For Actors: Going Skin Deep

This month I have decided to share with you a guilty pleasure of mine that is certainly important for actors: skin care.

Since reaching the big 3-0, people have asked me nicely ("You are glowing!") and meanly ("Do you get botox?") about my skin care routine. Being an uber pale girl, I do have a few tips.


First of all, I drink a mad amount of water each day. Especially before auditions for roles a decade younger, I tend to drink to the point of exhaustion, because nothing plumps the skin better from within than being ultra-hydrated. And yes, I pee a lot.

I have used sunscreen EVERY DAY-- summer or winter, rain or shine-- since I was sixteen. They say that everything over SPF 30 is BS, but oh well, I use "Neutrogena’s Age Shield face SPF 110". Never had a sun burn, never had a wrinkle. #placebo

I do get facials fairly regularly - probably every 8 weeks. The best one for my skin is called the Hydra Facial. They do it all around the world and my skin just looks like someone put a beauty filter onto it for days afterward. I have tried the Vampire Facial and some light chemical peels but I have to say that the Hydra Facial still shows the best results. I suggest finding a salon you like and trying out a few different facials and see what works best for you.

Last but not least, I have to admit I eat very well (mostly vegan) and I do notice a difference when I suddenly eat crap.


Face Masks: I love them and I probably have a dozen different ones. I use a different one almost every day. When I feel my skin is a little out of balance and unclear I go for mud masks - the powder from the pharmacy mixed with some water. Oh, and a mask I love in the morning, making my skin look like baby’s behind is “Goddess Skin Clay Mask by Charlotte Tilbury” - perfect for audition days. Most evenings I use a sheet mask - I buy them in bulk from Amazon (sorry) - or an overnight leave-on mask. This is of course only when I am alone or next to an already asleep man ;)

Just some of my products ;)

I have gotten Micro Needling done at the salon a few times. Apart from being painful, I did like the results, but not as much as with the Hydra Facial, The idea, however, is that the effects last longer. After I saw the amazing results on two of my friends (one 28, one 50) I started doing home needling. There are a bunch of tutorials online - the process is fairly straight forward and if done regularly, it does work wonders and is super cheap. You do have to have super clear skin to do it though, otherwise you are just spreading the bacteria around your face.

An older woman with perfect skin swears on this electric device “Nuface” - I have actually bought it but for some reason I have not gotten into it properly...I should though - she looks amazing.

I have not done Botox or Fillers yet, but I am totally not opposed to either. I have a couple of friends who have done it and you’d never know it - but I have also seen people go off the deep end...


Morning: I wash my face with cold water in the shower (I end every shower with ice cold water all over the body, to tighten up those pores) and then I use a serum by Deciem ( and a moisturiser before I put my sunscreen on. I really like Deciem, because the quality is amazing and, as their tagline famously says, science doesn’t know luxury, so they are super cheap. For a moisturiser, I have to admit I have returned to "Creme de la Mer.” I've tried many different ones, but I just love the texture, and despite the initial price tag being high, you need so little every day that even their smallest jar lasts a full year. Then, of course, sunscreen on my face and the back my hands.

Make Up: Definitely not my speciality, but I always use a primer, to even out my skin tone and give it a little glow, currently “Benefit’s Pore Professional Pearl Primer.” The hands down best foundation I have ever used and was used on me during a full feature shoot is: “Sensai’s Cellular Performance.” Yes, it's pricey, but I only use it as a concealer and it's just perfect (my best friend loves it as well). Lots of mascara and a bit of red lipstick on my lips and cheeks and I am out of the house.

Evening: First I take off all make up and mascara and dirt with cold pressed coconut oil. Then I use a light exfoliator - currently the "Nip+Fab Glycolic Scrub Fix” and then Micellaire Water as a toner. Only through doing that three step cleanse every night have I gotten my skin to be truly spotlessly clean - for some this might be too much, but my skin seems to need it. Then I use a Deciem Serum and on some days their Retinol or their Vitamin C moisturiser. Plus I always massage my face while I put on the serums and the creams. My favourite eye cream remains, after trying soooo many, “Hyaluron- Filler by Eucerin”.

