photos people take of your head

lifestyle, personal

Let’s talk about headshots because I just got them done for the third time in my adult life and it’s amazing to see what changes in our faces as time goes on. I briefly touched on this in my post about (my queen) Jenna Fischer’s recently-published book The Actors Life; but that was almost six months ago, and many facets of my world and body have since changed.

Prior to 2013, I had never gotten headshots taken by a true “headshot photographer” — believe me, there’s a difference. I had photos taken of me, and they were more than sufficient for youth community theatre productions, but they weren’t professional headshots. Let’s take a gander:

2005: The Pre-Highlight Days I will give a shout-out to Donna Korb for giving me a very professional-looking shot for a few years. But after my hair went super-blonde and I went through, ya know, puberty, I needed something more up-to-date.

Cut to 2009: The year of the freshman fifteen and when her teeth clearly became addicted to Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee Western Connecticut State University’s Theater Department forced us all to get headshots taken by the Western Connecticut State University’s Photography Department. It made sense in theory, and it was completely free, but I’m pretty positive I rolled out of bed ten minutes before these were taken and that the man taking my photo was standing six feet above the top of my head on a stool. I had to crop and edit the crap out of this (I will spare you the original).

2011: The Year of the Stacked Bob. I loved this haircut — it was $5, and I wish I was lying but it was the best haircut I’ve ever gotten.  This was clearly a far cry from my first round of free WCSU headshots in 2009. But even so, I couldn’t use this come senior year, when I needed to dive head-first into the real world.

Which brings us to the first round of professional headshots I ever shelled out money for. Most of my college senior class went to Taylor Hooper Photography in New York (who takes stunning headshots); I opted for Julia Gerace Photography in Shelton, Connecticut. She is a legitimate headshot photographer, extremely cost-effective, and also takes great shots. Though I did not choose to have this photo retouched, for comparison moving forward, this was one of my proofs:

2013: The Year of Strawberry Blonde. At the tail-end of 2012 into 2013, I was a redhead. I loved it just as much as my $5 2011 bob, but the upkeep was too much and, let’s face it, I’m a blonde. So, right before getting my headshots done with Julia, I started the journey back to blonde. You would never be able to tell, because here I look like little orphan Annie, but there are a whole lot of blonde highlights trying their hardest to peak out.  I used these headshots for about three years.  Three years before I decided they could no longer appropriately represent me; and not because of the photos themselves, but by Summer of 2014, I was fully blonde again, and these were not the same women:

2016: The Year I Finally Started Getting Callbacks January of 2016, I scheduled a shoot with Curtis & Cort Photography in New York (talk about a dream team).  Curtis Holbrook and Cortney Wolfson are a dynamic duo of Broadway performers who know what you need in a quality headshot (and know you shouldn’t need to offer up your first born child to get one).  Cortney does the hair and make up, Curtis takes the photos, and they make you feel like you feel, not only like a model, but like a friend they’ve welcomed into their home.  Shooting with them was a dream come true, and these new headshots got me so much further in my audition season…

I finally felt like I was representing and branding myself appropriately.  No more questions from casting directors about why the girl in the picture had red hair and the one standing in from was platinum blonde.  No more wondering how old I really was since I was using such a dated photo of myself.  Curtis & Cort captured me beautifully.

And here we are, two years later, and I felt I still looked pretty much the same as my gorgeous, two-year-old Curtis & Cort shots; and, in all fairness, at the beginning of this calendar year, I did.  But I kept getting typed-out of open calls based on my headshot and I could not figure out why.  So I decided to go to a casting seminar at Actor’s Connection that had a Q & A with one of the casting directors (who shall remain nameless, but is a genuine dream) who had been typing me out of calls for shows such as Kinky Boots, RENT, etc.  I handed her the same headshot I had thrown in the pile with hundreds of other girls, sang my song, and waited for her feedback.  The first thing she asked me was how old my headshots were and if I had lost weight since getting my them taken.  I was very surprised, since I thought this was a pretty fair representation of me:

Llewellyn_Headshot2

She said after seeing me, she can see my body in this photo, but the way I’m positioned and the cut of my top makes me look a lot bigger than I am.  She said she would call this girl in the photo in for a role like Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray, and, after seeing me in person, knows that isn’t a part she would cast me in.

