CONVERSATIONS WITH ATHENA
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!
ABOUT ATHENA COLÓN
Athena Colón is a New York City Actress and Teaching Artist. Athena has been training with Heidi for several years and coaching for 10+ years. Recent TV and Co-Star credits include: NEW AMSTERDAM, JESSICA JONES, BULL, LAW & ORDER: SVU, THE LAST O.G., HBO’s VYNIL, EAST WILLY B, HAPPYISH, UNTITLED JENNY LUMET PROJECT (pilot). She proudly teaches with the Theatre Development Fund, Family Life Theatre, Dream Yard and the Heidi Marshall Studio. www.AthenaColon.com
WHO IS THIS CLASS GOOD FOR
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.
WHAT YOU GET
- 4 hours
- Individual Coaching in Class Setting
- Filmed scenes
- Practice of scenes
- Exercises and Prep Tools
Learn how to use physical action and the text to get out of your own way. Keep it fresh and stay flexible when taking direction even when direction isn’t given. Practice key tips on how to survive and thrive on a TV set.
- How to prep a Co-Star audition
- How to rely on the script to anchor choices
- How to find specific behaviors/tasks for character
- How to find your eye line and mark
- How to raise the stakes (if needed)
- How to stay flexible in the audition
- How to take direction even when direction isn’t given
- Quick Breakdown of 3Ws: Who, Where, What – why they’re crucial
Actor will be assigned 1 scene
“It is so important to walk into a room feeling so prepared that you can deliver in any situation. Athena gets to the bottom of a text quickly. She recognizes your strengths to bring out a variety of colors and tactics to tell the story. I felt free working with her and really allowed myself to take risks in the audition room.”
- Reece Vernier Santos
“Athena was brilliant at helping break down the moments in the scene and bring in more sides in the character along with the circumstances and reality of the world of the film. I felt confident and ready to work in the room, and trusted the work we’d done. The audition went great and I was able to do my best work.”
- Maria Diez https://www.mariafernandadiez.com
“I walked out of my audition feeling whole and happy and confident that I brought my best! Thank you for your coaching! It was SO valuable. In one short hour, you were able to break down the scene and help me fortify a strong emotional prep for a major audition.”
- Chris Russell https://www.chrisrussellactor.com
“I got to know how terrific a coach Athena is when she helped me work on a pilot audition. She partners with you to find the truth and nuances of the scene and character, while also making sure the best of you is captured. Her work is rich and nuanced and fully supports the individual process.”
- Farah Bala
“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.”
- Dan Truman http://www.dantruman.com
“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.”
- Jennifer Lieberman http://www.jenniferliebermanactor.com
- Grace Guadagnino Grace https://www.graceguad.com/
The Co-Star class is great! Lots of fun mixed with information. Great balance.
“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.”
- Mariana Parma
“Loved Athena! She is generous and supportive and non judgmental!”
- June Ballinger
Athena was AWESOME. Great class.
- Ray Brahmi