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Joan Darling, Emmy and Directors Guild Award-winning Director/Actor/Master Teacher:

Paula is one of the few people who really understands the technique of

acting and the artistic center of it. She is highly capable of passing that

knowledge on in an exciting and pragmatically useable form

.… extremely knowledgeable … great courage … able to make full use

of her impressive talent. Her work with actors and material is excellent. All her students have been enthusiastic and loyal. They stay with her for years at a time. I found that they were exceedingly well trained [with] an excellent grasp of technique and even more important a strong understanding of the philosophy and personal growth necessary to do artistic work as an actor. I can’t recommend her highly enough.


Vanessa Alvarado, Actor: 


"Five years ago I walked into Paula Russell's South Lamar Studio and my life as an Actress began.  Paula's coaching was instrumental to the leaps and bounds I made in the four years I worked with her.  You want someone who spots your bad habits right away and teaches you how to get rid of them. You want someone who patiently coaches you through the work and teaches you how to organically find your performance.  More importantly, you want someone who is committed to your growth and success as an Actor. Paula is her students' number one fan. She is supporting and encouraging 100%. Today, I find myself studying at the Atlantic Acting School in New York City, on a full scholarship, due largely to Paula's support. She coached me on the monologue that I presented to the scholarship committee. She filmed it, wrote a letter of recommendation, advised me and cheered me on through the whole process. I am forever grateful to you, Paula.  Also, and this is amazing, Paula's rates are so accessible. I don't know that there is a coach or an acting class in Austin, Texas that gives you that amount of coaching time for what she charges. But that is because Paula really cares about all Austin Actors, who are committed to their craft, having access to training . Finally, and even more importantly, Paula is a beautiful person with a huge heart and a giving soul. Paula Russell- Quality Coach, Quality Human Being.  Austin Actors, don't miss out on this treasure. (P.S. Theater Companies, she is also a phenomenal Director :-) )"

 - V. AlvaradoFlores, December 2016


Katie Kohler: Actor:

My I love Paula rant: I came to Paula’s class two years after graduating from college with a degree in Acting to continue my education and keep my acting chops in check.  Paula incorporates various methods from several of the greats in her teaching style.  Some were familiar while others were new to me. I found her class challenging in the best way. I love her “Side-coaching” Technique and Relaxation Exercises.  I’ve booked more jobs consistently after practicing her audition techniques; and since taking her class, I’ve signed with an agent and become a company member at Hyde Park Theatre.  I’ve recommended her class to several of my close friends and people who have expressed to me their interest in Acting.  Paula’s class is great whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned actor who wants to work out with an excellent coach to stay in shape. She is honest yet tactful with her criticism and always makes herself available to offer advice and support.  


Gerard Flores: Actor:

"If you live in Austin and you need a great acting coach, Paula Russell is your person. I have lived in many cities and worked with many acting coaches but Paula is in a league of her own. She is very meticulous and passionate about her work, but also patient. The technique she teaches feels very natural and organic. I do a lot of taped auditions and she is my savior. I attribute her advice and suggestions to helping me get a lot of parts. She has been my acting coach for four years and I'm very grateful to have her in my life. I'm not scared of big auditions anymore because I know she is there to help me to be the best actor I can be.


Jonathan Flanders: Actor:

Paula is tremendous, easily the best acting coach and teacher I've ever had.  I work as an actor full time, and her classes were crucial in starting my career off right.  While she effortlessly and thoroughly supports her actors with 100% loyalty, she also challenges you to stretch and go places you need to go to create any sort of importance in this field.  She's also spent so much time in this field, her stories alone are worth hearing for their import and relevance.  Heading into classes, I always had this stress in my stomach; was I going to burst into tears, expose myself, make a fool of myself?  All because I knew she created a raw, honest environment so you too can be raw and honest.  Every time I left her class, I felt elated, and sure that I was doing the right thing with my life, and talents, and certainly the right thing by working on my craft. 

If that's too wordy, whatever, it's how I feel!


