Monday, January 3, 2011

2010 In Questions

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I am full on stealing an idea from the ever creative and inspiring, Bonnie Gillespie. Every year, this casting director answers the same batch of questions, and I’d like to start that tradition for myself (traditions are glorious!) I journal all the time, but I have never answered these kinds of questions for myself, and it’s high time I did.

So, without further ado, here is a recap of my year...

What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
I moved into my first New York apartment... solo. I have lived alone before, but not in NYC and certainly not with this price tag. It’s also the first apartment I chose without anyone else’s opinion. I saw the apartment by myself, and made the decision by myself. Very grown up -- very gratifying.

I know, I know. I like color.
Did you keep your 2010 resolutions? Will you make resolutions for 2011?
I always have the same resolution - “This will be the best year of my life.” I came up with this on New Year’s Eve 2000/2001 (holy crap- 10 years ago.) I had listened to the old song, “Summer of 69” by Bryan Adams, and there’s a refrain that says, “Those were the best years of my life.” I realized that I couldn’t claim this -- I had no “best years” and, by god, I wanted to create some. The years since have been pretty frickin’ incredible.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
My best friend Dean’s wife (Adele) gave birth to the most gorgeous baby girl, Sophia. I am hoping to meet her in a month or two.

Did anyone close to you die?
No one close to me, thank goodness, but a few people I was acquainted with. What is so sad (and, truth be told, terrifying) is that these deaths were sudden. No signs of illness, and these dear souls were taken away from us. It’s frightening, and humbling, and I feel so, so lucky that I have my health.

What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory and why?
February 14- The date of the break up of my 4.5 year relationship. Luckily, we’re still very, very good friends. See?
Tom & me on my birthday. What goofy face?
What countries did you visit?
Sadly, none other than the US. But I did spend last Christmas on a cruise to/from Mexico, so I felt like I had already gotten my travel on.

What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
Higher paying work as an actor. I was lucky to be involved in the development process of several wonderful projects, but these projects have not yet yielded dividends. I would like to have a few well-paying acting jobs to balance out the budget a little more.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
• On October 14, I was asked to be a last minute replacement on a play that has already opened. On October 22, a mere 8 days later, I had mastered the script, developed a meaningful character, and somehow managed a new British dialect. I proved to myself, once and for all, that I am an actor - a real actor. Not someone who got lucky. Not someone who’s simply got more stamina and heart than other people. A real actor who deserves her shot, and finally believes in her ability.

• Some runners up: My company was featured in TimeOut NY, I was asked to be a panelist at Backstage’s Actorfest, and I was quoted in the Wall Street Journal. That rocked ass.

My feature in Time Out New York
What was your biggest failure?
I might say the break up, since it was a failure of the relationship, but the break up was also the success of release. It’s a gift to be able to release yourself and your partner back into the world to find love. And it helps that I adore my ex, just as a friend nowadays.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
No, thank goodness. I watched some of my friends deal with some scary stuff, though.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I won’t be naming names, but I have been really shocked by the lack of professionalism by a handful of actors this year -- those who have no idea what it means to have integrity and stand by their word. Producing is hard, and it depends on so many small but important elements coming together. I have explained the importance of being accountable time and time again, and still some actors choose to bow out last minute or throw tantrums. I am all for standing up for one’s self, but there is a limit and these folks tried my patience.

Whose behavior merited celebration?
• My NY best friends Candice & Lee - they put up with a lot of changes in me over the year, and never made me feel like a crazy person. They celebrated with me my growing pains and successes, and downplayed my abject failures.

I heart Candice!
I heart Lee!
• I also want to salute all of my students -- taking control of one’s career through coaching is daunting and can seem a gamble. I honor their commitment to their dreams, and am thrilled that they have asked me to be a stand for their success.

Where did most of your money go?
Rent. Yikes - I have, arguably, one of the more amazing deals for an apartment of my size, but I am paying 50% more to live here than I did in the place I shared with Tom (my ex.)

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I think I did the biggest happy dance when I found out my application was accepted for my apartment. It was an amazing relief. Wait... Nope -- I’m wrong. My first kiss (and subsequent makeout session) several months after my break up was the best moment. I’m not gonna lie, it was very, very exciting.

