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  • NYFA Grad’s “Like Father, Like Son” Wins Best Short at NYFA Indie Film Awards

    Like Father, Like SonBorn in Manila, Philippines, Heinrik Caesar Matias flew to New York City in 2016 to study filmmaking at the New York Film Academy. Matias says he is passionate in acting, and creating realistic and immersive stories with characters that the audience can connect to. His passion and determination led him to create the award-winning film, “Like Father, Like Son,” while attending NYFA.

    His film received “Best Short Film” nominations at film festivals all over the world, including Chandler International Film Festival (USA), Los Angeles CineFest (USA), Barcelona Planet Film Festival (Spain), MedFF (Italy), and Feel The Reel International Film Festival (UK). It won the Gold Award for Best Short Film at the NYC Indie Film Awards.

    “The experience I had, and the lessons I learned from the New York Film Academy were all applied in the making of this film,” said Matias. “It had to be or there was no way this film could have been made given the conditions we faced. I never had any experience in filmmaking prior to NYFA and, I will admit, it was very difficult. We didn’t have a big budget plus there were only four crew members, including me as the director, and three cast members. We all had to work twice as hard. It was very draining and it was a very challenging time for all of us, but we all felt like this was a story that needed to be told. I was lucky that I had a very professional crew and a talented cast that were all patient with me and the film during its production.”

    The short film is a psychological drama that explores the dark natures of depression and how it can even affect the people around the person who’s depressed. After 20 years, Charles, an unemployed alcoholic, finally reunites with his absentee father. The two of them soon realize that the apple does not fall far from the tree.

    “Many people fail to see the magnitude of depression and it is very often dismissed as ‘all in your head,’ but I believe that this is a real thing, and it is a serious matter that must be dealt with,” says Matias.
    heinrik caesar matias

    According to the Word Health Organization, as of 2016, depression is the most prevalent mental illness with 350 million cases worldwide and, if left untreated, can often lead to suicide.

    While Matias also continues to focus on his acting career, he’s currently working on two different projects — a short story that he hopes to film this year and his first feature film screenplay.

    February 17, 2017 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 296

  • NYFA Alumnus Matty Cardarople Showcases Latest Work in Netflix’s “Lemony Snicket”

    On Feb. 8th, New York Film Academy alumnus Matty Cardarople came back to his roots to showcase his latest work in Netflix’s “Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events.”

    Matty Cardarople

    The popular children’s book written by Lemony Snicket has had fans on the edge of their seats since the show’s premiere on Friday, Jan. 13th. The theater was packed with students eager to discuss a childhood favorite come to life.

    Cardarople was seen earlier this year in Mike Mill’s “20th Century Woman” and “Jurassic World.” He’s appeared on television shows “The New Girl,” “Scrubs,” “Bella and the Bulldogs,” “Comedy Bang! Bang!,” and “You’re the Worst.”

    Guest Lecture Series Chair Tova Laiter and Christopher Cass, Associate Chair of Acting for Film, hosted the evening at the Los Angeles campus. Ms. Laiter began with the question, “How did you start?” Cardarople replied:

    I chose NYFA back in 2002…BC. I’m just kidding. I was nineteen. It was a long time ago. I studied here for a year and then I came back and did my own film with (Industry Lab) ‘I worked in production as a boom operator and a PA. I was an assistant director. I was craft service. I was a camera assistant. I did everything. You guys know. You’ve all learned that stuff.

    Then, Luke and Owen Wilson put me in a film called ‘Drillbit Taylor.’ I played a 7/11 clerk because that’s what I do. I play a lot of clerks. Then it really started to take off. I had seven years of commercials here and there. It was kind of dead cause I was going through this heart surgery at young age. It was a bummer.

    Then about three years ago I thought, ‘You know, I just really need to put myself out there. I’m going to go for it.’ I started to network and meet a bunch of people. That’s what it’s really all about; meeting good people and forming good relationships.

    If you are struggling right now and thinking I’m not going to make it. Just be patient. Just work hard and be nice and you can really go far. If you’re scared right now, it’s going to be okay. Everything is going to work out. Just keep moving forward. That’s my story.

