Two Year Acting Program – Xandra Leigh Parker

byXandra Leigh Parker

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When it comes to the Meisner technique, the Maggie Flanigan Studio is considered by many to be the most professional and most respected actor training program in the United States. In this interview, Xandra Leigh Parker discusses what it has been like to study in the two year acting program at the studio.

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Meisner  Two Year Acting Program – Xandra Leigh Parker

How did you make the choice to study in a small selective training program like this?

I think it’s turned out great. I get plenty of time in class. I get to work on all different thing. I get to work with everybody. You get to really know everybody and it becomes a very familiar safe environment because of that, and it gives you the freedom to do things you didn’t know you were capable or ready to do. I think it’s worked out really wonderfully for me.

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It's like I have a new family. Everyone here is super supportive of each other in class and out. We hold each other accountable and push each other. It is an extremely nurturing environment.

Xandra Leigh ParkerTwo Year Acting Program

And Maggie Flanigan Studio has a reputation for teaching in each student’s particular needs, how have you personally experienced this approach here at the studio, whether it’s an acting class or any of the auxiliary classes you’re involved in?

I think that’s the importance of the two-year program, is that Charlie, specifically, will get to know you very well and be able to dig in there and work with you as you slowly lose the blocks that you have. I think it’s important because it’s such a long program you get to really get all those individual things to it, I guess.

And do you feel like you’re being challenged and critiqued based on your specific issues?

Absolutely. I’m starting to feel what Charlie’s talking about before he’s about to say it, so I think it’s starting to slowly fall away, which is really nice. I think he absolutely tailors each person’s critiques to what they’re specifically needing to work on, absolutely.

And your class, in particular, is very tight-knit, not just the acting class, students that are taking similar classes, how has that been for you in class and in the studio?

Amazing. It’s like I have a new family a little bit. Everybody’s super supportive of each other in class and out, and we hold each other accountable and push each other. I think it’s an extremely nurturing environment because of how tight-knit we are.

And you’re enrolled in the professional actor training program, how do you think, taking all of the auxiliary classes, you’re just in your first year, but how do you see that already benefiting you in the acting class?

Immensely, not even just in my acting classes but also in life, because I’m taking a lot of the self-wellness classes as well. I think that things you might have thought you had a good grasp on, it’s amazing how much I didn’t know and how much I’ve instituted that in the rest of my life. I think that the whole program builds on itself very well. I’m not even sure how to say this. I think that they all slowly aid the acting program without you realizing it until you’re about halfway through and you start to see all the little things falling together.

You had worked previously before you came in here, what ultimately made you decide to come and study and commit to this program, take time out in career and really commit to training?

I felt like I didn’t have a solid way of working yet. I had pieces, but I didn’t have a solid foundation to really being able to go in and do my best work. If I was doing good work, it was almost out of chance and not out of professional training. I think that the decision to go back to school was by far the best one. I’ve seen how I would have approached roles before much differently and almost wish I could go back and do it again. I also think that my life experience with the training program has been really beneficial for me, I’m glad I’m hitting it at this time, definitely.

How do you think both Charlie and your classmates have helped you raise your standard for yourself? What you’re willing to commit to the project you’re working on, the roles you are developing, how have they helped you raise your standard?

Once you have one of those classes that you feel completely accelerated, you want it more and more and more. It’s almost like you want to one-up yourself. It’s not a competition with your classmates, but you want to make sure that you’re constantly pushing and constantly striving to do something that scares you because that feeling is unfakeable, I think, and has been some of the scariest classes but also the best things that I was terrified to do, even to approach as a subject, have been monumentally helpful.

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Meisner Technique Two Year Acting Program – Xandra Leigh Parker

And compared to other places you’ve studied or taken classes, how do they compare to Maggie Flanigan Studio?

The dedication is different. Everybody here who I’ve worked with is here for the right reasons. They want this. They’re willing to work for it, and that’s just unlike a lot of studios I was in. The percentage of people who are there for the right reasons, who are really here to train to be a real artist, to make brave and bold choices and to take it seriously. I think that’s a major difference. And you feel safe here to try that stuff.

How have Charlie and the other teachers at Maggie Flanigan Studio supported your individual growth?

I think it’s very individual. I feel like I have a specific relationship with each of my teachers. They teach each student slightly differently to what they need. I think it’s absolutely individualized, and I think that’s my favorite thing about it. My relationship with my teachers is much different than another student’s, and that’s how it should be.

What would you say to someone that is maybe a friend that has been working in the business for a while but hasn’t really committed to training or they feel like they’re stuck or maybe someone you’ve just met at a workshop and they’re maybe toying or thinking about committing to a two-year program specifically, maybe not your learning in studio?

I would say, going back to school is a very hard decision for me because I was worried that I was taking a step back. But at the same time, I felt like I didn’t have the fundamentals and at least in the beginning of the year no matter how frustrating the fundamentals are, and they definitely were, I think it’s built a much more solid foundation for myself to try scary things, and I think that’s the thing I would say to people who are thinking about doing that. If you don’t have a solid foundation, how do you build a career? So I’d say, “Absolutely. Jump in and do it.” This is the place for me.

Well, you’re finishing up your first year right now and you’re going to be heading into the second year in the fall, are you excited? How do you feel about that?

I’m very excited. We’ve gotten little tidbits that second years haven’t given everything away, but I’m really excited to try all of the things that we keep hearing whispers about and keep pushing and keep pushing. So, yes, I’m very excited for the second year.

So, Xandra, a few students who you began the first year with, in September, is no longer here, what does that say about the program, the passion, and the dedication it takes to become a serious actor?

I think this program focuses on artistry, first and foremost, and taking chances, but it also focuses on work ethic. There’s a lot demanded of you and most of it is on yourself. And, of course, the classes require you to build on it, but if you’re not working for yourself, then you’re not really doing anything. I think that this program so far has also trained me to push, and push, and push and always work hard. Charlie warned us at the beginning that that was the main thing we’re going to have to do, it’s just to work as hard as possible. And he was right. I don’t think I’ve ever worked as hard in a program before, and I’m really glad that I am.

And what would you say to a fellow actor who’s out there auditioning, maybe not booking, they’re working and want to be booking, that’s afraid that training will take away their authenticity, or put them in their head, or take away what makes them special. That coming to a program like this would get in the way that. What would you say to them?

I think that this program helps you explore your individuality. If anything, it Kind of illuminates it for yourself. I’ve discovered a lot more about myself and my own issues with acting or blocks that I’ve given myself all my tension and what that means for me as a person. I think that it helps you open up your individuality more than anything else. You have a better idea of who you are as a person, and what you believe, and what things really strike you. I think, if anything, it’s the opposite.

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The Two Year Acting Program at Maggie Flanigan Studio Begins January 3rd. Serious Actors Should Call to Arrange an Interview. Call (917) 789-1599.

Two Year Acting Program: Schedule an Interview

To learn more about the Meisner technique and the two-year acting program at the Maggie Flanigan studio, visit us online or call the studio during regular business hours at 917-789-1599.

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