Instructors have included Ernie Martin, Ann Wedgeworth, Anna Pileggi (a wonderful teacher I studied with in St. Louis), Larry Singer (who, although I only studied with briefly due to my father's coming out of retirement, I felt was extremely insightful), David Robinette (as a fellow actor, student of my father's, and friend, we have sat in on each other's classes and shared valuable knowledge), and Susan Main (a Linklater instructor who is an amazing teacher).
Of all my instructors, of course the two that I received the most training from were my parents, Ernie and Ann. For me, learning acting and how to not only act, but extend that knowledge to others, is not just something acquired in a classroom setting...but was how I grew up.
From practically living in my father's theatre - where the Mint Theatre now resides (Ernie built that theatre, it was the first one in the building back in 1981/82; last time I was at the theatre to see a friend's play, I realized that they had kept my father's design and layout almost to a "T"...but just changed the paint, it seemed...it was an emotional experience)...to going on movie and tv locations with my mother as a child, to dinner parties with so many of the folks you see in the front rows of the Academy Awards - to having dinner and discussing the day with them at home and having so many of my life lessons taught to me starting out with "...so you see, Diánna...it's like in acting, how you have to have a strong objective..." - the idea of my being able to discuss and train actors comes as second nature to me because that is how I grew up.
As you can see from Ernie Martin's bio on this site, his career has been extensive. He has taught, coached, and directed actors on both coasts and in Spain - such as Sean Penn, Harvey Keitel, Lorraine Bracco, David Zayas, Calvin Levels, Lauren Hutton, Jeff Goldblum, Chaz Palminteri, the late Anne Pitoniak (original cast of 'Night Mother), Mary McDonnell, Ben Vereen, Anthony Edwards, Francis Fisher, Fermí Reixach and many, many more. He was also the Artistic Director of the Actors Studio West Coast for two years in California. My mother, Ann, a Tony-Award-winning actress who has graced stage, screen and television with a career spanning decades - it's no wonder that I have it in my blood.
Some ask why I have my father's bio on here - good question. I am a very knowledgeable teacher in my own right. However, many people who you see advertising anywhere else always refer to who was their Mentor, or where they learned their craft which they are then sharing with their students. They often have it displayed predominantly on their ad. My father, in the late 70's, throughout the 80's and well into the 90's was one of the top acting teachers in America. He was Lee Strasberg's Golden Child, you might say - and he had a huge theatre of his own in the 80's and 90's. Then he went back and forth between the East and West Coasts; he went to Spain and directed; he moved to California while Mom was doing Evening Shade, and ran the Actors Studio out there and taught; then retired for a while and then came out of retirement. However, many of the people that I am teaching today do not, unfortunately, know of him like they should - or how I wish they did - and he has not been one to keep up with a web site and show his work...or "mingle and socialize and work the crowds".
If you talk to people in the industry who were around during those times, they will tell you "Oh, of COURSE I know Ernie Martin! He was the best teacher around!" Both Arthur Penn and Elia Kazan wrote letters saying that Ernie was one of the best teachers they knew of in the business.
So, the same way that many teachers will say "I am a disciple of Lee (or Stella or Sandy - OR one of THEIR disciples)" - I say that I am a disciple of Ernie Martin. And for those who do not know who he is - I provide a small amount of information to shed some light on who this great man is...who has taught acting to some of the most gifted actors and changed the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of people - literally.
I am a gifted teacher in my own right - some might not agree with everything I have to say, and that is perfectly all right. I retain the right to be wrong, like any human being - or any teacher you find with the largest ad in Backstage or the best university. I have sat in on many of their classes...and trust me, having a large ad does not mean you know how to get actors out of their head and working with each other on stage. However, I do know a LOT about what I teach; I am very caring and sensitive to actors and their emotions; I am laid back and easy to talk to; and, as an actor myself, I can relate to everything you bring into the classroom setting, both with teens and adults. I share my heritage and mentors (and my main teachers, Dad and Mom - Ernie and Ann), like any other teacher would - and in doing so, since there is not enough information out there on Ernie because he does not have a website up, I put some information about him on this site. Some actors, like David Zayas, always make sure to mention that Ernie was his teacher; and for that I am grateful.
In sharing my abilities with you, and explaining where I got my knowledge from, I do the same.