Stay Connected.

I feel paralyzed from the evil things people do. The young men of this country are growing up thinking that they are entitled to a woman’s life. What made them believe that the world owe’s them anything? It stuns me that I don’t have an answer, other than “please raise your children better.”

It started with Columbine. I was in high school in North Carolina at the time. Our teachers made us recite the pledge of allegiance. They started flying flags in each classroom. I refused to say the pledge because I am an atheist, and I had the support of my classmates who supplied me with sections from the constitution saying that I did not have to recite it because “under God” was added later, much later, as we know, in the 1950’s. My teacher was disgusted with me, but I’m not a sheep. I was sent to the principal’s office, but I just went home. No kid with an automatic rifle was going to challenge my human rights, and certainly not my 12th grade German teacher. Patriotism. You’re either with us or against us. United we stand by our guns.

Here’s what happens today after a school shooting: drills for 1st graders hiding under desks. Assemblies with touchy-feely sentiments about “community”. It’s all part of the cycle. How do we treat and identify boys and men who have these issues? Why are things like Gamer Gate happening? What is causing these people to flip out?

Girls, Women: No one owns you. No one is entitled to you, your life, or your body.

Is it the larger cultural patriarchal landscape that is to blame? As creators, we have a responsibility to tell the truth and create great art. Are video games just entertainment? What percentage of the population has the ability to separate reality from virtual reality? What is effecting these young men so strongly that is different from everyone before Columbine? Is it the imperfect stew that is America? Are video games more violent today than they were back then? No, they are just more realistic.

The persona you put on the Internet is not who you are in reality. The distance we are creating from each other grows. If Twitter deleted itself today, we would recover. All of those connections would be lost, if you had not reached out to meet in person. Gone. And it would not effect us at all, because it’s virtual. It’s a presentation of the self.

Time to get out of your house and start connecting with people, lest you retreat farther into the shell of your protective plastic persona.

Stay connected.

Those Trying Days…Keep That Head Up!

From the red carpet events, to the photoshoots, and pool-side soirées, an actress’s life can be exquisitely glamourous. The stories of “over-night successes” and finding the “diamond in the rough” romanticize the thespian’s life story and uplifts us all to dream the impossible dream. As an actor, the idea that we must lift everyone’s spirits is somber when we ourselves need to be lifted out of our own malaise.

Today I spoke with my father. Here is a man who never stopped working a day in his life. The apple falls right from the tree and straight into the office, in this case. He excitedly proclaimed that he is slowly working on his new book about electrocardiology research. I feel happy for him and tell him about eBooks if he was interested in publishing his previous work which exists in blog form, Diamonds from Finland (poems from Finland’s poet laureate, Eino Leino, translated by my father). He says happily that he prefers hard copies for such a thing. I agree.

It’s time to visit family as I only see my father once a year, and my mother a handful of times as she is the only one who is able to travel. My father had quadruple bypass surgery back in 2010. The surgery made his life immeasurably better. He is turning 82 in December, and as my dear mother softly reminds me with the occasional morbid e-mail that he is getting on in the years. I miss them dearly, thousands of miles away. I have never lived this far away from them, but I have been on my own since I was 17. I miss them now more than I ever did.

I finally got a survival job going on today. This will buy me [some] time to focus on selling my show, Queen Gorya. In the meantime, I will focus more on writing and completing my existing projects for my film company. Like my father, there is always another project brewing. I have a sneaking suspicion this will be the case until my death bed. “And another thing…check the drawer by my bedside table. There you will find a script…”

Phone calls to family are bittersweet. I am happy to hear from them but sad because I miss them terribly. Sometimes I am cross because the actor’s life is taxing and so often discouraging. I relent to bring them down with my lack of real news, but I can’t not talk to them just because I’m sad. As a good friend once said, “No one understands show business, but the people in show business.” Bits and pieces falling together to form the elusive and ever changing puzzle that is my destiny. I will control what I can, and keep others believing in the dream. I honestly can’t wait until the day that I hear some incredible news, if only to share it with my father and mother on a video call. I never want to make them cry, but in the case of exuberant happiness, I will gladly oblige.

