Old Year

Before we get too far into 2017, I wanted to take a moment to appreciate what a great year 2016 was artistically for me (however problematic and sad it was in other regards).  Here are the highlights:

  • My creative partner, Kevin R. Free and I made our ongoing collaboration "official" forming MyCarl Productions.  We made a website AND a video so you KNOW we're serious now. ;)
  • My comedy webseries, Gemma & The Bear!  continued to receive accolades.  Most exciting, we were programmed into the New York Television Festival (NYTVF) which gave us access to so many amazing panels plus the opportunity to pitch to and otherwise meet with TV executives.  To get ready, I wrote six original TV pitches and the beginning of a pilot.  Along the way, I discovered how much I LOVE writing for TV.
  • I was in an amazing play called NIGHT OF THE LIVING N-WORD!!  It was produced as part of the 20th anniversary NYC Fringe festival.  We received a lot of critical acclaim and folks wrote some nice words about my performance as well.  I'm proud of my work and proud to have been part of bringing an innovative and important play to life.
  • I wrote my first TV pilot! All the way through!! It's an hour-long teen sci-fi drama (dramedy?) and I'm revising it now but . . . that was fun!

Here's hoping 2017 can be as artistically rich as 2016 if not more so! xo


We had a party!  For Gemma & The Bear!  And It was GREAT!

A whole bunch of wonderful people showed up.  We watched the whole first season all together on a big screen.  We played a fun drinking game.  There were Goodie Bags.  And everyone seemed to have a great time!  

Here are some photos.  (Scroll down past the photos to learn how to re-live our fun party in the comfort of your own home!)  

Me and Marley who plays Gemma, age 9.

Me and Marley who plays Gemma, age 9.

Goodie Bags for the Party!

Goodie Bags for the Party!

Sexy people at the party enjoying the show.

Sexy people at the party enjoying the show.

Me and Kevin aka Gemma & The Bear

Me and Kevin aka Gemma & The Bear

Attractive and delighted crowd

Attractive and delighted crowd

Me, Marc Sinoway who plays Adrian

Me, Marc Sinoway who plays Adrian

Kevin, Debargo (who plays Tom), and Me

Kevin, Debargo (who plays Tom), and Me

Want to catch up on the fun?  Just CLICK HERE to watch Season One and then follow the rules of our very own #GATBLive drinking game below.  

Feel free to take photos of YOUR event - we'd love to see!

Finish Line

The sixth episode of Gemma & The Bear - the Season Finale - was released this past Monday, and I've been crabby all week.   

Tuesday night found me sitting on the kitchen floor, reading Facebook on my phone, eating old pistachio gelatto out of the container and blowing off the gym.  Basically: willfully feeling bad about myself.  

What the . . . ?

I wrote a bit about the Gemma & The Bear journey here.  What I don't think I expressed was the extent to which the whole experience has felt like an intensive graduate program in content creation.  I know so much more than I did and am so much stronger and more capable in this area than I was a year ago.  It's kind of incredible and, looking at what I personally spent, it was probably a bargain.

So here I am.  A recent graduate without a job; in that middle place between being still tired and frayed from the final push and not yet having begun moving towards the next thing (whatever it is).  

My plan is to spend September (and maybe some of October) figuring out what the next thing might be and making an action-plan to move towards it.  August saw me struggling more and more to meet my own blogging and newsletter deadlines and so, while I hope to put more here during the next few weeks, I'm not making any promises.   I've got other writing to do in other places.  I've got a little boy starting a new school.  I'm hoping to do some quality big-picture thinking and take care of a bunch of housekeeping along the way.

In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy Gemma & The Bear.  For all of my crabbyness, it feels really good - and I'm extremely proud - to have reached this particular milestone.  Can't wait to share the next thing with you soon . . . 

So . . . I made a show!

It's called Gemma & The Bear and we just released the first two episodes this past Monday.

It was over two years ago that it all began - sometime between giving birth to my son and my mom's brain tumor being diagnosed.  Kevin and I wanted to make something together and I thought it should be a web series.  We'd done theater together, but I wasn't doing theater at the moment because I had a tiny child to take care of.  Something on-camera felt more manageable. 

So we began.  We met and wrote and had a reading and got rid of everything we'd written and started again.  Working on the project was always a joy; it was also my artistic life-line.  Without the luxury of time I used to enjoy, it became important to focus on doing one thing well, and that was our show. 

Late last summer - almost a year ago - we began our casting process (we paused so I could have back surgery), in the late fall we launched our Indiegogo campaign, and in December we finally - FINALLY - started filming. 

We shot for seven non-consecutive days in December, January and February, going by location rather than chronology of the script.  When our office location fell through the morning before the shoot, my brother came through with his office for us and we squeezed what we'd planned to film in three days into two.  We made third graders stand outside on one of the coldest days of the year.  We re-cast a major role at the last minute because our original actor was injured.  We called in favors.  We got it done. 

I handled the craft services and, later, the payroll.  I wouldn't choose to take on those extra roles again, but it felt really good to support our cast and crew in a loving way through food, and later, to appreciate them by redistributing about 75% of what we'd raised to make the show in the form of checks to our artistic and technical collaborators. 

