Acting

Q&A With Acting for Film Alum Angela Blake on Studying at NYFA and Creating Her Own International Film Festival (SF3)

Native Australian Angela Blake grew up in Sydney, Australia and was surrounded by the arts from a young age. Now, Blake is a certified performer and the co-founder of SF3, the SmartFone Flick Fest, an international film festival that she co-created in the hopes that anyone can feel like they can enter a film festival and create a film no matter what kind of equipment they have.

New York Film Academy caught up with the NYFA alum during the busy festival season to ask her more about her career and how she came up with the idea for creating the International SmartFone Flick Fest (SF3).

New York Film Academy (NYFA): What did you study at NYFA and why did you decide to study with NYFA?

Angela Blake (AB): I moved to LA in 2010 when NYFA offered me a scholarship into their 1-Year Acting for Film program. The truth is, I was nearly 30 and looking to move my career into more acting roles. I had spent the past eight years touring internationally and I was also looking to spend some time in one place. I saw that NYFA was auditioning in Sydney and I went along. 

Straight after my audition, I started a six month tour of Australia in Dora the Explorer Live on Stage. This was an amazing gig but six months on the road is a long time, so when I got the call that I had been offered a place at NYFA, I jumped on the chance to relocate to LA and transition my career and I was very impressed with NYFA. I loved everything I had seen in my audition in Sydney. I also wanted to study with all the teachers I found in my research, and who doesn’t dream about moving to LA to act?! I was especially excited to be able to film on the Universal Studios Backlot as part of my program; that just seemed so cool to me all the way in Sydney.

NYFA Acting for Film alum Angela Blake

NYFA: Do you have any advice for incoming students?

AB: I guess my advice is twofold and perhaps a little contradictory, but hey…isn’t that just being a human?

  1. I would say immerse yourself totally in NYFA and your study. NYFA hires some of the most amazing and experienced teachers in the world. They are instructors who are all working professionals themselves. Listen to them, learn everything you can from them, pick their brains, ask a million questions, let yourself be inspired daily, and do the hard work. 
  1. But on the flip side, make sure that you also live life outside of acting. LA is a really cool town; there are so many great sites to see, restaurants to go to, theatre, poetry nights…you name it, LA has it. Remember to be a person too. Go to LA to study but also remain grounded in life and the world around you. I think that’s an Aussie thing; the importance of staying grounded and true to yourself. 

NYFA: How did you get more involved in filmmaking and acting? 

AB: The other great thing about studying at NYFA is the whole set-up between the acting and the filmmaking students. This means that acting students are lucky enough to get to work in the filmmaking students’ films most weekends (and of course the reverse is true…how lucky are the filmmakers to have access to such talent)! But this connection meant that I got a lot of real time on set and real time on set with filmmakers who were learning their craft. I watched a lot, made friends with many filmmakers, many of whom I’m still close with, and I always asked questions. 

After I graduated from NYFA, I had a whole showreel and collection of films I had made and so I started working. I went back to my roots and did a lot of indie theatre, even touring a play to Off-Broadway in NY. I acted in web-series, film shorts and enjoyed some small roles in features. I auditioned for everything I could and kept taking classes almost every day. 

One of my mentors from NYFA was Anthony Montes, my Meisner teacher. “You look happy. I look happy. You look happy!” Anthony is one of the biggest artistic influences of my life and he was really encouraging of me and all his students to not just be an actor and not wait around for a role, but instead, we should be creating roles for ourselves and explore filmmaking, writing, directing, and producing as well. “Make your own work.” This really spoke to me. Anthony was the first teacher who thought I would make a good director and I learned a lot from him. He was so generous in his time and let me direct in class. He also encouraged us to write our own works and a bunch of students were able to put together a play we wrote together at a theatre in Hollywood, which I produced and directed. 

This “make your own work” notion and the idea I could create something myself is one of the strongest things I brought home to Australia with me. 

Photo courtesy of Angela Blake

NYFA: What roles are you attracted to the most?

AB: Great question. Hmmmmm, I guess I love troubled characters. People living life on the margins. Outsiders. I also love comedies and trying to be funny. I especially like directing comedies and seem to get hired to direct mostly comedies. I think I have a good understanding of what makes something funny. Or at least I hope I do!

As a filmmaker, I tend to make films with a social agenda or commentary; definitely not funny ones. For instance, I just finished a film on being transgender and the daily assaults one endures and, before that, I made a little short on domestic violence and another on infant death. Light stuff!

On the other hand, I seem to get hired to direct comedies. I think I have a good eye for what’s funny, or at least I sure hope I do! I love directing comedies and perhaps I love delving into the human condition in my own works. 

NYFA: You co-founded the SF3. Can you tell us more about that? How did this come to be and why Australia?

AB: Yes I am the Co-Founder of SF3, the SmartFone Flick Fest. We are Australia’s international smartphone film festival and are based in Sydney, Australia, though we accept films from all over the world. In fact, this year, we received submissions from over 50 countries including Australia and the US, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, El Salvador, Russia, China, the Philippines, and everywhere in between. 

So after my time in LA, when my visa was expiring, I decided to move home. I missed my family and truly, I missed Australia. But, I returned home with a lot of amazing things I had learned from NYFA and from two teachers in particular, Ros Gentle and Anthony Montes. I really had learned from them to create my own work and this thought revolutionised my life and career. I brought this belief and drive home with me, along with the quintessential American enthusiasm I picked up living in LA for two years. 

So as soon as I got home, I directed a short play in a theatre festival here called Short + Sweet. Ali Crew, who is now my SF3 Co-Founder, auditioned for my play and I gave her a role. Over the course of the festival we kept winning rounds and we made it all the way through to the finals. This meant that I got to see how a festival worked up close and Ali and I both loved how the Short + Sweet Festival gave theatre makers and anyone who wanted to be a theatre maker the opportunity to get on stage, to give it a go, and try out new work. We realised that there wasn’t really anything like it for filmmakers at that time, in Australia anyway, and we wanted to rectify that. I mentioned that in LA people had just started making films on their phones, so we combined those ideas and SF3 was born. We wanted to help make filmmaking affordable and accessible to all. 

Angela Blake (left) at SmartFone Flick Fest

NYFA: At a time like this, why is this something filmmakers should take part in now more than ever?

AB: Because now more than ever we need stories, we need to stay connected, we need to share what makes us human, share love, and stay creative. Many people around the world have spent so much of this year in lockdown with nothing much except their phones and imaginations. Perfect for SF3 ! That’s why we introduced our Iso Category this year, to honour what was happening in the world and to keep people inspired and making films no matter what the obstacles or how limited the resources. 

NYFA: What were some of the challenges you faced getting the festival up and running?

AB: Hahahaha money. Isn’t that the truth for us all? Really that was and still is the main obstacle. 

It’s amazing how generous other humans are though; we get so much industry support and love. We have a group of some of the most incredible creatives out there who sit on our judging panel out of the kindness of their hearts. Our five Ambassadors are the cream of the crop, Phillip Noyce, Kriv Stenders, Kerry Armstrong, Nicole da Silva and Christopher Stollery, and they donate so much of their time to us doing media and our first ever online panel discussion. We have a slew of sponsors from our Major Sponsors including: We Are Treehouse, Struman Optics and Luma Touch to all our prize sponsors, who all donate over $40,000 worth of prizes annually to our prize pool. It’s so humbling to have the in-kind and monetary support we receive. 

But, our big corporate sponsor, the one will eventually allow us to hire staff and grow the festival quicker and in ways that only cash can…that is the ongoing difficulty. However, I’m persistent so watch this space!

South Korean Actress Yoon Joon (Left) with Angela Blake (Right)

NYFA: Can you tell us about any other projects you are working on?

AB: SF3 takes sooooooo much of my time and creative energy, but the season is about to end and I’m looking forward to getting back into some of my creative pursuits that have been waiting in the background. I’m currently studying for my Master’s in Creative Writing and I have a lot to write for that, including a feature film (that I’ve been writing for way too long), but I plan on finishing my first draft by Christmas. I’ve also just finished another short film and so I will be entering that one into festivals (I shot it on my phone too), and I have my poetry which I’d like to do something with. 

NYFA: Is there anything else you would like to add?

AB: I’d love to hear from anyone! Please follow SF3 on our socials as we love connecting with creatives from all over the world. 

It’s now SF3’s 6th year running now. You can catch 85 smartphone films, including 11 features in our very first Online Virtual Festival. Tickets start at pay-what-you-can and run from October 10 – 25, 2020. We are also hosting an online master class with Hollywood legend, Phillip Noyce, on Saturday 17th Oct at 6pm LA time or Sunday 18th at 12pm AEST. 

You can grab tickets to all events from www.sf3.com.au or https://watch.eventive.org/sf32020

New York Film Academy would like to thank NYFA alum Angela Blake for taking the time out of her festival schedule to share more about SF3 and her journey as a creative performer, writer, director, and collaborator. NYFA looks forward to seeing what’s next from the Acting for Film alum!

Q&A With NYFA Alum and Actor Fredrik Scheike on Coming to NYFA, The Importance of a Good Story for an Actor, and His Upcoming Projects

Originally from Sweden, Fredrik Scheike grew up doing theatre and taking drama classes at a very early age, but hadn’t considered the possibility of a professional career in acting. Now, the NYFA Acting for Film alum has two Netflix productions under his belt and a role in a critically acclaimed film to show for it and is showing no signs of slowing down having multiple projects in the works. 

New York Film Academy spoke with the alum about his upcoming projects and advice for incoming students coming to the Academy and the role of a good story for an actor. 

NYFA acting for film alum Fred Scheike’

New York Film Academy (NYFA): Well, first off, can you tell us more about where you are from? What made you decide to pursue a career in acting?

Fredrik Scheike (FS): I’m originally from Åre/Östersund, Sweden, where I started doing theatre and taking drama classes very young. I didn’t even consider it a possibility until I came across NYFA and Steven Chinni in New York when I went there on vacation one spring in 2011. I’ve always done it as more than a hobby, up until then.

NYFA: What made you decide to come to New York Film Academy?

FS: I went to New York on a whim, got great, cheap tickets and accommodation, and walking about one day I asked for information at NYFA. The next day I was invited for a tour and an interview, and I fell in love with the possibility of studying and living in New York, and reigniting my passion for the dramatic arts.

NYFA: What advice would you give to any incoming students?

FS: Make the most out of your time at NYFA, don’t settle, challenge yourself and apply yourself. The acting world is hard and having a career is even harder. The more you put your back into it from the get-go, the more you’ll get out of it, and the more you’ll be prepared for the real world.

NYFA: Can you tell us more about some of your recent/most notable projects?

FS: We’re currently in a pre-production phase of a new family feature, mixing animation and real actors, and we’ve already got some great Spanish names on board. I’m working both on the production, with our family’s production company Tyl Escénicas Producciones A.I.E, and as an actor in a small part. We produced another feature, Moira, which premiered last year and is currently running on the Spanish streaming platform Filmin and, before that, I was lucky enough to get involved for two episodes in a Netflix Original here in Spain!

Film poster for ‘Moira’

NYFA: Can you tell us about your character in Moira? What was it like to work alongside the cast and how did you connect with the story?

FS: The story is that of the family I married into, with a fictional twist of course, so having gotten to know them long before reading the script made it easy. The story is relationship-oriented, but does strike a universal chord. There are so many people suffering dictatorships, exile, emigration, immigration and segregation, and those who try to forget their past. Just look at the total number of refugees in the world right now, even though COVID-19 is at the forefront of all conversations. 

My character is Mike, an American franchise owner who has relocated to Spain for work and gets involved with the story’s protagonist and eventually serves as a bit of a catalyst for the protagonist’s transformative decision. It was fun to play a chauvinistic dirt-bag, to be honest, because it challenged myself to strike that human nerve in despicable behavior.

NYFA: For any project, what gets you excited? 

FS: Story. Story. Story. I’m a story-junky. A good story always gets me going because with it comes the challenge to tell that story in the best manner possible.

NYFA: Do you have any upcoming projects coming up?

FS: I just got optioned for a national commercial and I briefly mentioned Uli, the Dog, a new family feature we’re developing and pre-producing. It’s a project we hopefully will get up and shooting towards the end of Spring, 2021. A lot of pieces of the puzzle are coming together, but there’s still a whole bunch of work to do, and it all depends on how we all come out of this mess [COVID-19]. Also, financing is a thing we’re working on right now and I’m reaching out to producers and production companies both in Sweden and in the US to jump on board this fun project, but international projects, especially being a small Indie-producer, are sometimes hard to find funding.

NYFA: With COVID-19 halting productions, how are you staying creative right now?

FS: During the months of complete lock-down here in Spain we had a project commissioned to us where we represented classical stories and fairy tales for the children of our community, which was a lot of fun. That project unfortunately ended, so instead I’ve been taking a lot of photos, doing some videos and skits, but mainly writing. I’m always writing stories, prose and poems, and I actually published my first collection of poems…only in Swedish unfortunately.New York Film Academy would like to thank Acting for Film alum Fredrik Scheike for taking the time to share more on coming to NYFA, working in the industry, and more on his upcoming projects.

The 10 Best Monologues on Television

Television programs have undeniably conquered the hearts of many all across the globe. When studying in NYFA’s Acting for Film program, the search for a monologue can be a tough exercise. A search in classical or contemporary plays will do – oh absolutely – but why not try TV’s best moments? Incredibly talented actors and writers work day and night to make us laugh, cry, and feel anything possible in numerous ways. Whether new or old, TV shows always know how to shape, in writing and performance, the most entertaining moments of life. The following listing gathers nonpareil actors of all caliber in some of their best moments on screen.

1) Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder (2018)
In ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder, Viola Davis stars as law professor Annalise Keating. Davis is the first African-American actress to win a Primetime Emmy Award and SAG Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. She also received two Golden Globes nominations for her work playing this iconic role. This daring show was created by Peter Nowalk with Shonda Rhimes as executive producer; both are known for their work on Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. In fact, Keating (Davis) appeared in Scandal alongside Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope for a crossover episode in ‘Allow me to Reintroduce Myself’ (Season 7, Episode 12). The following monologue about racism has the ingredients for an important educating moment right in your living room, with a poignant text told with self-possession.

2) Michael Welch, Scandal (2015)
Scandal, aforementioned above, has also struck a new vision for television writing and includes many fabulous guest stars. In the series’ 14th season, the episode ‘The Lawn Chair’ showcases the gifted writers on the show. This beautifully crafted episode also features the talented work of Michael Welch (Twilight, Law and Order, X-Files, Malcolm in the Middle, Bones) delivering one of his most beautiful pieces as Officer Newton. In the scene, the actor’s smashing monologue confronting Kerry Washington is a powerful instant of captivating acting and writing. 

3) Sara Ramirez, Grey’s Anatomy (2009)
Internationally known for her recurring role in ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy as Dr. Callie Torres, Ramirez first started in Musical Theatre and collected a Tony Award for her powerhouse portrayal of Lady of the Lake in Spamalot (2015) on Broadway. Both funny and dramatic, Ramirez always peppers her brilliant work with fantastic emotional nuances. On Grey’s, 241 episodes later, she made her coming out as with the support of her many fans and the LGBTQ community. Additionally, she is an activist and highly campaigns for LGBTQ rights. In this piece, grab your handkerchiefs as her character Dr. Callie Torres goes through the mellow roller coaster relationships of any soap opera as she makes her second coming out to her dad. Short and to the point, it does the job and will stick with you for a while.

