Sonya Cooke...​A lover of acting technique, whether it be her own or her students....

Sonya Cooke recently relocated to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to join the faculty at Louisiana State University's School of Theatre as an Assistant Professor of Acting and Head of Undergraduate Performance. She has been tasked to implement her Seven Pillars Acting methodology within the core acting training at LSU by training both grad and undergrad actors, and certifying the MFA cohort to teach the technique. She continues to work her wares in film, television, and theatre, having signed with representation based in New Orleans, and recently she closed a play at an Equity theatre in Baton Rouge.

Sonya Cooke is the creator of Seven Pillars Acting, with branches in Southern California, the Actor’s Studio of Orange County and Seven Pillars Acting Studio in Los Angeles. Seven Pillars Acting is a modern and comprehensive acting technique for professional actors. In her career, she has strived for a wholesome, creative, and specific process for crafting character, which led her to develop this new and fresh approach to acting. Successfully implementing the technique in her studios, the manifesto and textbook, titled Seven Pillars Acting, is now published by Rare Bird Books. The technique is reaching actors of all ages and backgrounds, and through rigorous study, Seven Pillars actors are reaping great opportunities in the film, television and commercial genres. Seven Pillars Acting is a patent-pending system aimed at advancing the artist's authentic story-telling. 

Originally from Texas, she has acted in TV, film, New York and regional theatre, as well as commercials, print, and voice-over media. Career highlights include Louie by Louie C.K., creating devised theatre at the Guthrie, and playing the title role in feature film, Lily Grace. She earned degrees from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and UC-Irvine’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts. She is passionate about acting technique and loves helping her students discover their talents.

This is where Sonya is now, but it's quite a journey that got her here.... 

Early Acting....     It was in College Station, TX, home of the fightin' Aggies, where Sonya first discovered her love of acting. Inspired by the teachers, directors, coaches, and, most importantly her parents who noticed her artistic fervor and encouraged her to pursue it, she moved to New York City to attend NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. While there she immersed herself in her acting training, specializing in Meisner Technique, where she worked with her now mentor, Vicki Hart, head of the Meisner Studio. After that, she studied in the Experimental Theatre Wing where she learned Jerzy Grotowski's Plastiques, Mary Overlie's Viewpoints, among many other techniques. And in her last year, she joined The Classical Studio where she trained in the NeoClassical technique developed by Louis Scheeder. While finalizing her degree, she partnered with Prophecy Productions, a company of NYU Alumni with the mission to develop and produce new work, and collaborated with the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing program at NYU on new musicals. Her career started to first flourish when she booked a play and musical at Cortland Repertory Theatre in Upstate New York. Bringing her back for three seasons, she began to find her footing as a leading lady at an early age.
  

Blossoming Career...

     Sonya hit the pavement hard and fast by acting in film, tv, theatre, musical new works, voice-overs, print commercial work, webisodes, you name it. Inspired to create work for herself, Sonya co-produced and co-starred in Pyretown by John Belluso at the Times Square Arts Center in the middle of Midtown NYC, which led her to securing an agent. Between working in film/tv in New York with such programming as FX, National Geographic, and the Manhattan Neighborhood Network, she spent 3 summers at Cortland Repertory Theatre, where she performed in Agatha Christie who-dunnits, contemporary comedies, and musicals, namely Pajama Game, in which she played the fierce and feisty Babe. A career highlight was acting in a tv episode of Louie by Louie C.K. While in New York, Sonya cultivated other strengths of hers: acting coaching, directing, company development and curriculum writing. She began writing a blog on acting technique where she developed the process she has come to teach: Seven Pillars Acting. Discovering her passion for teaching and technique writing fortified her will to move to California to pursue an MFA in Acting at UC-Irvine. 

Graduate School...

     Moving to California and immersing herself again in studies was an incredible adventure, challenge and pleasure. She trained with seven other actors and under the tutelage of powerhouse professors: Robert Cohen, Richard Brestoff, Annie Loui, Phil Thompson, Cynthia Bassham and Eli Simon. Among the many highlights of her time were playing "Hannah" in Arcadia by Tom Stoppard and acting the title role in Orlando by Sarah Ruhl. Outside of her degree obligations, she directed three plays, Antigone, The Woolgatherer, and Bachelorette which lent her a fresh perspective on story-telling. She also received two grants, one to study and perform at the famed Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, and another grant funding her trip to The Performing Arts Library in NYC to study performances of Hedda Gabler. This research culminated in two different performances over several months. Since graduating, Sonya has moved to Los Angeles where she continues to act, coach, produce, direct and write.

 

Life in Los Angeles...

   Sonya joined the many marches of actors in Los Angeles who figure out that to flourish, one must be a hyphenate. Meaning, actors who embrace all aspects of creativity and production, from writing to editing, and from producing to directing. She collaborated for years with her husband, Brett Duggan, on his production company Not Normal Band Productions, which produced both live and filmed, musical and comedic content, which was repped by literary Agent Larry Hummel. She co-produced and directed The Fireturtles: An Indie Mockumentary which premiered at the Center Studios in Downtown Los Angeles and also opened at the New Jersey Film Festival. She also was a story writer on Super, a humorous web-series. Repped "across-the-board" by Elev8 Talent Agency in Beverly Hills, she most recently booked ADR voice work on the most recent Warner Bros Godzilla film. Keeping close connections with her faculty at UC-Irvine, she is credited as choreographer in Dramatist Play Service publication of The Last Lifeboat by Luke Yankee.

© 2013 by Sonya Cooke. All rights reserved

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