Publicist Steven Le Vine sent in this interview he helped coordinate between our friend, Amy Lyndon, and actress Mara Marini (Parks and Recreation).
He writes: “The idea was to set up an interview, in the style of Interview Magazine, where two people from different areas of the industry, interview each other. For this particular interview, the idea was to have a booking coach interview an actress and vice-versa, highlighting the art of the craft from two keenly different perspectives, and shine a light on the actual work, talent and career orientation, rather than the “celebrity” factor that usually gets highlighted.”
Thanks Steven! Check it out below! Amy Lyndon: Mara, I really related when I read your interview about the agent that told you that she would only take you if you made some changes to your appearance. What did she ask you to do?
Mara Marini: I had long blond hair at the time and she said that I wasn’t ‘supermodely enough’ to go out for anything really beautiful, but I was funny and I didn’t look funny. So she said I needed to look more ‘charactery’ if I wanted to work, and she said ‘the only way I’ll take you is if you cut your hair short and dye it brown.’ So I went home and I really thought about it. I was really new, and I thought if this is what I really have to do, I would do it. I really wanted to work, and she came highly recommended. She was a good agent, from what I understood. So I did it. I got new headshots, spent a lot of money, and cried a lot, because I just didn’t feel like me.
AL: They don’t understand the amount of money they just cost you. That’s about $2,500 right there.
MM: For sure. Absolutely. And then, you know, the haircut, the pictures, and the retouching, the reproducing of the shots. Everything, you know?
AL: Did you start getting a lot of auditions?
MM: She didn’t send me out once.
AL: That’s really too bad. Actors are always so vulnerable. The thing to always think about is what are you selling. What’s the gift that you’re bringing to the industry? So how did you get back to the beautiful person that you are right now?
MM: It took a while. Your hair is your identity, part of your look, and I just didn’t feel like me for a while. I was with her for around eight months until I realized it wasn’t going anywhere. I started taking vitamins hoping my hair would grow faster, went back to blond and stopped working with her.
AL: It’s sort of like when you’re in a relationship with someone and the very thing they loved about you is the very thing they want to change. How do you prepare for an audition? What is your process?
MM: I guess it’s the same process for each one. I’ve had so much training over the years and I’ve kind of had to pick and choose what works best for me. But it’s definitely about getting as much information as I can. I’m big on research. If it’s a show currently running on Television, I like to watch some of the episodes ahead of time.
AL: What do you feel is the most important element of booking a role? How do you know that you’ve booked it?
MM: That’s such a hard question, because for instance, I’ll use “Parks and Recreation” as an example. As soon as I got the material, I thought ‘I have this. I know I have this.’ And I went over it and over it and over it, and I had such a good feeling about it. And then when I went in the room, I didn’t give the best performance that I thought I could. And I thought, ‘Ohh! I just botched this up! I really thought I had this.’ And then I got a call the next morning, ‘You booked it.’ It was immediate.
AL: So what does that tell you?
MM: Trust yourself.
AL: Absolutely! You’re actually better than you think. Even on your worst day, you’re still going to be great. It’s really just the difference between being great and brilliant. However, that little self-doubt could have left it open for your competition. Do you have any audition quirks or particular techniques that help you? Is there something you do?
MM: Well, when I feel I have everything down, as far as character and where she’s coming from with the dialogue and everything, and I feel like I’ve really assessed the situation, I think the one quirky thing are my nails. I just notice that they really add, for some reason, so much to the person. Some people say it’s shoes for the character, but for me, it’s my nails.
AL: You probably go into that nail place and say, ‘This is not the character. You have to change this color now. I won’t book it!’ It gives you that extra edge for you. Why do you believe that some actors succeed in Hollywood and others don’t.
MM: That’s a good question. It’s a difficult question, because I’m still hustling as well. It’s so hard because everyone’s path is so different. There’s no A + B = C. Everyone’s path is so different. The only thread I would say is persistence. I know there’s honestly nothing else I’d want to do, so for me I know I’m going be doing this when I’m hopefully 80 – even if it’s just community theater.
AL: Do you have any special lessons you’ve learned that you feel has helped you with your work?
MM: There have been so many. “Say what you mean. Mean what you say.” That’s really important. Also, “Know who you are. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Be you.” That was a big eye opener, because I thought ‘Well, I can do this, and this and this,’ and you know, I’m sure you can at some point, but know your way in and what you’re really good at.
AL: I always say, “Know what you’re selling. Know what they’re buying. And know that it’s been sold before.” Especially in comedy, they always hire the same types for the Series Regulars.
