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

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

    NYFA: When did you fall in love with acting?

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

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

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

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

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

    NYFA: What is your best memory from NYFA?

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

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

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

    Samantha Hamadeh | NYFA Alumni Spotlight

    NYFA: How did you become involved with the project?

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

    NYFA: What was your goal with the project?

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

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

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

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

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

    NYFA: Where and when can people watch your show? 

    Hamadeh: Every Sunday night on Comedy Central Arabia.

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

     

     

    August 18, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 345

  • NYFA Gold Coast Hosts Q&A With Filmmaking Alumnus RK Musgrave

    Recently, New York Film Academy Australia filmmaking alumnus RK Musgrave returned to give a Q&A at the Gold Coast campus as a part of the Guest Speaker Series.

    RK graduated from the Diploma of Filmmaking program in 2013 and has since become a working writer and director in Queensland.

    He recently wrote, directed and produced the dark comedy theatre production “The Turn of Winston Haggle,” which ran for three nights at the Gold Coast Arts Centre Independent Season. Joining RK for the Gold Coast Q&A was one of the stars of the production, NYFA Gold Coast Acting Lecturer Dean Mayer.

    Students at the Gold Coast campus were given an insight into how RK established a creative relationship with his actors and how he utilized this during rehearsals as they collaborated to develop the characters.

    RK explained to the students, “It might be my script but it becomes everyone’s to a point. I’m leading the team, but if Dean comes to me with an idea we test it out to see if it works and if it does, great, we’ll use it … you can’t have an ego about what you’re doing.”

    As an actor, Dean Mayer explained what makes a good director: “Good communication makes me strive as an actor. They have to know what they want and know how to communicate it to actors.”

    RK also informed the students the importance of networking, as well as how it’s critical to establish long-lasting relationships with both filmmakers and actors. RK stated, “I was originally reluctant towards networking but I had to change my opinion. You’ve got to network. A lot of opportunities I’ve got is through the people I’ve gotten to know … now that I’m out in the industry, I’m meeting people and it’s important to build a team you want to constantly work and bounce ideas with … that’s what Steven Spielberg did, he works with the same people.”

    RK further spoke about how he won the 2013 Script-To-Screen longline competition while he was studying at NYFA, which granted him free script coverage. RK was also the winner of the 2016 Australian Commercial Radio Awards for Best Written Commercial.

    RK is currently developing a TV series and pitching to production companies Teddy Browne and Can’t Country. He also has written a 30-minute TV pilot that has been shot with Australia actor, Damian Garvey from “The Kettering Incident,” and is now in post-production with a view to pitching ABC later in the year.

    May 2017 Acting Diploma student Joshua Mackenzie was enthusiastic about the Q&A event: “It was so amazing to hear about his process of rehearsal, working with actors and how to network and maintain working relationships with filmmakers. I learnt a lot.”

    March 2017 Filmmaking Diploma student, Phillip Paton stated, “In one word … inspiring.”


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

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

    1. There Are a Lot of Actors Actively Seeking Work

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

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

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

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

    Casting Tips | New York Film Academy

    1. You Have to Really, Really Love Acting

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

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

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

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

    1. Casting Has Nothing to Do with Talent

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

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

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

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

    1. Reputation Travels Faster than any Human

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    July 27, 2017 • Acting • Views: 423

  • NYFA Hour with Acting for Film Chair Lynda Goodfriend

    New York Film Academy Hour on Popcorn Talk recently featured New York Film Academy Los Angeles Chair of Acting for Film Lynda Goodfriend, who shared her experience working on the iconic American Television Show “Happy Days,” as well as making the shift from actress to talent manager, and what inspired her to teach.

    lynda goodfriend

    One of the best stories Goodfriend shared was how she helped Robin Williams get his start in the industry. Williams and Goodfriend were in an improv class together. “He was either great or he was terrible,” Goodfriend said of watching an early and unpolished Williams leave it all on the stage. His talent was apparent but he never stayed on script, a large faux pas in television, where the writer is king.

    Goodfriend saw an opportunity to help the struggling actor when “Happy Days” was having trouble casting a new frazzled alien character, Mork. “We were shooting the scene on Friday. It was Wednesday and we still hadn’t cast the role.” She told the producers about Williams and his wild and hysterical performances.

