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What is it like to study

with Melissa Thompson Esaia?

Melissa has trained and coached hundreds of actors who are working in film, television, commercials and theatre.

Testimonials: News

"Teaching is a rare craft and Melissa is a master of that craft. She is honest, thorough, nurturing and personable. Every actor in their lifetime will meet that one teacher that will 'get them.' Melissa 'gets you.' And I mean all of you. She will celebrate your ups and nurture you through your downs. I am forever grateful to be taught by such an incredible artist, actor, teacher that is Melissa Thompson Esaia."

- Lidiya Korotko (recent bookings include a principal role in Warner Brother's The Nun, guest star on CBS' S.W.A.T. and a recurring role on Showtime's Shameless. She has worked opposite James Franco, Lucy Liu, Shemar Moore, Noel Fisher and Casper Van Dien, and she produces her own films as well.) 


“Studying with Melissa gave me a proven and effective way of working. She fostered an atmosphere for me to explore myself and my potential. She also gave me a belt full of tools that I have applied in film, theater, and commercial work. But, just as importantly, with her keen eye for honesty, she passed on a very high standard for my work going forward and a deep respect for the art of acting.”

- Andrew Spach (Transformers: Bumblebee, Paper Birds, I Live Here)

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"Melissa Thompson Esaia is an absolutely wonderful woman and human being, and a gift as a teacher. If you are interested in acting and, you really, really want to learn, she will give you the perfect example of how to let go - let go of the control, to be in the moment, to be vulnerable, to be truthful. I feel very, very blessed and honored and privileged to have studied with Melissa because I know that I have the tools now to go out and tackle this industry. I know I'm going out there and I'm going on auditions and I'm going on callbacks and I'm doing these things because of the things that she taught me."

- Alicia Mason (professional Bay Area actor working in film, television, commercials and theatre; represented by Stars Talent Agency)


"I studied with Melissa for two and a half years in San Francisco. She was a huge part of my growth as an actor and she gave me the confidence to be able to move to LA and pursue my dream. She was always there for me, and more importantly she gave me the tools to become an actor. As a teacher, she's incredibly kind, passionate, and giving, and she really gives you the confidence that you need. It can really change your life, it's changed mine."

- Luke Loving (Criminal MindsMother May I Sleep with Danger - dir. James Franco, The Institute - dir. James Franco) 

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“I trained with Melissa as an actor and now I work with her one on one for audition coaching. Working with Melissa has taken my auditioning to a whole new level where I feel ready to "compete" with actors in LA. It's really hard to find legitimate audition coaches in the Bay Area, so much so that I was working with someone out of LA before! Melissa recently coached me on an audition where I thought I had a pretty decent tape before working with her, but then we did a session together, and when I showed my other actor friends, they were shocked and got really emotional watching it (in a good way!)...They aren't kidding when they say it's competitive...casting directors have to go through thousands of submissions, and then from there they narrow down to a few hundred to invite to audition.  You have to kill your audition, because if you don't, there's a hundred percent chance someone else will and they will book the role over you. Unless you've been doing this for a REALLY long time, and have an intrinsic talent for finding "audition moments" you need to work with Melissa if you want to book. Even if you have really good acting training, auditioning is such a different beast, and you must master the skill separately. If you want a chance at working in the most competitive industry, it's imperative to have private coaching. What sets Melissa apart from other coaches is that she REALLY cares about your growth, and she is the best at explaining things and bringing out the best in you in terms of acting and auditioning.”

-Emily Hu (professional Bay Area actor and producer working in film, television and commercials; represented by Stars Talent Agency; featured in the upcoming SAG feature American Cherry starring Hart Denton, Matty Cardarople and Leonor Varela)

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“In my time studying with Melissa, I learned how to be authentic, how not to cut corners, how to bring it, how to be truthful, how to reach for the best, which forced me to do work that I never thought I could possibly do. It brought me to a level of acting I never thought I could possibly muster. I experienced it one or two times randomly when I was a young person, but it was completely random. Working with Melissa, I experienced it regularly - this kind of depth and honesty to my work. She brought my skill level from a 2 to a 12. I’ve studied with many excellent acting teachers, and I learned more from Melissa than I’ve learned from any other teacher, ever, in any other class I’ve ever had.”

