Sunday, January 27, 2013

For Actors by Actors

This is the event where us, the members of the union vote for and reward the best actors of our organization with yearly peer to peer accolades.  Except for one thing......we are not truly "peers", at least not beyond our union affiliation. The nominees and recipients of the SAG awards are always famous actors and actresses....whereas most members of the union are not.

So you see we are not truly peers voting for peers, at least not in the perspective of dollars and cents.  Like most industries, in the entertainment business, we award the participants in highly financially successful endeavors and exclude most others. SAG Awards are given to productions and actors with known names, even though there are hundreds or thousands of actors who have done an amazing job in some role or another this past year in very small budget films and but were not seen by the nominating or voting members and so are not included. Even though I'm sure Daniel Day Lewis deserves an award for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln, perhaps John Doe, unknown actor # 8,554 in the Screen Actors Guild deserves it more for his role in some barely seen independent film of a forgettable name. Maybe, just maybe, if all the members of the union saw this performance they would unanimously agree that this actor deserves the award over any other. However, just like almost every other business, you must be financially successful to be judged as a stand out.  

Only about 10% of the union members earn enough to make a living per year in the profession of acting. This is a statistic that hasn't changed much over time for the better or worse. So, most of us, the 90% or so, have some good years and some slow years. To balance this out, we have parallel careers. In addition to entertainment, I have had a career in conventions and marketing for 15 years. Others are teachers, models, bartenders, accountants, you name it. This is just a fact, that the majority of card carrying union actors have to have real jobs in addition to our reel jobs.....and most are pretty good sports about it, including myself.

Maybe it would be fun to do the SAG Awards the other way around. For the famous and wealthy actors to vote for and hand over awards to several unknown professional actors. To, for one night put those in the spotlight who are usually just outside its reach.

I can just imagine standing onstage next to Jude Law or Cate Blanchett while hearing the words, "Anna Wendt, this award is for your 15 years of perseverance in the entertainment business.  You have stuck with and accepted with your head held high, every small role, stand in job, and featured extra role since your very first one. Here is your Unknown Actor of the Year SAG award. Congratulations!"....

(Ok back to reality, the picture above is me accepting a Billboard Award "for rehearsal only" at a Billboard Awards rehearsal....).

The FIRST ever Screen Actors Guild Awards were held in 1995. For a flashback in time here were the evening's major winners:

Tom Hanks, in Forrest Gump....and yes, life is still like a box of chocolates

Martin Landau, in Ed Wood.....he pulled off the heroin addicted "Bela Lugosi" beautifully, and showed us the true meaning of dark comedy. 

Seinfeld, who can remember a time it wasn't only seen in reruns?

Picket Fences, I never watched this show. I grew up in a small town and already know all the secrets of that life ;)

and.......I must admit I either hadn't heard of or don't remember these two films with legendary award winners that night, but am sure going to Netflix them now!

Raul Julia, The Burning Season, as Chico Mendes

Joanne Woodward, The Breathing Lesson as Maggie Moran


The statuette is a 12 lb solid bronze, 16 inch high naked actor, wearing only a hat....

Yes, I got this all below from
The SAG Awards have been one of the major awards events in Hollywood since 1995. Nominations for the awards come from 4,200 randomly selected members of the union, with the full membership available to vote for the winners. The awards have been televised for the past several years on TNT, but now also airs on TBS.

The performers who have received the most SAG Awards are:
Alec Baldwin with 7 awards, and Julianna Margulies, 8 awards.

For more info and nostalgia:

How did you get your SAG card?.....Hollywood Underdog 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Measure in love

525,600 minutes.....

How do you measure a year in the life?.........

Measure in love

Many of us are familiar with the above lines in "Seasons of Love" a number from the musical RENT.

I think of this song every year on my birthday, and here I am, reminded of it again as I turn another year older.

"Measure in love"....isn't that how we should measure not just a year, but a life in general? Not in possessions as they don't go with us. Not in number of years as some live short but full lives, others long, but empty.  Everything is measured in love. Without love and connections to others we are just wandering ghosts.

So what did I do with my previous year's 525,600 minutes besides sleeping and eating? I spent a lot of those minutes learning, writing, running, and stretching my comfort zone. 

Also spent a lot of those minutes grieving. If a year in the life is made up of seasons then this past season was definitely my "winter". This is due to the passing away of someone who I will always think of on my birth day, the one who was there with me through every painful minute..... thanks mom and I miss you.

Wouldn't mind taking back a few thousand minutes I wasted worrying, complaining, or wallowing in self doubt or indecisiveness.

Finally, I am grateful for every one of those minutes I put into giving or receiving love....

This year I will try to use my minutes wisely.....and to appreciate them more than ever.

3 minutes of love from 'RENT'

Cast of "RENT", (the movie)....Courtesy Google Images

Sunday, January 13, 2013

What is a "Rehearsal Host"?

Since I am asked this question a lot, thought I'd share a day in the life of a Rehearsal Host...

When I arrived for rehearsals last Thursday for the Miss America Pageant at Planet Hollywood Casino, I was expecting to do the usual, which is to stand in for Brooke Burke as co host. This year however was different, I was to stand in for Chris Harrison, the host, who is also a guy and the host of "The Bachelor". It's ok, I have stood in for a dude once before, Neil Patrick Harris, as host of the "Smith Center for the Performing Arts Opening Night Gala."

