GUEST TEACHER | Prepare the audition, master the callback, and get ready to work on set.
Demystify co-star roles and prepare the “under-5” audition with confidence. Whether you’re new to co-stars or seasoned but hitting a ceiling, learn and practice the key skills needed to survive and thrive in these fast-moving scenarios.
CO-STARS ARE EASY…RIGHT?
A co-star is an opportunity for you to get in the game and play. We always hear stories about how it’s done, but when you’re actually on a professional set, that’s when you get the hands-on experience. Doing co-stars is more than just booking the role and being prepared—it’s the best way to learn the ins and outs of set life.
Let me tell you a story about knee pads. I was on set playing a nurse. This was my seventh gig as a co-star for a network show, and I figured, okay, I know how this works: arrive on time, be prepared, land on the mark, and make life easy for the director. In and out…simple, right? Not always.
DEALING WITH THE UNEXPECTED
In rehearsal on set, I was directed to kneel directly on the floor (with nothing under my knees) and perform chest compressions throughout the entire scene. I knew I had to do these chest compressions because (1) this is what I did in my audition, and (2) the action is written in the stage directions. Easy enough.
We’re shooting the same scene from different angles. About 45 minutes into shooting, I started to feel sharp pains in my knees. During a quick break while the crew was changing the camera lens, I ran into the bathroom, rolled up my nurse scrubs, and noticed huge bruises on my knees. I knew I needed to get off the floor and save my knees, but my note from the last take was to “make the chest compressions a little more intense.” The problem was that the more I did these chest compressions, the more my knees dug into the cement floor. And it hurt.
Panic mode set in. I couldn’t do my job. I started worrying about who I could ask for help. I decided to go through the chain of command and asked the PA who was working with the actors: “Hey, my knees are shot after doing all these takes. Can I get some knee pads?” After that didn’t work, I recognized someone in wardrobe from my fitting and made the same request. No go. Finally, I went up to the AD, which I usually try not to do. My motto was to be professional and make everyone’s life easy, but I was still in pain. The AD promised we only had two more takes. However, I did not have what I needed to do my job and perform these chest compressions without pain.
ASKING FOR WHAT YOU NEED ON SET
Now, I’m not sharing this story to talk negatively about the production. Quite the contrary. I take accountability. If I need something on set to do my job, I need to communicate. I shouldn’t wait around thinking that being a co-star means I’m not valuable enough to be heard, or that expressing my needs makes me a diva. I was simply asking for knee pads so I could give production what they wanted in the shot. It was an easy fix that I shouldn’t have overlooked. Lesson learned.
Even though I’ve been working professionally for several years, there’s always something to be learned on set. And that’s the gem of being a co-star. We hype ourselves up to book the job, so when we finally get the job, we need to get to work!
Athena Colón is a bilingual, native New York actress and teaching artist.
Athena has worked as an independent teacher and coach in New York City for 10+ years. She has trained with me for several years as a coach, and when I prepare actors for screen tests, I frequently add her to the process—including for coaching sessions with Halle Bailey (The Little Mermaid) and Jakhara Smith (Nos4A2).
While earning her BFA in Theater from Long Island University–C.W. Post, she co-created a Suzuki-based performance, Third Child, which toured Italy, the Czech Republic, and New York City. Her recent TV credits include: Tracy Morgan’s The Last O.G., CBS’s Bull, Martin Scorsese’s Vinyl, New Amsterdam, Jessica Jones, and Law & Order: SVU. When she’s not acting on stage or film, Athena teaches acting and conducts theater workshops in NYC to over five hundred youth annually. She proudly collaborates with the Theater Development Fund, Family Life Theater, DreamYard, Repertorio Español, and Manhattan Theater Club.
Athena is a super strong coach who will draw out your confidence and (re)energize your work. Actors just adore her laser-focused, energetic coaching! Athena‘s classes are totally invigorating. They’re also super fun and incredibly informative—she gives ALL the insider, behind-the-scenes knowledge you’ll really want to know when you head to set! Athena has been around the block on so many TV sets. I really, really love for working artists to teach each other.
This class is designed for actors working towards these first important opportunities on major television shows.
This class is designed for actors ready to break into the business as a co-star.
Everyone needs to start somewhere. And those first times on set are valuable experiences to learn, grow, and gain confidence.
Learn how to use physical action and the text to get out of your own way. Keep your energy fresh and stay flexible, whether you’re given direction or not. Practice key tips on how to survive and thrive on a TV set.
TO PREPARE: Actor will be assigned 1 scene.
Full disclosure—please note that we do not guarantee that actors in these workshops will be hired for any project that we might direct or cast. We do guarantee my supportive honesty and my open sharing of knowledge. We teach and coach because we enjoy supporting actors as they develop their process of working within the audition room. We seek to build their knowledge about the business of auditioning.