Inside The Actors Coaching Session Transcript


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With Academy Award winning actors acknowledging the key people who made their success possible, the acting coach is perhaps one of the most familiar professional coaches in the business world today.

Aspiring stars always ask how to make it in the business, but how do acting coaches make it?

Who are the top acting coaches and how do they work?

What methods do the best acting coaches employ, and what draws big-name talent to them?

How can these lessons translate from on-screen success to business or personal success?

This show featured some of the entertainment industry’s top talent and looked at some of their biggest names and best practices.


* Daniel Henning, Acting Coach and Artistic Director, The Blank Theatre Company

* Lynette McNeill, Acting Coach and Director, Lynette McNeill Studios

* Jerry Weissman, Executive Coach and President, Power Presentations, Ltd.

* Adrian Zmed, Actor and Acting Coach, Stella Adler Conservatory, LA


According to the February 17th, 2005 issue of USA Today in an article titled “Even A-list Actors Need a Coach,” Larry Moss, who is largely considered the modern-day Vince Lombardi of acting coaches was quoted as saying: “I know some very big stars who don't do a movie without a coach.”

In another article from the January 25th 1991 issue of the Austin American Statesman, writer Michael Barnes points out that “To succeed, actors need daily, directed practice and technical exploration, that is best possible through an acting coach. Once the basics of acting are conquered however, these tools must be kept ever sharp and ready to use.”

How do acting coaches prepare, guide, and develop actors for starring roles? And can the work these coaching greats do be applied to the business world?

According to the Wall Street Journal – it can. An article in its April 21st, 1998 issue notes “the growing demand for speaking skills has now drawn consulting giants such as Microsoft and Deloitte & Touche into the business of utilizing acting coaches.”

Our panel of guests address these topics and more, providing a behind-the-scenes look at the role acting coaches play in Hollywood and Corporate America.

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Inside The Actors Coaching Session Transcript

