Monthly Archives February 2013

Acting Classes Curriculum

Acting Classes in LA

If you’re thinking about enrolling in acting classes, then you should know that Emasla’s
curriculum is based on current skillsets. Emasla trains actors at the beginner, intermediate and
advanced levels in these key areas:

Features of our Los Angeles Acting Classes at Emasla

Scene Study
Voice Training
Meisner Technique
Character Classes
Improvisation or Audition Skills
Script Breakdown

Ask us how.

Emasla is recommended by NBC’s Diversity Talent Development Program.

Get driving directions to our studio here, or simply pick up the phone and call 323-528-6280.

Current acting class schedules in Los Angeles can be viewed here.

The Decision


The decision, no not “The Decision” as in the televised announcement by LeBron James on ESPN on July 8, 2010, but the decision that we as actors made. The decision TO BE an ACTOR… (to be or not to be, sorry I just had to). A decision that actually does have some parallels to King James of the now World Champ, Miami Heat. Both decisions required for many an actor and Lebron to embark on what Joseph Campbell called The Hero’s Journey. Where the chosen one must depart his or her old world to journey into the new world in search of their inner and outer prize. For Lebron that journey meant leaving his home city of Cleveland, Ohio for that of the uber hip city (especially by comparison) of Miami, Florida. The outer prize was the NBA championship, and the inner prize was one from self validation to growth as man. For many an actor our journey means leaving the comfort of our home state for that of the upside down world of Los Angeles or New York. In search of the outer prize of money, fame, oscars, and the inner prize of self actualization and self validation.

This was a decision I made over 8 years ago. When like Lebron I decided to take my talents out of Ohio. However, packing up my car and moving to Los Angeles was not enough to win the spoils of a successful actor. Much like it wasn’t enough for Lebron to be the number one draft pick and take his team to the finals. There was still a little more that needed to be done. A few more decisions that one must make. Tony Robbins says

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.”

“A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there is no action, you haven’t truly decided.”

I find these quotes to be very empowering, because as an individual the simple act of making a decision and taking massive action can bring you the inner and outer awards you’ve been longing for. Yet, like myself and Lebron, we must truly asses where we’re at and make the next decision that will shape our destiny. Lebron made his “Decision”, took action, and it earned him a coveted NBA Championship. I made my decision to shine as bright as possible and it awarded me a beautiful role on an amazing pilot and a life as a working actor.

My decision was made after losing out on a pilot a year ago. After being sent home from my first ever studio test I had to sit with the disappointment of missing out on a what seemed to be a dream job acting on a series with Kevin Bacon. To think I would have been only one degree away from Kevin Bacon! The loss was too much. I cried alone at night and held resentment as I watched my peers book pilots and feature films. My girlfriend at the time found it tense to be around me, and helped somewhat to pull me out of the fog. But the real tipping point came months later. The girl I was now dating was coping with her mother dying of stage four pancreatic cancer. I asked her what it was like and what her mother had shared with her. She started her story off with memories of the good deeds her mother performed. And told me if anyone knew about death it would be her mother given the fact that she ran a funeral parlor as a profession. She told me how she flew back to her mother with pen and paper in hand ready to scribble down the life lessons like a court stenographer. But she said there were no gems… Only anger and resentment. Anger and resentment at never leading the life she wanted to live, and to be the person she knew she could be. Later after hearing this story I would hear through a church sermon that “unfulfilled dreams left unexpressed manifest as diseases of the body”. I remember thinking about the emotions I would have if my life were knowingly cut short. Thinking about the unexpressed dreams within me that were yearning to break free. And the responsibility to my body as a temple to express those dreams. And it was at that point that I made a decision to change my destiny.

“The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going”.

Once I made my decision I began to really focus and apply myself. I found that things just started to click. Many of the lessons I glossed over from my years at Elizabeth Mestnik’s Acting Studio started to solidify and make perfect sense. It was like that decision was the missing puzzle piece that connected all four corners of my puzzle. I noticed how my preparation deepened. How the casting directors favorably responded to me. And how my mentality shifted from thoughts of “why can’t I”, to “yes I can”. It was literally a decision that changed my destiny. I didn’t need to change agencies, get new headshots, or find a new acting coach. I just needed to use my god given power of free will!

So, to those who can be honest with themselves, I say to tell it like it is and have a talk with yourself. Ask yourself how you want to feel about your decisions at the end of your life. Just be honest. Then make the big decision and reap the rewards. Go forth and shine!

