“Sheila was an important part of my prep process with the young actor Lucas Zumman in my film 20th Century Women. He attended some of her workshops and did one on one sessions, she helped him find a process by which he learned how to not just think about the character but feel the emotional life, feel the characters needs and fears and his whole emotional journey. She helped Lucas understand what a rich, emotionally authentic performance looks and feels like, and all the preparation that is needed to create this kind of work. I loved working with her, talking about Lucas and the script.” Mike Mills– Director ’20th Century Women’ ‘Beginners’ ‘Thumbsucker’ ‘Architecture of Reassurance’
“Working with Sheila Gray has given me more confidence in my work than I’ve ever had before. She’s helped me thoroughly develop and understand my characters, taught me techniques I rely on tremendously, and with her help I truly feel that I have learned so much about myself as an actor. We are only a year into working together, but I now feel that I don’t know what I’d do without her! She is an amazing, honest, meticulous, and supportive acting coach, and a wonderful person. Lily-Rose Depp ‘The King’ ‘Dreamland’ ‘Voyagers’ ‘Savage’
“I always learn something new when I work with Sheila. The in depth character work we do is insightful, stimulating, and an incredibly safe place to explore ideas.” Kyra Sedgwick ‘The Closer’ ‘The Humbling’ ‘The Road Within’ ‘Big Sky’ ‘Reach Me”Blue Angel’ ‘The Edge of Seventeen’
“Sheila’s detailed approach allows actors to discover and define what is unique in themselves and translate this into their work. She helps actors prepare and rehearse in a medium where there is often little time to do so. I am always happy to recommend her to both the newcomer and professional actor.” Sheila Jaffe – Casting Director ‘The Sopranos’ ‘Ted’ ‘The Fighter”Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”Entourage”When we Rise’
“Sheila is a wonderful acting coach. She worked with all the actors on “A Bronx Tale. ” Sheila is able to prepare and rehearse the actors while keeping the scenes fresh and spontaneous. She was great to have on set. I am always happy to recommend her.” Robert De Niro ‘The Comedian’ ‘The Wizard of Lies’ ‘Joy’ ‘Dirty Grandpa’ ‘The Intern’ ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and many more
“Since working with Sheila I have grown, and continue to grow, both as an actress and as a person. She continually creates a safe environment, enabling me to step out of my comfort zone and find the truth and freedom in my work.” Ashley Greene ‘Rouge’ ‘Twilight Series’ ‘Pan Am’ ‘Random’ ‘Burying the Ex’ ‘Urge’
“Sheila’s improvisation class was the first acting class I ever took. It was also the thing that made me want to become an actor. I felt like I had been woken up in a sense. I was forced to be present and pulled out of my head in a way I had never experienced. It gave me a platform to deal with things that I did not anticipate sharing with anyone. Like any good acting class, Sheila teaches you not to act. And it was that honest approach that was so attractive to me. I feel like I have learned so much about myself in my time working with Sheila. Like she introduced me to the different people inside of me and got me to make friends with them. And it was uncomfortable to recognize these parts of myself that I had maintained a secret. But ultimately so liberating.” Margaret Qualley ‘Novitiate’ ‘Leftovers’ ‘Palo Alto’ ‘The Nice Guy’ ‘Death Note’
“I had the great pleasure of working with Sheila Gray as our film’s official acting coach, during the rehearsal period of NOVITIATE. Her extraordinary ability to bring out the absolute best in our actors, while simultaneously providing them with such a safe and protected environment was truly invaluable, the proof of which came to light in all the exceptional performances she helped build within the film. Sheila is a joy to be around and someone whose tireless passion and commitment makes her one of a kind in her field. She is an utter Guru, in every sense of the word.” Margaret Betts – Director ‘Novitiate’ ‘Engram’ ‘The Carrier’
“As an actor, writer, director, producer Sheila has been the single biggest influence in my creative life. Everything I learned from her as an actor, breathed truth into everything I have ever done. There is a raw, powerful honesty in how she teaches that makes the ones being taught be her, strong, fearless and most importantly undeniable.”Mark Bacci Creator/Showrunner Northern Rescue on Netflix.
