Five Years In Los Angeles.

Today makes five years in Los Angeles, and just to annoy my girl Tanedra, I guess I should say, “It’s my Caliversary!” LOL, Love ya T!

But in all seriousness, five years, man that’s crazy! I can’t even begin to tell you where the time went. One thing people often ask me is how did I even end up pursing acting in the first place. So if you have a minute, I’ll explain, because that is the very reason I’m in Los Angeles.

In the deep backwoods of East Texas, there sits a small town called Woodville, Texas. That’s where I grew up, heavily involved in sports, where baseball was my first love. My first year of T-Ball I SUCKED! At the end of the season I went to spend the remainder of the summer with my Dad in Lufkin, Texas. He practiced with me daily and made me play against my older cousins. I got a lot better.

I know this has nothing to do with acting, but it was during that summer that I found a VHS tape that changed my life. No, it wasn’t porn, it was a standup comedy special, Eddie Murphy: Delirious. It wasn’t appropriate for a 5 year old, but I learned it from front to back. It was then that I discovered I wanted to be a comedian.

Fast forward several years through a lot of sporting events, fights, girls, and somewhere down the line, I graduated from college. A couple of years later, I’m driving home from work when I hear a radio ad for an acting class. I signed up. It wasn’t standup comedy, but I liked it. This was late 2007.

I stuck with it, booked a few indie projects and a commercial, and in 2011 I decided to move to New Orleans. There were bigger films shooting there and it allowed me to be close to my family and girlfriend back in Texas. I got an agent there and booked a couple higher profile projects, everything was going good. And then there was Hurricane Isaac.

I actually went to Texas a week before the storm landed, to avoid whatever was to come. I didn’t return until the power was restored at my apartment. When I walked through my front door, I realized that I forgot to trash the food in my fridge. That combined with 3 weeks of New Orleans heat had my place smelling like death. While cleaning out the mess I decided I was moving to Atlanta. There were more roles for black actors there, so I could build up more resume a bit more and I had more friends living there to hang out with.

Since my lease was ending in September, I decided to go back to Dallas to plan my move to Atlanta, telling myself I’d move by January. I didn’t. The week I was supposed to go apartment hunting in Atlanta, I booked a last-minute flight to Los Angeles instead. I’d been out to visit LA damn near every year since 2007, I had a friends living there, and the end goal was to eventually move out West anyways.

So just like that, with no research, I decided I’d fly to LA, apartment hunt during lunch breaks, so I wouldn’t have to take off from work, and I figured I’d have a spot by Friday before I flew back to Texas. First off, I was dead wrong, I wanted to live in the city but I got a hotel way the fuck out in Burbank. DUMB. With traffic, I only had time to view 1 apartment per day, unless I took off from work. But I couldn’t take off from work because I always saved vacation days in case I booked something that required me taking extended time off. Quick side note, I work from home so I pretty much can work from anywhere as long as I have a decent Internet connection and a cell phone.

I ended up hitting up my homie Bernard, who I’d recently met and worked with for a few weeks on a film in New Orleans. I knew he was moving to LA around the same time I now planned to, so luckily he’d come across a leasing agent that had a few units open in Koreatown. I had to lock something in asap, because by now it’s already Thursday and I was heading back to Texas Friday.

I ended up meeting the leasing agent and paying my deposit for a small, 650 sq ft studio. It wasn’t the best, but it was going to work for now. Now that I think about it, I wonder whatever happened to my little homie James. He was this little Mexican kid that lived next door to me. Every time I’d see him with his Mom, he’d have this huge smile and run up to me kicking his soccer ball. I’d “play defense” against him, and let him go by me to make a goal, and he’d yell “SCOOOOOOOORE!” Haha, that was random but I wonder how he’s doing, he has to be like 10 or 11 now.

So many life lessons were experienced as a result of this move, so many ups and downs, a few cool bookings, a few close calls on major film and tv projects that I didn’t book, but I wouldn’t trade any of it. I’ve learned a lot about myself through all of this. I’m truly grateful for all of it, as well as the new friends I’ve met, many of whom are transplants as well, so we’re figuring this town out together.

I will admit that with each trip to visit Texas, I’m somewhat tempted to move back. All of my friends are married with kids, and have 5BR homes that are like $200k cheaper than buying a decent 2BR condo in LA. They have a backyard and a dog. When I feel that urge, I simply remind myself that I came to LA for a reason, and sacrifices had to be made so I could chase a dream. So far I have no regrets.

