Author Archives

Aug 14

Jim Meskimen Video Tribute To Robin Williams

As a tribute to Robin Williams The Acting Center student Jim Meskimen wrote a poem and then recited it in the voice of Robin Williams.

Jun 14

TAC Alumnus Jennifer Aspen Launches Web Series “Los Angeles Right Now!”


The 6 episode web series is available today on YouTube!
Check out the first episode below:


This new web series follows the career of Evelyn Stanhope, a late night public radio show host played by Aspen, whose life and career are on a comic descent off the air.

The Los Angeles RIGHT NOW! team is heavy with Acting Center talent. Joining co-creators Jennifer Aspen & Acting Center co-founder Christopher Smith (who also wrote the series) are Acting Center alums David O’Donnell (Producer), Tyler Parkinson (Co-Director/Music), Kelly Meyersfield (Co-star) and Acting Center Executive Director April Biggs (Associate Producer).

Aspen co-starred in ABC’s hilarious dramedy GCB, alongside Kristin Chenoweth, Leslie Bibb, Annie Potts, Miriam Shor and Marisol Nichols. Created by Robert Harling and set in Dallas, Jennifer played “Sharon Peacham,” former beauty queen turned wife and mother who deals with the pressures of being perfect by stress-eating. Jennifer also played Olivia Holt’s overprotective Mycologist/Monster hunter mother in the Disney original movie Girl Vs. Monster, which premiered last Fall. Jennifer recently had guest starring roles in the CBS comedy, “Two and a Half Men” and the NBC drama “Harry’s Law”.

May 14

Student Spotlight – Gino Montesinos

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.Gino Montesinos

Gino Montesinos

“I’m humbled by the instant respect and admiration I get from producers, directors, and casting directors because I am a trained Acting Center actor.”

-Gino Montesinos, NYPD Blue, Medium, Dexter, 24, NCIS


Gino Montesinos has been a successful actor for over 20 years. We asked him about the skills he has learned at The Acting Center and how those things have increased his abilities, changed his approach to acting, and ultimately his career.

“In terms of confidence, The Acting Center has been extraordinary for me. Even though I worked fairly regularly before The Acting Center, I had a ‘hit or miss’ approach. I had no real technique. You either have a fast, effective technique or you wing it and hope for the best. I don’t have to wing it anymore, my confidence in the audition and filming process has skyrocketed. ”

For an actor, imagination and creativity are keys to a real and believable performance. Gino told us how studying the technique at The Acting Center, and consistently using the drills, has changed him and opened him up to richer work.

“The drills I use from The Acting Center open up my imagination so that my acting comes from a real, true place, helping me to be the character rather than doing what I think intellectually the character would do.

Without exception, when I use these drills, the choices I make come from the true, organic place of me being the character and that is electrifying, exciting to watch, to experience, and have made me fall in love with acting again. So, quitting this glorious profession never enters in my head again as it has from time to time over the years.”

So how does this all translate to being on set and delivering what the director wants with confidence? With as much experience as Gino has, we wanted to know why things are different for him now that he uses the Acting Center tools in his work.

“Many directors don’t tell you exactly what they want, and that’s fine, because it’s not their job to act, it’s ours. With the Acting Center tools, I can instantaneously change direction. Whatever general feeling, idea, concept, hunch, that a director knows to be right when he sees it, but may not have the tools to help you get there, I can take their direction and give them what they want on a dime.”

We asked Gino for a specific occurrence of this and he told us about a recent audition he had for a multiple-episode, recurring guest star role on a major TV show. He only had an hour and a half to rehearse and prepare a page and a half long monologue. Using his Acting Center techniques, within an hour, he had a firm handle on the character.

“I knocked the casting director’s socks off, who said she was already seeing me in the part. She gave me one note and I instantly complied. She gave me a callback right in the room. I not only gave her what she was looking for, but more.  As I walked out, she hugged me and thanked me for an ‘awesome’ audition. She said ‘I started my day with Gino Montesinos and I get to end my day with Gino Montesinos’. That kind of compliment and support was very rare before I came to The Acting Center. Now, it’s much more common and I’m humbled by this instant respect and admiration I get from producers, directors, and casting directors because I am a trained Acting Center actor. Period.”