Mara Marini Interviews Amy Lyndon
MM: So you studied at Neighborhood Playhouse in New York and the London Academy of Performing Arts. You also studied with Stella Adler, and other prestigious acting coaches. You owned and operated a personal management company for nine years, have 82 IMDB credits, and have won awards for acting, directing, producing and writing. Wow! First, let me clarify – do you prefer being called a teacher or a coach?
AL: What I am is a booking coach who trains actors like they’re competing in the Acting Olympics. I usually tell people I’m like a Russian Skating Coach.
MM: Awesome. How did you segue into coaching and when did that happen?
AL: It happened 20 years ago. My friend asked me to coach her daughter for the starring role in Prehysteria! 2, and I said, ‘I’ve never coached anyone ever before,’ and she said, ‘Well hey, try it.’ And she ended up booking it. And I thought, ‘Funny, hmm…?’ So that’s when the “15 Guideline Map to Booking” technique was solidified.
MM: How has being a working actress shaped your work as a coach?
AL: Well, I’m a coach that’s out there in the rooms with my students, so therefore I can give them the inside scoop into the casting process. A lot of actors complain about how the casting director reads, but it’s not their fault, because if they acted with everybody they wouldn’t see how you read and they would be exhausted by the end of the day. I tell my people to not take it personally.
MM: How quickly did you find your stride as a coach?
AL: Well, this has been a 20-year process, but I’m happy to report that I now have 13 Lyndon Technique students as Series Regulars on Television.
MM: Has your technique significantly changed since you began coaching?
AL: No. The coaching is just sharper and faster, but the principals remain the same. I now have International Groups that come in every year and I get emails from all over the world from people booking because of my online seminars on my business site for actors http://tltaccess.com and studying my book.
MM: When you begin working with a student, can you immediately tell if he or she has what it takes to be an actor?
AL: I get asked that question a lot. I believe that every person can be an actor, and I really believe that to be true. With tenacity, a huge imagination, a desire to learn, the ability to humble oneself, completely giving themselves up to the text, being fearless, and having a lot of courage, anybody can be an actor.
MM: You also offer career consultations, and I was wondering how your technique has changed or adapted with social media?
AL: My expertise is in building a comprehensive package because a lot of people come here and their pictures, resumes, and demo reels don’t match their talent. So let’s say you’re an A-plus talent and you have a C-plus package, you’re going to get a C-plus rep. And then you’re going to get frustrated, because you’re not getting what is deserving of your talent.
MM: What was the best acting lesson, tip or technique that someone ever shared with you?
AL: When I studied with Harry Mastrogeorge, he actually saved me from the whole parochial process, and it’s because of his teaching that laid the foundation to my technique. The writer is God, the story comes first, it’s not about you – your ‘choices’ are in the writing.
MM: I know that you talk about looking at the punctuation. I remember one of my teachers saying, “Just completely ignore the punctuation. The words are just as-is.” And I thought, “That doesn’t make sense.”
AL: It’s how the character speaks. And that’s the way to morph into the character, because that is the character. That’s how they speak. And it’s how the writer hears them. Because if you have ever written anything in your life, I’m sure you’ve agonized over a period, exclamation point, comma, or semicolon. It’s huge. How are you going to tell the story if you don’t tell it from the writer’s intent? Also, how are you going to understand how you feel if you don’t know what you heard. All the information about your character is in the other person’s dialogue.
Amy Lyndon is considered one of Hollywood’s top booking coaches. Her belief is that anyone has the ability to act (with the proper tools and training), so she focuses more on helping her students treat their acting careers as a business, and help them to get booked. She currently has 13 Series Regulars on Television this season. She was a personal manager for nine years, and has been an international booking coach for 20. She is the founder of The Lyndon Technique, and wrote the book “A 15 Guideline Map to Booking.” Some of her success stories include Adam Brody (The O.C.), Denise Vasi (Single Ladies), Nadine Velazqez (Major Crimes) and Daytime Emmy Winner Christel Khalil. She has 40+ films to her credit, has starred in over 30 TV shows, and has appeared on stage, both in comedy and theater. For more information on Amy: www.coldreadingclasses.com or www.tltaccess.com
Here’s a recent feature on Yahoo! News – http://news.yahoo.com/hollywood-coach-auditioning-next-job-103037086.html
Mara Marini is a Canadian film, television, and theatre actress perhaps best known for her recurring role as Brandi Maxxxx on the hit NBC comedy series, “Parks and Recreation.” Marini has also appeared in a number of indie comedy and horror films. In 2013, she launched a popular digital comedy video series called “Inside Dating,” on Break.com, and will soon be guest starring on Disney’s “Kickin’ It” and shooting a politically-incorrect feature comedy this Fall. Mara also currently has her own column on SheKnows.com called “Who’s Hotter.” For more information on Mara, check out her official website, www.maramarini.com, or follow her on Facebook, or on Twitter at @popgloss.