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

    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.

  • New York Film Academy Master Class With Lyle Kessler Wraps With Impressive Performances

    NYFA Master Class with Lyle Kessler

    NYFA Master Class with Lyle Kessler

    This December, students from the New York Film Academy’s Acting for Film 2-Year Conservatory performed scenes written and directed by renowned actor/playwright Lyle Kessler. The performances were the culmination of an 8-Week Master Class taught by Kessler, who has been an icon in the world of theatre for several decades.

    Kessler studied acting under industry legend Lee Strasberg and has been a longtime member of the famed Actor’s Studio. Kessler had the opportunity to play Strasberg in the 2001 biopic “James Dean.”

    Kessler is best known as a playwright though, with numerous works that have helped shape the modern era of American theatre. For Peter Allen Stone, New York Film Academy’s Chair of Acting for Film, Kessler was a vital part of his education. “I used to dig through his plays in my college library looking for monologues and scenes many years ago,” remarked Stone, “so it was something special for me to get to know him and come full circle.”

    Scene from "The Display Man"

    Scene from “The Display Man”

    The best known work written by Kessler is “Orphans,” which first debuted in 1983 at Chicago’s world-renowned Steppenwolf Theatre and was originally directed by Gary Sinise. It was later adapted into a feature film starring Matthew Modine and Albert Finney, and has been performed on Broadway as recently as 2013 with Alec Baldwin and Ben Foster.

    After running the playwriting division of the Actor’s Studio in Los Angeles for many years, Kessler is still active and working with the Actor’s Studio in New York City. The NYFA students attending Kessler’s Master Class were able to visit the Actor’s Studio as part of their course. Student Elizabeth Hopland reflected that “going to the Actor’s Studio was a highlight of my acting career so far, thanks to Lyle.”

    The NYFA students who were privileged to work with Kessler started in Fall 2016, and began their 2nd Year training in the summer of 2017. Each session of the 8-week Master Class focused on a specific aspect of the craft, like the inner anger of a particular character. The acting students worked on scenes from new works written by Kessler, who directed and worked closely with them throughout the course.

    Scene from "Prisoner"

    Scene from “Prisoner”

    The scenes were two-person dialogues, with the acting students performing multiple roles and plays. One of Kessler’s new works included “Prisoner,” about a privileged woman tied up during a burglary, who poked and prodded her captor while trying to learn more about him. Other new works included “The Display Man” and “The Great Divide,” the latter concerning two brothers dealing with a woman claiming to be pregnant with the older brother’s child.

    The final session of the Master Class included performances of the scenes for a small audience, including New York Film Academy president Michael Young. The final scenes of the evening were from another of Kessler’s new works—“Temptation”—about inappropriate sexual behavior between a psychiatrist and his patient, a story and theme that is especially relevant in today’s current Hollywood climate.

    Kessler Directing "Prisoner"

    Kessler Directing “Prisoner”

    One of the performers, student Agnes Hedwall Schmidt, remarked “What I liked most about working with Lyle was the way he made the work a collaboration. We give him our view of the text and the character, he gives his, and together we create a scene that is so much fun to act in, and allows me to keep growing and learning as an actor.” Schmidt added, “I had so much fun working with Lyle!”

    The appreciation was mutual—the performances ended with Kessler thanking the students for their strong, courageous work, and the students overwhelmingly thanking Kessler for his invaluable training and direction. Of the students, Kessler said he was “very impressed by the work and talent of the group of actors at NYFA who acted in my plays. They kept growing in their roles. A real commitment.”

    The Acting for Film students couldn’t ask for a better compliment from an artist of Kessler’s stature. The New York Film Academy thanks Lyle Kessler for giving our students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study and learn from one of the theatre world’s greats.

    December 22, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 1951

  • New York Film Academy Alumna Kellyanne Chippendale Talks “Meisnered” at NYFA Los Angeles

    On Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, director and comedian Kellyanne Chippendale brought her short documentary “Meisnered” to the New York Film Academy. The film chronicles her experiences studying the Meisner Technique, and how it changed her life. The documentary also includes the short film “Getting Meisnered.” Director of the Q&A Series Tova Laiter and Chair of Acting for Film Anne Moore hosted the evening.

