Laura Bailey-Wickins
Author archives

  • New York Film Academy Student, Miss Burbank Ashley Karp: I Know I’m An Entertainer for As Long As I Breathe


    Through NYFA my confidence is definitely boosted from when I began the program. I trust myself more than I ever have. I now have this courage that was once hidden, that has now awakened, and I know if I just trust myself, nothing can go wrong.

    Ashley Karp

    Ashley Karp is the new Miss Burbank, running for Miss California, and somehow finding time to attend the New York Film Academy Acting Conservatory. Ashley, who is working on her two-year Associates of Fine Arts degree at NYFA, has previously done spots on shows including Glee, Grey’s Anatomy, and Seventh Heaven. She is now preparing to perform live for the title of Miss California USA for Donald Trump in November. The NYFA blog was lucky that Ashley had a few minutes between classes to talk about the school, the competition, and her future goals…

    Ashley, how has your experience been at the New York Film Academy?

    I am in the process of getting my Associates Degree in Acting for Film. I am in the March 2010 group, which has such amazing talent. It’s wonderful to be around peers that have the exact same ambition you have, and through this you can experience something amazing, whether it be in a scripted scene or a regular improvisation. It’s those little moments of spontaneity that keep you on your toes as an actor, and makes your scene alive. It’s just plain old fun, and I love, live, and breathe every second of it.

    Do you have a favorite NYFA teacher since studying with the Academy?

    It’s so hard to pick a favorite teacher at NYFA. They are all so passionate about their craft, and each has something uniquely amazing to bring to a class of actors. I love all of them so much. However, the one experience I remember when I really broke through myself in a sense is when I was in David Brooks’ script analysis class.

    We were studying The Breakfast Club and I chose to play the role of Bender. David’s exercise to find this character was titled “the animal exercise”, in which you sought to discover the inner animal within the character you were playing. For some reason, when thinking of Bender as hard as he was depicted in the original film, thought Bender was more like a beaten hyena pup while looking at the script. We had to ‘become’ this animal, and then play the scene as so. Playing him as a beaten hyena, it truly boosted Bender; it gave him juice and he had so many colors to see. I’ll never forget that moment.

    How did you end up getting involved with the Miss Burbank competition?

    One of my good friends who had competed previously told me I should sign up for Miss California, saying I would be great for it. I told her she was crazy. Two nights later, I got a Facebook message from one of the recruiters from the Miss California pageant, saying I should fill out an online application.

    I’m in the car with close friend on the way to Disney and I get a call from one of the executives of Miss California. He says, “I have one question for you…If you had the power to take away one thing in this world, what would it be and why?” I had to answer on the spot. I replied “greed”. He then stated with my answer alone, I was in the final 10, beating out 600 girls for my slot alone.

    I was baffled to say the least. The next day I anxiously went to Miss California casting HQ, where they said I had been selected to compete…and the rest is history 🙂

    What are you ultimately hoping to do in the entertainment industry?

    Ever since I was 5 years old, I’ve always wanted to be in the entertainment industry. I was the kid that would get up on the kitchen table and sing at family functions, a complete ham. I’ve just known that it’s what I’m meant to do, my absolute passion.

    I love to write & play music as well, my instrument of choice being the Bass. I have a few songs and movie ideas plotted out, so that is a great possibility as well. I just know I’m an entertainer for as long as I breathe.

    What projects have you been able to work on or be a part of since studying at the Academy?

    I have done many student projects at NYFA, some of which have been submitted to film festivals as of recent. In the past, I’ve had appearances on 7th Heaven, as well commercials for Eggo and Aetna Insurance. I’ve also been able to do spots on Let’s Make a Deal, Grey’s Anatomy and Glee, and I’m just getting started…I can’t wait for more!

    What advice would you give to someone considering a program at NYFA?

    If you have any interest in the entertainment field, whether it be just watching films or actually participating in them, any program at NYFA is perfect. The teachers, staff, and students alike are so committed and passionate to their crafts. It is a wonderful environment to be around.

    To follow Ashley as she moves forward in the Miss California USA pageant, be sure to follow her on Twitter and Facebook.


