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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking & Photography Alum Paquita Hughes Works on Hulu’s ‘Little Fires Everywhere’

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    Paquita Hughes, Navy veteran and alum of New York Film Academy’s Filmmaking and Photography schools, has added Little Fires Everywhere to her growing list of Hollywood credits. 

    Little Fires Everywhere, which debuted on Hulu on March 18, stars Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, who both also served as executive producers on the dramatic miniseries. The show is adapted from the 2017 novel of the same name by Celeste Ng and tells the story of two mothers from diametric socioeconomic backgrounds in Shaker Heights, Ohio during the 1990s.

    little fires everywhere
    Hughes is a
    veteran of the United States Navy and first attended NYFA’s 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory in July 2011 at our Burbank-based campus in Los Angeles. After completing the program, she then enrolled in the 1-Year Photography conservatory. Her thesis project was a pilot for the dramedy web series Sugar, which dealt with the sex industry and included strongly written, complicated female protagonists.

    Since filming Sugar and graduating, Hughes has been very busy working in Hollywood working in various positions, including as location manager on hit productions like Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS: Los Angeles, and Marvel’s Runaways. Additionally, Hughes is working as location manager on the new period-set reboot of Perry Mason, starring NYFA Guest Speaker Matthew Rhys.

    “I had an epiphany when I was in the Navy,” Hughes says in a NYFA video spotlighting her success as an alumni, “and I thought to myself if I could succeed at serving my country during a time of war, I could succeed at following my dreams attending film school, so I decided to get out and study film.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA Filmmaking and Photography alum Paquita Hughes on her prolific work on Hollywood productions and encourages everyone to watch Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu!

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  • New York Film Academy Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) Hosts Lunafest: Short Films By, For, About Women

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    On Saturday, March 7, New York Film Academy Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) had the pleasure to once again host Lunafest, a series of films by and about women for the Zonta Club of Burbank. Crickett Rumley, NYFA Director of Film Festivals, moderated the event. Lunafest was also attended by Burbank Mayor Sharon Springer and Council Member Tim Murphy. 

    lunafest 2020

    NYFA Acting faculty Lee Quarrie, NYFA Film Festival Director Crickett Rumley, LADY PARTS writer/director Jessica Sherif, NYFA MFA Filmmaking student Jumanah El Shabazz, NYFA Filmmaking alum Roshni “Rush” Bhatia

    In order to combat the underrepresentation of women in film, Lunafest was created in 2001 as the first all-women traveling film festival. Since then, the festival has opened opportunities to more than 150 women filmmakers, giving them the recognition and platform they deserve. In addition, Lunafest travels to nearly 200 cities annually, raising funds for local women’s causes. This year, proceeds from NYFA’s presentation of Lunafest were allocated to Zonta Burbank, a volunteer organization working to empower women through service and advocacy.  

    Following a screening of the short film program, Rumley began a guided conversation where students and panelists had the opportunity to talk about the films. Students from all backgrounds saw themselves in the stories, and even felt uncomfortable, in good ways–they had moments of realization, moments of uplift, and moments of inspiration. 

    NYFA previously hosted Lunafest in 2019. Panelists included members of the campus Film Festival Club, including its president, Jumanah El Shabazz; NYFA alum and recipient of the Zonta Wings Grant, Roshni “Rush” Bhatia; NYFA Acting Faculty and Academic Adviser, Lee Quarrie; and Director and Producer of the Lunafest-selected film Lady Parts, Jessica Sherif.

    Speaking on the relatability of the films to both students and Zonta Burbank members alike, Rumley shared, “Lunafest is such a strong program, and it was fascinating to see how the films reflected audience experiences.” She continued, “Not only was the dance in Ballet After Dark beautiful to watch, the protagonist’s determination to survive trauma spoke to women of all ages. And Zonta members who have been breaking glass ceilings for decades were heavily impacted by PURL because the main character faced such an uncomfortable, if not hostile, all-male workplace that she had to overcome.”

    lunafest 2020

    NYFA alum Roshni “Rush” Bhatia and Jessica Sherif, director/producer of LADY PARTS

    The writing and emotional impact of the films pierced through to everyone in the audience. NYFA student Nadiia Pavlyk-Vachkova, stated, “I invited my friend, a director from India, and I wasn’t sure that he would endure 90 minutes of content devoted to women. But all the films were so strong and well done that we got the impression we were watching Oscar nominees. After the performance, we discussed the funny and tragic moments that we both learned from.” 

