Subhead: You may recognize her as the Irish vampire Maggie from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part Two or as Audrey in Mad Men. But actor and writer Marlane Barnes has hung up her professional acting hat to try on a new one for size: Educator.



When Marlane Barnes studied theatre at the University of Arkansas, she wanted to know how her professors understood each scene they watched. She went on to earn a master of fine arts in acting from the University of Texas in Austin before pursuing a professional career in Los Angeles. After a decade as a working actor, she decided to head back to her home state to see how she could contribute to the Arkansas arts scene. She’s taught courses and workshops at colleges, universities and regional theatres, helping actors to launch their film and television careers or to enrich their lives in the arts, as she’s done for herself.

“I love the search for clarity in a scene, and I love building a relationship of trust and understanding with students,” Barnes said. “I am more interested now in the ways the arts can enrich my life and the lives of others rather than define it.” 

We asked Barnes what she looks for when she reads scripts and screenplays. Here are a few things on her list:

Structure: “With new writers, I am a stickler for structure, so I am looking for the tension, stakes and story arc that are going to make a work accessible to an audience (especially if a writer wants to sell their script or get financing for production).” 

Texture: “For those who have been at it for a long time or intend to self-produce, I want characters with a lot of texture.”

Sense of humor: “No matter the genre!”

Authenticity: “You know what they say: It’s hard to be original, but you can be authentic! I would encourage writers not to write what is trendy─mostly because I think that’s toxic to your creativity, but also because you have to think long term─most scripts take a decade to get produced!” 

Marlane Barnes has more than a decade of experience in the film industry. She can be reached through the contact form on her website or by emailing for one-hour private coaching sessions for film/television acting and auditioning techniques. She also covers screenplays and advises writers on getting their scripts in fighting shape.