My all time favourite body moisturiser is “Iso-Urea from La Roche-Posay.” I have always had dry skin, and so have tried hundreds of body lotions and oil,s but using this one every day after my shower is the only thing that has made me feel silky all over. Pick the milk, not the fluid if you have extra dry skin like me.When my skin gets really dry or flakey, I sometimes scrub it down with a coconut salt mix - for me it’s great, try it!

Yeah, I wish I could say it’s just good genetics, but this is all the shit I do plus I really do enjoy kale ;) Please comment below if you have skin care products you adore or any other tips and tricks!!!

The Benefits of Creating your own Film Production Company

by New York Guest Blogger: Carey Van Driest

These days, everyone is talking about ‘making your own work.’ It’s a valuable conversation to have, but I never thought I would be doing it under the auspices of a ’production company.’ Especially one that I owned.

My partner Ronan Jorah and I had had careers in the arts for years - me as an actor and Ronan as a director and post-production supervisor, but work had been project-specific, and mostly dictated by other people’s initiatives. Creating our production company, Mania Studio, Inc., combined our forces to set a trajectory for long-term success instead of the short-term scrambles we had been doing.

Mania Studio’s logo

Get clear about your goals

Filmmaking is hard work, so if we were going to put time and sweat and money into this, it needed to pay off. We wanted to make more than one film, so for us taking the creative leap meant a full-fledged studio where we could control the quality and choose our projects and who we work with. Creating a structure that was scaleable as Mania Studio grew was also imperative.

We chose Scratch as our first film and set a fundraising goal. A friend who runs large-scale kickstarter campaigns advised us that for a new company, developing personal connections that would carry over from project to project was the best use of our time. So we reached out to people we called our ‘angels’ instead of crowd-sourcing.

Ronan Jorah, directing Scratch on location at the Bendix Diner

Know your strengths and weaknesses
Once funding was in place, we could have attempted to push the film up a hill ourselves. But I’m not a cinematographer, and Ronan is at best a second-rate costume designer. Our energy was better spent focusing on what we did best and putting together a talented team of craftspeople who would be the foundation of the creative network we would continue to rely and call on.

Fast, good, and cheap. You can only pick two
No one wants to hear it, but it’s true. You can do something fast and good, but it won’t be cheap, or cheap and fast, but it won’t be good. Something always has to give, so pick your two carefully. We had some money, but not a lot, so for us taking our time putting the right pieces together and planning every detail was important. If we’d had a multi-million dollar budget, planning would still be important, but larger budget equals more boots on the ground, and an engine that can move faster. Even though there were many days and nights during pre-production when we wondered if we’d ever get to set, sharing Scratch with our cast and crew and seeing their proud reactions reminded us that we did it the right way.

Carey Van Driest on set as producer and “Elise” in Scratch

is what we intended it to be: a strong calling card for Mania Studio and an example of the kind of quality storytelling we can do as a small in-house operation. The response has been fantastic, and we’re gearing up for the online release in early Spring to get the word out about Scratch and Mania Studio. 

We have a second short film ready for production and several in development. I’m producing, writing and acting, and Ronan directs, writes, and supervises post-production. We continue to balance being both business and romantic partners and check in with each other as Mania Studio grows. Starting a production company isn’t for everyone, and sometimes we think “what are we doing?” But most of the time we look at what we’ve created together and it reminds us why we wanted to be artists and filmmakers in the first place. To make things. And this is the way we choose to make them.

Ronan Jorah as 'Scratch'

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Facebook: @maniastudioinc

What Eye Surgery Taught Me About My Acting Career

by Chicago Guest Blogger: Courtney Rioux

It's 1989. I'm in second grade and I can't see the board. It's time to get glasses. Glasses aren't cool. Movies are about girls becoming popular by simply putting in contacts and straightening their hair. Did I mention my curly hair? Strike two. Thank God I don't have braces. By the time I get to sixth grade I finally get contacts. Unfortunately, I don't have a straightener. For twenty years, my vision is so bad I can't recognize my mother without contacts or glasses. For all my visually impaired friends, I have a -7.5 and -8.5 contact prescription with astigmatism. For those of you with 20/20 vision, that's bad.

Cut to the present where I achieve a goal I've had for years: 20/20 vision via Lasik surgery. I don't care about the coolness anymore; I really just don't want to be the first to die in a Zombie apocalypse because I lost a contact. "Is that my Mom? Nope, that's a zombie." Dead...ish.

