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  • Photography Guest Lecture Series Spring 2018

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography Department’s Guest Lecture Series offers students the opportunity to meet active, working artists and engage with them personally and professionally. In each series, lecturers present their work, discuss their practice, and talk about how their particular career has evolved in the dynamic and ever-changing field of photography. NYFA students are able to ask questions and lead discussions with the guests that range from technical challenges and solutions, to conceptual and philosophical explorations.

    The guest lecturers range from fine art photographers, commercial photographers, and multimedia artists, to photography reps and creative directors. Photography reps and creative directors discuss the process of selecting and working with photographers, offering advice on presentation, websites, and branding. This spring, Jen Jenkins from Giant Artists, Maren Levinson from Redeye, and Dara Siegel from I heart reps., brought books of their clients’ work and other printed materials for students to peruse and touch — tactile experiences that bring photography to life.

    Of NYFA’s Spring 2018 series, BFA Photography student Lotta Lemetti said, “For me these artist guest lectures are always inspirational because it takes away a little bit of the mystery of being a successful artist: they are human beings too, just like us. Each one of us could be there one day. That’s how I always feel after seeing these people talk. I think the intimate small group size also helps to feel the human connection between the lecturer and audience.”

    © Rose Callahan

     

    Commercial artists such as Rose Callahan, a NYC-based photographer who was in Los Angeles on a book tour, also brought books. She discussed her books on men’s fashion, which had blossomed from her personal project photographingdandies in NYC; Gestalt publishing in Berlin had seen her blog on the subject, and sent her on a world tour through Africa, Japan, and parts of Europe. The students loved hearing about her process of making her pictures — what kinds of lights she used, how she approached her subjects, and her journey through the mystical world of book publishing.

    Another commercial artist, Taj Stansbury, a local LA-based filmmaker and photographer, discussed how his eloquent and mindful artistic practice is based in gratitude, and shared personal stories of getting his foot in the door to make videos with Rihanna, Eve, Ludacris, JLo and many others.

    Guest Lecturer M. Rasmussen, a creative director discussed the importance of color and listening to your inner voices, while Zen Sekizawa, an advertising photographer and activist, talked about her personal project, You and I See Why, which explores the “fleeting nature of memory and the inevitable loss of context that occurs when revisiting old ideas.”

    © Zen Sekizawa

    Jordie Oetken, a local photo- and video-based artist, discussed her original approach to art making, using her body and her experience studying the art of stunt doubling, to get to a more nuanced and authentic place in her work. She discussed the importance of community and how she often uses the people around her to engage and assist in her art making practice.

    © Jordie Oetken

    The NYFA Photography department would like to thank all the wonderful Spring 2018 guest lecturers for their generosity of spirit and willingness to share their expertise and experiences with our students:

    Jen Jenkins

    Maren Levinson

    Dara Siegel

    Zen Sekizawa

    M. Rasmussen

    Jay Blakesberg

    Maya Gurantz

    Thomas Locke Hobbs

    TAJ Stansbury

    Oli Rodriguez

    Anna Garner

    Thomas Werner

    Rose Callahan

    Jordie Oetken

    The Photography Department is gearing up for a great new summer season of exciting guest lecturers, so stay tuned!

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    May 24, 2018 • Community Highlights, Guest Speakers, Photography • Views: 963

  • New York Film Academy Glee Club Honors the ’80s in Spring Performance

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    This spring, the Glee Club at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus held a 1980s music concert — and it was a huge success!  

    The Glee Clubbers put up seminal hits by Michael Jackson, Madonna, The Smiths, Guns and Roses, and DEVO. Glee Club faculty supervisor Melissa Sullivan said, “It has been an amazing experience to musically direct this multi-talented group the last two years. Throughout the semester, I have seen students flourish and grow through music.”

    To create a true pop sound for the music of this semester’s concert, the Glee Club utilized microphones — for some of students, it was their first experience using mics. Sullivan had mics set up in rehearsals so students could learn mic singing technique. The event was also choreographed and staged with the help of students Sunny Amara and Jasmine Mensah.  According to Amara, “My experience in Glee Club has been everything I imagined; a group of talented people who just want to have fun, work hard and make beautiful music. I’ve become great friends with these people very quickly and we’ve become a little glee family!”

