Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Brief Mugging : How I Regained My Faith in Humanity

"I woke up and didn't see him here, figured he was having a good night." she said.  I was laying down in the bed next to hers at a dingy hostel in Brooklyn, NY.  What she didn't know is that I was still awake.  I then sat up and said, "I was mugged last night, I just got in."  Herself, a wonderful girl (20 yo) from Australia, and a amazing guy from Germany shuttered.  Out of all the things I could have said, that was the most unexpected.

I was partying the night before and was pretty drunk.  I was trying to find the subway at 3am in the lower east-side of Manhattan alone.  Someone came up to me off of the street and led me down a side-street (something a step up from a alley and a step down from a actual street).  After venturing in way to far (especially in my inebriated state), a knife was pulled and pure silence ensued as he patted me down for a 36 hr old iPhone6s and my wallet.  A push, a shove, and he ran off, in a instant the man melded back into the night.  Like a drop of water melding back into a ocean.  

I stumble up and walk around disoriented, lost of my Metro card I suddenly realize I don't have anything, I mean ANYTHING on me.  I find two of NYC's "finest" who give me a 'Wow. That sucks.' attitude.  One of them starts giving me instructions back to the subway while the other pieces it together.  "Wow man, you don't have a metcard do you?"  I shake my head no.  "You'll have to walk back to Brooklyn.  Closest bridge is Williamsburg down there.  Good luck to ya."

I walk down towards the bridge and cross.  I figure that if I turn left I might see some street I recognize.  Unfortunately it wasn't quite that simple.  I turned left and mistook a street as east/west, while it was actually north/south.  I walked for hours.  Finally finding a subway stop that I knew off of the (L).  I'd figure that the road I was on was the subway line (looking for the 6 exhaust grates), I'd then walk 2 blocks and scan the area looking for the next stop.  I'd be wrong from time to time, but was able to retrace my way back to the hostel.  Arrived at 8:30 AM, 5 1/2 hours later.  What should have been a 5 mile walk turned into 10 from my mis-directions.  

But this story is not about an attack, it's not about an assailant, nor is it about those cops.  It's about everyone else.


The Australian and German are stunned.  It was then that I realized that the loss was bad, but having a flight back to LA and no ID was going to be a big problem.  I can get another phone, I can replace the cards, but how do I live here in the city with nothing for 2 more days.  I look up in tears, "I don't know what to do, I have nothing.  I'm supposed to be on a plane in 2 days.  I can't stay here."  And something incredible started happening...

The Australian girl gave me literally every penny she had.  The German gave me what he could.  All in all I'm at $21 now.  Plus the Australian gave me her Metro card with 2 days left (she was meeting her aunt and didn't need it anymore) which would get me around town and to JFK on train.  Which I already accepted was going to be another walk (checking my map now, I realize that was a 15 mile hike I was adverted {if I knew how to get there, and I didn't... No phone = no map.}).

I hug both of them in tears.  Then I go down to the front desk and ask for a phone to borrow.  I grab my laptop and start calling credit cards and my bank, etc etc... I'm back in the kitchen area stressed out dealing with my banks.  The German reappears, hands me all his food he had on him.  Cereal, cottage cheese, bagels.. Loads of great high calorie and sustaining foods that'll keep me fed for at least these 2 days.  If you're keeping tally that's 2 days of food, $21, and a transit card.  I'm doing pretty good.  He gets yet another teary hug.

My mother found about the incident off of facebook.  I happened to be logged in, as that was my only way to communicate with anyone.  My mother ends up speaking with a "Mia" from JetBlue Airlines.  Whom did everything in her power to find some solution for me to get onto a plane.  My mom asks if I'd want to leave tonight.  "I can get to JFK tonight." I tell her.  She says that I need a police report to show authorities at the airport.  I look it up and get directions to the closest Police Station.  I say bye to my mom and shut my laptop.  With one move I sever my connection to anyone outside.  And head out blind.  Again, no phone = no map.

