Issa Rae
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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking Alum Tracy Oliver Launches ‘First Wives Club’ Series

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    First Wives Club, the new adaptation of the hit 1996 film developed for television by New York Film Academy (NYFA) Filmmaking alum Tracy Oliver, premieres this week.

    Oliver attended the New York Film Academy 4-Week Filmmaking workshop at our Los Angeles campus in 2005. In that workshop she met fellow classmate and NYFA alum Issa Rae, forming a friendship and working relationship that continues to this day. Oliver wrote an episode of Rae’s career-launching webseries, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, as well as starring in the show as Rae’s antagonist, Nina. She has since become a wildly successful Hollywood screenwriter, with script credits including Barbershop: The Next Cut, Little, and The Sun is Also a Star.Tracy Oliver

    Additionally, Oliver co-wrote the hit comedy Girls Trip with Kenya Barris, which made over $140 million at the box office. Oliver and Barris were nominated for a 2018 Image Award for their work on the movie.

    First Wives Club, Oliver’s latest project, is loosely adapted from the feature film of the same name, which starred Diane Keaton, Better Midler, Goldie Hawn, and Maggie Smith, and took audiences by storm in 1996. The original film revolved around a group of women who cope with the divorce and seek retribution against their ex-husbands. The show has been in pre-production for several years, having gone through multiple producers, casts, and studios, before Oliver was handed the reins.

    Oliver’s adaptation focuses more a story of sisterhood, and chronicles three best friends after one of them, Hazel, is caught up in an infamous cheating scandal. The three friends, who all recently came out of relationships, support each other while seeking revenge as they learn to put themselves first. The show stars Jill Scott, Michelle Buteau, and Ryan Michelle Bathe as the three friends—Hazek, Bree, and Ari. The cast also includes Mark Tallman, RonReaco Lee, and Malik Yoba. In addition to developing the show, Oliver also directed its seventh episode.

    Tracy Oliver

    First Wives Club will premiere on September 19 as a launch title for the brand new Viacom streaming service, BET+, which also goes live on September 19. Its first season, which filmed in New York City late
    last year, will air for ten episodes.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Tracy Oliver on the launch of her new series, First Wives Club, and encourages everyone to check out the show when it premieres on BET+!

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    September 17, 2019 • #WomenOfNYFA, Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 116

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Issa Rae Executive Produces HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show

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    This Friday, HBO will premiere its newest comedy series, A Black Lady Sketch Show, executive produced by New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Issa Rae and created by Robin Thede. The landmark show will be the first ever sketch series on television starring an all-black women cast, as well as the first with an all-black women writers room.

    The first season of A Black Lady Sketch Show, which debuts August 2, 11:00-11:30 p.m. ET/PT, comprises six episodes and around forty sketches. The show is a direct response from veteran comedy writer Robin Thede to the traditional lack of diversity in comedy; in 2015, Thede had become late night’s first black woman head writer when after joining The Nightly Show.

    “[A Black Lady Sketch Show] was definitely written from a very specific point of view,” Thede tells Salon, “but it’s from a diverse array of black women. So you’re going to get sketches that have aliens or musicals or thrillers or murder. You’re going to get sketches with all sorts of different things because of the diversity amongst the black women in our writer’s room … For us it’s really about showcasing something that is seen as very homogeneous and showing the layers that black women have. And even on this show, in six episodes, we can’t, we’ve barely scratched the surface.”

    The cast will include Thede, as well as Ashley Nicole Black, Gabrielle Dennis, and Quinta Brunson. The show will be co-executive produced by Issa Rae Productions, the production company of New York Film Academy alum Issa Rae.

    After graduating the 4-Week Filmmaking Workshop at NYFA’s Burbank-based campus, Rae turned the success of her award-winning web series The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl into a deal with HBO. The deal included her series, Insecure, which she writes, produces, and stars in, and for which she earned Golden Globe nominations in 2017 and 2018. It also included developing more projects for HBO with a special focus on diversity. A Black Lady Sketch Show turned out to be the perfect fit for Issa Rae productions.

