Saturday, February 15, 2014

Justice Woman Beats Stereotypes Into Submission!

A lot of people commend me for the Justice Woman web series, not just because it's funny, sexy, outrageous, and all that.  But they really get the message, the context of what the show is about.  And it really makes me happy to know that the fans "get it."  They know exactly what the show is saying and the values that it stands for.

I think the more you know about me, the more you will understand where the mind of "Justice Woman" is at.  I have always been in pursuit of justice, truth and fair dealings for everybody.  That's what attracted me to the legal profession. 

But even before that, I remember as a child I was always in love with the idea of the superhero—a person who is bigger than crime or punishment.  Someone who has the power to make a difference and protect the people who were really getting a bum deal out of life.

Personally speaking, we live in a great decade—one where all the superhero movies are just coming out of the woodwork, and I do love me a Batman, Avengers, Thor, and so on.  Professionally speaking though, I still haven't forgotten what standing up for justice is all about, whether that's as a lawyer, or an actress who plays a super heroine, or an activist in the entertainment profession.

I am proud of Justice Woman, not only because it stands for good old American values of liberty and justice, but also because it embraces the face of New America, this massive melting pot of culture, ethnicity, religion and politics.  This is a show that celebrates a diverse culture, while whipping all those stereotypes into “submission” as the tag line says.  In the series, we not only see a strong Latina female lead, but also a cast of diverse characters, and a lovable gay character in "Robert Gallion/Roberta," Justice Woman's sidekick.  It is a show defined by the strength of minority characters, standing up to injustice.  It's a show that's easy to relate to, but impossible to predict with our zany and creative approach to storytelling.

In the end, I feel that Justice Woman is a quirky but very real and bold commentary on American society in 2014.  We discuss everything from the criminal element, to the dangers of bullying, to the complications of politics, to the virtues of being a hero in both fantasy and in reality.

This is an original web series that is winning accolades and acclaim all over the country and abroad. I am truly proud of Justice Woman and the people who support this groundbreaking, original web series...their support helps us move ever forward into the mainstream eye and make each upcoming season our best yet!

Thanks for all of your support and keep spreading the word on Justice by:

Visiting our website at http://JusticeWoman.com

Watching & subscribing at http://youtube.com/JusticeWomanSeries

Liking us on Facebook at http://facebook.com/JusticeWomanSeries

Following us on Twitter at @JusticeWoman1

Purchasing our comic book & merchandise at https://squareup.com/market/justice-woman-series

"Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid." -Basil King

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Value of an Actor

A couple of weeks ago, I did a reading of a play written by K J Dwyer, a former actor now writer for the Huffington Post and playwright who resides in Argentina. The play was one of the finalists for the MetLife Nuestras Voces Playwright's Competition held at Repertorio EspaƱol. I read the protagonist role of Eva, an 18 year old who goes through an emotional and painful journey as the truth about her family unfolds. As an actor, the role of Eva was a dream because it was a fully fleshed, layered and complex character that I immediately connected with and was able to fully immerse myself in. Although to be honest, I don't think that would have been possible had the writing itself not been great, especially given the little amount of preparation/rehearsal we had for this reading. In any event, I want to share an excerpt of an email K J, who traveled from Argentina to New York to experience the first reading of his play, wrote to me afterwards:

"I just wanted to thank you so much for your lovely interpretation of Eva. Writing is a very lonely process and it's often difficult to hear characters when they speak to you only through your imagination. It was so inspiring, emotional and instructive for me to listen to Eva through your prodigious talent. You are a truly gifted actress and I am so lucky to have had your participation. You made the most of what I gave you and allowed me to hear my work at its best. In that way, it was instructive for how I need to revise going forward. Whatever shortcomings were my own and your beautiful, touching performance allowed me to focus laser-like on those changes I still need to make without feeling like 'if only she had played that differently . . .'.
I can't thank you enough for your commitment to the reading. Your attention to the conversation we had ahead of the rehearsal was evident. You took every note to heart and, again, gave me everything I asked for. That's an exceptional gift in an actress -- to truly take direction and internalize it the way you displayed. It should stand you in good stead throughout your career.
And this is not just me talking. All my friends and associates who attended commented on your beautiful performance. Congratulations, continued success and hopefully there may be future life for this play."

Now THIS is the kind of work and appreciation that I know every actor strives for and it really touched me because it made me understand my value as an Actor and truly believe in it. It also affirmed the value of a great Writer. Again, I don't think I would have been able to experience the realness of Eva in such a short time if it weren't for K J's writing, which instantly put me in her world and connected me to Eva. I am so happy that I was able to give K J what he needs to move forward with it and hope to someday see a full production on stage because the play merits it.

KNOW YOUR VALUE & BELIEVE IN IT!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

I Have a Dream...You Have A Dream...Let's Dream Together!