CK McFarland,  Actor/Director/Master Teacher and Founder of Alleywood Studios:
When Paula taught my advanced film class everyone was thrilled. Paula’s work was refreshing and fun and brought a new layer of insight and understanding to our work. In this day and age of splitting hairs to get it exactly right and follow everyone’s rules, the actors got to let their hair down and have fun. Paula covers everything from relaxation to tantrums, working with props and food while having accidents, telling jokes, embracing mistakes, taking chances while staying in the here and now and making it personal and poignant…while knowing your character. She covers everything and makes it all so easy and accessible. She helps grow strong actor bones. Wow!


Will Wallace, Film Director,
Producer, Actor, Writer:
After having Paula work with my acting students in Los Angeles, I, as well as my students, recognize she has a wonderful
gift to teach. She has a powerful insight into character study and a
strong set of tools to assist an actor in finding colorful and creative choices needed to book a role.


Mike Wilson: Director, Producer, Actor, Writer:


"Paula is the very best kind of teacher; she gives you the room to teach yourself and learn from playing with your peers. Her constructive coaching is direct and clear and gives you just what you specifically need in terms of personal guidance and benefit of her long experience. You'll never leave her class guessing what she was trying to say or how you could look at your work in a different way to do a better job. Paula helped me get ready for the climactic monologue in the very successful film "Austin High" and I'll never forget her for it."


Dave Gironda Jr. Actor

"Paula- Thank you! I wouldn't even been in this commercial if it wasn't for your direction! I had a really great teacher who taught me how to listen and stay real, even when there isn't anyone there to react off of. :-)) I seriously could not have had a better teacher to get me into acting  And I just flew in from LA because I booked another thing shooting in San Antonio right now because of Paula! D, G. (Jan 2105)


Ania Cronin

"Acting class, coached by Paula Russell, was life changing, useful for me and a joy on so many levels. First of all she made the participants feel comfortable. Her depth of knowledge and experience was evident in the choices she made in our exercises, the critiques she offered for our performances, and the hints she had to enhance our abilities. And we had fun! Thank you Paula!” 


Amanda Garfield: Producer/director/actor/ exec. Debutants and Vagabonds

“Paula, There aren’t enough words to describe my gratitude for all of your help and guidance I feel honored to have you in my life not only as a theatre mentor, but also as a friend. The lessons I’ve learned from you encompass so much more than directing. Your compassion and sense of self is awe-inspiring and I look forward to many more years. I love you!” 


Katelyn Bowyer: Actor

“Hey Paula!
I just wanted to tell you how thankful I am for getting the chance to be in your class. Not only did I have a blast every week, but I truly felt that I learned so much. Before your class, I thought that in auditions the goal was just to try and be charming to get the part. Now I realize there is so much more that goes into acting, and it really is a craft. After taking your class, I've become even more infatuated with acting, and I cannot wait to keep exploring and learning this craft.
 On a more personal level, you always brought a contagious energy to each class, and evoked passion out of every single person in the room. I felt so comfortable in the class just letting loose and taking risks, and I honestly believe it was because of the safe and silly environment you created. Your coaching was extremely helpful and your praise was amazing. Every time I heard a comment of approval, my spirit shot through the roof. You are a fantastic teacher, and I hope I can work with you again!  With Love, Katelyn


Hanna Haide : Actor

Hi Paula,
It was a lot of fun to go out after class last Thursday, though bitter-sweet.  I can't believe the classes are over!  I'm really going to miss them. I had so much fun, and I learned so much.  Probably the most important thing I learned was to dare to be creative, dare to put my ideas in the scene and not wait for instructions.  I'm really looking forward to my next class. 

Leah Weinberger: Producer, Director, Writer


Hi Paula,
I wanted to thank you so very much for your help last week.  Paula, you are amazingly talented at what you do.  I would never have thought of the points you raised.  I think thanks to you we got a much better picture of what these girls can do. 
You know I was listening to you and was amazed at how you understood the way to speak and interact with the children so that they could understand.  I think adults sometimes forget that kids have a different viewpoint of the world and it is hard for them to get subtext. Anyway, we hope to film this week if we nail down a location. Paula, I want you to know how much I appreciate your time and input and how grateful I am that you signed on to my project.  I also took your suggestions on the script to heart and changed the dialogue in some places.  I appreciate you taking the time to read through and your notes. I discussed everything with the Producer and we both agreed some points you were right on.  So,,thank you very much for lending me your creative eyes and just for signing on to the project.  I feel so very is amazing.
Anyway..just a long note to keep you up.  I will email you more info as it comes in.  If you need anything, please let me know. I have some contacts here and would be more than willing to help out.

