE one of these women. Hey girl, power to ya!

For the rest of us, there’s something the universe is going to demand of you before you can win that Pulitzer/manufacture that toy/design that fashion line: action.

Getting up at 6am because your day job starts at 9, but you have to finish that chapter of your memoir that no one is waiting for. Leaving your hometown and family to go to Manhattan because that’s where your non-paying yet awesome internship is awaiting you. Sending in that resume every couple months and calling the annoyed secretary to follow up, until they finally give in and agree to an interview.

For me personally, that meant writing/producing/starring in my own damn musical because I couldn’t, for the life of me, get on Glee.

Seriously, how many times have you heard someone say, “I’ve got this really great idea for (insert invention/movie/song/recipe/app)”? Can you imagine if everyone who had a brilliant idea was undaunted by the foreseen challenges of actually creating said piece of epicness? I wouldn’t be standing around for 40 minutes while I try to curl my super thick, annoying hair! I could eat vegetarian bacon that actually tastes like bacon! I could wear a strapless bra that doesn’t make me want to kill myself! (Seriously, someone really needs to work on that)

This World Does NOT Need More Dreamers, It Needs More Doers

You may be talented, brilliant, and have the great voice of our time, but you’re not doing anyone any favors by talking a big one and then sitting on your couch watching American Idol, laughing at all the talentless hacks (I am guilty of this, too). At least they had the guts to get up there!

I’m no Angelina, but I’m proud to say that I’ve finally become a dreamer that’s also a doer. I’ve stopped waiting to be discovered; stopped treating the world as though it owes me something just for showing up.

If I get a great idea for a script, I write it.

Cool idea for a music video? I shoot it.

Am I afraid to fail? Always.

Do I think sometimes I suck and don’t have what it takes? Absolutely.

Do I get tired, cynical, angry, defeated? All the damn time. But, I also get results because I don’t stop. If I waited around for auditions and bookings, I’d have a lot of time on my hands to cry! This industry; this town; this country; this world is dog eat dog. If you’re nothing but a hopeless dreamer you will be devoured for breakfast by the Mark Zuckerbergs, the Malala’s, and the young Oprah freaking Winfrey’s of the world.

It’s very cozy in our homes with just our lofty dreams and ourselves, and it’s quite poetic to quote Lennon and pat ourselves on the backs for keeping the dreaming alive. But the reality is, all the revolutionary inventions we use every day, the crusades that changed our daily lives for the better, began with people who went out on a limb and often times were ostracized because of their dream. Rosa Parks, Shakespeare, Jesus, Ellen DeGeneres.

In this world, it’s much easier just being a dreamer; but it’s much more rewarding, for everyone when you make the decision to become a doer. So please, write that novel and self-publish it. Start that business in your apartment and nurture it. Pitch that crazy idea and fight for it. And when it gets hard, because chances are it’s going to– keep going. Society needs you to become an active dreamer. Take it from me; things will start getting a hell of a lot more interesting when you do.

The Hollywood School for Success and Happiness: Part 2

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(This article was originally posted in The Indie Chicks Magazine, 12/7/13)

Once again, I’m here to share my findings from the years I’ve put into reaching for my dream: Stardom. My journey hasn’t been easy; hasn’t gone according to plan. Still, I’m going to go out on a limb and bet that your journey, no matter what you do or where you’re from, has had its challenges as well. See, I believe that Hollywood is a weird microcosm of the rest of the world’s rat race. Navigating this city has made me into quite the fighter. I may no longer be bright eyed and bushy tailed, but I am, for the first time in my life, a businesswoman. I’m CEO of my own damn enterprise. And whether you know it or not, so are you. So start building your dream. Or like Tony Gaskins says, someone will hire you to build theirs. Ready? Almost. The University of Hollywood has a few more lessons to teach:

Make Your Own Luck
Some actors handle the waiting and struggle better than I do. I get antsy, frustrated and sad. I discovered the cure to this restlessness is keeping busy and especially, creative. If no one is casting you, create the project and cast yourself. I wanted so badly to be in a musical series or film because I’m a singer. I have never dreamt of being a writer or producer, but when I couldn’t get in for the projects I wanted, I created my own musical web series, “Destroy the Alpha Gammas” with a role I formatted to my own strengths. It was a huge amount of work but it has also resulted in a ton of press for myself, not to mention the opportunity to perform in something that showcases my skills. I was tired of waiting. So stop waiting and start doing. The elevator to success is broken? Take the stairs.

