You know that tough as nails teacher that relentlessly kicks your ass in the hopes of molding you into a better version of yourself? In graduate school, that teacher was Delia Salvi.
She was my directing instructor and, to borrow something that a classmate said on Facebook, “Delia was horribly mean, surprisingly kind and scathingly insightful.” No disrespect but I thought that was spot on. She freaked us all out. She made more than a few people cry. Still, she constantly challenged us and I learned a lot. I wouldn’t be half the director that I am (or writer, for that matter) if it weren’t for her.
Hell, I still use her scene analysis worksheet.
She taught me to never settle for mediocrity, to always stop a train wreck the second you see it happening, and to take no bullshit. Delia is also the only person I’ve ever seen to fluster the otherwise unflappable Alexander Payne.
Delia passed away this past weekend.
I’ll sign off by sharing the last thing she ever told me. It was the last day of my last class with her. She pulled me aside and said, “Tony, you’re getting better but I’m worried that you’re too nice.”
Here’s hoping she’s kicking ass in the afterlife.