News & Updates
Q & A With Acting Guru, Marcie Smolin of The Actors Circle
May 28, 2019
Our feature in Patch Read Original Article Here
Back in September, I thought it might be fun to take an acting class. I signed up at The Actors Circle in Culver City, CA, and have had the time of my life. Before I asked Marcie Smolin, Director and Founder of The Actors Circle to grab a glass of wine and tell me her backstory, I did a little research on the one they call, the "Star Maker."
Marcie Smolin began as a child actor. She has been a series regular on two TV series as well as guest-starring and recurring in numerous television shows. In addition to acting, Marcie was a stand-up comic for 19 years, appearing on: An Evening at the Improv; Girls Night Out; Later NBC; as well as a primetime NBC comedy special. Smolin toured the country for many years appearing regularly in Vegas and appeared in more television commercials than she cares to count. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Theatre Arts and Master's in screenwriting. Marcie has been coaching both children and adults for over 27 years.
With her fiery red hair and gleaming green eyes, Marcie was kind enough to tell me all…
How did you get into teaching?
I was always teaching. In high school and college I was a camp counselor. Being that I already had a large background in acting, they made me the drama counselor. I was fortunate to study with amazing coaches; the kind of coaches who wrote books about acting, that still hold up to this day. Even as a road comic, I found myself coaching the other comics, to prepare for auditions.
When I graduated college, I did a work-study at my acting school, to fund my tuition. At some point, they started a children's department. I was assigned to assist the guy running the department. We got along very well. When he left to start his own school, he stole me away, and I started teaching for him. I was only 19 at the time. I taught there as I was coming up as an actress, but my work as a stand up in television work took me away from teaching.
Several years ago, I got into an accident and had to do a lot of physical rehab. I had to take a break from performing. Coincidentally, during that time, the same guy who had originally hired me to be an acting coach, called me out of the blue, and asked me if I could substitute teach. And, voilá, I went back to teaching.
Tell me how you came to open the Actors Circle.
16 years ago I open the Actors Circle with a partner (the same coach who gave me my start). After a few years he decided to retire, and I have owned it on my own ever since.
What are some of your funniest moments teaching?
Wow I could write a book of funny moments I laugh every day because my students are brilliant improvisers and I love watching them work.
One time girl asked me to coach her for an audition to get into a theater conservatory and she was supposed to do a monologue and song and she decided to turn The Diary of Ann Frank into a musical comedy.
There was the time when a brilliant young actor was doing his first big romantic scene in class and as he landed to go in for the kiss a very loud fart escaped. He froze and then we are friends but then of course there was the laughter.
Another time someone asked me to coach them, an older gentleman in his late 70s. When he showed up, it turns out he was auditioning for an "Adult" project. When I came into the room, he had decided to wear a costume that made him feel more in character. You haven't lived until you've seen someone who looks like your grandpa in a rhinestone speedo and cowboy boots.
What are some of your most poignant moments teaching?
For me the most poignant moments are always when I see the light go on in someone's eyes and I know that is exact moment I have fallen in love with acting. It gets me every time. There are those moments in class when people tell stories that break your heart. But at the same time I always feel so honored that they feel safe enough to share them in class. I work hard to create a safe environment; a place where people can grow and share with no judgment.
What are your proudest moments teaching?
My students make me proud every day. Every actor is on their own path so each of their moments of growth are very big to me. I am proud of all of them.
Tell me about the success of some of your students.
Oh wow that is a tricky area because I do like to respect the privacy of the actors whom I work with. Maybe if you push me harder, I will tell you. But I will say this: I went to four movies this week and there was an Actors Circle actor in every one of them, and in one, there were three. I had a student last summer who was in both of the biggest blockbusters of the summer. I have an actress currently enrolled in class recurring on three TV shows, and five actors recurring on shows are still in class. One of my students created the most popular livestream soap opera and has won many Emmys for producing and starring in it. I have students who have won Oscars, Emmys, Tonys and even a Grammy.
How has teaching helped you as a performer?
Well I get a cold read every day of my life. I never get rusty. Cold reading is something that you can get rusty on very quickly. I watch people having breakthroughs all the time and I learn from them.
Tell me about your successes.
What days are your classes?
Adults - Monday & Tuesday at 7:00pm and Wednesday at noon.
Teens - Saturday 2:00pm-4:30pm
Kids - Saturday 11:00am-1:00pm
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Meet Marcie Smolin of The Actors Circle in Culver City
June 26, 2017
Our feature in VoyageLA Read Original Article Here
Today we’d like to introduce you to Marcie Smolin.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I started as a child actor and have worked in the entertainment industry my entire life. I have worked as an actress, standup comic, director, producer and writer. When was first starting out, I taught acting to children but as my professional life took off, I stopped teaching. Many years went by and I was both working on a TV series and touring the country doing standup, when I had a terrible accident. I was knocked off a 22-foot ladder and for a while I couldn’t walk at all. All of my performing work come to a standstill. I was home one day feeling sorry for myself when my phone rang. It was a wrong number but I recognized the voice. It turns out it was the man who owned the acting studio I had taught at when I was a teenager.