-Satu Runa (“I am still trying to get used to your name”- PMR)

Actress and Director, Satu Runa

Actress and Director, Satu Runa. April 10, 2014 Glendale, CA

photo by Michael Moriatis

 

Anxiety, Depression, and Showbiz

It was a somber news day as the world learned of the passing of Robin Williams, the thrilling, electric, and magnetically gifted comedian, movie star, and voice actor.  I am more comfortable calling this man a real Actor, because he was every reason to pursue becoming a performer of the stage, big and small screen.

Tonight I am watching “Patch Adams,” the 90’s drama-comedy about a med student who finds himself in a psychiatric facility for treatment due to a suicide attempt.  This film affected me deeply, as did most of Robin’s films.  Mrs. Doubtfire, because Sally Field reminded me of my mother. What Dreams May Come, for it’s ultra powerful morbid subject matter and depiction of what it is like to loose someone to suicide. And of course, Hook, with the unforgettable line, “Life is an awfully big adventure.”  To lose an incredibly gifted and enigmatic talent such as Robin Williams is astonishing, particularly to suicide. Many performers suffer from manic-depression or bipolar disorder, amongst several other personality disorders (namely histrionic and borderline). I studied psychology in high school at a college level and took what I learned for gospel. As I dive deeper into the entertainment industry myself, I am time and time again investigating the behavior of several beloved performers who have decided to end their lives. It fascinates society, and it fascinates me. I am compelled to study the early deaths of celebrities and artists.

I have studied the lives of Marilyn Monroe, & Heath Ledger among others.  I have been pursuing a successful career in show business for some time, so I completely understand the heartache one can experience, and the toll it takes on the heart, body, and mind.  I’d be a liar if I said I never felt feelings of anxiety or depression directly related to my career choice, but I am left with the question so many others face: to take medication, or to face the storm without it? I recently had Lasik surgery, which involves taking a Valium to relax the nerves. I couldn’t help but relish the feeling all day, despite my eyes being freshly cut. For the first time since I could remember, I felt completely relaxed. Other than a full body massage or a full day at the beach, the Valium eliminated any stress, worry, fear, or panic. Accompanying the lack of these feelings was a lack of any feeling. Nothing mattered. “Anything goes”. I was happy to float along and enjoy my complacent afternoon. There’s the rub with psychoactive medication: while it can help some people be themselves, it’s also possible that it can rob you of your true self by snuffing out any charisma or edge your personality might naturally have. I could easily see myself abusing this drug if given the chance, because it allows you to go beyond forgetting your troubles and cares and just completely “check out,” which so many of us need on a regular basis (ie., why people have horrendous phone addictions, which is essentially checking out from life while playing games or [ab]using social media).

I understand how one can become addicted to psychoactive prescriptions which is why I am avoiding them. Things can become very stressful in anyone’s life, but in that of an actor’s life, we must manipulate our vulnerability, emotions, and body so that we turn our feelings on and off when we need them. The trick is that it’s more difficult turning them off, than on. There is more training focused on “opening up” and letting go, reaching a nerve and exposing it raw, than there is for protecting your psyche and soul in the process. Perhaps drama schools should intentionally focus on the “protection of the psyche”, as certain acting work requires deep psychological experimentation, experiencing trauma, and believing it.

For actors and others who experience depression it’s important to recognize that it absolutely can be possibly balanced through medication. More importantly, like in Patch Adams, we must work with the disease/disorder, not against it. We must never forget that there is a person behind that disorder.
robin-williams-cover-ftr

And laughter is the best medicine. Thank you Robin. I feel better already, when I see your face.


-Satu Runa

www.twitter.com/saturuna

San Diego Comic Con 2014: A Reflective Essay

San Diego Comic Con: A Reflective Essay

Monday, July 28, 2014

By Satu Runa

This is my 3rd year attending the San Diego Comic Convention, and my first time as a guest panelist.  The panel, “Taming the Web: The Nuts and Bolts of Web Series Creation” was an incredible success- speaking to a full house of 400-450 people, all curious of how to make it on the web and/or use crowd-funding to create your project.  I played a secret clip from my project, Queen Gorya, which was greeted with a round of laughter.  It felt great to talk about the work and inspire people to DIY their own project.  I hope to be a regular panelist in the years to come! 