    New York Film Academy thanks Lunafest, the Zonta Club of Burbank, and the panelists for joining us for such a successful event and sharing it with our students.

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    March 18, 2020 • #WomenOfNYFA, Film Festivals, Film School, Guest Speakers • Views: 1099

  • Award-Winning Director & Cinematographer Liz Hinlein Joins New York Film Academy (NYFA) As Creative Director of Filmmaking & Cinematography

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is delighted to announce the addition of award-winning director and cinematographer Liz Hinlein to our faculty as the new Creative Director of Filmmaking & Cinematography. Over the course of her career, Hinlein has made a name for herself in a traditionally male-dominated industry as a passionate, talented filmmaker and director of photography whose work has spanned the fields of feature film, advertising, music video and VR/AR/XR.

    Born in Philadelphia and educated in the Quaker school system, Hinlein earned her MFA in Cinematography from the American Film Institute and her BFA in Film & Television from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Hinlein’s debut feature film, Other People’s Children, earned several awards on the film festival circuit—including Best of the Fest at the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival and Best Director at the NYLA International Film Festival—and is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime and iTunes.

    Liz Hinlein

    NYFA Filmmaking & Cinematography Creative Director Liz Hinlein

    Hinlein’s wealth of experience and passion for innovation makes her a perfect fit for New York Film Academy, which boasts a diverse and international student body from over 120 countries. With the film industry hungrier than ever for filmmakers and visual artists from every background, Hinlein will be an invaluable asset to NYFA Filmmaking and Cinematography students looking to express the world their stories in their own ways.

    “Stepping in to my new role as Creative Director of the Film and Cinematography departments at New York Film Academy is an exciting new challenge,” says Hinlein. “My vision is to elevate the departments and expand their reach as a dynamic creative hub for creators, filmmakers, and visionary thinkers in New York. We’re building a meeting ground where students and the creative community can nurture ideas, collaborate, and learn from one another. NYFA’s Film and Cinematography departments are a refreshing win-win for students and the industry alike.”

    Hinlein has been at the forefront of a rapidly-evolving visual medium. Recently, her VR film for Byton Auto was nominated for Best Branded Entertainment/Commercial at the 2019 CES VR Fest. In 2018 she directed Accenture’s VR film, Behind the Style, winning that same award. Most recently, Hinlein spent time China writing and directing The Dream Factory, a series of seven epic branding films for the prestigious Sichuan Film and Television University, using Google Translate to navigate her way through the country. Currently Liz is in pre-production on OSAGE ’85, a groundbreaking immersive documentary experience. 

    In television, Hinlein was selected for the DGA DDI TV Directing Program, the Sony Diversity Program and the Viacom Diversity Program. Her visual expertise comes from a background of directing commercials and music videos for top brands, including Dove, Lifetime, Revlon, Gillette, Maybelline, A&E, and MAC Cosmetics. Additionally, Hinlein has created films for superstar musicians such as Mary J. Blige and Britney Spears, and has been commissioned to photograph Quincy Jones, Incubus, and Fishbone. 

    Hinlein’s success in multiple fields also reflects NYFA’s commitment to combating gender inequality in the entertainment/media industry by educating and training more women to fill important roles on film and television sets. With a student body that is nearly 50% women, one of Hinlein’s first initiatives as Creative Director will be to form a NYFA Film Femme Club, where students can come together to inspire genuine conversation, encourage self-confidence, collaborate to create healthy media, and establish platforms that empower women to generate a positive impact on the entertainment industry.

    New York Film Academy looks forward to the exciting energy and ideas filmmaker Liz Hinlein will share with our Filmmaking and Cinematography students!

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Students & Alumni Featured in VoyageLA Magazine

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    VoyageLA, the flagship publication for Voyage Group of Magazines, is a media and city guide for Los Angeles that aims to authentically represent a wide variety of artists and communities, looking for outside-the-box ways to bring together the many different small businesses, independent artists and entrepreneurs, local institutions of LA.

    It’s no surprise that many of New York Film Academy’s incredibly talented students and alumni have been featured on their pages, usually with personal and informative interviews. Here are the most recent NYFA artists who have been showcased by VoyageLA:

    Dayana Espinoza

    Recent 1-Year Acting for Film grad Dayana Espinoza has a knack for landing roles in quality films–she’s appeared in award winners Outlandish (Winner – CKF International Film Festival) and The Rosy Summer Day (Best Fantasy Film – Los Angeles Film Awards; Best Short – Top Short Film Festival; Best Women Short – Indie Short Fest; Best Director – Independent Shorts Awards; Best Director – Festigious International Film Festival) as well as Invisible Murderer, which was nominated in the Indie Short Fest for both Best Original Story and Best Film Noir Short. Espinoza, who was born and raised in Peru and has been recently interviewed by both VoyageLA and Film Daily, is currently represented by two agencies and recently worked on her first SAG-AFTRA project.

