Discovering My Emotional Depth

byTayler Hamilton

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The two-year acting program with the Maggie Flanigan Studio provides actors with the tools, experience, and foundation that they need to become professional actors. Tayler Hamilton talks about the decision to train professionally, why actors need to train, and her experience this year training with the studio remotely.

Tayler Hamilton talks about the decision to train professionally, why she thinks actors need to train, and her experience this year training with the studio remotely.

Two Year Acting Program Interview – Tayler Hamilton – Maggie Flanigan Studio

Two Year Acting Program Interview – Tayler Hamilton

Katie: Thanks for being here, Tayler. We usually do these in person, but given pandemic life and circumstances, we’re doing these virtually, so I appreciate you taking the time to do this. You just finished the two-year program. You did the Fall Intensive; then, you started the January class, so you were at the studio for about two years. You’ve answered this question a couple of times, but maybe now that you’re all done, you can have a different perspective.

What did you think it meant to train as an actor before you came to Maggie Flanigan Studio, and what do you think it means to qualify as an actor now?

Tayler: Before I came to Maggie, I thought that acting was memorizing lines and doing your scene and just taking your cues and character and just doing it how you would do it as a person. We would call that, I guess, pedestrian behavior. I figured I didn’t need to train. I had some Performing Arts experience from growing up, and I danced a lot, and I did theater when I was a kid and in high school and stuff, but I never had formal training. I was like, well, I don’t think I need that, which looking back, was such a joke because it’s so important to have the acting training and the foundations.

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"This training helped me to understand that I actually do have emotional depth, and how I can access that. It has helped me to know more who I am now in my life and what kind of an actor I want to be. Without this training, I would never have been able to do that. For that, I'm so grateful."

Tayler HamiltonTwo-Year Acting Program, Student

Because you really can fall back on that when you’re scared and when you have a new scene, and you don’t know really what to do with it, you know that you can say to yourself, at least for me, now I can say okay, I’ve trained for two, a little over two years for this. I do know what I’m doing, and I’m confident, and I can speak to other actors and other industry professionals in a way that makes me sound like I know what I’m doing. Whereas before, I didn’t, I didn’t have that.

It means to train as an actor because you have to give what Charlie and Karen and Maggie taught me was you have to give your heart and your soul and your life to put in the work to training to become an artist take a lot. It takes a lot of self-work and a lot of looking inside yourself, and I had never done that before, and that completely changed my life. It’s a lot to train, but you need it as if you’re trying to be like an established actor who is taken seriously, you need to have that training under your belt.

Q: What resonated with you enormously in the first year and firmly in the second year, that’s particular to the Meisner technique?

First-year, listening. I don’t think I listened to my scene partner ever before I got to Maggie. I would be thinking about what I was supposed to do, oh my god, I have to do this and next thing next. I feel like I look strange. I was concerned about what was going on with me. I didn’t listen or take anything in from the other person. First-year, that was huge for me.

I learned so much about taking things personally and standing up for yourself, which was another big thing from the first year is finding your perspective as a person. What do you care about? What makes you tick? What makes you happy? What makes you angry? What gets you going? What fires you up? I didn’t know that before. It’s essential to know as an actor because you have to relate all that to your work. Having that in the first year was life-changing. First-year was incredible for me. I grew as a human and as an actor.

Second-year, oh, I learned just so much about discipline and the amount of work that goes into working on a massive part with complex depth. I have an immense new respect for the actors who do such work and are so good at it. Now I know how much work they put into it, like how detailed you have to be and how specific you have to craft them.

Second-year, I learned that I couldn’t just bring my point of view to everything. I can’t just take on a character like Taylor. I worked on a scene the second year, Rosemary with Ginger, I played Ginger, and she’s very reserved and very uptight. She’s just been like coddled, I guess, her whole life and she’s not outspoken at all. She doesn’t stand up for herself, and that’s not me at all. That wasn’t me. I struggled with that because that was the first scene that I worked on second-year that was in point of being a real character.

I’ve learned a lot just about how to set aside who you are, have those things about who you are as a person, but as an actor, you need to know how to relate to different types of characters and other kinds of people because who wants to watch you play yourself all the time? I think just learning that, and only the simplicity of the things you do makes a piece of acting so good.

Q: What was the most significant thing you learned about yourself these past two years that was a surprise, or that changed you?