Long story short, as we caught up I told him what had happened and he said “Well while you’re recovering why don’t you come teach a few classes for me. You were always my best coach.” I did. I fell in love with teaching, and now was able to bring a career full of industry experience with me. But soon after going back to his studio, he decided to retire. I realized I wanted to make this my life work and that is how The Actors Circle came to be.
14 years later it is a thriving acting studio! It makes me happy every time I open the door.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Owning a small business is always a challenge. I came from an entertainment/artistic background. In my years as a performer, I really never grew up. Having people rely on me forced me to learn quickly how to be responsible. I never went to business school, and so it was all trial by error. Oh, sure I made mistakes but I hung in there.
A few years after we opened there was a strike in the industry and that was a rough time…but I refused to give up. As I always tell my students just keep walking forward.
I continue to learn and grow every day and just as I feel like I have conquered one challenge another comes up. I think my biggest lesson learned and one I would share with anyone starting a small business is never take anything for granted. You always have to keep building.
The Actors Circle – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The Actors Circle provides film and television workshops for actors of all ages and abilities. Our youngest student is 4 and our oldest is 97!
We provide weekly classes in film and television technique, private coaching, taping for auditions, and semiprivate and corporate specialty workshops.
In addition, we are a small production company and have produced several award-winning shorts and web series out of our studio…many of the using our students.
Our actors have gone on to win Emmy’s Oscar’s, Tony’s, and even a Grammy!
We are proudest of the fact that even though our students have achieved big success they always consider the Actors Circle home and come back to visit and mentor.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I define success as making a living at something that makes you happy. It is not financial as much as it is fulfillment. I will tell anybody that asks that I feel like I am the luckiest woman alive. I go to work every day and I laugh, I create, I am inspired and I inspire. I always always want to be there.
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2016 Holiday Schedule
November 1, 2016
Saturday November 5, 2016- No Class just for this date. Saturday class resumes as usual the following week and continues to the end of the year.
- WE WILL BE HAVING CLASS THANKSGIVING WEEKEND!
- Saturday November 25th-Thanksgiving weekend...THERE IS CLASS!
- Our Last Regularly scheduled class for 2016 will be on Saturday December 17th.
- Classes resume on Tuesday January 2nd 2017.
We will be having some special even classes over the holidays so please watch for Special announcements regarding those classes!
As always our class schedule is as follows:
• Monday 7-10 Adults
• Tuesday 7-10 Adults
• Wednesday 12-3 Adults
• Wednesday 6-9 Teens
• Saturday 11-1 kids (up to 10)
• Saturday 2-4:30 Tweens
Private coaching and semi private classes can be scheduled at your convenience 24/7
Audition taping, coaching and editing is also available 24/7
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Letter From Our Director
November 1, 2016
I can't believe it is already November 1st! Where did this year go? Perhaps it flew by because so many exciting things happened at the studio in 2016.
We are so proud of our actors. Not a week went by when we weren't hearing about callbacks, bookings, premieres, awards & most of all growth. I am proud of the hard work our actors put into their careers, the work ethic that I witness, and the most important thing for me...the support they have for each other. The pursuit of the dream can be scary & frustrating at times...so to find peers who support you along the way is key.
So what do you want in 2017? A pilot? A series? A film? Many films? Or simply being a stronger actor every day? How are you going to go about achieving those goals? Work, study, keep your eyes open, experience, & don't be afraid.
There are a lot of talented actors in this town. It is not enough to be good...you have to have that something extra. You have to be the one they remember. How do you become that memorable artist? Know yourself, learn your strengths, don't let your weaknesses define you, and MAKE STRONG CHOICES. Be bold. Be different. Listen to your instincts...and most of all get to class.
It is easy to grow complacent. To lull yourself into the false sense of security that you are okay just acting from audition to audition. That is not enough you need to work, to learn to grown. A great artist never thinks the painting is done!
We are staying open through the holidays. The last class of 2016 will be on Saturday December 17th. We are going to have some exciting special events and one time classes over the holidays as well...watch for your inboxes for special invites to those. Hint.... the much anticipated All Day Improv Jam...That’s right you heard it here first!
In the meantime there is still a lot of class left in 2016...so step away from your phones, look up from your computers, put down that remote...and get to class!
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The Actors Circle Has a New Website
May 2, 2016
Welcome to our beautiful new website. In this section we will keep you updated on the news and happenings at The Actors Circle. Be sure to check back frequently for all of our new and exciting happenings.
We are almost halfway through the year and already so many exciting things have happened. Well our new beautiful website for one thing! Also our actors had a very successful pilot season. We are so proud of everybody for both going to class and then going out and killing it at their auditions! We look forward to yet another TV Season with Actors Circle actors representing in so many of the new shows!
Please note there is a change in the time of the Saturday afternoon class. The class will now be meeting from 2:00-4:30.
Check in here for the date for the next improv Jam. Date TBD very soon.
Please note that in addition to classes and private coaching we also videotape for auditions. So if you get a call for a taped audition please call us to schedule a taping!