When acting becomes too intricate, Shannon Sturges is the secret weapon many of your favorite actors rely on. Coming from a lineage of talented individuals, Shannon did her fair share of acting in front of the camera—you might remember watching her as Reese in 90’s hit soap opera Savannah. Nowadays, she puts her experience and talent to use to help actors in the industry, whether they are aspiring actors starting up, or established actors that regularly train with her. BELLA sat down to chat with Shannon, who is one half of the Speiser/Sturges Acting Studio in Los Angeles, which helped the acting ventures of Will Smith, Jennifer Lopez, Gerard Butler, among many others.
How did your grandfather’s legacy influence you?
My grandfather’s legacy influenced me in many ways. I have an admiration for romantic comedy and classic old Hollywood films. I was raised by my grandmother, so I have all the old-timey sayings as well as, I’m hoping, a little of her and my grandfather’s wit. I also realize how fickle the entertainment business is—my grandfather was one the most successful directors and yet he died with very little financially, and his “success” was in his past.
What is your greatest memory of your days working on Savannah?
Working on Savannah was such a special time in my life. The cast was like a family, Ray Wise as my father and Robyn and Jamie were like sisters. Aaron Spelling knew what he was doing in casting our show, we were all very different but we complemented each other perfectly. I loved going to the Olympics, but really working with the girls was great—fainting, crying and laughing. Reece had some great scenes, I really liked the scene with my first date and then coming back and telling Lane and Peyton about it.
Following the success of Savannah, you were named in People’s Top 50 Most Beautiful list in 1996. What are some of your beauty tips and secrets to looking fresh and rejuvenated?
Ha! Beauty tips. People magazine was due to good genes. But in all honesty, trying to get rid of stress is the best beauty tip, whether that be meditation, exercise, or any way that you can practice self care. If I had a miracle cream or potion I would share it! There was an eye cream I loved back then, but now I realize it was just my 25 year old skin.
How did you decide to go into coaching? How has the on-camera to off-camera switch affected you?
I went into coaching because, as pretentious as it sounds, I’ve always believed in the importance of knowing your craft. I studied on and off for 25 years with my teacher and mentor Aaron Speiser, and he always encouraged me to teach. When I finally did it, I realized that it was my true gift. I believe that I am the best at what I do—perhaps THAT is my beauty secret, do what you love! I love the craft, and I truly enjoy helping actors, both beginners and established ones. Now that I’m not in front of the camera, I definitely eat more! And I understand acting even more; teaching does make you a better actor, even though I don’t act anymore outside of class. Other than that it’s about the same. Having had success as an actor, I can help navigate my actors as I’ve experienced most of what they will.
At BELLA, we operate by the ideology that beauty is defined by each individual. How would you define beauty?
Authentic is my definition of beauty. If you try to look or act like someone else you are an imitation. Be yourself, every human being can be beautiful, it is everyone’s secret power.