Trusting Myself As An Actor: Sky Nelson
Sky Nelson Interview: The First Year of the Two-Year Acting Program
Q: Sky, what did you think the Meisner technique was before you started the two-year program at Maggie Flanigan’s Studio?
A: I had a little bit of training in the Meisner technique. My old college professor studied with Maggie at Rutgers, so I had a little bit of an introduction, and she pushed me to come here. Just gave me a nudge in the right direction because obviously with Maggie’s name attached and Charlie as the teacher, the training here was so far above what she could provide. I knew a little bit about the repetition and stuff like that, but we didn’t get into the depth of activities.
Q: Now that you’ve finished your first year of training, what do you think the Meisner technique is now?
A: So much of it has to do with the depth of yourself I guess. Just exploring all those different parts, which I didn’t understand before coming here, but you get to play in those parts of you that you don’t see in everyday life. That’s the big thing with I think Meisner, is just exploring all these different facets of yourself. From my understanding, that turns into character work, which is just really cool. My understanding has shifted from just being a repetition exercise that people do to get out of your head, to this whole expanse of exploring these deep parts of yourself that you don’t usually play with.
Q: Why did you decide that Maggie Flanigan Studio was the place where you would train?
A: I think that because I had that nudge from that professor. I looked into the Esper Studio, but mostly Meisner-based so these were the two that I was choosing between. I also had a buddy who took the summer intensive here and then got into NYU’s Grad Program and was like, “Dude, you got to do this. It’s one of the things that got me into grad school.” I was like, “I’m sold.” I room with him now as he’s going to NYU, and I’m doing this, and it’s enjoyable.
Yes, just the attention to detail and the videos of Charlie online where he’s talking candidly about acting, and this crisis in American acting, and all these things about, it’s not all about being a pop star, and it’s not all about being this commercial success, but it’s about the artistry of it. That was cool and fun to hear about.
Q: What did you learn about yourself during this year that changed you as both a person and an actor?
A: That’s a great question. The thing that I realized most about myself was that I could trust myself as an actor. By that I mean, I think everybody’s We’ve all had those experiences where you go out on stage in college, or whatever, or maybe you’ll go professional and get it after college. You have one of those nights where everything is just so alive, and you’re crying, you’re feeling these emotions, and you’re talking to these people, and you’re doing these things. Then you go off stage, and you’re like, “I have no idea how to do that again. There’s no way I’m going to be able to recreate that.”
Coming here doing these activities week after week after week and coming alive, I think you want to have a little trust yourself that you do have the ability to do that, eight shows a week if that’s asked of you hopefully. That’s the big take away, is that you learn how to trust yourself this first year with your life inside of you. That you can let it out and it will be there for you time and time again.
Q: What was it like to have a bad day in acting class?
A: When you have a bad day, it’s a pleasant experience. You learn best from screwing up. That’s how you learn the most. It’s having a poor class and Charlie just ripping the activity to shreds or saying that you weren’t connected at all because you learn the most from that. You step back, and you’re like, “All right, what happens that didn’t go well? What was he saying? What were his notes?” That’s what I focused on, or at least I try to. When you’re getting– you’re not being humiliated, but it feels like that at the time. It’s just you don’t have a hole deep enough to crawl into to steal Charlie’s words.
Yes, having an awful day is part of the process. Everybody has them, and it’s tough for you to see the people that you think are infallible about having them.
Q: What is it like to have a breakthrough or a perfect day at class?
A: That’s the best drug. It’s just like when you come out of there, and Charlie does this– [nods head]. That’s everything. That’s like when you’re dreaming. When you go out of a class like that, you feel like you’re walking four feet above the sidewalk as nothing can stop you. When you see somebody else who’s been struggling with a piece of the exercise put it together, and they come alive, that is so cool because you see progress.
It’s tough to see progress in yourself but when you’re looking at other people, and you’re like, “Oh my God, they put that all together and now it’s finally working for them,” That’s cool too. I think that’s just a way of measuring other peoples’ progress, being able to step back and be like, “Okay, must be happening to me too.”
Q: What would you say to someone who thinks they do not need the training to be an actor?
Yes. I think it can be easy to look at what people are doing, especially in movies and films or even TV to a point and say, “I can do that, that looks easy.” That’s why it’s so difficult. It’s because it’s so invisible what these great actors are doing on TV and film. It’s incredible. The amount of training that takes to fill a role is humongous. If you’re sitting there thinking like, “I don’t need the training,” I would say do a little bit of reading about these actors and how much training that it took for them to get there.
For the most part, you’re finding people that are coming out of MFA programs to Juilliard, Yale, NYU, or conservatory programs here, wherever. I think that, to look at yourself and say, “I’m better than that,” is maybe just not as humble as you would want to be. That being said, I understand the money thing. That’s something holding people back, but you have to look at it as an investment. If this is something that you want to do, sign up for the six-week intensive. See, after six weeks, when you do your first rounds of scenes if that’s something that’s helping you.
It’s not for everybody. This type of training is not for everybody. It’s for people that want to work hard and want to work hard in a specific subset and discipline of acting. If you find yourself after that six weeks in the summer thinking, “Hey, I learned a whole heck of a lot, I could benefit from this,” work it out, find something. Come to talk to Charlie. Do it for yourself. If you want to be an actor, you’re going to need to train.
The Best Two Year Acting Program in New York
Learn more about why many actors consider this two-year acting program to be one of the best acting programs in New York, and in the United States, by visiting the acting studio website http://www.maggieflaniganstudio.com/ or by calling the studio during open hours. Call (917) 794-3878.