Acting Scholarship Winner Prosper Mangena (right) with Blake Babbitt and Anaïs
As an on-going effort to reach talented individuals not only in the Unites States but also abroad, the New York Film Academy has partnered with the “Be Your Dream” project in South Africa to offer two full tuition scholarships to teen musical theatre and acting students.
Founded by artist and Ambassador of Lifeline, Anaïs, the “Be Your Dream” project is an initiative to spread awareness throughout South Africa, regarding LifeLine and their free services and counseling that is provided for those in need.
After auditioning forty selected individuals from the program, our admissions team was forced with the difficult decision of awarding two of the many deserving artists with these talent-based scholarships.
Musical Theatre Scholarship Winner, Kayla de Araujo
Today, with Anaïs on hand at NYFA Battery Park, NYFA showcased our most recent student scholarship winners:
Prosper Mangena, Awarded 4-Week Acting for Film Teen Scholarship
Kayla de Araujo, Awarded 4-Week Musical Theatre Teen Scholarship
“I had the honor of awarding Prosper Mangena and Kayla de Araujo full talent-based scholarships to attend our 4-Week Teen Summer Acting for Film and Musical Theatre programs,” said Director of Performing Arts Admissions, Blake Babbitt. “I see such incredible talent come from South Africa, and it’s a pleasure to be able to join with the ‘Be Your Dream’ project to offer Kayla and Prosper this unique and life changing opportunity.”
We’re delighted to have these two gifted young performers currently enrolled at NYFA, and look forward to seeing next year’s talent!
One of the many enticing aspects of attending one of the New York Film Academy’s programs is the ability to learn hands-on from professionals who have and continue to have such a strong grasp of the professional entertainment business. The best teacher is someone with real life experience in his or her field. Our Los Angeles Acting for Film Chair, Lynda Goodfriend, oversees the acting for film school with a tremendously versatile and impressive background, having performed and acted in both New York City and Los Angeles.
After college, Goodfriend started her career as a professional dancer and singer on Broadway, Off Broadway and, as she puts it, “Way-off Broadway.”
“It was everything I’d dreamt of! One of the highlights was to work with a young performer just starting his career as well, John Travolta” recalls Goodfriend. “When I started to take my acting more seriously, I began studying with the master teachers Lee Strasberg and Sandy Meisner, which made me believe that my ultimate goal as a performer was to be a ‘dramatic actress.'”
After being in a couple of very small roles in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver with Robert De Niro and The Front with Woody Allen, Lynda drove to Los Angeles with ambition and her SAG card. To her surprise, Goodfriend booked a variety of sitcom roles, rather than the dramas she was accustomed to.
“I started classes at Harvey Lembeck’s comedy workshop and would come home crying after every class—it was so hard! But now I love comedy and appreciate the actors who do it well. Among my classmates was a young comedian who could not get work as an actor because he could not stick to the script, but he was brilliant at improv. A role came up on the series I was doing (Happy Days) and they could not cast the character, so I mentioned this guy from my class. He came in to audition, got the role, and the producers liked him so much they created a series of his own—it was called Mork and Mindy, and the actor, Robin Williams, became a huge star.”
Lynda Goodfriend as Lori Beth Cunningham with Ron Howard as Richie Cunningham on ‘Happy Days’
Lynda is most well known for her role as Lori Beth Cunningham in the hit TV series Happy Days. Along the way she did two other sitcom series, many guest star roles, and several roles in feature films working with such actors as Tom Hanks, Bette Midler, and Julia Roberts. One of her fondest moments, as she recalls, was working with Ray Bolger, the ‘Scarecrow’ from the Wizard of Oz, on an episode of Fantasy Island.
Taking a break from television, Goodfriend started her own acting school, The Actors Workout in NoHo (North Hollywood, the Theatre District), and developed two schools and a Theatre. She was also the head of a management company, Young Artists Management for many years, working with clients from top talent agencies such as CAA, ICM and William Morris.
