In general, I've been concentrating on auditioning for projects that I truly feel I want to do. That might seem like the obvious course of action, but I think many performers can relate to the feeling that they must audition for anything and everything - which is helpful in its own right. An actor should try to be seen as much as possible for exposure and practice (if nothing else). However, I've found myself rather busy (a good problem to have) and have had to cut back. Even so, I hustle hard to be at as many equity auditions as possible, am now present on several actor promotion pages (nowcasting, actors access, & casting network), and officially started being represented by Babes 'N Beaus Talent Agency back in October.
A good portion of my time has gone to what I like to refer to as my "Gig Life." EllEntertainment, Imaginez Ensemblez, Murder Mystery USA, Collaboraction After Dark, etc have kept me running. Also, as of 2 months ago, I have my own car! This opens so many doors and makes taking on more gigs possible.
Back in Sept 2016, I performed as a Tall Angel on stilts through Imaginez Ensemblez. This was for the Stronghold Olde English Faire in Oregon, IL. I had lovely time and it was so neat to get to know yet another Faire. By the looks of it, I will be back there again this October.
I also got to perform as a Tall Angel at a wedding! So grateful to have been a part of this couple's special day.
In late September & early October, I booked myself a couple times at the Il Poveretto Café in Melrose Park. I had never stilt walked at a bar before so it was a big learning experience!
During this same time, I was hired for an event through The Vagabonds of the Runaway Circus to perform at the Big Gig Immersion Hospital Fundraiser. This event became a bigger deal for me than I could have initially anticipated. The theme was "Under the Sea" and they gave me a small stipend to make a Jellyfish stilt costume. The stipend wasn't nearly enough to cover the cost of a new costume, so the bargain was that I got to keep the large creation.
This new character in my repertoire I call Jeraldine Jellyfish. Although quite an investment in terms of time and money, I'm proud to say my work is paying off. Since the gig when she debuted, Jeraldine Jellyfish has been booked four more times in less than a year
In the spring, she appeared at two New Belgium Brewing Co. PJ Parties (the first booked through Imaginez Ensemblez).
She was also present both days at the Evanston Custer Fair!
A special thanks to Steven Bourelle Photography for taking such beautiful publicity photos (see more in the EllEntertainment section of my web page).
I was thrilled when the Kristina Isabelle Dance Co. brought me on board to stilt walk as an "Earth Element" at the Chicago March for Science. I was proud to be a part of such a great cause and was happy to see so many people out there in support, as well.
In the late spring, I even made a trip out to my alma mater Northern Illinois University to perform a stilt dance for "Arti-Gras!" It is a colorful event for the college and surrounding community bringing various forms of art and artists together. I was in the variety show and had art pieces up for sale in one of the participating shops. Thank you to Melanie Parks for setting up the event and inviting me to take part.
Recently, I got to perform a birthday/ wedding anniversary party with a fantastic view. Congratulations to Aisha and her husband! It was a black and white affair that I made new, black stilt leggings for. I performed another private party thrown by Henry Belton at his family's beautiful home in Kenilworth. Both parties were a hoot!
Once again, I was asked to perform on stilts at the Six Flags, Coca Cola 4th of July Festival (July 2nd, 3rd and 4th). This was 15 hours of stilt walking - very grueling, but so much fun! I hope to be back at Six Flags again soon.
For the 3rd year in a row, I stilt walked in the Wheaton Township 4th of July Parade. I was strutting about in another new stilt costume with leggings that detach. I've made them in such a way that they will be able to attach to several different colored pairs of overalls. I hope to make more leggings of different colors like this so I have a wider array of costumes to match different event color schemes! This event was also special because I got to perform with Melissa 'Mouse' Carlson for the third time in a year and the second time at this particular event.
Also for a second year in a row, I was asked by Collaboraction Theatre to stilt walk at Lollapalooza in the Kidzapalooza section. It was quite the weekend. I was at the festival all four days and got to see some terrific muscians when I was finished performing.
Just recently, Black Lives Black Words had another show go up called Our America Project. This production show-cased talented, female playwrights and directors. I stood outside the theatre on stilts to direct folks to the show. Thank you Reginald Edmund for organizing such a wonderful and meaningful production. See the poster below for future events put on by Black Lives Black Words and do check out the Black Lives Black Words web page or facebook page.
Only a couple of days ago, I got to perform with Imaginez Ensemblez for the New Belgium Brewing Co once again. It was the Tour de Fat Music Festival in Madison, WI. Our job was to raise awareness of the event and pass out tickets and swag to folks on the streets before the start of the festival. We certainly turned a lot of heads!
On the horizon, I have a couple more stilt gigs including a fundraiser in Downers Grove and a 21st birthday party in Cicero. I'm blessed to have so much to look forward to and I only hope more will come my way.
Although my stilt characters are most popular, I have high hopes for my living statue character Marbelle. She has been newly "polished" and is ready to go (or stand very still). I've darkened the colors on the costume and painted a matching pedestal and props for her. Many thanks to Greg Williamson for building the pedestal and to Steven Bourelle Photography for some more lovely publicity shots.
Marbelle has already appeared at a Mardi Gras themed company party (thank you Imaginez Ensemblez for the booking) and will hopefully make a few more appearances on the streets of Chicago this summer! I have purchased a busking permit and hope to be out there as time and weather permit.