It was incredibly eye-opening.  I never would have seen that in this photo without her pointing it out to me.  So I decided it was time for new headshots; I felt due for them anyway.  My hair was longer, I wanted to bring more of my natural dark blonde out than my usual platinum blonde, and I needed something a little more vibrant.

2018: The Year of Whole30ing (Again) I scheduled a shoot with Sub/Urban Photography.  I felt like their shots were a more vibrant and cost-effective alternative to that of David Noles Photography, one of the top and most expensive headshot photographers in this business.  I fell in love with Sub/Urban’s vibe, and better yet, their team is also amazing.  Amanda and Jake, the photographers, are another dream team (much like Curtis and Cortney) and Alex, the hair and make up stylist, is literally a magician.

I had been on the Whole30 Challenge for the month of March prior to my shoot with Sub/Urban and, let me tell you, it was the best decision I ever made, not only looking at the outcome of this shoot, but the comparison between my face in 2016 and my face now.

*Photos are not edited by the photographers
*Photos are not edited by the photographers

I asked my friends who I had eaten in 2016, and, looking back, I don’t think my weight was that much different.  It’s my face.  I had probably been eating whatever I wanted before my shoot in 2016; but being on the Whole30 leading up to my headshot session made me less bloated, fresher, and cleaner-looking.  And while I will give credit where credit is due to the photographers, the shots I had done by Curtis & Cort were equally as beautiful as the shots I just got by Sub/Urban — I just wasn’t taking as great care of myself as I am now.

Yet another reason to try the Whole30 Challenge, friends!  I’m serious, it will rock your world.

xo,

T

week three

lifestyle, personal

Three weeks into my Whole30 Challenge and this has been, by far, my most action-packed week of the month.  I have climbed mountains, walked over hot coals, and successfully saved a kitten from a burning building (actually I did none of those things, but it got your attention, didn’t it?).

My week consisted of multiple camera angles, starting new projects, celebrating friends, and anticipating yet another nor’easter (that ended up being a huge letdown, might I add).  It was filled with lots of laughs, making new friends, and a lot of iced lattes.  Feel free to watch and/or read below (or you can settle for the vague, Reader’s Digest version I just gave you and go about your day).

“Drag Night” celebrating RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars at At The Wallace in Harlem have become Tara’s unemployed Thursday evening ritual.  This week, that tradition, along with the season, came to an end; for my Thursday evenings will soon be filled with rehearsals (more on that later).  After the season finale, I walked home and called the wardrobe number for my background stint on Blue Bloods the following morning.  “Khaki pants.”  I was playing a nurse, and they wanted me to bring khaki pants.  Let me tell you something Blue Bloods, I am not at my mother’s house, nor do I have the arsenal of pants I was forced to wear when I worked at Office Max many moons ago.  Also, it’s 10 P.M. (do you know where your children are?) and I cannot go out and buy khaki pants that I will likely never wear again (unless you want me to be a reoccurring role, then it may be worth it).

I probably texted every woman I know within a one mile radius (it was 10 P.M., I was not traveling far).  But, shockingly (sarcasm), nobody seemed to have khaki pants at their disposal.  Luckily, my friend Ty told me that he had pants I could borrow and voila!  Khaki pants.

Of course, they had a full costume ready for me when I walked in on Friday morning, and I didn’t even need the khaki pants.

After our shoot wrapped in Brooklyn, I made it home with enough time to eat something (and change out of the khaki pants) before babysitting on the UWS. I took a car home around midnight. I earned that car home around midnight.