    Dayana EspinozaJoseph Ford

    Current BFA Photography Joseph Ford has been hired to shoot Instagram influencers including Blac Chyna and Brittany Renner, and has recently shot photo coverage of the Amazon float for the 2019 SF Gay Pride parade. The Marines veteran talks about his fashion photography company and the path that led him to NYFA-LA and beyond. 

    Joseph Ford VoyageLA

    Saana Laigren

    In her interview with VoyageLA, 1-Year Acting for Film alum Saana Laigren talks about how she first got into acting during her childhood, and about the internal struggles she’s faced while trying to create a career in the arts. In the end, though, her path ultimately led to her following her dream, and she’s recently won Best Foreign Actress at Chandra Khamini International Film Festival.

    Saana Laigren VoyageLA

    Alice Rehemutula

    VoyageLA calls MFA Producing alum Alice Rehemutula a “trailblazer” in an interview that charts her unconventional path from a Muslim province of China to Shanghai to Hollywood. Rehemutula found great success overseas as a performer, including appearing on China’s Got Talent, but she also has a passion for working behind the camera, earning her Master of Fine Arts in Producing from NYFA’s Los Angeles campus.

    Alice Rehemutula VoyageLA

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  • New York Film Academy Australia Alumni Release Action Short ‘Round Trip’

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    Ren Thackham Round TripRound Trip, a six-minute action film written and directed by New York Film Academy Australia alum Ren Thackham and starring NYFA Australia alum Danny Bolt, recently went online after a spectacular festival run.

    Thackham and Bolt met while studying at NYFA Australia, where Thackham attended the 1-Year Filmmaking program in 2014. Since then, she’s had a great deal of success on the festival circuit with her short films, collaborating often with Bolt, and winning numerous awards and nominations for her work.

    Their latest short, Round Trip, packs a serious punch with an incredible automobile stunt involving a police car flipping over. “We had one police car and one shot at flipping it on camera, and if it didn’t land on it’s wheels, we wouldn’t have had a film,” says Thackham. 

     

    The film was in good hands though; the head of the stunt team was Judd Wild, who worked on Australian action epic Mad Max: Fury Road. Thackham calls Wild “one of the best in the country.”

    Wild wasn’t the only top shelf talent on the production. The film stars 2013 NABBA Mr. Universe Lee Priest in his acting debut, as a criminal trying to escape Bolt’s police officer protagonist. Additionally, the score for Round Trip was composed by Rafael May with didgeridoo by Darren Narul, recorded at Skinny Fish Music in Darwin. 

    Thackham and Bolt next plan to make their first feature film, Ridgy Didge, in 2020 as a directing/producing team.

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA Australia alumni Ren Thackham and Danny Bolt on the online release of Round Trip and encourages everyone to check out the death-defying short!

     

    Ren Thackham Round Trip Danny Bolt

     

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    October 15, 2019 • #WomenOfNYFA, Acting, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1493

  • Short Close-Up Interviews New York Film Academy (NYFA) Cinematography Alum Anna Vialova

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Cinematography alum Anna Vialova was recently interviewed by Short Close-Up Film Magazine.Anna Vialova

    Vialova hails from Ukraine, and first attended New York Film Academy in July 2015, enrolling in the 8-Week Filmmaking workshop at our Burbank-based campus. She followed that up in Spring 2018 with the advanced and rigorous studies in the 1-Year Conservatory at NYFA’s Cinematography school.

    Credits as a cinematographer include Devour, I Just Wanted to See You, Silent Voices, Things That Fall, and No Longer Perfect. Vialova also shot her own film, Brave. New., which she directed and produced. Additionally, Vialova is an accomplished photographer, and has had photos published in ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue UA, and L’officiel.

    Short Close-Up is an international, independent online magazine that covers a variety of culture, including, narrative, documentary, animation, music video, experimental, fashion, commercial, and mobile. Short Close-Up shares the experiences of established filmmakers by publishing in-depth profiles and interviews by the most in-demand filmmakers working today.