    One student asked Cardarople what projects and people he would like to work with in the future. Cardarople responded, “I’d love to work with Jim Carey. I want to make stories that inspire people.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Cardarople for taking the time to speak with our students. This year you can find Matty Cardarople in the HBO series “Crashing” and the feature film “Please Stand By” starring Dakota Fanning and Toni Collette.

    February 15, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 918

  • NYFA Acting for Film Alumnus Stars in “Life According to Saki” at 4th Street Theatre

    life according to sakiTom Machell is an actor, writer and comedy performer originally from the UK who decided to attend the New York Film Academy’s Acting for Film program for the school’s hands-on approach. “There is no school in the UK that offers as much on screen time as NYFA,” said Machell.

    Machell is part of the award-winning comedy team zazU, a group that has had sell out runs at the Soho Theatre and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and are currently developing their work for television and radio.

    As an actor, Machell has worked in the UK, Europe and the USA and can currently be seen in feature film “Dinosaur Hunter” starring Jenny Agutter and shorts “Litterbugg” “Sticky” and “Die Agentin,” which have been screened at the BFI and the Berlin Film Festival respectively.  Tom is currently filming the BBC Television Movie “Babs.” His theatre credits include New York City’s Shakespeare in the Parking Lot playing Antipholus E in “The Comedy of Errors,” “The Love and Devotion of Ridley Smith” at the Old Red Lion Theatre, London, and three runs of Guinness World Record holding comedy show, “News Revue,” which he also writes for.

    tom machellMachell is now making his Off Broadway Debut in the award-winning play, “Life According To Saki.” The play’s life began at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival and was the winner of the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award. It is the debut play of award-winning author Katherine Rundell and will play at The New York Theatre Workshop at the 4th Street Theatre in Manhattan until March 6th.

    “Life According to Saki” is inspired by the life and short stories of British satirist Hector Hugh Munro, nicknamed “Saki.” We meet Saki in November 1916 at the Battle of the Somme, where he and his fellow soldiers bear witness to a world turned on its head. Their only refuge is the fantastical world of the imagination — Saki’s world.

    Each actor has multiple roles in the play. Machell’s main character, Walter Spikesman, is Saki’s right-hand-man in the trenches.

    “My NYFA training really helped me in the rehearsal room, as there was a lot of devising and focus needed to make the piece,” said Machell. “During my training we had a lot of improvisation training, which hugely aided in creating the multitude of characters that I needed to create for the play. Also, by having such an international class, I was able to pick up numerous helpful accents along the way.”

    “Life According to Saki” is now playing at the 4th Street Theatre until March 5, 2017. For tickets and information, please CLICK HERE.

    February 14, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 870

  • NYFA Australia Gold Coast Grads Star in “Young Man’s Dream” Music Video

    Madeline Howlett and Georgia Allison, recent graduates of the Acting for Film program at the New York Film Academy Gold Coast campus, scored themselves lead features as mermaidesque muses in the newly released “Young Man’s Dream” music video for Australian rock group Byron Short and the Sunset Junkies.

    Of her New York Film Academy student experience, Madeline says, “NYFA being on the backlot of the Village Roadshow Studios has a professional agenda from the very beginning. Our lecturers were also very respected and gave us professional advice on how to present yourself in a professional manner when big things are happening around you.”

    Crediting her lecturers for ensuring she learnt in a supportive and inspiring environment, Madeline believes “having teachers who were also brutally honest has made me respect them even more and has helped me learn tremendously as an actress; their support and encouragement has had a huge benefit for me out in the industry.”

    Currently working on a collaborative project with another NYFA graduate, Madeline’s major goal for 2017 is to gain agency representation, stating, “I have never been more excited for my future. This year is my year to grow immensely.”

