A Day in the Life of a GeekMom Actor

Nice work if you can get it, GeekMom. Photo: Melody Mooney.

Most days, I am a stay-at-home mom. Other days, I am a working actor. GeekMom editor Corrina Lawson suggested I share with you a day in my life as it happens, from the set of a commercial.

I know; it sounds kind of glamorous, right? The lights, the camera, the action. First, let us back up and look at all of the things that had to happen before I actually booked this commercial. Keeping up with head shots, casting sites, actor reels, networking, research, and classes. All demand attention and updating—most of which is done after preschooler bedtime at nine o’clock at night.

Let me focus in on just the commercial acting world. How does an actor go from a smiling picture submission to booking a spot? The first real step is getting a great commercial agent. This can take years and like any transactional relationship, requires a lot of give and take. Agents have the professional connections to get actors in front of casting directors. Casting directors are looking for the right person to fill the roles for their commercial spot. Clients like Hasbro and Honda are in need of someone to put a face on their products. Often, these faces (the competition) all look fairly similar. It is a surreal thing, being the talent. I have learned how to let go of any sort of validation through the process. Sometimes, I just have the right look. Sometimes, I make them laugh. Other times, the collective minds change and my role will be filled by a tall man with a beard.

Great agent, relationships with casting directors, credits on a resume. What next? Work begets work, booking commercials, making money, and getting sent out again. That smiling picture floats to the top of the large head-shot pile and work happens. Getting noticed and getting notices that auditions are upcoming. These alerts are usually sent with less than 24 hours of prep time. The email includes a ticket about the audition, what to wear, where to go, and what to say. More times than most, sides or lines for the character are given at the audition with maybe five or 10 minutes to be memorized. This includes choices to make the words bounce off the page. No pressure right?

In my world, once the audition time is confirmed, I start scheming. Who will watch my three-year old and how to get there on time? Just last week, I was given two hours notice to get to a casting. Ella had to come with me in the actual audition room. Thankfully, the casting director was very understanding. Auditions are not paid work, so hiring a sitter is sort of a counterproductive expense. I have commented often how the unpredictability of this world is in such a stark contrast to the ideal routine life with a young child. I try to take things one small step at a time. Life is a moving target, right?

When I first became a mom, the desire to work outside of the home really disappeared. J.J. Abrams could have offered me a part in the new Star Wars and honestly, I would have turned it down. Ella needed me and my world was hers. I know it’s important for daughters to see their moms in other roles. I am glad that balance is returning to our home. Mr. Abrams can visit me with that part any time now.

My daughter is beginning to understand that I am an actor and what that all means. I try to involve her in running lines, getting mommy camera-ready, and even practice silly dances together. She tells me to “break a leg” when I leave. It’s just part of our day-to-day life. Getting paid to act is nice work when I can get it and l am grateful, but it is not easy. There is a constant juggle. I am lucky to have a great agent, supportive friends and family, and a patient husband.

So here it is for you to follow along on; a day in the life of a GeekMom actor:

5:30 a.m. Wake up after restless up-and-down night with Ella. Get hair and makeup to a “natural” look. Look up where the set is and join the morning commuters.

7:00 a.m. Arrive at craft services, food trucks, coffee, crew, and security. There is a team of hardworking people who are skilled in putting together a moveable feast of film production. Paperwork, sign-ins. actors, crew, production,;these are the members of my tribe. Coffee on hand, time to wait.

7:30 a.m. Text from my husband, asking where my daughter’s witch tights are.

8:30 a.m. Wardrobe, hair and makeup. They are always the coolest team on the shoot. Music, hairspray, and gossip. Back to waiting. I really don’t mind the waiting. It is a rare thing indeed to get to sit anywhere long when you have a preschooler.

9:15 a.m. Call from home. This time, the monkey pants can’t be found.

10:30 a.m. All of the talent (all of us) are taken to a holding area off-set. Seeing any set for the first time is always exciting. Lights being hung, art department making things look real, walkie-talkie noise, and hustle. More waiting.

11:00 a.m. Rehearsal, wardrobe checks, Diet Coke and yes, waiting. I have signed some paperwork which prohibits me from sharing actual details, but this is going to be a hilarious spot. The choreographer is from a well-known dance competition show.

12:00 p.m. First shot of the day, a tight close up on me! Can’t wait until I can share this with everyone. It’s a great, fun spot.

1:30 p.m. Check my phone to find out I have another audition tomorrow. It’s for a film, lots of sides. Wondering how I am going to learn them being on set all day. Homework tonight!

2:30 p.m. Break for lunch. I had the shrimp and chicken. Called my little one and her dad to check in. She has fallen asleep in the shopping cart.

3:30 p.m. Back on set after makeup touch-ups.

