In the beginning of 2017, I had a streak of good auditions and commercials. I felt like one of the lucky ones to do a lot of acting in the first quarter of 2017. I continued to collaborate with my mentor and great friend Matthew Barry Teaches to produce not just one, but two on-going class sessions for professional actors in the bay area. I knew Bay Area actors needed good professional resources. These acting classes have been consistently sold out all year for good reason. One thing about classes, is that it allows me an opportunity to practice and play, experiment in a safe place where I got critical feedback.
February 2017, I got invited to help as casting assistant for a dear friend Steve Nichols on a short film. It lead to a co-producer opportunity during that same film production REDRESS later. The journey in life continues to surprise me. That same director Jayson Johnson became one of my dearest friends. Also in this same month, I auditioned for director/writer Angie Powers and producer Elizabeth Stark for their indie feature film project, Lost in the Middle. I got the part and on set, I had the most amazing 2 week film experience as an actor, on location with an INSANELY talented ensemble cast, Janet Lynn, Guinevere Turner, L Jeffrey Moore, Chris Ginesi, Ricky Del Rosario, Kevin Schuh,and Lex Vaughn. That was shot in April.
Simultaneously throughout the first 5 months of 2017, I planned and produced an event designed like a traditional conference. It’s known as The Actor’s Conference. I brought together my entire professional acting training experience and connections, I rolled it into one weekend to help inspire other actors in the bay area. I created a program that would eventually bring ongoing professional acting training to the bay area without having go to LA. That on-going program take place at the old SF Actors Workshop in San Bruno.
In June, my youngest daughter graduated elementary school. It was a bittersweet ending for my husband and I, since all our children attended their formative years there. Later turned out to be a wonderful new beginning for her. She’s kicking ass in middle school. Super shocker for me.
In the early summer, I was hired by a local production company La Honda Films Bella Togliatti Sergio Togliatti Elanor Togliatti whom I worked with nearly ten years ago as an actress on one of their feature film. I get to work in launching their next feature that has been in the making for over ten years. Today, I get to be part of this journey in creating a major motion picture as a member of their executive team. What an opportunity.
In July, Jason and I celebrated 20 years of being married. Wow, I’m so thankful he isn’t tired of me. Sometimes I feel like Lucy, in “I love Lucy” with all my producing shenanigans. We celebrated with a trip to Puerto Rico. Our first time. Hopefully not our last. Everyone should visit Puerto Rico. It’s beautiful. Lets help them recover. We went to NYC immediately after Puerto Rico to pick up our older daughter from the trip of her life. She lived in Paris with a wonderful french family that hosted her like she was their own. We caught up with our lovely friend Tracy Gray in NYC. Played tourist. Saw Hamilton on Broadway with our daughters. Jason, my husband, never knew musical theater could be so great. I laugh thinking about it. When we got back, I launched a bunch of “meet-ups” and acting community workshops at The LightGrid and Meets The Eye Studios. The best kept secret in the peninsula, two sound studios. I was reminded that filmmakers are the most interesting and generous people on this earth. Go hug one!
In August, our youngest started middle school. My parental experience with this was surprisingly and wonderfully overwhelming. She is driven, creative and ambitious. She will teach the world to see her perspective. She’s the best version of me. Our older daughter was accepted into the Gate program at her high school. She ends up winning all those crazy HS awards. She’s the smartest person I know… sometimes, that’s overwhelming in itself. She’s the best version of Jason. This summer my family came back together. Our oldest son, started to revisit home. Warms my heart to see him develop into his own. Our dog Lily had a tumor removed by the best holistic vet I could find. Dr. Gary Ritcher Montclair Veterinary Hospital. He’s in The Truth About Pet Cancer. Watch it. I learned to change the quality of Lily’s life, and Cooper’s and Oreo’s, our other dogs.
October, a long time dear friend Giovannie Espiritu closed a chapter of her life, let go of her acting studio, SF Actor’s Workshop, in San Bruno. With a leap of faith and her help, I started a new chapter in my life. I took over the studio, added a few little changes and reopen in January. This will be a creative artists’ workspace. Looking forward to future collaborations.
November came, and I planned like never before… I made decisions on floors, wall colors, room structures, new doors. Construction on little things started in the studio. I continued to host more acting workshops with George Gallagher Kate McGregor Stewart Kirk Baltz. For Thanksgiving we went to Las Vegas, and continued a young Cruz family tradition.
Finally in December, I and 9 other actors created our actor reels written and directed by my great friend Paul Barry Acting 4 Camera. Sarah Elizabeth Andrews Kumiko Yoshida Nina Martina Michelle AveryFernando Pereira AJ Felix Anita Argent Jacqueline Wright. They were produced and shot like short films. They are DARN GREAT! I can’t believe this isn’t done more often. As the producer, I was on a high for a week. I was so proud of the accomplishment for everyone, including myself. Being a producer is invigorating and exhausting at the same time. I just can’t wait to see them edited! Just when I thought it was over and I could slow down for the holidays, an offer to do a short film showed up. Not to gloss over Christmas, 2 out of 4 of us at home caught the F-L-U bug that was going around. I never get sick… I GOT VERY SICK. I could have dealt without the misery of this illness…. The film offer came through one of my clients and my director friend, Jayson Johnson. In less than 2 weeks, we Fernando Pereira Jayson Johnson Steve Nichols and myself speed through traditional preproduction and production without sacrificing quality. Every soul on that production gave it their all. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Like I said, filmmakers are the most interesting and generous people on this earth. Hug a filmmaker friend if you have one.
My hope for the future, and for you in 2018 is for you to create your purpose. I use to believe in “being lucky”. This year has been a lesson of empowerment for me. It is within us all. Only you can unlock it for yourself. Life can be an amazing journey if you can believe in yourself. Power lies in the creation and imagination. Achieve with love and passion. Wishing everyone a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2018!