Marla Stone was an actress throughout her childhood.
She was in every play in Elementary, Junior High and High School. Marla took all 21 units of Theater Arts required for a BA in her first year of college. “I was in all the plays throughout that first year of college. I dropped out of school and moved to Hollywood in the early 80’s with no family or financial support”. After a few B films and some B experiences Marla decided to go back to school, received a BA in Psychology and a Master’s in Social Work. There went her dreams of being a “Movie Star”.
After 17 years of being a Social Worker, and in her own private practice for 10 years, counseling everyone from housewives in Orange County to the Military Personnel, and their families, from Camp Pendleton, she decided to start acting again. Family and friends were surprised to say the least. “I was surprised also, since I thought I had washed that thought right out of my head!” Marla thought she had squelched any dreams of acting with doing social work. “I was surprised that as soon as I decided to retire from social work the first thing I did was sign up with ActorsAccess.com, and start submitting for parts.” She won a short film within a couple of weeks of submitting to Actors Access., and coming up this June, will play the role of a Mother of a young man who is desperate to enlist in the Iraq War. The film is called Not Without My Brothers, directed by Chris Ziegenhagel, about a young man wanting the permission of his mother to enlist prior to 18 years old. Marla says, "Playing the role of the mother will be meaningful, due to my involvement in counseling young men and women, who actually fought, and were traumatized in that war." She also is a new member of MCA-I OC/LA and enjoys the workshops, connections and networking.
So far Marla has done a short film, won two small parts in two feature films, and won a starring role in The Dixie Swim Club at the Newport Center Theater opening March 25th, 2011, and has a new role if a film starting in June. To top it off, this has happened in a matter of 4 months time! So, dreams really do come true, even if a little delayed.
OCS: What was the aha moment that told you to quit your profession after twenty years and return to acting?
Marla: I realized I wasn’t supposed to be a Social Worker anymore when I started to have difficulty with the boundaries of treating clients. I started to be too emotional and realized that I was overflowing with feelings and dreams about, not only my client’s lives, but my own life. I had concentrated on others for so long…. I had forgotten I was once so creative, that I had a book of poetry I had not finished, and that I loved acting and singing so much.
OCS: Can you relate a high and/or low moment since your return to acting?
Marla: The memory is not quite as sharp as it was when I was 20. Learning 300+ lines for a play has led to some doubt about my abilities, but there is nothing that beats being on a stage and working with other actresses and having that “moment” in the lights. After memorizing the lines, I realized that developing the character was so fun and exciting and that doing stage work is really a fabulous way to keep the mind exercised and ready to go. I had forgotten how invigorating acting is. Also doing a few feature films right off the bat, after not being in front of a camera for so long, definitely put a spark in my ol’ dreams.
OCS: I know you are accepting all types of work as any good actor does. Is there a special kind of role or roles you’d like to do over the next years? Stage or film.
Marla: Quite frankly the role is not as important as the meaning of the play or film. I have been thinking I could play anything from a murderess to a saint…as long as I know the production has a meaningful message, or that it is just wonderful and magical entertainment. I do not want to be a cougar in a hapless, meaningless production, so the audience’s minds can turn to mush. I know it may sound redundant but I want to do performances in productions that have a great and profound message, or something that takes the imagination to a different plane of existence.
OCS: What is the most important advice you would give to someone just entering or returning to acting?
Marla: Join a group like MCA-I where you will start to learn about the film and theater production aspects of the business. Joining a media group is all about educating yourself on the technical aspects of acting. The Networking opportunities help you catch the great energy of people that are already working in the world of entertainment. Also pay for an inexpensive service like Actor’s Access, and start submitting a picture and resume. It doesn’t even have to be a professional picture or a fabulous resume, at first. Just start…don’t talk about it….do it. The greatest thing about being an actor is you are either correct for the part or not….but you will be correct for a part at some time. Just keep auditioning or no one will know you exist. Don’t worry about having a talent agent, at first, since you can get parts all on your own via Actor’s Access or LA Talent. And by Gosh, if you can really act, get involved with community theater. STRUT your STUFF.
OCS: With all the competition and people that have been working at the craft for years ahead of you, what keeps you motivated to keep pursuing your dream of being a working actress?
Marla: I don’t think about the field of acting as a competition. I am purely happy doing what I can when I can do it. I am more apt to seek friendship, camaraderie, education, learning curves and fun, then bumping someone out for a role. Truly acting is only a part of wanting to be an actress. You cannot be an actress alone…it takes a whole crew and a village for an actor to act.
OCS: Do you worry about not being able to get over the hurdles of getting back into the business professionally and actually earning a living from acting.
Marla: No, because I have an education and other skills and talents. I would really not like to see people have a one track mind of becoming an actor, and be starving on the sidelines. It is very important, if you want to become an actor/actress full time, that you can support yourself through the process. The old “starving” actress thing is not fun. I’ve been there, when I was younger, and it usually turns out badly and without the success the person had intended for themselves.
OCS: Who has been the most inspirational person in your acting career?
Marla: I would have to say Robert Easton, the famous dialect coach. I studied with him for two years privately. He actually arranged an interview with Stella Adler so I could study with her privately as well, and Uta Hagen. One day I told him I was worried, that the audience would not like me, as I prepared for a production. He said Marla, 50% of the people will like you and 50% won’t, just go do it and love it! He basically said don’t worry about what people think! I think that is good advice. Find your own critic and work hard.
OCS: What was your favorite role and acting experience of the recent films you have completed?
Marla: Well, I had the wonderful experience of playing Peggy in Something Real & Good produced by Rebecca Green, who also helped produce Boys Don't Cry, and many other hit films, and working with Luke Rivett who directed the movie. My charcter is a quirky and sarcastic sales person that works at the airport. The film be going to the Sundance Festival this coming January and I will be attending. It is a wonderful comedy written by the late Erin Carroll.