From “ACTING…It’s Not For Sissies”

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INTRODUCTION

Thank you for taking the time to read this book which is a collection of tips, stories, perspectives, cautionary tales and my 2 cents about acting professionally.

My goal was to create a realistic, candid and no-nonsense guide for actors that would serve as a handy tool whether you’re just starting out or a professional looking for some fresh ideas.

This is not about acting technique. No Uta Hagen, Meisner, Stanislavski and the like will be discussed. This is about the business.

Those who are passionate and sincerely dedicated to acting as a career will understand and appreciate the tips and stories.

Those that are simply seeking fame and a get-rich-quick look into acting will find my candor incredibly inconvenient.

Some information may seem obvious or redundant to those savvy to “the business”, however, I believe my perspective as a working actor, acting coach, writer, producer and entrepreneur (a future book will cover that) will offer a unique and helpful perspective.

At the same time, I’m hopeful and confident that everyone in pursuit of an acting career or any career in the arts will find golden nuggets of information here that speaks to them and offers some insight, humor and a bit of security in such an insecure industry.

We must never forget that this is Show Business.

My style is very matter-of-fact with a flair for the sarcastic. Why sugarcoat things? Are there exceptions to each rule? Of course, but why waste time with isolated exceptions?

Set aside all the business realities and I must express that I adore acting. I love it. It’s a soul mate for me. I will do it my entire life. There are a lot of things I can do, do well and have enjoyed doing, but what is always at the top of the list? Acting.

There are a lot of helpful opinions, stories and perspectives out there.

These are mine.

 

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The Boston Marathon Victims and PTSD

I watched the emotional press conference today and listened to several of the victims list their horrible physical injuries as well as the fact they’re suffering from PTSD.

I lost many years to PTSD.  My incident, as I refer to it, occurred about 15 years ago.  It took a lot of time away from my career and my savings to get back to what I would deem my new normal.

Their lives will never be the same and I feel for all the victims and their family members. I feel the same understanding and compassion for our soldiers that return home with PTSD.

I sincerely hope anyone suffering from PTSD will seek treatment and ask for help.

PTSD affects the way you see the world. It affects all your relationships and your daily life. Things as simple as a person innocently invading your personal space can send you into a panic and in some cases, agitation and rage.

Large crowds or cramped, small spaces used to be an issue for me. It’s a situation that you cannot necessarily control and that helplessness can send you into a panic.

It turned me into a hermit for quite some time. It also had a positive result, because I created my own home-based business out of necessity.

You can have the most understanding friends and family members, but no one can truly understand. How could they?

They will listen, support and comfort and then they go about their daily lives. PTSD is something you take with you everywhere. It doesn’t leave you.

I heard one of the victims expressing something similar and how they felt they could no longer walk the streets of Boston without suspecting each person.

You walk around in a constant state of anxiousness.

When my incident first occurred, I went into survival mode. I tried and attempted to live the way I had lived before even though I was not sleeping at all. You know how out of it you are and crabby if you don’t get 1 good night of sleep? I went months.

I did not immediately seek help. And that backfired and caught up with me.

At the same time, all I wanted was for things to be as they were before. I wished I could erase it from my mind and memory and return to another time. I could not imagine where I am today. I thought it would never happen.

The reality is that after a traumatic event, you will never be the same.

However there are people that knew me before and people that know me now that would be quite surprised that I went through any of this.

Because there is hope! You can get beyond this.

I’m not a fan of medication, because it’s a band-aid in my opinion. A pill can knock you out and help you sleep, but it does not address your thoughts that prevent you from sleeping.

I did eventually seek out counseling and after a few that didn’t quite fit, I tried to find a support group. I also could not seem to find a support group that was specific to my circumstance.

I had a lot of 1st appointment consultations and none of them seemed right. One in particular, an older man had 2 hearing aids & it seemed he only heard or understood me when he was looking right at me.

Each time he looked down to write something, he didn’t hear me correctly & I had to repeat the same thing 10 times. Nice man but that situation only stressed me out further.

