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Mary Dawe’s Film Acting Workshops

Aug. 26, 2009
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Several months ago in Wauwatosa, Mary Daweopened the doors to Markson Dawe, a collection of film acting workshops designed to prepare students for the competitive world of show business. Kid, teen and adult workshops typically run for eight weeks and are specifically geared toward acting in film and television.

What inspired you to delve into acting?

I was kind of born into it. My mom was a theatrical producer who co-founded the Fred Miller Theatre, which later became The Rep, and the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. Because of her profession, a lot of people came to our house when I was growing up, like James Earl Jones, Gregory Peck, Leonard Nimoy. I was the proverbial backstage baby… I grew up on the stage with Shakespeare and Chekhov.

How did you make the transition into film?

I did my first commercial when I was 9 years old. Back in those days, they didn’t have a film camera workshop for kids; you had to go to Hollywood to get any camera experience. I’ve been on both sides of the camera, first as an actor, then as an assistant to directors behind the camera. I’ve also worked as a talent coordinator and scout for talent agencies, which includes being involved in the auditioning process.

How do your workshops differ from the larger franchised “schools”?

I don’t offer false promises of fame. I provide training without someone having to spend a ridiculous amount of money. There are some corporate franchises out there that take your money, get you in, and throw you out. After they close the door, they don’t want to have anything to do with you. At Markson Dawe, I am always here for my students.

You’re a director for the International Modeling and Talent Association (IMTA). What does that entail?

This, I truly believe, is the most prestigious convention in the business, and it’s been around for more than 20 years. It’s held twice a year in L.A. and New York and lasts a week. The price includes airfare, a week at a five-star hotel, head shots, an acting coach, a modeling coach and seminars given by the top people in the industry. You’re seen by over 300 casting directors, agents, managers, record producers— this is where they find their talent. Katie Holmes, Ashton Kutcher, Josh Duhamel, Elijah Wood, the list goes on—all these people were discovered at IMTA. As a director, I’m talking with agents and managers about my kids. In this business you have to have an in. Well, I’m that in.

Photo by Amelia Coffaro


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