“Sheila knows how to empower you as an individual so that you can grow as an artist. Anything that you may consider as a flaw, or an obstacle within yourself, that might prevent you from reaching your true potential as an actor Sheila teaches you how to make it a strength and reverses the situation. She brings a lot of fun and sweetness to the process, but will never compromise in telling you when you haven’t worked hard enough!:-) I now enjoy working with her on Skype to prepare my upcoming auditions.” Zineb Triki ‘Les grands esprits’ ‘De toutes mes forces’ ‘Le Bureau des Légendes’ ’14h05′ ‘The Frozen Dead’
“In the process of writing and acting in “Cancer as Changemaker ” my play about my personal journey with metastatic breast cancer, I found myself disconnected from the words. I asked Hugh Dancy who he would recommend as a coach, and I was able to find Sheila. In two sessions, Sheila led me to connect my authentic feelings with the words of the script, as well as uncover profoundly significant unconscious memories that I thought had been long forgotten. Not only did the material of the play come alive with passion that moved the audience to tears, but my life was enriched with new meaning. Sheila is pure magic.” Gaye Doner-Tudanger MA, LCAT, RDT 2013 winner of Performance of the Year award, NADTA
“What is so great and creative about Sheila’s coaching is that she makes you relate to the character you are working on. She teaches you how to use your imagination combined with your own life and resevoir of emotions to create the character and their circumstances. So that once on set you are truly able to become the character and create from a truthful and real place.” Anh Duong ‘GHB:To Be or Not to Be’ ‘Welcome to New York’ ‘Appropriate Behavior’ ‘Love Me’ ‘For Sale’ ‘Scent of a Woman’
“I’ve worked in radio for years, but not as the person talking. So when I needed to deliver voice-over for a documentary, Sheila was instrumental in helping me achieve a natural sound and gave me tips that I can carry with me into the future. She’s terrific!” Dave Isay Founder/President StoryCorps
“I’d never really acted before I started working with Sheila. She guided me and gave me the tools to start working professionally. While Sheila challenged me, she also taught me to trust my instincts. Sheila is relentless in getting the absolute best from every person and inspires every person to want the best from themselves. Working with Sheila has helped me grow as an actor and as a person.” Julia Goldani Telles ‘Bunheads’ ‘One Life to Live’ ‘The Affair’
“Sheila Gray brought my acting to life. She became my number one support system and pushed my acting to a level I didn’t know was possible. She has an absolutely amazing ability when it comes to analyzing scenes and helping actors bring depth and life to a role. Her help was invaluable and will forever hold a huge impact on my acting. I’m not sure where I would be today if it weren’t for her guidance and I don’t want to imagine it. Going to see Sheila remains one of the best decisions I have ever made. There is no one else who would be more fitted for the label ‘acting guru.’ ” Erin Moriarty ‘Red Widow’ ‘The Watch’ ‘The Kings of Summer’ ‘True Detective’
“Working with Sheila, I learnt how to go deeper with my work. How to use all my experiences, my fears, my truth to illuminate the character. It was a Game changer and I’ve never looked back.” Toby Sandeman
“I truly believe I wouldn’t be where I am today without the guidance & patience Sheila showed me from day 1. Sheila Taught me more about myself than I ever really wanted to know–which is where it all needs to come from. It’s an amazing thing what you can achieve when someone believes in you.” Taylor Kitsch ‘Friday Night Lights’ ‘Wolverine’ ‘John Carter of Mars’ ‘Savages’ ‘The Normal Heart’ ‘Lone Survivor’ ‘True Detective’
“Sheila created a wonderful space in New York where I could go and absorb myself in a performance, laugh, feel supported and be inspired. Sheila is an incredible mentor and lifelong friend to all her students. I feel very lucky to have her in my life.” Susan Loughnane ‘Poisen Pen’ ‘Food Guide to Love’ ‘Hollyoaks’ ‘Love/Hate’
