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StrasbergTALKS: Jennifer Esposito

On December 10, 2009, LSTFI alumna Jennifer Esposito gave a talk at The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute. After starting her actor training with teachers George Loros and Irma Sandrey, Lee Strasberg’s Method Acting technique became a foundation that she would cherish throughout her decorated career.

The Tough Reality of the Acting Industry

Despite studying and becoming deeply engaged with theatre arts, Esposito discovered that most of the business for actors lies in television and commercials. “This is first and foremost a business,” she shares. “As much as we love the art of it, it is a business.” She explains that it was a process learning to apply Method Acting to the “business” world of on-camera projects, rather than the artistic, craft-centered plays of Shakespeare that she once hoped to work on.

“The work for me has always saved you. Stay close to art and what it means because, unfortunately, the business isn’t about art as much as you want it to be.”

-Jennifer Esposito, on the business of acting

Esposito goes on to reveal the challenges she encountered as a Latina in the industry. In the face of racial discrimination, type casting, and gender-based obstacles, she learned the importance of embracing who you are. “One thing that I had which definitely has kept me alive in this business is a strong sense of who I was, because no one else has what you have to offer,” she shares.

As an aspiring Latina actress, she wished someone would have prepared her for the hardships she would face in the professional world. She was grateful for the opportunity to share her experiences, advice, and now-seasoned perspective with future LSTFI graduates.

Advice for Aspiring Actors

Jennifer Esposito discusses her extensive film background and what it was like working with directors such as Spike Lee for Summer of Sam and Paul Haggis for Crash. She explains that every director will have a vision for their film, one that may differ from your own. Sometimes you may be in a position to fight for what you want and your interpretation of the role, but most times you just have to do your job. On projects like these, Esposito recommends finding ways of staying close to The Method, whether that means continuing to take classes, writing new work, or putting up a play yourself.

In the final segment of her StrasbergTALK, Esposito answers questions from current LSTFI students and faculty. She addresses a variety of topics, from the difference between agents and managers to how she approaches script analysis. She shares a particular tip from George Loros, who taught her to read not only texts on acting but psychology books as well. The aspiring actress, still a students at the time, took this advice to heart and always sought to learn what real people do in response to life’s joys and challenges. Esposito also reveals that, in her early work, she would make a whole binder to map her character through the script, looking for clues and creating scenarios for her character when she was not in a scene.

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