• New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Acting for Film Alum Rita Casman’s ‘Shadow Wall’ Racking Up Awards & Festivals


    Shadow Wall, the short film written, produced by, and starring New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Acting for Film alum Rita Casman, is currently riding a huge wave of momentum as it picks up multiple awards and festival screenings.

    Casman hails from Guatemala and earned her MFA in Acting for Film, after years of nursing ambitions to be an entertainer while working in marketing and public relations.Shadow Wall

    “I’ll be very honest, I thought that coming to LA was the hardest part, and the truth is that it was the easiest,” says Casman. “I left the struggle that I had in Guatemala and I went through a lot of rejection, and that was only the beginning. It did help me persevere, but in my mind, I thought that I would adapt to the American culture fast, which I did in a way, but it has impacted me so now I have learned not to expect anything good or bad. Being far away of my family is really challenging.”

    Casman, who is smart, outgoing, and a positive example for her friends and professional colleagues, worked through her struggles and now has a successful film under her belt. She loves comedies, horror films, and psychological thrillers, and these passions come through in her short, Shadow Wall.

    Shadow Wall is based on a true story and was directed by Ariana Ledesma. It co-stars Misha Suvorov and NYFA alum Sabrina Percario, who co-produced the film with writer and star Rita Casman.

    So far, Shadow Wall has been a semifinalist in Motion for Pictures and Los Angeles CineFest, and has won multiple awards, including Best Actress at Dreamachine International Film Festival, Best Narrative Short at the Pinnacle Film Awards, Best Music at the Independent Horror Movie Awards, and Best Shorts (English Language) at the Metro Film & TV Awards.

    Additionally, the film has been an Official Selection at numerous festivals: Indie Best Films Festival, Fiction & Narrative Short Films, The American Horrors Film Festival, Genre Celebration Festival, Diabolical Horror Film Festival, Independent Horror Movie Awards, Dunedin International Film Festival, Webisode Film Festival, and the Dreamachine International Film Festival. 

    New York Film Academy congratulates MFA Acting for Film alum Rita Casman on the success of her film Shadow Wall and looks forward to seeing where her talents and winsome energy bring her next!


    June 14, 2019 • Acting, Producing, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 94

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Celebrates LGBTQIA+ Community


    Each year, LGBT Pride Month is celebrated throughout June, originally to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots. Pride Month has since expanded to honoring the LGBTQIA+ community in countless ways, including parades and raising awareness of current social issues facing the community and their loved ones.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is proud to celebrate LGBT Pride Month through a series of events across all of its domestic campuses, including film screenings, workshops, trivia nights, social get-togethers, and more.

    NYFA also looks to laud the LGBTQIA+ members of its community, including students, alumni, faculty, and staff who are making their community proud through the artistic crafts they’ve honed while studying or working at the Academy. Additionally, NYFA is celebrating projects made by the NYFA community that focuses on and raises awareness of LGBTQIA+ issues.

    Here are some updates from the NYFA LGBTQIA+ community:

    Drama del Rosario 

    MFA Documentary alum Drama del Rosario is originally from Manila, Philippines, and his BAFTA-shortlisted documentary In This Family focuses on complex themes surrounding culture, religion, commercialization, and LGBTQIA+ issues. In this Family is a 12-minute short that tells the story of one Filipino family’s reaction to finding out their son is gay. Recently, the film was an Official Selection of the Doc Edge Pride Festival, a prestigious fest that is Oscar-qualifying. The second portion of the fest will be held later this month in Wellington, New Zealand.

    LGBTQIA+ Community Drama del Rosario

    Shivin Sanjeev & Sunny Grover

    NYFA alum Shivin Sanjeev Grover and NYFA BFA student Sunny Grover recently collaborated with Maroon 5 keyboardist and rhythm guitarist Jesse Carmichael on the two minute short film Thrive, which focuses on the struggle and obstacles still faced today by the LGBTQIA+ community. The film was written and directed by Shivin and Sunny, two brothers from India, and is part of Carmichael’s 2 Minute Movies (2mm) project, which was created last year. Thrive is the first film to come from 2mm with a focus on LGBTQIA+ rights. 

    Ioanna Meli

    Life in Color, a short film starring NYFA MFA Acting for Film alum Ioanna Meli, was an Official Selection in the 2018 Cannes International Film Festival Emerging Filmmakers category. Directed by Bishal Dutta, Life in Color tells the story of an aging, closeted gay man with Alzheimer’s who struggles against his strong-willed daughter to hold on to the memory of the long lost love of his life. Along with the prestigious honor of screening at Cannes, the film has shown as part of the Silicon Beach Film Festival in Los Angeles.