    Sullivan had this to say about NYFA Clubs in general: “What I find amazing about the clubs that NYFA has to offer is that the students involved are usually in more than one club. Some of the Glee Club students are also in the Dance Troupe. I believe these clubs are beneficial to student’s growth. They are collaborating with students outside of their class and have an additional creative outlet. “

    NYFA’s Glee Club is usually comprised of four sopranos, four altos, four tenors and four basses, and guided by strong student leadership and collaboration. This semester, the club had BFA student Rachel Gordine as assistant musical director, and the sections’ leaders were BFA student Rachel Gordine (sopranos), BFA student Paige Conroy (altos), AFA student Ethan Williams and BFA student Zackary Nel (tenors), and BFA student Zane Hudson (bass).

    Next semester the New York Film Academy Glee Club will be putting up the music of Broadway, and possibly collaborating with the NYFA Dance Troupe. It’s a very exciting time here in Los Angeles, and the Glee Club hopes you can join them at next semester’s show.

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    May 23, 2018 • Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1209

  • NYFA Gives Back Across its US Campuses in NYC, LA, and Miami

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    One of the goals of the NYFA Office of Community Outreach and NYFA C.A.R.E.S. (Community of Artists Reaching Enlightenment Through Service) is to participate and support organizations and causes who give back to the community and our world, whether it’s big or small.

    Over the holidays NYFA campuses in NYC and LA participated in the first bi-coastal campus-wide fundraiser to raise funds to help countries affected by natural disasters: in Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. NYFA students, faculty and staff on both coasts donated items for the countries in need. Items collected in NYC were delivered directly to families in Puerto Rico via The Hispanic Federation (hispanicfederation.org)

    “It’s so important that as an international academy with students representing the diverse population of the world, that we support causes that threaten the lives of others, both locally in the US, and abroad. It’s important to give back” states Mason Richards, faculty chair of NYFA Community Outreach who organized the fundraiser along with Carlye Bowers of Student Life in NYFA NYC. “This was the first time we collaborated on something like this, and we hope to do more.”  

    NYFA also partnered up with Direct Relief (www.directrelief.org) a non-profit organization that works to improve the health of people living in high-need areas by strengthening fragile health systems and increasing access to quality healthcare in 70 countries around the world. In addition to physical non-perishable donations, NYFA made a cash donation to aid with medical supplies in the countries affected by natural disasters.

    Samir Rai, Community Engagement Associate at Direct Relief expressed his “Thanks again to the New York Film Academy for all the support and visibility you’ve brought to Direct Relief and the people on Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. We are fortunate to have advocates like you.” 

     

    Response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

     

     

     Response to Hurricanes in the Caribbean

     Before making landfall in Florida, Hurricane Irma ripped through the Caribbean as a Category 5 storm, with sustained winds as high as 185 mph.  The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that 99 percent of structures were at least partially damaged by the storm in Anguilla, Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, St. Maarten, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  A Direct Relief team was on the ground in Florida before Irma made landfall, directing the movement and use of 14 pre-positioned Hurricane Preparedness Packs in the areas where they were needed most in the immediate aftermath of the storm.  Direct Relief worked closely with health system officials and local partners to overcome persistent power outages and transportation challenges to ship specifically requested medical aid and supplies to Florida, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Caribbean nations of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, the Dutch Antilles, Haiti, and Turks and Caicos.  To date, Direct Relief has delivered $38.2 million (wholesale) via 177 shipments to 59 partner healthcare facilities to support the health needs of communities directly affected by Hurricane Irma (the data in the graphic above specifically reflects Caribbean nations).  Selected community health centers and charitable clinics will also receive cash grants from Direct Relief’s Hurricane Community Health Fund in the coming weeks to help rebuild and stabilize operations to ensure the sustainability of critically important, community-based sources of care.  To date, Direct Relief has granted $25,000 from the Fund to partners in Florida.