    New York Film Academy prides itself on its diverse, international student body with aspiring performers and visual artists coming from over 120 countries in a nearly even female-to-male ratio. Recently, NYFA Screenwriting alum Abby Ajayi was one of 63 black female writers featured in an epic photo shoot by The Hollywood Reporter late last year. Other notable women of color that have graduated from NYFA include Amy Wright, Furaha Bayibsa, Omoni Oboli, Paquita Hughes, and Akila Robinson.

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum Issa Rae on her latest production and wishes the best of success to Robin Thede and the cast and crew of HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show!

     

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Community Earns Several Emmy Award Nominations

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) was excited once again to see the NYFA Community represented in this year’s nominations for the 71st Emmy Awards. The awards ceremony will be aired live on Sunday, September 22.

    HBO leads the nominations with a jaw-dropping 137 nods, while Netflix follows not far behind with an impressive 117 total nominations. 

    Zeitgeist television epic Game of Thrones helped HBO with many of those nominations, receiving a total of 32 altogether. One of those nominations includes for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for the penultimate episode, “The Bells.” Alexandra LoRusso, an alum of NYFA’s 1-year 3D Animation & Visual Effects conservatory, worked on the visual effects for that episode and the Game of Thrones finale, “The Iron Throne.”

    Bill Hader

    Dark comedy Barry was another HBO show that made an impressive showing, with a total of 17 nominations. The series was co-created by and stars New York Film Academy alum Bill Hader, who spoke with students earlier this year. Hader was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, which he won the Emmy for last year. He also received nominations this year for
    both Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.

    Competing in the same category with Barry for Outstanding Comedy Series is Netflix breakout hit Russian Doll, starring Natasha Lyonne. The show also picked up a nod for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (Half-Hour). NYFA Cinematography alum Rebecca Rajadnya served as first assistant camera on the cinematography team for Russian Doll.

    Also nominated for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (Half-Hour) was HBO comedy Insecure, starring and created by NYFA Filmmaking alum Issa Rae.

    The Documentary categories also had nods for the NYFA community. Both Free Solo and RBG were nominated for Outstanding Directing for a Documentary/Nonfiction Program. RBG was shot by NYFA Documentary Department cinematography instructor Claudia Raschke. Free Solo was edited by NYFA editing instructor Bob Eisenhardt, ACE. Eisenhardt, who won an Eddie Award for his work on the film, is also nominated for Outstanding Picture Editing for a Nonfiction Program.

    Additionally, the Netflix documentaries Fyre and Our Planet were nominated in the Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series category; NYFA 1-year Documentary alum Pedro Alvarez Gales was the assistant editor on Fyre, which was nominated in three other categories as well, while NYFA Acting for Film alum Lana Condor moderated a preview panel for Our Planet.

    Bob Eisenhardt Eddie Free Solo

    Two previous NYFA guest speakers were also nominated for Emmy Awards this year, both in the same category—Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. Henry Winkler was nominated for his work in Barry, while recent guest speaker Tony Hale was nominated for Veep; this is his sixth nomination for the role, and he’s won twice. The show is also nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series.

    Better Call Saul was nominated for Outstanding Drama Series; previous NYFA guest speaker Gordon Smith has written for the series. Groundbreaking animated program The Simpsons, now in its 30th season and no stranger to Emmy Awards and nominations, was unsurprisingly nominated again this year for Outstanding Animated Program. Mike Polcino, who has directed for the show, spoke with NYFA students last year.

    New York Film Academy congratulates this year’s Emmy Award nominees and looks forward to seeing who goes home with a golden statuette on September 22!

