Forget Therapy! Try The Meisner Technique Instead.

I’ve been to many many acting workshops, classes, conservatories, etc. BUT none of them have helped me break through like studying the Meisner Technique with The Alan Gordon Studio. WHY? Continue reading….

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Finding the right acting coach is like finding the right therapist, like finding the right therapist is like dating – you have to find the one that suits YOU best. Also, you HAVE TO COMMIT to it! No ifs or buts, otherwise save your time or money. Any good therapist will tell you that you have to attend therapy sessions at least once a week in order for it to “work” and that you will have to attend the sessions for at least 6 month to up to a year to see progress. I know, because I have gone to therapy myself and interviewed with several therapist before I found THE ONE. Well the same goes for training with a good acting coach in order for you to become a better actor.

The Alan Gordon Studio

I’ve only been training with Alan Gordon for 4 months, and I already have learned SO MUCH. I go to class down in the West Village once a week for 3.5 hours, and then some of the students get together to practice outside of class. The classes are small and Alan is very hands on and obsessed (aka passionate) with The Meisner Technique. He has been working with the acting technique for 25+ years. We are mixed with more seasoned actor students so the less “seasoned” actors can learn from one another. He also gives us recommendations and many different examples from films and other movie actors.

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Alan Gordon (Acting Coach + An Actor Once Upon A Time)

The Technique Works Like This:

The Meisner Technique has 4 different levels plus there are exercises we do called “Activities”. For the most part, we work with a partner doing exercises that are very repetitive. For example, my partner says what he first noticed when he first saw me, like “you have a blue shirt”. So, then I would repeat what he said exactly how he said it, and then he would repeat it to me exactly how I said it to him, vice versa, etc. They are repetitive because the point of some of the exercises is to get us to LISTEN better to one another. After I passed that level, I went to another level where both I say to my partner what I FEEL or noticed, NOT WHAT I THINK. There is difference! This level has been very challenging for me because I have trained myself in the past to THINK before I speak because I have always been accused of saying what I feel and think impulsively. So, basically with these exercises I’ve had to unlearn what I have learned for a lot of my life. The technique instead embraces impulsiveness, drama, vulnerability, and high stakes. If I am too proud to say what I truly feel during the exercise, then I am considered a boring actor to my audience because there is no drama. The exercise is as if I am riding a wave of emotions, noticing them at the present moment, and speaking about them out loud and with out any shame to my partner that is sitting or standing in front of me. BUT, there are rules to the exercises, like, I can’t ask my partner questions, no quantify feelings (example: “I feel a little overwhelmed” or “I sorta feel like this”), never say the word “Try or trying”, it can’t be a conversation, don’t be polite, and other rules which I have more to learn about.

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Stella Adler used the Meisner Technique.

How Is The Meisner Technique Like Therapy?

Reason why I believe The Meisner Technique is like therapy is because in order to become GOOD with the technique, I had to be super authentic with my partner during the exercise. In order to be authentic, I had to be very honest with myself about the way I felt at that moment AND I had to intuitively blurt out what I noticed without giving it any thought about WHY I even said what I did. Sometimes I wanted to censor myself because I wasn’t liking what I was feeling, nor was I liking what I thought about the feeling. But, I wasn’t allowed to think about what I was saying because that would mean I was failing at the exercise by breaking the rules. It was hard listening to myself and getting a reaction from my partner while what I felt tended to be more on the negative side. For example, I felt frustrated and angry a lot because it’s what I was feeling at the moment! I couldn’t lie about it, I didn’t want to admit this all the time because I felt it wasn’t positive. I realized I felt this way because I was very uncomfortable feeling vulnerable or open. The technique was forcing me to dig deep and define what I was feeling at the moment. It’s a very powerful exercise and super therapeutic.

Class Structure

Students pay a monthly fee and have to commit long term in order to be part of the class. The fee is less than most acting schools, and if the student misses class, she or he gets to make it up with out any extra charges – student gets a credit. HOWEVER, students are required to pay the monthly fee even if they won’t be showing up for a whole entire month.

The class meets Tuesdays from 7pm – 10:30pm, or Saturdays from 12pm – 3:30pm if it’s The Meisner Technique. Alan also teaches a scene study class on Wednesdays, but he only allows students that he feels can be moved up and understand The Meisner Technique very well.