"Taming the Web: The Nuts and Bolts of Web Series Creation" panel at San Diego Comic Con, 2014

“Taming the Web: The Nuts and Bolts of Web Series Creation” panel at San Diego Comic Con, 2014

Wednesday, preview night of SDCC, was epic. You could feel the buzz of electricity and madness as you walked closer to the convention center on Harbor Drive.   It was a pleasantly unruffled crowd, full of hope and excitement. Spring (robot) chickens just perusing the aisles at their leisure. Preview night is truly is the best time to attend. I was lucky enough to stay for all 5 days and it was worth it. The #1 reason I go to the con: for the cosplay. I love seeing everyone’s creativity with crossing characters and wardrobe skills at their very best. It’s even better when someone is a dead ringer, both in cadence, movement, and likeness. Petyr Bailish and a Catwoman (Animated Series, played by Adrianne Curry) were the best, to name a few. The #2 reason to attend is for the Gaslamp district at night (and yes, collect rare comics/graphic novels and trading cards)! I also enjoy perusing/buying original art, as there are so many fantastic artists displaying their best work, it’s important to support the reason the con exists in the first place.

Batwoman, Wonder Woman, and Satu Runa

Batwoman, Wonder Woman, and Satu Runa

Thursday night, I was lucky enough to attend a Tori Amos concert. It was an incredibly intimate show on the harbor. It completely drove me back into the 90s (which is where I like to live most of the time) and it was refreshingly powerful and classic, just her and her piano. What a lady. A truly soulful and AWAKE artist.

Friday: My sea legs were starting to crumble. I powered through the morning scanning the aisles for cool corsets, rings, trading cards, and graphic novels (like Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan, an incredible sci-fi/fantasy comic a friend recently recommended to me).  

Saturday: Got to meet Adrianne Curry, who, at the time I did not know, had just beat a guy’s face for sexually assaulting her friend, who was dressed as Marvel’s Tigra. She was an awesome Catwoman (from the animated series) and posed for a photo with me. She is a strong woman. While comic-con is no place for violence or assaults, she did the right thing. It only happens because of the sheer volume of people, you are bound to get a certain percentage of criminals and psychopaths.

Alicia Marie, Adrianne Curry, Satu Runa, and friend

Alicia Marie, Adrianne Curry, Satu Runa, and friend

Sunday: The final day. It’s always a somber feeling. Comic con is such a burst of positive energy, I am overwhelmed by it’s instant happiness on the attendees. Michaelangelo breakdancing in full regalia. Captain America motioning for curious children to come take a picture with him and Superman. The smirk on Loki’s face when he is asked to get his picture taken. The joy of Arthur Dent when he is recognized (with towel). The skill and artistry of the wardrobe from a very large group of characters (plus George R.R. Martin) from Game of Thrones. Last but not least: Seeing a boy of 9, skinny and light as air, donning a Finn from Adventure Time bear hat, skipping down the hallway to a panel. This was the sweetest moment. Nothing affects me more powerfully than other people sharing a mutual passion for all things geeky, and seeing how happy it makes them when it is celebrated en masse.

Satu Runa at Arkham Knight video game display. This pic got my 144 favorites and 42 retweets! :)

Satu Runa at Arkham Knight video game display. This pic got my 144 favorites and 42 retweets! :)

After spending 20 minutes on the floor, I walked around the back of the convention center for the first time. Gotham City zip-lining. The Simpsons Experience. Godzilla photo-op. And sailboats. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the one yacht named “Oberon,” both for me being a Shakespeare nerd, but also for the Game of Thrones reference. I people watched for an hour, pontificating about my life and the weekend, until a kite caught my eye.   A man in a pedicab was flying a kite down the boardwalk as another person pedaled. The playfulness and the free-spirit of the green and blue sting-ray like flying object affected me deeply. I thought to myself, my heart is like a kite. Playful and free, yet always tethered to the ground. And perhaps Comic-Con is like a kite. We are here to escape, to take off and play… to let our spirits soar into the realms of fantasy and fiction. Yet we remain tethered, as Sunday comes to an early close, with the long drive back into the reality that is called “Tinseltown.”

Pictures from my 7D coming in the next post. Until then,

Later, fanboys and fangirls!

Satu Runa at Comic Con International 2014

Satu Runa at Comic Con International 2014

Satu (aka “The Final Fangirl”)

Queen Gorya, Kickstarter-Funded TV Pilot Underway

I have to say that the Kickstarter campaign for our 1/2 hour comedy pilot, Queen Gorya, completely wore me out.  It was a tumultuous time for everyone involved.  Yet the last few hours of the campaign were the most exhilarating hours of my life.

