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  • NYFA Alum Jaq Walker Talks South Beach and The Round Table Collective

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    Jaq Walker is a recent graduate of the BFA Acting for Film program at NYFA’s South Beach Campus. Walker who considers Memphis, Tennessee his home town grew up an army brat decided to attend New York Film Academy while he was serving in the United States Air Force in Italy. “I had a friend at the time tell me about it (NYFA) and it sounded like I had found my life after the military. A few years later, I noticed that I was burned out and no longer passionate about my military career and that’s when I  decided to let my superiors know that I was separating. My instincts led me to believe that I could make a better life through acting and creativity.” 

    His instincts led him to NYFA’s South Beach campus located in the heart of Miami. “Living in Miami, which is a growing market for the film industry, allowed me to venture outside of school projects and participate in local projects such as music videos and a couple of short films. The major highlight for me was when I got a crash course lesson as a film producer and as a casting director when myself and some of my classmates produced our own movie/tv show trailer concept called Shotgun. The purpose of producing this was to pitch it to showrunners and producers when an opportunity presented itself. Shotgun was filmed in just our second semester at the  NYFA acting program. We were hungry and talented individuals who wanted more than just classroom work.”

    "Shotgun" by The Round Table Collective

    Part of NYFA’s philosophy of learning by doing has students working with faculty members, all currently working in the industry, on a semi-individualized basis. This can have a profound and lasting impact on students, and that proved to be true for Jaq as well. “Patrice Arenas (NYFA acting for film instructor). She knocked me right out of my comfort zone and unshackled me when it came to performing different characters. She also gave a lot of  life lessons which only made me grow more as a human being.”

    During his time at NYFA, Jaq and four of his classmates created their very own industry network when they founded The Round Table Collective. “Five charismatic and artistic dudes: Tim Gray, Michael Bradway, Noel Cesar, Josh Reyes, and Yours Truly! We felt that in order to be successful in this industry you have to have a network of some kind. So when one of us is connected to a big production project, that would be an opportunity to refer one of the guys in the collective and promote their talents to producers, casting directors, and talent agents.  So when it’s known that Jaq Walker is associated with RTC (Round Table Collective), people would see our reputation as a whole and hopefully would want to do business with us. When one of us wins, we all win! Even though each of us has a different approach to creativity and different paths through life, we all have one common goal and that is to be impactful and influential in this industry.” 

    In honing his acting skills Jaq developed his desire to be challenged and expand his repertoire. “I’ve been called a ‘character actor’, a ‘throwback actor’ and I’ve been called a ‘Chekhov-style actor.’ These are all true descriptions of me but I feel that I’m just a storyteller with a big and vivid imagination. Most of the roles that I play and have played are alpha-male authority figures which I’m very happy to play. But I’m wanting to step into darker roles in psychological thrillers and I would like to play roles where I could perform as the ‘down on his luck’ Joe Blow/victim of society.”

    Jaq has worked to expand his skillset and put it use by writing his own projects. “During my time at NYFA, I was able to better my writing. So naturally, I like to create and produce my own material and create my own characters. I did so recently when I wrote a concept trailer for myself  called ‘The Janitor.’ It’s based on a character I created and was inspired by the  COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve already shot  and produced the trailer so right now it’s in post-production.”

    Jaq Walker in a scene of The Red State

    Jaq Walker in a scene of “The Red State”

    Jaq recently appeared in the sci-fi series The Red State and plans to continue his career in London while he seeks out his Master’s degree. As for some parting advice to NYFA students and aspiring artists, Jaq had this to say, “Network, Network, and Network. Meet and get to know other creatives on campus and in the local area. Apply what you learn at the school into creating your own stuff while in school. Don’t let it interfere with your classroom assignments but establish yourself as an actor or filmmaker early on in your NYFA journey.” 

    New York Film Academy wishes Jaq Walker continued success in his future endeavors and can’t wait to see what comes next!

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    October 29, 2020 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1127

  • NYFA Alum David Oulton’s Talk Show “Face to Face with David” to Premiere Season 2 on Amazon Prime

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    New York Film Academy Acting for Film alum David Oulton is set to premiere the second season of his show Face to Face with David on Amazon Prime Video. 