With so much experience in acting classes and show business, we wanted to know why Gino thinks The Acting Center is so different and why it works for him, as opposed to his previous studies.

“Other studies quite frankly were too complicated for me to fully grasp and I gave them up because they were almost useless on the set. I had to come up with my own solutions on the set and at auditions, which was very nerve-wracking. It’s not like that with The Acting Center. What I do in class translates 100% at auditions and ON THE SET.”


I am a very experienced actor. For all intents and purposes, I don’t really have to be at The Acting Center, but I’m not interested in just being a working actor. I am interested in illuminating the human condition through my work as an actor. I am also interested in leaving an artistic legacy that I can be proud of.


For the first time in my career since I made that decision as a young boy, that I wanted to do that as an actor, I believe I am beginning to make it happen thanks to the continual training and honing of the craft of acting that I get to practice at The Acting Center.”

Want to find out what The Acting Center is all about?
Begin just like Gino did and schedule a student interview!

Schedule Your Interview Now - The Acting Center



May 14

Friday Night Salon

The Acting Center-Salon-May-16-2014


You never know what to expect:

Friday Night Salons at The Acting Center.

The Friday Night Salons at The Acting Center

You’re invited to the Friday Night Salons at The Acting Center.

An unconventional way to experience performance, a salon is a gathering of writers, artists, actors and performers who come together to share their art with one another and their friends. You never know what to expect. And that can be a very, very good thing.

Friday night salon at the Acting Center

Friday May 16th, 2014

Reserve your space! Call the Acting Center (323) 962-2100
Admission $5

The Acting Center
5514 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028

The Acting Center-Salon-June-27-2014

May 14

David Paladino with Minnie Driver in “Return to Zero”


Our teacher and alum, David Paladino, recently walked the red carpet at the premiere of Lifetime’s Return to Zero. David has a supporting role in the film that stars Minnie Driver, Paul Adelstein, Alfred Molina, Connie Neilson, Andrea Anders, Sarah Jones and Kathy Baker.

Return to Zero is the first Global Premiere for LIFETIME.

“Every once in a while, a film comes along that has the power to make a difference in the lives of others. ‘Return to Zero’ is that powerful and moving story that so many people around the world who have faced similar challenges can relate to,” said Christian Murphy, A+E Networks’ senior VP of international programming and production. “We felt it very important to present this moving film with such incredible performances from A-list stars as the first global premiere for Lifetime.” (

RTZ is the true life story of the films writer, director, producer, Sean Hanish. It’s about a couple who are devastated and break up after enduring a stillbirth but wind up reuniting when the wife becomes pregnant again.

Return to Zero premieres in the US & CANADA on SATURDAY, MAY 17th at 8pm/7pm Central on LIFETIME! Please check your local listings as times may vary depending on your cable or satellite provider.

May 14

Student Spotlight – Kirstin Ford

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.Kirstin Ford

Kirstin Ford with Jon Hamm - The Acting Center Student Spotlight

“When you remove criticism, judgment and extraneous opinions from your art, absolutely anything is possible.”

Kirstin Ford, Actress


Anything is possible. And Kirstin Ford is proving that every day. Kirstin recently had the privilege of working on the award-winning television show, Mad Men. Having no prior TV credits, Kirstin considered this a huge opportunity for someone in her position. And not only that, with a host of other roles including a national commercial for Samsung, and auditions for recurring characters on Steven Spielberg pilots, Kirstin is only just getting started.

We asked Kirstin if she was intimidated being on such a huge set with such experienced actors and crew. What she shared is that the confidence she has gained through her studies at The Acting Center put her right where she needed to be.

“I saw these techniques work in an environment that could easily intimidate even a seasoned professional. It’s a funny thing to be in the presence of masterminds and feel like you belong there. I know, truly, that had I continued in classes where the teacher is always ‘right’ and every mistake a student makes is pointed out to the class as a ‘learning opportunity’ there would be no Mad Men.”

