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  • TV’s Biggest Night: Top Moments From the 72nd Annual Primetime Emmys

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    It was the best of times, it was the virtual of times. In the age of social distancing, this year’s Emmys went with the flow and joined the company of many award shows and events that have gone completely virtual this year due to COVID-19.

    Host Jimmy Kimmel during the Emmy Award Ceremony (September 20, 2020)

    Host Jimmy Kimmel joked that this year the ceremony had a new name, “The Pandemmys,” as he cracked jokes in his opening monologue to a sea of cardboard cut outs of celebrities, except for Ozark actor Jason Bateman, who seemed to be the only live audience member in attendance.

    “We’ve been quarantined and locked down. We’ve been confined to our homes like prisoners in a dark and lonely tunnel, and what did we find in that dark and lonely tunnel? I’ll tell you what we found: a friend who is there for us 24 hours a day. Our old pal, television.” –Jimmy Kimmel

    While many have been wondering how the Emmys would pull off such a star-studded event with nominees and their loved ones not being able to attend due to safety concerns, it seems the Emmys went inside the homes of the nominees and presenters this year, with producers sending 130+ nominees camera kits to set up in their home to capture live reactions and acceptance speeches. The novelty of the awards show didn’t stop there. Regina King, who won for lead actress in a limited series or movie for her portrayal of Angela Abar (a.k.a. Sister Night) in the HBO’s Watchmen, was already a few seconds into her fourth-career-Emmy acceptance speech when her Emmy, possibly delivered by a representative in a hazmat tuxedo, arrived. 

    Emmy award-winner Regina King in ‘Watchmen’ (Photo Credit: HBO)

    Emmy-winner at the 71st Annual Primetime Emmys Ramy Youssef (Ramy) joked about the new method of delivering the awards by tweeting “when you lose the Emmy,” after a person in a hazmat suit seemed to wave goodbye when Youssef lost his category to Eugene Levy (Schitt’s Creek). 

    Other highlights of the night include Watchmen making history as first comic-book adaptation to earn top Emmy – Outstanding Limited Series. Recent NYFA guest speaker Nicole Kassell served as a director and producer for the acclaimed and decorated series. 

    (L-R) Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox

    There was also a brief F.R.I.E.N.D.S reunion with Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, and Jennifer Aniston, who reunited to show support for Aniston’s nomination for Apple TV+ original The Morning Show. Aniston’s co-star, Billy Crudup, ended up nabbing Apple TV+’s first Emmy Award for Crudup’s win for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

    Tyler Perry was recognized for his incredible contribution to shaping television and his humanitarian efforts as the first individual to receive the Emmys Governor’s Award since 2014. Julia Garner wins the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series again for her role in hit Netflix series Ozark. Succession‘s Andrij Parekh,an Indian-Ukranian director wins plaudits for his Emmys acceptance speech:

    “I want to dedicate this Emmy to all the kids whose names like mine are difficult to pronounce. To those who don’t look like their classmates & are defined as outsiders – as hyphenated Americans & not simply just as Americans. This is proof that you belong.” –Andrij Parekh

    Topping off the night with the most wins was Canadian comedy series Schitt’s Creek with nine statuettes overall, breaking a record previously held by The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which became the most awarded comedy in a single year with its eight wins in 2019; those wins included Creative Arts Emmys. According to Gold Derby, no comedy prior to Schitt’s Creek had won all seven comedy categories at the main ceremony. The show is also reportedly the first comedy to win all four comedy-acting categories in a single year, per AwardsWatch

    Dan Levy (Schitt’s Creek) accepts Emmy award (Photo Credit: ABC)

    Schitt’s Creek actor and co-creator Dan Levy shouted out NYFA Alum Issa Rae in his Emmys speech for best comedy writing and said: “I want to recognize Issa Rae and the writers on Insecure for writing some of the funniest, most heartfelt television of the year.” The NYFA Filmmaking alum, who was nominated for her second Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy for Insecure, recalled her first Hollywood pitch experience during the telecast, where she shared how a studio executive attempted to tell her what Black audiences wanted to see on television. Read more here

    During the “In Memoriam” segment of the evening, H.E.R. sang in memory of all the brilliant talents we’ve lost his year, including Chadwick Boseman, Regis Philbin, and NYFA alum Naya Rivera.

    To top off the night, Euphoria actress (and now Emmy-Winner) Zendaya set a record as the youngest person to win the best lead actress in a drama category for her role as Rue in the A24/HBO drama. This was her first-ever Emmy nomination and win, and it’s not likely to be her last. 