“We cast two of your actors in our short! They both gave beautiful readings. But really every one of your actors came in and gave the best readings—talented, thoughtful, present, professional and kind. I’ve been lucky to sit in on lots of castings of other directors and no actors come close to the caliber of skill and grace you instill in your students. I cannot thank you enough for always working with me. And I’m so grateful for the work you do with your actors.” Sophie Savides-Director
“Thank you so much for teaching me and helping me prepare for all of my auditions and roles. I truly appreciate your efforts, I could not have done it without you. I hope we will have many more projects together as I believe we make a great team!” Nicola Peltz ‘The Last Airbender’ ‘Bates Motel’ Transformers 4′ ‘Unbound Captives’ ‘Eye of the Hurricane’
“I think of the script as a map and as I try to navigate my way through. Sheila is like my personal GPS. She helps me chart my characters emotional journey and find the courage to draw on my instincts to get from point A to point B. Sheila’s objectivity and analytical skills are truly remarkable. She is able to stand back and look at the big picture, which allows me to focus on the details. Sheila is an amazing resource and a good friend.” Tracy Pollan ‘Medium’ ‘Natalee Holloway’ ‘Law and Order:SUV’ ‘Spin City’ ‘Family Ties’
“Sheila is amazing. Her method for scene preparation is unique and indispensable. She breaks down the scene with you and ensures that you are emotionally connected to the material. This is especially useful in television when rehearsals are short or non-existent. Sheila ensures that you show up for work present and prepared, ready to play the scene. I couldn’t do it without her!” Jason O’Mara ‘Life on Mars’ ‘The Agency’ ‘Band of Brothers’ ‘Terra Nova’ Steven Speilberg TV Series
” I have worked with Sheila on almost almost every part I’ve had since the early 1990’s. Sheila’s method, for me, is so effective because she helps me, through specific exercises and guidance, to identify the character’s struggles and make them completely personal. After working with Sheila, I am confident in my choices scene to scene. I never feel like I am “winging it” or unclear. I am able to fully translate the emotional state of the character into the story I am being asked to be a part of. Sheila is a first rate teacher and coach and I am lucky to be able to have had this kind of guidence in my career.” Dana Wheeler Nicholson ‘Friday Night Lights’ ‘Tombstone’ ‘Fletch’ ‘Law and Order’ ‘Seinfeld’ ‘Sex in the City’ ‘My Life’s In Turn Around’ ‘The X Files’
“I worked with Sheila Gray as my acting teacher. She is a wonderful teacher and I learned so much.” Tatum O’Neal ‘The Runaways’ ‘Rescue Me’ ‘Wicked Wicked Games’ ‘Last Will’
“Until I worked with Shelia my process of breaking down a script was often long and difficult. Then Shelia brought to bear her remarkable gifts and made the complexities of absorbing a role simple and accessible for me. The time and stress I have saved in her studio is beyond worth it. Shelia has become a creative partner I can reliably count on to fully knit me – as an actor- into the demands of a role. She is also warm and funny. You won’t want to leave.” Mark McKinney ‘Slings and Arrows’ ‘Kids in the Hall’ ‘Saturday Night Live’
“Sheila Gray is one of the best acting teachers and coaches working today. I always know when I send someone to her that not only will they have a great time, they will come out a better actor” Ellen Chenowith– Casting Director ‘No Country for Old Men’ ‘Gran Turino’ ‘True Grit’ ‘O Brother Where Art Thou’ ‘Inside llewyn Davis’ ‘The Bay’ ‘Michael Clayton’
Working with Sheila helped me find a deep sense of my physical and emotional imagination. Each and every one of us in that class felt so supported, nurtured, and accepted which allowed us all the freedom to go to our depths. I still use so much of what I learned in her class, including sensory work, scene analysis, relaxation, and vulnerability. I am so grateful to have worked with Sheila.
