"Cathryn Sullivan is one of the top acting coaches in the nation," said a renowned casting director who casts for popular Disney & Netflix shows, to a group attending an acting class seminar who wanted to know how to help their children and teens reach their dreams. "Learn from her!" he said.
Have you thought about being a Film and T.V. actor? Have you thought about coming to our studio to check it out but still haven't pulled the trigger?
Back in my 20s, I remember spending two years just THINKING about learning how to be a film and T.V. actor, but not pulling the trigger because of Fear! .....I wasted TWO YEARS just thinking about it!
I really wanted to learn how to be a film and TV actor because although I loved Stage and had done well as a stage actress having booked the lead role all 3 years in the UIL play in high school, did well in the Speech and Drama tournaments and even went on to book the starring role my freshman year in college & community plays, Stage did not pay enough for me to make a living. Even in New York, the stage actors I knew who did stage had trouble with rent and the cost of living. I really wanted to know if I could make any kind of living being an actress, however I worried because I had always done so well as a Stage actress. What if they told me I was no good?! What if I could not make the transition from Stage to T.V.
Would it hurt my ego or break my spirit?!
Finally, I had a brave moment & because of the deep yearning I had in my heart, I nervously took the first step and decided to take a class. It was not where I ended up taking the classes that changed my life, but it got me started. By taking that first class, I began to make contacts that helped me find my way. I always say to my students- that I took many classes from like 70 teachers (an exaggeration) when I finally found the acting coach who changed my life. He literally was the best teacher I had ever had in my life up until then. I took notes every class and was even made fun of by a few girls in my class because of my devotion....but I did not care. I knew I had found my calling!
This teacher could point out exactly where & what I needed to fix to help my work as an actress, and explained to me how to fix it in a kind and gentle way. He put our work on camera every week so that I could see those specific moments that needed fixing and it made me look more like a professional...and because of that training and what I learned from watching myself, I also use the camera at my studio today- to tape my students almost every week. It helps us see our problem areas as well as the moments we shine!
This coach also taught me how to go deep with my characters and how being specific with every part of my character was so important. (For example, Although I was passionate in my work as an actress, at times- I was too stagey in places and needed more depth in places so that my work was more real, vulnerable and moving to my audience). I took 2-3 classes a week from him and loved every minute. By the time his classes had grown so much and needed an assistant, I was already working at the studio where he taught and it was an easy move. I became his assistant and then, his partner as we taught weekend seminars all over Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
While working with him, Mothers started noticed that the children & teens would come to me for guidance in class depending on that child's learning style. When my acting coach moved to Virginia, I was offered a class by one of those moms to teach a class of 8 students. It was exciting and so much fun and I had that first class in my house. I have stayed friends with a lot of the actors from that first class and keep up with their lives as those first students who took a chance on me are very special. That was over 30 years ago now.
While being an acting coach, I started taking with another acting coach. HE helped me learn how to develop chemistry with someone I just met, relationship and movement. All of these qualities are so important to being a great actor.
I can say without any hesitation that these two teachers changed my life for the better! One had been kicked out of a studio in New York where Uta Hagen was his teacher and mentor. He was an intern at her prestigious studio in New York, but because my teacher was bi-polar and didn't take his medicine for awhile, he acted up and didn't go by the rules- so he was kicked out and had to move to Dallas.
My second teacher that I learned so much from was kicked out of L.A. He was a huge star and was the star of those motorcycle movies back in the day and he had Jack Nicholson as his side-kick...but he tried to sue a studio. The studio said they had taken out for taxes, but did not...so he sued them. The Screen Actors Guild is a union who protects actors from things like that happening now. Actors have a lot of protection now, but they did not have protection from this kind of thing then.. He Sued and when he did, he was blackballed from all of the studios in L.A.... He also had a bad cocaine habit at the time, so he got kicked out, got sober and started teaching in Dallas.
THANK GOD THESE TWO Wonderful teachers GOT KICKED OUT OF New York AND L.A.!! If they weren't, I would not have gotten such a wonderful foundation and knowledge of the craft of acting.
While I was teaching in Nashville and back here in Texas, I also navigated two of my sons' careers as they did the Film and TV business too. They both worked, but One of them became wildly popular, was on many sets and became a huge teen star (Cody Linley- Hannah Montana, Hoot, Hoovey, Dancing with the Stars. He also started as a lead in MY DOG SKIP & took small important roles on feature films like the bully in the first scene of MISS CONGENIALITY).
Several of my students began working and became huge stars and we are STILL to this day launching stars every year (Selena Gomez, Gavin Casalegno, Demi Lovato, Jaren Lewison, Brec Bassinger, Hayley Orrantia, Mallory Mahoney, and many more!)
Our newest star will be Noah Cottrell, as he has been working a lot in the last year and a lot of his work will be out this year and next (He is one of the two stars of Disney + ‘s SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES and has been shooting in Vancouver for many months).