Capitalize On What Makes You Different
I’ve been told that I’m not special. I guess, on paper, I’m a dime a dozen. I’ve had to evaluate: What makes me unique? I’ve really only got 2 things I can think of: I sing, and I’m half Nicaraguan. Neither are that money, but it’s all I got! So you better believe I exploit the hell out of them! I’ll bet you have something very cool, very interesting about you, and I promise you, it’s an asset and a blessing-and it just might be your ticket. Don’t run from what makes you different; find a way to make it your calling card. Danny DeVito did. So did Ellen Degeneres. Lena Dunham. Why do we love them? Because they embrace who they are, what makes them unique, and it gives us the freedom to do the same!

Dump Your Plans -Marry Your Goals
I always dreamt of getting a record deal by age 19. I finally got that record deal when I was 23. I thought to myself, “It’s about damn time!” I have lost years to make up for! But by 24 the label had folded and I was back to square one. I felt like a divorcee; like damaged goods. I was devastated. Since forever I had had this very clear idea, PLAN, of how my life would turn out. The reality was such a departure from my plan that I felt like a failure. As I began to heal, I decided to let go of this blueprint I had designed for myself and start simply working my ass off towards my dreams. I don’t care when and I don’t care how, but I’m going to make it happen. And as long as I’m fighting in the trenches, I’m not a failure. So set goals for yourself and spend every day working towards them. When you get there, it may not look the way you always expected it to, but it will look the way it was always meant to.
Don’t Treat Your Passion Like Your Hobby
Unless you’re satisfied with it being nothing more than a hobby, treat your passion with more respect. Here’s the reality: no one is handing out jobs-in any field. It’s all tough. But if you’re working a day job while pining away for another profession, I hope as soon as you clock out that you are treating your fledgling career with as much respect as your bill paying job. That’s one of the hardest things about LA- It’s a full time job just getting by: paying your rent, utilities, food, car, insurance… When do you have time to make any headway in the most competitive industry in the world? And here’s the answer: you make the time. From what I’ve observed, people don’t leave LA and head back home because they don’t love acting anymore. They don’t give up because they couldn’t take the rejection. They give up because they are tired of fighting just to stay afloat. It has gotten to the point that they do a whole lot of waiting tables and very little actual acting. I get it. So here’s your tough love: Treat your dream like your number 1 job. Don’t let your day job fool you into thinking it’s the most important thing in your life. It’s not. Unless you let it be.

Donate Your Services
Anytime I hear snobby thoughts in my head, I think of my friend Sara Fletcher. Sara has voiced characters on Family Guy. She plays a mermaid this season on Grimm. She was the star of a show on Comedy Central. She works more consistently as an actress than almost anyone I know. Yet, Sara won’t even say no to being an extra on a friends’ project. She played a lead in my web series for no pay. She loves being on set. She loves to work. She doesn’t act like she’s better than anything or anybody and for that reason, who doesn’t want to work with her? She knows the value of investing- she knows that there’s more to life than money. If you’re willing to take a chance and put in the work and time, often times you will be rewarded. I’m sure you’re very talented yourself, but until you’re making the big bucks, don’t think that working for free devalues you. Work because you love it and because you are good at it, and the world will take notice.

Get A Life
This was a concept introduced to me by an amazing acting teacher, Cynthia Szigeti, and it is some of the best advice I have ever recieved. Cynthia said that if you want to make it in show biz, get a life. An apartment you like, friends you like, a boyfriend or girlfriend you like, because you’re going to be here for a while. If you put all your energy, time, self-worth into your career, you will burn out. You will give up and you will head home. Instead, carve out a happy little existence for yourself. Get comfortable. Learn to enjoy the journey. I know it’s easier said than done. Have faith that you will get there, and set up shop. It’s going to be a bumpy ride, but who doesn’t love an adventure?

Off you go! Chase those dreams to the end of the earth! And if you end up chasing them all the way to Hollywood, give me a call.

