Sunday, May 20, 2012

How To Write A Cover Letter

Look how fun I made it look!

How to Write A Cover Letter

And Not Feel As Resistant Towards It As Your Last Will & Testament

         A couple of weeks ago, I shared what I learned at the SAG-AFTRA panel with Jimmy Smits about how to be the best actor as a Latino in Hollywood. It made me realize that while I have been here for a few years, many of my friends are just starting out. And maybe a few of you readers as well. This week, I asked my friends and readers what they would like to pick my brain on. One reader said, "Cover letters!!"

         Ah, the dreaded cover letter. So carefully crafted and ached over that I think Shakespeare gave less effort to his greatest master pieces than many actors gave these over-thought letters. Then again, I have seen many things I would not believe unless I was shown with my very own eyes. (Recalling one cover letter a teacher received that was scrawled onto paper with green magic marker.) Don't be slap dash but don't write a tome about the drenching and yet rich experiences that created the essence that is who you are now. *shrinking into my seat* So, what makes an effective cover letter?

What I imagine is a typical day for the agent.
         In a class with Mike Pointer of "Hey, I Saw Your Commercial," one "d'uh" factor was made clear. No needing to go on in length about the fact that you are looking for representation. That's pretty much clear by the fact that you are sending them your packet. Which brings us to what goes in your packet. Simple. Your headshot/resume and your cover letter. Do not send a bio. Do not send a reel. They have a million. If they want one, they will ask you to send one or a link to youtube, for example. Which brings me to another point. I have lived in LA for a few years and am friends with both veterans and newbies. I still get shocked when people give me head shots that are not attached to the resume. Please, please, please do not be one of those. No one will believe anything you have written on your resume if you try and pull this shenanigan. Staple your resume to the back of your headshot. Trim the excess. Simple. And clean.

         So, where do you start? How do you write a cover letter? Well, remember, agents get a ton of these. You job is to make your letter as easy and as to the point as possible. "Time = Money" was discovered as a mathematical proof in an agent's office, I believe. Start with your contact information clearly written up top. Many suggest centering it and making it bold and in larger fonts. Your name being the largest font. Remember to include your e-mail, cell phone and if you have, website. Making it a different color than the body of the e-mail for ease of reading is not a bad idea.

         In the next line, address which department you are applying to. Example, "Attn: Commercial Department." In the next paragraph, simply introduce yourself (Don't include a lineage or account that would shame the book of Genesis. Not that I ever did that, of course). Express what department you are submitting to and what you included. Here is a good example:

                          Contact Information


Attn: Commercial Department

Hello, my name is (Don't be lazy. Make your mind fill this out.) I am currently seeking commercial representation. Please find enclosed my picture and resume (that you stapled onto the back of your head shot, right???) for your consideration. I look forward to meeting with you soon. Thank you.


(Your John Hancock)

Your printed name.

       When you sign your name, use blue ink. It will send the message that you didn't just make 15 copies and mail them out. (Ok, I know that's what you did, precisely. But, everyone likes the personal touch.)  

       Place your letter and head shot (stapled!!!) into a full-window envelope. You can google places that sell them or ask your friends. A lot of actors have too many (me) and would be more than open to sell you a few at wholesale. On the outside of the envelope, you can place a sticker that includes the name of the school you just attended. Below is an example:

                                                Seeking Commercial Representation
                                                Just completed: Cocolaca Studios

         Some teachers are fine with saying that they recommend you if you just go up to them and ask for it! So give it a try! Many agents have long and good relationships with many of the teachers in Los Angeles. Often time, a follow up post card will remind them to consider your packet if you do not hear back in a couple of weeks. Be persistent and move on if you do not hear back!

           So there it is. What I learned through my own mistakes and classes in what you should include in a cover letter. Demystified. Dethroned from that pile you keep mentally along with "How to File Taxes", "How to Write a Resume," but definitely not "How to Properly Attach a Resume to a Headshot," right???

