Girl Night Stand

Girl Night Stand

The internet has been a crazy landscape these past two weeks for one of my projects. About a week ago we released my short film GIRL NIGHT STAND on After Ellen and had some incredible feedback. Everyone loves an awkward one night stand. Sexuality aside, those confusing emotions are universal. It’s the universality I’m interested in exploring. At the core, we’re all humans trying our best. And through comedy, an audience can be united in laughter.

After another featured article on Bustle, and then getting featured on Elle.be, I have to say – I’m just floored.  I’m beside myself with gratitude for the amazing support I’ve received from complete strangers helping and encouraging my feature Lez Bomb and the Lez Bomb team’s endeavor to get the film made.

Girl Night Stand from Jenna Laurenzo on Vimeo.

As most things in my life – this adventure started in a yoga class. I was deeply conflicted about directing Lez Bomb. Instead of focusing on my breathing and my practice on the mat, I was mentally going back and forth about whether or not I should direct the feature. I had gone through many conversations with potential directors, and there was always some reason that got in the way. I finally had to ask myself – should I just direct the piece myself? I had written and produced so much content in the past, and I had directed before.  But a feature?! My feature.  That’s scary.

My yoga teacher asked us all to grab two blocks and then asked us to kick up into handstand on the blocks.  I found myself afraid of kicking up.  But why? We were against the wall. Then I realized I didn’t want to fall – in front of who? The teacher? The class? “Oh my God, I’m afraid of falling! I’m afraid of failing!” I kicked up into handstand on those two blocks – successfully. I just sucked it up and mustered up the courage – who the hell cares if I fall?! And that’s how I decided to direct my feature. And short. I realized I was the only one holding myself back.

Thankfully I found two blocks, a handstand, and a little boost of courage. I’m terrified of directing an entire feature.  But sometimes we just need to confront fears – especially when they are self created, and kick upside down to gain new perspective.

#Hiking and #handstand. Happy fall day. @aineod8

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Reflective Run

Definitely the happiest runner at the #NYCHalfMarathon Go @jennalaurenzo !

A photo posted by Aine O’ Dwyer (@aineod8) on Mar 15, 2015 at 6:11am PDT

It’s March! How did that happen? I’m going to write about running again…

After the Philadelphia half marathon, my fiancé entered us into the lottery for NYC’s half marathon.  Well, I got picked. Solo. Running through Times Square was an amazing experience. The lights, the cheering people – it’s all a bundle of inspiration that ignites the spirit to push further.  I hope to do a full marathon one day.

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With the solo time I was able to go into deep reflection over the past year.   January marked the ten year anniversary of wave day:

I can’t help celebrating life recalling that memory.  While the experience was scary, I wouldn’t trade having faced fear head on.  The reality is, we create so much drama for ourselves.  But having been on a ship that near capsized, it helps keep the “drama” in perspective.  Thank you Semester at Sea for teaching me what “high stakes” really means.  I try to keep life grounded, and bring the high stakes to my writing.  It’s a worthwhile challenge.

Within the year I got engaged, bought a condo, met Radhanath Swami a handful of times, studied with my yoga teacher, lived in a LA for a few months, developed a stint of Alopecia (what?!), grew that hair back, blamed LA for the hair loss, got over that, wrote a ton, and ran two half marathons with a lot to reflect on.  The second of which I never stopped running.  Those neon pink shoes kept a continuous pace pounding the pavement for 13.1 miles.  It was a personal victory.  As all trial, tribulation, success and triumph should be.  We all have our own mountain to climb.  Fulfillment lies in the ability to bring our personal peak performance inspired by experiences and people who teach us along the way.

#NYCHalfMarathon inspiration from @aineod8 #SavasanaTime.

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I couldn’t help but smile through the race.  Gratitude inspired each step.  It’s been a hell of a year and I knew pancakes awaited me after the finish line.

Good Tidings

Good tidings is an old fashioned way to say I’m bringing good news.  I’m not.  But I’m writing with the ocean in view and thinking of the tide, and well…”Good Tidings” felt like an appropriate title despite it being an inappropriate use of the phrase.

Office for the week: ocean, coffee, script. @aineod8 #screenwriting #wavespiration

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I’ve spent a lot of time near oceans in the past 6 months.  Last month I listened to a swami discuss the ocean and it’s waves, comparing life to the changing tides, currents, water temperature, etc.  Standing on the shore you can appreciate the beauty of the ocean.  Once inside, you’re tossed about; much like life.  You can be of the world, but not in the world.  He said it far more poetically, but tis the nature of the telephone game.

I’ve heard such analogies countless times and they had always bothered me, because I felt like I was being told to live life without passion.  But years later, and countless hours of thinking too much, I’ve realized it’s quite the opposite.