I don’t know. Wow. That’s more than one thing. I think I learned that I have a lot of emotional depth that I didn’t realize that I had. I didn’t know that I had that. I didn’t know what made me so up– In the first year, you learn about these things that make you feel a certain way. I think going through life, I had inklings of that, but I never really got to express that and say it out loud, but first-year, you can honestly tell how you feel about anything. You can say anything you want. It was surprising to me to hear the things that would come out of my mouth.

It’s helped me to know more who I am now in my life, what kind of an actor I want to be and how I’m going to be portrayed. I think just learning all that and realizing that I have that emotional depth has helped me. It’s good and bad, but it’s been good to know that I can access it. Without this training, I would never have been able to do that. For that, I’m so grateful.

Q: How did all of the supplementary classes like movement, voice, theater history, script dialysis, commercial acting, aid the work you were doing in the acting classroom?

The supplementary classes are incredible. I think you have to take the extra classes to get the most out of your acting work. For instance, movement and voice, I think everyone should take movement and voice because they go alongside as that you have to know what works with your body. You have to know how to change your voice and how to manipulate your voice and warm up your voice when you’re about to perform on stage or camera. Every actor has to know their body. As actors, our body is our instrument. You have to train that.

Yes, of course, you need the acting training, but you also need the movement work and the voice work. The movement classes were terrific. The first movement, one and two with Sarah Fay, was incredible. I still do those types of warmups now. I always move around like that. It helps me open up and get connected to my body and feel grounded. Voice was great. Liz taught me so much about just how to speak better almost, how to enunciate things, and be clear with what you’re saying. You have to be able to have people understand what you’re saying through the emotion that you have in the scene or through the character that you’re in. You still have to be understandable.

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Then, Suzuki and Viewpoints and all that with Tina was incredible. I’m so glad that I got to do at least some of that with Tina before we had to go on Zoom. Still, just the discipline of that technique, Suzuki, is– I would go into that class in the worst mood ever and be depressed, and I would get out and be like, I can do anything, the energy and that’s just the way that that class worked was fantastic. I’m so happy I got to do that.

All the other classes I love. Reiki, commercial with Bill when he was there, was excellent. I think all those supplementary classes were there for a reason. It’s not just to like if you want to take an extra class, here it is. It’s really to help you to get the most out of your training. If you’re going to the studio, you’re already investing that time to take the acting class. It’s a lot. It is a monetary commitment, but it’s so worth it. I would regret it so much if I didn’t take the other classes. I really would, because I know I got as much as I could out of being there and being in all the classes for two years.

Q: Obviously, your training wrapped up in a way that none of us expected. What was it like finishing up the last two months of the two-year program on Zoom?

It was an incredible learning experience. I think that it showed me a lot about the discipline and just the strength that everyone in our class who finished had as an actor and the determination. It’s like who wants to do a scene on Zoom? As an actor, especially Meisner, you are trained to work off of what the other person is doing, and you can’t even see, you see their face over Zoom. That was challenging. I believe if we can do this on Zoom, we can do it anywhere.

I think we’re prepared now to be able to, going forward in the future, who knows how long things will be online for. We’re ready now. We’ve had that experience training online. We’ve done scenes online. We’ve done different classes online. Of course, it’s not ideal, but there’s nothing else that we can do about it. You have to move forward and move on. If you are serious about being an actor, you have to adapt to everything.

I think that’s what was important, too, is learning how to adapt. I feel as in any whether you’re doing theater of film, you have to learn how to quickly adapt to things and take it and be the best you can be in that new situation because that’s what people want you to do. If you don’t do it, some so many other people will do it. You have to fight to be the best in anything that you can.

When we first got on Zoom, of course, I was upset, but you have to get over it. I got over it, and I was super grateful that Charlie even finished doing this on Zoom because it’s challenging to do, but I got a lot out of it. There’s a lot that you can get out of it. I think that’s what we all learned is there is a lot that you can get from Zoom, especially now that we’re all doing self-tapes, and there are readings over Zoom, and there are readings on lines of plays and all that. We know how to do that now, and many other actors don’t because they weren’t in school for this, so I’m just grateful that I got to finish the training. It was over Zoom, and I learned a lot, so I’m happy about that.

Two Year Acting Program Interview - Tayler Hamilton - Maggie Flanigan Studio

Two-Year Acting Program – Tayler Hamilton – Maggie Flanigan Studio

Q: Did you feel like Charlie lowered his standards for the virtual class?