    View the full list of this year’s winners below:

    OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

    Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek – Winner
    Anthony Anderson, Black-ish

    Don Cheadle, Black Monday
    Ted Danson, The Good Place
    Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
    Ramy Youssef, Ramy

    OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

    Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek – Winner
    Tracee Ellis Ross, black-ish
    Christina Applegate, Dead To Me
    Linda Cardellini, Dead To Me
    Issa Rae, Insecure
    Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

    OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES

    Schitt’s Creek – Winner
    Curb Your Enthusiasm

    Dead To Me
    Insecure
    The Good Place
    The Kominsky Method
    The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

    What We Do In The Shadows

    OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR FOR A COMEDY SERIES 

    Schitt’s Creek, Andrew Cividina & Daniel Levy – Winner
    Modern Family, Gail Mancuso
    Ramy, Ramy Youssef
    The Great, Matt Shakman
    The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amy Sherman-Palladino
    The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Daniel Palladino
    Will & Grace, James Burrows

    OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES

    Succession – Winner
    Better Call Saul

    The Crown
    The Handmaid’s Tale
    The Mandalorian
    Stranger Things
    Killing Eve
    Ozark

    OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE

    Mark Ruffalo, I Know This Much Is True – Winner
    Hugh Jackman, Bad Education

    Jeremy Pope, Hollywood
    Paul Mescal, Normal People
    Jeremy Irons, Watchmen

    OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE

    Regina King, Watchmen – Winner
    Kerry Washington, Little Fires Everywhere   

    Cate Blanchett, Mrs. America  
    Octavia Spencer, Self Made: Inspired By The Life Of Madam C.J. Walker 
    Shira Haas, Unorthodox 

    OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE

    Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Watchmen – Winner
    Dylan McDermott, Hollywood
    Jim Parsons, Hollywood 

    Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend 
    Jovan Adepo, Watchmen 
    Louis Gossett Jr., Watchmen

    OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE

    Uzo Adub, Mrs. America – Winner
    Holland Taylor, Hollywood

    Margo Martindale, Mrs. America
    Tracey Ullman, Mrs. America
    Toni Collette, Unbelievable
    Jean Smart, Watchmen

    OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

    Daniel Levy, Schitt’s Creek – Winner
    Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
    William Jackson Harper, The Good Place 
    Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method
    Sterling K. Brown, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maise
    Mahershala Ali, Ramy
    Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live

    OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

    Annie Murphy, Schitt’s Creek – Winner
    Betty Gilpin, GLOW

    D’Arcy Carden, The Good Place
    Yvonne Orji, Insecure
    Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Marin Hinkle, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
    Cecily Strong, Saturday Night Live

    OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

    Jeremy Strong, Succession – Winner
    Steve Carell, The Morning Show

    Jason Bateman, Ozark 
    Billy Porter, Pose
    Brian Cox, Succession
    Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us

    OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

    Zendaya, Euphoria – Winner
    Olivia Colman, The Crown

    Jodie Comer, Killing Eve
    Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
    Jennifer Aniston, The Morning Show
    Laura Linney, Ozark

    OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

    Billy Crudup, The Morning Show  – Winner
    Giancarlo Esposito, Better Call Saul 

    Bradley Whitford The Handmaid’s Tale
    Mark Duplass, The Morning Show
    Nicholas Braun, Succession
    Kieran Culkin, Succession 
    Matthew Macfadyen, Succession
    Jeffrey Wright, Westworld

    OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

    Julia Garner, Ozark – Winner
    Laura Dern, Big Little Lies

    Meryl Streep, Big Little Lies
    Helena Bonham Carter, The Crown
    Samira Wiley, The Handmaid’s Tale
    Fiona Shaw, Killing Ev
    Sarah Snook, Succession
    Thandie Newton, Westworld

    OUTSTANDING SHORT FORM NONFICTION OR REALITY SERIES

    National Geographic Presents Cosmos: Creating Possible Worlds – Winner
    Between The Scenes – The Daily Show

    Full Frontal With Samantha Bee Presents: Pandemic Video Diaries 
    Pose: Identity, Family, Community
    RuPaul’s Drag Race Out Of The Closet

    OUTSTANDING VARIETY TALK SERIES

    Last Week Tonight With John Oliver – Winner
    The Daily Show With Trevor Noah

    Full Frontal With Samantha Bee
    Jimmy Kimmel Live!
    The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