The Hollywood School for Success and Happiness

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(This article was originally posted in The Indie Chicks Magazine 10/30/13)

No huge secret: it’s tough to make it in show business. The thing no one tells you: it’s tough to survive on a daily basis in show business, to stay healthy, happy, inspired and sane. I may not have “made it” in Hollywood just yet, but I have learned a thing or two about survival. On my quest for my dreams, success and contentment, I’ve learned many a lesson the hard way. I hope I can help you cut a few corners on your quest, regardless of your profession or location. So here you go, the tips and tricks on getting ahead while not losing your head courtesy of The University of Hollywood. You didn’t get it from me.

It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who Knows YOU
People love to throw around that old adage, “It’s who you know.” But the truth is, lots of people move out here without knowing anyone and do big things! So don’t get all bent outta shape because someone is the boss’s daughter (or girlfriend). Instead, focus on not only getting to know people, but also working hard and building an awesome reputation for yourself. Do the work, be cool and easy going in the process and more work will follow.

Be a “Yes” Person
In other words, get out there. When people invite you places, GO. Go even if you don’t know them very well and it could be awkward. Yes, even if you don’t feel like getting up or getting ready or you had a long day. Listen to Nike and JUST DO IT. You might make a new friend, discover a cool spot, make a new business contact, and have some good food, whatever! It builds character and enriches your life, even if it’s just about getting in the habit of doing something spontaneous or scary. Plus, it’s cool to be the person that shows up. People that show up are a dying breed. In LA, they are practically unheard of.

You Don’t Need a Million Friends
Be cool with everyone, but not everyone needs to be your BFF. It’s OK to peace out on friendships that aren’t adding value to your life. Limit your friends to the people, who support you, make you laugh, and inspire you. When you have big goals and lots of work to do, it’s quality not quantity when it comes to your circle. It’s ok to give priority to the people that make you feel good.

Dress the Part
There’s a great saying: “There are no ugly women, just lazy women.”

Don’t be lazy. Put in the effort: do your hair, put on your makeup, and wear that cute outfit. I know some of you are hating this one, but hear me out: I’m not saying girlify yourself to attract a man or impress a woman. Do it because it makes you feel confident. When you look your best and know it, you can’t help but feel great! You walk with a swing in your step. You smile more. Who doesn’t want to be around that?

Don’t Be a Hater
So you know somebody who just skates by without working hard/putting in the time/having any talent – whatever. We all do. It’s annoying, it’s frustrating, and it probably makes you feel like throwing in the towel. And complaining. A lot. And being generally negative about them, yourself, the business, and life, but don’t. Fight the urge. Everyone is on their own path. You are exactly where you are meant to be right now. Brad Pitt was the El Pollo Loco Chicken on the street corner while trying to make it. The Good Wife star Julianna Margulies waited on a very famous (and very rude) Julia Roberts while she was a struggling actress in New York. You’re going to get yours. Don’t be a rain-cloudy drag in the process. Celebrate other people’s successes and know that it’s going to be that much sweeter when it’s time to celebrate yours.

Be Your Own Biggest Fan
Speilberg got rejected from film school 3 times. Disney was told a mouse would never work. Seinfeld was booed off stage. Most people would shrug, say they gave it a good shot, and switch careers. Not because they no longer want it, but because the world has told them it’s just not happening. The truth is, the more you want something, the more obstacles you will face. So start building that thick skin and tell yourself that in the process of fighting for greatness you will be criticized but the only one that can stop you is YOU. You deserve that role, dammit, because you’re awesome and work hard. So study, get good. And know, in your heart, that you’ve got what it takes.

So there you go! I hope I’ve illuminated some concepts, or at least reminded you of those you already know. No matter what you’re aiming for, whether it be a promotion, weight loss or meeting The One, my hope is that you continue on and keep your head up. Your dreams are for the taking.

I think you’re ready. Next week you’ll be advancing to level 2. Let’s get a little deeper, a little more personal for your second lesson at The University of Hollywood.

Why You Should Stop Hating On Valentine’s Day- And Start Loving It

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When I was a kid I would put a lot of work into my Valentine’s Day gift to my Mom. Why? In a lot of ways as a kid, she was the center of my universe!

