Monday, October 20, 2014

Sept-Ober: my favorite time of year professionally

I've mentioned in this other entry Success: Celebrate Your Surroundings, that I discovered a very simple connecting element for everything below...each thing either involved friends, or stemmed from another gig that did.  This is why I felt compelled to share this entry.  It really was a team effort.

I don't know what it is, but ever since I graduated from college, September's/October's (Sept-ober) have always been incredible months for me professionally.  Maybe it's because fall is brewing, and it's one of my favorite seasons?  Whatever the reason, some of my best gigs either were booked or carried out during these few weeks every year. 

A few weeks into September, I got to revisit my old home away from home to rehearse and perform for a special event as one of my old Disney characters, Prince Naveen from THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG. I originated this role a few years ago when they created a huge show on the Mark Twain river boat, to help promote the release of the movie in theaters. 

It's by far one of my favorite characters to play since he's just a silly, fun, jazz music loving, ukulele playing fool! It's always nice to head to Disneyland for some fun in the park, and it's an added bonus that with this show, we rehearse in the park after-hours when it's entirely empty...which is wild!
This is Salisha Thomas (super fn talented actress/singer you'll be hearing a lot about soon) and I right after a night of rehearsals.

Shortly after the Disney gig, I had fun in costume yet again as part of an on-going production I act and produce, Erin's web series, ONCE UPON A...ANONYMOUS.  We have multiple episodes and are lining up for our Rock Opera, after reaching our crowd funding goal which will be our biggest and most fun installment yet.  The music is awesome, and if you are a fan of ONCE UPON A TIME on ABC (the show we parody), you are sure to love this Rock Opera installment.  Well, as a way to celebrate the premiere for the ABC show's latest season, Erin came up with an idea for me to dress up as one of the characters I play on the show, and spoof an upcoming story line.  We had a lot of fun filming this on the hush, and I also edited this video as well:

While in rehearsals for the Disney gig, I was hit up by a good friend and fellow actor, Nikki McKenzie. Nikki and I have known each other for a few years now after doing the ABC Diversity Showcase. She also plays Ariel in our web series, ONCE UPON A...ANONYMOUS. She had been performing in a comedic play that became a nice hit in LA with several extended runs called, WOMEN ARE CRAZY, BECAUSE MEN ARE ASSHOLES. It's funny as you can imagine from the title. Well, they were going to be holding auditions and she recommended I check it out.

I've seen Nikki in the show, so I was familiar with it, and I was immediately interested. The show performs with two different revolving casts, so not only is it flexible, but you get to really have unique experiences each time, since the performers can vary from show to show. This is something I experienced in my time with ALADDIN & the PRINCESS AND THE FROG shows at.  I personally love this, since it helps keep shows fresh and unique each time. More than anything though, I had been missing THEATRE.

Since I've been in LA, I've been fortunate to be involved with several stage productions and have done my best to do at least one show a year.  Since I left ALADDIN, it had been a few years since I had my feet on the boards, (with the exception of the Princess and The Frog one-off events each year) and I was just missing that feeling of being in front of a live audience. The last time I had it, was earlier this year for the taping of my episode on 2 BROKE GIRLS.

I quickly researched some reviews to familiarize myself with the character names that most interested me, so I could see if they would be seeking those roles.  Two stood out, but there was one I really had my eye on.  It was the one that kind of scared me, which I loved, and I thought that would be the one I would like to challenge and tackle if all worked out.  Trouble was...the auditions were conflicting with my Disney rehearsals/performances.  I was in touch with the director, and communicated I really wanted to audition, but over email, and in LA where flakes are a dime a dozen, I knew the chances were slim I would get a shot to come in.  "Why don't you email me Friday and I'll have a better idea of what we are doing." Shit.

Well, sure enough a few days later I get an email asking if I can come in Monday. YES!

I went in and did my thing. I felt GREAT coming out.  Not necessarily because I felt I crushed the audition, but because I got to actually WORK in the room and with cool people.  The vibe was chill, and they spent TIME in there working on it with me and pushing/challenging me with the material and I felt like I just worked out physically!  THAT is an experience you always get with theatre pieces that is not always present in the flow of work with camera stuff. It's like being in practice in the gym before the big games. Outside of the theatre, you do a lot of your prep independently. Not always, but usually. I honestly didn't know if I was right for them, but I didn't care. I genuinely had a fun time, and it sparked something.