    February 22, 2011 • Acting • Views: 4219

  • A Chat with 5-Time NYFA Alum Michael Tanner Cusumano


    Michael Tanner Cusumano has been a student at the New York Film Academy for five years. He is only 16 but his work has already garnered him several awards of merit at festivals including Metropolitan Film Festival of NYC, Burbank International Film Festival, Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood, and Santa Clarita Valley Film Festival. The NYFA Blog was lucky to catch up with Michael this week….


    Michael, thanks so much for sitting down with us. It is my understanding that you have done several programs with the New York Film Academy?

    I’ve taken two years of the tween programs, and so far I’ve done three years of the High School Advanced HD Program. I first heard about NYFA from a family friend and they just said great things about the school. I went and checked them out and I just fell in love with NYFA. The New York Film Academy teen program is extremely unique – there’s really no program I’ve seen quite like it. The New York Film Academy gives its students amazing production equipment to work with and without NYFA, I wouldn’t have access to these amazing tools.

    Do you have a favorite experience at NYFA so far?

    That’s I really tough question because NYFA is an amazing experience in itself. For one of my projects, Sage, we filmed on location at The Queen Mary in Long Beach and that was really fun. The Queen Mary treated us really well because we were NYFA students. Sage just won Best Film Noir at Burbank International Film Festival 2010 and also showed at the Red Rock Film Festival.

    Out of the five films you have created in your time at NYFA, which have you been most proud of?

    I’m really proud of the way Amanda turned out. We had an amazing cast and crew and we were able to get a stunt in the film, which was awesome. Amanda deals with teenage drinking and driving, which I feel is a really important issue. I think this film might help detour people from making a life-changing mistake. As a director, it’s good to make a film that you have a relationship with and that you’re passionate about. With Amanda, a friend of mine was killed by a drunk driver and that’s what led me to make the film.

    ***Amanda premiered at the Santa Clarita Valley Film Festival 2011 and has since screened at New York Filmmaker’s New York Film Festival, Urban Suburban Film Festival, Mountain Film Festival, and Buffalo Niagara Film Festival. It won Best High School Film at Santa Clarita Valley Film Festival, an Award of Merit at Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood, and Honorable Mention at the Metropolitan Film Festival of New York City.

    So what comes next?

    Right now I’m working on a new short film called Impetuous, which deals with the issue of peer pressure and bullying. We are planning to film at the end of March. My dream since I was a little kid was to get work as a director in the industry. I think it’s important to do something you love, and for me that’s definitely film.

    For more information on Michael and his films, check out his website at


    February 18, 2011 • Acting • Views: 4034

  • Alec Urbach, President’s Volunteer Service Award Recipient


    Alec Urbach The President's Volunteer Service Award

    The New York Film Academy is pleased to announce that our high school camp alum Alec Orbach has been honored by the Obama Administration as a recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award (the Corporation for National & Community Service).  Alec has taken the lessons he learned at NYFA’s camp and implemented these tools to make a worldwide difference.   

    In 2009, Alec Urbach, now 15 years old, founded an organization called Giving From The Ground Up, through which he creates and produces animated, educational health-care videos for children in third world countries, and sends medical and dental supplies to accompany these videos. There is not enough money for full time nurses or doctors in the communities the organization serves, so these videos provide a vital role in educating children in a fun, engaging way about healthcare fundamentals, and endowing the villages’ make-shift clinics with important basic medical supplies. Another purpose of Giving From The Ground Up is to create and produce documentaries about young people and the conditions under which they live in Ghana and other third world countries, to present to high school and college groups here in America for the purpose of promoting fundraising events to purchase needed medical and school supplies for the villages.

    For more information on Alec’s foundation, visit here.

    This is the letter that Alec received from President Obama!

    Alec Urbach's Letter from President Obama

    Alec has been a part of the NYFA family for several years; he has taken multiple courses, and most recently completed the 4-week high school Broadcast Journalism camp (in June of 2010).  Congratulations Alec, we are very proud of you.


    February 4, 2011 • Acting • Views: 4778

  • NYFA Alum Stormi Henley Makes it to Hollywood on American Idol!!!