What I’m Learning in First Year Meisner

From student Junot Lee

Vulnerability is power. When you go to or any other website that gets a lot of daily traffic, mixed in with current events and sports sound bytes, you see articles all time with “How to” titles: “How to nail that job interview,” “How to make a great impression on a first date.” but how do you become vulnerable?

With Facebook and the decreasing frequency in which we see our friends face-to-face or meet new people, there’s this compulsive demand in our minds that we always carry our best impression so that we can affect people with a positive image of ourselves. What you get is one big, polite, passive aggressive Pleasantville devoid of conflict or emotional life, devoid of vulnerability. All those things that make our heart pound (intimacy, joy, sorrow, rage, fear), they add the distinct hues and substance to our personalities that make us the individuals we are.

The Meisner technique taught me how to draw from my own personal emotional life by shutting out the contrived intellectual element. To truly feel, you can’t be scared of getting hurt or embarrassed or even thinking about any of those things because the technique puts you in a state where you exist purely in the moment to take in the person sitting across from you. It demands that you put your attention squarely on the other person. The byproduct of reacting to your partner’s behavior and emotional responses is that you allow yourself to inhabit your own emotions without the convenient and shallow judgement that we picked up from the “rules” of making good impressions. There’s no one to please, no one to entertain. Just you, your scene partner, and the beautiful back-and-forth where you each tap into those things that make your heart pound just by you being you; heart pounding vulnerability. And that’s where great stories begin and live: where our hearts pound and where we can interact truthfully with each other because we know that what we each bring to the table is already enough. Acting is simply meant to be a canvas of life, and the beauty of the technique is that it trains you, beyond the craft, to exist in the moment and to clear your mind so that you can truly receive the emotional life that surrounds you. This awareness allows us to understand and convey what we truly feel, and this remarkable ability to get out of our own over-analyzing heads is real power because there is so much emotional life around us to inspire us and to expose what’s actually important to us individually. And the first step to this power is to be vulnerable.

Junot Lee


2nd Year Instructor Ken Weiner reflects on his journey with
The Meisner Technique

Twenty years ago I hopped in my car and sped away from LA across
country to New Jersey to study with William Esper at Rutgers University.
The three following years of conservatory were so dense with experience,
learning and hair-pulling that I still believe no matter how busy, tired or
burnt I am; I survived Rutgers, I will make it through the day.

I went there to study Meisner. I loved the performing arts, the theatre
and acting. I would be a performing artist until the day I die and I didn’t
want to “guess” anymore. I didn’t want to rely on passion or luck. I wanted
technique and principles I could count on that would help me work the ‘right
way’ for the rest of my life.

Bill Esper and Maggie Flanigan taught with such conviction and
authority I swore, “I will never teach this. Not if I live to 103 will I be able
to teach this.”

I was there to become an artist not a teacher.

One of my peers was a young, thoughtful actress named Elizabeth
Mestnik. She was the first student to “come to life” during an exercise. We
stared with head-nodding revelation as Maggie turned to us and said, “That’s
coming to life!” Now it was up to us to follow in Elizabeth’s footsteps.

Sixteen years later, Elizabeth asked me if I would co-teach her
nd year Meisner class. Two decades later, I still feared being a teacher.
Thankfully I agreed and am now in my 5th year teaching at EMAS.

The principles behind Meisner’s work are simple. To mention a few –
the actor must be in contact with their partner, be emotionally related to the
circumstance, be living/doing truthfully through the imaginary
circumstances of the play. Sounds easy, right? Ah…now try it.

As an actor I always sought to simplify and demystify the work.
Acting and performance is a powerful and often enigmatic experience
but the act and process of creativity should be crystal clear. Every time I
work in the studio I search for the simplest way to educate and encourage
the students. What worked? What didn’t? What was unclear? And most
importantly, how do they fix it?

Because I act and I audition (which is what an actor does much of the
time) teaching reminds me what the actor must DO to create truthful and
authentic behavior.

I think of myself as an actor as I sit behind that exalted desk in class.
If I were onstage how would I approach this scene, this moment, this

circumstance? It’s my job to make you better. If you have no talent, no
commitment, no instincts you would not be in my class. Teaching is a way
of staying close to the “work” I am still so in awe of. It’s a way of
reminding myself everyday of the principles and technique that lead to
brilliance, transformation and truth.

If I can make your work better, I have made your life better.
I am not 107 years old. My middle name is not “Master”. I cannot
walk across rice paper like a Kung Fu prodigy. But I studied this work 20
years ago, I practice it daily and I still fight to emulate Elizabeth’s grasp of
the work just like I did twenty years ago when she was the first one to bust
down the walls that protect us and get to the truth, the heart, the soul of
being an artist.