What it’s like to build a career in LA

acting tips actor demo reel audition Mar 02, 2022
Katherine Beck, The All American Actor’s Podcast

Episode 30:  What it’s like to build a career in LA

Wondering what it’s really like to be an Actor in LA?

Join me as I uncover some of the top audition and acting tips with Director,
Michael Matthews and Producer, Todd Milliner.

They’re also going to share with us what it’s like to be a power couple in LA.

By the time you finish listening, you’ll know:

  • The best acting and audition tips from Michael Matthews
  • The Producer’s perspective from Todd Milliner
  • How to balance relationship and work life in LA


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You're listening to the All American actors podcast, Episode 30. In today's episode, I am talking with the dynamic duo of Todd Milner and Michael Matthews, who work in two different parts of the industry in LA. And they're about to share with you their insight into the bids. That's coming up next. Ready to go behind the scenes and learn what it really takes to build a sustainable career as a working actor in the US film and TV industry. Join me Katherine Beck. You're all American accent coach, as I give you the insight and inspiration to take action on your career, learn my best tips and tricks to performing with an American accent and hear from working actors and other industry professionals. To give you a comprehensive overview of this biz we call show them. This is the all American actors podcast. Oh, I am so excited to share today's interview with you in just a moment. But first, I'm going to give a big shout out to tell him him who sent me this five star review and says such a fabulous podcast so much fun to listen to motivating and insightful. Thank you, Helen. So happy to hear that you're enjoying the podcast. I love that I can share with you my insights and tips and bring on amazing guests like we have today. So thanks so much. And remember that these five star reviews really help us get ranked and recognized by Apple. So when that happens, we get seen and heard by more actors all across the world. So if you're loving this podcast, go ahead, subscribe, leave that five star review and let us know. Alright, let's talk about today's guests. So first, let's talk about Michael Matthews. It was at the young age of 18. I enrolled in an acting conservatory program in Chicago and that is when we first met he is kind, compassionate, funny, genuine and super talented, and he quickly transitioned from acting into directing and has moved so many audiences with his directing brilliance on stage. He's been nominated several times over for Best Director at the ovation awards in 2012. He won Best Director of a musical for the color purple. He also won again in 2015 for Best Director of a musical for cabaret and also won the Los Angeles drama Critics Circle Award as well. Other accomplishments include the artistic director at celebration Theatre in Los Angeles with such a vast variety of productions. He's directed from the boy from oz to the graduate to Matilda. Michael has proved himself to be a versatile and in demand director all over town, including the Laguna Playhouse Kirk Douglas theatre, and La Mirada theatre for the Performing Arts. And now let's talk about his better half, Todd milliner. Todd is an award winning producer and writer and co founder of hazy Mills productions, which is co founded with Sean Hayes. Todd has produced hundreds of episodes for television stage productions, feature films and my favorite podcast aside from this one, which is called smartlace. He's written for shows like grim and RONO, and co wrote the Emmy Award winning 64th annual Tony Awards. He's even just finished producing the SAG Awards. So let's not waste another moment. I'm so excited to share this interview with you. So let's get it going. Gentlemen, why don't you introduce yourself to the listeners and let them know who you are and what you do. Michael Matthews 3:42 My name is Michael Matthews. I've known Miss Katherine for God over two decades now. We went to school together in Chicago, where I majored in directing, and then I left Chicago and came to Los Angeles. And that is where I've been directing theater ever since. Katherine Beck 4:04 Very cool. And Todd? Todd Milliner 4:05 I'm Todd Milliner. I haven't known you quite as long and I am a television producer. Who dabbles in podcasts and film and stage as well. Katherine Beck 4:15 Can I tell you that my and I, I'm not lying here, I'm telling the truth. my very favorite podcast, when I'm not listening to my own podcast is your podcast. Thank you. It's been a lot of fun. We're just learning how to do it. It's so much fun out you know, what I love about it is that it's, it's just so organic and natural and, and fun for the listeners. It's so conversational, and it's just great to just hear, you know, them all be silly and Goofy and wacky with the whoever they have, you know, on the show, actually, can you? You want to talk about what your podcast is? Todd Milliner 4:53 Or the podcast is called smartlace and it's hosted by my business partner Sean Hayes and Jason Bateman. Well, our net and if you haven't listened to it, the conceit is that one of these hosts brings on a guest. That is a surprise to the other two hosts. Katherine Beck 5:09 Yeah. And it's so much fun. So how did that happen? anyway? Todd Milliner 5:13 Shawn? Well, all three are have been friends for a long time. And and Jason and Shawn, were at a party and they