NYFA Filmmaking Faculty: Interview with Mark Mocahbee

September 13, 2022

You may not think there’s much of a throughline that connects King Lear and The Brady Bunch, but for an actor, they’re both examples of a craft that’s required to tell any kind of story on stage or screen. Both were also inspirations for Mark Mocahbee, NYFA South Beach’s Chair of Acting for Film, as he began his own discovery of life as a thespian. For over 25 years, he’s worked in both performance and behind-the-scenes roles in film, television, theater, and radio, developing an extensive resume full of experience he now shares with acting students at NYFA’s South Beach campus.

NYFA Chair of Acting for Film (South Beach), Mark Mocahbee

Mark achieved nationwide acclaim directing for the stage with the premiere of Brad Fraser’s Poor Super Man, which Time Magazine named one of the Top Ten Plays of 1994. Over the course of his 25+ year career in theater, film, and television, he’s worked with such luminaries as Edward Albee, Rebecca Miller, Lee Blessing, Michael Weller, Brad Fraser, Dustin Hoffman, Joe Pesci, Stanley Tucci, Keanu Reeves and more. He has appeared in a number of short films, including This Evening’s Discourse, The Essential Man, Finding Grace, and Play/House, as well as directing and acting in Interconnected and Captain Incredible.

He holds a B.S. and MFA from the University of Miami and has served on the faculty of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Xavier University and Miami University at Oxford. On stage, he’s been a member of the Stage Group Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Shakespeare & Company, and was the Resident Director of the Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati. We talked with him about his influences and how he works to guide those studying performance.

NYFA: How did you first get interested in acting?

MM: Watching the Brady Bunch kids on TV as a child and thinking that looks like fun, I could do that. Then I began to read an old copy of King Lear by myself, acting out all the parts, and I fell in love.

NYFA: What have been your favorite projects/productions to work on to date?

MM: Hamlet, Rain Man, Poor Super Man, The Public Eye, The Miami Improv Festival, and Side Man.

READ MORE: NYFA South Beach Welcomes Emmy-Nominated Filmmaker Carlos Sandoval

NYFA: Tell us about your time at NYFA.

MM: I started as a part-time instructor in 2015 and was promoted to Associate Chair in SB in the spring of 2016. In the Fall of 2016, I was promoted to Chair. It has been a deeply rewarding experience helping the South Beach campus grow and develop. Watching our students change while they are here is phenomenal.

NYFA: What are your favorite courses to teach?

MM: Performing Shakespeare, Period Styles, and Technique and Scene Study

NYFA: How would your students describe your teaching style/methods?

MM: Patient, exploratory, physical, detailed, and challenging.

NYFA: What are your favorite aspects of the film community in South Beach/Miami?

MM: The diversity.

NYFA South Beach

NYFA: Who do you believe have been some of the most significant actors/actresses in film?

MM: Meryl Streep, Viola Davis, Denzel Washington, Robert DeNiro

NYFA: What are some of your favorite films and performances?

MM: Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice, Soumitra Chatterjee in The World of Apu, Denzel Washington in Malcolm X.

NYFA: What advice would you give a prospective student looking to get started in acting?

MM: Look at the world around you and allow it to absorb you. Read, learn and listen. Breathe. Work on monologues and stage plays, and make short films with your friends. Watch as many movies and plays as you can, and study every performance. What makes you love them? How and why do their characters move you?  Study and stories and how they unfold. Take classes and study this art form formally and deeply. Learn techniques, and then practice them over and over and over. In addition to acting classes, take singing, speech, voice, movement, dance, and clowning classes. Be disciplined and determined, and have fun. Above all, be kind to yourself and others around you. 

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