 

4) Jim Carrey, Saturday Night Live (1996)
Part of the clowns of Hollywood and splendidly precise and expressive in his work, Canadian-born Jim Carrey has a wide range of acting roles from Ace Ventura and The Mask to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Number 23. Carrey is able to spread his unique facial expressions and authenticity across his filmography and showcases that to viewers all over the world. This monologue from Saturday Night Live and it is probably one of the most stressful, thrilling and spontaneous. Why? Because it happens on Saturday Night Live! The title of the program says it all. As an official host during that special episode of season 21 in 1996, Carrey, in his perfect showman suit, brings us to his over-the-top, fascinating world. 

5) Margaret Reed, Seinfeld (1991)
Former Acting instructor Margaret “Maggie” Reed is a fantastic performer, TV program veteran, and award-winning actress. She made a catchy impression on the ‘The Baby Shower’ episode on Seinfeld as the hysterical Mary Contardi, venting a scathing speech in the face of Jerry Seinfeld himself. An easy looking monologue to perform, yet complicated. Reed vocally bombards Jerry so she can finish what she has to say in a comedic and frightening way. A very passionate performer, she can be seen along with Bobby Cannavale, Tim Blake Nelson and John Turturro in The Jesus Rolls. Her other noticeable appearances go from As the World Turns, Star Trek, The Golden Girls to Law and Order, The Americans or The Blacklist. Great job Maggie and all the best to you! 

6) Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom (2012)
Leading the cast of HBO’s political drama, The Newsroom, is Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy. The Primetime Emmy Award-winner speaks the words of brilliant creator and writer Aaron Sorkin across three seasons. The main events of the show happen behind the scenes of a fictional news channel, but this pearl of writing and opinionated piece certainly doesn’t. With ease, intelligence and knowledge, Daniels makes us believe in every word demonstrating realistic America and its strength. Notably famous for other major films, 101 Dalmatians, Pleasantville, The Hours and Steve Jobs, Daniels also took the stage and obtained a best actor Tony Nomination for each Broadway credits in God of Carnage, Blackbird and To Kill a Mockingbird.  

7) Laurie Metcalf, Roseanne (1993)
Tour de force Laurie Metcalf is always remembered for her character roles. She has a true gift for making something sad also seem quite boisterous. From her start at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company Family in Chicago and to being a TV guest star chameleon, Metcalf has earned three well-deserved Primetime Emmy Awards for her work on Roseanne. For her supporting roles, she is never the “regular” one, but a character with a twist. In this episode of the ABC hit Roseanne, after the loss of their dad, her character Jackie has to tell the family members and starts with Aunt Barbara, who seems to be very deaf. Speaking on the phone is one of the hardest exercises in stock for actors because you have to be precise in your delivery. 

8) Robin Williams, 77th Academy Awards Ceremony (2005)
The Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmys, SAG Award, Grammys, he has them all under his belt from his long, inspiring career. A memorable vocal impressionist, risk-taker, and sensitive soul, Williams has put on many hats to showcase his nuances as a performer from the heartfelt and goofy Genie in Disney’s Aladdin and the witty Mrs. Doubtfire. This monologue is his speech obtaining a Cecil B. DeMill Award for his stamp on Hollywood History. Still spontaneous and fun, grateful Williams goes to ‘voices mode’ for our amusement.

9) Marcia Cross, Desperate Housewives (2006)
Probably one of the most fun, uptight characters you’d ever adore on the screen is Marcia Cross’ take on Bree Van de Kamp is a pure joy to watch and rewatch on ABC’s Desperate Housewives. Across the show’s eight seasons, Cross was nominated three times at the Golden Globes and once at the Primetime Emmy Awards. Previously famous in soaps such as One Life to Live, Knots Landing and Melrose Place, she also landed several guest stars roles on major sitcom shows from Cheers, Who’s the Boss, Seinfeld to Murder, She Wrote or, more recently, Quantico playing Madame President. Regal, subtle and very eccentric for Bree, this monologue happens when she and her friends are at her husband’s funeral. There’s certain things she can’t hear, and it will be told with class and diction.

10) Sofia Vergara, Saturday Night Live
Everyone adores the accent of the exquisite Colombian-American Sofia as she has proven to America and the rest of the world that beyond a sparkly accent, her talents make her a Hollywood shining star like any other actress. Four-time Golden Globes and Primetime Emmy-nominee for her fun loud role of Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on ABC’s Modern Family, she is a prominent character across the show’s eleven seasons. Impressive! Vergara has made tons of appearances on TV including Saturday Night Live (Season 37, Episode 18). She starts off hosting with a very personal speech as an eager dreamer from Colombia ready to reach for the stars but mainly someone who accepts herself for who she is. Big lesson right there; own your accent, never forget where you are from, don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t speak English.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here.

Q&A With Acting for Film Alum and Director Howard Campbell on Acting and His Original Film ‘Sick Boys Die Alone’

New York Film Academy Acting for Film alum Howard Campbell has hit the ground running since graduating NYFA, not only auditioning for roles as an actor, but putting himself behind the camera as a writer and director. 

His short film Sick Boys Die Alone is now available to watch on Amazon Prime and follows a diagnosed bipolar comedian as he shares his last jokes on an unexpected crowd after a lifetime of unfortunate events. 

NYFA caught up with the Acting for Film alum to discuss everything from wanting to become an actor and studying at NYFA, to taking on the hybrid role as a director and writer.

New York Film Academy (NYFA): Where did you grow up and how did you first get involved with acting?

Howard Campbell (HC): I was an army brat from birth so I don’t really have one place that I grew up in. It was more of a collective of different states because my family moved around so often. However, I lived in Texas the longest so I sometimes claim that that’s where I’m from. 

My earliest memory of wanting to be an actor was probably around seven years old. I was obsessed with Jurassic Park and the original Karate Kid movie, so I would just rewatch movies like that around that time, and essentially repeat everything I saw the actors doing. A year later, I got my own VHS camera and started making little films myself. 

NYFA Acting for Film alum Howard Campbell

NYFA: So what made you decide to come to NYFA?

HC: Aside from wanting to get better at my craft, NYFA’s location and the fact that we would be able to work on the Universal Studios backlot is what really sold me on attending. Directing is equally important to me and I liked that NYFA had a whole department for filmmaking because I knew somehow I’d be able to to learn more of that side too, even though I did the acting program. 

NYFA: That’s exciting, so the hybrid learning was key in how you decided what you wanted to study. Do you have any advice for incoming students?

HC: My advice to incoming students would be to go to as many of the networking events, Q&A’s, and screenings that you can! I went to the Q&A’s religiously and aside from the knowledge you’re getting from working professionals, you may also get inspiration you need to keep going. Also, the school is what you make of it; so if you really want to improve or learn, you will. But you have to do the work.

NYFA: After graduation, how did you seek out auditions or what was your first big start in the business as a professional?

HC: After graduation, I found an agent and manager who began submitting me to auditions. It was much harder than I thought it’d be but when you book something, it’s rewarding; a never ending journey though. I’m still VERY early on in my career and even though I have a couple projects under my belt, I still deal with rejection every week and the inconsistency of the life of an actor. Ya’ gotta love it! (sarcasm).

NYFA: Though you mention your short time in the business, you have still managed to land roles on some notable shows like Snowfall and The Boys? What was that like?

HC: Snowfall was actually one of the first projects I booked and I couldn’t be more grateful for it. Being on such a stylized, serious show was a dream of mine. All the actors we’re so talented and took the work so seriously that every day on set I would just watch and learn from everyone, including the crew. 

I had a tiny scene on Amazon’s The Boys, but it was great doing that show because It allowed me to travel and meet really dope people in Canada. I also learned more about the making of a high budget action-superhero show, which I didn’t think I would see for a while.

Poster for ‘Sick Boys Die Alone’

NYFA: You wrote, directed, and acted in your film Sick Boys Die Alone. The film itself really captures the dark side that many comedians draw from to make jokes or their commentary on life, which many creatives do for their own craft. What inspired you to make this film?

HC: A couple things inspired me to make my film Sick Boys Die Alone. Mental health is, and probably will always be, an extremely important topic to me. So writing “Sick Boys” was honestly therapeutic for me because I was going through a tough time when I wrote it. Also, I have a close friend that’s a comedian so I used to go to a few comedy shows and was so amazed at how personal some of the comedians would get with their jokes. 

I knew it had to come from a real place sometimes. I believe people can relate to vulnerability so I thought it was important to tell a story like “Sick Boys” because it’s real life; men, people of color, and all humans need to see that represented more on screen.   

NYFA: What do you hope audiences experience or feel after watching Sick Boys Die Alone?

HC: I hope audiences feel more compassionate to all humans after watching the film. I really wanted to reinforce the statement that you really never know what people are dealing with in their lives. We all have a different deck of cards we were given in this life so a little compassion and taking the time to listen and understand people, goes a long way. 

NYFA: Do you have any other upcoming projects you would like us to know about?

HC: Currently, my upcoming projects are in the air. I have a couple exciting pitch meetings coming up for the Sick Boys Die Alone limited series, and a few other projects I have written. I know it’s only a matter of time before I find the right home for those projects and can begin pre-production on them. As for me just as an actor, I did do a fun role in a new indie feature that’s set to come out this year but I still don’t have a specific date at this time, so I don’t want to misspeak on it. I’m still auditioning and enjoying the good ol’ actor’s journey! (sarcasm).

New York Film Academy would like to thank Acting for Film alum Howard Campbell for taking the time to speak on his experience in the industry and encourages readers to check out his latest film Sick Boys Die Alone, now available on Amazon Prime Video and YouTube.

A Tribute to The Life of Chadwick Boseman

10:11 pm, August 28th 2020. 

Posts began to appear on Chadwick Boseman’s social accounts announcing his departure after battling colon cancer for the better part of four years in secret.

At 10:12 pm, the entire world began to mourn. 

Very few individuals have left such an impact on the world in such little time as Chadwick Aaron Boseman did. Before 2016, few households knew his name even though he received critical acclaim for his work in the films 42, the biopic on baseball trailblazer Jackie Robinson and Get On Up, where he portrayed the legendary James Brown. However, when he graced the screen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Captain America: Civil War as Prince T’Challa, he had arrived.

View this post on Instagram

It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman.⁣ ⁣ Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV. ⁣ ⁣ A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much. From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. ⁣ ⁣ It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther. ⁣ ⁣ He died in his home, with his wife and family by his side. ⁣ ⁣ The family thanks you for your love and prayers, and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time. ⁣ ⁣ Photo Credit: @samjonespictures

A post shared by Chadwick Boseman (@chadwickboseman) on

While he played a pivotal part in that film, the world awaited for his true coronation, the film that shook the industry and shattered as many stereotypes as it did records. We are, of course, talking about Black Panther. In a film that broke the mold of the Hollywood myths and stigma in Black cinema, Black Panther became the highest grossing solo superhero film and, more importantly, the highest grossing film by a Black director. Helmed by the talented Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed), the film was composed of a cast almost entirely of Black actors, set operators, designers and consultants, all representing the Black community.

The film brought important discussions within the community to the big screen and it became the first superhero film to be nominated for ‘Best Picture’ at the 91st Academy Awards. In total, Black Panther was nominated for seven coveted golden statues and it ended the night with three wins, one of which was given to Ruth E. Carter for ‘Best Costume Design,’ the first African American in the history of the Oscars to win in this category.

The achievements of that film are great indeed, but they pale in comparison to how Chadwick Boseman brought the King T’Challa to the cinemascape. He took the mantle of the King of Wakanda, the fictional country in Africa known for its wealth and scientific advancement, and his performance was not only an outstanding portrayal of the superhero Black Panther, but he moved many with how he brought this beloved, and for many unseen, character to life. His demeanor, charm, and his grace on the screen truly felt like he came from a royal bloodline, raised to carry himself with dignity wherever he appeared, and that is why we mourn.

Boseman is celebrated by his peers for being a man of principle and dignity. Every room he graced, he did so with poise and respect. Every interaction with a fan or a colleague was with a warm heart and a welcome embrace. He was a man who chose his words carefully because he understood how powerful they were and he lived his life with the intention to inspire purpose. He also chose his roles wisely because he knew how important it was to bring life to those who paved the way for the Howard University Alum to portray Jackie Robinson and James Brown.

View this post on Instagram

How do you honor a king? Reeling from the loss of my colleague, my friend, my brother. Struggling for words. Nothing feels adequate. I always marveled at how special Chadwick was. Such a pure hearted, profoundly generous, regal, fun guy. My entire job as Okoye was to respect and protect a king. Honor his leadership. Chadwick made that job profoundly easy. He was the epitome of kindness, elegance, diligence and grace. On many an occasion I would think how thankful I was that he was the leading man I was working closely with. A true class act. And so perfectly equipped to take on the responsibility of leading the franchise that changed everything for Black representation. He made everyone feel loved, heard and seen. He played great, iconic roles because he possessed inside of himself that connection to greatness to be able to so richly bring them to life. He had a heroic spirit, and marched to the beat of his own drum; hence his excellence as an artist and the incredible courage and determination as he faced life’s challenges; while still guiding us all. He was zen and sweet and funny (with the very best laugh), attentive, and truly, truly, good. I can’t even wrap my mind around this loss. A loss resonating in my own heart as well as around the globe. The children he inspired, my heart aches for them, to lose their hero just as they finally found him. I am so thankful to have taken the Black Panther journey with him. To have known him, spent time in his light and leadership and to call him forever a friend. Lala Ngoxolo Kumkani.

A post shared by Danai Gurira (@danaigurira) on

He likely knew there was a chance he may leave this world when he played Thurgood Marshall and most recently Norman Earl Holloway in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods. Attempting to fill those shoes is a monumental ask in itself. Yet, he did so while going through multiple surgeries and chemotherapy without a hint to the outside world. He continued to live his life with purpose until the end, while shouldering his suffering in silence to bring about performances that would leave a lasting impact and encourage others to inspire and give hope for generations to come. To show young Black men and boys that they too can have a hero that looks like them, that came where they came from, and has experienced what they’ve experienced.

At age 43, Chadwick Boseman left such a mark in a career that only spanned roughly a decade that it is hard to believe that he is gone. It seems as if there are so many more stories to tell, worlds to visit and examples of dignity, class and purpose that only he could give us. It is difficult to imagine another like Chadwick in our lifetime, however, he has left an exemplary body of work to gather inspiration from. It is important to note that the shock felt around the world when the news broke serves to remind us that life is ever so fragile and we should all look to lead a life that he so delicately illustrated for us; a life of purpose. As we say goodbye to Chadwick, there are so many ways one can describe how amazing his light was and how far it reached and yet there seems to be few that do him justice. Except maybe one. 

King. 

Thank you for inspiring so much with just your presence. 

Wakanda Forever. 

Q&A With Acting for Film Alum Dr. Ariel Orama López on Creating Short Film '2ḦOOM' During a Global Pandemic

Like many filmmakers in 2020, this year has proven to be an uncertain time for filmmaking, however, filmmakers like Dr. Ariel Orama López has shown that the COVID-19 has no intention of slowing down their creative process or pursuing a successful film festival run.