were talking about the fact that we'll was going to do a podcast and they should just jump in on that. And that sounded to me. We all got together and we talked, we beat out this idea, this very basic idea for the podcast, and the rest is history. Katherine Beck 5:33 Amazing. We've had some really interesting guests on there as well, like from some of my favorite Well, actually, I think my top favorite was with Will Ferrell. I could not stop laughing. That was just he's just so funny. And the four of them together are hilarious. Jennifer Aniston that was really cool. And then you had some other really interesting people that you've interviewed as well who are not actors. Todd Milliner 5:58 Yeah, we've we've tried purposefully, not to just do actors. Paul McCartney was on Neil deGrasse Tyson, you know that Clayton Kershaw on the.on, the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team for anybody listening outside of the United States Katherine Beck 6:13 And our new VP? Todd Milliner 6:15 Yes, yes. Kamala Harris was on the week, it was announced that she was going to be the VP choice. Amazing. Katherine Beck 6:21 And so for you, because you know, we're all we're all from Chicago, how did you end up getting into producing Todd Milliner 6:28 In Chicago, I was acting and teaching at second city, and then I sort of making short films and films for corporations. And then I went out to Los Angeles to audition for a show called talk soup. And I was I stopped by my friend, Sean Hayes, who was on willing grace at the time, the first time around. And I said, I had an idea for a TV show. And he and I told him what it was. And then while I was out there, we sold it, then then we sold another show, and I thought this business is easy. And then we didn't sell anything else for about six years. But that's how it started. The Luckily, we've had the chance to produce shows like grim and hollywood game night and Hot in Cleveland and and so to keeping it there, we do a lot in we work in a lot of different genres, which keeps it exciting and interesting. Usually people pick their, their lane and stick to it. But we've been lucky enough to be able to produce all over the place. Katherine Beck 7:26 Yeah, you have you've produced all sorts of different content. What was it like? Then to jump into things like doing more live? projects? Like recently you did the SAG Awards? Is that right? Todd Milliner 7:40 Yeah, it's you know, everything is everything that my life has been. Most things in my life have been by accident by Bob Greenblatt who was the chairman of NBC for a long time, and then he became the chairman of maybe that's his title of HBO, HBO, Max, all of that. And one of their networks is TNT, TBS, and they purchased the SAG Awards each year. And they asked us if we would jump in as a favor to Bob. And we did I said it would be a one off and we just finished our second year doing it so fun. Katherine Beck 8:14 Oh, Michael, you must be so proud. Michael Matthews 8:17 I'm so super proud. He just keeps he just keeps on surprising me every single every single go around. Like what are you going to do now? You know, Katherine Beck 8:26 I actually don't know if I remember the story. How did you two meet? Todd Milliner 8:31 Do you remember Marty Demoed? Katherine Beck 8:32 Yes. Michael Matthews 8:33 Okay. So I was doing the caretaker. And it was tech. And so at that time, like a professor had to come in, and like watch a tech run of like your show. And Todd came along with Marnie. I mean, that's a good friend to go with your friends to go see, you know, a tech have a run through of students at Columbia, right. So I mean, that's a really good friend. And so here's Todd sitting in this room, and I'm like, who is the hot guy? Who is that guy? And the rest of the council like, we, we? We don't we have no idea because we're all straight, guys. But sure. And so I met Ty, like we know rafter said hello, whatever. And it was my friend that Calise birthday, and we were all going to go to cocktail. That night for his birthday. It was April 30 1998. And Todd and Marty, were going to go somewhere else that night. And I'm like, Oh, I think you should come You should come to this bar with us. And Marty's like, no. But Todd ended up you know, saying over going, and so that it all kind of happened that night, and that was it. Katherine Beck 9:44 And that was it. So that was 1998. Michael Matthews 9:48 Yeah. So we're coming up to our 23rd anniversary of week from today. Two weeks from today. Wow. Katherine Beck 9:58 Oh, happy early anniversary. Sorry. Yeah, that's incredible. Yeah, cuz I was trying to think because I, I didn't meet Todd right away. Michael Matthews 10:10 It was somewhere around there. And then I think you guys re met again in the Formosa. When you're no way Yeah, yeah. Katherine Beck 10:17 Yeah. Years and years ago. Yeah. Yeah, I know. I haven't had as much time to get to know Todd, but I've always heard the most wonderful things about you always, always, always. Yeah. So Michael, you and I, like, I will not forget the first time I met you. And you were like, I don't know. You're like this angel that came out of like the heavens for me in this 40 week conservatory program. Because we were both young, we're I think we're both 18 at the time, and like everyone was, you know, much older than us, it felt like in that group. I was just so excited to see someone who was my age. And I remember he had your little cap on, and I think you were wearing overalls. And I was just instantly