    The show’s creation is a direct result of the restrictions set in place to combat the spread of COVID-19. “It came out of boredom during COVID. I’m sitting up here in Calgary, Canada losing my mind during the lockdown. I started mulling around with the idea of posting some FaceTime videos on social media, in line with what everyone else had been doing on Instagram and Facebook Live. Then it blew up and within about a week I had signed an agreement with Amazon, started hiring a crew, and it’s been a wild ride since. From conception to airing, the whole turnaround was less than two months and we’ve managed to pull it off.” 

    The objective of the talk show is pure entertainment. “I hope it brings them (the audience) a laugh or two and a quick escape from all the dreadful news we are being bombarded with lately. The concept of the show was to make the viewers feel as though they are listening in on a casual conversation between two people, and less of a formal interview. With a couple of exceptions, we mostly steered away from current events as well. It’s meant to be a half an hour of relaxing, easy watching tv to give yourself a little break.” 

    “Face to Face with David” is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video

    Face to Face with David follows a talk show format and features notable guests such as Carson Kressley and Perez Hilton. David spoke of his process for acquiring his big-name guests. “With Carson and Perez, I had built a relationship with via social media. Ironically, they were a couple of the biggest names in season one, but the easiest and most down to earth to get on the show. Carson, for example, said to just text him on the day of filming and let him know when to be ready. Vernee Watson and Lawrence Pressman, both extremely accomplished and award-winning actors, I have known for a very long time. Vernee was absolutely hilarious in sharing her time at the Emmy’s and what it’s like behind the scenes.” The show also featured one of David’s acting instructors at NYFA. “Valorie Hubbard taught me at NYFA, so it was great having her on and to catch up. She’s been a constant mentor since I did the acting program, and we’ve kept in touch. Most of the other guests were booked through their managers of publicists with the producers on the show. We have a really great team in place.” 

    Carson Kressly on “Face to Face with David”

    David attended an Acting for Film Camp for Teens in Los Angeles back in 2010 after he received advice from an acting legend. “I came under the advice of Dame Judi Dench, who first suggested I find a great school in Los Angeles, especially since I was living in northern Canada at the time. After some research and visiting a few places, NYFA seemed to be the best suited.” He has since gone on to work on many successful productions. “Since NYFA, I’ve done about 15 film and television projects: Fargo, Galaxy Trek, Guns of Purgatory, The Agreement. But this show is definitely becoming bigger than anything I’ve done before for me personally.” 

    Of his time in the industry so far David said, I’ve learned to enjoy the process, but also to put the work in. If you show up to set prepared, knowing not only your lines but also your character and their story, the work is so much more fulfilling.”

    He also encourages aspiring visual and performing artists to invest in their future and take a chance on their dreams. “I think that if anyone is reading the post and considering NYFA, and they’re from a small or remote part of the world or they have no experience, think about the fact that I came down from Fort McMurray, Canada with nothing but a couple of high school plays under my belt. If I can take what I learned during my course and eventually get my own talk show, airing around the world on multiple networks, then I think anyone should and can take the chance. You really never know until you hit that ‘submit’ button on the application, and then the possibilities are endless.” 

    Perez Hilton on Face to Face with David

    As for a wish list of future guests, Oulten said he simply hopes to continue to provide quality entertainment. “Honestly, I don’t think I have a true ‘wish list’. I’m really just happy that anyone is taking the time to do our show and be authentic with their interviews. Perez was so fantastic, and really shared a lot of personal details which I wasn’t expecting. His interview was definitely a highlight for me. The second season is set to feature Vanessa Williams, Natasha Henstridge, Melissa Rivers, Pamela Rabe, Corbin Bernsen, Below Deck Med’s Captain Sandy, Ali Landry, and a host of other guests.  

    NYFA would like to wish David Oulton the very best on his second season of Face to Face with David which premiers on November 6, 2020 on Amazon Prime Video. The first season is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, and Google Play.

    This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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    October 28, 2020 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2726

  • NYFA Acting Alum Sèdo Tossou Featured in “Dream Life” and Kaminski’s “Upgrade Reality”

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    New York Film Academy alum Sèdo Tossou has kept busy since graduating from the 1-Year Acting for Film program in Los Angeles. He recently completed a nine-episode stint on FYI’s Dream Life where entrepreneur Serena DC moves to Los Angeles to host her new celebrity talk show, Hollywood Disclosure, as well as launch the world’s first online dating school.