After quite some time of not sleeping, not being able to hold a job and the thought I was losing my mind, I found some solace.

I was on the phone with a woman who ran one of the support groups and I have to say, the phone conversation with her changed my life.

She was yet another person who was telling me they didn’t really have a group for me. But…she spoke to me on the phone for almost an hour & listened. And then…

It was a matter of someone saying just the right thing to make everything click.

She told me to stop trying to be who I was before. I had to stop searching and reaching for normal.

And most importantly, whatever I had to do to make my home feel secure so that I could sleep, was okay. It didn’t matter if it seemed excessive to anyone else. I had to do whatever I had to do to feel safe in my own home so that I could sleep.

It was as if I needed permission to do those things. So what if I lived in a safe building, safe apartment but I also put locks on each window and additional locks on the front door. So what?

She enabled me to turn a corner. For the 1st time in years, I had slept with the bedroom door open. I even called my mom to tell her, because this was something I thought I would NEVER be able to do again.

When something traumatic happens, you cannot imagine ever being yourself again. You think you’re going crazy. It is so overwhelming and my heart breaks for the victims. And my heart breaks for our soldiers that are continuing to take their own lives because they cannot stop the images in their heads. They just want it to stop.

We often ask “why?” when something horrible happens and we may never know the answer.

For me, it was eye-opening how many people abandoned and judged me as I tried to deal.

I also had so many wonderful people in my life that were supportive and understanding.

This trauma pushed me to create my own business and it weeded out the people in my life that were not truly, true.

It seems like a 100 years ago.

Another result is that I did become much more private and guarded. Or discerning.  This whole foray into the social media realm is incredibly anxious pour moi and probably why I took so long to do it.

But I thought it was time.

My hope is that everyone reading this will do something positive for PTSD victims. Volunteer, donate, whatever is needed. Even if you simply share this story with someone you know that suffers from PTSD.

My hope and prayer is that each person suffering with PTSD will have that moment where something clicks and allows them to move forward as their new self.

There is hope. There is a new you waiting.

 

Peace

 

 

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Decisions, Decisions…Express Lane?

You’re at the grocery store and it’s that moment when you reach… The finish line.

You head towards the check-out and as you approach you scope out the competition.

Nope, not getting behind her, she has enough food to feed a small army.

You see a regular line with someone who only has a few items.

You also notice that the Express Lane is totally free and open.

Well, the obvious choice is …the Express Lane.

So, you go for it and maneuver your way over.

But did you ever notice, the moment you choose the express lane, that annoying teenage cashier decides to check his phone, have a conversation with is buddy at the next register or he/she suddenly needs a manager for something.

What the hell kiddo?!

I put a lot of energy and frankly strategy into this decision. My goal is to exit the store before the lady in that other regular line. She only had a few things for Pete’s sake!

If I’m in the Express Lane, I had better receive express service.

But no, I now look over my shoulder to the other line. You know that regular line that not long ago had a woman with only a few items.

She has since left, some has replaced her and they are now wheeling away off into the parking lot of freedom.

This is a travesty!

What happened to a work ethic? What about integrity of the system? That Express Lane sign is false advertising, thank you very much.

I worked in the service industry my whole life, since I was a teenager and I tell ya, I can’t get good service to save my life.

He finally finished the sale, looked at me with a big, goofy smile and said, “Have a nice day, Ma’am”.

Well, okay, that’s nice. Okay, Skippy, I’ll give you a pass. This time. There is some hope for these teenagers after all. A smile and a kind word goes a long way, right?!

Wait…who the hell is he calling Ma’am?

( Winkety wink )

 

 

 

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Hitting The Reset Button on…Bad Mojo

None of us are infallible. We’re all human and will fall prey to anger, jealousy, disappointment and regret.

I believe things happen for a reason. We may not ever know the reason.

We’ve all heard the saying, “that which does not kill us makes us stronger”.

Well, I really wish the universe would stop trying to kill me! (wink wink)

I am far from perfect and very much a work in progress.

Dr. Wayne Dyer often says, “Do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy?”

