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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Acting for Film Alum Rita Casman’s ‘Shadow Wall’ Racking Up Awards & Festivals

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    Shadow Wall, the short film written, produced by, and starring New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Acting for Film alum Rita Casman, is currently riding a huge wave of momentum as it picks up multiple awards and festival screenings.

    Casman hails from Guatemala and earned her MFA in Acting for Film, after years of nursing ambitions to be an entertainer while working in marketing and public relations.Shadow Wall

    “I’ll be very honest, I thought that coming to LA was the hardest part, and the truth is that it was the easiest,” says Casman. “I left the struggle that I had in Guatemala and I went through a lot of rejection, and that was only the beginning. It did help me persevere, but in my mind, I thought that I would adapt to the American culture fast, which I did in a way, but it has impacted me so now I have learned not to expect anything good or bad. Being far away of my family is really challenging.”

    Casman, who is smart, outgoing, and a positive example for her friends and professional colleagues, worked through her struggles and now has a successful film under her belt. She loves comedies, horror films, and psychological thrillers, and these passions come through in her short, Shadow Wall.

    Shadow Wall is based on a true story and was directed by Ariana Ledesma. It co-stars Misha Suvorov and NYFA alum Sabrina Percario, who co-produced the film with writer and star Rita Casman.

    So far, Shadow Wall has been a semifinalist in Motion for Pictures and Los Angeles CineFest, and has won multiple awards, including Best Actress at Dreamachine International Film Festival, Best Narrative Short at the Pinnacle Film Awards, Best Music at the Independent Horror Movie Awards, and Best Shorts (English Language) at the Metro Film & TV Awards.

    Additionally, the film has been an Official Selection at numerous festivals: Indie Best Films Festival, Fiction & Narrative Short Films, The American Horrors Film Festival, Genre Celebration Festival, Diabolical Horror Film Festival, Independent Horror Movie Awards, Dunedin International Film Festival, Webisode Film Festival, and the Dreamachine International Film Festival. 

    New York Film Academy congratulates MFA Acting for Film alum Rita Casman on the success of her film Shadow Wall and looks forward to seeing where her talents and winsome energy bring her next!

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    June 14, 2019 • Acting, Producing, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 94

  • South African New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni Meet Up at Inaugural Events

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    This May, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted inaugural South African NYFA alumni events in Johannesburg and Cape Town. This was a fantastic opportunity for NYFA’s South African alumni to connect and expand their network. South Africa Alumni Event

    Blake Babbitt, NYFA Associate Director of Outreach, has been traveling to South Africa for that past 7 years on behalf of the school, and was very delighted to see a true community of New York Film Academy artists coming together in their home country. 

    “There is a growing entertainment industry here in South Africa,” says Babbitt. “Ultimately we want our graduates to use the techniques and knowledge gained at NYFA to influence the industry not only in America, but in their home countries as well.”

    Babbitt continues, “The power of community is essential to the entertainment industry and to artistic success. I am very pleased to see a community of New York Film Academy artists forming here in South Africa, and I’m excited to see how this budding community will expand and impact the way South African stories are told. The sky is the limit for this group!” 

    During the event, NYFA alumni exchanged contact information, formed WhatsApp groups, and tagged each other in social media posts and stories. There was even discussion to form an official alumni chapter in South Africa. 

    Additionally, many alumni expressed their gratitude for the training they received at New York Film Academy, and for NYFA’s concern for them after they graduated. “Once you join us at New York Film Academy, you become a part of our family for life,” Babbitt told the alumni. “We don’t forget about you the second you graduate. Seeing you succeed is incredibly important to us.”

    “Blake and Maria were the most gracious hosts,” says BFA Filmmaking alum Zack Schofield-Nel. “The people that I was blessed to have networked with were incredible; I have built connections that will last for a long time to come. This could have only have happened because I was fortunate enough to attend the New York Film Academy.”

    He adds, “It is the most supercalifragilisticexpialidocious that I could have ever imagined!”

    Attendees included the following NYFA alumni:

    • Lunathi Mampofu (2-year Acting for Film): Trailblazing South African actress. Working on multiple TV shows in South Africa.

    • Eden Classens (2-year Musical Theatre): Runner-up, Dancing with the Stars South Africa; Lead on Afrikaans series Suidooster; recently cast in Netflix’s Kissing Booth 2.

    • Rethabile Ramaphakela (8-week Screenwriting): South African production company co-owner and voiceover artist best known as the voice of the Vuzu shows V-Entertainment and 10 Over 10. Co-owner of the production company Burnt Onion Productions with her brothers Tshepo and Katleho, who created and produced the SABC1 sitcom My Perfect Family and the Vuzu mockumentary Check-Coast. Produced and created a show that is currently available on Amazon Prime. Directing her first feature film in June.