5:30 p.m. Break time. Heading to the craft services table for snacks and coffee. There is always tons of food on sets. Well-fed actors and crew tend to be happy actors and crew.

6:30 p.m. Last shot for me. I dropped the beat. I am DJ Housewife.

7:30 p.m. Last call home from a crew member’s cell phone, because mine has died.

8:30 p.m. Time to head home. I am welcomed by my husband, who had a successful day with his girl. I get in just in time to read a goodnight story to Ella. She insisted she wait up for me. My heart is full. I am proud of myself for working hard on set, but the best moments of my day are here in the dark with my family.

Melody is represented by Firestarter Entertainment. Her IMDB credits include a cameo on the popular geek show, The Guild: Season TwoShe was also Hygena on the Stan Lee Syfy channel show, Who Wants to be a SuperheroHere is a look at some of the things she has filmed since becoming a mom:

Games, Cosplay, and The Guild at PAX East


PAX East 2012, Boston, Massachusetts, Image: Nicole Wakelin

One of the cons I look forward to most is PAX East because it focuses on all kinds of games. It doesn’t matter if you favor PC, Xbox, or Wii, or board games, RPGs, and card games. If you’re a gamer, then this is your con. In its third year it was even better than ever, despite being held on Easter weekend. Yeah, that was a bummer. It meant packing three days of gaming into two for many of us, but we managed. Who cares if the Easter ham was nearly burned or you completely forgot to put rolls on the table for lack of sleep. We came, we saw, we played all the games!

I got some hands-on time with a few titles that haven’t yet seen the light of day but have me incredibly excited. Rock Band Blitz, due out this summer, was an absolute riot. If you love Rock Band but lack the coordination to play the drums or guitar without embarrassing yourself, then you need to give this one a try. You hold a regular controller and just need to press two keys. That’s it. I didn’t want to hand over the controller to the next guy in line, but he had a wicked looking cosplay sword so I decided to let it go.

Munchkin The Guild, Due Out in May, Image: Nicole Wakelin

There were also a few early release things you could go home with, like the Munchkin The Guild! booster. Yes, I bought one. No, you can’t have it. It’s got 15 cards with all your favorite characters and artwork by Len Peralta, the guy behind the Geek A Week trading cards. They say this won’t be out until May so you just have a bit longer to wait before you can use your +1 Sexterity.

Beautiful Mass Effect Cosplay, Image: Nicole Wakelin

And although I never cosplay, I love seeing costumes that look like they’ve walked right out of a book or screen shots from my favorite games. There was an R2 unit rolling around with two little kids dressed like Leia and Obi Wan that were the cutest cosplayers ever. But some of the most impressive efforts this year were straight out of Mass Effect which makes me wonder, who’s fighting the Reapers if these guys were all hanging out at PAX East?

The GeekMoms at PAX East, Image: Nicole Wakelin

My favorite part of the con? The people. Striking up random conversations while waiting in lines, jumping in to demos with strangers, talking about how much we can’t wait for this or that to be released and which vendor has the best deal on the game we’re about to purchase. The people are what make it all fun. More than any other convention, this one makes me sad when I leave. It’ll be a whole year before I get to hang out with people, who, just for a weekend, are like long lost friends. I’ll be there next year. What about you?

Check out all my PAX East pictures including the complete Munchkin The Guild card set.

Wondercon Highlights Part 1

With San Francisco’s Moscone Center under renovation, WonderCon moved to Anaheim this year—and seemed to bring a bit of the Bay Area’s rain and chill wind along with it. We shivered our way between hotel and convention center, dodging clusters of purple-eyeshadowed cheerleaders who were competing in a tournament in the next hall over.

Here are a few of the things that caught my attention this year:

Best panel I didn’t attend: Spotlight on Fiona Staples, moderated by the devastatingly handsome Scott Peterson. By all accounts, this was a fascinating discussion. Fiona (who recently granted an interview to GeekMom’s own Corrina Lawson) is one of the most talented artists working in comics today, and I’m bummed that I didn’t get to enjoy the peek at her process that I heard others raving about for the rest of the weekend. There was even a time-lapse video of the artist at work. If Fiona shares that on the web anywhere (hint, hint), I’ll let you know.

Best panel I did attend: The Geek & Sundry presentation with Felicia Day, Wil Wheaton, Veronica Belmont, Tom Merritt, and Dark Horse founder Mike Richardson. Funny story here. At least, it’s funny now. It was kind of mortifying at the time. There was a mix-up over reserved press seating—Felicia’s super-nice publicist thought there would be some, and sent out invitations accordingly, but the WonderCon folks seemed perplexed by the idea—and through a series of happenstances I found myself hanging out backstage with the Geek & Sundry panelists—an unintentional crasher of the entourage. I’d had the pleasure of meeting Felicia once before, at the GeekMom Google+ hangout, and she is absolutely one of the kindest people you will ever encounter. When an officious WonderCon staffer (eyeing me suspiciously, or that’s how it felt), asked Felicia if all the people in this backstage cluster definitely, actually belonged with her group, Felicia graciously said “Yes”—so suspicious WonderCon guy did not evict me. Whew.