    Kellyanne Chippendale had an unconventional path into the entertainment industry. She began the same way as many, with a passion for watching movies that was passed down from her parents. But by the time she was in college, her focus had shifted. She went to school for broadcast journalism, focused on becoming an educator, and thought about having a family.

    “I taught every single subject and every single grade except math,” Chippendale said. But something was missing. She wanted to try acting, but the audition process never seemed to go her way. “I’d prepare so well and then once I got into the room…” So she did what any rational adult would do: She joined a stand-up comedy class. When they asked her to come back the following season she knew she was on to something.

    Her continued hard work led her to wear many hats for the company. “I started producing my own shows because that’s the only way you can make money in comedy when you’re first starting out.” She began with dinner shows, where patrons would pay $50 a table to have dinner and a show. Through this she began to form relationships with other comedians, getting invited to perform at other shows, and building a roster for her own performances.

    Her film “Getting Meisnered” is about this process of becoming an actress and, more specifically, about her instructor, Wolfgang, who helped her have a major breakthrough in acting through the Meisner technique. She says this experience changed her life. The idea of working off an actor’s true essence and building a scene with a partner was a philosophy she was able to take into her real life.

    Moore and Chippendale gave a short demonstration of one of the Meisner exercises. One actor makes an observation about the other. Then the statement is acknowledged and repeated as the actors search for the truth in the moment.

    One student asked which books would be best to read if they were interested in studying the Meisner technique independently. The answer they received was “Meisner on Acting” and Larry Silverberg’s four-part series “The Sanford Meisner Approach: An Actor’s Workbook.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Chippendale for taking the time to speak with our students. Check out her short film “Getting Meisnered” on IMDB by clicking here.

    November 16, 2017 • Academic Programs, Acting, Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 572

  • NYFA Gold Coast Advanced Diploma April ’17 Students Hold Graduation Showcase

    The April ’17 Graduates with Acting Coordinator Louise Lee Mei

    On November 9th, the New York Film Academy Gold Coast campus held its Advanced April ’17 Actors End of Year Showcase and Graduation. Graduating students were joined by family and friends at Event Cinemas at Pacific Fair to celebrate their achievements and the body of work they accomplished throughout the year.

    New York Film Academy Australia delivers the nationally recognized Advanced Diploma of Screen and Media, with chosen coursework focused on the craft and business of acting for film. Students who enroll with the program commit a tremendous amount of time and effort, which paid off handsomely with a much-anticipated screening at the April ’17 graduation.

    Acting Coordinator, Louise Lee Mei, opened the event by welcoming guests and congratulating the four graduating students: Christopher Gillham, Esther Crane, Marc Johnson and Sherry Kawecki.

    “The Advanced April Actors are a group of very hard workers who we are extremely proud of,” said Mei. “We are excited to present these great actors to the industry.”

    The screening included Acting for Film scenes and the group’s pilot episode “Eternity”, concerning a jilted lover turning her hand to black magic and threatening the delicate balance between good and evil.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates our NYFA Gold Coast Advanced April ’17 Actors!

     

    November 14, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 874

  • NYFA Gold Coast Celebrates March 2017 Actors’ End of Year Screenings

    This October, the New York Film Academy Gold Coast campus held the March 2017 Diploma of Acting for Film end of year screening at Event Cinemas in Pacific Fair. The event included an opening reception for students, friends and family, and concluded with a screening of the students’ performances filmed throughout their year at NYFA Gold Coast.

    Acting Coordinator Louise Lee Mei said, “We are all very proud of the skill, motivation and determination of these students. Two special guests, Gael McDonald from Williams Management and Casting Director Cinzia Coassin, were in attendance to congratulate the graduates on their showcase scenes. As students prepare to enter our Advanced Diploma, the Acting for Film team look forward to further developing their professional skills for on-camera work.”

    Senior Acting Lecturer Adam Couper stated, “These students truly embraced the spirit of collaboration. They were a tight-knit and mutually respectful group and I think the work we saw showed how successful they were.”

    On behalf of all the staff and lecturers at the New York Film Academy Gold Coast, we would like to give our sincerest congratulations to the following graduating students: Amber Monaghan, Christopher Le Poidevinm, Ilavalu Tupou, Jake Dodds, Lachlan Crane, Lachlan Bliss, Olivia Samin, Shaunyl Benson and Tarnequa Pettet.

