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Legatus Magazine

Cover Story
Judy Roberts | author
Mar 03, 2011
Filed under Features

Lights, camera, faith

Legatus members’ new studio seeks to form actors in holiness and more . . .

Carlos Espinosa

Until he started the HolyWood Acting Studio, Carlos Espinosa knew more about real estate than the movie industry.

But when his son and daughter became interested in acting, they began to talk to him about developing a school where sound moral principles could be taught along with acting technique. Their idea became HolyWood, a studio for actors who want “to play great roles in movies and in life.”

Members of Legatus’ Hollywood Chapter, Espinosa and his wife, Stellamaris, both experienced a strong conversion in their Catholic faith while living in Cancun in 1992. Up until then, he said, “we were lukewarm Catholics, which is the worst kind. We converted to the real Catholicism.”

L-R: Karla, Carlos, Max and Stellamaris Espinosa

At HolyWood, which officially opens on March 25, actors will receive instruction in acting, leadership, interior formation, health, fitness, and Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body. The program, said Espinosa, is designed to teach actors how to love themselves as much as God loves them; how to live like Christ as a servant, steward and shepherd; and how to care for their bodies not as instruments to sell, but as a means of showing the beauty of God.

Many actors, Espinosa said, suffer from a sense of emptiness — even if they achieve success — that translates into destruction in their personal lives. “We want to give them power to go against the current,” he said. His hope is that by forming actors in sound moral principles, HolyWood will help transform the culture.

Initially, the new studio will accept up to 50 adult students for a 36-week course. Future plans include a 12-week course and classes for children.

Carlos Espinosa (left) and his daughter Karla (right) with Legatus founder Tom Monaghan at the Hollywood Chapter’s chartering on Nov. 12, 2010

HolyWood is also a family-run business. The Espinosas and their children, Max and Karla, are partners in the studio, which is housed in 7,000 square feet of leased space with classrooms and stages. The venture is rooted in prayer, and Espinosa credits the Blessed Virgin Mary with guiding the effort and giving them the studio’s name. “She’s very specially maternal, close and tender with us.”

An arduous location search for the studio finally led them to rent space in Culver City, near Hollywood. Espinosa signed the lease on Dec. 28, the Feast of the Holy Innocents. He took that as a positive sign, as he did when he learned that the first rent payment was due on Jan. 1, the feast of Mary,Mother of God. Finally, the site was blessed on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

“It’s been like this all the time,” he said. “Sign after sign after sign.” Online:

Judy Roberts is a Legatus Magazine staff writer.


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