like gravitated towards you. And just remember you being just so super talented. And then just like, impressed, then when you moved on to directing What made you want to become a director? Michael Matthews 11:18 Actually, it was that I always wanted to, I always dabbled in it. When I was a kid, I was always staging puppet shows in my bedroom. And my grandmother, you know, would take you know, tickets at the door. And she would do premium seating, you know, just like the producer she was. But that was a that's kind of how that all started. When I went to school in Chattanooga, I went to a performing arts high school, it was an inner city school slash magnet school. And there are no classes for directing was only acting. And so that's how I started doing that and going to school. And it was around when we did iPage Katherine, where I started taking the directing sessions there. And that's what really kind of like turned to me more into what I wanted to do and to become. And then that kind of changed my course at Columbia in my first semester. And that's when I went straight into the directing classes. Yeah. And didn't we? Didn't we do? Um, was it a biology of human sexuality together? Katherine Beck 12:22 I don't know. How do you remember that? And we filmed a movie. I did film you were in a short film, because I did both theater and film. So the first short film that I did, you were in it? And I remember was like, 16 millimeter film black and white. With my old apartment on new Yes, yes. Right. Yes, you have a very good memory. That is correct. Michael Matthews 12:51 Like we were supposed to be like sleeping with each other or something. And then like, there was something we did this as a presentation for like our final or something. Katherine Beck 13:00 It was, I think it was about eights like back in the day about like, you know how easy it was to transmit? And yeah, yeah, we I think we even used a Tori Amos. Remember all of this? I have to find, find it. You have to find well, but you know, it's funny because I'm in my brother's house. He actually has this giant reel of 16 millimeter film from, you know, my Columbia days of things that I shot. So I think I do actually still have it. So I have to get it digitized. Right. Yeah. So we can resolve MLS, right? Yes, exactly. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I may still have it. So. Oh, my God, you have to find it. I really wanted to do that. Oh, my God, you were? Yeah, we have this. Because I mean, really, like how many things are there footage of you acting because you jumped into directing pretty quickly. jumped in very slowly. This is priceless. Todd, you're gonna love this. It was a masterful performance. I have to say.I've seen some performances before. A couple of stage plays that have been eye opening. Michael Matthews 14:21 Oh, yeah, it was, you know, those the whole thing that Columbia though, Catherine, like if you were, if you were a director, they also wanted you to still be as an actor. So if you were directing the show, they wanted you to be acting in a show. Yeah, vice versa. That was their whole thing. That was even that model was set up by many different people that you know, that what before me and so I don't know I kind of just lost my whole thing for it in a really big way because it just wasn't where my heart was anymore. And so like those a lot of just completely crazy, random shows like a lot of these Eastern European like crazy, like, you know, the white makeup in the black lipstick type shows. And it was a, you know, it was jarring for someone's husband. But other than that it was that was fun to do than your, you know, pedestrian show. So yeah. And that's basically that was my ending of like, I do not belong on stage anymore. It's not going to happen anymore. Oh, wow. Yeah, yeah. Katherine Beck 15:26 So then with that setup with, you know, the style of directing in them asking you to, to act as well, did that help you in terms of how you approach things as a director then for stage? Michael Matthews 15:42 Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Like, for me, I mean, I'm so I'm very grateful. And I'm very fortunate to have had the past that I've had, I knew that I was not a good actor, but I really enjoy being doing what I was doing, you know, it wasn't my strong suit. But directing when I started that, that's where I just felt like all the pieces kind of fell, it fell into play, right? And so what's what's what I'm grateful about is, it's the psychology of kind of knowing what an actor may or may not be going through at that moment, and being able to speak their language in a very specific way to get what I want, where they need to go from them, right. And then, of course, knowing that you've got, you know, a cast of eight, you have to speak to all eight of those actors, very specifically, but differently than the other. So it's knowing where they're coming from, oh, I heard you do this technique, though. I don't, you know, want to play around with techniques, but understanding like, what their mindset is, oh, if I say this, though, understands what I want and what I need. Right. Yeah. Katherine Beck 16:52 That's interesting. Todd, do you ever get involved with the actors at all in some of the scripted shows that you've done as well? Certainly, in the casting process, you know, I, you know, I am one voice and a group that chooses who actually ends up on our show. So, you know, in some respects, I guess I get involved in the process. I'm not doing anything. And