Alien Fan Zine Xineomorph Now Taking Submissions
A buddy of mine is constructing an Alien fan zine, based off of the Alien film franchise, which includes Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection and Prometheus. He’s collecting different pieces of art, comics, essays, writing, and anything in between to publish a zine dedicated to the series titled Xineomorph.
Dave also needs submissions! Anyone who would like to be featured in this cool zine can email Dave directly at Xineomorph@gmail.com. Submissions are due by sometime in October. The earlier the better. Expect some of us folks at Albotas to be involved as well!
Me, Maya Contreras. Headshot done by Leslie Hassler.
“If you don’t build your dream, someone will hire you to help you build theirs” - Dhirubhai Ambani
This sentence alone encapsulated my creative existence for over a decade. I was a booking agent, a touring manager, and a producer (of a magazine, of shows, you name it). I would sit and listen to the artists I was working with as they went on about their passion and desire to perform, to be well known, to be respective creatively as an artist. I would give advice, book their band (or orchestra. I did both.) and watch from the wings as they performed, grew, and succeeded. A lilting satisfaction would wash in and quickly wash out as I wondered quietly to myself “Why aren’t I doing this for myself?”
I asked myself that thousands of times since college. I graduated from performing arts high-school and auditioned to be in the BFA program for Acting at FSU. I got in. I felt good about it, but had underestimated the mental strain and toll of having no parents (the people who raised me – my mother and grandfather died while I was in highschool) would take on me while training in a craft that left me emotionally exposed day after day. I gained weight, and my acting teachers let me know that if I have hoped to ‘make it’ in the acting industry, I was going to need to be thin.
That was it. I couldn’t take the fact that they were telling me this craft I loved came down to what I weighed, not the work that I put in or the performance I gave. I backed away from something I loved.
Why did I love acting? I loved the literature of the scripts. I loved analyzing a character, finding the motives behind the action. I loved the blocking on stage, listening to a director give their perspective and trying to realize what they had envisioned. I liked saying ‘the words.’ I didn’t always love the vocal exercises you had to do to warm up – because I at the very least felt like an idiot and at most- an insane person:
“To sit in solemn silence in a dull, dark dock,
In a pestilential prison, with a life-long lock,
Awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock,
From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block!”
I still remember that vocal exercise.
I didn’t love that beauty and weight were tied to acting. That never made sense to me and it still doesn’t. I like it when people look real on the screen. Sure there are many beautiful people in this world, but there are plenty of ordinary and extraordinary looking people of all races, sizes, gender (trans and otherwise) in this world. I would like to see them represented on the screen as well.
After some time something started to shift in me. This was the process that first got me thinking about Acting again:
I was working at a large multi-million dollar company in midtown New York. I had a very beautiful office, platinum health insurance, and a steady paycheck. I also had a bottle of tequila in my desk (so did the other managers, we were always so stressed out – about artists. Yes about artists).
I was delivering contracts to an artist we managed who was performing in Boston. His name was Marvin Hamlisch. He was a conductor, a songwriter, and you might know him best as the composer for ‘A Chorus Line.’
I was becoming very unhappy with my job. My boss saw that. He thought sending me on trips out of New York would make the job a bit more ‘fun.’ I thought I was doing what I was suppose to be doing – having a steady 9 to 5 (or more accurately an 8 to 8), insurance, living in New York, and managing artists. I was still creative right? Well, not so much creative as I was around creative people. I was hoping proximity would bring me some sort of satisfaction.
When I met up with Marvin, he was in a tuxedo. We were at Symphony Hall in Boston, MA. It was a few hours before the show and so we went up to the green room (or it was a lounge area, I’m not sure but it was nice). “You sure dressed up for the evening.” He said with a smile, I was in a tee-shirt and jeans. I stuttered “I, uh, will change before you perform, of course! I have my dress clothes at the hotel.” I said, putting the contracts in front of him.
He pulled them towards him as he took a seat. “Maya are you happy with this line of work?”
I was surprised that he asked me that. I didn’t know quite know how to answer.
“I…well…it’s not exactly what I had planned on doing.”
“What did you plan on doing?”
Now, it’s an awkward situation when you’re not sure if you should tell the guy who has won a Tony, an Emmy, a Grammy, and an Academy Award that you would like to be a writer and an actor. I took a deep breath, and on the exhale the words sounded withered, “An actor.”
He looked up from his contracts.
“You know, it’s not too late for you to do that.”
He looked back down, signed the contracts, handed them back to me, and said, “Think about it.”
Marvin passed away around this time last year. I cried when I heard the news. I was also disappointed in myself for not yet heeding his advice.
I slowly begin to make a plan for myself. I thought, “I would get back into acting, but on my terms.” I begin to take film classes, I learned how to white balance a camera, how to edit the film I had shot, how to color correct it. I learned lighting, sound and how operate television studio soundboard, camera, and teleprompter. I knew that if I started to audition again, I would be able to write and produce my own scripts, thereby creating my own opportunities.
This still seemed too safe. After a few people in my classes remarked, “You’re very good on camera, have you done this before?”
I began to think, “Why not give this a try?”
I started asking my friends (who are professional actors) where they got their headshots. I hadn’t acted in years, and was feeling rusty– so I also asked them for their recommendation on where I should take a few acting classes. I have to say it doesn’t hurt that I have a partner (now fiancé) who is utterly supportive of me in every way. He not only supports my dream, he believes in me. That is a buoyancy (and love) I wish for every one of you.
Now, everything feels right…and frightening, but frightening in a good way. I feel braver some how for choosing to come back to my original path.
Back to auditioning, don’t wish me luck.
Just tell me to ‘break a leg.’
If a system is ripe for abuse, history tells us the only question is not if such abuse will occur, but when.