Author Archive for: rlsweb


19 Mar 2019


Artists of the Month

Taylor Babb
Derrick Fuller
Shaw Jones
Courtney Nichole
Jenna Skeva
Kelly Tighe
Jessica Ward
Dan Warner

In February, WACO Theater Center presented the production of Pulitzer-prize winning No Place to Be Somebody.  Written by Playwright Charles Gordone, the production first premiered at the New York Public Theater 50 years ago.

Of the cast of 14, 8 of the cast members are students of the studio!  And Richard Lawson himself directed the production, and later in the run, performed as Sweets Crane!

According to Deborah Klugman of Stage Raw: “Lawson does a fine job of staging; the show moves at a brisk pace and the characters are crisply delineated. Most of the performers have a confident presence. Carlos Flores’ set design is smartly and credibly detailed.”

The RLS is immensely proud of the work these actors have brought to the stage and their commitment to telling this story of race relations, culture and the American dream at the height of the Civil Rights Movement!

Click here to listen to Richard’s interview with KJLH radio station about his career and the play.


02 Feb 2017



Artist of the Month Interview – Jorge Ortiz

Jorge Ortiz has put his time, labor, passion and determination into creating a career that will share his talent and manifest his dreams. He is a stellar example of what is taught and developed in artists at the Richard Lawson Studios. Whether he is acting, writing, producing or teaching – Jorge is a pro..

How long have you been studying with Richard?

JO:  I have been studying with Richard since October 2005.

Why do you still study with him given all of your honed skills?

JO:  I still study with Richard because his approach works.  His approach looks at the 360 degrees of your career and how to actively administer that on a consistent basis.  And for me, training never stops.  Training keeps me fresh and current.  I continue to learn when I continue to train.

You began as an actor.  How did you segue into writing and producing?

JO:  I started off as an actor.  I came to LA to be an actor in film and television.  When I started training with Richard, it was in scene study class.  I, then, started taking his Professional Development Program (PDP) course and that’s when my eyes opened up to possibilities.  I learned how to start taking control of my career.  In this class, I was empowered to identify my dream, state it, and then create a business plan for it.  In PDP, I also learned how to audition and act on camera.  I also learned how to film and edit on a basic level and I shot 10 short films.  Shooting these short films helped me to reconnect with writing – I used to write all the time from elementary to high school – and introduced me to producing.  Wow!  How cool is that?! I can write and produce my own work!  I can create my own content and share it with the world!  And this goes back to my previous answer about training.  I have become a better actor, writer, and producer because of consistently training in class.

Can you tell us about your current projects?

JO:  My overall project is to become a self-generating empire a la Tyler Perry, Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Cristela Alonzo, etc.  Artists who have created for themselves.  So everything I do is directed towards that overall project.  For example, I have a 5-season TV series that I developed in PDP that I am getting ready to start pitching again in 2017.  I have written a new half-hour pilot and have outlined another half-hour pilot.  I also wrote a feature film script that I want to pitch to James Franco and another feature film script that I want to submit to various screenwriting competitions.  I also have a successful, internationally-recognized, weekly blog, Chasing The George, which chronicles my journey as a Hollywood professional.

You are working across multiple disciplines as an actor, producer, writer, and creator.  How do you navigate wearing multiple hats?

JO:  I navigate multiple hats by creating a clear weekly schedule and working in gradients.  By having a schedule, I am able to allot time to certain projects and I am clear about what I want to accomplish during those time slots for each project.  And in terms of working in gradients, I have the opportunity to move different projects forward in a doable, structured way.  It’s a sane approach where I realize I don’t have to build Rome in one day.  Front-loading my work and not waiting to the last minute to get things done is also a great way for me to navigate the different hats I wear.

What effect has the RLS community had on you?

JO:  The RLS community has had a tremendous, positive effect on me and is another reason why I have been studying with Richard since 2005.  The sense of community here at the RLS is unparalleled and I haven’t seen another place that comes close.  People are willing to support, help, and give in so many ways.  People root for each other because they’re coming up together and they’re in this together.  I have accomplished so much on a personal and professional level because of the strong community that exists here.  This community is a place where art can occur and that has been vital to my growth and journey as a person and as an artist.

