The Maile School in Winter Park teaches confidence through modeling and acting classes

Students at the school learn the power of self-esteem.

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  • | 5:12 p.m. August 10, 2018
Instructor Debby Tapia, center, hopes to help her students build self-esteem in her classes.
Instructor Debby Tapia, center, hopes to help her students build self-esteem in her classes.
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There’s great power in displaying confidence. That holds true whether you’re performing on Broadway or working in sales. No matter your dream, the Maile School wants to help you reach it.

The Maile School in Winter Park along U.S. 17-92 has been teaching its students how to perform in front of an audience since it first opened in 1982.

Children, teens and adults learn everything from on-camera acting for TV, commercials and film to how to improv and audition. More advanced classes include monologue and scene study, and an image class for girls also teaches the young ladies everything about posture, poise, makeup and etiquette.

“We’re not really trying to change the kids; we’re just trying to bring more out of them that’s positive,” vice president and owner of the school Debby Tapia said.

The school has seen many of its students go on to see great success in performance and acting, with many returning to the school to give workshops and private lessons. Graduates of the Maile School include actor and singer Norm Lewis, who starred as the phantom in “Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway;  singer and actress Mandy Moore; and several Nickelodeon stars such as Justin Jarzombek (“I Am Frankie”), Jack Griffo (“The Thundermans”) and Tucker Albrizzi (“Big Time Rush”).

“We’re not saying we’re making people stars — whatever that goal is, we try to help them get to where they want to go with their goal,” Tapia said. “If they’re here for the business, we help them get involved and have opportunities to audition.”

Many other students have gone on to do commercials as well, especially being in the Orlando area, Tapia said.

“We’re a very commercial market here in Central Florida,” she said. “Many commercials are shot here: Publix, Universal, Disney, Papa Johns, Oreo. … LA and Atlanta are the capitals of movies and TV shows, but Orlando, Florida, is commercials.”

Maile has helped improve the skills of students such as 16-year-old Hunter Montgomery, who recently did a shoot with Nemours Children’s Hospital for a commercial and ads.

“It’s definitely helped me grow as an actress and has taught me valuable skills for auditioning,” she said. “I love Ms. Debby — she’s the sweetest woman, and she’s just an awesome teacher. I love this place — It’s like my second home.”

Austin Olivares, 24, said he was thankful for the school’s instruction as well, having recently done multiple shoots in recent months.

“I actually had no acting experience when I came here,” Olivares said. “I was a swimmer in college and I was training for the Olympics. I was — long story short — hospitalized and decided that I wanted to do acting. … I came to the Maile School from ground zero, and the Maile School has taught me everything. I got my résumé here, I got my headshots here, and five months later, I’ve got 10 films and two commercials under my belt.”

Tapia even attended the school as a student 30 years ago, taking the image class, the acting class and the modeling class right out of high school.

She started working part-time as a receptionist and worked her way up to owning the school and teaching classes. Tapia did modeling and acting jobs herself here and there as a hobby, as well.

The school is more than just a place to learn the arts of acting and modeling. It’s also where students learn to capture that confidence while standing in front of an audience. They learn how to think on their feet and improvise, which is a part of many fields and careers, even beyond the stage, Tapia said.

“I don’t care if you’re a child, teen or adult — if they can come out of this class with confidence, we did our job,” Tapia said.


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