What song will always remind you of 2010?
Strangely, I think it is “Empire State of Mind” - it plays over and over at the karaoke bar I spend time at, and it seems iconic for the kind of year I’ve lead: “Concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do, now you’re in New York...”

Compared to this time last year, are you:

happier or sadder? Much much happier. Oh man, I feel pretty great.
thinner or fatter? I think I am about the same. I fluctuate about 5 lbs every few months, but I stay in the same neighborhood of weight.
richer or poorer? Poorer, for sure.

Who did you miss?
My dad. Every single day I miss him. I miss Jessa, my dear friend who left NY a few years ago for San Francisco.
Me and my Pappy, RIP
What do you wish you’d done more of?
Exercise. I find all kind of excuses to not be active, and none of them make that nagging feeling or worthlessness subside.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
Um, my students -- cover your eyes.... Procrastinating. It’s easy to do when everyone around you sees your success and hard work paying off. You can hide behind the success and not reach your fullest potential. I’m infinitely lazy with spurts of genius. Imagine what I could do if I managed my time better?

How will you be spending Christmas?
I spent Christmas with my mom, who came to NYC with her friend Pam. We had lots of fun sampling the city’s food, drink & nightlife! And for the first time in my life, I got her to sing karaoke. Twice.

What was your favorite TV program?
Still on the air: Fringe. Please watch it - it’s in danger of being cancelled. Off the air, and I’m pissed: Flash Forward.

Did you fall in love in 2010?
Yes- with myself. It’s about time.

I love myself, warts and all...
Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
No- there are very few people I have ever hated in my life, and no one achieved that level this year. :)

What was your greatest musical discovery?
I didn’t have any, sadly - I am way, way behind on knowing current music. Anyone want to help me?

What did you want and get?
I wanted my emotional freedom, a place to live, and to build a strong network of friends I could rely upon. I worked very hard on all three and am so thrilled to that that I got them! I also got a new coffeepot for Christmas- and my students are thrilled.

What did you want and not get?
• The iPhone 4 - still saving money to buy the one I want.

• I gave up a new relationship with one particular boy I was falling for. I cut it off early when I realized I wouldn’t get what I wanted from him. Standing up for my needs is a new commitment of mine, and one of the harder things I’ve ever had to do.

• I also did not hear from my sister all year -- she has chosen to remove herself from our family, and despite my efforts to reconnect (and the fact that her quarrel is not with me, but with my mother) she has not responded to me. It’s been almost 3 years since she left, and it still hurts.

What kept you sane?
Oh dear, my friends. Candice, Lee, Carolann, Anita, Christine, Marissa. Twitter -- and the social networks in general. I have met some incredible people through the power of the internet, and I definitely think that has kept me sane (in particular, because I tend toward introversion, and the social networks give me a link to the outside world when I feel like I can’t see people.) Top Tunes Karaoke, The Salon open mic, The Seeing Place Theater, Nab-A-Date and my own producing efforts have kept my artistic self sane.

We're singing "You Could Drive a Person Crazy" at The Salon open mic. I'm on the left.

What was the best book you read?
I really enjoyed the autobiography of Ellen Burstyn: Lessons in Becoming Myself. The fact that I have been reading at all is a coup. I have been working really hard to round out my cultural obsessions between films, TV, theater, music, photography, dance & reading.)

What was your favorite film of this year?
“Exit Through the Gift Shop” - what a fun, unexpected little film!

What did you do on your birthday? How old were you?
This year, I turned 26-33 age range. (You never ask an actor her age!) I gathered with a group of my friends at a pub in the West Village. It was mellow but fun.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If I had had some friends from out of town come to stay with me. Maybe I need to send out an invite to them - what a neat idea! :)

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
I am a big fan of the mix and match, and being an avid thrift store shopper I can do this with ease. I love skinny jeans with cute dresses over them, topped with a funky sweater or blazer. Then top it off with high heels or boots, and fun jewelry. I’m all about being the girl next door with a funky edge.

In my friend, Dean's military helicopter helmet.  I look damned hot.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I don’t really think of celebs that way. Isn’t that sad? What’s wrong with me?

