• A Look Back at The 48th NAACP Image Awards


    The 48th NAACP Image Awards — which are presented by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to honor people of color in entertainment — were held this past Saturday night, Feb. 11, 2017, at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California.

    Denzel Washington won an award for best movie actor for his role in “Fences,” the adaptation of August Wilson’s play, which Washington also directed.

    “It is a privilege, an honor, a responsibility, a duty and a joy to bring his brilliance to the screen,” Washington said of the late Wilson, whom he called among America’s greatest playwrights. Last month, the New York Film Academy welcomed one of Washington’s co-stars, Russell Hornsby, who also praised the late playwright for being so influential on his career. “Wilson forced actors to bring their authentic self,” Hornsby said to a room full of NYFA students. “You bring your pain [to the role].”

    One of the big winners of the evening was “black-ish,” the TV sitcom came close to sweeping its categories, taking the award for best TV comedy and stars Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross getting top acting trophies. In non-televised awards given Friday, the show earned honors for co-stars Laurence Fishburne and Marsai Martin and a writing trophy for creator Kenya Barris. “The People Vs O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” also cleaned up the television comedy and drama categories with three wins, though newcomer Queen Sugar was recognized as the best drama series. Interesting note: NYFA Instructor Ken Lerner played attorney Howard Weitzman in “The People Vs O.J. Simpson” —the lawyer who is ultimately replaced by attorney Robert Kardashian, played by David Schwimmer.

    Hidden Figures

    American musical recording artist, actress, and model Janelle Monáe, left, American actress and singer Taraji P. Henson, American actor, film director, and producer Kevin Costner, and American actress Octavia Spencer arrive on the red carpet for the global celebration of the film “Hidden Figures” at the SVA Theatre, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016 in New York. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

    However, the directing award went to Donald Glover for his hit comedy series “Atlanta,” which also won a Golden Globe earlier this year. “Hidden Figures” and Taraji P. Henson were also winners, as the fact-based drama about the contributions of black female mathematicians to the U.S. space program won the award for best movie, while star Henson was honored as best actress.

    Beyoncé dominated the music categories with five wins, including Outstanding Female Artist and Outstanding Album for Lemonade.

    Back in the film world, “Moonlight” ran away with four awards including Outstanding Independent Motion Picture and two writing and directing wins for Barry Jenkins.

    “Queen Sugar,” created by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, was named best drama series, and “This Is Us” star Sterling K. Brown claimed the award for best TV drama series actor.

    Lonnie G. Bunche III received the NAACP President’s Award for his work as founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

    Last but not least, the popular wrestler turned actor, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, was named entertainer of the year in online voting. Last year, one of our Acting for Film graduates appeared in a video with Johnson, promoting his new Youtube channel.


    February 13, 2017 • Entertainment News • Views: 2258

  • Master Class with Award-Winning Filmmaker & NYFA Grad Rob Hardy


    Rob HardyAs part of the African Black Film Festival 2014, New York Film Academy graduate and highly successful filmmaker, Rob Hardy, will be holding a Master Class at the SVA Theatre in New York City on Saturday, June 21st from 4:30pm- 6:30pm.

    Rob Hardy, who is a 2014 NAACP Image Award nominee, broke into network television with his January 2007 directorial debut of the Emmy Award winning show ER. Soon after, Black Enterprise Magazine listed him among the Top 40 Entertainers under 40 for the year 2008. Since recently Executive Producing on Think Like A Man Too for Sony Pictures, Hardy has returned to television with directing stints on several shows including: Criminal Minds, Arrow, Castle, The Vampire Diaries, Bones, 90210, The Game, The Originals, Grey’s Anatomy, Being Mary Jane, Single Ladies, and Ravenswood.