Michael thought, Lord, no, I understand what you just said. But, but, but I do cast our shows. Yeah, yeah. Oh, well. So in terms of your perspective, with the actors, then, when you're casting a show, what really stands out to you in their performance? You know, when you're looking to cast a specific role? Or do you ever sometimes find yourself going outside of maybe what you had thought in your head and going a different route? If somebody really blows you away with a performance? Todd Milliner 17:51 I think so for sure. I I think there were like three questions in there. So probably, that I think I remember. The first thing is what I think that when I, you know, so funny, because if I, if I was ever acting again, and if I could ever, if I could go back and tell my 22 year old self, something that I learned about the acting process for TV and film, is just relax. Because it's so little to do with you. You know, it's it's like, be prepared, and being you know, and be pleasant. Maybe it's rare, that you know, that that people are pleasant. And don't be too pleasant. I mean, don't stay too long. But be funny and prepared, and then be interesting. And take, have your own interesting, unique point of view. And I think if you if you do all of those things, it's real, then the rest of it's out of your hands, I think then you need to let yourself off the hook and say, You know what, it's because they put all the pictures up on the wall, and they cast these other two people, and I don't look like I could be the kid of those other two people. And so I can't, you know, be something that I'm not but but you gave, you know, you worked hard. And I'm telling you, there's a lot of people that we've brought in over and over and over again, that just for some reason didn't get one part, but they, but they were prepared and interesting, and made interesting choices. And I will end this ridiculously long story by saying that the show grim is a good example of we there was a guy named Reggie Lee, who's an Asian actor who came in for one part, and we wanted this other guy for that for that part, but we love Reggie so much. It is such a good read that we created a role for him. And so read so then Reggie and Sasha roiz, who played our captain on the show, both of them ended up getting the parts because we just they were that good. We had to have I'm in the show. So no matter what you do, be prepared to be cool and interesting. And, you know, hopefully good things will happen. Katherine Beck 20:08 Oh, I love that it's always great when actors, you know, blow you away, and you end up creating a role for them, which I've heard more than once, as well has happened. So it just goes to show it's just, you know, show up, do do the work, do what you, you know, enjoy doing and, and things will happen. What about for you, Michael, what's the process, like when you're casting a play when you're working on a show? Michael Matthews 20:34 Well, every time I direct a show, it's normally like, a six month before I before I start rehearsals is like a six month process for me, of what I'm looking for what I what the story, I'm trying to tell what the story means to me, and how I'm going to tell it in a way that's really super specific, but also really super interesting, right. And so casting for me is, is it's a very, very, very special thing. And so I try to be very specific with my cast breakdowns of exactly what I'm looking for, down to ethnicity down to what this character is really super about, not that you would just see, you know, in the first pages or two of the scripts, where it says like the breakdown, this goes more to like, you know, three or four paragraphs of just really making it super specific. So the actors have a really good idea of, you know, what I'm looking for before walking in. And that's where that's where I start with that, basically, um, a lot of it too. I like to work with some of the same people, especially if I'm doing a show, and I'm like, I know, this person is so right for this role, like so right for this role. And, you know, once my casting director checks out, no interest in saleability, which I've kind of already done myself, will probably go ahead and get that person that that role, when that happens, that I'm looking. And this is a Chicago thing, Katherine, as you know, I'm looking to the like, the complete perfect ensemble, right. So I'm looking to see like, who is going to fit with that energy and who is going to fit with, like, the style that I know that this actor brings is also my style. So it's almost like, I've got one thing set, and I start to build like the ecosystem around, you know, the center, right? Katherine Beck 22:25 Yeah. Yeah, I love the fact that you're still looking at that ensemble, I think. Michael Matthews 22:31 It's really super important, right? Like, I, I don't like using the term leads, I don't like using the term like the supporting whatever, I like to look at something as a whole, because that's what it is, if my job is to tell a story. And to tell it really super well. The only way I can do it is with what this is it has to be that ensemble, it has to be this group that is there. And their own. What is that the strongest, you're only as strong as your weakest link or whatever it was at the time. So it's, it's kind of like that. And so all of a sudden, you see that this is weak, this person's already making up for it. So it does and it moves, you know, organically and beautifully. And that's what you want. Right? Totally. Katherine