  • NYFA Gold Coast Acting Showcase Enchants the Crowd

    New York Film Academy Gold Coast held their July 2017 Acting for Filmmaking Mid Year Performance Showcase on September 6, a successful night of performance and laughs.

    "All in the Timing" performance by NYFA Gold Coast July 2017 Acting for Film

    “All in the Timing” performance by NYFA Gold Coast July 2017 Acting for Film

    Directed by Acting Lecturer Veronica Neave, students presented excerpts from the play “All In The Timing” by David Ives. Of the performance, Neave stated, “the world according to David Ives is a very odd place. It is enchanting, perplexing, incessantly intelligent and side-splitting funny.”

    "All in the Timing" performance by NYFA Gold Coast July 2017 Acting for Film

    New York Film Academy Australia strives to provide our acting students with engaging material that inspires them to take chances and stretches their talents to better strengthen them.

    "All in the Timing" performance by NYFA Gold Coast July 2017 Acting for Film

    Neave continued, “The July Actors have risen valiantly to this challenge and have give an outstanding performance.” New York Film Academy congratulates the July 2017 AFF students and looks forward to their next showcase!

    "All in the Timing" performance by NYFA Gold Coast July 2017 Acting for Film

    October 17, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 922

  • NYFA Los Angeles Celebrates it’s Fall 2017 Graduates

    On Saturday, September 23rd, 2017, the New York Film Academy congratulated another graduating class as they crossed into the next stage of their professional careers. Three ceremonies were held throughout the day to accommodate the more than two hundred students who have now completed their education at NYFA.

    Many students spent the previous day at Warner Brother’s Studios screening their final films on the backlot. The occasion is always an emotional one. Warner Brothers is a Hollywood institution that has been home to some of the greatest names and films in the entertainment industry.

    Families were able to gather for photos before the ceremony began. A NYFA backdrop had everyone looking red carpet ready. When it was time for parents to take their seats, students formed neat rows as they filed into the building.

    This year’s commencement speakers ranged from a Hollywood star, a casting director who worked closely with Stephen Spielberg, and a producer/writer for several of the greatest television shows ever made. Each speaker had a copious amount of advice to give to the graduates. A common theme to all the speeches was that the students should learn from the speaker’s own mistakes so they could do even better in their own careers.

    New York Film Academy | Acting School Graduation

    The first speaker to grace the stage was Valorie Massalas, casting director extraordinaire. Her credits include “Indiana Jones,” “Chaplin,” “Total Recall,” “Alive,” “Honeymoon in Vegas,” “Gods and Monsters,” and “Back to the Future II” and III. She received an Emmy nomination for her work on “Annie.” She is a new inductee into the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

    Massalas spoke directly to the actors about how the industry has changed since she began her career. The most disturbing change to Massalas is the rise of the social media actor. These are Hollywood hopefuls who have never taken an acting class but have 20 thousand or more followers, and they are being cast in major motion pictures because the heads of studios believe they can put audience members into seats.

    “I’m sharing that with you because it’s disturbing to me that you spend all your time training like you’ve done, with these beautiful people, honing your craft, but if you don’t have social media numbers you could lose a job to somebody who does,” Massalas said. “It’s important for you to be aware of that because it’s just part of our world today. It’s not going to go away, In fact, it’s going to get worse.”

    It wasn’t all bad news. Certainly, some of the changes would be favorable for the next generation chosen to run Hollywood. Social media is also giving other creatives access to the tight-knit entertainment community. “When I was first starting out you didn’t have the kind of access that you have today with social media,” Massalas said.

    “The most important thing you must always remember is that you are the president of your own company. You have to be prepared to run your business like the president of a company. If you’re not doing that, you’re failing your career because nobody is going to run your business better than you.” Massalas warned students.

    New York Film Academy | Film School Graduation

    The second commencement speaker to take the stage was actor Joshua Helman. Helman’s credits include some of the biggest action films of the last ten years including “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Jack Reacher.” He’s also been prolific in television starring in HBO’s “The Pacific,” the mini-series “Flesh and Bone,” and M. Night Shyamalan’s “Wayward Pines.”

    Throughout Helman’s hilarious speech, he blended solid life advice with anecdotes from his time getting started in the industry. He began with a bit of advice he had learned from a teacher. “When I was in acting school, a singing teacher told me that the most valuable things an entertainer has to offer the audience are vulnerability and generosity. And not only have I never forgotten that, but I found it to be true.” He concluded this thought saying, “Come back to vulnerability and generosity. It will never be wrong. Find the stuff that challenges you, the truth that scares you, and offer it up to the world with joy.”