    February 10, 2017 • Acting, Entertainment Australia, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 387

  • NYFA Alumnus David Epstein Lands Role in the Animated Feature Film “The Son of Bigfoot”

    son of bigfootDavid Epstein came to the New York Film Academy from Vancouver to pursue his passion for acting in the heart of the film industry, Los Angeles. “Growing up, I was always very active on the stage, and after my undergraduate in theatre I felt ready to get auditioning for film and TV in Vancouver. After a year and a half, I didn’t book a thing! I figured it was because I had no idea what I was doing when it came to acting for a camera, so I started looking into programs,” said Epstein. “New York Film Academy seemed like the most hands-on school I could find. I thought, ‘I could wait it out and audition in Vancouver for another two years with nothing to show for, or enroll at NYFA. Not only would I get to complete a Master’s Degree, but I would also gain the hands-on film experience day in, and day out.’”

    And right after graduation he landed a role in the animated feature “The Son of Bigfoot” directed by Jeremy Degruson and Ben Stassen.

    Congrats on getting the part. How did your role in “The Son of Bigfoot” come about?

    Epstein: I was actually camping in Yosemite Valley for the weekend with no wifi or cell phone service. We were about to go on a hike for the day when we stopped off in a lodge. I guess we hit a cell phone spot and my phone just started blowing up. Text messages and phone calls galore from my mom, brother, and agent all trying to get a hold of me. When I called them and, they told me that I booked this part in an animated feature – a project that I had zero recollection of ever auditioning for. Weeks earlier, I had just gotten my reel from school and was showing it off to a friend of mine. Fast forward a couple of months and her dad is directing this project called “Son of Bigfoot.” I don’t know the details, but apparently one of the other actors had to drop out and they needed to fill the roll very quickly. He listened to my reel and decided to give me a shot. It was one of those “right place, right time moments.”

    Please tell us about your experience working on this project. What did your learn as an actor?

    Epstein: While I had spent many hours working in the NYFA booth, this was my first time acting in a proper animated film, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I remember flipping furiously through my voice over textbook leading up to the shoot, giving myself a quick refresher before going into the studio… ironically the writer was actually playing one of the leads in the film. The first thing I thought when I got there was: “Where’s that smell of bacon coming from?” Of course, I followed it and saw walls just covered in classic cartoon cells and a huge trophy case filled with Emmys. It was very surreal. I got the chance to meet some of the other cast members and we were all called in one by one into our recording sessions. None of the animation was done at the time of the recording, so we didn’t have to worry about matching the characters’ lip flaps, which was nice, but that said, there wasn’t a whole lot to work off of, either. It was a really steep learning curve trying to figure out how to create the world without any other actor to work off of and no real picture of what the scene would look like. That said, it was a pretty freeing experience too, in that there wasn’t really a wrong answer. Only limit was imagination.

    One of my biggest surprises about the experience was how quickly everything moved. It was like a machine gun session in there. I was given my script, asked to give a few reads of each line and we would move on. Occasionally, there was a redirection, but I was in and out of the studio within an hour. It was crazy!

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    Were there any challenges working on this project?

    Epstein: The biggest challenge working on the project was not being able to really prepare. I wasn’t given my script until the day, so I was really going in blind. There was a small character description that was sent to me in advance, but everything was really explained to me on the day. Also, there was no animation at the time, so to this day I still have no idea what my character even looks like. The director just said “alright give me the voice you were thinking of doing,” and I blurted out the first thing that came to mind. I guess it worked because we just kind of went with it. I would have loved the opportunity to play a bit more and really find my character, but everything moved so fast. Just trusted my gut and hoped for the best.

    What projects are you currently working on?

    Epstein: Next week I start shooting for my role in the show “The Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce.” I am also excited to collaborate with my friend/coach Carol Stanzione, Elliot Herman and NYFA alumnus Kevin Chua in an upcoming animated series called “Lei Gong: Chronicles of the Sword.”

    Until then, I have been fortunate enough to get a gig hosting a game show for Hyundai at Auto Shows around the states. It has been such a great experience getting to travel around the country and work a job that is creative in nature.

    david epstein

    Who do you believe will get the most out of the NYFA program? 

