September 10th, 2018 changed my life forever. I knew somewhat what to expect from watching my boyfriend accomplish year one from the studio five months before. I understood that it was hard work, but I knew I could only understand fully by experiencing it personally. Through all of this, even when at my most nervous, I knew that I was in good hands. I had just recently moved down to LA in order to pursue film acting, and I knew that I needed all the help I could get, because I did not believe I was a good actor in the slightest. And spoiler alert. I ABSOLUTELY wasn't. I remember wearing an oversized floral men's shirt ( I liked the material enough to rock it), and a pair of worn down shorts. I put makeup on, but at the insistence of my sweetheart, I took my makeup off so I didn't have to worry about if I cried it all off.
Just some background into this studio. From this first paragraph you might say "Well, is this some acting class taught to desperate actors in WeHo that charges $500 a session to say you don't need to improve anything?" and to that, I will simply answer this.
There you go. Anyways, back to it. The Taylor Acting Studio is an acting studio teaching pure Meisner in the heart of Burbank, California. It is the only Meisner school that has been backed by the Meisner estate, and has won Backstage Magazine's award for Best Acting Studio in Los Angeles for 10+ years, as well as a man who I well revere Alex Taylor, who has won Best Acting Coach for 7 years now.
A little bit about Alex. Alex Taylor is the teacher of The Taylor Acting Studio. Alex trained with Sanford Meisner in the later stages of his life, and after Sandy's passing was strongly encouraged by Jimmy Carville, Sandy's life, business, and teaching partner to become a teacher and continue on the work of PURE Meisner, not just what Daniel likes to call "Strip Mall Meisner", which is diluted and misrepresented Meisner work. And let me tell you something. Jimmy's intuition that Alex would be a phenomenal teacher is straight on the nose. I have studied with many teachers, and being raised by a music teacher, I pay attention to how teachers teach. Heck, I almost became one. And without question, Alex is one of the best teachers I have ever met. He cares about every single one of his students, and wants for them to succeed and thrive. He is honest and not afraid to tell you truths that you might not want to hear. But he does so in a way that is full of grace and almost with a paternal quality that helps you understand that his words and his insight, if you choose to accept and implement them, are here to help you grow into who you are meant to be as a creator. If you care about your craft, Alex will help you grow it into something beautiful.
I had heard about this school through my boyfriend, Daniel, who found it by what I believe to be the most miraculous thing to happen to the both of us. I wasn't sure what to think of this newfound class that my, at the time long distance boyfriend was joining, but I still cheered him on and showed my support. I had seen him act in a short film or two, and I thought he was already a pretty decent actor. Then one night three months into the training he left the FaceTime on so that I could see him and our mutual friend running the bare bones of their first scene. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that his performance was night and day from what his best work was not even a year before. In THREE MONTHS. Tears welled up in my eyes watching them run the most half way done work now that I look back at it. I was enamored. I followed each of them with my eyes and wished that I could pay attention to both 100% at once. They finished, and I clapped. I wanted to show my family. I wanted to show the world. And in that moment, I knew that this was powerful training. And that no matter what, I was going to do it.
When June came around, I applied for an interview for year one. Once the appointment was set, I went into the cozy and comfy Burbank theatre feeling at home. Being primarily Musical Theatre trained, seeing a stage was a piece of familiarity. It was a hot and muggy day. I waited in the front half of the studio worried that I might interrupt another interview or something of the like. Eventually, Alex came in. We introduced ourselves, and started talking. He wanted to know why I was going into this, and so I shared my story and my background originally as a musician and vocalist. We talked about how I understood the importance of practice, and that it was a requirement each class to rehearse 3 hours. Then he asked me if I had graduated college. I smiled a half smile, and matter-of-factly said "Oh no, I didn't go to college. I'm 19.". A look of surprise came over him most likely due to the fact that I talked about majoring in high school. We began to talk about how he didn't want to mess me up by having me try all of these other places and then be even more messed up coming to him later. He asked me about my upbringing and the things that were important to me. I began to talk about my faith, and the desire to be real and authentic. Alex then put his hands on his lap, and said to me, "Okay, usually I wait to give you an answer and let you think about if you want to do this and I call to confirm if you've gotten in. But you're so young I really don't want to f*ck you up. You're in. We start in September." I left with a hug, and waited to be outside, to let my full excitement bubble to the surface. Daniel, waiting outside, picked me up, and I told him all about it in the car. He then said to me,
Prepare to see your life change.
