Beauty Tips 11/30/09

How to Get Perfect Eyebrows

I can’t say I’m the best with makeup.  I can do my face for a night out, but I really rely on makeup artists to make me look good for shoots.  So for me, preparing for a shoot doesn’t mean doing my makeup, it means prepping my skin and making sure my nails and eyebrows are neat and groomed.

Eyebrows are something a lot of us neglect, but the shape of your brows can completely affect the overall look of your face and how people perceive you.  If your arches are a bit too high, you’ll look perpetually surprised.

To get perfect eyebrows, I recommend getting them professionally shaped, then plucking on your own as needed to maintain that shape.  If you prefer to do it yourself, try to only pluck from the bottom of the arch.  God gave you the eyebrows meant for your face shape, so don’t deviate too much from their natural shape.  If you find you have over-plucked, fill in any sparse areas with an eyebrow pencil one or two shades lighter than their natural color.  Your brows should start right above the inner corners of your eyes.   A common trick is to line a pencil up against the side of your nose and pluck anything on the outside of the pencil.  The high point of the arch should be above your pupils, and the outer end of the brow should be at a diagonal to the outer corners of your eyes.

Angelina Jolie, Megan Fox, and Eva Mendes are particularly known for their beautiful brows.  Take a look at them and see how much eyebrows affect the overall look.  Hope this helps!

Promotional Modeling

Truth be told, models don’t make a lot of money modeling unless they are famous.  Most of us supplement the income that comes from print ads and fashion shows with promotional modeling.  Here in New York, during Fashion Week I see an influx of new models doing promotional work because they are in town to do the shows.  There are agencies that are devoted to promotional staffing, but often girls get jobs on their own outside of their normal agency work.

Promotional modeling takes many forms, but it is essentially modeling “in person.”  Wikipedia defines a promotional model as a person hired to drive consumer demand for a product.  Indeed, many companies hire models to go to clubs and be seen drinking their brand of liquor, or ostentatiously displaying their brand name.  A promotional model may get paid to just go to a party and drink, or she may be on the street handing out fliers.

The form of promotional modeling I have the most experience with is trade show modeling, which I will talk about in more detail in later posts.  The trade show model may just have to stand around as “eye candy” or may actually have a host of jobs to perform.  Trade show models must be articulate and at least somewhat knowledgeable about the company they are representing because trade show patrons love to talk to us.  Sometimes trade show models get to wear awesome costumes-I’m thinking of the booth babes at Comic Con and the like-or get to demonstrate cool procedures like tooth whitening or body painting.

I’ve had some interesting experiences as a promotional model, so I’ll tell those stories soon.

Walking the Walk, or different kinds of modeling

When people find out I’m a model, one of the first questions is often “so how’s your walk?”   It’s a cute question, but shows a fundamental misconception about what I do.  I’ve never walked down a runway in my life.

There are several “styles” of modeling, but the main ones are fashion and commercial.  Glamour is often thought of as its own style, but it’s really the sexy side of commercial, so I’ll treat it as such here.  America’s Next Top Model has done a lot to skew people’s perceptions about the modeling industry because the contestants on the show are told that they must do all kinds of modeling.  The real world doesn’t work like that at all.  Models generally do fashion, commercial, or glamour; not all three-unless they are an established supermodel.  Then they can do whatever they want.

For fashion modeling, models are generally 5’9″ and above, and very very skinny.  They also tend to be very young.  The fashion models I know all started when they were 14-15 years old.  It is in fashion modeling that “the walk” becomes important, but again, Top Model has it wrong.  Back in the 90s, the heyday of the supermodel, each model had her unique runway walk that was part of her brand.  This is no longer the case-there are only so many variations of walking for crying out loud!  Giselle Bundchen, with her signature pony-stomp, is one of the few fashion models who still has a personal walk.  Fashion is not just runway, though.  The same models who walk designer runways tend to be in designer ads.  These models are editorial fashion models.  This is where the money is, and when you think of a famous model, you are probably thinking of an editorial fashion model.