    Response to the Mexico Earthquakes

     Direct Relief Mexico staff responded quickly to support communities that sustained massive damage to homes, businesses, schools, health facilities, and critical infrastructure following an 8.1 magnitude earthquake that struck off the country’s southern Pacific coast in early September.  Just two weeks later, staff would need to respond to a second earthquake, magnitude 7.1, that struck Central Mexico.  The death toll between the two earthquakes quickly rose into the hundreds, and many people who sustained injuries were left struggling to find functioning healthcare facilities.  In response, Direct Relief Mexico quickly coordinated with in-country emergency operations, government officials, healthcare representatives, and the two largest pharmaceutical trade groups in the country, to identify specific needs in real time, foster new agreements with local medical product manufacturers, ensure capacity for cold-chain medications (which often address chronic conditions that can become deadly when untreated), and provide storage in areas where the earthquakes caused damage to existing facilities.  Since the earthquakes struck, Direct Relief has sent $1.9 million (wholesale) of specifically-requested emergency medical resources through seven shipments to healthcare facilities and programs caring for people in affected communities.  The organization is currently preparing to deliver an additional $621,322 in medical aid and supplies to partners in Mexico City as well as in the states of Chiapas, Morelos, and Oaxaca, and has committed an initial $160,000 in cash grants to support repairs, warehouse rentals, and the special medical needs of patients already undergoing care at local healthcare facilities.

    Also as a part of the NYFA C.A.R.E.S holiday giving, NYFA Community Outreach hosted a NYFA GIVES Comedy Relief showcase to close out the disaster relief campaign as a thank you to all who donated. NYFA welcomed a diverse group of young comedic talents to perform the NYFA theater on both coasts. The talent included:

     

    Los Angeles:

    Ehsan Ahmad host (Comedy Central’s Roast Battle

    Aiko Tanaka (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, The Howard Stern Show)

    Fahim Anwar (MTV’s Guy Code, Conan, Comedy Central)

    Jak Knight (Netflix’s Big Mouth, Comedy Central) 

    New York: 

    Will Miles host (Hulu’s Difficult People)

    Liza Treyger (Comedy Central’s The Half Hour, FX’s Louie)

    Andrew Schulz (MTV’s Guy Code, Amazon’s Sneaky Pete, Hulu’s There’s…..Johnny)

    Drew Michael (SNL Weekend update writer) 

    This Spring, NYFA Community Outreach is partnering up once again with NYFA NYC, and this time NYFA Miami will also participate in “NYFA Red Nose Day 2018” for the international campaign to raise funds to end childhood poverty around the world. On May 16th, 2018 NYFA students, faculty and staff on campuses in NYC, LA and Miami can have their photos taken with red noses during lunchtime to show support for the cause. 

    Today it was announced that Red Nose Day, the national fundraising campaign to end child poverty, will return to NBC with a night of special primetime programming on Thursday, May 24, 2018. Leading up to the star-studded night of programming, celebrations for Red Nose Day engage millions of Americans across the country. The campaign’s iconic “Red Noses” will once again be available exclusively at Walgreens stores around the country. In addition to the support of the official retail and broadcast partners, the charity is proud to once again be working with national partners Mars Wrigley Confectionery with M&M’S® and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to change the lives of millions of children, one nose at a time. Red Nose Day is run by the nonprofit Comic Relief USA, which harnesses the power of entertainment to drive positive change.

    For more information on NYFA C.A.R.E.S and NYFA Community outreach events and programs contact caresla@nyfa.edy

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    May 22, 2018 • Community Highlights • Views: 892

  • The Simpsons Director Mike Polcino Shares Special Master Class at New York Film Academy

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) 3D Animation & VFX and Filmmaking students packed the Riverside Theater at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus for a storyboarding master class from veteran The Simpsons director, Mike Polcino.

    The Simpsons just surpassed Gunsmoke to become the longest-running scripted show in television history, and Mike Polcino has been with the Simpsons from the very beginning, directing 31 episodes in addition to episodes from the first season of Family Guy.