What political issue stirred you the most?
Proposition 8 in California. I felt powerless to help.

What valuable life lesson did you learn in 2010?
That I absolutely have to open myself to hurt if I want the possibility of greatness. I have been protecting myself for so long, and I didn’t realize that it was keeping me small. Now I know that it’s safer to experience the little hurts along the path of success rather than steeling myself against everything that’s possible and making larger mistakes in the long run. That said, I have experienced a year with far more drama than I ever thought possible -- more tears, more triumphs, more disappointments, and more happy dances. :)

Who was the best new person you’ve met?
Oh my, there have been a few. It was awesome to meet Marissa through Twitter, and now we co-host the official NYActorsTweetup. We have also become good friends. :) It has been really fun hanging out with Steve Englebrecht at karaoke (he makes me laugh hysterically, and encourages my dirty mouth.)

Me and Marissa. And a pizza coming out of my head.
What song lyrics sum up your year?
“Me” by Paula Cole

I am not the person who is singing
I am the silent one inside
I am not the one who laughs at people’s jokes
I just pacify their egos

I am not my house, my car, my songs
They are only stops along my way
I am like the winter
I’m a dark, cold female
With a golden ring of wisdom in my cave

And it’s me who is my enemy
Me who beats me up
Me who makes the monsters
Me who strips my confidence

I am carrying my voice
I am carrying my heart
I am carrying my rhythm
I am carrying my prayers

But you can’t kill my spirit
It’s soaring and it’s strong
Like a mountain
I’ll go on and on

And when my wings are folded
The brightly colored moth
Blends into the dirt
Into the ground

And it’s me who is my enemy
Me who beats me up
Me who makes the monsters
Me who strips my confidence

And it’s me who’s too weak
And it’s me who’s too shy
To ask for the things I love
And it’s me who’s too weak
And it’s me who’s too shy
To ask for the things I love

That I love
That I love...

I am walking on the bridge
I am over the water
And I’m scared as hell
But I know there’s something better
Yes I know there’s something better
Yes I know, I know
That I love...

And... here's a look back at 2009...

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has toured nationally with plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. For more information, please visit

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Shhh... Pipe Down!

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On December 26, I was lucky to see my favorite musical of all time, “West Side Story” on Broadway. This was in the height of “Snowmageddon”, the big blizzard in New York City at the end of 2010. I was thrilled to see that the theater was full -- inclement weather has a tendency to keep people in their homes and hotel rooms, but the theater was buzzing with excitement.

I arrived at the theater with my mother and a friend about 20 minutes before the show started. We immediately headed over to the bar, and as I contemplated the purchase of wine (to warm my frozen insides), the server told me that I could take my drink inside. Score! Bonus points for giving me my wine in a souvenir sippy cup:

As I got into the theater, I noticed that in the box seats directly above the stage, there were musicians getting ready for the show, in addition to the orchestra in the pit at the foot of the stage. It occurred to me that I had never gotten a chance to hear this amazing score with a live orchestra, and I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the show to begin. As the lights dimmed, the conductor was announced by name -- how cool was that? I clapped as hard as my little hands could and settled back into my seat. The curtain flew up silently as the overture began - that delicious overture with solos and duets of strings, then drums, then brass, occasionally playing along with each other and chiming in with the actor’s whistling and snapping. It’s a quiet overture that slowly builds as the Jets & Sharks gangs become more and more threatened by one another.

It was a luscious opening of an amazing show, and it would have been even better if the girl 1 row down and 3 seats over had not been -- wait for it -- eating popcorn out of a cellophane bag.

Instead of instruments delicately playing notes, I heard the sounds of a mouth chewing popcorn. Instead of hearing the actors’ feet lightly graze the dance floor, I heard the crinkling of a snack bag. Could the theater have actually sold this monstrosity to the theatergoer, and did she honestly believe it was ok to eat during the performance?

As my inside voice quickly turned to an outside grumble (“This is not a movie theater... this shouldn’t be happening”) I knew something needed to be done -- my body knew what to do before my brain could catch up. I leaned quickly to the right, putting my weight across the unsuspecting laps of my mother and her friend, reached out and tapped the offending girl on the shoulder, and said, “Could you PLEASE not do that?” She looked shocked that I confronted her -- I’m not sure if it was shock at being caught, or if she just didn’t know the etiquette. Either way, she ate a few more bites and then dejectedly put the bag away. I prepared for some heated words to come my way at intermission, but the first act is around 90 minutes, so I’m guessing she forgot all about it.

