Update: Not As Jobless Or As Broke As Used To Be

Hey, it's been a while so here's a little update on my life. 

I'm a lot less broke than I used to be. I'm able to pay my rent, split groceries with Marcus and afford dance classes. I don't really spend money on anything else other than transportation. 

Side note: I haven't splurged in a LONG TIME. This summer I bought two dresses and two tops from Forever 21 when I was in Miami, a jean skirt and a body suit from a thrift shop, and a $6.00 dress from H&M. Maybe that sounds like a lot, but I used to buy a new wardrobe for each season.  

Every penny I have goes to the essentials, or for learning/ creating, but this doesn't bother me one bit, mainly because I know everything will pay off in the end! 

Living situation 

I moved to a new spot in town! It's a lot quieter than where I used to live, and a tad cheaper. It's a hop away from my talent school and the 504 streetcar stops right in front of my condo. #Winning. We decided to get a furnished place because it's a lot easier (and cheaper ATM), and lucky for us most of the furniture is from IKEA. I'm obsessed with this condo and even though it's small, it's my favourite spot I have lived in so far. It just feels like home. 

 

Acting

In other news...I'm beginning to get roles! I was recently cast in three different projects. The first is a pilot for a TV show for Humber College (so it's a student thing). I play a lead character. I can't really talk about the project right now, but filming is happening next week and I'm so excited. 

I was also cast in a short thriller where I play the snazzy love interest of a bad boy. We started filming last Monday, and I'll be on set again tomorrow for a dramatic scene. The script is pretty intense/emotional and I'm currently trying to figure out how I'm going to nail this role. In the film, there's a few scenes where I have to LIGHT UP AND SMOKE A CIGARETTE which I have never really done before. Honestly though, I think I've only tried using a lighter once. Fire scares me. My only experience with lighters are with the ones with the long stems. 

I was also cast in a music video for an up and coming rapper. Filming was two weekends ago and the days were lonnnnnnng. We filmed for 17 hours one day. But I'm happy to say, this was my first paid role! YAY! 

I continue to audition for roles every single week. If anyone has any self-tape tips, holla. 

Side note: I saw Angelina Jolie on Monday September 11 at the premier of First they killed my father. SHE IS AMAZING!!!!

Health

I started eating healthy again. I'm eating more regularly, and I try really hard not to eat out at all. It feels so good to have groceries and to cook for myself (or have Marcus cook for me). I still try to walk everywhere, and I've been going to dance classes once a week at the Underground Dance Centre. I've also been going to the gym a few times a week in my building! I don't have a scale but I predict I'm getting closer to my old weight. 

Side note: I still indulge on goodies all the time. 

Work

I left my second serving job because I recently started working for a company based in New Brunswick to help them with the online portion of their business! (That and also I'm really just over serving.) I continue to do background acting and I'm beginning to get some paid work for acting so things are looking up! 

Overall 

I'm adjusting to Toronto MUCH BETTER. Life isn't perfect and it never will be but I find a lot of comfort by having faith and by knowing that one day everything I'm doing will pay off. Some days I wake up and wonder if I'm doing the right thing. I think it's normal to second guess yourself. When that happens, I just try to stay as positive as possible. I also listen to encouraging podcasts to lift my spirits whenever I'm feel unsure about myself.

Shoutout to Sawyer Hannay for introducing me to the GaryVee podcast, and to Nadine Drillen for introducing me to JLD Entrepreneurs on Fire

If there's any advice I can give, it's to do what YOU love and do what your soul craves (tacky, but true). 

I've been following the little voice inside of me and I've never felt better. Do things that you want to do and just be you (cliche, I know). 


My modern map art

I want to use this portion of my blog to focus one of my favourite things about my new place. 

I received this awesome map art in May but had no where to put it in my previous apartment. I also had trouble finding a frame until I went to Micheals

I like this piece because it reminds me of home while I'm away. I grew up in Fredericton but most of my family lives in Saint John so it's nice to have a New Brunswick poster as opposed to a Fredericton poster. 

I plan on getting a few more posters of my favourite cities in the world! 

This brand also does maps of countries and ski hills! If you're interested, check them out here !

Modern Map Art

 

I Was Lonely, So I Downloaded Bumble BFF

Let me start off by saying that this is not an ad for Bumble. 

About a month after I moved to Toronto I started to feel lonely. I needed friends. I needed girlfriends. 