When Richard is out of town, working on set as an actor, you are called in to teach for him.  How do you experience teaching?

JO:  My job as a teacher is to be of service to the students.  It’s not about ego or showing them how much I know.  Rather, it’s about stepping out of my own way and allowing the teaching and universal/divine inspiration to flow through me and provide the students with what they need.  Teaching allows me to help others discover and tap into their potential and into their unique, personal voices.

If you were limited to sharing only 3 things for an aspiring actor to focus on, as they begin their journey, what would that be?

JO: 1) Get into a great class and start training.  2) Know that you are a business and you have to treat yourself as such.  Get to work.  Put in the hours.  Have a dream that fires you up and create a business plan for it.  3) Make sure that your finances and living situation are both healthy so that you are supported in your artistic journey.

Tip of the Week | March 3, 2016

03 Mar 2016


03 Mar 2016



Artist of the Month Interview – Doug Spearman

Doug Spearman was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Maryland.  The first time he was on stage, at the age of seven for the Christmas pageant at Ridgcrest Elementary school, he knew that this was the path he was going to be on.  He went to a high school that was graced with a drama teacher named Frank Anzalone who gave him the most fantastic start.  Frank insisted that his students read plays, take art, speak a second language, be in the world.  A lot of the principles and practices that are used at the Richard Lawson Studios have been gifted to him from several teachers throughout his life from high school through university, and then pumped up by Milton Katselas and Richard Lawson.

How long have you been studying with Richard?

DS:  Since 1994.

Why do you still study with him given all of your honed skills?

DS:  Hah.  He helped hone them.  I still remember the first scene I did for him and the critique.  He gave me such a boost in that critique!  He’s always found the best in me and brought it out.  He gave me the best note I ever got: “Less mayonnaise on the sandwich”, which was like a key to a whole approach for me.  He makes me want to do more and be more.  Why wouldn’t I want someone like that in my life all the time?

You began as an actor at a very young age.  How did you segue into writing and directing?

DS:  When I left college, my first jobs were as a writer and then directing for TV, and my acting was what I considered my grand passion and the writing and directing was like me waiting tables.  At some point, I got tired of directing and wanted to only act.  And, after a while, acting wasn’t giving me the thing, the rush, I was looking for.  Richard encouraged me to go back to directing only do it bigger.  Try something harder, so I directed a feature film script I had.

Can you tell us about your current projects?

DS:  It’s a love story called From Zero To I Love You and I actually wrote the first draft in 1998.  It’s about a man in a seemingly happy, perfect marriage who finds himself in an affair with another man.  The story is from both their points of view.  How they come together, why, and what happens when they try to separate.  I’ve tried to work on it over the years and produce it, with me in the lead, but it sat there, I guess till it was the right time to make it.

You are working across multiple mediums as an actor, producer, writer, creator – from the stage to film. How do you navigate wearing multiple hats?

DS:  Well, the easiest thing to say is I just do the next indicated thing.  Even though it seems like multi-tasking, I know that I can only focus on one job at a time.  It’s kind of like cooking a big meal.  You do the thing that’s going to take the most time first, get that going, do the thing that takes the next large amount of work, and then work down, so it all gets to the table at the same time ready to eat.

What effect has the RLS community had on you?

DS:  The community keeps me sane, keeps me grounded, helps keep me encouraged to continue.  Sometimes it’s the most peaceful four hours of my week [the meeting time of the scene study class].  Also, I learn so much still from watching other people work and their struggles and wins.  This is a hard business in a town that can eat you alive.  These people are my nurturing place.

When Richard is out of town, working on set as an actor, you are called in to teach for him.  How do you experience teaching?

DS:  I LOVE it!  I didn’t know how much I loved actors till I started teaching them.  I always wanted to teach at this level.  Back when I’d watch Milton or Richard, I knew I wanted to have that much experience someday, when I could bring out the “thing” in people.  The magic, whatever you call it.  It’s an honor to help anyone they way I was guided.  There’s something really exhausting and humbling and ecstatic in it all at the same time.

If you were limited to sharing only 3 things for an aspiring actor to focus on, as they begin their journey, what would that be?

DS:  Study with a teacher that wants nothing but your best.  Absorb everything: movies, operas, theater, museums, the world, music, the news – store it all up.  Never give up, you actually get better the older you get.

