Sean Gunnell

How long ago did you graduate from The Meisner Technique Studio?
I graduated from The Meisner Technique Studio in December of 2011.
In your time away what is the #1 thing you’ve learned about going after your acting dreams?

The #1 thing I’ve learned is to trust your gut. Whether it is networking, reading a script for a potential new project, auditioning, discussing payment and scheduling, meeting an agent, etc., your gut is never wrong. People in LA talk about all of these things that you need to do to be successful. No path to success is cut from the same cloth. Trust in what makes you happy and passionate as an artist. Never lose that. Of course do big projects that can lead to more opportunities, even if you don’t like them, but never lose sight of what makes you tick. No one can do what you do. Give the world your creative spark. We need more of it.

Since you graduated tell us about the different projects you’ve worked on and are currently working on. And please share any links from your current and past projects.

Since I graduated, I have done numerous theatre productions, playing the roles of Scoop Rosenbaum in “The Heidi Chronicles” (opposite alumni Tessa Rae Evelyn and Larry Dorsey), John Barrymore in “I Hate Hamlet” (opposite alum Mark Haptonstall), Mitch in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Private Mason in “Journey’s End,” (BATCC award for Best Ensemble), and Patrick Wojtowicz in “The Gypsy Machine” (directed by and opposite alum Daniel Korth, and produced by alum Grafton Doyle). Film roles include a major supporting lead in the TV Movie “Drone Wars,” leads in the short films “Collar,” “Grant and Allison,” (opposite alum Tessa Rae Evelyn), “Attention Decifit,” “The Birthday” (Epidemic Film Festival award for Best Actor, Sanford Meisner Film Festival nominee for Best Actor), “Fault,” “Eden of Three,” “The Last Meal,” and “Stan A”; supporting roles in the short films “Itzpapalotl,” and “The Wooden Box;” and a principal role in “Inna.” Numerous leads in industrials and specs include a 2016 Super Bowl Doritos Spec commercial, and the industrials “Xtracycle,” and “Sous Vide Cooking.” Background acting work includes “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Training Day,” “Lethal Weapon,” Ballers,” “Counterpart,” etc.

If you’ve taken a break or stopped – please talk about that decision and what you are doing now.

I have not taken a break, nor do I ever see myself taking one.

What do you read/listen to – blogs, books, podcasts, resources – that help you personally and professionally as an actor?

I read fantasy books like the Game of Thrones books, listen to Celtic and Blue Grass music, swim in the ocean, watch independent and studio movies that focus on pure artistic storytelling.

What groups or connections have you found in your market that have helped you stay artistically healthy.

Troy Gabaldon, Russ Emanuel, Pop Up Theatre LA, Kelly Sparrman, Jack Perez, Diane Baker, Damon Sperber, Philip Hoover, etc.

Sanford Meisner was…

A visionary who constructed an outlet for every actor to achieve not only that pure, childlike joy to endlessly create and play, but also an unparalleled focus and commitment to the craft of acting that inspires professionalism and class acts in anyone who honors and respects the process.

The #1 thing I learned in class was…

It’s important to play every day we are alive. It’s vital to never give up, to maintain positivity, and that being in the present moment opens up any and all possibilities for me to be the best that I can be.

The best advice I can give current students at the Meisner Technique Studio is…

Work well, be good to yourselves, keep finding creative outlets, and know when to turn off the creative brain so that you don’t lose your passion and drive. Take good care of your mental, emotional, and physical health, and never lose sight of your dreams.

The #1 thing I learned personally about myself through the training was…

I’m too hard on myself, I was a perfectionist, I tried too hard to be good, and beat myself up a lot. And then, when all the BS washed away, I saw all that I was capable of, and worked diligently to bring out what I know to be true about myself: I have a powerful voice, I am a detail oriented person, I connect effortlessly to whatever emotion someone else is going through, and there’s no place I cannot go with my imagination.

The hardest adjustment since I graduated was…

Having residual demons and fears pop up to hinder me from creating freely. I use meditation, deep breathing, and music to bring me back to center.

The #1 thing I miss about being in class is working…

Watching my classmates bring to life all that they have inside of them, as well as working off of my scene partners. Those classes were pure joy and bliss.

The #1 thing I don’t miss about being in class is…

The sowing needles in the carpet, and students who weren’t pulling their own weight, not showing up.

The #1 thing I now know that I wish I knew while going through the training is…

Beating myself up, keeping my voice to myself instead of standing up and allowing my vision and passions to flow like a river, and knowing I am capable of anything I set my mind to.

My biggest obstacle in my growth during the training was…

Being in my head, forcing moments, not having strong enough preparations, etc.

If I could go through the training all over again I would…

Not take things so personally, give myself a break from self-beat up, and know that this training is fun, and there’s no room for perfectionism to derail my growth.

The funniest thing that ever happened in my class was…

Doing an emotional history moment with my scene partner, who was beyond distraught, and sitting on the carpet in front of her to comfort her, only to sit not once but twice in a row on a two inch long sowing needle, causing me to express my pain quite verbally, and making the rest of my class do their best to not burst out laughing.