    LGBTQIA+ Community Ioanna Meli

    Assaad Yacoub

    Assaad Yacoub graduated from NYFA’s 2-year Filmmaking Program in New York City before going on to complete both his BFA and MFA degrees in Filmmaking at Burbank-based NYFA-Los Angeles. He hit the ground running with his debut feature film, Cherry Pop, starring Bob the Drag Queen from RuPaul’s Drag Race, Tempest DuJour, Latrice Royale, and Lars Berge. Cherry Pop is a comedy musical that tells the story of both a nervous drag queen just starting out and a veteran finishing their career. Yacoub plans to adapt the film into a television pilot, and has also shot music videos for RuPaul’s Drag Race.

    Heather Mathews

    NYFA-LA Editing instructor Heather Mathews served as editor and producer on the documentary Forbidden: Undocumented and Queer in Rural America, which premiered at the OutFest LGBT Film Festival in 2016. Forbidden focuses on Moises Serrano, an undocumented gay man whose parents fled Mexico for the United States when he was just a baby, and whose undocumented status prevented him from receiving financial aid for school despite being a top student. Moises has shared his story to dispel myths about the undocumented community and unite the immigration and LGBTQIA+ movements, seeing them both as a struggle for human rights.

    LGBTQIA+ Community Heather Mathews

    Lizzie Gottlieb

    The prestigious Excellence in Documentary Award by the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association (NLGJA) was awarded to Romeo, Romeo, a documentary feature directed by NYFA Documentary faculty member Lizzie Gottlieb, who produced the film with Eden Wurmfeld and NYFA President Michael J. Young. NYFA Documentary alum Eliana Álvarez Martínez served as a camera operator. The film aired on PBS’s America Reframed and follows a married lesbian couple who navigate the complicated struggles of infertility. 

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Community Celebrates Wins & Performances at the 2019 Tony Awards


    On June 9, New York Film Academy (NYFA) was proud to see several members of the NYFA community and their work showcased and honored this year at the 2019 Tony Awards. The 73rd edition of Broadway’s biggest night was held at Radio City Music Hall, with musical Hadestown crowned standout of the night, earning eight total wins, including Best Musical.

    2019 Tony Awards
    A viewing party for the Tony Awards was held at the NYFA Theatre at our New York campus, where Musical Theatre students were joined by other NYFA students to watch the ceremony on the big screen. The crowd of enthusiastic young artists cheered the winners and sang along with several of the performances.

    James T. Lane, a faculty member of the Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre at New York Film Academy (PCMT at NYFA), performed live at the ceremony as a principal cast member of the Tony-nominated revival Kiss Me, Kate. Lane’s Broadway credits include King Kong, The Scottsboro Boys, and A Chorus Line.

    Dance Area Head Michelle Potterf was thrilled to see a NYFA instructor on the big stage, saying, “James T. Lane is an amazing Broadway performer and PCMT at NYFA is extremely lucky to have him as a teacher and a choreographer!”

    Potterf added, “Students in the program had the opportunity to view James in his element, as a Broadway Star … What an amazing experience!”

    2019 Tony Awards

    In addition to Kiss Me, Kate, the cast of Beetlejuice: The Musical, one of Broadway’s newest hit musicals, also performed on the Radio City stage. Catie Davis, who has Guest Directed for PCMT at NYFA—helming last February’s production of #MARS as part of our 2019 Winter New Works Series—is the Associate Director of Beetlejuice.

    The NYFA community celebrated some Tony Award wins this year as well. Bryan Cranston collected his second career Tony, winning Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play in the stage adaptation of Paddy Chayefsky’s Network. Cranston spoke with New York Film Academy students as part of our NYFA Guest Speaker Series in 2016.

    Tootsie, another successful adaptation of a Hollywood film, came away with two Tony Awards, including Best Book of a Musical for Robert Horn and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for Santino Fontana. PCMT at NYFA instructor Dave Solomon served as Associate Director on the hit musical.

    “We’re incredibly proud of Dave’s work on this show,” says NYFA Chair of Musical Theatre Mark Olsen. “Adapting such a popular film is always a challenge, and this creative team has done a phenomenal job. The show is very deserving of all the accolades its received.”