    Polcino started his career in animation doing all of the tedious work that goes into a massive production such as The Simpsons, such as animation timing and quality control.

    “Occasionally, we’d get the final animations back and Bart’s eyes would be looking in two different directions,” Polcino reminisced. “You’d be surprised what people miss.”

    His talent was unmistakable and, after a few short years, he moved up to become a director. Since then, Polcino has been a staple at Fox Television Animation, whose office is next door to the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus in Burbank, California.

    Polcino took the students through his process of breaking down an Emmy-winning script to put it on screen. Episode #593, Fland Canyon featured some of The Simpsons most cinematic sequences, such as great sweeping shots of the Grand Canyon. Polcino took the enraptured audience through a visualization process to find the key shots.

    “Part of the fun,” he said, “is coming up with shots that would be impossible without the animation.”

    He then melded the material for both the Animation and Filmmaking students by sharing his process for storyboarding The Simpsons and how it is more directing than animating. The students loved the class, asking for autographs and even taking selfies with the Homer Simpson drawing Polcino left on the whiteboard.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mike Polcino for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with our students.

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  • Celebrating Fulbright Student Highlights at the New York Film Academy

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    Each year New York Film Academy (NYFA) welcomes Fulbright International students from all around the globe. A proud participant in what is considered the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, NYFA has been the school of choice for inspirational, creative minds worldwide. Here are some of our brightest scholars’ stories.

    Pedro Peira

    Pedro attended NYFA’s 1-Year Conservatory program in Documentary Filmmaking and is already finding success. Soul, which he executive produced, screened at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale). Of his time at NYFA Pedro says:

    “What I’ve mainly learned from NYFA is to be able to tell stories. Of course, I’ve learned about image and sound, which are also important, but being able to include some kind of drama in a story stands out above the rest. As a matter of fact, during the final editing process of Soul, I would call the director while he was editing the film and, after watching the cuts together, he applied what I was discovering at NYFA. I think is has helped the film.”

    Soul is now streaming on iTunes,  Amazon Video, and Google Play.

    Abdallah El Daly

    Already a successful journalist in Egypt, Abdallah came to NYFA to study filmmaking and enhance his storytelling skills. He is keenly aware of the impact movies can have on people and his thesis film, Doors of Mercy, seeks to shed light on the plight an Egyptian woman can face when giving birth to a child out of wedlock.

    Monika Sedziute

    Monika is a portrait and fashion photographer whose work has been published in IKONA, L’Officiel, Elegant Magazine, Promo Magazine, Shuba Magazine, Eden Magazine, Fayn Magazine, Stilius Magazine, Zurda Magazine (online), The Wrap (online), and Luxure Magazine. Her work was also featured at the 2017 edition of Photoville, one of New York’s premier photography festivals.

    Melarissa Sjarief

    A New York Film Academy MFA Screenwriting alum, Melarissa wants to help grow the film industry in her native Indonesia and empower women by telling their stories. She has said that being a Fulbright scholar and being able to make personal and professional connections throughout the course of her studies has been a life-changing experience. Of her time at NYFA she’s said:

    “I learned a lot about structure, dialogue, character. I feel like I now have the skills that are expected of me. That’s why I want to use my voice to speak for those who can’t.”

    Hugo Salvaterra

    Already a founder of a production company in his homeland of Angola, Hugo earned his Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking at NYFA’s Los Angeles Campus. Even though he was encouraged to pursue medicine and engineering, of which Angola is in dire need, he replied, “To me, culture is just as important as those other things.”

    For further information visit the Fulbright webpage.

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  • The Greensboro Four Remembered on February One with New York Film Academy Faculty Filmmakers

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    “February One” marked the 58th Anniversary of the Greensboro Four sit-in, and the producers, director, and editor of the award-winning short film, The Counter: 1960 were invited to North Carolina A&T to participate in a commemorative celebration.