I always loved V-day. Wearing pink and red, getting candy and valentines at school from my friends and flowers and jewelry from my Dad. Dad would often get my Mom a necklace or earrings and he’d get me a tiny little girl version to match. My sister and I were (and still are) his little loves. To me, Valentine’s Day was about LOVE. Period.

It wasn’t until I got older that I started to realize that for most people V-Day is dedicated to lovers; romantic love (or the lack of it). For this reason, Valentine’s Day can be a big fat ugly reminder that you are ALONE. With NO ONE to LOVE. I mean look at all the damn articles floating around:

How to Survive Valentine’s Day Single

Single Awareness Day offers Valentine’s Day Alternatives

Should Valentine’s Day be Banned in Schools?

How to Spend Valentine’s Day Alone

First of all, it’s just a DAY people, relax. YOU WILL SURVIVE IT.

Secondly, you’re not and have never been alone. You have a lot of love in your life! Don’t let this day and the way it is marketed fool you into feeling that because you don’t have romantic love at the moment, you are unloved. FALSE. So false!

Ok, granted, I have a boyfriend. But being single has NEVER kept me from enjoying the holiday! Have a dinner party with your single friends! Go see 50 Shades of Grey. Head to the spa. Go shopping. Whatever. Just don’t fall into the trap of making this day represent something that is negative or lacking in your life.

Last night a couple friends came over and we made homemade valentines. You know what I discovered? There are a lot of people I love other than my boyfriend. Who says you can only have one Valentine and that it should just be your bf/gf? Everyone likes to hear a quick reminder that they are loved!

Which brings me to pet peeve #2: Anyone who utters some variation of this line:

“We don’t celebrate Valentine’s day because he treats me like every day is Valentine’s Day.”

BARF. If that’s really true, wonderful. But while you’re at it, just don’t celebrate Mother’s Day or Halloween or any other holiday, because what’s the point, really?

My boyfriend treats me like a princess, but we STILL CELEBRATE Valentine’s day and you know why? Because like many couples, our typical night together is spent watching bad reality TV or sitting on our laptops talking about the newest cat video. And while I love our life, I would say that our average night together does not rate high on the sexy meter. Plus, we are both very social beings who love to work and are constantly on our phones texting and talking. We live together and that means we are part lovers, part roommates. Every day is not a scene out of The Notebook. #RealTalk. It’s nice to have a day to devote to making each other feel loved and happy. What’s wrong with that? Don’t want to spend money and contribute to our “consumer driven” culture? GREAT! Stay home and cook or go to the beach. It’s not about money, it’s about showing gratitude.

If you have a problem with V-day, my guess is it’s because you have been disappointed by it in the past. I get it. The truth is, I’ve never been disappointed by V-day and it’s probably because I’ve never put all my V-day hopes and dreams on a boyfriend. My parents still send me gifts and I still make heart cookies because the truth is, it’s not about any one person. It’s about love. Spreading it and receiving it. Even when you have that special someone, they cannot fulfill every hope and desire for you. That’s why we have friends and family and work and hobbies… There are a lot of components to happiness!

So please, this year:

Embrace Valentine’s Day. Write your Mom a love letter. Or your Grandma. Or your best friend. Smile more. Buy a box of chocolates and eat them your damn self. Or get them for that co-worker that always has your back. Look around and you’ll see, you’ve got potential Valentines everywhere.

What I Learned In 2014..And Every Year So far

When you fight with your loved ones, even if you were right, it hurts like you were wrong.

Forgiveness is a much lighter load to bear.

Listening to their small insignificant thoughts, watching the youtube videos they text you, laughing at their jokes: That’s how you make someone feel loved.

You will never regret over-spending on a gift for someone you love.

Objects are nice, but experiences are better.

Clothes and makeup can make you feel beautiful.

Back your sh*t up.

A flaky person is not a bad person, but it doesn’t mean you need to keep them around.

Partying gets old. So does staying in.

If you yell, you lost.

Best beauty tip ever? Drink more water.

Tiredness can feel a lot like depression in moments, and the cure is a double shot espresso.

“The best way out is always through.”

Your family will disappoint you. Get over it and love them anyway.

A great relationship is hard to find. Stop nit-picking.

Don’t expect to feel grateful all day every day. Moments of true gratitude are a pretty damn good start.

F**k the haters.

Fight for your friendships the way you fight for your lovers.

It’s ok to outgrow people.