Commercial modeling is different from fashion but there can be cross-overs.  Commercial models are selling a product.  They appear in print ads and commercials, and often have to play a role.  Commercial models may look like the average girl or boy next door, just slightly better looking.  The audience doesn’t see the model as a model but as a doctor, mother, or the girl next door.  This is why I, as a commercial model, often bring up the parallels between acting and modeling.

Glamour modeling is what you see in Maxim or Playboy.  The model can be selling a product or her own good looks.  A fashion model doesn’t have to be pretty, just skinny (unless she’s plus sized, then she should be pretty).  A commercial model just has to look interesting, or like what the marketing or art director is looking for.  A glamour model, however, is pretty.

Hopefully that clears up some misconceptions.  I know a lot of girls in these fields, but I personally am a commercial model, so that is where my expertise lies.  You can see good examples of my commercial work in the Blogroll to the right.  The best examples are the picture with the lollipop on the boardwalk, which was a print advertisement for a candy shop (therefore, selling lollipops.  Or, more generally, selling the idea of summertime on the boardwalk); and the one where I’m hailing a cab.

This is just a reminder, if you were sent to this site looking for media, my pictures can be seen to the right under Blogroll and links to my videos can be found in the post My Videos or in individual blog posts about the video.  Thanks!

Try Virabhadrasana for toned legs

I’m a dedicated yoga enthusiast-in fact, I’m a certified Aura Yoga teacher with classes in New York and New Jersey.  Yoga really helps with my modeling.  It is the perfect workout for creating the stamina and flexibility necessary to hold poses long enough for the photographer to get the perfect shot.  It’s spiritual aspect is also very helpful for dealing with the rejection I get on a daily basis as an actor and model.

Let’s discuss Virabhadrasana I, the Warrior’s Pose, or Warrior 1.  This pose develops balance, works the feet, stretches the calves and hips, and really tones and tightens the back of the legs and core.

When doing yoga, breathe deeply in and out through the nose.  The breath is the most important part of yoga-without deep, rhythmic breathing, you’re just stretching.

Begin with the feet 3 to 4 feet apart with the feet parallel.  Turn the right foot out 90 degrees and the left foot in 40 to 60 degrees.  Line up the right heel with the left foot’s arch.  Turn your hips over the right leg, square to the front of the yoga mat,  and bring the arms up-palms facing each other, shoulders relaxed down the back.  The chest should feel open and expansive.  From here, bend the right knee, keeping the left foot grounded on the mat.  The goal is to get the right thigh parallel to the floor in a lunge, but don’t allow the knee to go past the toes.  A common beginner mistake is to tilt the pelvis forward, compressing the lower back.  To avoid this, lengthen through the tailbone and allow the pelvis and upper body to feel upright, perpendicular to the floor.  Stay here for 5 to 15 breaths, then lower the arms, straighten the legs, and repeat on the left side.

Virabhadrasana is a foundational standing pose, and you’ll find it added into Sun Salutations in many classes, especially Ashtanga and vinyasa yoga classes.  The the pose here on Yoga Journal-

I’ll feature another pose next week, so let me know if you have a favorite pose to discuss!

My least favorite shoot (part 2)

This is the follow-up to (you guessed it!) part 1.

An agent gave me the information for photographer *Khalid to do my headshots, but since I already had headshots I never called him.  Flash forward a few months-I was at a beautiful New York studio to do an all-day, several look photoshoot for my portfolio.  The photographer had been recommended by someone in the industry, and I was very impressed with his work from what I had seen on his website.  At the studio, I noticed a business card of the photographer’s with an alternate website on it-the site of the headshot photographer recommended by *Carla several months earlier.  I realized that this Khalid was that Khalid.  His association with a dubious agency wasn’t enough to send me screaming, though.  After all, the guy’s photographs had been published in serious publications, including well known fashion magazines.

Khalid himself did my makeup-quite skillfully, I must add.  The point of the shoot was to have some good prints for my book, so we shot five looks over about seven hours.  At first we did some beauty shots with different makeup looks, then moved on to fashion shots.

