Reflection: A Work in Progress

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 9.29.40 AM copyWatching the palm trees above my head as they sway in the breeze, I can’t help but recall the incredible; yet short journey that had helped bring me to the Golden State in the first place. Reminiscing on my first “test” photoshoot coordinated by Exxcel, I was completely unaware at the time of the full magnitude in which my career was headed. I had not yet seen the obvious: my lifelong dreams were quickly becoming a reality and bound for “the fast track”. Working with photographer Udo Spritzenbarth and Celebrity Stylist Ty-Ron Mayes, was one of the most memorable, exciting experiences I have ever had! Coming face-to-face with first class professionals who were part of the team that help to make Tyra Banks; “Tyra”, was in itself fascinating! Being a novice in the industry, that day alone had already surpassed my expectations. At the time, I never imagined that it was only the beginning for an amazing journey to come!
As I continue to rewind and re-cap the events that brought me to where I am now, I am grateful for the encouragement and the opportunities that were given to me through Exxcel Model & Talent. To “dream” is the easy part, but to “do” is much more difficult. The support system and the direction I received from the agency helped pave the way for me to be able to travel from a minuscule town in Upstate New York to major cities like NYC and Los Angeles. Preparation, training and networking are all a vital part of taking the necessary steps to becoming a professional actor.  It was more than evident that I needed to hit the big city in order to accomplish all three. It was in those cities that I actually began to fall in love with my craft. Not to mention how much I enjoyed meeting numerous other talent that were also pursuing the same interests, just as I was. A breath of fresh air and enthusiasm was always around every time we get together as a group.
With every day, week and month that has passed by, I can see the progress I am achieving as my skills are sharpening and my actor’s toolbox is constantly becoming full! This, however, could not be possible without sacrifice and dedication on my part and having the support of Exxcel’s President, Susan Lunetta.
It seems that each time I get a call from Susan, my life just gets a little bit better! The entire Exxcel team has helped me to build a durable foundation by providing me with theScreen Shot 2016-04-01 at 9.28.44 AM framework to succeed.  These lessons, thoughts and ideas I will take with me forever.
I also greatly respect and appreciate the work instilled in me by acting coach Dennis LaValle.  Being able to join in on such a progressive environment where people are truly creating their destiny was almost too good to be true. Meeting his students in training, as well as part of his list of superstar alumni, was to say the least, thrilling! Looking back on it now, it just doesn’t seem real yet. It’s just WOW! My next thought is onward and upward!
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Studying To Be an Actress

Photo Feb 19, 11 33 22 AMDennis always tells his students in the Lavalle Actor’s Workshop to ask themselves two questions every day: What have I done to improve my craft? and What have I done to improve my career? Answering these questions each day, whether it be the smallest little factor, is sure to effect you and your career positively.
Spending time in LA allowed me to answer both of those questions. In class each day, we would do a vocal warm-up, which included some Shakespeare, along with many other tongue twisters. We worked on our scenes, and fine-tuned our craft with other exercises. With the first question answered, what did I do to impact my career? Well, it varied from day to day. I spent one day updating my portfolio and my resumes, the next scoping out the biggest, most well-known studios in LA, and another networking and making friends within the industry or studying my scene on my own time.
My dad and I drove all around Burbank, Studio City, and Universal City looking to see what we could find — and boy, did we hit the jackpot! We were able to check out Warner Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 3.24.26 PMBrothers Studios, Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, and Nickelodeon’s Studios all on
virtually the same road. Seeing the ginormous promotional posters for each show made me realize that the shows I had been watching on television for years happened right behind those walls, and they were real. The thought absolutely blew my mind. As we drove
by each studio, my yearn to be on the other side of those walls grew stronger and stronger.
When we weren’t adventuring around LA, I was at home, studying my scene and making sure I had the words down pat. Each day, three or four times, I would handwrite all of my character’s lines into a notebook which I always carried around with me. After that, I would put my script down and have my dad read the lines opposite to mine. Doing this everyday definitely had a substantial impact on the final result of our scene.
Photo Feb 14, 8 55 48 PMBut while there is so much for actors to do for their career in Los Angeles, other areas may keep you a bit limited. Where I live, there are no theater shows to participate in, no auditions to attend, or even any photographers who could help you update your portfolio. But I’ve never been one to let my location limit me. In an area like mine, you can always take it upon yourself to exercise your voice and your body each day, familiarize yourself with some Shakespeare, or even prepare some monologues for those times where you get to venture somewhere that isn’t in the middle of nowhere. Not matter where you are, there are no excuses for not practicing what you love. Each day, you would always do something to benefit your craft and your career, because no matter now small the improvement might be, if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.
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My fellow Exxcel actors at the Lavalle Actor’s Workshop, Presleigh Farrah and Katie Edwards

 

A New Crop of Hollywood Stars

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Posing with Victoria Justice — Simply starstruck! 

There’s nothing more fascinating than meeting someone you’ve seen on television, online or in the movies. Seeing a person go from screen to reality right in front of your eyes is just plain old cool to me. Working with Dennis LaValle has allowed me to experience this all in one week! Since Dennis is one of the most successful acting coaches in the business, he has a boatload of stars under his belt, and they are like a second family to him. He has coached celebrities who we all know and love like Vanessa Hudgens, Victoria Justice, Chris Evans, Kellan Lutz, and so many more. The list goes on for miles!

During Dennis’ week-long acting camp, which he seasonally puts on for selected Exxcel talent, we trained our voices, practiced scene study, learned improvisation, and fine-tuned our performance skills. But the most exciting part of each class was when Dennis brought in one of his current or graduated students. Through Dennis, I’ve met stars whom I’ve followed for years and years, and always admired. He introduced our class to two cast members of one of my current favorite shows, Aquarius (starring David Duchovny) — Grey Damon and Michael Galante. Michael had a reoccurring role in season one of the show, and Grey is Duchovny’s co-star.