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2016 Motto: If You Want To Make It On Screen, Then You Gotta Do It Yourself!

I won’t start this blog post by name dropping, but a good friend of mine (and big time producer) gave me this advice years ago, even before moving to New York City: Produce Your Own Content. I had HALF listened to him and instead made a 2-3 minute demo reel of indie films, commercials, and sexy shows that I participated in while living in Miami. Rookie move, BUT we live and we learn.

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I recently LOCKED my reel, because I am working on a new one.     So, you won’t be able to find it on youtube

At the time, I was barely getting my feet wet into the industry NYC style and was relying heavily on my manager, Terry Schnuck, which I acquired quickly because of my background experience, my look, my headshot, demo reel, business cards, etc. within the first 6 months of moving into New York City. It was easy for him to get me into NBC, MTV, and many other major television network auditions because of all of my marketing material was ready – after all, other than being an entertainer, I’m also a professional graphic designer, so marketing myself is the easiest part for me to execute. However, to nail the audition and convince the casting director that you are THE ONE they need is a whole other story.

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Never get cheap with your head shots! This photograph got me in to tons of auditions + castings. Shot by Bob Lasky

I got a lot of gigs thru Terry, and met a ton of important people, but I quit acting a year or two after due to the recession. I actually had no other choice! Graphic design is always the first aspect of any business that gets cut out when recessions happen, so nobody was hiring me for logos or websites. I wasn’t able to sustain myself by freelancing, so instead I had to work many hours at a CRAZY boutique, Variazione, leaving me with no time to train, cast, or audition. To make matters worse, I got involved in a romantic relationship where my boyfriend at the time had ZERO HOPE in the acting business, so I had ZERO support for what to me is therapy: performing.  The worst part was, that I thought I was going to marry him and ~POOF ~ live happily ever after! NOT! Truth is, I have never felt so frustrated and unhappy in my life! Not that he is to blame, but more so that we simply need to do what we want to do with out caring so much what people around us think – ESPECIALLY when fully decided that you want to be an actress aka gypsy.

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Get used to your gypsy heart if you decide you want to be an artist, more so an actor. We truly walk alone to share and inspire creatively and artistically our experiences on screen or on stage. 

As of today, I am what I am because of all these experiences that have taken part in my life and I want to creatively share my stories the way I see them. Therefore, I recently became a certified producer by taking field and studio production classes at MNN.org (Manhattan Neighborhood Network) aka Manhattan public television. Most people don’t know about this center that teaches all these free classes and allows certified producers to rent out equipment for free to produce their own show and actually have it air live on public television, but with past hardships come resourcefulness.

It’s quite easy to join, but there are orientations and rules you have to follow in order to become a member, for example, you have to be a Manhattan resident in order to become certified. So, if you are a Manhattan resident, now there are no excuses to produce your own content because there are centers and equipment that cost you nothing but your time.

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Watch Video on MNN.org to get an idea of what it does. Most people can’t even believe it. 

So, if you want to make it happen, create your own content, produce your own films, clips, shows etc. then simply make it happen SOMEHOW. I am. Stayed tuned!

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Cuba’s COME BACK & Where I Come In Telling Part Of It’s Mysterious History

Did you know that Cuba recently opened an embassy in Washington D.C. after not having one in the USA for 50+ years?! This is very important history, especially for Latin American people.

My parents and older siblings were immigrants in Miami, Florida once upon a time due to communism in Nicaragua. Cuba had a great influence in our country since Fidel Castro and our president of that time,Daniel Ortega were really good friends (Daniel Ortega is also our current president. How?! I ask myself the same question!) Due to the revolution & dictatorship of these two countries in the 80’s, I ended up being born in Miami, so I feel really connected to the history of Cuba. I also made a lot of Cuban friends and family while living in Florida through out college.

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It’s a BIG DEAL for Cubans because before the Castro revolution, Havana was living the high life from 1920’s – 1950’s.

It was during the presidency of Gerardo Machado in the ’20s that Cuba’s tourist trade really took off. Hotels, restaurants, night clubs, golf clubs and casinos sprung up in Havana catering to the rich jet-setters seeking luxury. Socialites, debutantes, celebrities like Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra, and American mobsters came to play in the Cuban paradise.

