Industry Trends

Why Do So Many Actors Turn to Producing?

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In this article about the benefits of self-producing as an actor, we considered Orson Wells, who wrote, produced, directed, and starred in Citizen Kane, the 1941 film often hailed as the greatest ever made. While not every actor excels at so many aspects of filmmaking, many actors turn to producing in order to have more control over their careers, as well as the projects in which they’re involved.

The joys of wearing many hats

Taking a look at George Clooney’s Smoke House Pictures, you see that he and the other well-known actors jump from acting to directing to both. Clooney starred in the Jodie Foster directed “Money Monster,” while he will direct the upcoming “Suburbicon” starring Matt Damon. Smoke House also produced The Academy Award winning “Argo,” directed and starring Ben Affleck. Wear many hats and you will have many more opportunities to work.

Keep the Jobs Coming

Drew Barrymore started her production company Flower Films with Nancy Juvonen in 1995, which produced many films in which she has starred including “Never Been Kissed,” “Charlie’s Angels,” and the cult hit “Donnie Darko,” which she stepped in and saved when it was struggling to find backers. Longevity is not easy for any actor, and can be particularly tough for women in the biz. Having your own production company certainly helps mitigate the age factor. Barrymore stars in the new Netflix series “The Santa Clarita Diet,” for which she also serves as one of its executive producers, as does her co-star and on-screen husband Timothy Olyphant.

Producing Diversity

Diversity behind the scenes helps ensure traditionally neglected stories get told, which in turn creates more nuanced roles for diverse actors. Salma Hayek formed her production company Ventanarosa in 1999, which produced the Oscar-winning Frida, as well as the Emmy-winning Ugly Betty. Viola Davis (JuVee), Kerry Washington (Simpson Street), and Will Smith (Overbrook) are just a few of the actors of color who work behind as well as in front of the camera to create diverse and dynamic images.

Busting Out of Type

Actors can be constrained by their looks, their gender, their body type and the roles that made them famous. Clint Eastwood might have spent the rest of his life doing westerns if he hadn’t started his production company Malpaso Productions. According to Wikipedia, “Play Misty for Me” was the first film “to give Eastwood the artistic control he desired.” Named the most successful actor/producer by TheRichest, Eastwood has produced such diverse films as “Hang ’em High,” “Mystic River,” and “Million Dollar Baby.”

Making a Difference

Although many actors begin producing in order to take control of their career destinies in front of and behind the camera, others are simply interested in expanding the quality and scope of the industry. A good example of this is Brad Pitt and his production company Plan B, which he founded with Jennifer Anniston, and now runs with Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner. IndieWire’s Eric Kohn writes that Plan B “has gained traction in recent years as one of the most significant entities supporting auteur-driven work in the United States.” From the academy-award winning “12 Years a Slave,” to this year’s underdog Oscar winner “Moonlight,” Pitt proves himself a star who is more than willing to step out of the picture to produce great films.

There are so many great actor producers. Let us know your favorite in the comments below, and contact New York Film Academy to learn more about producing and acting for film.

International Women’s Day: Industry Leaders

Women around the world have been blazing the trails for equality. As New York Film Academy has previously reported, gender inequality is still an issue in the entertainment industry — yet, there is continual progress, and it’s largely thanks to the women already hard at work in the industry.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’ve highlighted a few women we would like to celebrate not only for their accomplishments in entertainment, but for their work in the community as well.

Emma Watson

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Emma Watson graced the silver screen with her presence in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” as Hermione Granger in 2001. To date, Hermione Granger is arguably the largest role that Watson has portrayed since entering the mainstream entertainment industry.

Watson is starring as Belle in the live adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast,” due out in March. But behind the scenes of her busy acting career, she’s been advocating for human equality. In July 2014, she was appointed as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and delivered a speech in September to help launch the UN Women campaign HeForShe. The campaign calls for men’s assistance in advocating for gender equality. She has also visited countries such as Bangladesh and Zambia to promote education for young girls.

 

Eva Longoria

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Eva Longoria got her break on television as Isabella Braña on CBS Daytime’s “The Young and the Restless,” and stole our hearts as one of our favorite housewives, Gabrielle Solis, on ABC’s “Desperate Housewives.” In the 2000s, she appeared in several high-profile advertising campaigns and was featured on the cover of international women’s magazines including Vogue, Marie Claire and Harper’s Bazaar.