Sure enough, a few hours later, I'm on the phone with the Director and I'm IN! I'm so excited to work with this cast and the show is a lot of fun. The play opens November 14th.

A few days after booking the show, I received a text message from a friend of mine, Bennet Silverman.  He wanted me to shoot something in a project he was working on.  Every so often, I will get these messages from Bennet and it's always the same gist, "Ace, are you around such and such day? I have something I want you do to, if you are up for it."  I've done a few different projects with him now, and he's a great comedic filmmaker, so I always shoot back a quick, "I'm in."  He's someone to keep an eye out for over these next few years, and has some great things in the works as we speak.  I'm very excited for him!

He's one of the creators of the youtube channel NICE PIECE PRODUCTIONS, and works for various other companies, directing content.  If you want to see some of the past comedic video's I've done with Bennet, I'll post a few at the bottom of this blog.

This new project is an episode on the crazy, yet funny series, PEDRO'S AUTO which stars YouTube sensation, SUPEReeeGO.  The show is distributed by Russell Simmons', ALL DEF DIGITAL label and it is about Pedro (Eric Ochoa), an auto-mechanic who miraculously maintains a successful body shop despite his extremely limited knowledge of cars and his relentless efforts to become the next Latino rap superstar and Bennet is directing this newest season.  The cast is a riot, so definitely be on the lookout for the episodes as they air every Friday over the next few weeks.  

                                         Bennet Photo Bombed us.

A few days after our first table read/ cast meet for WOMEN ARE CRAZY...I got word that Erin and I were cast as to play a couple in a really cool commercial.  It's amazing how many commercials we've probably auditioned for combined, and for this, it's a simple call out of the blue because a friend was producing it.   

We had a great time, and probably would have done for free given the day's activity and product the commercial was focusing on.  That sounds super suggestive, but it's PG, trust me ;)  I can't share more than that because of an NDA we had to sign, but it's a MAJOR company, you buy a LOT of stuff   There's a clue in this video link below, if you can catch it ;)


I've had the chance to work with another filmmaker on a few different projects over the last two years and he's another person that I say "Yes!" to whenever he calls with an idea to film something.  He's a very talented storyteller, but better yet, just an awesome person.  Jay Parupalli.  His ideas are always fresh and original, and huge companies are beginning to take notice.  One of the other projects he developed that I worked on is currently being shopped around, and without missing a beat, he put together his next pitch project PHANTOM and gave me a ring.  I personally love this concept and story, and have no doubt he will have people chomping at the bit for it soon enough.  We got a chance to screen the finished product two weeks after he wrapped production on it.  I couldn't believe he already put it together in that short amount of time.  But, he wastes no time.  He also wrote, directed, shot, edited, composed and designed all the visual efx on the piece.  This kid is a beast.

Check out the teaser video for it:

About a week after the commercial, I got word that the film I shot earlier this year, THE MAN IN THE TRUNK, won it's first award for Best of the Fest at the Offshoot Film Festival in Arkansas, where we filmed.  It was a special treat for me, even though I wasn't personally there.  I've spent a lot of time in Arkansas now for various films, and festivals and have made a lot of great friends, so it was nice to know that not only did people show up to support the film, but that it took home the grand prize.  

A few days after the film festival win, I got a same day appointment on a Friday for the new hit show on CBS, SCORPION.  It's badass show and I LOVE Friday auditions -- deadly combo.  Each episode plays like a mini action movie and it's incredible what they pull off from week to week.  With same day auditions, you make choices, and you make them fast.  There isn't much time to prep.  I actually had to read for three different characters, so now I had to find a way to distinguish three different roles.  There is always a tendency for you to favor one over the other and the challenge becomes making sure you give equal attention to all parts.  There was something that clicked in me when I first got the audition, and it was something that was fresh on my mind from the audition a few weeks prior for the play.  It was a small technical thing, but one that in my opinion made a world of difference and I made sure to implement it for the audition.  I walked into the audition beyond focused.  I'd been having a great couple of weeks, and felt like a machine going into battle which would serve me well, since I was auditioning for military characters.  