    Helman also wanted to prepare students for the reality of how long it can take to start a career. “You have to prove yourself and that can suck. It means working a day job, it means losing sleep, and it means facing long stretches of seemingly infinite time when you feel like you are going nowhere. That is par for the course. Each of you, if you’re not an insane person, is going to want to give up at some point…”

    But, Helman amended, there’s a way to survive the hard years. “You can make peace with it if you never forget that you are doing it in order to do the job that you love and that (entertainment) is your real job.”

    New York Film Academy | Producing School Graduation

    The final speaker of the night was Cherie Steinkellner. She is perhaps best known for producing the multi-award winning television show, “Cheers.” She also wrote for such groundbreaking shows as “The Jeffersons” and “Who’s the Boss?” Finally, she wrote for and produced the Disney animated series and feature film, “Teacher’s Pet” starring Nathan Lane.

    Steinkellner takes issue with the adage, “Those who can’t-do, teach.” “I don’t believe that to be true,” she said. “I think those who can’t-do, learn. Which is to say, if you find yourself to be an irresistible force up against an immovable object, if you find that you can’t achieve something, instead of fighting the same darn thing, consider that the point isn’t to step over that obstacle. Maybe the point of the lesson is: What can I learn from this?”

    With that thought in mind, Steinkellner also wanted to make sure students didn’t think that graduating meant their best days were behind them. She closed out her speech stating,

    “When I was in school, in the seventies, people would say to me these are the best years of your life. I hated that. School is short and life is long. You will never forget the years that you have spent here at the New York Film Academy. I haven’t forgotten the years that I spent in college. Please, trust this elder. The good stuff is all ahead of you. Let’s see what you make. Let’s see what you do. Let’s see your ‘weird.’ Congratulations on your graduation and welcome my friends to the best years of your life.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Joshua Helman, Valorie Massalas, and Cherie Steinkellner for taking the time to speak with our students. We’d also like to congratulate all of our incredible students on their graduation. We hope to see you back here soon, telling the next generation your success story.

    MFA in Acting:

    Vicente Almuna Morales

    Ainur Rauilyevna

    Alejandra Gonzalez

    Vincson Green II

    Haoran Li

    Elizabeth Otaola Cortina

    Nanli Wang

    Chaoyue Zhao

     

    BFA in Acting:

    Melissa Abugattas Lozada

    Reya Al-Jaroudy

    Ratnavali Anderson

    Ira Calilung

    Whitney Cheng

    Abbilyn Chuha

    Jennifer Anne Cipolla

    Briana Davis

    Joseph Ekstrom

    Michael Furlough

    Emmanouil Giamas

    Maria Manuela Gomez

    Anes Hasi

    Christian Elijah Leighty

    Nina Madzirov

    Phillip McNair

    Bethany Rhiannon Daisy Milner

    Rebecca Momo

    Alessio Mongardi

    Analisa Moreno

    Vanessa Rene Nuevo

    Chunxiao Ouyang

    Trinity Page

    Fernando Peralta

    Zachary Thomas Perry

    Raven Ramos

    Maurice Roberson II

    Simran Sangian

    Billy Xiong

    Ming Jie Yang

     

    AFA in Acting:

    Tia Blackwill

    Corinna Camero

    Melissa Celikovic

    Jassen Charron

    Gregory James Drake

    Kurt Alexander Eberle

    Andre Forrest

    Aaliyah Jones

    Wadley Sterlin

    Travis Nevin Tendler

    Robert Tevlin

    Danielle Torck

     

    MFA in Producing:

    Mazen Aleqbali

     

    BFA in Producing:

    Ruddy Cano Hernandez

    Nyshon Ferrell

    Carlos Gonzalez

    Chor Kei Hui

    Brandon William McCarthy

    Thandiwe Mlauli

    Gilma Edith Montecer Lore

    Sagar Patel

    Angel J. Pitre

    Sim Sagiroglu

    Peijun Zou

     

    AFA in Producing:

    Mengying Sun

     

    MFA in Photography:

    Amal Alahdal

    Dania Saud Altalhi

    Pamela Garcia-Aguirre

     