In the Disney movie “Tangled” there's a great song number called “I've Got a Dream”. It's sung by “Gaul thugs” who at first look very scary and menacing, but who later reveal, by Rapunzel's question, that they all have dreams. They sing a merry song talking about how they all dream about happy and somewhat uncharacteristic fantasies for their monstrous appearances—like being a concert pianist, or becoming a mime, or a florist, or falling in love.

This song really speaks to me, because I am a person who still believes in dreams.  We are living in a cynical society today, one that almost assures people that you can't have what you really want.  That everyone settles for something.  That dreams only belong to the millionaires or the big bozos in power who pull the strings. 

But when I think of dreams, your dreams, my dreams, I still do think dreams come true.  In fact, I think that people wishing AGAINST your dreams, telling you that you're never going to make it, is all part of their plan to discourage people from reaching out and going after what they really dream about.  Maybe it's because they don't want you to succeed.  Or maybe they think just because they've given up on their dreams, everyone else should do the same thing.

Not me!  I have always been a supporter of my friends, family and acquaintances.  I feel that no matter what a person wants to do, if he or she has good motives, and thinks positively, that FANTASTIC things can happen in that person's life!  And I tell my friends that.  Believe in yourself first and then others will believe you too.

I know this to be true, because I am following my dream right now.  For many years, I dreamt about creating a live action comic book series.  Ever since I was a little girl, aside from being an actor, I wanted to be a superhero in the same spirit of Wonder Woman (Lynda Carter), Batman (Adam West) or El Chapulin Colorado (if you know or remember him)

I am seeing my dream happen, as I have produced the first two seasons of Justice Woman.  Not only is the series making noise online, but it has also earned me a couple of awards like an LA WEB FESTIVAL 2013 OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS AWARD and the H.O.L.A. 2013 EXCELLENCE IN MULTIMEDIA AWARD. It is gaining more and more recognition on the web and even offline, and I have many people to thank for this honor.

But the dream isn't finished yet.  We still need to cross that final lap, the one that puts us into the mainstream.  The show I produce is not just about me, but about a whole team of talented actors and crew members who work together to create a lively and relevant show.  It's an edgy show and there's really nothing else like it, on TV, the Internet or the movies. 

I do believe in my dreams, and know that Justice Woman is going to grow into something big.  Maybe bigger than anyone ever imagined.  But this can ONLY happen with your support.  I didn't create this show alone, but with the help of my supporters—people like you, who believe in the cause, and in the show.


So I want to THANK YOU for all of your support.  Amazing stuff is in store for our series in the coming months and I want you to feel like a part of it because you have inspired me to push forward and the least I can do is inspire you to do the same. 

Start living your dream because dreams can come true!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Let's Assemble Our Justice League Team by Keeping the Superhero Message Alive and Well!

Hello good citizen! While my real name is Vanessa Verduga, by night I am Justice Woman, committed to fighting injustice within the legal system and in contemporary society.

You know we live in a time of great contention. The United States we all know and love is under attack—not by terrorists or by an invading nation, but by its own people. Its own people who are politically, religiously and socially separated. The only thing more difficult than fixing the economy is finding common ground with our fellow man (and woman).
 
My message in my Internet crime-drama-comedy show called “Justice Woman” is what I would call a message of hope, of tolerance, and new age patriotism. We have progressed so much in the way of women's rights, racial equality, and gay and lesbian acceptance. We fight for what we believe in, and sometimes it works in a big way. We become stronger as a united nation, culturally and philosophically diverse, but still beaming with pride.

These are the values I teach in Justice Woman, a show that's appealing to all ages—kids, teens, and adults who love their social commentary with some subversive satire. I invite you to check us out at http://JusticeWoman.com and see what we are all about. 

The creative team and cast members were selected for the LA Web Series Festival 2013 with Vanessa Verduga (me) winning an award for Outstanding Lead Actress and we are already making noise on the independent scene. However, we need YOUR support to keep Justice Woman alive and fighting by:

Visiting our website at http://JusticeWoman.com

Watching & Subscribing at http://youtube.com/JusticeWomanSeries

Liking us on Facebook at http://facebook.com/JusticeWomanSeries

Following us on Twitter @JusticeWoman1 

Justice Woman embraces America, in all of its diversity. We are a melting pot of culture and life experience and we need to come together to make a positive change in society. Don't underestimate the arts. 