    2019 Tony Awards
    The Cher Show
    also picked up two Tonys for Stephanie J. Block (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical) and Bob Mackie (Best Costume Design of a Musical). Travis Greisler, the Associate Director on The Cher Show, has Guest Directed the PCMT at NYFA musicals Nine (2017) and Joni (2016). 

    New York Film Academy congratulates the winners and performers of the 2019 Tony Awards and is delighted to see its community members involved with Broadway’s biggest and most celebrated night! 

    Here is the full list of this year’s Tony Award winners & nominees:

    Best Play
    Choir Boy
    The Ferryman – WINNER
    Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
    What the Constitution Means to Me

    Best Musical
    Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations
    Hadestown – WINNER
    The Prom

    Best Revival of a Play
    Arthur Miller’s All My Sons
    The Boys in the Band – WINNER
    Burn This
    Torch Song
    The Waverly Gallery

    Best Revival of a Musical
    Kiss Me, Kate
    Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! – WINNER

    Best Book of a Musical
    Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations (Dominique Morisseau)
    Beetlejuice (Scott Brown & Anthony King)
    Hadestown (Anaïs Mitchell)
    The Prom (Bob Martin & Chad Beguelin)
    Tootsie (Robert Horn) – WINNER

    Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
    Be More Chill (Music & Lyrics: Joe Iconis)
    Beetlejuice (Music & Lyrics: Eddie Perfect)
    Hadestown (Music & Lyrics: Anaïs Mitchell) – WINNER
    The Prom (Music: Matthew Sklar, Lyrics: Chad Beguelin)
    To Kill a Mockingbird (Music: Adam Guettel)
    Tootsie (Music & Lyrics: David Yazbek)

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
    Paddy Considine, The Ferryman
    Bryan Cranston, Network – WINNER
    Jeff Daniels, To Kill a Mockingbird
    Adam Driver, Burn This
    Jeremy Pope, Choir Boy

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
    Annette Bening, Arthur Miller’s All My Sons
    Laura Donnelly, The Ferryman
    Elaine May, The Waverly Gallery – WINNER
    Janet McTeer, Bernhardt/Hamlet
    Laurie Metcalf, Hillary and Clinton
    Heidi Schreck, What the Constitution Means to Me

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
    Brooks Ashmanskas, The Prom
    Derrick Baskin, Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations
    Alex Brightman, Beetlejuice
    Damon Daunno, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
    Santino Fontana, Tootsie – WINNER

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
    Stephanie J. Block, The Cher Show – WINNER
    Caitlin Kinnunen, The Prom
    Beth Leavel, The Prom
    Eva Noblezada, Hadestown
    Kelli O’Hara, Kiss Me, Kate

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
    Bertie Carvel, Ink – WINNER
    Robin De Jesús, The Boys in the Band
    Gideon Glick, To Kill a Mockingbird
    Brandon Uranowitz, Burn This
    Benjamin Walker, Arthur Miller’s All My Sons

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
    Fionnula Flanagan, The Ferryman
    Celia Keenan-Bolger, To Kill a Mockingbird – WINNER
    Kristine Nielsen, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
    Julie White, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
    Ruth Wilson, King Lear

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
    André De Shields, Hadestown – WINNER
    Andy Grotelueschen, Tootsie
    Patrick Page, Hadestown
    Jeremy Pope, Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations
    Ephraim Sykes, Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations

    Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
    Lilli Cooper, Tootsie
    Amber Gray, Hadestown
    Sarah Stiles, Tootsie
    Ali Stroker, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! – WINNER
    Mary Testa, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

    Best Scenic Design of a Play
    Miriam Buether, To Kill a Mockingbird
    Bunny Christie, Ink
    Rob Howell, The Ferryman – WINNER
    Santo Loquasto, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
    Jan Versweyveld, Network

    Best Scenic Design of a Musical
    Robert Brill and Peter Nigrini, Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations
    Peter England, King Kong
    Rachel Hauck, Hadestown – WINNER
    Laura Jellinek, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
    David Korins, Beetlejuice

    Best Costume Design of a Play
    Rob Howell, The Ferryman – WINNER
    Toni-Leslie James, Bernhardt/Hamlet
    Clint Ramos, Torch Song
    Ann Roth, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
    Ann Roth, To Kill a Mockingbird

    Best Costume Design of a Musical
    Michael Krass, Hadestown
    William Ivey Long, Beetlejuice
    William Ivey Long, Tootsie
    Bob Mackie, The Cher Show – WINNER
    Paul Tazewell, Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations

    Best Lighting Design of a Play
    Neil Austin, Ink – WINNER
    Jules Fisher + Peggy Eisenhauer, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
    Peter Mumford, The Ferryman
    Jennifer Tipton, To Kill a Mockingbird
    Jan Versweyveld and Tal Yarden, Network

    Best Lighting Design of a Musical
    Kevin Adams, The Cher Show
    Howell Binkley, Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations
    Bradley King, Hadestown – WINNER
    Peter Mumford, King Kong
    Kenneth Posner and Peter Nigrini, Beetlejuice

    Best Sound Design of a Play
    Adam Cork, Ink
    Scott Lehrer, To Kill a Mockingbird
    Fitz Patton, Choir Boy – WINNER
    Nick Powell, The Ferryman
    Eric Sleichim, Network

    Best Sound Design of a Musical
    Peter Hylenski, Beetlejuice
    Peter Hylenski, King Kong
    Steve Canyon Kennedy, Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations
    Drew Levy, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
    Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz, Hadestown – WINNER

    Best Direction of a Play
    Rupert Goold, Ink
    Sam Mendes, The Ferryman – WINNER
    Bartlett Sher, To Kill a Mockingbird
    Ivo van Hove, Network
    George C. Wolfe, Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus

    Best Direction of a Musical
    Rachel Chavkin, Hadestown – WINNER
    Scott Ellis, Tootsie
    Daniel Fish, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
    Des McAnuff, Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations
    Casey Nicholaw, The Prom

    Best Choreography
    Camille A. Brown, Choir Boy
    Warren Carlyle, Kiss Me, Kate
    Denis Jones, Tootsie
    David Neumann, Hadestown
    Sergio Trujillo, Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations – WINNER

    Best Orchestrations
    Michael Chorney and Todd Sickafoose, Hadestown – WINNER
    Simon Hale, Tootsie
    Larry Hochman, Kiss Me, Kate
    Daniel Kluger, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
    Harold Wheeler, Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations
    Recipients of Awards and Honors in Non-Competitive Categories

    Special Tony Awards for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
    Rosemary Harris
    Terrence McNally
    Harold Wheeler
    Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award
    Judith Light

    Special Tony Awards
    Sonny Tilders and Creature Technology Company
    Jason Michael Webb
    Marin Mazzie

    2019 Tony Award Tallies by Show
    Hadestown (8)
    The Ferryman (4)
    The Cher Show (2)
    Ink (2)
    Oklahoma! (2)
    Tootsie (2)
    Ain’t Too Proud (1)
    The Boys in the Band (1)
    Choir Boy (1)
    Network (1)
    To Kill a Mockingbird (1)
    The Waverly Gallery (1)


    June 10, 2019 • Acting, Entertainment News, Faculty Highlights, Musical Theatre • Views: 152

  • South African New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni Meet Up at Inaugural Events


    This May, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted inaugural South African NYFA alumni events in Johannesburg and Cape Town. This was a fantastic opportunity for NYFA’s South African alumni to connect and expand their network. South Africa Alumni Event

    Blake Babbitt, NYFA Associate Director of Outreach, has been traveling to South Africa for that past 7 years on behalf of the school, and was very delighted to see a true community of New York Film Academy artists coming together in their home country. 

    “There is a growing entertainment industry here in South Africa,” says Babbitt. “Ultimately we want our graduates to use the techniques and knowledge gained at NYFA to influence the industry not only in America, but in their home countries as well.”

    Babbitt continues, “The power of community is essential to the entertainment industry and to artistic success. I am very pleased to see a community of New York Film Academy artists forming here in South Africa, and I’m excited to see how this budding community will expand and impact the way South African stories are told. The sky is the limit for this group!” 

    During the event, NYFA alumni exchanged contact information, formed WhatsApp groups, and tagged each other in social media posts and stories. There was even discussion to form an official alumni chapter in South Africa. 

    Additionally, many alumni expressed their gratitude for the training they received at New York Film Academy, and for NYFA’s concern for them after they graduated. “Once you join us at New York Film Academy, you become a part of our family for life,” Babbitt told the alumni. “We don’t forget about you the second you graduate. Seeing you succeed is incredibly important to us.”

    “Blake and Maria were the most gracious hosts,” says BFA Filmmaking alum Zack Schofield-Nel. “The people that I was blessed to have networked with were incredible; I have built connections that will last for a long time to come. This could have only have happened because I was fortunate enough to attend the New York Film Academy.”