  1. 1. Insight on Coaching Inside the Actor’s Coaching Session Transcript Prepared for: Prepared by: Insight Educational Consulting Ubiqus Reporting (IEC)
  2. 2. Time Speaker Transcript 0:30 Tom Floyd Hi everyone and welcome to Insight on Coaching. Insight on Coaching explores the many facets, flavors and sides of the emerging professional coaching field. I’m Tom Floyd, I’m the CEO of Insight Educational Consulting and you host for today’s show. Well, this week our topic is coaching in the entertainment industry. We’ll talk about the work that acting coaches do with big name actors and actresses in the entertainment industry. We’ll talk about what makes a good acting/coach and we will also talk about how techniques and best practices from acting coaching can possibly be applied in the business world. Well, I am very excited about our show today to say the least and I’m thrilled to welcome our four prominent guests in the entertainment and acting/coaching field to our show. Let me give you a quick overview of who we have with us today. Our first guest, Daniel Henning is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Blank Theater Company in Hollywood. His productions have garnered more than 60 theatrical awards and honors. Daniel is a well respected theater director and actor and acting coach and has coached Ed Asner, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Noah Wyle, Molly Shannon, Sally Kellerman, Annette Bening, Tiffany Thiessen, Michael Urie and many others. Daniel has also won the NAACP Theater Award for Best Director. And his productions have been honored with Best Production from the LA Drama Critics Circle, the LA Weekly, Backstage West and Ovation Awards which are basically the LA Tony’s. Daniel and the Blank will also receive the Hollywood Arts Council’s Charlie Award on March 29th, for outstanding commitment to Hollywood and its arts. Welcome to the show, Daniel. 2:01 Daniel Henning Thank you very much. 2:04 Tom Floyd Our next guest - - and Acting Coach and Director, Lynette McNeill is best known for her work with some of Hollywood’s biggest names including Adam Sandler, Ellen DeGeneres, Giovanni Ribisi, Jason Lee and Faith Ford. With more than 20 years experience in the field of coaching and the student of famous acting/coaching great Stella Adler and Uda Hagen, Lynette introduced a groundbreaking approach to acting devoid the questionable and often controversial acting exercises of the past. As a director and producer, Lynette’s work has won wide recognition including the award winning production of “In Rehearsal”, which won her critical acclaim from the Southern California Motion Picture Arts Council. Lynette is also the Founder and Director of the Lynette McNeill Acting Studio offering scene study, interview and cold reading technique, private coaching, showcases and industry seminars. Welcome to the show Lynette. 2:53 Lynette McNeill Thank you for having me. 2 | Confidential May 8, 2008 Page 2 Inside the Actor’s Coaching Session Transcript
  3. 3. Time Speaker Transcript 2:54 Tom Floyd Our third guest Jerry Weissman is the President of Power Presentations Limited and was referenced by the Wall Street Journal as the acting coach to CEO’s. He is the world’s number one corporate presentations coach and his list of clients read like a Who’s Who of the world’s most prominent companies. Including the top brass at Yahoo, EarthLink, EBay, Intel, Intuit, Cisco Systems and Microsoft. Jerry also spent a decade as a TV producer for CBS in New York where in his role he brought people into the studio, made them feel comfortable, help them develop an in sync story and provided field questions. Elements that became the fundamental building blocks for Power Presentations. Jerry is also the author of “In the Line of Fire” which offers battle tested techniques for handling tough questions and “Presenting to Win” which shows presenters how to transform their presentations to connect with their audiences. Welcome to the show Jerry. 3:47 Jerry Thank you. Weissman 3:48 Tom Floyd And our fourth guest Adrian Zmed is one of the most recognizable faces in the entertainment industry. He is best remembered for his role as Romano on the highly acclaimed television series TJ Hooker with William Shatner and Heather Locklear, as well as on Broadway for staring roles in “Grease” and as the host of “Dance Fever”. Adrian’s most recent TV series which will be airing this summer is called “Casting Call” in which he is a judge and acting coach. Adrian has also had numerous guest staring roles including appearances on “Murder She Wrote”, “Empty Nest”, “The Love Boat”, “Hotel”, “Alfred Hitchcock” and “Caroline in the City”. He also stared in the cult classic, “Bachelor Party” with Tom Hanks. Adrian made his Broadway debut in the record breaking musical “Grease” as Danny Zuko. He returned to Broadway to play the role of Marvin in the Tony Award Winning “Falsettos” and went on to star in the national tour which received critical acclaim throughout the United States. Welcome to the show Adrian. 4:38 Adrian Zmed Thank you very much and hello everybody. Good morning. 3 | Confidential May 8, 2008 Page 3 Inside the Actor’s Coaching Session Transcript
  4. 4. Time Speaker Transcript 4:42 Tom Floyd Well as we do with each show, I would like to start out by sharing some data that our research team pulled together to set the stage. Now according to the February 17th, 2005 issue of USA Today in an article titled “Even A List Actors Need A Coach”. Larry Moss who is largely considered the modern day Vince Lombardi of acting coaches was quoted as saying the following: “I know some very big stars who don’t do a movie without a coach”, he says. “To be coach is not a sign of weakness, but of strength.” Moss took Hilary Swank from virtual unknown to Academy Award Winning Champ as the true life gender bender in 1999, “Boys Don’t Cry”. That same year he put Michael Clarke Duncan in touch with his own painful past and helped him score an Oscar Nomination as the hulky inmate in the “Green Mile”. He brought out the dramatic side and funny - - area and collected an Emmy for 1999’s “Tuesday’s with Morrie”. Now in another article, this one from the theater section of the January 25th, 1991 issue of the Austin American Statesman, writer Michael Barnes points out that the health of any theater community is not linked to buildings, organizations or even audiences. But rather to the performing artists themselves. To succeed, actors need daily directed practice and technical exploration that is best possible through an acting coach. Once the basics of acting are conquered however, these tools must be kept ever sharp and ready to use. Well Adrian, I would like to start with you. And my first question really is a big picture question. Can you tell us about the overall field of acting/coaching? For example, things like how long have acting coaches been around? How long have actors and actresses have been using them? All of that good stuff. 6:34 Adrian Zmed Well, that’s an interesting. I think, well let me just preface by saying I am no expert in acting/coaching because I’m an actor. And what I do is I share with young actors what I have done in my experiences. But, in response to your question, I think coaches have been around since the beginning of acting. If you look back in the day when there was a studio system, where actors were a part of a studio like Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox and MGM. And there would be like a stable of people. And there were people who took care of the actors in every - - you would have a publicist and then you would have managers and you would have acting coaches, who would just take actors through whatever roles they would need help on. So actor coaching has been around forever. I mean, I know that is a general statement, but at least as far as I know, anybody can add to that. 4 | Confidential May 8, 2008 Page 4 Inside the Actor’s Coaching Session Transcript