Credits: Smile, 13 Reasons Why, Mare Of Eastown, Charllie Says, Narcos
“Sheila helped me find my true voice as I narrated “Granito: How to Nail a Dictator” A film which is part political thriller and part memoir. In doing so she coached me towards giving the film a deep, emotional resonance. And Sheila is just so much fun!” Pamela Yates– Producer ‘Poverty Outlaw’ ‘The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court’ ‘State of Fear’ ‘When the Mountains Tremble’
“When I started working with Sheila I had no idea I was about to embark on the most important learning experience of my career as an artist . We worked together for over 10 years and at each class, each session, I learned something new and valuable. Sheila has given me a foundation that is truthful and real. Today, firmly based in that foundation I am able to continue exploring, learning and growing thanks to our work together. Sheila’s coaching helps me become less stiff. She can tell me when I am starting to connect with the character and encourages me in that direction. The voice, the movement, all start to become one. To me, Sheila is a genius.” Patricia Velasquez ‘The Mummy’ ‘The Mummy Returns’ ‘Fidel’ ‘Committed’
“Whenever I can get to New York, I make a point to work with Sheila Gray. She is very honest with her feedback and she won’t stop working with me until I am one hundred percent connected. Her energy and integrity is infectious and she gets me excited about each part I work on..no matter how big or small. Sheila has made me a better and more personal actor.” Rebecca Budig ‘All My Children’ ‘Please Give’ ‘How I met Your Mother’ ‘The Guiding Light’
“I started working with Sheila 16 years ago. When I met her I thought I was Marlon Brando! Within the first week of working with her I realized I unfortunately wasn’t and had so much to learn about the craft. Shelia is for me the most instrumental professional influence in my life and her techniques are absolute fool proof. There have been times on set where I may have had problems emotionally getting to the place I’d need to be, noisy sets etc and I always find myself going to a small corner of the room and draw on everything taught to me by Sheila and without fail I can get right back in “the moment” she is without a doubt one of the greatest coaches in the world! and in my world, she’s the best!” Max Beesley ‘The History of Tom Jones’ ‘The Math’ ‘It Was An Accident’ ‘Bodies’ ‘Hotel Babylon’ ‘Survivors’ Bafta Nominee 2009
“Shelia Gray is a great teacher. She brings out your abilities as an actor in a process that’s natural to the way you think and feel. Her technique is simple to learn and rich in results.” Veronica Webb Actress and TV Personality. ‘Zoolander’ ‘Malcolm X’ ‘Someone Like You…’ ‘Jungle Fever’
“Sheila’s passion when engaging in a project reaches far beyond the expectations of an acting coach. As a Casting Director, I am thankful to have a relationship with Sheila where I can notify her of projects and receive such quality recommendations of actors whom I wouldn’t always find through agencies and web posts. Sheila’s support and enthusiasm is unparalleled as she goes far beyond the norm in helping develop the careers of her students.” Zan Ludlum Casting Director- Zan Ludlum Casting
“I worked with Sheila closely on several films and she was great in helping me define more specifically the underlying intentions of the characters.” Wayne Wang – Director ‘Broke Back Mountain’ ‘Maid in Manhattan’ ‘Smoke’ The Joy luck Club’
“The first time I met Sheila I knew instantly that we were going to work well together. She had me do relaxation exercises, which was weird, because it woke me up. It woke up all parts of me; she was getting me in touch with my physical self, into the right headspace so I could work form an unselfconscious place. I’d never cried in a scene, never actually cried. And then one day I was just crying, crying, crying. I couldn’t believe I had opened myself up to that extent. It was a mind blowing thing, I had to immerse myself in the situation, let myself go, trust that it was going to work. Sheila gave me the technique, knowing my body, my mind, my emotional instrument. I was able to see the logic in it, I followed her rules, and it worked. I was real in the scene, forgot that I was myself pretending to be a character, I really became that character in that moment. I just felt myself getting better and better. It was such an inspiring, uplifting experience. I found the core.” William Mosley ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’ ‘The Chronicales of Narnia: Prince Caspian’ ‘A Great Education’
“Sheila Gray’s vivacious work atmosphere goes above and beyond to help bring the material alive and put YOU into it.” Molly Sims ‘Men at Work’ ‘Carrie Diaries’ ‘Chez Upshaw’ ‘Royal Pains’
