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The End of Pretending

The Meisner Intensive at Maggie Flanigan Studio teaches actors to work from the training of Sanford Meisner. In this interview, Hannah Fernandez discusses what she thought it meant to train and work as an actor before she came to the studio.

Fall Meisner Intensive Hannah Fernandez - Maggie Flanigan Studio

Fall Meisner Intensive Hannah Fernandez – Maggie Flanigan Studio

The End of Pretending – Hannah Fernandez Meisner Intensive Interview

Q: Hannah, what did you think it meant to train as an actor before you started the six-week Meisner Intensive at Maggie Flanigan Studio?

A: What I thought it meant to train as an actor, was that I thought it was analyzing the script and bringing a character to life based on what the text requires, so doing your objectives and all those nitty-gritty things that are logical and script-heavy.


Before I came to the studio I thought that acting was pretending. My understanding of what it means to be an actor now has changed entirely.

Hannah FernandezStudent, Meisner Intensive

I just thought it was a lot of just pretending about what was happening on the stage. Like, if the script required you to be sad, you’re going to pretend to be sad. You might not be sad, but you’re going to pretend to go there definitely. I thought it was very one-sided of; I’m an actor, so I act for a living, and I do that for the day. Then, I can put it to rest and leave it and do something else when I’m not an actor.

It’s changed since then. I feel like what it means to train as an actor in this program; I feel like Charlie has made a point to make sure that we know that training as an actor isn’t just when you’re acting on a stage, or on camera, it’s your whole life. You have to continually be working on your body, your voice, your mental health, your physical health, just all these things.

fall meisner intensive begins - fall meisner intensive program - (917) 794-3878

The Fall Meisner Intensive Begins – Fall Meisner Intensive Program – Call (917) 794-3878

You can’t just put it to rest. You have to wake up and feel like you’re an actor all the time. That’s hard because you have to be open in your real life always, and thinking about how you feel through the day and things. It’s not so much bringing you to the tasks as much as it’s bringing the functions to you, how you are during that day, and all that, which is way different than what I thought acting was before I came here.

Q: What happened explicitly during the six-week Meisner Intensive that changed your perspective on training?

A: I think the change for me happened with the combination of the movement class and the Meisner acting class. I’m a dancer. I’ve been dancing my whole life. I felt like the movement was going to be okay. It was just going to be like; I don’t know, getting comfortable in your body. That’s what I thought it was going to be, and just making sure everything is motivated movement-wise.

I was utterly blown away by what it was. I feel like the movement program helped me open up as a human being. I didn’t realize all this tension that I was holding, and these places that I wasn’t allowing myself to release from, which was keeping me back in the acting world, and in the real world also.

The combination of movement and the acting class was beneficial because, in the campaign, you release your body, you get yourself open, open, open. You have to be comfortable with just feeling your feelings without any judgment. Then you go into the other room. You do your acting training, and you’re hopefully staying open to what Charlie throws at you. I think that was most helpful, just getting out of my head.

Charlie emphasizes getting out of your head, and that’s the place where I like to be in my real life is in my head and making sure I’m doing things right, and all that. I felt like all the work at the door was helpful with just being open and taking it in and taking things personally.

I think that’s another thing that I didn’t realize about acting was that, before I thought it was that we’re pretending, but you have actually to take things personally. That’s not acting when you take things personally from what someone else is saying to you, or how they’re saying it to you. That’s crazy different than what I thought it was.

Q: What did you learn about yourself that was a surprise or that changed you over the course of these six weeks?

A: I’ve always known that I was polite. I’ve ever known that I was sweet and charming and all those things, which are great for some things. When I did my BFA, I knew that, and I knew my teachers knew it, but they couldn’t figure out a way, and I couldn’t find a way to get myself out of that for some things, and just finding a more versatile me.

fall meisner intensive begins - fall meisner intensive program - (917) 794-3878

The Fall Meisner Intensive Begins – Fall Meisner Intensive Program – Call (917) 794-3878

In this studio, you have to come to terms with every aspect of who you are. I realized that I was not comfortable with being upset. I was not comfortable being angry, or confessing that I was mad at the person I was acting with, or even in real life I’m not comfortable with that. That was a shock for me.