    OUTSTANDING VARIETY SKETCH SERIES

    Saturday Night Live – Winner
    A Black Lady Sketch Show

    Drunk History

    OUTSTANDING TELEVISION MOVIE

    Bad Education – Winner
    American Son

    Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings: These Old Bones
    El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
    Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend

    OUTSTANDING LIMITED SERIES

    Watchmen – Winner
    Little Fires Everywhere

    Mrs. America
    Unbelievable
    Unorthodox

    OUTSTANDING DOCUMENTARY OR NONFICTION SERIES

    The Last Dance – Winner
    American Masters
    Hillary
    McMillion$ 
    Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem And Madness 

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    September 21, 2020 • Entertainment News, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 408

  • NYFA Acting for Film Alum Anatolii Panchenko Stars in Spy Thriller ‘The Bureau’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum Anatolii Panchenko (Анатолий Панченко) has plenty to celebrate as his first major acting credit is in one of the biggest TV shows in France — Le Bureau des Légendes (a.k.a The Bureau).

    Poster for season five of ‘The Bureau’

    The political spy thriller television series, The Bureau , was created by Éric Rochant and produced by TOP– The Oligarchs Productions and Canal+. The series follows agents of the DGSE (General Directorate of External Security), France’s principal external security service. Panchenko appears in the latest season as Alexis Bakatine, a young, promising counterintelligence agent.

    The New York Times named The Bureau as a NYT Recommendation, calling it “a stylish foreign espionage thriller” and “easy to binge.” The Times also hails the thrilling series as “one of the smartest and most authentic-feeling procedural espionage series anywhere in the world.”

    Anatolii Panchenko as Alexis Bakatine in ‘The Bureau’

    The first season received favorable reviews worldwide and won several awards. The sophomore season of the series also received much discussion as one of the best television seasons ever produced in France. The third and fourth seasons, respectively, aired in France beginning May 22, 2017 and October 22, 2018, and were also met with critical acclaim.

    The first episode of the fifth season was originally slated to close Cannes Series 2020; being out of the competition itself. However, due to the public health crisis, the Festival de Cannes was pushed to October. The season went on to air in France on April 6, 2020, and is now available on Amazon Prime and Sundance Now.

    Anatolii Panchenko (Middle) in ‘The Bureau’

    Panchenko’s worldwide acting debut is in one of the most gripping seasons of the series yet. The NYFA alum also reveals that his character has an “interesting story arc and connection” with Malotru, the star of the show played by Mathieu Kassovitz (Amélie).

    New York Film Academy encourages everyone to check out Anatolii Panchenko in the critically acclaimed series and would like to congratulate the NYFA alum for landing his first-ever acting credit; NYFA looks forward to seeing what is next for the international performer.

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    August 13, 2020 • Acting, International Diversity, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 441

  • TV & Film Actress Samantha Soule Expands Her Craft With New York Film Academy’s Online Workshops

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    At New York Film Academy (NYFA), we are excited to continue to offer our creative and performing arts workshops online so that everyone, from artists and industry professionals like Samantha Soule, can continue to hone their craft under the guidance of renowned instructors from anywhere in the world. Samantha Soule, who recently took an Online Film Directing Workshop and Online Cinematography with NYFA, already boasts an active acting career, with credits including Outer Banks, Godless, City on a Hill, and Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, amongst many others.

    A full time actress for many years, Soule holds numerous credits for TV and film across Netflix, Showtime, CBS, and many more. She has a number of projects in the works for the upcoming year which, unfortunately, are on hold due to the global pandemic.

    “When COVID-19 shut down the projects I had in the works, it felt like a really good time to learn and evolve,” shares Soule. “So much of my life as a performer is being the clay for another’s vision, which is a job I love, but as I move forward in life I am interested in the ways I can expand: use other parts of my brain, create stories, create opportunities to collaborate in different ways, and create opportunities for others, and not just benefit from them myself.”

    Samantha Soule as Charlotte Temple in Netflix’s ‘Godless’

    During her online courses at NYFA, Soule shares that learning more outside of acting has been an eye-opening experience, allowing her to explore different avenues of the business like film directing and cinematography. “I learn best by doing, and this course has been an incredible kick in the butt to just get out there and start trying, learn from mistakes, fail, get up and try again.”

    As Soule pursues more avenues for creating more opportunities in the future, she shows no signs of stopping in her acting career, having already gained recognition for many of her roles including the put-together high society woman, Charlotte Temple, on Netflix’s Godless, where Soule stars alongside Michelle Dockery, Jeff Daniels, Merritt Weaver, and Jack O’Connell in the streaming giant’s western mini-series.