I ended up getting the call that I booked it the following Monday!  Not only that, it was the role I most wanted of the three.  I had an incredible time filming this thing.  It was a week and change worth of filming days, and I got to work with one of my acting bucket list actors, Robert Patrick (you might also know him as the T-FN'1000 in TERMINATOR 2!).  He along with the entire cast and crew were awesome.  I can't say too much about the episode right now, but I play, Airman Javier Barrios, a Nighthawk pilot, and there's some awesome action in Bosnia.  

If you haven't checked out the show, I definitely recommend giving it a watch.  It's an enjoyable one for sure!

A few weeks ago we filmed a short horror film for a project called FUN SIZE HORROR.  Erin would write and direct the film that we submitted as our part of the anthology.  We got word recently that our project, HAPPY BIRTHDAY will be one of the opening day films to launch the project.  We had some amazing talents lend their efforts to our film, and we couldn't be more excited to debut our installment.  The film finds us in the middle of a birthday party for 6 year old SOPHIA thrown by her cardigan-clad parents.  They've put together the perfect party for her, including a very special surprise gift.

The film stars a very precious, Nev Scharrel as SOPHIA as well as Victor Webster (CONTINUUM) and Erin as her MOTHER and FATHER.  This film was all friends involved and Erin and I are beyond grateful we had so many throw down on this!

Fun Size Horror is a horror film collective that has come together to create 31 films to celebrate Halloween! You can find all of the shorts distributed across DreadCentral, BloodyDisgusting, ShockTilYouDrop, Collider and HitFix, the week of Halloween! Starting October 27th through Halloween, a new short will appear everyday on each of the five sites hosting Fun Size Horror. Each short will only be up for 24 hours before being replaced by the next day's horror film so make sure to catch them while they're up!

Lastly, I want to mention my film, ROADSIDE...and when I say mention, I barely will do that.  There are some fun things brewing at present.  Over the last few weeks, I've been busting ass to get some updates brewing for everyone that not only worked on the film, but for those who have been in support of it since the project was announced.  It's been a hell of a ride with this project (which deserves its own blog), so I've been very happy with the progress we've made recently.  Timing is everything, and for me personally, I'd felt like the time was now.  If you've read this far, I will just ask that you keep some positive thoughts coming for us and the film, and I should have some fun news to share with you over the next few weeks.  

Success: Celebrate Your Surroundings

We got back from our wedding/honeymoon in July, and it was a whirlwind of catching up, getting re-focused and "settled."  Yea right.  It went from 0-100.  A friend called me up and asked if I was available to jump into production on a feature film he was working on, ANOTHER TIME, to help produce.  It was like hopping on to a running train, but it was a fun and rewarding experience.  
Since then a few other little things popped up here and there and what do you know, we're now seeing Christmas decorations being put out on display.

Lately, I would bump into friends, and someone will ask what I am up to, and the answer is always the same, "Oh, you know, same ol' hustle."  It's my traditional reply.  I just like to know what other people are up to.  I'm curious by nature.  Don't get me wrong, I'm totally passionate about what I may have in the mix, but I've probably posted about it somewhere LOL, or just plain welcome the break from talking about it.

Lately, it's also been important to me to support and champion my friends who are working hard, and achieving great results!  So, I like to hear what they've got going on, or how I might be able to help.  Not in a way to benefit ME, but just a way to GIVE.  Not enough GIVING goes on out there.  I want to practice (encourage) that.  

I heard an athlete mention this recently and I couldn't agree more, "One of the keys to success is being able to celebrate your surroundings."  This was his response when he was asked about leaving his current gym for a, "better one."  While we can argue that if you are surrounded by better people, it will push YOU to be better, I think there was a stronger message.  For my money, there was a better takeaway in three of his chosen words, "CELEBRATE YOUR SURROUNDINGS." 
I have always felt that.  I think it is why I remember odd things about people, or experiences I've had with them.  I will always say, I may not remember a name, but I'll remember an experience and remind you of THAT, I promise.