Boy, that’s a tough one, isn’t it?  Because being right makes me VERY happy!

When I have been hurt, insulted or wronged, I go through all the normal emotions of anger, resentment and delusions of sweet revenge (ha!).

In general, I don’t take things personally. I know it’s not about me, it’s about them, the day they’re having, the mood they were already in and I don’t sweat it.

But sometimes it’s quite obvious when it’s directed at you, isn’t it? Even when it’s directed at you, you know what?  It doesn’t mean we have to tolerate it, but…how will you respond for your own well-being?

I go through my moment of “how dare they!” in my head or maybe I vent to someone close to me.

But then, I take a deep breath and then say, “Okay, now what?”

Well, it depends on who we’re talking about and what did they do and how bad was it? Do the authorities need to be involved? Well, than that’s another story and please consult the appropriate professionals. 

****Take this jerky situation and turn it around by doing something positive****

It may sound kinda cheesy and warm and fuzzy to some, but so what? What if it helps and makes you feel better, makes your life better and you’re a happier and healthier person?

They may suck, but their behavior makes me appreciate SO MUCH the good people in my life.

Friends, family, co-workers, whatever the scenario, we can always find something positive to shake us out of that moment.

 

Maybe we had a bad audition and we continue to beat ourselves up over and over and over…I shoulda done this, I shoulda done that.

And I say “moment” because we cannot allow it to overtake us and let it last too long. It’s just not healthy.

How do I erase the bad mojo and hit the reset button?

I do something nice for someone else in my life.

If someone at work is a jerk to you…send a nice email, joke or buy a card for someone who always makes you laugh and treats you with respect.

If someone in your family is a jerk to you…do some sort of “thank you” for someone in your family that is there for you. Or perhaps it’s not someone you’re related to, but they treat you as one of their own.

And most importantly, do something nice for yourself. Watch your favorite movie, go and get a massage or buy that handbag you’ve had your eye on. Do it! Go and find some happy!

Focus on the positive and appreciate those that have made a positive impact on your life and be sure to let them know in the present.

Never allow the behavior of some to change who you are and how you behave.

“When I find myself acting in ways that are not true to my character, it means I’m around the wrong people”.–from “ACTING…It’s Not For Sissies”

Peace.

**I suggest reading anything by Dr. Wayne Dyer and “The Four Agreements” by Miguel Ruiz is incredibly beneficial & easy-to-read; even if you only read the inside flap that lists the 4 agreements…do it!

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Excerpt from “ACTING…It’s Not For Sissies”

***This is copyrighted material*****

Written By Nicole Comer

Copyright © 2015 by Nicole Comer

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All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

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IS THERE ANOTHER CAREER PATH FOR YOU?

Is there anything else you can do? You have probably heard this before and for a very good reason.

I’m not here to depress you, kill your mojo or burst your bubble.

However, if you’re looking for someone to blow smoke up your rear end, I’m sorry to tell you, you may be disappointed.

It’s not Show Dreams. It’s Show Business.

When someone asks you what you want to do with your life…if anything else comes to mind that you WANT to do…please do that.

It’s just too damn hard.

It’s a huge commitment. And if you do not love it, have to do it, will do it the rest of your life (regardless of success level), than…why?

Why put yourself through the financial and emotional turmoil?

 

Unless you come from a wealthy family that will support you, the financial commitment cannot be ignored.

And I feel that sacrifice is not a strong enough word to describe what it takes to set out on this path.

***Disclaimer for the parents of child actors***

*Yes, this is a business. Everything I will discuss in this book, business-wise, is for your benefit, the parent.

–Your schedule should be as flexible as any adult actor in LA or NYC, because you’re required to take and accompany your child to all auditions and bookings.

*For children to be in this business, I believe they should:

Want to do it, Love it and it should be Fun.

*It’s your responsibility as the parent and/or guardian to keep them on top of things.

*At the same time, please do not think your child being an actor will be a way for your family to do well and therefore put that pressure on your child.

*The notes and tips in this book will be helpful to the parent of a child actor, but, please do not browbeat them with “Nicole said this…” and such, because they have to want it or please leave it alone.

