I recently was offered the most incredible opportunity: hired to be one of the directors for the 2017 ABC Discovers: Los Angeles Talent Showcase.
That experience was one of the most wonderful, difficult, and fulling jobs I have ever had as a director.
Part of Disney | ABC Television Group's ongoing commitment to create opportunities for undiscovered talent, this showcase features actors performing original one-act scenes to an audience of agents, managers, casting directors and entertainment professionals.
I wish I had the words explain to you the absolute joy I had every single minute of this job. I wish I could explain the love I have for the actors, the other directors, the ABC creative executives who poured their heart into this showcase, the creative director Sue Hamilton, and all of the shadow directors on this incredible journey.
It was like falling in love with directing, all over again.
Being able to work with actors in an intimate setting, for weeks on end, was both refreshing and exhausting. On one hand, it was wonderful to have a break from a film set. I didn't have to worry about a shot list, production design, going over budget because of overtime, or continuity in a scene. This stripped away story telling to the bones: the script and the actors.
It was the one job where I could just focus on working with the actor. Beat work, objectives, and intention.
And speaking of the actos.... WOW… what incredible actors they were. Every. Single. One.
Each actor came to rehearsals willing and ready to try something new.
A typical day looked like this: Arrive at 8am. Warm ups. Rehearsals time. Show the scene. Get notes from ABC executives on the scene. Apply the notes to the scene. Wash. Rinse Repeat until the end of the day which usually was around 7-8pm. Get home. Trying to keep your head from spinning, do it all again tomorrow.
I saw actors grow. Eventually tears would come. Tears of frustration, or doubt, but those actors would come back the next day, stronger and more resilient than ever.
Side note to my director/producer friends: hire these actors Any. Day. Of. The. Week. They are all amazing, kind, incredibly good natured and patient. But above all, they are really fricking talented.
This year's performers were all outstanding and each brought something special to the stage: Anisha Adusumilli (Toledo, Ohio), Tristan Bailey (Charlotte, North Carolina), Enisha Brewster (Long Island, New York), Lincoln A. Castellanos (Indio, California), Jake Choi (Queens, New York), Kunal Dudheker (Huntington Beach, California), J. Michael Evans (Haverford, Pennsylvania), Lauren Gaw (Houston, Texas), Lucy Keith (Los Angeles, California), Olivia Liang (Diamond Bar, California), Dawan Owens (Baltimore, Maryland), Kelsey Packwood (Seattle, Washington), Marissa Strickland (Los Angeles, California) and Rahjul Young (Lansdowne, Pennsylvania).
They each reminded me about how difficult the art of acting is: To be able to open up on a stage, to be vulnerable, to bring every emotion and all of their energy to a scene. And to give 100% every. single. time. There was never a time where an actor was too tired, to sick, or too busy to come in and work on a scene.
On a film set, sometimes you only have a few takes before you have to move on. These actors endured take after take, and a number of executive notes, in order to create the perfect scene that would showcase their work.
All of the actors selected for the ABC Talent Showcase endured a rigorous audition and rehearsal process. Thousands of actors applied. Only 12 were selected and paired with ABC casting executives who work with the actors and with us directors to put together the one-night live performance.
The night was an industry-only event attended by producers, agents, casting directors and entertainment executives.
Past participants have successfully navigated the entertainment industry to become some of the most notable stars of this generation, including Academy Award®-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o of "12 Years a Slave"; Gina Rodriguez, 2015 Golden Globe Winner for Best Actress in a Comedy, "Jane the Virgin"; Chadwick Boseman of "Black Panther" and Randall Park of "Fresh Off the Boat," among many others.
I have never been challenged as much as I have on this job. Every day I was pushed to be a better director. I learned more from the ABC casting executives who have dozens of years of experience with actors and writers, that I have from any class or set I have been on.
I will never forget this wonderful adventure, and I will never forget every single actor who gave their everything for this one night in November.
For more photos please click here.