Dr. López was eligible for the 2020 Oscars with his previous film One and for his latest film for his latest latest film 2ḦOOM [Zoom] he has already begun to receive a steady amount of laurels. Filmed indoors and outdoors, under strict protection measures and with the integration of creative elements during the COVID-19 pandemic, the short film follows the vulnerability of human beings, patients at risk and themes of immortality and Dr. López enlists the help of Peruvian animator and cartoonist Jorge Cáceres and an Italian composer Daniele Carretta to create a project that represents the related topics that emerged after the pandemic. 

NYFA caught up with the Acting for Film alum to discuss his latest short film 2ḦOOM [Zoom] and creativity in the time of COVID-19. López’s responses have also been translated into Spanish by the alum for those who prefer to read his responses in Spanish. 

Film poster for ‘2ḦOOM’

New York Film Academy (NYFA): What has been your inspiration for creating your short film 2ḦOOM [Zoom] during this very uncertain time as a writer, director, and actor?

Dr. Ariel Orama López (AL): When the pandemic arrived, my intuitive mind thought of two things: first, that the vaccine or the ‘antidote’ against COVID-19 could be related to the structure that gives the dreaded virus the shape of a “crown.”  I shared with my loved ones, with evidence, right at the beginning of this global situation. Second, that HIV/AIDS could be understood, in another way, after studies and future findings on the relatively new condition, and vice versa. Considering my formal education in Science and Arts, I decided to create a short film that linked such elements with the unimaginable power of water and the mysteries of quantum physics: a story that alluded to the “shield” or “armour” of the coronavirus (even on an emotional level, as a metaphor) as well as the stigma of HIV. Today we are one voice, without races: a new universe of masked beings. And that is how my short film 2ḦOOM [zoom] was born.”

Cuando llegó la pandemia, mi mente intuitiva pensó en dos cosas: la primera, que la vacuna o el ‘antídoto’ contra Covid-19 podrían estar relacionados con la estructura que le otorga al temido virus la forma de ‘corona’. Lo compartí con mis seres queridos, con evidencia, justo al comienzo de esta situación global. En segundo lugar, que el VIH/SIDA podría entenderse, de otra manera, después de estudios y hallazgos futuros sobre la condición relativamente nueva, y viceversa. Al considerar mi educación formal en ciencias y artes, decidí crear un cortometraje que vinculase tales elementos con el poder inimaginable del agua y los misterios de la física cuántica: una historia que aludiese al ‘escudo’ -o ‘armadura’- del coronavirus (incluso a nivel emocional, como metáfora) así como al estigma del VIH. Hoy somos una sola voz, sin razas: un nuevo universo de seres enmascarados. Y así nació el cortometraje 2ḦOOM [Zoom].

In addition to animation, live action sequences are also present in ‘2ḦOOM’ 

NYFA: Are you submitting the film to any upcoming festivals

AL: The short film 2ḦOOM [Zoom] is already submitted into distinguished international festivals: we hope that it can be screened in various countries, just like my previous short film One, which screened at 40 festivals. The magic of 2ḦOOM lies in its hybrid of animation and live filmed scenes, which is why we bet that they will be very well received in various contexts. We are celebrating that we already received eight international laurels (Chile, UK, Estados Unidos (virtual limited projection), Los Angeles, India and Puerto Rico) and one international prize.

El cortometraje 2ḦOOM [zu:m] ya se encuentra sometido en distinguidos diversos festivales internacionales: esperamos que pueda ser proyectado en diversos países, tal como sucedió con mi cortometraje anterior ONE, proyectado en 40 festivales. La magia de 2ḦOOM [zu:m] radica en su combinación de animación con escenas filmadas, por lo cual, apostamos a que tendrá una gran acogida en diversos contextos. Estamos celebrando que ya recibimos ocho laureles internacionales (Chile, Reino Unido, Estados Unidos (proyección limitada virtual), Los Ángeles, India and Puerto Rico) y un premio internacional. 

Still from animation sequence in ‘2ḦOOM’

NYFA: What do you hope people relate to or discuss after watching your film?

AL: I hope that 2ḦOOM viewers do not lose sight of the challenges of making a short film in full confinement. Precisely, the short highlights the vicissitudes of two family members when faced with such circumstances, in addition to the COVID-19 factor. Along the way, we managed to create a story with substance and creativity, with wonderful elements that inspire our new society to evolve, beyond races or social distinctions: as one, powerful voice.

Anhelo que los espectadores 2ḦOOM [zu:m] no pierdan de perspectiva los retos que conlleva efectuar un cortometraje en pleno confinamiento: precisamente, el corto destaca las vicisitudes de dos miembros de la familia al encontrarse ante tales circunstancias, sumados al factor COVID-19. En el trayecto, logramos elaborar una historia con sustancia y dotada de creatividad, con elementos maravillosos que inspiran a nuestra nueva sociedad a evolucionar, más allá de razas o distinciones sociales, como una sola y poderosa voz.

NYFA: What were some of the challenges you faced when creating the film?

AL: Among the challenges faced, the distance factor was one of the most complex elements and, at the same time, the one that allowed us to use creativity the most. Recreating a Zoom conversation with visual and sound quality, allowed us to think of innovative strategies to make it feel like a Zoom© call, but from a filmmaking perspective. Thanks to God and the commendable work of all the participants of the project (which includes talent from Peru, Italy, Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, USA, Venezuela and Chile, together with Puerto Rico), we were able to create a product of which we are proud and one that I am sure it will be kept in the hearts of the spectators.

Dentro de los retos confrontados, el factor distancia fue uno de los elementos de mayor complejidad y, a la vez, el que más nos permitió utilizar la creatividad. El recrear una conversación de zoom© con calidad visual y sonora, nos permitió pensar en estrategias innovadoras para que se sintiera como Zoom, pero desde una mirada fílmica. Gracias a Dios y al trabajo encomiable de todos los participantes del proyecto (que incluye talento de Perú, Italia, Argentina, México, Perú Colombia, Estados Unidos, Venezuela y Chile, sumado a Puerto Rico), pudimos gestar un producto del cual nos sentimos orgulloso y que, estoy seguro, quedará guardado en los corazones de los espectadores.

Mask on for Dr. López behind the scenes filming on location in Puerto Rico

NYFA: When will the film be available for the public to view?

AL: The film will be competing for two years in a cycle of international festivals and we are in negotiation for a commercial screening in the US. Recently, it was presented in the United Kingdom, the United States and Puerto Rico, virtually. Currently, it is presented at the Rincon International Film Festival (RIFF) from August 7 to September 6, 2020.

El filme estará por dos años compitiendo en ciclo de festivales internacionales y estamos en negociación para una proyección comercial en cine en USA. Recientemente, se presentó en Reino Unido, Estados Unidos y Puerto Rico, de forma virtual. Actualmente, se presenta en el Rincón International Film Festival (RIFF) del 7 de agosto al 6 de septiembre en 

New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Dr. Ariel Orama López on his recent success for his latest film and for sharing more on creating a film during the COVID-19 pandemic. NYFA encourages others to view the film when it becomes available to view outside the festival circuit. 

UPDATE: September 14, 2020

“Our short film 2ḦOOM [zu:m] just received four nominations: two for Leading Actors (“Best Leading Actors” – Jonathan Cardenales & AG Orloz), one for Script Work (“Best Screenplay” – AG Orloz) and a fourth nomination laurel for Best Soundtrack (Danielle Carretta from Italy & AG Orloz)With all this, our short film on Covid-19 and HIV / AIDS reaches 19 international laurels, in just two months of international festivals. In other words, almost the trajectory of ONE -eligible to the Oscars 2020-, in two years. For our optimized version of the short film, we have included representative voices from Italy, Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Brazil. Our eternal gratitude to them, as well as to the entire production team and the representative voices of Latin America (Chile, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, and Argentina) that make up this Film and Multimedia project. We continue to add cinematographic achievements for Puerto Rico, in times of transformation!”

Q&A with Actor, Producer, Writer, and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Gina Parris

NYFA MFA Acting for Film alum and Trinidad and Tobago native, Gina Parris, has had more than a decade of experience in the entertainment industry as an actress, writer, and producer. Her interest in the entertainment world began by writing poems, which then evolved into writing her own monologues that she would then perform on stage. 

During her early days as an actress in Trinidad, Parris would perform in the World Laugh Festival (2011, 2012, 2013), Yangatang Tent, Caribbean Woman (Dir. by Trinidad native Hollywood actor Sullivan Walker), Treasure Island: The Musical, and T.V series Starvey’s Angels, where she played Gaga the Witch. 

Her talents springboarded her into other creative avenues like writing screenplays and going from stage acting to acting in film and television. Since her early days in the performing arts, she has lived by the motto, “take your career into your own hands,” and it was that drive that led her to create her own production company, Gina Parris Entertainment Ltd, which will celebrate its 10th Year Anniversary this August.

New York Film Academy had the opportunity to speak with Parris about everything from her award-winning career to the many upcoming projects Parris is involved with:

New York Film Academy (NYFA): You’ve had many opportunities and had some previous training before coming to New York Film Academy. Tell us more about what brought you to study at NYFA?

Gina Parris (GP): I came to the New York Film Academy to pursue a Master’s of Fine Arts (MFA) in Acting for Film (I graduated with Honors). The school was highly recommended by one of my friends from Trinidad, who had studied at the New York campus. I ended up deciding to attend NYFA at the Los Angeles campus because I would have eventually transferred there during my last year of study, and there felt like more opportunities for film acting in LA.

Before NYFA, I received formal training in acting with Trinbago icons such as Freddie Kissoon, Raymond Choo Kong, multiple Cacique award-winner Penelope Spencer (the Cacique award is the most prestigious acting award in Trinidad and Tobago), and Talent Factory Film, founded by talent manager and CEO of Question Mark Entertainment Ltd. Simon Baptiste. I still, however, wanted a professional degree in the field, especially since I have an entertainment company named Gina Parris Entertainment Ltd. I am also a member of the group Powerful Ladies of Trinidad and Tobago (PLOTT). PLOTT is a prestigious group of business women that support each other.

I am currently being mentored by celebrity Lisa Wickham, a media producer-director-TV personality in Trinidad and Tobago, and also creator of The Now Morning Show, which can be found on Facebook, Instagram and TTT (Broadcast channel in Trinidad and Tobago). 

While in the U.S, I became a member of Women in Film, where I was fortunate to be mentored by Sara Scott VP, of Production and Development at Universal Studios, and Randi Richmond SVP Production at NBCUniversal.

NYFA Alum Gina Parris

NYFA: Can you tell us about your short film A Twist of Life

GP: A Twist of Life is my thesis film, as well as the first short film that I ever wrote a script for and produced. I also acted as the lead. A Twist of Life is  also part of the official 2020 selection for the Palm Bay Caribe Film Festival. 

The film is about poliomyelitis victim Avyanna Wolf, who is unable to use her hands because they became deformed as a consequence of the disease. She has the ability to draw with her feet, but further complications arise when she is taken in from being being homeless by someone who takes advantage of her.

Acting in the lead role of Avyanna was a unique experience for me. As part of my role, I wore prosthetics created by Alonso aka Al Domino. I was on an extremely low budget, therefore instead of removing the prosthetics in between takes, I kept the prosthetics on from morning, until we wrapped at night, so I literally could not use my hands. My production assistant and classmate even volunteered to pull my pants down and back up (along with my underwear of course) when I had to use the bathroom. 

I also struggled to feed myself, so one of my cast members fed me, and when I was sniffling from a cold, my friend, Joy Ellison, put a tissue by my nose and said “blow.” Joy was also kind enough to let me use her house to film and, since she is a dialect coach, helped me with my American accent. 

I had an amazing crew and the director, Shashank Varma, was excellent at executing my vision. I also had the pleasure of working alongside my amazing cast, including Trinidad actor and writer Gerry Bednob, known for films such as The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Encino Man, and Zack and Miri Make a Porno, amongst others. My cast also included talented NYFA alumni, including Natalie Whittle, known for films such as Much Ado About Nothing, Orbital Redux, and Speak Now. NYFA alum Chloe Paige Flowers, known for MVB Films’ Halloween Horror Stories Vol II and Public Relations. 

The film premiered at the Indie Night Film Festival in Hollywood and also screened at the Equality International Film Festival. A Twist of Life won the 2018 Excellence award from Metro Film and TV Film Festival, making me an award-winning filmmaker and my first trophy I have ever received for a film. 

In the future, I plan to develop A Twist of Life into my first feature film.

Poster for ‘A Twist of Life’

NYFA: Can you tell us about your short film Gangsters?

GP: Gangsters was the first short film I ever co-produced in the U.S. The co-creators of Gangsters are Freddie Basnight and Tiffany Lewis, who are also NYFA alum. 

I am proud of how the film project turned out, and it went on to win 12 awards across the following festivals: Mindfield Film Festival, Albuquerque, Queen Palm International Film Festival, Hollywood Guild Awards, Hollywood West Wing Film Competition, Pinnacle Film Awards, Indie Best Films Festival, LA Edge Film Awards, Hollywood Sun Awards, Hollywood Forever Film Festival, Alpha Film festival, and Dreamachine International film festival.

Poster for ‘Like a Dog With a Bone’

NYFA: Can you tell us about your latest series Like a Dog With a Bone?

GP: Like A Dog With A Bone: A Visual Guide to Surviving in the Entertainment Industry was influenced by my own homeless experience. When I moved into my car because of financial difficulties, I began filming my experience. It is an unfortunate reality that a lot of individuals become homeless while pursuing their dreams in entertainment. The series shows individuals that hit rock bottom, have experienced homelessness in the past, and those currently trying to make it in the entertainment field. 

I felt the need to create a series like this, so that other people can look at it and learn from the lives of others. Hopefully, in that way, they would not have to suffer like I did and they can use the survival skills that we implemented. 

Like A Dog With A Bone also features the following talented individuals: 

  • Ravyne Demyra Payne (actress, director, NYFA Alum): Known for her work on films such as: Moonlight Magnolia, Cover Girl, Honor Empty, and Casanova
  • Taromi Lourdes (actress and director from Trinidad and Tobago): An award-winning actress [World Wide Women’s Film Festival, Palm Bay Caribe Film Festival] and filmmaker, she has acted in films screened at Cannes, Los Angeles and London. She has also acted alongside NAACP nominee and Trinbagonian–American actor Winston Duke (Black Panther, Us).
  • Ayanna Cezann (producer, TV host, actress from Trinidad and Tobago): Ayanna is known for A Story About Wendy 1&2, ‘Til Death, and The Honest Honestest Truth.
  • Byron Knight (host, dancer, actor): Byron was also a cinematographer for The Honest Honestest Truth.
  • Louis Brown (producer, director, writer, NYFA alum): Louis is known for his work on The Lady in the Red Dress and Charleston Harbor. He has also done work on the show Black Lightning, and recently finished directing his series Forbidden Fruit.
  • Charles Parris (actor, cinematographer, director, radio host, editor from Trinidad and Tobago): Charles is another editor for Like A Dog With A Bone and is also known for his projects such as J Prince: Blood, J Prince: Turnaround and Trinity Isle, The Honest Honestest Truth, and A Twist of Life.
  • Freddie Basnight (actor, producer, director, writer, NYFA alumni): Freddie has appeared in Monster’s Club, Aftermath, Karl and Riley Parras. Freddie also enjoys creating his own content and is the co creator of the award winning short film Gangsters.
  • Errol Fabien (television/radio personality from Trinidad and Tobago): He has over 40yrs in the entertainment industry and has showed his talent in the acting and comedic arena. Errol, along with Banyan Ltd, started the first community television station named Gayelle The Channel; where he is currently the CEO, Chairman and Co- Founder.

