BWW Interview: ACTING OUT ACADEMY Develops Talent
Last week I had the good fortune to attend an acting class and observe the work of some students ages 9-19. As I entered the community center of a local park, I was unsure what I was about to observe. I had seen a few of the videos produced by this group and I had been impressed. I liked them not only for the acting, but also for the content which had uplifting and timely messages. My favorite dealt with the issue of cyber bullying. You can see #HASHTAG THIS here. None of the videos had prepared me for what I was about to see.
Meaghan Collins Deusner, founder of Acting Out Academy, is proud of her students and well she should be. In this particular class of around 20 students, almost half have agents, managers and are constantly auditioning for and getting callbacks to professional projects.
Although the class eventually got around to workshopping a scene, the first part of the class I saw was a very honest and inspirational time of discussing the ins and outs of show business. Ms. Deusner talked to the students about the psychology of being in an industry that is tough on the ego. She talked to them about how it hurts to be rejected and how to keep your center when people tell you that you aren't good enough.
She also talked with them about being willing to show and experience their true emotions so that they know what the different emotions truly feel like. This helps when it is time to "feel" that emotion for the stage or screen.
Ms. Deusner's class sat like sponges soaking up her words of encouragement, inspiration and honesty. She told them that they can feel badly when they don't get a job and withdraw or they can take a minute to be sad and then work harder the next time. I have to say as an outside observer, even I was inspired to do better and try harder.
Meaghan Deusner got the theatre bug early in a local production of Annie in her community. She attended Emerson College in Boston then went on to the Stella Adler Conservatory in New York City. With amazing teachers like Kristin Linklater, Alice Winston, Olympia Dukakis, Patrick Stewart and Whoopi Goldberg, to name a few, Ms. Deusner soaked up all of the knowledge she could.
Moving to LA took a different turn than she had expected and she ended up writing, teaching and working in casting. After marrying a Southern boy, they decided to move back to the south to raise their family.
In the summer of 2011, Ms. Deusner did her first movie camp here and realized that with a little encouragement some of these kids had what it takes. Her first student actually now lives in LA and has been in commercials, TV shows and three feature films.
And the first two students have turned into 200.
The hope for her classes is to change lives through the performing arts. Whether that means a kid gets an agent and works professionally or a shy kid comes out of their shell, Ms. Deusner only wants what is best for each student.
She believes that "the performing arts make kids smarter, braver and kinder. And ultimately more successful and HAPPY in life."
During the class I observed, the kids workshopped a short scene. The ones that got to work that day were very talented and Ms. Deusner worked with each one to grow in their craft. She helped them to overcome nerves by focusing on the character they were portraying. She taught them about self-correcting when their attention was pulled away from the scene and she reminded them to take their time developing a character before speaking. She also instructed them to take their time in auditions, not to let anyone rush them.
The whole session I spent with them was not only eye opening to a new generation of talent, but when I talked to the class as a group, their insight and answers were equally impressive. They spoke about how they felt these classes helped them in school to be better readers, to have a longer attention span, and made them more aware of what they said and did.
Most of them are involved in other extra-curricular activities and make excellent grades. Some talked about sometimes missing school for auditions out of town, but were grateful for teachers who helped them stay caught up while they pursued their dreams.