    Here is a full list of this year’s Emmy Award nominees:

    Outstanding Comedy Series
    Barry
    Fleabag
    The Good Place
    The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Russian Doll
    Schitt’s Creek
    Veep

    Outstanding Drama Series
    Better Call Saul
    Bodyguard
    Game of Thrones
    Killing Eve
    Ozark
    Pose
    Succession
    This Is Us

    Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
    Mahershala Ali, True Detective
    Benicio Del Toro, Escape at Dannemora
    Hugh Grant, A Very English Scandal
    Jared Harris, Chernobyl
    Jharrel Jerome, When They See Us
    Sam Rockwell, Fosse/Verdon

    Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
    Amy Adams, Sharp Objects
    Patricia Arquette, Escape at Dannemora
    Aunjanue Ellis, When They See us
    Joey King, The Act
    Niecy Nash, When They See Us
    Michelle Williams, Fosse/Verdon

    Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
    Ben Whishaw, A Very English Scandal
    Stellan Skarsgard, Chernobyl
    Paul Dano, Escape at Dannemora
    John Leguizamo, When They See Us
    Michael K. Williams, When They See Us
    Asante Blackk, When They See Us

    Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
    Emily Watson, Chernobyl
    Margaret Qualley, Fosse/Verdon
    Patricia Clarkson, Sharp Objects
    Patricia Arquette, The Act
    Marsha Stephanie Blake, When They See Us
    Vera Farmiga, When They See Us

    Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
    Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
    Don Cheadle, Black Monday
    Ted Danson, The Good Place
    Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
    Bill Hader, Barry
    Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek

    Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
    Christina Applegate, Dead To Me
    Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
    Natasha Lyonne, Russian Doll
    Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek
    Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag

    Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
    Stephen Root, Barry
    Henry Winkler, Barry
    Anthony Carrigan, Barry
    Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method
    Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Tony Hale, Veep

    Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
    Sarah Goldberg, Barry
    Sian Clifford, Fleabag
    Olivia Colman, Fleabag
    Betty Gilpin, GLOW
    Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
    Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Marin Hinkle, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
    Anna Chlumsky, Veep

    Lead Actor in a Drama Series
    Jason Bateman, Ozark
    Sterling K. Brown, This Is UsKit Harington, Game of Thrones
    Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
    Billy Porter, Pose
    Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us

    Lead Actress in a Drama Series
    Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
    Jodie Comer, Killing Eve
    Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
    Laura Linney, Ozark
    Mandy Moore, This Is Us
    Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
    Robin Wright, House of Cards

    Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
    Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
    Giancarlo Esposito, Better Call SaulAlfie Allen, Game of Thrones
    Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones
    Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
    Michael Kelly, House of Cards
    Chris Sullivan, This Is Us

    Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
    Gwendoline Christie, Game of Thrones
    Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
    Sophie Turner, Game of Thrones
    Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones
    Fiona Shaw, Killing Eve
    Julia Garner, Ozark

    Outstanding Reality Competition Series
    Amazing Race
    American Ninja Warrior
    Nailed It
    RuPaul’s Drag Race
    Top Chef
    The Voice

    Outstanding Variety Talk Series
    The Daily Show
    Full Frontal
    Jimmy Kimmel Live!
    Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
    The Late Late Show With James Corden
    The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

    Outstanding Variety Sketch Series
    At Home With Amy Sedaris
    Documentary Now!
    Drunk History
    I Love You, America With Sarah Silverman
    Saturday Night Live
    Who Is America?

    Outstanding Television Movie
    Bandersnatch
    Brexit
    Deadwood
    King Lear
    My Dinner with Hervé

    Outstanding Limited Series
    Chernobyl
    Escape at Dannemora
    Fosse/Verdon
    Sharp Objects
    When They See Us

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  • NYFA Tunes in for the 74th Annual Golden Globes

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    Once again the New York Film Academy was live on social media talking Golden Globes and, this year, rooting for former student Issa Rae on her nomination for Best Actress in a TV Comedy or Musical for her performance on HBO’s “Insecure,” a show she writes, produces, and acts in. While the award went to Tracee Ellis Ross for “Blackish,” we commend Issa on her tremendous success with her hit series, which began a few years back as a web-series.

    golden globes

    With the Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon hosting the evening, there were many familiar faces on hand not only from our favorite shows and films of the year, but from former guest speakers of NYFA, including Jonah Hill who was nominated for his part in “War Dogs.”

