Introducing Rachel Bailit

Rachel Bailit created a wildly popular column “Diary of an Actress” for The Los Angeles Independent Newspaper. Here for the first time since their original publication, is an opportunity to read, relish and enjoy the diaries!

Share in Rachel’s latest revelations, aspirations and exciting adventures of her life as an Actress in her NEW weekly diaries!

Read the LA Independent Diaries Here


Blocking for the stage (and life)

Onstage, backstage, stage left, stage right, upstage, downstage…I live and breath acting. I feel particularly grateful that life has accommodated my desire to concentrate exclusively on having a creative life. I finally find myself in a place where if I’m not acting, I’m teaching acting. If I’m not teaching acting I’m directing acting. If I’m not directing acting, I’m modeling like an actor, and if I’m not modeling, well then I’m simply daydreaming about acting.

Last night I finished a one-month run of a two-person play that posed many challenges. I had to leave the security of my type casting and stretch like saran wrap to become an entirely new character. One that’s not as naively jubilant or optimistic as myself. At first, I was resistant but am now convinced that this process of metamorphosis is the springboard for interesting acting. I talk regularly to my students about creating unique “behavior” for characters. About taking leaps of courage and trying on roles that are completely the opposite of their own personality or “type”.

Life is about creation. No matter what path you’re on. I believe that when one is not creating whether it be a play, writing in a journal, planting flowers or even having an thought provoking conversation, the mind and spirit can turn in on itself. We become self-preoccupied, depressed, and stagnant. Energy must be exchanged and spent to truly feel alive. And as an actor, this sense of life is what’s so exhilarating to watch on stage.

Summer’s here! Although I still have to work, there’s a certain dreamy laziness about these three months. I’ll give myself space to relax, go to the beach, read a book, and just be. I’ll let my mind wander and imagine all of sorts of possibilities. I’ll reinvent myself into the person I want to be.

We’re only in a box if we put ourselves in one. Why not cut out a few holes and look out at what surrounds you. Let wonder and curiosity be your breadcrumbs leading you to your next adventure. And don’t forget to put your toes in the water this summer. The temperature might be just right for some well needed change and creation in your life.

 

photo

Choppy Waters

Drawing by Carlie Cairns

Drawing by Carlie Cairns

I believe even when: I don’t have an audition, I’m not on stage, I’m working every other job but the one I love, I’ve sacrificed comfort and security for an unchartered life as an performer….
I believe.

The days pass by with an unpurposeful velocity. Why? I am missing the anchor that moors my ship: A role. Without acting I am a pedestrian. (not entirely a bad thing since every role draws from every day existence). But I am missing the wind in my sail that comes from the excitement and certainty of doing what truly makes me happy.

What do we do in these actor “interims”? Is it not our responsibility to keep our own creative force alive? Grab a script, an acting book, take a class, attend a play…. always remain true to ourselves as actors even when there is no reward, and worst of all, no one to validate our existence.

Ok, troupe, here it is: We don’t need affirmation. What we need is courage. We need faith. And most of all, we need WILL. If we can summon the will to stay the course, we will eventually move through the impasse. Mother Nature is on her own timetable so hold on to your life jackets; it may be a long and bumpy ride.

We all know when we are doing our individual best no matter what our vocation or dream is. When you’re young you have parents and teachers to measure your efforts and success. What happens when no one is there watching? When frankly, no one cares to monitor your growth? That’s when we have to step-in. Why? We owe it to ourselves. We can’t waste our potential and precious energy on things that don’t serve our unique purpose in life. We have sacrificed so much already. How can we stop now?

So sail-on directly into the horizon. Although it may be an uncharted course, you will eventually find land and make your unprecedented footmark.

In The Heat of The Moment

1013381_10151521725685994_913741946_n

 

 

Days, hours and moments pass at an alarming rate. I have an exciting guest star role in this movie we call “life”.  Sometimes that’s enough. Oh sure I miss the residuals, but having a life I feel excited to get up and live beats a fat paycheck in an uneventful life any day!

My teaching continues to be one big intensive lesson on acting for myself as well as my students. Observing, perceiving and translating the truth and possibilities that can be achieved on stage or in front of a camera, solidifies all I have learned and has furthered my fascination and passion for my craft.

