STUDIO TEACHER | Short scenes, lots to do.
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.
Prepare the audition, master the callback, and get ready to work on set.
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, teaching artist, and acting coach.
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, and DreamYard.
Athena is a super strong coach who will draw out your confidence and (re)energize your work. Heidi includes Athena in the prep process for actors in screen tests and role prep (i.e.Hallie Bailey is starring as Disney’s live-action Little Mermaid!) 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.
You will need to plan for homework time to research your assignment and prepare your materials. All studio classes are designed to stretch and support your complete prep process as an actor for self-tapes and in-person auditions. The more you put into the class, the more you get out of it!
WORKING WITH GUEST TEACHERS
Artists teaching artists is the inspiration for bringing Guest Teachers to the studio. This class is intended to expand your process as an actor and to reinforce your skills, confidence, and natural talent.
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.
The class time was well sculpted. Good sequence. Glad it was a small size.
I really loved Athena’s energy and felt like I could be honest with her, and trust what she had to say/relay from her experience. She was great at getting her bullet points across, and I left feeling like I had just had a crash-course in on-camera work: how to get it, how to do it, how to keep it, how to move on. I love that she talked about mess-ups and pitfalls, how to recover from them, forgive yourself and keep going. It knocked the industry off the pedestal a bit, which is SUPER helpful (it’s a job!).
The day/time and length were perfect for me. I work a M-F 9-5, so it didn’t interfere with work. Also, I could keep my focus for its entirety and didn’t feel so burned out at the end, that I was actually able to reflect and contemplate what I learned and how to apply it — an important step in learning, I think. In addition, I left with a sense of accomplishment and a boosted self-esteem. I feel like everything I learned Saturday was usable, doable & applicable. “I said, ‘I can do that!'” A nice foundation on which to layer building blocks! **HIGHLY RECOMMENDED**
Wonderful. She was great, and the content was great, heads and tails more exciting and productive than anything I have taken of late.
My experience in the class was really great. I came to class feeling nervous, but Athena welcomed me with such a positive energy. I really appreciated her encouragement and support during the class. In addition to the practical tools Athena taught me, I love that I gain positive outlook toward auditioning for and working in TV/film from the class.
I thought Athena structured the class really well. Her progression from a profound theater game, then rehearsing in pairs several times, then on camera audition work with adjustments and ending with an on set reenactment, really covered a lot of ground in 4 hours and everyone received some excellent feedback. She is enthusiastic and knowledgeable.
I really like “one shot workshops.” And the information Athena had to share fit perfectly into the 4 hours.
Athena is a wonderful teacher!
I would recommend this class to others. Very worthwhile!
I feel that I would be more prepared for both a Co-star audition AND more prepared for actually doing a Co-star role. Athena gave us a very vivid picture of what is involved in being on the set. All the positives and some of the ‘less than positives’ that might be present.
I found this to be wonderfully informative and interesting. It was really cool to see how each person brought something to the same role, and that we all were able to make our own impression even though the dialogue isn’t very heavy.
I loved her warmup – on our feet, throwing balls, getting into our physicality – and her focus on actor process. Also she has such clarity about what level you have to be at to work. It is invaluable to have working actors teaching, who know the process from the inside.
Athena’s class was great. Really made me re-think the way I’m approaching these Co-star auditions which often stump me with their seeming simplicity.
Athena was AWESOME. Great class.
Loved Athena! She is generous and supportive and non judgmental!
This class made me realize to have fun with co star roles, not to stress over it. Make it fun discovering things in the scene that make you excited.
The Co-Star class is great! Lots of fun mixed with information. Great balance.
Athena was so funny and genuine. She made us feel so comfortable from the start!
You totally rock. Thank you sooooo much for all your help playing with me and bring out some really strong choices. I’m so grateful for you incredible energy and commitment to finding all the colors in the work.
That was so helpful and so great. Thank you. And they last note about thanking self was really helpful in shifting gears again. Thank you Athena – wise like your namesake.
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.