London actress Louisa Faye Shares Her Story with One of The Michelle Danner Los Angeles Acting Studio.
PLEASE BEGIN WITH A BRIEF INTRODUCTION OF YOURSELF.
I’m a twenty-five year old British actress now living in LA. I began acting the age of nine when my mother moved us to a new area and encouraged us to make new friends. I trained at the prestigious Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama for three years obtaining a BA HONS Degree in Acting. I then spent time in London as professional working actress; doing plays, voice over and short films. I would later decide to move my career to Los Angeles where I heard about the Michelle Danner Acting School and how it not only gives you a well-rounded education but insight into the industry of Hollywood. So here I am…
WHAT FIRST DREW YOU TO ACTING?
As I mentioned, my mother wanted me to make new friends after we moved, so she enrolled me in a summer theater program and I LOVED it! I was always singing around the house and I’ve been a dancer since I was three. So naturally, my mother knew those hobbies were a good way to meet other children and a great fit for me… Must have seemed like a good idea! I eventually joined a fantastic local kids theater group, run by a wonderful and inspirational man called Bill Davies. Then when I applied for the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain at fifteen, I was accepted right away. I soon found myself traveling the world. I had found my place in Drama School so off I went…
DO YOU HAVE ANY FUTURE PROJECTS PLANNED?
I am going to be in two upcoming feature films directed by Michelle Danner herself! One is going to be a fascinating Documentary on the acting craft itself while the other is going to be the much anticipated sequel to the film, The Bandit Hound! (Go to allinfilms.com to find out more!). In January, I’m going to play the role of “Melissa Simons” in a short called How to be Lonely and Depressed. A friend of a friend introduced me to the producer, Mitch, which led me to being cast. Other than that, I have a few things in the pipeline. Like a few rehearsed readings in May, which I’m super excited about. I also just recently sent off a sizzle reel for something that might turn into something big. That’s all I can say on that right now…
WHAT WAS YOU PERFORMANCE EDUCATION LIKE?
It was AMAZING! I remember seeing all the “older” girls, probably about 14-15 years old, and thinking “WOW I want to be like them!” They were all dancers, singers and actors, in lead roles even, so being a chorus member… it was inspiring to watch them. I was also that kid who knew how to play the ‘cute’ card so immediately the older girls took to me and made me the one they all fussed over. I later was in productions like Oliver Twist, CATS and Starlight Express.
But it was when I moved to TOYTs and met Bill Davies when everything was changed for me because of him. Bill was an expressive, passionate and wonderful teacher who could rally a bunch of kids up to believing that we could put on the next show for the Royal Variety Performance. He made us feel so special and talented but never neglected to work us hard. We would rehearse on weekends and even on school nights during the run-up to a show. The idea that I could finish school and not have to do any homework was already enough in itself for most kids to be excited about.
Instead though, I so vividly remember waiting in the wings, during a blackout, hearing excited whispers, eagerly waiting for Bill to shout “GO!”… I then remember all of us running to our positions, the sound of the piano birthing a thematic life in the darkness. But then someone would get it wrong and he’d curse and stomp about, shouting “ We can do better!” and then with nervous excitement… we would go again. He was relentless, but the production quality was outstanding and working with him made me realize what I wanted to be when I was older.
Drama school is a completely different world. Acting for your final school exams can turn into auditioning at the best drama schools in the world, then all of sudden, you’re getting on reserve lists and offers and for the first time, you can choose. You’ve made it! It can be a bit overwhelming to say the least. But I suppose I was lucky because was offered a spot at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama almost right away. I know a number of friends who took a few years to get to the schools they wanted. I myself was on the reserve list for RADA after 4 rounds of auditions but when Royal Welsh finally have me an offer, I knew that was where I was supposed to be.
RWCMD was this sweet 70’s building next to Bute Park in Cardiff, Wales, with the most glorious, hard-working bunch of acting students I had met so far. My class was only 20 kids (ages ranging from 17-25) thrown into, on average, nine-hour days of full on training. We worked on Acting Technique, Scene Study, Improvisation, Mask Work, Voice, Accent Work, Movement, Alexander Technique, Singing, Shakespeare and more than I could remember no doubt. Then at the end of each year, we would be given the chance to put on our own 20-minute show!
Today, I look back and think, “Wow what an opportunity-“ to be able to write, direct and act in your own piece on a proper stage in a proper theatre (and not have to pay to rent it out!) Indeed, by the time you reach your final year, you were very likely to ready. We also had a showcase (the most stressful time for a graduating student) at the Royal Court Theatre in London and what an opportunity that was. Because at the time (around 2011) RWCMD was making a stir in the industry and we were “thee” Drama School to be enrolled at. We were all the rage and in our prime as a school. And the old 70’s building was now a swish, glass, Doctor Who like structure with a proper theater and even a concert hall. RWCMD got the fancy make over it deserved. However, it was the tireless effort of the wise, passionate and charming Dave Bond [Head of Acting] that got Agents and Casting Directors supporting and loving what was coming from our school. Our school had a name for itself for it’s “real”, normal, down to earth, talented actors who were a pleasure to work with… and although I may sound a bit biased I have to concur that RWCMD tends to be a good judge of character when it comes to picking out their students.
WHICH ACTORS DO YOU DRAW INSPIRATION FROM?
