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  • New York Film Academy Graduates on Season 3 of Glee

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    Chord OverstreetNYFA Graduate Chord Overstreet busts a move as Sam “Trouty Mouth” Evans on Glee

    The Hollywood Reporter (THR) has reported that New York Film Academy graduate Chord Overstreet may return to Glee in a reoccurring capacity in Episode 8 of the series’ third season. Chord plays character Sam, who was last romancing Mercedes (Amber Riley) in the second season finale. Chord previously had an on screen relationship with character Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron). “Unlike other Glee relationships, they may stay together all the way to the end of the year,” Riley told THR recently. “I think what you’re going to see is what a positive relationship looks like with those two.”

    Naya Rivera with Heather MorrisNYFA Graduate Naya Rivera (right) as Santana Lopez on Glee along with blonde love-interest Brittany (Heather Morris)

    Fellow New York Film Academy graduate Naya Rivera plays manipulative “Cheerio” Santana on Glee and has appeared in all 66 episodes. Naya, who previously took a March 2008 eight week screenwriting workshop at NYFA New York, has been praised for her role as a cheerleader coming to terms with her sexual orientation after developing feelings for fellow cheerleader Brittany (Heather Morris). For her work, Naya was nominated in the Best Supporting Actress/Television category at the Imagen Awards, and she and her co-stars won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. Naya was also nominated in the Favorite TV Actress – Leading Role in a Comedy category at the 2011 ALMA Awards. She came in at number 43 on the Maxim Hot 100 list this year and was ranked #1 on the AfterEllen Hot 100 list. Naya signed a recent deal with Columbia Records to produce a solo album.

    New York Film Academy congratulations our alumni on their continued Glee success and can’t wait to tune in for tonight’s new episode!

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    October 18, 2011 • Acting • Views: 7580

  • NYFA Graduate Directs Nigeria’s Big Christmas Release

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    Changing Faces Poster

    Changing Faces is the first major Nigerian movie to be dubbed in French for commercial distribution in France and francophone countries according to the Ghana Media Group. Oh yeah, did we mention it is directed by New York Film Academy graduate Faruk Lasaki? Changes Faces began as Faruk’s NYFA thesis film, a fifteen-minute short called Six Feet Under, which he later developed into the full feature. The film is slated to be the big Christmas release in Nigeria and Ghana, opening at the Silverbird Cinemas on December 23. The 92 minute metaphysical romantic thriller explores the transference of evil spirits through sex. Faruk comments that the unusual premise of his film is driven by his desire to bring important issues to the forefront of cinema: “My basic objective is creating awareness of issues affecting Africans and ways of resolving it. I’ve realized there are lots of dark issues around us and we hold no decisions, we refuse to accept it. We know it is this but we hide under an umbrella, ‘No, no, no, don’t talk about it, don’t talk about sex.’ We hide.”

    Faruk Lasaki

    NYFA Graduate Faruk Lasaki

    Changing Faces premiered at the Pavillion les Cinema Du Sud of the 61st Cannes Film Festival. It has since screened at the 2008 Black Diaspora International Film Festival of New York, was featured in competition at the 2009 Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), was selected for the 2009 Cairo International Film Festival, and was the opening film of the 2011 Eko International Film Festival in Lagos, Nigeria. Faruk adds that his film has an international audience because the issues it presents are universally relatable: “I wanted an issue that could be seen in any part of the world. Now the issue I’ve picked, somehow, in the French culture, you find it inside. Somehow, in the American, the British, the Chinese culture, you find it inside. You see, me picking just any writer in Nigeria to give me any Nigerian story, it wouldn’t cut across. I wanted a story that somehow, whether you are African, French, British or American, there’s a trace of you inside and there’s part that you go home with. That’s what I have done.” Learn more about the film here.