           So, fellow actors, maybe you have been doing it this way all along and want to share some tips to improve these methods, maybe you have been doing it wrong and wondering what you can improve upon or maybe you have no clue at all and plan on just copying and pasting the example cover letter. (Just please at least fill in your name where appropriate.) As usual, the best of luck in all your endeavors! Make sure to follow me and check out the links below!

Follow me: Twitter

My web series: The Maybelline Girls


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Friday, May 4, 2012

Latino Stars Cross Paths and Give Advice to Fellow Actors: SAG-AFTRA presents "The Latino Voice"

             Picture this...L.A., 2012. It was a balmy and slightly hazy day. Unanticipated (and uncalled for! ) traffic congestions threaten to delay my arrival to the SAG-AFTRA panel discussion on the Latino Voice.  Lefts, rights, u-eys are made on a dime and at the last minute. All in a vain attempt to make the half hour window for seating. Rationally, I took it as a sign that maybe it was not meant to be. I challenged the gods and pulled into the SAG-AFTRA building despite it being 6:40.

            Upon entering, I scrambled looking for the right room when I saw established and respected actor Kirk Acevedo in the lobby.  I knew this was serious business but I still tried hedging my bets.  "Who's gonna come to this talk?" I thought. "How many people RSVP to these kinds of things and never show up, anyway?," I reminded myself. Well, the answers were "every Latino in L.A." and "apparently no one." The line was long and first come, first serve. Everyone came to hear some sage advice on how to be the best actor as a Latino in Hollywood. I was THE VERY LAST person they let in (all so you readers that couldn't make it could get the scoop, I'm sure.)

Renita Gale,  CD and big-screen gal

             Yes, I stood the whole time. But that gave me an eagle's view of every panelist. As well as burning off this week's Panda Express. (Damn you, delicious, delicious, Panda.) The panel included the following: Yareli Arizmendi (Moderator) who is best known for her performance in Like Water for Chocolate. She's also starred in 24, Medium and House.  Renita Gale, most readers may be familiar with her as a noted casting director. She handles lots of commercials but did you know that she also once shared the big-screen with Philip Seymor-Hoffman in Next Stop, Wonderland?  I didn't!

                Next, we had Risa Bramon Garcia, noted casting director and acting teacher. Most recently, she cast CBS', A Gifted Man  and served as a producer on Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers. Also there was Roger Mussenden, noted casting director whose first lead casting was for none other that Warner Brother's Selena. Of course, everyone knows Jimmy Smits, Emmy award winning actor as well as winning an Alma Award and an Imagen Award for Best Actor in The West Wing. Lastly, there was Chris Weitz, director of New Moon (for you Twilight fans). His grandmother is the famous Mexican actress, Lupita Tovar.

           The question of the night was, "what exactly is the Latino voice and how can it be heard more?" CD and teacher, Risa Bramon said something that I feel resonates with me. She said that an actor's responsibility is to bring in their authentic voice. Whatever that may be. And not what they feel is "expected." Many times, there will be Latino roles and the actors will come in playing the idea of a Latino. Seemingly fixated on how to be the best actor of a Latino. Or just wear the stereotypes and amped up or phony accents as their costumes. She told a story of how she had a role for a character with a very Latin name. For the sake of the story, I'll use, "Jose Terrero." She saw Latino actor after Latino actor portray the idea of what an American audience would expect a "Jose Terrero" to sound like and move like. She explained to them to drop the act and just bring themselves into the role. She ended up seeing an African American actor who had no clue what could possibly be "expected" and didn't have those nasty little voices in his head the previous actors did. All he did was bring in his authentic self with all his authentic experience and adding his authentic voice to "Jose Terrero." Do I really need to tell you who ended up getting the part?

