With beauty and talent under her belt, Miss Universe Olivia Culpo is determined to bring her career to the world of acting. First, she admits, she must learn how to truly master her on-camera presence. Lucky for her, part of winning the coveted Miss Universe title comes a full scholarship to the New York Film Academy. “Working with NYFA throughout my reign has been so helpful, the school has so much to offer and I am excited to further my career with the skills they taught me.” says Culpo.
NYFA, a hands-on international school of the arts, has been a proud sponsor of the Miss Universe Organization for several years. Past contestants have continued their training at the New York Film Academy Acting for Film School, including Dayana Mendoza, Miss Universe 2008, who was on NBC’s The Apprentice, Crystle Stewart, Miss USA 2008, who became a series regular on Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse, and Stormi Henley, Miss USA 2009, who was a semi-finalist on American Idol Season 10.
This Tuesday, the Rhode Island native and current titleholder, was part of a special one-on-one workshop with NYFA Director of Acting and Musical Theatre Admissions, Roger Del Pozo, at the school’s brand new Battery Park location. Del Pozo has maintained a career of working with actors through his professional casting and audition work in the industry. His experience and expertise in regards to “on-camera presence” for this particular NYFA workshop were very relevant due to Culpo’s recent work as a television correspondent. “It was great working with Olivia,” says Del Pozo. “She was very funny, charming and easy to work with. I think that she will make a great actress, as she is not only very beautiful, she is also extremely comfortable on camera. She was able to be herself and get her personality across, which is half the battle.”
Like any aspiring young actress, Culpo has been bouncing around from audition to audition, hoping to land her first break through role. She says she’d really love to be a part of a romantic comedy or “chick-flick,” specifically with a comedy actor. Her plans are to head west within the next few months in order to further pursue her acting passion in Los Angeles.
New York Film Academy acting graduate Dr. Ariel Orama López published a new theoretical framework based on Creativity and the recent findings of Neuroscience: the textbook is called CRËATIVE SYNAPSE: CRËATE.YOUR.UNIVERSE© (2013). It is the first theoretical framework that explains the behavior of the human being by integrating the following variables: creativity, neuroscience, and the new influence of the virtual universe. The collection book will be presented in the atrium of the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico on Wednesday, September 11, 2013, in a distinguished context of artists, health professionals and academics.
Dr. Gregory J. Quirk, a prominent American researcher specialized in Neuroscience & Luca Spaghetti, the well-known Italian amico writer -who served as a guide to Elizabeth Gilbert on her journey through Italy while writing Eat Pray Love- elaborated the prologues of this substantial investigative work of thirteen years: they provide in their prologues a nourished and accurate view of this text book, according to their experiences. The art of the book includes the precious paintings and drawings of Ektor Rivera, Celestino & Ramon Bruin (from the Netherlands).
The text arises from a practical & theoretical framework created by Dr. Ariel Orama López that departs from his preparation, experience and knowledge in science, human behavior, natural sciences and performing arts. It includes experiences of the author -with a logbook on his sensible hands- in contexts gifted with creativity and spirituality such as Mexico, California, Spain and Italy.
Ariel is a Puerto Rican professional actor & psychologist. He is a collegiate actor of the Colegio de Actores of Puerto Rico, a certified Executive Coach (specialized in Crëative Life Coaching) from TISOC, Barcelona, Spain and a licensed clinical psychologist. He was selected as a finalist of Taller TELEMUNDO: actores, in Miami, directed by the well-known actress nominated for an Oscar in the movie Babel (2006), the distinguished Mexican actress & professor Adriana Barraza.
Ariel Orama has worked in commercials, theatre, short films, indie films, documentary, series, television, media writing, and voice-overs, summing more than 200 projects in arts (2001-2013). He is also a composer and singer: one of his songs (Seré/I’ll be) was selected for the Puerto Rican dramatic documentary The Eyes of the People (producers: Roberto Ponce & Gladys Albino) and his song (Alto Vuelas/ Flying Higher) was selected as the official Puerto Rican song for the World March from the Peace, celebrated in Argentina and New Zealand.
He performed in fourteen Short-Films in California during his NYFA training in Acting for the Film (Los Angeles). Recently, he was selected as the Creative Coach & Consultant for the television program Idol Kids Puerto Rico (from the recognized English franchise Idol ©) and have offered courses at the Colegio de Actores de Puerto Rico and other relevant forums about Psychology of Character.
Ariel directed and starred on the Puerto Rican Short-Film ESTEB∆N, which received national and international laurels and/or nominations (Director’s Choice: Best Film, Top Ten Film, Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Editing & Best Music) in following contexts: Spain, California, Orlando and Puerto Rico.