I don’t think Charlie would lower his standards ever. I think his standards are very high set, and they have always been and always will be. No, he did not lower his standards. I don’t think I ever thought he would. Maybe I was like, “Ugh, maybe he won’t be as hard on this,” but no, he still was, but that was great. I was like, all right, I have to step it up now. This is a whole new challenge. Just being on Zoom and having this high bar you have to reach.

I stayed with my first scene, the second year, Rosemary with Ginger, I was frustrated with every class. I was like, “I can’t do this.” In my head, I was like, “I can’t fucking do this anymore.” I pushed through, and I did it, and it felt great to finish that. If Charlie lowered his bar, what would that do for me? That wouldn’t help me at all. I would be like, “Okay. Well, that wasn’t it, but it’s on Zoom. You’ll learn when you get in-person.” It’s like, “No, learn now because this is what you’re going to have to do.”

Q: How would you describe Charlie as a teacher?

I think Charlie is passionate. He’s very hard working. He is an incredibly– What’s the right word? I think he’s an incredibly caring person and that he cares about how everyone does in class. Every person, he indeed, personally, takes in their work and wants to help them in any way that he can. He’s hard. Like I just said, he has a high bar. I don’t think if I walked into his class in the fall semester if he had less of a bar, I don’t know if I would have gotten as much out of this or even finished it if he didn’t.

His teaching style works so well with me. I think he pushes you. He pushes you hard. If you’re training as an actor, you want to be pushed by someone who cares about you, who sees potential in you, to push you because no one else will do that for you when you’re done. No one else is going to feel like– A director is probably not going to be like, “I think you need to deep in this. Just think about this, and let’s do this again.”
No one’s going to do that for you, but Charlie takes the time to do that. He shows you that you can do that. Then you come out of there, and you’re like, “I have done so much. I’ve done this kind of thing. I’ve done this, so I know that I can access that for myself now. He gives you those tools.” I love Charlie, and he’s a fantastic person. I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to train with him.

Q: Do you have any advice for anyone who has already started their career and is thinking about signing up for classes?

Yes. I was doing some stuff before I came to school, and I always felt there’s still something that when I would be filming or rehearsing for a shoot, I’d be like, “I feel like I’m not. This isn’t something’s missing. This feels wrong. I feel like I’m not good enough right now.” I would always feel off. There was still something that I was like, “I want to know how do all these great actors do that? How do you become a different person and be so believable at it?”

I wanted to know how to do that, and I wanted to have– I remember feeling guilty when I would see friends of mine from high school who went to undergrad for theater or studied film or something. I was like, “I feel guilty that I didn’t– because I didn’t do that in undergrad. I was always like, “Why am I at the same bar as– Why do I think I’m at the same bar as all these people trained as an actor for four years? Why do I feel like I’m at that same bar when I’m not?” That was a reality check that I had to say to myself, “You’re not at the same bar as them. You could be, you have to invest in that.” When I first met with Charlie, I was like, “Two years, oh my God. It’s so long.” That’s a long time, I’m– I don’t know how old I was. I was 24, 25 at the time. I was like, “I’m getting old, whatever.” Charlie was like, “Okay.” [chuckles] “You are fine.”

Two years went by like this. Going to school was absolutely the best decision I’ve ever made for myself, my career, and my life. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. If I recommend to anyone who does want to be a serious actor, you got to train. You have to know what you’re doing. You have to train yourself. Auditions, they’ll be there when you’re done. Yes, of course. It’s like when you’re auditioning, and you’re trying to make it, you’re like, “Oh my God, this next audition is going to be my big break. I can’t stop now.” I believe that if you’re meant to be doing this, your chance, your time will come, and you’re going to have to have that training to back that up.

Q: What are you looking forward to most now that you’re done with the second year?

I’m looking forward to putting this work on myself on acting and the craft to work, going on set, or going someday soon to the theater and doing this in front of people. I want to show people, “I can do this. I’m a real actor.” I’m just excited to get a script and work on it in the way that I know how now. A method that, what I was saying earlier, is what all the great actors can do is take apart and make it my own, but connect with the character and make it a piece that people want to watch. I’m excited about the journey. I think this life is a marathon, and it’s not a sprint. I’m excited to see what comes my way and what I can do. I’m so confident now that I’ve finished this training here that I can do anything. I’m super grateful and happy about that.


Two-Year Acting Program

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Learn more about the online acting training and the two-year acting program by visiting the acting programs page on the studio website (https://www.maggieflaniganstudio.com/actingprograms/) and reading online reviews about the acting classes . Students with enrollment questions can call (917) 789-1599.

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