NYFA: What other projects are you working on or do you plan to work on?

GP: Like A Dog With A Bone is currently in production and I am still looking for more funding.

The pilot for my TV series,The Honest Honestest Truth, aired on national television in Trinidad and Tobago in 2016 and 2017, and it is considered by The Guardian Newspapers as the first crime drama in T&T. As the creator, producer and writer for The Honest Honestest Truth and my first major project under my company, Gina Parris Entertainment Ltd., I plan on continuing the series. 

I was fortunate to have an amazing cast, including: Rebecca Foster (@bexfoster), who also did the posters for The Honest Honestest Truth and Like A Dog With A Bone, Kearn Samuel, Allan Ferreira, Allan Alvarez, Ayanna Cezanne, the late Brett Bengochea, Dillon Jimenez, Lester Torres, Eirnil Harry, Alister Edwards, Charles Parris and Roxanne Omalo. 

The cast also included celebrities from Trinidad and Tobago such as Errol Fabien, Allan Emmanuel aka Cyclops, and Jason Williams aka J.W. I was also honored that the first black Miss Universe, Trinidad and Tobago’s Janelle Penny Commissiong, showed her support for The Honest Honestest Truth

I will be collaborating with Jamaican born actress, producer, director and NYFA alum, Sherando Cupid, to bring Caribbean stories through film for the world to enjoy. Currently, Sherando and I are working on the film Caribbean Jew, which will be directed by Mikhail Marks and will be filmed in the U.S and Trinidad and Tobago. In addition to being one of the producers for the film, I will also be acting in it as well.

I am currently in discussions with Ms. Lesley- Ann Nelson, president of the Non-Profit Organization, Save Our Children Foundation, in Trinidad and Tobago about doing projects together to benefit children around the world. Ms. Nelson is also a member of Powerful Ladies of Trinidad and Tobago (PLOTT).

I will also be producing and acting in projects with Gold Piece films Inc. a production company founded by director, producer, writer and actor Andrew Lloyd Preston. I will be working with Gold Piece Films as a producer and actress for upcoming projects Brand and digital series Choices.

NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to your work since graduating?

GP: I was fortunate that while pursuing my MFA in Acting for Film, I was taught various aspects of the film process. I applied the acting techniques editing skills and filmmaking fundamentals that I learned to my work after I graduated. These teachings also helped me while I was judging/screening films for Diversity in the Cannes Short Film and Web Series Showcase, which is supported by Oscar, Tony and Emmy award-winner Viola Davis and her husband.

NYFA: What advice would you give to students just starting out at NYFA?

GP: Come with an open mind. Do not only learn about what you are majoring in but also learn other areas of the filmmaking process and focus on creating your own content. In the entertainment industry, you will notice that a lot of celebrities that excel do not only focus on one entertainment discipline. People take up various roles in the entertainment industry in order for their talent to be showcased. 

Do not depend on someone else to make your dreams become a reality; take your career into your own hands.

New York Film Academy thanks actress, producer, writer, and NYFA alum Gina Parris for taking the time to speak with us and wishes her success in the near future as her career continues!

To keep up with NYFA alum Gina Parris, take a look at her social/contact links below:
Instagram: @gina_parris
Instagram (Like A Dog With A Bone): @likeadogwitha
Website (The Honest Honestest Truth): http://thehonesthonestesttruth.com/

Q&A with Actor and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Alum Anthony R. Mottola

Manila-born Anthony R. Mottola got quite the wake up call when he realized he wanted to go from musical theatre into becoming a screen actor. Mottola realized his dream of pursuing acting in 2014, when he enrolled in New York Film Academy’s (NYFA) MFA Acting for Film program to get hands-on experience working on set and honing his skills to make it in the business.

Since then, Mottola has booked television roles on shows like Netflix’s Friends from College, the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Netflix special and is set to appear in the upcoming theatrical film Silent Retreat, starring opposite Sarah Goldberg (HBO’s Barry). New York Film Academy spoke with alum Anthony R. Mottola about his switch from musical theatre to screen acting, and how coming to NYFA was the first step in this new career: 

New York Film Academy (NYFA): First, can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from, and what brought you to New York Film Academy?

Anthony R. Mottola (AM): First off, this is my first interview/Q&A ever so thank you for reaching out. Also, if this constitutes that I’ve made it, welp, high-five to myself! 

I was adopted from Manila, the Philippines when I was a baby, and am the youngest of three boys. My middle brother was also adopted from a different part of the Philippines, Legazpi City. We were three very distinct children growing up in Central Pennsylvania. Oddly enough, I’d compare us to Alvin & The Chipmunks – me being Theodore literally because I was (and ALWAYS will be) the cutest.  I also have a little bit of Tigger from Winnie The Pooh in me. A couple months ago my brother found a home video of us in grade school. I was maybe around six or seven, and I was bouncing all over the place, quite literally.

At the age of five, my mother enrolled me in dance class, and I believe she was smart enough to know that there was a reason I had all this energy, and it WASN’T because I was a problem child. I was a creative mind, but I just hadn’t realized it yet. I started out as a tap dancer in first grade and, by second grade, I was on a competitive tap dancing team that won awards at NYC Dance Explosion. I was the only boy and I was the youngest team member. I also remember being OBSESSED with River Dance, which was a big thing at the time. 

As I got older, I didn’t exactly want to introduce myself to other teenagers as “Tony the tap-jazz-ballet dancer.” Then my freshman year of High School, my dance teacher choreographed the musical 42nd Street. I was so scared of getting made fun of by other students, and I remember being at the audition and shaking. Right before it was my turn to audition, I walked out. I walked right out of the auditorium and went home. When I got home, the phone rang and my dance teacher gave me the part of Andy Lee (the guy who tap dances) even though I walked out of the audition. I believe there are moments in one’s life that almost scream: THIS IS DESTINY. After that, I got my first professional musical theatre job (and my first paycheck) from a regional theater called Gretna Playhouse during my sophomore year of college in the musical The King & I

Here’s the thing though: I knew I was good and I did enjoy performing but, at the end of the day, I wasn’t ever quite fulfilled. That’s when NYFA came into the picture; when I really started to question what I really wanted to do, and why exactly I needed to perform.

NYFA: What was your experience like with the audition process for film and TV?

AM: I gotta say, auditioning for TV and film is a completely different world compared to auditioning for stage plays/musicals. Truthfully, post-graduation was a bit of an adjustment for me. I had moved back from LA around April of 2017 and decided to take a year off from the business altogether. Honestly, I was going through a tough transition and feeling a bit lost. I graduated from NYFA in 2016 and didn’t exactly hit the ground running after that. I hit the ground flailing until I decided to move back home. I essentially walked away for a bit and wasn’t sure I would go back. What people say is true, it [the entertainment industry] chews you up, and spits you back out. 

I just couldn’t stop thinking about acting, though. I kept thinking, “well, what if,” because I was working a retail management job, which I was grateful for, but let’s be honest, it was a bit of a dead-end job for me. 

I decided to put myself out there again and got new headshots. I chose a photographer based in Philly [Philadelphia], Vikrant Tunious, who was so welcoming and helped me feel at ease. At the end of my photo session, he gave me a four page PDF file of agencies on the East Coast and I emailed each one of them in hopes of getting myself back in the game. Well, NONE of them emailed me back. I was literally about to call it quits when I noticed that I missed one.

 

An agent named Will Ball had just formed his own agency named VIE Model & Talent. I tried to submit via his website, but my materials were not going through. I emailed him with no expectations he’d reply when, low and behold, he shoots me an email back the next day. We met in Fish Town, and he signed me! That was around May 2018. By the end of May, I had my first professional audition for this Netflix show called Friends From College, which was shooting the second season at the time. I essentially had no idea what to expect, but I went in, read the lines and, the next night, I booked it! Will called me and told me that I actually booked a role that I didn’t even audition for, which, looking back on the episode, I was so grateful for, because they showcased me even more in my new role than if I had booked the role I initially auditioned for. So that was my first screen audition ever. Booked it. Taft Hartley’d. It was insane.

Mottola (right) poses with actress Cobie Smulders on the set of ‘Friends From College’

I got to spend the day with Keegan Michael Key, Fred Savage, and Cobie Smulders, as well as the rest of the main cast. The whole day was a bit surreal. Keegan and Cobie were the first actors to welcome me on set and the director went right up to me after everything was said and done, shook my hand, and said I was hilarious. Best believe I cried that night with a glass of Pinot Noir. 

After that, I got to really experience the ups and downs of a working screen actor. Following Friends From College, I booked a co-star role on Comedy Central’s Broad City, a co-star role on FOX’s pilot show for Almost Family, and AMC’s Dispatches From Elsewhere. All great, and varying on-set experiences, where I learned a lot. My scenes were actually cut out from all three….well, I never even had any lines in Dispatches From Elsewhere, but I was contracted as a co-star. Seeing yourself cut out on TV is the toughest feeling but, to this day, you gotta remind yourself that it’s never personal. “That’s showbiz, kid!” I was VERY lucky and fortunate to get a 1.5 minute scene on Friends From College, and I’ll always be grateful for it. 

Mottola shooting the ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ interactive Netflix special

NYFA: Congratulations on your role in the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt interactive Netflix special. What was the auditioning process like for that?

AM: Now, Kimmy Schmidt, that was something special. I LOVED the show beforehand, so the pressure was on for me. Especially because the tone of the show matched my brand so well. My scene was with Titus Burgess, so….yeah, “no pressure at all.” What I can tell you is the auditions are so fast; they’re like a blur. Most of the time you get the material 24 hrs before the audition time and, if you’re lucky, you get them maybe 48 hours in advance. Still, it’s maddening really, and the deadlines are much stricter than you would find for musicals/plays. People work faster because they have to! Also, you’re not exactly supposed to pay much attention to other actors in the waiting room, but a lot of times I can’t help it. I’m an observer/voguer at heart. 

I went in and Cindy Tolan [the Casting Director] seemed to be working quickly because she knew exactly what Tina Fey wanted. A few days later I’m on set in upstate New York with Titus Burgess and Jane Krakowski being funny. Titus was arguably the most welcoming actor I have met so far. I was fortunate enough to have him share some wise words with me, and he made me feel at ease during our scene. 

A lot of times, the pressure is on once you start your scene, but if you are lucky enough to establish a rapport with one of the stars, the whole scene shines! That doesn’t always happen, so I was blessed. I am blessed. And I’m eager to see the finished project!! 

NYFA: Can you tell us more about your NYFA thesis film Unrequited?

AM: I was assigned to write, produce, cast, and act in my own personalized short film. Not gonna lie, it seemed near impossible to pull off. Especially because I am not at all rich. I spent maybe $3,000, and my parents helped me. I can’t even begin to express the infinite gratitude towards my parents and my family for their support. I filmed it in my apartment, and my roommate/best friend was my AD. She kept me sane during the whole process, and I’ll never forget it. I cast two other actors who I met my first year back in NYC, and whom I trusted as actors.

Still from Mottola’s thesis film at NYFA, ‘Unrequited’

NYFA: What was the inspiration behind Unrequited?

AM: I had to think long and hard on what exactly I wanted to say. What exactly I wanted to put out there, you know? I wanted to say something I knew I would hold dear to me decades later. This short film was the result of at least six rough drafts. It won an award for Best LGBT Short that year and I still have the certificate and the statuette in my room right behind me! Growing up gay, adopted, and Asian in Central Pennsylvania in the 90s into the 00s was, well, it was something. 

I had a diary growing up and writing helped me express emotions I wouldn’t express outwardly. I wanted to write my script about a culmination of events and feelings I had endured from my adolescent years well into my young adult life. Unrequited love. Being taking advantage of and not caring about oneself. There was something beautifully cathartic to be said about the situations I put myself in and with the guys I choose to involve myself with. I remember just sitting in my bed, laptop in front of me, and just writing and quietly just crying. I had been so angry for years and I never told anyone. This was my heartache I had been putting into words and I believed, and still believe to this day, that when someone shares their trauma with the world, they have the ability to heal. Heal themselves. Heal others. Heal the world. I do plan on revisiting the topic later on in my life. I can see myself directing later on in my life, for sure. 

Mottola acting in his thesis film ‘Unrequited’

NYFA: What advice would you give to students just starting out at NYFA?

AM: That is such a loaded question! I feel like this will sound cliché and corny but you have to really look into your soul. Acting is more of a spiritual journey than anything. Ask yourself questions. If you’re doing this because you think it’s cool, you’re only skimming the surface. If you stick to the surface, I promise you that you won’t last. If it resonates within your soul, you’ll find your way. Take it from me. I’m about to be 31, and my life is just getting started.

New York Film Academy thanks actor and NYFA alum Anthony R Mottola for taking the time to speak with us and wishes him the best of success as his career continues to grow. Since this conversation, Mottola has landed a role in the upcoming theatrical film Silent Retreat, starring opposite Sarah Goldberg (HBO’s Barry). Mottola is repped by Will Ball (Vie Agency) and Matt Ilczuk (Entertainment Lab).

Editor’s Note: The Q&A with Actor and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Anthony R. Mottola by New York Film Academy has been edited for brevity and clarity. 

Remembering the Life and Work of Hollywood Legend Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas, Academy Award winner and icon of Hollywood ’s Golden Era, passed away at the age of 103 on Wednesday, February 6. With a life that spanned over a century, Douglas made a name for himself as an actor, writer, and philanthropist, as well as the patriarch of an award-winning Hollywood dynasty. 

Douglas was born in Amsterdam, New York in 1916 to a large and impoverished immigrant family, and as a young man entered the United States Navy during World War II. He had a passion for acting from a very early age and had already decided to become a professional actor before graduating high school.

After being medically discharged from the Navy after an injury at sea, Douglas found work in the New York acting scene, specifically in theatre and radio, including commercials and soap operas. It was his friend Lauren Bacall that convinced him to try acting in the movies; her recommendation to director Hal B. Wallis earned Douglas his debut screen role in the 1946 film The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, opposite Barbara Stanwyck.

Kirk Douglas

The Champion (1949)

Douglas filmed several roles after that, including the 1949 film Champion, where he played a hardened boxer. The film earned him his first Academy Award nomination and taught Douglas how to boost his career by pairing his intense, muscular physicality and steel blue eyes with suitable tough guy roles.

The next two decades saw Douglas rise to become one of the Golden Age of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars, in big studio films like Young Man with a Horn (1950), Detective Story (1951), Along the Great Divide (1951), Ulysses (1954), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), The Vikings (1958), Lonely are the Brave (1962), Seven Days in May (1964), and The Arrangement (1969).

Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas

Several of his films have stood the test of time, including 1951’s Ace in the Hole, director Billy Wilder’s first credit as both writer and producer, which went on to win Best Foreign Film at the Venice Film Festival. Douglas earned another Oscar nomination for his role in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), directed by Vincente Minnelli. Douglas paired with Minnelli again for 1956’s Lust for Life, playing tragic artist Vincent van Gogh, earning him his third Academy Award nomination in a seven-year span.

Douglas wasn’t afraid to use his star power for political statements. He produced two films directed by auteur Stanley Kubrick, both of which bucked from the trend of Hollywood’s Golden Era; 1957’s Paths of Glory was one of the few anti-war films of the period and 1960’s epic Roman slave rebellion story, Spartacus, was written by Dalton Trumbo, the Hollywood screenwriter blacklisted during the McCarthy Era.

Kirk Douglas

Spartacus (1960)

Even after his star power faded with age, Douglas still acted in dozens of films from 1970 to 2008, including There Was a Crooked Man… (1970), The Final Countdown (1980), The Man from Snowy River (1982), Tough Guys (1986), and both an episode of The Simpsons and a television adaptation of Inherit the Wind in 1996.

After suffering from a severe stroke in 1996, Douglas underwent years of physical therapy and returned to acting in 2003 alongside several of his family members in It Runs in the Family. The film co-starred his ex-wife Diana Dill, his grandson, and his son, Academy Award winner Michael Douglas. At the age of 101, he appeared onstage to present Best Screenplay alongside his daughter-in-law, Academy Award winner Catherine Zeta-Jones. Shortly after his 1996 stroke, Douglas received an honorary Academy Award in person.

Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas

More than just an actor, Douglas and his wife Anne donated millions to numerous charitable organizations, schools, medical facilities, and much more. Douglas was also a writer, and penned the 1988 autobiography The Ragman’s Son and the 2002 memoir My Stroke of Luck, detailing his recovery from his stroke. Douglas was even blogging on platforms such as Myspace and The Huffington Post as late as 2012. 

Through acting, writing, producing, and his broad philanthropic work, Douglas’s impact on Hollywood and the world-at-large over the past several decades is immeasurable. His death in Beverly Hills was first made known by his son, Michael.

“It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103,” wrote Michael Douglas on his Instagram. “To the world, he was a legend, an actor from the Golden Age of movies who lived well into his golden years, a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard for all of us to aspire to.”

New York Film Academy is deeply saddened by the loss of Hollywood legend and Academy Award winner Kirk Douglas and passes along our sincere condolences to his friends and to the Douglas family. Rest in Peace.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B8NCr7Ah40N/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Q&A with Actress, Composer, and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Xiren Wang

Canadian-born Xiren Wang is quite comfortable wearing many hats in the entertainment business–she is an actress as well as a composer, and has found success doing both. Wang first attended the 4-Week Musical Theatre workshop at New York Film Academy (NYFA) before pivoting to the 1-Year Acting for Film conservatory at our New York campus.

Since then, she has found work both in front and behind the camera, especially when it comes to scoring films and as well performing live. Her biggest project to date is scoring The Eyes, which aired on Showtime. New York Film Academy spoke with alum Xiren Wang about her eclectic work and how she first ended up at NYFA:

New York Film Academy (NYFA): The Eyes was released nationwide and had a run on Showtime. You scored and appeared in the film. Tell us more about this project and your experience working on it.

Xiren Wang (XW): After graduating from NYFA, I started taking classes at One on One, where I met Robbie Bryan, who directed the film. It was the first class that was back and running, because it was immediately after Hurricane Sandy, so I was one of the two people who actually showed up – and sometimes, showing up is that important. I met him as an actor, and invited him to the shows and concerts I performed in, and later on, when he needed a composer for the feature film, he thought the tone of The Eyes was a good match. The Eyes is a psychological thriller. Cerebral themes and dark emotions are definitely my genre of music. I write mostly for romance, drama, and yoga, all very different tones, but knowing your forte helps you define your sound, and film needs that specificity. Even though every trained composer, in theory, should be able to write for anything, doing something well is another level. Knowing your own sound helps carve out your sound world, and just like how there’s no actor who really can take every role, there’s no composer that is good for every general story. 

Xiren Wang

Because The Eyes was mostly filmed in one room, the sound world needed to be rich and multidimensional to keep the story moving forward. I blended classical sounds and electronic soundscapes to give each character another layer of identity, to speak to their backstories, and to expose a bit of what’s going on in their heads. I like to study the script and characters, and really get deep into the subtext and the headspace of what each character is holding back from the audience. 

Working on the film also afforded me the opportunity to learn about foley, and I was fortunate to have worked with the team at Skywalker Ranch for this. Because we had such a small team, I learned on the job what foley editing was about, and I’m glad to say that after the post-production process, I can handle any work that’s under the sound and music departments – usually consisting of a dozen or even hundreds of people, depending on the scale of the production. I’ve definitely started paying extra attention to the credits, just to see how the soundworld is sculpted for each film. I want to take what I’ve heard and then break it down into how it’s made, sort of like reverse-engineering, and then find ways to recreate something that sounds like the expensive output, but with a more resourceful approach, because most movies don’t allocate much budget or team to the music and sound departments. 

The reality of Hollywood orchestras recording for Hollywood films is not the reality we live in today, and a lot of production teams want skeleton crews and one-(wo)man powerhouses to take care of “everything”. Unless the director is keen on music, they often don’t know what creating a score really entails – composing is just one step of the journey, which then goes to recording, editing, mixing, matching to picture, etc. It’s a full suite of work, for many people, and having gotten my sound design start at NYFA really helped me understand this world, so that when I was hired as a composer, I could double as the sound designer as well. Understanding foley and other audio elements of the film is also crucial, and important lessons I learned from working on The Eyes

I’m fortunate to have worked with director Robbie Bryan, who trusted me enough to have this be my first feature film score. The soundtrack is also available to stream and buy on most digital retailers, but definitely get the whole experience on Showtime.

Xiren Wang

NYFA: You also music directed and performed live concerts at venues ranging from Arlene’s Grocery to Carnegie Hall, in which you also performed original music. Is your approach to composing music for your concerts different from the one you have for composing original film scores? How?

XW: Definitely. Music for film and music for picture is driven by story and frame. Music for live concerts is standalone music, driven by the pulse of the music itself, removed from the frames that anchor what it should be about. When I’m scoring a film, everything has to serve the story, and I believe a good film score should carry you further along and deeper into the story. A good film score makes you sink into more of your feelings and more of the story, it shouldn’t distract you with sounds that take you out of the story. It’s like a piece of fabric, tailored to the script and to each frame of what’s going on visually. 

Film music isn’t standalone music, it has to serve the story, and whatever doesn’t, is cut, like so much visual footage, as well. Composing for live concerts is where the musicians are the rockstars, and the performance itself is the story, so it’s a completely different mindset and landscape. Using the fabric analogy again, this time without a “body” of work to adhere to, the fabric can form its own shape and dynamics. 

I’m fortunate to be able to switch back and forth, because an actor-composer brings an extra set of eyes to the film, I feel. And being and actor-musician, I’m able to play with style, lighting, and the overall design of the music in a way that is storytelling, so this hybrid definitely heightens the production value, as it creates a multi-layered and multi-sensory experience. After all, whether we are actors or musicians, we are delivering an experience, and we want to make our work memorable.

Xiren Wang

NYFA: What brought you to NYFA?

XW: It was a talent scholarship to the Musical Theatre program, and then an extended talent scholarship for the Acting for Film Program. But there was definitely a distance between learning about NYFA and receiving the scholarships. 

I first came to New York when I was still in high school (2005!) at the time–I competed as a junior actress at IMTA (boosted as the talent convention where Katie Holmes and Ashton Kutcher got their start), and one of the girls in our group received a scholarship to NYFA, which for her was a huge deal, and for me, that meant more than the callbacks I got from the various modeling agencies in both LA and NYC. It was more valuable because it offered a journey, a journey of becoming something more, and of self-actualization. 

In 2010, I went to IMTA with one goal in mind, and that’s to get a scholarship from NYFA. As fortune would have it, one of the callbacks I received was from NYFA, and Steven Chinni, whose offer really changed my life, helped me make the transition to move to New York. One of the lines he said during the callback, I’ll never forget, was  “as an actor, you can be whoever you want.” And the possibilities of living a full and rich life, that line offered, meant the world to me. 

By August, that dream became a reality, and I did a record amount of student films while in the program. Working with the cinematography class also afforded me friends who not only gave me reel material, but helped me cut my first reels, some clips which remain in my material today! When I was in the Acting program, I was also taking composition classes at Juilliard, and I saw a NYFA filmmaker’s poster on the bulletin board asking for original music scores. So, I made a lot of posters saying that I could score your film, and put them all over NYFA, and I ended up scoring a lot of student films, and my first sound design job also came from that, and it was something NYFA instructor Paul Warner had produced. 

Xiren Wang

NYFA: What was the most valuable takeaway from your time at NYFA both artistically and personally?

XW: The education I received at NYFA made me a better human being. It introduced me to the entire spectrum of human emotions and taught me what empathy is. I learned about human behaviour, and about darker emotions, and confronting them in a safe place was something so rare – it doesn’t happen outside of school. It gave me access to emotions I never knew existed or knew what to call them. It taught me how to speak clearly, so that my voice lands. It taught me what subtext is, and what pathology is, and life is richer when you understand these layers.

NYFA: What advice do you have for aspiring actors and composers?

XW: First of all, this is not an easy life! If you’re going after fame and celebrity, then it won’t take long to realize that the craft of both acting and composition is really hard work, on so many levels. I’m fortunate to still count myself in the business, but I’ve done a lot of work to get here, juggling multiple careers as an actor, musician, fitness model, composer, sound designer, VO artist, and radio host/producer. You’re constantly competing with people better looking than you, and surviving in the industry requires a lot of inner work, work that we have to do every day, long after we’ve graduated. Because keeping our tools sharp is just one part of the puzzle, having a strong mental game is so necessary. 

Lastly, this is a piece of advice that was given to me, and I finally started to apply it: to create your own content. Find your voice, know what you’re about, and start creating your own work, because most people are waiting for work, and waiting is not a way to live. It’s most disempowering. So figure out what fuels you, and be proactive about life and career, because this really is a marathon, not a sprint. Art comes from life, and in every stage of life, there is story. It’s easier now than ever to create content, but not everyone who has a Canon5D is a great photographer! Continue training, always be learning, and learn about business and look at this as an entrepreneur.

New York Film Academy thanks actress, composer, and NYFA alum Xiren Wang for taking the time to speak with us and wishes her success as her career continues to grow!

These 8 Horror Movie Performances Will Leave You Unsettled

For some people, the fall season means sweater-wearing weather, pumpkin carving, hayrides, and snuggling under the covers in the morning. For other people, autumn  means haunted houses, creating spooky Halloween costumes, and binge watching horror movie classics. 

We can all agree that an on-screen performance can either make or break a movie—and horror movies are no different. Here are some actors and actresses with performances that left us shaking to the bones.

Don’t worry either, these performances are so good that you can watch these movies year round so you don’t have to wait for Halloween.

Toni Collette in Hereditary

In 2018, Ari Aster made his feature directorial debut with the bone-chilling, toe-curling nightmare, Hereditary. The film itself will rattle audience members to their core, but actress Toni Collette tackles the role of Annie, an artist turned wife turned mother, without missing a beat and takes her fictional character’s inner life beyond the lines of storytelling. Collette’s Annie is not just a victim in the film–she’s the soul of it, too, and possibly even its devil–she is pure terror.

There is one scene in the movie when Annie tells her son, “I never wanted to be your mother.” At that moment, past the heartbreaking cruelty and honesty, Annie slaps her hand to her mouth just a second too late in the realization that what she said can never be taken back. The words she uttered aren’t just sadistic; it’s sadistic because there is a semblance of truth that is spoken. Collete successfully portrayed the amalgam of backbreaking roles in Hereditary while struggling to deal with traumas left behind by her recently deceased mother. The way that Collette portrays panic and grief in such a visceral way won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Lupita Nyong’o in Us

12 Years a Slave and Black Panther star Lupita Nyong’o gives a chilling performance in Jordan Peele’s Us, his followup to Oscar winner Get Out. Nyong’o portrays both Adelaide Wilson, a mother with an unclear past, and Red, Adelaide’s evil doppelgänger. Early in the film, the audience is introduced to Red and her family who are clad in red jumpsuits and eerily resembles each member of Adelaid’s family. The doppelgängers are there to exact vengeance on the Wilson family but Peele doesn’t let the audience know why until near the end.

The most chilling part of Nyong’o’s performance as Red was her voice. To make her doppelgänger stand out, she drew from real-life psychosomatics. In an article published by Variety, Nyong’o said, “I was inspired by the condition spasmodic dysphonia, which is a condition that comes about from a trauma—sometimes emotional, sometimes physical—and it creates this spasming in your vocal cords that leads to an irregular flow of air.”

Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs

Anthony Hopkins was only on screen for 16 minutes as convicted serial killer Hannibal Lecter in the 1991 classic, Silence of the Lambs, but his performance was so memorable and superb in that brief amount of time that Hopkins ended up winning an Academy Award for Best Actor. However, there was a lot of suspense and anticipation that was built up around Lecter even when Hopkins wasn’t on screen. 

During the film, the audience is fed bits of information that helps heightens Hopkins’ on-screen performance and makes Lecter more grounded as a character. To the audience, Lecter is a villain yet not the villain–a mentor, maybe even a friend to the protagonist FBI agent played by Jodie Foster, but an opponent to her as well. The ability to portray a complex and technical character demonstrates why Hopkins was worthy of an Oscar for this role. It’s worth noting that Foster received an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in the film as well.

Natalie Portman in Black Swan

Many little girls growing take dance lessons or even dream of being a famous ballerina. In Black Swan, directed by Darren Aronofsky, Natalie Portman portrays Nina, a young ballet dancer with a driving ambition so disturbing it makes the audience uncomfortable. Nina is a perfectionist willing to push herself over the edge for the sake of her art. 

In order to bring the prima donna to life, Portman spent hours a day training with the world’s best dancers, coaches, and teachers. Portman’s performance as the dancer who falls into madness is so convincing that it’s hard to remember that it’s just fiction. While Portman may not be able to completely relate to the dancer’s obsessive ambition, there is one thing Portman shares with Nina–Portman told Vanity Fair in 2011 there is a connection between the actress and her character: “The quest for perfection and the need of an artist to sort of please yourself and find your own way, not to be just trying to please other people.” 

Sissy Spacek in Carrie

A lot of people don’t recall their high school days quite as fondly as others may. Brian de Palma’s Carrie, released in 1976, plays on that teenage angst to an extreme degree in this Stephen King adaptation about a young abused girl who possesses very strange and terrifying powers. Actress Sissy Spacek portrays Carrie and Piper Laurie portrays Carrie’s religious fanatic mother. 

At 27 years old, Spacek received an Oscar nomination for role as Carrie. The audience can feel Carrie’s desperation and insecurity in every scene throughout the movie. Spacek was able to show the audience what everyone feels at some point in their life–feeling like an outsider and not being able to fit in. As a teenager, it can be very traumatizing to not fit in. Spacek was able to successfully deliver a frightening performance of a variety of emotions, including a great deal of frustration and fear. By the time of her–and the film’s–violent climax, the audience can see exactly how and why Carrie has been pushed to such a point.