The more you create, the less you care what people think.

Surround yourself with people you admire.

Money ebbs and flows. Don’t get attached; Don’t get down.

The route to happiness: busy yourself with what you love

“I’m sorry” could solve a lot of the world’s problems

Angels exist. Sometimes, in the form of Obama Care reps.

An un-jealous friend is one of the most precious gifts one can have.

People love peach Snapple & Chipotle. Across the board.

You won’t regret donating to that charity/crowd source. But you might regret NOT doing it.

Make a point to remember people’s names. “I’m terrible with names” is not a legit thing to say.

Facebook is not a great place to vent/argue/dis people.

If they are bad mouthing everyone to you, they are probably bad mouthing you.

Choose to be kind instead of right.

Saying “yes” = more adventure

One of the nicest things to give and receive is a heartfelt, handwritten letter

Want to achieve more? Get up earlier.

No one really has it together.

Time truly does heal all.

You don’t need to know what your life’s calling is.

If you’re not happy, it’s not worth it- whatever it is.

Eating healthier is easier than running miles every day.

“Carpe Diem” is a far superior rule to live by than “What’s meant to be..”

Happy 2015 ❤

5 Things You MUST Do This Month

I LOVE fall! October is my favorite month of the year; Halloween is my favorite holiday. I LOVE dressing up & I LIVE for scary movies. I’m well versed in this stuff, so here’s your October guide to happiness!


1: Whip Up Something Autumny 

I don’t cook. I’m not super domestic. But you can do anything when you put your mind to it, and when I DO cook–It’s usually not half bad!

Nothing reminds you it’s fall like a pumpkin spice latte or pumpkin pie.  How ’bout try something fun and different? Here are a few fun ideas to jump start those taste buds:

                                    Apple Cider Floats~Candy Corn Cookies~Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

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 Parmesan Bacon Pumpkin Mashed Potatoes~Chocolate Pumpkin Pie~

And a Classic: Butternut Squash Soup

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2: Get Your Scary Movie On

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Grab a friend or your love, some popcorn (HERE are some delish popcorn recipes to try) turn off your phones and get started! Here are a few of my faves that I’m hoping, MAYBE you haven’t yet seen—based on your “scare level”:

If you’re NOT the bravest:  Cabin in the Woods,  Zombieland, Drag Me to Hell

If you can handle some dark s**t: VHS, The Orphanage, The Conjuring, Grave Encounters,  The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Evil Dead -The Remake

If you’ve seen it all: Martyrs

Also, check your local movie theater site. They probably have some classic Halloween screenings planned. This week at the Arclight Hollywood they are showing SCREAM!


3: Actually Dress Up

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Don’t be that lame person at the party with no costume. OR WORSE- That lame person NOT at the party!      :::::GASP:::::

Get in the spirit. Go out and get a costume, choose a group theme, a couples theme, or get creative with what you’ve got at home! Here are some fun ideas if you’re at a loss, and here are some game-changers.


4: Go to a Legit Haunted House

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Grab your crew and go scream together! It’s a bonding experience. Here are a couple of my fave spots here in LA, but no matter what city you’re in, I guarantee there is something spooky and haunted to do a short drive away.

Delusion

They say it’s the scariest, most awesome Halloween event in LA and every year sells out veeery quickly! I already got my tickets for the end of the month for this interactive theater/haunted house experience produced by the awesome Neil Patrick Harris, featuring LA’s professional actors and stunt people. You walk through in groups of 10-15 and this year they took over the Fitzgerald Manor in the West Adams district by USC. If you can get your hands on tix, you don’t wanna miss it!

Halloween Harvest Festival: The Corn Maze

My boyfriend and I went to get our pumpkins at this Pierce College spot, and I had read about their haunted corn maze and decided we needed to try it. NEITHER of us expected it to be as scary as it was! It is definitely heightened by the fact that being in an actual cornfield is eerie and creepy on it’s own! Head over, grab some food and a couple pumpkins and get ready!