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    September 20, 2011 • Acting • Views: 4220

  • 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: 3665

  • Automobile Heiress Dives into Documentary Filmmaking after NYFA

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    Automobile Heiress Aalika Manhindra

    Aalika Manhindra (left), automobile heiress, preparing for a shoot with filmmaking collaborator Anjali Bhushan (right). Photo Credit: Santosh Agwekar

    Aalika Mahindra is heiress to one of India’s biggest auto companies but has her sights set on filmmaking. After graduating from the New York Film Academy in 2009, she returned to her family home in South Mumbai wanting to make a feature film. Mahindra teamed up with filmmaker Anjali Bhushan and decided to seek office space in the suburban town of Bandra, feeling “the industry was based out of the suburbs.” Though Mahindra’s intention was to write the script for her feature film, a few weeks of experiencing the character of Bandra changed her focus. Comments Mahindra, “I met so many interesting people and experienced the character that Bandra holds. That’s when the idea of making the suburb the subject of our film came to me, and Anjali and I started work.”

    Mahindra redirected her efforts into making a documentary that shows the intersection of the bustling, creative space of the town’s youngest residents and the fine dining and establishments of the city’s older inhabitants. Mahindra smiles commenting on the laidback vibe of the place: “‘I’ve grown up in South Mumbai and love it, but on the flip side, there’s a snoot value and an obsession with social dos and celebrity-spotting, which isn’t the case here. Bandra’s celebrities share space with you at coffee shops and no one bats an eyelid. People here are connected to each other and the suburb, which probably comes from the fact that a lot of those who first migrated here on account of cheaper rent were single, and made the effort to reach out to the community. Today, that bond is visible, and it fosters an atmosphere where random strangers can chat with each other at a bagel shop or say hello to each other on the road.”

    Mahindra will show a short version of the film she is cutting from over 20 hours of footage at the Celebrate Bandra festival in November, but is working on a longer festival release of the project for next year.

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    September 6, 2011 • Acting • Views: 5149

  • NYFA Graduate Does Stunt Work for Smurfs Movie

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    Chris Place

    New York Film Academy Graduate Chris Place

    New York Film Academy graduate Chris Place is one of the few humans in new comedy The Smurfs starring Katy Perry and Neil Patrick Harris. Chris did all stunt work for four-time Emmy Winner Hank Azaria who plays antagonist Gargamel in the film. The Smurfs follows evil wizard Gargamel’s efforts to chase the tiny blue Smurfs out of their village. Chris comments that one of the biggest challenges of filming was acting with animated characters that aren’t added until post-production: “A lot of it was working with creatures that aren’t even there. You’re running around yelling, but it’s not at anyone.”

    Chris Place Stunt

    Chris does a high fall for a film project

    Though Chris was new to acting in animated pictures, he has done a tremendous amount of film work since graduating including Leatherheads with George Clooney, The Other Guys with Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell, Salt, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, The Adjustment Bureau, Captain America, Step Up 3D, and The Good Shepherd. Chris also played villain The Ripper in last year’s My Soul to Take and has done work for TV shows including The Sopranos, Blue Bloods, The Late Show with David Letterman, Gossip Girl, and Ugly Betty. Chris received Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for Outstanding Work by a Stunt Ensemble for films Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and I am Legend. Though Chris has an impressive number of credits, his past experiences didn’t prevent him from injury:

    Gargamel played by Hank Azaria

    Chris did all stunts for the character of evil wizard Gargamel (left) played by Hank Azaria (right)

    “The Smurfs really just beat you up. I think you get more hurt on the kids movie because of the slapstick comedy. There was a lot of getting tripped, falling on your face, falling on your back,” Place said. “I had a bruised kidney and a bunch of lumps on my bald head.”

    Chris’s wardrobe included donning a wizard robe, prosthetic nose and ears, in addition to having his head shaved daily. However, Chris comments that he wouldn’t be doing anything else: “Film is a passion of mine, so seeing the finished project is great. A desk job doesn’t appeal to me. Not sitting behind a desk nine to five everyday is the best job.”