    BFA in Photography:

    Rushank Anil Agrawal

    Brenda Cantu

    Tanya Gawdi

    Kingi Kingibe

    Ziomara Ramirez

    Wen Tao Tu

     

    MFA in Documentary:

    Sultan Sulaiman Aljurays

    Camilla Elisabeth Borel Rinkes

    Amira Hamour

    Ashley Danielle Harris

    Yuan Li

    Kristin Lydsdottir

    Huda Abdulsalam Moraidikha

    Maria Carolina Sosa Andres

    Guangli Zhu

     

    MFA in Cinematography:

    Jhonny Fabian Garcia Sarmiento

    Rafael O. Rivera

    Maria Sevilla

    Manuel Velasquez Isaza

     

    MFA in Film:

    Joud AlAmri

    Gerald Albitre

    Mahfouz Maeid M. Alzahrani

    Almaz Amandossov

    Dias Azimzhanov

    Yang Bai

    Alma Baimuratova

    Rushikesh Bhadane

    Beatriz Cabrera Figuerez

    Xiaoyue Cao

    Yue Chen

    Moataz Ezzat Elsayed Gamal Elbahaey

    Boise Badilla Esquerra

    Efrain Santiago Fierro

    Anuja Ganpule-Sheorey

    Zesheng Gao

    Mariia Gerasymiuk

    Di Hang

    Amber A. Harris

    Jacob Houghton

    Oboatarhe Ikuku

    Runjie Ji

    Annu Kapil

    Gabriela Ledesma

    Jian Li

    Yitong Li

    Yixin Liang

    Gengru Liu

    Zichen Liu

    Michael Louka

    Kendra McDonald

    Rachel Gebrael Meguerdijian

    Maria Mitkovskaya

    Sonakshi Mittal

    Aditya Rajendra Mohite

    Amanda Molefe

    Rima Mori

    Dina Najialdaies

    Vibhav Vinayak Nayak

    Kevin Nwankwor

    Anita Name Dos Santos

    Hiroki Ohsawa

    Derek Parker

    Ana Camila Parra Bernal

    Yuntong Peng

    Rene Rodriguez

    Francia Romero

    Guoqiang Sheng

    Yu Sheng

    Savannah Sivert

    Jourdain Antoine Smith

    Julien Supplice

    Mohitha Vankima

    Shashank Narendra Varma

    Chenyi Wang

    Tixiao Wang

    Zheng Wang

    Erxuan Wu

    Yuzuan Wu

    Lijun Yang

    Meng Yu

    Xiankai Zhang

    Xiaoxiao Zhang

    Xiwen Zhang

    Rui Zhu

    Xuerong Zhu

     

    AFA in Film:

    James Bonfiglio

    Peter Farquhar

    Casey Swing

    Zhen Wang

     

    MFA in Screenwriting:

    Jean-Baptiste Hakim

    Keaton Kaplan

    Kobus Louw

    Aida Marie-Louise Noujaim

     

    MA in Screenwriting:

    Kwang Jin Chai

    Rosa Falu-Carrion

    Samuel Gonzalez Jr.

    Roberto Tapia

     

    BFA in Screenwriting:

    Nick Davis

    Nawaf al Hoshani

    Felix Martinez Autin

     

    MFA in Game Design:

    May Alotaibi

     

    BFA in Game Design:

    Cody Fowler

    Min Han

    Alecksandar Jackowicz

    Mario Monaco

     

    MA in Film:

    Mina Abrahim

    Vedang Bhatt

    Dhriti Borah

    Julian Andres Bueno Sanchez

    Maurice Cassidy

    Jaya Prasad Chitturi

    Xingyue Dai

    Abdallah ElDaly

    Jiawei Gao

    Giunel Ismaiylova

    Abebowale Johnson

    Melissa Johnson

    Vicken Joulfayan

    Chenyang Li

    Mengke Li

    Xi Lin

    Yilin Liu

    Haixiao Lu

    Hin Lam Allan Ng

    Yu Qiu

    Srikanth Navarathna Raju

    Jose Mario Salas Boza

    Kongpob Sangsanga

    Elizabeth Soto-Lara

    Sukrut Shirish Teni

    Jianyu Wang

    Yu Wang

    Jiaxing Wu

    Sipei Wu

    Xueqing Wu

    Siqi Xiao

    Qingjing Yan

    Zain Zaman

    Chen Zhang

    Yiyun Zhang

    Yang Zhou

     

    BFAin Film:

    Ryan Adams

    Sara Ait Benabdallah

    Fawaz Saleh Al-Batati

    Basil Alamri

    Abdullah Saleh Alawaji

    Hani Alqattan

    Ayman Ahmed Alzahrani

    Jascha Bellaiche

    Rolf Niklas Martin Berggren

    Ambre-India Bourdon

    Tammy Cook

    Jose Guilherme Correia Jr.