I am crazy excited that my video “Diary of an Actress: Episode Four ” is ready! Launching it today! Having the opportunity to create and express gives me so much joy. I am definitely becoming a webisode junkie-I have four of them now! Why? Because I can. We all can. We actors spend so much time waiting for the industry to give us work, the competition is so great and few of us get the work we deserve. But the web is a big potluck dinner. Everyone gets to eat.

I will keep acting. I will stay creative. And above all, I will stay true to myself. Giving-up is not an option. Creating is a way of life. And there are so many ways to do it. Read a book and you are using your imagination. Listen to a new piece of music and you are exercising your sensitivity. Talk to a stranger and you are expanding your heart and ability to empathize. Go out in nature and you will strengthen your ability to observe. I encourage my students to “live” like actors. But more importantly, all of these exercises make us feel alive. They make us present and aware, and I believe, make us better and whole people to play our roles in life, and on stage, with grace and purpose.

Thoughts to begin a new year…

Dearest Diary,

I have ignored you, cheated on you (with other blogs), and resisted all of your advances. But forgive me. Life got a hold of me and actual adventures replaced the pen. That’s what happens when life becomes more interesting to live then to write about.

It all began this summer when I taught a teen summer acting intensive at The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. It required me to summon all of my experiences as an actress and creatively guide the group with wisdom, care, and fortitude. It was hands down one of the best experiences of my life. I find myself more passionate about acting (if that is humanly possible?) and I discovered that I adore directing as well.

Now as the end of the year is approaching I find myself worrying about more then just my acting. I’m concerned about our country, our world, and the sanity of mankind. I am saddened by the fear and distrust that makes people run out and buy guns. I worry for the very soul of our country. The tragedies of school shootings, mall shooting, movie theater shootings…how can one maintain their equilibrium and function as “normal”?

The very basis of acting depends on being open, trusting and vulnerable to imaginary circumstances. I encourage my acting students to observe and converse with people who are different from them. It widens their perceptions and life experiences. It helps them to “step into another person’s shoes”; similar to what they will do when they get a role on stage or in a film. Should we proceed with caution now? Of course we must make safe and smart choices but how do we keep our hearts open? How do we avoid retreating into ourselves? How do we feel safe without armaments? Do we really want to create that kind of society?

Despite all of my concerns, 2013 looks bright!  In six days I’ll begin filming a new movie “Sharkskin”, pilot season will be upon us, and I’ll be filming my long awaited “Diary of an Actress” episode 4. I am entering this year with optimism, preparation and clarity.

Another year in Hollywood pursuing my dreams-how grateful I am to be doing exactly what I want to be doing-if nothing else, as Frank Sinatra sings “I Did It My Way”. There is great satisfaction in staying true to oneself.  In fact it may be the only thing we can control in life when so there are so many roads that veer, tempt and lead one astray… so stay strong because as Frank also sings “The Best is Yet to Come”- Happy New Year and thanks for traveling the road with me.

 

Photo Credit: “(C) by www.martin-liebermann.de“.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wishes aren’t just for Genies…

I have always been a big believer that when you focus on what you want in life, you draw it towards yourself. Having said that, I did not expect to draw Conan O’ Brien into my neighborhood! But alas, that’s exactly what positive thinking brought me. To backtrack, I have been fortunate to have had a somewhat recurring role on the TV show doing comedy sketches with  the wonderful Andy Richter and Bill Tull.. However, I had yet to meet Conan himself (my ultimate wish).  Let me describe the setting of this meeting: a quiet Sunday morning, a fairly empty street, walking home from the gym in my white “Live Free Love” sweat pants, hoodie and oversized Gucci’s, when BAM! There he was! We all know when we are in a moment when we must take control of our destiny? So with a brisk “HEY”, I stopped him in motion. He could not have been more gracious to this sweat clad stranger;  humble, funny, warm and courteous. Speaking rapidly like I had just inhaled helium from a large balloon, I reminded him that I was the “Easter Bunny” on his show (“of course” he nodded!)  and  how we are both from the coolest city in the world, BOSTON!  Did I mention that I was jumping up and down like a giddy schoolgirl during the entire conversation?  Well I was. The inevitable moment came to part ways, he shook my hand again, and like wishing on a magic genie, I burst out :

“Conan, what I’d really love is to do a comedy sketch with YOU! Something really funny”.

