Where you can find me online

I am always trying to increase my web presence, so while this site is my main hub, I also am on Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace. I am always looking for people to chat with on Twitter especially.

Twitter: @Model_Melissa

Facebook: www.facebook.com/melissamazza

Myspace: www.myspace.com/mpmazza

Actors Connect: http://actorsconnect.com/MelissaMazza

Model Mayhem: www.modelmayhem.com/MelissaMazza

And if you are looking for my reel, check out the videos to the right under Blogroll ~>

Fitness tip

Interval Training

I like posting things here that work for me, but as a disclaimer let me say that I am not a personal trainer or doctor.  I am a certified yoga instructor and general fitness buff, so I do have some knowledge you might find helpful.

This time of year, I am sooo busy-auditions and castings pick up, my travel schedule gets hectic, and oh, yeah, I gotta spend time with my family.  I also love to eat, especially all the fattening comfort foods that are so prevalent in the winter. These things in combination do not a slim Melissa make.  So to combat winter weight gain, I’ve added interval training to my usual fitness routines.

Interval training involves high intensity bursts of exercise followed by periods of recovery exercise.  For example, I usually do an hour on the treadmill or elliptical at least a couple days a week for cardio.  When I want to amp up the intensity with interval training, instead of running at 6 miles an hour for one hour, I’ll sprint for one minute and jog at 4 miles per hour for two minutes.  Repeat ten times, and I’ll have burned more calories in that half hour than I normally would have in an hour.  Sprinting in particular activates fast-twitch muscle fibers in the legs, which builds muscle.

A variation of interval training that I am doing at least three days a week is the bootcamp-style workout.  I’ll do a five minute cardio warmup, then alternate strength moves with high intensity bursts of cardio such as jumping rope, sprinting in place, or power jumping jacks.  If I only have a half hour or 45 minutes, I’ll concentrate on upper or lower body in particular, but if I have an hour or 90 minutes I can get a full body cardio and strength workout.

I don’t recommend jumping into an interval routine if you don’t already have an established workout regimen, but if you are already exercising, it is a great way to break through plateaus and feel immediate results.  Hope this helps!

My Monday Shoot Was Canceled : (

I was supposed to be shooting a campaign for a piece of exercise equipment this Monday.  Last year I did a shoot for a feminine hygiene product and the creative director recommended me to her friend for the shoot on Monday.  It was a nice little self-esteem booster being recommended for this, since I must have been good to work with the first time.

I get some jobs through my agency but I also get a lot on my own.  As mentioned above, this was a job I got through my own channels.  I spoke to the director a few times and we confirmed that the shoot would take place on Monday but the details-time and location-were going to be hashed out later.

That was last week.  I took off of work and called the director for details several nights before but there was no answer.  After a few more ignored phone calls I emailed him to confirm the shoot.  The reply?  “We decided to do that shoot yesterday with another model.  We’ll keep you in mind for the future.”

Yesterday, meaning I was probably calling him to confirm while he was shooting with another model.  I had really been counting on the money for Christmas, and now I’m in a very tough situation.

The bottom line is that I am pissed off and have to make some tough financial decisions following this, but I have no recourse.  The advantage of working with an agency is that there is a paper trail, so you get your money and your tearsheets no matter what.  Hopefully I can learn from this and make sure to get any promises in writing.

Adventures in Shooting 12/18/09

The other night I did a photoshoot with John Tyler (www.johntylerphotography.com) and John Messinger (http://www.jrmphotography.name/)  at Primal Stare Studios in Red Bank NJ.  John Tyler had asked me to shoot with him before but our schedules never quite matched up thus far.  So when I had a night when I knew I was going to be in Jersey and had a few hours available in the evening, I contacted him.  He was kind enough to accomodate me last minute so I made sure to be as prepared and professional as possible.

It turns out I had been teaching yoga less from a mile from Primal Stare Studios (www.primalstarestudios.com) for over a year.  Had I been aware of its existence I would have been knocking down their doors for an opportunity to shoot there!  The place is filled with amazing props and sets to accomodate themes from gothic/horror to pirate/beach scenes to intimate boudoir.  It’s run by Tom, who organizes photography shootouts throughtout the state.  I made plans to shoot with both Johns and another photographer/artist Nick in future.  I got some great pictures and did some serious networking.