I like working with people I've worked with before.  But, I like even more, working with people who can support and celebrate each-other, I am learning lately.  

I genuinely get excited when I see other people, my teammates, get some victories along the way.  We work hard.  Not JUST in this business, because I have friends not involved in entertainment that I get equally excited to read or hear about when great stuff is  happening for them.  This business is my immediate connection of course, and I know how challenging it can be, so it's mostly what I refer to.  It's why I created #TEAMBOOKIT
The sad thing is that it becomes harder to cheer for someone, than it is to just pick out or pick upon their challenges I notice.  

Misery loves company, and for every positive or encouraging person, I've noticed five, who no longer ARE teammates, and drift over to the side occupied by envy, jealousy and negativity.  Not even necessarily directed at me -- I've seen it happen to friends of mine BY friends of mine.  

For me, I like to send congrats when things hit for people.  I may not be the first to say something when things are, "brewing", but for sure when it lands.  Maybe that is just my protection since so many things fall along the way.  Maybe, it is just because I don't want to jinx anyone, haha.  Even still, there are times when I have caught myself apprehensive to send a congrats even, because maybe it was a person that I have felt weird vibes from as of late...but then I realize, I don't want to play THEIR game.  

Two things happen: 
1. I step back and try to figure out if this is someone I should even have in my life at this point.  If we can't cheer for each-other, what is the point?  

2. Should I push past for the sake of the bigger/better picture and trust that we all have lessons to learn?  It's a struggle.  We are all human.  But, for the most part it works out in the end.  Some people just need to go through things.  Including myself.  

I think the hard part to overcome involves the easiest of actions: be positive and generous.  

If more people did, maybe it wouldn't be as hard for people to support others.  It is competitive out there, this won't change-- we all know this.  Trust you will GET YOURS when that time is right.  Timing is everything.

In this business you work with so many people, and everyone will, "always work with each-other again", but life gets in the way, ego's form, or people just plain lose steam or interest.  While that is just the nature of the beast, I think it is still important to be able to CELEBRATE each-other.  That is the unfortunate disconnect I notice commonly occurring. 

Ironically enough, while this has been dancing around in my head, I happened to go catch JERSEY BOYS at the Pantages Theatre with Erin.  Great show.  Great Music.  Great performances.  But that is a different blog.  Call me a sap, or maybe say I was caught up in the pride of my state, but there were a few things that hit home for me, and it dealt with the loyalty they showed each other.  For one, there is a notorious deal done between Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio that stands still today...a deal done on a HANDSHAKE.  Process that. 

Another famous story involved Frankie deciding on behalf of the group, to assume the LARGE debt of money racked up by fellow group member Tommy DeVito.  This happened at a time though, when they were at odds with each other...simply because of loyalty.  Tommy was the one that gave Frankie a shot, and that is good enough in Jersey. This could have all been dramatized for the show, but it spoke to me regardless.  

Just be generous to people and remember everyone.  Everyone is a part of your team one way or the other.

Getting back to why I was inspired to write this new entry originally...I sat back for a second after the latest, "You've been busy" comment from someone and thought, "Shit!  Time HAS flown.  Why?"  Then it hit me...It's been a bit busy the last few weeks.  "'s Sept-ober!"  I put together a more specific entry explaining what that entails here: Sept-Ober - my favorite time of the year professionally.  But, the reason why I wanted to highlight that was because these two blogs tie into each-other.  Hint: TEAM.   

I think it is time to wrap up this entry and send a congratulations to all my peers out there making it happen.  There seriously are too many to list, and I've been hearing about or seeing some awesome things pop up.  I feel like there is a very special group out there hitting their stride. Keep it up.  

Lastly, thanks to YOU, it all happens because of everyone's effort and support.


Monday, May 6, 2013

What's in a name?

"Are you Jewish?" I hear this as I'm exiting the JEM Community Center in Beverly Hills last Friday, after playing a few hours worth of pickup basketball games.

It both catches me off guard, and alerts me at the same time. In my head I am wondering, "Does he know? Uh oh." Nervous thoughts form so quickly.