    Antonio Gassan Darwiche

    Rumena Dinevska

    Gabriel Erwin

    Cirenia Raquel Escobedo Esquivel

    Jiaqing Ge

    Daniel Ivan Gonzalez Ramirez

    Oliver Granö

    Kartikye Gupta

    Akira Hayakawa

    Anton Hermawan

    Nuria Stella Hernandez

    Dongyan Jiang

    Yudi Jiang

    Autumn Joiner

    Joanna Krawczyk

    Henrique Kraychete Freire

    Gabriel Legua

    Xuejiao Liu

    Zhuangzi Liu

    Ana Catalina Loret de Mola

    Mario Mazzarella

    Eric Milzarski

    Nikola Nikolovski

    Varunn Pandya

    Konstantinos Pateronis

    Vladislav Petrov

    Celeste Pillay

    Katherine Pinkston

    Albert Theodore Pranoto

    Anastasia Reinhard

    Alejandro Rojas Melo

    Brooke Schulte

    Richard Selvi

    Denis Semikin

    Muhamad Ashram Shahrivar

    Shiyi Shao

    Jiajin Song

    Michael Tharp

    Hary Johann Tuukkanen Itriago

    Santos Verdia-Cross

    Tiange Wei

    Assem Yedgey

  • NYFA Acting for Film Alumna Samantha Hamadeh Hosts Comedy Central Arabia’s “Ridiculousness Arabia”

    In 2010 Samantha Hamadeh graduated from the One Year Acting Program at New York Film Academy. Her 3.9 GPA should have tipped everyone off that she was headed toward great things. In just a few years Hamadeh was on Comedy Central co-hosting one of their most popular shows. Hamadeh sat down with NYFA Correspondent Joelle Smith, to talk about where it all began and how NYFA helped her to get where she is now.

    NYFA: When did you fall in love with acting?

    Hamadeh: I was in 1st or 2nd grade. My friend and I used to hand out little notes to people in the class to come watch our plays on the playground. There was a tree ring made of cement. That was our stage.

    NYFA: What were some challenges you faced in your craft before coming to NYFA?

    Hamadeh: Although I’m a firm believer that people are born with a talent, I still thought that there was so much that I needed to learn about myself in order to be able to understand and portray different characters. Also, I took 3 years off from the theater because I was getting a degree at university. I was nervous about getting back into the world of acting.

    NYFA: How did NYFA help you move through these challenges?

    Hamadeh: I had some of the best teachers and mentors. From Kelly Hughes to Caitlin Muelder, Scott Ferrara, Valorie Hubbard, and Anthony Montes – they were all so supportive and truly believed in me. In class, I was able to work on my technique while also developing new skills.

    NYFA: What is your best memory from NYFA?

    Hamadeh: My dream of going to film school came true! The entire experience was life changing. I also got to meet some of the most amazing and talented students who I look up to, especially Eliza Delacourt and Maria Carvalho, who are now family to me. Some of the best years of my life were in Los Angeles, both on and off campus.

    NYFA: Tell us about your show, “Ridiculousness Arabia.”

    Hamadeh: Ridiculousness is an American comedy clip show, which presents viral videos. Comedy Central Arabia got the rights and I got to co-host the Arabic version – “Ridiculousness Arabia.”

    Samantha Hamadeh | NYFA Alumni Spotlight

    NYFA: How did you become involved with the project?

    Hamadeh: I work in marketing and was at a meeting with Comedy Central because they were looking to film their stand up comedy show at my brother’s venue, Stereo Arcade in Dubai. The CC team mentioned they were also working on Ridiculousness and I got excited because I love the US version. The producer asked if I was interested in co-hosting. Obviously, I said yes.

    NYFA: What was your goal with the project?

