Friday, October 2, 2015

link: feats of Memory

Memorizing our lines by focusing only on the words can be difficult.
We can create context for what we are memorizing:
For example, it can come from the script, e.g. who are we talking to? where are we? what does it feel like to be there? what are we actually looking at? what are we really talking about? This goes beyond mere words and gives us a context for our human experience, experiential context.

We can also utilize our acting choices, what does this scene really mean to me on a personal level? what are we really fighting for personally on this scene? who am I substituting for the other character? how can I personalize this so that it has immediate meaning to my life?

Rehearsal may also give a context for memorization, where am I walking to when I say this line? where am I going or coming from? which piece of furniture am I standing near?

Just so that the brain has context, not just words. So that we can learn what we need to as more than just data. What actor wants to memorize data?

Here is an interesting talk about the ancient use of context in memory: 

Monday, August 24, 2015

My interview with Make Up Artist Cathy Highland.

"The truth is, the cosmetics industry is not regulated.  Cosmetics companies don’t have to disclose what is actually in things... and they will say it is a ‘trade secret.’"

Cathy Highland is a Hollywood makeup artist who has remained humble although she's been at the top of her game for years. She has a team of makeup artists who work with her as she travels around the world. And although she doesn’t ordinarily discuss her clients or give out their names, I did get the list from her private website. Born and raised in Iowa, she moved to Los Angeles 25 years ago; since then, she has worked on over 300 of the most famous faces in the world.  

Anne Hathaway, Annette Bening, Carla Gugino, Catherine Deneuve, Chloe Sevigny, Claire Danes, Glenn Close, Heidi Klum, Helena Bonham Carter, Hilary Swank, Julianne Moore, Katherine Heigl, Marcia Gay Harden, Melanie Griffith, Miley Cyrus, Naomi Watts, Nicole Kidman, Robin Wright, Scarlett Johansson, Uma Thurman; Adrien Brody, Antonio Banderas, Christopher Walken, David Beckham, Dennis Hopper, Ed Harris, Ethan Hawke, Gary Oldman, Jamie Fox, Jet Li, Jimmy Fallon, Jim Caviezel, Mathew Broderick, Mel Brooks, Ralph Fiennes, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Tommy Lee Jones; Anita Baker, Bonnie Raitt, Jimmy Page, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Sting.
Cathy Highland has worked on 59 national commercial campaigns. She has been on tour with Janet Jackson and with Michael Jackson. Her print work has appeared in Allure, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, In Style, NY Times Magazine, Shape, Cosmopolitan, Detour, Esquire, Jane, Life, Maxim, People, Playboy, Self, Town & Country, Vanity Fair, and Vogue. 
Recently, Cathy has become more aware of the ingredients in makeup products, many of which are chemicals known to be harmful. As a result, she has started using Beautycounter products on herself and some of her clients. Beautycounter is a product that has removed all toxic chemicals from makeup and skin care. Skin is our largest organ, and for those who apply makeup or have it applied regularly, some have begun to develop an awareness of what they are putting on their skin. 

The Interview
Corey: Can you talk a little bit about what you’ve experienced as a makeup artist in Hollywood, and the changes you have seen in the past twenty-five years?

Cathy: It’s very different and it is becoming harder for me to help younger artists navigate their careers because there are so many more people doing it.  When I started, there were only a handful of agencies in town, and I don’t even know how many there are now. I have an agent who has represented me for over twenty years.  Some of the changes have to do with make up artists becoming public figures, with the attention to what goes on with reality shows,  with writing their own books and doing talk shows.  The red carpet coverage now involves hair stylists and make up artists as part of the commentary.  I remember getting people ready for The Oscars and there wasn’t nearly the red carpet sensation that goes on now.  One of my clients, Glenn Close, was talking about what she has seen in her career.  She said you used to just put on a pretty dress and go, now it’s a whole thing. If I have an Oscar nominee client, my agent can get me corporate sponsorship and I have been lucky enough to be sponsored by Chanel.  They ask you to post/tweet and to do online interviews with magazines about what products you used and what was the vibe in the room.  It can be a lot more pressure for you and your clients. 