Ya’ll keep living!

-Bob

P.S. I didn’t intend on this post being so long, but I started typing and the memories started flowing. Self-reflection is a good thing though, sometimes we get so focused on where we wanna go that we forget to appreciate how far we’ve come.

Thank You!

Corny, yet obligatory mirror pic from my trailer while on set. lol

It’s been a wild week! Many of you know I had a co-star role in last week’s episode of American Crime Story.(s2e2), so I wanted to take a moment to let you all know that I appreciate your support. The love was felt in every Facebook post, comment, text and phone call that I received.

I also would like to apologize to my friends and family that had no clue I’d booked this gig. Please understand, the powers that be had us all sign NDAs, so I was paranoid to tell anyone. I don’t know what would’ve happened if I did, but Hollywood circles are small and people talk, so I wasn’t taking any chances of burning bridges with casting directors.

It was a blast being on set, everyone was cool, the food was GREAT and I wish I could do it every day. Now I just have to figure out how to watch myself on screen without wanting to throw up, I still haven’t watched the entire episode. 🙂

But seriously, thanks again for the support. One last thing, it’s been a slow grind for me, but if any of you out there are having doubts about chasing your dreams or whatever, just go for it. Do some research, make a plan, and take action. It doesn’t have to be an artsy thing like acting, maybe you wanna go back to school, learn a new language, pursue a new career, whatever it is, just start. Today! It’ll be scary, but it’s worth it, stop making excuses and take that first step.

Ok I’m done, ya’ll keep living!

– Bob

How Fear And Self-Doubt Played Me In 2017.

I know I’m over a week late, but Happy New Year! I sure as hell can’t believe it’s 2018, can you?! It’s funny how the older you get, the simpler your plans become to ring in the New Year. This year Candice and I went to an early church service and later met up with friends for dinner.

I had some great moments in 2017, I’m a huge music fan so I saw a lot of my favorite artists live. Sampha, Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar, Wale and Jidenna. I booked a cool acting gig that I will speak more about soon. I also got to audition for a couple of my favorite television shows, and even though I didn’t book them, I got callbacks on both. I was also in consideration for a “life-changing” role for a few months before I found out I didn’t get it. The guy that did book the role is featured on the marketing billboards, and there’s one by my house that I drive by every day. Kinda weird knowing I could’ve possibly been up there. But I’m not complaining, progress is progress.

One goal that I failed to meet in 2017 was to self produce a project that I’ve been dragging my feet on for years. I told myself 2017 would be the year I got it done, but I failed miserably. I thought it was procrastination and sheer laziness that was stopping me, but during church I realized it wasn’t. It was fear and doubt. And to be completly honest, I can’t believe I just typed that. As men, we go on and on about how we “Fear Nothing But God” but that’s a lie. I fear a lot of things and at the moment, this writing/producing content goal scares the shit out of me.

**Side bar, this post is a bit more personal than usual. In 2012, I had a therapist suggest I start a blog to document my thoughts and open up more, but I never did. Going forward the topics on this blog will be changing a bit, to finally do what she suggested all those years ago. I hope these types of posts will help and encourage others.**

Back to the fear and doubt. What bothered me most was that it wasn’t as if I was too busy with my personal life or work to accomplish this goal, I thought about it daily. I had a script that I felt was entertaining and I was constantly rewriting and reworking scenes to make it better. I had writer/director/producer friends tell me that “it was better than a lot of stuff out there, so shoot it.” But I didn’t. I’d get cold feet. I constantly used football games, family issues back home or hanging out with friends as an excuse to avoid doing the work. I compared myself to others on social media that were already doing what I planned to do. So I did nothing. My confidence was shot. Some days it felt like something creative that no one would expect from a silly guy like myself, and some days I wanted to throw my laptop in the ocean.

As an actor or entertainer in today’s climate, it’s important to create your own projects to remain busy and to showcase all the talents that you possess. With that said, fear and doubt is a mind game that I can no longer afford to lose. My MAIN creative goal for 2018 is to revisit the same goal from 2017 and get this thing shot, editied and out for the world to consume.

