Tinseltown's Michelle Danner will be in Joburg to run the Hollywood2SA workshops and talent contest. She'll be here to teach skills to the local industry, as well as scout for hidden South African gems.


A Hollywood bigwig will be in South Africa in February to connect with, teach and transfer skills to locals in the film and television industry. Internationally acclaimed director, acting coach, casting director, author and actress Michelle Danner will host the Hollywood2SA workshops and Talent Contest.

Local singer Anais de Jager will co-judge the contest, alongside local Bollywood director Akrum Amod. Danner will be the head judge. The talent contest will take place on 24 February 2013.

The Hollywood2SA workshops will only take place in Joburg. They have been designed for different target markets, including professional actors, amateurs and beginners, parents, casting directors, assistants, agents, brand managers and advertising agencies. Students will learn to stamp their signatures on a character with unique psychological gestures as they explore film and television scripts of every genre, encompassing slapstick, dark, romantic, comedy, sitcom, film noir, soap opera, period, horror, drama, action/adventure, and more.

Danner and her team have joined forces with Sandton talent agency, Caitlin's Casting, and its owner Addi Lang; TV producer Wendy Leissner Machanik; and IT specialist Elize van Herk, the official South African promoter of the workshops, to scout for "hidden gems" throughout the country.

She has coached the likes of Gerard Butler, Chris Rock, Penelope Cruz, Christian Slater, Salma Hayek, Jamie-Lynn Siegler (Sopranos), Michael Penn (brother of Sean), Isla Fisher, hip-hop artist and actor Common, Brian McKnight, James Franco, Marcia Cross (Desperate Housewives), Catherine Bell (Army Wives), Zooey Deschanel, Gabrielle Union, Justin Charwin, Justine Wadell, Rob Estes (Silk Stalkings, 90210, Melrose Place), and Rick Fox Lakers, among others.

Danner has also trained with Stella Adler and Uta Hagen, and teaches scene study classes at Edgemar Center for the Arts in Santa Monica, US. She was the acting coach expert on comedy on the WB show The Starlet and The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. She produced and acted in the award-winning short Dos Corazones, which won Best Cinematography and Audience Favourite awards at the Malibu Film Festival.

In 2006, she made her feature film directing debut with How to Go Out on a Date in Queens, which was won four LA Film Awards, including Best Director. It starred Jason Alexander, Esai Morales, Ron Perlman, Kimberly Williams, Rob Estes, and Alison Eastwood.

In November 2009, Danner directed the theatrical production of Hello Herman by John Buffalo Mailer, which is now a feature film releasing in the major cities and opening at the Hollywood Film Festival. It is a compelling drama produced by All In Films, an independent film production company with Danner and Alexandra Guarnieri at the helm.

Alongside Larry Moss, Danner is the founder and artistic director of the Edgemar Theatre Group; donors include Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Kate Capshaw and Neil Simon. Wearing her author hat, she has written and published The Daily Ritual, The Golden Box and Most Asked Questions about Acting, which will be available in South Africa shortly.

For more information about the workshops and the Talent Contest, email hollywood2sa@gmail.com.