April 18, 2018

As a part of its ongoing Guest Speaker Series, the New York Film Academy recently welcomed someone very special to Marvel Universe fans: actress Hayley Atwell, Agent Carter herself. NYFA New York Acting for Film Department Chair Peter Allen Stone moderated the event for a packed house of enthusiastic acting students.

“Hayley Atwell’s discussion about the craft of acting with our students was invaluable,” said Stone. “The importance she placed on discipline and technique left an impression on our students that will guide them for years to come.”

The Q&A offered aspiring filmmakers, actors and theatre performers the chance to ask questions and learn from the experience of a prolific actress of both the stage and screen, who shared an incredible energy and enthusiasm for both her craft and her student audience:

The Golden Globe and two-time Olivier nominated actress shared with NYFA students that her very first acting job ended up on the cutting room floor. Yet Atwell was not deterred, and rose to fame while portraying Captain America’s original love interest, Peggy Carter, in the current franchise, including all three Captain America films and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But her portrayal of Peggy Carter truly won the hearts of the Marvel community in the ABC series Agent Carter, a slick period piece that follows the character as she fights to protect the legacy of Howard Stark (yes, that Howard Stark) with his butler, Edwin Jarvis. The series ran for two seasons.

Following Atwell’s huge success with Marvel, the actress again found herself as a series lead in ABC’s legal thriller Conviction. She also starred in an episode of Black Mirror as Martha, a woman who reconnects with her recently deceased lover. More recently, Atwell returned to the London stage with the production Dry Powder, and is now starring in the Starz mini-series Howards End alongside Pride and Prejudice’s Matthew Macfadyen.

Coming soon, Atwell will be seen alongside Ewan McGregor in the feature film Christopher Robin.

With all the high profile success Atwell has enjoyed of late, she offered very down-to-earth and practical insights for NYFA students on the world of professional acting.

“I find it’s sometimes harder [having a smaller role] than if you have a bigger role,” she said, acknowledging the challenge of creating a fully fleshed character with dialogue, information, or time. No matter the size of a part, Atwell shared that she believed no director should ever give a line reading, meaning that actors had the privilege and responsibility of embodying their character choices with enough understanding and conviction to bring originality to a role while remaining collaborative.

She also emphasized that actors must always be prepared: “[You should have] a clear understanding of what you’re doing but be willing to have it steered in a completely opposite direction if the director tells you otherwise.”

Her most important advice for NYFA students: “Do not be afraid to ask questions.”

The New York Film Academy thanks Hayley Atwell for sharing her time and expertise with our students.

These guests are not faculty and do not teach at NYFA, but they have appeared to share their stories and experience with our students. As guest speakers are scheduled based on their availability, NYFA cannot guarantee whether a guest speaker will visit during a student’s attendance or who that guest speaker may be. This guest speaker forum is not part of any NYFA curriculum and attendance at guest speaker events is purely voluntary. Students should be aware that guest speaker events do not represent a job opportunity nor are they intended to provide industry connections.