In 2006, Longoria founded Eva’s Heroes, which is a charity dedicated to helping developmentally disabled children. She is also the national spokesperson for PADRES Contra El Cancer.

Outside of her acting career, Longoria has a bachelor of science degree in kinesiology from Texas A&M University-Kingsville and a master’s degree in Chicano studies from California State University in Northridge.

Lady Gaga

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Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, better known by her stage name Lady Gaga, is one of the best selling musicians of all time. Into 2008, she broke into the music industry with her debut album “The Fame” and followed up with “The Fame Monster” in 2009. Her third album “Art Pop,” which was released in 2013, was not as successful as her first two albums. But Lady Gaga was to recover with a collaborative jazz album with Tony Bennett and her fifth album, “Joanne.”  She also won a Golden Globe Award in 2016 for her work in “American Horror Story: Hotel.”

Lady Gaga is one of the most successful women in the entertainment industry, but her work goes beyond her music and television. Her proceeds from her concert at Radio City Music Hall benefited the victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. She also helped design a bracelet and proceeds from the sales went to victims after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.

This was a very busy year for Lady Gaga. She joined Vice President Joe Biden at the University of Nevada Las Vegas to support Biden’s “It’s On Us” campaign as he traveled on behalf of the organization to more than 530 colleges to have students sign a pledge of solidarity and activation. She also went into the 84th Annual U.S. Conference Of Mayors charity to talk with the Dalai Lama about the power of kindness. In 2012, Lady Gaga launched Born This Way Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on youth empowerment and issues such as self-confidence, well-being, career development, bullying, and harassment. She is also an outspoken activist for LGBT rights worldwide.

Laverne Cox

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Laverne Cox, a transgender woman, made her break in Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black” as Sophia Burset. In 2014, she won Glamour Award for the Woman of the Year and Glamour Award for the Advocate. She has won other awards, including Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.

In the last few years, Cox has donated to several charities. In 2015, Cox participated in Broadway Bares: Top Bottoms of Burlesque, a show that featured 222 dancers and actors, to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BCEFA). She is also an avid supporter and advocate of the LGBTQ community.

 

Priyanka Chopra

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You may recognize Priyanka Chopra from ABC’s thriller series “Quantico,” but she has been working on various projects in India since 2002. In between her projects, she supports various causes through her foundation, The Priyanka Chopra Foundation for Health and Education. She donates 10 percent of her earnings to the foundation and she pays for educational and medical expenses for up to 70 children in India.

She also speaks on issues such as female infanticide and foeticide, women’s rights, gender equality and gender pay inequality. Since 2006, Chopra has worked with UNICEF to record public service announcements and participate in media panel discussions to promote children’s rights and the education of girls.    

 

This is only a fraction of the diverse and international women accomplishing pioneering work in the entertainment industry and beyond. If you’re interested in becoming a part of the movement for equality in the entertainment industry, apply today to the many programs at NYFA that can help you choose your path.

Who will you be honoring in light of International Women’s Day? Let us know in the comments below!

Hollywood’s Funny Women

Mae West

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In the beginning, there was Mae West — sassy, sexy, and smart. West’s early career in Vaudeville helped her develop a larger-than-life persona that came across on screen as wisecracking and worldly. West famously quipped, “I believe in censorship. I’ve made a fortune out of it.” Her work pushed the limits with censors, and West went to jail in 1927 to defend her right to free speech with her play, “Sex.”

Comedy in Hollywood films has often been in dominated by men. When women got to be funny, it was usually part of a romantic comedy or in some kind of domestic situation where the male actor still got the best lines. Yet the screwball comedies of the 1930s and ‘40s did have a group of actresses who gave as good as they got — Myrna Loy, Carole Lombard, and Katharine Hepburn held their own against the likes of William Powell and Carey Grant, dishing out one-liners and snappy comebacks. But, as World War II came to a close, film comediennes were once again relegated to bit parts and setting up the jokes for the male actors.

 

From the mid-50s to the 1970s, Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett helped producers see that women could not only do physical comedy, but that they could be the main attraction — at least on the small screen. Their influence on film comediennes (both onscreen and behind the scenes as writers and businesswomen) for the next few decades cannot be underestimated. Without them, there would be no Tina Fey and Amy Pohler.