Beck 23:09 Yeah. I love that. And so you know, this last year has been a crazy year. Do you have any theater projects lined up? I had eight shows scheduled for last year. Oh my goodness. Michael Matthews 23:27 Eight, and then I one of those shows was supposed to open guide is April to April 15. It was supposed to Oh my god, wait, today's today was opening. Day was opened on the show was supposed to last year that got pushed this year, that same show is getting pushed to next April. Oh, my goodness. And a show that was supposed to take us to shows I was supposed to take to Scotland last year, got moved to this year. And then we just made the decision of like, it's just too is too much to you know, to take this gamble of taking these shows to Edinburgh this year. Even though they've already released it. They're like Yes, come You know, orientations open registrations open. We just feel like with the money and the amount of time that it takes to craft what we're doing. We just don't we didn't feel that, you know, this year was the right year, because we're not sure how things are going to go and you know, if there's too many protocols, or if the audiences aren't, if they're restricting the number of you know, people in the audience is we're just gonna wait a year. So I have I had nothing. I've got like different things that like I'm reading that I'm working on that I'm really interested to like going into a workshop or going into a reading to kind of start, you know, the incubation process of some new ideas. So that's that's something that's going to find an interesting but as far as like an actual contract. I have nothing until April of next year. Wow. Katherine Beck 24:59 It gives plenty of time to hang out with this fine young gentleman, Todd. Please wear a mask so we can get Michael out of the house. Michael Matthews 25:13 They are there it is looking like you know, they're opening up theaters in specifically Los Angeles, coming up in October, November. But of course, those are the shows that you know, had to get, you know, postponed from, like over a year ago. And so now those theaters are having to fill up from all the you know, all the shows that you know, were were postponed. So even to do a show one of those theaters, it's like two years from now, just for one of those theaters. Katherine Beck 25:43 Oh, wow. No, that's incredible. Because, you know, it's a totally different world here in Australia, as I'm sure you're aware. And so, you know, live shows are happening again, here. Yeah. You have Hamilton and frozen. Does the two are Yeah, right. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So that's why I was curious. Because I, you know, I was wondering where what stage you're at, you know, as things slowly are starting to open up again. Michael Matthews 26:07 We're the state of denial right now. That's where we are. Oh, gosh. Katherine Beck 26:17 Oh, well, you know, at least you got Todd, what are you working on? I'm sure you're working on 5000 things. Todd Milliner 26:25 Yeah, we were working on a bunch, you know that the TV business got hit, as well. Yeah. Yeah. And so we've got a lot of stuff that's whistled last year that is pushed, or Oh, and hopefully will happen still. But we have a fun animated show that's coming up on Netflix this summer called q force, which is gay James Bond. Yeah, it's very fun. And Sean Hayes is the lead voice and Laurie Metcalf and Gary Cole and David harbor and Wanda Sykes. It's really fun cast of characters. And, and then we have a we just got a pilot picked up a couple of days ago, for NBC called hungry with Demi Lovato that about people who struggle with their relationship with food. Oh, wow. A comedy about that. So we, and we have a documentary that we're working on right now for vice, which is about when it's okay to laugh after tragedy. And that's going to be released at the on the anniversary of that a lot. Katherine Beck 27:38 Oh, my goodness, a lot, a lot of variety there, which, like you said, keeps it interesting, which is really great. So one of the things I wanted to ask you both, and this would have played a toll I'm sure as well, like with the last year, but living in LA. I know for myself, you know, it can be quite a challenge to keep a relationship going, especially when you're working with somebody in the industry. And you know, I've dated my fair share of actors and people in the industry. And you were saying you're celebrating your 23rd anniversary coming up? How have you made that happen? In LA of all places? Michael Matthews 28:25 Yeah, I mean, what, I guess our biggest thing, the big, big, big rule is, we're not allowed to go to bed angry. And I think that was like one of the first rules that we ever set up in our relationship was like, we're not going to go to bed angry, if we're exhausted, we're still just going to talk it out. And then we're going to make it work and then do whatever we need to do and go to bed. not angry. Todd Milliner 28:50 You know, I think that we got out to Los Angeles at a stage in our life in our lives, where the race wasn't the most important thing. And we have a great group of friends around us. We've got a lot of great Chicagoans around us. And we find a lot of stuff to do that has nothing to do with the industry. And I think that that keeps us sane, and it is an insane place. It's an insane business. It's you know, you got to be sure you really want to do this if you're going to be in this business because there's a lot of knows. And so you have a you find