I am fortunate to have been a guest on many of these actors' sets (before Covid happened). Some of my actors end up finding a passion in the acting business other than being an actor:
I have several former master students/aides who became Talent agents, Talent managers, Publicists and FOUR have become anchors for the news in different cities in the US. Several have become writers and producers. One of my students became a writer and has a "Story By" on BIG BANG THEORY (THAT IS HUGE!) while being the show runner's assitant as well as having written two hallmark specials!
A few weeks ago, we submitted a feature film I produced along with 2 partners using only actors from the studio and TWICE already, we have won BEST FEATURE FILM going up against hundreds of other films. We got BEST INSPIRATIONAL FILM at one of the film festivals, and we are just at the beginning of this process. I did not plan on producing films. I decided to produce them because several of my students who were really talented were not getting work, so it just happened. I consider It as only my side gig that I do from time to time. I see myself as an acting coach first.
Our studio is a wonderful place. The energy at the studio is happy and creative. As far as my curriculum, we have found that this program works.
It is a balance of pushing my students enough to challenge them and motivate them to grow -without making them feel overwhelmed.
I use everything I learned from the two teachers as well as the things I have learned on all of the sets I have been on. I continue to check with my friends who are agents/casting directors and writers on sets in L.A. & New York to see what the latest trends are --so that we can integrate the latest trends into our program that particular session.
My staff is legendary. Many of my aides, like Jaren Lewison- go from making $10 an hour as an Aide at the studio to becoming stars of a show making big bucks. One week, Jaren was an aide and the next week, he was doing chemistry reads that landed him the part of Ben on NEVER HAVE I EVER for FOUR SEASONS.
Thomas Mann is another example of an aide who has done really well. He was the star of both PROJECT X and ME, EARL AND THE DYING GIRL. He also has done KONG: SKULL ISLAND, LADY AND THE TRAMP and so much more.
If you have decided to be brave and try your hand at being a professional actor, go to www.cathrynsullivan.com and hit "Learn from us: Sign up for Classes" and look for Film 1.
Look around at CLASSES and HALL OF FAME on the website while you are there to see how our classes are structured and see why we have an order that they need to be taken. I tell the students that acting skills need to be taken in order much like how addition and subtracting must come before multiplication and division.
Film 4 (Listening, Reacting and Being Affected must be taught before a student can take film 5 (Comedy) as you need to learn those reacting skills from film 4 before a students learns how to do comedy.
Again, Acting skills need to be learned in a way that is challenging without being overwhelming. We can do that and have done it many, many times.
OLIVIA SCOTT WELCH was a Premiere Student who worked as a full-time aide at the studio for at least three years and is one of Cathryn's A-list aides. Olivia is the star of the FEAR STREET trilogy and is the STAR of the Amazon Prime TV show PANIC.
JAREN LEWISON was an Aide and Premiere Student at Cathryn's until moving to LA when he booked a Regular part on a Netflix series, NEVER HAVE I EVER. Jaren has been a student of Cathryn's since he was seven years old. Jaren still bops in to help the studio!
BREC BASSINGER started her career when she booked a Nickelodeon show as the star on BELLA & THE BULLDOGS. Now, she will be starring her 3rd season of the TV series STARGIRL (3 sasons) which is on CW and part of the DC world!
MALLORY JAMES MAHONEY, who booked Disney's ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING is now the lead on Disney's TV show BUNK'D (now airing 6 seasons) & booked an episode of ON MY BLOCK as a guest star while simultaneously working on BUNK'D.
ASHLEY NICOLE WILLIAMS is a Lead in a Freeform show called MOTHERLAND: Fort Salem. Ashley was a Premiere Student who went to Cathryn from ages 7-18 when she moved to L.A.
Master Teacher/Master student KATIE SARIFE & Former AC student
McKENNA GRACE are in "Annabelle Comes Home". Both Katie and McKenna are Cathryn Sullivan Alumni's. McKenna is considered the 'it' girl in Hollywood, and is in "GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE.
Speaking of GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE, LOGAN KIM is the only star of this film without a lot of credits and he is one of ours!
ANNE WINTERS began her career in the TV series as a regular on TYRANT , 13 REASONS WHY & GRANDE HOTEL, and won an Emmy for ZAC & MIA. She is currently ORVILLE and is producing a project with Seth MacFarlane's production company behind it.
DEVIN WAY is the lead in in the new QUEER AS FOLK. He also played Dr. Blake Simms on GREY’S ANATOMY, as well as on STATION 19.
J T NEAL (Master Student & Aide) was a regular on ABC's BLESS THIS MESS for 2 seasons and Fox's PIVOTING.
SHELBY SURDAM & FROY GUITIERREZ star in CRUEL SUMMER on FreeForm.
MCKALEY MILLER- McKaley was on HART OF DIXIE for 4 years and you've seen her in so many guest starring roles including SCREAM QUEEN, BONES, FAKING IT Movie MA with Octavio Spencer.
NOAH COTTRELL just filmed a new HBO Max show! He also starred in the reboot of PUNKY BREWSTER! Noah has been taking classes at the studio since he was about 5-6 years old! He got his first big break when he played Dwayne Johnson's (the Rock) son in SKYSCRAPER. He continues to train with me in-between his gigs!
