Teacher & Coach, Member & Moderator of the Actors Studio

Letters of Recommendation

Words from my beloved mentors, colleagues and students...

To whom it may concern,

     I have known Cathleen Leslie for a number of years, and as a Director of The Actors Studio, I am aware of her special abilities as a teacher of acting, both at the Studio and, over the years, in other locations in the Los Angeles area. She is well suited to teach and direct both beginning actors and old pros alike. Her knowledge of the acting craft is deep and profound, having been trained by the likes of Lee Strasberg and Elia Kazan, among others of that caliber.

     Cathleen is able to recognize an actors needs and is extremely capable of communicating solutions to their acting problems with insight, grace and sensitivity. She is currently running a weekly exercise class at Actors Studio West to great success, and our pleasure. The actors who attend her classes benefit greatly from her incisive input and expertise.

     I don't think you need to look any further, if you are considering Cathleen for a position as an acting teacher. She is one of the best in town, and I recommend her heartily.

     Yours truly,
       — Martin Landau

To whom this may concern:

Cathleen Leslie has been my acting coach for many, many years, and we have been colleagues and friends since I became a member of the Actors Studio in 1981. Cathy has been a member for longer than that, and studied for many years under Lee Strasberg.

I highly recommend Cathy as a coach, as she is incredibly intuitive, and knows the work. Cathy cuts through to the essence of a scene, and knows how to bridge the gap between actor and character. She knows all the plays like the back of her hand, and has a grasp of history like no other acting coach I know.

Cathy knows how to teach the actor to relax, and knows the sensory work necessary for an actor to create a reality that feeds her/him. Cathy is dedicated to assisting an actor in creating their own truth on stage, and on screen.

I know that when you make the decision to work with Cathleen Leslie, that you are making a choice for yourself to be an extraordinary actor.

     Best of luck,
       — Frances Fisher

To whom it may concern:

     Cathleen Leslie is probably one of a half dozen of the best acting teachers in America today. She has worked as a director on plays of mine and also coached actors who have appeared in my projects. She has been chosen to teach at the famed Actors Studio. The other teachers include Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, Marty Landau, Mark Rydell and myself. Heady company. Cathy's students adore her. She leads them into areas of exploration that helps them achieve the highest quality of acting in the shortest span of time. Any school would be lucky to have her on their faculty.

     — Lyle Kessler

Dear Sir,

     As one of the two Executive Artistic Directors of The Actors Studio on the West Coast, I have known Cathleen Leslie since 1997, when she moved here after being directed in two different plays in NYC by Elia Kazan and Arthur Penn at the Actors Studio.

     In the past sixteen years I have witnessed Cathy grow as a teacher, coach and director. In this time period I have asked her to teach the membership in her own Sensory and Scene Session held weekly.

     The studio also has presented an original play "Anteroom", directed by Cathy, in which she changed the characters from Boston Irish Catholics into African American characters. We also presented this play for Steven Spielberg's Home for aging actors, all members of the Screen Actors Guild Union.

     Cathy created the Cathleen Leslie Lecture Series at the Studio, which I moderated with Martin Landau. Some of our guests (all members of the Studio) were Sally Field, Eva Marie Saint and Sydney Poitier.

     She also chaired a benefit for Lyle Kessler's play "Orphans" (just recently on Broadway), starring Al Pacino! It was a terrific night at Charlie Chaplin's old home in Beverly Hills and earned the Actors Studio over 64 thousand dollars. She in all reality did this by herself, with the help of one assistant.

     As an Acting Member, Cathy is constantly called upon to critique in our weekly Friday Sessions to analyze the work of the actors on stage. She is called upon due to her true knowledge of the Craft (we so believe in), her knowledge of the material and her eye. She is one of our few lifetime members who passed her audition for Lee Strasberg on her first try! This was and still is very rare.

     I just recently finished a four part Seminar with Cathy (her creation) on my films. "On Golden Pond" and "The Rose", were two of the four films we watched with an audience and then Cathy moderated me in the Q and A. I told Cathy, I would always want her to moderate for me in such events.

I cannot recommend Cathy Leslie highly enough as one of the finest teachers and coaches that the Actors Studio has produced. You will be lucky to have her!

     Best regards,
       — Mark Rydell

To whom it may concern,

     It is with enthusiasm that I recommend Cathleen Leslie as one of the best Acting teachers in Los Angeles. I have known her for ten years as friends and as lifetime members of the Actors Studio, and have been able to observe her contributions to the craft of acting weekly.

     I'm sure you realize that the Actors Studio is composed of professional actors and directors from New York and Hollywood who work in theatre as well as film and television. The Actors Studio offers professional actors a place to hone their skills, as well as service to our community. Ms. Leslie shares her expertise and experience by conducting free, weekly Sensory classes to its members. In sessions at the Studio, members observe and comment on work presented by a few educators, and I find Cathleen's comments regarding the acting process to be exceptionally perceptive and articulate. As a consequence fo her comments and the exercise class she conducts, gratis, I have seen actors, young and old, develop more and more organic performances.

     As a professional actor, director, and UCLA Professor at The School of Theatre, Film and Television and the author of the book, Friendly Enemies, I do believe I'm quite qualified to jduge the quality and effectiveness of an acting teacher. You would gain a great deal by giving her the opportunity to teach a course in your school.

       — Delia Salvi


     Cathleen Leslie has been a truly phenomenal coach and mentor to me. When I first started studying with her, I was absolutely blown away by her immense knowledge about the craft of acting, along with her encyclopedic knowledge of film, theatre, and world history. Cathleen has an intense passion for truth in the work. She has never allowed me to get away with anything less than the best I can be, constantly pushing for deeper choices and more creativity. She has taught me that there is no such thing as 'perfection' when it comes to the craft of acting, and for that I am eternally grateful. Ms. Leslie is, without a doubt, a true master craftswoman.