 We can help people spread a good message through comedy, drama and spandex suits.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Achievement vs. Success

Promoting "Justice Woman" has proven to be an arduous task.  After years spent bringing the series to fruition, you want people to recognize all the hard work, time, money, sweat and tears you've put into it and somehow applaud you for it. There are those who will do just that, and god bless them for they get where I'm coming from, and then there are those who will ignore your work or, worse, belittle it. It is the latter "snobs" who somehow placate our hearts and minds with self-judgment and self-doubt even though on the scale of comparison with the praises received they are the most minuscule and insignificant of the bunch. Yet they manage to reach into our core and unleash our inner fears and anxieties. Why? Because we allow the snobs to reign over us by placing success above achievement. 

What is Success? 

Success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose; the attainment of popularity or profit; the outcome of an undertaking, specified as achieving or failing to achieve its aims.  It's a concept that exists outside of ourselves and is measured by social standards. That is, it is a social concept that is ever-evolving and has nothing to do with our happiness.

Success is the value that others place on our actions. It is not a bad concept; we need some success and social acceptance to survive. The problem is that success is out of our control; it's arbitrary; it implies a constant comparison to others; it depends on many factors and it can be fleeting.

What is Achievement?
Achievement is a thing done successfully, typically by effort, courage, or skill. On the contrary, achievement is a concept that is related to our motivation, self-fulfillment and personal efficiency. It comes into existence when we improve a certain aspect of ourselves. Thereby, implying effort and learning - enjoying the journey more than the end result.

Therefore, the current worrying over success is exaggerated and not something we should be so concerned therewith.

Here is a TED talk by Alain de Botton: A kinder, gentler philosophy of success:


"Not that we should give up on our ideas of success, but we should make sure that they are our own. We should focus in on our ideas and make sure that we own them, that we are truly the authors of our own ambitions because it's bad enough not getting what you want, but it's even worse to have an idea of what it is you want and find out at the end of the journey that it isn't in fact what you wanted all along." -Alain de Botton

Hence, "achievement" as opposed to "success" should be the focus since it ensures a more secure journey to happiness.  After all, isn't the purpose of life to be happy?

"What is the purpose of life? I believe that the purpose of life is to be happy." -Dalai Lama

Every now and then as creative beings we need to be reminded of why it is that we do what we do. It's not for "success", as defined by others, but for "achievement", as defined within ourselves.

I love the journey that I'm on with "Justice Woman" and with my career as an Artist. I look back and realize that this is where I'm meant to be in the present.  Yes, there will be "snobs" along the journey, but they don't define our achievements and they shouldn't define our success.

"Let's probe away at our notions of success. Let's make sure our ideas of success are truly our own." -Alain de Botton

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Making of Justice Woman



Six years ago, Justice Woman was only a domain name.  Growing up a fan of Batman and Wonder Woman, I figured Justice Woman would be a cool name for my alter ego, a lawyer superhero.  At the time, I didn’t know what I was going to do with the domain name or  with the rest of my life.
I had recently graduated law school and had a judicial clerkship lined up, a position that most would feel lucky to have straight out of law school, but I was miserable.  I had given up on my dreams of being a performer to pursue a path of so-called “success.” My spirit was slowly dying.  I reneged on my clerkship, but being unemployed was not the best alternative so, I stuck it out as a lawyer.  Never one to take well to authority and having an entrepreneurial spirit, I sought to find my own way as a solo practitioner.  It was then that I experienced the genesis of Justice Woman.  Without divulging specifics, hanging a shingle was an eye opening experience as I got to see firsthand how our legal system and the people in charge of it can work for both good and bad under the guise of the law. I wasn’t limited to the experiences of others; I too endured my share of injustices and disappointments enough to want out of the practice of law and back into acting. 
While studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, I began writing short plays thanks to the encouragement of one of my acting teachers, Pamela Scott.  For some reason, dialogue just seemed to flow easily out of my head and onto the page (not sure what that says about me, but I think there’s a prescribed pill for that).  I quickly moved onto writing screenplays, mostly out of necessity; I needed an actor reel to showcase myself.  However, putting a reel together proved strenuous as I found myself hounding down directors to get copies of films I had performed in.  I figured with all the energy I was expending, I might as well write and film the story for Justice Woman, which had been percolating in the back of my head this whole time.
As I wrote JusticeWoman, a series of tumultuous events were happening throughout the world that fueled my desire to write not just on my behalf, but also on behalf of others who had suffered some form of injustice.  I began writing about the many unfair things that exist in our society pertaining to discrimination, homophobia, immigration, double standards, sexual hypocrisy, class power, political corruption and so forth.  Those became the issues that I wanted to tackle in JusticeWoman.  However, I took to heart Oscar Wilde’s saying that “if you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you” and put a humorist twist to my writing with remarkable results.
What had started out solely as a domain name gradually took the form of a short screenplay that grew to surpass the length of a feature film, which had to be parsed into a series.  A series that could go on into infinity because “[a]s long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other” –John Stuart Mill.  If history serves as a precedent, the battle for justice is ever ongoing.
As for directing, it became obvious that I needed to direct the series because as the writer I already had a vividly clear vision of how the story should unfold.  Besides, in the words of Woody Allen, “[t]his is not quantum physics.  If you’re the writer of the story, you know what you want the audience to see because you’ve written it.  It’s just common sense.  It’s just storytelling, and you tell it.”  However, directing and acting at the same time is challenging.  Therefore, I’ve been very fortunate to rely on the support of collaborating directors who have helped keep my vision of Justice Woman intact.
Six years later and I have found more than a purpose for a domain name in Justice Woman; I have found my purpose.  I am truly happy with the incredible work the cast and crew have done on the series and eagerly look forward to sharing JusticeWoman with everyone when it premieres October 4, 2012 online at http://www.JusticeWoman.com
MAY JUSTICE PREVAIL!!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Why I Write And Produce My Own Work