    The big winner of the evening was the musical “La La Land,” which won all seven of its nominated categories: best picture comedy/musical, lead actor honors for Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, and awards for director, screenplay, song and score. The film received a wonderful review from our newest faculty member, film critic Peter Rainer, and is considered the heavy favorite for the Academy Awards as well.

    zootopia

    It was also a delight to watch comic actors Steve Carrell and Kristin Wiig present the award for Best Animated Feature to “Zootopia.” Last year,  NYFA hosted an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the award-winning animated film with Disney animator, Darrin Butters, who has been an animator for all of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ top hits including “Big Hero 6,” “Frozen” and “Tangled.”

    Perhaps one of the most talked about moments from last night was Meryl Steep’s moving speech after receiving the Cecil B. Demille award. She spoke of the talented actors and actresses she’s worked with who come from all over the world. “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners,” Streep said after describing the diverse backgrounds of some of her acting contemporaries.

    We’re very familiar with artists from all over the world, as more than 50% of NYFA’s enrollment is international. Tens of thousands of visual and performing artists from nearly 120 countries have studied at NYFA since its founding 25 years ago, including dozens of Fulbright Foreign Students. We hope to see more of our students and alumni at upcoming award ceremonies!

    Below is a list of winners and nominees from the 2017 Golden Globes.

    Continue Reading

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    January 9, 2017 • Community Highlights, Entertainment News • Views: 3518

  • New York Film Academy Graduate Challenging Stereotypes with Popular New Webseries

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    Issa RaeNYFA Graduate Issa Rae is the creator and star of the youtube series, “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl”

    New York Film Academy graduate Issa Rae grew tired of watching stereotypes of people of color on the screen and decided to create her own vision of reality with webseries The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl. The web-based show follows J, played by Rae, and her mishaps and successes in work and love. Since the debut was posted in February, the first episode has garnered more than 240,000 hits, with subsequent episodes receiving more than 100,000 hits and 1,000 viewer comments. In addition, nearly 17,000 people are dedicated to the show’s Facebook page. Rae is now packaging the series as a half-hour comedy show for cable.

    Susan Fales-Hill, who produced and wrote for the long-running NBC sitcom “A Different World,” called Rae’s work fresh, incisive, and non-stereotypical. Says Fales-Hill, “She is showing an educated, African-American woman leading an integrated life and a professional woman with friends of many different nationalities and backgrounds, and just trying to make her way.”

     

    Issa Rae Editing At TableRae edits at her kitchen table

    Says Rae on the production, “I knew if I didn’t shoot it myself it was never going to get done.” Rae began by recruiting friend Andrew Allan James to co-star as her annoying co-worker and admirer. By episode four, actor Tracy Oliver came onboard as a producer and helped pull together a full crew, boosting episode length from 4 minutes to up to 12 minutes. Around episode six, Rae launched an online fundraising campaign for the show and raised $4,000 in the first day. She now has more than $56,000 raised from nearly 2,000 donors.

     

    Issa Rae SmilingRae’s tenacity has paid off – NYFA Grad Rae has since signed with United Talent Agency and 3 Arts Entertainment. In addition to creating her own opportunities, she has created a voice for minorities that are often stereotyped by the media. Rae explains, “I think it sends a message to mainstream media that we don’t have to have these white male and female leads for everybody to relate to them. It’s sort of unfair to think that, so I hope that this show influences future casting decisions just based off what we’ve been able to do so far. “

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    September 12, 2011 • Acting • Views: 3952