Travel Bug

Well, it’s official. I want to travel the world…forever!

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Mammoth Lakes, CA  September 2014

The past few months have been anything but ordinary, but I suppose the life of an actor is destined for anything but ordinary. (Puke. Gross. Can’t believe I said that, but it is honestly so true). Every day is drastically different with new thoughts, new characters, new stories to be told, and new ways to come up with rent money (Almost that time of month. Sigh.)

I have recently had the pleasure of traveling for work, and it has been truly incredible. I feel a sense of happiness and clarity that I have not felt in many years. Within the past 10 months I have spent time in Paris, Puerto Rico, New York, and have taken mini-vacations to Mammoth, CA and Quincy & Chicago, IL to spend time with family and friends. One thing in common with going to all of these places: I felt completely invigorated. And alive. And passionate about my life. Whether I was exploring new cities, or visiting nostalgic places where I grew up – both delighted me so very much. I saw so many different people around the world, and was able to dive into other cultures head first with absolute enthusiasm and wonder.

Perhaps the most curious aspect was that I felt artistically stimulated like I have not in years. Seeing so much art, live theatre every night of the week, walking through some of the most gorgeous fashion districts in the entire world—everything I saw, everything I heard, the wonderful food and wine I tasted, the poetic music I heard—it was all artistic inspiration. I found myself writing everywhere I walked; every person I bumped into led to another idea. It was almost overwhelming at times, my mind continuously flowing, my hand could not write fast enough. As wonderful as it was, it was also very frustrating to look back at so many months of trying to write, staring at blank pages for days and days. I wanted so badly to tell stories, to create material to share with the world, but it would not come. (And it was not that I don’t have stories to tell – anyone who knows me well, knows my life is comprised of some of the craziest circumstances that could have ever happened in a 25 year old woman’s life.)

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Paris, France  July 2014

I think the reason these places felt so different to me is because I was approaching every experience with the wonder and curiosity of a child. I was so transfixed with what was happening, and discovering so many new things, I could not help but be completely grounded in each present moment. When comparing this way of living to my everyday life, I feel like that is what I have forgotten. I have forgotten to wake up every morning like a child on Christmas, so excited at the surprises that the day will bring. I believe it is very easy for us to fall into patterns and routines that feel comfortable to create a sense of stability in our lives. Jumping out of patterns of comfort is not easy, but I have found it necessary. As I have been saying a lot this year, nothing happens in the comfort zone. Don’t get me wrong, stability is a beautiful thing; it embodies strength, security and safety. And to most, these are valued aspects of life. But I thrive in adventure and spontaneous circumstances, and was depriving myself of these experiences. The experiences that would turn on my creative brain again, and help me to write freely once again.

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San Juan, Puerto Rico   December 2014

I happen to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I am surrounded by creative minds daily, people who moved to live their dream. I wake up to this beauty every single day. I want to start acting like it and appreciating it. I have challenged myself to continue to push myself out of my comfort zone, and to dive into new experiences and culture while I am in Los Angeles. I am currently supporting as many friends as I can by attending their live music shows, comedy shows, plays, and I am truly touched and inspired again to live in the land of dreams (this is your chance! You better plug your show to me now so I will come!)

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New York, NY   April 2015

I am so grateful for the awareness that 2015 has brought: I live in a beautiful place, and I intend to soak up every second of it that I can. Join me, won’t you?

Valentine’s Day Adventure

Sometimes it is difficult for us to proclaim when we are proud of ourselves. When we do, some view this as arrogant or self-absorbent, but in an industry that can tear us down, I believe it is important we build ourselves up. One of the ways we can do this is by sharing our experiences and truly celebrating our accomplishments as we walk on our individual paths. I would like to share my Valentine’s Day adventure, and what I learned about myself in the process.

I had the pleasure this Valentine’s Day to work on set for a commercial with an adorable 6-year-old kiddo, whom I will refer to as Ashley. It was so awesome; on this extensively commercialized day of boxed chocolates and teddy bears, I was fortunate enough to celebrate my love for acting by being on set. I am very grateful for the opportunity, and I learned a number of things on this day of shooting.

  1. I am really great with kids.

Any time that I am nannying and doubt my abilities, someone should slap me and shake me out of that doubt. Time and time again, I am reminded of how great I am with children. Ashley was a very well behaved child to begin with, so that always helps. The director was great with her, and it was wonderful to have her mother on set as well. However, it was awesome to rediscover that I think I have this way of talking to children that they truly appreciate. I talk to them as adults; and while they may not be adults, it is approaching them with a deep sense of respect, that in turn, makes them respect you even more.