yourself a supportive partner and we're lucky enough to be in adjacent businesses. So we understand what the other person's going through, but we're not really competing with each other. So we can support each other and from an authentic and loving place, which I think is really important for any relationship anywhere but certainly in Hollywood. Michael Matthews 29:49 And you know, like it's not just actors getting nose, like I get plenty of nose for like, I really wanted to the show. I'm pitching to this theater, and it's Oh, no, no, no, it's not for us at this time. And, you know, Todd gets, you know, passes on his shows and his ideas like his babies too. You know. So it's, it is definitely a town full of knows. That's true, but also also a lot of hope and a lot of, and there's lots of possibilities. Katherine Beck 30:18 Yeah. And do you ever bounce ideas off of each other? Because you are in different parts of the industry? For sure. Absolutely. Michael Matthews 30:24 There's times, right. If I'm doing a show, and I, I'm like, it's just not there yet. Or I'm really kind of excited about it. And Todd does it like want to see a show until it's opening night, like he wants all the bells and whistles, he wants to see the costumes he wants to see like everything done. And there's times where, you know, I might do like a designer run through, you know, we're just like, there's no, there's barely any hand props. And I'm like, I need you to come see this, because I'm not really quite sure if this is actually what you think. And then, lots of times, he's like, Oh, this is good. But I need to I mean, no, no, that's all going to be fixed with, you know, the costumes. We fixed with that. Of course, of course. So, yeah, he's, he's remarkably good at casting ideas. In fact, earlier today, I was trying to close my eyes for a few minutes. And he's like, what about this person?Honestly, I honestly feel like Lucy honestly, like Lucy the majority of the time, and he's Ricky, obviously. That's, that is definitely our relationship. But I don't want to be in this show. I just want to help. Katherine Beck 31:40 Todd, what has been your favorite show that Michael has directed? Todd Milliner 31:45 It's a really tough question. Yeah, it's I think that I probably would say the color purple. is it's either the color purple or cabaret. Right? Michael? Right. Yeah, whatever collection for us to that really lovely version of, of 12 Angry Men, which I had watched the movie so much to so to see his interpretation of that. I had to look going to play house was lovely. But But Color Purple, especially because I didn't particularly like that show on Broadway. When I saw it. The first one it was around the first time. And what he did was take a show that it was a 23 people we're supposed to, we're supposed to be in that show when he six I believe, and put it in a you know, 65 seat theater. Wow. And the intimate version of that show if we cut down on the cast, but the intimate version of that show, was it you know, it's, it's what a great director can do to a piece of material. It's he elevated that material beyond what the material was, and maybe lovely. Katherine Beck 32:54 That's very sweet. Very sweet. And I think I read if I read correctly, you actually won awards for that, didn't you? Michael Matthews 33:01 Yeah, I did again, and that and as the cast and a lot of the designers Absolutely. It was a it was a it was just one of those like little fun things that happened. And it was great. And it was it was celebrated. And it was wonderful. And that was a long time ago. It was nine years ago. Nine years ago right now, actually. Yeah, it was just it was a beautiful, beautiful experience. Katherine Beck 33:25 Aside from that, is there any other shows that you've worked on that really stand out for you? Michael Matthews 33:29 I did this play called failure a love story this by Philip Dawkins, and Philip is a Chicago playwright. And so failure premiered first in Chicago at Peachtree gardens. And so he gave me the script and I'm like, I want the LA premiere of it. So we did the LA premiere of it in this tiny little theater in a park. Right. And it's probably one of my favorite plays I've ever done. And it got picked up by CTG center theater group downtown at the Kirk Douglas and so it was remounted the following year to open up their whole new thing that they were they were doing called block party and it got a lot of my cast members or equity cards and it was just it was a really beautiful beautiful experience. It was really cool. Todd Milliner 34:18 You know, it's funny than that now I'm changing my mind because that show was it was just a beautiful piece of prose with very little guidance very little there were no stage directions there were no musical and dance He put up he you know there are times where because I you know I'm a mediocre producer went to a state school. He's the smart one. He did then he gave me the script to read I think before and I you know, like I have no idea. I mean, good luck. You know, I don't even know what the thing is about. And after seeing that, all the all the stuff that he added talk about additive to the piece. Michael Matthews 34:56 I mean, that's took that from a Toyota made it into a Cadillac place. It was it was just a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun. And it was, I like making I just I like being able to create something I'm not told you have to do it this way, this way. This way. There's no there are no stage directions. And those are