When we stand outside life’s drama without getting caught in the constantly shifting currents and tides of gossip, self doubt, constant worry, criticism, and all that chatter that occupies our minds with nonsense – THEN we can jump into the ocean with open arms because there’s space for joy. Despite the constant flux, we can always return to the larger beauty within the grand scheme of things without getting bogged down and pre occupied with all that is out of our control.

While anxieties might always pass before the forefront of our minds like passing clouds, instead of running with them on tangents, latch on to the vast ocean of joy running parallel, and know the personal freedom to choose joy is the life buoy always available when the ocean gets a little rough.

 

 

Without Power, With Love

My Dad’s surprise 60th launched a series of surprises:

Me and my significant other left early the morning after the party to head into the city and “move in,” trying to beat Hurricane Sandy.  After side swiping the Holland Tunnel in our rented u-haul, using two “movers” off craigslist to take 3 hours to lift 3 heavy pieces, and discovering the apartment wasn’t quite big enough to comfortably house the furniture she was bringing from her spacious Jersey City apartment, I’d say shell shock hit.  And then I went to work where everyone was ordering nacho platters: comfort food for the oncoming storm.

The storm hit, we lost power, and we were both PMS-ing.  I’d say there’s no better relationship litmus test.  “If we can stand each other now, I’ve got a good feeling…”

The storms been devastating to many.  My heart goes out to all.  Surprises, both good and bad, throw us from our grounding and force us to find footing; there’s always somewhere to land.   All the lit candles have been a reminder of the glimmer of hope within even the darkest of days, reminding us to rise not above, but because of the challenges placed before us.

 

COWBOY SPIRIT

I escaped NYC for the filming of COWBOY SPIRIT up in MA.  It was a blessing, a challenge, and a spiritual journey.

For starters, I stayed with my Aunt (the “witchy” one)- who offered to read my cards upon arrival.  That said, I was showered with angelic “messages” for about two weeks.

As for the filming, WHOA!  I worked with some of the most talented and interesting people.  The film is a Western, and I play…well, a bitch; a major antagonist.  I never thought I’d play the villain.  But hey, I’m from Jersey and I’ve been in NYC a few years working in restaurants so…there was a glimmer of “Bitch” looking to go up in flames, and just the role came about.

When I first read COWBOY SPIRIT it was hard not to detest and judge the character TORI.  But how do you embody a character you judge? Impossible.  So, I began asking all those questions involved in character study.  Where does she come from? What was her childhood like? Etc. etc.  We’re all creatures of habit and those habits come from our experiences and the memories around those experiences.  As filming neared, I focused on what experiences and memories would bring the character of TORI to life, from page to screen.  When filming began, I really had to separate myself…keep myself glued to my phone in between shots, and create that distance she seems to have with the rest of the world.

I thought about people I’ve met, in life, who ARE actual Tori’s.  Tightly wound, spoiled perfectionists out of touch with the hardships of life.  After exploring the character, I left set feeling sorry for Tori’s I’d judged in the past.  It’s A LOT of energy trying to maintain such an image;  a tightly wound spring ready to burst.

Cowboy Spirit reminded me why I wanted to be an actor and writer in the first place.  Both allow room to explore the spectrum of experience through characters, words, and story, and ultimately become a more compassionate human being, chipping away towards the core…the truth (whatever that means…I’m still searching…).

BITCH and all, it was fun as hell playing Tori.  Heck, It was fun as hell being on set, despite trying NOT to have too much fun (in character).  I had the pleasure of working with Rich Manley who plays the lead and ultimately, hero.  Um, he’s not only an actor.  He’s also a skilled martial artist and MAGICIAN.  Anyone who knows me is laughing.  They know he had me at “magician.”  I kept asking for card tricks.  Pretty sure he thought I was hitting on him until my significant other showed up on set.  “Show me some magic”

I also had the pleasure of working with Ayla Brown.  She plays the “good girl” my character dislikes.  She’s such a sweetheart in real life; I had to apologize after takes in which my character unleashes the bitch on her.  She’s 6 feet tall.  Her character’s supposed to be intimidated by my 5’5” self?  Couldn’t help but chuckle over this.  Listen to her music!  And “LIKE” her on facebook to stay posted on her upcoming shows.

COWBOY SPIRIT was an amazing experience.  I’d like to thank everyone involved.  It’d be too long a list to mention everyone.  There was a ton of hard work, passion, and soul on this project.  Written by Mike Allison, and directed by Bill Miller, COWBOY SPIRIT will come to life and remind the audience that we all have a life with experiences of our own choosing.  We’ll all take that final ride one day, and hopefully you’ll have created the experiences and memories that will lead you to the greenest of pastures.