St. Patrick’s Day in New York City can be extremely hit or miss — especially on a Saturday. My mom told me about something called “Leprecon” (like Santacon, but a far better play on words) happening in New York, so I had braced myself to see thousands of grown men dressed like leprechauns throwing up on the side of a bus outside the nearest Starbucks. But, alas, I managed to miss those sightings.

I spent Saturday afternoon at the first rehearsal for a musical called Chess in Brooklyn. Each year on St. Patrick’s Day, I am grateful to say I am working on a show in some capacity — most years it’s been wardrobe. This year, it’s a musical I’m in, which is pretty snazzy. Saturday night was filled with Irish music and birthday celebrations for one of my best guys, Oliver. The bar he chose was super mellow and void of Leprecon-participants. Praise.

Sunday was marathon day. It started at morning daywork for Kinky Boots, took me down to Brooklyn in the afternoon for another Chess rehearsal, and rounded out at The Blue Note in the West Village celebrating my buddy Chris’s birthday; sitting front and center (actually, a little to the right) for Roy Haynes’ 93rd Birthday Celebration. I got to sing with him (you should really watch the video now) and Jon Batiste was there!

(Just another Manic) Monday began with an 8:30 A.M. call to a bar (yes, a bar) in Hell’s Kitchen where I shot an episodic called The So-So You Don’t Know for a few hours. It was a lot of fun; and the girl I was paired to play best friends with ended up being someone I could probably become best friends with. After some brief babysitting, Manic Monday ended with me laying on the floor of my apartment watching Gilmore Girls, eating plantain chips, and reflecting on the fact that I had just done two weeks’ worth of activities in four days.

Tuesday I had two goals: make my audition, make my train home. I accomplished both, in heels yet. Connecticut was expecting its fourth nor’easter of the month; which was perfectly timed, seeing as I was coming home to multiple appointments on Wednesday that I needed to take care of. But alas, all appointments were cancelled due to the impending storm, where most parts of New England were expected to get 12-18 inches of snow before Thursday morning.

By 3:30 P.M. on Wednesday, there was not an ounce of fresh snow to the name of Brookfield, Connecticut. So I went shopping. And the grand total of three inches of snow we received did not start falling until around 6:00 P.M.

Mama Llew made a delish Whole30 din for us, which is pretty self-explanatory in the video. But so much happened this week, I was fresh out of time to make any Whole30 food-making videos. You’re welcome.

My heart is full and I am ready for these last ten days!

xo,

T

week two

lifestyle, personal

It’s the end of week two on my Whole30 extravaganza (no grains, no added sugar, no dairy, no alcohol, no social media).  It’s getting increasingly easier to refrain from checking social media platforms, but I’ve realized how essential it’s become to our everyday lives — not just for the sake of putting ourselves out there, but the wealth of information that comes along with it.  I have had many moments this week where I’ve gone to recall something — a name, a photograph, etc. — and realized most of that information comes from a social media platform.  It’s tough.

But, alas, despite the fact that Facebook sent an email informing me that I have 91 notifications, they still remain unseen.  And they will continue to until April 1st.

This week, I went on many adventures, took on new challenges, and spent time with many people I adore.  Feel free to watch and/or read below!

 

Thursday I attempted my first pilates reformer class, but couldn’t find the entrance to the studio, so instead I stopped by the Neil Simon (my old CATS home) to visit with former colleagues and dear friends who are in the midst of previews for Angels in America (the newest Neil Simon occupant).  My Thursday evenings have been spent more recently with friends at “Drag Night,” an hour-long dedication to RuPaul’s Drag Race AllStars hosted by a local bar; which has been increasingly difficult to attend since starting the Whole30 last week.  They don’t have any Whole30-approved meals on their menu, so the club soda with lime has become a close pal as I watch my friends eat grilled cheeses and waffle fries.  I spent most of Friday at The Chipped Cup serendipitously sharing, creating, and collaborating on new ideas for films and web series and other projects with friends; and ended it wandering the new Marshalls uptown, then at iHop eating a Whole30-approved omelette (which was delish).