    New York Film Academy former student Stormi Henley made it past the first round of auditions in Nashville on American Idol last night, sending her onto the semifinals in Hollywood. Henley, a nineteen year old actress who was once crowned Miss Teen USA, sang “Father Can You Hear Me?” in front of Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler, and Jennifer Lopez. Voted yes by Randy and Steven, Henley was ecstatic, running out of the room screaming and jumping up and down. We wish you all the best Stormi and can’t wait to see you on more episodes of Idol! Check out her audition!


    January 28, 2011 • Acting • Views: 6321

  • Retiring from the NFL is the BEGINNING for Simeon Rice


    Simeon RiceWhat do retired National Football League players do after leaving the field?  These athletes stay in the public eye- volunteering, lending their name and brand to different nonprofits and charities, raising monies that benefit their loved ones and community…doing outreach and giving back is the biggest part of being in the NFL, and their prestigious brotherhood of retirees.  Retiring before you are forty leaves an expanse of time to be filled with making dreams reality, and retooling oneself for after the last tackle.

    Simeon Rice has played football for the majority of his life- whether in high school, college, in the NFL, or for the United Football League, Rice has had his cleats and game face on.  Simeon, like all athletes, has many sides. Rice has a passion to create art and expose societal issues.  A natural satirist, Simeon is at ease discussing his career and goals.  In 2010 Simeon made the decision to pursue his other love- the entire entertainment industry.  Rice completed the 4-week and 8-week filmmaking workshops at the New York Film Academy (in Los Angeles).  While attending Rice wrote, directed, acted, produced and edited his work.  Simeon created relationships with his classmates and collaborated on multiple films.

    Simeon has evolved- he is now a Hollywood Director, Producer and Screenplay Writer.  NYFA had the opportunity to watch Executive Producer Rice’s first Short film When I Was King.  Simeon channels TechCrunch and Mashable’s hot topics into his film- primarily discussing the fundamental problems men and women have using social media sites for recreational purposes.  Unlike the movie Social Network, Simeon’s character Frank (Dolph Paulsen) is influenced by the bantering of single friends- and embraces his new freedom (by assuming that his fiance had walked away from their lives together, he needed to learn how to Facebook women and get action off of MySpace).  This comedic interpretation of social medias use to find a flings primary goal is to teach online safety practices; Frank had little online networking experience.  He is depicted as a 25 year old man without a Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn or FourSquare presence…we know, he is an anomaly?!  When I Was King makes the techno-savvy individual second guess; Simeon pushes the viewer to ask: Is being tied to so many through online friend requests dangerous?  Am I providing too much information, eliminating the dating and friendship processes?


    January 27, 2011 • Acting • Views: 6382

  • It’s ALWAYS the Victor Verhaeghe Hour, Starring Victor Verhaeghe!


    When Acting Instructor Victor Verhaeghe made his way into the office, he had so much to say to the New York Film Academy. Beyond just his teaching hours at NYFA and students, Victor has a lot of projects up his sleeve.  In the beginning of February, Victor will start shooting the second season of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, continuing on as Ward Boss Damien Flemming. While tailoring his 1920’s themed character, Victor simultaneously acted as a Real Estate agent, alongside Rosie Perez and John Leguizamo while filming the summer 2011 full-length film Fugly.

    Boardwalk Empire

    If you haven’t gotten enough of Victor, you can catch him every month- live!

    @7pm on the last Sunday night of every month-  you can see Victor at the Abingdon Theatre ($15.00 regular admission, $10.00 NYFA student cost- must show valid ID).

    Reservations for the Victor Verhaeghe Hour (for January 23rd, February 27th, March 27th, and April 24th): (212)868-4444.


    January 10, 2011 • Acting • Views: 4184

  • Aksel Stasny, 25


    Photo of Aksel Stasny

    Aksel Stasny excelled in computer programming and internet technology during his high school years, but found his passion in film around the same time that he began to win multiple film and photography awards for his work. He eventually put aside his plans to get a degree in programming and moved to Vienna to pursue a crew position as a production assistant.  After working on sets for two years and freelancing as a photographer, Aksel enrolled in the University of Vienna’s “Theater and Film Science” department.

    Aksel felt that Austria was too small, the learning environment he searched for was one immersed in the industry and steeped with tradition and diversity. In 2009, Aksel made the move to New York City to attend the New York Film Academy. Aksel learned how to tweak his film-making skills, and finished the one year course.

