ELIZABETH MESTNIK ACTING STUDIO ALUMNA CHARLES MICHAEL DAVIS
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!
From student Junot Lee
Vulnerability is power. When you go to Yahoo.com 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.
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
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.
DO WHAT YOU CAME HERE TO DO!
The Basic Technique Series at the Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio
It’s why most of us decided to pursue acting – To “be” someone else. Walk in their shoes, speak in their voice, feel their pain, live their joy! – to become THE CHARACTER.
THE CHARACTER class at The Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio (EMAS) gives acting students a foundation in creating truthful, dynamic characters for film, television or stage. It teaches techniques that find the character’s voice, physicality and psychology. Through exercises, improvisations, monologue and scene work, students acquire a comprehensive set of “acting tools” to draw upon when approaching a role. At the end of the12 weeks, students will know how to bring a character to life and apply their techniques in scene work.
If you have always wanted to explore acting – this class will give you techniques using both research and imagination to create dynamic, truthful and emotionally alive characters. You will learn how to place these characters into living relationships and then take the words off of the page and bring them to life in a scene! What a great way to start the new year!
What: The Character – Technique class for Beginning Actors
Where: EMAS: 7600 Melrose Avenue, 2nd Floor, Los Angeles 90046
When: Thursdays at 7pm – starting January 10th, 2013
Tuition: $500 for 11-week session
Contact: 323-528-6280 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Register: For on line registration click here.
DO WHAT YOU CAME HERE TO DO!
THE ELIZABETH MESTNIK ACTING STUDIO is one of Hollywoods most highly regarded acting schools:
Here’s what the industry has to say about EMAS:
“EMAS has a very talented and versitile group of actors.”
-Paul Weber -Head of Casting Paramount
” I have seen Elizabeth work miracles with actors from beginning to advanced”
– Damona Resnick – Casting Director – NBC
” She is simply the best at what she does”
– Ed Yeager – T.V. producer – Still Standing, Suddnely Susan, Gary Unmarried
Read what our students and the industry have to say about EMAS at Yelp!
CALL 323-528-6280 FOR REGISTRATION INFORMATION
TO REGISTER ON LINE CLICK HERE
Commercial Acting Workshop
November 12, 19, 26 and December 3
ON CAMERA COMMERCIAL TECHNIQUE WITH
“Any worthy casting director is thrilled to see Hal’s name on an actor’s resume. It’s a huge sigh of relief for me – I know that this actor’s been taught and nurtured in the skills of bringing to the audition the authenticity that I and my directors need. I innately know that my time with this talent won’t be spent battling the layers of elsewhere-learned “Stepford” commercial techniques. I want to bring this actor in.”
Vicki Goggin – Casting Director (Coca-Cola, Best Buy, McDonald’s, Kellogg’s, Allstate, Wal-Mart, Subaru, and many more)
In this workshop Hal will give you an in-depth understanding of what takes place behind the scenes at commercial casting auditions. You will leave this Workshop with a well-rounded grasp of the inner-workings of the audition process that will free you from second-guessing and allow you to do your best work.
You will learn:
-How to present yourself right off the bat in your slate as first impressions are crucial in the commercial world!
-How to break down the copy in order to understand what is most important to the client and how best to deliver that.
-What to expect from casting directors and session directors.
-How to break down a script to best optimize your time in front of the camera and how to stand out from everyone else.
– How to use your unique qualities as your single greatest asset!
-How to develop timing skills while working with a partner to create the proper rhythm and pace.
Hal Masonberg is one of L.A.’s most in-demand session directors working for top commercial casting directors like…
Craig Colvin, Popcasting, Terry Berland, Alyson Horn, Danielle Eskinazi, Joe Blake, Sheila Manning and many others…
“Hal Masonberg’s years of experience working deep in the trenches of commercial casting, combined with his vast knowledge of film history, enthusiasm, and respect for actors make him, without question, THE best session director working on the scene today and I trust him implicitly. Whatever he tells you, believe it.” —
Mark Randall, Casting Director (Capital One, Adidas, Audi, Campbell’s Soup, Fox Sports, Nintendo and many others)
WHEN: Mondays at 7pm
DATES: November 12, 19, 26 and December 3
WHERE: EMAS: 7600 Melrose Ave, 2nd Floor Los Angeles 90046
CONTACT: 323-528-6280 or email@example.com
More Information at http://www.emasla.com/acting-workshops.php
Advanced Scene Study
a weekly workout for actors with Elizabeth Mestnik
The Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio
7600 Melrose Ave. 2nd Floor
Los Angeles, California 90046
Get ready for Pilot Season!
