West Nashville performance group is creating skills many are using in Nashville’s workplaces

A West Nashville-based professional acting organization has begun witnessing the benefits of acting classes in many of Nashville’s workplaces.

From medical professionals at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to lawyers, therapists, musicians and salespeople, some Actors Bridge participating students have found acting classes can help them “do better” in their jobs and in their personal lives.

“More people are beginning to recognize that creativity is a skill that is needed in virtually every profession, not in just what has traditionally been thought of as ‘the arts,’ co-founder and Actors Bridge Artistic Director Vali Forrister said. “It’s so rewarding to see the expansion people experience from participating in our acting classes — building empathy and listening skills, trusting their instincts on stage and becoming comfortable in the spotlight – and equally as wonderful to see how they apply these new talents to other aspects of their lives.”

Dr. Reed Omary is chair of radiology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “I signed up for an acting class to do something creative for myself that was separate from being a doctor, husband and father,” said Omary.

However, I learned that the skills I’ve acquired in these classes have actually helped me in both the personal and work aspects of my life.”

Omary credits Actors Bridge training in the power of observation in helping him to really understand what someone else is feeling – and learning empathy through more than just words. He reports that this has greatly enhanced his ability to communicate with other doctors, patients and even his own family members. Omary saw the benefits so clearly, that he even asked the Actors Bridge team to host an acting workshop during a departmental retreat so that his leadership team could all benefit from greater listening and communication skills.

“In interacting with anybody, the skills learned in these classes have allowed me to really observe what is going on beneath the surface in a more profound way. And in terms of public speaking, it has allowed me to focus on presence,” said Omary. “I’ve taken a lot of Actors Bridge classes and directly applied what I learn to every public speaking role that I have, and that has been really valuable.”

Collier Goodlett has been part of the Actors Bridge family for more than a decade. He loves being part of the theatre company and has also seen tangible benefits in his career as a public defender and then later as an attorney in private practice.

“It’s the most exciting and fun thing I’ve done standing on two feet, I think, in my life,” said Goodlett. “So that would have been enough for me. But I also have learned so many things that have helped me in my legal career.”