UT alum nabs role in new 'Twilight' movie

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(Photo courtesy of Marlane Barnes)

UT alumnus Marlane Barnes only had a vague idea of what the “Twilight Saga” was about before she went in to audition for an opportunity many would kill for: a part in “Breaking Dawn,” the fourth installment of the saga.

Officials gave her the scene and put her on tape ­— the audition took 30 seconds. Three days later, Barnes found out she got the job.

“Over 20 years to prep for that 30 seconds,” Barnes said. “I think the secret is I didn’t bother wanting the job. I didn’t think there was any chance in hell I would get it, so I did my prep watching the movie and reading up on the character and then went in and did it for me.”

Barnes landed the role of Maggie, a new vampire that knows when individuals lie to her in “Breaking Dawn: Part 2,” to be released next year. She graduated from UT in 2010 with a Master of Fine Arts in acting and moved to Los Angeles after graduation to join her boyfriend at the University of Southern California. Barnes said her agents got her the audition because “Twilight” officials were looking for low-profile actors to play the new characters.

Barnes said UT helped prepare her for the movie industry by teaching her to dedicate time to work on her craft and allowed her to experience a taste of the real world.

“The opportunity to make mistakes is really important,” Barnes said. “And it should be in school, on your time, not someone else’s.”

Theater and dance professor Franchelle Dorn said when she first met Barnes she thought she had a certain spark that lit up the room whenever she entered it. Dorn said it was this spark that motivated her to pursue Barnes in the University Resident Theatre Association nationwide auditions.

In this process, Dorn said, 30 or more schools travel around the country and see more than 400 students interested in professional training at graduate programs.

“I know the Twilight series has gotten mixed reviews,” said nursing senior Jillian Ricciardi, a “Twilight” fan who has seen all of the movies at midnight premieres. “At the same time, I think many people will still support [Barnes] because UT has a lot of pride and supports alumni.”

Theatre and Dance lecturer Lyn Koenning said she was happy she had the opportunity to work with Barnes and felt Barnes was a very focused and serious student who seemed more than willing to work hard. Koenning said her most prominent memory of Barnes was coaching her through her “Glee Project” audition song, “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”

“[I hope this inspires students] to hang on to their dreams of performing and to understand many artists’ success is many hours of study and practice, hard work, tenacity, sacrifice and determination.”

Barnes said she would advise any students looking to be successful in the business to create their own opportunities first. Because there is time and money riding on every project, Barnes said, to get anywhere in this business you have to be trustworthy, dependable and able to build genuine relationships.

“No one wants to hear about how much you want to be an actor, they want to see you doing it,” Barnes said. “Being prepared, on time, know your type, taking care of yourself and being able to talk about something other than acting.”

Printed on Friday, November 18, 2011 as: Alumna lands role in 'Breaking Dawn'