    Epstein: I think anyone with a true passion and the desire to learn will get the most out of the program. There are so many great opportunities and teachers, that if you care to work, you can learn so much! That said, you’re only going to get what you put into the program. It’s one thing to be in class and to do your assigned work, but it’s the work you do outside of the curriculum that is really special. NYFA’s consult program lets you meet with any of your teachers outside of class time. It’s a private coaching session with industry professionals. I don’t know many other places that offer that.

    What, if any, do you think are the biggest obstacles for new actors in Hollywood?

    Epstein: I think the toughest thing about Hollywood is being seen. You could be doing great work, but it’s getting the right people to see your work that is the real challenge. Coming to LA you hear it over and over again, “there’s so much competition!” At first, I took that to mean that I would be sitting in an audition room with 50 David Epsteins that look just like me. The truth is, the competition is really getting into the door. A good part can get 3000+ submissions. When a casting director has three hours to see 90 actors, why are they going to pick your headshot over anyone else’s? You hear it all the time: This business is all about networking. It’s figuring out the creative ways that you can get on these casting directors’ radars and then about winning them over so they bring you back again and again.

    If anyone has come to LA to become rich as an actor, they could have a rude awakening. It is a super competitive job and while the payday can be sweet, work can definitely be sparse (especially at the beginning). I have often found myself comparing my lifestyle to my doctor and lawyer friends. It can be very disheartening to hear about the condos they are buying or the cars they drive, but it has begged me to check in with my passions. While my car and apartment are far from fancy, I wouldn’t want to do anything else in the world.

    February 3, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3116

  • “Fences” Actor Russell Hornsby Holds Workshop with Acting Students at NYFA

    Denzel Washington’s “Fences,” in which he stars and directs, was recently nominated for four Academy Awards. Based on the August Wilson play, “Fences,” tells the story of Troy Maxson, a mid-century Pittsburgh sanitation worker who once dreamed of a baseball career, but was too old when the major leagues began admitting black players. Actor Russell Hornsby, who plays the role of Lyons in both the play and the film, spoke to Acting for Film students at the New York Film Academy.

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    As Hornsby put it, he essentially began his career while doing his “tour of duty in New York,” which, like most up and coming actors, began as a struggle and eventually led to being cast in leading roles in the Off Broadway productions of “To Kill a Mockingbird” (as Atticus Finch), “Joe Louis Blues,” and “Six Degrees of Separation” (as Paul).

    “I value the notion of working,” Hornsby said of his early career. “I was broke because I made a conscious decision to work.” 

    In the late 1990s, he decided to move to Los Angeles to break into film and television. He has appeared in several different television productions including appearing in recurring roles in “Haunted” as Detective Marcus Bradshaw and “Gideon’s Crossing” as Chief Resident Dr. Aaron Boise. His other television credits include “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Law & Order,” and “In Justice” among others. He also played running back Leon Taylor in ESPN’s drama series “Playmakers.” On the big screen, he has appeared in such films as “After the Sunset,” “Big Fat Liar,” “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” “Keep the Faith,” “Baby,” “Meet the Parents,” and “Stuck” among others. In 2000, Hornsby appeared in the Off-Broadway production of “Jitney” for which he won a Drama Desk Award and an Obie Award.

    Hornsby credits the late playwright August Wilson as a major influencer and mentor in his career, beginning after he saw his 1992 play, “Two Trains Running.” From that point, Hornsby would perform in several Wilson plays, including the most recent, “Fences.”

    “Wilson forced actors to bring their authentic self,” he said. “You bring your pain [to the role].”

    Wilson continued his thought, advising our acting students “to be malleable and figure out what tools you need.”

    Throughout the discussion, Hornsby was able to captivate the students while providing invaluable advice.

    “Embrace the rejection,” he said. “This is a subjective business. You’re going to get discouraged. You’re going to cry. You’re going to complain to your friends. Then move on.” 

    “You can’t lie in life and then tell the truth on stage,” added moderator and NYFA Instructor Randall Dottin, who said he first heard that advice from Hornsby.

    russell hornsby

    Hornsby recalled the one and only direction Denzel Washington gave him on set of the film. Washington left him with the words, “Take care of your brother.” It was at that point that Hornsby realized he needed to take care of his scene partner and cast, and not to just focus on himself.”