    The day culminated with a screening of the film, The Counter: 1960, produced by New York Film Academy’s Chair of the Industry Lab and Producing Instructor Kimberly Ogletree, edited by NYFA’s Leander Sales; directed by Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd, and co-produced and starring Ashley Jackson, daughter of Reverend Jessie Jackson, to commemorate the protest in 1960. The story chronicles three WOKE students who are frustrated by police killings of unarmed black youth and wanting to contribute to positive change, the students experience time travel, finding themselves seated at a lunch counter in 1960 which sparked more civil rights sit-ins across the nation. This is the first award-winning short produced through the NYFA Industry Lab.

     

    In 1960, Jim Crow was the law and segregation was enforced. The flourishing five & dime store Woolworth’s sold inexpensive merchandise to the working middle class but African Americans were only allowed to shop there. Four apoplectic college students from North Carolina A&T decided that, when it came to segregation, enough was enough.

    Committed to making a change, they walked up town and sat down at the F.W. Woolworth “whites only” lunch counter and politely asked to be served. When they were refused, these brave young men remained in their seats. This event immediately sparked national attention. The action of four courageous young men added fuel to an already burning fire, with hope that this injustice would right a wrong through a nonviolent Civil Rights protest — which was only one of many that were spreading across the rural south.

    Hundreds of students, churches, civil rights organizations and members of the community joined the six-month-long protest. And on July 25th, 1960 the Woolworth department store chain ended its policy of racial segregation in its stores across the southern United States.

    New York Film Academy digital editing instructor, Leander Sales, remembers the racial tension in North Carolina: “I grew up in this and that’s what keeps me strong and focused.”

    The anniversary celebration at North Carolina A&T began with the laying of a wreath beneath the bronze statue of the Greensboro Four: Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain (Deceased), David Richmond (Deceased) and Ezell Blair. The event was well attended by the news media, students, young children from nearby elementary schools, and community residents, all present to honor the men.

    The day continued with a packed campus auditorium celebrating the civil rights movement with a panel of A&T students discussing the state of African Americans in 2018.

    After the assembly, a march from North Carolina A&T to the F.W. Woolworth museum was organized.

    As Kimberly Ogletree commented, “This is a monumental moment in my life. As I walk the same path as the Greenboro Four walked I can feel the anxiety they must have felt, because ultimately those young men had no idea if they would leave unscathed and alive because police brutality was an everyday occurrence in the rural south.”

    Once the march arrived at the Woolworth’s, the group was taken on a tour of the museum, where they were able to see the original counter where the sit-in took place in 1960. The celebration continued as The Counter: 1960 filmmakers shared their “February One” experiences and pitched their film on the campus radio station WNAA 90.1 FM, followed by the screening of the film.

    Every seat was filled in the theater and the film was very well received. The panel discussion was educational and informative. As these men were remembered, the celebration paid homage to their sacrifice to stand, sit, kneel and march on. They will forever be remembered in history as the Greensboro Four.

    The New York Film Academy’s Industry Lab in Los Angeles, California provided production services for the short film, which is currently receiving film festival accolades worldwide.

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    March 12, 2018 • Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 1499

  • NYFA NEXT Young Filmmaker Program Participates in All Rise Film Competition

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    Three young filmmakers from the New York Film Academy BAFTA Community Outreach program were selected as finalists in the 2018 All Rise Say No to Cyber Abuse Filmmaking Competition in the ages 16-21 category. The theme this year was, “Is Cyber Abuse an International Crime,” and entrants incorporated this theme into their films, giving them a voice on the global epidemic that is cyber abuse.

    Chair of NYFA Community Outreach Mason Richards sounded the call for submissions to the NYFA Community Outreach alumni in Los Angeles who participated in the NEXT Young Filmmaker Program, an advanced outreach filmmaking program held in the summer at NYFA Los Angeles. The students responded by writing three different PSAs focused on the dangers of cyberbullying and its effects young people. “What was amazing about the short films is that the students wrote, directed, and filmed stories based on their real experiences growing up in south LA. They were able to utilize the filmmaking techniques they learned in the outreach film program to tell powerful and unique stories.”