Anthony Perkins in Psycho

A good horror or thriller doesn’t need to depend on violence, gore, or the supernatural to make it successful–or scary. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, featuring Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins, is a testament to that fact. In an interview with The Record in November 1990, Perkins, who portrayed the titular killer Norman Bates, said, “There’s no place to hide in Psycho.”

Perkins made his fame by playing the deranged motel owner, and went on to play Bates in several sequels. As a product of being a tormented child in Hollywood, Perkins was able to take his experience and pour it into his acting career–especially in roles where he needed to portray the darker side of nature. He played the role of the tense and repressed man well because he drew from personal experiences. Despite being soft-spoken and eerily calm for most of the movie, Perkins made Norman Bates one of the most famous and frightening horror movie monsters of all time.

Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween

More than forty years ago, executive producer Irwin Yablans asked director John Carpenter to make a low-budget movie about babysitters getting murdered. Carpenter told The New York Times in 2018, “It was a horrible idea. But I wanted to make more movies, so I said, ‘Great!’” One of the greatest slasher villains of all time, Michael Myers, was born. 

Halloween helped launch a career for actress Jamie Lee Curtis, daughter of Janet Leigh, the aforementioned star of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Curtis’s teen protagonist Laurie Strode was meant to be an innocent, repressed teenage girl who is quick on her feet. Her inner strength comes out as she’s forced to go toe-to-toe with an unstoppable killing machine, and Curtis made the role her own by the end of the first film. Since then, Halloween has spawned several sequels, remakes, and reboots, and Curtis has gone on to reprise the role of Laurie Strode in several subsequent films in the franchise: Halloween II, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, Halloween: Resurrection, the 2018 Halloween, and its upcoming sequel, 2020’s Halloween Kills.

Jack Nicholson in The Shining

Oscar-winning actor Jack Nicholson gives one of the most famous horror movie performances of all time in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining, with multiple iconic scenes including Nicholson smashing through a door with an axe and screaming “Heeeeeeere’s Johnny!”

Nicholson is not only an actor, he’s written and directed as well, and had the opportunity to write an entire scene for The Shining. He recalls being berated by his wife when he would be at home writing, telling The New York Times, “That’s what I was like when I got my divorce. I was under the pressure of being a family man with a daughter and one day I accepted a job to act in a movie in the daytime and I was writing a movie at night and I’m back in my little corner and my beloved wife Sandra walked in on what was unbeknownst to her, this maniac—and I told Stanley about it and we wrote it into the scene.”

Pulling from his own personal experiences at home, Nicholson was able to ground his growing supernatural insanity with the foundation of everyday pressures–talk about great acting!

Q&A with Filmmaker and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Alum Dr. Ariel Orama López

Dr. Ariel Orama LópezNew York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum Dr. Ariel Orama López has been incredibly productive since graduating from NYFA’s Los Angeles campus, and has the accolades to prove it. His latest film, One, revolves around the incredible devastation his homeland of Puerto Rico suffered from during and after Hurricane Maria. 

López has been and written about by VoyageLA and other publications, distinguished for his achievements. Here are just a few quotes about him and his work:

Denis McCourt (Director of Conservatory & Outreach Programming in Coachella Valley Repertory & Former NYFA-LA Associate Chair for Performance Studies): AG Orloz (Dr. Ariel Orama López) brings a very important voice to story telling through film. Especially at this time in American history. He’s a brave and truthful artist.”

“AG Orloz (Dr. Ariel Orama López) aporta una voz muy importante a la narración de historias a través del cine. Especialmente en este momento en la historia de Estados Unidos. Es un artista valiente y de gran verosimilitud.”

William Lurh (Author and Professor – Film & Gender – NYU Seminar): “An impressive filmmaker.”

“Un cineasta impresionante.”

José R. Pagán (Journalist Primera Hora/GFR Media): “Artist in many ways, Orama is a graduate student of New York Film Academy and was awarded a scholarship by NYU in New York in an intensive summer workshop (about Film and Gender). He was able to share his published book on creativity, neuroscience and virtuality with Lin Manuel on his visit to the Island … He not only directs, but also stars in his stories … The plot of One interweaves poetry and other elements of art with aesthetic value to carry a message about the constant battles that Puerto Ricans fought almost two years ago. Their motto responds to the idea that not all stories/lives have been told.”

“Artista en muchos sentidos, Orama es egresado de New York Film Academy y fue becado por NYU en Nueva York en un intensivo de verano. Recientemente, pudo compartir su libro publicado sobre creatividad, neurociencia y virtualidad con Lin Manuel en su visita a la Isla. La peculiaridad de Orama es que no solo dirige, sino que también protagoniza sus historias … La trama de One entreteje poesía y otros elementos del arte con valor estético para llevar un mensaje sobre las batallas constantes que libraron los boricuas hace casi dos años. Su lema responde a la idea de que “no todas las vidas han sido contadas.”

Damaria Hernádez Mercado (Journalist El Nuevo Día/GFR Media): “The short film One, made in a surrealist tone, has received international praise and awards.”

“El cortometraje One, realizado en un tono surrealista, ha recibido elogios y galardones a nivel internacional.” 

América TV/Puerto Rico: “A tribute to the lost lives and the battles won after the passage of Hurricane Maria through Puerto Rico knocks on the doors of the Hollywood Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.”

“Un tributo a las vidas perdidas y las batallas ganadas tras el paso del huracán María por puerto rico toca las puertas de la Academia de Artes y Ciencias cinematográficas de Hollywood.”

Nicole Chacón (Publicist/News Anchor/Social Media – WAPA TV/WAPA America): “Without a doubt, Orama is a talented young man who makes his way telling our stories in international cinema.”

“Sin duda, Orama es un talentoso joven que se abre camino contando nuestras historias en el cine internacional.”

 

Dr. Ariel Orama López

 

New York Film Academy spoke with Dr. Ariel Orama López about the film, as well his next project Ysla, his deep connection to Puerto Rico, and his advice for current and future NYFA students:

El alumno de Actuación para Cine de la New York Film Academy, Dr. Ariel Orama López, ha estado trabajando imparablemente desde su graduación en el campus de Los Ángeles, y sus premios así lo prueban. Su última película, One, trata sobre la increíble devastación que sufrió su tierra natal, Puerto Rico, durante y después del huracán María. 

La New York Film Academy habló con el Dr. Ariel Orama López sobre su película, y sobre su próximo proyecto, Ysla, su conexión más intensa con Puerto Rico, además de sus consejos para todos los alumnos de la NYFA:

New York Film Academy (NYFA): First, can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from, and what brought you to New York Film Academy?

Dr. Ariel Orama López (AL): I am Dr. Ariel Orama López and AG Orloz is my artistic name. I have combined my formal studies in clinical psychology with additional training in film, literary creation, anatomy, media, paralegal studies and contemporary culture. Currently, I am a professor of psychology and acting, added to an extensive career of personal and professional achievements in different media and educational contexts, particularly as a writer, actor for commercials, television series and voiceovers, principal actor of independent movies and certified coach for artists. I have been an actor since 2001, professionally licensed, and started my duties as an independent film director in 2009. Recently, I was named as one of the Top Young Persons of Puerto Rico.

La New York Film Academy (NYFA): Para empezar, cuéntanos un poco más sobre ti. ¿De dónde vienes, y qué te llevó a la New York Film Academy?

Dr. Ariel Orama López (AL): Soy el doctor Ariel Orama López y AG Orloz es mi nombre artístico: he combinado mis estudios formales en psicología clínica con formaciones adicionales en cine, creación literaria, medios, estudios paralegales y cultura contemporánea. Actualmente, soy profesor de psicología y actuación, sumado a una trayectoria de logros personales y profesionales en distintos medios del país y espacios educativos, en las facetas de escritor, actor para comerciales, series, “voice-overs”, protagonista de proyectos independientes y coach certificado para artistas. Ejerzo como actor desde el 2001, con licencia profesional y comencé mis funciones como director de cine independiente en el 2009. Recientemente, recibí uno de los Premios Juventud de Puerto Rico. 

NYFA: Can you tell us about your film One

AL: One is an experimental Puerto Rican short film with a surrealist tone that represents the strong voice of the thousands of lives lost and the battles won after the ravages of the historic Hurricane Category 5 Maria. Recently, the project celebrated its first year with a continental tour, and has already earned 36 international laurels, two special invitations (Los Angeles and Spain) and 10 international prizes. It is in the process of eligibility for the Oscars, after an invitation to participate in a collective of short films that will be exhibited in Los Angeles in a Premiére block: One is the only Puerto Rican film in the collective, a great reason for celebration for all the Island. One has been praised and awarded in distinguished contexts of the world. The news of its eligibility process at the Oscars has been reviewed in different news media of the country, two years after the arrival of the Hurricane and in full analysis of the weather changes that are projected, worldwide.

NYFA: ¿Nos puedes contar más sobre tu película, “One”?

AL: One es un cortometraje puertorriqueño experimental con un tono surrealista que representa la voz contundente de las miles de vidas perdidas y las batallas ganadas luego de los estragos del histórico huracán Categoría 5 María. Recientemente, el proyecto cumplió su primer año con un recorrido continental, ya, con 36 laureles internacionales, dos invitaciones especiales (Los Ángeles y España) y 10 premios del Mundo. Se encuentra en su proceso de elegibilidad para los Oscars, luego de una invitación a participar de un colectivo de cortometrajes que se expondrán en Los Ángeles en un bloque Premiére: One es el único proyecto de Puerto Rico en el colectivo, motivo de gran celebración para toda la Isla. Ha sido elogiado y galardonado en contextos distinguidos del Mundo. La noticia de su proceso de elegibilidad ha sido reseñada en distintos medios impresos y noticiosos del país, ya en la fecha de los dos años de la llegada del Huracán y en pleno análisis de los cambios climatológicos que se proyectan, a nivel Mundial. 

Dr. Ariel Orama López

NYFA: What inspired you to make One?

AL: I experienced the ravages of Hurricane Maria closely: I live in the Eastern zone of Puerto Rico, the most devastated, so I could closely experience the collective and individual needs of Puerto Ricans. As a media writer, I distinguished the efforts of artists like Lin-Manuel Miranda, whom I had the privilege of meeting recently: he received my published book on neuroscience and creativity and I have the opportunity of briefly telling him about my next project, my first complete film called Ysla. The biggest inspiration for One? The thousands of lives lost and, above all, the first person who died probably east, near the ocean and in a heartbreaking way: there was born the character of One.

NYFA: ¿Qué te inspiró a crear “One”?

AL: Viví los estragos del huracán María de cerca: resido en la zona Este de Puerto Rico, la más devastada, por lo cual, pude experimentar de cerca las necesidades colectivas e individuales de los puertorriqueños. Como escritor de medios, distinguí los esfuerzos de artistas como Lin-Manuel Miranda, a quien tuve el privilegio de conocer, regalarle mi libro sobre neurociencia y creatividad y platicarle brevemente de mi próximo proyecto, mi filme Ysla. ¿La mayor inspiración para One? Las miles de vidas que perdieron su vida y, sobre todo, la primera persona que murió que, en teoría, hipotetizo que fue en la zona este, cercano al océano y de una forma desgarradora: allí nació el personaje de One.

NYFA: What was it like filming One?

AL: One is a project with an intensity aura and bright in images. One year after Maria, in our Eastern coastal areas, the ravages still perpetuated, visible in ocean waters and vegetation. Within all this revitalization process, the sargassum emanated a golden color when exposed to the sun: it was there that I thought that, in so much darkness, our surroundings always shone, despite all that has happened. Just at that moment, the mass media began to present the reality of the thousands of lives lost on the Island; I did not hesitate a second to create the story, become a spokesperson for this overwhelming message worldwide and join forces with actors and singers from the Island recognized in the international scope, combined with new blood on acting and producing. 

It is important to point out that I direct and star in my stories: it is a double challenge. Thank God, all the independent films in which I have worked in both roles have been awarded and recognized worldwide. I find it very difficult to define my line of protagonist and director: my commitment is complete, in both roles. And so it has been evidenced by all the beautiful acknowledgment we have received.

NYFA: ¿Cómo fue para ti grabar “One”?

AL: One es un proyecto con un aura de intensidad. A un año de María, en nuestras zonas costeras del Este aún se perpetuaban los estragos, visible operacionalmente en las aguas del océano y en la vegetación. Me llamó la atención que, dentro de todo ese proceso de revitalización, el color del sargazo emanaba un color dorado al exponerse al sol: fue allí donde pensé que, dentro de tanta oscuridad, siempre brillaba nuestro entorno, pese a todo lo vivido. Justo en ese instante, los medios masivos comenzaron a presentar la realidad de las miles de vidas perdidas en la Isla: no dudé un segundo en crear la historia, convertirme en portavoz de este mensaje contundente a nivel mundial y aunar esfuerzos con actores y cantantes de la Isla reconocidos en el ámbito internacional, sumado con sangre nueva en actuación y producción. Es importante precisar que yo dirijo y protagonizo mis historias: es un doble reto. Gracias a Dios, todos los filmes en los que he fungido en ambos roles han sido galardonados y reconocidos a nivel mundial. Me resulta muy difícil definir mi línea de protagonista y director: mi compromiso es cabal, en ambos roles. Y así ha sido evidenciado.

NYFA: What other projects are you working on or do you plan to work on?

AL: I am in the postproduction phase of a movie titled Ysla (Ysland) (2020). The film aims to present the stories of a current Puerto Rican in his look towards 2020. It is a collaboration of Puerto Rico, the United States, Colombia, and Spain that takes the Christmas season as its starting point. It is a project of great conceptual aesthetics, musicality, poetry and national sense, without ignoring our universality.

 

Dr. Ariel Orama López

 

NYFA: ¿Tienes otros proyectos en los que has estado trabajando o que estás preparando?

AL: En estos momentos, me encuentro en la fase de postproducción de la película completa titulada Isla (Ysland) (2020). El filme pretende presentar las historias del puertorriqueño actual en su mirada hacia el 2020. Es una colaboración de Puerto Rico, Estados Unidos, Colombia y España que toma como partida la temporada de la Navidad. Es un proyecto de gran estética conceptual, musicalidad, poesía y sentido patrio, sin ignorar nuestra universalidad.

NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to your work on One, or your work in general?

AL: I remember my experiences in NYFA with great enthusiasm. The opportunity to create short films on the Universal Studios backlot in Los Angeles and the learning acquired to work the acting process for cinema, from the verisimilitude and the internal search, were fundamental to create, through the direction and starring roles. Thank God, I already have more than 60 laurels in my career—and have worked on more than 200 creative projects—adding to awards in acting, production, direction, composition, and script. Being Puerto Rican, in times of political transition to situations that had such a worldwide impact and after a such predominant devastation with a Category 5 hurricane, is a heroic event. 

Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuarón inspire me; the ability to love his homeland enough to develop a project as wonderful as Roma (Cuarón), with such aesthetics and love for its roots is admirable—Mexico has always been close to my heart. I had the opportunity to share physical space with immigrants friends and they were the first ones who supported me while I was traveling through the streets of Los Angeles, on my way to NYFA, inspired by faith and a precise dream: to be part of the history of cinema in Puerto Rico, from a nontraditional perspective and with a different prism. I feel that I have already done it and I thank God for it.