In Fredericton, I had lots of girlfriends from different groups of friends that I had known since high school. Even if I was busy and couldn't make plans to meet up, I'd never go too long without running into someone at the mall, at the gym, or at Blonde Inc. Salon while getting pampered. 

But here in Toronto, you don't just bump into people or see too many familiar faces. 

I had my boyfriend, his good friend (and roommate) Ryan, Ryan's girlfriend Ceci, and Ceci's best friend Sam. Don't get me wrong, I love hanging out with all of those people buuuuuut I needed my own group of friends as well. And most importantly, I needed girlfriends.  

One day,  I was telling all of this to my dearest Ashley Lemmon over the phone when I said:  

"I wish there was a Tinder, but for friends." 

"There is! It's called Bumble BFF" she said. 

Hmmm an app to find friends, weird. But okay! 

So I did it. I actually downloaded Bumble BFF. At first I was nervous and kind of embarrassed. I didn't tell anyone at first, not even my boyfriend Marcus. 

The way Bumble BFF works is exactly like how regular Bumble works. You make a profile, you narrow your search to whatever age range and gender you're looking for, and you start swiping through profiles

Swipe right if you want to connect, swipe left if you don't. If both parties swipe right, you will be connected and have 24 hours to talk to each other through the app before your match expires. 

Bumble_profile.PNG

I narrowed my search to women 21 and older. I think I rewrote my profile description seven or eight times. I looked at other people's profiles to make sure mine would fit in. Once I was confident enough in my profile pictures and descriptions, I started swiping right. 

I swiped right a lot. It's definitely unfair to judge a person based on appearance, but here's how I narrowed it down. 

I swiped right: 

  • If they liked drinking coffee or going for casual drinks
  • If they said they were new to the city
  • If they liked going to the gym 
  • If they mentioned Drake in their description 
  • If they mentioned they worked/had interests in media, fashion, modelling, startups, or PR 

I swiped left: 

  • If they didn't have a description or barely put effort into it
  • If their pictures were all selfies located in the same setting 
  • If they only had one picture 
  • If they were located out of Toronto
  • If they were vulgar or explicit in their description or picture
  • If they said they loved nature and doing "natury" things (sorry that's just not me) 
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I remember my first match. I was so excited. I actually texted Ashley and told her I had a match. I can't remember who I matched with, but I remember trying to think of something to say. I ended up just saying "Hi!" 

Soon enough, I had like twelve matches and five steady conversations going on through the app. It felt like speed dating. I honestly started feeling less lonely within the first few days just by talking to these women! 

I only ever met up with one person I matched with. Her name is Malaika and she's from London England. We met at Fresh on Richmond and Spadina. The place was packed. I arrived 20 minutes late because I was just getting off work, and Malaika was sitting in the corner by the window when I first saw her. When I got to the table, I apologized and she said it was totally fine.   

We talked about music (we both REALLY like hip-hop and R&B), travelling, moving to a new city, and relationships. After 2.5 hours of good conversation, we parted ways. 

I called Marcus immediately after to tell him about my new friend. He was happy I starting to make my own friends. 

After I got my serving job and started making "real life friends" at work, I didn't go on the app as much anymore. But please know that if you move to a new city, or if you're just looking to meet a new friend, Bumble BFF can be a great tool. 

Before I tried it, I thought I was too good to use an app to make friends. For a second, I convinced myself that I had all the social skills necessary to make friends the "normal way" and that I would only meet weird people online. THAT'S NOT TRUE. Don't ever be ashamed for online dating or making friends through the internet. It's okay, and it doesn't matter what others think. 

I'm so happy I didn't listen to my original thought. Talking to all of those women on the app really helped me feel less lonely during a time where I just needed to talk to a girl. And the best part is, I got one good friend out of the entire experience. 

To this day, I still talk to Malaika, and we hang out from time to time! I ended up deleting Bumble BFF, but I recently downloaded it again to see who else is out there. 

This weekend, I'm actually meeting up with another woman I met from Bumble (yay!!) If you're interested and want to know how it goes, slide into my Instagram DMs or email me and I'll be more than happy to answer. 

And once again, thanks for reading. 

Alex 

 

 

Toronto took a toll on my body

If you've read my previous blogs, you'd know that my move to Toronto has been a rollercoaster. 