The LA Haunted Hayride

This is an LA Halloween staple. If you haven’t done it, there’s nothing else like it. The line can be a bitch so I recommend getting there early! And if you’re afraid of clowns…good luck. This is the only event where you get to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Universal Horror Nights

You can’t beat Universal Horror Nights. You just can’t. I  look forward to it every year because it’s always different! I know it’s s ton of money, but if you can swing it, I’d recommend coughing up the $140 for the front of line pass. SO WORTH IT. The lines can get really crazy and there are 7 new mazes this year! How can you see them all if you spend the whole night waiting? Keep in mind- they’ve got the resources- so this event is pretty damn scary. And creatures are EVERYWHERE. They will stalk you if you are the scaredy cat- so don’t show TOO much fear!


5: Go to the Pumpkin Patch

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I know, I know. Ralph’s sells pumpkins. But that’s no fun! Head over to your local pumpkin patch and get in the spirit! They often have a variety of pumpkin snacks and sometimes carving workshops or cider! This year I wanted to have a variety of ugly, wart-covered pumpkins, but apparently everyone had the same idea because at my patch, they were all sold out of the ugly ones! I got a huge white one instead. Whether you have kids or are single, nothing reminds you of your childhood like picking out the perfect pumpkin! And don’t forget to ACTUALLY CARVE IT!  Here is some pumpkin carving inspiration

I hope you enjoy this month as much as I do! And as always, hook me up with some pics of your costume, pumpkins or culinary creations! Happy Halloween!

xoLeah

Facebook is not Your Personal Soap Box

When did Facebook get so damn political?

I can’t check out my feed without seeing people getting crazy confrontational about everything ranging from Beyonce videos to police brutality.

People have strong views, I get it. Great. But somehow in the last few months the growing sentiment seems to be that Facebook is not only a social site to share your vacation pics, but a platform that DEMANDS you express your contrasting opinion every opportunity that presents itself.  Not so much.

Every time something goes viral and gets some positive coverage, it seems that some people race to be the cloud that rains on everyone’s parade.

I’m sure you know at least one of these types. They are probably the friend that:

Mocked the hashtag, #BringBackOurGirls

Labeled Emma Watson’s speech “rubbish” 

Felt the ALS Challenge was a useless stunt

Declared that opting out of paying it forward at the Starbuck’s Drive-thru is just “good economics”

Think Aretha’s cover of Adele is an embarrassing auto-tuned mess

Argue that Ray Rice was unjustly demonized

Sound familiar?

It’s America, you’re entitled to your opinion.  Still- maybe that space to make a comment underneath someone’s status update is NOT the best place to air out your grievances and flex those debate skills from high school.

When the iconic Robin Williams passed, many argued over whether or not suicide is a selfish act.  I have always felt that suicide IS very selfish. After pondering and discussing this and coming up with clear points as to why I believe taking your own life is selfish, I realized that even IF I were to present a list of enlightened points, it would only MAKE PEOPLE FEEL LIKE CRAP. Why do I care about convincing everyone that suicide is selfish? How does that make the family members of a deceased person feel? If the thought that a suicidal loved one “took their life because they felt it was their only way out” is comforting and gives someone a sense of understanding, then who am I to come along and pick that apart for the sake of argument?

It’s not about who’s right. Is your opinion adding something valuable to the conversation? No? You just feel that someone needs to play devil’s advocate? Guess what-SOMEONE DOES NOT.

It’s not your job as a Facebook user to troll your feed for articles you don’t agree with. I’ve seen people get de-friended (which may be a good thing if 2 people can’t see eye to eye on what they consider paramount topics). But- isn’t Facebook supposed to be about connecting socially? I’ve seen people blatantly spew hate at other races, the opposite sex, our president, other political parties, the latest Disney movie… It’s gotten ugly.

SO.

Here’s my public service announcement:

Everyone,

If you want to have a serious debate about a serious topic, maybe consider taking it off Facebook? Maybe post that combative comment only when it’s something that you morally must say- not just for the sake of arguing. Know the difference. If you feel a charity driven challenge is stupid, maybe let people enjoy it anyway? Maybe if you DO want to engage in a debate on your feed, you keep it civil.  It’s beautiful to live in a world with a wide range of backgrounds, let’s be sensitive and not make Facebook the home of touchy contrarians.

:::::::::::Mic Drop:::::::::::::

Your Fall/Winter Style Guide!

We don’t exactly have seasons in Southern Cali. Not everything on this list may be super sensible for your location, still, just because the colder months are coming doesn’t mean you crawl into a hole and only emerge in puffy coats and jeans.