We are currently auditioning actors for our Advanced Scene Study program.
Extensive performance experience with traditional rehearsal format
Audition technique for Film, Television and Stage
Maintenance/refreshing of current skill set
Opportunities to perform for industry guests
This is a weekly workout where actors test their performance abilities in a safe but challenging environment. Through working on scenes of various genres, the actors discover their strengths and weaknesses with the help of a trained director’s eye. Because class size is restricted to 12 actors, each actor works in every class. We also realize that THE busiest audition season is fast approaching – we want our actors to be completely ready for pilot season, and help them fine tune their audition skills with simulated audition sessions.
This is not a beginning acting class. It requires that the student already have a number of tools in their acting belt. We require that a student applying for this class have prior training or performance experience. It is a mixed levels class of intermediate to advanced students. To maintain the integrity of the class -an audition is required.
Find out more at the Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio
What makes a great teacher?
Sharif Atkins talks about training with Elizabeth and her teachers.
I recommend EMAS because of Elizabeth. No one matches her level of insight, compassion, and ability to bring out the best in each of her students. You have to have an eye for BS as an acting teacher and she has it. She has called me on my own more than once. You also have to have an eye for the nuances of human behavior, the little itty-bitty details that take a performance from good to great.
-Sharif Atkins – actor/EMAS alum – White Collar, ER, The Preacher’s Wife
Preparing you for the Big Role
Lily Holleman on the Meisner Technique
The Meisner program prepared me to take on my first lead role in a feature film. I filmed the summer after my first year of Meisner, and the technique fit perfectly with what the script demanded. One tool that Meisner teaches that is necessary for every job, however, is truly opening up your ear to be able to hear underneath the lines. If you want to inspire and be inspired by watching your peers struggle, fail, and suddenly break through, you should study here. If you want to expand and your imagination and creativity, study here!
Lily Holleman – actor Southland, State of theUnion, UrFRENZ
A Step by Step Process
Charles Michael Davis on the skills actors need in the real world.
The Meisner Techniqe teaches you how to be honest and how to listen emotionally. The teachers at EMAS push you to expand those emotions – push you past what you think you are capable of. Like a really good coach – Elizabeth ends up being in your head even when she isn’t there. So now when I get a script or sides – I feel totally prepared.
-Charles Davis actor/EMAS alum: The Game, Switched at Birth
Read more at the Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio
Due to the demand for our 9-month Professional Training Program, EMAS has added a second session:
When: Tuesdays at 7pm and Saturdays at 1:30pm
Start Date: September 29th, 2012
Admission: Interview required
“Elizabeth is a first rate and versatile teacher. She has a mind that conceptualizes, a clear method and vocabulary that leads other to bring their ideas to light. I cannot say enough good things about her”
William Esper: Head of Esper Studios and Author of The Actor’s Art and Craft
For more information on Los Angeles’ Premiere Meisner Training program visit our
Read what EMAS students have to say about the studio
A professional class for beginning actors
This technique class is for the beginning acting student who wants to invest in his/her craft to become a well skilled, exciting actor. This demanding but fun 11-class workshop serves as an overview of the required skills needed to enter the acting profession including:
Physical and Vocal Development
When: Thursdays at 7:00pm
Start Date: September 20th, 2012
Admission: Register on line here!
The goal of this class is to develop a comprehensive set of “acting tools” to draw upon when approaching a role or a scene. Students will acquire confidence, self-awareness, a strong creative spirit and professional work ethic. All the traits needed for an acting career.
For more information on EMAS visit our website at