As time passed Khalid began making a lot of suggestive remarks.  It’s not uncommon for photographers to ask for “your ‘O’ face” or a “f*** me look” when you are shooting glamour, but this was fashion-the look on the face is usually blank or angry.  He was asking for a lot of sexual faces and gestures, and when I got uncomfortable he tried to massage my shoulders.  At one point he tried to massage my shoulders as I was lying on by back by crouching over me-I was practically tea-bagging this asshole, no wonder I looked uncomfortable!

We moved from beauty and fashion to some tasteful glamour looks.  Khalid was by that point openly mocking me for being so uncomfortable, telling me I’d never make it as a model if I couldn’t be more sexual.  I nixed his idea to shoot me on a bed, topless but covered by a cowboy hat held to my chest.  I would do opaque lingerie, I finally compromised.  That’s when he told me he was going to have to put foundation all over my body, “especially near the bikini line”, to ensure even lighting.  I absolutely refused to let him do it, and after much wrangling I grabbed the foundation bottle and went into the bathroom to do it myself.  That was the last look we did that day.  I got my prints a few days later, and, for the most part, loved them.  I paid for them, so I use them, regardless of my experience shooting them.

A few months later I recieved a message on Model Mayhem from a model who noticed I had shot with Khalid asking if he had behaved inappropriately with me.  It turns out that a group of models was considering a class-action lawsuit against him for, among other things, sexual assault.  He had used the whole “foundation around the bikini line” bit to put his hands under the bikini bottoms of several models.  I was sickened when I heard that, and grateful that I had followed my instincts to prevent him doing that to me.  I added my story to theirs in the official reports, but unfortunately the statute of limitations had expired in most cases, making a class-action suit impossible.  Some of the other models are considering alternate legal action.

That was hands-down my worst shoot, but because I got good pictures out of it I was reticent to tell anyone about the experience.  Perhaps I even believed him that I needed to be more sexual for my career.  But when I heard what he had done to other girls, I wanted to help.

To anyone reading this, I say TRUST YOUR INSTICTS!  If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.  This guy has his work in national and international glossy magazines.  Being a “professional” doesn’t make him less of a scumbag.  Keep yourself safe, and don’t let anyone bully you into doing something that makes you uncomfortable.

*Names changed to protect the presumed-innocent (presumed innocent for now at least).  If you are a model and you’re worried about running into this creep, or if God forbid you’ve already worked with him, message me directly and I’ll tell you his name.

Beauty Tips 11/17/09

Everyone knows true beauty is on the inside, but even outer beauty begins internally.  Adding more natural foods to your diet can lead to glowing skin, glossy hair, and a trimmer waistline.

First food to mention is blueberries, which Dr. Nicolas Perricone waxed poetic about in his book on this subject, The Perricone Prescription.  Blueberries get their color from anthocyanins, potent antioxidants shown to reduce oxidative stress, a key factor in skin aging.

Leafy greens, like kale and spinach, are another anti-aging superfood, and can help prevent wrinkles, skin sagging-even cancer.  They contain Vitamins C and A, sulforophane, and fiber.  I like to add spinach (which is particularly rich in folate, essential for memory) to just about everything-soups, salad, pizza.  You can sneak greens into any meal to make it healthier.

Flax and hemp seeds are some of the only plant sources of beneficial omega 3 fats.  The alpha linolenic acid in these seeds is converted in the body into DHA, the anti-inflammatory compound found in salmon.  This anti-inflammatory action can reduce acne and wrinkles, but more importantly can protect the body from cardiovascular disease and stroke.  Many companies are adding flax and hemp to pasta, bread, and cereals.  You can also be adventurous and use flax or hemp oil in cooking.  Avocado and olive oil are a good alternative fat source too.  They contain healthy monounsaturated fats that have an anti-inflammatory effect as well.  Having a diet with a moderate amount (rather than too little or too much) of monounsaturated fat will keep your hair healthy and shiny.

Citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that is a crucial building block of collagen, the substance that forms the “scaffolding” that keeps your skin firm.  Vitamin C also helps prevent skin “splotchiness”  and age spots.   Eating the fruit is preferable to drinking the juice because the fruit has fiber, which fills you up and slows the spike in blood sugar that accompanies eating carbohydrates and sweets (fruit counts!).

