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Open and Vulnerable: Esma Kirim

The professional acting programs at the Maggie Flanigan Studio train professional actors based on the Meisner technique and principles first taught by Sanford Meisner. Esma Kirim discusses with Katie some of the challenges she faced in the first year of the two-year acting program.

new york professional acting programs - maggie flanigan studio 01 - (917) 794-3878

New York Acting Programs – Maggie Flanigan Studio – (917) 794-3878

Q: Esma, what did you think Meisner training was before you started the two-year program?

A: To be honest, I didn’t have a clue. In my way, I googled and researched acting, New York and a lot of different things came up. From what I understood, Meisner was a technique that could be applied to any role, to a theater, TV & Film and I liked that aspect. If I’m honest, I was very naive and I just kind of walked into it. Acting, I can do this. I interviewed at a few schools, and that was it.


I was a little naive coming into this, to be honest. I just thought I could put in the work and immediately be great. It takes time.

Esma KirimActing Program, First Year

Q: Now that you’re finished with your first year, what do you think of the Meisner technique now?

A: It’s been an enormous learning experience. I realized that the Meisner technique allows you to get to know yourself, which is very important in acting because any scene you get, you filter it through your own experiences, your feelings. You have to have a point of view. I appreciate that because it made me realize how much I go through my life without figuring out what I feel about something or how I feel about a particular situation.

I don’t formulate my point of view. It was a tremendous learning experience in that sense. I got to know myself. In that way, I get to know how I feel about something and a truthful reaction comes out of that. I can see how that can be applied to any action. I love that.

best acting programs in new york - maggie flanigan studio - (917) 794-3878

Professional Acting Programs in New York – Maggie Flanigan Studio – (917) 794-3878

Q: What did you learn about yourself this first year that was a big change?

A: I knew I could be shy sometimes. I didn’t realize the extent to which I was holding back, like all the norms that were taught by the society of how we should act and also how a woman should work, was so ingrained in me. I think the first six, seven months really, it was me chipping away at that. It surprised me how I didn’t have any freedom, and it was a struggle at times. It’s uncomfortable trying to open up and be more vulnerable.

If I’m untruthful, I didn’t always love the process, but now that I feel like I have broken down a lot of those walls, I feel so much freer. I think it’s affecting other parts of my life positively as well because I’m just more open in all my relationships.

Q: What has this year taught you about the work ethic of an actor?

A: I’m used to working hard. As you said, I come from a business background. I went to business school. I ran my own retail company for six years. I guess in that way, and I was confident coming in as I’ll just put in the work, and I’m going to see immediate results and be a great actress, which is true. You do need to put in the work. What was different was the growth and the results. They’re not linear. I’m just used to putting in all the work, immediately seeing results because that’s how you get success in other fields.

In acting, it can be very sporadic. It’s like taking two steps forward, and a step back. You’re learning how to react to other people, how to make it, how to listen. It’s not something you can just read off a book. I’ve learned a lot of autobiographies of actors that I admire, but I still can’t employ all the techniques that they have. It doesn’t work that way. I wish it did. I was a little naive coming into this, to be honest. I just thought I could put in the work and immediately be great. It takes time.

Q: What’s it like to be in acting class and have a bad day?

A: I think it depends on your personality. I very type A and like I said, I do like to see immediate results. If I had a good day, let’s say, last class, I’d expect to have a good day next level. If I see that I’m struggling with something that I thought I had already internalized, “Okay, I’m done with that, I have that now in my toolbox,” it frustrates me. I’d get down on myself. I have that inner critic that won’t shut up, and that’s the worst thing that you can do as an actor, actress. It’s not a good feeling, but it happens. Throughout the year, I’ve made peace with that. It’s part of the process.

Q: What’s it like to have a good day in acting class?

A: It’s the best. I go home, and I can’t shut up about it. I talk to my husband, I’m like, “Oh my God, I did this. I had the best exercise. My scene partner did this.” It’s just you feel so creatively fulfilled. I didn’t have a lot of creativity in my past life, coming from a business background. Not to say there isn’t creativity in business, but it’s a whole different ball game here. I love that. I love playing all out with myself.

best acting programs in new york - maggie flanigan studio 01 - (917) 794-3878

Acting Programs New York – Maggie Flanigan Studio – (917) 794-3878

The Professional Acting Programs at the Maggie Flanigan Studio

Learn more about the Meisner Technique and why many professionally trained actors have chosen to study this technique. Students who are interested in applying to the Two-Year Acting Conservatory should visit the studio website ( or call the studio ((917) 794-3878) with questions during regular studio hours.

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