It was tough having to combat that and having to face those fears of mine, but it ended up being great and freeing. It’s released me in all my work. Even in real life, it’s helped me as well.

Q: There are a lot of Meisner Intensives all over the country, not just in New York. What made you decide that Maggie Flanigan Studio was the best place for you to study?

A: The studio was recommended to me by a former teacher. I did an on-camera class with her, and she was like, “Take these Maggie Flanigan Studio classes. It’s great. You’ll love it.” I was like, “Okay, sure. That’s it. There we go, I’m going to do it.” That’s that, and I had my interview, and that sealed the deal for me.

I felt like, in my interview, Charlie was so intelligent and so aware of everything that it took to be an actor, and perspective-wise, how much it takes to get to a place where you’re satisfied or producing fantastic work. I felt like all the conversations we had were buried, and I gravitate towards that. When it comes to the people I surround myself with, I like that kind of atmosphere.

I also did some research online, and there was a lot of great alumni that came from the school. What Charlie said about being an artist resonated with me, just that it takes more than looks and a personality. It also requires hard work, and you have to be willing to devote yourself to that hard work, or you’re not going to get to the level you want to be.

Fall Meisner Intensive Hannah Fernandez - Maggie Flanigan Studio

Fall Meisner Intensive Hannah Fernandez – Maggie Flanigan Studio

Q: How has being part of the community of students here? How has that contributed to your overall experience this summer?

A: I have never been in a place where the students are so welcoming and just receptive and non-judgmental. I feel like in acting programs; it’s so unhealthy for people to be judgmental and to make you feel when you get up and do your scene, you’re not comfortable because you know a million people are judging you.

I’ve never felt so free and comfortable with the people I’m in class with, ever. Movement class, day two, we were crying in front of each other and just having these real human connections that I haven’t had with anybody in my life. Even my close friends, I’m like, I’ve never looked at this person this way, and I’ve known you for two days. It’s from the get-go I felt like we’re just there to support each other. I have never felt that at any place I’ve ever been.

One of the best parts of this whole program, I think, is that you can have great teachers. But if the people around you aren’t supportive, you’re not going to trust that you can fall and you can fail, or you can succeed, or you can rise, and people are going to support you no matter what, but that’s the case here. Everyone’s supportive, and that’s comforting to know.

Q: How would you describe Charlie as a teacher?

A: Charlie is intelligent. He knows so much about what it means to be an artist and what it takes to be an actor and all that, but also how to sustain it as a human being and how to take care of yourself as a human being. What I love the most is that Charlie is so honest. He doesn’t say anything to blow his own horn or to make himself seem whatever. He truly wants us to know the best information that we can get.

He’s intense. He doesn’t let anything get past him. I think that’s great. You don’t want just to be doing a scene and having the teacher phone it in. He never phones it in. He’s always there right with you. Whether you’re in the morning class, the night class, he’s still on, which I think is remarkable for a teacher and also just as a human being.

He’s so knowledgeable, and I feel so comfortable in his hands as a teacher. I feel like he can pinpoint exactly who you are as a human being after day three of class, which is great to know. He is invested in every single person. He doesn’t blanket anything. He doesn’t blanket the level. He’s very specific on what each person is about and what they need to work on. He’s on you to get it done and to make sure that you accomplish your goals in the six weeks, which is an intimidating task because it’s only six weeks.

Most people have the two-year program to get through it, but he’s very on you to do your homework. You have to rehearse. You have to be prepared, and then let things go. He doesn’t want you to be crazy and messy. That’s great. I think he does a right balance of being intense and a great teacher. Very honest but also, he has a just lighter comedic quality to him as well, which is nice.

meisner intensive - meisner intensive acting program - (917) 794-3878

Meisner Intensive – Meisner Intensive Acting Program – (917) 794-3878

Is the Meisner Fall Intensive Right for You?

To learn more about the Meisner Intensive and professional training programs at the studio for actors, visit the registration and acting programs page on our website Students who are interested in enrolling in our programs should contact the studio to arrange an interview. Call (917) 794-3878.

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