PAULINA CHÁVEZ is the Star of the Netflix series THE EXPANDING UNIVERSE OF ASHLEY GARCIA. She plays Ashley Garcia on a Mario Lopez show & Eva Longoria was one of the directors on that set. Paulina lived in San Antonio and made her Mom drive here for five years for acting class. She was not only a master student who came here every Saturday, she worked as an aide as well for the class before and after her class.
BRYCE CASS had a recurring role in two seasons of 13 REASONS WHY (2nd & 3rd seasons & he plays Cyrus). Bryce is also on the Amazon Prime show as a recur on PANIC.
PAULET DEL CASTILLO Paulet has a recurring role in MIXED-ISH and is Best friends with the oldest daughter on that show. Paulet travels between Texas and California, is a master student who trains at the acting studio in Lewisville continually, and is still in public school!
KARIANA KARHU appeared in the Amazon series, PANIC.
ESHAUN ENAMDAR appeared on Apple TV's LITTLE AMERICA.
EDISON GRANT is the lead for 2 seasons of ENDLINGS is now being aired on HULU.
Premiere Students SHELBY SURDAM & KENNEDY HERMANSEN were regulars on Facebook watch's SKAM.
Master student MATT McCANN was a regular on "Man with a Plan" and played Matt LeBlanc's son.
BIG STARS CATHRYN TAUGHT:
DEMI LOVATO -Check out what Demi's Mother, Dianna de la Garza says about Cathryn in her book "Falling with Wings". She talks about how Cathryn championed Demi the six years she coached under her.
Demi was a Disney star on SONNY WITH A CHANCE, CAMP ROCK, and many other Disney movies for several years, but then- went on to win a People's Choice for "Favorite TV guest Star" in 2012 for GREY'S ANATOMY which Cathryn coached her for. Besides Demi being known as a huge singing star, she appeared movie with Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams called EUROVISION.
SELENA GOMEZ (Selena began being a star on WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE whom Cathryn Coached her on & other Disney movies, went on to movies like RAMONA & BEEZUS and was a Producer on 13 REASONS WHY as well as a voice-over star on the HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA trilogy) and many others. You can see Cathryn on Selena's E-Hollywood Story. Now Selena is the star of Hulu’s ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING with Steve Martin and Martin Short and has her own HBOMax cooking show
SELENA + CHEF.
THOMAN MANN was not only a Master student but a master teacher & is now considered an A-list Hollywood Actor.
Thomas began with PROJECT X &ME & EARL & THE DYING GIRL and moved on to THE The HIGHWAYMEN with Woody Harrelson and Kevin Cosner, KONG: SKULL ISLAND & FARGO, HALLOWEEN KILLS, LADY AND THE TRAMP and so many more!
Premiere Student HAYLEY ORRANTIA booked ABC's THE GOLDBERGS three weeks after moving to L.A. which now has 10 seasons. She is also othe runner up on MASKED SINGER.
CODY LINLEY was a Pro Master Student and Master teacher and still teaches three times a year in Lewisville at the acting studio. Cody began his career at 8 years old as a Supporting Lead in MY DOG SKIP & had small, important roles in movies like MISS CONGENIALITY & CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN. He went on to have a recurring role as Miley's Boyfriend for 4 years on HANNAH MONTANA, Won 4th place on DANCING WITH THE STARS (Season 7 in 2008), was a lead in HOOT, and a star in HOOVEY. Cody teaches in L.A. now at Cynthia Bain's Acting School.
BRYCE GHEISAR is a master student who was first booked on Disney's WALK THE PRANK and had supporting roles in WONDER (with Julia Roberts & Owen Wilson) & a lead in A DOG'S PURPOSE had a starring role in a show Ron Howard show on Nick called THE ASTRONAUTS. He also was the lead of ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?.
LOGAN MILLER was a master student & master teacher at the Studio. He began by playing Matthew McConaughey as a young boy in "GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST" and went on to star in I'M IN THE BAND. He was a lead in the movie LOVE, SIMON, a lead in ESCAPE ROOM, and had a recurring role in THE WALKING DEAD.
DEBBY RYAN started on many Disney shows including being a star of JESSIE after working on all THE SUITE LIFE shows. She is the star of INSATIABLE & is now producing shows.
BELLE SHOUSE, who used to make her mom drive to the studio from Brenham, Texas every week ( a four drive one way) for almost five years when she booked ABC's SECRETS AND LIES. She had 20 episodes on PROJECT MC2 and Facebook Watch's QUEEN AMERICA with Catherine Zeta-Jones.
MARSAI MARTIN has been a regular on BLACK-ISH for 8 Seasons and did a movie called LITTLE that Marsai stars in and is also an executive producer!
MADISON PETTIS started her career by being the Rock's daughter in THE GAME PLAN & played Corey's sister in Disney's COREY IN THE HOUSE, She also starred in AMERICAN PIE: GIRLS RULE and HE’S ALL THAT.