my favorite kind of place. absolute favorites. Katherine Beck 35:17 You can be the most creative. Michael Matthews 35:19 Yeah, what's like, how do you remember back in a Steven image? Do you ever do you ever him saying what'd he say Hold on, don't leave your your fingerprints all over the piece. Like don't put your artistic fingerprints all over the piece the other way around and lift up the piece this way instead. So our job is not to our job is not to like to put our steam all over our job is to heighten and to illuminate the work, right? Katherine Beck 35:54 Yeah, man, were we lucky to work with them at such a young age, I think he really put an impression on you and me and shifted our thoughts about acting and directing and creating the craft such an incredible experience and hard to explain to other people as well, you know, this, oh, it's almost impossible. 30 weeks of, you know, put your conscious mind over to the other person and let them take care of it. It really set us up for what we do now. You know, like, I always think back to that training that we had, and know that it had a lasting impact on and you know, I don't act as much these days anymore. But I still do voiceover in voice acting. You know, I definitely believe that it, you know, plays a role in the performance that I have in front of a microphone all the time. Yeah. Oh, for sure. Yeah, yeah. Hey, I have a question. Did I also read correctly that you directed the graduate? I did. Melanie Griffith. Like, Michael Matthews 37:06 You know, it was a really it was it was a whirlwind ride. She is absolutely delightful. She's really super lovely. had a wonderful time. The play itself. Um, I don't know if you've ever read the play. But the adaptation from the book is it's rather rough. It is not. It is not a good scripts at all. And it's, it's, it was a very, it was a very challenging place to direct because it was very hard to maneuver your protagonist throughout it. Because there was not a strong sense of follow through or even the ones like the wants, were very just kind of middle base, or there's nothing that was heightened at all. And it was very difficult to be able to, to be able to try to even make that happen, like the follow through, you know. So she she was fun. She was great. At Yeah, we had a we had a really, really great working relationship in a really problematic place. Katherine Beck 38:19 So how did you? I mean, is that because I think, you know, it seems like with you like you're selective of the type of plays you want to work on, was that something where they approached you to jump on board? Michael Matthews 38:30 And they approached me with the play? And yeah, it was I was just, yes. Yes. Todd Milliner 38:43 Well, and in Laguna Beach, there's a an audience that appreciates the classics. So, you know, recognizable title is sometimes important to getting butts in seats. Right? Michael Matthews 38:56 And it's Yes, it's your it's your classic 100 year old Lord theatre, where they bring in some really amazing people. And they're trying and working very hard to be able to kind of usher in a new feel a new flow, especially with their programming. But they are there. I mean, they're definitely like moving forward with that for sure. But there's still like a need to know what for the class x because you got to get the people in there. They're still want to see what they know. Right? Katherine Beck 39:29 Yeah. Yeah. Makes sense. Yeah. I guess, you know, sometimes you have to go where the work is. But, you know, it's, every time you work on a show, it's a learning process. You take something from it, regardless of you know, oh, yeah. So when are you going to come drag something in Australia? Todd Milliner 39:51 Second, yeah. By the way, I mean, you really should think about directing something and what is it? Where are you in Sydney? How is the smaller theatre scene? Not the track, not the big traveling show, but it's 300 seats and under, Katherine Beck 40:06 It's stronger in Melbourne, Melbourne is more known to be you know, more of a, I guess the theatre town than Sydney. But Sydney does have some great theaters. You know, we've got Sydney Theatre Company, which is fantastic. And some other smaller places, but definitely I think it would be great to get you know, some someone like Michael to come and talk to show i'd love it wasn't that Kate blood company? Sydney Theatre Company? Yeah. That was those right. And her husband was the artistic. Yeah. So for I can't remember how many years they took over as co artistic directors. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And, but yeah, that that's a amazing Theatre Company. That would be great for you to come direct to show over there. I mean, that would be lovely. And then Taki come with and you guys can have a holiday around Australia. That's right. Oh, let's think so nice to see you guys. I you know, I usually wrap up this with, you know, any words of advice to our international actors? I know, Todd, you mentioned some advice earlier on, which was really beautiful. And I think really helpful. What about for you, Michael? Is there any words of advice you give to actors? It doesn't have to necessarily be you know, our international actors, but those that are, you know, let's say, stepping foot into la when when things are, you know, not as crazy as they are now. And yeah, you know, wanting to get back into the industry. Sure. Michael Matthews 41:35 This is what I tell a lot of people, especially that just come to LA, they're trying