He laughed and said with a wonderfully  mixed tone of self-deprecation and humility: “That’s a tall order”.

I smiled back  confidently,

“Not for you!”

And that was it. I floated away, walking on clouds, high as a kite, happy as a clam and all those other corny sayings.

In telling the story, a friend told me I need to play it cool. Not show my cards. Pretend not to care…..

“But then I wouldn’t be ME ” I burst out.  Wow. I even surprised myself with that one. It’s more important to be authentic, then to have some ridiculous facade and pretend I don’t care.  Because I DO care, I do live with passion and I believe in asking for what I want. There is nothing worse then a missed opportunity. A missed dream that could have been. Perhaps my enthusiasm  and overtness have impeded my success. But I know who I am, and that’s more important in the end. I can serve the world better being my authentic self. Giddiness and all.

So the next time you are in one of those “I can’t believe this is happening to me moments”, take a chance. Speak from your heart. Jump up and down (whatever works).

Btw, I haven’t heard from Conan (yet?). But as Edith Piaf sings so beautifully in her song:

“Je Non Regret Rien”: I will have no Regrets…

 

 

 

 

Live from New York…

…its Sunday night live! And boy do I feel alive. I might as well have taken a shuttle to the moon because that’s just how surreal the LA to New York transition feels.

Let me first say how lovely it feels to be flown-out to do a reading of a potentially new play. I feel like Cinderella. My matching glass stiletto slippers have always been Broadway and Hollywood. Rehearsing in Times Square has an authenticity of it’s own. Surrounded by a city that loves and supports theatre (while theater equally supports it’s city), it only feels natural to meet in  a rehearsal room in the basement of the theater and get to “work”.

This is my third time reading my role of “Francine”. She lives and breathes in my skin. When I play her, it’s as though my eyes see differently, my mind functions at another pace and my heart feels with an extra layer of sensitivity. As much as I am the character, I am not. The Francine’s in the world are delicate butterflies. To have access into her world requires me to call on the utmost innocent and untouched parts of myself. Perhaps this is why I love being her, because I wish I could feel safe enough to be her all the time.

I had the wonderful opportunity to work on The Conan O’Brien show again. I was lying in my acupuncturist’s office with an army of needles in my back, when my cell phone rang. I carefully answered. I was asked to be on set in one hour. So much for Chinese healing. The needles were quickly pulled; I hoped in my car and headed to Warner Brothers. Never knowing in what capacity they will use me, I was slightly amused to be cast in a comedy sketch as the “Easter Hooker”. Now being an Actress who not so long ago did a one-woman show on stage speaking for sixty minutes, I had not done a non-speaking bit in quite some time. But I was so pleased and grateful to be on working on a wonderful show, on a set, and being a part of something bigger then myself…that there was no ego to contend with! What an incredible sign of progress for me.  My comfort and confidence in myself has grown. Also, nothing is more humbling then being out of work as an actress. It’s good for you. Struggle can reshape the ego. Setbacks can make the mind stronger. And failure is really success if you use it to help you grow. Btw, The Conan show posted my image all over the Internet. I await their next call eagerly. Sure I can handle huge acting roles…when they are available. But I can also smile, look pretty and have a fun time with grace and gratitude.

We all can. How we carry ourselves determines how we feel about ourselves, which in turn affects how others feel about us. Sometimes we have to use the magic “As if”, that we use in acting.

So live “as if”” you are completely satisfied. Or even better, feel fulfilled with your exact circumstances as they are today. In finding the worthy things, we make room for more to come. And there is more…the journey is just beginning. Good Night New York.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ode to Marilyn

 

An Actress needs a muse, and for all times, good and bad, mine has been Marilyn Monroe. Perhaps it’s due to some similarities we share: I once lived in a house in the Hollywood foothills where she lived as “Norma Jean”, she studied with Lee Strasberg, I studied with his son David,  she  too was stereotyped for her curvy and voluptuous figure and had a vulnerable childlike quality.