The Puerto Rican actor has received different awards in performing arts, including Best Direction Selection, Best concept, Best actor & Best Script. Ariel was one of the five recipients of the Sor Isolina Ferré Medal in Education of the Government of Puerto Rico, unique National distinction in service and education.
Dr. Orama is member of the new movement Voces Unidas por el Cine Puertorriqueño and this special project has been presented on Telemundo (Acceso Total) expressing about of all this wonderful initiatives and his vision about the film in the Island.
Currently, Ariel is co-directing and working as the scriptwriter (producer: Vane Vélez) for a documentary that will be presented on Festivals based on the emerging Film Industry in Puerto Rico -the “Shining Star of the Caribbean”-, called CINECONTRASTES©: it includes testimonials of relevant figures such as Jacobo Morales, Idalia Pérez Garay, Vicente Juarbe, among others relevant figures of the Industry.
The book appeals to artists, academics, psychologists and to the general public. It is published in Spanish and soon in English. It can be acquired in different libraries of the World, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Sony.
Talent Manager Susan Zachary was our guest last night, arriving to a packed crowd of students in the Welles screening room at New York Film Academy Los Angeles. The moderator was Producer Tova Laiter, who just so happened to bring Susan to NYFA.
Susan started out working at a number of different jobs, including public relations, advertising for film, and working within the studios. From there, she produced several films. Then, about 11 years ago, she founded her own management company, where she definitely seems to have found her niche.
As a manager, Susan deals with the clients, talent, producers and goes through the breakdowns, which is a key element in the Hollywood casting process. “The management business is secure and predictable, compared to the life of an independent film producer,” said Susan. “It’s all about selling! Whether it’s a network or studio – when pushing talent – you’re always essentially in sales.”
So what makes a great manager? “An honest, communicative and persistent one. We always hear NO – a lot of reasons why an actor does not potentially work – so it all comes back to selling.”
In regards to what exactly managers look for in a client, Susan said, “We are very selective. You should ideally have a body of work, a reel, a resume, and be SAG eligible.” When asked by a student if there were any exceptions to this, as far as taking on new talent, she told the students that managers go to “The Leagues” (Acting school showcases) every year, and on rare occasion 1-2 people will get signed.
She was realistic about the hardships of getting picked up by a manager without lots of experience, but also stressed how perseverance is key and encouraged the students to love, practice, and hone the craft of acting. Most importantly, find ways to make yourself stand out.
Here are some great tips she provided for our students:
- Join casting director workshops
- Make a reel
- If you don’t have content for a reel, create it!
- Do the ´work´- take acting classes!
- Don´t sit around and wait
- Treat acting like a job
- Get recommended by someone
- Show ingenuity
- Make yourself marketable for the manager and be creative about it
Susan also stressed the importance of making and maintaining good relationships in the business. In the literary world, it´s important to be cooperative (take notes and directions when asked to change scripts) and the same goes for actors as well. While actors can get away with more undesirable behavior if they have pure talent, it is rare these days because of the state of the economy. Her final words of advice, “Auditioning is a job! You must treat it like one.”
New York Film Academy instructor Anastasia Coon, who teaches voice in the acting program and Public Speaking in LAS, scored big time at the recent LA Fringe Theatre Festival for Gracie and Rose. Gracie and Rose live off the land love off the grid in 1950′s Wyoming – where wild horses run free and appearances are deceiving. Gracie lives as George so she and Rose can be together. The play brings about the question, is true love in the body worth the cost of living a lie in the world?
Here are some of the accolades for Gracie and Rose:
Winner | Best of Fringe Extension
Nominee | Best Solo Show (Top 5 out of 45 solo shows)
- “Her Gracie and Rose makes Boys Don’t Cry look like children’s theatre!” -Kristina Wong, Award Winning Solo Performer
- “Poetry returns to the theatre. Don’t miss Gracie and Rose, this is what theatre is meant to do.” -Sheana Ochoa, SLAM
- Ms. Magazine’s Top 3 Picks of the Fringe
- “This is a timely play about a current issue that is only now being resolved – 50 years after the time the play is set. I highly recommend this play for everyone who believes in equality.” -Bob Leggett, Examiner.com
- “A great script, a powerful performance rooted in strong character work, and visceral imagery merge into a tour de force production that exemplifies what one-person theatre should be.” -Gregory Crafts, Managing Director of Theatre Unleashed
This summer, the New York Film Academy high school students in Los Angeles were treated to a special guest appearance by Disney star, Sierra McCormick. We screened the most recent episode of her Disney Channel show, A.N.T. Farm, which is a huge hit with the tweens!
