Hollywood on the Northshore Celeste Marcussen Hart Creating U
Louisiana has quickly earned the reputation as the “Hollywood of the South.” With the Louisiana Motion Picture Tax incentive, more production companies are setting up camp here in Louisiana, and more importantly, are searching for local actors to be in their films. More than $2 billion has been spent in Louisiana on film production over the past several years. Consequently, this has spurred a growing need on the Northshore for advanced professional training and networking. Creating U, with its professional New York/California-style acting and modeling training, is in a league of its own.
Whether you want to work in film as an extra, book lead roles or model in commercial print or walk the runway, Creating U is where you will learn the skills necessary to succeed. Besides being an excellent academy that offers this level of professional training, it is a place where students become close friends and like family. Celeste Marcussen Hart, owner of Creating U has incorporated everything she learned in her ten years of work as an actor and model into designing Creating U, “I always wanted to open my own school and put everything into it,” says Celeste —Creating U is everything she knows and loves.
Celeste is a St. Tammany Parish native who earned a second degree Black Belt in Taekwondo at the age of nine and was an avid sports player, yet still lacked confidence. At age 14, she joined the Northshore Fashion Club and began participating in runway shows. At 18, she enrolled in an acting and modeling school where her confidence grew and upon graduating, she signed with a local agency. With many runway, promotional modeling and acting jobs, she was able to use the money earned to pay for college, buy a car and to pay her bills. She worked her way through the University of New Orleans, earning a degree in Drama and Communications.
What kind of difference will you see in your child if they attend classes? “Parents are amazed at the remarkable changes in their children of all ages since attending Creating U classes,” says Celeste. Some of these children change from “timid and shy” to “proud and confident” she says and that parents are constantly sending her texts and emails telling her “what a difference” the classes have on their children. They quickly begin to see the results of their child enjoying what they do and feeling like they belong to a group.
A major difference with Creating U, Celeste says, is that class sizes are “kept small for individual attention” and many of the students, especially the teenagers, show up early for classes to visit with each other.
Celeste says, “It’s so rewarding to see how much the students love coming to class…I hear all the time that it’s what they look forward to most each week.”
Some students are already confident and really just have a desire to become an actor or a model. They are ready to dedicate themselves to professional training and immediately begin to learn how to succeed at bookings for acting, film or modeling jobs. Celeste says the “same applies to adults.” It is never too late to become an actor and is a great way to improve their confidence in their professional occupations. Helping others to be the “most professional they can be” is what motivates Celeste and is another reason, Creating U is an extraordinary place for both children and adults, alike.
Students are already booking work such as Christine Winninger, a mother who home schools her four children began taking classes at Creating U this past year. Now, she is finding work in local commercials and recently booked a reporter role in the new HBO show “True Detectives” starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. Teen student, Bo Aleman and college student Ashley Bull recently booked their first regional commercials. Moreover, out of 450 models from across the South who tried out for the 2013 NOLA Fashion Week runway show, Caroline Branch and Catherine West were two of only 40 selected to participate.
Creating U’s curriculum incorporates all areas of the business: acting, print, fashion, makeup, runway and film. The program includes preparing for agency interviews and performing for casting directors. Paul Weber, a well-known and respected casting director in Hollywood, teaches the Professionalism in Acting course. Students learn what to expect from casting calls, agents, how to book the role, a good resume and other areas of the business. Former head-casting director for MGM for the past 16 years, Mr. Weber casts regular celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon and Dakota Fanning.
Brent Caballero, a top Louisiana casting director who casts for major films that come to Louisiana, also comes to Creating U to meet with the students. Acting coach, Mike Kimmel, is an accomplished film, television and commercial actor and is the former sidekick for the Jay Leno show of 15 years. He lived in California for over 20 years building his experience in major films, commercial work and as a program host. Instructor Christine Lombardo is a gifted makeup artist who travels around the world working on film sets and with celebrities.
Both modeling and acting students take the Posing Print course that teaches them how to “properly pose” for the camera with both body and face to capture their “best angles and features.” In runway class, the students learn how to walk with confidence, poise and correct posture. Creating U holds regular runway shows at Belk and other various venues. They also do print work for some local stores using the modeling students in Posing Print. This gives the students a chance to perform what they have learned in class. “The other amazing part of runway and print events,” says Celeste, “is that it makes the students feel confident and beautiful while building good friendships along the way.”
Another favorite class for parents and students alike is Life Skills and Etiquette. Students learn the aspects of positive presentation and the importance of greetings, handshakes, direct eye contact, conversation, social media navigation, dining etiquette and dealing with peer pressure. All of these classes work conjunctively together to educate students on how to stand out from the crowd, to gain confidence and over-all self-image.
Creating U was voted the 2012 Northshore’s Best Acting Academy. It operates year-round along with a four-week summer camp for ages 7–14 and covers a little bit of each course from the curriculum.
As parents, we want to help our children go after the things that they are passionate about. Creating U is the Northshore’s ticket to doing just that and puts their dreams on the map toward the lights, camera and action of Louisiana.
Creating U, 69154 Hwy 190 E. Service Rd., Covington, 985-796-1818, www.creatingu.com.