Saturday was the day for a new show!  I visited my old stomping grounds at 52nd street to see Mean Girls: The Musical on Broadway.  After dining at one of my fave restaurants in the area (Blue Dog Kitch, I missed you, old friend) I sat in a house filled to the brim with members of (and friends in) the Broadway community for the final dress rehearsal of the show.  The energy was palpable and the production was incredibly well-executed.

On Sunday, my beautiful mama turned another year wiser and I felt very lucky to celebrate it with her.  She picked my favorite Connecticut BBQ joint (The Cue Danbury) for her birthday lunch.  There was a roasted pig sitting at the communal brunch table named “Mr. Porky” who simultaneously broke our hearts and terrified us.  But the iced tea is top notch.

I found myself on a last-minute train back to New York Sunday evening after being asked to work at Kinky Boots The Musical the following afternoon.  Praise!  She’s back on Broadway for a couple days this week!  Lucky for me, I made it back in time to miss traveling through the snow on Tuesday (and finally to the entrance of my pilates class in the late afternoon).  And by the evening, the snow had melted and I was wandering the world of Margaritaville; the second feel-good Broadway musical of the week (and it was all fo’ free!).

And here we are.  Another Wednesday.  Day fourteen — also known as Pi Day.  I made a Whole30-Approved-Ingredients-But-Pie-Is-Not-Approved Pie (a creation I should absolutely send over to the writers at Waitress)  and spent some time with my best guy.

Week two has been filled with laughs, friends, a lot of Broadway and real good food; some of which I made, some I did not.  But the recipes I did make are below.  Enjoy!

T   H   E      R   E   C   I   P   E   S


“Breakfast Burrito Without the Burrito…or the Cheese…or the Sour Cream”

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Ingredients

3 Eggs, Scrambled

Vegetables of Your Choosing (I picked mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions)

Salsa (*With No Added Sugar)

 1/2 an Avocado

Scallions (Garnish)

I love breakfast for dinner.  When I was younger, my fam jam would go nuts when my dad would tell us he was making pancakes for dinner.  Well, since pancakes are off-limits on the Whole30, I decided to make a savory breakfast for dinner.

Scramble those eggs, season then with salt and pepper, and add in as many vegetables as you please.  I chose mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions.  Top with (or toss it on the side) salsa and avocado and garnish with scallions if you please.


“Whole30-Approved-Ingredients-But-Pie-Is-Not-Approved Pie”

M  A  R  C  H    1  4

Ingredients

Pie Crust Ingredients/Recipe Here

Filling Ingredients

1 Gala Apple

2 TSP Cinnamon

1 TSP Nutmeg

1/2 Pint Frozen Blueberries

The apple “pie” left much to be desired, but the blueberry “pie” rocked.  I baked mine in little pie forms, so if you’re using a standard size, these measurements may be off.

For the Apple “pie,” I chopped and sauteed one gala apple in coconut oil with the cinnamon and nutmeg.  This allowed the apples to soften before baking it within the crust.  For the Blueberry “pie” I just dumped the blueberries into the pie crust and let it work its magic.  There is a Pinterest recipe for a blueberry tart that includes chia seeds in the filling, but I didn’t have a chance to try that.  It seems like a nice option if you’re looking for something to congeal the blueberries!


xo,

T

sweet pot noodles

lifestyle

After deciding to incorporate the Whole30 guidelines into my lifestyle rather than practicing only on a month-to-month basis, I’ve gotten incredibly crafty when it comes to my meals.  One of my absolute favorite things to make: sweet potato noodles.

You can make them yourself, or buy them in store (my boyfriend and I found them recently at Big Y Market in Connecticut for $4.99).  I bought a really inexpensive spiralizer on Amazon, which makes it incredibly easy to make veggie noodles of any kind at home if you don’t want to buy the precut ones.

