A Little More Personal: On Being in the Way

The worst thing you can be on a film set is in the way.

There is (usually) always something happening on a set. Cameras moving and lights being set up and props being brought in and taken away and hair and makeup being adjusted and actors acting. Not to mention the executives, producers, audience members (if it’s that kind of show), random guests, security guards, medic, and craft service people (aka the people that feed you aka the most important people on any set) also around. All these people make for a very crowded environment. When you are a production assistant 50% of your job is being there when someone needs something and the other 50% is not being in the way when they don’t.

Looking busy and finding good places to hide are two key skills of any good PA.  Sometimes when there’s really nowhere to go (it does happen), I just hide out in the bathroom. There was one extreme time where I felt so in the way/useless I stood in the corner chanting, “I am invisible” in hopes that no one would notice me.

rachel shiri appleby thats a really dark thing to say season 2 premiere

This post is not to illustrate what a terrible PA I am (because that’s the way it’s starting to sound even though I’m not), it’s to show that the idea of being in the way has transferred to my life outside of sets. I am constantly worried I am in the way. That I am taking up too much space, that my mere presence is annoying. One of my biggest fears is that I have bothered someone. That just the fact that I’ve spoken to someone or stood there has in some way disrupted their day. This isn’t a thing that just started because I work on TV sets, it is something I’ve struggled with for awhile. And being a relatively young female is definitely part of it.

On my birthright trip this summer we were sitting in a circle and one of the girls pointed out to me the difference in the way the males in the group were sitting compared to the females. The women all had their legs crossed or their feet up on the chair taking up as little space as possible. The men however were sprawled out in a way best known as “manspreading”, legs wide open with no regard to anyone’s personal space. It was something I didn’t notice on my own and it was eye opening.

I have been taught to worry that I’m in the way, to not take up too much space, to qualify what I have to say with “this is just what I think” (several times while writing this I had to stop myself from doing just that or apologizing for my opinions). It’s something I’ve only noticed and thought more about recently, but now that I have I can’t stop. How I constantly have to step aside in hallways when men are coming from the opposite direction because if I don’t they almost walk straight into me. How I am afraid to approach people because I don’t think I am worth their time. How I constantly revise my opinion if I’m talking to a male and they don’t like something I enjoyed.

Now that I’ve realized this I am trying to make a conscious decision to change. It’s hard when you’ve been conditioned to think and act a certain way without even realizing it and you work in an industry that’s known for being one of the biggest boys’ clubs around. It’s simple things I am trying to do now like reaching out to people I admire via twitter and standing up for my opinions and writing this as a way to bring attention to a thing that other people might not have realized either.

quinn unreal constance zimmer ill make some noise season 2

As for working on sets, the hiding was more of a thing of my early PA-ing days anyway. Since then I’ve (mostly) taken jobs that give me more responsibilities which means I’m running around actually doing things and not just standing around. It’s all just part of the process of learning where I fit in, not just on a set, but also in life.

Fangirl Friday-8/12

I’m bringing it back again! Here are the things that had me excited this week.


Sweet Christmas I am SO excited for this show.

The tiara! The music! The shirtlessness!

I have been looking forward to Luke Cage ever since Mike Colter stole my heart with his performance in Jessica Jones and now his solo outing is only a month away. This is going to be important. Everything I’ve seen and read so far proves that is is going to be so much more than just a superhero show. I’m ready for a grittier, more political street drama that also happens to feature an unbreakable man.

And while I’m excited to see Clare Temple (Rosario Dawson) back again as the glue in the Netflixverse, she better stay away from Luke because Luke and Jessica forever. (Honestly if Luke gets any woman in this show that’s not Jess I’m going to be v. unhappy.)

2. Rio 2016 Olympics

I have always been more of a winter Olympics fan because hockey, but this year I have been very invested in the Rio Olympics. I’ve been watching not only gymnastics, but also swimming, soccer, water polo, volleyball, and diving and some other smaller sports in between. I’m a fan of big events that bring people together and it’s been fun watching with friends IRL and on social media and cheering on Team USA. I’ve especially enjoyed all the incredible, strong, unapologetically amazing female athletes like Lilly King, Katie Ledecky, and the women’s gymnastics team. It’s so amazing to see women who are so utterly dominant in their field.

