Interview with Paul O'Brien
The former Home and Away heart-throb, Paul O'Brien, has opened an acting school, The Actors Nest, in St Kilda, giving students the opportunity to be taught by professional actors with impressive credentials.
"The response has been overwhelming and we have put on extra classes this semester to accommodate the numbers," said Paul.
Having studied acting for 11 years and taught at various acting schools Paul could see the missing elements in Australian acting schools.
"My inspiration and motivation to create the school was born from experiencing and taking part in some of the great schools and courses supplied by the American industry".
Paul has developed a formula unlike anything Australia has seen before. From his knowledge of acting and experience on set Paul's course focuses on the fundamentals of acting - teaching the disciplines of seeing an acting career as a business and what it takes to cut through.
Another element that makes The Actors Nest unique is that it is based on a strong belief that actors need to be encouraged and supported in a non-competitive environment. This is achieved by using teaching techniques based on the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen R Covey).
"To my knowledge this philosophy has never been applied to acting before yet this mindset can help create success in every aspect of one's life.
"The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People has been one of the influential references in my life and which I believe has been seminal in building my career's success to date. I want to pass this on to fellow actors and our students so they can experience the success in their careers," says Paul.
Another well-known Australian actor that will be teaching at The Actors Nest, is Eliza Taylor (Neighbours, Blue Heelers, Rush and City Homicide). "Eliza is an important part of our school as she has been an actor since she was a young girl and has grown up in the industry. She thoroughly understands the industry as acting has being part of her life since she was very young and she has maintained a level head," states Paul.
There will also be guest teachers that have featured in well known Australian feature films and TV shows throughout the term. The school is based in St Kilda but has students traveling from Bendigo, Gippsland and a far to attend the course. One of their students secured a role with Neighbours and another has secured an audition with Neighbours.
"We aim to help both adults and children find where their passion lies as a performer, writer, and artist... or simply as a well adjusted and confident human being" states Paul. Question:
What originally inspired you to start The Actors Nest?Paul O'Brien
: I was already teaching for other people and I had a business partner, who had the idea to open up a studio for kids, it all evolved from there. Also I have been to so many acting classes and schools, over the years, nearly 30, in Australia and also in LA; it got to a point where I kept going 'this is what this class is missing' and 'this is what this one is missing' and it made sense to start my own.Question:
Can you talk about the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People?Paul O'Brien
: Absolutely! Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a principle based formula that is 20 years old now. It is basically giving you a plan; they use this formula in businesses to resolve conflicts and it ultimately means actors can create the right plan. Question:
Why did you decide to implement Seven Habits of Highly Effective People into The Actors Nest?Paul O'Brien
: Especially in acting, you have to know the right plan and how to execute it but then at the same time, also actors are vulnerable people and that's why they get into acting, because they want to understand why they feel certain ways and why they get treated in certain ways; so it helps with those things, if you are ever down and out, there are ways around it. The principle teaches you not to be a victim.
It is also about having better relationships and in acting, it tends to always be about relationships. It is great because you can study your own relationships which I think, really helps in your own acting.Question:
Can you talk about why you chose to have Eliza Taylor working at The Actors Nest?Paul O'Brien
: I think it made sense because I know Eliza Taylor and all the people I have teaching, at the school, are pretty much friends and people I know. It does make sense because they have worked in the industry and have all these gems of wisdom that they love to share, it is a win win for everyone, for the students and for the teachers.Question:
How does it feel to see your students have success in the acting industry?Paul O'Brien
: It's pretty great. Fantastic, actually! It has to be one of the most fulfilling things I've done, in my life, so far.Question:
Do you prefer acting or coaching?Paul O'Brien
: It is a fine line because they are so wonderful in there own way and the dimension is completely different. Question:
What do you enjoy most about acting Paul O'Brien
: Probably the research side of things because you're trying to put yourself in a situation and believe it and make it real so you tend to research these odd things that you'd never ever normally ponder on, in life. When you research you start going "oh
if I lived on this island" and then you look up the island and you start to learn a little bit about the history and culture and that's always pretty fascinating.
Acting is the one thing that I feel as if I could do everyday of my life because it's pretty hard to get bored of it. There is so many different dimensions to acting and you meet great people as well.Question:
What/who was your inspiration to go into the acting industry? Paul O'Brien
: I was doing the short course at Triple J and a teacher asked "have you ever thought about acting?" and that was pretty much it, he gave me a cut out that read 'Actors Wanted' and I ended up going and doing my first acting class and I loved it. Although, I did think everyone was wack because the teacher was saying "now lie down on your backs, think of the colour red, if you could taste the colour red, what would it taste like? If you could feel red, what would it feel like? Is it spiky?" I'm thinking 'what are they on?' but it really appealed to me as well. Question:
What's a typical day like? Paul O'Brien
: (Laughing) My day is crazy! I am learning auditions at the moment and it is funny because quite often I have auditions and in coaching I say "Alright guys! We are going to learn a scene tonight, you have 15 minutes". Then I ask the group "What is happening in the scene? What is not being said?" and so I can use the students to help me, to learn my audition pieces (laughing).Question:
Do you have any acting projects coming up? Paul O'Brien
: Underbelly airs at the end of September which is exciting! I am also flying to Sydney to do two auditions, this week so there is always something, going on! I have another three projects that are floating around and I am involved in, in some way, shape or form. I am kept busy, kept out of trouble!Question:
Do you have a website for The Actors Nest?Paul O'Brien
Interview by Brooke Hunter