Below is a real yummy recipe I made at home for next to nothing:

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S W E E T  P O T A T O  N O O D L E S

2 narrow sweet potatoes – spiralized

2 TSP Black Pepper

1 TSP Cayenne Pepper

1 TSP Salt

2 TBSP Refined Coconut Oil

Sauté spiralized sweet potato noodles and coconut oil in a medium-sized frying pan on medium heat until soft.  Gradually add spices while the noodles cook.

R O A S T E D  B R O C C O L I

1 small head of broccoli

1 TSP Black Pepper

2 TSP Lemon Pepper

1 TBSP Melted Coconut Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread out chopped broccoli on a baking sheet and drizzle with melted coconut oil.  Sprinkle pepper and lemon pepper evenly over the broccoli.  Bake for 12 minutes, or until slightly crispy.

G U A C A M O L E

1 Avocado

5 Grape Tomatoes

1 Scallion Stalk

1/2 Lime

1 TSP Cayenne Pepper

1 TSP Black Pepper

Peel and slice avocado and mash in a bowl.  Dice grape tomatoes and scallions and add to avocado.  Squeeze “half a lime” juice into the bowl and add 2 TSP of pepper.  Stir until all blended to your liking.

Outline your plate with the sweet potato noodles, creating a ring around the edge.  Then take the broccoli and do the same on the interior of the sweet potato noodles, leaving a small circle in the center.  Fill the center with the guacamole and viola!

whole30

lifestyle

A few days ago, I posted about a really amazing breakfast bowl recipe I concocted on a whim during the final days of my first Whole30 challenge.  Well that challenge ends today!  For anybody who may be unfamiliar, the Whole30 challenges you to eliminate all heavily processed food for thirty days.  This includes all grains (bread, rice, etc.), dairy products (milk, cheese – ugh.), legumes (peanuts, corn, beans), unnatural added sugars, many saturated oils, and alcohol (yup, you read that correctly).  It’s main purpose is to train your body to “eat clean” for thirty days, then incorporate foods you used to eat back into your diet to see what affects you after you’ve reset.

I have struggled with my eating habits since I was thirteen years old and noticed my metabolism wasn’t as rapid as a prepubescent.  I tried the crash diets in high school, college, and from time to time since moving to the city.  Especially being exposed to many different routines in Manhattan, it’s easy to get wrapped up in a quick-fix solution.  But the Whole30 Challenge is no quick-fix, it’s a lifestyle change.

My biggest reservation about challenging myself was the fear that my self-control would get the better of me.  Luckily, I had already made many changes over the past three years in my diet – I’ve spent months going gluten-free, switched to almond milk in my lattes, and spent a great deal cooking with coconut oil.  My struggle over the past twenty-seven days has been to avoid drinking alcohol.  Not because I’m an alcoholic but, let’s face it, amongst the top ten phrases out of New Yorker’s mouths is, “Hey, wanna grab a drink?”

Today I’m sharing with you the things that helped me get through these past thirty days unscathed and without a cheat day to be had:

Sweet Potatoes

baked-sweet-potato.png

Excuse my language, but I fucking love sweet potatoes.  And guess what?  You can have as many as you damn well please on the Whole30.  You wanna bake a potato and put some salt and pepper on it?  You wanna mash em up and pretend like you’re eating a Thanksgiving dinner? You wanna make yourself some sweet potato fries at home? Live. Your. Life (but use coconut oil…).  Truthfully, the Whole30 allows you to eat white potatoes in moderation, but sweet potatoes are just straight up better for you.