    He adds, “It is the most supercalifragilisticexpialidocious that I could have ever imagined!”

    Attendees included the following NYFA alumni:

    • Lunathi Mampofu (2-year Acting for Film): Trailblazing South African actress. Working on multiple TV shows in South Africa.

    • Eden Classens (2-year Musical Theatre): Runner-up, Dancing with the Stars South Africa; Lead on Afrikaans series Suidooster; recently cast in Netflix’s Kissing Booth 2.

    • Rethabile Ramaphakela (8-week Screenwriting): South African production company co-owner and voiceover artist best known as the voice of the Vuzu shows V-Entertainment and 10 Over 10. Co-owner of the production company Burnt Onion Productions with her brothers Tshepo and Katleho, who created and produced the SABC1 sitcom My Perfect Family and the Vuzu mockumentary Check-Coast. Produced and created a show that is currently available on Amazon Prime. Directing her first feature film in June.

    • Zandi Zim (MFA Acting for Film): Formed her own production company. South African actress that has performed at The Grahamstown National Arts Festival and Cape Town Fringe Festival. Stage actor since the age of eight and has studied Meisner and Alexander Technique. Zandi also sings, plays jazz piano and marimbas, and speaks English and conversational Sesotho.

    • Jacqueline Rainers Setai (8-week Screenwriting, continuing into 1-year Screenwriting): Head of Mojalove Channel on DSTV; well-known and established South African writer, producer, documentarian, broadcaster.

    • Petrone van der Merwe (8-week Acting for Film): Currently in two stage productions for the ADK (Academy of Dramatic Arts)’s 80th birthday celebrations that will premiere at the UJ Artscape Theater in Johannesburg and will also be performed in Stellenbosch at the Drostdy Theater. Signed with the talent agency, Gaenor Artiste Management.

    • Audrey Mokono (1-year Acting for Film, continuing into BFA Acting for Film): Recent graduate of NYFA’s 1-year Acting for Film program and will continue her studies in NYFA’s BFA Acting for Film program.

    • Anlezia Venter (BFA Acting for Film): Opened her own fitness studio in Cape Town.

    • Zackary Nel (BFA Filmmaking): Currently finishing his BFA thesis film in Cape Town, and has hired his own local crew.

    • Paul Fulton (8-week Screenwriting): Copywriter for ad agency. Has two feature-length scripts he is working on getting sold.

    • Keyuri Naidoo (6-week Acting for Film): From Johannesburg; known for her role as Karishma in Droomdag (2017) directed by Willie Esterhuizen. During her time at NYFA-Los Angeles, Keyuri directed and acted in numerous student short films.

    • Thuto Marrengula (1-year Acting for Film): Thuto Marrengula is an actor, known for Non American Dreamers (2018) and Ask Questions Later (2016); currently developing an hour-long stand up routine.

    • Nyeleti Khoza (AFA Acting for Film):  South African actor known for The Coroner: I Speak for the Dead (2016), Black Tea (2017), and Remember Me (2017). Recently cast in Giyani – Land of Blood, a new highly-viewed telenovela on SABC2

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Welcomes Academy Award-winning Actor Sir Ben Kingsley


    New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a Q&A with Academy Award-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley last Thursday, May 23, following a screening of the first episode of the new Epix series, Perpetual Grace, LTD. The event was moderated by NYFA admissions specialist Chris Devane.

    Sir Ben Kingsley
    Kingsley began his career by studying theatre in Manchester, England and eventually acted professionally in the West End in London and then on Broadway in New York. After establishing himself on the stage, Kingsley began working as an actor in television and film in Hollywood, quickly drawing acclaim for his work. In 1983, he won the Academy Award for Lead Actor for his work in Gandhi.

    Other notable film roles include Schindler’s List, House of Sand and Fog, Hugo, Iron Man 3, Ender’s Game, Night at the Museum, and The Jungle Book. In 2002, Kingsley was named a Knight Bachelor by Queen Elizabeth II for his contributions to the British film industry.

    Sir Ben Kingsley

    Moderator Chris Devane began the Q&A by asking what inspired Kingsley to become a professional actor. “My absolute desire was to be seen and heard,” answered Kingsley, adding, “impersonation gave a great comfort in that I could—for a fleeting moment—acquire an identity and a voice … and entertain and connect with people.”

    “Eventually,” he continued, “it was clear to me that I could, in fact, turn what one could call … an urge … into a craft … Without the urge to connect, one isn’t really an artist.”