Writing is something I had always wanted to do, but would often be intimidated by the beautifully well written and poetic books I'd read. I'd get so discouraged because I knew I could never write like that. However, I still attempted it in college and ended up with a writing teacher who shattered my confidence with C's. It was hurting my GPA so I gave up writing.

Writing Plays
Fast forward a few years and I found myself dabbling in writing again, thanks to my acting teacher at AADA and friend Pamela Scott who encouraged me to write (Pam is a wonderful playwright, member of the Actors Studio Playwriting Director’s Process Unit). This time, I was giving play-writing a go and fell truly in love with writing while taking classes with members of the LAByrinth Theatre Company, in particular, Stephen Adly Guirgis. What I got from Stephen is that you don't need to write fancy just be real. Real as in sharing who you are as a human being, baggage included - what keeps you up at night, what makes you happy, what conflicts are you struggling to resolve - a true sharing of you and your inner world. Infusing your dialogue with diverse characters to create the story that you want to tell, no matter how outrageous, and no one gets to grade you. So, I wrote plays with a lot more depth and colors...and then moved onto screenplays.

Writing Screenplays
I began writing screenplays out of necessity. You see, as actors we rely on reels to showcase our work so that we may, in turn, get more work to further our career. But how can we put together a reel if we don't get copies back from Directors? I did my fair share of student and indie short films in the hopes that I'll end up with good material for my reel. Some directors gave me copies and others simply failed to keep their end of the bargain. Then there was the issue of quality - some of the stuff I got back just wasn't usable. Frustrated, I decided to turn some of my short plays into screenplays so I can shoot something for myself. In the process, I discovered that screenplays came a lot faster and easier to me than plays because my mind functions like a film projector that plays out vivid images that tell a story.

I began researching American films and TV (I'm more of a foreign film and TV junkie) and went back on the film/TV auditioning track to feed my writing and that's when reality sunk in for me. What I had gathered from my research and auditioning is that despite being an intelligent polyglot Juris Doctor who has traveled and worked abroad, I may never get to portray a character like myself on screen because I'm an ethnically diverse woman, Latina to be exact. It's bad enough that some of the roles written for women can be very limiting and that roles for ethnically diverse actors are limited, but with the combination of the two I knew my chances were slim to none.

Realizing that the American entertainment industry has a long way to go before it gives up on the archaic and often times negative stereotypes it perpetuates, I decided to produce my own script: "Justice Woman".

Writing Justice Woman
When I first began writing Justice Woman a while back it was meant to showcase myself as an actor. As time progressed and I evolved as a writer, I started to find a voice that wasn't just about me, but about the many things that are unfair and disturbing in our society like racism, gender and age discrimination, homophobia, immigration, double standards, sexual hypocrisy, class power, political corruption and the list goes on. Those became the issues I wanted to tackle in Justice Woman. However, as my dear Oscar Wilde recommended: "If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you", I decided to put a humorist twist to my writing and the results have been remarkable. I am truly happy with the incredible work the cast and crew have done up to date and I'm eager to share it with everyone soon.

About Justice Woman
Justice Woman is a web series that follows the story of Sofia Escala, an Assistant District Attorney, determined to fight injustices within the legal system and the fiasco she and her office mate Robert Galion get into as a result thereof.
It's campy with an engaging story line that involves Sofia and Robert bringing to light questionable practices in the prosecution of the city's cases, most notably the incarceration of an innocent migrant worker, Jesus Lopez.
Get ready for "Law and Order" to meet "Will and Grace" for some "Sex In The City" superhero style minus the super powers.

Starring: Vanessa Verduga (Me), Lee Kaplan, Luke Guldan, Mary Porter, Lino Del Core, Omar Gonzalez, Alison Ryan and many more.... 

My Piece of Advice/Suggestion
To anyone reading this is: 

Take control. If you see something you don't like then do something to change it. Put yourself in the driver's seat and tilt the balance even. You have a voice!