When you know your outfit is awesome, you can’t help but feel hot! Take a risk, wear something out of your comfort zone and have fun with fashion. Here’s what I’m loving right now, where I shop and where you can snag the looks that are current, fun and sexy!

ENOUGH with the Black!

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Here’s some real talk: no one is impressed by your LBD. I know it makes you feel skinny. I know you think it’s classic and Coco Chanel was a goddess. I know what the magazines have told you.

When I see a girl wearing a typical black dress and heels to a night out/event/wedding I think: this is a girl that has no style. Or doesn’t care.  If I’m going somewhere I don’t care about, I too, might wear an LBD. (Doubtful, but possible.)

Black may be classic, but it’s phoning it in. Black is meant to hide and disguise, hence feeling skinny. Stop hiding.

Girl, put the black away. Pick a color that compliments your skin tone, hair, eye color and personality and I PROMISE you will get 10x more check outs and compliments.  Trust.

Hit up: Lulus, They always have a ton of color options!  And if you ABSOLUTELY MUST wear black, please don’t phone it in! Make it awesome like these, and pair it with some awesome shoes, jewelry and purse! Nasty Gal does black right!

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Athletic Wear

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I LOVE the new trend of pairing boyish athletic pieces with the feminine.

I just bought an awesome varsity jacket from Forever 21. It’s maroon and black leather and I can’t wait to wear it with little dresses instead of a blazer. It toughens up something girly in an off beat way.

I’m also a big fan lately of throwing my white converse on with a cute dress. It’s a quick, easy way to be comfy and make it look effortless yet stylish.

Hit up: Forever 21 or Nordstrom, or for the super cool new Rita Ora collection, Adidas

2 Piece Ensembles

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The top part of everyone’s mid-section tends to look awesome! Too many tacos this week? No problem! Put on a high waisted skirt and a matching crop top and it’s a sexy alternative to a dress but flattering and oh so fun.

Hit up: BooHoo has tons of choices!

Knee High Socks & Tights

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I hate pants. They make me itchy, I wear dresses and shorts year round. BUT cold weather IS a thing.  SO…When I head east or up north to San Fran to see my family, I love sweatery knee socks from Free people. I have them in a ton of patterns and colors and then I can wear my dresses in the winter! I sometimes layer them with cute tights.

Cold weather + Style = Possible

Hit Up: Free People. Period.

Bralettes

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I’m so over bras. I realize chestier girls don’t have much of a choice, but I am obsessed with the jelly pasties you can get at Target and I wear bralettes from free people almost every day. I own them in tons of different colors and since they are pretty and colorful and lacey, it’s ok to SEE them peek out! PLEASE don’t be the girl in the racerback dress with the tacky bra straps hanging out for the world to see! You have OPTIONS, woman.

Hit Up: Free People. Again, no brainer.

Sexy Sweaters

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Fitted, soft, comfy! Lace or leather trim! Off the shoulder! Try it with a mini skirt to dress it up. Or try a cropped sweater with a high waisted skirt/pants. You got this. Colder months don’t mean sex appeal goes out the window!

Hit up: Urban Outfitters always has an awesome selection

I Still love Rompers!

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If you’re a girl that never knows what to wear and tries on a million outfits before going anywhere, simplify your life. Get yourself some rompers. They are an already complete ensemble.  I especially love them with pockets! Rompers are so cute, so comfy, so EASY! You don’t worry about them being too short because, they aren’t a dress, after all! They have a very casual look, which is what I like.  I own the black one above with the flowers (get it HERE) and it’s one of my favorite things right now! I get a million compliments and I can dress it up for going out or I’ll wear it to the coffee shop.

Hit Up: I just got this awesome romper from HelloMolly which is in Australia, a bit of a risky online purchase but it fits me perfectly and is so comfy and cute!  I’ll definitely be buying more stuff from them.

Coats: Keep it SIMPLE & SLEEK

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I rarely need a coat, but I have a couple awesome ones in my closet. The key with coats this season is keeping them VERY simple and very warm. Lately I’m not into a lot of buttons and zippers and prints. The more simple and classic your coat is, the more versatile it is! I hate putting together an awesome outfit for a Holiday party and feeling like it’s going to get ruined by the coat. If you get a coat that is in a neutral color a warm material and fits perfectly, it only adds to the look! Definitely a worthwhile investment! Don’t be the chick freezing on the street corner because you took the flimsy sweater that completed the outfit instead of a more substantial choice.

