Welcome to Chicago North Shore Moms Local Nonprofit Spotlight! We recently had the pleasure of hearing from Actors Training Center in Wilmette and chit chatted Managing Director, Christina Ramirez. With a mission to ignite passion for the performing arts at all ages and to give students a platform to use their art to affect meaningful change in their communities and the world around them, Actors Training Center is a safe haven for students of all backgrounds to feel seen, heard, and accepted for who they are. Christina explains, “It’s our job to teach them to trust their instincts and be true to themselves, whether that means they go on to pursue this professionally or if the confidence they gain through an acting class here helps them to be a more self-aware, compassionate human.” Welcome Actors Training Center and Christina!
Hi Christina! Please introduce yourself.
Hi! My name is Christina Ramirez. I grew up in St. Louis, MO then after undergrad I moved to NYC where I worked as an actress, director, and teaching artist for nearly a decade appearing off-broadway and in national touring productions. During the pandemic, my husband and I moved to Deerfield and I came on board as Managing Director of Actors Training Center! We have a 5-year-old Chihuahua mix, Mabel.
Tell us about Actors Training Center. What is the mission and vision?
Actors Training Center was founded in 2007 by Carole Dibo with the intent to prepare students of all ages to work professionally in the entertainment industry. Our mission is to ignite passion for the performing arts at all ages and to give students a platform to use their art to affect meaningful change in their communities and the world around them. We are the proud recipients of the Illinois Theatre Association’s 2019 Award of Honor. Our faculty of working professionals are committed to training the next generation of performing artists by honing each student’s individual talents and inspiring them to use their gifts both on and off stage. ATC is also a safe space for students to explore their gifts and what makes them unique even outside of the performing arts.
Over the past year, we’ve expanded our Outreach program and host monthly classes in partnership with Embarc Chicago for CPS students who join us from all around Chicagoland for experience-based learning opportunities at our on camera studio in Wilmette!
One of our core values is teaching students that they are enough – they have all of the tools they need to be successful in this industry already inside of them.
What was the inspiration behind the formation of Actors Training Center?
Founder and executive director, Carole Dibo of Wilmette, founded the school in 2007 because she felt there was a need for young actors and their parents to really understand the business side of the entertainment industry. Over the years, ATC has been a launching pad for many actors currently working in film, television and stage, and we have also become a safe haven for students who need to feel seen, heard, and accepted for who they are. One of our core values is teaching students that they are enough – they have all of the tools they need to be successful in this industry already inside of them. It’s our job to teach them to trust their instincts and be true to themselves, whether that means they go on to pursue this professionally or if the confidence they gain through an acting class here helps them to be a more self-aware, compassionate human.
Christina, how did you personally get involved in Actors Training Center?
When I made the decision to relocate, it was so important to me to find the right fit and community here in Chicago. I was so pleasantly surprised when I discovered ATC and knew several of the teaching artists on faculty. I knew any place with that caliber of teaching artist was the real deal. When Carole and I met, we connected instantly on the school’s mission and how there is so much value in teaching students about the arts, whether they go on to work professionally in the entertainment industry or if the skills they learn in class help them to be more confident, compassionate humans in whatever path they choose to pursue. We value the process over the product, which is what really differentiates our training. I knew that ATC was a place where I could directly impact the next generation and that makes me so excited for the future.
I was fortunate enough to direct our fall musical, Little Women, which also served as my thesis project for my masters. Our students not only brought an unparalleled professionalism to the show, but they also understood the importance and value of telling this story which centers around female empowerment and wanting to be seen and heard for who you truly are, regardless of what society deems appropriate.
Tell us about the acting classes, workshops and productions that are available to students.
We offer programs for students ages 5 through adult for every level, beginner to advanced. We have classes in acting, musical theater, comedy and improv, on-camera technique and much more. This summer we’re especially looking forward to our Musical Theatre Intensive production of Seussical The Musical, which will be performed at the Music Institute in Evanston in July, 2022!
What is the most rewarding thing you’ve witnessed since working for ATC?
There are countless rewarding moments at ATC. From watching students get their first big callback to guiding them through the daunting college audition process, each day I get to be a part of a student’s dreams and passions and that is such a gift. More recently, with our expanding outreach program, I’ve been able to coach students through their first ever acting experience. There’s something so magical about when a student realizes that this is a space where they can truly be themselves and that the things that make them different and unique are things that become their super powers as actors.
What’s on the horizon for Actors Training Center?
We are so lucky to not only have survived through the pandemic but to have really thrived. We’ve been fortunate enough to expand our space, our team, and our board of directors. As we grow and expand programming, it’s so important to us to continue making our programs accessible through continued scholarship funding and outside support. We’re currently working on expanding our outreach program with Embarc so that we can reach even more students and provide more opportunities for training.
Who would you like to thank for the success of Actors Training Center and why?
We have an absolutely incredible board of directors who are so vital to our success. We are so grateful for their support and guidance. To all of the families who stuck with us over the past two years through very uncertain times, we are so grateful.
How do our readers contribute or volunteer their time?
There are so many ways to get involved at ATC! You can learn more about volunteering and contributing all at https://actorstrainingcenter.org/participate/
How do our readers learn more about classes and registration?
Readers may follow us on social media to stay up to date on all of our latest course offerings or find current listings at https://actorstrainingcenter.org/programs/. Got questions? Drop us a line at [email protected].
Is there anything else you’d like us to know about ATC?
Our annual fundraiser is coming up June 12th, 2022 at Brother’s Field in Long Grove, IL. For more details visit https://atcfundraiser.swell.gives/