Thanks to all of our patrons, we managed to raise $13,000 in 36 days.  When a project is funded by the fans, every creative decision is done with the joy of knowing that we are going to make these people proud and happy.  I still can’t believe it.

And so, pre-production is well underway.  Production is planned to begin early April.  We have a stellar cast, with an equal share of seasoned comical actors and rising star talent.  They will be the soul of this machine- and I’m driving!  As director & producer, I couldn’t be more proud of my work and my team.  This is going to be epic.

Queen Gorya and Terry the Wolfman

Queen Gorya and Terry the Wolfman illustration by Adrian Barrios

The best part about it, however, is that I get to be Gloria Gorgodianm aka “Queen Gorya,” and look through her green-tinted shades once again for a few days.  Life is better in character.

-Satu Runa, your actress and filmmaker.
www.queengorya.com

The Art of Assimilation: From the Voice of a Canadian-American

The twitter-sphere is reeling after Coke aired an ad during the Super Bowl that reflects America’s beautiful diversity and multi-culturalism.  We all have our own unique storyline of what makes us who we are: hometown, our parent’s culture, your sub-culture, the culture you are met with when you move somewhere else, and the culture you wish to incorporate by choice in your adult life.  Identity is a precious concept that no one should take away -or force- onto you.  I hold onto mine for dear life.

The world is smaller than most people dare to know.  Assimilation may be a bad thing (how one must give up their own culture in order to adopt the culture of the country that they immigrate too), though I now see it in a different light.  It is a mere addition to the person you already are.  It’s a method of survival in a strange land (i.e., when I moved to the South, I stopped using the word “damn,” [which was never a big deal in Alberta] as every time I said it, people froze).  How much of America is lost when immigrants do not assimilate?  How much of a person is lost when they do assimilate?


Satu Runa
…this was the toned-down version of my metal self (me circa 2005)

Moving from Canada to the American South, you would think assimilation was easy.  However; it was the most difficult transition of my life (second only to the culture shock of moving to Los Angeles from New York!).  For a time, I silenced my political beliefs (as this was the most foreign quality I had) and I didn’t speak about religion too much (I was raised without religion – this was the most “offensive” thing about me).   I couldn’t give up my skin color.  Coming from Canada, I couldn’t hide my slight accent.  All in all, it was my acceptance of the new world around me that was difficult- not their acceptance of me.  The acceptance of my circumstance is what kept me up at night.  What was more of an identity crusher: later on in life, in order to find acting work, I had to visibly give up the strong sub-culture that found me (metal), sustained me, and allowed me to assimilate and build a strong identity (or ego) to protect myself from the horrors of an ultra-conservative society.

Satu Runa

Walking in a winter wonderland in Central Park

What people have to remember is that while being multi-cultural is okay, a lot of us are still guests of this country, and what we offer is to add flavor to the recipe that already exists.  The USA is a rich broth full of ingredients from around the world.  We are merely adding spices to the pot as time goes on.  But that pot has been here longer than you.

If you move to a country with one national language, you should learn it.  It’s a survival thing.  I also believe that it’s arrogant to expect people to learn any other language in this country.  I admire multi-linguists (I myself know French), but Americans shouldn’t be expected to learn Spanish (even though it’s a sexier language, and people are always better off knowing more than one).  Until this country officially becomes bilingual, forget it.  Even in Canada (which is officially bilingual) hardly anyone knows or speaks French out west because they don’t have to.

Holding onto one’s culture and identity is a ferocious sport in a changing world.  It’s why Quebec wants a separation.  It’s why I love hockey, Tim Hortons, and winter SO much.  It’s the part of this country that embraces tidbits of my Canadian heritage that keeps me going.  It’s all that I have to hold onto.  It’s why I feel compelled to cheer for Team Canada but not Team USA (though I do root for specific US athletes if I’ve been following their story, and of course, if they are cute).  I would never let anyone take my heritage away from me.  Though I did not move the to United States by choice, it’s my choice to stay, and I am doing my best to respect the country that I have grudgingly adapted to.  I focus on the good things (rock n’ roll, art, poetry, barbecue/beer/bonfires, San Francisco, New York, my friends) and surround myself with like-minded individuals who want to make this country more exciting.  I don’t have to be anything but who I want to be.  Isn’t that part of the American dream of freedom?