    In the interview, Vialova spoke about what inspired her to become a filmmaker, the important of collaborating on set, and the role film festivals have played in her life. She also asked about the relationship between a filmmaker and the artist, telling Short Close-Up, “I feel that the best thing I can do is to stay honest with my audience and myself. I don’t shoot scripts I don’t like. If I don’t feel connected to the story it will be disrespectful to director and audience to shoot it, because I won’t be able to tell the story in a best way.”

    New York Film Academy wishes Cinematography alum Anna Vialova the best of success as her career continues forward, and encourages everyone to check out her full interview with Short Close-Up here.

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    September 26, 2019 • #WomenOfNYFA, Cinematography, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1329

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum Tracy Oliver Launches ‘First Wives Club’ Series

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    First Wives Club, the new adaptation of the hit 1996 film developed for television by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking alum Tracy Oliver, premieres this week.

    Oliver attended the New York Film Academy 4-Week Filmmaking workshop at our Los Angeles campus in 2005. In that workshop she met fellow classmate and NYFA alum Issa Rae, forming a friendship and working relationship that continues to this day. Oliver wrote an episode of Rae’s career-launching webseries, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, as well as starring in the show as Rae’s antagonist, Nina. She has since become a wildly successful Hollywood screenwriter, with script credits including Barbershop: The Next Cut, Little, and The Sun is Also a Star.Tracy Oliver

    Additionally, Oliver co-wrote the hit comedy Girls Trip with Kenya Barris, which made over $140 million at the box office. Oliver and Barris were nominated for a 2018 Image Award for their work on the movie.

    First Wives Club, Oliver’s latest project, is loosely adapted from the feature film of the same name, which starred Diane Keaton, Better Midler, Goldie Hawn, and Maggie Smith, and took audiences by storm in 1996. The original film revolved around a group of women who cope with the divorce and seek retribution against their ex-husbands. The show has been in pre-production for several years, having gone through multiple producers, casts, and studios, before Oliver was handed the reins.

    Oliver’s adaptation focuses more a story of sisterhood, and chronicles three best friends after one of them, Hazel, is caught up in an infamous cheating scandal. The three friends, who all recently came out of relationships, support each other while seeking revenge as they learn to put themselves first. The show stars Jill Scott, Michelle Buteau, and Ryan Michelle Bathe as the three friends—Hazek, Bree, and Ari. The cast also includes Mark Tallman, RonReaco Lee, and Malik Yoba. In addition to developing the show, Oliver also directed its seventh episode.

    Tracy Oliver

    First Wives Club will premiere on September 19 as a launch title for the brand new Viacom streaming service, BET+, which also goes live on September 19. Its first season, which filmed in New York City late
    last year, will air for ten episodes.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Tracy Oliver on the launch of her new series, First Wives Club, and encourages everyone to check out the show when it premieres on BET+!

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    September 17, 2019 • #WomenOfNYFA, Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1094

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting Alum Shahad Ameen Debuts Feature Film at Venice Film Festival

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting alum Shahad Ameen recently debuted her first feature film at this year’s Venice Film Festival (VFF). The film, a stark black-and-white drama filled with magical realism, was written and directed by Ameen.

    Scales (Sayidat Al Bahr in Arabic), tells the story of Hayat, a young girl who lives in a poor fishing village where every family must give one daughter to mysterious sea creatures who inhabit the nearby waters, who in turn are also hunted by the men of the village. Saved by her father, Hayat is banished from her village and branded a curse. 

    Shahad Ameen

    “I want the audience to relate to the main themes of the film: life and women’s roles within it,” Ameen tells Women and Hollywood in a thoughtful interview. “Although the film is set in the Arab world, this is a universal story that everyone can relate to.”

    Ameen originally hails from Saudi Arabia and studied the 1-Year Screenwriting conservatory program at NYFA’s New York campus in 2012. “I taught Shahad in 2012 and back then she was always the hardest worker in the room,” says NYFA-NY Chair of Screenwriting Randall Dottin. “Her stories consistently reflected the rare alchemy of rigor, complexity, and innovation along with a healthy dose of compassion for her characters.”

    Shahad Ameen

    Ameen’s film is a milestone for Arab cinema, as it is the first narrative Arab film to premiere at the Venice Film Festival, one of the three major international film festivals in the world, along with Cannes and Berlin. Scales premiered as part of the fest’s Critics Week, and screened in competition for the Luigi De Laurentiis Award for Debut Film.