    “He came in for the audition. He didn’t stay on book but what he brought to the performance was even better than what was on the page. He was booked immediately.” The role led to a spin-off series that launched Williams into superstardom, and the rest is history.

    To watch the NYFA Hour tune into Popcorn Talk on YouTube every Thursday at 4:00 PM PT. You can catch up on previous episodes with amazing guests like film critic Peter Rainer, who discussed the legacy of Marlon Brando.

    May 24, 2017 • Acting, Community Highlights, Faculty Highlights • Views: 1701

  • NYFA Welcomes Versatile Actor Christopher Meloni

    On Tuesday, May 2 the Los Angeles Campus of the New York Film Academy welcomed a very special guest, actor Christopher Meloni, who is perhaps best known for playing NYPD Detective Elliot Stabler on “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.”

    tpva and meloni

    Meloni stunned audiences as Chris Keller on the gritty drama “Oz.” His vampire role as Roman Zimojic brought fresh blood to the horror opera “True Blood.” Not content with conquering the small screen, Meloni has given strong supporting performances in DC’s “Man of Steel,” the Jackie Robinson biopic “42,” and the cult classics comedies “Wet Hot American Summer” and “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.”

    Meloni walked out to thunderous applause and a standing room only crowd. Tova Laiter, Director of the Q and A Series at NYFA, hosted the evening. She began the discussion by asking, “It seems like you have done every genre: drama, action, comedy. Was this by design or those were the breaks?”

    Meloni responded, “It was by design. It was always by design. I’m a huge fan of physicality. I love really good action. I love Hong Kong Jackie Chan and I like early John Woo. I love the ballet of the motion and the beauty of the choreography.”

    He continued, “I love comedy where you just get to blow out the pipes.” But comedy didn’t always come easy. Meloni described his first big studio comedy “Runaway Bride” with Julia Roberts was like “being at the big kid’s table.”

    “I was on my best behavior and I was trying to be funny.” (Note to reader: he is very funny now!)

    When asked about why he enjoyed studying the Meisner Technique, Meloni felt as though it forced away all the social niceties we have. Being reactive, whether it’s aggressively or subtly, is vital to the process. He described the repletion of the exercise as maddening but ultimately leading to truth and easier access to a range of emotions. “You have the ability to elevate moments and it makes working with the writer a more collaborative dance,” he said.

    Student Justin Ardine said of the experience, “It was amazing to hear Meloni talk about all the jobs he worked, from waiting tables to bartending because I’ve done all those jobs, too.”

    One NYFA student relayed a story of dismissive family and friends who thought his advanced age disqualified him from acting as a profession. Meloni didn’t think so. He recalled a friend question his choice to begin acting. “I don’t know if it’s cliché but it’s the God’s honest truth. It’s out of my hands. I had to act or I was going to die trying.”

    NYFA would like to thank Mr. Meloni for his sage advice while grandly entertaining us at the same time! Meloni is currently starring in “Underground” as August Pullman, a morally conflicted man working as a slave catcher. He is also co–starring in big screen “Snatched” with Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn.

    May 9, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 1947

  • NYFA Alumna Wins Best Supporting Actress Award and More

    tasteDanielle Kronenberg is a British actress who currently lives in Los Angeles. She started her training at a very young age at a prestigious full time children’s drama school in London and made her West End debut at nine — the same year she won an award at the London Film Festival. She then went on to star in a number of commercials for the UK and the US.

    Since living in the US, and graduating from the Acting for Film program at the New York Film Academy, Kronenberg has starred in many independent films and a children’s web-series, which she produced. She’s also co-created and produced two of her own films, one of which, “Canvas,” won two awards for producing and the other, “Taste,” won three producing awards and two best supporting actress awards thus far.

    “I think going to NYFA was one of the best years of my training,” said Kronenberg. “I got to study with some great teachers, and I’ve stayed in touch with them too. Also, being part of the NYFA networking circle is pretty incredible. I can now call upon friends and say ‘Hey, I have an idea, let’s shoot something,’ and I know I’ll have a whole team to shoot with. A truly priceless experience.”