I choose to believe she just didn’t know that live theater is not a place to eat, nor chat, nor text, nor do any of the myriad of things that people like to do when they’re seated with their friends. It would be amazing if every playbill came with a page of guidelines, like of like the “Courtesy of Contagious” campaign on the NY subways. Perhaps most people want to play by the rules but they simply don’t know what they are. So, as a public service, here are a few of the rules I abide by when going to the theater:

1) No talking during the show
2) No photography of the actors or the stage. (You can take pictures of the theater before & after the show, though.)
3) No video recordings. Ever.
4) No eating during the show.
5) If you know you’re going to cough, and need a lozenge to quiet the cough, unwrap it ahead of the show so that the wrapper doesn’t make noise.
6) Don’t talk to the people on stage (exception: “Rocky Horror Picture Show”)
7) Don’t sing along when watching a musical (exception: “Rocky Horror Picture Show”)
8) Don’t throw things at the actors (exception: “Rocky Horror Picture Show”)
9) If you’re in the front row, don’t put your feet on the stage.
10) If a cast member is coming through the audience, don’t trip them. (exception: “Rocky Horror Picture Show”) (kidding)
11) Turn off your ringer, and don’t text or accept calls during the show.
12) Try not to bad mouth the production, and certainly not an actor, while you’re in the theater. You don’t know whose mother you may be sitting near.
13) Don’t leave trash on the floor.
14) Recycle your program

I’m a sure there are rules I have missed. Can you think of any you’d like to add? Leave them in the comments section!

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has toured nationally with plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. For more information, please visit

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanks to My Team

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One of the fun things about blogging is being able to promote some of my favorite people/services to the actors who read my posts, thereby helping those who have helped me over the course of my career. So, in honor of Thanksgiving, I thought I would give a warm thank you and special shot out to my team who has made my coaching & acting career possible.

My Acting Teacher: Alan Gordon, of the Alan Gordon Acting Studio
I met Alan at a workshop for actors, where we both brought on as panelists to give actors a little bit of advice for their careers. After we both heard each other speak, we realized that our philosophies were very much aligned, and we started an easy friendship. We then began to refer students back and forth to one another, and finally began working together in the classroom. Alan is nurturing but tough, and challenges me every week using the techniques of Sanford Meisner. Not only is he a great teacher, but he is also a great friend.

Honorable Mention: Larry Singer Studios, and Art & Soul Acting - both studios who I’ve highly recommended to students.

My Voice Teacher/Vocal Coach: Carolann Sanita
I met Carolann originally through her husband, an actor with whom I did a show. One of the first things that I noticed when coaching with Carolann is how positive the sessions were. Working on the voice can be a stressful and arduous process, but every time I leave lessons with Carolann I feel empowered and accepted, and that my voice has a place in the industry. Not only that, but I have deepened the power of my voice, raised my confidence, and she introduced me to Craig Carnelia, with whom I’ve studied Acting for Musical Theater since June 2009.

Honorable Mention: Michelle Hakala, Bill Zeffiro, Anita Vasan, Joan Barber - All of whom I have sung with and I highly recommend.

My Dance Teacher: Christine Cox
Christine started out as a coaching student, but very quickly I joined her as a student in her classes as well. Christine is very passionate about training actors & singers ways to express themselves on the dance floor, and is an excellent private teacher for actors who are preparing for a big audition. She’s youthful, quirky and fun, and very supportive.

Honorable Mention: Jessica Leigh Brown - Jessica is a friend and marvelous teacher as well, with several Broadway credits under her belt.

My Accompanist/Transcriber: Cory Hibbs
I have known Cory for years and years, since we did a show together in San Diego. In the show, not only did he act, but he was our show’s on stage accompanist and the arranger for all of our songs. This guy really knows what he is doing. In your session, he can easy play your music, and can arrange transpositions and do transcriptions, so virtually anything is possible. Oh, and he has a PHD in Music Composition.