I end up at a Police Station, one officer does end up speaking with me and tells me unfortunately that I must report to Manhattan Police, 9th Precinct.  He give me basic directions.  "It's on 5th street between 1st and 2nd ave."  That was enough for me to find.  And I felt ok about getting back over there and finding it. 

I walk into Manhattan's 9th and up to the desk police officer to file.  I fill out a report and explain what happened.  She was getting really bureaucratic (not a fan of that) and I finally just told her: "I know you aren't going to catch the guy, like that'll ever happen... All I want is a police report so I can get on a plane and get the hell out of here."  Another officer listening in chimed in, "There is no way in the world they are going to let you on a plane without any ID."  That's when the weight of the situation really hit me.  Thoughts going through my head, You mean I'm not going home?  I can't stay here, no money, no room, some food but it's not going to last.  I'll be on the streets.  I started crying in the middle of the precinct.  I just didn't know what in the world I was going to do.

Here is a critical moment that happened...

The second cop started chatting with another officer.  "Hey Pauli!  What's the number to the TSA?  THE TSA!  AT JFK!"  He gets on the phone and the dialogue is something like this: 

"I've got a guy here who got mugged and has nothing now but is on a flight with you guys. What's he do?  That's right, no cards, no ID, no nothing.  Are you not listening to me!  MUGGED!  What kind of world do you live in?  I want to visit that world where muggers give back your ID and some spending cash back.  Maybe even a bank card..   YOU GO DO THAT!  GO GET YOUR SUPERVISOR!  GET SOMEONE ON THIS PHONE THAT KNOWS WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON OVER THERE...."

...long pause...

"WHAT!  Who are you!  'Kay.... Hmmmm............... What are they called?    Ok.... Alright........  That it?  Alright.  He'll be there tonight."

He stands up, approaches me.

"Alright guy, here's the plan... You're going to go down there and find the TSA TDCs.  They are called The Document Checkers.  Those are the TSA workers who check the ID and name on the boarding pass, around their area will be two workers dressed in blue TSA uniforms, they are the supervisors.  Talk with them.  They'll need to escalate to do something called a 'IBCC'.  That will get you verified and on that plane."  

I'm barely able to speak I'm so happy... "Thank you sir."  And I leave back to the hostel.  Once back there I turn on my laptop and immediately get a message from my mother who already worked something out with JetBlue.  I'm booked on a flight tonight.  I say thank you mom and again, shut my laptop.  No more contact and off to the airport.  It's around 4pm and the flight is at 10:30pm.  But dealing with security?  Who knows how long that'll take, so I head out immediately.  I race down to the front desk and kind of check out... "I don't know if I'll be back, I just don't know what's going on right now."  He looks back (already knowing what's going on) "It's completely fine, don't worry about it.  You'll still have a bed here if you need it.  Good luck."  I leave with the best hopes in mind.

I hop on the (L) to transfer over to the (A) towards Howard Beach.... Train stops at Myrtle-Myckoff, 3 stops before Broadway Jnt, my stop.  Everyone starts getting off the train.  Announcement "THIS IS THE LAST STOP, EVERYONE PLEASE EXIT THE TRAIN"  I'm losing my mind.  No phone, no maps, no idea what to do in a area of Brooklyn I've never been.  There's signs "ALL STOPS BETWEEN MYRTLE-MYCKOFF AND LIVONIA DOWN FOR CONSTRUCTION".  Great... I follow the group of people out, there appears to be a train shuttle to make up the segments.  'Awesome!' I think to myself and hop on the shuttle.

The shuttle appears to drive to the 'area' of the connecting stations, but not the stations themselves.  One gentleman gets off of the bus, "Where's the station?!" he belts back to the driver.  She shrugs, "I don't know, this is the first time I've done this route."  He turns, "Oh my god. I don't know...." Door shuts and bus moves on.  I'm losing my mind now.  

"Broadway Junction?!"  I yell out halfway into the bus.  Everyone turns, but could care less.  One rider looks at me, "I got'cha mate.  That's my stop too."  I look at him with a intense worry in my eye, "I need to get to JFK. Please help me."  Calmly he says, "It's ok, I'll get you there."  