  5. 5. Time Speaker Transcript 7:46 Tom Floyd And then can you tell us, one of the things you mentioned is you definitely have a unique perspective because you are an actor and then you’ve also done coaching as well. Can you tell us a little bit about your experience around that? I mean, how did you make the leap from being an actor to an acting coach? What motivated you to go in this direction? 8:07 Adrian Zmed Well I teach in New York, Musical Theater, I do a lot of musical theater, but when I was here, I studied with Stella and I teach over at the Stella Adler Academy. And it was as a result of them asking me would you like to come and do like a seminar talking to students. And then after that they said, well if you were to teach a class here, if you were to do something, what would you like to do? And I said, you know the one thing that I didn’t have when I came to Hollywood was being able to transfer my theater skills into the camera. And there is a difference - there is a very, very big difference in acting on stage and acting in front of a camera. And although the basics of it all, all those basic acting questions who am I, what do I want, what is standing in my way, all of those things are exactly the same. There is a different energy. There is a different shift that you have to make in front of a camera. And I was clueless when I first came here so this was the class that I decided that I wanted to teach and pass on to young acting students. So that they would be able to walk on a set for the very first time and know how to make these adjustments. That’s how I made the shift to doing some coaching at this point. But again, I say I share with what my experiences have been. Because I actively work on stage, in television and in film and what I’m doing is sharing with the students. So that’s how I made the shift to coaching. I love doing it, because I love sharing with everybody and I love seeing them make the adjustments throughout my class. 9:59 Tom Floyd Sounds like - [interposing] 10:00 Daniel Henning Tom, if I may? 10:01 Tom Floyd Sure. 5 | Confidential May 8, 2008 Page 5 Inside the Actor’s Coaching Session Transcript
  6. 6. Time Speaker Transcript 10:02 Daniel Henning This is Daniel. It is an interesting thing that Adrian says, because in a certain kind of way he really hit on the issue of when or of where acting coaches came from. And it is partially from the proliferation of film, because in the theater of course the director is concentrating on the actor’s performance that is what you do during the rehearsal process. As opposed to also bringing in lights and sets and things. But it is ultimately about the performance that is conveying what the director wants to say. Well, in a film or in television there are so many other elements that are part of the director’s vision that he has less time to concentrate on the actor’s performance. And so I believe that that is ultimately where acting coaches came from, needs that - there’s probably a football term for it - but the other guy that I don’t know being an acting coach. But it is that idea that the acting coaches coming in to look specifically at the performance and not at the piece in general. 11:02 Adrian Zmed Daniel, you’re hitting it right on the button. Being an actor in the business I just want to add to that it is generally, almost 99% of the time I have never been directed in my acting in front of a camera. 11:15 Daniel Henning Yeah. 11:17 Adrian Zmed I hardly ever, because the director is the general of absolutely everything that’s going on there. And when you are hired, you are hired as an actor and you are hired to do what you are supposed to do and he can not concentrate on pulling a performance off. 11:29 Daniel Henning Right. 11:30 Adrian Zmed But on the other hand there are directors who are actors/directors we call them, but very rarely have I ever been directed. And you are right, that is why sometimes you have a majorly demanding role it helps tremendously to have that eye pull out direction. 11:47 Daniel Henning And I find also that you have to as an actor when you walk onto a set you have to assume that you will not be getting that direction from the director and you have to be completely prepared to do what you need to do when they say action. However, you also need to be open so that if you do have a director who has information for you who can help you build your performance, that you are ready and available for them as well. So it is an interesting, tricky situation. 12:12 Adrian Zmed You are right. And I say this many times to my students that you have to come in completely prepared. You are the director, producer, and the audience when you get on that set. But then you must or have to completely be able to adjust and readjust your performance based on the actor that you are --. Well you’ve never seen the actors that you acting off of on day one. 12:32 Tom Floyd Right. 6 | Confidential May 8, 2008 Page 6 Inside the Actor’s Coaching Session Transcript
  7. 7. Time Speaker Transcript 12:33 Adrian Zmed And you have to completely readjust yourself to their energy and if the director wants something different. 12:40 Tom Floyd So it sounds like as an actor you shouldn’t assume that you are going to walk in and instantly be given all of this direction, necessarily from the director, you have got to be flexible, you have to be adaptable and you have to have done a lot of your own preparation in advance. 12:54 Daniel Henning It is almost a safe assumption that you won’t and then be surprised when you are given the gift of direction (laugh). 13:00 Tom Floyd Got it (laugh). And Daniel as an acting coach yourself, have you found that the work that you do has changed over the years at all or has it pretty much stayed consistent? 13:12 Daniel Henning Oh, I would say it has definitely changed. I would say that my approach to the work has absolutely refined itself over the years. I am also a director so I coach and I teach in a similar way to the way I direct. And for me it is all about empowering the actor to get them to give the most truthful and organic performance that they can give. But it is never about my interpretation of the words, it is always about finding the actors unique interpretation of those words, their own way to do it. 13:52 Tom Floyd It is really helping them find their own voice. 13:54 Daniel Henning Yes. 13:55 Tom Floyd And from your perspective when we think about some of the biggest hurdles that acting coach’s experience in Hollywood and the entertainment industry, from a coaching perspective what would you say some of those hurdles are? 14:12 Daniel Henning I would say the amorphous place of the coach (laugh). No one quite knowing what the coach is supposed to do, whether they should be on a set, whether they should not be on a set, whether it is something that the actor should be doing privately so no one even knows that it is happening (laugh). Or whether it should be a prominent position in the making of, for instance, a film. 14:34 Tom Floyd Well, jumping ahead some actors might not want folks to know that they had a coach that actually was a question that I had. We did a show; it’s been a couple of months ago on politically coaching. And a point that one of our guests made in that show was that it was actually bad PR for a politician in this case, to admit that they were worked with a political coach. Does that ever hold true for actors? Or are some actors or actresses just going to be more comfortable saying, yeah, I had a coach and it is great and it is very empowering and this is how I used that person. And others might want to kind of say, I don’t really want to publicize that? 7 | Confidential May 8, 2008 Page 7 Inside the Actor’s Coaching Session Transcript