It's the evening of my surgery. The valium has worn off and I'm at home on the couch watching This is Us, and through my tears, I notice the red digital clock on the cable box reads 8:30. I can see the clock on the cable box without glasses or contacts. My surgery took less than five minutes to complete, and like magic, I can see perfectly. Thanks Kraff Eye Institute!

A funny thing happens, though. For almost three months after my Lasik surgery, every night before I go to bed, I think, "I should take my contacts out before I fall asleep." Then I immediately remember I'm not wearing contacts. I don't go so far as to touch my eye to try and take anything out. Still, I habitually keep thinking that thought night after night. I understand why. For more than two-hundred-forty months, I had the thought: "I should take out my contacts before I fall asleep." Now, all of a sudden, I'm supposed to stop thinking the thought just because it wasn't true anymore?

Seven thousand days thinking the same thing created a groove in my brain. It wasn't a harmful thought, and I knew it wasn't true. But it was involuntary. So, I tell my brain, this is no longer necessary to think and it's not helpful. Within three months, the thought stops popping up. And that's a thought without emotional baggage.

Sometimes we have a thought or belief that pops up over and over again about our acting career that is not true and no longer necessary or helpful. Maybe the thought kept you motivated or protected in the past, but it's not longer working (or it never worked in the first place!). Sometimes that thought isn't as harmless as, "I have to take out my contacts." Sometimes that thought causes great pain and blocks us from moving forward with our career.

Here are some habitual, painful thoughts (stories) that might not be working for you, but keep popping up:

Image result for thought barriersI'm fat (I won't get cast.)

I'm tired (I'll never have the energy that X has).

I'm broke (I can't take a few extra hours a week to pursue acting, or, I'll never make enough money acting.

I'm lonely (I can't find my acting squad, I don't have any friends, no-one likes me, etc.)

I can't _____ (act and have a kid, act and keep my relationship, change my habits, etc.)

I'm not _____ (unique, talented, relevant, hot, etc.) enough.

I don't do enough (to meet people in my industry, etc.)

I don't have enough time or money (to act and focus on my family, social life, etc.)

I'll never _____ (make money from acting, be loved by casting directors, impact the world in a meaningful way).

Or fill your own thoughts in the blanks.

Most likely, the thought is not true, or the opposite is just as true or truer than the story you're telling. It's the belief that the thought is true. That's what is painful. The thought is untrue.

So let's allow ourselves to stop thinking untrue, painful thoughts, shall we? Here's what it takes to change your habitual, untrue thoughts:

  1. Become aware of the thought.
  2. Acknowledge that the thought isn't true, or the opposite is even truer.
  3. Replace the thought with a new true thought (usually just the opposite) or a new mantra.
  4. Search for evidence of how this new thought is true in your life or someone else's.
  5. Wash, rinse, repeat.

The thought, "I should take out my contacts" doesn't pop into my head anymore. Now when an old, habitual, painful thought about my acting comes into my head, I think, "Is this like the contacts thought? Useless? Untrue?"

Why is it important to change your untrue thoughts? Because-- aside from the fact that they may cause you pain-- over time, they become deeply ingrained beliefs whether or not they're true. Those beliefs shape your career and the life around you.

You are more powerful than you imagine and you are worthy of thoughts and beliefs that shape the career of your dreams!

Courtney Rioux is an actor, clarity coach, and writer. She helps artists shift from stuck and unhappy to empowered and joyful. You can catch her on NBC’s Chicago Med as Paramedic Courtney. This was a short excerpt from Courtney’s upcoming book. For updates on Courtney’s book and more, head to and sign up for VIP updates!

What's Your Word for 2019? #LASTYLE

Happy New Year Friends!

I am dancing my way into 2019 with RADIANCE, Ready to Live my Best Life.

But Wait.....

How Do I Do That?

First, it's time to get QUIET And REFLECT

Every Year I take the time to sit and reflect and answer very specific questions.  I usually take the time between Christmas and the New Year to have some me time to reflect.  It's often not the kind of thing I can get done in one hour and takes me a few days and nights to sleep on it.  I make the time for this because I truly believe you can not build on success you don't acknowledge so I set the time and sit down with a candle or cup of hot tea and look at the entire year.  I write down what accomplishments I have experienced, what wins, successes, personally and professionally went well and why they went well.  I do this month by month.