Latinos come in all shades.
           Which brought up the question of looking or not looking Latino enough. And yes, even sounding/not sounding Latino enough. You see, America is a pollinating and cross-pollinating country. Latinos can come in shades as light as my ivory-white, blue-eyed Puerto Rican mom to someone you may mistake for African-American (and they often play them on TV). Yet, the media and ad agencies have not yet caught up to this fact. One woman spoke about how she got passed up for a role because and Indian actress looked more "Latina" than she did. (Muffled laughter.) Roger Mussenden reminded the audience that a once blonde-haired Sofia Vergara had to dye her hair dark and amp up her accent to get roles. So there seems to be an almost schizophrenic relationship actors have with the outside world. "This is the real me but I'll show it to you in a way that you can understand....who the real me is." *name change, accent change, hair change, weight change* But, as Renita Gale pointed out, actors are drawn to theater because all of it is, at the end of the day, magic, dammit. Transformation through the pure power of intent and belief. And this transforms the audience. The actor births an experience that seemingly came from nothing. But what is the Latin experience?

Who are their peers, really?
                Renita made an excellent point about her field of expertise. Commercial acting is quite opposed to film. Renita needs actors to bring in not the "authentic" self but, well, the fabricated idea of what advertising agencies see Latino's as, according to cold, hard numbers and data. The idea of the "neutral" Spanish accent is something Renita goes to bat over frequently. Is it more Cuban? Mexican? What is it?? She often sees a great, amazing actor just completely be present in a role but alas....too "Cuban." NEXT! Roger Mussenden agreed. Many times, the reason an actor was cast or not cast is completely random and arbitrary. Renita recalled arguing that younger actors (late teens) should not be dismissed for having a slightly American Spanish accent because, the fact is, Latinos in L.A. are being born and raised in America. And they have slightly American accents. So who better to speak to them than their peers? Renita feels a change a comin' and so do I, frankly.
                  So what can a Latino actor do to prepare themselves for success? What wisdom can they impart on us on how to be the best actor we can be? Nothing short of train, train, train. There will be CD's like Renita Gale and Risa Bramon Garcia who will go to bat for you to bring you into the room so please don't let them down (like many have in the past). Jimmy Smits himself took the route of intensive theatre training in college but did not limit the audience to his experience. "Whatever you have to do to build your tool box, do it." Jimmy advised classes, reading plays, networking with each other...whatever you have to do to add those tools and get yourself ready. By the way, he is the founder of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, which fosters emerging new Hispanic talent by offering grants at colleges and universities. Way to go, Jimmy!
                 Chris Weitz and Yareli Arizmendi made an excellent point that when you receive an audition, treat it like a performance. Take that time. The CD wants you to win. (I know, right??)  You start already from the position of "having" the role. No one can give it away but yourself. Take your moment to do your role as your authentic self (whatever you decided that is today). No one can take this moment away from you. Do it. Take your bow. And know that you did your job as an actor. You brought in your voice. No one else can bring in your voice.  Keep demanding excellence from yourself and excellence will be noticed. Hear that?
             But what about a platform? Are there enough Latino roles and platforms to give Latino actors a voice? Well, like an old familiar movie once said, "If you build it, they will come." Risa Bramon Garcia had no pity for generation YouTube and I-phone. Don't have enough auditions and roles coming your way? Make some!  Write a short, (like I did) direct a pilot (Guilty). Create a voice for Latinos and be heard! Support other Latino projects! Unite and mobilize, dammit! *picturing myself in a black beret* The moral is, don't wait for opportunity if you don't see it. Make one. Yes, yes....I know. Actors get wrapped up in that nasty, little disease we call "perfectionism." But hey, we all gotta start somewhere! And Risa saw nothing wrong with starting out with an I-phone and a dream.
           So, to wrap it all up, what is the Latino voice? The Latino voice is your voice. Whatever that voice you have may be. Whether you came here last year from Peru and have an accent that rivals Sofia Vergara. Or whether, like me, you were born here and your Abuela rags on you for your uhm, less than perfect Spanish (hey! Spanglish is a legitimate form of communication!). You are the Latino voice and your experience is as legit and wonderful as any of your brothers' and sisters'. Please don't water it down or amp it up. Be you not the "idea" of you! Caveat: Unless you are going in for a commercial. Then you better be looking at what ad agencies are producing and go in there with your best "neutral" you you can be neutralized as, dammit! Numbers do not lie! *Evil, business Karina is speaking right now*
           All kidding aside (kinda), latino actors need to remember that Hollywood needs them as much as they need Hollywood! Support one another and nurture your voice. We want to hear it!