NYFA: De todo lo que aprendiste en NYFA ¿Que ha sido lo que más te ha ayudado creando One, o en tu trabajo en general?

AL: Recuerdo mis experiencias en NYFA con sumo entusiasmo. La oportunidad de crear cortometrajes en los estudios universales y el aprendizaje adquirido para trabajar el proceso actoral para cine, desde la verosimilitud y la búsqueda interior, fueron fundamentales para crear, a través de la dirección y la actuación principal. Gracias a Dios, ya poseo más de 50 laureles en mi trayectoria -con más de 200 proyectos creativos-, sumado a premios en actuación principal, producción, dirección, composición y guion: ser puertorriqueño, en tiempos de transición política ante situaciones que tuvieron tanta repercusión a nivel mundial y luego de una devastación tan predominante, luego de un huracán tan impresionante, es un hecho heroico. 

Guillermo del Toro y Alfonso Cuarón me inspiran: la capacidad de amar a su patria para gestar un proyecto tan maravilloso como Roma (Cuarón), con tanta estética y amor a sus raíces es admirable: México siempre ha estado cercano a mi corazón: tuve la oportunidad de compartir espacio físico con amigos inmigrantes y ellos fueron los primeros que me apoyaron mientras transitaba por las calles de Los Ángeles, de camino a NYFA, inspirado por la fe y un sueño preciso: ser parte de la historia del cine en Puerto Rico, desde la mirada no tradicional y con un prisma diferente. Siento que ya lo he logrado y le agradezco a Dios por ello.

 

Dr. Ariel Orama López

 

NYFA: What advice would you give to students just starting out at NYFA?

AL: For students who start at NYFA—enjoy the process, every moment. Be open to work with colleagues from different parts of the world. May they open themselves to the experience of converting their art into their mission of life and that they understand the immeasurable value of the seventh art as a vehicle for healing. As a powerful tool to create new paradigms. As an ingenious space to realize dreams and great purposes. As a great alternative to understand the environment and to create new horizons. As a free and eternal space to dream an immense universe and an optimal world.

NYFA: ¿Qué consejo le darías a los estudiantes que acaban de comenzar sus estudios en NYFA?

AL: A los estudiantes que inician en NYFA, disfruten del proceso, en cada instante. Que estén abiertos a trabajar con colegas de distintas partes del Mundo. Que se abran a la experiencia de convertir su arte en su misión de vida y que entiendan el valor inconmensurable del séptimo arte como vehículo para sanar. Como una herramienta poderosa para crear nuevos paradigmas. Como un espacio ingenioso para materializar sueños y grandes propósitos. Como una gran alternativa para entender el entorno y para crear nuevos horizontes. Como un espacio libre y eterno para soñar un Universo inmenso y un Mundo óptimo.  

NYFA: Anything I missed you’d like to speak on?

AL: Thank you very much for always appreciating my experiences in fine arts: tons of blessings for my colleagues and friends from my alma Mater, NYFA. And let’s pray for the Oscars nomination for Puerto Rico!

NYFA: ¿Hay algo más que te gustaría comentar?

AL: Muchísimas gracias por siempre apreciar mis experiencias en las bellas artes. Muchísimas bendiciones para todos mis colegas y amigos de mi Alma Mater, NYFA. ¡Y recemos por la nominación para el Óscar para Puerto Rico! 

New York Film Academy thanks Acting for Film alum Dr. Ariel Orama López for taking the time to speak with us and encourages everyone to check out his socially and culturally important work!

La New York Film Academy agradece al alumno de ‘Actuación para Cine’ Dr. Ariel Orama López por su colaboración y por su tiempo contestando nuestra preguntas, y anima a todos nuestros lectores a revisar su trabajo, que es muy muy importante a nivel social y cultural. 

New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Alum Ludovic Coutaud is a ‘Lunatic Clown’


ludovic coutaud hdFrench actor Ludovic Coutaud knew within minutes of stepping into New York Film Academy (NYFA) that he was destined to study acting at the school. He did just that, and now the Acting for Film alum is back in Marseille, France, and writing, producing, and starring in the unique abstract series showcasing the art of clowning, Lunatic Clown in Colors.

The multi-talented actor is also a writer for New York Film Academy’s Student Resources page, and is currently at work on another season for his webseries. New York Film Academy spoke with Acting for Film alum Ludovic Coutaud about his time at NYFA, the art of clowning, and what advice he has for current and future acting students of New York Film Academy:

New York Film Academy (NYFA): First, can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from, and what brought you to New York Film Academy?

Ludovic Coutaud (LC): Hello there! I am from the land of cheeses, I mean France, the south in Marseille. I visited New York with my parents during the tough winter of 2010 and never had in mind to come live here. I remember we were walking past the former main campus in Union Square; we entered the building and right away the welcome was wonderful! We went upstairs and met with the Director of Admissions. After a few minutes, I already felt absolutely right at home. 

The same evening we returned to our rented apartment and I recalled having one of the most relaxed sleep of my life, already dreaming of applying to the school. When I landed back in Marseille, still in contact with the staff, I started the application to join the Acting for Film program in March 2011.

NYFA: Can you tell us about your webseries Lunatic Clown in Colors?

LC: Of course! It is an original abstract show, filmed in Marseille and showcasing all the unique colors the company represent. Indeed, I value expressions, eccentricity, and folly—all through vibrant colors. Each episode of Season One introduces a spontaneous and yet structured Lunatic Clown in a real location. It is for all, and a way to escape into other codes of communication and through physicality. The mission is to “transport the audience in an imaginary box”—hear their thoughts and minds.

NYFA: What inspired you to make Lunatic Clown in Colors?

LC: My crazy mind, like my friends say. I would say the audiences in general, and their feedback maybe, who felt particularly interested in knowing more about these likable clowns. When I returned to France, I wanted to keep creating in a new medium, involve the style and work with all that I learned at NYFA mixing other works—my own technique in this brand new show. When I did finish the first episode, I remember thinking of my very first Acting for Film class and the fun we had. Clowning is a very loud, active, misunderstood art but it is absolutely narrowed down like any other through film.

NYFA: What are your plans for Lunatic Clown?

LC: I am currently filming Season Two with the same crew and some new members. This time I intend to release nine episodes. I also have the Lunatic Clown Classes that I will teach in partnership with one company in Marseille starting September, and privately as well. The Lunatic Clown travels, always, and five new cities are set for release on social media, starting with Brussels, then Lisbon, a passage in Madrid, then Moscow and St. Petersburg for their own series. Each city has their own hashtags and can be seen daily on Instagram.

NYFA: You write, act, and produce this webseries. Do you have a preference for any particular discipline? If so, why?

LC: I honestly love the struggle—each discipline represents a great challenge. I say ‘struggle’ because I do all of it myself and it can be hard at times… or a lonely ride. Nonetheless, I never get bored and always can bounce back with a new hat.

Creating a new show on paper is a small percentage of it, then comes the producing game that I like to call ‘team hunting’, gathering the ideal team for a special project. The clowning part is actually the most relaxed or the one that happens the least, which is funny when I think of it. 

It is worth every moment when I put on the makeup—I know it is happening for real and with the people I love.

NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to your work on Lunatic Clown, or your work in general?

LC: My love went directly for the Voice and Movement classes naturally, yet all the classes have in time helped me improve in front of the camera, including text analysis or even going ‘simple’. Like I said above, the different techniques that the faculty taught me for TV and film mainly had a strong impact in the making of Lunatic Clown in Colors. 

After graduating, during my OPT and while on an artist visa, I had the chance to experiment, work, try, fail, and find my stamp onto the artistic world. NYFA embraced my energetic Frenchness and was very open to see where it was going throughout the program. I will never, ever forget the memorable human creative voyage NYFA was for me. Hooray Acting for Film March 2011 Section B!

NYFA: What advice would you give to students just starting out at NYFA?

LC: Make the most of it! Listen to everything everyone tells you, especially the teachers. They are there for a reason and have done it themselves. 

Go audition for every possible student film, even if they are very short or unpaid. The program is there for you to practice while your acting muscle grows. Your craft will never be perfect but it will be sharp if you keep learning. Go listen to the Q&As even if you don’t know the panel and the person—every department is very important in the making of a project and you need to be aware of it. 

Be on time and finally have fun in class. After all, it is acting!

NYFA: What other projects are you working on or do you plan to work on?

LC: I also write in French for the Londres Mag, a magazine for the French community in London, and I am part of the creative team for the production company Vuelven en Vida, based in Merida (Mexico). By the way, they did experience the Lunatic Clown technique too! I also teach English and self-development classes as well. All my work and contact info can be found on this fresh and vibrant website: http://ludoviccoutaud.com/

I also keep in touch with all my New York City contacts, theatre companies for future theatre productions, and workshops involving clowning. I plan on developing the clown with Season Two and Season Three. There are endless beautiful simple stories to tell and I aim to produce as much for now. Three seasons seems enough content to broadcast the work abroad.

NYFA: Anything I missed you’d like to speak on?

LC: I look forward to introduce Lunatic Clown to New York Film Academy one day, that would be such a delightful moment for me! Thank you NYFA and enjoy Lunatic Clown in Colors on YouTube! Find me on all other social medias and remember clowns aren’t just serial killers or freaky folks or work in a circus—they also have a heart full of love!

New York Film Academy thanks Acting for Film alum Ludovic Coutaud and encourages everyone to check out his YouTube webseries Lunatic Clown in Colors!

Getting Yourself Ready for Your International Acting Audition

New York Film Academy (NYFA) boasts a diverse, international student body with aspiring performers and visual artists coming from over 120 countries, with campuses and locations around the globe. Students studying at NYFA are gaining experience from day one that will help them later on as professionals in the industry–working with international collaborators.

Whether Americans auditioning abroad, or international actors auditioning in the United States, there are certain extra steps to take when preparing for your international acting audition. Here are some of them:

international map plane

Your website

A personal, polished website is incredibly important as your digital calling card, and you should make sure it is available to the most amount of people. Since Hollywood, New York, Australia, and the UK are major hubs for film work, it goes without saying that in addition to your native language, your website should be available in English. Ideally, you can even add extensions that translate your site into multiple languages, in case any auditions pop up in Paris or Tokyo, for example!

Your reel

The same goes for your reel. Adding subtitles is a smart idea and relatively simple, but you can do more. A reel should broadly showcase your talents, and for international auditions, you should include various accents as well, to show you are adaptable to projects in different locations. Put all your talent out there for the industry to see.

Familiarize yourself

If you are auditioning in a location you’re not too knowledgeable about, you should familiarize yourself with major works and names from that region. For example, if you are auditioning for a French production, learning the masters of French cinema, as well as contemporary French actors and actresses, will be a huge plus because it will allow you to be on the same page when communicating with producers, directors, and casting directors. 

Use the internet

While sites like Backstage.com are an invaluable research tool in New York and Los Angeles (and even London), it’s not as useful in locales like Paris or Sydney. Don’t despair though–every major city and region will have similar sites to help you find auditions and gigs. Using a search engine to find these services shouldn’t be too difficult, but you can always start simple with Craigslist, Facebook, and other international websites that know no borders.

Get your passport ready

Make sure you have a valid passport that hasn’t expired, because you never know when your agent might call with the perfect gig. It would be a shame if it turns out you’re unable to fly to the shoot and perform, so always be prepared to jump on a flight–you can learn your lines overnight, but you can’t get a passport that quickly! 

If you’re interested in attending the acting school at New York Film Academy, you can find more information on our programs here.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here

Tips to Become an Audiobook Narrator

Audiobooks have become an increasingly popular medium with the advent of smartphones and apps like Audible that have evolved into the literary equivalent of Netflix and Hulu. Indeed, there is now a much larger avenue for voice actors to find work–reading or performing novels, short stories, biographies, Shakespeare, and everything else that can be transcribed into audio.

These voice actors have to treat their auditions and jobs differently than film or stage actors. Here are five tips for actors who are interested in becoming an audiobook narrator.

Mic Microphone Recording Studio

Create a unique demo

No different than your reel, a voice demo is key to landing an audition or a job in the voiceover business. The quality of the audio is perhaps even more important than if it were a video reel, and including a diverse array of genres and media will give you broader options for audiobook projects. Be sure to update your demo regularly as works come up to keep your brand fresh and relevant.

Get some lip balm 

Staying hydrated is one major thing to never forget as a working actor, especially for voice actors. But quenching your thirst with a constantly full bottle of water isn’t all it takes–you’ll need to make sure your lips stay just as moist as your tongue and throat. Keep moisturizing lip balm in your bag and don’t forget to keep it close to you and your mic while in the recording booth. 

Preserve your stamina

Audiobooks can be incredibly lengthy–A Dance with Dragonsthe 1,016 page-long fifth book in the Game of Thrones series, is 48 hours and 55 minutes long, for example. Since obviously a project like this wouldn’t be finished in a single recording session, you will need to prepare for hours of exercising your voice. Everything from smoking to eating cheese could have an effect on your vocal cords, so doing everything you can–including minimizing speech outside of work leading up to the gig–is important. You’ll also need plenty of rest and sleep to make sure your energy never wanes during these epic recording sessions.

Read More

Reading more books in the genre you’re working in, whether it’s mystery novels or military histories, will help you get a feel for the rhythm of the writing, something you will be translating in your own tone and cadence. Of course the best thing to do before an audiobook recording is to read the actual book you’ll be working on–that way no surprises show up, whether they are tough pronunciations or an author’s awkward sentence structure. Unless you’re doing a cold reading, you normally would review a script before performing it; audiobooks are no different.

Communication

Behind every great audiobook is a great director, monitoring their performers closely from the control room, or perhaps even from within the recording booth itself. Make sure to take their direction closely, and also to work with them–like any other performance, two-way communication with your director is key to bringing out your best. This is especially important in fiction audiobooks, where often you’ll be performing scenes that would fit right in on a stage.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here

Actors That Didn't Get the Part and Bounced Back Better Than Ever

For actors, auditioning for parts is a numbers game–the more you audition, the better shot you have at being cast in a role that’s just right for you. This numbers game also means there are a lot more no’s than yes’s, and that goes for just about any actor, even world famous megastars and Oscar-winners. For many of these stars, they worked their way up to the A-list from the very bottom, coming close to a star-making turn that just wasn’t meant to be.

Kate Winslet

Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 Shakespearean adaptation Romeo + Juliet cast Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes as the doomed title couple. Kate Winslet was up for the role but missed out on the chance to star in an epic romance with DiCaprio… at least until a year later when she was cast by James Cameron to star in Best Picture and box office record smasher Titanic.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Winslet’s casting as Titanic’s Rose meant another actress was out of luck–Gwyneth Paltrow. However, that probably freed her up to audition for other films, including Shakespeare in Love, which won Best Picture a year after Titanic. Two decades later, Paltrow appeared in another box office juggernaut, Avengers: Endgame, which recently broke Titanic’s record and could be the highest grossing film of all time by the end of the summer.

