Reflecting on Teaching for Half a Century – A shoutout to 13 amazing actors who’s hard work and dedication paid off.


During the month of October, five movies were shot featuring both first and second leads who are recent and current LB actors. I coached many of them for their auditions and also worked on scenes with most of the others before their shoots. I also worked with the guest stars on two series. By any measure, these statistics are impressive.

From a marketing standpoint, it would be advantageous to take credit for this; however, on a personal level, it would be opportunistic. Of these actors, 11 out of 13 have trained with me on and off  for a minimum of three years, and two of them for more than ten years.

The actors who have found significant success with me, or at my studio, did so after years of fierce and courageous dedication. They maintained hope in spite of an onslaught of rejection. Their reward was not the applause but the sheer joy of creation and the confidence to know they were getting better.


When I began my career in teaching and coaching, the entertainment industry was vastly different from what it is today. The digital age revolutionized how acting coaches and schools were promoted, relying on the digital equivalent of “word of mouth.” Fifty years ago, acting coaches didn’t advertise through carefully researched Google keywords, nor did they speak of empowerment, branding, booking, or mind set. We relied on old school work ethics. Our track record as coaches mattered. What we taught and how we taught it mattered. Now it seems anyone with clever marketing plan and a winning personality can do it.

We focused on the art—craftsmanship, dedication, integrity, and the inner quest for truth. Our role was to nurture actors’ aspirations to excel and evolve as artists, not to strategize on how to charm Casting Directors for a role.

When did the art of acting transform into a strategic endeavor filled with phrases like “own it,” “kill it,” “nail it,” and “command the space”? What happened to the authentic exchange and self-revelation through a writer’s words?

We never felt compelled to push our students to label themselves as “creatives” or “storytellers.” Such buzzwords serve only to inflate egos—both of students and coaches—and do not foster humility or the development of empathy. They create a misleading sense of distinctiveness, distancing us from our shared human mission to breathe life into text by being fully attentive to the moment we are in.

Decades ago, coaches and teachers would encourage you to observe life deeply, to ponder meaningful questions, rather than worrying about casting preferences or how to be noticeable. Our goal wasn’t to brand you but to encourage  you to stay on the path of self-discovery and sharing it with others rather than be encouraged to make bold and strong choices. Those who try to be interesting aren’t interesting. It’s the authentic human choices that captivate, not the compulsion to stand out.
In Greek mythology Narcissus became obsessed with his own reflection after being led there by the God Nemesis as a punishment for his insensitivity to the love of the nymph Echo.  At the stream, he fell in love with himself and fell in and drowned. If not used in moderation or without comprehension, the selfie shots of one’s self in a mirror (that it is a reflection, it is not you) will lead to the drowning of the soul. It is an electronic manifestation of you! This is not you! 
I worry that this electronic manipulation has tangled us in a labyrinth of self-doubt. Ironically, or perhaps tragically, it has driven young actors toward a craving for empowerment and the allure of a quick fix. It echoes Machiavelli’s notion that stripping away a people’s “belief in self” leaves them vulnerable. True self-esteem stems from hard work and a dedication to excellence  worthy of an Olympic athlete.
The reality is that no short-term workshop or course can hand you the keys to success. It is through hard work, bravery, determination, perseverance, and a bit of luck that, over time, you will help craft your own keys to unlock your personal kingdom.