I thought the hard part was over.  And then I found myself a producer of a project in post-production. 

But now it's here!  Gemma & The Bear.  Kevin R. Free was my collaborator in all things - writing, acting and producing - and Matt Scott as director, editor and co-writer has provided invaluable additional vision and input.  This has been one of the most rigorous and most rewarding artistic experiences of my life and while I learned a lot (and would do some things differently if I had to do them over) I am incredibly proud of what we've made. 

We're still working on episodes 3, 4, 5 and 6 - they'll be out in August - but for now I hope you enjoy episodes 1 and 2.

EPISODE 1: HE'S BAAAAAAAACK! Gemma gets a big assignment at work and graduates from therapy, but a blast from the past threatens her security. CAST: Gemma Woods: Eevin Hartsough Karen: Natalie Kim Tom: Debargo Sanyal The Bear: Kevin R. Free and Jojo Gonzalez as Dr. Dormer www.gemmaandthebear.com

EPISODE 2: MEET THE BEAR Gemma visits her dad, Hank, to try to get to the bottom of the Bear's reappearance in her life. CAST: Gemma - Eevin Hartsough The Bear - Kevin R. Free Hank - Ray DeMattis More at www.gemmaandthebear.com

This isn't theater so I can't see your faces; leave a comment! 

M.C. Double-E

That's my rap name.  Okay.  Not really.  BUT my rap video did just come out.  You're saying "WHAT?!" I know.  It's a little "off brand," as they say. Here's the story . . .

The One I Love

The weekend before last, my husband and I found ourselves in the rare position of having an evening to ourselves (the kiddo was asleep early) and enough time to watch an entire movie in one sitting.  Hot Damn!  

Some quick googling of "best date movies" led us to The One I Love staring Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass plus Ted Danson in a small supporting role.  It's currently streaming on Netflix which describes the movie this way:

Confronted with the potential end of their marriage, Ethan and Sophie take off for a weekend together, hoping to negotiate their future. When they reach their idyllic destination, however, the couple strolls into a bizarre new brand of trouble.

We really enjoyed it.  I wrote before about another Mark Duplass movie, Safety Not Guaranteed, and what both of these movies have is a kind of eerie magical realism that works really beautifully. 

Also, as a recent producer of video content (aka Gemma & The Bear) it was hard not to be impressed with how the movie really only has two actors in it - such a smart way to have room to focus on excellent acting (which The One I Love has in abundance) and great production values. 

If you watch it - or if you've seen it - leave a comment and let me know what you thought!

Mickey, Gillian and Me

MickeyRooney20 I worked with Mickey Rooney, who died this past week, when I was a little girl.  I remember doing not-much-at-all in one scene of something-or-other and being totally confused about which guy Mickey Rooney even was for most of the time, but I remember that it was a BIG deal to the adults in my family.  Mickey Rooney was a big deal and rightly so.  He was also the rare individual who managed to start acting as a kid and sustain that career into (and, in his case, through) his adulthood.




A couple of months ago, Gillian Jacobs (who you probably know from the TV show Community) was interviewed in Backstage and had this to say about her own transition from being a child actor to an adult one:

“I had a very difficult time at school. I think when you have some success as a kid, your notion of being a good actor is pleasing the director, doing exactly what they tell you to do,” she says. “Juilliard wanted me to realize I had agency in my role as an actor: It was important for me to make decisions and have opinions and not just do what they told me to do to the best of my ability. I think that’s a big paradigm shift.”

I've been thinking about this passage ever since I read it because it is such an excellent and succinct articulation of one of (THE?) biggest difference between going to auditions as a kid and going as an adult and why it can be so hard to find success as an adult after a childhood career.  I remember when I was re-embarking on an acting career after college, the adults around me - my parents, my childhood manager and agent - all said "you know what you're doing."  And, in retrospect, I'm not at all convinced that I did.  I've spent the intervening years trying to make sure I do know what I'm doing and discovering that I not only can but SHOULD have my own point of view as an artist - even as an actor saying someone else's words - is a more exciting opportunity on any given day than pleasing someone else.


Still, going in with that need to please - equating pleasing others with "success" - is a difficult habit to break, particularly when one has received so many positive strokes for that very thing growing up.  It's something I continue to work against - with mindfulness and practice - in the interest of being a truly excellent artist.  Even more, though, I don't think that this people-pleasing as an undermining factor in living a fully self-actualized life is limited to former young performers.  It seems to me that we get stuck in lots of roles we played as people growing up and that determining who we really are (and who we really want to be) is a huge part of becoming an adult and finding personal success for all of us.

Mickey Rooney had his share of ups and downs.  In his NY Times obit, Aljean Harmetz writes:

Although his career was one of the longest in show business history — almost 90 years separated his first movie from his last — it was crammed with detours and dead ends. (“There have been crevices, fissures, pits, and I’ve fallen into a lot of them,” he told The Times in 1979.)

It would be facile (not to mention presumptuous) to assume that those ups and downs all stemmed from a people-pleasing need, but hard not to suspect that that impulse wasn't at least one of the challenges in Mr. Rooney's mix.

What outdated aspect of your identity are you still carrying around or wrestling with?  How have you moved beyond that limitation and what has that meant for you?  Tell us all in the comments!