Darien acting coach talks audition stress and making opportunities
In an a rejection heavy field like acting Matt Newton works to aid actors of all ages prepare and navigate the grueling and stressful elements of auditioning.
“I’m the person who preps them for the big game,” Newton, the founder of MN Acting Studio based in New York City and Darien, said about his role as an acting coach.
“An on camera acting coach specifically, is someone who preps people before big auditions for tv or film, sometimes its Broadway, sometimes it’s even college auditions. On the tv side I get hired as an onset acting coach after people have the job. I help them in that sort of crazy universe of being on a set with lots and lots of crew members and lots of stress and hopefully make it easier for them,” he said.
In addition to prepping actors for their auditions Newton works as on on-set acting coach for shows like “Blue Bloods,” “Jessica Jones,” “Orange is the New Black” and “The Affair.” One of his clients Asante Blackk was recently nominated for an Emmy for his role in Ava DuVernay’s limited series “When They See Us.” Newton worked with Blackk on the set to stay focused on his character between takes.
“These scenes were very, very intense so I worked closely with the director, Ava DuVernay, to focus on everything going on to make sure that the actors are ready when it’s game time,” he said. “Asante Blackk, who’s amazing, just needed to be ready and be able to recreate take after take so that feelings and emotions were real when three cameras were in his face and people were standing around.”
Newton said it was “amazing” and “incredible” to learn about Blackk’s Emmy nomination.
“What’s incredible about someone like him is that it was his very first acting job and he’s a raw talent,” he said. “Fingers crossed he wins [the Emmy]. That would be cool.”
The Guilford native worked as a professional actor for 15 years in tv, film, commercials before he transitioned into coaching in 2009. He has worked on “Gilmore Girls,” “Criminal Minds,” “Drake and Josh Go Hollywood,” “Royal Pains,” “The Americans,” “As the World Turns,” “Guiding Light,” “Strangers with Candy,” “Van Wilder,” “Dragnet,” “Miracles,” “JAG,” “Judging Amy,” “Family Law,” “Men Who Stare at Goats” and “Ugly Betty.” Given his experience Newton said he understands the tensions and obstacles actors face leading up to an audition.
“At the heart of everything I do is this kind of understanding of what actors are going through and how to release tension, how to make them feel loose and relaxed so that when the camera finally rolls they’re not tense but their present in the scene and be able to take these scripts that people have seen hundreds of different people read and bring it to life in a new and interesting way,” he said.
He noted that actors often get the script the night before or the morning of the audition and have little time to prepare for it.
“So the stresses are not never being prepared enough which is the norm,” he said.
Newton works with his clients to tape auditions in his studio, which allows them time to do multiple takes and loosen up while on camera.
Newton is far from a one-trick pony, the acting coach not only educates others on his craft through his studio locations and his book “10 Steps to Break into Acting,” but he also pushes his clients to create the roles they want to play. In an effort to be an example for his students Newtown has written and directed four films.
“Part of the reason I did Hide/ Seek I was showing my own students at the studio what it’s like to create your own work because I’m a huge fan of ‘look don’t sit around waiting for jobs, make something.’ So I said, ‘you know what I’ll show them how to do it,’” he said. “It went to a couple of festivals, it was nominated for a couple awards at a some of festivals and I liked it so much that I made three more of them just to say that I did and can do it.”
He said that he blogged about the whole process and showed his students how it could be done.
“It’s just another part of my business, which is helping actors understand they don’t have to settle. They can create their own opportunities for themselves and hire themselves in their own film, writing the dream role because it’s so easy and affordable to do that these days,” Newton said.
As a coach Newton said he’s busier than ever but that he has more freedom to pursue projects that interest him like working on the next edition of his book or directing another film.
“I’m just so confident in coaching in a way that I don’t ever feel like I was as an actor. I do 60 hours a week of coaching and I get so many results from it, just the satisfaction is there, so there’s freedom in that every time.” he said.
Newton advises that those interested in acting should do whatever and anything they can to hone their skills.
“The worst thing you can do is nothing. The only way to get better is by not being good for a while. You only learn by doing, so continue to put yourself in situations where you’re uncomfortable on the stage and get used to it, develop confidence, develop a community of people,” he said. “Work harder than the next guy.”
Newton’s Darien studio location will be holding an Open House on Aug. 29 from 5-7 p.m. followed by a networking event for actors from 7-9 p.m. For more information about MN Acting Studio, visit mnactingstudio.com.