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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Welcomes Academy Award-winning Actor Sir Ben Kingsley

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a Q&A with Academy Award-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley last Thursday, May 23, following a screening of the first episode of the new Epix series, Perpetual Grace, LTD. The event was moderated by NYFA admissions specialist Chris Devane.

    Sir Ben Kingsley
    Kingsley began his career by studying theatre in Manchester, England and eventually acted professionally in the West End in London and then on Broadway in New York. After establishing himself on the stage, Kingsley began working as an actor in television and film in Hollywood, quickly drawing acclaim for his work. In 1983, he won the Academy Award for Lead Actor for his work in Gandhi.

    Other notable film roles include Schindler’s List, House of Sand and Fog, Hugo, Iron Man 3, Ender’s Game, Night at the Museum, and The Jungle Book. In 2002, Kingsley was named a Knight Bachelor by Queen Elizabeth II for his contributions to the British film industry.

    Sir Ben Kingsley

    Moderator Chris Devane began the Q&A by asking what inspired Kingsley to become a professional actor. “My absolute desire was to be seen and heard,” answered Kingsley, adding, “impersonation gave a great comfort in that I could—for a fleeting moment—acquire an identity and a voice … and entertain and connect with people.”

    “Eventually,” he continued, “it was clear to me that I could, in fact, turn what one could call … an urge … into a craft … Without the urge to connect, one isn’t really an artist.”

    One student in the audience asked what Kingsley has learned from his many years as an actor. “When one was younger, one did an awful lot of acting and, as one matures in the craft, paradoxically, you do less and less and less and less acting … and, hopefully, you embark on a process of being.”

    Sir Ben Kingsley

    Kingsley was asked by another student how he is able to switch from one role to the next so quickly. Kingsley replied that when he was acting with the Royal Shakespeare Company, he was playing multiple roles each week. He elaborated, “As a matter of survival, you [learn], you [have] to get off that horse and get on another one and you know the horses are very different; it simply is practice, but, unless you have that muscle that’s practiced in you that can switch from one role to another, it’s going to be very difficult.”

    Kingsley added, “I have learned, onstage, through my work in the great rehearsal room … after each take … I let go … I’m constantly letting go … I do not stay in character between takes and I do not stay in character when I go home.”

    Sir Ben Kingsley

    New York Film Academy thanks Sir Ben Kingsley for sharing his insights about the art and craft of acting as well as anecdotes from his renowned and prolific career in film, theatre, and television.

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    May 29, 2019 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 493

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Showcases ‘New Faces of Hollywood’

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    On April 18, the New York Film Academy Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) Acting for Film department proudly presented their annual Alumni Industry Showcase – New Faces of Hollywood.

    The event was held at the Burbank-based NYFA Theater. This year’s showcase, directed by Anne Moore, Associate Chair of Acting, was it’s most successful to date. The performances showcased NYFA acting school alumni in live scenes and short films written by them and directed by full time faculty, Michael McCartney.

    “We had an incredibly talented group of alumni this year,” says Lynda Goodfriend, NYFA-LA Chair of Acting for Film.

    Alumni Showcase New Faces of Hollywood 2019

    “I couldn’t be more proud, and can’t wait to see where their careers take them,” adds New Faces of Hollywood director Anne Moore. “We already had alumni meet with top casting directors and had four alumni sign with representation.” 

    Some of the industry in attendance this year were casting directors from ABC, CBS, WB, Rapaport/Baldasare, Dea Vise, and Lisa London; talent agencies from Don Buchwald, Mavrick, Aperture, Black Apple Talent, and Daniel Hoff; and managers from Prestige, Evergreen, Marv Dauer, and The Beddingfield Company.