Many bus stops later he and I get off of shuttle and I follow him to the train station.  At the station is a team of transit cops with a basket.  My new friend looks over at me, "Where's your transfer slip?".  Oh shit, I think to myself.  "You were supposed to get a slip off of the bus....  Don't worry, I'll vouch for ya.  Just follow me...."  We walk up and through the door.  "IN THE BOX!  PUT SLIPS IN THE BOX! WHERE'S YOUR SLIP!!!!" the cop belts out.... my friend: "He doesn't have one, he was with me on the (L), I'll vouch for him."  "PUT THE SLIP IN THE BOX!  NO SLIP NO PASS!!!!", "HE DOESN'T HAVE THE SLIP!!!! HE WAS ON THE (L) WHAT'S THE PROBLEM!"  ..... Cop then... "Ahhhhhh...." and brushes us off.  I'm in!  I've got access to the (A) to Howard Beach.  ONE STEP CLOSER!  My friend turns and points me in the right direction, then starts to leave towards his train.  I stop him and explain everything that's happened.  He's stunned, like I told him his alcoholic sister died.  Hugged him.  "Thank you. You have no idea how much you've helped me my friend."  Off to the (A).

It's a long train ride, very somber and reflective. A subway performer comes through the door from an adjacent car. He has a bongo and plays "Let it Be" for everyone. "It doesn't matter who you are, or what has happened in your life.... We are all in this together everyone.", he preaches to us all.  The crowd in the car, for one moment, all came together... They put away their iWhatevers and we were of one people. I'm glad I was there to share that moment. 

I make it to Howard Beach and run to the AirTrain to get to the terminal as soon as I can.  I run into the train station and see a omniscient sign on the AirTrain turnstiles: "AIR TRAIN UNAVAILABLE, FREE SHUTTLES AVAILABLE."  Wow... Really?!  More shuttles?  I follow the signs...  I end up on the street and there's a single shuttle.  That's one small bus.... at JFK.... at the busiest entry point... where 6 car AirTrains would be packed.... ONE bus is there.... O.N.E.

Chaos erupts.

But somehow I'm able to find a seat and we start to head out.  We travel maybe 100 yards.... bus stops and the driver pulls out his phone.... "Hey Carl?  How do I get to the terminals?"  Lady behind me, eyes as big as dinner plates: "I'm not hearing this right now."  We'll stop at a terminal and others will be there wanting to get back to Howard Beach.  The lady behind me formed a small militia, and is keeping anyone else from getting onto the bus, "JUST KEEP DRIVING DRIVER!" "NO! THERE IS NO MORE ROOM ON THIS BUS!!!!"  It takes forever but does end up getting us over to Terminal 5.  It's 8:30pm, 2 hours later than what I wanted to be, but I'm here.  There's one final hurdle to me getting home, the largest one... the TSA.

I get into the terminal and walk up to the TSA "supervisors", I'm a wreak.  Explain what happened and what my situation is.  And..... surprisingly..... They could not have been more accommodating.  They tell me to get a boarding pass and get into the security line.  I do.  End up at the TDC station where they take over.  I filled out a form and then we have a call with... "Virginia", like as in 'the state'... What ever that means.  We proceed to have a pop-quiz on my life.  Failure = No ticket home.

Time happens....

"Virginia" called some code.  The TSA officer looks down and checks a box.[Verified] it said.... I nearly collapsed.  The last hurdle.  I will be going home tonight!  The officer said that I would have to go through extra screening before getting in.  I didn't care if they handcuffed me to the chair.  Whatever.  The line for screening was hours long (from the AirTrain debacle, and everyone being really late).  The TSA officer barked at the crowd, "OUT OF THE WAY!!! COMING THORUGH.... MOVE MOVE MOVE!"  He literally walked me though hours of security lines.  One guy was walking into the X-RAY machine and he was pulled out.  TSA officer motioned to me to go in his place.  Then met up with another TSA officer who did a full pat-down and went through all my luggage (expected).  Nicest guy in the world, told me jokes the whole time.  Once I actually started going through security (after verification) it took around 10 minutes.