    “Taste,” which awarded her a Best Supporting Actress Award, is about a bulimic model who moves to NY to pursue her modeling career, but the secret that she’s harboring comes to the surface and cannot be contained once she meets Evan, a manipulative, successful fashion photographer who has a habit of controlling her muses.

    The writer of the film, Jay Palmieri Jr., who’s also a NYFA graduate, approached Kronenberg after starring in his film. “He said he wanted to collaborate on an LGBT film together as we’re both in that world,” recalls Kronenberg. “So we came up with a story and decided to produce it together. Jay wrote the role of ‘Evan’ for me, as he said he wanted to see me play a very dark emotional character. I’m so glad he did as it was my most challenging role. I’m not like Evan at all, so to play her was a lot of fun. I think the most challenging part was to really get into the head of Evan, and to start thinking like her. She’s totally dark and twisted. I found myself staying in character for most of the shoot, which was also fun.”

    kronenberg

    Kronenberg plays Evan, a fashion photographer in NY who has very manipulative ways. “Evan is the type of woman who doesn’t take no for an answer,” says Kronenberg. “She’s highly successful and has many models falling at her feet in the hopes of getting a big shoot.”

    “Taste” is currently in 15 festivals and counting. It’s streaming on digitalboxoffice.tv — where you can rate the film as well (5 popcorns all the way).

    Kronenberg is now working on two LGBT films and a romantic drama, each of which she will be producing and starring.

    April 4, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2229

  • NYFA Grad’s “Like Father, Like Son” Wins Best Short at NYC Indie Film Awards

    Like Father, Like SonBorn in Manila, Philippines, Heinrik Caesar Matias flew to New York City in 2016 to study filmmaking at the New York Film Academy. Matias says he is passionate in acting, and creating realistic and immersive stories with characters that the audience can connect to. His passion and determination led him to create the award-winning film, “Like Father, Like Son,” while attending NYFA.

    His film received “Best Short Film” nominations at film festivals all over the world, including Chandler International Film Festival (USA), Los Angeles CineFest (USA), Barcelona Planet Film Festival (Spain), MedFF (Italy), and Feel The Reel International Film Festival (UK). It won the Gold Award for Best Short Film at the NYC Indie Film Awards.

    “The experience I had, and the lessons I learned from the New York Film Academy were all applied in the making of this film,” said Matias. “It had to be or there was no way this film could have been made given the conditions we faced. I never had any experience in filmmaking prior to NYFA and, I will admit, it was very difficult. We didn’t have a big budget plus there were only four crew members, including me as the director, and three cast members. We all had to work twice as hard. It was very draining and it was a very challenging time for all of us, but we all felt like this was a story that needed to be told. I was lucky that I had a very professional crew and a talented cast that were all patient with me and the film during its production.”

    The short film is a psychological drama that explores the dark natures of depression and how it can even affect the people around the person who’s depressed. After 20 years, Charles, an unemployed alcoholic, finally reunites with his absentee father. The two of them soon realize that the apple does not fall far from the tree.

    “Many people fail to see the magnitude of depression and it is very often dismissed as ‘all in your head,’ but I believe that this is a real thing, and it is a serious matter that must be dealt with,” says Matias.
    heinrik caesar matias

    According to the Word Health Organization, as of 2016, depression is the most prevalent mental illness with 350 million cases worldwide and, if left untreated, can often lead to suicide.

    While Matias also continues to focus on his acting career, he’s currently working on two different projects — a short story that he hopes to film this year and his first feature film screenplay.

    February 17, 2017 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2475

  • NYFA Alumnus David Epstein Lands Role in the Animated Feature Film “The Son of Bigfoot”

    son of bigfootDavid Epstein came to the New York Film Academy from Vancouver to pursue his passion for acting in the heart of the film industry, Los Angeles. “Growing up, I was always very active on the stage, and after my undergraduate in theatre I felt ready to get auditioning for film and TV in Vancouver. After a year and a half, I didn’t book a thing! I figured it was because I had no idea what I was doing when it came to acting for a camera, so I started looking into programs,” said Epstein. “New York Film Academy seemed like the most hands-on school I could find. I thought, ‘I could wait it out and audition in Vancouver for another two years with nothing to show for, or enroll at NYFA. Not only would I get to complete a Master’s Degree, but I would also gain the hands-on film experience day in, and day out.’”

