An interview with acting coach Margie Haber




This month, Los Angeles-based acting coach Margie Haber will come to Hong Kong to run one of her renowned acting workshops. Whilst this is a great opportunity for local actors and performers to sit down with an overseas professional and polish their craft, Margie swears that there is more to acting when it comes to coaching others.


"I am more than an acting coach", Margie says: " I teach actors and all people to create a life and find their power. When I was an actress many, many years ago, I studied with the great gurus - Lee Strasberg, Milton Katselas, and much more.  I never felt safe in their classes nor did I feel they truly cared.  A guru to me is someone who knows their particular field but embraces their imperfections and encourages their students to do the same. For instance, if I want you to be vulnerable, I need to be vulnerable as well."


Margie's background includes work with Hollywood stars Halle Berry, Brad Pitt, Kyle Chandler, as well as many actors who are on the road to success. When she started off as an actor herself, she had no idea that teaching would be utterly life-changing for her. "It doesn't make a difference to me as long as artists create a life for themselves, not be stars. There is so much more to it."


We are curious to know (for all our fellow actors out there) what casting directors are after these days.


 "Casting directors are looking for someone who is confident to fully own the life of this character and walk into the room with power. Their job is on the line. They are just as fearful that they won't find the right person. I remember when they were casting the new series Bloodline starring my old student Kyle Chandler. They were having a difficult time finding a young actor to play Ben Mendelssohn's character Danny's son Nolan. Then my student Owen Teague was asked to read for that part. He loves to create lives, and we love creating them together. Owen walked into the room enjoying the opportunity to own this kid's life. Nolan was a troubled kid who was abandoned by his father. Owen experienced that life fully inside and out. He booked it but even if he didn't he would have loved the experience. We do FaceTime and Skype sessions each week as we create the life. He loves auditioning because he loves creating!"




Hong Kong is, of course, a different place when it comes to acting and performing, as opportunities can seem a little limited when compared to the West. Nevertheless, there is an awful lot of talent in Hong Kong and whether for fun or for paying the bills, people still have to go out and earn their part over an audition.


"Actors think that auditioning is a different animal than shooting a film or doing a play or doing a commercial. The truth is that the only difference is in quantity of time. When auditioning in Hollywood one may have three appointments in one day. The structure is necessary so that actors can be messy but having to memorise when having such little time is not as important as creating a life quickly and thoroughly. What would surprise many performers from all over the world is that an actor doesn't  have to memorise. The paper can be used if it is part of the player's behaviour. I call that the Haber phrasing. The biggest mistake actors make is to think of it as an audition. If one has the chance to go to twenty calls a year, there will then be twenty opportunities to live twenty different lives. That is the goal. Booking is icing on the cake."


We asked Margie if she could share with us her views on script approaching: "I don't believe in text analysis", she says, "It is far too intellectual. The goal is to be a human being, not an actor.  People are complicated. Never focus on approaching a script intellectually.  Create the slices of life that are not in the script!"


It is the first time that Margie has ventured to Hong Kong. We look forward to her discovering the creative vibe that our city has to offer. " I am hoping to share my knowledge and help actors find their playful child."


We are sure she won't be disappointed!



Margie Haber's acting workshops runs on January 17 from 7 to 10 pm. HKELD readers can enjoy a special discount by clicking here.


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