“Every artist was first an amateur.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

skillsSkills. Skills. Skills. I always find that, in describing myself, pointing out personal skills always seems problematic. It isn’t that I believe I don’t have any skills, it’s that brief moment before you speak when you realize you don’t pay too much attention to the things you do well, but rather the things that need improvement. I suppose that, in itself, is a great skill to have- realizing when you aren’t the best at things. Apart from that, I’d say I am great at seeing things from everyone’s perspective which comes in handy not only in acting, but also in the business aspect of a career. When selling things you must know how certain people will react to certain items, will they like it, will they not? I have patience, which is always a virtue. I feel that acting on impulse always end badly, not saying that I NEVER do it, just that it usually ends badly when I do. I tend to always have a positive attitude, even when the going gets touch,  which really plays well for me in negative situations. I always believe that negative energy affects the way people think.

J Job skills that I think/ would want to attain. I am a perfectionist and, living in a world that is everything but perfect, it can be quite a challenge for me. Not only that, but what’s perfect to me may not be perfect to everyone else so I’d like to be able to accept the quality of my work without feeling doubtful or self conscious about my work.

Rough Draft Elevator Pitch

elevator_pitch2  Hi. My name is Amanda De La Cruz and I am a Theater Studies major which, in simple terms, just means that I’m an actress who wants to direct as well. I’ve been acting, technically speaking, since the 9th grade. However, I believe that someone born with a passion so strong that it becomes a dream catches themselves engulfed in their passion in what they do everyday: walking, talking, eating. I became an entertainer for two reasons: 1. The ability that an artist has over me, to change my life, my perspective, to move me through that art, that’s what I value. 2. The immediate desire to do that for someone else, that’s my motivation. I’m not saying that I’m capable of affecting someone in such a strong way right now, but so long as the possibility is out there, I’m going to keep trying to achieve it.

“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” ― Jordan Belfort

So true guys. We, and our methods of motivation and determination, is what either keeps us from touching the stars or aids us in our journey. It’s so important to have something- e.g. a belief or a goal- a reason that keeps us going. If you are doing something, or pursuing a career, or are defending a person or situation that doesn’t motivate you, then there is no passion in what you are doing. I believe that half of our motivation must come from the want to do what we are doing. If we don’t want it, then we cannot be motivated to succeed in it.

a  Don’t ever let your motivation be determined by what other people think, you can be anything…everything! (if you haven’t guessed it yet, I really like using pictures in my blog to express my overall topic of discussion).

b I have always been a person whose had to make things happen for myself, whether that be by practicing really hard so that someone will notice, or literally making that person notice by going out and grabbing what I want. My motivation comes from the fact that I don’t have much, I never really did. I’ve always worked hard, I’ve always felt tired, or exhausted, like I was pulling through only to realize that the finish line has been pulled back. I’m not wallowing in self pity, I know there are other people just like me, and people with plenty who have to try just as hard: acting is not a cookie cutter career and if you’re looking for handouts this isn’t the career for you. However, that desire to not only pursue my dream, but be successful enough to have what I was never given as a child, that’s what keeps me going. I want to be in film. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been brought up on theater: on backstage changes and bobby pins pulling too tight. I just think film is what I really want to pursue.

Another thing that motivates me is how many times I’ve been brought down about my career choice. I’m sure all my fellow actors can say that they’ve heard their fair share of “that’s not practical” or “you want to be a starving artist?” to the point where we all want to pull our hair out. YES! I want to act, I want to entertain. It that means small studio apartment with the toilet in the kitchen and the bed in the closet, so be it. If that means a mac and cheese diet for months, so be it. If that means riding the subway takes up more of my day than actually doing anything else, then so be it, because I love what I do. The people that keep telling me how hard it is, or how I’m never going to make it are the people that I want to prove wrong. Of course, I don’t just base my career off of the revenge of getting back at someone else, that would be false passion. But the look on their faces when they see me succeeding is motivation enough.

c This picture pretty much says it all. I try to put my whole being into everything I do. Each picture in this excerpt is motivation for me. The wise words of someone before who knows how it goes. All I need is passion in my heart and proof that it’s possible to fuel my fire. Peace and Love. -Amanda :)