Honorable Mention: Bill Zeffiro, Tony Colombo, Jeff Caldwell - I have sung with all three of these gentleman, and I just adore them.

My Dialect Coach: Pamela Vanderway of Dialect 411
Pamela and I first met via Twitter. That’s right, Twitter. We shared advice back and forth and helped promote each other online, so it became natural for us to start working together to support each other’s businesses offline. I highly, highly recommend her blog, Dialect 411. As for coaching, she normally works as a consultant on major feature films & TV shows, but she takes on private clients on a case-by-case basis. At the very least, she’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

Honorable Mention: Gerritt VenderMeer - an amazing talented actor, and gifted voice/speech technician.

My Photographer: Matthew Sussman Photography
There was something very special about my time shooting with Matthew. Perhaps it is because he started his career as an actor before transitioning into teaching & photography, but there is a very relaxed way he approaches the headshot session which brings out the very best in actors. Almost without exception, the students I have sent to Matthew have been blown away by the shots he’s taken, which is why I will continue to promote him.

Honorable Mentions: Bluface Photography, Peter Dressel - I have shot with both of these photographers and have loved their work.

My Graphic Designer: That would be ME!
At the risk of patting myself on the back too much, I think I have done a heck of a job designing my materials, as well as the materials of dozens of other actors across the country. To see samples of my designs for websites, business cards & postcards, visit my site by clicking above.

My Life Coach/Mentor: Rhonda Musak of Art & Soul Coaching
I met Rhonda at a fundraiser event, where she and I had donated our services for the evening to any of the guests who wanted a little bit of coaching. Who knew that 3 years later we would be working together supporting each other’s careers? Rhonda’s life coaching is much different than therapy - instead of focusing on therapeutic methods to solving problems, her life coaching uses brainstorming and visualizations to help reach peace, set and achieve goals, and find happiness. It has been wonderful having her as a part of my life.

Honorable Mention: Visceral Coaching - Robert is a very good friend and talented life coach. I worked with him when he was getting his certification several years ago.

My Hair Stylist: Linda, with Hair Shapers
When I moved to NYC, I was a bit fussy about my locks. After all, I had gone from a really dark brunette to a light blonde, and I needed to make sure my hair looked natural and would easily be maintained. So, my first month in NYC, I traveled from my apartment in Astoria to Manhattan, where I assumed good hair styling would be. Of course, you can get amazing service in Manhattan (they even serve wine!) but at a price point of $500 and up, and a snootiness I couldn't stomach, I returned to Astoria, dejected. Then my roommate told me about Hairshapers, which was one block away from my apartment, and I gave them a shot. I have been a faithful client of Linda's for 5 years now, even after I moved to Manhattan in 2006. I have sent dozens of people to her, and everyone has been thrilled with her great work, friendly service, and low prices. Please mention my name if you stop by.

Some other folks you may want to add to your team:

Production Services: Michael Roderick, Small Pond Entertainment
Michael is an amazing resource for anyone who is interesting in producing a show. Not only can you hire him to take on one or more production aspects of your project, but he can also teach you the tools to handle these things on your own.

Demo Reel Editing: Reel Spiel Productions
Allison and Chris, with Reel Spiel, are absolutely wonderful to work with, and they turn out reels that my students love. They also have a successful production company, producing shorts, web series, and feature length films.

Legal Services: Nance Schick
Nance specializes in employment law, and typically works with employers to help them draft policies and practices that keep things legitimate and working smoothly. But she has a soft spot in her heart for artists, and having worked as a sports agent she has lots of great advice for actors who need support in legally pursuing their business as either an employee, or independent contractor. She is especially useful for actors who own side businesses, and for those who are producers as well.

Contract / Legal Services: Michael Bond
In January 2010, Michael will be starting his law practice, specializing in Entertainment Law / Contracts (as well as LGBT issues.) If you ever need a contract review, Michael is a wonderful person to contact.

Financial Education: Abundance Bound
I have known Miata and Adam for several years now, and really admire and respect the work they do for actors. They take the phrase “starving artist” and turn it inside out, helping actors take control of their finances and plan for their futures.

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has toured nationally with plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. For more information, please visit

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