Category Archives: work

In Ophelia‘s Seat: A Q&A with Ali Mueller About Her Interview

opheliaposterThis is the second of two interviews I was able to conduct with the cast and crew of the short film Ophelia. On Friday, when it premiered at this year’s LA Shorts Fest, I published a review, and just yesterday I was able to share a Q&A with director Andrew Garland.

Playing the eponymous character herself is Ali Mueller. In addition to starring in such programs as ABC’s All My Children and films like STARZ movie Category 5, Mueller is also hard at work creating her own film and television content. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram as @alimueller1.


alimuellerWhat did you want to be when you were seven-years-old?

I wanted to be a horse show jumper, a tennis player, an actress, a lawyer and a princess. Four out of five have come true in some shape or form but when I really look at what I wanted to be, it was a performer. A storyteller, expressing my feelings unapologetically.

What was the strangest question you’ve ever been asked in a job interview?

I did a commercial audition once where they asked me to sing “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Now I wouldn’t exactly call myself a singer, but I did know and love the song, despite being notorious for making up my own lyrics rather than ever learning the proper ones. And “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a seriously big song. So I got almost halfway and they stopped me. Didn’t hear back from them.

Do you have any strategies when it comes to interviewing for a job [or auditioning for a role]? [How do you deal with pressure?]

Honestly, rehearsing. Being really prepared, so much so that I’m excited to go in and play and do my work. Also being open to whatever the moment brings. Nerves are actually alright, because you can use them as an internal energy to fuel what you’re going after. Continue reading

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Ophelia: A Short Film Review

opheliaposterIn a world fraught with fears there are few experiences as anxiety-inducing as job interviews. While a failed date resolves in an extended period of loneliness a botched interview affects your very livelihood. In its first few moments Ophelia opens up with the titular character cautiously entering a derelict hallway, the sounds of her heels punctuating each step towards a room of other applicants.

Given the inherently terrifying nature of the event his piece depicts, director Anthony Garland fittingly chose to shoot the film like a horror movie. There’s a constant air of tension, which succeeds due to it never growing too overbearing. Ophelia‘s most unsettling moments might have been flashier and more overt in other hands, but there’s an admirable amount of restraint that extends from the cut from shot to shot [Garland also edited the film] to the sound direction.

As for the interview itself, the theme appears to grapple with the director’s chosen genre. If job interviews, like horror films, are frightening then how do we address and manage that fear? Continue reading

What is a Doul-a and What Do We Do?

When I first heard the term doula, I literally spoke the words: “a what-nah?” Fast forward two years and here I am: a practicing doula. The term ‘doula’ is ancient Greek and roughly translates as “a woman who serves.” For a professional movement that aims to empower, advocate and offer caring, non-judgemental support during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period, this definition, while providing the gist, falls short. (Oh, and there’s no rule that men can’t be doulas.) If you don’t know about doulas, or if what you do know makes you scratch your head in confusion or suspicion, do me this favour and bear with me as I hopefully debunk some common myths and share what I know to be true about the doula role.

A common doula image has been the hippy-dippy, placenta eating type (while the healing benefits of this practice can be argued) the bottom line is that doulas do not force-feed their clients placentas, a myth that can create real barriers to doulas being taken seriously in broader systems of care – someone who wafts into a room ripe with patchouli oil and is dismissive of doctor’s orders.

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Art courtesy of the author, Rachel.

Here are some frank but concise things to know: 1) if a doula has been trained well, they will know the role is not a clinical one, and 2) that while a ‘hippy-dippy’ approach is often scoffed at, it seems clear that our culture is starved for what might better be termed ‘holistic care.’ I feel lucky to have attended births where medical staff and holistic practitioners worked symbiotically. The outcome was stunning. Our mutual respect and willingness to complement each other’s roles disproved the notion that ‘medical births’ and ‘natural births’ must be separate entities. This type of bridging is one of a doula’s most astonishing tasks and achievements. The doula’s role is that of an impartial diplomat, offering translations, support and conflict resolution if tensions may be running high. A doula also runs interference between expectant parents and well-meaning but occasionally overbearing family members. Continue reading

Five Requests Of An Angry Young Man

I’m not going to pretend that I speak for all Millennials.

I grew up overseas. The 90s nostalgia over cartoons, cereal, and toys was never part of my life. I’d made plenty of trips back to the US, but never really spent any time in the culture until I was 17, arriving on the shores of the new world like the opening of some cliched immigrant story.

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Not quite so dramatically, but I was still very much a stranger in a strange land…

So maybe I’m looking at things through a strange, distorted lens. Maybe I’m alone in feeling that I’ve been seriously shortchanged on my future in the land of opportunity.

But I don’t think so.

Still, as I was writing this, I was starting to have second thoughts. Maybe my tone was too harsh, my criticisms to generalized, my frustration too warrant-less.

And then I watched this SNL skit titled “The Millennials

“Beautiful twenty-somethings (Kate McKinnon, Pete Davidson, Miley Cyrus, Jon Rudnitsky) search for the love and success they’re entitled to on The Millennials.”

We watch a couple god-awful caricatures of Generation Y make outlandish demands of their sensible, long-suffering precursors. Near the end of the sketch, one of the smarmy Millennials threatens to jump out of a window. The two older workers stand back and say:

“Just do it.”