Is there anyone else out there struggling with a goal or talent that scares you? If so, what are your plans to overcome that fear in 2018?

God speed.

-Bob

2016: The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

2016….. What a year. I don’t know where to begin, but I will say it most definitely was a whirlwind for me.  Just a heads up, this is gonna be  long post where I speak on some of the highs and lows I faced in 2016, as well as some lessons learned.

I’ll start by saying I became a “pseudo” minimalist in 2016.  It started with basic spring cleaning back in March, and then I went to my homegirl Chinye’s house for brunch, and she showed us her closet.  For someone that’s always stylish, she didn’t have a lot in her wardrobe.  When I got home, I counted 40’ish pairs of jeans, chinos and trousers, realizing I only wore 5 of them on a regular basis.  Your taste in clothing changes over time, not just style, but fit, colors, everything!  Here are a couple of old photos I found on my cloud, look at this shit man. Where was I going in this?

Camo Blazer

Why?Blue Suit

Again, why?Red Blazer

Thank God I never wore these camo joints!

Red Dockers

Peach tho? 🙁

Peach tho?

I still like these chucks, but I’m too damn old for them!

Red Converse

Off to Buffalo Exchange I went, I had bags full of dress shirts, tees, shorts, jeans, chinos, ties, sweaters, sneakers, loafers, watches, and so much more.  Nothing hurt worse than giving up 3 or 4 J.Crew suits and barely getting a tenth of what I paid in return.  So much waste, so much with tags still attached, so much money tailoring things I’d never even worn, I was so pissed at myself.

I literally got rid of everything in my closet, except for a few pair of sneakers, dress shoes and my go to jeans that I could still fit and stomach wearing.  When I started to “rebuild” I made sure the new purchases centered around gray and navy.  Everything had to be timeless and complement each other so I could wear them for a while, none of that trendy shit.  I prefer white shirts(solid or patterned) and gray or black tees, so that’s all I bought.  I’m not a true minimalist by definition, but I’m pretty close.  I also feel I can do more with what I have because everything mixes and matches nicely.  So no matter the reason, if you’re considering starting over with your wardrobe, DO IT.  Take your time with it and do it right, it’s scary at first but well worth it.

Next topic.  Back in June I left my 9 year comfort zone and got a new job.  The hardest part was leaving all of my crazy friends and co-workers, BUT a 41% salary increase made for a seamless transition. 🙂  All I can say is the days of staying with one company your entire career is over, who needs loyalty?  Haha, nah but on a serious note, never be afraid to test the waters to see what’s out there.  I had a few possible consulting situations that would have required frequent travel, but I lucked out and got another work from home gig.  God looked out because this allows me to make all of my auditions.  Shout out to God for being the original plug.

Speaking of auditions, in 2016 I fell completely off the map with the acting grind.  Mentally, Hollywood beat my ass.  Like Ronda Rous… Nevermind, too soon?  To be clear, when I say “fell off the grind”, I simply mean I stopped hustling, I lost the fire for a minute, I stopped going to class consistently, where as I’m usually in class year round.  Oddly enough, my callback rate went up and I was “on hold” for  3 or 4 popular shows, one of which is my FAVORITE at the moment.  I’m talking about true, career changing situations, so when you get that close and then hear ‘No’ again, it does a number on you.  One was excruciating because it was 4 months before a decision was made.  The most annoying is when you lose a role based on your social media following.  You can KILL your audition, be the most talented and best fit for the role, but if the powers that be have another option that has 250,000 Instagram followers, guess who books the role. 🙁

On the flip side, me unplugging a bit allowed me to finally finish a script I’d been tinkering with.  And by no means do I consider myself a writer per se, but writing projects for yourself has been the new wave a few years now, and I’ve had ideas and the funds to shoot some things, but I’ve been dragging my feet with it.  I got good feedback from a few trusted, filmmaker friends, so one of my goals for 2017 is to go ahead and shoot this shit.  It’s a bit scary putting it out there, because now I know you guys are gonna be looking for it, so I guess there’s no turning back now.  I’m currently doing some rewrites and actually reading a book on screenwriting, so it’s getting there.  And yes I know I said I’m reading a book on screenwriting after I wrote the script, but I do a lot of things backwards so don’t judge.  That’s just how I roll.