“Sheila was terrifically helpful with our young actor on Michael Clayton. It’s delicate work. She made sure to understand exactly what we needed, kept me well-informed, and delivered an actor with the confidence to stay loose and take direction. She did a great job for us.” Tony Gilroy-Director/Writer ‘Bourne Ultimatum’ ‘Devil’s Advocate’ ‘The Cutting Edge’
“Shelia and I met many years ago,in acting class. I was always watching her,as she was able to turn her emotions on and off like a light switch.CRY!..she produced tears in a second. When I later became a working actor, (and type cast:) Shelia,who was then a teacher, would work with me on material, where we would analyze the script, to try and understand the mind of that other person, and do exercises to identify and strip away the habits, clichés and artificial aspects between me and the character, so I had the courage to find a freedom in the character.” Debi Mazar ‘Goodfellas’ ‘The Insider’ ‘Collateral’ ‘Batman Forever’ ‘Entourage’
“I met Sheila while I was preparing to film my first lead role as George Clooney’s son in “Michael Clayton.” I had just turned nine years old, and Sheila helped me understand how my character Henry Clayton was feeling. I’m 13 now, and taller than Sheila, and she still helps me be the best actor that I can be. Working with her always improves my performance.” Austin Williams ‘Michael Clayton’ ‘The Good Shepherd’
“Sheila is a great acting coach. She shows you how to put your real life into your acting.” Alex Wolff ‘The Naked Brother’s Band Nickelodeon’
“For three years, Sheila was the acting coach on the Naked Brothers Band, a show I created for Nickelodeon. She worked her magic on a cast from the ages of eight to twenty eight, transforming them from amateurs to professionals overnight. I cannot speak of her highly enough. She was a godsend.” Polly Draper-Director/writer/producer
“As a producer and actor on Nickelodeon’s THE NAKED BROTHERS BAND, I was constantly amazed at the insightful and specific coaching that Sheila Gray gave all the actors on the show, including me! She helped experienced and non experienced actors alike perform at a very high level. And she really helped me out when I needed to play my character’s twin brother, a completely different character from my regular one. Sheila showed me how to quickly access each brother’s identity and character so that I could go from one to the next in a matter of minutes. I would recommend Sheila Gray to coach any age actor in any genre of acting.” Michael Wolff-Producer/actor ‘The Naked Brothers Band’
“I have been recommending Sheila Gray to actors for years! Even the most confident, skillful actors benefit tremendously from working with her. Sheila is the “go-to” for actors needing to prepare for film, television and theatre auditions and roles.” Todd Thaler-Casting Director ‘Leon’ ‘Maid in Manhatten’ ‘Perfect Stranger’ ‘I Hate Valentines Day’ ‘Handsome Harry’ ‘Friendship!’
“Sheila Gray is able to transform a performance, even with the most inexperienced actor, always finding the core truth, the subtle intentions, leaving them altered; and blessing us all with real, magical moments. She is an actor’s secret weapon. What is profoundly transforming in Sheila’s coaching, is her ability to understand and illuminate text: she works with actors to create brilliant, moving performances that always feel true. She fights to bring out the most amazing, vivid interpretations and mind-blowing, emotional moments. Sheila’s understanding, her profound intelligence, illuminates both the writer’s intention and an actor’s ability to unlock the most vibrant, truthful performances. I’ve had the pleasure and honor of working with Sheila, and her passion to create, and bring out the brilliance in others is unequaled.” Kate Lanier-Screenwriter/ Director ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It?’ ‘Everybody Can Float’ ‘Set It Off’ ‘Mod Squad’ ‘Honey’ ‘Glitter’ ‘Beauty Shop’
“Integrity, warmth, honesty and humor. That’s what an actor will get when they work with Sheila Gray. That and an insight into the character they are creating. When Sheila tells me to meet someone I will. She makes my job that much easier.” Mikie Heilbrun– Casting Director
“You are truly gifted at what you do and I felt like I gained new insights into myself as a person too….you have a very powerful way of opening up the mirror and turning it around for the person you are working with to more clearly see themself and reflect that into the role they are trying to portray.” Jim James-Singer/Songwriter/Actor ‘My Morning Jacket’