    Sèdo spoke about his character who works at the online dating school, The Love Academy. “The academy is a personal development school where guests like Deepak Chopra and Caitlyn Jenner come and talk about their love life and their different experiences as a way to inspire people. I play the web designer of the academy who was supposed to have technicians working for me but I end up having to do everything by myself which creates tension and conflicts. The goal is to make sure that the grand opening of The Love Academy is a success.”

    NYFA Acting for Film alum Sèdo Tossou appeared in 9 episodes of FYI’s “Dream Life.”

    “I had a great time working on the show,” recalled the NYFA alum. “The craziest thing is that shooting for the first season started only one week after graduating from NYFA. That was insane! I didn’t fully realize what was happening. I think I still don’t realize, actually,” he laughed.   

    The NYFA acting for film alum was born in Benin and raised in France had an artistic and active upbringing that ultimately led him to pursue a career in acting. “I’ve done a lot of artistic activities since was a kid. I have a classical music degree in piano, I’ve done martial arts (Viet vo Dao), guitar, singing, dancing (hip hop/dancehall) and a lot of sports too: soccer, tennis, track and field, tennis table, and badminton. I was always admiring American actors who can do everything.”

    His love for acting eventually led him to the New York Film Academy. “I visited the (Los Angeles) campus in the summer of 2018 and loved it right away. Such a beautiful campus! Knowing that I could go to Warner Bros Studios, the Universal Backlot, and especially, collaborate with other filmmakers and photographers is the main reason why I chose NYFA.”

    Another one of the reasons Sèdo chose NYFA was the practical experience and camera hours the program affords its students. “I was doing acting back in France and I knew that what you need as an actor is content to show. So having the possibility of getting footage that we shoot in school and also with other students in filmmaking was the best way for me to start a professional career as an actor. Finding an agent, submitting to casting directors, promoting yourself is all necessary if you want to work as an actor but if you don’t have any footage of your acting everything can get more complicated and difficult.” 

    He had this advice to offer current and future students, “Do not waste time! NYFA has so many resources and once you graduate you don’t want to have any regrets like,  ‘oh, I could have done this or I could have done that.’ Personally, I regret not having done my voice over reel. The studio was there and the teachers to help were there too but I procrastinated and (my studies) went by so fast. I still don’t have my voice over reel today.”

    For having only relatively recently entered the industry, Sèdo has already had the chance to work with a Hollywood legend. “I worked on Upgrade Reality, a film directed by two-time Academy Award-winner Janusz Kaminski who has been Steven Spielberg’s director of photography since 1993’s Schindler’s List. The film for which he won his first Oscar for best cinematography.” He’s also experienced working both French and American run sets. “I worked on multiple American projects when I was in France actually, like Jack Ryan on which I had a role in the first season. But the episode was shot in Paris and I noticed that the organization on US film sets was more streamlined than the French ones. It’s really about the pre-production, everything is so specific, all the shots are well planned, the crew knows exactly what they’re supposed to do, everyone is on time and I was impressed with that level of organization.” 

    Sèdo Tossou with Janusz Kaminski on the set of “Upgrade Reality”

    “I’m currently in Bénin, my home country,” said Sèdo of his current projects. “I just started my first company named ‘Sèdo N’Nogni’ which means ‘My name is Sèdo’ in Fongbe, the most spoken dialect in the country. My goal is for it to become the greatest art school and production company in Africa. At the moment, I’m focusing on organizing MasterClasses in acting, filmmaking, and business.”

    “This year, with the Black Lives Matter movement, I realized that it is not enough to post some hashtags and pictures about it (Black Lives Matter) on social media. We need to act. We need to uplift black voices and my goal is to make it happen in my country, Bénin. Every time I see a post of NYFA on social media, I see so many African people commenting  ‘This is my dream school. I’d love to study there one day.’ I know that it is not easy for an African person to move from their country and go to America to study arts. I want to help develop infrastructures in African countries so they can study there and realize their dreams of making movies.”

    In closing, Sèdo gave special thanks to the NYFA faculty. “Thank you NYFA for this wonderful year. A huge thanks to Miraj Grbic and Isabella Hoffman who were the best acting teachers I ever had. I hope one day I’ll be successful enough to become one of NYFA Guest Speakers.” 

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Sèdo Tossou for his time and look forward to seeing what’s next for the young actor. We encourage everyone to check out Dream Life on FYI tv or on streaming service Amazon Prime Video.

    This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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    October 26, 2020 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1735