    Here’s what some of the alumni had to say about their experiences in New Faces of Hollywood:

    “The showcase was an absolute blessing and such an amazing experience! From the rehearsal process to the making of the film, I felt like I was put in the best position to grow as an actor and succeed on the night of the show. Having a room full of agents and managers is a priceless opportunity. To showcase my talents in front of industry personnel and establish those networking relationships was absolutely incredible. I encourage all alumni to participate in the future.”
    —Josh Brooks, BFA

    “The alumni showcase is such a rare and extraordinary opportunity. I highly recommend all alumni students audition for this group, because it truly does open doors and get your face out there. To be able to perform in front of all those industry individuals is such a blessing.”
    —Ky Snider, BFA

    “This was an eye-opening experience for me. The amount of time and work that go into creating a single moment that can be seen by all is incredible. It can take months or years to build up to a performance like this one, but people only end up seeing the final product.”
    —Maeve Thompson Osgood, BFA

    “An unforgettable experience that further pushed to break down my internal walls as an actor, while simultaneously granting amazing opportunities for my work to be seen.”
    —Ryan Harrington, BFA

    “The alumni showcase was a great chance to work with some of NYFA’s best. I was so lucky to work with Ky Snider as my scene partner. I always admired her work in the student-directed plays at NYFA, but never had a chance to work with her until the alumni showcase. This year we also had loads of fun writing and starring in our own little films, which are not only original but also great footage for our reels! The showcase generated some leads with agents, managers, and industry for me, making it a good springboard for my post-college career.”
    —Miskar Chomse, MFA

    “An unforgettable opportunity filled with growth, wisdom, and laughter that ignites a path towards success.”
    —Elisa Nanty, BFA

    This showcase represented the very best from the New York Film Academy AFA, BFA, and MFA programs who graduated from January 2018 through January 2019. You can check out their headshots, resumes and demo reels, please here.

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    May 18, 2019 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 112

  • ‘Birdy’ Screening and Q&A with Actor and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Board Member Matthew Modine

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    On Monday, May 6, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a screening of Birdy (1984), starring Nicolas Cage and Matthew Modine, followed by a Q&A with actor, director, and NYFA board member, Matthew Modine, moderated by NYFA Screenwriting instructor, Eric Conner.

    Matthew Modine Birdy

    Modine studied with Stella Adler at her Conservatory of Acting in New York City. While still a student of hers, he was cast in lead roles in film and later theatre and television. Modine has acted in a number of films including Vision Quest (1985), Full Metal Jacket (1987) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and he has worked with a number of critically-acclaimed directors including Robert Altman, Stanley Kubrick, Spike Lee, Christopher Nolan, and Oliver Stone. He has been nominated for Golden Globes, Emmy Awards, and Independent Spirit Awards. Modine is currently running for president of SAG-AFTRA.

    The NYFA Theater was packed with NYFA students, including veteran-students enrolled in various programs at NYFA. Many military servicemembers have a special fondness for the famed actor because of his numerous portrayals of the life of a soldier–including his standout roles in Birdy, Full Metal Jacket, and Memphis Belle.

    Birdy is a 1984 Vietnam War drama that follows the story of two teenage friends, Birdy (Modine) and Al (Nicolas Cage) who served in the Vietnam War and are forced to cope with the post-traumatic stress disorder from their experiences in combat. Birdy appears to completely lose touch with all reality, and Al struggles to help his friend regain his connection with the existent world. Modine gives a tremendous performance as the young, traumatized Vietnam veteran.

    Matthew Modine Birdy
    Mike Kunselman, a veteran and member of the NYFA DVS staff, expressed,  “As a veteran, and an actor myself, I was very interested in Mr. Modine’s emphasis on the importance of being proactive with one’s own career.” Kunselman continued, “I also was intrigued by his portrayal of a Vietnam War US combat serviceman, and his ability to own the sympathetic character of Birdy.”

    Conner opened the Q&A by asking Modine what he’s learned from his prolific career as an actor in Hollywood. Modine replied, “The only moment that an actor can completely control is between ‘action’ and ‘cut’… that’s your moment… Everything else is out of your control. The editing. The distribution. It’s all out of your control. I worked just as hard on the successful films I’ve made as I did on the films that weren’t successful—what’s the lesson? Simple, always do your very best … work really hard and be present and, if you’re lucky, it all comes together.”