The 1980s and ‘90s saw actresses make the leap from television to the big screen. Lily Tomlin, Catherine O’Hara, Whoopi Goldberg, and Teri Garr were just a few of the actresses who successfully transferred original character development and comedic timing learned from years of sketch comedy and improv to quirky film roles.

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The 2000s have seen actresses like Margaret Cho,  Melissa McCarthy, Uzo Aduba, and Mindy Kaling bring new perspectives to American comedy. They have used their personal lives as inspiration for character-driven comedy and, in McCarthy’s case, shown that funny women can, indeed, bring in audiences and sell tickets just as well as male stars.

Want some suggestions for great female-led films? Check out NYFA’s 5 Movies Starring Female Ensembles.

Who are your favorite funny women in Hollywood? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Is Social Media Success the New Way to Get an Acting Gig?

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Actors, like everyone else, have found their lives and careers changed by social media. Few could have predicted the impact social media would have on the world. Whether it’s to stay in touch with friends and family or read up on the latest news, the average person uses one or more social media pages each day. But who could have imagined that social media might influence how you pursue acting jobs?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably an aspiring actor. You’re probably eager to use all the tools available to you in the pursuit of professional work. And you’re probably wondering if the power of social media can help you build recognition or bankability in an industry full of actors and actresses competing for the same roles. The short answer is: it depends.

The role that social media plays in a professional actors career is complex. When used carefully and well, social media can certainly help connect you to your network, to potential audiences, to opportunities. But like every tool in a professional actor’s toolkit, social media comes with no guarantees save one: social media alone will not book you work as an actor. However, used wisely, social media can become a very powerful tool for an actor indeed.

Having A Professional Online Presence Doesn’t Hurt…

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You may have noticed that just about every actor who is serious about their career owns a social media page on the major platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Since the internet can be accessed by anyone at any time, having a page where people can see your bio, major credits, and relevant experience, is a must-have. Many casting directors and agents will give young actors in workshops the advice to invest in a high quality website, and to spend time cultivating a real social media presence and following, so that potential collaborators can “get to know you.” It’s an opportunity to create and showcase your personal brand. And it’s important to be mindful about how you do this.

You’ll notice that actors who use social media wisely have more than words on their pages. After all, acting is one of the most visual and physical arts of all! That’s why you’ll also find short videos, photos, and other media that demonstrates an actor’s abilities. Of course, the question still on your mind is if doing all this actually helps develop an acting career in a significant way.

The answer? Perhaps no.

…But It Won’t Get You There Alone.

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The fact is, you shouldn’t expect your acting career to skyrocket just based on our social media presence alone. Sure, there have been instances where a famous YouTube personality was given the chance to act in an actual film, or where an unknown actors personal social media followings helped encourage a casting director to take a risk and give them a chance.

But rarely will a top agent use social media alone to find their next client. A casting director may check out your stuff online, but most likely only after you’ve already won consideration or established a promising connection.

To reiterate, contracts and starring roles are hardly ever cast through communication done via social media. And word to the wise: the last thing you want to do is pester anyone about an acting gig online by sending numerous tweets and emails, especially if they’re someone you’ve never met in person.

Social Media Pages: Still A Must-Have In Our Industry

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Just because social media isn’t necessarily going to lead directly to an acting gig, again, it is an important tool in your toolkit. Social media can have great purpose and effect in the hands of a savvy professional actor. Treat your pages like a resume, tailor your online presence to reflect the type of professional image you’d like to project both to those you know, and those you don’t know. Social media is one of many tools you can use to pursue for a specific role, but again, nothing is ever guaranteed. And it is important to remember that your professional online presence is visible to everyone.

In the end, social media sites are best used to stay in touch with people you’ve worked with. Developing relationships with others, including other actors, can increase your chance of finding out about a new opportunity. Be wise, be genuine, and good luck.

Actors, what are your social media tips for each other? Do you have any success stories about how your social media presence has served your acting pursuits in a positive way? Let us know in the comments below!

Australia Day 2017: Celebrating Current Aussies in Film

There’s something about Australian actors that make us look forward to Australia Day. From Hugh Jackman to Margot Robbie, Hollywood is full of the Australian accent that we love so much. In celebration of Australia Day, here’s our list of the top 10 Australian actors and actresses who stole our hearts during 2016.