       — Michael Grant

      Michael is currenty shooting a film in Rochester, New York called "Fair Haven." He can be seen in Produce, which premiered at        Dallas International Film Festival, ABC's Secret Life of the American Teenager, ABC's Private Practice, FOX's Brooklyn Nine Nine,        CBS' Criminal Minds, ABC's Pretty Little Liars

     "Cathleen Leslie has been a life saver. I came to her very emotionally and physically blocked and her approach has led me to freedom. She has been invaluable in helping me to bring life to characters both classic and new. I would not be working as an actor today without her continued guidance."

       — Tony Nevada

       Tony has just been cast opposite Bradley Cooper, in "American Sniper", to be directed by Clint Eastwood!

     "I have been studying with Cathleen Leslie for years at the Actor s Studio and in her private class, it has been an extraordinary experience, her passion and knowledge of the craft has made me a much better actress and allowed me to grow within my instrument in so many ways. She is always pushing me to make deeper and braver choices

     Thanks to Cathleen I've been able to find my own voice in the industry and meet the goals I was dreaming about just a few years ago. They've all become reality.... Grazie Cathy! "

       — Maddalena Ischiale

       Maddalena can be seen in the upcoming film "Unbroken" directed by Angelina Jolie , to open Christmas Day, 2014.

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing this letter as a current acting student of Cathy Leslie's & a lifetime member of the Actors Studio. I'd like to add some words in support of who she is as a teacher and what she brings to the Actors Studio & it's younger members, like myself. I firmly believe she can add the same caliber of education & passion to whatever institution is smart enough to hire her.

Just to give you a little background, I graduated from the Actors Studio Drama School in 2001, and became a lifetime member of the Actors Studio shortly after my first & only final audition in early 2002. I had the privilege of studying under Elizabeth Kemp & Gene Lasko while at school- both of whom were exceptional teachers & helped develop the foundation of my technique. I've also worked a lot at the Actors Studio in New York for moderators like Estelle Parsons & Lee Grant- and in Los Angeles for Lou Antonio, Mark Rydell & Martin Landau- all who further inspired my work. But it wasn't until I decided to go back to class in 2011, and join Cathy Leslie's sensory lab at the Actors Studio West- that I really learned what Lee's work was all about- and more importantly, what it meant to me as an actor. I quickly found myself "breaking through" into uncharted emotional territory & specificity, and breaking out of the stale routines that had started to plague me as a working actor.

Every time I work now, whether in session, class, sensory lab, rehearsal, or in a film or TV show- I strive to bring the best out of my instrument using the techniques I've learned from Cathy at the Actors Studio. I have tried to be an ambassador of the work we do at the Actors Studio by representing its honored history with good, solid work. I even have a copy of Elia Kazan's "An Actor's Vow" displayed prominently on my wall because I respect our process & craft greatly- and so do my teachers. And this effort is thanks in no small part to my constant work with Cathy Leslie.

When you work in Cathy's classes, you know she comes to class everyday with a passion in her heart to teach Lee's work. And she's never afraid to call you on your crap & crack the whip a little- and I think that's important. Her respect for the craft of acting & for the Actors Studio as an institution is never in question & is unmatched in my eyes. The Actors Studio & teaching what she learned from Lee Strasberg are truly her life. Not many people can say that as proudly as Cathy- or at all, in most cases.

I was unemployed for the better part of 2011, and found solace working in Cathy's classes. I always felt guilty for getting to work with such an experienced, knowledgeable teacher & not having to pay for that education. And because of this, I personally made it a point to use her services when I finally obtained work in the late summer of 2011. I coached with Cathy on a guest starring role I booked on USA's "Necessary Roughness" ...And it turned out to be some of the best onscreen work I have ever done. I quickly scored another guest star- this time on "Grey's Anatomy"- in early 2012, and again I used Cathy's services, and again felt like the work I had done under her tutelage, in her class & throughout the previous year was shining through in my work on-camera.

Then last February, I booked a TV pilot called "Beauty & the Beast" that got ordered to series by The CW Network. We film in Toronto and, being away from LA, the only connection I've had to the work I do at the Actors Studio has been my Skype sessions coaching with Cathy. I have worked with her on each of the 22 episodes. I honestly feel that my work has deepened because of Cathy. She has a vast knowledge of Lee Strasberg's work, she constantly quotes Martin Landau by pushing me to "dig deeper" and echoes Elia Kazan by reminding me that "behavior comes before the words." And most importantly, she encourages me to stick with the work & relaxation. Needless to say, I am a better actor because of Cathy. And I can't wait to work with her again on the second season of "Beauty & the Beast."

I am writing this letter to encourage you to hire Cathy Leslie. Her resume speaks for itself & her extensive training with people like Lee Strasberg & Elia Kazan is a rare commodity. She is great at what she does, she makes people better actors and, most importantly, she brings a passion to the job that- in my experience- is unmatched. The time & energy she has devoted to the Actors Studio over the past 35 years is a prime example of this. You will consider yourselves lucky to have Cathy's talent contribute to your own success, as I have- since the day I stepped into her class 3 years ago.

Thank you for your time & consideration.

       — Austin Basis
       Austin can be seen currently on "Beauty & the Beast" available now on NetFlix! Season 3 of "Beauty and the. Beast", has been picked up by The CW Network and Austin , will be returning to Toronto. Cathy Leslie , will continue to coach him via Skype!