More from Leah Weinberger

Hi Paula,
We just finished laaattee last night.  We went with Aileen- you were right..that kid can act and is a trooper on the set.  The Casting was intergral to this, and truthfully Paula we couldn't have done it as well without you.  I want to say Thank you soo ;much for being our "expert on board"  You are generous with your time and talent and I appreciate that very much.  Paula you ever need anything, reach out. If I can do or get the contact for you I will. Until then. Be Well
Leah :)


James O. Costy,  Professor Emeritus of Theatre Arts, California State University:

I recommend Paula with great enthusiasm and absolutely no reservation. Her technique is so non-threatening and creative that students are able to release their emotions and to find new and exciting choices in their acting. After a summer of working in Paula’s classes, I returned with two of my graduate students and took another session with them. After learning “The Joan Darling technique” as taught by Paula Russell, I experienced the best and most artistically rewarding teaching years of my career and at retirement became a professional working actor.


Hedrick Smith, Pulitzer prize-winning author and award winning documentary film maker and Susan Zox, artist and photographer:
Paula Russell’s  acting workshop is a treasure. It was fun. It was active. We were immediately engaged and challenged, digging into our emotional experience and finding our own ways to acting, and constantly learning from Paula’s fund of experience. Her teaching and coaching was excellent, full of insights — understanding the text so well, freeing us to risk powerful personal choices for the scenes each of us was trying to put together. We were amazed at how quickly Paula moved us into the essence of acting. Can’t wait for another round of her classes.


David H Overturf, Photographer "PictureMaker":
What can I say but, WOW! You are, without a doubt, the best Acting Coach I have met. Your technique, knowledge, and attitude are just outstanding. I was constantly amazed at what you were able to bring out in your students.
The photos from your class look great. Because this was my first time to work with you and to say, “thank you” to you and the students for a marvelous day, I will make an exception and burn a DVD for each of your students as well.


Pauline Rubben, Interplay Workshop leader.
Paula is the most dedicated, present, perceptive, gifted & HUMBLE mentor I’ve ever known, … and can sing like Patsy Cline !


EJ Stapleton, Professional actor, award winning author and painter:
Paula Russell is an extremely qualified and gifted instructor in the tradition of Uta Hagen and the heavy hitters at HB Studio, NY. Paula’s workshops have made it possible for me to push through to new depths, new layers of performance. Paula brings a surgically sharp directorial eye and a no nonsense style to the table. For me, Paula Russell’s workshops are a “must go” for the serious committed actor.


Mark Holliway, Austin Actor/writer/producer:
Paula’s hard work, tremendous focus, and heartfelt passion for this craft are beyond belief. Her vast knowledge is a gift to the acting community. I learned so much and I’m honored to have the privilege of being trained by her. I feel exhausted and at the same time like I’ve been uplifted so much. I was challenged to step outside the box and grow in ways I knew I could, but didn’t know how. Paula built us a bridge using exercises that build on one another, freeing us to be in the moment, at one with ourselves and the role. It’s a great feeling to cross that bridge! I tell my son all the time, “Do whatever you want in this world, just make sure it’s your passion. Paula is the model for my words to him – “if you can achieve what Paula has, you’ve done it right”.


Jessica Robertson, Austin/LA actor:
Paula Russell has the innate ability to help actors find their best performance on their own terms. Her unique approach allows the actor to let go of preconceived notions of what their performance “should” be and provides the environment in which one can risk/realize their most powerful/playful work. She encourages actors to trust their talent and ultimately embrace the power of it.