While the message in the Superbowl Coke ad (and most liberal blogs) is “tolerance,” both sides of the debate are worth hearing.  What makes America beautiful is the acceptance of different people and the amazingly unique American culture that has been born from a history of immigration.  The world is changing and it cannot wait for you to change with it.  Be yourself.  It’s what freedom is all about.  But be prepared for the battle field that is the acceptance of society, because they will come barking.

-SR

2014 Projections for The Final Fangirl: A New Hope

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The cast of Cabaret (TheTribe Productions) at the Bindlestiff Studio in San Francisco, CA

I’ve spent most of the year in San Francisco performing in Cabaret, the musical, with the amazing TheTribe Productions.  While I feel anxious to get back into the industry game, it was REALLY nice actually working as an actress for most of the month!

It’s a funny feeling actually getting acting work that lasts longer than a few days.  I adore the theater for this reason, it makes you feel complete as a thespian: fully immersing yourself in a world that is not your own.  For the past four months I have been living in early 1930s Berlin, on stage in a cabaret, as a “Kit Kat” girl.  It was one of my better acting experiences since moving to LA and hopping on the “business of acting” bandwagon, a swift departure from my New York days as a working and student actress.  It was lovely escaping from the business and actually enjoying my craft for a change.  And in a city that totally RIVALS my beloved New York!

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That’s me at the bottom right, as “Rosie” the Jewish Kit Kat Girl

January is a strange month.  While the rest of the city is hitting the pavement for pilot season, I am, most often, in a play, shooting an independent film, or producing and directing something myself.  I know I’m an unusual “type” that agents have a strange time pinpointing, but I’ve decided to spend less time on my marketing and more time on actually ACTING.  It’s important to remember why pursued acting in the first place.  I actually caught myself looking at potential law degree programs today, as I am sick of living poorly just for the chance of getting a decent audition.  I want to make money because I want to live well.  I know my mother would rejoice if I merely entertained the thought of becoming a lawyer.

What’s interesting is that no matter what job I take, I can surely climb to the top and be the best at it.  I have no doubt.  Of course, I chose a career in which you have very little say in how far you climb.  I’ve strived for so long, and it’s time to live well.  I was made for gigantic projects.  I was born to be a producer, director, writer, singer, and actress.  I am super happy performing music as a solo artist, doing acoustic sessions and writing sad songs for small audiences.  I am happy performing musical theater in a completely packed 99-seat house.  It certainly felt like home working at the tiny Bindlestiff Studio for those precious weeks.  I live for back-breaking dance rehearsals and the cosmetic aroma of a theater’s dressing room.  Take me there…

So what is NEXT?  Queen Gorya is next.  Promoting her at WonderCon, Monsterpalooza, San Diego Comic Con, Days of the Dead, and New York Comic Con is next.  I must finish the outrageous TV pilot that we started, with our glorious Kickstarter campaign funds that took EVERY cell in my system to obtain!  Though I am constantly asking myself this question:  What was I born to do for this world? Who am I in service of?  After my experience on set last year for Queen Gorya as executive producer, star, and director, I never felt more at home.  It was a calm set, one of the most sweet experiences I’ve had on a film set, in fact.   I owe it to myself to maintain a silky smooth adventure on my film sets.  I know that I am capable of a lot, and I know that’s why my mother’s heart breaks every time she talks to me and I am in dismay because there are no auditions lined up.   My journey is the LONG and difficult one.

DO IT YOURSELF:  I have been inspired to create a burlesque show (under a stage name that I have yet to announce!).  I also plan on performing a solo acoustic set at the House of Blues this spring.  I am spending a lot of time finishing up a sci-fi feature film script and a brand new adventure TV pilot that I will be pitching.  I’m formulating a business plan for my production company, Final Fangirl Productions, that involves two feature films (sci-fi and thriller) and two TV series in development.

Sometimes I feel as though I don’t have enough years in my life to complete the work I have set out for myself.  I aim to create my ideal future as an actress: picking up script after script of projects people want me to perform in.  Another reason why I would love to have an agent…to help me break down those doors.  If I could act and sing all of the time, I would… I would do it till my soul bled.

xo,
Satu (your frustrated, hard-working, jane-of-all-trades that only wants to be an actress/pop star)