We had the good fortune of connecting with Diane Christiansen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Diane, what’s the most important thing you’ve done for your children?
I am often asked what my secret is to parenting. I have been very fortunate to have quite successful adult children who are both thriving, happy and productive people. I believe you have to discover your kids!! When my children were very young, I was happy when they knew what they liked and didn’t like. We listened and allowed them to be their own guide. Of course we taught them right from wrong, manners and all of the basics… what we didn’t do, was dictate who they should be. We tuned into the clues. We exposed them to a number of things that might interest them, and allowed them to show us what was interesting to them, thereby following their lead. I taught them that the only important thing to know in Life, is to know themselves and what they LOVE. To follow their bliss!! Where their Bliss is they will find their treasure. It turned out to be very true. In fact, my son was in the Guinness Book of World Records last year, 2019. They are both successful and happy doing what they love most. Whenever they seemed overwhelmed with homework, I had them put it down for 24 hours and go do something they loved and then come back to the homework. It always worked and they stayed honor students. If a child can’t connect why stress them out?? Reconnecting with what they loved changed everything every time. I also taught them to be responsible for their interests and to plan accordingly. They learned the value of everything that way.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Aside from my family, my greatest Love in my Life has definitely been acting and teaching acting. I believe the reason I love teaching so very much, is because I am able to do what I love every single day with the people I like being around the most – Actors! The successes they achieve and the emotional intimacy we share is so very rewarding. Possibly even more than my own successes as a performer. The challenges and obstacles we had to overcome never end really, there will always be challenges, it’s all about reinventing oneself and ones business to adapt to the constant changing climate of our Industry. Keeping a finger on the pulse of those changes and adapting is key and one must love what they are doing to keep at it. Being flexible in our Industry is the most valuable quality any studio owner and actor in general can develop. I believe that the success of our Award winning studios of 28 years now, is our showcasing talent that is READY to be seen by the A list Agents and Managers we work closely in development with. We never showcase an actor to them who isn’t ready to work. That includes training, photos, branding, resumes and exposure to the Reps in L.A. who can really make a difference in their careers. I also believe that those professional relationships with Reps which have been nurtured all those years is a treasure we value more than anything. In addition, I believe what sets us apart are the Casting Directors, Producers, Directors and writers we have great relationships with who consistently come to us seeking talent. We always respond and we are very careful about who we send for those opportunities. Connecting talent and decision makers is one of our most redeeming qualities. It’s like casting really, knowing who is right for roles and who will respond to who! We are a family run/owned business and we are very specific in our curriculum and training and only hire instructors who have trained with us for a very long time. Who know our techniques inside and out. Keeping it very specific and expanded with what we do best. Knowing ones own Brand is as valuable as knowing oneself. The greatest lesson I have learned along the way, is to take chances, try new things, and trust that not all things we create will succeed. Yes those things that do work, can be expanded upon and reinvented as needed. Don’t be afraid to try new things!! Take chances, as risk is the true nature of our business.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh… do I have great places to take people that visit! Let’s begin with my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles, here goes;
1.The Old Place Cornell in Agoura Hills 2.LURE in Agoura Hills 3.Malibu Farm in Malibu 4.Back on the Beach Cafe in Santa Monica 5.The Beach Cafe in Paradise Cove Malibu 6.PERCH – downtown L.A. 7.The Inn of the Seventh Ray – Topanga Cyn 8.Casa Vega – Studio City
For fun, I like the following…. 1. The Pantages Theatre in Hollywood 2. The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion 3. The Hollywood Bowl 4. The Greek Theatre 5. The Broad Museum 6. Solvang for wine tasting 7. Paso Roblas for Wine Tasting 8. The Huntington Library 9. The Descanso Gardens 10. Concerts at the Forum and Staple Center 11. MOCA 12. Will Rogers State Beach 13. Point Dume 14. Disneyland & Disney California Adventure 15. Downtown Disney 16. Universal Studios 17. Knotts Berry Farm 18. Laguna Beach
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to send a HUGE shoutout to my mentors. My first Acting mentor was my Junior High speech/drama teacher, Miss Ehlers at Edison Junior High School in Rock Island, Illinois. Without her encouragement and guidance, I would never have found Community theatre and believe me that saved my Life! I would also like to acknowledge my dance mentors, Mary Lou & Larry Dennhardt from Moline, Illinois who trained me for the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall in NYC, choreographed shows I was in and took me to NYC to audition for the Rockettes, starting my dance career at the ripe age of 17. They too saved my Life!! I would also like to thank my mentors and acting coaches of many years, Sally Kirkland and Joseph Bernard at the Strasberg Institute. They inspired me on so many levels, both Spiritually and professionally. It is because of them I am a very happy Acting Coach for the last 28 years. My family have been my greatest supporters in all I do and for that I am eternally blessed and grateful. I am also thrilled beyond measure for my amazing adult children Max Christiansen and my daughter and lead instructor at our studio, Tess Christiansen who teaches with me both online and in Agoura Hills and NOHO, and their spouses.
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Image Credits Diane & Tess Christiansen