Whether my same gender or not, being a rehearsal host for the host of a national awards show or pageant is sometimes stressful, but NEVER boring! Things have changed even in the past few years with the increasing variety of camera set ups and angles. I am talking while backing up, turning around, doing semi-circles, walking sideways and talking, all while reading a teleprompter which is either at the far end of the theater from me, or on a nearby "jib",  (a camera on a crane with an eight inch monitor attached), or a "steady cam", a hand held camera and monitor combination.

Whatever you see the host of Miss America doing, (or recently the Miss Universe Pageant for Giuliana Rancic, and the American Country Awards for Kristin Chenoweth), I have already done for the past few days.

This means I get to uncover the mistakes or missing elements that don't work, and reinforce the ones that do. By this point in my career, if I make a mistake on stage it is because there is something wrong, but it's usually not with me. The crew knows this and so they check if something is off either technically or with stage direction, and it gets adjusted for the "real" host.

Anything that is going  to be on the air in any "live" production, the rehearsal host(s) and rehearsal actors have usually done first.

Back to The Miss America Pageant, this year for the first time I co hosted with my sister Karen Wendt, who stood in for Brooke Burke for part of the show. We work together on almost every show but never before as host and co host, so it was a kick! 

We worked on stage rehearsing all elements of the final pageant; swimwear, evening gown, interview, introductions of judges, opening and closing segments, and more.

Since I have worked on the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss America Pageants for several years now, I know both organizations pretty well. Say what you will about the contestants, ("pageant girls" as they are sometimes referred), at least they are not hanging out in bars and texting their lives away.  Instead they are putting forth consistent effort in education, fitness, social skills, volunteerism, and yes, of course beauty. By the way, the four points of the Miss America crown stand for: Style, success, service, and scholarship.

Gee, do you think Melissa was surprised to win?? Love this pic!

Congratulations to Miss New York, Melissa Hagen, now Miss America 2013. Loved her tap dance of James Brown's "Get Up Offa That Thing".

Photo courtesy of

Oh, and thanks to Chris Harrison for asking to take a pic with me and posting on your twitter feed. Made my day. :)

Bonus pics from the recent 2012 American Country Awards

Brian Scott and Anna Wendt, rehearsal hosts, ACA Awards 2012

Trace Adkins and Kristin Chenoweth, hosts, rehearsing for ACA Awards 2012

Internet Movie Database Anna Wendt

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Four Wheel Fantasies

What's your "four wheel fantasy?" I'm talking about the kind of car you'd drive if you could have any car!

For me it's the Jaguar XK convertible. It will stay a fantasy. At a sticker price of $79k it pales in comparison to my Sebring Convertible for one reason Sebring is paid for. ;)

Jaguar XK Convertible

My friend and fellow Performer, Nicole Pano, took a trip to the L.A. Auto show a few weeks ago to check out the newest "hot" wheels making their debut.

Here's three minutes that'll make your heart....RACE!

Fantasy on wheels...Travel with Nicole to the L.A. Auto Show!


Monday, January 7, 2013

Ivy League "cyber" style

"The mind, once expanded to the dimension of larger ideas, never goes back to its original size."
Oliver Wendell Holmes

My friend Nicole Pano turned me on to these websites below that offer online courses sponsored by those well known schools most of us have heard of but many have not attended. Some are even Ivy League.

They offer online classes of which several are free, and others very inexpensive. The best part is these are open to everyone, unlike their brick and mortar counterparts.

So, I am thinking that perhaps I will spend a little less time on Facebook, or watching "Project Runway" this year, and a little more time learning, Ivy League style! where are my tortoise shell glasses?  (This one is mostly Stanford, Caltech, Princeton & Duke) (Includes Harvard & Berkeley classes) (This site started by a Stanford professor)   (Carnegie Mellon University)

Just for fun here are a few more online educational websites.

(This one is more creative, some classes are not free but still very inexpensive)

SCORE Online Workshops (A great resource for entrepreneurs)

Photo courtesy of

Twitter @nicolepano

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Secrets to Success

Now is the day we all think most about improving our lives and ourselves. I know I do. I want to be a more successful professional and much more important than that, a better human being.

This list of "Secrets to Success" from Investor's Business Daily is a nice guideline on both of the above. These tips apply to everyone, not just investors.  After all, it's not what you choose to do with your life, but how you choose to do it that makes all the difference.

Excerpt - Investor’s Business Daily has spent years analyzing leaders and successful people in all walks of life. Most have 10 traits that, when combined, can turn dreams into reality.

Secrets to Success

1 How you think is everything: Always be positive. Think success, not failure. Beware of a negative environment.

2 Decide upon your true dreams and goals: Write down your specific goals and develop a plan to reach them.

3 Take action: Goals are nothing without action. Don’t be afraid to get started now. Just do it.

4 Never stop learning: Go back to school or read books. Get training and acquire skills.

5 Be persistent and work hard: Success is a marathon, not a sprint. Never give up.

6 Learn to analyze details: Get all the facts, all the input. Learn from your mistakes.

7 Focus your time and money: Don’t let other people or things distract you.

8 Don’t be afraid to innovate; be different: Following the herd is a sure way to mediocrity.

9 Deal and Communicate with people effectively: No person is an island. Learn to understand and motivate others.

10 Be honest and dependable; take responsibility: Otherwise, Numbers 1-9 won’t matter.

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