For example:


I look at how many castings I had, commercially and theatrically as an actress and from which agents or managers they came from
I look at how many times I got a facial or massage or took time for self care, me time!
I look at how many times per month I volunteered, because that brings me JOY!
I look at what relationships I built in that month personally and professionally and How
I look at how many classes I took, professionally and personally (acting classes and others)
I look at my workout schedule
I look at my spiritual schedule (for me I chant every day, so I look at how long I chanted daily)
I look at how much money I brought in and from which sources
I look at the vacations or trips I took
I look at the red carpets I attended
I look at the Bookings and the Air Dates of TV shows and movie premiers I was apart of
I look at the Gifting Suites I attended
I look at the Photo shoots I was apart of
I look at my Social Media Numbers and how they evolved
I look at the Meetings I had with people I wanted to get closer to
I look at the amount of money I raised for charity
I look at the fun, the vacations, the birthday parties

So, basically, I look at EVERYTHING.  This look could be very different for you, depending on what your WINS are.

I then look for patterns, beliefs that guided me during the year, any themes that stick out.

For example.  2018 was a great RELATIONSHIP year for me.  I built new relationships and evolved relationships with people I really wanted to get closer to.

I then write down what I am most proud of, and luckily that list is long and can often include for me, bookings and relationship building or meetings that lead to contracts being signed.

I then write down achievements that occurred both professionally and personally.  Personally for me, I was very proud of the vacations I took outside the country with my love and the money I invested in my ROTH IRA.

I look for certain values or repeated lessons that pop up consistently.

For me, I always feel best when I am adding value and being of service and that can be in my acting career or on the streets, feeding the homeless, or simply sharing with a friend information, like now!


I look back throughout the year and write down what didn't work as well as I had hoped.  The challenges, month by month.


For me, I wrote down, 
Not all my Callbacks and Avails went on to become bookings
I was rejected at ABRAMS for commercial representation, etc etc.

With compassion I then consider the unrealized expectations, unexpected circumstances, or interruptions, challenges, upsets or losses.

Getting complete is a decision.  What action can you then take to tie up any loose ends?

I made some new decisions for 2019, that felt great.  Letting go of people, places and things that did not serve me.  I took this time to also go through my closest and donate clothes I haven't worn.  (Hard too, because as an actress, we feel like we need to keep a certain item just in case we get a casting for a nurse, a scientist, etc)

I then PAT myself on the back and celebrate it all.  For me, I took a yoga class and dedicated it to celebrating the successes I enjoyed and the challenges I moved through.


Then I write down, what I am looking forward to in 2019.
I have a few TV Shows airing in 2019 that I am looking forward to.  I booked a series regular in 2018 that will air all 8 episodes in 2019, so I am very excited for that.  

I also have a few contracts that will be signed in 2019 for producing projects and I am thrilled for that.  I am looking forward to vacations again to places I have never been and of course the unexpected good news I know is coming!

If 2019 could knock your socks off, what would YOU accomplish?

I then write 3 specific goals I would like to accomplish for 2019.  2 professional and 1 personal.

I write down what changes I hope for in 2019 and how I am going to do that

I write down the people I believe can help me succeed at these changes

I write down what resources I am bringing with me from 2018 and new habits I am bringing in for 2019.

My favorite part is writing the 10 people I want to build a stronger connection to.  Some of these people I know and some I don't know.  I then print that list and put it somewhere that I can see it every single day of the year.

I write down how I would like to experience 2019, what color or taste or texture or smell, sound does it have.  If 2019 had a theme song, shat would it be?

Then the WORD.  I come up with one word of how I want to experience 2019.  In 2018 my word was WINNING

 I wrote it on my vision board with beautiful gold writing.  I take a few days to explore how different words make me feel and I say it and share it till I narrow it down from four words to two and then to ONE WORD!

What will be your word of 2019? 

PLEASE SHARE in the COMMENT below and on social media with me.  