For example, a quarter of the way through the shoot, Ashley would complain that her little feet hurt from standing so long; she kept whispering this to me, so I already knew I had her trust because she was confiding in me. Instead of telling her to “hang in there” or ignoring her, I would attempt to build her confidence and excitement. (Or my personal favorite, make her giggle until her next take by improvising bits with her or being silly characters). By distracting her from the fact that she would be standing for several more minutes, I helped take the attention away from something that was upsetting her, and allowed her to find joy in our silly moments together between takes. (Don’t get me wrong. I was not causing a ruckus on set – just making silly faces and being a kid again. A very well behaved, non-distracting kid.) I could tell these distractions really helped her while being on set for hours at a time. She was a real champion! Go Ashley!

  1. I am a really great director.

When working with Ashley, I realized I truly am a pretty great director. I noticed that children are not always able to “be happier” or “say that louder”; they need a more imaginative direction, in my opinion. This can apply to everyday life for children, too. Although they want you to respect and treat them like adults (to a degree. See #1.), they are also still children with beaming imaginations. I believe this is why improvisation can be so thrilling and fun as adults, because we are literally just stepping back into the imaginative way we used to think as children. So when talking with Ashley between takes (after my amazingly funny characters, of course), I would give her “if, then” scenarios to help her through direction she told me she “didn’t get”. For instance, she had to yell off to her Mommy (me. Yeah I know! How could Brooke possibly be going out for mother roles? I was thinking the same thing. #blessed #youngmom), and she needed to sound louder. So I suggested that she think she is upstairs, and her Mother is downstairs in the kitchen, so she better yell really loudly to make sure she can hear her! BAM! She got it.

  1. I am so grateful to be doing what I love.

This industry can be tough. Auditions (if we are grateful enough to get them!) can be daunting. Traffic to auditions can be ridiculous. Set times can be early, and even fall on Valentine’s Day. The letdown after you thought you BOOKED THAT SHIT can be heartbreaking. But you know what? We are choosing to do what we love, in what is quite possibly the most creative city on the planet. I meet new artists (film, music, paint, production, artists in all capacities) every day that inspire me by their love for their work and what they do. I continue to be humbled by this, and am constantly reminded of the beauty of this city and everyone surrounding me. So lets keep going, lets stay persistent, and continue to raise each other up and cheer each other on through the beauty of CREATING.

Change, A Challenge

Life is certainly full of surprises, isn’t it? I would not have it any other way, but sometimes drastic changes in our lives can be hard to adjust to. I have always felt that change is great for us, that it really can shake us up and invigorate our souls.
I lately found my life to be amidst a great shift – I could feel it. While the changes were wonderful and exciting, I felt so much anxiety and turmoil as everything continued to change around me. I could not sleep, did not want to exercise, and was compulsively eating and drinking too much ! What a self destructive way to deal with new opportunities.

One day I was crying, out of excitement and terror, and I just felt this wave come over me and my inner voice said “let Go!”. Let go. LET GO! Let go of your attempt to control your life, and accept what the wonderful universe is sending your way. Be open to change. Say “Yes, and…” knowing you will figure it all out.

It is this mentality that keeps me moving forward, and that openness to change that allows new opportunities to come knocking at my door!

Change can be terrifying, but how would we continue to grow if we did not change?

Side note.
I have always hated olives. I remember having a picnic with a boy in high school, and he brought Medeterranian olives and I gagged at the sight of them.
I recently had a craving for olives. This was strange, as I did not really even know what olives would taste like.
I loaded up at the olive bar at Gelson’s, and I ate every last olive, and I LOVE OLIVES!
Amazing the ways we are constantly changing, and the new things we learn about ourselves.

Just a small example, that if we challenge ourselves to say yes to new things, you never know what the outcome may be!

In 2015, I want to be fearless of change, and accept new things in my life with LOVE and FAITH. I challenge you to do the same; lets welcome changes in our lives with open arms, knowing they will ultimately shape us and lead us to new experiences!