The only thing I’m not enjoying is the coverage and the fact that I have to wait until 11 PM to see sports that happened hours ago especially when I already know who won. I get the whole primetime airing thing, it’s just very frustrating especially when I have to be at work at 5:30 AM.

3. UnREAL Season 2 Finale 

I love UnREAL. If you’re not watching it you should be because it is one of the best shows on television. (Oh and did I mention it’s created, written, and many times directed by females? Yeah. GIRL. POWER.)

This second season has been INSANE in the best way possible. It’s one of those shows that you think can’t go there or get any worse and then somehow it does. It’s such a complex show in the way it makes you root for and care about these terrible people and their  very damaged relationships. Quinn and Rachel are two of the most interesting females on TV  right now and some of the things they’ve done this season would make even Cersei Lannister shiver. I loved the finale because it made me laugh, actually shed a tear and also shout”OH MY GOSH” more than once. It’s the perfect summer show.

The MVP of the season is by far Shiri Appleby for her incredible performance as Rachel, a woman truly on the edge. She plays Rachel’s every side from damaged and deranged to powerful and shark cool to perfection. Sometimes it makes me question if Rachel really is crazy or if she’s just a woman who everyone has made feel that way. A special shout out also has to go to Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman as Jay for being the most likeable character of the season and for really pushing for (and actually making) change happen.

Honorable Mentions:

I know a new Rogue One trailer came out yesterday, but I didn’t watch it. I have only seen the first one and I will not be watching any more. I did the same for The Force Awakens and it lead to an amazing theater going experience that I would like to repeat. I can’t wait to see the film in December though!

Always: On Being a Harry Potter Fan & ‘The Cursed Child’

If you follow me on any form of social media or know me in real life even a little bit you will know that my first fandom love is Harry Potter.

So when the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child script was released like any good Potterhead I lined up at midnight for my copy of the eight-story-in-the-series-even-though-it-wasn’t-written-by-J-K-Rowling. Going to a midnight book release was a surreal experience mostly because I hadn’t been to one before. Harry Potter has defined my adult life and friendships, but growing up in middle school and high school I didn’t have those kinds of friends. I’m pretty sure I dragged my non-Potter reading family to a midnight release of one of the books at a small local bookstore, but nothing to this level. There were costume contests and face painting and pictionary and trivia challenges against small children, but at the end of it all was the most important part: holding a new Harry Potter book in my hands.

That’s what is important about all of this. Sure I have a LOT of thoughts about the story itself, but at the end of the day picking up The Cursed Child was a chance to re-enter Harry’s world. I was SIXTEEN the last time a Harry Potter book came out. I was torn between tearing through it to see how Harry’s journey would end and savoring every last page. I remember waiting by the mailbox for its delivery from Amazon, sleeping with it, carrying it with me around the house, and the heavy sadness of finishing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and realizing I would never have the same experience again.

IMG_2945But I’m twenty-five now and Harry is back. Harry is older, but once again so am I. Everything has changed and yet everything remains the same for both of us. There are young witches and wizards traveling by train to a magical school. There are Sorting Ceremonies and hijinx and bullying and crushes and friendship. It’s like graduating from college and realizing that while you may not attend that school any more, there are still students who are sleeping in the dorm where you used to sleep and taking part in the clubs you used to and that life goes on. It’s a very strange feeling, but also a comforting one.

That is what Harry Potter has always been for me. A comfort. A place that has brought me friends, fictional and real, adventures, and a sense of belonging. Opening The Cursed Child I couldn’t help but cry (okay, sob) because it all came rushing back to me again. I was home.

*If you don’t want to know anything about the plot of The Cursed Child stop reading.*

So did I actually like The Cursed Child? Yes. I can only imagine what this play must look like on stage (no really I have a lot of questions about how they staged parts of it like the time travel and the swimming scenes and magical bookshelves). The golden trio is back! So are Ginny and Draco (who in a touching moment reveal how jealous they both were of Harry, Ron, and Hermione growing up)! Neville is STILL the most important person in the wizarding world! Oh yeah and there are also lots of convenient time turners and wibbly wobbly stuff. I’m a huge fan of time travel so I like that they got to include it, but I wish there was more and that also it was explained better. There seemed to be some rules and at the same time no rules to how it all worked.

