Unlocking the Box

byHailey Vest

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The January acting program is an 18-month program at the Maggie Flanigan Studio that trains professional actors using the principles and teachings of Sanford Meisner. Hailey Vest discusses in this interview coming to New York, the Meisner work and how the training at the studio has improved her auditions.

Haliey Vest talking about the acting program at Maggie Flanigan Studio and how her auditions have improved through this training

January Acting Program in New York – Hailey Vest Interview – Maggie Flanigan Studio

Q: Hailey, what were you doing before you came to the studio? Did you study anywhere else?

A: Yes. I grew up acting. I started being on stage when I was about three with dance and then turned to musical theater. Then I went to SCAD and got my BFA in performing arts there and started doing a lot of film work there as well. I’ve been trained how to act, but it was so general. I feel like that’s what you see a lot of right now, it’s this general way of approaching something where it’s like, “Okay, cool. That was awesome. Let’s move on.” Acting is messy. Not every performance is fantastic. I want to learn something.

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Acting is the only thing I've ever wanted to do. I've never felt that I've had all of the tools or the keys to be able to lock into my power or my creative instinct as much as the Maggie Flanigan Studio has given me, and it's all through the teachers and these classes.

Hailey VestStudent, January Acting Program

When I moved to New York after college, I was auditioning all the time, and I just felt like something was missing. You go from being in shows and being on set every weekend, and it’s just kind of like, “I’m not doing this as much as I used to.” Honestly, Maggie Flanigan kind of saved my life in the way that I get to go and learn every week. I’m rehearsing every week and getting better. It’s a craft here. It’s not a general blase type, “Oh, cool. That was your objective. Nice try. Keep going.”

It’s no. It’s either you did it or, “Hey, this is how we’re going to make it better.” You learn. It is a craft. It is a skill. It’s what acting is. That’s what this studio provides. It gives you a craft. It’s not just a whitewashed idea of what this is.

Q: Have you studied the Meisner technique before you started the 18-month January acting program at Maggie Flanigan studio?

A: I mainly studied Stanislavski before coming here. I’ve never done Meisner before. One of my really good friends, he was studying Meisner, not here, but he’d come, we’d go hang out or something, and he’d start talking about, “Yes, I had to bring this activity to a door.” I’m like, “What? This sounds so cool, but I have no idea what you are talking about.” I’d never done Meisner before, but I am never going back. That’s for sure.

Q: How is the Meisner training at the studio different than you expected?

A: I can tell you the first couple weeks, it was a shock. I met with Karen. We had our interview of being accepted. She’s amazing. I love her. Of course, it’s me. I asked her, I was like, “What books can I read? What research can I do before I start?” She’s like, “Don’t read anything. Come in not knowing a thing because you will get in your head. Just show up. That’s all you have to do. Show up and be ready to work.” I was like, “Okay.” Still, I went and got everything out of my Amazon cart, but she’s oh man. You can’t go back once you know Meisner, once you have an idea of it.

The first two weeks I was very, very scared of my partners. I’m an actor, but I’d never really been forced to do confrontation. I can go in and do confrontation as a character because I can understand that, Susie is upset by this. The first year is like, “How would you respond? What’s the truth in that? What’s the truthful response from you as Hailey?” I’d never been asked to do that before. It was kind of scary because we’re put in a society where it’s– I have no– I’m not allowed to use my emotions. I’m supposed to be serene all the time and happy and bubbly.
Summer Acting Program - The Meisner Summer Intensive 2019 Begins
It was like, you get in here and it’s just like, “Use it. Be raw. If you are mad, be mad. Be mad at a 10.” My emotional range of what I thought that I’m capable of, doubled, it tripled. The first year is fantastic. You learn so much about yourself.

Q: When you moved to New York, and you started to audition, were there specific problems that led you to decide to seek professional training?

A: When you go to auditions, the holding rooms are always chaotic with so many people there. You’re trying to make sure you know all your lines. It’s very daunting in some sense, but that’s how it is. You put a bunch of people all trying to be one person, and it gets a little– it’s a lot. I was finding that my training is like, I knew what I was supposed to be doing, I knew how I wanted to read something.

