Actors Academy aims to provide fundamentals to local acting talents
Angelia Stinnett hated politics. Public speaking was never her strong suit. About three years ago she decided to overcome her fear and take an acting class. She fell in love with the craft and never looked back.
“The transition into film for me was serendipitous,” says Stinnett. “I started taking acting classes to overcome stage fright in order to advance in my political interests, but found the film industry a much nicer and rewarding playground. Politics brings out the absolute worst in people. Acting, producing, and teaching has made me a happier person all around.”
It was on one of her many weekly sojourns to Atlanta that Stinnett decided she wanted to be learning her craft here in Chattanooga. Aside from the colleges and universities, she felt that the choices of classes taught by local teachers were limited in offering what she needed to become a working on-camera actress.
“My inspiration is to build a community of actors to make films here. To do that I needed to bring more experienced teachers here to teach what I needed to know to be in the industry. The common misconception is that someone sees you and likes you and casts you. You might be comfortable or have a natural talent but you have to take classes.”
When she took an improvisation class with Keith Brooks, she knew she had found the perfect teacher to usher in the first classes at Actors Academy.
“As an actor/director, improv is a way not only to enhance skills as an actor but also to break down concepts. You learn cool lessons about acceptance and doubt; it’s not just games, it is an art unto itself. I teach fundamental building blocks that make you a sharp-witted person.” He laughs. “There’s a reason that improv and improve are so closely related. It’s cheesy but it’s true.”
Brooks says the biggest lesson to learn from improv is failure and he understands that this is a concept that’s difficult for some people to overcome.
“You’re scared. You try anyway. Be brave. Fail wonderfully. Learn more about yourself. To master the art of improv, you have to change the way you think. To say ‘I’m changing the way I think’ is an amazing ability to have. I’ve learned to say ‘I’m gonna accept life as it comes’ and most people don’t live their lives that way. It’s fun to help them get there.”
Brooks will teach a six-week improvisation class beginning April 4th. Stinnett will offer youth acting classes simultaneously and plans to follow Brooks with an on-camera technique class. There will also be a summer acting academy. But Stinnett has even more projects on the horizon.
Her production company, Hellcat Productions, ran an audition for a shoot that they’re doing at the studio in early May. They wrapped on a film this week. And they’re currently developing an original script for theater straight from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels.
“It feels good to have a craft, especially one that takes you on so many adventures; adventures with people, places, stories, and our own imaginations. The production side of my company gives me the ability to write characters for specific people that offers a great way for new actors to step into acting comfortably. Producing and directing also gives me the ability to write more equally yoked roles for women.”
Stinnett continues. “Eighty percent of roles are for men and eighty percent of actors are women. The roles for women are typically supporting and often demeaning for women, in Hollywood. When women have leads, it’s too often a “bride story”, all about finding a husband. I have no patience for that, so I am writing female characters who are not the victim, can hold their own, and are multidimensional. Not that I’m against feminism, but writing this way has much to do with my wanting to work perpetually, not waiting for someone else to decide, and to work with other actresses.”
Stinnett’s passion for Actors Academy is obvious. “I’m not excited because I want to sell [people] a class, but excited because I want to work with them,” she enthuses. “My classes are more than affordable and I’ll barely break even as a business owner, and that’s okay. It’s about getting to work with other actors. It’s about working together to develop an original story or an original spin to a classic character, and in the process, becoming confident in ourselves.”
For more information about Actors Academy and to register for classes, contact Angelia Stinnett at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (731) 803-8919.