    Samantha Soule as Anna Carrera on Netflix breakout series ‘Outer Banks’

    Soule also recently appeared in Netflix breakout series Outer Banks (also referred to as OBX), which was recently renewed for a second season that has yet to begin filming due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Soule plays Anna Carrera, the caring and concerned mother of main character Kiara (played by Madison Bailey). Soule praises the show for its themes of the trust, loyalty and love that you build with the family you are born into and the family you choose. As for whether we will see more of Soule’s character next season, Soule says: “I think there is some of that ferocity in Anna. She has her own history and has made some bold choices herself along the way, but I haven’t a clue where the story is going! We shall see!”

    Samantha Soule (Right) in Showtime’s ‘City on a Hill’

    Soule’s long standing career as an actor has brought her many roles both big and small, but she approaches them all with a student mindset with what she’s absorbed from her experiences along the way. “I have been both really lucky and active in my fight to work on a really diverse array of characters. I love leaping from one world to the next and I learn from each. Each character is a new vantage to view the world, so the wider the range of humans I get to understand the deeper the education. I think most of what I love is the extreme juxtaposition, it’s like using different muscles.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank actress and NYFA alum Samantha Soule for taking the time to speak to us on her experience as a constant student to her craft and also encourages everyone to check out Soule in AMC’s supernatural thriller Nos4a2, which premiered this summer, and her upcoming project with Godless creator Scott Frank called Queen’s Gambit.

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    August 5, 2020 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 537

  • Award-Winning Actor Alec Baldwin Holds Live Q&A on Acting Technique for NYFA Students

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    On Tuesday, July 21, 2020, New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the honor of hosting a live video Q&A with award-winning and celebrated actor Alec Baldwin to discuss the acting craft with NYFA students and alumni. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A Series, moderated the event.

    Alec Baldwin has received a Tony nomination for his performance in A Streetcar Named Desire, a supporting actor nomination at the Oscars for The Cooler (2004), and he has won three Emmy awards, three Golden Globes and seven consecutive Screen Actors Guild Awards for ‘Best Actor in a Comedy Series’ for his role as Jack Donaghy on NBC-TV’s 30 Rock.

    Tina Fey (Left) and Alec Baldwin (Right) pose with their SAG Awards for ‘30 Rock’

    Baldwin’s filmography also includes the critically acclaimed film The Hunt for Red October, for which NYFA’s Founder, Jerry Sherlock, was Executive Producer, as well as Glengarry Glen Ross, It’s Complicated, The Departed, Pearl Harbor, Blue Jasmine, Still Alice, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, and many more.

    More recently, Baldwin has gained critical acclaim and popularity surrounding his portrayal of President Donald Trump for Saturday Night Live, joining the cast regularly for ongoing appearances as the 45th President.

    Tova Laiter (Left) and Alec Baldwin (Right) for The NYFA Q&A Series

    Laiter began the Q&A by asking Baldwin about his successful career and finding his place in Hollywood. “In the beginning, you have a boyish gratitude [on set], similar to being a guest in someone’s house,” he began, “everyone on the set knows more than you, but that changes later on when you are on a film and someone says something to you and you go ‘no, I think it’s this,’ as you begin to understand what will make a scene work.”

    The conversation then switched to Baldwin’s successful career as not only a dramatic actor, but a comedic performer, where Laiter brought up Baldwin’s hilarious and well-timed character Jack Donaghy on NBC’s critically acclaimed TV series 30 Rock. “The show, to me, is one of the ultimate examples of me being the beneficiary of very good writing,” he shares. “The writing was the best I had ever seen in terms of comedy and it was natural to me.”

    Baldwin on set for Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Departed’

    One student asked Baldwin about how he chooses the right script as an actor. Baldwin responded: “I try to decide ‘is this movie a movie I want to make or I want to see?’ Then, I look at my character. I’ve played parts where my character wasn’t the biggest role or well-served in terms of page count, but there was an opportunity to me where I could see that character having an impact on that film.” When it comes to looking at a script, Baldwin explains that it’s about the quality of storytelling and the impact of your character that matters.

    Another student asked Baldwin about what it can be like for an actor when giving a performance in a film versus acting in television series.