Maybe my first initial response to the sides that I was given perhaps wasn’t exactly correct, but like, I went in, and I gave 100%, but I could always feel that something was missing. That, like, I kept hitting this wall that I knew I could push through, and I could see it, and I could feel it, like, “Oh, it’s here,” and I’d get stopped about right here, and it just felt wrong. My friend told me about Maggie Flanigan, and I made the wall comment, and she goes, “Oh, I had the same thing. I don’t anymore,” and I was just like, “I have to check this out. I have to.”

Because you can go into an audition room, you can go, and you can give it your all, but if your all is already walled up and boxed up the moment you step in there, you’re only giving 80%. Maggie Flanigan unlocks that box and lets you like, unleash your power and have power over the audition, where I didn’t have that before.

18-month january acting program - maggie flanigan studio 01 - (917) 789-1599

18-Month Acting Program in Januaryhttps://www.maggieflaniganstudio.com/faculties/charlie-sandlan/ with Karen Chamberlain- Maggie Flanigan Studio – Call (917) 789-1599

Q: You mentioned your friend recommended the studio. Did you interview anywhere else, apply anywhere else, or was it just here?

A: I was just like all of those people. I’ve been looking in other places for probably a good six months before I even really heard about Maggie Flanigan, where I’d taken some like classes, and there you’re promised to be with a casting director and a couple of agents, and you really only get 10 minutes of doing a monologue in front of them, and they go, “That was good, try this next time,” and then that’s it. I was just like, “This isn’t training, this is–” I also just spent $700 for that. That’s ridiculous.

I heard about Maggie Flanigan, and I did the math on it, and honestly, for what we’re getting, it is the cheapest training in New York. For the amount of time you get to spend with a teacher, the amount of time that you’re here, like it is honestly, financially the best decision I have ever made. I can easily, like any time there’s a new class that I want to take, I know it’s going to be worth it. I don’t have to go talk to seven different people to be like, “Hey, was it? Did you talk to the teacher?” I know that it’s going to be 100% exactly what I need.

Because usually you’re also sitting in a classroom with 50 other people and you’re there for maybe three hours, and you get five minutes with somebody, and it’s rushed. The teachers don’t take the time with you at other places, in all the other acting studios that I’ve been and researched, but here it’s– I mean, we spent a good hour on my scene today. A full hour of just like ripping through it. You don’t get that anywhere else.

Q: What made you decide to commit to Maggie Flanigan Studio instead of the other studios you were looking at?

A: Man, mainly all the time, the amount of time that you get to spend with the teachers. The teachers here are incredible. I had the– honestly, it’s the honor of getting to work with both Karen and Charlie, because it’s wonderful being able to work with one person, but I feel it’s even better to be able to work with two, mainly because they’re both brilliant in different ways.

I feel like I have both Karen and Charlie in my tool belt and being like, “Oh, I don’t know how to approach this. Karen would do it this way. That makes a lot of sense. Charlie would do it this way.” Oh my gosh, with both of them, everything is so much clearer rather than, “This is–Wait, where am I?” The teachers here are incredible; you get the most out of all of the time that you spent here. It’s about a craft; it’s not about a studio trying to make money off of actors. It’s for the people who want to work, the people who aren’t fulfilled by being extras and background work.

It’s like, “This is what I want to do. Acting is not a side hobby; this is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do.” I’ve never felt that I’ve had all of the tools or the keys to be able to lock into my power or my creative instinct as much as the Maggie Flanigan has given me, and it’s all through the teachers. It’s all through the classes.

Students in the January class with Karen Chamberlain

18-Month January Acting Program – Maggie Flanigan Studio – (917) 789-1599

Admission to the Acting Programs at Maggie Flanigan Studio

Actors who are interested in long professional acting careers, who are ready to commit to professional actor training, are encouraged to apply to the Maggie Flanigan Studio ( https://www.maggieflaniganstudio.com/ ). The acting program that begins in January is an eighteen-month program that provides the professional actor with the toolset that they need for a career in the acting industry.

Admission to the studio is based on an interview with Charlie Sandlan. Students should submit an application online and call the studio (917-789-1599) with questions about the acting program.

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