  8. 8. Time Speaker Transcript 15:15 Lynette McNeill Hi, this is Lynette Tom. And I would say some actors feel that if they reveal that they have a coach that it looks like they didn’t really do the work. I think there is a fear that some one would perceive that the coach did the work and not the actor. And other actors are very happy and very comfortable with making it known that they do work with a coach and I think Al Pacino is maybe the best example of that. He thanked his coach right off the bat at the AFI Awards for a lifetime of service to him. 15:52 Tom Floyd And I also saw that, another article that I read and someone else on our team spoke with Susan Batson that Nicole Kidman actually did the same thing for her, as well, recognized her. And that Tom Cruise had done that too. And I thought that that was really a positive example as well, I thought god, that’s great to highlight their coach in that way. 16:13 Lynette McNeill It’s a great acknowledgement. 16:16 Tom Floyd Is there anything that you would add Lynette as well, same question I had for Daniel in terms of some of the biggest hurdles that acting coaches experience in Hollywood and the entertainment industry? 16:29 Lynette McNeill Well, I think what he said is so true and it is that there are questions as to are you better off, off-set to just help the actor prepare. Some directors want the coach on the set, particularly if there are problems of time at stake. So there is a little bit of a guessing game there and I think also the other thing that comes up, is an actor comes to you to prepare for a part that he already has. And you want to help him prepare in the best way possible. And at the same time as Daniel was saying, he doesn’t make those artistic choices, I don’t make those artistic choices. Those are really up to the actor. And the best work will always come from the individual themselves. But he is looking to you for guidance and any feedback that he can get and you can’t really be a mind reader as to what the director wants. So you try to set him up in the best way possible, that he honors his creative choices and at the same time when he arrives on the set that he is flexible and can take any adjustments. 17:34 Tom Floyd Interesting. Do you agree with the quote from USA Today as I read in the beginning that in the acting world that coaching also is indeed a - -. 17:46 Lynette McNeill I think that it is. I think that it can be a great collaboration between an actor and a coach and I think it can help to keep an actor fresh, on his toes. Many actors really like to continue their work that way. They may not have the time to go to a class, but they can continue to work out with a coach, so I think it is a very positive thing. 8 | Confidential May 8, 2008 Page 8 Inside the Actor’s Coaching Session Transcript
  9. 9. Time Speaker Transcript 18:07 Daniel Henning This is Daniel. To me it seems like why wouldn’t you have as much support in your corner as you possibly can. 18:13 Lynette McNeill Absolutely. 18:14 Daniel Henning Any time you are doing anything, not just acting but anything in your life. 18:16 Lynette McNeill Truly. And always putting our best foot forward. 18:19 Tom Floyd Yeah. And if there are people there to help you at all then great, absolutely, that is something I certainly would want. 18:21 Daniel McNeill You know you hire a financial manager to look at your investments, so there is somebody in your corner looking after your money. You hire a real estate agent to help you buy a house. I mean it just seems to me that it just makes sense to have as many knowledgeable people around you anytime you are doing anything. 18:43 Adrian Zmed I completely agree with that. This is Adrian. Just to talk about what I said earlier and that is there was a time when the studio took care of an actor. Today, there are no studios that do that. You have to surround yourself with a huge team of people to support everything that you have to do. And actors have time to work on where he is going, if he is going to do some publicity for it or whatever. To show that he is working on this so he has a publicist. Actors - [interposing] 19:13 Tom Floyd Well, I hate to interrupt you, but I’m hearing the music for our first commercial break. So let’s go ahead and go on pause. Stay tuned everyone more from Insight on Coaching when we return. 9 | Confidential May 8, 2008 Page 9 Inside the Actor’s Coaching Session Transcript
  10. 10. Time Speaker Transcript 21:45 Tom Floyd Welcome back to Insight on Coaching. I’m Tom Floyd. Today the topic is coaching in the entertainment industry and with me are Daniel Henning, Acting Coach and Artistic Director of the Blank Theater Company. Lynette McNeill, Acting Coach and Founder of Lynette McNeill Acting Studios. Jerry Weissman, Executive Coach, Founder and Principal of Power Presentations Limited. And Adrian Zmed, Actor, Acting Coach and Instructor at the Stella Adler Actor’s Conservatory in Los Angeles. Well, in this segment of the show I would like to focus on what makes a good acting coach. Some more data to quickly set the stage, in the March 17th, 2005 issue of Backstage West, writer Jean Schiffman highlighted six points I’d like to use to start us out. Jean’s points were as follows: “A lot of coaches will tell you what to do, but the best coaches help you realize what to do. Acting is not being told.” “It is important to find a coach who matches your sensibility.” “As you are working out your business related budget, so head shots, classes, workshops, whatever, it makes sense to allot funds for coaching.” “It is important to select the right coach, which is often a word of mouth or process of elimination thing.” “It is common in Los Angeles for actors to get an hour or so of coaching for auditions, particularly for large roles on TV or film. Or for admittance to NFA programs. Actors who are taking classes often go to their own teachers for private sessions or to a recommended coach many of whom are themselves work as actors.” “And last but not least, two things remain constant an acting coach should give you tools not line readings. A good coach finds a way to activate the character not manipulate a performance. And two, there are no guarantees that you will succeed, meaning get a callback or book a job just because you are coached.” Adrian, I would like to start with you again for this segment and my first question, from an actor’s perspective, from your perspective and we touched on this a little bit in the last segment as well. But from your perspective what makes a good acting coach? 10 | Confidential May 8, 2008 Page 10 Inside the Actor’s Coaching Session Transcript
