Helderman said that when he initially met her, Erica’s acting chops were nonexistent. “At first, she didn’t understand what acting was,” Helderman said. “It was like teaching a child why we respond the ways we do.”
The team taught her how to perform over more than two years of daily sessions using what Helderman calls a “Marlon Brando” method. Some stars might draw on their own experiences to create a character, but they instructed Erica to emulate other actors’ performances. Actors explained out loud how they were feeling in each scene to Erica.
“She’d ask questions like, ‘Why am I saying this line more loudly or more softly?’” Helderman said. “Or, ‘Why am I doing this thing when the camera is there, but not when it isn’t?’”
Their biggest challenge, he said, was hardly memorization — she immediately mastered her lines. But it took her months to grasp the concept of not just reciting a line, but speaking it softly or in full voice depending on the context, and bolstering the words with body language. Khoze said they taught her the dialogue for a scene in one session, then worked on the emotions, character development and body language in another.