She came back to teaching in 2006 at New York Film Academy, teaching Acting for Film and Scripted TV classes. In 2011, Lynda became—and still serves as—Chair of the Acting Department. “I feel like working in this position pulls together all that I’ve learned from my acting career, teaching and managing careers. And fortunately, since my daughter is a talent agent at one of the top agencies in LA, it’s easy to still keep up with the current trends in the industry, so I can help guide our students.”
“My goal for the Acting Department at NYFA is to continue to find more techniques and approaches to help actors learn their craft, as well as to expand our students’ opportunities to be involved in the industry after graduation. I love our program and have the honor to work with so many gifted instructors. Since becoming Chair, I have had the opportunity to add the Student Directed Plays, the Studio Classes (advanced “extra” courses in Meisner, Method and Chekov), Alumni Scene Study classes, as well as our extensive list of Drop In Classes—Auditioning, Stage Combat, Improv, Yoga, Meditation, Dance, Accent Reduction, Singing and Ballroom Dance—to support their training.”
“This program is an amazing gift for students who want to learn everything as an actor. When you graduate from this program you can hit the ground running! I believe that everything you do in life teaches you something about acting, so in my personal life I’ve always tried to do things that challenged me—I’ve raced airplanes, climbed mountains in the Himalayas, and am a competition rider along with my Swedish Warmblood horse, named ‘Othello.’ No matter what you do or pursue it’s all about the same thing—focus, hard work and commitment.”
The most important words of advice Goodfriend can give any actor that is pursuing a career are:
Work harder than everybody else
Don’t burn bridges
Do something every day to become a better actor: read scripts, plays or anything you can get your hands on, go to the theatre, watch great films, go to class
It’s showcase time at New York Film Academy Australia. Both our Sydney and Gold Coast campuses, together with Acting for Film students, had been working effortlessly over the months putting together performances that showcase the students’ talents.
Gold Coast had a busy three-day showcase schedule running throughout early March, featuring 34 of the Academy’s skilled acting students. Each and every night, the Helensvale Cultural Centre was filled with friends and family who had come along to support the graduate actors’ and actresses’ live performances and showreels. The room was filled with great energy and positive vibes as all graduates pulled-off an outstanding performance.
Congratulations to the Gold Coast Acting for Film graduates:
New York Film Academy Gold Coast Students: Brandon Sherwood, Callum Whitton, Anthony Christodoulou, David Austin, Samantha Willis, Tara Wraith, Michael Stoeckert, Marie-Clare Loi Zou, Jasper Batenga, Will Wensley (instructor), Stephanie Kutty, Paris Moletti, Taryn Roberts and Christine Campbell.
Thursday 5th March Performers
Marie-Clare Lou Zou
Wednesday 11th March Performers
Thursday 12th March Performers
As we headed down the coast of Australia, on Friday 6th March, Sydney was preparing for an over-capacity performance at the Australian Theater for Young People, located above the Sydney Theatre Company and accompanied with the breathtaking backdrop of Walsh Bay.
Over the months leading up to the showcase, acting one-year program graduates of the night, Chantelle Von Appen, Chris Strauss, Alexander Merlo, David Pound, Nicole Torode, Rafael Haddad and Andrew Murdoch were able to experience exactly why New York Film Academy programs are defined by their intensive, hands-on reputation. Graduates’ commitment and dedication truly shined on the night, with their high caliber execution of mixed scene performances and beat poetry receiving a well-deserved standing-ovation from audience members, family, friends, NYFA staff and instructors.
With a buzz in the air, graduates continued to showcase their works to a number of agents and casting directors at the Sony Theatrette. The opportunity for students to present their showreels was nerve-wracking but again, was received positively by students, agents and casting directors, alike.
New York Film Academy Sydney Students on-stage showcasing their talents.
