Karena began teaching 18 years ago (at the age of 18) for Barbizon Midwest of Des Moines and even became "Director of Education" for the location. After graduating college she moved to Los Angeles where she had a great experience modeling, acting, teaching, working as Director of Education for a training facility, and as a personal assistant for a talent manager.
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Although Karena loves modeling and acting, she admits, "Training aspiring models and actors is my passion; as you can tell by my MDLMKR license plate, it's an addiction."
Karena's students have gone to work in smaller markets like Chicago, Miami, and Dallas, as well as the larger markets of Los Angeles and New York. Some students have even gone abroad to work in Europe, Asia, and Africa. With such a successful and diverse background we were eager to hear Karena's thoughts on Barbizon Midwest.
What does Barbizon Midwest do?
"I really believe in this program because it makes personal development a big piece of preparing for the industry," Karena explains, "I've seen many great actors and beautiful models fail because they were not prepared for the personal challenges of the industry. With the Barbizon curriculum students get the full package of what is needed."
INDUSTRY KNOWLEDGE"The thing I love most about Barbizon is that EVERYONE benefits from it! I've seen a lot of programs that teach strictly modeling & acting skills - which is great, but it applies to such a small facet of life - even if you become a world famous actor. I love that we discuss the various fields of the industry, from directors to designers and everything in between. A majority of the people I've worked with in the past have found their niche somewhere behind the camera, and they love it, and are paid well for it."
LIFE SKILLS"The second thing I love about the Barbizon curriculum is that the life skills apply to real life. During the week I work for a staffing company. I see the difference a job interview makes. If a person knows how to dress appropriately, behave professionally, and follow up successfully - they are likely to land a job that pays $2-$5 more per hour; that is $4,000-$10,000 more per year for a 40/hour a week job."
CONFIDENCE"The aspect I love MOST about the Barbizon curriculum is that it helps teenagers deal with the drama that is teenage life. On the first day we ask the students what they hope to get out of the 6 months and 90%, or more, say they really want confidence. They want that magical illusive creation Hollywood sells on the regular. We are able to show the students just how similar they are to the people they think so highly of and bring their skill set up to the level of those 'idols.'
The students see themselves in a different light with more options than they did before coming to class. Instead of measuring themselves only by the 'social culture' of middle school and high school, they look to a different peer group, which is often much more fun, encouraging, and accepting."
A LIFE CHANGED"On a personal note, I will admit I love EVERY victory any student of mine accomplishes. I've seen magazines with my students, billboards, feature films, etc. But, if I had to pick one most proud moment it would be after a Barbizon graduation in Omaha. A mom of a 'not-my-favorite' student asked if I had a few moments to talk. Thru tears she told me her daughter had been dating a boy who had been physically abusing her. No matter what the family did, 'K' kept going back to him.
A week before her Barbizon graduation she came to her mom and said she realized she deserved better than that and dumped the kid. It might sound small to the average person, but it was an epiphany that changed her life forever.
I'm still Facebook friends with her and I watch her grow and mature. I have no idea if her mom told her about our conversation so I never made a big deal of it - but I still glow when I see her updates."
Karena has a small role in a short film which premiered recently at a film festval in Los Angeles and won "Best Actress."
"This was part of the '5x5 for Life' film festival. Movie-makers were given a line of dialogue, a prop, and 5 days to make a 5 minute short film supporting the 'Pro-Life' view."
Another short film of Karena's just released the trailer!
"This was a short film for a company I had previously worked with. The director emailed me the script and told me he thought I'd be great for the part. I was totally flattered until I read the part where I get run over by a car and die. I had to tease him that if he didn't like me he could have just told me - not had me killed tragically."
KANSAS CITY GRADS IN A FILM!
Two of the teens seen in this trailer are graduates of Karena's from our Kansas City location!
"This is a fun project we are putting together with local talent. My husband has been DP and Cinematographer for a collection of films and this is his first time acting as Director. It worked out well as I knew the great talent from my classes, which will have major roles in this film. Our goal is to have it completed in time for the two major film fests here in the state. It should be fun to get together and watch our hard work on the big screen!"
65 Roses - Official Trailer from Nathian Steir on Vimeo.
ADVICE FOR BARBIZON MIDWEST STUDENTS!
"Get busy! Practice, audition, film, do whatever you can! I know many programs that pressure students to refrain from any 'outside' influences until they complete their training. After completing training those programs offer a pricey photo shoot as THE option to continue on the road to success. Even if the student has a quality education and great pictures they have no resume and no experience to back it up.
When students are in Barbizon they are encouraged to pursue as many (safe) opportunities as possible - from local theater to well paying hair shows.
My advice to students is: DO IT! Digital photography allows you to have photos taken of yourself EVERY day! Cell phone video cameras allow you to be filmed DAILY! There are 10,000,000 film fests out there - and there are 100,000,000 film-makers looking for quality talent - go do it!
You do not have to be in Hollywood to be in a movie anymore. The 'industry' isn't just a New York/Los Angeles/Paris/Tokyo exclusive. Directors are filming EVERYWHERE! Clients are shooting their marketing campaigns in EVERY size market.
Students should be practicing and searching for their next opportunity. There is no reason to wait until you can move to the big market. Barbizon Midwest teaches you how to start today. My advice is: START TODAY!"
WANT MORE KARENA STEIR?!
Another short film can be found here featuring ONLY Karena!!
And upon closing below you can find the talented Karena Steir in "Party to Murder."
Thank you, Karena! We value your teaching and appreciate your time and input!
Want to know more about what our students, graduates, and parents think of Barbizon Midwest? Check out our: