Emily Stratten has never been one to let her youth or living in a country town get in the way of her ambitions.
At just 17, while still at school, she started the Kiama Actors Studio as a way of sharing her learning with other. Now 23, the Studio how has 200 enthusiastic students of all ages. Sixteen of them are soon to go to Los Angles with Emily to train with the prestigious Margie Haber Studio.
Having trained extensively herself in LA at Margie Haber (whose students include Brad Pitt and Halle Berry), The Groundlings and The Acting Center, Emily feels strongly about the benefits the group will get from the experience.
“I have constructed this tour from an actor’s point of view – what I would like to get out of it if I was them,” says Emily.
Having a mother, Cathy Stratten, working at Platinum Travel in Gerringong helped make the dream a reality.
“We’ve put together a mix of training, opportunities, experience and fun. There will be seven days of training on different aspects with Margie Haber and her specialist teachers, including an Emmy nominated producer. It’s such an opportunity. It is going to be amazing.”
Emily says the quality of the Studio’s students is becoming well known with casting agencies and directors, with many of the students working regularly, in movies and on series such as Home & Away or on commercials.
“Just recently we were approached by the people behind Lion who are casting for their next film,” she says. “Some of our students are auditioning for them next week.”
She says the secret of the Studio’s success is that as an actor herself she is able to focus on an actor’s needs in her classes, treating everyone as a potential professional.
“This isn’t just an after-school activity. People here are serious about a career in acting and I help them along by preparing them for every aspect of what is involved.
“Just because you are out of Sydney it doesn’t mean you can’t have top quality actors and training, that you can’t be a leading studio in the Australian industry.”
The Studio has successfully entered a number of short film festivals, and Emily is keen to establish one in Kiama.
“There are an increasing number of people who work in the industry in various ways who live in Kiama, and I’m keen for us all to build a network to put Kiama on the map culturally.”
Orry-Kelly would be proud.