    Following his talk, Hornsby worked one-on-one with acting students to work on their own individual monologues. His sincerity and commitment to the process was incredibly valuable and greatly appreciated.

    Hornsby is currently starring in the NBC fantasy drama, “Grimm,” and will be in the upcoming Netflix series “Seven Seconds.”

    February 2, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 1072

  • NYFA Australia Gold Coast Acting for Film Grad Rubs Shoulders with Aussie A-Listers at the AACTA Awards

    tyson BrownNew York Film Academy Australia, Gold Coast Acting for Film alumnus Tyson Brown had the fortune of being a guest of this year’s Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards held at The Star in Sydney. Tyson had the pleasure of meeting and mingling with Australia’s industry elite including Isla Fisher and Mel Gibson.

    “What you learn in one year, it’s just incredible how ready you are for the industry,” said Brown of his preparedness to enter the working world of entertainment after graduation.

    Tyson, a fan of comedy and character, most enjoyed his Text Analysis subject, explaining, “I love analyzing the script, knowing the whole story and building a character up from it.” His advice to aspiring actors: “Do what you want to do before it’s too late and don’t let anyone stop you!”

    Brown is currently appearing in the “Kevil Hill Zombie Evilution” attraction at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast and has auditioned for roles at Universal Studios in Singapore, the Disney Channel, and for several pilots being pitched to Netflix in the USA.tyson and isla

    January 16, 2017 • Acting, Entertainment Australia • Views: 1348

  • NYFA Acting Grad Plays Boston Marathon Bomber in “Patriots Day”

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    photo by Jeff Berlin

    Perhaps the most hyped film to open this weekend is Peter Berg’s “Patriots Day,” starring Mark Wahlberg. The film is based on accounts from the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and the ensuing search for the Tsarnaev brothers. The New York Film Academy is thrilled to recognize Acting for Film alumnus Themo Melikidze, who plays the role of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the two brothers responsible for the bombings.

    In addition to Boston native Mark Wahlberg, Melikidze acts alongside former NYFA guest speakers J.K. Simmons and Michelle Monaghan, as well as John Goodman and Kevin Bacon.

    His climb to acting in a major motion picture and the upcoming FOX TV series “24: Legacy” certainly wasn’t handed to him. After graduating from NYFA, Melikidze attained his OPT status and worked for a year with an Off-Broadway show (“The LiveInTheater”) in NYC. After that, he attained the O1 Artist Visa and moved to Los Angeles to further pursue acting for film and TV.

    “The first months [in LA] were probably the hardest times in my life, since I had no solid place to stay and had no car,” recalled Melikidze. “I was using my bicycle for four hours a day to get to any type of audition. I had one headshot and a few videos posted on LA Casting. One day a talent coordinator contacted me trough the website, stating that the Park Noack Agency wanted to meet with me. Later that week I sat down with the agency and, after a few auditions, I was signed for theatrical and commercial representation.”

    Two weeks later his agency gave him a call to audition for “Patriots Day.” After a self-tape and multiple callbacks, he was invited for the “director’s callback” with Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg.

    That audition completely changed his life, as two weeks after the “director’s callback,” he got the call from his agent that they wanted him for the role of Tamerlan.

    “A majority of young acting students take a course, only skimming the surface of acting, but few have the patience and dedication to hang in for the long haul as Themo has,” said Melikidze’s Acting for Film Instructor at NYFA, Paul Warner. “His passion for the craft, intelligence, and meticulousness in embracing all of its complexities made it clear then, that if Themo was given professional opportunities, that he would excel.”