“Sheila Gray is a wonderful acting coach. She understands and teaches acting in the abstract, but also informs you on specific and literal components of a character, or a scene. I am lucky to have been able to work with her since I was 12 and she has helped me develop as an actor by encouraging me to keep exploring and to trust my instincts.” Nat Wolff Actor/Musician ‘Naked Brothers Band’ ‘New Years Eve’ ‘Special Things To Do’ ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ ‘Paper Towns’
“I met Sheila while I was in the midst of working on the Broadway show, Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark. Even with her busy schedule, she went above and beyond to make time for me and take me on as a student. I instantly felt supported and safe with her. Besides getting to the heart of what the scenes and songs were about, what is most important to me about Sheila is her uncanny ability to SEE you. She’ll give you the most honest look at yourself in the mirror. She believed in me, pushed me and lovingly encouraged me to take a journey that was, literally, life changing and magical. If you are fortunate enough to have Sheila as a teacher, a friend, or both, I know she will do the same for you.” TV Carpio ‘Spiderman: Turn off the Dark’ ‘Limitless’ ‘Across the Universe’
As Leto knows, a deep connection with a character’s twisted mind can help create a realistic and authentic performance. But how an actor facilitates that connection is a matter of taste. Whether through script, character immersion, or something in between, the purpose of preparation remains the same.
“I always say actors act for two reasons: to express themselves, and also to escape themselves,” says New York City–based acting coach Sheila Gray. “Every actor is different and distinct, and the best you can do is give an actor a lot of tools.”
Understanding the different approaches to character and which best serves you is invaluable in the audition room, in rehearsal, and while performing. Where Gray draws from Konstantin Stanislavsky and his American facilitator, Lee Strasberg, and works from the inside out, others prefer a text-based approach, often referred to as external, British, or Shakespearean methods.
While both Method and classical acting have their critics—Method can veer into self-indulgent, where classical is often scrutinized for not going deep enough—“being” as opposed to the highly stylized “performing” has undoubtedly taken precedence.
Gray is a self-proclaimed “modern Method” coach and uses sensory work in combination with classical character history- and world-building. “I often have [my students] give their character a dream, a struggle, and a secret because you never want to act just one thing,” she says. “We can feel 10 different things at once. A friend gets married and if we’re single, we feel happy and sad that we haven’t met anyone yet, and angry that our ex-boyfriend dumped us, and all that happens simultaneously. So you give a character different levels and motivations.”
Drawing from Stanislavsky and Strasberg’s combined teachings of “believable truth” and sense memory, which use the actor’s personal experiences with fear, for example, to relate to a character’s frightening situation, many actors and coaches such as Gray and actor-professor Daryll Heysham still use tools from the classical approach.
“When I work on a script I use improv, sense memory, and stuff from the Method, but for me, the text and the look is important,” says Heysham. “Add a wig and look in the mirror and all of a sudden the last puzzle piece is there. I do work with the external details to start with, but of course I have to flesh it out internally so you’re not doing a caricature.”
Whereas contemporary actors are often required to play subtext in a scene, Heysham notes the classical actor’s source material, namely Shakespeare, often explicitly expresses a character’s internal thoughts and subsequently relies more heavily on an actor’s technical savvy.
“Any actor is capable of doing classical work,” Heysham says, “if they have the basic tools of any actor, which is an imagination and expressiveness combined with vocal and physical ability; those things will need to be sharpened for the classical actor because the text is very demanding. With a lot of long, intricate phrasing [and] archaic words, you need clarity.” The technical vocal variety needed to perform onstage and “grab our ear and make us want to listen” can also be picked up in the theater and brought to other mediums, just as understanding Shakespeare’s characters’ complexities serve the actor no matter how small the role.
“I don’t think either classical or modern is perfect,” says Gray. “Each requires a different combination of tools and that’s what keeps it exciting for people acting for 30 years.”