    Modine shared a piece of advice for the producers and directors in the audience, “When you’re putting your crew together, that’s just like casting the movie with your actors; you want to cast your crew and your actors that you know and trust.”

    Matthew Modine Birdy

    One of the students in the audience asked Modine for advice for actors just starting out in the business. Modine said that actors should trust themselves and their instincts: “If you’re waiting to be directed, you’ve lost, you have to be self-prepared and have made choices about your character. Your choices are your talent!” he emphasized. 

    “Mr. Modine was very informative with the information that he shared,” said Jonathan Garza, a Navy Veteran and BFA Producing alum. His stories from being on set were very entertaining. Even as an alumnus of the Producing program, I can take the information that he shared and apply it to my craft.”

    Modine also shared that he believes the auditioning process to be very important as an actor and that, when actors are feeling discouraged, they should remember that, “Every no is a step closer to a yes.”

    New York Film Academy and the NYFA Division of Veteran Services would like to thank Matthew Modine for sharing his advice for actors and directors as well as anecdotes from his experiences in the entertainment industry.

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    May 10, 2019 • Acting, Faculty Highlights, Guest Speakers • Views: 879

  • Leading Netflix Role goes to Former New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Student Sebastian Osorio

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    Sebastian Osorio, former student of the year-long acting program at New York Film Academy (NYFA), has landed a lead role on upcoming Netflix true-crime show Crime Diaries: Night Out (Spanish title: Historia de un Crimen: Colmenares). The show, which filmed in Colombia, is currently streaming.

    Historia de un Crimen: Colmenares is the second series of the scripted crime show, which is inspired by true events. This series will depict the controversial case of Luis Andrés Colmenares, a Colombian student at Los Andres University in Bogotá D.C. who was found dead under mysterious circumstances after a Halloween party in 2010. Initially ruled a suicide, the case was reopened almost a year later with evidence that Colmenares was murdered, and continued into 2012. 

    The eight-episode show is part of a massive Latin American push for the online entertainment giant–since October of 2018, Netflix has been rolling out a slate of more than 70 original productions being filmed across the region. Current estimates place the projected number of on-demand video streaming service subscribers in Latin America to reach 51 million by 2024, with Netflix leading the six platforms currently on offer.

    “Netflix is humbled and proud to give a voice to local talent and creators, helping them to not only reach Colombian viewers , but also to connect people all around the world to their unique stories,” said Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix. “By expanding our content across genres, we’re diversifying our offering and giving more choices to members via an ever-evolving platform that transcends borders. We’re excited to continue investing and exploring in the country.”

    Osorio completed the NYFA one-year Acting for Film program in 2016, and is an advocate of the Meisner technique. His film credits include Butterfly in the Fire (2018) and Ear of the Beholder (2016). He also appeared on TV show Pambelẻ as series regular Sombra.

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    May 6, 2019 • Acting • Views: 3163

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Board Member Matthew Modine Runs for SAG-AFTRA President

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    Actor, activist, filmmaker, and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Board Member Matthew Modine is running for president of the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), one of Hollywood’s most prominent labor unions.  

    Modine has starred in such films as Full Metal Jacket, Birdy, Married to the Mob, The Dark Knight Rises, Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Short Cuts, as well as the hit Netflix series, Stranger Things. He has been nominated for both a Primetime Emmy and multiple Golden Globes.

     

    Modine currently serves as a board member for New York Film Academy, and occasionally teaches master classes in acting to NYFA students. Additionally, Modine sponsors the New York Film Academy Matthew Modine Masters Scholarship, which provides financial assistance to outstanding candidates of the school’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs in Filmmaking and Acting for Film.

     

    Modine was elected to the SAG-AFTRA national board in 2017. Incumbent president Gabrielle Carteris has not yet announced whether she will seek re-election, and Modine is the first candidate to announce he’s running for the next election. Members are expected to receive ballots later this year.