    Hamadeh: It was pure improv so we didn’t have much time to rehearse and we filmed two to three episodes a day over five to six days. My goal was to stay focused and enjoy filming every episode. There’s no character work. What you see on tv is who I am in person.

    NYFA: What’s been the most rewarding part of being involved with “Ridiculousness Arabia?”

    Hamadeh: Being part of a production like this was a dream come true! And I enjoyed every single minute of it because I got to work with really talented guys; Mohanad, the host and Khaled, the co-host.

    NYFA: What advice do you have for an aspiring host?

    Hamadeh: You’re going to hear a lot of no’s before you get a yes. It’s hard to be patient, I know, but when the right opportunity comes along you’re going to be happy that you were.

    NYFA: Where and when can people watch your show? 

    Hamadeh: Every Sunday night on Comedy Central Arabia.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Samantha Hamadeh for taking the time to speak with us.

     

     

    August 18, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1310

  • NYFA Acting for Film Alumnus Hayden Szeto Visits Los Angeles Campus as Guest Speaker

    On Tuesday, August 15 New York Film Academy alumnus Hayden Szeto returned to the Los Angeles campus to share his latest hit “The Edge of Seventeen.” Q and A Series Director Tova Laiter hosted the evening.

    Szeto was the first actor cast in the film in what writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig thought would be the most challenging role to cast. But, after auditioning him, she knew Szeto was perfect for the part.

    It could not have come at a better time for Szeto. A Canadian citizen out of school, Szeto was running out of time to find work in the United States. He had just one week left on his visa. This, Szeto said, was a blessing and not a curse: He encouraged the other international students to view the time crunch as a gift. “You don’t want to go home. The weather in LA is great, but you’ve got to earn your stay,” Szeto said. Let the ticking clock be a fire that drives toward success.

    Szeto found NYFA on Google and knew immediately that this is where he wanted to go to school. He had studied theater at another school, but a lack of on-camera work drove him to come to NYFA. Being in Los Angeles with the opportunity to work on professional backlots just sweetened the deal. “This is one school that has everything you need,” Szeto said.

    Szeto encouraged students to take advantage of their time at the New York Film Academy. He stressed that skating by in school would not translate to a flourishing career in the real world. “You’ve got to find out what you’re good at here. Once you leave it’s your responsibility to build on that,” he told students. “Treat this space like a gym.”

    When it was time for the Q & A portion, one student asked, “What catches your eye when reading a script?”

    Szeto responded: “I have to be able to relate to the character. How can I give him dignity?” He said a lot of the decision comes down to talking with the director and writer. “You’re not just auditioning for them, they’re kind of auditioning for you too.”  As an example, Szeto comically described working with a director who gave vague descriptions on how to improve a scene in what would have been a big movie for him, but Szeto ultimately turned down the role.

    An Asian student asked, “Do you have plans to take on roles that deal with Asian American issues?”

    “Being an actor of color, people in your community will say you owe them something because of your skin color. No. If it’s about the Asian American experience and it’s well written than yes, I’ll do it. But  first, it has to be good.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Hayden Szeto for taking the time to revisit his old stomping grounds, and for passing along advice to the next generation of students. Szeto’s next film is “Truth or Dare,” alongside Tyler Posey and Lucy Hale.

  • 5 Things We Learned From Chris Devane’s Casting Class

    Outside of the New York Film Academy, Acting Instructor, Chris Devane is a giant in the casting industry. Devane detailed his experience with large casting calls, which can include seeing over 400 people in a single day, to an hour-long casting rehearsal with a single actress. With clients like Wal-Mart and major production studios, Devane knows everything there is to know about the casting process. Most importantly, he has been able to pass that information on to acting students. Here are the top 5 lessons we took from Devane’s Casting Class.

    1. There Are a Lot of Actors Actively Seeking Work

    Devane began the class with a simple question, “How many union actors are working in the United States of America?” After letting students take a guess, Devane revealed the staggering number.

    There are 160,000 actors in the union and untold scores of hopeful eyed youngsters trying to enter the industry every day. Perhaps more troubling is the fact that the average income for those 160,000 union actors is $7,000. This includes big stars like Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana who make millions of dollars per movie.

    Devane brought up these numbers to make a point. Those that want to act had better be prepared to work for free or very little. They will need to love their craft beacuse acting is not always kind to actors.