    Hardy began his career as a high school Senior, with the camcorder-shot movie G-Man. While pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Florida A & M University, he made the leap to film with the low-budget motion picture Chocolate City. This experience earned him the institution’s highest honor, the Bernard Hendricks Student Leadership Award, and launched his company Rainforest Films. The underground buzz on the project soon led to his controversial film Trois. Hardy not only directed and co-wrote the thriller, he was also instrumental in self-distributing the project to be the fastest Independent African American film to pass the $1 million dollar mark. In 2003, after directing the critically acclaimed thriller Pandora’s Box, he added the role of “Producer” to his credits by collaborating with business partner Will Packer, to produce several movies including: Three Can Play that Game, Puff Puff Pass and Motives. 2004 saw penning an “untitled Usher” project for MTV Films. Hardy then wrote and directed the spiritually themed drama entitled The Gospel, and produced the companion Gospel Live!. His hard-earned success has garnered a 2006 “Best Screenplay” (Black Movie Awards) nomination. He then Executive Produced Stomp The Yard, which held the #1 position at the box office for two weekends in January of 2007 and received the 2007 Movie of the Year Award from the BET Hip Hop awards and later directed it’s sequel Stomp the Yard: Homecoming. Later, he created the Sprite Step off TV series for MTV 2 that placed a fraternity step competition into the reality TV space. A documentary about Martin Luther King, Jr’s life as a fraternity member called AlphaMan: The Brotherhood of MLK, soon aired.

    The Hollywood Reporter (December 2002) listed him amongst the New Establishment of Black Power Brokers. Florida A&M University awarded him with the Meritorious Achievement Award, which is the highest honor bestowed on an alumnus. After which he received the inaugural Woody Strode / Paul Robeson Award of Excellence from his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

    His company Rainforest Films, was listed as one of the Top 25 Money Makers in Entertainment (2007) by Black Enterprise Magazine and has gone on to produce feature films including: Ride Along, No Good Deed, This Christmas, Obsessed and Takers.

    Additionally, Hardy has directed commercial projects for clients, including: CNN, TBS (Turner Broadcasting), American Honda, Coca-Cola, Georgia Lottery and The National Cancer Institute. He serves on the Advisory Board for the International Feature Project (IFP) Film Lab series. He resides in Atlanta, GA with his wife and two sons.


    June 12, 2014 • Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3799

  • NYFA Grad Releases New Book: ‘Notes From a Colored Girl’


    Notes From Colored GirlNew York Film Academy graduate, Karsonya Wise Whitehead has recently released a book entitled, Notes from a Colored Girl: The Civil War Pocket Diaries of Emilie Frances Davis. In the book, Whitehead examines the life and experiences of Emilie Frances Davis, a freeborn twenty-one-year-old mulatto woman, through a close reading of three pocket diaries she kept from 1863 to 1865. Emilie’s world-views and politics, her perceptions of both public and private events, her personal relationships, and her place in Philadelphia’s free black community in the nineteenth century, are all explored. The diaries of Emilie Frances Davis is one of only a handful of resources written by a free black woman from the nineteenth century.

    Whitehead’s book was resoundingly endorsed by Harvard Professor, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. “’To day has bin a memorable day. I thank God I have bin here to see it.’ So begins the pocket diaries of free black woman Emilie Davis of Philadelphia on the day of Emancipation at the midpoint of the Civil War. Her words also capture my feelings in seeing Davis’s diaries published under the expert eye of Karsonya Wise Whitehead, whose scholarly annotations not only set the scene but reveal how this ‘everyday’ domestic-dressmaker’s decision to record her thoughts at the critical hours of the African American journey was itself an emancipatory act.”

    Since graduating from NYFA, Dr. Karsonya Wise Whitehead is now an assistant professor of communication and African and African American studies in the Department of Communication at Loyola University Maryland; a Master Teacher in African American History for intermediate, secondary and college teachers; the 2007 Gilder Lehrman Preserve America Maryland History Teacher of the Year; and, a three-time New York Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker.

    In addition, she has been a featured speaker at the 2013 and 2014 White House Black History Month panels co-sponsored by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).