           What do you feel is "The Latino Voice"? I wanna hear! Do you have a project you are proud of? Share a link in the comments bar below!

          About Karina Colón: Aside from acting in films and shorts, I write and produce shorts and one-act plays for charity and the web. They've all been comedy and this next one I will direct is a Latino thriller I wrote called, Sell Out.

Check out this hilarious  comedy I wrote, directed and produced about two girls from total opposite sides of the track then end up....well, you'll see!

The Maybelline Girls Season 1

Follow me on twitter:

Several of the organizers and speakers also have twitter and more information:
I also recommend:


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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Let the Casting.....BEGIN!!! *clap, clap*

Yes, this photo is supposed to be me. Clapping for the talent to enter. Somewhere in a rain forest. Wearing a flower bow- you know what? I have a lot to do and five minutes was the most I could allot for image attainment, people!

I apologize, my loyal readers, for the long haiatus. Life is hectic and somewhere, I let myself get sucked into the "I hate this job, there MUST be a better one. Preferably one that pays me merely to exist within their presence," cycle.

I'll never say where I currently work. I will just say that it is not wise to work where I do when you A) hate customers and B) hate serving them.

That aside, I resisted finishing the next installment of The Maybelline Girls. (You haven't seen it? For shame! Watch it here in tiny increments of a few minutes each: That is until my director informed me that he got a hold of some great equipment for a limited time only. CRAP! I thought as I stared at the phone and a half-written script. Normally, I would probably make up some weak ass excuse and procrastinate more (Wait, I didn't see THIS episode of All in the Family!).
But, when working in a team, I don't like to let the team down. So I got rid of my perfectionism and anxiety and forged ahead.

We had a short meeting. Which resulted in him handing me assignments while I watched him head to the bar with pals. Some things never change in life for me....Caps. You fellow Caps out there know what I mean!

Anyway, here's what we are looking for. If you or anyone you know fits a part, please pretty please ask them to send a message via The Maybelline Girls fan page?? Danke!!

Melaina: CAST
Dottie: CAST

T-BONE: mid 20's to early 40's. Latin or Caucasion. Thug. The muscle of the group.Not too bright. Just follows orders. Big in size but scared of his boss.

DOC: Mid 20's to early 40's. Latin or African American. Also large like T-bone. Rough around edges but watches a lot of documentaries. Thinks if he sees a triple bypass, he can perform a triple bypass.

JASMINE: Early 20's to mid. African America. But open to other ethnicities. Friend of Melaina. Has known her for years. Thus, friends at a distant. Likes her but not the chaos she tends to bring.

BYRON: Early 20's. Latin. Melaina's cousin. Currently in jail. Good hearted.

LITTLE GIRL: 8-12 Caucasion. Sweet looking. Can sing. Does not have to be professional at all.

DJ REAL TALK: 30's to 50's. Latin version of Randy. Wears too much jewelery.

PAMELA: 20's to 40's. Caucasion, latin or middle Eastern. Open ethnicity. The "Paula" of the group.

CAMERA MAN: 20's. Caucasion. Tall. Slim. Male.




CRYSTAL: 20's. Caucasion. Crazy girl. Either she's currently drunk or she was a hard core partyier. Loud voice. The type of girl that can embarrass you if you go out with her. Very rowdy.