    The students shot their 3-minute PSA at the Universal Backlot and the NYFA soundstage, and at Washington Prep High School in their neighborhood. NYFA provided the equipment and mentors to assist the students with their films. Post-production was also completed at NYFA where students practiced what they learned while editing on AVID.

    Sharyn Ross, Head of Outreach Program for BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts), a long time partner with NYFA’s outreach program, added, “The students get so much out of the filmmaking program at NYFA, and they’ve always talked about coming together to create more work, so the All Rise competition was the perfect opportunity for them to collaborate on a project with a purpose and a message. The international exposure of their films was also very exciting for them.”

    The All Rise annual film competition is designed to give young people a voice about Cyber Abuse and how it affects their everyday lives. The 2018 All Rise young filmmaker finalists Rosalinda Larios (The Victim), Kevin Miles (All Rise) and Jeannie Gardner (Hidden Secret) were among hundreds who submitted to the competition and comprised three of the six finalists in their category. Other students that collaborated on the films are: Tashad Rutherford, Michael Madrid, Chablee “Bubbles” Adams, Daizia Gray, and A’leah Love. The final six films selected were screened and critiqued live online by a panel of distinguished judges including:

    • Paul Giannasi – Leads the UK Cross Government Hate Crime Program and manages the Police’s National Policy on Hate Crime.
    • Ronan Keating – Singer/songwriter.
    • Katie Corcoran – Secondary school history teacher and swimming teacher.
    • Simon Stanley Champ – Senior visual effects supervisor, Cineaste Studios.
    • Otto Bathurst – UK award-winning director, Robin Hood opening this year.

    Young filmmaker Rosalinda Larios added, “It is absolutely great to know that we made it to the final round. This truly acknowledges that our films have that special potential in it, that differed from among hundreds of other films. Hearing these major directors talk about my film, made me feel great. I received many compliments that elevated my self-esteem, but I also received other concerns that actually just motivated me to fix my errors, in order to become a great and better filmmaker.”

    Rosalinda adds, “Being part of the BAFTA/NYFA Outreach program has made a dramatic impact in my life. What I truly like the most about this program is the support system that we receive from all our teachers and mentors. This BAFTA/NYFA family we have created is a wonderful connection that has been part of my life.”

    The BAFTA/NYFA Community Outreach program is currently in its fourth year of partnership, where select students participate in a nine-week film camp on Saturdays, where they produce, write, direct, act and edit shorts films to be screened at NYFA Los Angeles. Classes are taught by NYFA faculty, mentors, and student volunteers. The current NYFA/BAFTA Community Outreach program is running for the Spring 2018 semester, and the final screening for the new cohort of films will screen on in April 2018 at the NYFA theater.

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    March 8, 2018 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1900

  • From the Olympics to “Vikings” with New York Film Academy Acting Alum Ragga Ragnars

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum Ragga Ragnars has quite the resume: the two-time-Olympic-swimmer-turned-actress recently snagged a role on the hit show “Vikings.” NYFA had the chance to sit down and catch up with her via email in between her busy schedule filming in Ireland and Iceland, to discuss her transition from athlete to actress.
    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what brought you to the New York Film Academy?

    RR: I have been a swimmer all my life and for about 15 years I was a professional swimmer. I swam at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, and after sitting out the 2012 Olympics to have my son, I decided that it was time to pursue my other passion, acting.

    I have always loved California and, as a teenager, I swam in Mission Viejo, where I also attended high school for a while. I also swam in Ventura for a while in my 20s and always loved coming to California. It had always been like a second home to me. So when I was looking at acting schools, NYFA kept popping up.

    I had looked into NYFA a few times before and decided I would start with an 8-Week Acting for Film program to see if I liked it. I had my son and my family with me and needed to make sure it was the right choice before committing to a longer course. I, of course, loved the 8-week program and enrolled in a one-year program right away.

    NYFA: Do you have a favorite NYFA moment from your time studying with us?

    RR: I made so many great friends while attending NYFA and got to know so many amazing teachers and instructors. There are so many moments that stand out for me and it’s hard to choose just one to mention. I do remember some great Q&A sessions with people from the industry that really taught me a lot. I also loved working on the backlot and getting to experience that aspect of the courses.