    NYFA-NY Screenwriting Chair Randall Dottin was thrilled to hear the news about Ameen’s presence at Venice. “On behalf of New York Film Academy Screenwriting Department, I’d like to wish Shahad all the best as she competes with her debut feature film Scales in Critics Week at the 2019 Venice Film Festival. After reading Scales years before Shahad went into production, I’m excited to see her incredibly unique and powerful story on the big screen.”

    Shahad Ameen

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    September 3, 2019 • #WomenOfNYFA, Film Festivals, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 574

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum Roshni “Rush” Bhatia Wins WINGS Grant from Zonta Club

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking alum Roshni “Rush” Bhatia was recently a Guest of Honor at the Zonta Club of Burbank and was awarded their WINGS grant, allowing her to focus more on directing and shepherding her film Plasmid through the festival circuit.

    Roshni Bhatia

    (from L to R): Zonta President Gloria Salas, Roshni Bhatia, Marva Murphy

    Plasmid is a horror short about a young nurse fighting to survive after her house is invaded by an unearthly intruder. The film has been widely met with praise, and will screen next on August 27 at the Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival.

    The film was written and directed by Bhatia, who attended the 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory in 2017 at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus.

    The WINGS grant program is the signature service project of the Zonta Club of Burbank Area and helps women who have overcome adversity or a life-changing setback better their lives through education with one-time financial assistance. The next application deadline is September 30.

    “The award allows me to make more short films while studying,” remarks Bhatia. “With the award, I can continue to work with great people creating cinematic and pithy shorts with (hopefully) an interesting story to tell.”

    Bhatia was the only one considered for and awarded this year’s grant. “It was Zonta Club of Burbank’s wonderful opportunity to contribute to the education of a NYFA former student,” says Marva Murphy, Chair, WINGS Committee. “Our WINGS grant offers assistance and encouragement for a brighter future.”

    Part of what makes Bhatia worthy of the award is her perseverance and determination. “One will face endless obstacles and sometimes reasons not to do something, just because they’re waiting for the right moment or the right person to do it for them,” Bhatia says. “To go out there and not just think about it, but to just do it, is the hardest, yet most rewarding part.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Roshni Bhatia on winning the Zonta Club WINGS grant and wishes her success as she continues screening Plasmid in the festival circuit.

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    August 14, 2019 • #WomenOfNYFA, Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1889

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA Acting for Film Alum Tayla Schaffner Writes, Produces, and Stars in Award-Winning ‘When It Rains’

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    Tayla Schaffner, graduate of the New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA in Acting for Film program, has been turning heads with her thesis film When It Rains, which has been steadily winning awards since its debut.

    Schaffner originally hails from Johannesburg, South Africa, where she first auditioned for NYFA Associate Director of Recruitment Blake Babbitt. “She immediately stuck me as incredibly talented, professional, and driven,” says Babbitt of their first meeting. “I’ve been fortunate to get to know Tayla as a person during her studies at NYFA and we’ve kept in touch since her graduation from our BFA Acting for Film program. It’s inspiring to see Tayla’s growth as an artist.”

    Tayla Schaffner
    After getting her feet wet in her school’s drama club, Schaffner left her home country and headed to study at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. Through the course of her BFA studies, she was cast in a total of 17 student-directed films and an Off-Broadway production of Antigone by Sophocles in which she played the lead at the Majorie S. Theater in Times Square, New York.

    “I believe my time at NYFA shaped me into an on-the-spot thinker,” says Schaffner. “It taught me to take exactly what I have, and work with it. There is no point in fussing over what you don’t have.”

    Her hard work came to fruition with When It Rains, her short film about a woman named Lila who discovers she has cancer for the second time. Apart from playing the lead, the film was also written and produced by Tayla as part of her final thesis project for her Bachelor in Fine Arts.

    The film has gone on to win several nominations and awards, including:

    • Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival – Winner – Best Drama Short
    • Best Shorts Competition – Winner – Award of Recognition
    • Los Angeles Film Awards – Honorable Mention – Student Film
    • United International Film Festival – Winner – Award of Merit
    • The IndieFEST Film Awards – Winner – Award of Recognition
    • Los Angeles Movie Awards – Honorable Mention
    • Los Angeles Cinefest – Semifinalist
    • Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards – Semifinalist

    Taking time to reflect on her achievements and never forgetting her roots, Schaffner shares a very important message to her fellow South Africans back home: “Anything is possible if you just believe. The opportunities are endless.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates BFA Acting for Film alum Tayla Schaffner on the success of her film When It Rains and looks forward to seeing her future successes!

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    April 30, 2019 • #WomenOfNYFA, Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 466