  11. 11. Time Speaker Transcript 23:46 Adrian Zmed Well, exactly what - - say you need or an acting coach needs to draw out of the individual what is unique to them. Not put on what they want. And seeing there is a problem with me many times because I’m an actor and I see the actor not finding what she wants or what he wants I start to put my own interpretation on it. And I have fallen into that trap many, many times. And a great or terrific acting coach is the one who has an innate talent where somebody can just tap into that individual and immediately the light bulb will go on in the actor. And there are very few acting coaches that have that ability. There are a lot of people out there who are acting coaches that are just doing scene study classes and they just don’t have that talent. The terrific ones. And you have a terrific panel here with Daniel, Lynette and all who have great reputations in this town that have that ability. And that is as an acting coach many times that I have trouble dealing with and that is putting my own perspective on what I want that particularly moment to be or that role to be and come out of. So it is, there is a talent, there is a certain talent that certain people have that can pull something out of somebody and it is their unique talent. 25:29 Tom Floyd And how do most actors go about selecting the right coach so to speak. Is it mainly by asking and shopping around or using word of mouth as the article in Backstage West suggests? 25:40 Adrian Zmed It is exactly that. It is a feel, you audit classes, you just get word of mouth and then you finally click with somebody and say that is the one I feel comfortable with. 25:54 Daniel Henning I have an interesting little anecdote about that. Sometimes you’re agent or manager may suggest coaches that they are comfortable with. And I’m going to tell an anecdote and I am not going to use any names. But, there was a young actress that I had worked with in a show Off Broadway many years ago. And she was a kid and she moved to Los Angeles and she got this very upscale manager who was very successful at taking late teens and turning them into stars. So you know, you are going to listen to this manager of course. Well, this manager had a boyfriend who was an acting coach, who was actually a terribly expensive acting coach and meaning for going on the auditions, not going onto the set with the actor. He only helped them with auditions. Well, this actress who I had known for many years felt like she had to use that acting coach because it was her manager’s boyfriend. And she didn’t feel like she could say, you know what it doesn’t really work for me or I’m not booking any jobs from him, or I’m going to try to find somebody else. 27:02 Adrian Zmed That happens a lot, yeah. 11 | Confidential May 8, 2008 Page 11 Inside the Actor’s Coaching Session Transcript
  12. 12. Time Speaker Transcript 27:03 Daniel Henning And so she didn’t. She kept going to this guy and paying a lot of money to this guy and never booking jobs. During the course of this year and half that she was with this manager of two years, there were two auditions that came up when the coach was out of town. And so she had to go to somebody else, she immediately came to me asked me not to charge, because she was paying so much to this other acting coach (laugh). 27:27 Tom Floyd Wow. 27:28 Daniel Henning She booked both of jobs. One of them was a TV movie that offered seven weeks in Australia and the other one of them was a series that she was on for seven years. 27:36 Tom Floyd Wow. 27:38 Daniel Henning So, it is a unique thing. And you never know. And I’m sure this acting coach helped many, many people and maybe all of those other successful actors of that manager made into stars, maybe he was the reason. But for this one particular person it didn’t work that way. 27:54 Tom Floyd So it sounds like that click wasn’t there because she’s feeling this pressure from her boyfriend to use that person that was hurting her and as soon as she found you and really found her voice and found that click, suddenly it’s like everything changed. 28:07 Daniel Herring And by the way, shortly after left the manager as well, because the manager had been obviously not quite understanding who she was as a talent and what she needed as an actor. 28:18 Tom Floyd Interesting. Well one thing Daniel, that I definitely want to ask you too to kind of build upon the point that the Backstage West made in terms of how a good coach helps an actor find a way to activate a character and I’m going to give a little star struck example because this is one of my favorite characters ever, I’m totally going to geek out about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Don’t get me started I could talk about that endlessly for a good two hours worth of show (laugh). But let’s use Sarah Michelle Gellar as an example, because I know that that is one of the actresses that you worked with and you worked with her while she was on Buffy one of my favorite shows of all time. 28:54 Daniel Henning Actually, I actually coached her for her auditions for Buffy through the whole audition process and she had many callbacks for that show. But I never on set coached her, she did not need that. Once we actually had found the character, she was able to certainly run with it. She is a remarkable actress and she was really able to take that work, the work that we did and turn it into, well, Buffy. 29:21 Tom Floyd And in her instance, they wanted her for the role of Cordelia in the show. I remember that I read that somewhere. 29:28 Daniel Henning Yeah, because she had been on a soap and she had played sort of the witchy character on a soap and - [interposing] 12 | Confidential May 8, 2008 Page 12 Inside the Actor’s Coaching Session Transcript
  13. 13. Time Speaker Transcript 29:33 Tom Floyd Kendall, right? 29:34 Daniel Henning Kendall, right, yes on All My Children. And actually won an Emmy for it at 18 and then came out to Los Angeles. And so they offered her the role of Cordelia and they are like, we love you, we love you. We want you to play Cordelia. She’s like no, no, no, but I’m Buffy. And they said, sweetie, we love you, you’re Cordelia. And she said, no, no, no I’m Buffy, let me show you. I’ll take Cordelia if you think I’m not Buffy, I’ll be in your show, but let me prove to you that I’m Buffy. And she had like four callbacks for it and worked hard, worked really hard to create that character that eventually you saw on television. There was an interesting additional element in terms of working on that, which was the movie version of Buffy. And - [interposing] 30:22 Tom Floyd Yep. That wasn’t nearly as successful as the show was. 30:25 Daniel Henning And that is all you would have known at the time right? Is this Christy Swanson portrayal of this character? And there was something in Sarah that said, she’s not that, I don’t believe she’s that. There is partially that, but there is a lot more to it and so her gut was really telling her to explore the character in a different way, which is a brave thing to do when there is already a version of that character in existence. 