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Buckle Down and Do the Work

The Meisner Summer Intensive acting program at Maggie Flanigan Studio provides professional actors with the toolbox they need for any acting situation. In this interview, Danielle Barrett talks about enrolling in the six-week summer intensive.

Danielle Barrett discussing the Meisern Summer Intensive at Maggie Flanigan Studio

Meisner Summer Intensive – Danielle Barrett Interview – Maggie Flanigan Studio

Logan: When did you know you wanted to be an actor?

Danielle: I knew I wanted to be an actor from an early age. I was always making up stories. I always cast my friends and cousins in plays I would write and direct. I just knew that every time I went into a theater or watched a movie, I wanted whatever that magic experience was, whatever made me come to life and feel like I wanted to be in that world being created.

Q: Who inspired you when you were young?

A: From a young age, I think, honestly, I remember loving Jim Carrey and just anything that he did, as a kid, it just made me laugh so much, and then, interestingly, as I got older, just the way that he speaks about his own life experiences, his spirituality, how grounded he is within such a chaotic business. Throughout my career, I’ve just seen his trajectory and admired it. As a young kid, and by young, maybe 14 or 15, I was probably too young to be watching his movies. Gary Oldman was the one that made me feel like that’s what an actor is, and that’s who I want to be. He’s been my North Star for as long as I can remember.

Q: Have you been doing theater from a young age, or did you start that later in life?

A: I remember seeing my older sister doing a production of Much Ado About Nothing when we were in middle school and thinking, “Oh, I want to do that.” Doing theater from a young age was always a plan of mine, but it wasn’t until I moved to New York that film and television became more of an option for me and something that I could see myself doing. Especially coming from training in Meisner in college, I felt like, “I’m just going to do theater. That’s the goal for me.” When I came to New York, that opened up a whole new avenue of different styles of theater and different ways of expressing creativity.

Q: Did you move to New York to train?

A: I moved to New York to pursue a career. I always knew that even though it terrified me that New York was the place that I needed to go to become an actor seriously.

Q: What was the time between graduating from college and deciding to attend the Summer Intensive at Maggie Flanigan Studio?

A: I studied Meisner as an undergrad, graduated in 2014, and moved to New York about a year later. I was auditioning and putting myself out there, taking classes at different studios here and there. Still, in the summer of 2022, I found Maggie’s and decided that this was somewhere I wanted to keep as my home base.


The best part about the summer intensive is the cracking open. It destroyed all of the barriers that I had in my life, professionally and personally, and allowed my walls to come down and to see where the work could go if I opened myself up and buckled down to do the work.

Danielle BarrettActor, Meisner Summer Intensive

Q: What made you decide to focus on returning to professional training?

A: I trained in many different styles and methods and worked with other teachers. I was very grateful for the booking, but a certain depth needed to be improved in my craft and the work I was putting out.

Even though I was constantly flexing my muscles by working with different classes and training in various techniques, I hadn’t yet found one that allowed me to experience as I was acting to live the circumstance being put before me. It was a lot of indicating as opposed to really living through something. I just wanted to go somewhere that would give me a solid acting foundation that I knew I could always come back to and to have reliable tools in my toolbox to be able to pull from, no matter the method of performance that I engage in and no matter what role I get assigned.

Q: What about the studio made you decide that the six-week summer intensive was the right direction?

A: As I mentioned, I studied Meisner as an undergrad, and I remember loving that technique and what it allowed for me. It allowed me to feel free and spontaneous, and in the moment, it felt electric. I wanted that feeling again and to return to being a student and capture that lightning in a bottle. So I asked around and went through my local theater community and picked people’s brains about where they were studying and what they’d heard good things about.

I had someone who trained way back, maybe when Maggie was still teaching, who unfortunately couldn’t continue the two-year program. Still, he said that if he had had the means as a student, he absolutely would because he remembers it being such a transformative experience. So I decided to take a chance to pick the Summer Intensive to see what a six-week snippet would be able to do for me and what I was able to discover about myself and the possibilities that lay before me was enough for me to say, “I’m going to stick this out for two years.”

Meisner Summer Intensive Acting Program – Danielle Barrett Interview – Maggie Flanigan Studio

Q: What would you say was the best part about the six weeks?

A: The best part about the summer intensive is the cracking open that it did for me. Kafka has this quote that says there’s relief in destruction. That’s what I felt did for me. It’s destroyed all of these barriers that I had internally and externally in my life, professionally and personally, and allowed my walls to come down and to see where the work could go and the possibilities that could lay before me if I open myself up and buckle down and do the job.

Being able to have a concentrated space that’s dedicated to exploring the deepest, darkest, loveliest, saddest parts of yourself was enough for me to say that, in just six weeks, the amount that I’ve experienced and grown, I can only imagine what it will look like at the end of two years. I want to keep my trajectory moving forward instead of backward. That was enough of a reason for me to say I’m going to stick with this.

Q: What is your point of view of Charlie Sandlan?

A: We’re big on the point of view, Maggie’s. Charlie is the best teacher that I’ve worked with in my professional career. He is entirely devoid of ego when he walks into the classroom. Instead, he concentrates on the discipline that is the talent of doing work consistently every single time, and he will accept nothing less than your absolute best. It makes you want to work better. It makes you want to challenge yourself to have the same standards and beliefs that he has in you for yourself. He also inspires you not just to explore your artistry but to see how that artistry can expand throughout your life and make you a better human being and artist. I’m immensely grateful for everything he’s given me; his mentorship and guidance have forever changed my life.

Q: If a prospective student was considering the six-week Summer Intensive, what would you tell them?

A: You absolutely should do it, hands down. It’s funny; I was considering maybe waiting until January to get my affairs in order, but I realized this moment where I thought, “What am I doing?” I’ve made so much progress in just the short amount of time I had the six weeks that I want to capitalize on that momentum and get working as soon as possible, get better as quickly as possible.

Even in the Summer Acting Intensive, I only did acting. I didn’t do any of the other classes offered here, voice, movement, all these different auxiliary courses that we have that have helped me grow in ways that I can’t even begin to explain. That’s just what’s waiting for you. If you are someone who’s going to be taking the opportunity to take yourself seriously, to take the work seriously, if you’re ready to buckle down and work harder than you’ve ever worked before, and you’re courageous enough to bare your soul open to people that will become like family to you and just to embrace this community and what it affords for you, it will be the best decision that you ever made.

Q: Is there anything else you want to say I should have asked you about the studio or your experience?

A: I would say, again, if you think that you’re someone who wants to be an actor, if you are ready to embrace all that is known about the struggle and all that is unknown about the battle, if you’re ready to work hard and to show up prepared on time, ready to move, ready to respond, then this is the place for you.

Meisner Summer Intensive Acting Program

Learn More About the Meisner Summer Intensive Program

Learn more about the Meisner Summer Intensive and other acting programs and classes at Maggie Flanigan Studio by visiting the studio website ( Actors with questions about the studio programs can call (917) 794-3878.

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