    And right after graduation he landed a role in the animated feature “The Son of Bigfoot” directed by Jeremy Degruson and Ben Stassen.

    Congrats on getting the part. How did your role in “The Son of Bigfoot” come about?

    Epstein: I was actually camping in Yosemite Valley for the weekend with no wifi or cell phone service. We were about to go on a hike for the day when we stopped off in a lodge. I guess we hit a cell phone spot and my phone just started blowing up. Text messages and phone calls galore from my mom, brother, and agent all trying to get a hold of me. When I called them and, they told me that I booked this part in an animated feature – a project that I had zero recollection of ever auditioning for. Weeks earlier, I had just gotten my reel from school and was showing it off to a friend of mine. Fast forward a couple of months and her dad is directing this project called “Son of Bigfoot.” I don’t know the details, but apparently one of the other actors had to drop out and they needed to fill the roll very quickly. He listened to my reel and decided to give me a shot. It was one of those “right place, right time moments.”

    Please tell us about your experience working on this project. What did your learn as an actor?

    Epstein: While I had spent many hours working in the NYFA booth, this was my first time acting in a proper animated film, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I remember flipping furiously through my voice over textbook leading up to the shoot, giving myself a quick refresher before going into the studio… ironically the writer was actually playing one of the leads in the film. The first thing I thought when I got there was: “Where’s that smell of bacon coming from?” Of course, I followed it and saw walls just covered in classic cartoon cells and a huge trophy case filled with Emmys. It was very surreal. I got the chance to meet some of the other cast members and we were all called in one by one into our recording sessions. None of the animation was done at the time of the recording, so we didn’t have to worry about matching the characters’ lip flaps, which was nice, but that said, there wasn’t a whole lot to work off of, either. It was a really steep learning curve trying to figure out how to create the world without any other actor to work off of and no real picture of what the scene would look like. That said, it was a pretty freeing experience too, in that there wasn’t really a wrong answer. Only limit was imagination.

    One of my biggest surprises about the experience was how quickly everything moved. It was like a machine gun session in there. I was given my script, asked to give a few reads of each line and we would move on. Occasionally, there was a redirection, but I was in and out of the studio within an hour. It was crazy!

    david epstein

    Were there any challenges working on this project?

    Epstein: The biggest challenge working on the project was not being able to really prepare. I wasn’t given my script until the day, so I was really going in blind. There was a small character description that was sent to me in advance, but everything was really explained to me on the day. Also, there was no animation at the time, so to this day I still have no idea what my character even looks like. The director just said “alright give me the voice you were thinking of doing,” and I blurted out the first thing that came to mind. I guess it worked because we just kind of went with it. I would have loved the opportunity to play a bit more and really find my character, but everything moved so fast. Just trusted my gut and hoped for the best.

    What projects are you currently working on?

    Epstein: Next week I start shooting for my role in the show “The Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce.” I am also excited to collaborate with my friend/coach Carol Stanzione, Elliot Herman and NYFA alumnus Kevin Chua in an upcoming animated series called “Lei Gong: Chronicles of the Sword.”

    Until then, I have been fortunate enough to get a gig hosting a game show for Hyundai at Auto Shows around the states. It has been such a great experience getting to travel around the country and work a job that is creative in nature.

    david epstein

    Who do you believe will get the most out of the NYFA program? 

    Epstein: I think anyone with a true passion and the desire to learn will get the most out of the program. There are so many great opportunities and teachers, that if you care to work, you can learn so much! That said, you’re only going to get what you put into the program. It’s one thing to be in class and to do your assigned work, but it’s the work you do outside of the curriculum that is really special. NYFA’s consult program lets you meet with any of your teachers outside of class time. It’s a private coaching session with industry professionals. I don’t know many other places that offer that.

    What, if any, do you think are the biggest obstacles for new actors in Hollywood?

