Acting Coach Offers App to Assist Actors On the Go
Margie Haber has been a teacher and coach for Brad Pitt, Halle Berry and others. Now she offers her classes and techniques on digital devices.
When Canadian actress Julia Voth is on the set of City TV's sitcom Package Deal, there are constant changes in the script and direction. That's when she pulls out her mobile phone to access the app Stop Acting! The Audition Class With Margie Haber.
"I use it as a quick reference when the story, jokes or relationship with guest stars change," says Voth. "Even on live-audience shoot days, when we had 300 people in our audience, I could adjust on the fly if something wasn't working or I wasn't feeling it."
Margie Haber has been teaching and coaching actors in Los Angeles -- including Brad Pitt, Halle Berry and Vince Vaughn -- for more than 35 years. But her app only came out this past April.
Haber says she decided that for those unable to physically attend her intensive classes and workshops, she would create a supplement that would allow her to share her lessons and mentor students on the go. "I want everybody who works with me," says Haber, "to know they're not alone."
There are a wide range of apps available for actors today, but the majority provide advice on tools, resources and guides to coaches, while others offer links to possible jobs or a way to download and breakdown a script.
One that is similar to Haber's app is What It Is, by acting teacher Scott Sedita. His is a tool to help actors prepare for auditions by offering techniques for preparation and scheduling. Haber's app, however, is unique because it's her own system developed over many years.
A native of New York and a graduate of Ithaca College with a master's from Brooklyn College, Haber worked as an actor and then as a teacher at the Lee Strasberg Institute before founding her own studios in the 1980s. In 2001, she published the book How to Get the Part … Without Falling Apart.
She met Pitt when he was about to audition for his breakout role in Thelma & Louise, and she has been in demand as a teacher and coach ever since.
Haber realized that when actors try to act, it isn't real. So she now emphasizes her concept of living life through acting. "I want my students to not get caught up in the technical aspects of auditioning," she explains. "I want them to live life and not try to be actors."
She designed the app not so much as something to watch or read, but rather to use as a kind of "workout," just as people would physically train their bodies.
Broken up into approximately five-minute videos, the app contains over 130 minutes of video and text guides on audition tips and acting techniques, including Margie's 10 Steps for Auditioning and the Haber Phase Technique.
It also features personal interviews with some of her clients, including Colin Egglesfield, Lisa Rinna and Alexandra Paul.
British actor Oliver Kieran-Jones, who has a recurring role on Glee as Adam Crawford, leader of the NYADA glee club, says Haber taught him "how to break restrictive habits and become more free, more spontaneous, and more authentic in the work. She has taught me how to truly embrace the idea of 'living the life' rather than focus on trying to work out how to do a scene."
Kieran-Jones says he uses the app as "a much more effective tool to learn about acting since you see and experience the lesson."
"It's also really simple to use," adds Kieran-Jones. "When I first purchased the app, I got home and watched the whole thing with an actor friend of mine. Now, with a working knowledge of what was on the app, I can easily scroll to a chapter and remind myself of things before an audition."
"I recently had a video audition that I had to do very quickly, with no time to really prepare," recalls actress Courtney Shier (Indigo, Vitreous Floaters). "I got so nervous and in my head about the choices I 'should' make. So I sat down with Margie's app as my coach to remember why I do this and to get back into my body so that I could stop 'acting'!"
For more information, go to margiehaber.com.