I taught my first Acting for Non-Actors class in July of 2007. At the time, I was working as an actor and taking a lot of acting classes myself. And getting so much out of them! I was having a lot of fun, developing confidence and a sense of personal presence, building communication skills, and meeting new people. And I thought, “hey! Other people would really enjoy this, too!” I had a lot of friends who were non-actors and business professionals… I was sure they could benefit from these kind of classes as well. So I started putting together my first Acting for Non-Actors class. Oftentimes, acting classes are very competitive and devote a lot of time and focus to the business side of acting. I wanted my class to focus on the craft of acting and what can be gained on a personal and professional level from it. The first class I taught was mainly filled with friends and friends of friends. I only ever intended to teach that one class. But those first students started referring other friends and coworkers and requesting different kinds of classes, and the studio expanded.
BDD: What kind of classes do you offer, where does the inspiration come from, what are the based on?
Lessons 4 Fun Studio offers a variety of different Acting for Non-Actors classes– some short term and some that are ongoing programs. We also offer Singing for Non-Singers and other beginner singing classes, as well writing classes, dance classes, and other creativity classes, including “The Artist’s Way” group coaching. Most of our classes have been created by request of the students. If several students are asking for the same kind of class, it means there’s a demand for it, so I create that space for them. I myself am a learner– I like to take a lot of classes– so I always try to create the kind of classes that I would want to take myself.
BDD: Who would benefit the most from your classes?
Anyone who really wants to be there. These classes can help a wide range of people: the business person who wants to improve their presentation skills; the trial lawyer who needs to “perform” in the courtroom; teachers or managers who want to learn new exercises to bring back to their own groups; other types of artists who want to expand their art by experiencing the craft of acting; or anyone who wants to incorporate a new, enjoyable activity into their week.
BDD: What are the top three lessons people walk away with from your classes?
Everyone walks away with something different from our classes, depending on what they really need and what they were most impacted by. But these are some of my favorite lessons…. 1) Good acting always has truth in it. People say that actors are good liars. In a way, they are, but their lies are always based in truth and for the purpose of art. 2) If you’re having fun doing, we’ll have fun watching. Allow yourself to have a good time! 3) Nervousness is excitement without breath.
BDD: What’s the usual age, gender, profession mix in your classes?
All classes are for adult beginners. The participants are as diverse as New York itself, representing a wide range of nationalities and professional backgrounds.
BDD: How do you think acting classes can help newly single people?
First of all, our classes can give you something to be passionate about. I believe that that feeling of passion is transferrable from one area of your life to another… and who doesn’t want more passion in their life! Also, our classes help build confidence and communication skills, as well as teach you how to be truly present with another person. That last part is so important… I believe the greatest gift you can give someone is to really be there, actually listening to them. Lastly, although it’s not the focus of the studio, people do meet in our classes. Quite a few relationships have come from them!
BDD: Would you say that acting classes are therapeutic? Why?
Acting is not therapy. I’m not a therapist. If someone needs therapy, they should go somewhere else. That being said, there is a therapeutic side to the classes, because you get to truthfully express yourself and let go. In the real world, you’re expected to behave in a certain way. Oftentimes, people don’t actually know how to be their true selves. At Lessons 4 Fun Studio, our focus is on creating a safe space in which people can begin to find that truth… and I’m honored to have the opportunity of guiding them toward those discoveries.
BDD: Can absolutely anyone participate?
Yes- if you desire to live, learn, grow- you are welcome at the Lessons 4 Fun Studio. Since most classes are specifically created for beginning level students, NO experience is necessary!
BDD: Is any prior relevant experience, education required?
BDD: Do you ever turn anyone down?
Yes, but never because of lack of experience. Occasionally, if it seems like someone is seeking something from a class that is not consistent with the purpose of that class, or they will have to miss too many classes in a single session, we will try to re-direct them to another class or session. Our detailed class description and thorough registration process helps ensure there is a good match between the interests and goals of the applicant and what the class actually has to offer.
BDD: After an acting class am I going to be more myself or quite the opposite?
You should leave our acting classes (especially the “Acting in the Meisner Technique” for Non-Actors class) more connected to yourself and more aware of whether your actions come from true instinct or just habit.
BDD: Nelly, thank you for you time!
For more information about the Lessons 4 Fun Studio (in NYC) visit:
Lessons 4 Fun Studio offers classes in a friendly and supportive environment for New Yorkers to build confidence, explore their creativity & have a great time.
Nelly Odessa is a highly experienced teacher of acting and creativity specializing in coaching non-actors. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Lesson 4 Fun Studio and has been teaching the studio’s most popular beginner acting class “Acting for Non-Actors” since July 2007. Nelly has studied a variety of acting techniques and styles, and has worked in theatre, commercials, film and television; her performances have been acclaimed by numerous publication, including The New York Times. Ms. Odessa has also worked as a director, casting director, stage manager, and film producer. Quote: “People learn best while having fun”