Dennis also introduced us to Max Ehrich, who is known for his roles in High School Musical and Days of Our Lives. In addition, I also met Thomas and Brielle Barbusca (American Horror Story and Modern Family), as well as the notorious Victoria Justice, who is known for her various Nickelodeon roles in VictoriousZoey 101iCarly, and many more. I’ll never forget the day when Dennis announced that our guest speaker had arrived, and Victoria was the one who walked through the door. The reaction from the class when she entered the room was certainly unforgettable.

Fortunately for me, I flew into LA a few days before our camp had begun. This gave me the opportunity to sit in on one of Dennis’ adult classes which he holds weekly for his students. Here, I had the opportunity of meeting Zach Callison, star of Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe and LJ Benet, who is recognized for his roles in Disney’s Dog with a Blog and Dark Skies. LJ had invited me to one his concerts at one of the local restaurants, and I can honestly say that it may have been one of the coolest experiences that I’ve ever had.

Working with Dennis has allowed me to not only meet people I have looked up to from afar, but to make friends within the industry — which is often a difficult task for many. Without Dennis and Exxcel Model & Talent, I wouldn’t have been able to make the valuable connections that I have and, for that, I will be forever grateful.

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I feel so blessed to have worked with Dennis!
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Me with LJ Benet
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Our whole class, being silly!

The Making of an Actress: Small Town to Hollywood

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 1.58.26 PMMy journey to LA alone was a life-changing experience for me. I am from a minuscule town in Upstate New York, constantly surrounded by trees and wild life, consisting of only about 3,000 people. I said goodbye to everyone at my school of 300, and they wished me luck — as the thought of someone from our tiny town adventuring to a city like Los Angeles simply blew them away. Stuff like this doesn’t happen to people from my area.
The plane ride was an excursion — 2 hours on one plane, and then 6 1/2 on the next. Watching the cities we flew over increase in size as we flew across the country simply astounded me. I sat on the plane, updating my resumes and flipping through my Exxcel portfolio, looking over how much my career had progressed within the last 12 months. Just over a year ago, I sat at home, dreaming of walking runways and gracing the silver screen, and now — thanks to Exxcel — I was on my way to LA, the capital of the entertainment industry! Looking out the window of the 737, I was watching my greatest dreams come true with Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 12.04.51 PMeach passing town.

The view of Los Angeles from the plane was simply breathtaking. In all my years, I don’t think I had ever seen so many lights. I watched the millions of cars speed down the famous highway 101 and twinkles dance from every house, building, and skyscraper. The amount of people in one area was incredible! Going from having to drive 30 minutes just to get to a grocery store to seeing this incredible population was an experience like no other.

Our plane landed and my dad and I set foot on the ground in LA. We were instantly surrounded by warmth, people, and palm trees. We picked up our car, found our rental house, and settled in, as if we were in our home away from home. It was then that I realized LA is where I belong.
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Wesley Ferrer: Workout Regimen

wesleyWesley Ferrer is a professional, lightweight boxer who presently retains the position of being undefeated! Staying on top with such a title is not an easy task. The fitness regiment and routine that Wesley follows requires both dedication and persistence. This is obviously visible in his performance while engaging in the sport. Here are some suggestions that work for Wesley, and not only keep him at the top of his class in the world of boxing, but also are extremely beneficial to his overall health.

o   Running –  Running is incredibly effective at making you healthier in a number of ways. It can relieve stress, help you lose weight, prevent disease, boost your confidence and eliminate depression. Overall, running can positively affect your body and mind so you can live a healthy and fulfilled life!
o  Swimming – Swimming is another great cardiovascular exercise to utilize to stay in shape. The water cools down your body while still increasing your heart rate, and is also gentler on your joints and muscles. Swimming targets your core, arms, legs, glutes and back, giving you a total body workout experience.

o   Calisthenics – Calisthenics are exercises that consist various rhythmic
movements. Generally, calisthenic exercises do not use equipment. Instead, these workouts are designed to increase strength, fitness and flexibility by using movements such as pulling/pushing up, bending down, jumping or swinging by using just your body weight.

o   Light weight lifting – Using heavy weights aren’t the only way to build muscle. Training with lighter weights can help you increase strength. Using lighter weights, in conjunction with increased reps, targets muscles with the greatest potential for growth. In addition, working with lighter weights decreases the possibility for injury and stress on your joints, tendons and ligaments.

Wesley Ferrer: Professional Boxer

wesleyWesley Ferrer didn’t always think he was going to be a professional boxer. At the age of 14 years old, he picked up his first pair of gloves at the playful encouragement of his uncle in the Dominican Republic. Shortly after, Wesley and his father moved to NYC where Wesley expressed interest in joining a local gym to begin boxing as a hobby. As soon as he threw his first, his father knew that he would be a champion. And that is where his training began.

At first, Wesley struggled. The harsh, physical demands of the sport, in addition to the time commitment to practicing and preparing for a fight, where hard to get used to. But under the training of his father, Wesley began generating a buzz around his career.

His first pair of golden gloves were won in 2009 at 16 years old, where he fought against 25-year-old William Moyet at Madison Square Garden. From there, he became undefeated in the professional boxing world.

Now, at 23, Wesley’s goal from here on out is to keep working hard to become a world champion. Through boxing, he wants to not only give his family a great life, but also inspire others through by telling his story.

 

Wesley Ferrer, Professional Boxer from Exxcel Model & Talent on Vimeo.