This first part was intense. It was going back to trusting your instincts. It was a going back to child-like play. In the beginning, it was emotionally exhausting. Unlearning societal norms was hard. But going through it left me with an insatiable desire to know more. To be more. It all sounds so easy, right? Listening and answering. Trusting your instincts. The reality of doing rather than just thinking over and over and over.
But I was missing something. Some things just weren't really resonating with me yet. I found myself struggling to hit the "mark" I had made for myself in my head. Then, one day in December, it all came to a halt. I had just been in a car accident, and it had left me with a concussion. Nothing too bad, but not too good either. It was a pain I hadn't truly experienced before. I went in to rehearse with my partner for our first scene, and I felt like I was bringing terrible work. I was self conscious the entire time, not taking her in, you name it. All the things I should have been doing (which were the bare minimum), I wasn't. While we were rehearsing, Alex came in and started watching our scene. And the nicest way I can put it is that the scene was ROUGH. He stopped us, and started to talk to me, honestly and tenderly. He was giving me my wake up call.
I WAS BEING A PART TIME ACTOR.
I was putting in the hours, sure. But I wasn't putting in the WORK that this craft so heavily requires. I wasn't being a full time actor, and it hit me hard. So hard in fact that it got me pretty emotional and I really took in personally what he was saying. I knew that I needed to be BETTER than what I was doing then. That first scene was all kinds of rough, but we somehow stumbled through it. I started to do more intentional actions every day that I possibly could. And I watched myself start to grow at light speed.
Through this, I was finding that our work became a way to control my anxiety, and harness it to create beautiful and truthful art. The more that I did this work, the less anxious I found myself. The more that I was present in the world around me, and listening to the ramblings at work of strangers who just so desperately wanted to be heard. To be seen.
When we came back, we had a check in with Alex about how we were feeling half way through thus far. He talked to me about what I will call now the "full time actor" debacle, and that he didn't realize how sensitive I really was until that day. I told him that it was a part of myself that I really resented because I react like that at times when I don't want to. And Alex said, "It is such an important part of who you are. Being sensitive like this is a gift." Through this, I slowly began to see my sensitive and bleeding heart (which I constantly tried to subdue) was one of the strongest things that I had to offer. Alex and this work really helped me accept it. I have a heart full of love that feels deeply. And once I began to really channel my instincts and my emotions, this got (and continues to get) even stronger. I am more in tune with my emotions than anything now.
During that talk, we also talked about how my faith is so important in my life and that I should explore that in my work. When I did begin to explore that, something that I didn't expect to change as drastically as it did was in my connection between my craft and my faith. Through this work, I found that my relationship with Jesus not only could mix so beautifully with this craft, but that I saw new sides of who God is and was in my life so many years ago. I began to see myself having even more of an individual relationship with who He is and what He fights for today. I am now more in love and in awe with who He is, and who He will continue to be and I can thank Meisner for that.
As the year began to draw to a close, I felt myself on fire more than ever. I was beginning to see and understand how much strength I really had. I started to love and accept myself completely. To embrace what made me who I was instead of stray from it. I saw my strong suits. I was starting to surprise myself in my work and it felt like I had just made a fire ball with my own hands. I fell madly in love with PLAYING on stage. I began to come into myself in ways that I never believed possible in such a short amount of time. And for the first time in a long time, I finally had felt like I had a place where I belonged.
Now you might say that I just vomited my entire life story on this blog post. And I would have to agree with you. Training at the Taylor Acting Studio so far has been one of the highlights of my life thus far, and I will work hard in order to be able to have the honor of partaking in the knowledge of year two. I am proud to call myself the second youngest student to go through this training, and to know that the future ahead of me with the work I have already put in, as well as the work I intend to put in every single day, is bright.
Thinking you might sign up for the summer intensive? Or the year one program? I guess I only have one thing left to tell you.
Prepare to see your life change.