30:48 Adrian Zmed Daniel, what is also very brave to do and a very difficult thing to do from an actors perspective if I may add to that, is to change the directors and the producers and the network heads mind in how they looked at you. There is no question that you walk in and you are physically typed from the moment you walk in or if they have a perspective of you from something else that you have done and you are that person and it is almost like an act of god to change their mind. 31:18 Tom Floyd True (laughing). 31:20 Adrian Zmed It is unbelievable what you have to do. You have to do back flips to change their minds and convince them that you are not that person you are somebody else. 31:28 Tom Floyd Yeah. 31:29 Adrian Zmed I had a terrific manager when I first came to this town and he said you know what Adrian, if you understand the way the business perceives you your road to success in this town will be a lot easier. But if you want the business to give you something else, if that is what you want it will be a lot more difficult. If anybody can add to that, you know, I totally discovered that in my experience here. 31:54 Daniel Henning I think that is absolutely true. 13 | Confidential May 8, 2008 Page 13 Inside the Actor’s Coaching Session Transcript
  14. 14. Time Speaker Transcript 31:56 Lynette McNeill I do too. You know one other thing I would just add in terms of working with a coach and how that can help to activate a director, we haven’t talked about confidence. And I think that is a huge part in becoming a great actor is that you know, that you know, what you know. And you have a coach that is helping you to discover those abilities along the way. I was working Ann Archer at the time that she got Fatal Attraction and then later went onto be nominated for an Academy Award. And because we had been working so consistently together her confidence was so high and she was so strong and she’s a wonderful actress that she just walked in as the part. And there was just no questioning it and it was really remarkable and a wonderful experience. 32:48 Daniel Henning It’s one of those things I think you have to remember when you are talking about acting that to look at other businesses. If you make an investment you can look at the numbers and did you get your return or not. It is tangible in general, did that ad bring people to the movie, whatever it is. Are people buying your gasoline? These are tangible reactions to the choices that you make in business. Well in the acting world you go into that audition and if you don’t get the role it doesn’t mean you failed. If you do get the role it doesn’t actually even mean that you did a good job in the audition necessarily. There are a lot of other factors and sometimes you get feedback and sometimes you don’t. So your confidence level as Lynette just said, is vital to who you are as a business person. 33:41 Tom Floyd Definitely. And so one of the things that a coach is doing is really helping you work with them, making sure that you are staying confident and that you are focusing on your strengths and not letting things like not getting the audition or role bring you down. 33:55 Lynette McNeill Exactly. 33:55 Adrian Zmed That’s very difficult for an actor to have that perspective, especially if they are a young actor in the beginning of their careers. Very few actors have that confidence, especially young actors and all. If you are well, well trained and you know what you can do, you know you are good at what you do, those are the ones that usually go on and have that kind of confidence. Many times an actor, a young actor, needs a coach to help them through that process and say if they didn’t get the part it is not because they did badly, it is because they weren’t’ right for it many times. And many actors don’t get that perspective and have that kind of confidence. 14 | Confidential May 8, 2008 Page 14 Inside the Actor’s Coaching Session Transcript
  15. 15. Time Speaker Transcript 34:35 Lynette McNeill I think that’s true, what you said Adrian they don’t have the perspective. And so they introvert and think that there was something wrong with what they did when in fact that’s false. They could have been wonderful, but the director wanted to go with an entirely different type. 34:53 Daniel Henning I worked with a terrific actress named Robin Riker who has had quite a career in Hollywood I think she’s been the lead on seven different television series and has never really made it as a big star, but has worked constantly and she’s an amazing theater actress as well. 35:09 Adrian Zmed Yeah, I know Robin. 35:10 Tom Floyd She said an amazing thing about that and she’s got such a good perspective on it and it goes like this, other people don’t get my jobs, I get my jobs, and they get their jobs. 35:24 Tom Floyd Interesting. 35:25 Lynette McNeill Yes. 35:26 Tom Floyd I’m smiling and nodding all the way through that. So if confidence and perspective is one of the challenges that younger actors or newer actors tend to experience, how do those challenges evolve? So once you kind of conquer that and lets say you are an established actor you are a Nicole Kidman you are somebody who has been in the industry for a while, do you find as coaches that the types of challenges that people experience change? What are some of the challenges that folks who are more experienced face? 35:56 Daniel Henning This is Daniel. I know that running a theater in Hollywood is a very interesting thing to do. I have a slightly different perspective on Hollywood than most people. And one of the things that I have noticed is that it is very much cyclical. You may be a star one day and ten years from now you maybe scrounging to get your insurance covered. That’s just the way it works. 36:20 Tom Floyd (Laughing) 36:23 Daniel Henning That’s just the way it works. That doesn’t mean that it won’t happen again, that doesn’t mean that you won’t swing up again or what have you, but that is part of the process. And I find that for some people when they are at the bottom of the circle again, you lose that confidence. Because you think, well, I was a star and now I’m not and what have I done that has made me not a star and you can forget that you haven’t actually done anything, it’s just Hollywood. 36:46 Adrian Zmed That’s right, yeah. 15 | Confidential May 8, 2008 Page 15 Inside the Actor’s Coaching Session Transcript
  16. 16. Time Speaker Transcript 36:47 Lynette McNeill Yes. 36:48 Tom Floyd So it is just the industry, it is just the process. It is just how it goes. 36:50 Daniel Henning And that doesn’t mean at 83 years old James Cameron isn’t going to call you and ask you to star in Titanic. And Gloria Stewart becomes an Academy Award nominee after having gone away for many, many, many years. 37:03 Adrian Zmed It is the nature of the business, just the way that it happens. You are on top and you are on a hit series all of the sudden you are cancelled. A week before that the network was calling you and saying oh we need you to do this, we need you to go to this thing and all of the sudden you are cancelled and they won’t return your call. 37:20 Tom Floyd Yeah. 37:21 Adrian Zmed You’re done. 37:22 Lynette McNeill Exactly. 37:23 Adrian Zmed You are last week’s news and what have you done for me lately. 37:25 Lynette McNeill Right. And - [interposing] 37:26 Tom Floyd I hate to cut you off but I hear the music for our next commercial break. Let’s go on pause and stay tuned everyone, more from Insight on Coaching when we return. 16 | Confidential May 8, 2008 Page 16 Inside the Actor’s Coaching Session Transcript