    Epstein: I think the toughest thing about Hollywood is being seen. You could be doing great work, but it’s getting the right people to see your work that is the real challenge. Coming to LA you hear it over and over again, “there’s so much competition!” At first, I took that to mean that I would be sitting in an audition room with 50 David Epsteins that look just like me. The truth is, the competition is really getting into the door. A good part can get 3000+ submissions. When a casting director has three hours to see 90 actors, why are they going to pick your headshot over anyone else’s? You hear it all the time: This business is all about networking. It’s figuring out the creative ways that you can get on these casting directors’ radars and then about winning them over so they bring you back again and again.

    If anyone has come to LA to become rich as an actor, they could have a rude awakening. It is a super competitive job and while the payday can be sweet, work can definitely be sparse (especially at the beginning). I have often found myself comparing my lifestyle to my doctor and lawyer friends. It can be very disheartening to hear about the condos they are buying or the cars they drive, but it has begged me to check in with my passions. While my car and apartment are far from fancy, I wouldn’t want to do anything else in the world.

    February 3, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3947

  • Child Dance Sensation Takes Up Acting for Film at NYFA

    Kevin Tellez began having an interest in dance when he was four years old, but his talent was far beyond your average four-year old’s little shimmy. By the time he was seven years old he won first place at The World Latin Dance Cup.

    kevin tellez

    Kevin Tellez with Gloria and Emilio Estefan

    “His father loves music, but I think that his talent comes from his hard work because he loves acting and dancing more than anything.”

    Kevin has made appearances on several TV shows, including Ellen where he was able to show off his skills to the host, who is known for her love of dancing. He is now in Gloria Estefan’s Broadway show “On Your Feet,” where he has performed for over a year as the young Emilio Estefan.

    Now at the age of 11, Tellez has taken up the 12-Week Kids Acting for Film Weekend program at the New York Film Academy.

    “Before NYFA we tried other programs where he didn’t feel comfortable and didn’t enjoy it,” said Tellez’s mother, Anny Tellez. “At NYFA, he is learning and doing what he really loves. We definitely have seen improvement and growth in his acting.”

    Like most parents with children in show business, Tellez’s parents were nervous about letting their son travel around the world and performing on Broadway. “Our main concern was school,” said Mrs. Tellez. “We thought it was going to be too much for him; going to school like everyone else and then going to Broadway. Luckily, we have been able to manage the acting and dancing career as well as school. He is a very responsible child and he has amazing grades in school. My husband and I didn’t want him to be home schooled. Kevin is the type of child that enjoys being around his peers and we try to keep his life as normal as possible.”

    Kevin dreams to some day be an actor in Hollywood and hopes he will inspire other kids to follow their dreams.

    “As a parent I would say that our job is to support our children in whatever it is that they want to do,” said Mrs. Tellez. “I never in my life thought that my son would be on Broadway and have a career in entertainment at such a young age. Sometimes it’s not easy to make time for everything that as parents we have to do, but we always want our children to be happy and will do the impossible for them — and some way or another we manage to do it. At the end of the day all of the sacrifices that we make are so worth it.”

    January 2, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1492

  • A Talk with NYFA Alumna Acelina Kuchukova

    Acelina Kuchukova is a talented and ambitious woman who began working as a model at a very young age. In addition to modeling, Acelina received a degree in finance in her home country of Kazakhstan. After achieving many accomplishments in her career, she decided to become an actress. Now she works in Hollywood and can be seen in commercials, music videos and films. Despite her busy schedule, Acelina continues to improve herself and always has a positive attitude. She is already a SAG-AFTRA member and is ready to share some of her professional secrets.

    Acelina, please tell us how you became a model? Was it your childhood dream?

    No, it happened suddenly. When I was 13, two other girls and I were chosen from our school to present flowers to the President of Kazakhstan during some of the major official events of Astana. They taught us how to dress up, to do beautiful make up and so on. I was going to school in the mornings, and after that I attended different events in the national costume. I did not think I would become an actress at that time, but I became the face of Procter & Gamble Company in Kazakhstan in 2008. One of the tasks of that project was to make a short film. I started to work with a famous actor, Sergey Ufimtsev. I felt in my heart: “Oh, I like it, I want to become an actress.” At that moment my destiny was determined. When I won the “Miss Kazakhstan” competition, I went on to another competition, “Miss Universe.” There I was presented with a certificate for training at NYFA in Los Angeles in the Acting for Film program. It was in 2010. It was more important than the crown for me; it was the fulfillment of my dream!

