Directing the Actor Lab

AWD’s Directing the Actor Lab is a popular annual program taught by AWD Founder and USC Professor Jennifer Warren. The selected Directors meet for monthly sessions to enhance their experience working with actors. Topics covered include in-depth scene breakdowns, rehearsal exercises and techniques, and playable direction and adjustments for actors.

Throughout the lab each of the participating directors chooses a scene from an established screenplay, casts it, and holds a rehearsal during class, where they receive feedback in preparation for shooting their scene outside of class. The last class is a screening of all scenes, which is critiqued by the class participants and an invited guest director.

Submissions for the 2024 Lab are currently closed.

2024 Lab Participants

AWD is pleased to present the Fellows for our 2024 Directing the Actor Lab (left to right):
Maeyen BasseyMikaela BruceChristianna CarmineAnna ChiWhitney ClinkscalesKelsey FordhamJustine RaczkiewiczSacha SmithAlla Volkova.

2023 Lab Participants

2023 Directing the Actor Lab Fellows (from left to right) Kay BarnesDilek InceErin LauApril MoreauKelly PikeMonique SorgenMarissa VonnKameishia Wooten, and Dorothy Xiao.

2022 Lab Participants

Click here to read all about our game-changing AWD Directors selected for the 2022 Lab.


My in person rehearsal was so incredibly helpful and eye-opening – I gained more awareness about my own directing habits, and learned areas where I can improve when I’m talking to my actors. I’m grateful that I had a safe space to practice different directing techniques (instead of on set, of course!) and my fellow directors had great tips on making the scene stronger. I’m excited to bring these methods to my future projects!” – Dorothy Xiao, AWD Directing Member & 2023 Lab Fellow

“The Directing the Actor Lab was in incredible experience, and has given me much more confidence in my work with actors, and that’s only because of the wonderful tools that I’ve learned throughout the class and especially because of Jennifer’s thoughtful and encouraging feedback.” – Sarah Smith, AWD Directing Member & 2022 Lab Fellow