My Least Favorite Shoot (part 1)

I could discuss my favorite shoots, but the photos that resulted from them speak for themselves.  Instead, let’s talk about my least favorite shoots, and the sordid tales behind the pictures : )

In the summer of 2007 a talent scout found me and tried to hook me up with a certain agency.  He forwarded my pictures and phone number to the agent~we’ll call her *Carla~and she called me the next night at around 11 pm, while I was at a friend’s house.  I figured we would just make an appointment to meet, but instead she talked to me for over an hour while my friends glared at my rudeness.  Mostly she talked about how much she loves American Idol, why I should be watching American Idol, and who her 12 year old daughter thought should win American Idol.   She asked me if I had a boyfriend, and when I said yes, Carla said “too bad.  We could’ve gotten you onto reality shows like The Bachelor.  Well you can sing, so we can probably get you onto the singing shows.”  The thing is, on the agency website it didn’t say a thing about casting reality shows.  They claimed to represent a number of legitimate actors (whom I should have tried to contact but didn’t.  I was just excited to have agency interest).  I have no interest in being on reality tv.  Carla asked me what actresses I resemble, and I said “people sometimes tell me I look like Jennifer Connolly.”

“Jennifer Connolly?  What reality show is she on?”

“She’s not on a reality show.  She’s an Oscar-winning actress.”

Oy vey.  I was beginning to realize by this point that even if this was a real agency, I wasn’t going to want their kind of help.  I tried getting off the phone as quickly as possible.  “Where do we go from here?”

“Well, you need new headshots.”  I had not actually sent her my headshots, so she had no way of knowing this.  “The only person we let do headshots for our clients is *Khalid.  He’s the best.  I’ll give you his number and I’ll tell him personally to give you a good discount on a headshot package.  Only then can we go forward.”

By this point I realized it was a scam and was disappointed I had just wasted an hour and a half talking to her.  I took Khalid’s information, thanked her, and made an excuse to get off the phone.  I thought that was the end of it, until I had an experience with Khalid almost a year later.

*names changed to avoid a libel suit.  if you think these same people may be trying to scam you, message me privately and I’ll tell you the names

On-screen love scenes..or why I love my boyfriend

Yesterday afternoon I shot a short film with the incomparable Gene Geter, who is doing a series exploring aspects of love.  Being a hopeless romantic I was keen to get in on this.  I was planning to blog in general about the experience, but since a kiss between the other actor and myself is a prominent part of the short, I decided to talk about having to be intimate onscreen.

I’ve never done an on-screen sex scene, but I did an on-stage rape scene in one of my scene classes.  It was lauded by the class as some of my scene partner’s and my best work.  It really helped that he and I were already friends and trusted each other.  It also helped that I was playing someone who did not want to have sex.  For me, that’s easier than pretending to want to have sex with someone I’m not attracted to in real life.  It was easy to try to crawl away when I was literally being dragged across the stage.

The first time I had to kiss someone for the camera was in April of 2009 in Phoenix Reign’s Constantinople 1453 video  (you can see that here   In their retelling of the fall of Constantinople, my character Anna Notaras (a real-life princess who actually escaped the fall of Constantinople) is in love with a Varangian guard (played by George Tsalikis, with whom I also had the pleasure to work on ZO2’s Painted Lady video a few months later).  The two lovers share a painful good-bye, knowing war is coming and will part them forever.  We of course had to kiss goodbye, and I was nervous because this was my first on-screen kiss.  It was not George’s first, though, and he made the experience more comfortable.  Knowing he had a girlfriend was a plus (I’ve been with my boyfriend for six years) but not a necessary pre-requisite of kissing him.  Any actor will tell you that so-called “intimate” scenes are anything but intimate when they are shot.  You are surrounded by the crew and other actors.

My next kiss came in Geter’s short film, titled Always Remember Your Current Girlfriend’s Name (see it here  It was meant to be over-the-top and dramatic and I think we succeeded.  I over-acted in a lot of parts.  The basic premise is that my co-star Tim (Canadian actor Tim Walker) has a girlfriend, she dumps him, he gets with me, and he calls me her name and I dump him too.  It was fun to shoot, but yes, I still get uncomfortable having to kiss someone on camera.  I also had no idea the kiss would look so intimate-it felt like a quick peck in real time, but the director captured something that he was able to make seem very intimate and real.   Once we were rolling, just like in the Constantinople 1453 video, it was no longer me, but the character who was driving the action.  The character was in love.  Tim tried to help by reminding me that I got to slap him in the next scene, but we ended up cutting that part.