Age is just a number…

This week in a rehearsal for an acting class, a fellow classmate asked me my age, out of the blue. I told her, and she proceeded to say “Ugh. Go fuck yourself.” I thought I understood why she said this, but challenged her words asking what the purpose was. She claimed to be “so old” and so sick of being “so old” in Hollywood. This woman was 2 1/2 years older than I am. I told her that she was beautiful (she is) and that she should not let anything that anyone has told her make her value herself any less, love herself any less, or wish to be anyone other than herself, especially over a number. She said I was young and naive, and didn’t understand the reality of Hollywood, and that one day I would also face this debate of age in show business. I respect her opinion, but I will say this: I may be young and new to this place and this business, but one thing I will never do is let anyone question the love I have for myself. I am not vain, I am not selfish, but I was brought up to value who I am in this world and love myself unconditionally. I find people of ALL ages in this life to be stunning, and I think one of the most beautiful things someone can do is really own who they are, in the moment, and be willing to be vulnerable and share that with the world. I know sometimes the pressure in the business can be overwhelming, and make this a difficult task, but that is no reason to make others feel inadequate as we deal with our own insecurities. So do me a favor this year? Help me spread the LOVE for one another. When someone is beautiful, and you are thinking this in your head, TELL THEM. Because apparently Hollywood is not saying this enough. I refuse to be bitter today, and choose to embrace the age I am and the age that YOU are, today, tomorrow, and forever.

Second City : 2 years of Friendships and LOLs

   I hope that everyone is having a great start to MY favorite season, FALL!  While I am not able to indulge in my favorite seasonal beverage, (Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte), I was excited to start the season off with Second City Hollywood’s Labor Day Picnic in Griffith Park last week. The picnic was designed to be a bonding experience for the Second City community in Los Angeles; students, graduates, alumni, teachers and staff came together for a day of fun!

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As classes, shows, and rehearsals are constantly happening at Second City, it is rare that the community is able to come together as a group, at one time and location.  Our staff worked extremely hard at organizing and preparing for the event, and it was such a success!

  Throughout the day, I would look around the park at everyone playing, chatting, eating, and LAUGHING, and I was filled with joy and love.  It was almost two years ago this week (time flies!), that I joined the Second City Hollywood community.  My mother and I made the drive from Quincy, IL, and after taking a day to settle in and be tourists, the next thing on my list was “improv” (at this point I did not have a job either, but it is about PRIORITIES, people.).  After having been heavily involved in improv communities since the age of 12, it was extremely important that I find another community to dive into.  Mother and I went to all of the major improv schools in LA (Second City, Groundlings, UCB, and iOWest), and the question that came out of my mouth was “Can I start today?.”  Second City was the closest to fulfill this request, as I could audition in two days for the Second City Hollywood Conservatory Program.  I did, and that was the best thing to happen to me in Los Angeles to this day.

   I have been fully immersed in the Second City community for an entire two years now.  I am happiest when in the Second City building, surrounded by people I call “friends”, but who truly fill the role of “family”.  I think back on all of the opportunities that have happened at Second City for me in two years, and I become overwhelmed with humility and gratitude: House Manager, Box Office Intern, January 2012 Intern of The Month, Second City Conservatory Graduate, Second City Long Form Program Graduate, Producer of Second City Shorts, Host of Gradfest, Understudy for “Fakers”, Understudy for “Undateable”, Assistant Director for “Undateable”, Second City House Team Ensemble member.  Yes, I have been kept busy, and in the best way possible!

Even better than the opportunities coming from Second City, are the people I am surrounded by every day. I still think back to the first day of my internship, walking into the Second City office to a room full of smiles and laughter that I so badly wanted to be a part of. Coming into contact with a group of people that were so enthusiastic about comedy, and equally enthusiastic about supporting each other, made me completely fall in love.

I think I have become addicted to the happiness that IS Second City Hollywood.  I have made friends that I know will last a lifetime, and I continue to look forward to see what everyone will do through their love of improv and comedy in this city.  I love you, Second City.  Thanks for an awesome two years, and many more to come!Image

^The first morning of my internship at Second City Hollywood, two years ago^

Perspective

Perspective is everything. Having a positive perspective of a situation can truly change the situation.  Things have been pretty great lately, but we all have difficult days that we can attempt to learn from.

As far as my allergies go, things are becoming much easier; I know my staple foods and restaurants I can frequent without being hesitant about possible allergic reactions.  I have experimented with many new recipes, and I continue to be in “scavenger hunt mode” for more new foods (and Gluten Free Beers, duh!).

However, some days, man…it can be hard.  If I really sit and think about all the foods that I cannot have, and wallow in my misery, that is when it is the worst.  I used to be so passionate about new restaurants, and craft beers, and the most delicious aspects of life, but much of this was stripped from me. 