    “The only person who can help your career is you,” Devane told his students. “Getting success is easy. Keeping it is a challenge.” Many actors come to LA from smaller cities where they have had some success. It means nothing when they get to Hollywood. “There are no failed actors. Just people who quit.”

    Casting Tips | New York Film Academy

    1. You Have to Really, Really Love Acting

    “There’s more competition in acting than any other field in the world,” Devane said. While working for free or very little upfront may be necessary, eventually, payment will be required. “Who’s paying your rent or putting gas in your car if you work for free? This is show business,” Devane warned. Deciding how much one’s work is worth can be challenging.

    This is all part of the gig. Actors typically work twelve to eighteen hour days, six days a week. This is an exhausting and demanding schedule. All the while, actors are being judged. They’re judged for their looks, they are judged for their talent, and they are even judged for their behavior. This scrutiny tends to get the better of most people.

    Self-promotion is of the utmost importance. There are more opportunities to be seen with YouTube and other social media platforms but there’s also a bigger opportunity to fail. A good casting director will not place an actor in a role for which they are not prepared. But the advent of casting based on followers has a lot of young talent scrambling to put out any work they have in hopes of gaining a following.

    Devane suggests putting only polished work out for consumption. Start developing a style and a voice now. Don’t rely on followers. They do not denote talent. Do solid work, help others in developing their work, and promote the finished projects.

    1. Casting Has Nothing to Do with Talent

    When Devane revealed this information there was tangible hitch within the audience. Talent, fairy tales would have you believe, is the most important aspect in getting started in the entertainment industry. How else can someone with little experience get his or her start?

    Devane says the most important thing an actor should be able to do is be themselves on camera. It is the job of a casting agent to find the best person for the role and not the best actor in the world. So, if an actor is relaxed and natural on camera than they can be cast in something.

    Most people who have difficulty getting cast believe it’s something they have done wrong. According to Devane most of these people are missing a personality. Many balked at this statement because it can be rather difficult information to process. Some take it as an insult. But nothing could be further from the truth.

    The first step to fixing a problem is admitting there is a problem. Devane suggests actively listening to get more parts. Listen to the partner in the scene. Don’t just wait for the next line. Also, listen to the casting director. If one is asked to try the line a different way, you should really think about how that note changes the reading. Being able to take direction makes any actor more desirable.

    1. Reputation Travels Faster than any Human

    Reputations cannot be bought or erased. They are earned through the most precious non-renewable source, time. With this in mind, Devane advised students to guard and protect their reputations with everything they have.

    “The person who gets cast is the one who can work with the director.” Being a diva on set or overstepping boundaries will have an actor on the outs faster than they can sign a contract. Once a job is booked, it’s important to know on-set rules so as not to become a liability. “If you hear ‘points’ on set you need to know what that means and act accordingly,” Devane told students.

    Don’t turn down work. “Look, sometimes being picky can be beneficial, but when someone brings you a job turning it down can look ungrateful at best and disrespectful at worst.” When auditioning for a role make sure the shoot days do not conflict with any other projects or personal appointments. If there’s a potential for conflict mention it at the start of the audition.

    Be on time. Every minute of production can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Crew call is often much earlier and much later than an actor’s call time. There is zero excuse for holding up a production and everyone will remember who caused that hold up.

    1. There is No Way to Tell Why You Did Not Get Cast

    Devane let students in on a secret that most professional working actors do not know. He told them that not only does talent not matter but there are a million little reasons behind why an individual does get cast. “Get rid of the feeling of I could have done better.”

    Sometimes one individual will pair better with an actor that has already been cast. Other times a director might have a working relationship with an actor. Sometimes a client will change their mind and want a different look than they originally set out to cast. It could be that there was just a better actor in the room that day.

    It is important to remember that, “You’re going to be frustrated throughout your entire career. Be positive and confident in your ability, skills, and knowledge. It’s the only thing to separate you from the 180 other people auditioning for the role.”

    It’s heartbreaking to get rejection after rejection but again, acting is not for the faint of heart. It requires great passion and equally as much patience and keep in mind that somewhere out there is the perfect role.

    Devane left students with this thought, “The harder you work, the more fortune you’ll have.” Do not wait to be chosen. Be your own biggest advocate.

    July 27, 2017 • Acting • Views: 1060