But what’s more important is that many actresses and men and women, feel the same as I. They all carry pieces of Marilyn in their psyche and hold a special esteem for her in their hearts. She has come to represent all that is pure, misunderstood, lovable and innocent.  A sense of comfort when we feel alienated and alone. A sense of inspiration, when we want to feel sexy and mesmerizing.

For a fuller figured woman, she gives permission to embrace our femininity and timeless womanhood. For an actress, her commitment and passion to her training is absolute. She read voraciously, wrote poetry and was inscrutably in touch with her own feelings; all necessary components to success as an actress. She survived a tough childhood; one which could have easily tuned her into a permanent victim. And just as her success was so intoxicating, her ending was just as breathtaking. Our hearts mourn her short-lived but rich life.

Marilyn’s endearing humanity was most clearly seen in my favorite movie “The Misfits”. All polarities of Marilyn’s talent and personality are so clearly felt in this film.  Does anyone really understand what a fine actress she was?

Can one be an actor in Hollywood and preserve that type of sensitivity and vulnerability? I’d like to think that I have. But then again, I have never achieved success like Marilyn. But I will say, hold-on to it if you’ve got it. Protect yourself however you can. Don’t let other people rob you of your gentle heart. Don’t give it away either. Realize just how precious you are. And if you have to make some tough choices, always let your heart dictate.

As I write this in my Mariln Monroe Pajamas, I wonder, is she protecting me? Is that why I need her images and books all around me?  She is a source of comfort. A symbol of strength and vulnerability. We can’t have one without the other. We need to look behind the glamorous and beautiful images of Marilyn, find and embrace the pieces of ourselves, and carry out her legacy by making our lives, and the lives around us, meaningful, well lived and well “acted”.

(Ps.I like to hug trees too. Funny huh?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreaming Big

 

 

Strike One! Jut home from an audition for the new “In Living Color”. I was prepared to perform three original characters and a celebrity impression. My demise: my incredibly funny sketch of Kim Kardashian in a Sex and Love Addict’s meeting did not see the light of day. I was shutdown with a curt “Thank you”. Oh well. I’ll never be a “Fly Girl” or the next “Homey The Clown” or anyone on that show for that matter. Ces’t La Vie. I won’t let it keep me down. I never do.

The voice of SAG Award winner Vi0la Davis is still ringing in my ears from Sunday “Dream Big. Dream Fierce”. I have many more dreams in my magical hat. I’ll just pick another. Having said that, rejection stinks like  a rotten fish.

I registered for my Boston Equity auditions in April. How wonderful it will be to work in my hometown at long last. In the meantime, Tinsletown has me ticking like a metronome. Always aspiring to hit a high note whether it’s a celebrity interview for my magazine, teaching an acting class, or perfecting the ultimate headshot. The notes compile into a symphony. The musical soundtrack of the long and epic movie I am living. We each compose our own life scores. Even the off-tune notes play a part. If we didn’t have them, how would we know when we are in tune? Or on track? We must fail miserably and succeed magnificently. We must experience the entire scale. Only then we will we have developed character, a solid sense of self and a philosophy on which to build the rest of our lives.

Two more strikes and many home runs to go! Bases are loaded with big dreams.

 

 

 

I get a good feeling

Ever feel like your life is defined by song lyrics?

“woah hooo, sometimes I get a good feeling…”

You said it. I’ve got a stupendous feeling about 2012. Geared-up for some serious good things to happen. Change baby change. That’s the name of the game. Spin the wheel of life and land in some new territory. Wherever it is, I will thrive and grow.

Exciting opportunities surround me. I am returning home to The Lee Strasberg Institute to teach in the Young Actor’s Program for ten weeks. I’m deeply honored and excited to be teaching a method class and directing a play. In preparation, I’ve been reading Lee’s work and reviewing my notes from my own years of study.  I’m approaching the work with a fresh eye and feel more passionate then ever about it’s value, integrity and plain genuiousness. Sometimes when you step away from something, it works on you in the inside. It ferments, changes your inner workings and structures itself in a usable way. I am ready to make a contribution. To share and pass down the legacy I’ve been given.

