Interviews

Published on March 26th, 2020 | by Percy Crawford

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Top-Shelf Acting Coach, Louis Stancil Opens Up About Working With Meek Mill for, “Charm City Kings!”

Acting coach Louis Stancil has helped many top talents across the country showcase their talents on the big screen.

Acting coaches bear a huge responsibility of perfecting a product for millions to witness on the big screen. No one has welcomed that challenge as much as, Louis Stancil. The Baltimore, Maryland native is responsible for producing some of the top talents in Hollywood and beyond. The CEO of LS Studios in Los Angeles and Atlanta recently spent time with the actors from the new Overbrook Entertainment Film, “Charm City Kings” starring Meek Mill, Jahi Di’Allo Winston, Teyonah Parris and many other talented stars. Stancil was indeed the missing piece to put this film over the top and on August 14th, the public will have the opportunity to see the finished product in theaters everywhere.

During my recent conversation with, Stancil, we discuss, “Charm City Kings, Meek Mill’s transition from musician to actor and much more!

“Charm City Kings” looks like it’s going to be a dope movie. You were directly involved as the acting coach for Meek Mill and several other cast members. How did everything go?

Louis Stancil: You know what, as far as the film and the critics that I’m receiving from producers and other actors, it’s overwhelmingly good, so I’m good. I’m just sad it got pushed back a few months, but it’s all for the best.

There has been rumors of them streaming movies that would normally debut in theaters because of this virus. Is that something that you could see happening?

Louis Stancil: You know what, I know for, “Charm City,” it has a release date of August 14th. But as far as streaming movies and the ones that are out currently, they did have to pull it out and release it online. Do I think that’s a good idea? Absolutely! For the ones that’s currently out, yes, because money still needs to be generated. Everybody is being affected. I feel like the idea of taking movies out of theaters, that will never happen. It’s a money maker. That will never happen. Well… never say never, but I don’t foresee it right now.

When I hear the title “acting coach,” I immediately think your job is much like a football coach. Your job is to look for weaknesses and tendencies that need improvement while building on the things that that player/actor does well.

Louis Stancil: Yessir! I’m glad you got that. Me and my former business partner always used the football analogy. So, yessir, that’s exactly it, look for the flaws.

When you get someone, who is not an actor like a, Meek Mill, what are some of the things that you immediately look for?

Louis Stancil: The very first thing is, how does an actor learn. I need to know if they are an audio learner, tactical learner or visual learner. For me, I noticed right off the bat that Meek was a visual learner. Seeing his playback helped him out with his performance. That helped tremendously. And being able to get the note from the director and the producer and me translating it to Meek and helping him out. There was no room for wrong. So, that was the very first thing that I had to do was figure out how he learns.

You are great at what you do. Do you find an extra challenge in working with someone with no acting experience or do you prefer working with people who at the very least have minimum experience?

Louis Stancil: Mmm… that’s a good one. That’s really hard. Because the very first thing that I look for is, are you willing to take the note. That’s the difference. Because we can get somebody who has never acted a day in their life, which actually happened on, “Charm City Kings.” That’s how I got put on. The producers at Overbrook hit me up, “Yo, we just hired this actor who has a really big scene, we need you to come to Baltimore;” which is great because that’s my hometown. And the actor that they had, that has a really important role, never acted before. But he was willing to take the note. So, as long as you’re directable, you’re good to go because the camera can shoot so many different ways.

Is there a balance in kind of keeping them raw in terms of who they are naturally while adding little nuances and tactical acting skills to their persona?

Louis Stancil: I think there is a balance of both. It depends on the visual aspect of the producers and directors of what they want. So, the producer was all for him having some nuances of his own as long as things aligned the way he wanted them aligned but making sure that it’s not off script. And then my job on the other end is making sure that the performance is still there behavior wise. And that it matches up. As you know, for film… and maybe most people don’t know, we shoot out of order. So, making sure that Meek understands what that scene is for the day. I go in his trailer for the day and we’ll talk about it and then we hash it out.

Obviously, Meek has been in front of a camera before, but I’m sure shooting a music video and a scene for a movie and a movie in general are completely different.

Louis Stancil: Nothing at all alike. My very first day was actually Meek’s very first day on, “Charm City Kings” and acting. I was like, “Yo, you ever worked with an acting coach before?” He said, no, he hasn’t. But it was good bonding and good to trust each other amongst the producer and director because we’re all collabing. We all want this movie to be great. He had to understand that this is totally different from doing a video or the world that he’s in, to acting. There are certain procedures to protocol.

