What I Can Say...


I've noticed many of my fellow bloggers have been making up for long lost blogging time this week, since I suppose the summer exodus has gotten to us all in some way, whether its the heat, the fun in the sun, or perhaps just being plain chock-full of work. My case has been the latter for the most part, (though it does get rather balmy here for a city that drops well below freezing in the winter! Keep us on our toes, Beijing!)

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Summer Lovin

051There’s no excuse for such a hiatus in writing, but I’m still going to give one and say that this summer has been full of new experiences and epiphanies.  Thus, these life experiences have somewhat gotten in the way of me finding time to blog. 

Going into my second year of city living I am leaving behind many instances of confusion, self doubt, or frustration.  Whether it’s a year of growth in the city, turning another year older, dealing with new life experiences, or a combination of the three, I feel like I’ve taken control of my own destiny and my confidence has increased exponentially in every area of my life: acting, day job, relationships.

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Being an Actor is Hard Work

IMG_7299e(1)I do believe the #2 most asked question any actor is asked (after "What have I seen you in?") is "How do I become an actor?" (Or voiceover actor or model or singer or pro clown or whatever type of performer you might be!) When total strangers hear they are talking with an actor of any level they often want to know more. Even if they themselves don't have any aspirations to be a performer, they have a cousin or brother or hairdresser's BFF's postman that is trying to break into the biz.

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To Learn From a Master

Acting classes are expensive.

Let me rephrase that.  Acting classes are totally necessary... and really, really expensive.

If you're like me, you might belong to several acting-related websites that send you daily deals for everything from reel production to teeth whitening.  Every so often, I'm tempted to click "buy" for a discounted class, but then I stop myself. When I do the research, it often becomes clear that the discounted class is not the one that's right for me at this stage of the game.  And I know it's risky, but I'd rather take no class at all, than waste my money on the wrong class.  Especially considering the clout training with distinguished names and institutions can carry on your resume.

For me, it's just better to wait for the right class at the right time.  This takes patience, most of which I've used up parenting my two-year old, but somehow I've managed to stay the course.

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Buy It, Use It, Break It, Fix It

Dom4I've never been big on technology. I barely joined Twitter last year, still have an old Blackberry, and only yesterday joined the Instagram craze.

And what's the saying - "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." True, true. Ain't nothing wrong with doing things old fashioned. . .

However, I can't deny that such technological advances have helped me as an actor! My life has greatly been eased by:

A) Not having to print sides anymore

B) Being able to access casting information in an instant

C) Having all my notes, inspirations, quotes, etc in ONE place.

I don't know about you, but I used to have a journal for everything - a personal journal, a gratitude journal, an acting journal . . . 

Now I've got them all in one place. I have literally saved minutes, maybe even hours each week by not having to leaf through pages to find "that one quote that that one casting director said in that one workshop."

See how stressful that can be? Because as a woman, I have many different purses for many different occasions. Some are bigger than others. Some don't fit journals, or even wallets for that matter. That means that my notes are scattered.

Some end up on my phone, on the back of a receipt or a program. . . Hmm. Rarely do they end up in the actual journal!!

So I say all this to say - don't be afraid of technology like I have been folks! Go out there and see what can make your life a little easier. After all, that's what technology is there for, right? To make your life easyyyy!

-- Dominique Toney  | @domtoney

Photo by Ismael Cruz-Cordova

Anonymous We

BleachersMeryl Streep says that real life is like high school.

Well, if the latest Hollywood scandals dominating the media focus are any indication, I'd say she's right.

 But does this old saying ring a bell; He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone?

The capacity to be flawed is not special. It runs in everyone, famous or not.

The truth is, and I learned this very early in life, you never know what situations you will be faced with and whether or not in those moments, you will be able to rely on the integrity of your actions.

Who are any of us to judge? You're not living unless you're making mistakes.

 Like most people, the only way I was going to learn about life, to learn about myself, was by making one constructive, healthy, dramatic, tragic, reactive, stupid, careless mistake after another.

Enough mistakes anyway, to form a bunch of gooey, yummy good stuff in between. Thank God no one knew who I was!

If the mistakes I made in my formative years were exposed to the degree that much of young Hollywood's lives are today, I guarantee you I'd be in worse shape than they are now. Wouldn't we all?

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Am I on Punk'd?!

Dom2One good thing that comes from auditioning more is that I'm no longer the shy girl who talks about the weather when entering an audition room. "It's so hot out, isn't it?!"

In fact, I've gotten to the point where perhaps I'm too comfortable. Here's a play by play of a recent audition:

Showed up to audition for a broadway show/national tour. Saw a friend from college there. Said hi and hugged. Heard bits and pieces from the girl in the audition room. She sounded amazing.