    One student in the audience asked what Kingsley has learned from his many years as an actor. “When one was younger, one did an awful lot of acting and, as one matures in the craft, paradoxically, you do less and less and less and less acting … and, hopefully, you embark on a process of being.”

    Sir Ben Kingsley

    Kingsley was asked by another student how he is able to switch from one role to the next so quickly. Kingsley replied that when he was acting with the Royal Shakespeare Company, he was playing multiple roles each week. He elaborated, “As a matter of survival, you [learn], you [have] to get off that horse and get on another one and you know the horses are very different; it simply is practice, but, unless you have that muscle that’s practiced in you that can switch from one role to another, it’s going to be very difficult.”

    Kingsley added, “I have learned, onstage, through my work in the great rehearsal room … after each take … I let go … I’m constantly letting go … I do not stay in character between takes and I do not stay in character when I go home.”

    Sir Ben Kingsley

    New York Film Academy thanks Sir Ben Kingsley for sharing his insights about the art and craft of acting as well as anecdotes from his renowned and prolific career in film, theatre, and television.


    May 29, 2019 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 359

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Student Santiago Achaga Wins TVyNovelas Award


    Argentinian actor and social media star Santiago Achaga has won the coveted TVyNovelas Award for Best Young Actor. A graduate of the New York Film Academy (NYFA) 4-Week Acting for Film program and current student in the Filmmaking program, Achaga received the award for his portrayal of Claudio Meyer on Like, la Leyenda (Like, the Legend), a popular teen telenovela from Mexico. His work on the show also netted him a nomination for an Eres Award for Best Actor.

    View this post on Instagram

    Llegó hasta acá, pero es de ustedes.

    A post shared by Santiago Achaga (@santiagoachaga) on

    The younger brother of popular model and actress Macarena Achaga, Santiago Achaga is also a singer and musician. He composed and recorded several pieces for Like, and earned scores of fans for his emotional ballads. His first commercial single, “Solo Estamos Los Dos,” will be released at the end of May.

    View this post on Instagram

    SE TERMINO LA ESPERA!!! Este 24 de MAYO sale mi primer sencillo “Solo Estamos Los Dos” ♥️🔥🎉No tienen idea de la emoción y los nervios que tengo. La canción va a salir en todas las plataformas digitales acompañado de un videoclip en YouTube! Es un proyecto que le dedique tanto amor, tanto tiempo, tanto esfuerzo… se cayó mil veces y se volvió a parar. Nunca quise sacarlo a la “ligera” sabía que cuando lo fuera a sacar iba a ser con todo. Y ahora si. TODO SE DIÓ. Quiero contarles todos los detalles. Y así lo vamos a ir haciendo; junto con videos del backstage, promocionales y demás. Voy a necesitar de todo su apoyo para que esto siga creciendo como lo hicieron desde un principio. Sin ustedes este sueño (que tengo desde hace tanto tiempo que ya me había olvidado que era un sueño) no habría sido realidad. GRACIAS. VAMOS CON TODO 🔥🔥🔥

    A post shared by Santiago Achaga (@santiagoachaga) on

    The actor has worked in Argentina, Mexico, and the U.S., and moved to New York City to study at NYFA’s renowned Acting for Film program. He got his start as a model and was later cast as a recurring character on Heidi Bienvenida a Casa (Heidi, Welcome Home), an Argentinian telenovela for Nickelodeon’s Latin America brand, MundoNick. He played Junior in the show, which is an adaptation of the classic children’s book by Johanna Spyri.

    More recently, Achaga starred in Palau, a feature length film that tells the story of radio evangelist Luis Palau. Filmed in Argentina, the film had a two-day release across the U.S. and Latin America in early April, and continues to screen in churches and cinemas across the two continents. Achaga plays the titular religious leader as a young man on his way to becoming a missionary.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Santiago Achaga on his continued success and looks forward to his future projects!


    May 23, 2019 • Acting • Views: 620

  • ‘Birdy’ Screening and Q&A with Actor and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Board Member Matthew Modine


    On Monday, May 6, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a screening of Birdy (1984), starring Nicolas Cage and Matthew Modine, followed by a Q&A with actor, director, and NYFA board member, Matthew Modine, moderated by NYFA Screenwriting instructor, Eric Conner.