Yes, it's been the best experience ever, but it's also been a constant struggle.

Not only am I mentally adjusting to living in this city, but my body is adjusting as well. 

For instance, in Fredericton I use to go to the gym four or five times a week. I ate healthy (and often), never skipped breakfast, and my idea of an awesome bedtime snack was air-popped popcorn 

Toronto is a whole other story. In fact, it's the opposite. 

Now, I almost never go the gym, I rarely eat breakfast, sometimes I only eat once a day (or I eat ALL day) and my idea of a bedtime snack is lots of chocolate, lots of ice cream — or both. 

When I first moved here, I went to the gym a lot. I tried to keep the same diet and workout consistency as I did in Fredericton. I bought the same groceries, cooked the same meals and did the same workouts. I don't know why, but it just didn't stick here. 

In July, I started a NEW serving job. I started getting more background acting work as well. I was busy. Like, no-time-to-shower-or-eat busy. 

I remember there was one weekend in August where I worked at the restaurant from 11 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., ran home and changed, then took the subway to a movie set for 10 p.m., worked until 6:00 a.m. the next morning, took the subway back home to change, and went to another set for 7:45 a.m. and finished around 9 p.m. the next night. I remember consuming a breakfast burrito at 1 a.m., a chicken platter plate at 2:30 a.m., and another big meal on set the next day at around 3 p.m. I also may have had a few apples in between. 

My schedule was so messed up. 

I gradually stopped eating breakfast just because I started sleeping in really late. I stopped going to the gym too. (I walk A LOT here, so I convinced myself that walking would replace the gym).

Some days, I would only eat once a day (I'd have maybe an apple or banana, or chocolate chip pancakes) and other days, all I would do is eat out! This happened on my days off where I thought to myself "well I haven't been eating much so I should treat myself" and "I'm too tired to buy groceries, I've been working like crazy!" 

I ate out a lot because of my hectic schedule, and then I just stopped buying groceries. On the rare occasion I would make a tuna melt or rice cakes with peanut butter and extra chocolate chips but I basically lived off of Chipotle burrito bowls. 

I started craving things I've never really craved before like Big Macs and pop. I can remember about a month ago I actually bought a root beer (thanks for passing on that addiction, Ashley Lemmon). If you know me you'd know that I never drink pop, and the only fast food restaurant I go to is Pita Pit. Not in Toronto. 

This way of living took a huge toll on my metabolism and I noticed my body changing— my abs slowly started to disappear and clothes were fitting a little snug. I don't have a scale but I've probably gained a good six pounds. 

But you know what, I don't really care. 

I guess what I'm really trying to get at is, when your life drastically changes, it's hard to keep the same routine. I'm in a transition period, and so is my body. I'm not going to get upset because I wasn't able to stay as fit as I'm use to. 

My Fredericton routine definitely does not work in Toronto because I don't have time to spend two hours at the gym anymore, or cook for hours on end. But I've also learned that I need to make more time for my basic needs. 

Sometimes you just have to "be bad" for a while in order to get back to where you were. If I made health and fitness my top priority while living in Toronto, I'd probably be on my way back to New Brunswick because I'd be broke and have no job. The hustle was mandatory and still is. 

In September I'll be moving in with my boyfriend which will make things a lot easier in terms of cooking healthy meals and staying motivated to go back to the gym.

I'll get back to where I was, but my body needs time to adjust to things too. 

Thanks for reading, 

- Alex 

 

 

 

Plot Twist: I'm Pursuing Acting and I'm an Extra

I never ever planned to admit this to anyone (especially the online community), but I promised I'd be honest, so here it is! 

I'm pursuing acting. Yes, it's crazy, but let me explain.

If you asked me what my BIGGEST and most wildest dream is in the whole entire universe, I would say it's to become an actress.

I ruled it out long ago because...

a) It's crazy  

b) My situation

I was living in New Brunswick and I had no real training. I had never even done theatre (besides one very sad high school production, and a drama class in university). 

You only have ONE life. I could waste my time wishing, wondering, and imagining what it would be like and pursue something else, or I could give it my best shot, so that's what I'm doing. 

I've been wanting to act since I was three years old (I clearly remember being three and wanting to be on Barney) but that's a whole other blog post that you'll hear about some other time. 

The same day I quit my serving job on King West (see previous blog for details on that), I had an appointment with a background agency. 

