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StrasbergTALKS: Pooch Hall

On September 17, 2019, season actor Pooch Hall delivered a StrasbergTALK to students at The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute. The talk was moderated by Stefon Benson – an LSTFI alumnus, the 2019 Johnny Depp scholarship winner, and a friend of Pooch.

Stefon found a home here at LSTFI and was thrilled to be back with his friend and colleague.

“As soon as I walked through these red doors, I thought ‘family’”.

Stefon Benson

A Name like Pooch

To kick off the talk, Stefon jumped to the name: How did Pooch Hall come to e be Pooch Hall? According to Pooch, “I’ve been a Pooch since I was in my mom’s pooch”. An affectionate nickname his parents gave him as a baby, the name Pooch has become an important part of his identity – both in life and in the industry. “It sticks, it works, everyone remembers it,” says the actor.

Getting Started as an Actor

“I loved that world. I just didn’t know exactly how to get there.”

Pooch Hall

Pooch says he’s loved the world of theatre ever since he was a child. Growing up inventing skits and doing voices, he found his talent and passion for performing at a young age. Getting into the profession industry, however, was a different story. “Growing up in Massachusetts, travelling was taking a road trip to Florida. We didn’t even fly,” the actor recalls. Pooch knew nothing about the business of acting or how the major hubs of New York and Los Angeles functioned. Going to college for business instead of acting, Pooch found himself back on an artistic path in a somewhat unconventional way. “I fell into it,” he says. An actor in Pooch’s circle was showing off his headshot portfolio and was met with mocking and teasing from his friends. When Pooch expressed his support – and his own interest in the field – the actor arrange for Pooch to meet his agent. Just like that, a chance encounter set Pooch back on his way to becoming an actor.

Advice from Pooch

Pooch’s biggest piece of advice? Stay true to yourself. Pooch emphasizes the importance of doing things that make you happy, and that “no” is a powerful word. “Remember that we [as actors] don’t owe this industry anything,” he says. Take on roles and projects that you feel passionate about, that bring you joy, that feel right. Pooch says that not doing so leads to self-doubt and resentment. 

“You can’t look at Hollywood as something that validates you. You still have to live your life.”

Pooch Hall

Turning down roles, however, is easier said than done. While a project may not be the perfect fit, with the competitive nature of today’s industry, rejecting a job for the sake of staying true to yourself can be a daunting task. Pooch took the time to remind the students that, as an actor, you have input. If you have reservations about an aspect of a character or have strong opinions about the project – talk to the people involved. While respecting the authority of the director and creative team, Pooch reminds the audience that actors have agency and are part of the creative process of building the character. 

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Want more? Our StrasbergTALKS series is recorded and available to watch for current students and alumni – just ask at the front desk!

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