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Student Spotlight: Mónique Ray

Mónique Ray, Army Veteran and mother of two, is not new to acting, but she is new to online acting classes. Mónique began her acting Conservatory training with The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute during our first online semester in the spring of 2020. Her experiences with Method Acting training and LSTFI classes have been 100% online.

Rediscovering Acting

Mónique’s dream of being an actress has been a part of her since childhood. Her mother was in the entertainment business, and Mónique spent her childhood watching movies with her mother and grandmother. She found joy imitating scenes and actors in movies. “That is where it started, that child-like play,” said Mónique, “when I was a kid I thought I would want to do that professionally.” Only later did she realize that she was relating to the movies and actors through sensory, similar to Method Acting sensory exercises. “I related to it by knowing, oh they are eating spaghetti. I know what spaghetti tastes like, the sensation, how the sauce hits your tongue.”

After Mónique finished her military service, she pursued higher education. She was going for a BS in Psychology but found her love for theatre again. She immediately felt a connection with Method acting. “In college we got to study different techniques, once we got to the Method I felt so connected to it… [The Method] is what took me back to childhood and how I learn… I said that’s what I need. That’s what I want.”

Acting Training at The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute Online

Mónique intended to start training last year, but she was unable to find a place in Los Angeles. She was only able to start taking classes because of the virtualization of acting classes in the spring. “It is the silver lining to a gray cloud… that I was able to start before I moved here.”

While training online, Mónique has gotten a lot out of the Method already. “I am able to get into my zone because the work that we are doing pulls you in.” One of the most unique aspects of Method Acting training, relaxation, is also one of Mónique favorite parts of the technique. “Relaxation is everything… It really helps me feel grounded into my body.” One of her goals is “working that relaxation into a performance or an audition piece,” and fully incorporating that anchored feeling into her acting all the time.

In addition to acting training, online classes with LSTFI have allowed Mónique to discover a passion for writing. “I am in this whirlwind of rediscovering and remapping my path as an artist… That comes from going though the classes I have gone through thus far here at Strasberg, online.

When Mónique’s training was still beginning, the murder of George Floyd reignited the Black Lives Matter movement. Mónique was moved by the care and concern displayed by the faculty and staff during that time. “Every single one of my teachers made to sure to address and acknowledge the deep hurt that was happening in society.” That acknowledgement made Mónique “feel comforted… and made [her] feel more at home.” Ray continued, “for a person like myself who is of color and for everyone else in attendance… I really appreciated that concern and that show of solidarity.”

In this online setting [instructors] have still been able to provide very exceptional teaching and exercises… For me, there is no better technique for an actor of actress to have in their toolbox. than the Method.

Mónique Ray on the quality of online acting instruction

Being an Army Veteran, Mónique’s discipline training has helped her hone and deepen her acting craft. “There are some parts [of acting] that can be a little tedious… that is where discipline comes in. I think that helps a lot.” LSTFI offers approved programs for military veteran actors through the G.I. Bill. For fellow veterans Mónique encourages them to “at least try one semester” at LSTFI if they feel called to The Method like she did. “It has been life changing… you just come out [of training] a different version of yourself.”

The Method for All Ages

In addition to being a veteran, Mónique is also a mother of two, ages 11 and 9. “In this online setting [my kids] may come in during a scene… [The instructors] have made my children feel welcomed.” One of the most important aspects of being a mother while training for Mónique is balancing alone time so she can stay energized, “time for dedicating to what I am working on here at Strasberg,” commented Ray.

Mónique’s acting journey has not been linear, and she is not hindered by that at all. For actors who might have shied away from you passion for acting, Mónique challenges you to “do you… and got for it!”

Do what is best for you. If acting is a part of who you are. If storytelling is a part of who you are, then go for it! It is never too late. Don’t worry about those who are on the linear path. Go quantum and time jump yourself wherever you need to go.

Monique Ray on advice for aspiring actors

She encourages actors of all ages to pursue the call of acting or any craft you might be drawn to, and “start at anywhere, at any level… have a bit of faith and courage.” Monique Ray has certainly taken her own advice and gone quantum, sky rocketing her craft through discipline, balance, and passion.