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Olya Mikhaylova: Learning Your Instrument

“The more I was doing it, the more alive I felt,” says Olya Mikhaylova. This Strasberg alumna loved growing up surrounded by the Moscow theatre scene and the magic onstage. A passion for poetry brought her to theatre school where the acting bug bit her. She went to every school in Moscow and wanted more, leading Mikhaylova to the Big Apple.

Mikhaylova has an eternal gratitude for her time at Strasberg. Over two month long and a one-year long intensives, the teachers nurtured her and helped Mikhaylova evolve as an actress. “Teachers, they support students. They don’t criticize students; they try to emphasize something really good and show where to go.” With each teacher, Mikhaylova found herself making breakthroughs in different sides of herself. From movement teacher Michael Ryan who opened her to the macro world of micro movements, to Method teachers like Mauricio Bustamante, Lola Cohen and Robert Ellerman who trained her emotional world:

“Strasberg developed my body as an instrument: the flexibility, the sense of being in the moment, how to make my inner emotional life visible.”

LSTFI alumna, Olya Mikhaylova

Initially enrolling as a student last August, Mikhaylova was trained to be a company member of The American Mime Theatre. The American Mime Theatre is celebrating its 67th year performing the art of “American Mime”, a fusion of acting and movement that stems from your feelings. The Company has traveled and performed throughout the country. Most recently, they performed in the Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center. 

Next month, Mikhaylova will be starring in a production at The Hudson Guild Theater as part of The New York Theater Festival. The Sumatran Dancer by Anthony Barone tells the story of Mata Hari, a Dutch exotic dancer who was executed for being a spy in World War I. 

With a career that has taken her from Moscow to New York City, Mikhaylova doubles down on the importance of never giving up, “Just keep going, believe in yourself. There is something you may not see, or you might have some doubts but if you work hard, it is flourishing.”

The Sumatran Dancer can be seen at the Hudson Guild Theater on August 20th, 21st and 24th. Tickets can be purchased at

Olya Mikhaylova can be followed on Instagram at @mikh_olya.

Alumni News is written by NYU Tisch at Strasberg alumnus Christian Masinsin. If you are an alum and have a story you think should be featured, please email [email protected].

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