Love to hear your word of 2019


Christina DeRosa

A beginner's guide to Voiceovers in NYC

When I first moved to Manhattan, acting with a capital A was all I wanted to involve myself in. Sure, I needed a survival job, but beyond that I was going to immerse myself in theatre, scene classes and as many screen auditions as I could lay my hot little hands on.

Fair reader, you probably would not have been so na├»ve and boy, did I miss a trick during that first year. Because as it turns out, one of the best ways to engage in the acting and creative industries in NYC is through the world of Commercials and Voiceover. 

Thanks to the large number of advertising agencies and global headquarters of multinational companies based in New York, as well as the wealth of recording studios and Television & Radio stations located here, the city is arguable the VO capital of the country, quite possibly the world. Though commercials comprise only about 5% of the voice over work in the industry, New York offers a disproportionate share, and every day there is also more work on offer for audiobooks, narration and animation/ video games.  Clients from all around the U.S. and the world hold casting calls here, and there's a huge amount of both union and non-union work available.

I might have expected my odds at being pulled in for a VO with a major British oil company for ads running in the UK to be higher if I still lived in London, but nope - this only happened because I'm now based here, where the advertising agency and client also is. I am not alone - I've heard the same happen to native Spanish, German and French actors and VO artists living in the city. 

And wouldn’t you know it? Agents are clambering to represent actors who can readily be submitted for Voiceovers thanks to their ability to naturally embody 'real people.' Indeed much of an agent's bread & butter income can come from the VO jobs.

While this might not be the easiest industry to break into, it can offer enormous opportunities as well as a significant source of income.

Let’s look at how and where to get started:

Do I have a voice which can book jobs? The answer is almost certainly yes. Simply because you have a unique voice, and if you're an actor who understands storytelling and forming a natural, authentic connection, you will be in demand! Sure there are people who time and again get told 'You have a great voice, you should do Voiceovers' but that alone only doesn't cut it anymore - what advertisers are increasingly looking for are 'real actors' with 'natural' voices which ‘don’t sound commercial’ or 'sales-y'. These are actual quotes from many of the breakdowns I see. So the key instead is to embrace all the qualities that make your voice uniquely yours and learn how to flex and tailor it to your advantage. Versatility is not where it's at anymore - in days of yore VO artists were  expected to run the gamut of accents and vocal range, but now because every nationality and age range can easily be sourced, particularly in a city like New York, you are far more likely to book a VO job for being YOU. Learn to enjoy and play with the given voice you have!

Get into class. I recommend this for all the reasons actors should take any class - an opportunity to practice material, be that commercial copy, radio scripts, video game characters, etc., and learn from a range of other talents and experience. Is your voice naturally husky, raspy, high pitched, directive, energetic or seductive? All these are great things to discover and as you hit a groove with your own voice, you'll have fun with exploring your natural range. The majority of classes are also taught by VO casting directors and assistants who are constantly working on projects and who are actively seeking to bring in new talent, regardless of experience level. To begin, I'd recommend checking out classes run by Shut Up and Talk, Edge Studio as well as CDs John McKinney at Pomann Sound and Andy Roth who runs workshops all around the city. Added bonus: many classes end with some kind of showcase to agents who are also actively looking to represent new talent.  

A voice suite at Hyperbolic Studios, from which SUAT run their classes

Do I really need an agent? Yes and no - and it's largely dependent on the type of work you're looking to do. If you're just getting started there are plenty of ways to book work without an agent - particularly non union work - often featured on Backstage, Casting Networks and Actors Access, and by uploading examples of your work directly to online submission sites like 
You can gain experience and professional recordings from doing industrials, low budget animation and narration work by submitting directly to companies who are also often choosing to bypass traditional casting director or Agency models and saving on those fees. The downside may be that you're left with the hassle of agreeing your own contract and rates. 

If you're keen on doing Union work (or indeed already bound to those ties) then working with an agency may be beneficial as they're far more likely to have access to those higher earning gigs. All the usual rules apply: submitting smartly, forging introductions through trusted industry colleagues and meeting agents at regular showcase opportunities. And remember to keep cultivating your relationships with Casting directors.  As with screen and theatre jobs, having an agent can get you that bit closer to a submission but CDs also need to know who you are in order to add you to their audition list. Consider freelancing with a number of agents to begin with, as each will have a slightly different mix of projects they can offer you.