Sierra became interested in acting at the age of 8 years old, when she took an acting class at her school. Her acting teacher saw something in her and got the ball rolling from there. She landed her first role on the TV show, ‘Til Death. Now, at the age of fifteen, she’s already appeared in TV and film, with genres varying from comedy to more darker, dramatic roles.
“Working within the Disney family has been great!” said Sierra. “They treat you very well and really accommodate you.” She started with a small role in Disney’s Hannah Montana and is very fond of the character she plays on A.N.T. Farm, the super smart Olive.
When asked by a high school student, Lulu, what her favorite film genre is, Sierra answered, “Cerebral movies: including comedies, dramas, horror, and foreign films.” Pretty diverse for a young mind. She added that she likes roles that are challenging, empathetic, different from her real self – she loves strong female characters. In regards to auditioning, she says it’s very important for her to memorize lines, so that she is not distracted, and can focus on the acting. To calm her nerves, she’s changed her attitude, realizing, “I have nothing to lose.”
Being such a young actress, Sierra must balance her career and education. “It’s my main goal to go to a good college.” She gave example of plenty of “cool actresses” that have done so, such as Natalie Portman and Claire Danes.
With wit and poise, Sierra shows definitive signs of maturity. Her time away from the camera is primarily composed of “doing regular things” and surrounding herself with “grounded people.” Something that is dearly needed with a girl in her position. Sierra closed with these wise words of advise, “Don’t let yourself slip away. Hold onto yourself and your beliefs.”
On August 1, the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles welcomed Academy Award winning actor Martin Landau for a screening of Ed Wood (1994), followed by a Q&A between Mr. Landau and NYFA students.
Mr. Landau, 85, has worked on stage and screen for 60 years, appearing in films such as North by Northwest (1959), Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), and Tucker: A Man and his Dream (1988). His television credits include the classic 1960s show Mission Impossible and more recently, several episodes of Entourage.
Mr. Landau explained to students that he left his early career as a cartoonist to join 2,000 other applicants who auditioned for the Actor’s Studio in New York, ending up as one of only two students selected for admission (the other was Steve McQueen). Offering a history of the Actor’s Studio, Mr. Landau also described his instrumental role in creating Actor’s Studio West in Los Angeles, where he still serves as Artistic Director.
With such a rich history in the entertainment industry, Mr. Landau told stories of working with Alfred Hitchcock, Woody Allen, and Tim Burton. He spoke candidly about the actor’s job, and explained that actors must always be observant of what is around them, making their daily lives a preparation for various roles. He demonstrated his own lifetime of observation by precisely impersonating Hitchcock, or by speaking with the Irish and Italian accents of his childhood friends. He said that only bad actors pretend to laugh or cry, and that instead, it’s the actor’s job to prepare and focus on the details and emotions of each character in each moment.
To that end, Mr. Landau encouraged students to enjoy the filmmaking process as it’s happening. He even showed that he still subscribes to this idea – when asked by a student which of his films was his favorite, Mr. Landau quipped, “Whichever film I’m working on now.” Wrapping up, he told students to reach for the stars: tired of seeing “robots…and more robots” in today’s movies, Mr. Landau convinced the young filmmakers in attendance that it was up to them to once again make movies about real people.
The NYFA students and staff in attendance were awed by the talent and humor of Mr. Landau, and appreciated his time and important advice.
One of the special features of New York Film Academy’s MFA, AFA and One Year Producing Programs, is the Industry Speakers Series during the second semester. Industry guest speakers are invited to the school for an information presentation, followed by a Q&A with the students. It’s a wonderful opportunity for producing students to hear firsthand accounts of a variety of career paths, and opportunities and trends in the industry. Plus, you never know what can transpire in terms of networking.
Recently, NYFA LA’s Guest Speaker Series welcomed these exclusive industry guests from the film, television, and new media world.
Senior Vice President, Sales and Acquisitions for Arclight Films in Los Angeles. Distribution, acquisitions and sales executive.
Television and internet comedy writer. He’s written for TV shows such as Love Bites on NBC, How To Live With Your Parents on ABC and The Late Show With David Letterman on CBS.
Director/writer/producer who created many Emmy Award Winning shows including The Bionic Woman, The Incredible Hulk, The Original Mini-Series V, and Alien Nation. He also directed numerous TV movies and the features Short Circuit 2, and Steel.
CEO and co-founder of Structured Data Intelligence (SDI), which has one of the largest structured video content databases in the industry. Former packaging agent at the William Morris Agency.
Distribution consultant working with content producers and library holders on digital media content strategy and development. Producer’s representative securing distribution and handling contract negotiation of broadcast and digital media rights including PPV, VOD/SVOD, basic cable and free television, electronic sell-thru, download, streaming and other IP/electronic delivery systems.