New York Film Academy Sydney. From left, Rafael Haddad, David Pound, Nicole Torode, Jennie Hughes (NYFA Sydney, General Manager), Alexander Merlo, Chantelle Von Appen, Chris Strauss & Andrew Murdoch.
New York Film Academy would like to thank all students, graduates and teaching staff who worked tirelessly to produce such a successful program, making it possible to accomplish these inspiring events and performances. We congratulate all students who have now joined our NYFA Alumni family and look forward to another prosperous year working with talented, upcoming actors and actresses.
Fresh off his Oscar win for his incredible performance in Whiplash, J.K. Simmons is filling his dance card with an upcoming slate of high-profile movies. He’s already signed on for Skull Island, the epic sequel to Peter Jackson’s King Kong starring The Avengers’Tom Hiddleston and Birdman’s Michael Keaton, set for release in 2017.
This week, Simmons added another role, that of a Navy SEAL commanding officer giving his troops a hard time—a part he was seemingly born to play. The film is The Lake, a thriller about the aforementioned SEALs searching for sunken treasure in Serbia.
The Lake is being co-written and produced by prolific French filmmaker Luc Besson, director of La Femme Nikita, León, The Fifth Element and Lucy and creator of The Transporter and Taken series. Steven Quale, director of Final Destination 5 and Into the Storm and a long-time collaborator of James Cameron, will be helming The Lake. Quale is a fitting choice, considering his work with Cameron on other water-based adventures The Abyss and the 3D IMAX documentary Aliens of the Deep.
Simmons recently spoke with New York Film Academy students about his well-lauded roles in Spider-Man, Portal 2, The Legend of Korra, The Closer, and, of course, Whiplash. There’s no doubt he will bring his trademark talent and passion to The Lake.
Hollywood and Vine means something a lot different now than it has to Los Angelinos. For them, it’s always been a famous L.A. cross-street. But these days, in a post-Facebook twenty-first century, it represents a new and fruitful relationship between two titans of culture.
Since Vine’s launch in 2012, the Twitter-owned video app has been looping millions of six-second videos to a predominantly young demographic. And nobody’s six-second videos get looped more than King Bach, Vine’s most followed user. Bach, 26, has over eleven million followers and is truly the current King of Vine. He has bigger aspirations though, and is getting ready to conquer his next kingdom—Hollywood itself.
It’s a long time coming. Even before he joined Vine in 2013 and earned his fanbase with his quirky six-second sketches, Andrew Bachelor studied at the New York Film Academy and The Groundlings. It was as a struggling actor laboring in the audition mines that Bachelor adopted the stage name King Bach.
Since breaking out on Vine, Bach has already scored guest roles on The Mindy Project and Wild ‘N’ Out. It was a short jump from mobiles to TV and now a shorter jump from TV to movies as Bach has five upcoming movie projects in production. He’s even playing himself in the Zac Efron vehicle We Are Your Friends.
Bach has no plans to retire from Vine, however, appreciating the network he’s building his empire from. He likens himself to Will Smith, who gained movie superstardom from his sitcom role as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. While the Fresh Prince can still dominate the box office, there’s a good chance he’ll be competing with a King someday very soon.
St. James Place, a historical spy thriller, has quite the pedigree background behind it. Steven Spielberg will be directing a screenplay by Matt Charman and the Coen Brothers. Its cast includes Alan Alda, Amy Ryan, and frequent Spielberg collaborator Tom Hanks. Also included in the cast is Eve Hewson, 23, a rising star from Ireland who also happens to be the daughter of music legend Bono.
Hewson studied acting at the New York Film Academy in 2005 and has since found roles in music videos, thrillers and romantic comedies. She currently co-stars with Clive Owen in the Cinemax medical drama The Knick.
Spielberg’s hotly-anticipated film takes place in 1960 and stars Hanks as real-life lawyer James Donovan. Donovan was tasked with negotiating the release of a pilot shot down in the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. Filming commenced last Fall in Hewson’s current hometown—Brooklyn, New York. Ironically, the plane shot down in both real life and in the movie was a U-2 spy plane, U-2 inspiring the name of Hewson’s father’s legendary rock band.