He turns to me with my boarding pass, "You're approved.  Have a good flight." 

I'm floored.  I enter the terminal, now able to board a plane and get back home.  I am starving, but had to junk all of the food German guy gave me through security.  I realized I haven't eaten for a long long time and it was starting to hit me.  I setup a basecamp and start on my first mission... Food. The easiest is finding food that people haven't finished and eat that.  When you're in survival mode, these things aren't all that 'foreign' at all.  Funny how much changes in life.  After I get some stuff to eat... Mainly some french fries and some discarded bread from a hamburger.  I setup my laptop and get to my next mission, getting from LAX to home.

I open up my laptop and a friend who wants to by me dinner chimes in... "Have them call me and I'll pay for it over the phone.  Just find a restaurant, here's my number"...  I'm floored.  I do find a restaurat but they won't do a over-the-phone credit card charge.  While the manager was explaining why to me he said, "Hang on a sec..... Stay here...", then he left for a bit.... Came back with a chicken tender meal and fries.....  "Here, no worries, it's on the house."  I inhale it.  Absolutely in tears.

After eating a real hot meal, I get back on my laptop (after finding a quit corner with some level of internet access) after a few hours I find some friends who are ok with meeting me at LAX at around 3am.  I close my laptop and head over to gate 19.  I sit down and I'm just 'there', still replaying the events of the last 24hrs.  There's some girl sitting across from me, I'm assuming some celebrity pop culture someone (don't know, don't care), as she had two girls around her as an obvious entourage.  They were sneak-snaping some photos of me and giggling.  I'm sure I looked unreal.  Part of me felt a need to tell her, but most of me didn't care.  It was kinda a fitting image before heading back home.  That you never really know someones story.

They opened for boarding and we all got onto the plane.  The plane was an hour late, so they even made all the movies free.  :') 5 hours later I walk outside LAX, and within 30 sec (not kidding) my friends pull up.  [Was literally the first car I saw]

I'm now at my house in LA drafting this experience.  And wanted to note something really important.  At each of these moments, every. single. person had to opportunity to stop this epilogue and hijack my entire experience.  But that's not what happened.  I just happened to come across the right people at the right time.  Or the universe just happened to place these people into my life when I needed them the most.

Either way, I'm home.

I have no way to truly thank these people to the degree they deserve to be thanked.  From the Australian and German, to the 9th Precinct, to "Mia", my family, to that stranger on the (L), those especially understanding TSA supervisors, the husband and wife who gave me their food, the manager of NewYorkSportsBar, and my friends who picked me up from LAX at 3am that night.

Thank you...

With the up most gratitude... 

--Paul Jacob Evans

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Where do all these Rules come From?

"Now tell it back to me!"  The whole room is in silence, one by one each actor in the room turns in my direction to see how I fare in her little game.  "Cool... marriage falling apart... Got it."  "NO! you MUST rephrase the redirection so I know you understood.  If you can't rephrase it, you don't understand it."  She was belting off to us about how only the actors who rephrase get roles.  Me?  I don't know I'm supposed to rephrase the image of [a pint glass hitting a tile floor in slow motion, shattering into a million pieces].  I got her note, and would be ready to do the scene again.  I got my "flavor", the taste of the piece from the redirect... That's why I said...... (and stay with me here....) "Got. It."

I'm at a 'Tweetup'? to take part in a Q&A with a casting director late one Tuesday night.  I appreciate these meetings, all of them actually, even this one, I do learn a lot about the people who make up our industry.  Like..... 

Where do all these 'rules' come from?

I was talking to a director at a party, who was chatting about going through the casting process.  His 'rule'?  "If I see 'this' [hand position in above photo]. They're out.  They simply don't know how to act and they're wasting my time."  Another producer was mocking actors... "If they sit in the chair like [this], then I throw'em out.  They don't know what they're doing."  Another... "If they walk in the room and say 'Uhh' at all when I ask their name.  They're out, waste of my time."  Another... "If they came in dressed in costume, I'm done.  They can go home."  Another.... "If they decided to not even try to find a smock before the audition, we're done."  Another... "Really?  'Red scarf?'"