Award winning television producer. From 2009 – 2012, in 56 episodes, he chronicled the efforts of officers and agents of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), ICE, DEA and the US Coast Guard to combat terrorism, drug trafficking and illegal entry into the U.S.
If you’re interested in being a part of this amazing opportunity and are considering studying producing at the New York Film Academy, visit our Producing School page for more information.
Our documentary department is busy filming and making headlines this Summer. For starters, Denmark native and New York Film Academy Documentary alumni, Frederik Bolls’ new music video Warships was featured on E! News last weekend. Take a look at the video below!
In other Documentary Dept. news, a work-in-progress screening of current student Lena Friedrich’s thesis film, Hermythology, was the most popular film at last week’s Maine Independent Film Festival, drawing crowds of over one thousand people.
Documentary graduate, Susi Dollnick was featured in the Austrian newspaper called the Salzburger Nachrichten.
September graduate from the U.K., Louis Mole is in Asia working as a Producer/Cinematographer of the international TV series, Global Swindlers. He’s hitting 14 countries to shoot 14 episodes. “Big, fast accomplishment for a guy who graduated less than a year ago,” says Documentary Chair, Andrea Swift.
Documentary professor, Mridu Chandra’s Himalaya Song has been selected for a special showing at the Rubin Museum, following performances at the Sundance Film Festival, the Hawaii International Film Festival, and the Banff Mountain Film Festival.
We wish our students, alumni, and professors much luck and success with these recent developments!
Jennifer Boyce, the head of the Commercial Talent Department at The Savage Agency for 22 years, spoke to more than 60 acting students in the Welles Screening room at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. The Savage Agency has been one of the top agencies for young talent – from ages 3 to 40 – for over 35 years. They represent actors for theatrical, voice over, and commercials.
Here are some of the facts that she feels are important for new talent to know:
- Having an awesome photo is important! If you are not known to the Casting Director, they have no imaginations. Have several pictures with different looks. Once the Casting office gets to know you, they will have an idea of your type.
- Be a “CAN DO” client. Jennifer said, “I work for free until you work, so if I worked for a year for you to finally get a job, that’s one day’s work. You will earn $627.00 at scale for a commercial. I will make $62.70. So I don’t make money unless you make it. So I want clients to work. If I make a suggestion you should pay attention to that. You have to show me you are passionate about this.”
- An audition is not a pedicure appointment. You have to really want it. If you don’t there are lots of others who do. Every audition is an opportunity! When you are starting out, you should be willing to do everything.
- Don’t just rely on your agent. Don’t just sit by the phone and wait, complaining that your agent isn’t doing anything for you. “I make 10%, so I always say I will do 10% of the work, but you have to do 90%. I get you in the door, but after that the rest is up to you.” It’s important to create your own work – be in plays, improv groups, get yourself out there.
- If something is not working, don’t blame your agent, look to yourself.
- At the end of the day your job is to audition. Some actors hate the casting process. Get used to it. They might pick somebody because they look like their sister or girlfriend, but that is what happens. You can’t control what they are looking for, but you can control what you do in the room. If you’re getting callbacks, you are doing your job. If you don’t get the job, it’s not on you. You can’t get involved in the politics. That’s the only way you can enjoy being in the business.
The audience had many questions for her, including the following:
Q: How do you choose new clients?
A: I usually choose through referral. If it’s not a referral, I go off picture and resume submission. I look for a GREAT picture, lots of training, improv groups, Second City and Groundlings. A lot of commercials are improv and funny, so those skills are especially important to me.
Q: How many head-shots should I have?
A: Have one good headshot to get you to see the agent. But don’t spend a lot of money on it, because most likely your agent will want you to get new ones. Every agents has different taste. A theatrical headshot is different – you need one great one. For commercials, you should have several looks that show different types that you can play.
Q: What do you look for in a headshot?
A: For commercials, I look for a headshot to be well lit. I want it to “pop” and see what role you’re going to play.
Q: How easy is it to get Non-SAG actors into auditions?
A: It’s getting harder to get commercials for non-union actors. A production company has to write an “essay” about why they need to use you for a union production, and if they don’t have a good reason, they will be fined $750. Casting has become more competitive so the Casting Director is not as willing to bring in non-union actors anymore because of this. They are more likely to call in names and their heavy hitters that they know. So new actors have a harder time getting in. Not everyone gets in to every audition – no matter who they are.
Q: What about sending candy or gifts to an agent in order to get a meeting?
A: I never open anything from anyone I don’t know. Better to send a postcard. A postcard is a very nice way to introduce yourself, and I can see it without opening anything.
NYFA thanks Jennifer for taking the time out to provide invaluable advice for our acting students. Her final words of advice could not be more helpful, “Be grateful and thankful for every opportunity you get.”