We did 4 looks in about 2 and a half hours.  You can see some of the results to the right under Blogroll.   Hope you enjoy!

Please check out the pictures!

A Comedy of Errors

Last night I had two auditions.  One was for an independent film, and I think I did well.  The director and crew seemed really nice too, which is a huge plus.  I went straight from there to my audition for Guys & Dolls.

I walked into the art center that was supposed to be serving as an audition space to find it completely empty.  There was an art exhibit there and the curator seemed happy to see me but I had to explain that I was actually there for an audition.  I felt terrible!  I figured I’d gotten my information mixed up so I went to the actual performance space, and lo and behold, they were holding auditions.  I came in with my dance shoes and sheet music, only to find that the auditions for Guys and Dolls were for the next night, and tonight they were auditioning MacBeth.

I stayed to audition for MacBeth (“The Scottish Play” as we usually call it), mentally going over my Shakespearean monologues.  Then a monitor walked over to me and handed me the sides-it was to be a cold reading.  A cold read of Shakespeare.  That should invoke fear just reading it!  I read through it a few times, just making sure I understood the words.  With Shakespeare, there is a lot of groundwork to cover, both in the auditioning and rehearsal processes.  There was no time for that now.

I did my reading to the best of my ability and stayed to watch some other auditions.  The guy who went after me said he didn’t have the sides, so he was going to do a monologue instead.  Why hadn’t I just asked to do a monologue instead?  The guy nailed it too, performing an amazing soliloquy from Hamlet.

I left the audition laughing at myself.  I definitely will not be playing Lady M in this production!  I got the proper information for Guys & Dolls and will be auditioning for that in the next few days.

If you have any funny audition stories or anything to add, shoot me an email.

edit: i actually got cast in Macbeth after all

my media

Just to remind you, you can contact me here (leave a comment with your email and I’ll email you back from my private email) or by message at Model Mayhem.  My Model Mayhem page is www.modelmayhem.com/melissamazza.  You can see my portfolio pictures there as well, or to the right -> under Blogroll.

Looking for video links?  Here are some YouTube videos featuring yours truly:

Short film by Gene Geter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJc0tJW6eD4

La Poblanita commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beHiqf1GChY

Short film by Stephen Landau: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fdciio2k2DE

Sorry, you gotta copy & paste because I don’t know how to embed the links!

Beauty Tips 12/10/09

Ancient Beauty Secrets

I’ve always been fascinated by the beauty tips and tricks of our forbears in times gone by.  The most famous beauties of history have had their little tips and tricks which have fortunately been passed down to us.   I could write a whole book about the subject, but for now a blog post should suffice.

Queen Cleopatra supposedly wrote a book of beauty secrets which unfortunately has not survived, but we do know that her personal secret was baths in milk.  Milk softens the skin because it contains lactic acid, which is naturally exfoliating and hydrating.

The Book of Esther in the Bible describes the spa-like treatments undergone by the women of the King of Persia’s harem.  Esther 2:12 says “Before a girl’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete 12 months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women: six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics” (NIV).  Myrrh is used in modern aromatherapy as a treatment for the gums and teeth and for skin ailments such as eczema for its antimicrobial and antifungal properties.

Famous courtesan Lola Montez, whose lover King Ludwig of Bavaria made her the Countess of Landsfeld, wrote a book of beauty tips.  Exercise and sleep are her big prescriptions.  “Plenty of exercise, in the open air, is the great recipe.  Exercise, not philosophically and with religious gravity undertaken, but the wild romping activities of a spirited girl who runs up and down as though her veins were full of wine.,”  she writes.  She goes on to tell a story about a girl with very skinny arms who remedies the problem with dumbell workouts.  Mind, you this was written in 1858!

These are but three examples-as I said, I could write a whole book about this!  Look for more tips and tricks in upcoming posts, and please email me if there is something specific you’d like me to talk about.

Scene Acting

Focus back on acting for now.

I’ve had formal training and have had all the complicated Adler vs. Meisner scholarly acting debates, but in general acting can be a very simple, organic thing.  Thinking about it too much puts you “in your head,” when acting is about doing rather than thinking.