It can drive a actor mad.  And we hear this crap from talent buyers all the time.  How do we can we keep track of it all?  What are we supposed to do?

Jon Jankowiak is a very dear friend of mine, and one of the most brilliant minds I've ever had the opportunity to be around, he was also my boss at one time in my life.  Jon gave me a very puzzling piece of life advice that I would recommend you write down [like now!]....  (We were doing customer service at the time)

"PJ, when we talk to people, their experience is absolutely truthful.
But their "facts" are almost always lies.  
Fix the experience.  Ignore the lies."

I'll put his brilliance into context so you can fully appreciate how amazing your life perspective will be after understanding this:
  • You come out of Trader Joe's to find someone with a baseball bat beating the hell out of your car.
  • You yell at him to stop
  • He screams back "YOU DENT MY CAR!  I'LL DENT YOU!!!!!!!!"
You've been presented a "experience" and some "facts".  Experience?  Extreme rage to the point of violence against your car.  Facts?  Because you dented it opening your car door.

Jon's advice?  Fix the experience. Ignore the lies.  

So you just completely drop the 'dent' thing, as whatever is going on is absolutely not about a dent (lie), and focus on why is he so angry he feels necessary to smash your car with a bat (experience).  
  • "Dude!  What is going on?"
  • "DUDE!  It's Trader Joe's, of course the parking lot sucks.  What is going on?"
Then you find out that his wife left him that morning because he got laid off from work.  That's is the 'truth' in his experience.  That's what is actually going on.  That is what needs to be fixed. It has NOTHING to do with WHAT HE ACTUALLY TOLD YOU IT WAS ABOUT!

Cool eh? ;)

Going through ALL of the interactions with EVERYONE I've had in the industry.  I was finally able to peel back the layers to what these people are looking for.  What is the 'truth' experience behind them?

There's only two (2) things any of these people want to see.  As there's only two (2) pieces that make up their experience.  All the rest?  Lies.  Total lies.  Complete and unadulterated don't-even-bother-listening lies. So, what's the "secret sauce?"  Here's the recipe:  
  1. They want to fully know who you are as a person.
  2. They want to fully believe you as an actor.
That's it.  

All the above talent buyers, this is what they all were really looking for.  Jazz-hands director?  I'm sure he held casting, and a bunch of actors came in that did 'jazz-hands' that he didn't believe as actors (experience).  He attributed this to 'jazz-hands (lie).  Redirect-CD?  She had people come in, and the ones who couldn't rephrase the redirection just happened to be the actors she didn't believe (experience).  But she attributed this to a in-ability to rephrase (lie).  Anti-Red CD?  I'm sure some actors came in wearing all read that she didn't believe (experience).  But attributed this to a color (lie).

And it goes on forever people!!!!!

So while you're in your CD workshop, or talking with some rules-deranged producer.  Put up your filter, always remember your recipe.  Find where their experience ends, and their lies begin.

Have a awesome day!
--Paul Jacob Evans

Friday, June 26, 2015

Death of the Career Actor

I was seated at my usual 'perch' during my shift.  Working at Jinky's Studio Cafe in Studio City, sitting in the end chair at the bar spinning the phone on the surface.  I was hearing a group of two actresses behind me talk about their 'survival jobs'.  "I hate waiting tables, but I'll get out as soon as I get my big-time role!"  "I know!  I know!  God!  How long do we have to do this crap?!"  They were regulars, came in once a week... talked once a week.... complained once a week.  But they highlight a real reality that so many of us have to live: dealing with having a miserable survival job.

That's the trade off... Right?  Slaving away bringing kale salad after kale salad to customers too busy texting (or instagraming their food) to even give you eye contact?  What's years of that get you?

Here's my thought: It won't get you what you expect.

