By Gerhard Schneibel
gerhard@reporternewspapers.net

Faith MacDonald of Sandy Springs started participating in the Future Actors, Artists, Musicians and Entertainers (FAAME) camp June 16 hoping for a chance to try on some different personalities.

“I like becoming the other person. I like being able to not just be me, but be somebody else,” she said. “The most fun about that is usually being somebody that is totally different from you — getting to play somebody that is the exact opposite of what you are.”

FAAME camp was held at Woodland Charter Elementary School, where Faith just finished the fifth grade, through June 27. Her drama club instructor, Palema-Faith Jackson, recommended that she enroll in the camp, and Faith said the drama she participated in at school sparked her interest in pursuing theater.

“I was in the drama club, and Ms. Jackson told us about the FAAME arts camp, and I found it a really fun idea because I really like to act,” she said.

The camp was available to students between 8 and 14 years old, and more than 90 percent of the campers received with some level of financial assistance this year. One purpose was to give children an opportunity to interact with theater and film professionals, several of whom participated.

Valetta Anderson, a playwright and resident teaching artist at the Alliance Theatre in Buckhead, spoke to campers about her writing process. Brian Kimmel, theater arts instructor at North Springs Charter School of Arts and Sciences, directed campers in a scene from the musical “Oliver!”

Film and television actor Jermaine Jackson led a workshop on improvisational comedy and another on children in commercials. The Decatur native also spoke to campers June 20 about his experiences in Los Angles and the sources of inspiration that gave him the perseverance to make a career there.

Being an actor “is so amazing because you can see so many different things, be so many different things. You might get a script for a TV show or something like that, and the more that you’re able to do, the more things that you see, the more things you read … the better you can be as a whole person,” he said.

“If anybody’s got cousins or family in different places and you go and visit them for the summer, or if you go there for the holidays, maybe they talk different ways, or they say different things, or they move a little bit different, or they like different types of music. … That’s just being what another person is. So acting is really just being a real person,” he told the campers.

“You’ve all heard of the actor Russell Crowe? You’ve seen ‘Gladiator’? That’s the guy. His accent is Australian, but he uses an American accent. People [in Los Angles] come from all over the place.”

Jackson also told campers it took a long time before he met success as an actor, but “anything you want in life that’s worth having takes time.”

Caroline Steed, who recently completed the fifth grade at Woodland Elementary, said she liked Jackson’s speech. She said that participating in the camp has been a positive experience for her.

“I’ve had a lot of fun,” she said. “I like being with my friends, and I kind of like pretending to be anyone I want to be. It’s fun to be yourself, but sometimes maybe you might get bored and you want to be somebody else, just for a little bit. And I think that’s really fun.”

Kia Jie Jacobs, who recently completed the fourth grade at Woodland Elementary, said Jackson’s speech was insightful and relaxing to listen to.

“It was just massaging my mind. That’s how relaxing it was,” she said. “My favorite part about acting is you just get to be yourself. When I first started acting, I was shy, and now I’m not, because I grow up each day and I learned that you don’t have to be shy or care what other people say.”