    “As a current national and local board member of SAG-AFTRA, it would be my honor to represent all 160,000 members of the union I have proudly been a member of for nearly four decades,” Modine said in a released statement earlier today. “It is my privilege to stand up for our legacy in order to safeguard our future. There comes a time when we must work to ensure that current and future membership will be able to enjoy the basic rights and securities our union has always provided. It’s my time to give back.” 

     

    Modine will be representing the Membership First faction of SAG-AFTRA, and has received endorsements from former union presidents William Daniels, Ed Asner, and Alan Rosenberg, as well as from current SAG-AFTRA national board members Martin Sheen, Frances Fisher, Pam Guest, David Jolliffe, Esai Morales, Patricia Richardson, Jodi Long, and Marie Fink.

    Additionally, Modine has received support from SAG-AFTRA members Ed Harris, Vincent D’Onofrio, Alfred Molina, Mira Sorvino, Eric Stoltz, Nancy Sinatra, Patricia Arquette, Rosanna Arquette, Sean Astin, Marcia Cross, Bruce Davison, Jennifer Beals, Ernie Hudson, and Bill Mumy.

    You can support Matthew Modine’s campaign for SAG-AFTRA president HERE.

     

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    April 29, 2019 • Acting, Faculty Highlights • Views: 1116

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Instructor Ayelet Zurer Stars in Netflix Hit ‘Shtisel’

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailAward-winning actress and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Instructor Ayelet Zurer is currently starring in Netflix’s newest binge-worthy hit. Shtisel is a innovative Israeli drama that focuses on a family of ultra-Orthodox Jews in a Haredi neighborhood in Jerusalem. The actress stars as Elisheva, a widowed mother who captures the heart of Akiva, a shy young man struggling with his father’s matchmaking efforts.

    Zurer is a familiar face in films and television in both America and Israel. She has starred opposite Tom Hanks in Angels & Demons, Russell Crowe in Man of Steel, Ewan McGregor in Last Days in the Desert, and Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe in Adam Resurrected. Zurer also starred on multiple seasons of Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix and In Therapy (adapted as HBO’s In Treatment). She received the Israeli Academy of Film (OFIR) Best Actress Award for Nina’s Tragedies, and is a two-time winner of the Israeli Academy of Television’s Best Actress Award.

    The Hebrew-language Shtisel is making headlines for its honest and touching portrayal of a traditionally insular community. The New Yorker calls the show “generous, lighthearted, and nostalgic,” and says the show’s success is “the result of several powerfully understated performances, most notably by Ayelet Zurer in the role of Elisheva.” The New York Times was similarly complimentary, calling the show “groundbreaking.”

    Though the show was originally screened in 2013-14, the show’s success on Netflix has been so impressive that its original creators are currently considering creating a third season. In addition, an American version of the show has already been sold Amazon by Marta Kauffman, one of the creators of classic 1990s sitcom Friends. The show, to be set in Brooklyn, will be titled Emmis.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Ayelet Zurer on her continued success and looks forward to seeing her future projects!

     

     

     

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    April 25, 2019 • Acting, Faculty Highlights • Views: 360

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Alum Jason Shah Interviewed by ‘The Tribune’

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    Earlier this year, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum Jason Shah was interviewed in a Q&A with The Tribune, the daily English-language newspaper that has been circulated throughout India since 1881.

    Shah first attended NYFA’s Acting for Film program in September 2009 at our New York City campus, where he received a hands-on education from working, professional actors, writers, directors, and producers who are veterans of Hollywood, independent film, and television. In addition to acting, he has modeled and worked as a fitness coach.

    Jason Shah

    His credits include Indian productions such as Bigg Boss, Chandrashekhar Azaad, Inside Edge Season II, and the film Dev D. His latest role in the historical drama Jhansi Ki Rani, which co-stars Anuja Sathe, Aishwarya Raj Bhakuni, and Rajesh Shringarpure, gained Shah enough buzz for The Tribune to sit down with him for an interview.