I was a uber driver for a while after my stint at the restaurant.  Lots of different people from all walks of life.  One rider really struck me.  She was a actress, been here for years and years.  Here's what she said:
You know...It's really changed here.  Man, like 15-20 years ago, you could come here to Los Angeles and pretty quickly get to the point of doing a few national commercials to live on while you worked building your credits....  Those days are gone.  I don't envy what you have to go through.  I don't know how you make it work now.
When you look at where you (or your profession) was at 15-20 years ago, and compare that to now, you'll see what path you're on.  Where does that path take you, what's the outlook 15-20 years from now?

Frankly, the outlook I saw doesn't look good.

I did a national for a major cheese brand..... and you guessed it: it was non-union.  Something unheard of 15-20 years ago happens now on a day to day, project to project basis.  During lunch break I chatted with the director about the major move towards non-union, if he could shed some light on it....
It's a lot more simple than you're thinking.  It's all money.  You're a good actor, good fit for this spot.  Why would [cheese company] want to pay some union actor $85k when you'll show up and do just a good of job for $500.  They talk about how their actors are better, but we find fantastic non-union actors all the time.  Why are we wasting money on union people when there isn't any real value-add.  It's a business decision.
And their production company does features and other passion projects, and they are moving over to do more and more non-union.  Doing a union project is starting to make less and less business sense now, huge change from 15-20 years ago.

So that's the past and present.... What's the future look like?

I broke this down into the following statement, a extremity of the cheese commercial chat:

  • Myself as a non-union actor, I would consider any part on any project (regardless of budget) and would accept the role for no pay.
What does that precedent look like 15-20 years from now?  Future producers knowing that there will always be someone that will accept the role for no pay.  What does that world look like for someone trying to be a career actor?

It doesn't look good.

After seeing this I started looking for alternatives to build my life into something that might be a viable option 15-20 years from now and onward.  I think we're going to enter a era of acting where we all will continue to have 'survival' jobs.

Then I thought, why couldn't I have a 'thriving job'?  What does that look like?

And because the universe provides......  A friend of mine contacted me and introduced me to network marketing.  It was just what I was looking for:  Actors thriving right here in LA.  Going to event after event I was stunned, many are married, have children, pay a mortgage (yes... in LA).... all from network marketing.  Oh and being a thriving actor.

They have the life I want.  They found a path that took them from starving-artists to thriving-artists.  And it's a path I'd recommend to anyone looking for a better way.

To those girls probably still complaining in Jinky's.... You can stop waiting tables, prep for the future... thrive AND be a actor here!  I found it: 


Have a awesome day,
--Paul Jacob Evans

Monday, April 20, 2015

Los Angeles Actor Seeks Scripts from Stephenville

[Los Angeles, CA] Los Angeles based actor, Paul Jacob Evans, is seeking short film scripts written by the residents of Stephenville, Texas. As a former resident, Evans said it's his way to give back and allow local screenwriters an avenue to showcase their work. “It’s an opportunity I would have loved to have had back when I lived here," he said. "an opportunity to tell a story, and to see that story be told.” Evans said he was looking at producing short films for a festival run, when the idea came to him. “I was at the beach writing when it hit me, why not give people back home the chance I never had? I have access to produce these stories now, stories I had when I was back in Stephenville. I want to give someone that experience that I never had, give back to the community that helped raise me.”

Script submissions will be accepted until midnight on July 4th and can be sent via email to [stephenville@pauljacobevans.com]. All submissions must be under ten pages and in PDF or Celtx format. As far as content is concerned, Evans said he's open. "What I’m looking for is a deep story, how accessible the shoot would be, and I’d be looking at playing a lead role. I’m going to read these and at some point, one will really connect with me. That will be the one.” The writer selected will receive full writing credit and an invitation to any festival the film premieres at.