What impressed you the most about the actors, the set and the way the film wrapped up?

Louis Stancil: I gotta say the bond. The bond on set. Why I say that is because, Hollywood or film making has a stigma of saying, it’s very hard to get a set to actually gel together. What I mean by that is, from PA’s, the background to the producers the big dogs… we all clicked. And we all wanted the film to be great. In the beginning walking in, I didn’t have any expectations. I was there for a job. But at the end, I gained so many friends and great relationships. So, that’s what impressed me the most. Throughout my career, I can tell you many horror stories from directors, producers to PA’s, just production in general that are just horrible people. Hollywood can do that to you. But this set, Will [Smith] and Jada [Pinkett-Smith], I’m blessed and honored to be a part of Overbrook on this project. It was like a family.

You have a tough job. Would you say patience is the greatest asset that an acting coach could possess?

Louis Stancil: Yeah absolutely! I agree.

We made the comparison to a football coach, but does it have it’s similarities to a baker as well. You put that raw product or mixture in the oven and wait for it to cook and the finished product could be a thing of beauty or a catastrophic mess.

Louis Stancil: I get where you’re coming from, but set time is money and we need to get the performance right then and there. But in class at my studio, that’s where we can take our time and work with the actor and learn and trust the process and the art of the craft. Well… the actor understanding the art of the craft. It’s not going to come over night. That’s where we can bake them a little bit and put the ingredients in so that they can understand their type and who they are as an actor. And then they can get an agent and start getting auditions and boom, auditions turn into jobs. So, that’s my job at my studio is the train them through that process as a teacher. But when I’m on set, I’m a coach and things have to move fast.

When you get a student into your class, can you see right away if they have it or not? And have you had some cases where it didn’t appear, they would get it and eventually the switch went off?

Louis Stancil: (Laughing) That’s a good one.

I’m putting you on the spot, man.

Louis Stancil: You are, man. And you know what, I have definitely sweat a few times (laughing). I definitely have. And you wanna know something, my philosophy, I believe anyone can act anyways because all it is, is human behavior. You just have to learn the craft. It’s a skillset. It’s up to that artist to take the direction and take the note, but also to trust themselves. And a lot of people don’t trust themselves because they put a lot of guard up. Being able to book a job, that’s there job as an actor is to be able to showcase their emotion. That’s why we escape as human beings by watching TV and going to the movies, because we want to escape the real world. So, in class, you have to learn to not be in the real world and go off of instincts. So, that’s a lot of guard that they have blocking their instincts because of what life has brought them up to be. I’ll give you an example. Like… guys, we grow up in a household where we are taught, you can’t be sensitive or no crying. Therefore in, “Charm City Kings,” we will be able to see some of those raw emotions of Meek and Jahi, which they deliver an amazing performance.

You mentioned crying and that has always been intriguing to me. From the outside looking in, it appears these tears and generated rather quickly. Is that the case or is it a process to drawing these tears out in movies?

Louis Stancil: It’s a process. And it depends on everybody else, but it’s a process.

What do you feel like the viewing audience will take away from watching this film, “Charm City Kings?”

Louis Stancil: I believe that they’ll notice that it’s like a “Boyz N the Hood” meets “The Fast & the Furious.” It really is. It’s like, “Boyz N the Hood,” meets, “Fast & Furious,” but just on dirt bikes. It’s about a Baltimore teenager named, Mouse who is torn between becoming a veterinarian or joining the Midnight Clique which is a dirt bike gang. I hope everybody enjoys it.

Did it help at all that the film was in Meek’s element which is bikes as opposed to the film being about something that he’s not into?

Louis Stancil: Absolutely! But you wanna know what took him by surprise. And I’ll give ya’ll a little bit, but I’ll let Meek really share that when he gets interviewed. What took him by surprise is, he wanted to do his own stunts and production couldn’t allow him to do that because he’s a face. If he gets hurt, that causes the production to stop. That took him by surprise like, “Man what? I can’t do my own stunts?” He thought he was going to be bustin’ the willies all the way through. He was too valuable for sure. You can’t put production on hold.

Hey man, it’s been a pleasure, good luck with the movie and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing it. is there anything else you want to add?

Louis Stancil: Thank you. For anyone reading this, please check us out at www.lsactingstudios.com, if you’re in LA or Atlanta and like to get into acting.



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