    Shah spoke of his background—he is half English and half American—as well as his new role in Jhansi Ki Rani. The series, which premiered this year, is the story of the fierce warrior Manikarnika, who was later given the name of Rani Laxmibai, Queen of Jhansi. Shah credits his fluency in Hindi as a crucial skill for landing the part, as well as sharing a lot in common with his character, a foreigner in India.

    Acting isn’t Shah’s only passion. When asked by The Tribune where he saw himself in five years, Shah replied, “I feel after this I might want to go into direction and produce something myself. I have been working on it with a few friends, just waiting for the right time.”

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Acting for Film alum Jason Shah on his Tribune interview and his role on Jhansi Ki Rani!

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    April 24, 2019 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 606

  • ‘Boxing Girls’ Features Two New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni

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    Boxing Girls, a new Arabic-language drama from the Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) premiered earlier this year and is the screenwriting debut of New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Afnan Alqasimi. Additionally, the program features actress and NYFA alum Dana Al Salem.

    Alqasimi hails from the United Arab Emirates and attended NYFA’s 4-week Filmmaking workshop in April 2012. Alqasimi previously worked on the animation short Homecoming. Al Salem is originally from Bahrain and enrolled in NYFA’s 4-week Filmmaking workshop at our Los Angeles campus in August 2015. Al Salem previously appeared in The Sleeping Tree and the short film Canary.

    Boxing Girls is gaining buzz for its focus on female characters and stars several well-known Arabic performers, including Fatima Al Hosani, Ali Al Sherif, and Shaifan Al Otaibi. The program was directed by Saudi filmmaker Samir Aref and was produced by O3 Productions and twofour54 Abu Dhabi.

    Boxing Girls

    “This drama production is particularly unique, because it puts a real emphasis on the region’s young talent — both in front of and behind the camera,” says Maryam Eid AlMheiri, CEO of Media Zone Authority, Abu Dhabi (MZA) and twofour54.

    The program was shot over two months across various locations in Abu Dhabi, before completing production in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Additional cast members include Mila Zahrani, Abdul Aziz Skeirin, Alaa Shaker, Anoud Al Saoud, Abeer Sander, Noura Ezzer, Mohammed Meshaal, Rakan, Zuhair Haider, and Zara Al Balushi.

    Boxing Girls debuted in February of this year.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates workshop alumni Afnan Alqasimi and  Dana Al Salem on the production and success of Boxing Girls

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  • Q&A with NYFA Acting for Film Instructor Melissa Sullivan

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    Melissa Sullivan was so shy growing up, she would stare at the ceiling to avoid looking at people. Eventually, realizing “ceilings weren’t going to get me anywhere in life,” she decided to make a change—and committed to talking to one stranger a day. That, plus an affinity for the stage, got Sullivan out of her shell and into a variety of performing arts: theatre, television, film, and music. 

    Melissa Sullivan

    Sullivan, who teaches acting and is the musical director of the NYFA Glee Club, took some time to discuss her career as a multi-hyphenate and her upcoming album.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): How/when did you know you wanted to pursue the performing arts?

    Melissa Sullivan (MS): In Naha, Okinawa, my mother put me in a ballet class. I remember a performance being back stage. I loved it. The smell of the stage, the curtains, the anticipation of the performance. I wasn’t the best dancer but the experience was informative and I knew I was at home in the theatre.

    NYFA: You’ve performed in a variety of fields—theater, television, film, and music—and have also directed. As an artist, how do you see yourself and why?

    MS: When I first moved to Los Angeles things were very different than they are now. I heard “Are you an actor, or a singer? You need to pick one.” Now it is much more fluid. Performers have more freedom to explore, perhaps because of technology and the access to it. The connection of artists globally through technology is amazing. I studied at California Institute of the Arts where all disciplines lived side by side. You would hear music in the hallway, walk by a piece of art, see dancers in the distance, artists in the gallery discussing someone’s work, and watch filmmakers editing in the graffitied sub-level. It was such a great environment. After I graduated, I never gave that spirit up.