But the emotions are all there. The play thrives on your connection to the characters and a good amount of nostalgia. There are callbacks and direct quotes from the books that made me smile and cry at the same time. The play opens word for word where Deathly Hallows ended. There’s a touching scene with Harry and Dumbledore where the two finally get to say how much they care for each other. There’s the death of Harry’s parents, witnessed by him again, but this time with all of his family and friends by his side proving he’s not a lonely orphan any more that made me weep just as much as when I read it the first time. And there’s a happy ending, even if it’s not quite, “All was well.” 

Oh and also Voldemort has a daughter?? I mean I knew it was creepy when twenty-something Delphi starting flirting with fourteen year old Albus, but I didn’t know it would be THAT creepy. It sounds almost silly reading about the discovery, but I imagine in the theater it is quite shocking. I bet a lot of things are, like Voldemort’s voice coming from all around the theater during the dream sequences and dementors walking through the audience. It is something I hope I get to experience for myself one day soon.

Final Thoughts:

  • It was really hard for me to not to picture Dan Rad and co. for the first few acts
  • I took notes on the play in my notebook and literally just wrote, “Albus & Scorpius hug=awe”
  • Albus is a true Potter he has SO MUCH ANGST. But what about James and Lily? I still know nothing about them
  • Tough, fierce, keeping up with her six brothers Ginny would not give a crap if her kids ate sweets, I don’t know why they made it a point in the story that Ginny was watching her sugar intake and it annoyed me
  • Ron is basically dad joke Ron now, so not much has changed

Little Wanderer: I Went to the Desert

Recently a friend messaged me saying, “I didn’t know you were Jewish.” It’s not that uncommon, my last name is Rivera and usually it only comes up when people ask, “Where’s your family from?” and I tell them that my dad is Puerto Rican and my mom is Jewish.

But this time I just said, “Yes I am.” I didn’t correct her and say, “half Jewish” or “yeah, I am because my mom is Jewish” I simply said, “yes.”

Being Jewish is a new concept for me. It’s not because I just discovered that I am Jewish, I have always been Jewish, but for the first time in my life I feel Jewish in a way that doesn’t make me want to justify myself to other people. Or to myself.

This newfound identity has all to do with my recent travels. At the end of June, I went to Israel on birthright through a company called Israel Outdoors. For those who don’t know, birthright is a 10 day, free trip to Israel for Jews ages 18-26. It is funded by generous donors from around the world and the Israeli state itself. During the trip you visit many cities and historical sites throughout the country as well as interact with Israeli soldiers and students and take part religious services and discussions about the history of the country and its conflicts.  

But that hardly captures what this trip really was.




Those 10 days changed my life.

Going to Israel was an amazing experience. Yes it was partly because I was in another country (for the first time) and got to experience everything it had to offer from the Western Wall to the old town of Tzfat to the waterfalls of Ein Gedi to the city life of Tel Aviv. I rode a camel. I star gazed in the desert. I floated in the Dead Sea. But what made Israel for me was the people.


Throughout the trip we were asked the question, “What does your Jewish identity mean to you?” It’s something we talked about and something I thought about a lot through my time in Israel and since coming home. For me, being Jewish is about having a community. I loved meeting so many new people and forming deep bonds over our shared experience. I loved our bus rides with our talks about everything from Hamilton to the Holocaust and debating Jewish culture vs Jewish religion at 2 am. I loved sharing meals and hearing stories about what it means to be Jewish in America today, especially when the stories were vastly different from my Jew filled New York upbringing. I even loved being hot and tired and dirty and hungry all the time. 

Actually being in Israel is an experience I can hardly describe. It was strange being in a place I had heard so much about on the news and feeling safe (or as safe as I do in the U.S. with violence our country is facing lately). It reminded me so much of home because of the varying terrains and the amount of people who speak English and was foreign all at the same time with the food and the culture and the way the everything shuts down on Friday nights for Shabbat. It made me reevaluate how I thought of the world and the country and where I came from. The whole trip was more of a learning experience than a vacation and challenged me in ways I never thought possible.