Henry Cavill

Cavill had a few roles to his name before being cast as ultimate superhero Superman in 2013’s Man of Steel, but he would have been a lot more familiar to movie audiences a lot sooner if he had won another iconic role–James Bond. When 007 producers were looking to reboot the spy franchise in 2005, several young actors were considered, including Cavill, who made it to a shortlist that included Hugh Jackman, Karl Urban, and Goran Višnjić. According to director Martin Campbell, Cavill was seriously considered for the role, but at 22 years old, was too young. However, it’s not too late for him to land the role in the future

007 James Bond

Renée Zellweger

Zellweger was considered for the role of Satine in Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge but Nicole Kidman was cast instead. Zellweger bounced back quickly though, scoring the lead role in the beloved adaptation of Bridget Jones’s Diary, for which she received her first Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. The successful franchise returned in 2004 with Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and Bridget Jones’s Baby in 2016. Most recently, Zellweger wrapped up biopic Judy in which she plays Judy Garland.

Tom Hiddleston

Hiddleston was close to being cast as Norse god Thor in the title Marvel film, so close that he even filmed screen tests with a prop hammer and blond wig. The role ultimately went to Chris Hemsworth, but Hiddleston didn’t leave empty-handed–he scored the role of Thor’s brother, Loki. Over the course of three Thor films and three Avengers films, Loki has become a fan-favorite anti-hero and Hiddleston a Hollywood A-list household name.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here

Acting Scams: How to Identify and Avoid Them

With lots of actors and performers looking for a job, the film industry can be a treasure trove for many scam artists which are incredibly adept at taking advantage of decent people. Aspiring actors who have recently graduated from drama and acting schools are more likely to fall for the hook of con artists due to a lack of professional experience.

Acting Scams

However, if actors just starting out know how to spot and fend off these cons, they have no reason to worry. Especially for those vulnerable recent graduates, experts from Vip-Writers have collected and described some of the most common acting frauds an average performer usually has to deal with at the beginning of their career:

Manager Scams

In the film industry, there can be many swindlers who pretend to be legit managers. They usually ask aspiring actors to pay a “submission fee.” They convince their victims that they are using their funds for submitting them for acting roles and that performers should cover these costs themselves. Meanwhile, these con artists rarely try to actually help the performers get their careers started.

Both fresh grads and experienced performers should note that honest managers never ask performers to pay them anything but an industry norm of 10-20 percent cut of what actors earn while being promoted by them.

Talent Agent Scams

This scheme is very similar to those used by those pretending to be legitimate managers. The latter introduce themselves as talent agents and give naive performers big promises and false hopes since “they are very talented and have all the chances to succeed professionally.”

These scammers blow smoke at aspiring performers telling them about many superstars they claim to have found and represented. In fact, every actor should be weary of all offers that seem to be too good to be true.

These “professionals” usually give actors their contact info and lots of promises. Once these performers call these agents to get more info about an offer, they are always asked to pay additional and/or random fees they probably weren’t told about ahead of time. These excess fees are a clear red flag you should always be weary of.

Online Scams

Since the Internet has become a primary source to find casting calls, and since it is very easy to set up fake websites and social media accounts, many scammers perpetuate their fraud online. There are many scam-like platforms charging a fee to performers to post their headshots, and many in the end do little to nothing with these resumes.

To fend off online fraud, performers should only use well-known, legitimate websites, and keep away from services asking them to pay unnecessary fees!

Contract Scams

Another type of fraud very popular with shady agents can happen to new actors and seasoned ones alike. For all performers, it is important to be alert when signing off on any official documents. Therefore, they should ask a legal counsel to read the fine print before agreeing to the contract terms–no matter how legitimate their prospective talent agent or manager seems.

There are many impostors tending to include outrageous terms on these contracts, which green performers may be willing to accede to. It can often be worth paying extra money for legal counsel; otherwise, these actors take the risk of signing away their rights to scam artists.

No honest professional will be insulted by performers asking for a few days to familiarize themselves with a document and show it to a legal counsel. Legitimate professionals also know about these frauds and thus are flexible with the actors’ requests. If someone insists on a contract being signed right away, then this is definitely a red flag.

The longer acting school graduates pursue their profession, the better their gut instinct will get at identifying and avoiding various types of acting frauds. Since fresh grads are just starting their career, they should take every offer with an abundance caution–better safe than sorry!

Interested in Applying? Click Here

 

7 Tips for a Perfect Self Tape

Self-tapes are what many actors and casting directors refer to when an audition is done through digital casting–rather than trying out in person, performers submit video of their audition. For some actors, this can be more daunting than an in-person audition while for others, it can be less stressful. In either case, it’s important to remember some tried and true tips, including the following:

Read everything you’re given

Depending on the production and the script, specific details can be including in a casting notice to help the actor, including information related to text analysis questions: who, what, where, when, and why?

Highlight the parts you will be trying out for and circle any important verbs or words to stress or overplay. Throughout your sides, focus all attention on any physical details put in by the writer. If none are present, make bold choices and be a risk-taker.

Acting Audition

Find a reader

Teamwork can be key to success for self-tapes. Ask a fellow classmate or friend for help, feeding you lines and handling the camera while you focus on performance. Acting with a partner can help you disappear more into the scene.

But it’s okay if you can’t

However, if no friend, classmate, or teacher can be found, rehearse the scene a few times on your own before you turn the camera on, and then record at least three different takes, including different acting choices if possible. This will give you options to choose from when sending out the tape. Even if you can’t get feedback in the moment, feel free to send the footage to a trusted friend or colleague for notes before sending out the final version to casting.

Don’t forget to slate

In the process of recording a self-tape audition, it is expected to slate, which means introduce yourself. Be natural when giving your name and contact information, and be clear so if your performance goes well, you will already have made a memorable impression. Shift down your head at the end of your slate for a small pause to transition from your introduction to the scene itself.

Act for film

Unlike an in person audition, you will need to do a little self-directing for the camera. Find your mark on the floor (use tape if necessary) to make sure you are standing where you need to be in frame. You can put tape on the wall or a piece of paper behind the camera as well to provide yourself an eyeline.

Make sure the most important thing we see in the video is you, ideally in front of a plain wall to avoid visual distraction.

Dress appropriately

This doesn’t mean renting out a Victorian corset if it’s a period piece, but make sure what you are wearing isn’t distracting from the performance, in the same vein as the background behind you. Avoid any flashy colors, patterns, logos of any sorts or any shapes of forms. Less is more like when walking in for a live audition. Make up as well should be a minimum except if the role demands more. The less external distractions there are, the more casting will focus on you and your performance.

Follow up!

Finally, the follow up on these auditions is just as important as any other job interview. Be clear and concise in your emails or voicemails, following up a few days after submitting your tape. You won’t come off as needy or desperate–following up is standard procedure and will make sure you weren’t forgotten or lost in the shuffle.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here

Interested in Applying? Click Here

2019 Oscars: Best Actor and Actress in a Supporting Role Nominees

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have announced the nominees for the 91st annual Academy Awards, to be given out during ABC’s televised ceremony on Sunday, February 24. The Oscars will cap off a months-long awards season featuring industry veterans, newcomers, and as always, endless debates about who deserves to go home with the golden statue.

New York Film Academy (NYFA) takes a closer look at this year’s Academy Award nominees for Best Actor and Actress in a Supporting Role:

Best Actor and Actress in a Supporting Role

Mahershala Ali, Green Book

Mahershala Ali appeared as a regular on the television series Crossing Jordan, Threat Matrix, and The 4400 before pivoting to films with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Predators, and The Place Beyond the Pines. He has still acted in many high profile television series roles since, including House of Cards, Luke Cage, Treme, Alphas, and True Detective. This is his second nomination; he previously won in this category for Moonlight in 2017.

Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman

Adam Driver came to fame for his supporting role in HBO’s Girls, around the same time he appeared in Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. The NYFA guest speaker became a Hollywood superstar after being cast as Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Additional credits with high-profile directors include Paterson, Inside Llewyn Davis, Midnight Special, Logan Lucky, Frances Ha, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, and Silence. This is his first Oscar nomination.

Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born

This is the first Oscar nomination for Sam Elliott, despite the actor having appeared in countless roles since his film debut in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Just a few of his credits include Road House, Mask, Gettysburg, Tombstone, The Golden Compass, Hulk, Thank You for Smoking, and his iconic role as The Stranger in The Big Lebowski. His television credits are not sparse, either—he’s appeared as a regular or recurring character on Justified, Mission: Impossible, Grace and Frankie, and currently stars on Netflix’s The Ranch.

Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Richard E. Grant has been appearing in films for over three decades with credits including L.A. Story, Henry & June, The Player, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Age of Innocence, Spice World, Gosford Park, and Corpse Bride. He has been taking on more high-profile roles of late, including roles in Logan, Doctor Who, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, and the upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX. This is his first Oscar nomination.

Sam Rockwell, Vice

Sam Rockwell has been acting since the late 1980s, slowly gaining recognition and prominence through a series of roles in films including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Lawn Dogs, The Green Mile, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. His supporting role in Galaxy Quest and starring role in George Clooney’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind helped certify Rockwell as a household name, and he’s since appeared in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Matchstick Men, Iron Man 2, Seven Psychopaths, and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. This is his second Oscar nomination; he won in the same category last year for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Best Actor and Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams, Vice

This is the sixth Oscar nomination for Amy Adams, though she hasn’t yet won the award. The Academy first recognized Adams for her supporting role in 2005’s Junebug. She received nominations in the same category for Doubt, The Fighter, and The Master. Her sole nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role came in 2014 for American Hustle.

Marina de Tavira, Roma

Roma has brought international recognition to Mexican actress Marina de Tavira, whose credits include Efectos secundarios, Los árboles mueren de pie, and Sexo y otros secretos. This is her first Oscar nomination; she was previously nominated by Mexican Cinema Journalists for Efectos secundarios and Los árboles mueren de pie, as well as for Roma at the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association Awards.

Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Regina King first got her start as a teenager on the hit sitcom 227. Since then she’s appeared regularly on television series such as 24, The Leftovers, Southland, American Crime, and The Boondocks, and will be starring in the new HBO adaptation of Watchmen. Her film credits include Friday, Jerry Maguire, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Ray, and the sequels to Miss Congeniality and Legally Blonde. This is Regina King’s first Oscar nomination.

Emma Stone, The Favourite

The three leads of Best Picture nominee The Favourite are all nominated for acting Oscars, including Emma Stone. Stone’s credits include Easy A, Superbad, Zombieland, The Help, The Amazing Spider-Man, Battle of the Sexes, and the Netflix series Maniac. She was previously nominated in this category for Birdman, and in 2017 Stone won the Academy Award for Actress in a Leading Role for La La Land.

Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Rachel Weisz previously appeared in The Favourite director Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster. The English actress broke into Hollywood in 1999’s The Mummy; her credits since include Enemy at the Gates, About a Boy, Runaway Jury, The Fountain, The Lovely Bones, The Brothers Bloom, My Blueberry Nights, and Disobedience. Weisz was previously nominated and won the Academy Award for her supporting role in 2005’s The Constant Gardener.

 

Check out the New York Film Academy Blog after this year’s ceremony for a full list of the 2019 Oscar winners and losers!

2019 Oscars: Best Actress and Best Actor in a Leading Role Nominees

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have announced the nominees for the 91st annual Academy Awards, to be given out during ABC’s televised ceremony on Sunday, February 24. The Oscars will cap off a months-long awards season featuring industry veterans, newcomers, and as always, endless debates about who deserves to go home with the golden statue.

New York Film Academy (NYFA) takes a closer look at this year’s Academy Award nominees for Best Actress and Best Actor in a Leading Role:

2019 Oscars

Yalitza Aparicio, Roma

This is not only the first Oscar nomination for Yalitza Aparicio — it’s her first role as an actress, period. Previously, she has pursued a career in early childhood education. The 24-year-old lead in Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma is the first Indigenous woman (her parents are Mixtec and Triqui) and second Mexican woman ever to receive a nomination in the category. While her father is Mixtec, Aparicio had to learn the language for her role in Roma.

Glenn Close, The Wife

Glenn Close has never won an Academy Award to date, despite being nominated six previous times, including three years in a row in the early 1980s. The NYFA guest speaker has been recognized by the Academy for her roles in The World According to Garp, The Big Chill, The Natural, Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, and Albert Nobbs. Close has already won the Golden Globe and SAG Award for her role in The Wife.

Olivia Colman, The Favourite

English actress Olivia Colman started her career in comedy, including roles in Peep Show, Look Around You, and Hot Fuzz. She began receiving critical acclaim for her dramatic acting after numerous nominations and awards for her role in Tyrannosaur in 2011, followed by the smash television series Broadchurch in 2014. This is Colman’s first Academy Award nomination.

Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born

Lady Gaga was already one of the world’s biggest pop stars when she started acting in films like Machete Kills and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and the television series American Horror Story. She was still somewhat of a surprise casting choice by director Bradley Cooper for the lead role in A Star is Born, however. Gaga, born Stefani Germanotta, was previously nominated by the Academy for Best Song for the 2015 film The Hunting Ground and is additionally nominated in that category again this year for “Shallow.”

Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Melissa McCarthy’s first Oscar nomination for acting came in 2011 for her star-making turn in Bridesmaids, a rare honor for a purely comedic role. This year, her lead role in Can You Ever Forgive Me? as real-life writer Lee Israel is a more traditionally dramatic one, and has earned McCarthy an abundance of praise. Other credits for McCarthy include Spy, Identity Thief, Ghostbusters (2016), and the television series Mike & Molly.

2019 Oscars

Christian Bale, Vice

Method actor Christian Bale is barely recognizable in his prosthetic-assisted role as former Vice President Dick Cheney. Bale previously won the Oscar for his first nomination — Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for David O. Russell’s The Fighter. He was nominated in the category again for 2015’s The Big Short, by Vice writer/director Adam McKay. Bale was also nominated in this category for his lead role in  Russell’s 2013 film, American Hustle.

Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born

Bradley Cooper wears many hats for the latest remake of Hollywood classic A Star is Born — and he’s been nominated for several of these roles. Cooper has previously been nominated for his leading performance in David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook and supporting performance in Russell’s American Hustle, as well as for his lead role in Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper. Cooper also has a Best Picture nomination for American Sniper for his role as producer, and is additionally nominated this year for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.

Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate

Veteran actor Willem Dafoe has been nominated three previous times by the Academy, including last year for his supporting role in indie hit The Florida Project. He was also nominated in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role category for his roles in 2001’s Shadow of the Vampire and 1987’s Platoon. His portrayal of Vincent Van Gogh is his first Oscar nomination for a leading role.

Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

This is the first Oscar nomination for Rami Malek, who plays rock legend Freddie Mercury in biopic and Best Picture nominee Bohemian Rhapsody. His breakout role came in 2015 for the USA series Mr. Robot, though he’d earned several high-profile roles before then. His credits include Night at the Museum, 24, The Pacific, Battleship, The Legend of Korra, The Master, and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2.

Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

Viggo Mortensen has been nominated twice before, both in the Leading Role category just as this year, for starring in Captain Fantastic and Eastern Promises. He famously played Aragorn in Peter Jackson’s groundbreaking The Lord of the Rings trilogy. His Green Book co-star, Mahershala Ali, is nominated this year for Best Supporting Actor.

 

Check out the New York Film Academy Blog after this year’s ceremony for a full list of the 2019 Oscar winners and losers!