If I were a real member of the press, as opposed to a novelist who gets press passes because she writes for a cool website on the side, I would have, I don’t know, asked questions or taken pictures or something. But I’m not, and I have a horror of appearing to be pushy, so I just stood quietly against a wall and enjoyed the banter of the ubersmart, creative Geek & Sundry crowd.

No, wait! I did take one picture. Also on the list of Things I’m Not: a photographer. With, like, focusing skills.

The Geek & Sundry panel was as entertaining and lively as the backstage repartee. (You can watch the whole thing yourself here and here.) The big news at this con was the announcement of the Geek and Sundry YouTube Channel, which promises to be tremendously fun. As Corrina mentioned the other day, the channel is launching a number of new shows in April:

The Flog, which highlights Felicia Day’s quirky real-life adventures;

Tabletop (this one makes my heart go pittypat), in which geek icons will join Wil Wheaton for boardgames like Settlers of Catan, Munchkin, and Dragon Age;

Sword & Laser, a new incarnation of the popular sci fi/fantasy book discussion podcast featuring Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt;

Written by a Kid (this one melted my heart), which features stories made up by kids and brought to life via digital storytelling;

• a Paul & Storm comedy musical show (coming this fall);

Dark Horse Motion Comics; and

The Guild, Season 5 (squee!)

The new shows will begin rolling out on April 2nd. Can’t wait. You can subscribe to the Geek and Sundry channel here, and here’s a trailer to whet your appetite:

In my next post, I’ll share my favorite finds from the exhibit hall. Sneak preview: I’m totally jealous of the shirt I bought for my 16-year-old daughter. Lucky for me we wear the same size…

Music Week: Music Awards Results Announced!

Thank you to all of our readers who voted in the GeekMom Music Awards. As the week comes to a close and the hardcore fans have spoken, it’s time to announce our winners!

Best geeky song of all time: Still Alive by Jonathan Coulton.

Also nominated were:

  • The Man They Call Jayne (Adam Baldwin)
  • The Captain’s Wife’s Lament (Paul and Storm)
  • The Saga Begins (Weird Al)
  • The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins (Leonard Nimoy)
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny (Lemon Demon)
  • Pi (Hard and Phirm)
  • There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (Carousel of Progress)
  • Star Trekkin’ (The Firm)
  • Conventional Lover (Speck)
  • The Scully Song (Eric Snider)
  • Tomorrow’s Child (Spaceship Earth)


Best use of a non-geeky song in a geeky movie: Put On Your Sunday Shoes (From Hello Dolly)/Wall-E.

Also nominated were:

  • The Power of Love (Huey Lewis and the News)/Back to the Future
  • It’s the End of the World as We Know it (REM)/Independence Day
  • Sabotage (Beasty Boys)/Star Trek (2010)
  • Back in Black (AC/DC)/Iron Man
  • Iron Man (Black Sabboth)/Iron Man
  • Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Tears for Fears)/Real Genius
  • Daisy Bell (Harry Dacre)/2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Put on your Sunday Shoes (From Hello Dolly)/Wall-e
  • Puttin’ on the Ritz (Irving Berlin)/Young Frankenstein


Best kids album by an adult group: Here Comes Science by They Might Be Giants.

Also nominated were:

  • For the Kids (various artists)
  • Sing-A-Longs & Lullabies for the Film Curious George (Jack Johnson & Friends)
  • No! (They Might Be Giants)
  • Snack Time (Barenaked Ladies)
  • Here Come the 1,2,3’s (They Might Be Giants)

Best theme song: Doctor Who.

Also nominated were:

  • Twin Peaks
  • Star Trek (Any)
  • The X-Files
  • Red Dwarf
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Phineas & Ferb (It’s Gonna Be a Great Day)
  • Big Bang Theory
  • Firefly

Best music group or band: The Guild.

Also nominated were:

  • Rock Chick and Science Geek
  • The Eben Brooks Band

Best male geek music act: Hank Green.

Also nominated were:

  • Jonathan Coulton
  • Paul and Storm
  • Weird Al
  • John Anealio
  • Hard & Phirm
  • Drown Radio

Best female geek music act: Molly Lewis.

Also nominated were:

  • Shakespears Sister
  • Helen Arney
  • Marian Call
  • The Doubleclicks