    NYFA: Why acting? What inspired you to shift gears in life to pursue your acting career?

    RR: Acting has always been a passion I have had. While I was swimming, acting was always in the back of my head. I don’t think it’s something I decided. I just always knew I would be an actress. Since I can remember, I knew that it was something I had to do.

    NYFA: You came back for the 1-Year Acting for Film program after finishing a short-term program with us — what made you decide to go to our conservatory?

    RR: I had such an amazing time in the 8-week program that I knew I wanted to keep going. I wanted to see how it would work out having a family and a young son with me so far away from the rest of my family. It was easier than I expected and my son loved the California sunshine, so it was a no-brainer. I also knew I had more to learn from the great teachers and instructors at NYFA.

    NYFA: Many of our students can relate to your experience of coming to learn the arts in a foreign country. What was it like for you as an international student, coming to study at NYFA Los Angeles? Can you tell us a bit about that experience?

    RR: Because California has always been like a second home to me, I almost felt like I was not an international student and more of a local. I knew LA pretty well and while at NYFA I got to know the city better.

    The only thing that I can remember being a difficult aspect of being an international student was to make sure that all of the paperwork was correct and that I had everything in order. With great help from NYFA it wasn’t too hard, but with getting a Visa, applying for an OPT and all of that, it was definitely a challenge. It was all worth it and I am so happy I decided to give it a try.

    NYFA: You’ve competed in the Olympics as a swimmer, and now you are working as an actor on “Vikings.” As a career-changer, what would you say was the most challenging and the most surprising part of going from one intense career to another?

    RR: The most surprising thing is how similar my life is, from when I was a competitive swimmer. Working on a big production is hard work, I want to stay in good shape and get ready for a day of work similar to when I was competing. I work out, warm up before big scenes, meditate and take care of what I eat in the same way I did when I was preparing for the World Championships or competing at the Olympics. There is so much time spent in preparing for scenes, learning dialogue and text, working on a character and getting ready. I am happy that I have years of experience as a swimmer in being focused, determined and knowing that nothing comes for free.

    It takes hard work for a long time to achieve goals and you have to be willing to put in the time and effort.

    NYFA: Can you tell us about your experience working on “Vikings” — are there any surprises or challenges you’ve encountered in working internationally in Ireland and Iceland?

    RR: Ireland and Iceland are quite similar places. I feel like Irish people have a lot in common with the Icelandic — very welcoming and have a bit of a small town vibe to them, just like in Iceland. It has been difficult to be away from my son who attends school in Iceland, but I travel back and forth quite a bit and he comes to Ireland every time we can manage that. I have loved the process so far and I am looking forward to continuing working internationally and broadening my horizon even more in this field.

    NYFA: Do you have any advice for our current students in transitioning from our conservatory training to the real world?

    RR: My advice is to set goals with everything you do and want to do in life and enjoy the process, the good and the bad.

    Rejection from one place is not the end of the road.

    Also, there is not one way to achieve success in this business. I signed with an agent before I even finished NYFA, I had a few agents who wanted to sign me and I thought that was the only way to get ahead. Then when I realized that the partnership was not working, I decided to do it on my own and that proved to be the right way for me at the time.

    But I learned from every failed audition and self tape, from every production I worked on while on my OPT, and I always kept up a positive attitude towards my goals.

    NYFA: Would you say your time studying at NYFA was at all useful in preparing for the work you are doing today?

    RR: Absolutely. I learned so much while attending NYFA. So many things were new to me as an actor before I attended NYFA. I feel like I got a very extensive overview of techniques and tools to choose from while working. Not everything that I learned works for me and some things I learned I have kept on learning after NYFA. I keep in touch with some of my teachers in NYFA and I feel like all of them took a real interest in teaching us and even as a former student, being able to send a quick line to a former teacher and still getting help with something is amazing.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Ragga for taking the time to share a part of her journey with our community.