“They have a name for the winners in the world, I want a name when I lose”.

Do you lose when you don’t get what you want? I couldn’t believe my good fortune to be sitting in front of director John Landis a couple of weeks ago. Called straight into Producer’s session, I starred at the funny bow-tied clad legend while he perused my resume and asked me questions. It should have been an easy booking: funny, sexy New Jersey character. But alas, the fates did not have it in store. So is it “losing” when you don’t get a role or the job that you want?  And why isn’t it winning by just getting close to winning? Why does it have to be so cut and dry? You win or you lose. But I still consider myself a winner just for getting into that casting room. The closer I get the sooner I know it will happen. Being in the arena of success is intoxicating. Why after all this time do I still get so excited by Hollywood? How has my dreamed stayed so strong and so intact? I am in awe of whatever keeps me going. I don’t even take credit for it. It’s beyond me. Bigger then me. I’m here having the experience but something is guiding me. Keeping me pure and wholesome. Thank Goodness. I would hate to have become cynical.

“She’s young now, she’s wild now and she wants to be free”

I feel a restlessness to experience more of life. To travel. To see the world. It’s a constant tug between Hollywood and Life. If I leave, my Hollywood dream can’t come true. But I’m busting at the seams to be free. I can act anywhere (I keep telling myself) but I’m madly in love with this town. How can I be bored and in love at the same time? I’m going to the Equity auditions in Boston in April. Maybe I’ll land a role. Then go on to Broadway.  I’m going to Europe in May. Perhaps I stay? Oh 2012, you offer so many wonderful opportunities. We can all start fresh. Clear the slate. Become to true to ourselves. Honor what we really need and have the courage to move in that direction (even if it means leaving something or someone behind). I wish all of you the best possible year yet. And most of all I wish you fulfillment. Nobody likes always wanting for something. Find it. No matter what obstacles you have to cross to get it. And in the meantime, find happiness in what you already have. Sometimes that’s the sweetest thing. Happy New Year!

 

(Thanks to Flo Rida and those other guys from the 70′s/80′s  who wrote those cool lyrics)

 

 

 

 

Down The Rabbit Hole

Down the Rabbit hole I go…deeper and deeper…searching for an authentic place for myself.  I’ll know this destination when I arrive. I will feel vindicated that all of my premonitions and predispositions toward a meaningful use of my talent will have been met. Not frittered it away chasing a golden carrot. So perhaps old dreams need to be replaced. How long can a dog chase its tale?

I’ve been writing-up a storm. Writing and blogging for two magazines is just what I needed. Not only is it providing me a rich opportunity to meet all types of creative people, but I can also see what I’ve accomplished on paper. The art modeling keeps me performing (and eating). I haven’t had an audition in well over a month. I can’t remember such a dry spell.  Rest assured, a rainy season will come again. Right now I’m enjoying the sunshine that I’m creating myself.

Unfortunately, I was in a car accident on the 405. A woman smashed into me from behind.  I’m happy to report that I am fine (my car is not so fine). What has lingered with me is the trauma of the hit. I’m paranoid driving now. Braking at the first sign of a car’s taillight in front of me. Looking in the rearview mirror to make sure no car is too close for comfort. How do we experience a trauma and go back to living life with ease and trust? How do we lose our emotional baggage? Whatever the case may be. I think we just have to leap back into the lane of life and resume our action. Assuming courage when we don’t have it helps break down the fear. Piece by piece. Then the memory dulls. Each day we prove to ourselves that we are okay. We will survive. We give ourselves no choice but to. Life is not for weaklings. That’s for sure. It takes bravery. It requires a trust in the intangible laws and flows of life. For instance, anyone who had lived long enough knows that things have a way of working themselves out. Messy strings get untangled (if not only to be entangled in another area). But there is a bigger plan. Often we have to force our eyes open and jump down that Rabbit Hole.  I’m down there now. It’s not so scary if you don’t mind bumping into walls and redirecting yourself until you find your way. I’ll let you know when I come-out. Oh, and Alice says “Hi”.