Background agencies help you to get work in the background of movies, TV shows, and commercials. In other words, you're an extra. 

One day, I was browsing the media section of Kijiji when I stumbled on a bunch of ads from talent and background agencies looking to recruit. The ad said "no experience required, become an extra today!" I was like ouuuu yes, this could be fun. I decided to submit my information to a few of them, and soon after, I was asked to come in to get my picture taken. 

The first agency I went to was in a tall building on Bloor Street West. I took the subway from Spidina Station, all the way to Islington Station, and during the entire length of the subway ride, I was very nervous. I wore a blue, knee-length skirt from Forever 21, a white crop top, and wore my hair down and natural. I listened to Make Me Proud by Drake and Nicky Minaj for some extra confidence. I did not know what to expect.  

When I arrived to the office, I filled out another application and then met with a man who I'll call Tom (not his real name). He took my picture against the white wall in his office and explained to me that every week he would submit my photo to casting directors for background. If the casting directors wanted to cast me, Tom will call to ask if I'm available to work.  

He then proceeded to tell me that I would need to pay $100 up front to join the agency's roster. This was a bit alarming because I had been told that agencies should not charge you ANY money up front. However, I thoroughly went through ACTRA's website (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists), and read that it's normal for background agencies to charge an upfront fee.   

I also remember the agent telling me I'd be the next Jessica Biel (LOL). I paid the fee, smiled, and took off. 

FOUR days later on a Thursday, I got a call. 

Tom asked me if I was available on Friday to work on a very popular show about lawyers (I'm not sure what I can and can't say, so we we'll leave it at this!) 

"Uh, absolutely!" I said. 

"Great, we'll send you your call time later today," said Tom. 

A call time is the time you must show up to set. It usually comes in an email and includes other information like what you should wear and how you should have your hair and makeup. You never know how long you'll be there for. 

After I hung up, I was beyond happy. I told all of my closest friends and family members that I would be an extra. 

I told my dad (who is one of my biggest supporters) and he put it on his Facebook status. He told people I GOT A PART on the show. I asked him to take it down because a) I did not get a part on on the show (I'm only an extra) and b) I could get in trouble by the production company. 

Background actors are seen as bottom of the barrel (we are basically just human objects to make the scene look fuller or alive).

Our tasks are usually pretty simple:

"Walk straight and take a left." 

"Stand here and pretend talk to your neighbour." 

"Walk to here, wait 10 beats, and sit down on this bench." 

Sometimes a scene will go by super fast and you'll only have to do your action a few times, but sometimes you'll find yourself repeating the same action 15 times in a row and be on set for hours. 

Another thing about background: you wait around a lot. Like A LOT. Once, my call time was at 9 a.m., and we didn't get on set until almost 3 p.m. But honestly, I don't mind waiting; it gives me time to read or write. 

My favourite thing about doing background is being in the scene and watching the actors perform (when I can!) I also love the free food. Yes, when you're on set they feed you. Sometimes you'll get a delicious meal like salmon, fresh salads, sweet potato, veggie burgers, and chicken. Sometimes you'll get a sandwich. It all depends on how long you've been on that particular set, and the budget! 

As long as you're a good listener and take direction well, background acting is pretty easy. I enjoy it a lot, and I'm extremely grateful every time I get to do it. 

Since my first background job in early June, I've worked seven other times for different shows and movies. The work is unpredictable, you usually only get a call the day before, sometimes only hours before. The pay rate is $12.50 an hour but you usually work long hours. 

Doing background is a great introduction into the acting world. I'm currently taking acting/improv classes once a week, and my plan is to get a principal agent (an agent that represents actors going for speaking roles) in the next few months. 

Since background acting is so unpredictable, I'm working as a server at a NEW restaurant (and it's going well!), and I continue to do work with Nora Swimwear and Country Liberty. 

I'm still struggling, but I'm having fun doing it. 

Thanks for reading, 

-Alex

P.S, if anyone has ANY advice on this, I would love to hear from you!

Jobless And Broke In DT Toronto

Ever since I moved to Toronto, my life has done a complete one 180.

Before I moved, I was very comfortable with my life, too comfortable in fact. There were no more big challenges for me. I stopped growing, and that's why I had to leave. 

