Women in Hollywood at Pepperdine University
Straus Institute for Dispute resolution and Center of Entertainment, Media and Culture at Pepperdine University, organized this amazing event at the Malibu campus, on Nov. 15th and 16th .2013. I was fortunate enough to attend, meet some amazing women and hear some inspiring stories of wonderful actresses, directors, producers and other women who negotiated their way through years of Hollywood. They grew beyond their own expectations and opened doors for other women who want to pursue a career in this exciting and glamorous industry.
I am also a student at the Straus Institute, so it was interesting that at the end of the day, one of the most interesting and fun talks for me was by our own Prof. Stephanie Bell. Hopefully I will be able to take one of her classes.
Another amazing women who I really enjoyed hearing and learned a lot from is Sharon Lawrence. She was the keynote speaker on Saturday the 16th. Sharon is a producer and an actress. She is a Tony-, Emmy-, SAG-, and Oscar- winner. I had a chance to speak with her for few minutes after she finished her talk. As a new actress and producer, I am glad she so graciously agreed to answer my questions.
Sharon said that she came to TV and Film from being a stage actress so she watched her favorite shows on TV to learn how the TV actors worked and acted. Since she was a busy stage actress, she would record shows and watch at night. She could watch it week after week. It taught her what the style of TV acting was. You could see that a motion on camera has to take a different emotion, a different feeling for the same emotions whether the character is going through something that creates insecurity or rage or pure oblivion or surprise. On camera you must draw your audience in. She learned how acting was done just through the eyes, thinking it is enough rather than using a lot of head movement or even a lot of articulation of the lips. It was learning the difference of projecting to an audience in theater that she had been doing for 10 years and speaking to a lens of camera, which is one on one conversation. She learned how the lens captures everything; like swallowing a pill suggesting someone is holding back a thought. Things so subtle, you can read it on a camera that you cannot see it in a theater. Theater has to see the body movement.
To improve your acting skills, you have to just get out there and do it. Being on stage is the best training. Your body requires a rhythm. So, you learn how to eat at the right time so you have the strength to put out that energy. You have to pace what you are doing so you don’t blow out your vocal cords that the performance requires.
Since I am new to acting, I asked her for any suggestions for better auditions skills. She suggested that auditioning requires a skill to control your nervous system or your nerves. You also have to understand that there are parts you are right for and there are parts you are not right for. Every audition is a chance to train your instrument. So go to everything and don’t take not getting it as a defeat. It is a great exercise to put yourself out there at every chance you get. Get there in time so you are calm. Everything counts, how you get there without fumbling, take your time, know that it is your time and then leave gracefully without seeming awkward. Every time you do it, you get better. She also encourages anyone who is trying to make a career in acting to do it all. Theater or camera, you do what ever you get, like a good cook who can cook anything.
She does informal mentoring by putting things on her twitter page. She always puts things she thinks can help on her website so visit her website and her twitter pages.
After the event, I had the privilege to chat with Kathryn Linehan, manager of Pepperdine University’s Center for Entertainment, Media and Culture, who worked with Craig Detweiler, William Nix and Thomas Stipanowich on the planning committee to bring this wonderful symposium to life. She said that the seed of the symposium started with discussions between Tom Stipanowich and Cari Beauchamp, author of “Without Lying Down”, about the history of women in early Hollywood and how they created opportunities for both creative expression and financial independence. With the Straus Institute’s networks, they reached out to their contacts within the LA and New York chapters of Women in Film. They began to meet in person and on conference calls for the next six months.
With a powerhouse advisory committee, Kathryn said they found inspiring leaders, both women and men, who are making a difference to elevate the conversation and help reframe how women will shape the future of media, technology and entertainment. With people like Suzanne dePasse and Nell Scovell giving keynote addresses, it was a lively and informative two days.
Kathryn has produced numerous documentaries, including, “Children of Afghanistan”. Most recently she helped produce, “Dance in Flight”, based on the 20th anniversary of the stage show – it’s a journey through dance that celebrates community, faith, and diversity.
Kathryn is also health and fitness expert and the founder of FORM. She runs a soulformmalibu a spiritual yoga studio out of Malibu where she gives classes and private life coaching. She usually wakes up at 4:30 in the morning. After reading her spiritual scriptures and meditation she usually breaks into dancing that her cat enjoys as well.