    Baldwin as President Donald Trump for ‘Saturday Night Live’

    “Moviemaking is intense because you have to narrow everything down to what is worthwhile and what works,” he shares. “Television allows for more time to spread your character arc or story along. There is more complexity involved because there is more time. If not in this episode then in the next…”

    To the question of whether one should try everything or stick to the one that already works, Baldwin recommended that when you are just starting out and you are young, to try everything to become the actor you can be and want to be, Baldwin reminded students that it isn’t just about finding an agent, “making it,” or getting everything “right” after studying acting: “Join a rep company. Do as many shows as you can. Do as many roles as you can off the beaten path so you can make your mistakes under the radar before you get typecast.”

    Steve Martin (Left) and Alec Baldwin (Right) host the 82nd Academy Awards

    Baldwin also provided profound advice to students when auditioning for a role. “Remember they asked you there.” He explains that it can be easy to go into an audition with a “people pleasing attitude,” but “they want what you have; they invited you to come to audition and they need you. You are a professional and they are looking for someone to play a part, and you give everything you’ve got in the audition. Once you walk into the room and realize no one is doing anybody any favors, it’s business, and you’re a part of that business, then everything is going to change for you.”

    Baldwin closed the conversation by thanking Laiter for the conversation and the students for their time, and expressed that he hoped his words were helpful to those looking at a career in acting.

    New York Film Academy would like to thank the talented Alec Baldwin for sharing his time and acting experience with NYFA students and alumni.

    To listen to the full conversation, click the video below or check it out on our YouTube channel here.

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    July 27, 2020 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 398

  • New York Film Academy Acting for Film Alum Manuel Garcia-Rulfo Stars in Apple TV+ Film ‘Greyhound’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) 1-Year Acting for Film conservatory program alum Manuel Garcia-Rulfo stars alongside Tom Hanks in the Apple TV+ film Greyhound. Originally slated for a theatrical release, the film was acquired by Apple TV+ in May due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down movie theaters across the country.

    Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (Center) in ‘Greyhound’

    The film made its streaming debut on July 10, 2020 and has since received critical acclaim. Greyhound follows U.S. Navy Commander Ernest Krause (Hanks) and his Allied convoy across the Atlantic. After being pursued by German U-boats, he and his crew find themselves embroiled in what would come to be known as the longest, largest and most complex naval battle in history: The Battle of the Atlantic.

    Apple TV film poster for ‘Greyhound’

    Manuel Garcia-Rulfo stars as one of Commander Ernest Krause’s crew members named “Lopez,” who assists Hanks’ character in The Battle of the Atlantic. Also starring in the film include incredible talents Stephen Graham (This is England), Rob Morgan (Stranger Things), and Elisabeth Shue (Back to the Future franchise). Hanks, who wrote the screenplay for the film, based the script off of the 1955 novel The Good Shepherd by C. S. Forester.

    The NYFA alum has already had a buzzing career in both Mexico and the United States. As a young actor in Mexico, Garcia-Rulfo said he was offered roles in telenovelas that he decided to turn down. “You’re very hungry in the beginning. But I knew what I wanted my career to look like. I said no to a lot of things early in my career.”

    Manuel Garcia-Rulfo photo shoot (Photo Credit: FLAUNT Magazine)

    Since then, Garcia-Rulfo has starred in critically acclaimed films and blockbusters like WidowsThe Magnificent Seven, 6 Underground, and Sicario: Day of the Soldado. He will also be starring in the upcoming film Sweet Girl from Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones, Aquaman), expected to release late 2020 or in 2021.

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Manuel Garcia-Rulfo on his latest acting role in Greyhound and the film’s success on Apple TV; NYFA looks forward to what’s next from the Acting for Film conservatory alum.

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    July 22, 2020 • Acting, Entertainment News, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 582

  • New York Film Academy Welcomes Acclaimed ‘American Beauty’ Actress Mena Suvari for The NYFA Q&A Series

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    On Tuesday, July 14, 2020, New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the pleasure to hold a live video Q&A with critically acclaimed actress MENA SUVARI to discuss her acting career with NYFA students and alumni. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A Series, moderated the event.

    Mena Suvari is an award winning actress known for her roles in hits such as American Pie (1999) and the five-time Oscar-awarded American Beauty (1999). Directed by Sam Mendes, her genuine and moving performance as the character Angeles Hayes in American Beauty earned her a ‘Best Supporting Actress’ nod by BAFTA and a SAG Award for ‘Best Ensemble Cast.’ Suvari also won a Movieline Award for ‘Breakthrough Performance’ for her role.