  17. 17. Time Speaker Transcript 40:11 Tom Floyd Welcome back to Insight on Coaching. I’m Tom Floyd. Today the topic is coaching in the entertainment industry and with me are Daniel Henning, Lynette McNeill, Jerry Weissman and Adrian Zmed. Well in our last segment I would like to discuss the influence that coaching in the entertainment industry has had on executive coaching and coaching in corporate America. Some more data to quickly set the stage, according to the December 1999 issue of Harvard Management Communications one major topic covered was the influence of Broadway on Wall Street. And not just in terms of ticket sales and profits, but also on the value of theater training for better business presentations. Increasingly, presenters are embracing the idea of communication as performance. And they are turning to a logical source for guidance and inspiration, the theater. Also according to the article any business conference is or should be theatrical in the most positive sense. It should be entertaining, compelling, professional, memorable and personal. And its first concern should be for the audience. Business presentations typically lack most of those attributes. Martha Burgess, an actress and founder of the Atlanta-based consulting company Theatre Techniques for Business People, often encounters resistance when businesspeople are introduced to the concept. “Great actors feel real, honest emotion. We business people must come from the same honest place whether we are communicating on verbal or nonverbal levels. Melodrama occurs when there is a detachment from true feelings, when people ‘put on’ what they think they should be feeling.” Effective business presenting like fine acting flows out of performance energy. This is defined as a peak performance state of the mind and body in which brain and muscles work as one, also under - - with complete absorption of the material and moment. It is a state of being on. Some more information to quickly share. This from the April 21st, 1998 issue of the Wall Street Journal, management writer Quentin Hardy wrote about the use of acting coaches for CEO’s, noting that the growing demand for speaking skills has now drawn consulting giants such as Microsoft and Deloitte and Touché into the business of utilizing acting coaches. Describing one of our guests Jerry Weissman, Hardy wrote a dapper 63-year old former television executive Mr. Weissman teaches executives how to sell themselves to the investment community. His specialty is the road show, the grueling round of gatherings of investment professionals that precedes an initial public offering. Well Jerry, I definitely would like to start with you for this segment. Can you speak to us about some of your thoughts on the points that the Harvard Management Communications article made in terms of the value of theater training for things like better business presentations, better conferences and things like that. Do you agree? 17 | Confidential May 8, 2008 Page 17 Inside the Actor’s Coaching Session Transcript
  18. 18. Time Speaker Transcript 42:50 Jerry Well, let me begin with the old chestnut that the only bad publicity is no publicity. Weissman 42:55 Tom Floyd True (laugh). 42:57 Jerry Any person worth his wealth would welcome an article on the Wall Street Journal and Weissman Quentin Hardy’s article on the other Wall Street Journal was an enormous boom for my business in 1998. But if you think about the follow on to that, all the investment bankers and venture capitalists with whom I work constantly said, we don’t act. Our CEOs don’t act, don’t treat us as actors, and don’t treat them as actors. And for 19 ½ years that I’ve been in business I don’t treat business people as actors. Every time I do they balk, they fight me, and they put me away. The only approach that works with business people is to make them real. My career actually has in the background and I welcome the opportunity to speak to my colleagues on this radio program today, my career consists of a Master’s Degree is Speech and Drama from Stanford. But I have put all of that aside, I have put the drama aside and gone for the speech, gone for the rhetoric, gone for the organization of the material into a logical audience centric which is what Harvard does say and I do agree with that, audience centric presentation. But then delivering that message is a completely different point of view. The only way it works is to have business men and women be themselves and be natural and not feel as if they are performers. That is the only way it works. 44:31 Tom Floyd Its interesting that you bring this up because the concept of being authentic, if I had a nickel for every time that has come up on our show I would be a very rich man. 44:41 Daniel Henning Well, now see, to me you’ve just described acting. To me what I’m trying - this is Daniel. What I’m trying to get out of my actors is truthfulness, is an organic quality to the words that are coming out of their mouth. So you just described exactly what I want every one of my actors to do when the step onto a stage or in front of a camera. 45:00 Jerry Right, but they are taking the authentic quality on an assumed character, the CEO of Weissman a company that is starting up and trying to raise $80 million on a public market and the CEO happens to be a PhD in Biochemistry speaking to a MDA from Harvard. They have to be themselves and communicate directly to that person. And not assume a different character. So yes, authenticity is the overlap, Daniel, but the differences in the authenticity of the message to the specific audience. 45:36 Lynette McNeill I understand that. This is Lynette again. You are working with a person in front of you and working to bring out the best there is in him and thereby making him very comfortable in the situations that he is given. 18 | Confidential May 8, 2008 Page 18 Inside the Actor’s Coaching Session Transcript
  19. 19. Time Speaker Transcript 45:51 Jerry Correct. Weissman 45:53 Tom Floyd So its taking the audience in to consideration, it is making sure that as an executive you are delivering the right message and making sure in delivering that message your presentation, the main points you are trying to get across, the way that you deliver it, all of that is authentic and true to who you are. 46:11 Jerry Correct and the words have to the be words not of a play write or a screenwriter or a Weissman dramatists, but the words of the CEO or the manager or the VP or whoever it is emerges and distills out of his or her own experience in their daily life and their company. And then communicating that to whatever audience that is, whether that is investors. And the stakes are very high when the investors are out there. Very, very high. 46:38 Tom Floyd Oh, yes, I would definitely think that would make or break it. You have to get the money to start your business and do everything that you need to do, so being on point and authentic and connecting is critical. 46:50 Jerry I just read a number of articles in the newspaper, Tom, I don’t know if you picked up Weissman this one about an acting school that attempts to make business people more comfortable by having them to Improv. Well, if I were to do that with some of my business people, they would laugh me out of the room, they can’t improvise, they have to prepare, analyze, detail and organize their material and be very, very real. The authenticity is the overlap. The difference is one is an assumed role, the other is themselves. 