The Legacy of R.J. Adams

RJI remember when I first met R.J. I had just moved to Los Angeles and a near stranger told me about his class. I remember shaking his hand, feeling the warmth of his contagiously sincere smile, and him promising me he would work hard for me if I worked hard for him. I was sold. As a new actor in the film mecca of Los Angeles, I had no idea what I was getting into. I honestly expected to find the whole experience discouraging to the point where I satisfied my desire to pursue acting, but realized it was not for me. Then I met R.J. He was full of encouraging drive and tenacity for the film industry that one could not help but want to emulate. Before every class, R.J. would update his students on how his career in acting, script writing, and directing was going. We heard of his successes and set backs and watched as he used both to fuel his burning desire to bring films to life. When it came to the film industry, R.J. always reminded his students that “no, is just a temporary word for yes,” and it was with this same fearlessness that he believed in the potential of each and every one of his students. R.J. was more than just a brilliant acting coach. To each and every one of his students, he held a unique relationship that personalized the classroom experience. He was your mentor, always available when you needed his help; he was your biggest fan, who encouraged you to, at minimum, match his own accomplishments; and he was your pillar, the steadfast support system on which you could always lean. However, perhaps what made R.J. such a fruitful coach was not simply because he was encouraging, generous, and devoted, but because as a result of these, he had high expectations and pushed you to reach your best. R.J. saw potential in his students that he unwaveringly sought to surface. Often, students would meet frustration and want to give up, but R.J. never did, and he was there encouraging them to keep going, keep working hard. He expected of his students what the industry expects of its actors. He constantly prepared us with the assumption that at any moment, his students could get their “chance” and would need to be at their best to capitalize. To R.J., his students’ futures were not necessarily years down the road, but perhaps tomorrow, or the next day, and they had to be ready. They had to be at their finest. The road to become an actor starts as a lonely one, and for me R.J. was my biggest support, armed with knowledge and experience. I trusted his teachings and his outlooks. For me, he was the support person who walked two steps ahead, your hand in his, to ensure you are going to make it and endure. It is one thing to have a support system, but R.J. was the first person that truly made me believe I was on the right path, that acting was something I could successfully pursue. His confidence in his students held the greatest significance over all those who believed in them. He had been there, he had and still was fighting all the battles, and he knew what it was like. When he looked you in the eyes unflinchingly, and reminded you that you have what it takes, you knew that it was true. You knew that he had already helped blaze the path and was walking it again with you every step of the way. It is not a secret that R.J. touched and influenced countless lives. I remind myself that although he is no longer with us, his teachings and invaluable friendship remain in our hearts and in our pursuits. – Rebecca Mason


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