My Tribute To Michael Tylo: A Good Professor (2022)
By: Ashley Lee
I never thought that I would take an acting class in the film department at UNLV, but after hearing from faculty members that learning about acting (along with other avenues of film) would be beneficial, I considered the suggestion.
As a quiet person, taking an acting class served as a challenge to me, and that was coming out of my comfort zone.
On January of 2020, I enrolled in one of Michael Tylo's acting classes (Advanced Directed Studies in Film: Techniques for Film Actors).
On the first day, I found out that less than ten students signed up for the course, but I didn't mind a single bit. When we saw and met Professor Tylo, he went over his syllabus and the book we needed to rent or purchase. For the next class, we had to prepare a thirty-second long monologue.
During the next class, we did our monologues. With his permission, I performed a written piece about my desire to be a liberated person. Though I forgot my lines and stayed longer than I should, he didn't seem to mind. He was more concerned about my performance (which he thought was good).
Throughout the remainder of the in-person classes we had (before we transitioned to remote learning), we learned about acting (mostly), directing, and writing.
For acting, I had to work with another student in my class to act out a scene from our own script or film. There, I watched a couple of girls rehearse a scene from a play called Proof and how I also wanted to do that scene.
When I did that scene with a different student, I couldn't help but go a little crazy with my character (I played Catherine), because of how I interpreted her. By doing this, I used some experience to elicit a performance.
As a director, I had the chance to direct a scene from a script I wrote. It was about a couple having this urge to make a quick trip to New Orleans before school started. Through Tylo's feedback, I learned how to direct better.
Aside from teaching, Professor Tylo often shared stories of when he was still in the business and how he acted with fellow stars such as Daniel Craig, Robert Duvall, and more.
He even wanted us to succeed by offering to give us Ivana Chubbuck's contact information to attend her acting classes at her studio in LA. Chubbuck is famous for helping future stars discover themselves as actors/actresses in order for them to give a strong performance.
While I did remote learning, Tylo wanted me to watch four movies, pick a performer and discuss their performances using Chubbuck's book The Power of the Actor. As a result of that assignment, I wanted to buy the book for my future. Maybe someday, I'll go into acting (a little unlikely but possibly), or I could direct/guide someone into giving a memorable performance.
Later that year, I enrolled in another class that he taught (Historical Survey Screen Acting) which was taught online since the pandemic was still bad at that time. There, I learned about the Stanislavsky Method. He had us watch films that featured actors such John Garfield and Gregory Peck learning the Stanislavsky Method (through Lee Strasberg, Sanford Meisner, and Stella Adler).
In that class, we discussed how we felt about the films we watched, and he, his teaching assistant, and the students made the atmosphere comfortable for us to express our opinions verbally and in discussion posts (our journal entries) online.
Because of the way people feel about certain topics (especially sensitive ones), I asked to email my entries to them which they granted. As for class meetings, I participated-if I felt comfortable.
Throughout that semester, Professor Tylo continued to praise my writing skills (because I elaborated further on my arguments in my journal entries). As a result, I had this idea to write a feature about him. I interviewed him once, but I needed to set up another session. Unfortunately, it could not be granted...
When I read that he passed away over four months ago, I was surprised and sad. His loss still hits me today, and I can't help but fully grasp to the fact that he is no longer here.
He was one of the nicest instructors I ever worked with throughout my tenure as a film student at UNLV.
May he rest in peace, and I send my sympathies to his loved ones at this time.