Two Jackson State University students were selected to travel to Los Angeles for a one-day Black Acting Methods L.A. Intensive to learn a more cultural approach to theatre.
Senior theatre majors Christian Johnson and Rayesha Talley will represent JSU. Mark Henderson, Ph.D., assistant professor of Speech and Theatre, said their experience could usher in a new style of teaching in the department.
“I think it’s important for our students to be exposed to techniques that are going to help them get roles. We can teach them the Stanislavski and all the method approaches, but they need to know what is unique in them,” explained Henderson.
Henderson said this opportunity would help the students become well-balanced actors as they continue to graduate school. The assistant professor is tasking the duo to bring the knowledge they acquire from the intensive back to their peers.
“Upon their return, they will produce a workshop for our students, telling them about what they’ve learned. That will be like the ignition to see how we will approach things,” said Henderson about integrating the Black Acting Method into the JSU Theatre Department.
The Black Acting Method Studio is designed for actors of all heritages to gain in-depth knowledge about acting processes, methodologies, and philosophical underpinnings rooted in Black American culture and tradition.
The acting method was founded by Sharrell D. Luckett, Ph.D., director of the Black Acting Method Studio and director of the Helen Weinberger Center for Drama and Playwriting at the University of Cincinnati.
Talley, a native of Lamar, Mississippi, said she is excited about her first trip to Los Angeles and the opportunity to network with other young actors from across the country. She has been studying the cultural acting method and is eager to receive the training in person.
“The main thing I look forward to is the Hip-Hop lessons where they incorporate Hip-Hop into acting. I look forward to how they would do it physically because I’ve only been reading on it,” Talley shared.
Talley is also looking forward to sharing her experience with the underclassmen in the department. As a senior, she’s inspired by the monumental leadership role before her.
Johnson said this opportunity has motivated him to be more confident about the next phase in his acting career. He’s optimistic this L.A. intensive will put him one step closer to fulfilling his lifelong dream.
“This is something I’m passionate about, so I’m excited about it because it’s L.A., and I want to go to grad school in that area,” said Johnson.
The Itta Bena, Mississippi, native shared how being granted this opportunity by the department makes him feel supported as a student and aspiring professional actor.
“Dr. Henderson has always been hard on me, and I view him as a father figure. He always lets me know what I need to work on, both as an artist and a student. For him to go over and beyond to send us to L.A., it’s like wow,” shared an enthused Johnson.
The JSU students headed to Los Angeles on Wednesday and will return to Jackson on Friday, September 30.
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