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Cue the applause and cheers from the audience.

So yeah, **** being nice and measured here. Let me break down what I’m sick and tired of hearing from Gen X and their Boomer counterparts:

I. Kindly Ease Up With Demanding That I Get Married/Have Kids

Yes, Millennials are getting married later than previous generations, but the average has only only gone up by a couple years. Yet to hear some folks talk, you’d think Millennials were actively attempting to dismantle the institution of marriage entirely.

I guess I just don’t understand what the big deal is.

Right along there with the pressure to get married is the pressure to spawn offspring- though again, the exact why isn’t ever really covered.

It almost seems to be presented as some kind of civic duty. That establishing the nuclear family is vital to ze velbeing of ze fatherland.

And I could deal with that.

I disagree with it, but I could deal with it as an argument. Just not one presented by the Boomers and Gen Xers.

I mean, seriously.

Boomers? Continue reading

Why I Can’t Wait to be a Teacher

John and I recently found out we were accepted into the education program we’d applied to. I wasn’t exactly surprised that we were accepted (since we both have a great deal of experience working with kids), but I was surprised at just how ecstatic the news made me. Maybe I’m feeling motivated by my student loans, since they’ve just been there, looming. Maybe I’m just excited to move beyond the academic world of writing essays for affirmation. Then again, maybe I’m just excited to start a job that I love doing.

As I head towards my new career I feel a little torn by the stigma the profession carries. Here in Canada, many people accuse teachers of being overpaid for a job they don’t consider very difficult. Then there are the teachers who have worked for years only to be burned up and spit out by the system they dedicated their lives to. Some of them have asked me if this is really the route I think is best. There’s also the general sentiment that “those who can’t do, teach,” so despite my own excitement over my career path, I often feel the need to defend my choice or explain that “I might explore other options later.” Not to mention that, as a woman, it feels like I’m giving in to that traditional cliche of finding the kind of job that people can classify as “women’s work”.

Yet in spite of all the ideas about teaching that I’ve internalized, or at least had thrown my way, I keep feeling drawn back towards the profession. Finally, I’ve allowed myself to recognize what an amazing and rewarding career path it is. Don’t believe me? Well, let me explain.

You get to be creative

Last summer I got a job running a kids’ program at the local library. My role consisted of reading books to kids, encouraging them to read at home, and doing a few crafts with them. Basically I was babysitting them for an hour so that their parents could have a break.

While I knew I would enjoy entertaining the kids and reading children’s books (who doesn’t love reading children’s books?), I had no idea I would become obsessed with crafting and building forts. After a year of focusing my attention on a computer screen, I was suddenly able to make stuff by hand. It was bizarrely exhilarating.

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A few things I made out of old fridge boxes for the kids to play in. The Minecraft creeper is a little worse for wear, but that’s because the kids were throwing beanbags into his eyes and mouth. The fishing poles that the kids would drop into the fishing pond also became thoroughly destroyed.

Continue reading

Not Everyone Got A Trophy

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that lines used.

“Not everybody wins a trophy.”

That patronizing line gets spat from the lips of sneering pundits on the news. It makes its appearance in venomous opinion columns in the local papers and it graces cover of national magazines.

“Not everybody wins a trophy.”

“Some people are losers.”

“This is what happens when you give kids awards for just participating.”

To hear some folks talk, the sum total of this country’s ills can be traced back to the coddling of America’s youth- Generation Y in particular. And certainly there’s no shortage of criticism launched in the Millennials’ direction.

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This is the generation of entitlement, the generation of immediate gratification, the generation of the two-second attention span, the “me” generation. And all stemming from the baseless sense of accomplishment and self-esteem given out with every participation award.

Or does it?

The idea that kids are being handed award after meaningless award is rampant- so much so it seems to have gone unchallenged. Yours truly took to the internet to find out what the statistics were on the number of participation awards given out, and my efforts were utterly fruitless. Now there were plenty of polls on public opinion of participation awards, but neither my old friend Google Scholar nor the internet at large had anything to offer in the way of hard numbers.

And that should concern us.

Ask yourself- just for a moment- how many participation ribbons or trophies you’ve actually seen anyone receive. Not how many you suspect might be out there. Not how many schools or competitions have that “mentality”.

How many have you actually seen with your own eyes?

I’m guessing the number of actual occurrences might not quite be so high.

Then why the outrage?

Millennials are constantly painted as greedy, lazy, thin-skinned egotists as a result of a kind of upbringing for which little to no hard data exists. One might just as easily blame the decline of glam rock or UFO sightings for the supposed ills of Generation Y.

Yet the accusations persist. Continue reading

The Ladders (Aint Worth Your Time)

Earlier last week the blog’s email address received an email from a representative over at TheLadders.com, a “comprehensive career resource” site for high-end job seekers. We at Culture War Reporters were graciously told by this representative that we were “perfect” for a project the company was hoping to run, and we were asked if we wouldn be able to provide some tips and hints for recent grads out there seeking work. After some research and discussion with my co-authors, I decided to do just that- so here’s my advice.

Stay the **** away from TheLadders.

Seriously. Continue reading