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Meet Christinna Chauncey

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christinna Chauncey.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Christinna. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
Well, it was a head-on collision that pretty much shifted the direction of my life. I had recently graduated Summa Cum Laude from Rollins College in Orlando, Florida with a double major in piano and vocal performance with the intention of pursuing a classical stage and recording career. I also had a hot little red mustang that I liked to drive around fast, and I didn’t like to wear my seatbelt. Yeah, pretty dumb. But I was young, on top of the world and unstoppable! Until that day. Among my injuries from the car wreck that had me hospitalized for seven days were a broken chest and severely lacerated right hand, which left me unable to play piano or sing for at least six months. But thankfully I still had my life, a new reality check, and a lot of time to slow down and think about things.

It was during this creative downtime waiting to my chest and hand to heal that I decided to sit in on a local Meisner-based acting class. Immediately I was intrigued. I joined the class and within a year I booked several television roles including a guest lead on a major primetime episodic In the Heat of the Night.  The episode was directed by the late great actor Larry Hagman who strongly encouraged me to move to LA. As soon as I arrived in town, I was lucky enough to find the incredible Larry Moss and immersed myself in his classes for four years straight.

As I made the audition rounds, I’d book work here and there but began to feel a growing frustration with auditioning. It seemed the more experience and training I gained the more self-conscientious I became about the impact of my work, causing me to get in my head. In 2000, I was presented with a unique opportunity to work in television casting, which gave me a full view behind the curtain.

This would change everything I understood about the audition process. When I literally became the person who intimidated me the most (the casting director), my perspective did a 360-turn, and suddenly everything became profoundly clear. So many of the perceptions I had about auditioning as an actor were, in reality, simply inaccurate. Post-casting in 2003, I started making the rounds as an actor again.

Suddenly auditioning was a breeze, joyful even, and I my booking ratio began to skyrocket. A friend of mine who also worked in casting pointed out that I had achieved quite a breakthrough and suggested I “pay it forward.” “Teaching?” I asked. “Sure, why not” she replied. Hmmm… I liked the idea, and thought yeah if I could help other actors access the same powerful mindset that I had discovered, that wasn’t a bad way to spend my time!

So in March of 2003, I started my first class of five actors. Nearly 16 years later, my studio is busting at the seams thriving more than ever helping hundreds of actors achieve the same kind of breakthroughs in their work.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Sure there have been some bumps along the way but for the most part my path as a coach and business owner has pretty much been smooth-sailing when compared to a lot of other small businesses. I think this may be because I never set out to teach, and having a large acting studio was never my goal. I just wanted to help people and make a little money at the same time while pursuing my acting career.

It started with one class per week, and I poured my heart into that class, teaching with great passion and conviction for what I knew these actors needed because I saw myself in them and understood firsthand the challenges of this industry. When my students started achieving a breakthrough, word began to get around, and the demand increased, so I added a second class, and so forth. That has been the pattern to this day.

I do not advertise, my business is all by referral and word-of-mouth. Any business challenges I’ve had have been more on the practical side and probably stem from the fact that I didn’t take any business classes in college, so I’ve had to learn by experience along the way. But time has been on my side allowing me to adopt policies and effective structure while building the business brick by brick.

On the personal side, the primary challenge I’ve faced especially within the last three-four years is that of being able to continue pursuing my own work as an actor. Currently, there is a four-six month waitlist to get into my classes, and I’m coaching 10-12 hours per day, so there’s simply no time for me to audition. But a plan is in the works that could possibly allow space to open for that again.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
My studio focuses solely on audition technique for film & television. We are a highly specialized studio, offering only audition-style classes, all on-camera. No scene study or foundational classes are offered. All actors are pre-screened to ensure a readiness to receive my technique since we do not offer classes suitable for the beginner or novice. It is a highly professional environment of study that seeks to replicate the exact audition experience in the field.

Classes are kept small to ensure the highest possible quality of study. Everything that is taught at my studio is a direct culmination of my firsthand experience and knowledge working in casting combined with my own history, training, and insight as an actor. Each actor who enters my studio receives a highly customized and individualized approach to the work, targeting their “wheelhouse” of book-ability.

At a lot of other studios, the actors are all given the same scene to prepare in class, despite each of those actors varying types, age ranges, ethnicities, etc. That doesn’t happen at my studio. Here, every actor works on individualized material that targets that which they are most likely to get called into the audition.

We build confidence in the wheelhouse, targeting specific areas of technique, character development, center, rhythm, etc. It demands a tremendous amount of preparation on the part of the instructor per student, but it’s so worth it when witnessing the incredible results.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Sure, I’d have worn my seatbelt! Which I do now every time I’m behind the wheel without exception. But I do not regret what happened as a result of that moment. The accident was a gift because it opened my eyes to the real value of my life and to the impact of my choices. I love my life, and everything I have is a result of what I’ve learned along the way, mistakes and all. Every mistake we make has the potential of becoming a gift depending upon how we react to it afterwards. No regrets.

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