Almond Butter

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This stuff saved me from going out of my mind during this challenge.  When I moved her in 2014, I became a crunchy peanut butter girl (Smuckers’ Natural PB if we’re getting specific).  I put peanut butter on everything, so when Whole30 told me I couldn’t eat peanuts (they’re a legume, not a nut), I didn’t know what I was going to do.  Justin’s Classic Almond Butter is a perfect choice – there’s no added sugar, the ingredients consist of only Palm Oil and Almonds.  Some will argue that the 2g of sugar on the nutrition label violate the Whole30 sugar intake.  They’re wrong.  The nutrition label and the ingredients are two very different entities.  If added sugars are in your ingredients, it’s off-limits.  If no sugar is added but natural sugars appear on your nutrition label, you’re safe.

Smoothies & Acai Bowls

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While the Whole30 strongly urges you to avoid substitutions, we all have a sweet tooth we need to appease.  Through the moments of wanting a milkshake or sorbet, I whipped out my Nutribullet at home and made this challenge drastically easier for myself.   I also found myself at Juice Generation daily (who am I kidding? I lived there before this challenge too).  As long as you know exactly what they’re putting in your smoothie, you’re in the clear.  Same goes for their acai bowls – I avoid the hemp granola garnish like the plague.  It tastes too sweet, and I don’t need it.  Acai bowls are also a lot of fun to make at home because you know what you’re putting into your smoothie, and ultimately, your body.  If I wanted to make the above recipe (which you can find here), I can be enjoying something sweet in minutes.

Avocado

Version 2

Do you love guacamole? Fabulous.  Have at it on this challenge.  Guacamole, if made correctly, is naturally gluten-free and vegan.  I personally like to use bell peppers and sweet potatoes as a substitute for chips and make my guacamole at home.  I found my recipe here on Official Whole30 Recipes Instagram.  I also added avocado to my smoothies for consistency, and pretty much topped all my meals off with it, because I have a healthy addiction to avocado.

Bareburger

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I wanted to include at least one “going-out” restaurant because making every single meal at home when you live in Manhattan is just not ideal.  The Whole30 creators understand that and have made adjustments to their rules to accommodate eating out.  My personal favorite is Bareburger.  These restaurants are scattered throughout all the boroughs of New York City and will easily accommodate your dietary restrictions.  They have many ingredients listed on their menu and pride themselves on being a very natural establishment.  My personal go-to is the turkey burger on a collard green wrap with spinach, mushrooms and guacamole.

Bottom line, when it comes to any challenge, you have to want to do it.  If you’re considering Whole30, you won’t complete it if you let your doubts or cravings drown out your desire to change your eating habits.  It’s only 30 days – it sounds like a lot, but it flies.  I know my relationship with food is very different than it was 30 days ago.  I am excited to move forward knowing how food affects my body, and furthermore, knowing that I was able to complete this challenge for myself, even when I thought I couldn’t.

the whole bowl

Uncategorized

To kick off the month of March, I decided to shift my eating habits and take a crack at the Whole30 experience.  In case you’re unfamiliar, the Whole30 challenges you to eliminate all heavily processed food for thirty days.  This includes all grains (bread, rice, etc.), dairy products (milk, cheese – ugh.), legumes (peanuts, corn, beans), unnatural added sugars, many saturated oils, and alcohol (yup, you read that correctly).

My thirty days will be up at the end of this week, and I can’t wait to share with you all my experience with this challenge.  But until then, I would like to share my recipe for a wonderful breakfast bowl I made today using my Nurtibullet and some fruit from my local grocery store.

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blended ingredients:

1 frozen banana

1 cup frozen raspberries

1/4 avocado

2 tsp Justin’s natural almond butter

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

garnish:

chopped walnuts

sliced banana & strawberries

frozen raspberries

1 tsp Justin’s natural almond butter

If you couldn’t tell, I love Justin’s Natural Almond Butter, or really any unsweetened almond butter.  And using frozen fruit is an amazing way to satisfy the inevitable sweet cravings we have when we eliminate processed sugars from our diet.

Stay tuned for my complete journey on the Whole30 Challenge later this week!