“…Six years ago, over the course of one week, everything came together [for 20-year-old French actress Ana Girardot]. She’d just returned from New York, where she spent two years studying acting with Sheila Gray, working in a restaurant on Lafayette Street to pay for classes. Girardot said that Gray ‘completely transformed her,’ [equipping her with a necessary foundation and technique to successfully pursue an acting career]. Gray pushed Ana to the point that she had actually wanted to quit. “Watching Ana work was like seeing a beautiful butterfly roar and then fly away,” Gray recalls poetically. “Anna was a young woman with a big spirit—courageous and very driven.” Ana Girardot Excerpt from ELLE (French Edition) November 2014
Julianne Nicholson is most likely to turn to her coach, Sheila Gray, “when I’m working on a character who is very different from the person I am—in other words, when I’m trying to understand someone who thinks and reacts differently than I would. Material that I don’t initially connect with” would also lead Nicholson to work it through with her coach. She says that she did not routinely work out with a coach initially, but, after taking a basic acting exercise class with Gray over five years ago, followed by scene and “improv” classes, Nicholson decided to work with Gray individually. “I like the fact that she looks you right in the eye and is direct in her approach. “I’ll bring the sides that I’m working on,” Nicholson explains. “We’ll do a relaxation exercise. Then she’ll ask me to speak my thoughts out, to go through my day. The purpose of that is to bring out any distracting feelings I might be carrying around with me without being consciously aware of them. If I’m tense about something that has happened that day, or have any other emotions that are very different from the ones I’ll need to call upon, this sort of ‘talking out’ brings them to my attention. That helps me push them aside, so I can concentrate on the reactions I do want to call up. If you’re feeling tense, for instance, you’re not going to be able to easily get right into a romantic comedy scene.” Nicholson has found that this kind of preparatory work “taught me the importance of pinpointing feelings and reactions I’m carrying with me when I work on something on my own.” In her work with Gray, after Nicholson brings the day’s emotional baggage to the surface in this fashion, she then does a cold reading. At that point, she and Gray begin to “pick the script apart. If she spots a weak area, she’ll ask, ‘What does this line mean to you? and our intensive work begins.” That is why she has found working with someone with a “direct approach” geared to her immediate goals and needs well worth pursuing. Julianne Nicholson Backstage Magazine ‘August: Osage County’ “Ten Thousand Saints’ ‘Masters of Sex’ The Red Road’
"Sheila is my acting warrior! I’m so lucky to have found her. Sheila truly helps me find the characters within myself and gives me the confidence every actor needs to execute the job with heart and craft. Sheila has absolutely opened me up as an actress. Her love and care for what she does shines through her." Lili Simmons: Power Book IV: Force, True Detective, Banshee Gotham, Ray Donovan
“Mariah credits her acting lessons with Sheila Gray as an important tool in discovering herself. Carey has been revisiting through drama exercises some of the difficult terrain of a poor and unhappy childhood… “It’s helped me get in touch with my feelings.” “For me acting, even just studying- is about releasing emotions I’ve kept locked inside. I never realized how reliving a memory can be like tapping a vein to a direct emotion.” Mariah Carey Elle Magazine
Acting Coach Sheila Gray on how she would have instructed the excitable Texas Rangers pitcher John Rocket who plays a serial killer in the film Greenskeeper. ” I would have asked him, what enrages you? What do you feel self- righteous about, like slashing out about? I’d have him try and connect with these internal sensations-perhaps by thinking of that bad umpire that makes terrible calls. Then I would have him imagine that umpire in front of him and physically create him and interact with him. I would ask him to do a sound and movement that externalizes the rage he feels towards him in order to experience the internal, intense and then explosive rage that a violent serial killer would feel and act on. ” Details MagazineJune/July 2002
“I came to NY to hone my craft and take class with Sheila Gray and now I am busy constantly doing scenes with people from my classes… for me acting is so much about confidence. If you believe you are good enough you give it off and that actually makes you better. So studying with a teacher where I am being exposed to method and sensory have moved my acting to a different level.” William Mosely The Villager
“ Sheila is a force. An anomaly. Working with her I learned so much. I also love the small community she has created with actors. ” Crystal Moselle