Growing More Into Myself

byTan Cobb

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The summer acting programs and the Meisner Intensive at the Maggie Flanigan Studio prepare actors for professional acting careers. In this video Tan talks about her decision to invest in the Meisner Summer Intensive during the pandemic.

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Online Summer Acting Program 2021 – Tan Cobb Interview – Maggie Flanigan Studio

Online Summer Acting Program: Tan Cobb

Katie: Before the first-year program at the studio, what did you think it meant to train as an actor?

Well, first of all, hi, Katie. Thank you so much for having me. That’s an excellent question. I think for me, I felt that I had some minimal experience training as an actor. But, still, I didn’t know that it would be this intense, intense, and rewarding all at the same time before joining this fantastic conservatory.

Q: Now that you’re almost done with the first year, what do you think it means to train as an actor now?

To train as an actor now, I will have to say finding joy in the struggle. I hope that makes sense. Like really finding, because you are going to struggle as an actor, it’s a sprint, I feel that you have to– you’re going to work. I mean, you really can’t compare your struggle to the next person’s struggle. However, know you are going to find joy in that it is okay not to get it. It’s okay not to be able to have some good nights or good moments. It’s all right because it’s all part of the journey as an actor.

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This acting program has changed every aspect of my life. It has forced me to look at who I am as a person.

Tan CobbStudent, Summer Acting Program

Q: When you were looking for classes, were you specifically looking for Meisner technique classes? Or were you looking for any acting class?

Yes, Meisner was at the top of my list. I wasn’t looking just any– I had an idea based on it as well. I studied acting in college as an undergrad, but never this intense; it wasn’t as intensive now. However, I had an idea that I knew Meisner would push me, and I had so much respect for the Meisner techniques. So when I saw that the Maggie Flanigan Studio, that was the program you use, the method, I was right on board with that.

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Q: What is it about the Meisner technique that resonates so much with you?

Well, I like the foundation of the Meisner program, where you are using your imagination. I like that. I think that since I’ve been in the program for most– well, finishing my first year, that my imagination has gotten bigger, broader. I believe that as an actor, it’s all about creativity. It’s all about the behavior, and that’s precisely what Meisner pulls out of you, that imagination. But, again, the struggle, in terms of just what can I imagine, daydreaming, listening, taking in, that’s all Meisner. In terms of the actor that I hope to be, I want to push, no hat acting. I want to be the number one, the number two, the number three, four on the callback sheet, and Meisner will prepare you for that very intense training but rewarding at the same time.

Q: What do you think has been the most significant transformation for you?

I’ve had this conversation with one of my classmates. I think that it’s changed every aspect of my life, Katie. [laughs] Considering I started this program right in the pandemic. Add that, on top of everything, but in terms of just my professional life, I had to learn to balance more because I am a teacher. I found out that wait a minute, I’m not the most organized person, don’t tell anybody, but I’m not. So when you are taking this training, you are forced to be more organized. You are, and that’s a good thing.

It forces you to look at who you are as a person, is what I’m saying. Also, looking at the man in the mirror or the woman in the mirror. Also, in terms of just everyday life, how I look at movies. Katie, when I tell you, I can’t even look at television the same way anymore. When I look at I’m like, “Okay, behavior. Is she creating behavior? No. Is she acting?” I’m always going through, “Oh, is she taking in–” You’re going through these questions. It’s awesome. Because if you’re able to start seeing that behavior, you’re able to make those changes when it’s your turn. Do you know what I mean? When it’s class time, you’re ready to go. All of that is helping to improve your training, your experiences.

It has forced me not only how I view television, but how I view the world in terms of I was always– I used to think that I was a pretty competent person, but then I realized that maybe I’m not as confident as I thought I was. So there are certain instances in my life where I’ve been more submissive, “Oh, I’m not going to say anything. I’m a peacemaker.” Now, oh, boy. After class with Charlie, we’re like, “Oh, we’re standing up for ourselves. Hey, wait a minute. I wouldn’t say I like that. I’m standing up for myself. This is not okay.” It’s so funny, but it’s so real at the same time. It’s so many different ways that Meisner has helped me grow more into myself, not only as an actor but just as a person, as a human being.