About Paul Jacob Evans

Now living in Los Angeles, award winning actor/producer Paul Jacob Evans is actively involved in multiple films across the country and theatrical productions in Los Angeles. Currently trains with master acting coach Alan Feinstein at the Alan Feinstein Acting Studio (http://www.alanfeinsteinactingstudio.com). He has most recently played ‘Ryan’ in Lewis Black’s critically acclaimed “One Slight Hitch”, and is looking forward to working with award winning directors in Texas and Atlanta, and producing his own Hollywood films for festival runs. You can find out more about Paul Jacob Evans at his website (http://www.pauljacobevans.com)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Of Words and Story

"What's this word?", the little girl asks me while reading this speech I printed out.  "Interposition."  Blank look from her. "It means like how a state like Texas or California protects everyone by enforcing national laws." I respond happily. The girl gives a 'don't understand, don't care, moving on...' sort of look. She continues reading as I asked her to do, reading this iconic speech out loud for us.

The three of us are sitting at a table outside a quaint little diner. Shaded by a large oak tree are myself, the little girl, and a extremely cautious and confused mother (yes, I did ask her first if you're wondering).

The girl gets through the entire speech and smiles, "All done!"  "Very good job, you're a great reader.", I congratulate.  Her mom smiles, "Very good sweetie" then over to me with a 'where's the punch-line' look.  I start to rise out of the chair, "Thank you so much for your time with this. It was very insightful."  "You're welcome, can you talk about what is going on?"  Yes I can....

It's about 'words'.

Yesterday I got into a discussion with someone who felt that words hold tremendous power and importance.  Authors, writers, speakers tirelessly craft written language through words.

And.... well.... I'm not sure if I agree with that.

So I went home and devised this test.  If 'words' themselves held tremendous power and importance, they are the driving factor of influence in communication.  Thus you could give Dr. Kings speech to anyone to recite, and (because the words are the same) get the same power as if Dr. King gave the speech himself.

The little girl did a great job...  but I do feel that hearing it from Dr. King (3 feet in front of me) would be QUITE a different experience.

How could this be?

Humans invented a extremely flawed communication system: language.  It is actually quite terrible at delivering information person to person without being re-interpreted each and every time.  And if all you're doing is focusing on the words themselves, then there's something very important you'll miss.

Take a simple sentence:  "That little girl went to school today."


let that sit in you...


for a bit...

Now, go up to the top and look at that photo...

Were the 'words' [That, little, girl, went, to, school, today] effective at delivering the information of what happened?  I'll also say something quite shocking, I don't believe words have any real power or importance at all.  

So....... What are words then?

Like everything else in my life, this gets answered with BBQ. :)
I'm from Texas and since being here in Los Angeles, I've really been missing Texas-style BBQ.  This is extremely slow cooked, blackened meats.  Cooked for anywhere between 12-20+ hours, it's by far my favorite cuisine.  There's a place up in valley at Van Nuys Blvd and Chandler called Smoke City Market.  It's legit Texas style BBQ (go late in the day though, meat gets better).  Fatty brisket with perfect marbling and a roasted bark from coarse salt and cracked pepper.  Ribs with a thin sweet BBQ spritz that just fall apart in your hand.  Ahhhhhh MAN, place is GREAT!
So if 'words' are the embodiment of their meaning, and hold total power and importance...
I want you to 'eat' the brisket.

Go ahead, reach in with your fingers and rip off a piece from that paragraph above, be it on a computer screen, iPhone, iPad, Android or printout...

Having issues?  Sorry, it's pretty packed in there.  Here let me put it here so it's easier to get to......

".....Fatty brisket with perfect marbling and a roasted bark from coarse salt and cracked pepper."

There... Taste it now?

Think of words like paint.  An artist uses paint to tell a story on canvas, but the paint.... and this is very important... IS NOT the story.  If words were so important to communication, how could we have dance, music, photography, sculpture, painting?  If words are so important, and [Fatty, brisket] is the up most embodiment of its meaning, why do we have 100s of different languages that use different words for this tasty dish?

If you still disagree with this, please feel free to go to a hardware store... pick out your favorite pint of paint....  bring it home, open it and set it on the counter....

Now stare at it until 'story' comes out.

We get so attached to the words themselves that we lose focus on what is actually important, the story behind them.  Watch the news, "Oh my!  [PUNDIT NAME] said that those [FOUR WORDS IN SOME ORDER]....."  Nobody ever stops to find out what the story was.  They are simply just glued to 'the letter of the language'.  And if you're attached to that, you can simply add in your own interpretation to create whatever story you want behind it.