Judy Dench. Acting coach, Michelle Danner, showed us a documentary about her called “The South Bank Show” (1995) and she came across as so humble and down to earth. It was all so interesting; watching her in the rehearsal process, making mistakes, learning from them, collaborating with the director and genuinely laugh with the cast…. it was just so encouraging. She is so truthful. Moving. In whatever performance she gave and yet she maintained a very ‘normal’ approach to life despite the crazy world of entertainment she worked in.
WHICH OF YOUR ROLES HAVE GIVEN YOU THE MOST SATISFACTION? WHY?
I played the role of “Jane” in a play called Mammals. And my god did I love to play her! I actually started to miss her when the show ended. She was so complicated, deep, emotional, strong and determined. She was a woman in her mid-thirties, modern day; a house-wife in a failing marriage with a “kitchen-sink drama” kind of life but no matter what, she never gave up hope and took what ever was offered to her. And I found that quality so interesting. She was so different than I, which made her very curious to play.
IF YOU COULD CO-STAR WITH ANYONE, WHO WOULD YOU CHOSE? WHY?
I would choose to work with Christopher Waltz, Judi Dench (of course) and Mark Rylance. All three are my favorite actors and it would be a true honor and no doubt an utter-lesson working with any of them.
WHAT ARE YOU GOALS FOR THE FUTURE?
For the short term, I’m in LA and I want to keep pushing myself. I want to take on some challenging roles and really explore the industry here. Being here, even for 12 weeks, has shown me that I am a hard-worker and I should really put on to develop my own work back in London and here in LA. Why not? Everyone has this “go for it” attitude in LA (some find exhausting and fake) but I actually find it inspiring and positive. Seriously, why shouldn’t I just put on to develop my own work? Even if one person or eighty people come to watch it, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is the art that I love so much… I want to tell stories… story after story. You know what they say, ‘Acting is the world’s oldest profession.’ Or more specifically, storytelling is.
In the long term, I would love to write some of my own plays and one day, just sit back and watch them being performed. Being here especially, I come up with new ideas all the time. For instance, yesterday in a coffee shop when I with a friend, we were talking about something and right away I said “That’s a great sketch, let’s write it down!”.
Indeed, the idea of writing some plays and watching my work come alive on stage would be a pretty awesome feeling I think. On the sid,e I would also like to earn my teaching certificate in scuba diving… I’m a water baby and currently an advanced PADI scuba diver… Just being able to teach people the magical feeling of being weightless… I’m sure that couldn’t be a bad thing!
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR ASPIRING ACTORS?
It’s hard this acting life! The more you put in, the more you get out… just like life doing anything really. But I’d say the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that it’s normal for thinking that I can’t act. Eddie Redmayne once said while collecting his BAFTA for his outstanding portrayal of Stephen Hawking, that he thanked his family for believing in him when he didn’t believe in himself. Which really speaks to me because I, along with, no doubt, most of the creative people out there, have had days when I think that ‘I’m quite possibly the worst actress the planet has ever seen and even though my family has supported me this whole way, they probably secretly think that I’m dreadful and have no idea what I’m doing’… But that’s always when I remind myself that’s NOT true and somehow I must persevere, turn myself around and remember all the things I’ve done and why I chose to be an actress back in the old days in the wings of the TOYTs theater. A new day must begin.
WHAT HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE BEEN LIKE AT THE MICHELLE DANNER ACTING SCHOOL?
The school is great! There is always something going on, whether it’s a new show in the theater, a film festival, a new acting class or new students joining. The first time I got up on stage and performed, I was super-nervous! It felt like it had been a long time since I last performed and opened myself up to the learning process. For you see, in London, I personally feel that there is a stigma attached to learning. And if you’ve trained at a drama school, you should be ‘finished and ready’ to pursue a career and never go back to school! But that’s crazy in my opinion. It’s like a pianist never practicing before they play at a new symphony! So coming to Michelle Danner Los Angeles Acting School and learning the process all over again, making mistakes and not being shy about it and improving each week is… well that’s what it’s all about. That’s why I’m here! At times, I’ll be working and Michelle will ask me a question and suddenly, it’s like a whole new book is opening up in my head and I get a ‘eureka’ moment!
Los Angeles… Well, it’s a crazy city! Someone told me theres at least 200 shows being made at any one time out here. But in my opinion, London and LA cannot be compared. People forget that the state of California alone is bigger in landmass than the entire UK mainland! Therefore LA is putting out shows all across a mini continent by comparison. That’d be like London being the epicenter for all Film and TV for the whole European Nation. Of course it would booming! We have about 10 Soaps in the UK and I can only begin to tell you how many there are being filmed here! But despite the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, people work hard here.
There are producers and casting directors at every other coffee shop discussing who they want to work with next or what they are trying to pitch as an idea. That isn’t to say that people London work any less, but the network is understandably and obviously larger here.
I’m just fortunate enough that I have a group of friends here and that we all stick together. LA like anywhere in the world can be a lonely place at times. It’s a concrete jungle full of large cars, neon signs, hot smoggy sunshine, extremely rich people and extremely poor people. When people arrive in LA it can be a bit of a culture shock! I love it for how rough-round-the-edges it is, even it that’s not everyone’s cup of tea!
Actress & Professional Voiceover Artist
And for our readers, please look forward to more interviews with aspiring actors and dreamers as we share what stories our students bring from their homes and journeys. More to come from Michelle Danner’s acting school !
Meet with Michelle Danner and learn about the acting classes