Tip of the Week | September 12, 2015

12 Sep 2015


12 Sep 2015



Artist(s) of the Month Interview – Shane Johnson and Keili Lefkovitz

Shane Johnson and Keili Lefkovitz are our featured RLS actors this month.  They are artists who have created substantial careers while building a solid ten-year marriage and raising their two sons.  Both Keili & Shane work in film, television, web, and theatre, as well as voiceover.  Shane recently wrapped his second season as Cooper Saxe on the gritty crime drama, Power, on Starz.  Prior to Power, audiences have seen him guest star on some of the top TV series, such as Criminal Minds, Castle, and NCIS.  His latest film credits include Hot Guys with Guns (written, directed, and produced by fellow RLS artist, Doug Spearman) and the title role in The Possession of Michael King.  When not in front of the camera, Shane writes, produces and animates.

Keili was featured opposite Mark Wahlberg in Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain.  She’s currently acting in Doug Spearman’s second feature, From Zero to I Love You, alongside Richard Lawson.  Other credits include Hot Guys with Guns, Stevie TV, and Malibu’s Most Wanted.  Keili has a number of producing projects currently in development.

So just as an overview, both of you are working across multiple mediums as actors, producers, writers, creators – from stage to TV to film to voiceover to animation.  And on top of juggling two substantial careers, you have the challenges of a marriage as well as parenting two feisty young boys.  Would you address these challenges and how you navigate all of the above?

KL: Does vodka, soda and lime count as a way to navigate these challenges?  Let me start by saying that we are in great communication with each other throughout the day and then before we go to bed at night we try to talk about the following day and the things that are upcoming.  So, it’s like hanging in the universe, and we know what to expect of each other and it’s the bartering of who’s going to do what, when.  So when it comes to the children, certainly when Shane’s in New York [shooting Power] – he’s very supportive – but it’s pretty much me running interference.  And when he’s back for visits, he picks up the ball very nicely.

SJ: And I would just say that the thing that is challenging, and that we’ve done fairly successfully, is to have everything moving.  And what I mean by this is, we’re parents first and we’re a couple first/second.  And then after that, we are artists.  And then those careers have multiple things happening – like you said, we’re writing, we’re producing, we’re acting, voiceover stuff – all of that.  So, it’s just kind of like keeping all the plates spinning.  And sometimes Keili has more plates spinning, and my job is to be there to support her so she can continue the balancing act, and vice versa.  So, you know, as our careers expand and our family expands, we have to become more and more—

KL: —a team.

SJ: Definitely a team, but you also have to be more and more professional.  It’s easier to sort of just get by, by the seat of your pants, when you’re young and you don’t need as much, and your world is more loosey-goosey.  So as we expand, we just have to be more on point and more professional.

KL: The other thing is we make great efforts with our children in terms of everyone being a part of everything.  So, we’re really involved with their school, whether it’s “room mom” or being a part of several committees there, as we both are.  And then when it comes to our careers, they were part of the film we were shooting this past week.  The kids were on set, they were in the movie.  We told them a couple of times, “We’re getting ready to shoot; we’ll be there in a minute.”  But we never had to tell them to be quiet; we never had to tell them, “You can’t walk right there.”  They have been around several sets that we’ve shot on.  We’ve put them in a few things that we’ve done and we tell them exactly what we do.  They come to class.  Our community in Richard’s class is extremely involved and supportive of our kids.  Many of our sitters come right out of our class.  So they know what mom and dad do.  They learn more and more and are interested in what we do – and sometimes, they’re not.  But since they have two artists as parents, they have to know it’s not a 9-to-5.  It means, right now, daddy is working and we’ll go visit him on set when we can.  They are aware of what we do as much as a five- and eight-year-old can.  But I will tell you that they were so incredible this past weekend while we were shooting.  They just did their thing or stayed out of the way or they were like, “Is our scene coming up? What do we need to do?”  And when Doug Spearman said, “Action!”, they did it.  It wasn’t like, “Let me explain this to you.”  I was really impressed!  And right after that, we took them to Target and got a gift!  We have to act as a team, and when Shane and I started doing that, many of our challenges got greater, but so did our opportunities.