Therese Baxter Fromm,
Actor/Co-Director SIKE Health Institute, Los Angeles:
I have known Paula for many years. She is an extremely talented performer, as well as an accomplished and nurturing teacher. Coming from my background as a classically trained actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, I fully appreciate her grasp of text analysis and her ability to translate meaning with dramatic flair. I was very lucky to have her direct me in a difficult Corrine Jacker play at the Ensemble Studio Theatre some years ago. The play condenses time and place with rapid changes from one short scene to the next. Paula not only conceived an incisive through-line which linked scene to scene, but her staging was imaginative and helped bring clarity to the text. She has an uncanny way with actors and, with her help, we actors were able to bring humor and a sense of play to what could have been a hopelessly serious topic. The experience was joyful, collaborative and creative, and the audience found it to be moving with an unusual honesty.
Any performer who has the chance to work with or be taught by Paula Russell should grab it!


Wolf Muser, Professional actor, L.A. and Europe:
Paula Russell is one of the most generous and imaginative teachers I’ve known. She has great insight and views each student’s challenges individually rather than superimposing the same method on everyone. She is a real hands-on coach; involved at all times. Her manner is wonderfully positive and supportive. It’s a delight to be one of her students. I recommend her to anyone, beginners and pros alike.


Norm Stamper,  Author of “Breaking Rank”, retired Seattle Chief of Police:
I found the classes powerful and relevant for those of us who write, teach or do public speaking. Paula shares her vast knowledge, experience and wisdom in a fun, accessible manner, creating a safe creative environment for risk-taking, learning and growth. I’ve taken three of Paula Russell’s workshops, including two 6-week scene study/performance intensives. I plan to continue to work with her at every opportunity.


Helena Hale, actress, writer, producer
Working with Paula’s teaching felt magically psychic to me, but she is clear
that what seems like genius is really a deep commitment to fine-tuning the
working tools of the actor’s instrument. After taking her workshops, I hired
Paula to coach me through my early work on my Georgia O’Keefe and Louise
Nevelson one-woman shows. With patience and compassion, she is relentlessly
demanding. She does not give up until you find your own unique way–not her
way. If your are willing to work, she leads you to become your own muse. If
I wrote about a cigar, she let me know I could smoke it! She threw me a lot
of balls and I ran with them all. We laughed a lot. She moved to the
Northwest, but stays with me when she visits Santa Barbara.


Tony Lee, Actors Equity, AGMA, actor, singer, teacher:
Paula Russell gives us all the utensils we need to serve up a gourmet meal in the kitchen of what I call “actorcraft”. She seems psychic in her ability to pinpoint each actor’s individual strengths and needs. Using kindness, eloquence and a true understanding of the foundations of acting, Paula intelligently, firmly and with humor, leads us to our personal best, whether preparing for a role, an audition, commercial or camera work. As a professional actor/singer for nearly forty years I have never been coached or taught by anyone better ……… Brava Paula!


Nicole Graf, Professional Actor
Nurturing and freeing but with clarity and discipline, Paula’s workshop is unlike any other I have experienced. After training with Paula, my work as an actor was taken to the next level, and my enthusiasm for the craft grew substantially. I highly recommend Paula Russell, and look forward to working with her again!


Jan Zehner, Retired United States Diplomat:
Paula Russell is an exceptionally talented teacher and mentor. I am impressed with her training ability myself and have heard many laudatory comments from colleagues who have attended her workshops. I plan to work with her again.


Betty M. Hatch, President, [SAG franchised] LaBelle School and Commercial Agency:
You are an exceptional teacher; your students love you. Thank you for sharing your wonderful talent with all of us.

Molly White, Executive/Artistic Director, Orcas Center Theatre:
We are fortunate to have a teacher with such extensive professional skills. Paula’s workshops elicited rave reviews.


Doug Bechtel, President, WA State Community Theatre Assoc.; President, Actors Theatre of Orcas Island:
Students are unanimous in their praise. She has a special ability to sense what each actor needs from her and to tailor her approach to what works best for that individual.


Michael Hurwicz, actor, singer, writer, producer
Paula has a thousand little tricks and exercises to help you get out of your own way and let your natural uniqueness, eccentricity, emotion and humor come through.  She is a powerful and effective coach and teacher.