Dream of co-starring with Tom Hanks in a Steven Spielberg film one day? Check out New York Film Academy’s acting school program today!
Being brought up in New York City with a passion for acting, New York Film Academy Acting for Film Instructor Robert Lipton was fortunate enough to have studied with both Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg. Like so many other successful actors in the business, Lee and Stella shaped Lipton as an actor and teacher of the craft. With an extensive list of film, television and theatre credits like Bullit, Die Hard 2, The X-Files, Melrose Place and many more, Lipton’s experience has been a valuable tool for blossoming actors in the classroom.
“I love working with young people at the Academy — the changes are dramatic and it all happens very quickly,” says Lipton. “I believe great actors don’t happen by accident. They have a method, a technique, a way of working.”
One of the most important pieces of advice Lipton stresses is not to go out into the “real world” of acting until you are truly ready. Rather, be sure you’ve mastered your craft through student films, small theater performanes, or other independent projects that provide you with real behind the camera experience. The reason being, when you go on auditions without having quite found your comfort zone, casting directors will notice and remember you. This makes it much more difficult when you keep coming across a casting director who has already dismissed you as a talented actor.
“I’ve known actors over the years who were talented but didn’t audition well. Most of them have moved on to other careers. It’s unfortunate, but a fact of life,” admits Lipton. “Don’t audition well — don’t get the part.”
Having been on countless auditions throughout his career, Lipton has gathered this: to have a successful audition an actor must have a technique in place. It will give them confidence in their choices and allow them to become more relaxed and focused.
While acting is in his blood for life, Lipton’s recent focus has been more toward screenwriting. He’s recently optioned a television series, which is semi-autobiographical, and has another project that he feels can be a success in today’s market. Knowing the material is crucial toward the overall success of the film, and plays hand-in-hand with the actors’ performances.
“For me, it’s about understanding the material and the character’s relation to it. Most problems come from an actor not getting the logic of a scene and the character’s objective in it. Understanding a character’s overall objective in a script or play helps an actor to find meaningful choices that support the logic of the material.” Another valuable piece of advice that actors and filmmakers alike should understand before going into production.
It has been a privilege to have Mr. Lipton as a member of our esteemed staff of instructors. It’s artists like Robert Lipton that continue to make the New York Film Academy’s Acting for Film Program one of the most sought after institutions for aspiring young actors.
One of the most common approaches for actors to take on their character in a given scene is to ask themselves the five W’s: Who, what, when, where, and why. Such was the advice from our recent guest and star of Fort Bliss, Michelle Monaghan. Michelle, who recently starred in HBO’s True Detective, played the leading lady whose character returns home from an extended tour in Afghanistan and struggles to rebuild her relationship with her young son. “I couldn’t believe what an amazing role this was,” Michelle told to a full house of New York Film Academy students. “The script was near perfect and completely original.”
Our other guest, actor Gbenga Akinnagbe, known for playing Chris in the HBO hit The Wire, wholeheartedly agreed with Michelle in terms of the material’s originality. To them, one of the most important aspects of the film was its ability to inform the audience of the difficulties soldiers face when returning home from combat. The two of them went to the actual Fort Bliss to sink their teeth into the environment and ultimately film at the location. The film’s authenticity really shined on the screen.
Gbenga and Michelle were gracious guests, answering insightful questions from students and our moderator, Acting for Film Chair, Glynis Rigsby. Of all of the advice that was given, one that stood in particular from Michelle was in regards to the actor’s audition process, “If I can at least make a connection with the casting director, that’s a plus.” She added, “Don’t be so hard on yourself. Remember, they want you to get that job. After all, they invited you.”
As for Gbenga, his wisdom was to not wrap yourself up into the business too much. “Do and value things outside this business.” His advice came after his years of experience, noting how stressed actors can become when their entire life becomes ‘the industry’. Indeed something to think about when embarking on such a strenuous and competitive field.
