Wednesday, January 02, 2008

GUEST COLUMN: MARIANN AALDA (DIDI; EDGE OF NIGHT)

Living On The Edge… MARIANN’S MIDLIFE MAYHEM & MISCELLANY: 2008 Is Here. Ready? Set? Go!!!

Time to get down to business! The goal I set for myself this year was to have a regular or recurring TV role by this time next year. And a couple weeks ago I made a promise to keep you informed on my steps to make that happen.

Usually we just see the end results of success, with no idea of all that it takes to accomplish it. Well, here’s a chance to watch me go through the paces of achieving my goal…the good, the bad and the ugly. To recap:

After living in Los Angeles for 20 years, I’m back in New York. By day, I care-take my mom while my sister and brother-in-law are at work…which leaves me free at night to pursue a career in stand-up comedy. Before I was cast on Edge of Night, my career got started doing improvisational and sketch comedy…and most of my work in LA was in sitcom. Stand-up, however, is a totally different animal. First of all, you’re all ALONE up there on that stage.

One of the things I love most about acting is the collaboration with other actors… the fun of playing in the sandbox with a bunch of other kids. So why am I doing stand-up? Well, first of all, the idea of doing it kinda scares me…which makes it a challenge. And facing challenges builds courage. And to be successful at anything, I think you need courage…even more than talent.

Plus, I have “funny” in my bones…and I’m a writer. Doing stand-up will stretch me both as a writer and a performer. Plus, it’ll keep me “in-the mix,” and allow me a certain amount of control over my own destiny. I have no control over the casting process. Even if you give the “best” audition for a role, there are a lot of other variables that go into the decision of who gets cast. The producers may have another “type” in mind and just don’t see you in the role…or they may want someone with a bigger “name.”

In movies, especially, casting is sometimes a “package” deal. If the studio wants to cast a certain star in a movie, that star’s agent may insist that they also cast other actors from their client roster. And sometimes the advantage goes to the producer’s girlfriend…or somebody he’s hoping will become his girlfriend.

Two of my classmates let me know I've made the right decision. One is an actress who’s recent moved from LA to NY echoes my feelings. About-to-turn-forty, she’s seeing a “drop-off” in her career and has moved to New York to revitalize it. When asked why she’s taking the class she says: “It seems like most of the actors who are having big careers these days are doing comedy, and most of them come from stand-up." Hmmm….

Another is an actor who’s been a regular on a soap for 25 years. In the last several years he’s also experienced a drop-off -- both in his time on-camera, and in his paycheck. In a conversation during the break, he says that he’s been fortunate to be able to have a career that’s allowed him to take care of his family and send his kids to college. But he sees “the handwriting on the wall,” and feels he needs to investigate some new avenues. Hmmm…

Are you noticing a pattern here?

Taking ACTION!

Even though I have no control over anyone casting me in another soap or a sitcom, I’m availing myself of every opportunity I can where I do have control. First, recognizing that there was a dearth of entertainment in film and TV for women in our age group, Iona Morris (ex-Fiona, As the World Turns) and I collaborated on two theatrical productions celebrating the “seasoned” woman. One, with a third partner, was a big hit in LA for almost two years (www.3BlacqueChix.com). And now, we’ve got plans to bring our second production, “MOIST!” (www.moistonstage.com) to New York. But we have no control over decisions made by potential sponsors and investors.

However, stand-up gives me lots of control. I took control when I decided to take a stand-up class affiliated with Caroline’s (www.carolines.com), one of the top comedy clubs in the country, in order to make connections in the business. When it comes to material, I have control over my “script”…because I’m the one who writes it. When it comes to performing, I have control over how many “open mic” nights I go to in order to polish my craft and build a following…which I’m strengthening by building a website (www.mariannaalda.com) and by posting my performance videos all over the Internet (Google me and you’ll see what I mean). And last, but not least, I’m also reconnecting with all my soap opera fans by writing this column!

Are you noticing a pattern here?

Again, it’s taking ACTION!

The point I’m making is that while the New Year is typically the time for making resolutions…nothing is ever resolved without action.

So my New Year’s wish for all of you this year is that you follow up all your resolutions by taking ACTION.

Trust me, I’ll be with you every step of the way. And by this time next year, I trust that we’ll all be very surprised at how much we've accomplished.

Love you madly!
Mariann

(Mariann also blogs at Lee Bailey’s Electronic Urban Report)

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