    Following the success of American Pie, she reunited with Jason Biggs in Amy Heckerling’s romantic comedy Loser (2000) and continued to show her acting range in projects like Jonas Åkerlund’s cult-classic Spun (2002), Rob Reiner’s Rumor Has It (2005), Tony Scott’s Domino (2005), and Factory Girl (2006), amongst others.

    Tova Laiter (Left) and Mena Suvari (Right) during live Q&A

    Laiter opened the conversation by discussing Suvari’s career in the entertainment industry, which began with Suvari booking modeling and commercial jobs, which then turned into guest star roles on television. After booking her first film, Nowhere (1997), other indie film gigs soon opened up for the actress, eventually leading her to her biggest break yet, a lead role in the cult-classic, blockbuster film American Pie.

    Suvari recalls the audition for high school chorus student Heather being very relaxed and not as intense as her audition for American Beauty. After shooting American Pie, Suvari remembers going into film Sam Mendes’ heavily awarded film American Beauty, playing a more dramatic role as Angela Hayes, known for her iconic, risqué rose petal scenes throughout the film.

    “I honestly remember thinking, at the time, ‘I’m so happy to have a job’ not necessarily the big names around me and they [American Pie and American Beauty] saved me at the time during a very personally challenging moment in my life.”

    Kevin Spacey (Left) and Mena Suvari (Right) in ‘American Beauty’

    Suvari, who has experienced shooting some intimate scenes across her filmography, also touched on what it can be like for actors on set when filming a very sensual or more explicit scene.

    “It can definitely be awkward sometimes,” she laughs, “I have worked in all types of scenarios, but when you are shooting intimate scenes you want to keep the crew as small as possible and make everything feel very considerate.” For American Beauty, Suvari recalls everything being handled very professionally and carefully and remembers that Mendes was “very supportive” throughout the process.

    Mena Suvari in ‘American Pie’ (1999)

    A student then asked Suvari how she personally gets into approaching a role when reading a script. “It depends on the project,” she shared. “I am currently working on a project now, for example, where there is a tight family dynamic and I am trying to understand where the characters are coming from and their motivations.”

    Ultimately, Suvari explains, approaching a script is really about collaboration, as well. “I want to approach the writer, the director, and whoever I can to understand the genesis of the story and what it means to them, and ask as many questions as I can.”

    Mena Suvari (Left) and Alicia Silverstone (Right) in ‘American Woman’

    Suvari closed the conversation, by sharing some advice with NYFA students that has always stuck with her throughout her career while she was shooting Orpheus in 2007. “It was something that you think would be so simple, but the director [Bruce Beresford] just said ‘listen, listen listen,’ which can be tricky if you think about it, because you already know the script and what will happen because you are familiar with everything, but you need to be as present as possible in the moment.”

    Laiter then thanked Suvari for joining the conversation and giving students some excellent insight for their future productions in front of the camera or for those directing actors, while Suvari exclaimed she was so happy to be part of the conversation and to speak with the students.

    New York Film Academy would like to thank actress Mena Suvari for sharing her time and her experiences working on set from being a young actress to a seasoned performer. NYFA encourages everyone to check out Suvari’s upcoming film Grace and Grit, set to release later in 2020.

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    July 15, 2020 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 293

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Online Acting for Film Alum Stars in Netflix Original Series ‘Sacred Games’

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    With New York Film Academy (NYFA) beginning to expand its offerings and conducting specialized workshops online, actors like Online Acting for Film alum, Elnaaz Norouzi, can take classes to polish their craft from renowned industry professionals anywhere in the world. Elnaaz Norouzi, who recently studied in a 4-Week Acting for Film Workshop, also stars in the Netflix original series Sacred Games.

    Norouzi was born in Tehran, Iran, and later moved to Germany, where she also learned English, German, and French in addition to her native language of Farsi. When she moved to India years later, Norouzi also learned Hindi, Urdu, and Punjabi, allowing her to speak a grand total of seven languages.

    NYFA alum Elnaaz Norouzi as Zoya in ‘Sacred

    Just like learning languages opens the doors to understanding different cultures and behaviors, so does becoming an actor. “I always found it super fascinating to learn and to know what other people feel or what makes them do things the way they do them,” says Norouzi. “I feel it takes a lot for an actor to be able to put themselves in the shoes of another.”

    In addition to acting, Norouzi has also been working as an international model for over ten years with brands like Dior, Lacoste, and Le Coq Sportif, to name a few, but it is acting that Norouzi is most passionate about.