to figure things out. And I tell them to make sure that they don't forget their craft. And their craft should be like, basically, like, an actor bootcamp that they do, you know, every week, where what did you do for your body? Meaning working out every day? What did you do for your voice? Are you taking voice lessons? Are you taking any sort of speech? Are you taking anything that's going to keep centering you from like, all the things you learned in school and your breathing, etc? Are you still doing that every single day? What are those exercises, and then take a class, take your acting class, take something that's not going to necessarily show me, but suddenly, that goes back to build your acting muscle, right? And going back to like the connection with like, your scene partner, etc, a scene study class, whatever that might be. But it should be those three things, that triple that triple thing that just keeps your machine going as an actor, as you're going out. And as you're looking, and as you're auditioning, you're still you're still working here. Right? That's my, that's my biggest, biggest piece of advice on top of trying to get a good job and how you going to make money, etc. But it's keeping those three big things a lot. Katherine Beck 42:55 I love that. That's great advice, Todd. Any any to play on my way to play? Oh, that's good, too. Yeah, absolutely. Your burgers list, Katherine, Michael Matthews 43:04 That Sheldon headed out to us. It was always like the very, like the last month of school. And it would be like this single spaced like eight pages of like, these are the plays you should have read by now. You're like, I have somehow failed as a human being because I've read like, maybe 10 You know what? Yeah, it was just like, pages and pages of plays. Anyway, read a play, play it play? Katherine Beck 43:29 No, I think that's great. You know, and, gosh, we're so lucky. so fortunate with the training, I think that we had in Chicago. And same with you, Todd, like I think all for all of us, it's really sort of, I think, set a precedent of, you know, what's expected of us in the industry and to you know, keep thinking forward and ahead and, you know, being diligent about the work and not kind of, you know, getting in lazy about it. So, I think that's fantastic advice. What about for you, Todd, is there anything else that you want to say to the listeners about the industry that's important for them to know about? Let's say for you, you know, more in the TV film side of things. Todd Milliner 44:15 I mean, that was all such good stuff. I mean, the body and then you know, the boys and read a play. I mean, I mean, I guess in my last thing, I mean cuz I you know, be on time and be prepared to be funny and all of that stuff that I said already, but I think the thing that I've learned that can really help you in this business of TV and film, I don't know about that year, hottie fancy business theater, but TV and film just, if you think you're an ass, don't do the business then you can never overestimate how important it is to have great relationships because you never know. I mean, that's the person. You know, I talk about a lot here in my on my side of the business that you know, that's our bread and butter. Working with an executive that used to seek people at the Leno show, you never know where the next person is coming from. And, you know, there's so much else to worry about in this business. Don't worry about how you're treating other people just treat everybody. Great, Katherine Beck 45:15 Wonderful advice as well. Thank you so much, gentlemen. It's been such a joy to see your faces and speak with you again. Todd Milliner 45:23 Thank you for having us. And thank you for giving us Outback Steakhouse that without the bloomin onion, I don't think there's many miles. Michael say something serious, Michael Matthews 45:37 though. I was thinking like the shrimp on the barbie thing, but you beat me too. It's great seeing you. It's so great hearing your voice. I'm looking forward to when I could actually give you a hug again sometime soon. And you could actually come here. Katherine Beck 45:52 Oh, yeah, I'm sending you a big virtual hug right now trying to at least take it we'll take it Wow. Thank you so much for this incredible interview. Thank you to Todd Milner and to Michael Matthews I don't know about you but I am feeling inspired and thinking I am ready to take action and start working on my goals and if you're feeling the same way and you know you want to get started on your American accent but you're not sure where to begin go ahead download my free American accent guide that's going to break down my step by step process to get you sounding all American. It's yours just head over to Katherine beck.com slash accent and let me know if you loved this episode. Take a screenshot share it with me on your Instagram story and tag me in it at Katherine underscore Beck underscore you can find me there got any questions or topics just let me know send me a DM and I will be so excited to hear from you. And coming up next week on the show. I am going to be talking about why that accent class you took an acting school isn't going to help you book that us roll. Now make sure to share the show with all your actor friends. Let them know what's coming up next week and invite them to tune in with you and learn how to become an all American Actor so you can be the working actor you dream to be until then go practice your American accent and I'll see you back here next time.