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Being Extra Curricular

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Ally.jpgI can remember being told that ‘getting involved’ in grade school and college was just as important as getting A’s and B’s.  Back then, joining the debate team and marketing club was way more entertaining then any lecture, so sure, I got involved.

CUT TO:

EXT. HOLLYWOOD SOUNDSTAGE – DAY (A FEW YEARS LATER)

I knew nothing or no one. It was the end of that cliché moment out of too many screenplays, where the protagonist decides to just go for it, and we see a smash cut directly to packing up the car and arriving in a new city. But, I had arrived, so I took a deep breath, and said to myself, “What now?” My days were filled with little more than visiting the iconic Runyon Canyon and waiting for Time Warner to install my internet. I reminded myself that ‘getting involved’ was just as important as searching for my big break.

Getting involved meant putting myself out there, and finding places to do just that.  There are a number of organizations around the country that seek to promote and empower women in the entertainment industry, and these are the ones that have benefitted me the most:

Women in Film (WIF) Los Angeles: I joined this organization because I had (and still do have) a uterus and the desire to work in film, which seemed to fit this group’s criteria for enrollment. This organization has multiple resources that may fit your path including mentoring, film finishing funds, and free screenings. I specifically wanted practical on-set experience, and at the time, I wanted to AD. The PSA Committee at WIF produces around 8 public service announcements a year, and uses a large majority of the Women in Film members to crew up the productions. It is a program that has been going on for years, donating PSAs to non-profits around Los Angeles. Within a few years, I was an AD on 5 of the spots, and soon enough was sending in my resume to direct. The first spot I directed for WIF was a PSA for Common Ground HIV Center. Mr. Doubt gave me the hands-on experience that I had been craving, while also providing the mentorship necessary to complete my first commercial that would actually make it on television. I’ve been given an opportunity this year to direct another PSA, this time for the LA Conservation Corps, and I look forward to the challenges and practical experience that it will bring with it, all made possible by getting involved with Women in Film. So if you’re an aspiring producer, writer, or director, and are eager for opportunity, get involved with WIF.

The Vagina Monologues: I’m sure you’ve heard of it, seen it, or been in it. The play has been running for years between February and April in thousands of theatres around the world. All you need to sign up is a group of eager chicks and a little organization. It is a great way to get involved in theatrical production (which has the practical skills of producing any production), while doing some real good for women around the globe. Theater is a great way to hone your talent as a director, producer or actor, and also potentially build a strong group of women in your neighborhood if you’re new to the area. Last March was the 4th year I have been a part of a VDAY production, as either a director, actor, or both. You learn all the tools to put on a show, while having the time of your life. If you live your life as a woman, get involved with the V-Day movement…you won’t regret it.

Alliance of Women Directors (AWD): I just recently joined AWD. It might be obvious, but this organization caters to directors and has many different resources to help you along your career path, including a shadowing program, seminars, and a question/answer forum that has really interesting topics every week. I’ve had the opportunity to apply to a few directing positions and often get emails about workshops and seminars that definitely seem interesting. It’s an organization built with members of a variety of experience levels, all of whom are incredibly supportive of their community.  Although membership is restricted to those who have had their work publicly broadcast, once you’re eligible, I highly recommend you get involved!

Image by Abraham Lopez

Image by Abraham LopezT

Ally Zonsius

About Ally Zonsius

Director/Actor - Michigan native, Ally Zonsius, made her acting debut at 16, playing Elaine Harper in her high school’s production of Arsenic and Old Lace. With a subtle combination of sweetness and strength, she knew then a 9-5 was not in the cards and her aspiration to spend a life being creative began. It didn’t take long for Ally to pack up her suitcases and migrate to Southern California where she has been a rising award-winning director and actor for film, television and theatre.