There is an incredible amount of diversity among the students here. We have all kinds of backgrounds, all kinds of professional acting experiences. We have different ages with different walks of life. People who’ve had careers and then people who have not thought about acting until nine months ago. It’s wonderful to be in a room with this diversity and on a level playing field at the same time.
A few students who you began the first year with are no longer here. What does that say to you about Maggie Flanigan Studio and the passion and dedication it takes to be a serious actor?
Oh man, okay. It takes incredible passion and incredible dedication. This work is too difficult to do if you do not love it. It’s too much energy. It’s too much time. It’s too much money. You need to love it. You need to want it. Every single day you need to be able to fail and still want to go after it again and again and again.
The training at the studio is very intense and deeply personal. What has it been like to watch your classmates grow as your first year has ended?
Watching my classmates grow is probably the most profound, remarkable thing about being in this program. It’s difficult to see that kind of growth in yourself. So, to be able to have all these classmates that you can see the growth in a little bit more quickly is a nice reflection onto yourself as well. That, yes, I’m different than I was in September. I have grown. I have taken these leaps and these strides.
How have your classmates inspired your work?
This idea of permission comes up a lot in the Meisner technique. I think I’m finally starting to understand that through the inspiration that I get from my classmates. There will be a class where someone does something that scares them, is daring. That inspires me to do something daring myself and to push myself to limits that I didn’t even know existed perhaps the class before.
To get through the first year with Charlie, how important does acting need to be to you?
It needs to be the most important. Not only does acting and becoming an actor need to be important to you, becoming an artist but you need to want to be changed as a human being, fundamentally. That requires an extraordinary amount of trust, not only in yourself but your classmates, in the teachers, in the process, and of course, in Charlie.
What is Charlie like as a teacher?
He’s the best. I’m not just saying that. He’s incredibly perceptive. I think that he does a very good job of teaching the student particularly. Your notes might not be the same as someone else’s notes and for a good reason. We all have these different backgrounds, have these different histories. He’s very in tuned to every individual in the studio and cares about our success.
How has training at the studio changed your life professionally and personally?
It’s a night and day difference. I was at a time in my life where I was struggling as an artist and struggling as a human because of it. I needed this. It’s been incredibly challenging. It’s uprooted all of these things in my life in a way that I didn’t necessarily think was going to happen but it’s been the best thing for me. I’ve grown more in this last year than I probably have in the last 10, honestly.
You’re not only taking acting while you’re here, but you’re also taking movement, voice and speech and a couple of different ancillary classes. How do you think that’s affected you? Since you’re not just taking the acting class, you’ve added some of these supplementary classes.
Yes. I had a history of being a dancer before this. When I initially signed up for the program, I thought, "Well, I’ve done 15 years of ballet, what could movement class possibly teach me at this point?" I was incredibly wrong about that. Movement is probably my favorite auxiliary class because it’s this chance to be free and carnal and permissive again. It’s wonderful. I miss it when I’m not in the movement class. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to survive once I’m done with the studio here without that class.
How has the work that you’re doing in your ancillary classes affected the work you do in the acting classroom?
It’s opened me up. It’s made me comfortable with my classmates, comfortable making choices, following my instincts. In acting class, when you go up to work, all eyes are on you. That can be intimidating. When you’re in voice, and you’re in movement class, you are a collective. You’re part of this group. There’s safety in that to experiment and find yourself in that collective.
Your first year acting class, in general, is pretty close. What do you think that has to do with the small size of the studio and intimate size of the classes?
I think that has an effect, the small class sizes. We’ve become so close because we’re so invested in each other’s triumphs and failures. When there are only ten people in the class, if someone does something bold and gets it, everybody’s rooting for them. It’s wonderful to have that camaraderie.
What would you say to a prospective student who maybe was on the fence about training or was on the fence about this studio compared to another studio? What would you say to them to help them decide where they should be going?
I’d say that if you’re ready to take a leap and become your truest self in the best way and you’re ready for that challenge, you’re willing to be changed, then this is the studio for you.
Well, you’ve worked in the business before. Maybe not acting but in a realm of the entertainment business. How would you feel going on an audition today as opposed to how you feel going on audition a year ago when you haven’t had any training, you haven’t been through the summer intensive, the first show of your program? What do you see the difference? How do you see the difference in yourself?
The difference in myself is now I know that I have a certain amount of craft. I’m not in there with some crapshoot. I think I know what’s right. I know what I know. I know that most of the other people in that room have no clue what they’re doing. That kind of confidence is incredibly valuable.
You’re finishing up the first year. You’re almost done just a few more weeks. How do you feel about finishing up your first year and heading into the second year?
I’m excited for the second year, but there is a part of me that just wants to hold on to this. I’m stressed out. I’m exhausted. I have eight projects to do. I’m working three jobs. Life is not easy peasy right now. But I know I’m going to miss this as soon as it’s over. I’m just dreading with a pause of summer.
A lot of prospective students put this off because they feel exactly what you just said, I don’t have the time, I don’t have the money. What would you say to them if that’s what was holding them back?
I didn’t have the time or the money, and here I am. I am happier now in my exhausted, depleted, crazed state than I was a year ago just working my jobs and having days off.
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