Kept chatting with my friend. The girl comes out of the audition room. Holy... She's a semi-celebrity. From TV. A reality show competition. Did I mention she sounded GREAT?

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R.I.P Tony Scott

There is an influx of actors that move into New York City each year. For many of my friends, one of the first steps was to register with a background casting office. I did the exact same thing. I was 17, had limited experience beyond high school theatre, and I was eager to get the opportunity to be on a professional set. Within a couple of weeks of registering, I hadn't been called in for anything. I was working 3 different jobs and disheartened not to be spending more time getting to experience what I had moved there to do. 

One day, I got a call that a production entitled "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" was doing a last minute replacement. They asked me if I was available to head over to Silvercup Studios. I was already scheduled to work that evening but I was so excited to finally hear from the casting office that I didn't want to lose the chance by not going. 

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50 Shades of T-Ann

SkintonesI have a minor problem. I don't know what my natural skin tone is anymore.

In fact, I don't even remember the last time I looked in the mirror or went to the make-up counter in the same skin tone...on all parts of my body.

For someone of the Asian persuasion, living in sunny SoCal means you could end up any shade of Asian at anytime of the year.

I used to be Neutral 05, Sand 1, or even a Fawn 2. But now, I'm more like a Medium Beige 2 or 3.

I don't know how actors living in Los Angeles keep themselves from tanning just by driving down the freeway.

I tan so easily that if you pointed a flashlight at my forehead and held it there for about two hours I bet I'd have a target circle burned into it.

In New York I was about a Natural 3 and during the winter, I got as fair as a Fair 5.

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Not Taking Myself So Seriously

Dotcom8My inbox is constantly inundated with potential casting notifications. Then, I scroll through them and decide whether I would like to submit or not. Most actors have had that moment where they've read a breakdown and instantly knew they had a shot. Most of us know what we can play really well. It's usually what we already are personified on screen into a character.

This particular role caught my attention. The breakdowns were detailed into every nuance of exactly what they were looking for in the actress. The plot synopsis was so eloquently written that I knew whoever was behind it cared immensely about the project. I submitted my headshot and went on with my day. At the end of the week, I saw that I had not been called in. I thought of the thousands and thousands of submissions that went in for this very role and knew how competitive it was to get called into the room.

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"I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art"

375658_326559767435464_675820463_nSo wrote the wise James Baldessari... over and over and over again.

 I can imagine Baldessari, a man who lit his entire body of
work on fire and watched it burn to ash, writing each letter of that
phrase deliberately, reiterating the promise to himself with every stroke of his pen.

 I have been thinking of those words recently, and of Baldessari’s impulse to torch everything that he had done but was not proud of.

 Confession:  I have made boring art.  Probably you have, too.  You felt it, right?  That moment when you can go through the motions and know someone else will say “Good job!” but you aren’t going to have a deep and lengthy conversation about it later.

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How Not to Respond to Casting Calls

IMG_5388_2I wrote a short silent film that I am starring in and producing. We finish principal photography tomorrow, and we're having a blast.

Tomorrow's scene takes place at a costume party, so I require other actors. I am doing the casting for this project myself (add Casting Director to the hats I'm wearing). I went through the rigamarole of getting it SAG-AFTRA approved, so that I can use union or non-union performers. (I'm SAG-AFTRA, so I needed the union's approval in order to cast myself!) I put a Casting Call on Back Stage, and I got way more responses than I thought I would for my little passion project film.

And as a result, I now have a bunch of helpful hints about what not to do when submitting for roles... (Many of which you hopefully already know.)

Here is my do not list, from the perspective of a first-time casting director...

(continued after the jump)

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Rome Was Not Built In A Day

Shut Yo' Mouth - Trailer from Andrew Parkhurst on Vimeo.

It's nothing less than empire building. With 5 shoot days in the bag on my newest webseries (Shut Yo Mouth), I can't help but feel that I'm at the beginning of something great. And while I think the sky is the limit with Shut Yo Mouth, I'm talking about an epic working relationship I have with the co-creators of the series.

The guys I created the show with are my friends, but as we all know, friends don't always make good business partners. And that's exactly what this is, a business. But Will and Andrew are amazing at what they do - Andrew is the director/DP/editor, Will is the writer, and I am the actor. We each share in the writing and producing and where our roles overlap, we improve each others' performance at those tasks rather than step on each others' toes. 

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I'm A Big Girl Now!

For the first time ever, I edited my own reel. Boy, was it thrilling.

I’d been lucky in the past to have someone make and edit my reel whenever I pleased (It’s called having a boyfriend who went to film school.)

Well, when the boyfriend is no more and you don’t want to pay someone to do it because you know you’re perfectly capable of doing it, what do you do?

You spend your entire Friday night learning to edit your own reel.