Here's another sentence:  "Get out of my house."

Now I'll add story to it....

Story:    Wife caught husband cheating with her sister.
Story:    Son came out of the closet to his dad.
Story:    Rapist broke into a bedroom.
Story:    Bar owner breaks up a fight.

I can change the meaning of the words [Get, out, of, my, house] all day long.  It's the story that ultimately matters, that's what we are trying to understand and communicate, the actual words don't hold any real meaning.

It's what a 'artist' is, that is what an actor is, a painter, a dancer, a musician, and yes... a writer, even Dr. King himself ....

a 'STORY'-teller not a 'WORD'-teller.

"You're welcome, can you talk about what is going on?", from the mother with a bit of caution in her eye.   I took out my smartphone and looked up a video of Dr. King's speech online.  We all watched it together.  The mother cried.

I looked at her, "So we watched two renditions of that speech.  One from your daughter, one from Dr. King.  One of those was 'of words', the other 'of story'.  What your daughter showed me is which of those is more important."

"Story", she softly said.

"Yes.  And I thank you a great deal.  Have a nice day you two."  I walked over to the waiter and paid their bill for their time.  They have no idea how much help they've been for me.

Thank you! :')  

--Paul Jacob Evans

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Looking Back : How It Will Change Your Life

"Wait... What's her name?", I stumble through her headshot and what appears to be what she thought of as her resume.  No dice.  The headshot appears to be a facebook profile pic blown up and printed on a standard sheet of printer paper, and the resume is her actors access confirmation sheet, printed out.  "PJ, what was her name?"  I keep flipping the pages over, thinking there's no way she handed us a stack of papers with not even her name on them.  I thought wrong.

This was my first time auditioning actors ever, and after watching 10 actors come in and out (24 were confirmed, 50 were scheduled) I can say it really changed my outlook on my career and life in general.  On the way home there was construction on the 134, so I had some added minutes to dissect the experience and learn.  What I found was life-changing...

Here in Los Angeles, we're taught to 'Reach for the Stars!', 'Always look forward towards your goals!', "NEVER LOOK BACK!".  I think it's good to keep you in focus, but I feel they miss a very important perspective point.  And that point is this....
If all you do is look up at the stars, then you are always looking 'above' your experience, 'above' where you are at.  Conversely, what you are always seeing is a reality where you are always last place.
I'm sitting in a CD workshop next to a friend who constantly works co-stars and day-player roles, roles I would love to be getting.  But what is he doing?  Complaining.  Complaining that he isn't getting guest star roles to stick.  I wanted to scream at him weeks ago, now I understand why.  To him, the reality that he sees is guest stars, recuring, series regulars.  To him, co-star IS last place.  

Would this stop with him?  No.  Not at all.  Take a look at anyone you highly respect as a artist.... Me?  Kevin Spacey.  Now, would I like to have his career? Absolutely.  2 time Oscar winner, 54 award wins, works in numerous productions with new and seasoned filmmakers a like.  I would love that, because it's 'above my experience'.  But look at his perspective, what if he is looking 'above HIS'.  Maybe EGOT?  Platinum record? Wherever he is looking, that reality is putting himself last place within it.

And if it doesn't stop with him, it doesn't stop with you either...

Right now, there is someone in the middle of Kansas that would kill to be having the experience I have right now.  I just happen to be at a place that's above their perspective.  And the same goes for wherever you are at in your career.

When that 'no-name' actress left the room, I didn't see a failure.  I saw myself back when I was just starting out, AND how far I've come since then.  What I saw in myself as stagnant yesterday, I see as success now.  I am doing a great job, and it feels amazing to be able to see this.

So stop looking up, and look back from time to time.  You'll stop seeing yourself in last place, and pick up a lot of gratitude for the amazing amount of ground you've covered.

I know I did. :)  Changed my life. :')

Have a fantastic day!
--Paul Jacob Evans