    NYFA: Speaking of, you have a long list of credits in various mediums. Of all the work you’ve done, what are you most proud of and why? 

    MS: Recording my album of original music and playing Honey in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf at the Actors Studio, directed by Barbara Bain.

    NYFA: Additionally, are there any others that stick out in your mind of being particularly memorable and why? 

    MS: Filming an episode of Shameless. I had been called into the casting office for Shameless for a few years and was happy to finally land a part. I’m really happy with the work that I did on that show. The experience was fast paced and yet enjoyable. It is a great production from the actors, directors, AD’s, scripts, grips and on.

    Melissa Sullivan

    NYFA: As a multi-hyphenate, what is the most challenging aspect about wearing different hats, project to project? How do you take on the challenge? 

    MS: Working on a few things at once suits my mind. I am very busy, so I write music while I walk my dogs or drive to work. I wrote some of my favorite songs in my car. I guess to be a multi-hyphenate you have to organize your time well and I have gotten better at this. Teaching has inspired me to take more risks. When you talk with students about their growth and how to facilitate it, you in turn have to follow suit with your own work.

    NYFA: You’re the musical director of the NYFA Glee Club and have said that “music can transform people.” Can you elaborate on that? 

    MS: I have seen students petrified to sing in front of one person, but at the end of the semester they are performing in front of an audience of 90 people. Singing brings people confidence. It is a raw emotional expression. With the Glee Club I try to foster leadership and collaboration. We have student conductors and section leaders. I am blown away by their talent.

    NYFA: Speaking of music, you have an album coming out in December. How would you describe your music? 

    MS: I am a trained jazz singer so my songs come from a jazz foundation, but it is an amalgam of genres: jazz, blues, and pop. I am almost finished! It’s been quite a journey.

    NYFA: What’s your favorite thing about teaching at NYFA? 

    MS: I admire my colleagues. I appreciate the support that the acting and filmmaking teachers give to one another. I also love the fact that the students are from all over the world. I have so much respect for foreign students who open their hearts and act in a second language. I also really like working with the veterans. I appreciate the time they served for our country and I find most of them are highly disciplined at NYFA. They are brave and want to dive into the craft.

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    April 16, 2019 • Acting, Faculty Highlights • Views: 518

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Alum Alberto Frezza Lands Lead Role on ‘Station 19’

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    ABC has cast Alberto Frezza, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum, in a lead role in Station 19, a spinoff of Grey’s Anatomy. Frezza plays Seattle police officer Ryan Tanner, who has a close relationship with the show’s lead, played by Jaina Lee Ortiz.

    Before landing the role, Frezza previously made several appearances in short films and television, including Criminal Minds on CBS. Firefighting-action dramaStation 19 is the latest show from Shonda Rhimes, creator of popular medical drama Grey’s Anatomy. It takes place in the same city and cinematic universe.

    Frezza recently spoke with NYFA about the casting process for the series. “It took almost a month with four audition/callbacks, one test audition, and a chemistry read with Jaina Lee Ortiz. By far the longest audition process I have gone through for a role.”

    Born in Milan, Italy, Frezza was raised in Ethiopia. As a child, he hoped to become a soccer player, but after seeing River Phoenix’s 1986 film Stand By Me, he decided to become an actor.

    Eventually, Frezza moved to the United States and enrolled in the Acting for Film program at New York Film Academy, where Frezza trained intensively in screen acting and modern on-camera acting techniques through a hands-on, practical curriculum.

    In addition to acting, Frezza also enjoys diving and photography. He applies both hobbies to another passion: environmentalism. Frezza cites his upbringing in Ethiopia’s Lake Langano area for his interest in the conservation of animals.

    His Instagram account documents the exotic animals he comes across in his travels, and who he strives to protect through environmental endeavors. As his star power grows, Frezza’s passion for the environment reaches more and more followers. The New York Film Academy congratulates Acting for Film alum Alberto Frezza on his new role in the Shondaland television drama Station 19, which airs on the ABC network.

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    April 12, 2019 • Academic Programs, Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 219