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On The Road

The roadThis past spring, I was asked to join a theater company in Los Angeles known as The Road.

I've never been a member of a theater company before. I wasn't sure quite what it would require of me. Time? Opportunities? Hard work? Fun?

I figured it would be a wonderful way to keep the creative juices flowing, force myself to sustain a sense of belonging in an artistic community (against my 'loner' self), and stay warm as an actor.

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Playing Injured

This is a picture of me lining up a jump over that chain link fence and over the DP, running full speed. The drop was about 8 feet onto concrete and the shoes I was wearing had no cushion in them whatsoever. I did the stunt 9 times so they could get it from different angles and at some point I landed hard on the ball of my left foot, bruising it badly. At the time, I didn't realize the extent of the injury and kept doing the jump. By the last jump, I could barely walk.

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Everyone Wants the Gold

121911_ErinBrese_0377webIf you're an Olympics nerd like me you are sorely sleep deprived at this point of the games.  I can't get enough of each competition, even the completely obscure events I've never been interested in before.  One reason is how much inspiration I draw from elite level athletes.  As an actor, I feel there are several correlations between what we do everyday and what the Olympic athletes are going through in London.  Sure, the scale and exposure are different, but we train, sacrifice, show up prepared and attempt to perform at our best under immense pressure.  And whether we sport the jaw-droppingly chiseled physiques of Olympians or have settled comfortably into a cushy muffin-top, one thing can sabotage us all, and that is being unable to control our minds.

Another thing also connects us: Nobody really wants the silver medal.  I know, I know.  Everybody is thrilled to compete and get on the medal podium, but how do you feel when you've prepared, primped and promptly arrived for your audition, given it your all, battled your mental demons (nerves), and managed to knock it out of the park only to have your agent call the next day with a first refusal?  Silver's nice, but everyone wants gold.

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Preparing for An Audition with Less Than 24 Hours

D.Toney Headshot TheatricalLast week I got a call for an audition.


It’s for a Pilot.


I was referred by the producer who knows me.


It shoots out of town.


There are 6 pages of sides and the audition is in 16 hours.

Stop the presses.

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Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

Haunted Sunshine Girl for Betsey JohnsonI am the queen of staying in my comfort zone.

Sure, that probably sounds funny coming from an actor. But it is true. My entire career is one huge UN-comfort zone so why add any pressure? Or, that is my theory anyway. With so many years of show biz under my belt, I am very, very rarely scared of anything acting-related anymore. (Maybe that gives a little hope to those of you just starting out that still have knobby knees walking into the casting room!)

All that lack of fear is out the door these days...

If you have been following this blog, you may remember that I have a hit webseries called The Haunting of Sunshine Girl. There have been a few times it has been mentioned here. But if you are just tuning in to the saga that is Haunted Sunshine, this blog for Showfax might help catch you up: http://more.showfax.com/plus/pov/2011/09/actors_are_liars.html

So, now for the fear part...

Haunted Sunshine has grown rapidly and is must-see YouTube for thousands of fans. We have gotten into a comfortable rhythm with content and the timing of posting and such. Must be time to shake it up then, right? And, oh how we are shaking it up...

One of the keys elements of Sunshine's success has been the interactivity with her growing fan base. She loves to ask the fan's opinions on all kinds of things. And they love to give her advice. So with that in mind, we will be taking it to the next level. We will be giving even more "power" to the viewers. And THAT scares me! Most of our fans are about 13 years old and write everything like it was a text! "OMG!!! i freakn <3 u 2 peaces!" is a recent (and very common) email! The thought of trusting a girl raging with BeiberFever with my baby (literally since the star of the show is my kid) terrifies me. But it also intrigues me... doing something that has never been done before, changing the face of the game, stepping out on a creative ledge...all that excites me.

Because the actual episodes explaining HOW the audience will be aiding in the Sunshine adventure won't release for another few days, I can't go into too many details. But all this fear has to be channeled somewhere...so writing a blog is a good option! Lets just say...exciting things are coming.

And I am being brave.

-- Mercedes Rose

photo courtesy of Levy Moroshan, official photographer of The Haunting of Sunshine Girl





Fighting a Men-tality

Ann5Recently, an older Caucasian man asked me, "So what kind of Chinese are you?" Yes, those were his exact words.

Having just visited his son who lives in Hong Kong, he felt he could help me clear the air on my own lineage.

I could feel him looking at me as if I were a glass figurine sitting on a shelf in an Oriental antique shop.

And I could feel myself fighting the feelings that come when I know I am being objectified.

I am actually a mix of Korean, possibly Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese, etc. Most of us are, but in short, my family is dominantly Northern Chinese.

"No you're not. You don't have northern features. You're southern," the man persisted, even though he didn't know anything about me. True story.

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