    Matthew Modine Birdy

    Modine studied with Stella Adler at her Conservatory of Acting in New York City. While still a student of hers, he was cast in lead roles in film and later theatre and television. Modine has acted in a number of films including Vision Quest (1985), Full Metal Jacket (1987) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and he has worked with a number of critically-acclaimed directors including Robert Altman, Stanley Kubrick, Spike Lee, Christopher Nolan, and Oliver Stone. He has been nominated for Golden Globes, Emmy Awards, and Independent Spirit Awards. Modine is currently running for president of SAG-AFTRA.

    The NYFA Theater was packed with NYFA students, including veteran-students enrolled in various programs at NYFA. Many military servicemembers have a special fondness for the famed actor because of his numerous portrayals of the life of a soldier–including his standout roles in Birdy, Full Metal Jacket, and Memphis Belle.

    Birdy is a 1984 Vietnam War drama that follows the story of two teenage friends, Birdy (Modine) and Al (Nicolas Cage) who served in the Vietnam War and are forced to cope with the post-traumatic stress disorder from their experiences in combat. Birdy appears to completely lose touch with all reality, and Al struggles to help his friend regain his connection with the existent world. Modine gives a tremendous performance as the young, traumatized Vietnam veteran.

    Matthew Modine Birdy
    Mike Kunselman, a veteran and member of the NYFA DVS staff, expressed,  “As a veteran, and an actor myself, I was very interested in Mr. Modine’s emphasis on the importance of being proactive with one’s own career.” Kunselman continued, “I also was intrigued by his portrayal of a Vietnam War US combat serviceman, and his ability to own the sympathetic character of Birdy.”

    Conner opened the Q&A by asking Modine what he’s learned from his prolific career as an actor in Hollywood. Modine replied, “The only moment that an actor can completely control is between ‘action’ and ‘cut’… that’s your moment… Everything else is out of your control. The editing. The distribution. It’s all out of your control. I worked just as hard on the successful films I’ve made as I did on the films that weren’t successful—what’s the lesson? Simple, always do your very best … work really hard and be present and, if you’re lucky, it all comes together.”

    Modine shared a piece of advice for the producers and directors in the audience, “When you’re putting your crew together, that’s just like casting the movie with your actors; you want to cast your crew and your actors that you know and trust.”

    Matthew Modine Birdy

    One of the students in the audience asked Modine for advice for actors just starting out in the business. Modine said that actors should trust themselves and their instincts: “If you’re waiting to be directed, you’ve lost, you have to be self-prepared and have made choices about your character. Your choices are your talent!” he emphasized. 

    “Mr. Modine was very informative with the information that he shared,” said Jonathan Garza, a Navy Veteran and BFA Producing alum. His stories from being on set were very entertaining. Even as an alumnus of the Producing program, I can take the information that he shared and apply it to my craft.”

    Modine also shared that he believes the auditioning process to be very important as an actor and that, when actors are feeling discouraged, they should remember that, “Every no is a step closer to a yes.”

    New York Film Academy and the NYFA Division of Veteran Services would like to thank Matthew Modine for sharing his advice for actors and directors as well as anecdotes from his experiences in the entertainment industry.


    May 10, 2019 • Acting, Faculty Highlights, Guest Speakers • Views: 762

  • Leading Netflix Role goes to Former New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Student Sebastian Osorio


    Sebastian Osorio, former student of the year-long acting program at New York Film Academy (NYFA), has landed a lead role on upcoming Netflix true-crime show Crime Diaries: Night Out (Spanish title: Historia de un Crimen: Colmenares). The show, which filmed in Colombia, is currently streaming.

    Historia de un Crimen: Colmenares is the second series of the scripted crime show, which is inspired by true events. This series will depict the controversial case of Luis Andrés Colmenares, a Colombian student at Los Andres University in Bogotá D.C. who was found dead under mysterious circumstances after a Halloween party in 2010. Initially ruled a suicide, the case was reopened almost a year later with evidence that Colmenares was murdered, and continued into 2012. 

    The eight-episode show is part of a massive Latin American push for the online entertainment giant–since October of 2018, Netflix has been rolling out a slate of more than 70 original productions being filmed across the region. Current estimates place the projected number of on-demand video streaming service subscribers in Latin America to reach 51 million by 2024, with Netflix leading the six platforms currently on offer.

    “Netflix is humbled and proud to give a voice to local talent and creators, helping them to not only reach Colombian viewers , but also to connect people all around the world to their unique stories,” said Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix. “By expanding our content across genres, we’re diversifying our offering and giving more choices to members via an ever-evolving platform that transcends borders. We’re excited to continue investing and exploring in the country.”

