The squirming group of children are gathered in a circle around the two leaders, waiting impatiently for their next instructions. For Motell Foster, a professional actor who lived at the Presbyterian Home as a child and his fellow actor and friend Eric Marable, this is a chance to pass on lessons they’ve learned. The children, students at Ascension Leadership Academy, have written and practiced their own acting scenes and are ready to perform for each other.
“It’s really easy to build your stage,” says Motell. “All you need is an audience.”
In two days of movement, listening, and scene-writing workshops, Motell and Eric have brought some of the basics of acting to the students at Ascension Leadership Academy. Like Motell, Eric graduated from the University of Alabama. He’s now a teacher/actor in Birmingham.
Motell, who is currently living and working in New York City, has been working on this combination of advocacy and art hoping to develop a program aimed specifically at foster children. He has worked as a volunteer with the 52nd Street Project, a program that works with kids from the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in New York City. He was also a member of the Children’s Rights Young Professional Leadership Council. He spent 14 years in the Alabama foster care system, most of it at the Presbyterian Home or in college with the support of the Home.
“It doesn’t even feel like giving back,” says Motell of this volunteer work. “It’s home.”
He is a 2017 graduate of the New York University Tisch Graduate Acting Program. In just two years since graduation, he has worked or is working on a wide variety of acting projects. When asked about his own career, Foster smiles and says “I’m where I need to be.”