Monday, April 20, 2015

Student By Day, Actor By Night

Tessa Auberjonois, Jon Tenney, Emily James and John de Lancie in Mr. Wolf.
Emily James
By day, Emily Ruth James is just like any other college student: working on final projects for the semester, attending classes and getting ready to graduate. She’s on track to earn a bachelor of fine arts in acting from California State University, Fullerton’s acting program. By night (and on weekends), she’s making her professional stage debut in the world premiere of Mr. Wolf by Rajiv Joseph. While there’s a lot going on for James, she’s up for the challenge and excited to be part of the cast for this SCR-commissioned play. We caught up with her as the play was set to open. 

What drew you to acting?
I was drawn to acting as a kid, but it took me until I was 17 to figure out that’s what I wanted to do. I have always had a big imagination and was always creating my own stories and dramatic worlds as a child. Once it clicked—that I could do this for a living—I never considered any other path.

Who would you say is your mentor—and how has that person helped shape your development as an actor?
My acting teacher at Cal State Fullerton, Svetlana Efremova, has made—and continues to make—a huge impression on my acting. She does not let her students get away with any untruthful acting. She pushes us past what we think we are capable of achieving. It's quite amazing actually; I have no idea where I would be without her.

What have you learned about yourself through working on Mr. Wolf?
The most exciting part about this process is working with the amazing actors of this cast. I'm so lucky to share the stage with these professionals. They have taken me under their wing and helped my process immensely. Never once did I feel like the new kid on the block, and that was huge for me in my exploration during rehearsal. From this process, I have learned to build a reverence for this character. Even if I am feeling wiped out from the week or emotionally disconnected, I know I have to “suck it up” and honor Theresa's story.

It has also taught me to trust myself and Rajiv's BRILLIANT script. Once I can let go of expectations and certain pressures, the creativity starts flowing and the real magic happens.

What have you found the most challenging?

The most challenging thing for me is dealing with the realizations of Theresa's mental state. It was very hard to understand at first. Also, it is hard to conceive her naïveté and the fact that everything is new…and scary…and jarring.

What’s next for you once the play closes?
I plan to jump on the acting wave in Los Angeles and continue to do theatre in the area. I don't know what is next, but I'm very excited to find out!

Buy tickets and learn more about Mr. Wolf, on the Julianne Argyros Stage through May 3.

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