If you are eligible go on birthright, go. I can’t tell you enough. Go go go go go. I was hesitant at first, I didn’t feel Jewish enough, I didn’t think I would like anybody, I was afraid and had so many excuses, but now I can say that it is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Even though I still don’t know Hebrew or the songs or dances or most of the prayers, I still left Israel with something valuable. A feeling. A feeling of love and fondness and connection to a place halfway around the world. Is it perfect? What country is? Certainly not ours, but it is a place that helped me discover more about myself and for that I will always be grateful.

A Little More Personal: Hello Goodbye

I am getting really good at saying goodbye. TWO YEARS ago today I arrived in California after leaving the only home I’ve ever known in New York. I said goodbye to my parents and my sister and my post college life of uncertainty and moved 3,000 miles across the country. It doesn’t feel like that was two years ago. It feels like two lifetimes ago. So much has changed in those two years; I have a different roommate than the one I moved out here with and a new apartment and have had at least 20 new jobs. That’s what happens when you work freelance. You say yes to everything everything, you say hello for a little while, and then you say goodbye. It happens, you get used to it, you move on.

Except this August I broke the rules. Like a whore who falls in love I took a job that wasn’t a one day gig or an award show with an end in sight. I started working on a talk show. Now, talk shows can be, for some, the holy grail of freelancing . For the most part the subject matter is light and fun, they are usually off in the summer which allows for freedom and ability to travel, and they can last for years which means stable work. Unless your show gets canceled. Or in my show’s case, not renewed for a second season. Then that’s a whole other story. This story.

Now, my show wasn’t canceled right away. It was canceled at a date in the future and we had to continue working on it until then #BecauseTelevision. It’s basically like being a lame duck president, you know that nothing you do can change the inevitable end, but you’re not just going to sit there. So you continue to make awesome TV and have crazy ideas and be inspired by the badass people around you because (almost) everyone is going down with the show like the band on the Titanic.

So now my show has ended. I made it through to the very end. I am so proud that I got to be a part of it and the work I got to do. This is the reason I moved to California two years ago: to make television, to work at a studio. For the first time in my career I wasn’t driving to a new set everyday and trying to remember everyone’s name, I was seeing the same familiar faces everyday and driving onto a lot with a stage and a desk. My desk.


And I wasn’t just emptying trashes or refilling the refrigerator with diet cokes (although that’s arguably one of the most important jobs on any set), I was casting and doing research and updating budgets and ordering props and attending meetings and rehearsals and learning from everyone around me. For a person like me (I’m really starting to think I’m a Ravenclaw, but that’s a post for another day), a job where I can use my brain and have actual responsibilities is the dream. I love the feeling of accomplishment and that the work I did actually contributed to the show in some way.

And then I had to say goodbye. This goodbye was tough because it wasn’t, “That was a hard day, we’ll call you if we need you next week” kind of goodbye. It was a, “We’ve celebrated birthdays and Christmas and firings and the ratings roller coaster and now it’s all over” kind of goodbye. It’s goodbye to my longest and most fulfilling job thus far with some of the hardest working, coolest people I have met.

But again, I’m getting used to goodbyes. Yes, I cried and yes I am sad and yes have NO idea what I’m doing next, but what else is new. No show lasts forever. Not even Oprah. Every show I have worked on has been an experience, a step towards where I want to be, a lesson in saying goodbye. And I am thankful.

Now it’s time for the next one.IMG_1428

Oh since I usually end these posts with a song, here’s one thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda and Hamilton.

Fangirl Friday: The Cursed Child AKA Shut Up and Take My Money

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Poster FULL square
As the world already knows, The Cursed Child, a play WRITTEN BY J.K. Rowling and taking place 19 YEARS AFTER HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS FUNCTIONING BASICALLY AS 8TH BOOK is coming to the stage in London. THIS SUMMER.awesome animated GIF But that’s the problem. That one small word. London. I live in California. Which is even further from London then when I lived in New York. But if you think I am missing this play you must not know me that well.