Hit Up: Here are a couple cool choices at Bloomingdales and Macy’s

Also check out: 

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My little cousin, Sheila, sells jewelry for Chloe + Isabel and their stuff is rad. I especially like the Natural Luxe Collection. Great for gifts! A bit bohemian mixed with fabulosity.

BLM

Bloomingdale’s has an AWESOME new section that is trendier, younger and more affordable! It’s called Sunset + Spring and features super cool brands like Mink Pink and most pieces are under $100!

So there ya go! Go raid your closet before blowing a ton of money and see what you can add to your wardrobe that will fit into the family nicely! And please, hook me up with some pics of you going out, I’d love to see you rocking these fall/winter trends!

My instagram: @leahmckendrick

My Twitter: @leahmckendrick

My Email: leahmckendrick@gmail.com

xoxoLeah

An Actor’s Lesson: Learning to say “NO”

I’ve come to a valuable realization. Let me explain.

When you decide you want to be an actor, you are told (somewhat) what your future will look like. You will move to LA (Or New York, London etc…) and you will get an agent. Then you will audition a lot. You will be rejected often, but over time you will build a resume and a reputation and gradually the jobs will become bigger and more frequent and at some point you will be a working actor! YAY!

More or less, am I right?

Here’s the thing: Getting an agent is hard. They don’t tell you that. I’ve pounded the pavement for years and have had many agents. I figured out that the secret to this (other than being outrageously gorgeous and amazing and having killer credits, which if this is you- congrats, bitch) is persistence. There are LOTS of agents in this town. Keep at it and you’re bound to get one.

The BIGGEST misconception that many actors wrestle is this notion that since you have reps, you will get auditions! The cliche actor convo goes something like this:
“Who are you with?” “I’m with Rising Starz Talent but they never get me out. I need a new agent. Do you like yours?” “Nope. I’m looking to switch, too.” Typical.

Then I figured it out: You gotta be your OWN damn agent. They aren’t miracle workers! If you aren’t super unique, experienced, or crazy connected, how are they supposed to have you auditioning several times a week against the big kids? No one tells you this, but even when you have an agent and a manger, chances are, you STILL hustle your ass off. BIG lesson for me.

SO…I started producing my own stuff and somehow MIRACULOUSLY the stars finally aligned and I started auditioning. A lot. Now with that comes another dilemma: Why am I not booking??? Do I suck? Am I fat? Who the F*** is getting these parts?!

It has created a panic in me that had me taking every part that came my way. The problem with this is that not all projects: Pay, are artistically stimulating, are quality products that you want people to see. (REAL TALK)

Suddenly it hit me: After all the hours I have been spending learning lines, driving to auditions and callbacks and then DAYS on set—I could be clocking hours on MY projects (I have several in the works) that WILL challenge me and- not to sound like a complete dick buuuuut- will look better than the vast majority of the smaller projects I audition for.

So here it is: I’ve decided to prioritize, focus and learn to say “NO”. No bitch! I don’t need to do every project that comes my way. I have too much to do. Things I am SO excited about that will force me out of my comfort zone and showcase me in a way I’ve never been showcased before. Projects I believe NEED to be made. Projects I am PROUD of.

From now on, I’m only going to learn lines and audition for projects I am passionate about and will add to my range or reputation, stuff I am STOKED to be a part of.

In college my professor, Tom Bradac, who I truly love said this: “Please, people. One of these days, determine what you’re worth.”

I’ve often pondered this and never completely applied it. All I knew was, I am an actor and I WANT TO WORK. Well today I am deciding that I am an actor, but I’m also an artist and I’m worth more than playing gratuitous sexy roles or appearing in projects that look like they were shot by my cat on an iPhone. Sounds elementary, but I’m JUST getting it.

So please, actors, I encourage you to do the same. Life (not to mention our YOUTH) is too short to let anxiety run the show. Relax. Follow your heart and passion and believe that it will happen as long as you work hard and keep on keepin on. I’ll let you know how it works out for me 😉