Brandon Xie ’22: Acting for the Multihyphenate
Branching into theater with introductory workshops taught by professional acting coaches in Los Angeles.
About the Project
My project centers around furthering my acting experience and training by taking classes taught by renowned acting coaches (Stella Adler, Lesly Kahn, etc.). Lesly taught an introductory work session and her renowned Comedy Intensive class. Through the five sessions I had with her and the class, I learned about the nuances and methods successful actors use to prepare for every role.
The experiences and strategies I gained from Lesly’s class helped immensely with the projects I pursued over the summer. In particular, I was able to write, direct, produce, and star in a short film with other Duke students who were out in LA for their internships and jobs. As a result of my training, I delivered a performance that was far superior to anything I did before; I felt more comfortable embodying my character’s mannerisms and behaviors, and focused on the current moment rather than the lines that came next.
There were definitely moments when I felt completely overwhelmed and exhausted, but I still loved every second of it. The community was unlike anything I encountered before: everyone was there to not only grind and work on their own craft but to also support each other. I plan on continuing on this path and journey to become a working creative and multihyphenate.
What changes did you notice in your summer experience due to COVID-19?
The biggest impact COVID-19 had on my project was that everything remained remote and virtual, even after masking mandates and in-person restrictions were lifted. Both of my classes with Lesly Kahn were held through Zoom, which was one of the class’ only pitfalls. Acting is something that needs people to be in the same room or stage for their full potential to be reached. Having the ability to feel the energy and play off the chemistry with another actor is one of the most valuable skills for a rising actor to learn. As such, staring at a fellow actor’s face on a computer screen paled in comparison; even though I was looking at their facial expressions and emotional states, sitting in my room broke the immersion that would have been presented otherwise.
The Benenson Award in the Arts
The Benenson Awards in the Arts provide funding for fees, travel and other educational expenses for arts-centered projects proposed by undergraduates.