ANASTASIA: 20's to early 30's. Brunette. Can look like a Russian assassin.

NADIA: 20's to early 30's. Brunette. Can look like a Russian assassin. The leader of the two.

CHINO: 20's. Asian. Leader of Asian gang. Can look very sweet and in a split second, very dangerous.

ASIAN GANG MEMBERS: Various ages. Free xml sitemap generator

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Drama Lama in the NYC

Sex, violence, drugs, alcohol....what do they all have in common? Excellent drama fodder and the bedrock of almost every kid raised in the cities.

When you're a writer, or any other kind of artist actually, you play on the edge of "how much should I reveal and how much should I hide"? And inevitably, the answer is always a resounding "hide nothing"! Reveal all juicy details! After all, wasn't that the secret vengeance of all our childhood's? To get back and name names on E! Hollywood True Stories? Heehee!

I often wonder why most of the things I write have to do with secrets, sex and murders. Hmmm? Well, it's the old adage of not seeing the forest for the trees. Secrets is pretty much how I grew up. Keeping them while, like a crafty magician, drawing your attention to a perfect and glossy exterior. And wondering myself, who was keeping them from me.

Wondering who was hiding what is what fueled pretty much 90% of my perceptions growing up. Add to that being a woman and always prying into mental cogs and emotional ventricles as part of our genetic make-up and you get someone pretty much hard wired to believe any conspiracy theory out there.

The Revenge of the Tango (my next piece) is a far cry from The Maybelline Girls, which I see more as my medicinal approach at approaching the unapproachable. Comedy, of course. Always, comedy. (As I smile to myself contemplating more installments.)

The Revenge is a gluttonous dive into the world of secrets. A place where women hold power. And they know it. *evil chuckle*

I suppose The Revenge of the Tango may be my inner child's way of saying "Hmmm, now that I am big, let me get MY turn."

Of course, there will be intrigue, there will be sexiness, and there will be diversity. (I love diversity. Come on! I grew up in NYC for crying out loud!)

The night approaches so I'll leave you with this....

"In revenge and in love woman is more barbaric than man is."


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Things Successfully Achieved In Place of Writing

Today's highlighted achievements consist of the following Herculian tasks.
If I can do it, so can you!

1. Weighing myself after I pee. I measure myself before, too. That way, I feel like I won some mini-diet.

2. Taking advantage of my cat's hyper phase and chasing her like a maddened wilde beast bent on attaining the glory of knowing I am, in all the savannah, the mightiest leaper.

3. Testing out innate psychic ability on a random deck of cards. Kept tally on pyschedelic score card stickered with fairies and bedazzled under the full moon's glow.

4. Adding extra points to my score card. Shut up.

5. Gathering all the ketchup packets from fast food runs of yore. Like a Moses of Licopene, I gathered my lost tribes into neat and necessary tupperware bottoms. Lids yet to be gathered. They have no god.

What's Up with the Name??

So, as many of you may or may not know (depending on whether or not you are outside of my illustrious and highly exclusive FB circle), I have a deep and profound love for all things Jung. This, combined with my affections towards my newly adopted stomping grounds, has morphed and mated with itself to produce "Alicing La-La Land."

What is "Alicing," you ask? It's a soon to be adopted word and part of the American lexicon, dammit!

Don't question my authority!!!

I see you there. With your judgemental eyebrows.
Well, fine. If you insist on a "definition" and all that nonsense. Formalities... (I'm giving you my own eyebrows now, by the way.)

"Alicing" would be defined as "the willing participation and eager exploration of the wonderful weirdness and varied experiential qualities of the conscious, subconscious and, inevitably, unconscious (delicious) world."

Much like Alice, (the first to be seen publicly and unabashedly "alicing," and on tape, nonetheless) when one alices, one strives to taste and drink deeply from the well of life.

Stop staring at the screen with that mug on....


Ok, really, I just like to be weird and do weird things. I also write. Nonsense. And then I film it.