My best activity that I ever did was…

I was doing cerebral palsy, and had control only in my right arm. Having been attacked, I needed to pack a suitcase and get to the airport, so I crawled across a wrecked room with one arm, packing clothes, opening a safety deposit box, propping my whole weight up to a seated position, and barely about to speak, all the while my scene partner, doing autism, made my escape incredibly difficult. It was a massive breakthrough, and a sustained a severe rug burn on my forearm. Worth it!

My “aha break-through moment” in class was…

My imagination is my friend, and can give my negative thoughts the middle finger, thus breaking me free from my own internal straight jacket.

Could you share any advice/tips about getting an agent?

Keep submitting. Agents change their minds about what they are looking for all the time. And do feel rushed to obtain representation right away. Self submit to projects. You can achieve more on your own than an agent who doesn’t work for you at all. When the time is right, things fall into place.

Could you share any advice/tips about how to maintain a solid, healthy working relationship with an agent?

Get a feel of them when you meet them. Gauge their personality, and trust your gut if they seem legitimate.

Could you share any advice/tips about auditioning?

Read the sides to understand and connect with the character as best as possible. If something doesn’t come or work during the audition, sometimes doing nothing is better than forcing something. Focus on the other person, and activate your senses too. It’s fun.

The # 1 thing I took away from the business of acting class was…

There are countless avenues to take to success. Audition as much as possible. Go to mixers. Hand out business cards. Network, connect, stay active, do right by others in the industry, and be an absolute professional.

One year from now I’ll…

Be acting in two feature films, playing a role in a television series (regular or guest), be in an awesome theatre production, have representation by a mid-level agent, and continually doing background work as a day job.

Five years from now I’ll…

Be playing leads and supporting roles in studio and indie films, as well as television series for TV and Internet networks, playing theatre roles in Broadway and off Broadway, traveling the world for work, and helping give back to theatre programs and communities to those who need it most.

The best thing about where I am in my dream is…

I am living my dream. I am enjoying the struggle and intensity of landing auditions and roles. I couldn’t be happier. This struggle is essential to my growth, and the process is never ending. I am building my connections with each new day, and I am grateful for every gig I’ve attained. Thank you, universe!

The worst thing about where I am in my dream is…:

I haven’t been sent an audition slot in some time, making me look into scheduling new headshots and re-editing my demo reels. It can be tough, but I accept it for what it is.

The #1 thing I wish directors knew about working with actors was…

We are not all the same. There are good actors and bad actors. There are hard workers and slackers. For those who are here to act for the love of acting, please give us a chance over the insanely attractive empty space who may make you millions but can’t act there way out of a paper bag. Give us a chance, and we will show you what we can do for your project. I guarantee you we will make your dreams come true.

Are there any resources you can share in your marketplace – photographers, classes, private teachers, websites etc. – that you can highly recommend?

Check out Laura Henry, she’s a Meisner Teacher who helped James Gandolfini with auditioning.

David LaPorte is amazing headshot photographer. Cheaper price, and he brings out the best in you.

Use weebly to create your website. I used it for mine, and I love it.

One year from now I’ll…

Be acting in two feature films, playing a role in a television series (regular or guest), be in an awesome theatre production, have representation by a mid-level agent, and continually doing background work as a day job.

If I could work with any actor, it would be…

Daniel Day Lewis.

If I could re-cast a Hollywood movie role with myself, it would be…

The Master.

My greatest influence(s) are/were…

Daniel Day Lewis, Gary Oldman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Guy Pearce, Javier Bardem, Michael Shannon, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Fassbender

I first knew I wanted to be an actor when…

I was four years old.

I’ll always be grateful for…

My family, best friend Sam, my girlfriend Kelly, my dog Lucy (RIP), homeschooling, the friends that came with homeschooling, my body, Marin County, the Bay Area, the Academy of Art, all of my memories, the ocean, diversity, and differences.

My greatest strength as a dreamer is…

The unconditional love I have for everyone and everything. Every time I give love, it comes back in amazing new ways. I will be this way as long as I live.

My greatest weakness as a dreamer is…:

Overthinking.

I wish…

For everyone to follow their heart and live their lives and dreams.

Someday I’m going to…

Be working as an actor in film and theatre for the rest of my life.

My favorite film is…:

Memento.

Best website for actors is…

Weebly.

My favorite book is…

The Road.

When I get overwhelmed I…

Listen to music, breathe, and watch a movie that brings me back to center.

The biggest waste of time is…

Getting caught up in needless worry and unnecessary drama.

If I were not an actor I’d be…

An astronaut, or a photographer.

Courage is…

Being fearless and living the life I want to live with every fiber of my being.

I’ll never…

Give up on my dreams, treat others with disrespect, and lose sight of my love and childlike joy for this world.

Is there anything ese you’d like to say?

The last thing I have to say is thank you, Jim and Melissa. You two are rare, beautiful individuals, and it’s my honor to share this world and the craft of acting with you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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