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    September 1, 2011 • Acting • Views: 4976

  • New York Film Academy Graduate: From Media Librarian to Top-Rated Producer

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    Miriam EryanNYFA Graduate Miriam Eryan, now a producer in Australia for The Morning Show

    Miriam Eryan was formerly a media librarian at the Seven Network in Sydney, Australia. In July 2010, she enrolled in a four-week Broadcast Journalism workshop at New York Film Academy, which she comments was one of the “greatest opportunities” of her life. Eryan explained, “not only did it equip me with career confidence through its technical lessons in camera operation and editing but it also gave me access to one of the greatest cities in the world.”

    Miriam Eryan posing with Joe AlicastroMiriam Eryan poses with NYFA Broadcast Journalism Chair Joe Alicastro at graduation

    Eryan’s New York education gave her opportunities to enter the production field when she returned to Sydney, moving through the ranks as a researcher to a production assistant to a booking agent and producer for the highest rated morning program in Australia. As a producer for The Morning Show, Eryan’s chases and captures have included securing Australia’s first interviews with Piers Morgan, Perez Hilton, Linda Hogan, and Nadya Suleman (Octomom). Eryan explained, “I attribute this success to the tenacity that I discovered I had in New York. Being placed out of my comfort zone taught me how much I love and thrive off being challenged. It taught me to think creatively and taught me that I can survive the industry.”

    Miriam Eryan posing with her NYFA ClassmatesMiriam Eryan with her New York Film Academy classmates

    Eryan adds that she felt “inspired by both the dedicated and professional staff” and touched by the friendships that she formed. “I still keep in contact with half of the class and love that I can travel anywhere in the world and have a place to stay and a journalist to share tales with.” Eryan comments that she regularly keeps up with classmates including Samantha Steffan who now works for E Online, Lizzie Muse who works for Elle Online, Bruna Sinhorini who works for a Brazilian TV Show, Olivia Duncan who reports for a local news station in LA, and Ashley Anderson who now works for The Voice Tribune in Louisville, Kentucky. Follow Miriam on Twitter @MiriamEryan.

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    August 18, 2011 • Acting • Views: 4587

  • New York Film Academy Graduate Appears in Movie with Robert De Niro and Forest Whitaker

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     Hilary Cruz

    NYFA Graduate Hilary Cruz, former Miss Teen USA 2007

    New York Film Academy Graduate Hilary Cruz, former Miss Teen USA 2007, has been keeping busy since graduation. Cruz, who starred in Donald Trump’s reality show Pageant Place in 2007, recently shot national commercials for McDonalds, Sleep Studio, DSW, and shoe retailer Deichmann. She also filmed scenes for the 2012 film Freelancers starring Robert De Niro, Forest Whitaker, and 50 Cent. Comments LA-based Cruz:

    “Tara Conner (Miss USA 2006) and I are best friends and Katie Blair (Miss Teen USA 2006) is my other best friend in LA! Things are good – very busy and exhausting but good!”

    Cruz plays character Erin in Sand Sharks, a Sci Fi Channel original movie in post-production. She is also signed with Ford Models and recently shot for several brands.

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    August 2, 2011 • Acting • Views: 3284

  • New York Film Academy Student Screens Award-Winning Short Film at Manhattan Film Festival

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    Yair Shvartz on the set of Bert’s Plan

    New York Film Academy MFA student Yair Shvartz (Left) on the set of Bert’s Plan

    New York Film Academy MFA Filmmaking student Yair Shvartz is generating buzz in the film community with short comedy Bert’s Plan. Shvartz, originally from Israel, wrote, directed and produced Bert’s Plan, which received the CINE Golden Eagle Award. In addition, the film took home the Silver Palm Award at the Mexico International Film Festival, and the Van Gogh Award at the Amsterdam International Film Festival.

    Bert’s Plan follows a struggling middle-aged writer attempting to get his book published. Downtrodden and plagued with rejection, Bert comes up with a plan that takes an unexpected and hilariously dark turn. Says Shvartz of the project:

    Bert’s Plan was not the easiest shoot. It was a big challenge but with a lot of hard work and our hearts put into it, it all came together! The crew did an amazing job. We had wonderful actors and I had my DP, Ezequiel Arribas (also a NYFA student), with whom I had previously worked on a few other shorts, who did an incredible job. I was lucky to have been surrounded by such a wonderful crew.”