You can watch the Q&A in its entirety in the video below.
Within two months of graduating from New York Film Academy’s One-Year Acting for Film Conservatory, Mia Ella Jordan was cast in the feature film, Basketball Girlfriend, which is now available to rent on RedBox. She was also in Jez Dior’s music video, Who Drank My Whiskey, which, at one point in time earlier this year, was the #1 song trending on Twitter. Aside from those two projects, she was the lead actress in the short, I-589, which premiered at the LA Indie Film Festival.
Hailing from Santiago de Chile, Mia had originally auditioned with Basketball Girlfriend director Jean-Claude La Marre for another project and, some time later, he called her in to audition for the role of Jenny and cast her that day. This is fairly common in the industry, so don’t get too discouraged when you don’t land the initial audition. Maintain strong relationships with directors and casting directors.
Mia had been working in theatre for quite a while and while she loved it, her heart was in film. After attending an international school fair in Santiago, she was drawn to NYFA. Mia felt the Acting for Film courses were the perfect compliment to her previous acting training in theatre.
“The Meisner technique has been the most useful to me in terms of auditioning and being on-set,” said Mia. “I’ve heard from a lot of actors and even some agents that Meisner doesn’t help in auditions, but to me listening is everything because it sustains my being in the present and so it instills me in my truth.”
Mia eventually hopes to reach a point in her career where she can choose specific roles that truly resonate with her. As an actress, she believes she has a wonderful responsibility with the audience and wants to honor it by creating and being a part of projects that truly inspire and make a difference.
Recently, Mia finished acting in another music video for Jez Dior’s single, Clean Me Up. She’s also finishing up filming a short film, I Forgot You Were Here, where she plays a blind woman in a troubled relationship. “I love it because it’s not moral and I believe art never should be,” she says.
Check out Mia Ella Jordan in Jez Dior’s Who Drank My Whiskey.
In appreciation of the brave men and women who protect our nation, the New York Film Academy is providing an exclusive opportunity for military service members and honorably discharged veterans to receive a 4-Week Scholarship to study at either our Los Angeles or New York campus during the 2014 calendar year.
We’re offering three 4-Week Scholarships–one in each of the following disciplines:
• Acting for Film
• Photography (Please note: 4-Week photography students are required to have their own DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera with them at the start of the program)
To be eligible to be selected as a scholarship winner, we ask:
Participants need to create a 90-second video telling us your story, and upload it to your YouTube channel.
Topics to include in the video:
• Your military background and experience
• Which program you want to study (Acting for Film, Filmmaking or Photography)
• Why you want to pursue your passion at the New York Film Academy
• Anything else you would like to share with us to help shape your story
In addition to the above points, we encourage participants to include a sampling of their creative work within the video. Perhaps you could edit in a snippet of a short film you’ve created, a scene in which you’ve acted in, or a couple of your iconic photographs. While this is not mandatory, it never hurts to show off your artistic skills!
How to Submit
Participants must upload their 90-second video to their YouTube channel with the title “New York Film Academy Memorial Day Competition – Your Title/Name (ex. “Sergeant John Doe”).
Once you have uploaded your video onto YouTube, copy the video’s URL link and paste it into a post to NYFA’s Veterans Facebook page. In your post to NYFA, include your name and contact information so we can reach the winners. If you’re uncomfortable posting your contact information online, please email your details and the link to your post to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Videos must be properly submitted by Memorial Day: Monday, May 26th 2014 by 11:59PM.
How the Winners Are Selected
The winners will be determined based on the following combination:
• The story told to us in your video
• The public’s response to your video on our Facebook page (therefore, don’t forget to share a link with your friends and family to our Facebook page so they can like, share and comment on your video!)
• You’re able to submit a copy of your DD214 directly to NYFA, once we’ve contacted you as possible winner.
• Winners will be announced before the end of June 2014!