47:23 Tom Floyd Well and it is interesting some of the things that we see in our line of work too, is that you will see - I’ll use video recordings as an example. There are times where some of the folks on my team will be brought on to help the script out the presentation for an executive. And it is interesting within the same company you will see some executives that come on that want everything, like a full-blown script. They literally have it in front of them on the teleprompter and they are literally reading. And some I have seen do that well. They can still put some personality into it. Others I see them literally it is like, I am the robot and this is what the next line says. 48:00 Jerry Daniel - [cross talk] Weissman 48:00 Tom Floyd And then you have others who come in and are like don’t even show that to me. I do freeform; I’m just going to talk. And again, there are times when I have seen that really work and then there are other times when you have people saying, um, um, er a lot - - [interposing]. 19 | Confidential May 8, 2008 Page 19 Inside the Actor’s Coaching Session Transcript
  20. 20. Time Speaker Transcript 48:12 Jerry Well, the teleprompter becomes an enormous obstacle because it breaks the Weissman communication with the audience. The eye contact is with the plastic screen and there is no opportunity to react and engage with the audience because the words are fixed on the scroll. So the way we work in Power Presentations is to get people to use the PowerPoint which is now the Lingua-Franka of business as a prompt and the presenter then adds value to what is on the screen and the PowerPoint and not a canned teleprompter. When that happens and the cadence is right and the performance is right, not the performance but the knowledge of the material is right then the performance - and that’s not acting, it is execution becomes very natural, very comfortable and very well rehearsed. 49:03 Tom Floyd Lynette, do you ever see the same type of thing when working with actors? Are there cases where they are reading from the script and connecting more with the script than they are with anybody else in the room? 49:13 Lynette McNeill Well that does come up and the words are just a guide, it is a roadmap. You are really working on character and relationship with the other actors. So, I’m always working to put the focus on who is that other person, what do you want from them so that there is really live communication happening and not something that is canned. Does that answer your question? 49:34 Tom Floyd Definitely. 49:35 Lynette McNeill Great. 49:36 Adrian Zmed If I can add to this, this is Adrian. Jerry, one question that I was going to ask you is, when I’m given a role I of course have to bring myself to the role. But it is still another person and this person has a different life than the life that I grew up. And when I - when somebody started hosting the shows I had to be myself and that was the most difficult thing for me to cross over and say, wait a minute, who am I. I’m just talking now to an audience and to add to what you just said, Lynette, I had to envision specific people that I was talking to, to become myself and be comfortable with myself. Jerry, what do you do the CEOs how do you draw out what is them? 50:22 Jerry I didn’t hear that question is that from Adrian? Weissman 50:26 Adrian Zmed Yes. 50:27 Jerry Could you just repeat it Tom, because the audio is low on Adrian. Weissman 20 | Confidential May 8, 2008 Page 20 Inside the Actor’s Coaching Session Transcript
  21. 21. Time Speaker Transcript 50:30 Tom Floyd Sure. The main question he is asking is when you work with CEOs you are trying to help them find a way to connect. And what are some of the main exercises or things that you really do to help them in that case? 50:47 Jerry Actually that is the subject of my book that is forthcoming at the end of this year or Weissman beginning of the next year. And it essentially involves engaging with the audience to the degree of customizing the material. For instance, understanding the audience, using their names, asking them questions, getting them involved, and referring to their business. It takes a lot of preparation that is the kind of attachment to the main body of the theme of the presentation. For instance, many CEOs go out and do road shows for their IPOs their initial public offerings and they deliver 80 iterations of the presentation within two weeks. Now, that could get really canned really fast. 51:26 Tom Floyd Yeah a bit of monotony there, I would think. 51:29 Jerry So what we do is we work very hard on connecting and customizing to each Weissman individual audience, using people’s names, forcing the presenter to engage with the audience, know the audience, understand the audience and it is amazing what happens when they start saying people’s names whether it is in a room full of 150 people at the Waldorf-Historia or four people at the Wall Street investment firm. When they start engaging and making customized comments away from - obviously you can’t do this on the teleprompter. When they start doing that and the audience begins to respond and engage the naturalness just kicks right in and the presenter settles down, the audience settles down and there is an electric connection between the presenter and the audience. 52:19 Tom Floyd So let’s use an example let’s say you are somebody who is warm and fuzzy, very personable more of a sales or marketing type background and you are speaking to a financial audience. This audience being an audience very much into the facts, the numbers. How do you still be yourself, your warm and personable self while still trying to connect with the audience who might not necessarily want that same point of view or? 52:41 Jerry Very simple, there is a trademark term I’ve used in my book, called WIIFY, which Weissman stands for what’s in it for you rather than what’s in it for me. And every time a sales person wants to delve into the model number or the serial number or the pie charts or the bar charts or the tables, I ask them to conclude that discussion of whatever that subject is with the sentence. Why is this important to you? Which is really a WIFFY, what’s in it for you? Why am I telling you this? And once that happens the barriers fall. People engage, the presenter engage, the audience responds because then the benefit is for them. 21 | Confidential May 8, 2008 Page 21 Inside the Actor’s Coaching Session Transcript
  22. 22. Time Speaker Transcript 53:23 Tom Floyd That is a great point. Well, unfortunately we are at the end of our show. A huge thank you to the four of you for joining us today. And as always a huge thank you to our audience and our listeners as well. F or more information about our show you can look us up on the Voice America Business channel or you can visit our website at and don’t forget you can also download the podcast version of our show through Apple iTunes, just open up iTunes and go to the music store and click podcast on the left side of the screen and enter Insight on Coaching in the search field. Thanks everyone we will see you next week. 22 | Confidential May 8, 2008 Page 22 Inside the Actor’s Coaching Session Transcript