“He who undervalues himself is justly undervalued by others.” -William Hazlitt

That’s just it folks. I value myself, and I make sure that I know my worth and that I hold myself to my own standards. I’ve never been one for belief, I mean I’m very spiritual so all that I do and value I do more for my soul than my physical being. I believe that keeping my inner self healthy and happy keeps my outer self up to par. If I do come off as having a belief by things that I do or say, then I leave you with this quote:

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,

Your thoughts become your words,

Your words become your actions,

Your actions become your habits,

Your habits become your values,

Your values become your destiny.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

In myself and others I value the common sense sort of things: honestly, kindness, ingenuity, acceptance, accountability- basically I value an extraordinary person, at heart. At least good people. I have a strong belief that I took on through playing Mother in Agnes of God by  John Pielmeier. It quotes, “Good people, yes. But extraordinary good people? I’m afraid those are hard to find these days”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no pessimist, It’s just hard to value some people today.

values In a partner, however, I value a many things. I am speaking about a work partner, in the field of acting, of course. I value adaptability. They have to be able change, they have to be willing to change, and they have to be able to recognize that, if the change isn’t what they want but is happening anyway, they have to leave their feelings at the door and let the moment captivate them. I understand the values of others- i.e. if someone is a very firm believer in Christianity and therefore does not want to do any sinful or tasteless plays because of it. I actually value their firm beliefs and their values. However, I do not value this characteristic if, and only if, it is within the character playing opposite me. I value courage in an acting partner, and trust as well as an open mind. I very rarely have values so strong that they stop me from doing/ accomplishing a character. By that I mean under topics of religion or sex. With theater, the character I play does not determine the person I am, that’s why it’s called acting. You play who you play, love them for everything they are or are not and, at the end of the day, let them go because they aren’t you. It takes a strong mind and soul to be an actor/ actress, to not get sucked into the characters we play.

Let me reiterate myself, I value my mind, I value my soul, I value myself. I will always value someone who accepts and respects my values as an individual as I will accept and respect others values. :)

“And where I excel is ridiculous, sickening, work ethic. You know, while the other guy’s sleeping? I’m working” -Will Smith

hard-work-quotes-300x240      All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, I know. I firmly believe in getting things done, so it’s more like, all work until the work is all done, and then we can play. Like the title of today’s blog, I excel on my work ethic. I’ve always put aside my social life and my entertainment for my passion in acting. With my lines, I like to make sure that I have them all memorized, with no sort of character inflection yet, before rehearsal even starts- or about a week before a class performance date. Then I work on the characterization. I always research first, and then I dig deep into my life and fine a commonality that I can add to the character making it more personal. From there, I let whatever happens naturally take it’s course. I never let my personal life and/or emotions get in the way of the truth in the character. I do relaxation exercised to rid my body of any stress throughout the day before rehearsal so that I don’t let any unaffiliated drama into my character’s life. Like the first reading said, I exercise daily. While exercising I control my breathing and it is one of the few instances where I can think and come up with new ideas- the adrenaline gets my brain pumping. I make sure to practice in quiet places every time so that I am not distracted. Sometimes, if people are around, i’ll subconsciously get embarrassed to do things that I would normally do alone, and it really limits my exploration on my character and blocks my creativity flow. When I feel my piece is stable, I perform for several, and different, groups of friends. This allows me to get a variety of feedback from not only theater majors, but non theater majors. I feel the best advice comes from those who know nothing about theater. If you can move and make a person understand your character that isn’t head over heals involved in any type of theater, its a huge accomplishment in my eyes.

genetics2   They key to constructive criticism is to know that the person criticizing you is only trying to help, not harm. Don’t get me wrong, some people suck at this aspect of performance, and so we have to bear with them and maybe teach them a thing or two. However, never let someones criticism discourage you, or cause you to have actor’s block- the inability to grow with your character because you’re constantly worried that its wrong. If, at a point, my practice is becoming pointless, or I’m practicing but getting nowhere, I nap! Napping is part of my work ethic too. I don’t play but napping is okay! Sleep rejuvenates my mind, and sometimes while I sleep I dream of things that I can’t even think of when I am awake. That’s the power of the subconscious mind, our most inner thoughts, thoughts that we are capable of thinking but incapable of attaining, are set free once we close our eyes. Like the 2nd reading said, reduce stress. If you are stressed out, maybe do some relaxing exercises, or sleep.