Barbara Kline, Principal: Orcas Island High School
Paula Russell taught Theater Arts at Orcas Island High School and it was a wonderful experience for our school. Students not only learned a great deal about the theater but also grew in speaking and presentations skills. In addition their growth in self-confidence was enormous. Paula proved herself to be an excellent teacher. Her lessons were organized and her students treated her with a high level of respect, not only for her obvious skill in the subject but also in return for the high level of respect that she accorded to them as students and human beings. I would love to have her back again working with our students on theater productions. It is one of the major losses we have experienced from budget cuts.


Patricia Monaco, Teacher/Actor/Editor, NAPRA Review
I learned more about acting, understanding text, and the process of creating a character than I imagined to be possible.

Sharon Abreu, professional singer, vocal coach, writer, educator

Paula is an extremely talented teacher and actor. She is passionate about teaching and committed to her students and to the work. She is deeply caring, is an excellent communicator and fills her classes with fun. She guides us to get in touch with ourselves and relate to each other, to appreciate the truth in embracing and portraying a character. The results she gets from her students speak for themselves. I feel very lucky to have Paula as a teacher.


John Mazzarella, actor/73 year-old retired cardiologist
In praise of Paula Russell:

I had a brush with acting in college, but until my first experience with
training in Paula Russell’s class six years ago, I never realized what joy
the world of acting afforded. She has since become my idol. Paula’s classes
are heavy with the basics and, as is common to all art, the disciplines of
the basics allowed me to gradually acquire the tools necessary to take on
lead roles in several plays. Paula is incredibly sensitive, wonderfully
informed, has an encyclopedic array of experiences to draw upon, is a
versatile communicator, and always provides an ambience of total safety for
the student. This latter point has given freedom to the most apprehensive
novice and veteran alike. I cannot imagine how our community would have
been able to develop its fine record of theater without her presence."


Valentine Click, Actor. L.A.
I loved Paula’s class and hope to take it again! Paula gives you everything needed to be raw, brave and make bold choices in a safe space. After the workshop, I felt a renewed sense of self, my talents, and empowerment. This workshop helps overcome any fears and get all the layers stripped down so you can just “be”. A great class, very helpful and a great boost.


Catherine Ascher, New Actor (Feb. 2007)
If you really want to go out on a limb, feel your heart bang around in your
chest and come out the other side alive, in tune, confident and smiling,
this class is for you. I never knew acting could be such an adventure! Paula
Russell serves up the art and craft of acting in a clear, safe and nurturing
environment. When she asks me to take a risk, or just to take a different
approach, I feel confident following her guidance knowing she’ll be right


Beverly Leyman, actor, director, retired teacher
I have to write you about our (Larry’s and my) deep fun experiences in your acting class.

Larry, who had never been on stage before, felt so free and comfortable working and playing in the supportive environment that you created. He experimented with the animal variations, with personalization and relaxation exercises and when it came time to do scene work he lived “in the moment”. Talk about ‘letting yourself laugh!’

I’ve taken your 6-week workshop, weekends and private coaching many times over the years because the growing and learning never stop. Each time I gain even more understanding of “the craft” and I get more comfortable taking risks. Last
time, during a tantrum, I found an emotional place that I never knew existed and this time during the personalization exercise I finally understood the role of the “listener” and its relevance to working in a scene with others. I was able
to cast and direct a successful production on my own because you taught me about text, ensemble and the value of each individual actor. It makes me wonder what wonders will be revealed next.

You are an excellent acting coach for all.


Len Kaplan, agent, Kingsley Colton Agency, Beverly Hills, 1983
After taking Paula’s classes: “I promise when I get my academy award, I will thank Paula Russell!"


Zach Hart, student

Just wanted to say thanks again for a wonderful class last night. That was the first time I had done exercises in relaxation and personalization. It was amazing how connected and aware you can become with these exercises. I especially found the personalization exercise to be profound. Anyway… Thanks a lot. I enjoyed it. Your style of teaching is fun and energetic, which made it a truly unique experience.


© 2015 Paula Russell.

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