Corey:  How did you become aware of Beautycounter products in your work in Hollywood?

Cathy: Benedict Cumberbatch asked me to find him a skin care line that was paraben free.  I went looking for those products and found Beautycounter, they also had a high performance make up line and it was safe and toxin free.  I had to educate myself and felt that I should have known this. I had been using really high end products and thinking it was fine. The truth is, the cosmetics industry is not regulated.  Cosmetics companies don’t have to disclose what is actually in things and they will say it is a ‘trade secret’--this way we don’t actually know what is in the products. The lobbying for the cosmetics industry is huge. Beautycounter is trying to ignite change in Washington. I can feel good about representing a company who is doing all of the hard work for me and the consumer.  Beautycounter has a banned list of over 1500 toxic chemicals and they are transparent about every item that goes into their products.  They will not put out a product that does not meet their high safety and performance standards.  They don’t have a full line yet, for example they don’t have mascara yet, but it should be out around the end of the year.  It’s a life style brand, not a make up artist brand, so sometimes I will have to make brand choices outside of Beautycounter for the items not available yet, but my team and I use different apps available to see the health and safety ratings and to make better choices. One popular app is Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep (  Sometimes the database is limited on apps, but the goal is to use products that are as safe as they can be and that makes me feel good.  I have people on my team helping me put together the greenest kits we can.  We take other things to work, but we try to use Beautycounter products wherever possible.

Corey: Can you talk about the EWG ratings? How does it work?

Cathy: They give a rating from 0 to 10.  Sometimes you’re pretty surprised at how horrible things rate. Things I’ve been using. Products that my clients, friends and family use.  I’m not saying these products aren’t very high performance. I’m saying look at what’s in them. Is it something you need every day or is it something just for specific problems or a color for a special occasion.  I am very happy with the performance of the Beautycounter, the skin care line and the makeup line. What I have found is that my skin has never looked better.

Corey: Are actors and actresses receptive? Do they get it?

Cathy: I work with Elizabeth McGovern (Downton Abbey, Ragtime), and I’ve been using it on her. I did her makeup first...and it looked beautiful, then I told her...and she was thrilled!  When it’s really healthy and it looks good, that’s great! I used it with Alexander Skarsgard. He was thrilled that it was toxin free and safe. He was really the first guy I did with the makeup. Because when I worked with Benedict, I was just using the skincare products. I work also with writer/ producer Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal) and I used it on her in the past couple of days. It works for all skin types too. I actually prefer it. It’s very high performance. I mean, you can go get something that is “natural” at Whole Foods or something, but most of those are not high performance—and just because they say ‘natural’ doesn’t mean that they are. In Europe, they have banned 1, 300 harmful chemicals from their products. In the U.S., only 11 have been banned! Beautycounter has banned 1,500. It’s taking it to a whole new level. 

Corey: What do you tell the actors?

Cathy: Usually people will ask about what I’m using, I tell them I’m going green and I’ve found something high performance that is toxin free and safe. It’s not chemical free, because even water is a chemical. But it’s free of toxic chemicals. Skin is our biggest organ. I can offer them that and they’re still going to look beautiful. I used to share technique with people, just use a cream liner and do this, get a dark shadow and do this. Now I tell them, you know you can have this and have the benefits without using harmful products on a daily basis. I mean why would you take care of your skin and then put on top of it a bunch of toxic chemicals? I have gone to clients’ houses and helped them clean out what they’re using and give them new product. This was before Beautycounter. And they would take their all their old makeup and give it to their kids to play with. I cringe when I think of that now.  Old dirty toxic makeup.  I didn’t know. And then there’s this awareness. So now I feel like I’m part of that mission, and I can’t not tell people. I feel a need to share and to educate.