    Today Aksel utilizes his Optional Practical Training (OPT) Visa to continue growing his reel and learning in the United States.  Currently, Aksel is part of the production team at Bayard Studios. Stasny’s latest film Coming Home has been selected by the World Film Festival in Montreal, and has been picked up by festivals on the eastern seaboard.

    “Only having to concentrate on your own ideas and the development of your photography and film craft is the biggest luxury I could have ever had. I enjoyed the whole year and never felt such a challenging but steady creative output before. Some of the connections I’ve made at school will be partnerships and friendships for the rest of my life…This summer I became the director of Emmy Award Winner Bill Barber’s TV-pilot comedy series B-Sharp – No more camera assistance jobs or commercials a la Vitamin-C shower heads for dogs and children.”- Aksel

    Aksel also says he is still focused on his photography- that he has not abandoned one craft for another.  He still contributes work to Desquval!


    January 4, 2011 • Acting • Views: 4494

  • "English Success Story by Park Kyung-lim"


    Photo of Park Kyung-lim

    New York Film Academy Alumni Park Kyung-lim has written a comedic response to learning English; Park originates from South Korea, and found her transition to an English-first society to have challenges. When Park returned to South Korea she found work on television and emceeing different shows.  She married, has had a child, and during her time on maternity leave and enjoying motherhood- she decided to write down her thoughts on being an American student- in her native tongue Korean- to alleviate the stigma of being an outsider within the USA, and to showcase the beauties of being able to learn and grow in both the English and Korean speaking worlds. NYFA encourages all of our future and past Korean speaking students to read “English Success Story by Park Kyung-lim” available online at Kyobo Bookstore.


    January 3, 2011 • Acting • Views: 7483

  • NYFA Faculty Spotlight: Brian Dilg, Photography


    My ultimate goal is to help students find their own creative voice, to create images that simply don’t look like anyone else’s.

    New York Film Academy blog has decided to catch up with a few of our talented faculty. Meet Brian Dilg, Chair of the NYFA Photography Department

    Photo by Brian Dilg

    Photo by Brian Dilg, all rights reserved.

    “I teach courses on the techniques and aesthetics of cameras, lenses and lighting, as well as digital darkroom practices. I also help students investigate their own creative process, the themes they’re particularly attuned to, and how to bridge the gap between theoretical understanding of technical concepts and real-time application. Part of that process is learning exactly how the human brain-eye system actually perceives the visual world, and the surprising ways in which we don’t actually see what we think we see, both as image-makers and as viewers. Understanding how cameras actually “see” light allows photographers to exploit the way the human eye seeks visual balance and harmony. Image-makers can than build layers of perception and meaning into images, which creates a rich discovery process for the viewer and rewards repeated viewing. At this image-saturated time in history, having this ability at your command gives photographers a major competitive advantage, and helps them overcome the tendency of flawless modern equipment to produce generic, forgettable work. My ultimate goal is to help students find their own creative voice, to create images that simply don’t look like anyone else’s.”

    Photo by Brian Dilg for In Montauk

    Photo by Brian Dilg. Shot on assignment for filmmaker Kim Cummings for the feature film In Montauk.

    Brian Dilg is an internationally published and collected photographer and award-winning filmmaker with over 20 years of professional teaching experience around the world. His images have been published in the New York Times, Time Out, and the Village Voice, and on book covers by Simon and Schuster, Random House and Hyperion. He has provided image retouching services to clients including Victoria’s Secret, Polo Ralph Lauren, Revlon, Nike, NBC and Allure. He is an Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop, an Adobe Certified Instructor, and a frequently consulted authority on retouching and color management hardware and software. His feature film directorial debut, “Auf Wiedersehen,” premiered at the 2010 Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival. He recently shot “The Greims” starring Wes Bentley (American Beauty), featured at the 2009 Vancouver International Film Festival. He previously served as the Technical Director of the film program and as the Director of the digital imaging program at the Maine Media Workshops. He did his graduate work in film production at New York University, where he was a full scholarship student. He has worked as director, cinematographer, and editor on over 70 other narrative, documentary, music video and commercial films. He currently serves as the Chair of the New York Film Academy Photography Department.


