INTERVIEWER: How did the Acting Corps get started?
EUGENE BUICA: It was the result of an organic outgrowth of my desire to teach
acting, really. I extracted a one-year commitment from a handful of students to
gather on a weekly basis, and I would teach them free of charge. Right over here
in Burbank Park, in fact, beside the cemetery, in the shadow of Forest Lawn,
where some of our finest actors of yore reside.
INTERVIEWER: That’s quite a trajectory, from an outdoor public park in Burbank,
to this beautiful, newly renovated facility here in North Hollywood.
EB: It has taken years, but we’ve been fortunate. It’s a testament to the
collective effort sustained by my students and myself.
INTERVIEWER: You were a student of Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood
EB: I was, as were many others. The Meisner work, along with Chekhov, coupled
with what I have learned teaching all these years, informs the classes we offer.
INTERVIEWER: Can you speak to what you think of as any one particular conceit
that the Acting Corps brings to the study of acting?
EB: Great question. I think what I’m most proudest of is the practical
application we bring to every aspect of the school -- including the desire to
have each and every student up and running as an actor who earns a living, as
soon as possible. There is always a great deal of talk regarding the various
schools of acting, various lineages of teaching, and that’s all fine. We’ve all
learned a great deal from the teachers that have come before us. Sanford Meisner
for example. He brought such powerful concepts to the world of acting, and we
implement them ourselves in our classes, among other teachings. That said, we
also seek to do away with any direct or subtle forms of idolatry regarding
teachers and lineage. We do our best to take the mystery out of acting. There is
theory, of course, and we learn from others, but primarily I believe we learn by
doing. Each student gets to act in every class, every day. I’m very proud of
INTERVIEWER: And how have your students done, in terms of success?
EB: Quite well, in fact. Which is consistent with the school’s mission. I do not
suggest to my students that the process includes some long, drawn-out, fifteen
year apprenticeship -- an unpaid apprenticeship I might add. That’s bunk. This
is often the belief among artists, in fact, that you have to spend year upon
year in the trenches of poverty before you are able to make money. We do not
subscribe to that belief at the Acting Corps. That said, we’re also not selling
anyone the Brooklyn Bridge. But we do believe you can be up and running as a
competent actor and earning a living much sooner rather than later, if you are
sincere in your efforts. Twelve hundred of our students currently on IMDB can
attest to that.
INTERVIEWER: What does that mean, “sincere in your efforts”?
EB: It means if you take it seriously, if you go after it as if you truly mean
to succeed, as if it is your life’s work. This desire will transmit itself to
the people who do the hiring, believe me. They don’t want to hire dilettantes,
they want to hire pros. I spot it right away in students all the time. It’s very
easy to spot, the sincere effort I’m talking about.
INTERVIEWER: And if a student doesn’t have the natural ability, the talent?
EB: In my experience it generally makes itself known by the end of Actors’ Boot
Camp I, which immerses students in the principles of acting. Boot Camp I,
besides serving to lay a strong foundation, also generally works to weed out
those who probably should perhaps pursue other art forms. Boot Camp II is by
INTERVIEWER: How many Acting Corps students have managed to earn money through
their acting, do you know?
EB: From our best estimates roughly half. Close to fifty percent of Acting Corps
alumni have book paying work. This comes from the IMBd, the industry website
that tracks film and television productions. This figure, this percentage, I am
quite proud of. It’s something I constantly reiterate to my students, as they
advance through the course of study here at the Corps, Actors’ Boot Camp I and
II, on through to the Master Class. That if they sustain the effort and give a
hundred percent of what they can give each day to this pursuit, leaving no stone
unturned, they will have all the skills and tools they need to succeed. As you
build your craft, you start to live in such a way that failure stops making much
INTERVIEWER: This has been a very successful interview.
EB: Feels good, doesn’t it?
INTERVIEWER (laughs): Thank you!
EB: You’re welcome -- thank you.