2016 was also the year of weight gain for me.  Yea, yea, yea, I know you’re thinking, “worrying about weight gain is for women” but FUCK!  THAT!  Fellas ya’ll know good and damn well we be having body issues as well, we just too ‘manly’ to admit it.  For the record I weigh 181, and gained only 10 pounds, but my issue is it’s not the ‘good’ weight gain that comes in the form of lean muscle mass.  My shit just decided to develop into a beginner’s gut.  And my apologies to anyone that sees my pictures and think I’m whining and don’t have a real weight problem.  I have a right to not be satisfied with my health like everyone else.  Relax.

Back to the story, what I was saying is that I recently lost a few pounds of flab by adding boxing to the workout routine.

Boxing Gloves.

But I mean an actual fighting gym, not just a “cardio boxing” class, which is also fine, but I prefer the real deal.  Boxing workouts are brutal, but well worth it once you’re drenched in sweat a couple of hours later.  It’s hard to put out that kinda effort on your own but to have a real coach pushing you, it’s a rush!  It’s also inspiring to see the “real” boxers doing their thing.  So if you’re looking to lose a few pounds, try something you actually like, for me it’s sprints at the track, boxing and hitting the weight room.  Whatever you do, don’t put it off because we’re not getting any younger!  Hopefully some months down the road, I’ll have some photos of swollen eyes and a bloody nose to show you guys, because I most def want to get good enough to spar.  But it’s a process.

With all that being said, I’m looking forward to seeing what 2017 has in store for us all.  Ya’ll be safe and KEEP LIVING!

-Bobby Ray

13th, The Must See Documentary.

Ava Duvernay’s latest project – 13th – is the one that got me off my blogging sabbatical.  I watched it twice last week and when I say must see, I mean MUST see.  It’d be more effective to show this 90 minute film in schools instead of the watered down, inaccurate African-American history that is currently pushed.  And given America’s current social climate, 13th couldn’t have dropped at a better time.

If you’re one of the Facebookers that says things like “it’s not that bad in America, slavery has been over, get over it, the system is not against you, everyone faces injustice, blah blah blah” this film is for you.  It factually addresses the systematic oppression that people of color face every day and it is not the same.

To my fellow people of color, this documentary should be a call to action.  We gotta stop falling for the same traps, and I’m not talking about showing up to vote and “fixing” our communities.  I’m talking about from the ground up, we need to fix our households, and fellas, that begins with us.  We need to be informed and involved with what’s going on at home because that’s what we send out into the community.  We gotta take care of our ladies, raise our kids, educate ourselves and educate each other.  We gotta eat better and exercise more so we can live longer.  We gotta stop “stunting” and make sound, long-term financial decisions.  It makes absolutely no sense that people are willing to insure their iPhones but not their life.  I’ll stop for now because I feel a rant coming on, I’ll save that for another series of posts.

Back to the topic, check out 13th on Netflix ASAP and let me know what you think.

Ya’ll keep living!

-Bob

THE LOOKALIKE PREMIERE.

The Lookalike Poster

"Lookalike" Premiere Los Angeles

Man oh man, last night was fun!  I went to the L.A. Premiere for The Lookalike, the indie film I told you guys that I shot down in New Orleans a couple years ago.  Actually, before I get into last night, let me do some quick(and shameless) promoting!

As you all know, now a days Hollywood is into these HUGE tent pole movies with explosions, CGI, prequels, sequls and remakes.  Currently, Hollywood is not investing in smaller indie films such as The Lookalike, therefore there is no budgets for mass marketing.   Sooooooo *couch cough*…… That’s where you come in! *confetti drops from the ceiling*

If you’re in the L.A. area, there are screenings going all week starting Nov 7th!!!   If you can make it out, bring your ass and along with your friends, significant others AND side pieces!  We don’t discriminate!!!

Visit the 2 websites below for showtimes:

Vintage Cinemas – Los Feliz 3 – Los Feliz, Ca (Q&A with Cast/Crew following the Friday 7th, 7pm screening)

Laemmle – Music Hall 3 – Beverly Hills, Ca (Q&A with Cast/Crew following the Saturday 8th, 5pm screening)

Like The Lookalike Facebook Page so that you can keep up with the film and know where else it’ll be screening.

Red Carpet Interviws

Smiling for the Camera

Jerry O'Connell

After party

Miranda Skerman

Michele and Richard Gray