I have to give my wonderful boyfriend a lot of credit for being able to deal with an actress girlfriend.  Besides the fact that we tend to be an over-emotional bunch as a rule, there are things like love scenes to worry about.  But as I said, those scenes that look very private and intimate on-screen are not private or intimate at all when they’re shot.  I would never take intimate photos, or even do nudity (no judgment at all toward those who do nudity; I’m marketed with a commercial look and doing fine art takes away from the commercial aspect) because when I model, I am me.  I might be playing a character to a certain point, but because of the nature of the medium, it’s a snapshot of myself at a particular point in time.  I don’t want that snapshot to be something I’ll regret.  I love my boyfriend too much.  That said, my boyfriend is a photographer and I’m fine with him shooting nudes and pinups (you can see those here  As I said, I don’t judge that stuff.  In fact, I really like it.  The bottom line is that we stay within our own and each other’s comfort limits.  We communicate.  Before I left for the shoot yesterday, he said to me “I hope you don’t have to kiss any guys,”  and when I came home I said “sorry, I did have to end up kissing a guy.”  And then I kissed him.  Everything is fine because we can talk about it.

I don’t have enough experience to have done a ton of intimate scenes, and I’m fine with that!  I’m just grateful to have the experiences I have had, and to have the most amazing boyfriend in the world.

Reading Scripts

I figured I’d switch gears a talk a little about the acting aspect of my life.  I got my degree in acting and it has been my passion since childhood, but actors are notoriously underpaid so I focus on modeling because, for me, that’s where the money is.  However, as I’ve said before, modeling is a form of acting, and my training in acting helps me with acting jobs, modeling jobs, and even with everyday life.  I’ll go more into that at a later date.

This weekend during my free time I have 2 scripts to read, and even something as simple as reading can be optimized, made into a science, in order to get roles and perform well.  First of all, you should read the script all the way through, impartially, as if you were reading a book.  Get an idea of what the project is about, and ask yourself “what is the writer’s intention?”  “What is the director’s intention?”  Is the goal to entertain, or to teach?  Is a particular worldview espoused in this project?  If the play or film espouses the joys of communism and you’re a hardcore capitalist, this is the point at which you rethink your role here.  You must be willing to honor and serve the director’s vision.

After that, read the whole thing again, this time from the point of view of your character.  Ask yourself “what does she (my character) want?” both overall, and scene by scene.  When I first started out I made the common mistake of reading the script as though I were watching the movie, then acting how I “saw” my character acting.  This is so wrong!  The fun of acting is getting inside the character to understand their motivations.  Once you know why she acts the way she does, the actions flow from what she naturally does, rather than from what you think she should do.  At this point, I like to take a pen and mark on the script exactly what it is she wants out of the scene partner, as well as anything from my own life that I think is relevant to the scene.  For example, if my character is telling someone off in a way I wish I could to, for example, my brother, I’ll write my brother’s name in the margin to remind myself that I may be speaking to my scene partner, but I’m really saying it to my brother.  This is one of the reasons you need your own copy of the script-to thoroughly destroy with notes and marks!

Finally, I then read the script out loud (usually with my scene partner) considering all the particular wants and needs of the character as they fluctuate from scene to scene, line to line.  Even with very specific intentions, the way a line is spoken can have a million variations and inflections.  Try as many of them as you can.  By this point, you’ll realize you’ve begun to memorize your lines, without the need to really try.

So, that is what I will be doing with the scripts some lovely directors have emailed me this weekend.  Keep in mind that this is before I’ve even been guaranteed the role.  This is the work leading up to an audition, and perfected under the guidance of a director as the project progresses.  So many people ask “how do you memorize all those lines?”  but in reality, if an actor is doing her job correctly, memorization flows naturally from the process of acting.