It’s a wrap!
On November 12th, the 2016 Talent Diversity Initiative students completed their six-week program with a reception at Cast Iron Studios.
Our 32 first-year students were joined by a group of 16 intermediate students who were able to come back for more training, thanks to the support and generosity of the Portland Film Office and the Governor’s Office of Film and Television.
The need for more diverse actors in shows like The Librarians and Grimm is what led to the creation of the Initiative in 2015.
Turner Network Television, whose series The Librarians shoots in Portland, has been a primary financial partner in the project both years, thanks to their Manager of Casting, Alexis Booth.
Additional support was provided by Milagro Theatre, The August Wilson Red Door Project and Artists Repertory Theatre.
The TDI has been lucky enough to provide excellent coaching by some of Portland’s best: Scott Rogers of Scott Rogers Studios and Jana Lee Hamblin of Act Now Studio returned this year to teach our intermediate program. Kristina Haddad of The Actor’s Lab Portland, and Ben Newman of Portland Actors Conservatory came on board in 2016 to work with our first-year students.
Their passion and enthusiasm was contagious, which really helped spark the desire to succeed in their students. Ben recently wrote:
“Being asked to teach–anything really–but especially something I’ve spent the majority of my life pursuing, is the greatest affirmation one can hope for. Empowering ‘young’ actors to reach full potential has quickly become the most rewarding thing in my life over the past few years. This group was no exception. Humility is key, but I’d venture to say that a few of these people had some big moments of self discovery. It also seems like they made some new and important friendships.”
As part of the application process, the nominees were able to list what specific things they felt they needed to work on in order to become more successful. Acting on camera, audition jitters, memorizing lines and taking direction are just a few examples of skills that they wanted to work on. Coaches Ben Newman and Kristina Haddad took this list into consideration when they planned their classes.
The first-year program culminated on Saturday with mock auditions, two break-out sessions on special skills by Fight Choreographer Kendall Wells and Dialect Coach Mary MacDonald-Lewis, a Q&A with the Cast Iron Studios team, plus special guest speaker Norberto Barba, Director and Executive Producer on five seasons of Grimm. Norberto serves on the DGA Diversity Committee, as well as their Latino Committee and Creative Rights Committee, and shared invaluable information with our graduates.
The second-year students joined our first-year students at a post-graduation reception at CIS.
Cast Iron Studios is committed to promoting a diverse and inclusive talent pool in the Northwest, and wants to thank all of its generous sponsors. We would love to see this program expand and flourish in the coming years, perhaps one day becoming its own entity!
PS: Check out our full photo gallery here, courtesy of NebCat Photography.