    • Zandi Zim (MFA Acting for Film): Formed her own production company. South African actress that has performed at The Grahamstown National Arts Festival and Cape Town Fringe Festival. Stage actor since the age of eight and has studied Meisner and Alexander Technique. Zandi also sings, plays jazz piano and marimbas, and speaks English and conversational Sesotho.

    • Jacqueline Rainers Setai (8-week Screenwriting, continuing into 1-year Screenwriting): Head of Mojalove Channel on DSTV; well-known and established South African writer, producer, documentarian, broadcaster.

    • Petrone van der Merwe (8-week Acting for Film): Currently in two stage productions for the ADK (Academy of Dramatic Arts)’s 80th birthday celebrations that will premiere at the UJ Artscape Theater in Johannesburg and will also be performed in Stellenbosch at the Drostdy Theater. Signed with the talent agency, Gaenor Artiste Management.

    • Audrey Mokono (1-year Acting for Film, continuing into BFA Acting for Film): Recent graduate of NYFA’s 1-year Acting for Film program and will continue her studies in NYFA’s BFA Acting for Film program.

    • Anlezia Venter (BFA Acting for Film): Opened her own fitness studio in Cape Town.

    • Zackary Nel (BFA Filmmaking): Currently finishing his BFA thesis film in Cape Town, and has hired his own local crew.

    • Paul Fulton (8-week Screenwriting): Copywriter for ad agency. Has two feature-length scripts he is working on getting sold.

    • Keyuri Naidoo (6-week Acting for Film): From Johannesburg; known for her role as Karishma in Droomdag (2017) directed by Willie Esterhuizen. During her time at NYFA-Los Angeles, Keyuri directed and acted in numerous student short films.

    • Thuto Marrengula (1-year Acting for Film): Thuto Marrengula is an actor, known for Non American Dreamers (2018) and Ask Questions Later (2016); currently developing an hour-long stand up routine.

    • Nyeleti Khoza (AFA Acting for Film):  South African actor known for The Coroner: I Speak for the Dead (2016), Black Tea (2017), and Remember Me (2017). Recently cast in Giyani – Land of Blood, a new highly-viewed telenovela on SABC2

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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: 359

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Student Santiago Achaga Wins TVyNovelas Award

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    Argentinian actor and social media star Santiago Achaga has won the coveted TVyNovelas Award for Best Young Actor. A graduate of the New York Film Academy (NYFA) 4-Week Acting for Film program and current student in the Filmmaking program, Achaga received the award for his portrayal of Claudio Meyer on Like, la Leyenda (Like, the Legend), a popular teen telenovela from Mexico. His work on the show also netted him a nomination for an Eres Award for Best Actor.

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    Llegó hasta acá, pero es de ustedes.

    A post shared by Santiago Achaga (@santiagoachaga) on

    The younger brother of popular model and actress Macarena Achaga, Santiago Achaga is also a singer and musician. He composed and recorded several pieces for Like, and earned scores of fans for his emotional ballads. His first commercial single, “Solo Estamos Los Dos,” will be released at the end of May.

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    SE TERMINO LA ESPERA!!! Este 24 de MAYO sale mi primer sencillo “Solo Estamos Los Dos” ♥️🔥🎉No tienen idea de la emoción y los nervios que tengo. La canción va a salir en todas las plataformas digitales acompañado de un videoclip en YouTube! Es un proyecto que le dedique tanto amor, tanto tiempo, tanto esfuerzo… se cayó mil veces y se volvió a parar. Nunca quise sacarlo a la “ligera” sabía que cuando lo fuera a sacar iba a ser con todo. Y ahora si. TODO SE DIÓ. Quiero contarles todos los detalles. Y así lo vamos a ir haciendo; junto con videos del backstage, promocionales y demás. Voy a necesitar de todo su apoyo para que esto siga creciendo como lo hicieron desde un principio. Sin ustedes este sueño (que tengo desde hace tanto tiempo que ya me había olvidado que era un sueño) no habría sido realidad. GRACIAS. VAMOS CON TODO 🔥🔥🔥

    A post shared by Santiago Achaga (@santiagoachaga) on

    The actor has worked in Argentina, Mexico, and the U.S., and moved to New York City to study at NYFA’s renowned Acting for Film program. He got his start as a model and was later cast as a recurring character on Heidi Bienvenida a Casa (Heidi, Welcome Home), an Argentinian telenovela for Nickelodeon’s Latin America brand, MundoNick. He played Junior in the show, which is an adaptation of the classic children’s book by Johanna Spyri.

    More recently, Achaga starred in Palau, a feature length film that tells the story of radio evangelist Luis Palau. Filmed in Argentina, the film had a two-day release across the U.S. and Latin America in early April, and continues to screen in churches and cinemas across the two continents. Achaga plays the titular religious leader as a young man on his way to becoming a missionary.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Santiago Achaga on his continued success and looks forward to his future projects!

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    May 23, 2019 • Acting • Views: 620

  • ‘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: 762

  • 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: 2816

  • 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: 994

  • 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: 281

  • 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: 492

  • 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: 451