City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

A Star is Born

Acting Out Academy prepares a new generation for the silver screen

It all started when Meg Deusner was just 10 years old and auditioned for a local production of Annie, thanks to her music teacher and her mom encouraging the adventure. Young Meg was officially hooked after the role and began acting as much as she could, ultimately attending the Stella Adler Conservatory in New York City. But after a “cliche” experience as a young actor in Los Angeles, Meg chose to move to Birmingham. To her amazement, it was just what she needed to pique her creativity – and to pass it on. 

“For me, Birmingham is magic,” she says. Once I moved here, everything began to click. Once outside of the fast-paced city oversaturated with the entertainment industry, I was able to breathe and open up creatively. I was able to do something I would never have been able to do in Los Angeles. And as I started teaching kids here, the entertainment industry in Atlanta began to boom.”

Acting Out Academy was inspired by Meg’s love for both teaching and acting. It started as a simple after-school program, then blossomed into an acting mecca, often working with more than 150 kids at a time — many of whom are called by talent agencies in Atlanta or elsewhere to work professionally in TV and film. 

“The mission was to encourage kids to mess up and not be perfect so they could be free to succeed,” she says. “And not be fearful of being themselves. I started using TV and film scripts more because that is what kids were watching and loving. And acting for film is great because if you mess up, you just do another take. I found that when you eliminate the aspect of performance, it takes the pressure off, and kids then can concentrate on the craft and technique. And what happened next was amazing. The kids got really, really good.”

Meg says all the kids start off on the same footing— and the name of the game is not to get famous, but to hone a craft. She believes acting is a skill developed and practiced with intention, much like a sport. And, like the best of coaches, Meg believes in positive feedback. 

“The more we practice, the better we get,” she says. “That there is no 'it' factor. If they want it, they can achieve it, and I am going to help them do it. When I coach the actors, I never use negativity. They need to feel safe to be free. And good acting is being free — like real life. In real life, we don't know what we are going to do next. It should be the same in our acting.”

Several kids from Acting Out Academy have found success, including Grant Feely from Vestavia, who, according to Meg, started classes in the 2019-2020 season and within two years was cast as a young Luke Skywalker in Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney Plus – with many more films on the horizon. And Sarah Ann, also from Vestavia, started Acting Out Academy at age 5 and appeared as Latti in Guardians of the Galaxy 3. 

“When I got the role of young Luke Skywalker in Obi Wan Kenobi, it was very exciting and surreal,” says Feely. “I had only been acting a year or so but knew this was an opportunity of a lifetime. I hope that role was the start to a long career in acting. Meg is such an amazing acting teacher and coach. She understands the acting industry and teaches her students to be the character, not just read the lines. She has guided us every step of the way and is a huge reason why I have been so successful.”

“Other notables are Wil Deusner, my nephew, who was a student turned teacher. He has appeared as a series regular in Hulu's Shut Eye, CW's Stargirl, FBI: International and has played the son of Hulk in Disney Plus' She-Hulk,” Meg adds.

“Former Miss Outstanding Teen USA, Marcelle LeBlanc, started with us 10 years ago at the age of 10 and has since gone on to work on Stranger Things, Netflix's Fear Street, Criminal Minds and Grey's Anatomy — plus she is Mary Ellen in the CW’s Waltons films.”

  • Meg Deusner
  • Grant Feely and Christopher Lloyd