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Samantha Steger ‘20: Acting for Film

Project Date:
Project Date: Summer 2019

I spent the summer studying with the New York Film Academy in Paris, France. There, I got the chance to spend five days a week learning on-camera acting technique. After class and on weekends I acted in students' films, all in the place where cinema was born.

About the Artist

I am a junior at Duke University. I am Editor-in-Chief of the @DukeStudents social media team. I am also a writer for The Kenan Institute of Ethics. When I’m not navigating countless social accounts for these groups (my saved passwords are ridiculous), I’m acting. I have starred in several independent films and on-stage productions. Acting is my absolute favorite thing to do, and I’ll be graduating a year early to go pursue my dreams in New York in May.

About the Project

I love acting. It’s something I’ve always done. I also love languages. I spent most of my childhood moving around and learning them. This summer, I was lucky enough to combine both of these passions. While this was wonderful, it certainly was not easy. The school I attended was tough. The two professors, determined to push their five acting students to the max, would often force us to discuss traumatic moments in life to our classmates. I was frustrated by these exercises: for me, acting has always been an escape, and a fun one at that. I did not feel like a talented actor simply because I could cry about real things. Being able to cry does not an actor make. This difference in opinion between myself and my professors put a bit of a damper on my days in class, but challenged me nonetheless.

Despite this, I learned about myself as both a performer and a person. I learned that I do not have to share the same artistic opinion with someone just because he/she might be in a position of authority. I can learn from them, choose whether to accept their methods or not, and move on. Certain things work for me and not for others. I also learned that dramatic acting is not what I want to do; I want to be a comedic actor. I want to run around in crazy costumes and say ridiculous things. I’ll leave the crying for those who enjoy it. This in itself was a priceless lesson to learn.

Another great outcome of the summer was that I left with footage for my acting reel. Now that I’m in New York City for the semester, I’ve been able to audition for roles that I previously could not have gone out for without a reel. I’ve been called in to quite a few in just the one week that I have been here. I also learned plenty about the business of acting during my time in Paris. This knowledge has already come in handy in my new internship as a talent rep.

Had it not been for the Benenson, I would not have been able to submit to roles in the city. But thanks to the award, I’m beginning to establish myself as a real actor in the Big Apple.