Do you know what Kyle Massey from “Cory in the House,” David Lambert from “The Fosters,” and Johanna Brady from “Easy A” have in common?
They got their acting training and jump started their acting careers at Atlanta Workshop Players, a non-profit organization that offers film and musical theatre acting classes, dance classes, and voice lessons to aspiring young kids and teens who wish to pursue the performing arts.
Lynn and Don Stallings founded the 35-year-old institution after realizing how many talented youth lived in Atlanta but had no place to get professional acting opportunities or training.
“Rather than complaining about it, we decided to do something about it and Atlanta Workshop Players was born, writing original, social-issue musicals that [have] toured metro Atlanta schools for 30 out of the 35 years AWP has been open,” Lynn Stallings said. “AWP has evolved into a musical theatre company and a film school conservatory producing stage productions, movies, television shows, and public service announcements with a purpose.”
AWP has 217 active students with 200 participants that participate in film, acting and improv workshops. For the workshops, the company brings in famous casting directors, agents, actors, or celebrities to talk to the students about performing arts or provide “how to” tips.
They also have a musical theatre company at the studio. The company consists of kids from ages 4 to 18 years old who put on shows written by the Stallings which focus on teenage problems like bullying, fitting in, and loving yourself.
In the spring 2016, the company is putting on the musical “Masquerade,” which deals with moving to a new town and trying to fit in. The end of the musical has a surprise ending that could leave the audience speechless.
When Lynn Stallings toured metro Atlanta with this show the first time, the company would host a talkback afterwards with the teens’ schools. The purpose of the talkback was to see what the teen audience thought of the show and hear how they will stop problems like bullying. Lynn recounted at one show, a boy stood up, grabbed the microphone, and said he was the bully in the show, but going forward he would not be the bully any more.
“This same thing happened in four more schools where more kids stood up and admitted to being the bully,” she said. “It is truly amazing how our shows can change so many lives.”
Not only does Atlanta Workshop Players benefit their teen audience they have at their shows, but AWP changes the lives of teens that train there.
“AWP has helped me become more confident and more outgoing, and it has given me amazing opportunities including workshops with industry professionals, casting directors, and learning how to work on set,” Sophia Adesanya, a 13-year-old eighth grader at Connections Academy, said.
Atlanta Workshop Players also sends many students on their way to success and sometimes stardom. Khamary Grant is one of them with appearances in the Pillsbury Toaster Strudel and Georgia Aquarium commercial and in the movies “Max” and “Fist Fight.”
“AWP is the best place for teens to go because of love, acceptance, and creativity. It is a place where you can be yourself and people will not judge you for who you are or what you do.,” Khamary Grant, a 17-year-old junior and Veritas Classical Academy said.
But success and stardom are not the most important things AWP focuses on. For them, it is all about kids and teens changing the world, being more confident, and finding their artistic voice.
“They make you feel like you are the most important person in the world,” Grant said. “I want to one day make AWP a worldwide organization that can touch millions of teens around the world because there is no other place like it on the Earth.”
Future Atlanta Workshop Players Shows
“Beneath the Surface”
February 26 – 28
April 22-24, 29-30
All show times are:
Fridays, 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays, 1:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Sundays, 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.