Q: You made an excellent point that we can’t ignore. You decided to start this program in the middle of the pandemic. What made you decide to take this on right now?

For me, honestly, Katie, the pandemic was a time for me to reflect. Acting has always been a passion of mine. Growing up, I’m from Baltimore City, initially went to college in Boston. Growing up in Baltimore, I didn’t see many actors that look liked me, a lot of actors of color, especially actors, because I am biracial. I’m half African American, half Asian. However, that’s even more complex, but I didn’t see people that look like me on camera.

I had a chance to really– I read a book, and it was called The Purpose Driven Life book by Rick Warren, an excellent read. Yes, fantastic read.

It was you confronting who you are, where your destiny is. Are you happy? Why not? Blah, blah, blah. I realized that the whole time I’ve been running from myself, why am I settling for less in the sense of yes, teaching, I love, but, Katie, it’s not what drives me. It’s not in the blood. It doesn’t get me up in the morning. It doesn’t get those butterflies.

When you start dating someone, you’re like, “Well, I got butterflies.” Acting gives me butterflies like, “Oh my God.” Do you know what I mean? Again, what I feel that my destiny is.

I just literally said, “You know what, here we go, let’s start, let’s do it.”

Q: How would you describe Charlie as a teacher? If you wouldn’t mind expanding on that one word a little bit.

Yes, I can give you some adjectives. Charlie is intense. Charlie is amazing. Charlie’s a genius. Yes, a genius. Charlie is supportive. Charlie believes in you, but he pushes you. It’s so funny; there’s this cliche here; I go with the cliches. He doesn’t know p*** on your leg and tells you it’s raining. He doesn’t. He tells you the truth, whether you like it or not. That’s what you want. You don’t want someone to pat you on the back, “Good job, Tan,” even though you really– We all love feedback. However, I want feedback that I know is truthful. That’s going to help push me. As I said, I want to be number one, two– I’m going on record to say. Number one, two, three, four on the callback sheet.

You want someone like Charlie, who is very knowledgeable number one, extremely knowledgeable of the craft. He takes art very seriously. He demands that, and I’m going to stamp that. He insists that of his students, and that’s what you want. But, at the same time, it’s so funny because when I need– Katie, you know how many times I have reached out to you, “Hey, I need to talk to Charlie, oh my God.” How many times I’ve said that, and every time, “Okay, Tan, Charlie can be with you tomorrow.” That’s awesome. That’s a teacher who gives a crap about you, who cares and wants you to bring out the best. You don’t find that everywhere.

Tan Cobb summer acting program head shot

Pandemic Summer Acting Program – Maggie Flanigan Studio Online Acting Program 2021

Unfortunately, we live in a world where it’s all about this, all about the moolah. So I get the business aspect too. But, of course, Charlie always says, number one, it is a business, but it’s also an art form. So having Charlie as my teacher, and as I said, I’ve had a few other teachers, but I know I’m in good hands. I know he cares, he cares, he wants you to be that number one, number two, number three, on the callback sheet, he wants you to love what you’re doing to embrace that struggle, and he shows you how.

He gives you this process of the Meisner technique to make sure that it’s helping you grow. That you’re learning, that you are getting better, that you want to be the best, he gives you the tools to do it, and at the same time, he’s not going to provide you with that pat on the head, but as Charlie would say, “You’re on the right track.” I could not have asked, dreamed of a better teacher; he’s what keeps me coming back, even when I’m like, “Oh God,” I’m like, “I don’t know, maybe I should just drop out.” I’ve had those days, but then I’m like, “Let me reach out to Charlie.” He’s always right there.

Q: Community has always been a big part of our studio. How has that sense of community translated over to the online world?

Yes, I’m not going to lie; of course, in-person is always better when you do anything creative. But, still, in terms of just the camaraderie, I think that’s what you’re speaking of, the connections; it’s so funny because Charlie was sharing with us one of his podcasts with Michael Colter.

We were sharing our thoughts about it, and it was this one part that one of my classmates, she’s one of my best friends now, was sharing in terms of just how when Charlie was in school because they went to school together, and how, when Michael Colter landed his significant breakout role, they were so happy. Michael was talking about how having that community of his actor friends is priceless, how just having that support. I think Charlie has done an excellent job of just even the beginning of class; he will always take a few minutes to say, “Hey guys, what’s going on, what’s up, how are you?”

