Disney director shares passion, creativity with students

Not every actor or actress from Oshkosh can make it to Hollywood, but that doesn’t mean that Hollywood can’t come to Festival City. Recently, the Backlot Comedy Club hosted Disney Channel’s very own Wendy Faraone. Known for her work with Hannah Montana, Liv and Maddie, Wizards of Waverly Place, and K.C. Undercover, Faraone’s magic touch has been felt by seemingly every childhood comedy. Through a wide variety of skills, she has ably collaborated and coached actresses such as Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, and Zendaya. Despite her work with these well-known actresses, Faraone prioritizes giving amateurs similar opportunities.  

“It’s important to let all of these kids experience something that they may not be able to do at home,” she said.

Faraone serves as a role model for aspiring actors and actresses, giving them hope and allowing them to pursue their interests. Most of the boys and girls, ranging from the ages of 12-17, came into the class as amateurs, but left with a plethora of tools to aid them on future career path.  

“It was an amazing experience and a huge inspiration,” Frankie Johnson, a student in the class said.

Johnson acted out some scenes from A.N.T. Farm while taking constructive criticism from Faraone. Groups of Faraone’s pupils performed various scenes from retro Disney series, preparing for a final performance to showcase their talents for friends and family. With mounds of excitement, Faraone didn’t have to pander to her participants; each one was fully engaged as they found the opportunity to be exhilarating.

“It was a dream come true,” Johnson said. “I hope to be like Wendy one day.”

As a young actress, Johnson found herself truly inspired by how Faraone positively impacted her acting skills. Sharing in Johnson’s joy, another hopeful actor, Isaac Wagner, parallels this thought, seeing great value in the Disney vet’s coaching abilities.

“I’ve learned a lot of new words that I’ve never known before,” he  said.

Not only improving his acting skills, but broadening his vocabulary as well, this class gave Wagner the opportunity to span the children’s connection with the community.

“I liked being able to meet new people and be able to learn more about what it’s like being on stage,” he said.

While many see the value of the community event for its ability to unite, Faraone likes to focus on individual lessons.

“For me I think it’s important to let all these kids experience something that they maybe won’t get the opportunity to do at home,” Faraone said.

For Wagner, this was not a planned event, and he attests to the accessibility of the opportunity.

“Well, my mom saw some things on the internet so I thought that I might as well give this a shot,” Wagner said.

In retrospect, her class may have been short-lived, but Faraone hopes she left a lifelong impact on her students, giving participants courage to continue to follow their dreams.    

“It sparks inspiration and excitement, and that’s why I do it,” Faraone said. “It gives them passion and also gives them the tools just to get in front of people.”

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