    Bert’s Plan screens this Saturday, July 30th at 4:45pm at Symphony Space in New York as part of the Manhattan Film Festival. Schvartz is currently in the fundraising stage for his next project, a feature film titled Worried Minds.

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    July 25, 2011 • Acting • Views: 2954

  • New York Film Academy Student Clark James Gable, Grandson of Legendary Actor Clark Gable, Paving His Way Through Hollywood

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    Clark James Gable, grandson of legendary actor Clark Gable of Gone With the Wind fame, is out to prove that he can make it in the same industry that made his family name famous. During the past three months, Clark has shown his versatility as an actor – doing improvisational comedy for a TV pilot produced by George Paige (The New Mickey Mouse Club) and flying to Europe to act in a highly secretive dramatic feature film. He is also in talks to appear in a new film featuring undisclosed A-list talent.

    Clark James Gable

    photo by David LaPorte

    “I want to act for the rest of my life. I am 110% sure. It is in my blood; its what I want to do.” – Clark James Gable 

    Gable enrolled in New York Film Academy’s four-week acting for film workshop and booked both roles after beginning his classes, which he says was a result of the New York Film Academy helping him “gain confidence and feel more positive in an audition room.” He just returned from shooting abroad and says the experience was “excellent, nothing short of perfect, and the best experience I have ever had in my life.” Gable shot for two months, typically waking up around 8am, heading to makeup by 9am, and shooting until 6pm. He comments that the whole experience was “surreal” being surrounded by such incredible historical locations including the medieval town the cast stayed in for a month. On his heritage, Gable adds that Italian cast and crew recognized his name, and it was “great to feel the respect the country has for my grandfather.”

    Clark James Gable Photo

    Gable explains the shoot really helped him to relax and enjoy the process of acting: “Right before the film there is so much stress. But on set, the moment you are off book, it really comes together and the stress goes away. The process is hard but once you step onto set, the nerves are gone.” Gable returned to classes at New York Film Academy this July and brings with him a new openness to the material. “I feel like I am ready to not over-analyze my acting and just let everything go. I need to be open and have fun. If you can do that, you’re golden.”

    Clark James Gable Pic

    Though Gable plans to commit himself fully to the work in his classes, he will also be busy completing production on his documentary Finding Gable, which traces his lineage and the impact his grandfather made on American film history and finding his own path in the spotlight, retracing the legacy. In September, Gable will travel to Cadiz, Ohio to visit the Clark Gable Foundation and raise awareness and funds for the organization, housed in the town where his grandfather was born. The New York Film Academy and Clark have struck a deal to complete the documentary, which includes following him in time to submit to Sundance. Clark adds that New York Film Academy has been really instrumental in facilitating his documentary and incredibly supportive throughout the process.

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    July 14, 2011 • Acting • Views: 6152

  • Oscar Winner Louis Gossett Jr. and Oscar Nominee Brenda Vaccaro Join Teaching Staff at New York Film Academy

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    New York Film Academy is pleased to announce Academy Award Winning Actor Louis Gossett Jr. and Academy Award nominated actress Brenda Vaccaro will join the acting department faculty of New York Film Academy’s Universal Studios – Los Angeles location.

    Louis Gossett Jr

    Academy Award Winning Actor Louis Gossett Jr. joins the faculty at New York Film Academy

    Louis Gossett Jr. co-starred in An Officer and Gentleman, The Principal, The Deep, A Raisin in the Sun, and Enemy Mine. He continues to actively work in the industry, with eleven films in various phases of production.

    Actress Brenda Vaccaro

    Academy Award Nominated Actress Brenda Vaccaro

    Brenda Vaccaro is known for films Midnight Cowboy, Capricorn 1, and most recently, as Margo Janis in the HBO film You Don’t Know Jack with Al Pacino. In addition, she has worked on over 60 television series. New York Film Academy welcomes these legends to our faculty.

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    July 12, 2011 • Acting • Views: 4591