Friday, September 2, 2011

Spotlight on Eugenie Bondurant, on-camera instructor

Living in New Orleans in her teens, Eugenie Bondurant had aspirations of modeling. Despite her long, sleek build, she was turned down by a Ford talent scout, and let go from another modeling gig because, “I was told I was not modeling material, and I believed it,” said Bondurant.

Bondurant's subsequent long and interesting career in the entertainment industry is a lesson learned in not believing everything you hear.

Now one of our on-camera acting instructors at the Patel Conservatory, Eugenie Bondurant has enjoyed roles from fashion model to killer alien.  
Ironically, it was a talent scout who found her. She’d been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and was undergoing chemotherapy at the time. She was walking down the street in New Orleans when a modeling agent noticed her 6-foot-tall frame and asked her if she’d done any modeling.
“Do you realize I’m wearing a wig, and I have no hair?” she told him. But that didn’t deter him or her. “I wasn’t even finished chemo, my mother was skeptical. But I told my doctor we’re going to be finished.”
She finished chemo and headed to New York. “I thought if I made my money back from my investment, maybe it’s a sign.”
Within six months, she made the cover of a magazine, and soon after, she was modeling in Paris.
Her modeling career took her from New York to Paris and L.A. She moved to L.A. where she ended up being represented by Ford, the most well-known modeling agency in the industry that once turned her down.

She booked her first commercial for Hanes panty hose.
“I was a model snob, I didn’t know what SAG [Screen Actors Guild] commercials were all about,” said Bondurant. She thought nothing of the commercial gig until she started seeing her commercials all over television, and then came the residuals.
Seeing acting as a new opportunity, she studied, took classes, and she booked jobs.
Bondurant studied with popular character actor Bob Bancroft, with whom she later developed her on-camera acting workshop series.

“Talk about a mentor, he was phenomenal,” said Bondurant, “It was because of him that I got all this wonderful experience.”
Bondurant as a killer alien in Space
Truckers with Dennis Hopper.
Bondurant’s acting career spans roles from alien to comedic dominatrix.

“I’ve booked a lot of strange things, probably because of my height and my look.” In Space Truckers with Dennis Hopper, "I was the alien who went around killing everyone. It’s goofy,” she laughed.

For that experience, she worked with costume designers for six months prior to shooting to develop the prototype of the alien.

"They had to do a mold of my head three times, which is a really uncomfortable thing to do," she laughed. "I had laser eyes and a claw hand. It was crazy."

It took 45 minutes to get into her costume, and once in it, bathroom breaks were impossible. But shooting on location in Ireland made up for it. "It was an extraordinary experience," said Bondurant.
Bondurant as Dot Clock in Donald and Dot Clock Found
Dead in their Home
, a quirky independent film about an
off-beat romance.
While she’s played some crazy characters, her personality is just plain sweet. Always positive and enthusiastic, her goal is to help students infuse their own personality into every role, whether they’re acting students or professionals learning how to speak in front of an audience.
“One of the most difficult things to teach is getting students to be themselves in front of the camera..they get intimidated and shut down. My intention is to have my students feel so comfortable in this medium that they bring their every day at-home personality to this artificial environment.”
She developed her on-camera program at Beverly Hills Studios in Los Angeles. Her on-camera classes were the first  classes offered at the Patel Conservatory in 2004.
As a certified Meisner instructor, Bondurant focuses on helping students integrate authenticity into their work. “Even if you’re playing a killer transvestite, there has to be something of you in this character. You and the character must mesh, otherwise it will look pushed,” said Bondurant. “The camera picks up a lie.”
Her workshop series at the Patel Conservatory begins in October, and focuses on various skills and techniques throughout the year. She is also available for private coaching. For more information or registration, call 813-222-1002.

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