    Osorio completed the NYFA one-year Acting for Film program in 2016, and is an advocate of the Meisner technique. His film credits include Butterfly in the Fire (2018) and Ear of the Beholder (2016). He also appeared on TV show Pambelẻ as series regular Sombra.


    May 6, 2019 • Acting • Views: 2818

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Board Member Matthew Modine Runs for SAG-AFTRA President


    Actor, activist, filmmaker, and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Board Member Matthew Modine is running for president of the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), one of Hollywood’s most prominent labor unions.  

    Modine has starred in such films as Full Metal Jacket, Birdy, Married to the Mob, The Dark Knight Rises, Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Short Cuts, as well as the hit Netflix series, Stranger Things. He has been nominated for both a Primetime Emmy and multiple Golden Globes.


    Modine currently serves as a board member for New York Film Academy, and occasionally teaches master classes in acting to NYFA students. Additionally, Modine sponsors the New York Film Academy Matthew Modine Masters Scholarship, which provides financial assistance to outstanding candidates of the school’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs in Filmmaking and Acting for Film.


    Modine was elected to the SAG-AFTRA national board in 2017. Incumbent president Gabrielle Carteris has not yet announced whether she will seek re-election, and Modine is the first candidate to announce he’s running for the next election. Members are expected to receive ballots later this year.

    “As a current national and local board member of SAG-AFTRA, it would be my honor to represent all 160,000 members of the union I have proudly been a member of for nearly four decades,” Modine said in a released statement earlier today. “It is my privilege to stand up for our legacy in order to safeguard our future. There comes a time when we must work to ensure that current and future membership will be able to enjoy the basic rights and securities our union has always provided. It’s my time to give back.” 


    Modine will be representing the Membership First faction of SAG-AFTRA, and has received endorsements from former union presidents William Daniels, Ed Asner, and Alan Rosenberg, as well as from current SAG-AFTRA national board members Martin Sheen, Frances Fisher, Pam Guest, David Jolliffe, Esai Morales, Patricia Richardson, Jodi Long, and Marie Fink.

    Additionally, Modine has received support from SAG-AFTRA members Ed Harris, Vincent D’Onofrio, Alfred Molina, Mira Sorvino, Eric Stoltz, Nancy Sinatra, Patricia Arquette, Rosanna Arquette, Sean Astin, Marcia Cross, Bruce Davison, Jennifer Beals, Ernie Hudson, and Bill Mumy.

    You can support Matthew Modine’s campaign for SAG-AFTRA president HERE.



    April 29, 2019 • Acting, Faculty Highlights • Views: 994

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Instructor Ayelet Zurer Stars in Netflix Hit ‘Shtisel’

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailAward-winning actress and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Instructor Ayelet Zurer is currently starring in Netflix’s newest binge-worthy hit. Shtisel is a innovative Israeli drama that focuses on a family of ultra-Orthodox Jews in a Haredi neighborhood in Jerusalem. The actress stars as Elisheva, a widowed mother who captures the heart of Akiva, a shy young man struggling with his father’s matchmaking efforts.

    Zurer is a familiar face in films and television in both America and Israel. She has starred opposite Tom Hanks in Angels & Demons, Russell Crowe in Man of Steel, Ewan McGregor in Last Days in the Desert, and Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe in Adam Resurrected. Zurer also starred on multiple seasons of Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix and In Therapy (adapted as HBO’s In Treatment). She received the Israeli Academy of Film (OFIR) Best Actress Award for Nina’s Tragedies, and is a two-time winner of the Israeli Academy of Television’s Best Actress Award.

    The Hebrew-language Shtisel is making headlines for its honest and touching portrayal of a traditionally insular community. The New Yorker calls the show “generous, lighthearted, and nostalgic,” and says the show’s success is “the result of several powerfully understated performances, most notably by Ayelet Zurer in the role of Elisheva.” The New York Times was similarly complimentary, calling the show “groundbreaking.”

    Though the show was originally screened in 2013-14, the show’s success on Netflix has been so impressive that its original creators are currently considering creating a third season. In addition, an American version of the show has already been sold Amazon by Marta Kauffman, one of the creators of classic 1990s sitcom Friends. The show, to be set in Brooklyn, will be titled Emmis.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Ayelet Zurer on her continued success and looks forward to seeing her future projects!





    April 25, 2019 • Acting, Faculty Highlights • Views: 281