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    Before entering NYFA I decided to go to one last competition, “Miss Multiverse,” and won the crown there. When my victory was announced, I was so excited. I did not expect that. Before that I had never won any international competitions. It was a worthy finish to my career as a model. I started my education in America in January 2014, in Hollywood, the home of the film industry.

    You are in SAG-AFTRA, the Actor’s union. Please tell us what is required to enter SAG-AFTRA?

    It is not easy. Anyone can get there, but there are some requirements. I started to work as an extra. It is very important to accept every job, because you do not know which will open the door for your career. This happened to me. I went to a small project and the director of a bigger project noticed me there. They accepted me because of my role as an extra in “La-La Land.” I received a SAG voucher on March 8, 2015, but became a full member of the union only six months ago because you have to pay a fee to join. You need to work on a large project if you want to become a member of SAG. In fact, you can be in commercials for big companies to enter the Union, but this project should be big.

    Tell us more about your projects?

    When I graduated NYFA, I got an OPT and had a lot of practice before I started fully working. I starred in short films, feature films, TV shows. I played in a commercial for Hulu. Recently, I had a part in a commercial about skin care products for a big company, Kayani. This was a very big project with video and brochures; I was a lead. I also starred in many music videos including RedOne’s “Don’t You Need Somebody,” Don Broco’s “Automatic,” Chris Brown’s “Picture Me Rollin” and AWOLNATION’s “Woman Woman” directed by Marc Klasfeld to name few.

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    Don Brosco’s “Automatic”

    Can you tell us about your work in the theater?

    Yes, 2015 was very productive for me on stage. I was in the play “Imported Bride” at the Torrance Cultural Arts Theatre with 500 seats. Then I had a lead role in “Morbid Cabaret” at the McCadden Place Theater for two months. At the Next Stage Theatre I played in “The Dark Side of the Moon” directed by Chris Berubes. Also, when I was at NYFA, I performed in several plays.

    Which projects are you most proud of?

    My Kazakhstan TV project with Procter & Gamble, the television show “Pantene.” Also, I am very proud to have been awarded the crown at “Miss Multiverse” in 2014.

    I starred in a commercial with Antonio Banderas, which was very important to me. In Hollywood, I am proud of my performances at the Torrance Cultural Arts Theatre, where for the first time I played in front of such a large audience. I am very proud of my work in the Hulu and Kayani commercials as well.

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    Acelina, please tell us about your experience at NYFA. 

    When I had the dream of becoming an actress I couldn’t imagine that I would study in Hollywood. But when I was awarded the certificate to study at NYFA in the Acting for Film program, I realized that my dream could become true.

    In the Academy I felt at home. The director, Dan Mackler and all the instructors were so attentive to each student, as if they were their own children. They dedicate a lot of time to each individual. Instructors have vast experience and continue to work in their profession. I listened to lectures with great pleasure, trying to write everything down. I also took extra individual lessons. The program is very intense and well planned out. Of course, I had no time for a private life, only for classes. But I was happy! My favorite instructors were Ken Lerner, Andrew Bloch, and Suzanne Kemp.

    Can you share with us the secret of your success?

    I always set up goals and I am very persistent. Every year I write the plan for the next year on December 31. At first, I write big goals, and then break down steps for achievement. This year my mission was completed, because today I completed the last goal for 2016 — I got a driver’s license!

    You need to write everything down, plan and do all you can towards your dream. It is very important to make priorities. It helps me not to dissipate attention and focus from the essentials. I attend all new screenings and film festivals. I try to spread positivity around me. I love what I do, and I would like to give advice to future students of NYFA: “If you chose acting, you should adore it. Otherwise, it is better not to start.”

    Where do you see your career in a few years?

    I will star in Hollywood blockbusters. In three to five years I will receive the Oscar!

    Can you promise to give us an interview when you get the Oscar? We will remember this conversation.

    Yes, of course I promise (laughing).

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Acelina Kuchukova for taking the time to speak with us. We wish her success in all of her projects and achievement of all her goals.

    Don’t forget to check her website for more info: www.acelina.com

     

    December 27, 2016 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2708