    Melikidze’s role put him in the difficult situation of portraying a wanted terrorist, who was shot three days after the horrific bombings. While not easy to wrap his mind around the character, Melikidze stepped up to the challenge, adding, “The most challenging thing was certainly to get inside the head of this individual. Knowing his background of having a family, wife, little kid, a brother and friends, and still be able to commit such a horrible act is unthinkable. But I committed myself 100% to the character and really dove into his state of mind, by doing all the research that I could do on the web, watching horrible Jihadi videos that he used to watch, and also having to train with his boxing coach John Allen, who gave me incredible insight to his personal life and his characteristics. But, at the end of the day, what really drove me to portray this character was the absolute hate, disgust and anger that I had for this horrible individual. “

    Be sure to check him out in “Patriots Day,” which is out in US theaters Friday, Jan. 13!

    January 12, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2232

  • Child Dance Sensation Takes Up Acting for Film at NYFA

    Kevin Tellez began having an interest in dance when he was four years old, but his talent was far beyond your average four-year old’s little shimmy. By the time he was seven years old he won first place at The World Latin Dance Cup.

    kevin tellez

    Kevin Tellez with Gloria and Emilio Estefan

    “His father loves music, but I think that his talent comes from his hard work because he loves acting and dancing more than anything.”

    Kevin has made appearances on several TV shows, including Ellen where he was able to show off his skills to the host, who is known for her love of dancing. He is now in Gloria Estefan’s Broadway show “On Your Feet,” where he has performed for over a year as the young Emilio Estefan.

    Now at the age of 11, Tellez has taken up the 12-Week Kids Acting for Film Weekend program at the New York Film Academy.

    “Before NYFA we tried other programs where he didn’t feel comfortable and didn’t enjoy it,” said Tellez’s mother, Anny Tellez. “At NYFA, he is learning and doing what he really loves. We definitely have seen improvement and growth in his acting.”

    Like most parents with children in show business, Tellez’s parents were nervous about letting their son travel around the world and performing on Broadway. “Our main concern was school,” said Mrs. Tellez. “We thought it was going to be too much for him; going to school like everyone else and then going to Broadway. Luckily, we have been able to manage the acting and dancing career as well as school. He is a very responsible child and he has amazing grades in school. My husband and I didn’t want him to be home schooled. Kevin is the type of child that enjoys being around his peers and we try to keep his life as normal as possible.”

    Kevin dreams to some day be an actor in Hollywood and hopes he will inspire other kids to follow their dreams.

    “As a parent I would say that our job is to support our children in whatever it is that they want to do,” said Mrs. Tellez. “I never in my life thought that my son would be on Broadway and have a career in entertainment at such a young age. Sometimes it’s not easy to make time for everything that as parents we have to do, but we always want our children to be happy and will do the impossible for them — and some way or another we manage to do it. At the end of the day all of the sacrifices that we make are so worth it.”

    January 2, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 731

  • A Talk with NYFA Alumna Acelina Kuchukova

    Acelina Kuchukova is a talented and ambitious woman who began working as a model at a very young age. In addition to modeling, Acelina received a degree in finance in her home country of Kazakhstan. After achieving many accomplishments in her career, she decided to become an actress. Now she works in Hollywood and can be seen in commercials, music videos and films. Despite her busy schedule, Acelina continues to improve herself and always has a positive attitude. She is already a SAG-AFTRA member and is ready to share some of her professional secrets.

    Acelina, please tell us how you became a model? Was it your childhood dream?

    No, it happened suddenly. When I was 13, two other girls and I were chosen from our school to present flowers to the President of Kazakhstan during some of the major official events of Astana. They taught us how to dress up, to do beautiful make up and so on. I was going to school in the mornings, and after that I attended different events in the national costume. I did not think I would become an actress at that time, but I became the face of Procter & Gamble Company in Kazakhstan in 2008. One of the tasks of that project was to make a short film. I started to work with a famous actor, Sergey Ufimtsev. I felt in my heart: “Oh, I like it, I want to become an actress.” At that moment my destiny was determined. When I won the “Miss Kazakhstan” competition, I went on to another competition, “Miss Universe.” There I was presented with a certificate for training at NYFA in Los Angeles in the Acting for Film program. It was in 2010. It was more important than the crown for me; it was the fulfillment of my dream!