Harry Potter was the first fandom I ever loved. Before Marvel (there was a time before Marvel??) and Doctor Who and Game of Thrones there was a boy in a cupboard. And he changed my life.


He gave me friends (shout out to 3N who are the biggest bunch of Potterheads I’ve ever met).


He made my love of reading that much more fervent. He brought us midnight movies. He taught me about sacrifice and adventure and family and friendship and being different and doing what is right even when it is hard. And when the 7th book came out and all the movies ended I thought I had to move on. BUT I DON’T.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is all well and good and I can’t wait to see it, but it’s not Harry’s story. The Cursed Child is. It’s about Harry and Ginny’s son, Albus Severus. It’s about the burden of being the youngest (and worst named) son of a legend. And it’s going to be a new format which (more than likely) means new actors playing the Potters later in life. I am mostly excited by this because I’m sorry, but Bonnie Wright was not Ginny. Book Ginny is one of my favorite female heroines of ALL TIME for being a smart, beautiful, brave, Quidditch pitch ruling badass boss. She would have NEVER tied Harry’s shoes for him (UGH). So along with everything else we get to see new takes on our favorite characters.

But I digress. We are back to the original problem of London aka the constant problem of being American. Luckily this summer I am planning (if the stars align and everything works out) on going to Israel on birthright. Which in my mind puts me closer to London/at least on the same side of the globe AT THE SAME TIME THE PLAY COMES OUT/STARTS PREVIEWS. Ever since I found out The Cursed Child was coming out this summer I have been plotting on taking a side trip to London after my other trip. I still don’t know if this will work out. I have no idea of how much a ticket from Israel to London will be. I have never even traveled outside the US.

But without any set plans or even a plane ticket, I am planning on buying a play ticket when they go onsale next week. I have to try. I know if I don’t I’ll regret it. (And magically the tickets themselves are fairly reasonably priced.) So I will wake up before 4 am (tickets go onsale at 11 am GMT aka 4 am PST). I will guesstimate a date that I will be in London. I will buy a ticket. I will be nervous the entire time because if you thought buying a ticket for The Force Awakens made sites crash you have NO IDEA what Harry Potter fans can l do. And I will hope things work out. That is what I will do. Because the boy who lived is back. And I’m not ready to say goodbye yet.

Guess Who’s Back, Back Again?

Remember me? I’m the girl that used to post on this blog. If you don’t know me IRL or follow me on Twitter you probably assumed I died of a fangirl heart attack at Comic Con.

I’m still here, with little excuse as to my absence. Mostly it’s just been a huge case of writer’s block combined with a lack of time. But some of it did have to do with the fact that occasionally I lose faith in my blogging abilities. Researching for Comic Con lead me to find some Really Great Blogs run by People Who Blog for a Living. I love pop culture, but when there are SO MANY other blogs out there sometimes it’s hard to find a reason to write. Why does my opinion matter when there are so many others out there? What do I have to say that’s so important?

However, recently I started writing for The Marvel Report, a site run by and for Marvel fans with all the latest movie, TV show, and comic news. (Shameless plug.)  Getting asked to write for such an incredible site and being surrounded by so many talented people has inspired me to bring back my own blog. I’ve missed it. I enjoy writing. And I *do* have something to say (I am nothing if not opinionated). That’s why I write. Sometimes I just need reminding.

dead poets society animated GIF

dead poets society animated GIF

dead poets society animated GIF

One change that will be coming to my blog is less reviews. Inevitably there will still be a few, but I don’t want that to be a focus any longer. Working in the entertainment industry can sometimes make loving/analyzing TV and movies difficult. I have often censored myself (usually on Twitter), from saying something because being freelance means I could end up working ANYWHERE tomorrow. I don’t want to limit my opportunities because of something I’ve said. That’s not to say I will no longer be critical, just more thoughtful. I’m lucky to work in an industry I care so much about.

So I’m back. How much writing I’ll really be doing is contingent as always on my schedule. But I just wanted to let everyone to know that I’m still here. And writing.