At The Acting Center, students are continuously encouraged to follow their instincts and create what they choose, without the opinions of others factoring in. Kirsten shared that she finds this approach empowering. She has taken this with her into her career and gained confidence along with her skill.

“When I first started classes at The Acting Center, I was desperate for someone to tell me I was good. Or bad. Just something that would help me gauge whether I was going to have any success with this art form that I loved so much. Initially, I was resistant to the complete lack of judgment and criticism, but as the months went by, I discovered a powerful truth driven home by all of the teachers – that art is subjective and my opinion matters. These two concepts permeate every facet of my life.

“When you remove criticism, judgment and extraneous opinions from your art, absolutely anything is possible. There is a certain kind of exhilaration that comes from knowing, loving and sharing your artistic voice.

“And magically, at some point along the way, you realize your hands no longer tremble in auditions, you can’t wait to show them what you came up with, and you can do your job with the kind of joy that artistic expression is meant to capture.”

The Acting Center offers students the opportunity to act in every single class, and to go at a pace that suits them, no matter what level of experience they have. This is something Kirstin takes full advantage of.

“I work so much more in my Acting Center classes than anywhere else I’ve studied. In my scene study class, I work on 20 to 30 characters in the first hour alone, twice a week. Quantify that over months or, in my case, years, and I’ve worked on over 1000 characters. Compare that to the singular character I’d work on for a few weeks in the other schools and, well, my skill and ability is expanding and growing so rapidly that I no longer think about whether I’m a good actor. My focus is all about the game of finding something that challenges, excites and inspires me.

“And the most incredible thing is that I’ve never hit a plateau in my studies here. The learning never ends. At The Acting Center, everything is self-paced and you work on something until you fully understand how every single drill is applied as an actor. Essentially, there is no way not to learn and grow and become a better actor here!”

Want to find out what The Acting Center is all about?
Begin just like Kirstin did and schedule a student interview!

Schedule Your Interview Now - The Acting Center



May 14

The Stafford Project Wins Best Comedy at The LA Webfest

The Stafford Project Wins Best Comedy at The LA Webfest

Recently The Stafford Project won “Outstanding Comedy,” “Outstanding Writing in a Comedy,” “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy (Michelle Stafford),” and “Outstanding Comedic Guest Stars” at the LA Web Fest.

Emmy Award winning actress Michelle Stafford, created the show with friends Paige Long and Acting Center student, Paige Dorian. Together the three co-write the show, which made last year’s TV Guide “Hot List,” calling it “Brilliant, scathingly funny and positively wild!”

The show also co-stars Acting Center student Sevier Crespo, who produces the show through his company, New Slant Productions.

Co-director and supporting actress Paige Dorian said, “The Acting Center gave me the training and confidence to be a part of this show. I use what I learned in class in every single aspect from writing to directing to acting and I’m grateful for The Acting Center in every single way I could be!”

Paying homage to the shows they love (“The Larry Sanders Show,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and “Sex and the City,”) Stafford plays a version of herself
, who has been talked into doing a “reality show.” The Stafford Project highlights the humor in humiliating situations, for which Michelle’s own life serves as inspiration.

To watch The Stafford Project, visit

Paige Dorian, Paige Long and Michelle Stafford. The Stafford Project Wins Best Comedy at The LA Webfest

Apr 14

Student Spotlight – Julie Kirkman

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.Julie Kirkman

Julie Kirkman - The Acting Center Student Spotlight

“This technique teaches you to just ‘be’ the character, which has been invaluable in my stage work, especially with Shakespeare.”

– Julie Kirkman, Actress


Having just finished her role in Two Gentlemen of Verona at the Long Beach Shakespeare Company, Julie Kirkman is jumping into her next stage performance, starring in Company at the Charles Stewart Howard Playhouse.

We often hear students talk about The Acting Center technique helping them with their work in film and television. We caught up with Julie and asked her just how she uses what she’s learned on the stage.