Listen and Learn The best way to find out what's going on in the world of voiceover and who is booking is literally to listen to all the ways the recorded voice is used in everyday life, and investigate why a voice was chosen to match that specific product or service. Once you start listening out for them you'll be surprised at how much VO there is all around - not just in traditional commercials, radio promos and animation, but things like museum audio tours, subway announcements, directions for products in a pop-up store, workout videos, YouTube how-tos, etc. etc. YouTube is also a brilliant way to watch all kinds of spots, and if you're keen on commercials specifically then is a fantastic resource for categorized and archived footage. The point to all this, as you attend classes and start learning about what your voice can do, is to have fun with all kinds of material and discover what VO work you're most passionate about.

Studio Auditions When you're invited to a VO casting you'll often be called in the next or same day, so stay nimble and relaxed as much as possible. You may be meeting a casting director at a place like Endeavor Studios downtown or Hyperbolic Studios in midtown who regularly hold VO castings, or you may be popping into your agency's office to lay down a recording with their professional set up. Either way it's unlikely that you'll receive the copy or script ahead of time, so try and get there a bit early, take the copy away with you for the time you need to get comfortable with the script and your choices, and only then come back to sign your name in to the log.   

Submitting MP3s from home - do I need a home studio? More and more frequently you'll be requested to submit an MP3 recording for an audition, especially for non-union work, and often it can be required within hours. Don't let this intimidate you - you don’t need much to get started and many working VO artists I know regular record their auditions on the fly using - what else? - their smart phone. A key consideration however is how you make the recording - you want as much sound- proofing as possible to drown out ambient noise and to highlight the nuances in your voice. One of my most successful VO colleagues began her career by recording MP3s under a suspended fort of towels and pillows! After her first few bookings she added a fancy mike and began recording in her miniscule Manhattan closet... certainly I'd suggest starting lightly and adding as you grow your business.

That's one way to do it!

If you do want to start adding a few bells and whistles, home set-ups don’t need to break the bank.  Simple microphones to try are the Audio Technica 2020 Plus - a simple USB mic that you can plug straight into a computer without an extra interface - and the Apogee Professional Quality mic. 
For software I still swear by Audacity which costs nada and does everything you need for a home MP3 recording. In time you may wish to add a foldable, portable sound absorbing, vocal recording panel for confident sound-proofing.

What about a Voice reel? Well, yes – it helps to start collecting professionally-recorded material as soon as you have it. It can become your calling card to attract a quality agent, who in turn may use your reel to start submitting for projects without requiring an audition. It's very possible to book things like Demos, Industrials and Audiobooks from the strength of a Voiceover reel alone. So begin collecting your work as soon as you have it, and if you're not keen to wait there are places who will record professionally-sounding reels for you. Do your research and connect with other VO actors who have used Demo Reel services, listen to the work and research which reels sound authentic and have attracted more work as a result.

Engage with passion - and patience! It can feel disheartening to break into this industry as it's often seen as somewhat of a closed shop - particularly on the better-paid, Union side of things. Don't get discouraged. After 18 months of working with a top VO agent and regular submitting for British and German VOs with no gig to show for it, I nervously put a call in about 'what else I should be doing to book work?' Cue empathetic understanding that "This is a real numbers game - for everyone" and it's all about staying in it to win it. Reminding myself of this every time I submitted was empowering - it made it easier to detach from any specific outcome and I treated myself as a working professional in - and in turn the jobs did start to come. So keep doing and practicing the things that bring you joy, connect with other working artists and educate yourself about the business as you navigate it. Don't feel disheartened if it all takes longer than you anticipated - your quality and consistency will pay off. Keep finding the joy and energy within each audition and submission, and then let go of the outcome.

Watch "In A World.."  For some well-deserved time out from all the work, I highly recommend this gem - a quirky and funny look into the Voiceover business from writer/director Lake Bell. VO gigs don't get more cut throat than this!

"Speak up and Let Your Voice be Heard"

I'm always curious to know what your experience has been in navigating the world of Voiceovers - in NY and around the globe. I invite you to drop me some comments and share with the AGG community any additional tips and feedback you have! 
                                                                                                       Warmest, x EB