He’s made us feel comfortable to share. Maybe we’re talking about a movie we saw, or I don’t know, the weather, or just whatever’s happening, and it’s pretty cool. It’s allowed us to feel more open; we’re comfortable with each other, and as I said, I’m not close with everybody because, again, we are online, but I’m very blessed that I’ve connected with a couple of people.

Tan Cobb interview about the summer acting program

2021 Online Summer Acting Program – Maggie Flanigan Studio New York, NY

As I said, one of my friends, she’s fantastic, we are best friends now, and it’s so funny because how I met her, she wasn’t even my first partner, but I’m like, “Charlie, I think I want to practice even more.” Because my partner works, he’s like, “Tan, reach out, don’t be afraid.” I’m like, “Okay, all right, Charlie.” I reached out; she’s like, “Yes, Tan, I want to practice too.” We just clicked like literally, and we’re best friends, so I think Charlie constantly reiterates that and we have drinking parties, she and I have dance parties, and she’s like, “Yes, I hope we can perform it in the beginning so at the end we relax.”

Charlie supports that, and again, it’s all about making connections, and then, especially for those like myself who want to be a full-time professional actor, connections are everything.

Charlie would always tell me, “Tan, acting is not solo. It’s collaborative. Open yourself up to more.”

That’s what happened, and honestly, again, one line will surprise you, but it’s also what you put in. When you open yourself up, you will be surprised by the connections you can make. They can be lifelong friends.

Q: Do you have any advice for those people that are maybe really thinking about committing to a program like this either in person or online, but they’re holding themselves back because of time, money, uncertainty, fear?

Yes. I have to say, number one, you have to think about it. This is a huge commitment, and I want to stamp that it’s a commitment. Second, you have to be fully all in. When I say entirely all in, you have to be, or you’re going to be unfair to yourself. It’s going to be a waste of money.

Honestly, I’ve had my struggles with that. As I said, I had to talk with Charlie, we were doing scenes, and I did not know my lines because I didn’t have time. I felt like I didn’t have time to study between work hours. He was excellent in terms of sitting with me, “Okay, how can we evaluate? Let’s assess your schedule. I had to think about that. Can I commit? Because you have rehearsals with your partners. You meet two days a week. I started the summer intensive, so it was three days a week.

If this is something you want, I think it is a fantastic opportunity. Never let the naysayers stop you from achieving your goals are just even your passions. Indulging, yes, that’s a good word. Indulging in your desires, however, really think about, can I fully commit? I think that’s a big question because it is a lot of work.

The program is fantastic. However, it’s not one-sided; it’s both.

Q: What are you looking forward to most about second-year?

Yes, I’m so excited about that. I think that’s going to be super fun because now we– and no more plates. I don’t want to–

Q: No more plates. No more signatures, no more cups. No more plates.

There you go.

Q: If you join the program, you’ll understand what that means very quickly.

Yes, they will. Yes. Honestly, I love what we’re doing right now. We’re working with relationships, which is super fun. I love doing that. Again, scenes are coming up, but I’m looking forward to again just pushing myself creatively.

Furthermore, learning just as much as I can about the craft. I’m super duper excited. In the first year, I got my feet wet. I’m getting my sea legs going. I think, for me, I think I’ll be more confident. Yes, I got a lot more under my tool belt, but I’m super duper excited to see what’s ahead, my journey along with MFS.

Q: Is there anything I didn’t ask?

I’m super, very proud of the choice that I’ve made because, in all honesty, there are tons of programs out there. So I would suggest to anyone if you’re looking for a serious program, especially with Meisner. You’re looking to work up a sweat, whether it’s mentally or emotionally, because, all of that, physically, if you’re looking for someone’s who’s going to push you, train you, all wrapped in a red bow with love, MFS.

Learn More About Meisner Summer Acting Programs

To learn more about the studio, the acting programs and the Meisner technique visit the studio website https://www.maggieflaniganstudio.com/. Applying to the studio is done online. Student with enrollment questions can call (917) 789-1599.

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