One thing we all agree about is the importance of the character’s intention or objective throughout the scene and throughout the whole work.  I’ll be using the words interchangeably throughout this post and others so please don’t be confused.  The objective or intention is essentially what the character wants.  There are objectives throughout the scene, and a superobjective throughout the whole production (play, film, whatever).  Objectives or intentions are what drive conflict in a scene, and of course conflict is the source of drama.  A scene with two actors is driven by each character trying to get something out of the other character.  This is their intention, and everything that they say or do is just a condition of the intention.  The intention is always more specific than “to inform.”  If the only point of a speech or line is to inform the other character or the audience, that is not a scene because there is no conflict.  One of the trickiest parts of acting is to discover what specifically your intention is in the scene.  Once you realize your objective, everything else begins to fall into place and your scene will take on a new, dynamic energy.

I’ve often said that modeling is in many ways like acting, and I always find it helpful to find my objective when I’m doing a photoshoot.  Each look becomes a different character, and that character, like every one of us, wants something.  Suppose the photographer tells me to look happy.  Well, his happy may not look like my happy.  As I was taught in acting school, you cannot act an emotion.  One way to play “happy” is “I’m happy that I just got a promotion at my job and I want the world to know it.”  In that case, my intention is to let everyone know that I’ve accomplished something.  Or maybe, I’m happy because I just made out with a guy I’ve had a crush on, but I’m trying to be discreet and hide my joy from the world.  In that case, the intention is “to hide my joy.”  The energy will be completely different in these cases and will produce completely different looking pictures, but both could be called “happy.”

Try Viparita Karani for Holiday Stress

One of my students’ favorite poses is Viparita Karani, or Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose, a restorative yoga pose that is perfect for helping you deal with the stress of this time of year.

To get into the pose, bring your mat or a blanket near a wall.  Sit by the wall with your hip and shoulder as close to the wall as possible, then lie down, swinging your legs up against the wall.  Then just rest and breathe deeply in the pose.  That’s it!  You may wish to use a bolster or folded blankets underneath your lower back and/or neck for comfort. To come out of the pose, hug your knees in toward your chest and gently roll over to your right side.  Take your time coming up do avoid unsafe drops in blood pressure.

This pose can help with insomnia, migraines, digestive problems, mild depression, cellulite, tired legs, swelling, and just about everything else!  Ancient yoga literature waxes poetic about this pose.  The Gheranda Samhita states that “You will become an adept in all the worlds and will not perish, even at the world’s dissolution.”  I wouldn’t go as far as all that, but this pose will make you feel better with barely any effort.

Check out Yoga Journal’s decription of the pose here: http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/690

I was interviewed by the Photographer & Model Podcast!

Last night I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Houston photographer Ron Davis and model Shawna Rencher for their Photographer and Model Podcast. As I let them know, I had found their podcast on iTunes and loved it. I listen to it on the way to shoots to get myself in the mood for a photo shoot. One day it hit me that maybe I could be interviewed, so I contacted them, et voila, I was booked for a few days later.

I had a lot of fun but I really rambled on! If I’m reading from a script I can do ok, but let me speak off the cuff and be prepared for tangents. My yoga students can tell you that. I also got kind of tripped up on the question of who my favorite models are. I mentioned Ron Davis’ former muse, Goth model Scarlett St. Vitus (a latter day Louise Brooks. I love her look), and the inimitable Mosh (the rare exotic blonde), but if I had thought more about it I could have come up with a hundred more models I love. I would have mentioned Agyness Deyn, Lily Cole, Magdalena Frackowiak, Jeska Vardinski, Anna Evans, Revel, Terachin, and a million more. No, I don’t know any of those girls. They are a mixture of the famous and unknown, alt, fetish, high fashion, and art models.

So please forgive my ranting and rambling, both in the interview and here on the blog! I highly recommend that anyone who enjoys this blog should check out www.photographerandmodel.com and/or download the podcast from iTunes. If you like my opinions and stories, you will like hearing of the adventures of other models and photographers. My episode will air in January, and I will definitely keep you posted for when it appears.