    When she began her acting career in India, Norouzi remembers taking a lot of classes in Mumbai, but it was always her dream to go to New York Film Academy. With Norouzi’s normally packed schedule winding down due to the global pandemic, she realized it was time to make that dream a reality and enrolled in NYFA’s Online Acting for Film Workshop. “I learned so much about what I’ve never done before with my scripts. My next script will be full of left-hand side notes.”

    Photo Courtesy of Elnaaz Norouzi

    While many remember their first experience in the film industry, Norouzi remembers several. Her first acting roles for films, Maan Jao Naa and Khido Khundi, were part of two separate film industries, the Pakistani (“Lollywood”) and Punjabi (“Pollywood) industries, respectively. “It’s amazing to be able to explore different film industries. Each of them work so differently,” she says. “Both of those films were only my first two films and I got to learn so much while doing them.”

    After her film acting debut, Norouzi quickly found herself involved in Netflix’s first original series in India called Sacred Games, based on Vikram Chandra’s 2006 novel of the same name. “I remember being one of the last girls to audition for Zoya and Jameela’s role. After I got the role, I discovered they were auditioning girls for over three months for my part and weren’t able to find anyone suitable. By the time I was cast, the shooting for the first season had already started.”

    NYFA alum Elnaaz Norouzi in Netflix poster for ‘Sacred Games’

    “I felt very proud bagging the role, but back then I didn’t expect much because I didn’t know much about Netflix, and no one in India had Netflix yet.” After the series was released, the show became such a success that people began subscribing to Netflix just to watch Sacred Games. “People started recognizing me and calling me Zoya [Norouzi’s character] and I realized how big the show had actually become.”

    The show currently has two seasons available on Netflix and it is likely it will be renewed for a third season. “It may take some time since the original book covered only the first two seasons, so our fabulous writers must write something new for us now.

    Aside from another season of Sacred Games, Norouzi shares she has two films coming up, including a Bollywood film that was delayed in its release due to COVID-19 and a South Indian action film in Tamil. “Lots of people have asked me if Tamil is going to be my eighth language, but that will surely not happen. It was hard enough to learn it for the film, I don’t think I can learn the entire language,” she jokes.

    New York Film Academy would like to thank actress and NYFA alum Elnaaz Norouzi for taking the time to share her experience in the global film industry and looks forward to seeing Elnaaz in her upcoming projects. Sacred Games (Seasons 1 & 2) are currently streaming now on Netflix.

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    June 29, 2020 • Acting, International Diversity, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 746

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Alum Stars in Fox’s ‘9-1-1: Lone Star’

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum Ronen Rubinstein stars in Fox’s procedural drama 9-1-1: Lone Star, created by American Horror Story creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk.

    Rubinstein, who graduated from NYFA in 2013 from a 1-Year Conservatory program for Acting for Film, has also starred in Eliza Hittman’s It Felt Like Love, horror film Some Kind of Hate, and Dude starring opposite Awkwafina and Lucy Hale. Rubinstein also landed a guest star role on an episode of season three for Netflix’s Orange is the New Black.

    Rubinstein along with the cast of ‘9-1-1: Lone Star’

    9-1-1: Lone Star premiered on January 19, 2020 and was recently renewed for a second season after being declared a hit on the network and receiving a positive response from viewers. The series is a spinoff of 9-1-1, which takes focuses on Los Angeles first responders. In 9-1-1: Lone Star, Rubinstein stars opposite Rob Lowe and Liv Tyler, as  Tyler Kennedy “TK” Strand, an openly gay firefighter/paramedic and recovering opioid addict.

    The show mainly focuses on Owen, played by Lowe, who is the lone survivor of a Manhattan firehouse following the events of 9/11 and seeks to rebuild his station. After this occurs, he moves to Austin with his troubled firefighter son, played by Rubinstein to help out a new firehouse rebuilding from tragedy. Much like its predecessor 9-1-1, each episode focuses on a different local tragedy or crises revolving around characters in the community.

    Rubinstein on set of ‘9-1-1: Lone Star’

    When asked about what it has been like working with celebrities like Rob Lowe and Liv Tyler, in an interview, Rubinstein responded, “this whole thing is a dream come true. Getting to work with legends like Rob Lowe and Liv Tyler, every time you show up on set you get to learn from [people] who’ve been doing this [acting] for years.“

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Ronen Rubinstein on the renewal of his show 9-1-1: Lone Star and looks forward to seeing what is next from the NYFA alum.

