Studio Staff

Marissa Hampton

Managing Director & Coach 

Marissa Chanel Hampton is an actress, comedian, and writer based in both Atlanta and Los Angeles.

After receiving her B.A. in theater from the University of California, Irvine, and graduating from the Second City Hollywood’s Conservatory Program. She has gone on to perform at UCB, iO West, and Second City.

Marissa also produced and starred in What Dreams Mae Come, with fellow Mornellians Anna Borchert and Martha Hamilton, which was a finalist for the 2016 WIF B-STEM Hall of Fame Film Festival. As a sketch comedian she has been featured in content for Funny or Die, WhoHAHA, AOL, and the Huffington Post including Pink Sourcing with Kristen Bell.  On television you can catch her in shows such as: Watchmen, Scandal, NCIS: New Orleans and more. 

She can be seen next in the film The Royal, premiering 2021 and in commercials for companies such as: Hulu, American Express, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo.

To book self tapes or coaching with Marissa please email:

Nicole Johnson

Coach and Career Consultant

Nicole Marie Johnson is an actor, writer, and producer who resides in Atlanta, GA.

After graduating from the University of Massachusetts with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Theater she moved to Los Angeles in 2010 and began studying with Sara. It was through the Mornell Method that she realized she had found her calling at the studio. A few of Nicole’s credits from her time in LA include; Lights, Suits, A Feeling from Within, and Drifter: Henry Lee Lucas.

Nicole is also one of the two creators of Girls of Wisdom. A pilot that led to the launching of #Besties, a 12 episode comedic web series about two girls that epitomized the LA attitude and lifestyle. Along with co-starring and co-writing, she also partnered in the production, marketing and online distribution that gained thousands of subscribers and over 4 million views, and was featured on Ellen and Entertainment Tonight.

Shortly thereafter Nicole moved on to her first feature film, Quarries. Alongside Sara and the team Nicole co-wrote, co-produced, and starred in Quarries. As a producer, Nicole was integrally involved in every stage of pre-production, shooting, and post-production. Nicole was also involved in executing the marketing and PR strategy for the film. Quarries has appeared in numerous film festivals, and Nicole won Best Actress at the 2017 Firstglance Film Festival for her performance in the film.

To book with coaching Nicole email: 

Anna Borchert

Coach, Program, and Self Tape Studio Director

Anna Borchert is former ballet dancer, who grew up in Vermont but left to study acting at the  Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre’s conservatory program in NYC. After graduating, she moved to LA and started working with Sara and studying the Mornell Method. While in LA, she created Daughters of Pop, the first Instagram micro-series with over 80 episodes and 15k views per episode. She also co-wrote, produced and starred in The Day the AC Went Out which was a finalist at the 2013 BIG VISION EMPTY WALLET film festival as well as co-writing, producing and starring in What Dreams Mae Come, with fellow Mornellians Marissa Hampton and Martha Hamilton, which was a finalist for the 2016 WIF B-STEM Hall of Fame Film Festival. She has recently moved to Atlanta to continuing acting and creating content. Anna can currently be seen in West of Hell (Tony Todd, Lance Henriksen) which is premiering summer 2018 internationally on Amazon Prime.

To book self tapes or coaching with Anna please email:

Marissa Cuevas


Marissa Cuevas is a working actress based in Los Angeles, CA.

Born and raised in The Big Easy, Marissa began her acting career at the age of nine. She performed at many theatres throughout the New Orleans musical theatre community and starred in the family feature film "Labou". While she was still in high school, Marissa moved to Los Angeles and appeared in many youth television shows including Kickin It, Lab Rats: Bionic Island, and Supah Ninjas.

In 2014, Sara became Marissa's acting coach. Marissa began booking more mature roles of note and learned the ins and outs of camera technique, how to make a script uniquely yours, and most importantly, how to work a room. Since becoming a Mornellian, Marissa has appeared on every major network and can be seen in various projects on Netflix and Disney+. Some of her past credits include The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, Midnight, Texas, What/If, and the CW series I Ship It. From costars to pilot tests, she's experienced it all while using her Mornell training.

To book self tapes or coaching with Marissa Cuevas please email:

Iona Leighton

Class Liaison and Info Email Manager

Iona Leighton is an actress, writer, director, and producer who is based in Atlanta.
After graduating from the State University of New York at Purchase’s acting conservatory with a B.F.A. in acting, she lived in New York City where she guest taught at SUNY Purchase and Circle in the Square and performed Off-Broadway and with several theaters and companies including: The Drilling Company, Webster Hall, and The Looking Glass. She also performed with Chamber Theatre in Boston and in Colorado with The Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Denver Center, and Local Theater Company. She voiced and produced countless regional and local voiceovers for companies and public campaigns including for Cadillac, Pandora, and Arizona State Department of Education.

After living in NYC for years, Iona wanted to effect change in the public education system, was accepted into the Denver Teaching Fellows and earned her Master’s in Special Education at Metropolitan State University of Denver. She taught special education in public schools in Denver and ran an after-school drama program. However, after a few years, she decided to leave public education and return to her love of acting and creating.

Iona currently has several projects that she is collaborating on, writing, and producing: including the Runoff Election Campaign with Mornell Studios Productions. You can catch Iona acting in several TV and film projects (Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Vimeo) among which are Raising Dion, Pivot Point, and Sun, Moon, Stars, Rain.

Jillana Darby

Class Liaison –LEARN Program, Weekend Intensive Assistant Teacher 

Jillana Darby is an Actress based in both Los Angeles and Atlanta. Growing up, Jillana was the tomboy of a small town in South Carolina and excelled in all sports, even as the only girl on an all boys football team. Individually, she was a successful runner, competing at the Junior Olympic and Collegiate levels. Yet, ever since her first role on stage as Orphan #6 in a local production of "Annie", she has known that her passion was always to entertain. Most recently, she can be seen as Jocelyn Durbin in the 2020's Netflix hit, "Teenage Bounty Hunters". Jillana has a degree in TV/Radio Broadcasting and worked with Entercom Communications for four years as an On-Air Personality for The Hawk and Tom Morning Show on B 93.7. Bouncing back and forth between the east and west coast, Jillana works and studies with Sara Mornell virtually via Zoom.

MK Bryant

Youth Program Coordinator

Mary kathryn bryant is an atlanta based actress. Originally a native of the arkansas timberlands, mk found her Passion for performance through summer stock productions. She carried this spark with her through high school,Competing and placing in the state’s speech and debate championships. After graduating early, mk studied apparel Merchandising and product development at the university of arkansas.

MK’s professional acting career began in 2016 on the set of Children of the Corn: Runaway. Since then, she has been featured in multiple productions, including HBO’s True Detective and Joe Dante’s Camp Cold Brook. Alongside acting, MK interned with Oklahoma’s only CSA-member casting office. MK moved to Atlanta with her son in October of 2018 and joined Mornell Studios early the next year.