Making Complicated Look Simple

Actors who commit to the professional actor training at the Maggie Flanigan Studio establish the skills and tools that they need to succeed as professional actors. Hailey Vest talks to Katie about the confidence that she has gained at auditions and the actors who are inspiring her right now.

Q: How were your auditions before you started the 18-month program?

A: I felt pretty good with them. Like you leave the room, and it’s this moment of like, “I did the best I could. Okay. Cool.” Or, “That was horrendous.” We’ve all had those auditions like it’s just not great [laughs]. With the training that I have here is you walk into the audition, you are so emotionally prepared, “I know exactly what I’m doing. I know what I want to do.” I do it, and it’s like, “I did it. Okay. That was it. I could have– maybe I was off maybe by 10%, but I know what I need to fix,” or you leave the room, “I nailed that, that was the best I could have done.” I feel it’s that euphoric energy that you have. I want to leave every audition room feeling that way, and that’s what this studio provides.

Q: Tell us about your worst audition.

A: Oh gosh. I think– worst audition. There’s always these moments where I feel that you can have a terrible audition, but you can also have an exciting director who is having a little too much fun playing with the actors. You have those terrible auditions where it’s just like that was– I remember I was in an audition, it was for a film. I booked it, but it was this scene where I was supposed to be talking to my friend and trying to make her see why we had to go to a party and find this guy, and I did it. The director was like, “That was great. Now, can you do it as if there were two dogs having sex in front of you?”

You’re just doing– you’re trying to reread it in a way and go with it and take the note. I don’t know, it was weird. I booked it, but it was so uncomfortable. Then at the end, they’re like, “Yes, I feel like I could see the dogs on the floor.” I’m like, “That’s great. I’m so happy for you.” I just wanted to go to the party with my friend to find this guy. That’s all I wanted.

Q: Who was one person that influenced your decision to become an actor?

A: It always changes. I think the first person– it ever breaks, but Judy Garland. When I was younger, I wanted to be just like her. Because I grew up watching The Wizard of Oz and my first lead role as Dorothy, which made me love her that much more. Just like being able to see her, she goes on stage, and it’s effortless. She’s singing, she’s dancing, and she’s just having the time of her life. It just looks so simple, that’s what it should be. They were talking about this in class the other day of like, our job is to make the complicated look simple, and it’s just she nailed it.

Someone who I love right now, I love Claire Foy. She’s incredible– Oh, my God, she kills me. I love her. I also got to see a panel with Olivia Wilde recently, about a year ago. It’s just her passion and even just this like female drive of like, “I’m tired of sitting on the sidelines now. Come on, ladies, let’s do this.” It’s just so inspiring. I’m like, “Yes, we’re going to write our material, we’re going, telling the truth, and I’m not just going to be here to look pretty for you.” It’s just like, “Let’s do this.”

It’s just I’m allowed to feel my emotions, I’m allowed to explore them thoroughly. I think that we’re stepping into a time of theater and film where that’s actually what people want to see, and people want to play with. These are the only roles I can play. It’s a little, and I like that.

Q: What artists inspire your scene work right now?

A: My scene right now, it’s very messy. It’s taken me a good couple of weeks to wrap my head around from where I’m coming from because, in the beginning, I could not understand my character, Allison, at all. I didn’t follow her. I recently saw an interview with Amy Adams because she’s in Sharp Objects which is on HBO right now, which is fantastic.

admission to the studio and the 18 month acting program is by interview only

She’s had this super long career and how her rules have changed, and she’s like, “I am a mess in real life, and this is the first time I’ve ever been able to play someone who’s a mess. It’s refreshing, and also I get to capitalize on because everybody’s a mess in their way. To be able to walk into a room and not apologize for it.”

That translated over to my scene because I was just in this situation I’m in this room, I am uncomfortable, I want so many different things. I am a mess, and I am ashamed for it and embarrassed for it. Then at the same time, it’s me, and it’s my truth, and I have to live it through and not know what’s on the other side. That resonated with me very recently.

Q: How do you relieve stress after a tough class?

A: I’m still working on that because I’m originally from Colorado, so I’m used to living in the mountains and being around nature and trees and real trees and mountains and elevation. For me, being in the city is always a little bit difficult because I feel very trapped, but I’ve been working on breathwork recently — Breathwork and trying to find a park or a community garden and just sitting in there and decompressing. I took the Reiki class; I think it was two weeks ago.

A: I have never released so much tension in a small amount of time and then felt like– it was the calmest I’ve ever felt in probably the last ten years. My whole body felt different. I’ve done yoga, and I’ve been to classes similar to this where they’re like, “You could have this experience.” You’re like, “Okay, but how?” We got in there, and it was terrific. I’m so glad that we have Reiki for actors now.

Q: What gets you fired up and going?

A: Oh gosh. Fired up and going, I mean it’s usually people disrespecting my time because we got things to do. This city moves, we’ve got to go places. I think sadly right now, the idea that kills me, and I can’t get past and I will, but dishes in the sink. I don’t know what it is, but I think I’ve attached some metaphorical [laughs] some response to it. My boyfriend, he’s an angel. He’s doing so well trying to deal with it. Dishes will be in the sink; I’ll walk by and just let out a scream of rage like, “I’m sorry.”

A: At the dishes. It’s so benign and ridiculous. That’s what it is right now.

January Acting Programs at Maggie Flanigan Studio

The January New York acting program at the Maggie Flanigan Studio is an acting program created for serious actors that lasts for 18 months. Students who are ready to commit to developing the work ethic of professional actors should apply online for acceptance into the studio programs. Actors who have questions about the January acting program should call the studio at 917-789-1599.

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