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    Before entering NYFA I decided to go to one last competition, “Miss Multiverse,” and won the crown there. When my victory was announced, I was so excited. I did not expect that. Before that I had never won any international competitions. It was a worthy finish to my career as a model. I started my education in America in January 2014, in Hollywood, the home of the film industry.

    You are in SAG-AFTRA, the Actor’s union. Please tell us what is required to enter SAG-AFTRA?

    It is not easy. Anyone can get there, but there are some requirements. I started to work as an extra. It is very important to accept every job, because you do not know which will open the door for your career. This happened to me. I went to a small project and the director of a bigger project noticed me there. They accepted me because of my role as an extra in “La-La Land.” I received a SAG voucher on March 8, 2015, but became a full member of the union only six months ago because you have to pay a fee to join. You need to work on a large project if you want to become a member of SAG. In fact, you can be in commercials for big companies to enter the Union, but this project should be big.

    Tell us more about your projects?

    When I graduated NYFA, I got an OPT and had a lot of practice before I started fully working. I starred in short films, feature films, TV shows. I played in a commercial for Hulu. Recently, I had a part in a commercial about skin care products for a big company, Kayani. This was a very big project with video and brochures; I was a lead. I also starred in many music videos including RedOne’s “Don’t You Need Somebody,” Don Broco’s “Automatic,” Chris Brown’s “Picture Me Rollin” and AWOLNATION’s “Woman Woman” directed by Marc Klasfeld to name few.

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    Don Brosco’s “Automatic”

    Can you tell us about your work in the theater?

    Yes, 2015 was very productive for me on stage. I was in the play “Imported Bride” at the Torrance Cultural Arts Theatre with 500 seats. Then I had a lead role in “Morbid Cabaret” at the McCadden Place Theater for two months. At the Next Stage Theatre I played in “The Dark Side of the Moon” directed by Chris Berubes. Also, when I was at NYFA, I performed in several plays.

    Which projects are you most proud of?

    My Kazakhstan TV project with Procter & Gamble, the television show “Pantene.” Also, I am very proud to have been awarded the crown at “Miss Multiverse” in 2014.

    I starred in a commercial with Antonio Banderas, which was very important to me. In Hollywood, I am proud of my performances at the Torrance Cultural Arts Theatre, where for the first time I played in front of such a large audience. I am very proud of my work in the Hulu and Kayani commercials as well.

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    Acelina, please tell us about your experience at NYFA. 

    When I had the dream of becoming an actress I couldn’t imagine that I would study in Hollywood. But when I was awarded the certificate to study at NYFA in the Acting for Film program, I realized that my dream could become true.

    In the Academy I felt at home. The director, Dan Mackler and all the instructors were so attentive to each student, as if they were their own children. They dedicate a lot of time to each individual. Instructors have vast experience and continue to work in their profession. I listened to lectures with great pleasure, trying to write everything down. I also took extra individual lessons. The program is very intense and well planned out. Of course, I had no time for a private life, only for classes. But I was happy! My favorite instructors were Ken Lerner, Andrew Bloch, and Suzanne Kemp.

    Can you share with us the secret of your success?

    I always set up goals and I am very persistent. Every year I write the plan for the next year on December 31. At first, I write big goals, and then break down steps for achievement. This year my mission was completed, because today I completed the last goal for 2016 — I got a driver’s license!

    You need to write everything down, plan and do all you can towards your dream. It is very important to make priorities. It helps me not to dissipate attention and focus from the essentials. I attend all new screenings and film festivals. I try to spread positivity around me. I love what I do, and I would like to give advice to future students of NYFA: “If you chose acting, you should adore it. Otherwise, it is better not to start.”

    Where do you see your career in a few years?

    I will star in Hollywood blockbusters. In three to five years I will receive the Oscar!

    Can you promise to give us an interview when you get the Oscar? We will remember this conversation.

    Yes, of course I promise (laughing).

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Acelina Kuchukova for taking the time to speak with us. We wish her success in all of her projects and achievement of all her goals.

    Don’t forget to check her website for more info: www.acelina.com

     

    December 27, 2016 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2077