"No, I'm not." I say with a smile matching the gentleman inquiring.

He quickly responds, "Is your Mom Jewish?"

I'm confused. I instantly think back to a play I did early in my career where I played a Jewish character. It was justified at the time and explained to me that I could pass. Is this why I'm being asked now?

Still cautious, I reply and chuckle, "No, she is not. Why do you ask?"

With an even bigger smiley he says, "Oh, ok. I was going to offer to say a Jewish prayer for you!"

Whew! I sigh inside. Safe. "Oh! I'm sorry! But thank you so much--"

He cuts me off, "Don't apologize, there is nothing to be sorry for. Well, have a sandwich, you look like you need to replenish!" he says as he gestures to the old man behind the concessions stand.

I definitely was hungry, but I was so caught off guard by the whole interaction, I had to just get to my car. I for sure felt like I was in the hot seat of an interrogation. I had very mixed emotions as I sat in my hot car. I was honored that he asked and considered praying for me. I would have definitely accepted, but I don't know if he would have after knowing I wasn't Jewish. I felt a bit let down. To be fair though, I don't know if it was or wasn't possible for him and perhaps I didn't let him know I was totally ok with accepting his offer.

I kept thinking about it throughout the weekend and felt bummed that I didn't get a chance to share in that experience. I wanted to call two friends to ask, but realized they would not be able to answer the phone until Saturday sunset.

I don't personally care what anyone's particular involvement is, or where their beliefs stem from, but I like to think we could all share in a moment of connection in a spiritual sense. That something so simple, yet amazing as the the offer the gentleman made, could in fact be accepted by someone outside of his own Jewish faith. I have some homework to do.

Beyond that, the interaction kept running through my head because the initial nervous moment I experienced. That silly tense moment created because of one word given to me at birth...All because of my name.

I am Adolph Marrero II. My father was Adolfo Marrero as was my great grandfather. It's a name I've always been proud of, and one I have always wanted to pass on to a son of my own.

When I started college, I began introducing myself as Ace, a name that I admired long before Jim Carrey made it famous. In fact, it was my dad who first called me it.
Growing up with the name Adolph provided an interesting life. As you can imagine, grade school was fun. "Adolph HITLER!" "Rudolph!" "Are you German?" "Why did your parents name you ADOLPH?!" Sadly, the last question was asked by adults, more than immature kids.

At the time I couldn't tell people to google the origin of the name, so I had to have my own explanation and inform them that my name goes beyond their knowledge of one man who shared a pronunciation of a few letters that were similar to my own.

A lot of people would just shorten it to, "A" or "Ad (pronounced aid)" but most people used my full name. However, I was always proud of my name because I knew it came with some history. My family history. Like I said, I was named after my hero, my Dad.

Today, I have very few people in my every day life that call me Adolph. I have a family nickname that most of my relatives use and a lot of my closest friends know me as Ace, even long time friends now weird me out by calling me Ace. I thank facebook for that, since they can't tag ADOLPH. However, when someone calls me Adolph, it's a very special feeling for me. It always makes me smile inside.

It's why I take so much care to understand a unique name. I've gotten the, "Oh my name is difficult to say, just call me...", but I quickly say, "No. I want to learn it. I know what it's like and I want to respect your name."

I don't have a legal middle name like most people so I think as I was going through high school, I wanted a "cool" name. Perhaps it was part of growing up. Either way, when I had the chance in college, I presented my own nickname, Ace." I remember some of my friends looking at me weird as they would tease, "You're ACE now?" It was at this time I was starting theatre, so I milked the idea of a "stage name" and used that as an excuse.

I then got a cast in a few parts so Marrero went into the program and soon after, my first set of headshots. "I guess I'm going with this then." was my thought.

One day my dad came into my room and we talked about the importance of making sure I included the Roman numeral 2 after my name so as not to confuse mail and tax info (Not Adolph Marrero JR! But Adolph Marrero II. It is actually a pet peeve of mine when people disregard that difference). He also asked if I would want to change my name legally since I was going by "Ace" now. Without hesitation, and before he could finish his thought, I interjected and said, "No way! My name is Adolph. I don't want to change that." He didn't push, and I have to think part of him was proud. I know I was. I would never consider changing my name on a real level.