    December 31, 2010 • Acting • Views: 4632

  • Spotlight: NYFA Alum Cast In Men In Black 3


    Jason Liles has been a working actor since his recent graduation from the New York Film Academy Acting for Film Conservatory. The NYFA Blog was lucky to catch up with Liles, who graduated from his one-year acting program in May 2010, between filming scenes for Men in Black 3.

    Jason Liles

     “My advice for anyone considering an acting program at NYFA would be to first of all do it…”


    Jason, we just heard that you were cast as an alien in the new installment of Men in Black 3. How did you get the job?

    How I booked the role is quite interesting. They called me out of nowhere. I had gotten my first job being an extra last November on Boardwalk Empire. I was excited about being on a real set for the first time, but they called me the next day and told me they were sorry but they didn’t realize how tall I was (6’10”) and specifically for that scene the director didn’t want anyone over a certain height. However, they remembered my height and the first week after graduation in May, Grant Wilfley called me and said they wanted me for stand-in work for an entire episode of Royal Pains because the wrestler The Big Show was going to be on it. That was a great experience and I learned a lot about a set very quickly over a few days. About a month later I got a call from Grant Wilfley seeing if I wanted to come in and read for a part in Men In Black 3. I couldn’t believe the opportunity that had been presented to me and I was just so thankful. All my friends and family were so excited for me. It was the beginning of July when I went in, read a few lines for a camera at Grant Wilfley, and that was it. A month went by and I didn’t hear a thing so I figured I didn’t get it. Well at the end of August, almost 2 whole months later, they called me and told me that that scene I read for was cut but they still wanted me for a tall alien.

    What was the process like once you were cast?

    Over the course of the next few months I went in for 3 or 4 fittings for my head and costume. My role is a tall blue alien without any lines called Feelers. I’ve got an amazing head and matching arms I wear with an incredible costume.

    Have you gotten the opportunity to be in any key scenes?

    So far I’ve been in scenes with Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Emma Thompson, and Jemaine Clement. What’s really cool is six-time Oscar winning make up artist Rick Baker designed all the prosthetics and he is always on set. His work goes all the way back to the original Star Wars alien prosthetics. It’s an honor to get to work with such a legend and he’s such a great guy too. Wednesday December the 8th was his birthday and on set Barry (Sonnefeld, the director) surprised him on set with a cake with an alien arm coming out of the top. It was cool getting to share that experience as everyone in the cast and crew was singing Happy Birthday to him including Will, Tommy, and Emma. But what meant the most to me was at the end of the day when Rick made sure all the aliens got a big slice of cake (it wasn’t too big and there were easily over 100 people on set) for toughing it out in those prosthetics all day. When I thanked him, he thanked back me for working so hard. That meant a lot to me.

    Where else have you found work since NYFA?

    Since NYFA I did stand-in work on Royal Pains, was on an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm with guest star Ricky Gervais, filmed a day on a new USA show called A Legal Mind. I also played a security guard for a few days on the finale of the new FX show Lights Out, and of course my alien Feelers in Men In Black 3. Also since NYFA I’ve been working a lot on my own music. I’ve got an exciting gig opening for Jake Clemons, the nephew of the legendary saxophonist Clarence Clemons in January. That will be at the Zora Art Space in Brooklyn on January 13th. I’m also flying over to Scotland and Ireland in the spring as I’ve been invited to open for Scottish musician Mick Hargan as he releases his 2nd album. Then we’re planning on coming back to NYC and possibly playing at the Irish Craic Fest downtown along with some other gigs. I’m looking to have an EP done before that to take over and sell at gigs in the UK.

    Would you recommend the same NYFA Acting Conservatory program to other students?

    I would absolutely recommend the NYFA acting program. I feel it fully prepared me for the business. It gave me all the confidence and tools I need for anything in the acting world. I had no idea how much I didn’t know about acting until I went to NYFA. You get everything you need and more. There really are too many memories to pick from. Almost every day (really almost every class) I would pick up on something new or something memorable would happen. You form a new family with your section that I just wasn’t prepared for. These people are now my best friends in the world. My advice for anyone considering an acting program at NYFA would be to first of all do it and second of all to take huge risks, PLAY every chance you get (have fun with it; it’s called “playing” a character), and work hard on everything like it’s the biggest role of your life.


    December 15, 2010 • Acting • Views: 4365