I had a nice, affordable apartment in downtown Fredericton, an AMAZING king size bed, and I got to drive around my parents' balling Chrysler 300. I lived seven minutes away from my family, I worked from home for Nora Swimwear but I had a good job at a restaurant that I could always fall back on and pick up shifts, and I pretty much did or bought anything I wanted (within reason.) 

Purchasing last minute trips to Cuba or expensive concert tickets? Yep, that was me. 

I would meet with friends for sushi or nachos once or twice a week, go for blizzards with my boyfriend, and get coffee from Starbucks or Reads on the regular. BUT I felt stuck. The move to Toronto was inevitable. I knew it was going to happen. I wanted it, and I needed it. 

I moved to the city on May 19, 2017. I was eager and I had a plan.

  • Get a job at a high-end restaurant
  • Make LOADS of money
  • Make super cool connections on the job
  • Land a big position in fashion or media through those connections
  • Live happily ever after

Spoiler alert. NONE of this worked out like I had planed, but we'll get to that later. 

My apartment is located in the entertainment district (aka, I can see the Rogers Centre from my building). It's a one bedroom plus den. I have the den. My room is the size of a large elevator. I have a single bed, a desk, a shelf, and a wardrobe. There's no TV.  The apartment itself is beautiful and brand new. It's twice as small and twice as expensive than my old place in Fredericton, but I have no complaints (and I have a roommate!) 

My second day in Toronto, I landed a job at a restaurant on King St. West. The owner guaranteed me five shifts a week. It looked perfect and every thing seemed to be going according to plan. 

I started working at this restaurant three days later. The first training shift felt okay, I shadowed a few of the servers and watched how they engaged with their customers. I followed them around, took drink orders, poured water, and brought fresh bread over to tables. I went back the next day for my second training shift and I managed to keep up but I still wasn't sure about the place. During the shift, the person I was shadowing told me I was standing too close to them while training, and during the third shift, my trainer tried to teach me how to hold my tray "properly". 

"Hold it like this" she said, as she held the tray with one hand, elbow in, away from her body. 

"But I've always held my trays like this," I said. (I hold my tray with one hand, but with my elbow touching my stomach so I can keep the tray steady with my body). 

"You need to learn to do it this way." she said. 

I tried it her way for a minute, but went back to my way, the same way I've held a tray for the past five years working as a server at McGinnis Landing.  

Later in the night she caught me holding my tray "the wrong way" again and it felt like I was being scolded. 

"Babe, you've got to hold it like this" she said as she motioned to me how to hold it "properly" again. 

"You'll get use to it and you'll thank me me later," she said. 

Later that night while I was clearing some plates off the table, she told me to hold the plates straight because things could fall off when I lifted them up. She grabbed onto my plate while I was holding it and turned it completely straight. 

"There ya go" she said. 

After my shift, I started feeling like this particular restaurant was not for me. 

Monday was my next shift and I woke up stressed and in tears. I didn't want to go. It wasn't just because of my bad experience during the last training session, I concluded that I really didn't like it there. I called my mom, cried a lot, and then she told me to quit. 

I hate quitting. I always do my best and I stick it out as long as I can. I quit my last job in marketing because I started getting a lot more freelance work from Maclean's, but the company understood and even encouraged it. I don't quit unless it's on good terms or I have something else lined up. 

This time however, I had only been serving there for three days so I felt like I was failing. I HATE failing, but the thought of going back to that place was even worse than the feeling of failure. Also remember, I had nothing else lined up. Forty minutes after getting off the phone with my mom, I worked up the courage to call my boss and quit. My ex-boss said "thank you for calling" and hung up. 

It felt really good. But now, I was basically jobless. I was earning a small income from side projects, but not enough to make a living, at least the living that I was use to. When my boyfriend moved to Toronto two weeks later (which is another story) he helped me out by paying for things and buying me a small load of groceries. My parents and other family members helped a lot too. I felt embarrassed not being able to provide for myself.

I saved some money before I went to Toronto, but I spent most of it during my first two weeks on sit-down dinners, concert tickets, and clothing ( I figured I'd be making money quickly so I did not choose to be frugal). My credit cards were being used like crazy, and I watched my bank account fade. I had money to cover my rent for the summer, but that was it. 

My plan crumbled in front of me, so I started thinking of other ways to make money. Old dreams began to brew again, and new and exciting interests starting coming around.

I'm talking about acting, dance, and improv. But we'll get into that later. 

Thanks for reading, 

- Alex