    May 28, 2014 • Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4491

  • ‘Dark Girls’ Nominated for NAACP Image Award


    Dark Girls NYFA

    A few years back, New York Film Academy Instructor Cheryl Bedford was asked to be a part of the documentary Dark Girls, directed and produced by Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry. Even with deferred pay, Cheryl immediately jumped on board as Line Producer and her decision couldn’t have been more right. The bracing new documentary was recently nominated for an NAACP Image Award. “The material spoke to me,” said Bedford. “Dark Girls is about ‘colorism’ and how it affects women. Basically, the darker you are, the less attractive you are perceived to be.”

    Skin bleaching products are a billion dollar business worldwide. Dark skinned women in Africa are using these products and doing horrible damage to their skin. In China, Japan, Thailand, Korea, etc., you can’t buy a moisturizer without a skin bleaching component in the product. “As a dark skin black woman, who has been called pretty — ‘even though I was dark skinned’ — I felt that the project had to be part of my filmmaking legacy,” added Bedford.

    When Dark Girls premiered on OWN in June 2013, the film was the number one trending topic on twitter for three hours worldwide. “I am so proud of this project and the entire Dark Girls team. As a filmmaker, when you have a passion project, you hope and dream of this kind of success. I feel quite lucky and blessed that people feel connected to this movie.”



    January 13, 2014 • Documentary Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4683

  • NYFA Instructor Julie Oni’s New Play ‘Bunk’ Opens Wednesday


    NYFA Instructor BunkNew York Film Academy Instructor of English and Comparative Literature, Julie Oni’s new play Bunk opens this Wednesday, January 8th, at Son of Semele Ensemble for the Company Creation Festival.

    Synopsis: A job interview tasks two would-be construction workers — one Nigerian, one African-American — with building a bunk bed. To succeed, they must confront the misconceptions they have about each other’s cultures and work together toward their common goal.

    • FESTIVAL WEEK 1: WED 1/8, THURS 1/9, FRI 1/10 
    • WEEK 5: WED 2/5, THURS 2/6, FRI 2/7 FESTIVAL
    • WEEK 7: SAT 2/22, SUN 2/23

    For more information, CLICK HERE.


    January 6, 2014 • Academic Programs, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2946

  • New York Film Academy’s Crystle Stewart On Her Way With Tyler Perry


    Crystle StewartActing for Film graduate Crystle Stewart has kept a busy schedule since her recent graduation. She stars on the TBS show For Better or Worse, which was just picked up for another 35 episodes. Last year, it was named basic cable’s #1 sitcom, and was the most-watched show on any network for African-American adults.

    Crystle is a former pageant winner, claiming the title of Miss Texas USA before winning Miss USA 2008. She went on to represent the US in the Miss Universe competition. Soon after, she decided to pursue a career in acting by studying at New York Film Academy. In a phone interview, Crystle said, “I wanted to give it a try and decided to move to Los Angeles. I really enjoyed it. The teachers were fantastic! To me, you either have experience or you get an education. New York Film Academy totally prepared me for my role.”

    Crystle landed the role after a chance meeting with Tyler Perry. “I was eating at a restaurant in Beverly Hills and he came in. My boyfriend introduced me and Tyler said, ‘Have a seat. Are you an actress?’ The next day, I got a call from his casting director!”

    She soon booked the part of Leslie on For Better or Worse. She explains, “I love the character. She’s the peacemaker on the show. I’m more the mellow person that calms everyone down. I speak the truth to them, even if they don’t want to hear it. It’s more of a drama, but it’s not Tyler Perry if there’s not some comedy thrown in!”

    Crystle also had a small role in the film Good Deeds, which is currently in theaters. She spoke glowingly about working with the stellar cast that included Phylicia Rashad, Thandie Newton, Rebecca Romijn, and Gabrielle Union.

    After news that the show was renewed, Crystle says she is ready to get back to business. “I’ve never been so excited to go back to work!” she said. “We start shooting this month and new episodes should be airing in the fall.”


    March 7, 2012 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4564