persistence-300x261   “never let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game” -Babe Ruth. If you, and only you, feel as if you’ve failed at accomplishing the character you wanted, then don’t give up, try harder. Set new goals, bigger goals, more challenging goals, as said in reading 2. That is something I personally do for myself and it works. If you believe you can accomplish something harder and be successful, do it. Even if you’re shaky on your success level, do it anyway. Work ethic has a lot to do with belief. If you don’t believe in yourself, of course doing things and accomplishing them will be hard. With me and my character building, I think like the quote in the picture above-sometimes I just have to dig a little deeper. If I stay at the surface of my character, the lack of depth and personality, the realism will be lost. If the realism is lost the character is flat, i.e. boring, fake, forced. Sometimes we have to allow ourselves to feel real things, to unleash real things into a character. Think of it this way, if you do, no one will ever know where your emotion is coming from or why unless you choose to tell them. It’s a safe and satisfactory way to let some emotion out. :)

An Artist Is Born: My History

I am a performer, a rag doll for art to maneuver its way through and pull me by my strings, a being for it to manipulate me to be…or not to be, that is the question. I am a lost soul standing tip-toed on the edge of a mountain being held up by passion, a spirit that dances through the do re mi fa so la ti doe’s of musical theater’s mouth. I’m perseverance at it’s best, I’m practicality at it’s worst, but I trust that everything is going to be okay because although my head screams be realistic every fiber of my heart screams screw being a doctor, a lawyer, a CEO of some bogus company. It wasn’t always this way.
I’m a New York-er, need I say more? As a kid the courage that you need to be an artist was a mere fear for my life daily. Not always that I’d die in some tragic accident or murder mystery, sometimes it was my social life (my non-existent one), or my moral life (again my non-existent one). I was a child, and though I was intelligent for my age, I was on a one way tract to being robotically manufactured by the peer pressure and expectations of every civilian known to man. Being an artist wasn’t even planted in my mind, it was scripted in my fate, written in my book of like, but the idea had yet to come. Sure, every kid sits in front of the t.v. googly eyed at the sites of Disney Channel and Nickelodeon wanting to be on those shows, but none of us really expected to actually want that in our lives as we got older. But I got older. And I wanted that. I would sit through grade school listening to every kid say that they wanted to be firefighters and policemen, doctors, veterinarians, or some cookie cutter idea that their parents planted into their heads. Then would come my turn and I’d say an actress, the kids would laugh or look at me with genuine confusion, and there my years in solitude were born.
I wasn’t the most popular kid in school. In fact, I went from 3rd grade to 7th grade as a classified mute. No friends and no social life. I was an emotionally and physically bullied. I’ve been beat up, torn down, self conscious and insecure, home life sucked, school life sucked, life in general sucked. I would read and write, trying to ease my artistic desires with something that was deemed practical, but it wasn’t enough. I needed more. Sure I’d think about acting, and search acting middle schools and their audition days, I’d find monologues and practice and then chicken out at the last minute. I took piano classes, chorus classes, art classes, and nothing, not a single inch of satisfaction. It wasn’t until the summer of my 8th grade year that I actually worked up the courage that I never had to audition for Pinellas County Center of the Arts, an arts high school in Saint Petersburg, Florida. There were sub majors such as performance theater, musical theater, technical theater, instrumental, vocal, visual arts, dance and so on. I think it’s pretty clear which major I was aiming for.
When I was informed of my acceptance into the arts high school I couldn’t have been more ecstatic, except for when I got my acceptance letter into Southern Methodist University (but we’re not there yet). I filled my high school years with my hopes and dreams, my passion, my heart and soul. I acted, stage managed, directed, produced, anything I could do to get my hands on theater-I did. I built things I never thought I would, I’ve seen things I never thought I’d see, I’ve played roles that have changed my perspective on life, won awards that I couldn’t even dream of winning when I was a kid. I finally felt like I belonged somewhere, to a family of kids that were just as emotionally unstable, as weird, as passionate as I was about this one thing in the world that made every other negative aspect of life okay, because we got the chance to escape our realities for a little while. Because we had the power to be someone else, to look, through different eyes, at a world that we’ve never seen before…to be cont.