As a Straz Center employee for almost eight years, Leilani Smith had served in a variety of roles, from Ticket Sales agent to mailroom coordinator.
Over the course of her time at the Straz, she was familiar with our performing arts classes at the Patel Conservatory, but it wasn’t until last year that she finally mustered the courage to finally take the plunge and try one.
“I’ve always wanted to break out of my shell and tap into that part of me,” said Leilani. “I took drama class my freshman year in high school, but I got stage fright. It was a horrible experience. I knew I could do it, but it wasn’t the right time.”
As a professional adult, the thought of trying an acting class was daunting. So she enlisted a co-worker to join her in Eugenie Bondurant’s On-Camera Acting class.
“The first time I walked into class, I was petrified. But Eugenie’s words and her positivity makes you think you can conquer the world... With each class, I felt more and more confident.”
Bondurant, who has taught on-camera classes at the Conservatory for more than 10 years, plays Tigris in the upcoming blockbuster film The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2, due in theaters in November. Her longtime experience in the film and television industry helped Leilani get a glimpse of the business of show business.
She found this especially helpful as she recently finished up a bachelor’s degree in music management from Full Sail University. She’s currently pursuing a graduate program in entertainment and hopes to one day be a music manager for bands and tours. She works full-time at Coca-Cola, and is interning with Euguenie to learn more about film and television.
Leilani has since also taken the Conservatory’s Adult Improv class twice, with local improv guru Tobi Martini. In addition to helping her tap into her creative side, the classes gave her more confidence in her personal and professional life as well.
“Even if you’re not trying to get into the acting world, it gives you a boost to go into meetings and talk in front of others...if you feel shy talking in front of people, it helps you get over that. I honestly wish I would have taken these classes earlier,” said Leilani.
“Just give it a try, even if you’re scared, come back the next week, and you’ll be a totally different person. Take a leap of faith and just do it.”
To check out our adult acting classes, click here, or call 813.222.1002.