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    June 3, 2020 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 713

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) AFA Acting for Film Alum Masali Baduza Stars in BBC’s Noughts + Crosses

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) AFA Acting for FIlm alum Masali Baduza has landed one of the lead roles in BBC’s buzzworthy new adaptation of Noughts + Crosses.

    Masali Baduza

    NYFA AFA Acting for Film alum Masali Baduza

    Baduza originally hails from South Africa and is bilingual in both English and Xhosa, and earned her Associate Degree of Fine Arts in Acting for FIlm after enrolling at NYFA’s Burbank-based campus in Los Angeles in 2015. Since earning her AFA in Acting for Film, Baduza has appeared in the productions Bhai’s Cafe, The Fighter, and Trackers, before landing her biggest role yet in BBC’s Noughts + Crosses.

    The television show is adapted from a series of young adult stories that began with the novel Noughts & Crosses, first published in 2001. The speculative fiction saga, written by Malorie Blackman, takes place in an alternate history where black Africans colonized and enslaved white Europeans, rather than the other way around. The story is told from the perspectives of two lead characters–Callum and Sephy. 

    Masali Baduza

    ‘Noughts + Crosses Stars’ Jack Rowan and NYFA AFA Acting for Film alum Masali Baduza

    Baduza stars as Sephy, opposite Jack Rowan (Peaky Blinders, Born to Kill), who plays Callum. The cast also includes Paterson Joseph (The Leftovers, Timeless), Josh Dylan (Mamma Mia 2, The End of the F***ing World), Kiké Brimah (Doctors), Luke Bailey (Ordinary Lies), Jonathan Ajayi (Wonder Woman 1984), Helen Baxendale (Dirk Gently), and British rapper Stormzy.

    New York Film Academy congratulates AFA Acting for Film alum Masali Baduza on landing the lead role in BBC’s exciting new show and encourages everyone to check out her work on Noughts + Crosses!

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    March 24, 2020 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1440

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA Acting for Film Alum Michael Johnson Receives Inaugural Elan Vega Award

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    Before he unexpectedly passed away last summer, New York Film Academy (NYFA) 1-Year Screenwriting conservatory and BFA Acting for Film alum Elan Vega lit up the lives of everyone around him, especially his NYFA classmates. His positivity, hard work, and commitment to the arts now lives on through NYFA’s Elan Vega Award, and it was no surprise that the award’s first recipient was NYFA 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory student and BFA Acting for Film grad Michael Johnson.

    Both Johnson and Vega graduated from the BFA Acting for Film program at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. Both alumni also sought to expand their artistic talents into other avenues; in Spring 2019, Johnson enrolled in NYFA-LA’s 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory while Vega began studying in the 1-Year Screenwriting conservatory. Vega was a veteran of the United States Marine Corps who had a huge heart and who personified service, perseverance, and passion. Johnson is also a military veteran, having served in the US Army, and shares these same virtues, making him the perfect choice to receive the inaugural Elan Vega Award.

    Michael Johnson Elan Vega Award

    NYFA alum and Elan Vega Award recipient Michael Johnson

    The award will be distributed each semester by New York Film Academy in Vega’s honor to students that embody Vega’s kindness, selflessness, and thoughtfulness, students who have demonstrated the desire to help their fellow artists whenever and wherever needed, as Vega had done so many times. Vega loved the process of storytelling, our community, and the friends he made at NYFA, and elevated both his classmates and his program with his enduring attitude.

    To that end, the Elan Vega Award includes both a beautifully-crafted plaque and a financial grant to help recipients further their studies and artistic pursuits. Johnson received the award in February in a ceremony attended by, among other NYFA senior faculty, actor and NYFA Master Class instructor Matthew Modine.

    Michael Johnson Elan Vega Award

    Michael Johnson receiving the Elan Vega Award with senior NYFA faculty

    Like Vega, Johnson is beloved by his peers in the NYFA community, as well as his instructors and other faculty and administration. While the tragic passing of Vega will never be forgotten, his spirit living on through his friends and through future graduates of NYFA who embody that spirit is something to celebrate. Friends and classmates of both Vega and Johnson were glad to see Vega’s memory honored by Johnson, who gave a heartfelt acceptance speech at the award ceremony.

    New York Film Academy congratulates 1-Year Filmmaking conservatory and BFA Acting for Film grad Michael Johnson on receiving the inaugural Elan Vega Award and honoring the spirit of NYFA alum Elan Vega.

    Michael Johnson Elan Vega Award

    NYFA alum and Elan Vega Award recipient Michael Johnson

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