Whether you’re Brad Pitt or Halle Berry—or even someone new to show business—acting coach Margie Haber ’68 has some advice for you: stop acting.
Those two words are at the root of her philosophy, which encourages actors to think less—and react and connect more. For Margie, scenes are “slices of life,” which actors have the privilege to live and experience.
She has spread that philosophy through her own Los Angeles studio, where she has worked with Pitt and Berry, as well as Vince Vaughn, Mariska Hargitay, Kristin Davis, and Lisa Rinna. Now she’s reaching even more people through her Stop Acting iPhone and iPad app. Margie has been part of the industry for over 35 years as both an actress and coach. Her experience has taught her that the often-intimidating audition process is just like living life, albeit more quickly and more thoroughly.
“I teach living the life. I don’t teach acting anymore,” she says. “It’s really about changing your approach to communication. Most actors come from the character part all the time and leave themselves out of it. Bringing yourself is one of the most important parts of the whole experience. What makes me happy is that I can get people to embrace who they are.”
The Stop Acting digital class app has three hours of video of Margie teaching her philosophy, allowing learners to observe her behavior.
In the studio, Margie’s skills and expertise are in high demand. She is currently working on eight films, four television series, and ongoing classes and intensives.
“I am addicted to changing people’s lives,” she says. “You think it’s going to be an audition class, and it turns out to be a life class. And I’m right there with you as we journey together. It has changed me, and I’m humbled by how it has made my life and my relationships richer.”
Margie has always taught in some way, beginning as a speech pathologist before moving to Los Angeles to act in commercials and several TV shows. When she began as an acting coach, she adopted the “phrase technique” from her studies as a speech pathology major at IC, teaching people how to read scripts and lines in phrases rather than getting caught up in memorizing words.
“What I learned at Ithaca College as a speech therapist was very valuable in learning communication studies. I was always a teacher; I always taught even though I was acting. My true passion was to teach,” she says. “You don’t have to teach people and be superior to them; you can be equal to them.”
Margie makes sure all of her students are staying healthy both mentally and physically, so they are able to focus and connect with the lives they are trying to portray on-screen or onstage.
“You need to be a healthy actor,” she says. “You do it all through your imagination, and if your imagination is not available to you, you’re not going to be the best you can be.”
Margie is working to open a studio in Australia and will continue her international studies program, where students come to L.A. from all over for a two-week intensive course.
“I’m more successful now than I ever have been because the word has spread to stop acting and live a life,” she says.