Tourism, and the growing and selling of sugar, was making some Cubans rich, but not all Cubans.  What the tourists didn’t see, or didn’t want to, was the underclass, people of poverty like the macheteros — sugarcane cutters — who worked only during the four month season, and the rest of the year were unemployed, and angry.

That degree of income inequality as well as accusations of corruption within the government of President Fulgencio Batista laid the groundwork for the Cuban Revolution, prompting an enduring economic embargo by the United States and the rapid end of Havana’s high-life. ” – via @Mashable

Below are images of Cuba’s luxurious lifestyle before Castro took over Cuba.

Subject: Cuban Socialite party where the Mothers chaperone their unmarried daughters. Party of socialite La Condesa de Comargo. Havana, Cuba 1950 Photographer- Eliot Elisofon Time Inc Owned Merlin-1199928
Subject: Cuban Socialite party where the Mothers chaperone their unmarried daughters. Party of socialite La Condesa de Comargo. Havana, Cuba 1950
Photographer- Eliot Elisofon
Time Inc Owned
Merlin-1199928
Subject: Socialite (debutante) Aileen Johnson Menocal eating breakfast in bed. Painting above her is supposedly her Mother painted as Madonna? Havana, Cuba 1946 Photographer- Nina Leen Time Inc Owned Merlin-1153830
Subject: Socialite (debutante) Aileen Johnson Menocal eating breakfast in bed. Painting above her is supposedly her Mother painted as Madonna? Havana, Cuba 1946
Photographer- Nina Leen
Time Inc Owned
Merlin-1153830
Subject: Outdoor party with silk canopies for socialites attending parties of Cuba's first lady La condesa de Comargo. Havan, Cuba 1950 Photographer- Eliot Elisofon Time Inc Owned merlin- 1199920
Subject: Outdoor party with silk canopies for socialites attending parties of Cuba’s first lady La condesa de Comargo. Havan, Cuba 1950
Photographer- Eliot Elisofon
Time Inc Owned
merlin- 1199920
HAVANA CUBA - 1946: A bartender mixes an exotic tropical cocktail at a bar in 1946 in Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Earl leaf/Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images)
HAVANA CUBA – 1946: A bartender mixes an exotic tropical cocktail at a bar in 1946 in Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Earl leaf/Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images)
Subject: Cuban Socialite Aline Johnson and friend Nina Gomez de Freyre receiving manicures. Havana, Cuba 1946 Photographer- Nina Leen Time Inc Owned Merlin-1153824
Subject: Cuban Socialite Aline Johnson and friend Nina Gomez de Freyre receiving manicures. Havana, Cuba 1946
Photographer- Nina Leen
Time Inc Owned
Merlin-1153824
All forms of gambling such as: roulette,
All forms of gambling such as: roulette,
Three women perched on the bar at the Cabaret Kursal nightclub in Havana, Cuba, circa 1950. (Photo by Herbert C. Lanks/FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Three women perched on the bar at the Cabaret Kursal nightclub in Havana, Cuba, circa 1950. (Photo by Herbert C. Lanks/FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
September 1958: American cars parked in front of President Batista's palace at Havana. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
September 1958: American cars parked in front of President Batista’s palace at Havana. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
A Cuban rhumba dancer named Zulema performs on stage with a band at the Zombie Club on Zulueta Street, Havana, Cuba, February 16, 1946. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
A Cuban rhumba dancer named Zulema performs on stage with a band at the Zombie Club on Zulueta Street, Havana, Cuba, February 16, 1946. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

So what does Cuba have to do with MY BIG BREAK? Well because I just shot for Travel Channel’s Mysteries at The Museum for a Cuban special episode with Optomen Productions. I got to play Evangelina Cisneros, an incarcerated young Cuban woman that hit headlines in NY newspapers as a damsel-in-distress story that happened in Victorian times. In the same episode, there will be a secret story of Fidel Castro,  interesting stories of Ernest Hemingway while visiting Cuba, and about the chocolatier, Mr. Hersey. It should air in 2-3 months, but here are behind the scenes photos.

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Cuban Prisoners

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Why am I dressed like a boy? Watch to find out!

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We shot at Bailey’s Farm. Same place we shot for my episode of Scorned:Love Kills

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Shooting Ernest Hemingway story as I watch from the 2nd floor window

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Director, Production & Their Latin Actresses
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