“First, I don’t have to ‘plan’ my character. I still do the research on paper but I start working on the physicality of the character right away and it helps with discovering how to perform. The technique has taken the planning out of my head, and this is especially good for comedy, where how I move is part of who the character is.

Most recently I used this technique to work on two of my solo songs for the musical I’m in. It helped me discover the pure intent of the words. It’s easy for a musician to sing lyrics but an actor has to sing them while acting and they only really come alive when you’ve broken them down. A solo is just a monologue once you take away the musical notes.”

On Stage, Julie says The Acting Center helps her create believable characters and performances by taking away the stress of manufacturing actions or reactions to dialogue, or characters around her. By just “being,” the right reaction comes to Julie naturally.

“This technique teaches you to just ‘be’ the character, which has been invaluable in my stage work, especially with Shakespeare. Being able to become my character and then go back to myself quickly and easily has been so useful in live theater.”

When asked about the difference between classes at The Acting Center and others, Julie told us about what has been so helpful to her as an artist, is that students go through the curriculum at their own pace, and are encouraged to not rely on the opinions of others, something Julie finds refreshing.

“I’m not being forced to go at the pace of the teachers or the other students. This allows me to speed up or slow down based on how well I am doing. The Acting Center lets me work at my own speed and encourages me to go back and redo or repeat things from the start of the curriculum, if I feel the need.”

Julie told us how certain drills she does in class have helped her in her ability to improvise also. She uses this ability in her work on the stage where the live performance can sometimes make things unpredictable.

“My improv skills, comedic and otherwise, have improved incredibly just by participating in certain drills in class. I have carried this ability over to my stage work, especially when lines are mixed up, or props are dropped, or light cues are missed. I’m still there, just being my character, instead of panicking as myself. I could go on and on about what I’ve learned at The Acting Center!”

Want to find out what The Acting Center is all about?
Begin just like Julie did and schedule a student interview!

Schedule Your Interview Now - The Acting Center



Apr 14

Two Things That Put You In Charge

Much advice is given to actors these days about what they need to have in order to succeed. “Have you gotten an agent yet?” “Do you have a good manager?” “Do your headshots look like you?” “Do you have a web site up?” All of these are very valid and important things that help an actor get the auditions, the roles, the career.

But what about what the actor needs to CREATE?

Do you have a sense of what you want to create as an artist?

An artist is involved in creating moments. It’s your job to do something that causes an audience, or a casting director, or a director, to experience a moment in that character’s life that didn’t exist before. And by creating those moments, you will actually influence people.

Here is the next question: can you create these moments with certainty? Can you do it sometimes? Can you do it once in a while? Or can you do it all the time? Can you walk into an audition and feel confident that you are going to be believable and make someone have an actual experience?

As an actor you have to create a believable and convincing character. Your agent and manager, and you too, work so hard to get you in that room, but if you don’t deliver, the business model falls apart.

Do you have a technique that you use to become a character and live as that person in that moment, in that room, right then and there? Do you have the tools to read a script and take that character from the page and turn them into a living, breathing person, every time? For real.

That’s the next, very important step in this two-step process.

Learn, practice, drill, and get that skill for yourself. Deliver consistently.

So create the kind of character moments you want to create and make them believable. Then create them at auditions and on set, and you will have the career you want, because you created it!

Apr 14

Former TAC Improv Student Directs Helen Hunt and Aaron Paul – Decoding Annie Parker

Former Acting Center Improv student Steven Bernstein directs the award winning film Decoding Annie Parker starring Helen Hunt, Aaron Paul and Samantha Morton and is creating an enormous awareness about Breast Cancer and the BRCA-1 Gene mutation. The film tells the story of geneticist Dr. Mary Claire King, who after 15 years of research discovered the genetic link to certain types of breast and ovarian cancer. It also tells the story of Annie Parker, a heroicthree-time cancer survivor.

Decoding Annie Parker will be released in theaters beginning May 2nd the following cities:

The film will also be available On Demand.

You can view the trailer here.

Decoding Annie Parker Directed by Steven Bernstein - Former Acting Center Improv Student