La Femme Collective Interview

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LFC: Introduce yourself to the LFCommunity by telling us your top 3 favorite movies.

Miriam Laurence: That’s a hard one, as I’ve been watching films for decades! I guess I’d have to choose at least five and say Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck; The Miracle Worker with Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft; Run Lola Run with Franka Potente and Moritz Bleibtreu; E.T.; Pulp Fiction; The Big Lebowski. Oops. That’s six…But I could go on and on. And then there’s the stellar television series on now – I just watched American Crime Story – wonderful acting, directing and cinematography.

LFC: Tell us about how you got your start as an acting coach.

ML: I was already teaching actors of all ages at various schools in Toronto. My lovely teacher, Samantha Langevin, was leaving and suggested I take over her classes. I don’t know if I was really ready, but I jumped right in. Then a few years later, David Smukler, my amazing voice teacher, suggested I take over a dialect reduction gig on a television movie – and then I got my first coaching job on a series – CBC’s Street Legal.

LFC: You’ve worked with a lot of really amazing actors – was there a moment in which you knew you had helped to create something substantial?

ML: Not really… I always strive to create something substantial with each actor. But in my classes I have a sense about which actors will actually ‘get somewhere’ in the business; Tatiana Maslany comes to mind as someone whom everyone would know.

LFC: What’s one misconception you would want to clear up about what it’s like to be an acting or dialect coach for those who may not know?

ML: It’s a hard on-set gig. You arrive and no one really knows who you are – no one wears name tags on set. It’s sort of like a feudal Japan system – everyone discerns who has power. It’s a very delicate position to be in – knowing when to go in to give a note, when to hold back, etc.

LFC: Who have been your most influential teachers?

ML: I already mentioned David Smukler and Samantha Langvin, but before them definitely Madeleine Sherwood, who, despite our age difference became my life-long friend – and, of course, Lee Strasberg.

LFC: We’ve seen (and are big fans of) a lot of the projects you’ve worked on! What has been one of your favorites so far?

ML: 11/22/63 was definitely the best experience overall! It’s a mini-series based on Stephen King’s novel about the Kennedy assassination. It was produced by J.J. Abrams and James Franco who also starred in it. The actors I was coaching were wonderful and I was really made to feel like part of the team.

LFC: How (whether it be throughout one of your projects/pieces of work, through your character, or anything else) would you like to be remembered?

ML: As a first-class teacher, coach and director!

LFC: The entertainment industry has been under scrutiny for their treatment of women (amongst other things). Do you feel that you’ve had to overcome obstacles that men in the same/similar industries/job roles have not faced?

ML: Definitely. It’s been extremely difficult for me to gain a foothold as a director.

LFC: What skills have been the most beneficial for being successful?

ML: Being present. Breathing and listening.

LFC: What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself throughout your career journey?

ML: I’ve learned to keep a positive attitude and how not to pick up – or to ward off – any negative energy.

LFC: What does being an #entrefemmeur mean to you?

ML: I love the way the La Femme Collective is striving to empower women to go for their careers. I would hope to inspire younger women to go for their dreams in the entertainment ‘industry’ – tell their stories and aim for the top positions!


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miriamlaurence

One of Toronto’s most highly respected acting coaches, Miriam Laurence trains, coaches, and directs actors. In the thirty years that she has been training actors, Miriam Laurence has been influential in the growth of a long and impressive list of recognized actors, directors, writers, and teachers.