Watch the talented actors around you. See what they do and how they react, the choices they make in the scene, and learn from them. I have been lucky to work with a lot of very funny people, from Zach Galifianakis, David Harbour, to Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine on Pen15. I definitely feel watching them work on set has improved my comedy and acting skills.
As a part of my interview series with popular culture stars, I had the pleasure of interviewing Marion Van Cuyck.
Marion started working in films, TV, commercials, print, and music at 4 years old. She has had the opportunity to work and learn from David Harbour, Kate Berlant, Zach Galifianakis, Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle, Beck Bennett, Laura Kightlinger, Dan Avidan, Michele Morrow, and more.
Marion is also an drummer, singer, writer, gamer, artist, animator, and horseback rider. She also loves Star Wars, anime, and cosplay.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Well, I’m still doing that. I was born and raised in the Los Angeles area. When I am not working I just like being a regular kid. I’m a Girl Scout. I like drawing, animating, playing drums, and hanging out with my family, friends, and pets.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was always performing for my mom, dad, and anybody who was willing to watch. One day when I was about four, I was watching a show and I turned to my mom and told her “I want to do that.” That’s when my mom starting looking into finding an agent for me.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your entertainment career?
I had to learn how to finally ride a bike on the Disney studio lot, Golden Oak Ranch, while working on a national SAG commercial when I was younger. I was still learning how to ride at the time. I had no idea I had to ride a bike for the commercial until I was on set. I asked to practice before the shot and nailed it. I also got to ride the bike on the street lot, which was cool.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I don’t know if it is really a mistake, but on Baskets after we shot a scene we started improving. I was around 7–8 years old, so this was like having my first improv class with Zach Galifianakis as my teacher. Zach and the director, Jonathan Krisel invited me to say something if I thought of something while working on our scene. I thought I had a really good line, but everything moved so fast and I wasn’t quick enough to say it. I realized then if you are improvising you have to be very quick in the moment. When we shot another part of the scene I was able to get my ideas out and they ended up using what I said!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Who do you think that might help people?
I am coming back as Terra Newback for season 2 of Pen15 on Hulu. Terra is so much fun to play. She definitely marches to her own drum. I really love working on the show. Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine, the whole cast and crew really, are just amazing. It really does feel like a family on that set.
If Terra and Pen15 helps people I think it’s by showing that we are all weird and you should always be yourself. And being in junior high is hard.
Most young people your age don’t have to balance work and school. Can you tell us how you manage to balance your schoolwork, auditions, and time on set?
I have acted since I was 4, so I’ve done a LOT of homework while my dad has been stuck in traffic on the 405. Sometimes I have to study for a test and learn lines for several different scripts at the same time, but I always love the challenge.
On set you shoot a scene and then you go to school on set and work on your school work while they set up the next shot. Sometimes that can be a hard transition because you are really into the character and then you suddenly have to think about math. That’s when it helps to have a great studio teacher. Our studio teacher on Pen15, Shelley K Booker is amazing because she makes it fun, helps you get on track, and is ready to help you with any question you might have.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am definitely thankful for my agent and manager. They’re awesome. And I have had some amazing acting teachers. I love my current acting teacher Rose Marziale, she has really helped me grow as an actor so much, but Anna (Konkle) and Maya (Erskine) from Pen15 are so amazing. They are so generous on set. They want to get the best of you, and are always encouraging all of us to bring our ideas of who our character is and to trust our instincts as actors.
I have learned so much from them, not only from their acting, but from watching their input as creators and producers of the show.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s jump to the main part of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Watch the talented actors around you. See what they do and how they react, the choices they make in the scene, and learn from them. I have been lucky to work with a lot of very funny people, from Zach Galifianakis, David Harbour, to Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine on Pen15. I definitely feel watching them work on set has improved my comedy and acting skills.
- Always come prepared. Know your lines. Know what’s going on in the scene so you can give your best performance.
- You won’t get every role, but if you always stay positive and put in good work people will notice.
- Take classes. Acting is fun, but if you want to get better you need to keep working on improving yourself.
- Be ready for anything. Things change. Whether it is an audition or on the set. Be ready for the unexpected.
You are a person of enormous influence. How do you think you can use social media as a platform to be a positive influence to your fans, and for society at large?
There is enough negativity in the world, especially on social media. I feel the need to show happiness, positivity, and help uplift others. We may be different colors, genders, religions, shapes, and sizes. We may have different opinions, but we are all the same and need to treat each other with kindness and love.
If you had the ability to choose to work on any TV show or film, or work alongside any co-star, or with any director, what or who would that be, and why? You never know who might see this article, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I am a huge Star Wars and comic book geek. I would love to work with Jon Favreau or Taika Waititi, and be a part of the Mandalorian, or one of the new Star Wars shows or movies. I also really want to be a part of the Percy Jackson series they are going to be making for Disney+. I have read all the books and it would be a dream come true to play Annabeth.
There’s also this fantastic graphic novel series by Brian K. Vaughn called Paper Girls they are making at Amazon I would love to be a part of.
I would love to work with Tom Holland, Zendaya, or Natasha Lyonne. They all have such strong work ethics and they have been through the same things I am going through as a young actor. They also seem like they would be a lot of fun to work with! I would also love to work with Alan Tudyk. He is so talented. He can do it all!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
They can follow me at @officialmarionvancuyck on Instagram and @marionvancuyck on Twitter
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!