*The moment your child does not want to do it any longer and it’s no longer fun, it’s time to focus on other things and move on.

Okay, back to business!!

 

There are guides out there with ideas and suggestions for survival jobs to sustain you while you pursue an acting career.

The challenge is finding a job that will pay you enough to live in Los Angeles (or New York City) and at the same time, have a flexible schedule so that you can audition.

I was a bartender, waitress, pharmaceutical sales rep, telemarketer, fundraiser, property manager…and I also owned and ran my own staffing company for 10+ years. Some of these jobs were done simultaneously. Some of them were a career, while also pursuing my acting career.

Los Angeles is an expensive town. And I was certainly not lunching all the time and shopping on Robertson Blvd. I lived (and continue to live) quite frugally.

What if (god willing) you book something?

Will your job allow you to miss work for 1 day? 2 days? What if they say “no, if you miss your shift, you’re fired”?

 

I simply want you to ponder these scenarios and make a specific game plan. Be prepared. Have a plan. Actually, please have several plans, just in case.

Some will say, if you have a Plan B, you won’t do your Plan A. That’s ridiculous. I am a very positive and spiritual person. I believe in seeing it, thinking it, believing it, doing it and it will happen.

I can’t say it enough that I am not here to kill your mojo. Please think of me as a surrogate aunt/sister/cousin who is offering tips. A fairy godmother, you might say.

You can believe while also planning simultaneously. Be smart!

 

Before moving to Los Angeles, I came out for approximately 4 days to interview and meet with people. I secured a job at Paramount Pictures so that when I officially moved here a few months later, I knew I would have a paycheck. After doing that for approximately a year and some change, I decided it was time to officially live the life of an actor. So, I didn’t pursue further avenues at the studio, I secured a job as a…bartender.

Working in bars and restaurants was not foreign to me, because I had worked for years in the hospitality industry and put myself through college doing just that.

That was my background and experience. Maybe you have different strengths. I’m sure you do! This is a new generation with innovative technological experiences and skills that they use on the daily. A lot of college-age adults (and younger) are armed with varying interests, skills and entrepreneurial tendencies. Go for it!

The best decision I made was taking my experience and skills and parlaying that into a business so that I answered to no one in regards to my schedule.

Having my own company came with different challenges. I miss my company. I loved creating income for others so that they could live out their dreams. I do, however, not miss the burdens that came with that freedom.

Some of you may say, well, I don’t have to worry about any of this jazz, because I will book acting work and that will sustain me.

Godspeed.

 

 

 

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Waxing Nostalgic About…Family

I grew up in a small suburb of Detroit and then when I was in grade school, we moved to Houston, Texas. And of course, right after my college graduation, I moved to LA myself and the rest is history.

I have incredibly fond memories of my childhood in Michigan. My mother has a ton of family there, I loved my school and loved my friends.

My father’s family was much smaller, but my grandparents lived in Canada and I loved to visit them and their place on Lake Erie (I believe it was Erie? My Michigan studies are failing me). My grandmother had an affinity for flowers and gardens and hers would have put most to shame. I miss my father, his sister and my grandmother deeply as they all died too young. I didn’t know my grandfather very well.

We lived on a little street right down the road from my school, so we walked to school each day. We played outside with our friends (shocking!) until the street lights came on and throughout my many activities in school and Girl Scouts, I actually sold items door-to-door consistently. 

As a child, you imagine how things “will be” when you’re older. You wonder about the future and once everyone is grown up, married, have their own kids and the events that we will all take part in and celebrate together.

What you imagined and the reality has a tendency to differ. Greatly.

The friends you had at that age, as we grew older we realized we didn’t really have much in common. I always wrote letters and really tried to keep those friends even after we moved to Texas. But after time, they slowly leave your life. But I never forgot them. I envy (in a healthy way) those that have had the same friends since they were young. That is a gift.

With my family, I never imagined things being as they are today. I expected that friendships may grow apart, but family is supposed to be different.

My immediate family is great. And I am still quite close to a few relatives. And there are others that we exchange photos and jokes on Facebook, which seems to be the new norm.

Everyone has their own day-to-day and on one hand Facebook is a godsend to remain in-touch, even if it’s as simple as a “like”. Who can afford to travel across the country to various states each year? I certainly can’t, so Facebook is better than nuthin’.

But for the most part, I have dissolved a lot of my relationships with some relatives because I found them to be quite unhealthy. And more than anything, disappointing.

These are the specific people I expected to be a part of my life at this stage of the game.

When you’re young, things go over your head. I have always been a Polyanna at heart and expect the best. And I tolerate a lot. Until I don’t.

Just because you’re related to someone does not mean you’re obligated to continue to tolerate their toxic and hurtful behavior.

If these were individuals who had a desire or awareness to  change their ways, it would be different. Most people when they have wronged someone will have regret, apologize and maybe even attempt to change and make amends.

I’m referring to individuals that double-down. Like a cornered animal they continue to protest too much.

Their guilt should propel them to do better and to be better people. But it does not. Their guilt brings on defensive behavior and unprovoked attacks.

Yes, I took psychology in school as well and I can break it down, analyze someone and throw out some fancy terminology for their behavior.

But, life is too short.

I talk about this in my book, “ACTING…It’s Not For Sissies”. I urge actors to clean house in their life in regards to the company they keep and that goes for friends, family and fellow actors. “A stranger can’t really hurt you. Betrayal comes from someone you know well.” 

I do not believe you can have a happy and healthy life if you’re surrounded by negative, horrible people.

I found their behaviors more than anything disappointing. And at a certain point it’s all frankly unforgivable.

They will answer to a higher power, I do believe.

I miss my grandmother, my mother’s mother a great deal and think of her often.  At the same time, I am grateful she is not alive because her heart would be broken.

The current reality may not match what I imagined when I was young, but that could describe just about anything, right? And that’s more than okay.

In the meantime, I choose to be happy and surround myself with healthy, supportive people.

Let’s celebrate those people and appreciate their role in our lives.

Happy Week!

xo

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Movies Movies, Movies

It was a very low-key Saturday and quite nice.

Treadmill, some work on the computer and then…chick flicks!

“An Affair To Remember”, “Ever After” and then I switched gears to “The Lincoln Lawyer”.

I had never seen the latter before. A pretty good flick. I watched it on TV, so I’m not quite sure if the discrepancies were due to bad TV editing or if they had trouble adapting the novel. Some nice twists, good performances and many talented and familiar faces. 2 thumbs up!

How will I close out the evening? Yes, it’s Saturday night and I have a date with the TV. What? 😉

Who knows? I may watch something real classy like vintage episodes of “Cops” .Well, that is unless I can find some episodes of “Bait Car”.

Don’t judge me.

Peace out

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Flood Watch

JUNE13

Good morning! I woke up today, turned on the TV and the freaking weather service was issuing another flood watch. I realize they’re trying to get my attention with that horrible noise, but come on.

On one hand, it has been so hot lately, it’s not like the flood watch is truly cramping my style, because I wouldn’t be outside anyways.

It would be nice if all this rain would bring about cooler weather, but that is never the case. It will be disgusting, muggy and my hair will look like Chaka Kahn in the 80s.

Cha-ka Kahn, Chaka Kahn Chaka Kahn

Okay, enough of my belly aching. I can see a silver lining. Sometimes a rainy day is nature’s way of saying, slow down and take care of some things you need to take care of.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

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Happy Cmail

To those of you not in the biz, a Cmail is an email from casting with an audition invitation.

I had a definite plan for today. Run a few errands and get on the treadmill while I still had the mojo, because it was hotter than Hades today! Phew.

Well, before I could get on the treadmill, I had a Cmail for a self-tape audition. Yay!! And…it was due tomorrow. Holy Smokes!

So, I happily switched gears, did my thing, sent it to my manager and I’m here to tell the story.

I did not do the treadmill. Yet. We’ll see…maybe tomorrow?

Happy Weekend!

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