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  • Acting for Film Alum Matty Cardarople to be in “Stranger Things” Season Two

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    The long-awaited second season of  “Stranger Things” premieres Friday, October 27th on Netflix, and NYFA’s very own Matty Cardarople will be in multiple episodes.

    Having studied acting for film at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus, Matty has had roles in a number of hits on television and on the big screen. His credits include parts in hit films including “Jurassic World” and “The Big Sick” as well as television shows “The New Girl,” “Scrubs,” “Bella and the Bulldogs,” “Comedy Bang! Bang!,” “You’re the Worst,” Netflix’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” and ABC’s “Selfie.”

    Matty Cardarople is in Season two of Stranger Things

    In his most recent role on season two of “Stranger Things,” Matty will play Keith, an employee of the local video arcade, The Palace. You can expect Keith to primarily interact with the boys—Mike, Dustin, Will, and Lucas–possibly withholding some treasured information in hopes of obtaining a favor…

    Matty visited NYFA’s Los Angeles campus as part of the Guest Lecture Series and had this advice for aspiring actors:

    “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.”

    Season one’s cast prominently featured NYFA Board Member and Master Class Lecturer Matthew Modine as Dr. Martin Brenner – a character whose appearance Modine has a strong hand in styling. The same cast won a SAG award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Matty on his ongoing success. We look forward to seeing him in the upside-down.

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    October 25, 2017 • Acting, Entertainment News, Guest Speakers • Views: 3877

  • NYFA Graduates Organize Donation Center for Mexico Earthquake Victims

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    New York Film Academy Acting for Film alumnae Laura Gudino, Diana Perez and Diana Valencia have spent the last few weeks organizing relief efforts for the victims of the Mexico earthquake. The actresses set up a donation center in downtown Los Angeles and worked round the clock organizing and packing goods that were then sent to the earthquake-stricken areas of Mexico.

    NYFA sat down with these incredible ladies for a full account of their experience.

    Donation Center in downtown LA | Mexico Earthquake

    NYFA: How did you start your donation center?

    It started as an idea of 7 Mexican friends (Diana Valencia, Laura Gudiño, Nitzia Chama, Diana Pérez, Armando Bernal, Mauricio Guzmán & Katia S.T.) who were completely heartbroken after the consecutive earthquakes that hit our beloved country. We were looking for a way to help and after some investigation, we discovered there were no donations centers in LA. With the help and generosity of the owner of Patrón Envíos and Shiff Cargo, Armando Bernal, we opened a donation center in Downtown LA. After that, social media helped us spread the word.

    NYFA: Did you decide to start it together and how did that come about? 

    It was September 19th, we were all in different parts of California talking to each other, asking about our families, and trying to be super active on social media, sharing information and contacting people. The day after the earthquake, we met at the shipping company and we started to make a list of what kinds of goods were we going to ask people to donate; we created a work schedule and worked on getting the word out. That night, September 20th, we had a flyer that was sent as public posts in social media and the response was incredible. The first 24 hours we had tons of boxes, volunteers, news reporters, and radio phone calls. It was beautiful.

    NYFA: What has been the most challenging and rewarding parts of these efforts? –

    The most challenging part was enduring the long hours of work. That was the only hard part because there were definitely more rewards. There was so much generosity from the community, celebrities, reporters, TV channels, radio channels, and even companies. People in the donation center became friends, and the energy from morning to sundown was amazing. There were chants, laughter, and cheers. We were able to put together four trailers full of clothes, food, water, medical equipment, medicine, tools, apart from being full of love, hope and strength. The organization that we were able to partner with is Caravana de Amor which took the charge of receiving the donations in Morelos, Mexico and distributed them to those in need. The person in charge of that organization is the writer and radio & TV host, Carlos Márquez.

    NYFA: How can people continue to help? Are there any non-profits or other organizations you recommend donating to? –

    People can continue helping in many ways. Our donation center is closed but there are many organizations like UNICEF, Cruz Roja Mexicana.

    You can follow Diana, Laura, and Diana’s efforts on their official Instagram account, @la4mexico.

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    October 13, 2017 • Acting, Community Highlights • Views: 1525