One of my longtime students, Philemon Chambers, was cast in a starring role in Single All The Way, a rom-com on Netflix. What makes this extra special is that Philemon is the first black, queer actor to star in a Netflix rom-com! He has studied with me for over 11 years, and even after his recent success, he is still taking my class.
One of my longtime students, Philemon Chambers and I sat down together in my acting studio and had a conversation on Instagram Live.
P: This is Netflix’s first gay holiday rom-com. There are so many barriers being broken and so many lights being shed on the queer community in a very mainstream way. We’re in 190 countries and over 214 million homes. To think that Netflix greenlit a project like this, with diversity in the cast, is monumental. I’m very humbled by it.
E: Oh, I love that. And you’re opening the door, aren’t you?
Philemon shared his insights on why he feels it’s important to study with a coach and take acting classes. He identified the things he has learned from me in class, what he feels are the most important to him as an actor, and how working with an acting coach has contributed to his success.
Preparation and Auditions – why going over auditioning in class is so important.
P: Auditioning helps us learn, because, at one point, we’re going to fail. We all have off days. Sometimes you mess up. I learned from Ellen to understand what didn’t work, so I know what I need to work on to conquer that.
E: That’s why we do a lot of auditioning in class. If you go back to the basics and you are specific, it really does ground you. Auditions are your chance to act. Instead of thinking it’s an audition, treat it like you’ve already got the job. Go in there and do it, because the more you do it, the more you get used to it, and that’s when you start to enjoy it.
E: Script analysis is not something every acting coach teaches, but it’s a cornerstone of my method.
P: This is a big one. Script analysis is important, especially when it comes to breaking down a story and breaking down your character. Nine times out of ten, what is on the paper is everything that you need. Of course, you need to create the back story, but script analysis definitely helps me out still, to this day.
E: Being specific is a key part of script analysis. The more the specifics the better. General is not good enough. Right?
P: Yeah, generally won’t get you anywhere.
P: It takes commitment to learn your craft.
I’ve been studying with Ellen for 11 years. I don’t remember the first class, but I do remember I was the youngest in the class.
E: That’s right and you were shy. You couldn’t hear him. I had to tell him I was a little deaf (I’m not), but I told him that so he would talk up. It worked. Right?
P: I’m a loudspeaker now. As people probably know.
Meditation and Relaxation
E: Meditation and relaxation are key.
P: A lot of the time, you are just go go go go go. There’s no real downtime, so you must find those moments in which you can relax.
E: An actor cannot have tension, so relaxation is very important,
Finally, we discussed what it really takes to become a successful actor.
E: Success is doing what you want to do
Contact Ellen for information about her helping others with script analysis and actor’s workshops!