By Beth Carter
Lynn Stallings is a woman of many, many talents. Throughout her lengthy career she's been a professional dancer, a casting director, an on-set acting coach...and even a probation officer!
But the role Stalling's held for almost 35 years as the Founder and Executive Director of the non-profit Atlanta Workshop Players (AWP) has brought the most fulfillment to her life. AWP has trained over 20,000 area students in musical theater, film and television, and she's helped launch many successful careers in Atlanta's red-hot entertainment industry. She's even created a program called "Make A Movie, Make A Difference," in which young students write and film their own movies.
What is the "Make A Movie, Make A Difference" program all about?
The goal is to give our young students life skills, confidence and a strong work ethic.
For more than 10 months, they work with award-winning professionals from across the country to learn all aspects of movie-making: screenwriting, producing, filmmaking, promoting and acting. Kids are remarkably deep thinkers and have so much to say but don't always have an outlet to be heard. Through this program, they spend a great deal of time brainstorming about the things that are important and relevant in their lives, and then they write film shorts, PSAs (Public Service Announcements) and documentaries that are sent to film festivals and public screenings. They're currently shooting the first five episodes in a web series titled "What Is Your Story?" which will be complete by the end of November and launch in early December on You Tube.
How does performing help your young students stay healthy?
A performer's body is their instrument, so they take care of theirs with good nutrition, exercise and sleep. Performers also exercise their minds through learning lines, choreography and creating new works that have great value and purpose. These students also explore challenges that are faced by young people today and tackle those issues with social responsibility. The creative process brings personal soul-searching and thoughtful contemplation.We also laugh a lot, play hide and seek and have epic water fights!
You began Atlanta Workshop Players with your husband, Don. What's it like working so closely together?
Our entire family is involved with AWP, and I feel so fortunate to be able to create together. Don is an actor and filmmaker, and our precious daughter Ashlyn is an actress, writer and filmmaker. Our son Lane is a technical wizard and is in the final stages of developing a feature film project. We also love to travel the world together and going to the theatre in the West End!
When you're not at Atlanta Workshop Players, what do you do to relax?
I am powered by light. When you turn out the lights, I'm fast asleep and enjoying the ultimate state of relaxation. Other than that, I work 80 to 90 hours per week and love every minute of it.