‘Novela Land’ actors share wisdom with theater students

BY Ivan Cazares

Theater students had the opportunity to speak to members of “Ana Maria in Telenovela Land” Feb. 26 at the P2-205 Upstairs Theater.
After a preview of the film, director Georgina Garcia Riedel along with cast members Luis Guzman and Michael Steger spoke to a group of theater students about their experiences working on the film and working in the film industry.
A group of around 40 students were allowed to ask questions, after the preview. One of the first questions that came up was, “How did you get started in acting?”
Each of the two actors started their careers differently. Steger, who is best known for his role on the show “90210,” explained that it took him several years to land a good gig, even though he has been acting since he was 14-years-old.
“I had to learn what not to do,” Steger said. He attended a high school that was big on theater, but was disillusioned by people telling him acting is waste of time.
Steger picked up acting again while studying at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
He had to take several classes, and was told that he had to practice acting for at least three hours a day.
He mentioned a time when a stranger went up to him and said, “I know you from somewhere.”
To which Guzman replied, “I’m the guy who hit the Power Ball and lost the ticket.”
With the help of his son, the man completely fell for what Guzman said.
Guzman’s career took off after he went out looking for a couple of teenagers while working as a social worker in New York City.
Guzman said that while looking for the teenagers, he bumped into an old friend who told him about an audition.
Three weeks after he auditioned, he made his TV debut on the show “Miami Vice.” When asked what motivated him, Guzman said, “I want to enpower people.”
“Ana Maria in Telenovela Land” is the story of a young woman struggling to maintain a healthy relationship with her family and friends. She somehow switches places with a character in a Mexican soap opera she was watching when lightning struck her house.
Guzman plays the film’s antagonist, the evil Licenciado Schmidt. Steger plays Armando/Tony, one of the protagonist’s love interests.
Writer Jose Marquez created Ana Maria as a twist on comedies like “Freaky Friday” and “Galaxy Quest.” Guzman was forced to watch telenovelas as a child and said this film gave him the opportunity to over-act.
One student asked if they still auditioned and another asked how they prepared for a role. Steger explained that he still auditioned and relied on practice, as well as reciting the lines with fellow actors.
“You have to build that muscle,” said Steger. Guzman, on the other hand does not audition anymore. He agreed with Steger on the need to practice at least three hours a day.
Guzman also told the audience about an exercise he uses, which is him playing pranks on people.
Both actors agree that every aspiring actor will have his or her own method, and that overcoming the fear of people watching is key. Steger recommends to audition frequently and commented that actors need to dedicate as much time as someone working a 9-5 to their acting.

"It's okay to change things, you don't have to do the same things all the time." - Luis Guzman
“It’s OK to change things, you don’t have to do the same things all the time.” – Luis Guzman


"My path has been school.I studied theater arts(as an) undergrad in Arizona, then I moved out here."- Georgina Garcia Riedel
“My path has been school.I studied theater arts(as an) undergrad in Arizona, then I moved out here.”- Georgina Garcia Riedel


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