An aspiring and successful actor, Che is deeply immersed in the Rochester cultural scene. So much so, we’ve named him Che of The Town!
Exclusively for Talker, Che has solicited and is conducting interviews from about 50 Rochestarians working in a diversity of creative fields.
For the full series, see Che of The Town: Interviews
Che is a proud graduate of the School of the Art and has featured many SOTA alums, including Britton Bradford, Kayoz Fortune, Ajani Jeffries, Marguerite Frarey, Willie “El Mongoose” Monroe Jr., Willis Ajamu Brooks , James Kegler, Taye Diggs and Evalyn Gleason.
When I did some substitute teaching in the RCSD, SOTA was my favorite destination. I remember John Gabrielle preparing his choir for the Lilac Festival and then watching their impressive performance in Highland Park. See No highly effective teachers at SOTA? Something is not right.
Once, I helped the Tech Crew strike down the set they had deftly created for the musical Shrek. That experience became The Unsung Heroes . . . Behind the Scenes at the School of the Arts.
In this highlight we turn our attention to Michelle Accorso Sapere, an extremely hard working Drama teacher and Co-Department Chair of the Drama Department at the School of the Arts. I first met Michelle many years ago when she was first starting her career at School of the arts through an Intro to Film course she had taught through the Drama Department.
I remember the course being incredibly interesting and an over all good time. Michelle’s style of teaching is unique in the way that she is able to connect with her students on a familial level all the while pushing students to expand there imaginations along further.
I asked Michelle a series of questions. Here are her responses.
Tell us a little about yourself, where you are from, grew up, what H.S./College you attended etc.
I grew up in the city of Rochester, off of Lake avenue. I went to School of the Arts for high school, Marymount Manhattan College for undergrad, and then eventually Nazareth College for graduate school.
What inspired you to be an artist/educator? Early experiences worth sharing?
From as young as I could remember I wanted to be an actor, but I’m not sure if it was the acting I enjoyed or the attention. Truthfully, I was probably a better writer than actor, although I think part of that was a lack of self-esteem at a young age. Looking back I think if I had the confidence I have now as an adult and the lack of worrying about what others think, then I probably would’ve been cast in a lot more roles, simply because I would have presented myself with more confidence. I also really, REALLY loved television and movies, along with theatre, and worked in post-production for film and TV in NYC for 5 years following my 2003 graduation from Marymount, where I majored in Theatre Arts with a concentration in writing for theatre, film, and television.
Talk about a time where you have faced adversity/conflict and have triumphed.
I was working in NYC at a post-production editing facility for major motion pictures and I remember everyone running around really stressed out. I was miserable there and couldn’t fathom how people were getting so worked up/stressed about deadlines, studio time, etc. I thought, “We’re not saving lives. Everyone needs to relax.” I didn’t want to leave the world of dramatic arts, but I also felt like I personally outgrew this particular path. Soon after I moved back to Rochester and went back to school to become a teacher.
What do you believe sets you apart from other artists/educaters?
I think every artist brings something different and special to the table. I’m not sure if there is anything that really sets me apart other than I am kind of a big kid. I think I can relate to my students because I get their sense of humor and I take them seriously.
Do you have other interests or hobbies?
I LOVE the water and would swim every day if I could, which is silly because I live in Rochester, NY. I’m also an activist and believe in fighting for all oppressed people. So…swimming and politics…and I also like chocolate milk.
Any projects you have out or currently working on?
Currently co-directing In the Heights with fellow drama teacher and friend, Luke Fellows, at School of the Arts…my alma mater that I’m lucky enough to teach and direct at. Going on my 7th year here and I have to say it’s the best job I’ve ever had. The students mean everything to me. They are so incredibly talented, intelligent, passionate, and beautiful, and I count on them to make the world a better place.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
Five years older.
What advice can you give to aspiring artists/educators
Don’t take yourself too seriously.
How can we follow along in your journey? Social media?
Don’t follow me. That’s creepy. But you can always check out the sota drama facebook page or sotarochester.org to see what’s going on!