Before I went away for college, I worked for a company that was owned by several Jewish business men. I remember being nervous to fill out my paperwork, because I had to put down my legal information. Would they care?? One of the owners came over to me one day when handing paychecks. He knew I was going to school for theatre, and he said with a wink, "You know, with the business you are pursuing, it's probably best you go by Ace!" We laughed and went back to our business.

Over the years, I have also met a few people who were traveling from Germany, and I asked them about the name. They scoff and roll their eyes always. I've learned that it's probably an ignorant and tired inquiry, but the tone always changes when I say that my real name comes from Adolfo, and my parents gave me the English version, Adolph. I asked one person if I would be allowed in the country, and they laughed. I'm still not clear on this though, haha.

I have several Jewish friends, and many know my real name. In fact, it's often hard to avoid it because Ace by itself is unique I suppose. Everyone always wants to hear if that's my real name, and I always reply, "It's not, but you'd never guess what it IS." It's always a fun game, and only once in my life has someone guessed, but I'm pretty sure they already knew, haha! Regardless, it's never been an issue.

I think back to the moment I pulled up to the gym in Beverly Hills, and when I realized it was a Jewish Center I did get nervous briefly. I quickly shrugged it off as nonsense. It wasn't like I was going to be kicked out if someone found out my name. Right?

I honestly can't sit here though and say I'm fully confident of that. I certainly have experienced apprehensions before, but it eventually calmed. I like to think we as a society have matured and gained understanding and knowledge, but there are still many issues we face today where this isn't the case. Ignorance is out there. I'm guilty of it, like I said I myself was nervous walking into the Jewish Center.

Still, I am proud.

I have felt a very strong connection to my family history over the last year and a half and I have been talking about wanting to travel to Puerto Rico to learn about it. I want to learn where my relatives come from...what type of blood mix we are formed by. Maybe I can get the story about the name Adolfo.

All I know is that for years I've been drawn to using my birth name again. It's only a matter of time. Like I said, I love when people refer to me as Adolph. That's my name! It also has so much more importance to me now, since my dad passed away. Not only am I the last Marrero male in my family, but the only living Adolph I know of in the Marrero line.

I'm thankful for what I experienced last Friday and for what it reminded me of.

The next time I walk in there I won't be nervous, and I hope that when I walk out, I will have had a prayer said for me. For Adolph Marrero II.

Monday, February 18, 2013

ROADSIDE World Premiere - March 2, 2013

Hey friends!

I've posted about my movie ROADSIDE in the past, well I'm excited to officially announce that it will be having it's World Premiere on March 2nd at the Muvico 14 in Thousand Oaks!

Our premiere for MADISON COUNTY was easily one of the most memorable moments of my life, and I'm hoping to share this premiere with all of you who were a part of that, and more!

It's the 2nd feature film I produced through Swim With the Fish Productions and it's a complete departure from what you may have seen in MADISON COUNTY. In addition, I had the great privilege of leading this great cast.

On ROADSIDE I worked again with the same team behind MADISON COUNTY, and together, we worked to present a new style of film that would challenge us in different ways from our last. Our goal was to tell a bigger story and present a movie that would appeal to a much larger audience this time around.

I couldn't be more proud of the film and everyone involved in making it and I really hope you can make it out to experience this film on the big screen! It's also a fun movie to watch with a friend, because I promise you'll want to talk about the scenarios within it when you leave the theatre!

The ticket prices are an affordable $7 -- where can you watch a film in theatres for SEVEN BUCKS these days?! Also, those in attendance will also get an exclusive, extended sneak peek of the making of documentary that will also be available when the film is released.

You can purchase tickets here at this link below, and I hope to see you there!

"ROADSIDE is a hitchcockian, thriller that finds Dan Summers and his pregnant wife, Mindy, in a fight for their lives when they are held hostage by an unseen gunman on the side of a desolate, snow filled, mountain road during their holiday travel. Their car is running, their phones are working, but they can't leave."

Saturday, November 17, 2012