Thank you for that. How long have you studied with Richard Lawson?

KL: I started with Richard in ’98.

SJ: Since ’99.

And in addition to continuing to deepen your craft as actors, what skills above and beyond acting, have you developed through Richard’s studio?

KL: Certainly producing, certainly leadership.  He really reinforces certain sides of career administration – he puts the seeds in our heads.

SJ: I would agree with Keili.  I would say leadership is definitely something.  When you find yourself as the example, you rise to the occasion.  When we recognize that people are looking to us to be the example of this, it sort of challenges you to up your game, which is kind of an interesting thing.  Definitely, I feel that my writing, and our writing, has advanced since being with Richard, just because we’ve analyzed it more and developed skills.  And I wouldn’t say that animation comes directly from the studio, but I feel I was open to tackling a new area due to Richard’s impetus.  Because of Richards’s extensive multinational network, he was approached to throw his hat in the ring for this feature film as a writer.  Now, none of us are “proven” writers yet – but we all have decades of experience and have written countless scripts for stage, the small screen, and the big screen.  So, Richard thought of us (Keili and I) as potential candidates because he knows we write and produce but also that I recently taught myself how to animate.  So, we met and it was a perfect fit.  We all have kids, we love animation, and we know how to craft story.  So, we put together a banging presentation complete with animation and sent it off to India.  They were blown away by our passion and ability and the choice was clear, and we got the gig.  Now the work starts…

KL: Yes, [and] the idea of the “slashes”.  I’m an actor/director/writer/singer/voiceover artist/stage manager/mom/friend.  You know all these things.

SJ: And if I look at my world and ask, “Well, what am I?”  I see that I’m a producer, something that I wasn’t before.

KL: A business person.

SJ: Yeah, I think that one of the weaknesses of an artistic mind, is that the business side of things is not something that’s really palatable to an artist.  You know our minds don’t work that way and so one of the things that Richard and career administration has instilled in us is that you can be an amazing artist, but if you don’t have the business side down, you’ll be an artist in your bedroom, and that will be about the extent of it.  That has really helped us to branch out and take the artistic side and implement it into a career.

What is it like to be part of the community of artists that make up the studio?

KL: Honestly, it’s a great getaway and great support for us and as I mentioned before.  Shane and I tend to be people who are doers.  And usually when you’re doers, you’re not great at being receivers.  And we get so much from the studio.  Just in support with our children alone.  There were times when he was in Brooklyn shooting Power and I was like, “How in hell am I going to get to this appointment?” – that I would get the day of.  And I would scramble or Shane would scramble and Dan Warner would come over here and watch the kids.  People would be like, “I’ll be there for you.”  So that alone, the peace of mind I have knowing that this group of people truly has our backs, is something that I’ll never take for granted.  And it’s great to be able to see people grow in this community and to root people on and see them evolve as artists.  There’s nothing better than watching that.

What else can you tell us about Richard’s influence on you?

KL: Shane and I both have a goal of being in a position where we know what the next thing is coming along – we want to know what the next project is.  We’re in a place where we feel like we’re spinning so many plates.  But it’s a great thing.  The more we do, the more we can handle, the more we’re creating.  And the expansion is happening at a very fast rate.  It’s not exactly where we want to be, not at all, but it’s where we expect to be and I would say Richard just keeps telling us to keep going.  You know when Richard told the class to go watch Keep On Keepin’ On, that just [messed] me up for all time, in the best of ways.  I realized, you know, you really can’t complain.  You just have to have the best attitude and move forward – you do it anyway.  You just do it anyway.  And Richard is a great example of someone who dreams big and wants big and is a kid – and I love being around that energy.

Thank you. And finally, is there anything you’d like to say to prospective artists who are considering beginning a journey at the studio?

SJ: Yeah, I’d say look.  If you’re inspired, if you’re curious, then go with that initial impulse and delve into this and check it out.  It’s easy for time and other considerations to give you excuses to not pursue your dream and to not pursue what is going to help deliver your dream to you.  And by not listening to the nonsense and all the background noise and by just making a decision that’s for you and claiming it for yourself – and jump in with both feet and take this journey – you will reap the rewards artistically and in terms of your career.