- Joseph Walters (professional Bay Area actor working in film, commercial and theatre; represented by MDT Agency)

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"In my career as a director, I have seen countless occasions of directors misunderstanding actors, their process, and what is actually useful in the actor/director dialogue. In my journey to better understand the craft of acting, Melissa’s guidance and support as a teacher has been invaluable. Under her care and her understanding of the Meisner Technique, I have advanced leaps and bounds as an actor and a filmmaker, and the training will continue to show its every-growing value for the rest of my career. What she offers her students in terms of how she brings her personal and professional experience into her teachings of the craft of acting—as well as how it translates to all aspects of storytelling, filmmaking, and communication with actors—as a director, it’s not to be missed." 

- Andrew Juncker (Award winning filmmaker; founder of French Press Films)

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"Melissa has been one of the most significant and inspirational teachers in my life. To say that she taught me how to 'act' doesn’t come close to what I learned. Melissa taught me to open up and allow truthful, authentic, emotions and feelings to emerge as a human being rather than trying hard to make something happen as an actor. I learned to be present, open and vulnerable. Not surprisingly, this is the type of person Melissa is herself as well as a passionate and talented actor, director, and writer going after her own dreams. My career as an attorney and voice actor has blossomed because of the strong foundation Melissa instilled in me. Thank you for the significant impact you have had on my life Melissa!"

- Angeli Fitch (criminal defense attorney and professional voiceover actor; instructor at VoiceOne; represented by Shortlist Talent)

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"Melissa is amazing. She's spot on. She's tough, but it's very sincere. She will absolutely help you grow into your art. It is a process and Melissa is so good at staying with you throughout that process because it does not happen overnight. She's about the work, and she's one of the most serious, hard working acting teachers I've ever worked with. I would recommend anyone to study with Melissa. I trust her. I'd study with her again. If she were here in New York, I'd be at her studio every day."

- Matthew Barrera (most recently seen as Rodolpho in A View From the Bridge in NY)


"Studying with Melissa is a very enriching experience. She is extremely knowledgeable as a teacher and she is an expert in the Meisner Technique. I have studied with a lot of instructors. When I was a much younger woman, I studied with Uta Hagen. I studied with Terese Hayden at the Actors Studio. I worked with the Open Theater in New York. I studied with Hilary Hinkle from the Atlantic Theater Company. I studied with another Meisner teacher and another teacher at A.C.T. Melissa reminds me of Uta Hagen because she is totally about the craft. She will give you useful information about how you’ve done. She is humble, she is compassionate and she will work with you on the craft. If there is something that she really needs to illustrate, she can get up there and she can illustrate it for you in a very professional way. All of those qualities were true of Uta Hagen, and it is so nice when you work with Melissa not to have to deal with all of the ego that comes at you from a lot of other acting teachers.”

- Annette Oliviera (professional Bay Area actor working in film and theatre)


“Over the 2 years that I studied with Melissa, she helped me to uncover my talent, to find a personal power that I didn’t even know I had, and I really expanded my creativity and my imagination beyond what I thought possible.” 

- Connie Chen (Zoe's Extraordinary PlaylistAmerican PsychoBit)


"Having taken a break from acting for 5 years, I decided to get back in the game. When I took Melissa’s Commercial Class, it was an amazing opportunity to not only make mistakes in a safe and friendly environment, but it also was a great opportunity to learn certain techniques that enhanced the audition experience. Melissa’s commercial class opened my eyes on how to sell myself, the power of a good slate, and know what the casting director is REALLY looking for so you can deliver. About a week after Melissa’s commercial class, I received an audition for HP. Went to the audition, executed exactly what I learned in Melissa’s class, and I booked the job! First commercial audition after a 5 year break, and I booked it! Thanks Melissa. Your teachings and knowledge prepared me for this opportunity. Thank you so much!"

- Alejandro Eustaquio (Bay Area actor; most recently seen in You Too with Ritual Art Troupe)

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