Corey: So where do you go from here?

Cathy: I feel like this adds more relevance to my career. It makes it more important. I think in my career before, it was like, ‘oh, makeup artist doesn’t really matter.’ But I really help my clients feel better, and I can show up and I can identify with the meaningful side of my career. It’s really gone to another level.  It’s like I have a mission. I want people on shows to be able to request this. You can tell your makeup artist what you want when you are a series regular. I have met with the beauty supply store that I have been dealing with my whole career, Naime’s. I can’t get to every makeup artist, and honestly there’s a conflict of interest to be a Beautycounter consultant and sell to their show, so what I did was I met with the woman who runs Naimie’s Beauty Supply, Nicole.  And she will allow any makeup artist on a show to shop through Naimie’s and put it on their purchase order. People can say they want Beautycounter foundation for example and Nicole will shop it for them and add it to their purchase order.  These products are going on actors' skin every day that they work. I mean it’s a beautiful product. If they’re going to be requesting anyway, why not request something that’s safe. Because I know that makeup artists on shows have that problem, they can’t buy off a credit card and stuff like that on a purchase order, so Naimie’s said they’re willing to do that.  We’re trying to empower the people who are actually, like you, having someone work on their face and are really vulnerable. And if you ask for the product, you’re not asking for something unreasonable…$38 for foundation. When you ask for it, it’s not like your being a diva! Or people can buy their own and take it into production. I want people to feel empowered and have a resource. 

 Shonda Rhimes and CathyHighland

"In Europe, they have banned 1, 300 harmful chemicals from their products. In the U.S., only 11 have been banned! Beautycounter has banned 
1, 500."

I don’t have any advertising on this blog, but I do want to put out there any product that is relevant to the actor and may be a healthy alternative. In fact, my beautiful wife, Angela, has joined Cathy Highland’s team and is spreading the word about beautycounter. If you are interested in beautycounter, you can click here (  for more information.  

The Never List

Our Never List is a robust roundup of ingredients that you will never find in Beautycounter products. We have done our homework to make recognizing, understanding, and avoiding these ingredients easier for you. Print out an Always-With-You Never List and carry in your wallet for easy reference while on the go.

Animal fats, oils, and musks: tallow, rendered beef or mutton fat, oils or musks from animals like mink, emu and sharks that are procured after an animal has been killed. Found in: soap, salve, shaving products, lubricants, paints, and all types of cosmetics.
Benzalkonium chloride: a disinfectant used as a preservative and surfactant associated with severe skin, eye and respiratory irritation and allergies. Found in: sunscreens, moisturizers.
Benzophenone and derivatives: a possible human carcinogen and hormone disruptor used as a fragrance ingredient and to absorb ultraviolet light. Found in: nail polish, sunscreen.
Bisphenol A (BPA): a hormone disruptor that may also alter DNA, used in plastics and resins. Found in: plastic bottles, lining of aluminum food cans, possibly in eyeshadow and styling gel.
Butoxyethanol: a solvent used to control viscosity, or a “fragrance” additive. It irritates skin and may cause cancer and reproductive toxicity. Found in: fragrance, hair color.
BHA and BHT: synthetic antioxidants used to extend shelf life. They are likely carcinogens and hormone disruptors, and may cause liver damage. Found in: lipsticks, moisturizers, diaper creams, and other cosmetics.
Coal tar hair dyes and other coal tar ingredients: a byproduct of coal processing that is a known carcinogen. It is used as a colorant and an anti-dandruff agent. Found in: hair dye, shampoo.
1,4-dioxane: a by-product of manufacturing that is a probable human carcinogen (a known animal carcinogen) as well as toxic to organs and the respiratory system, and a skin irritant. Likely to be present where ethoxylated ingredients like sodium laureth sulfate, PEGs, and ceteareth are listed on ingredient labels. Found in: shampoo, body wash, bubble bath.
Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA): a chelating (binding) agent added to cosmetics to improve stability. May be toxic to organs. Found in: hair color, moisturizers.
Ethanolamines (MEA/DEA/TEA): surfactants and pH adjuster linked to allergies, skin toxicity, hormone disruption, and inhibited fetal brain development. Found in: hair dyes, mascara, foundation, fragrances, sunscreens, dry cleaning solvents, paint, pharmaceuticals.
Formaldehyde: used as a preservative in cosmetics. A known carcinogen that is also linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity. Present where quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol) and several other preservatives are listed. Beautycounter does not use any of these formaldehyde-donating preservatives. Found in: shampoo, body wash, bubble bath. 
Hydroquinone: a skin lightening chemical that inhibits the production of melanin
and is a linked to cancer, organ toxicity and skin irritation. Found in: skin lightening creams.
Methyl cellosolve: fragrance ingredient and solvent that is an irritant and a possible neurotoxin, developmental toxin, and cause of DNA mutations that could lead to cancer. Found in: anti-aging creams.

Methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone: chemical preservatives that are among the most common irritants, sensitizers and causes of contact skin allergies. Found in: shampoo, conditioner, body wash.
Mercury and mercury compounds (also listed as Thimerosal): metallic element used as a preservative and antiseptic known to damage brain function. Found in: ear and eye drops; may be used in mascara.
Mineral Oil (also listed as liquid paraffin; liquid petrolatum; paraffin oil): a by-product of petroleum distillation that may cause contact dermatitis. Found in: baby lotions, cold creams, ointments.
Oxybenzone: sunscreen agent and ultraviolet light absorber linked to irritation, sensitization and allergies, and possible hormone disruption. Found in: sunscreen, moisturizer.
Parabens  (methyl-, isobutyl-, proply- and others): a class of preservatives commonly used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Parabens are endocrine (or hormone) disruptors, which alter important hormone mechanisms in our bodies. Specially, parabens mimic estrogen; they can lock on to our cell’s own estrogen receptors and mess with important natural signals. They may play a role in triggering breast cancer. Found in: shampoo, face cleanser, body wash, body lotion, foundation.
Phthalates  (DBP, DEHP, DEP and others): a class of plasticizing chemicals used to make products more pliable or to make fragrances stick to skin. Phthalates disrupt the endocrine system and may cause birth defects. Found in: synthetic fragrance, nail polish, hairspray.

Polyethylene glycol (PEG compounds): PEGs are widely used in cosmetics as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers. Depending on manufacturing processes, PEGs may be contaminated with measurable amounts of ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, which are both carcinogens. Found in: creams, sunscreen, shampoo.
Resorcinol: a colorant and fragrance ingredient that is a skin irritant, toxic to the
immune system and organs, and suspected to cause hormone disruption. Found in: hair color.
Retinyl palmitate and Retinol (Vitamin A): a nutrient that may damage DNA and speed the growth of skin tumors when used topically. Found in: moisturizer, anti-aging skincare.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS and SLES): SLS and SLES are surfactants that can cause skin irritation or trigger allergies. SLES is often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a byproduct of a petrochemical process called ethoxylation which is used to process other chemicals in order to make them less harsh. Found in: shampoo, body wash, bubble bath.
Synthetic flavor or fragrance: an engineered scent or flavoring agent that may contain any combination of 3,000+ stock chemical ingredients, including hormone disruptors and allergens. Fragrance formulas are protected under federal law's classification of trade secrets, and therefore can remain undisclosed. Found in: all types of cosmetics.
Toluene: a volatile petrochemical solvent that is toxic to the immune system and can
cause birth defects. Found in: nail polish.
Triclosan and Triclocarban: antimicrobial pesticides toxic to the aquatic environment; may also impact human reproductive systems. Found in: liquid soap, soap bars, toothpaste.

Beautycounter will never test our finished products on animals, nor do we ask others to.
Sources include: EWG Skin Deep Database, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, David Suzuki Foundation