I recently went home to the Chicago area, and that provided some complications finding allergy-free options.  I was so thankful that my family was prepared for my arrival, having an allergy-free stocked fridge.  However, finding a restaurant in the city that was completely able to accommodate my needs was difficult to find and I became very frustrated.  After having gone into about seven different restaurants, I was about to give up when we happened across an Italian very “Chicago” restaurant; beer, pizza, pasta, you get the picture.  I sat down and took a deep breath, hoping to find even a little something to eat because I had not really eaten all day.  Then the storm passed, and I was confronted with a chef that was willing to come out to my table and design a special dish for me.  He would be making me salmon with artichokes, tomatoes, garlic and peas.  Not only that, but would be preparing completely different, overseeing the process and making sure the fish was baked because I was allergic to all the oils the restaurant had.  It was absolutely delicious! And LUCKY me, the restaurant just happened to carry the pear cider that I drink frequently in Los Angeles.

I also recently saw a tweet on Twitter that said, “Think of where you were one year ago… Two years ago. Think of how far you have come!” That is sometimes difficult to remember, especially in a city of actors where it is easy comparing yourself to other actor’s careers!  If I stop to really think about what I have accomplished in the last two years, it is truly astounding!  I try to record goals I have had, and reflect on the goals I have met.  I can be very rewarding to really sit and focus on the accomplishments you have made; not in a vein way, but it certainly promotes confidence and belief in yourself.

I get wrapped up in goals I currently have and am currently not accomplishing.  However, if I think of last year, all I wanted was to actually go out on auditions, and be able to chime into other actor’s conversations that related to audition experience.  Now I am going out so much more frequently, and what a blessing that is!  A chance to ACT; to perform in front of others and do what I love best!  I must stop focusing on the jobs I do not book, and focus on the auditions that really felt awesome, and celebrate that accomplishment! Especially celebrating my team as well, an agency that is truly passionate about working together.

It is important to keep the positive perspective, and to truly live in the moment RIGHT NOW :)

Lets be PRESENT and SUPPORTIVE

Life has certainly been interesting.  Just one month ago I became a “person” again.  After giving up all of the foods I was allergic to, I developed an insane sickness that kept me in bed for almost two weeks.  On top of being bed-ridden, not being able to work or make money because of it, and still discovering how to eat allergy-free, an intense sadness fell over me.  I think that it was inevitable in that situation to completely avoid sadness, but I truly found it hard to stay positive.  All of the support of people around me made it easier, and the fact that I got to watch movies and read books for hours and hours each day made me smile.

But then there were almost 12 hours a day where my head would just race, and think of things I never think of day to day.  It is interesting: In a society that is so fast-paced, we

rarely take time to think, or to actually be present in where we are and what we are doing. One of my favorite improvisers and teachers, Dave Razowsky, often talks about [being present where you are, both in life and while you are improvising.]

So I did just that. I sat and was present in my sickness.  But in all of this “thinking time”, I allowed myself to be present in what my life is, and where I am. 

And this is where the table turned.

A huge wave of joy and positivity consumed me; I am in such an awesome place in my life right now, with such amazing people around me.  There are two particular places that really exemplify this: Second City and The Groundlings, both part of the improv community, yet both very different schools.  However, what I love most about both of these places is the support and comfort of being with my fellow improvisers.  I have been at Second City for over a year now, and it has truly become my family in Los Angeles.  Every time I enter that building, I am greeted with genuine smiles, creativity and love.  There is no pressure to get anything “right”, because the process of improv is about the process of learning, not about product.

Having started to be a part of The Groundlings community in January, it is a much newer place to me.  But in my class, I am surrounded by some of the most fun and fantastic people I have ever met.  My teacher is one of the most passionate people I have ever met, and makes every single exercise we do absolutely thrilling.  My favorite part? Every single time someone is asked up on stage, and every single time someone leaves the stage after an exercise, everyone is required to applaud.  At first, this was hard to get used to, but I find it so wonderfully thrilling now.  Giving absolute support for each and every person, no matter what happens on stage.  Being there for each other no matter what happens, and applauding the act of getting on the stage and trying your best. What an amazing and positive action!

I began thinking about this, and why in Los Angeles this does not tend to happen with each other in every day life.  Perhaps in a city full of self-conscious actors, we find it vulnerable to go out of our way to applaud someone else, seeing as the attention is not on us.   But I think we should do the opposite.  Yes, we will always have competition between one another.  Yes, we will always be trying to get to the “top” (whatever the “top” means to you).  Yet, I think we need to be each other’s support systems, and applaud each other for being in this city, being in this business, and for working hard at our dreams every single day.

So I pledge to support my creative friends, by going to their shows, asking about their accomplishments, and sending positive energy their way for auditions and other steps in their careers. Think how much stronger we can be as a supportive group of artists!