In the winter, I performed with Melissa "Mouse" Carlson at the Wrigley Co. holiday party. I was a tin soldier and she was a walking Christmas tree. It had been so long since I had gotten to play as a mechanical toy. The costume was the makings of Mouse, but the make up design was my own.
I do not appear as a fairy as often as I would like; however, Imaginez Ensemblez gave me that joyful opportunity this year. We performed as the Imaginez Fireflies at a children's science fair up in Thunder Bay, Ontario! This was only my third time traveling outside the USA and my second time performing in Canada
Believe it or not, character gig life is not the only thing I've been up to.
Back in the fall, I starred in a student film called The Servant. This film was written and directed by a School of the Art Institute student Poppy Xing. The film is reminiscent of The Stepford Wives. In the end my character's life is turned upside down. I met some wonderful, talented people on that shoot.
I also make an appearance in the film (still in progress) Liberty Sisters. This is a Paul Barile production.
This summer has another film project in store for me. I'm writing my first web series! I can't say much for now, but the episodes will run about 5 minutes long (each). My goal is to have a couple episodes written by the end of the summer and one of them filmed by mid fall. This has been my brain child for about 2 years and I'm excited to finally be taking steps to see it through. I also signed up for an On-Camera Course through The Artistic Home to get "back into shape." We've just finished classes and I'm excited to get the final result from my last scene so I can add more to my reel.
Starlight Radio Dreams is in the midst of its 2nd season! We have a couple returning serials as well as a few new ones. Geezer Space and Mob Daughters have continued on into this season and our new ones are Olympic Shore and Public Domain Adventure Team. Olympic Shore features the Greek gods and mythical characters living and bickering as though they were on Jersey Shore. In Public Domain Adventure Team we follow Jane Eyre, Mr. Toad, Master Beowulf, and the Ghost of Christmas Past as they try to solve mysteries and help out other classic characters from literature. In Olympic Shore, I play the goddess Demeter while in Public Domain everyone switches characters every episode. Apart from our serials, we also have funny short pieces, guest artists, and the usual ridiculous banter between our hosts. Please check out our full episodes (or you can also just listen to individual serials) on our web page starlighradiodreams.com. There you will also find information on our live performances. *Painting by Noah Ginex*
So you now know that I just finished an on-camera course, but I only just finished a new stage combat course in June as well. It was knife fighting at the Actor's Gymnasium with Chuck Coyl. I had been waiting to take this course for literally a couple of years since I did the Winter Wonderland Fight workshop back in 2015. Sandra Howard was my partner for the final and we ended up doing a ridiculous fight scene from the film Drop Dead Gorgeous. We both received our knife SPT certifications! This is my 3rd. I hope to take a sword fighting class next so that I may earn the title of "Actor Combatant."
The "Actor Combatant" title is not the only goal I have, of course. Especially after this last class, I've decided to look into stunt school. Since I'm starting to gravitate more towards film acting, I think stunt work would be a great way to showcase my movement skills and get my foot in the door. More on this to come.
Something a little different I've been working on in my spare time is visual art. Lately, I've been developing a style where I work with cloth textiles that I sew together, stretch (canvas like), and then paint over. My piece Chump Tower, Chicago has been hung up in a couple of venues now including: Argo Tea, The Plagiarists Theater Co. Fundraiser - Art in the Time of Plagiarism, and most recently the Blick Art Supply Store on State St (downtown Chicago). At Blick, I had entered it into a competition and was told that although I initially tied for 1st place, they brought in a 3rd patry to be a tie breaker and my piece was then, sadly, moved to 2nd place. I still like to say that, in a way, I did get 1st. I'm selling postcards of the piece for $3 a card (contact me if interested). This piece is the first in a political series I'm planning to call Betsy Ross that S@$t. The 2nd piece in the series is about 70% complete.
Right now, I'm in a musical! This is the first musical I've been in since high school and I even have my own song (most of it is spoken, but still very exciting). The piece is called ShockHeaded Peter and it is being put up by Black Button Eyes Productions. So many wonderful and weird things happening with this rendition. It will come as no surprise that, for a scene in the play, I will be on stilts! The show mixes creepy and comedy very well. It is bizarre and macabre, yet whimsical. We have already received around fifteen different reviews (the majority poitive) and I've gotten a few special mentions! Click here to read one of the many reviews. ShockHeaded Peter runs Aug 17th -Sept 17th, Thurs -Sun at the Athenaeum Theatre. You can purchase tickets early at athenaeumtheatre.org or at the Black Button Eyes Productions Facebook page.
This may be a surprise, but I'm considering moving to LA next summer (I visited for the first time in May). This choice depends on many things -money of course, but not solely. I want to see how this year pans out in Chicago. I'd like to see if my web series does well and keeps me here (since I want to film it in Chicago). If I book with theaters I've been wanting to work with, that would also keep me here. However, I feel that if my career stays about where it is, then I will need a change. I'm also considering Minneapolis for a little bit or briefly jumping on the Renaissance Faire Circuit for a few shows (just for a change in scenery). It's exciting to think about, especially if I can snag the opportunities I desire. I'm still in research mode. Nothing is concrete, so stay tuned!
This year has been full of small advancements. I'm grateful for the ones I've had. I only hope that the rest of this year brings about some bigger ones. I've been doing a lot of building and running about. I'm ready for the next chapter -wherever that may lead.