One of my earliest experiences in the PrimaDonna universe (or could I say “PrimaDonniverse”?) was a table read for a film then known as Dream Healer (which ultimately premiered as Dream Healing). It was a great experience, and looking back, the foreshadowing of the moment was so blatant only someone like me could have missed it, as I met so many people I’d ultimately come to know as friends and colleagues.
Among those actors (as the Dream Healer herself) was a girl by the name of Gabi Walker. I was genuinely impressed by the talent she showed at that reading, and even more impressed with her poise and character. So it was hardly a surprise to learn that she was one of Nikki’s students.
All of which is a roundabout way of saying that working with kids was an important part of my PDP experience well before the beginning of it all. And as you’ve probably figured out from recent posts, that continues today.
More literally, it continued last Saturday, as Nikki and I made our way to New Braunfels for an “Actor’s Boot Camp” hosted by Topp Drawer Talent and agent Brian Potts. Her job was to lead a group of kids through the morning workshop and prepare them for the next day’s showcase; mine was to take pictures and support Nikki and the students in any way they needed.
We walked into the Brauntex Theatre to find an energetic class waiting for us. And Nikki did a great job putting them through their paces, from the opening warm-up exercises (unfortunately, no one can be told what Go Bananas is. You have to see it for yourself) to her lessons in the basic craft of acting to her direction in their scenes. For an Actor’s Boot Camp, you couldn’t ask for a better drill sergeant, or a more talented group of trainees. The workshop was a lot of fun, and I’m told the showcase was even more so – I wish I could have been around to see it.
I was around on Thursday, though, to see the results of Nikki’s film acting classes at Stone Oak Youth Theatre. For five weeks she’d been guiding tweens and teens through the show and business of it all, and preparing them with commercials and scenes (including one from Operation Hitman, one of Gabi’s early films). Now, they’d get to perform those scenes before a panel of industry professionals: producer Michael Druck, agent Annette Romo Schaeffer, and Chadd (wearing his director hat, though not literally).
There’s a risk of becoming redundant in writing about SOYT, because there are only so many ways I can say how much I’m blown away by what’s going on there, how impressed I am with what Nikki and Maryclaire and the entire faculty and staff are accomplishing, how impressed I am with the level of talent I’m seeing in these kids. And the showcases were a perfect summation of all of that. The kids brought their talent and energy, Nikki and Maryclaire brought their knowledge and discipline, the panelists brought their feedback and support, and everyone (I can’t forget the family and friends who braved the proto-snow to be in attendance) brought a genuine enthusiasm for their scenes, and for the entire class. It was a great event.
It’s been that kind of week. A week for remembering what great talent we have around us, and for nurturing that talent. That’s why Nikki’s here. It’s why Maryclaire’s here. It’s why Brian hosted that Boot Camp. It’s why I’m writing now. And hopefully it’s why you’re reading this.
From SOYT to NESA, there are great opportunities for kids who are interested in the arts. And if you’re a parent to one of those kids, I hope you’ll explore those opportunities. See some of the shows the schools are offering (you’ll find schedules for NESA and SOYT at their respective websites). Sign them up for a class (Nikki’s film acting classes will resume in April, following SOYT’s upcoming stand-up comedy class with Cleto Rodriguez – more info on that here). Get out there and support the arts, and the artists.
Thank you once again for following along. Look forward to seeing you at the next event – until then, keep learning…