Liam Hemsworth

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Liam may be off the market in a romantic sense, but this has been a good year for Liam fans. He was in the television series “Workaholics,” helped save the world from aliens in the sequel “Independence Day: Resurgence,” and took over the Western frontier in “The Duel.” And we will never forget Liam’s passionate role as Gail in “The Hunger Games” series.

Chris Hemsworth

 

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Hollywood isn’t graced with the presence of just one Hemsworth man — but two. Chris Hemsworth showed up on the silver screen in 2009 to portray George Kirk in “Star Trek,” and in 2011 he bought Thor to life. Recently, Chris has focused on roles in “The Huntsman: Winter’s War,” “Ghostbusters,” and “Doctor Strange.” It’s safe to say that both of the Hemsworth brothers were really busy this year, and have given us plenty to watch this week in celebration of Australia Day.

Margot Robbie

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Margot Robbie got her big break when she brought the New Jersey princess Naomi Lapaglia to life in “The Wolf of Wall Street” in 2013. Previously, she was on the well-known Australian television show “Neighbours” as Donna Freedman. Since “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Margot has been in several high-profile leading roles, especially as Jane Clayton in “The Legend of Tarzan” and Harley Quinn in “Suicide Squad.”

Hugh Jackman

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Hugh Jackman’s list of accomplishments and awards is nothing short of impressive. He can sing, dance and act — in the last few years, he has bought home a People’s Choice, Tony, Satellite, Saturn and a few other awards. Let’s not forget that he has also been voted sexist man alive. Happy Australia Day, Hugh!

Jesse Spencer

Remember Dr. Robert Chase on hit television show “House”? So do we. Before his 8-year stint alongside Hugh Laurie, Jesse Spencer was on the same Australian television show, as Margot Robbie: “Neighbors.” Since 2012, he has portrayed the character Matthew Casey on “Chicago Fire” and the 2014 crossover “Chicago P.D.”

Ruby Rose

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Anyone who watches Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black” knows Ruby Rose. She played Stella Carlin, a love interest of Piper Chapman’s. While her role was short-lived on the show, it helped propel her into other movie roles.

Isla Fisher

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Isla Fisher stole ours hearts when she played the crazy love interest of Vince Vaughan’s character in “Wedding Crashers” in 2005. She appeared opposite of Zach Galifianakis in “Keeping Up with the Jones” – a movie about a suburban couple who gets caught up in an international espionage plot. Recently, she has been seen in “Nocturnal Animals” and “The Brothers Grimsby.”

Phoebe Tonkin

There is nothing more exciting than getting caught up in a world of supernatural beings. Phoebe Tonkins first starred in “H2O: Just Add Water” before moving on to “The Vampire Diaries” and finally settling into her role as Hayley Marshall on “The Originals,” a spinoff show of “The Vampire Diaries” on CW.

Jai Courtney

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Jai Courtney is slowly becoming a household name thanks to the “Divergent” series. In 2016, Jai played alongside Margot Robbie as George Harkness/Captain Boomerang in DC Comics’ “Suicide Squad.”

Luke Bracey

Let’s admit it — we all secretly love movie adaptations of Nicholas Sparks’ books. Luke Bracey warmed our souls and brought tears to our eyes as the younger version of Dawson in “The Best of Me.” Luke’s only film of 2016 was “Hacksaw Ridge” but we can’t wait to see what he does next.

 

Happy Australia Day! Who are your favorite Australian actors and filmmakers? Let us know in the comments below!

Why You Should Watch the 23rd Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards

The SAG Awards are one of the most prestigious awards out there in the film business, particularly when it comes to acting — and more or less, a sure indicator of Oscar success. So if you’re wondering if you should watch television on a Sunday evening instead of going to a party, we give you four reasons why the answer is yes.

The SAG Awards are a must-watch because the ceremony…

Has Unique Categories With No Oscar Equivalent 

The Academy Awards aren’t just limited to acting. In fact, there are only four awards for performances and there are honors reserved for direction, screenplay, cinematography, costumes and even music. So if you’re the sort of person who only cares about their favorite actor, there are chances you’ll get bored. Meanwhile, not only is SAG all about acting, they have special categories too, including awards for “Outstanding Performance by a Cast” as well as “Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble.”

Is Pretty Good At Predicting The Oscars

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If you’re one of those who love to take part in Oscar prediction games, the SAG Awards are probably your best bet to help you make the best bet. In most cases, the actors who take home the SAG also take away the Oscars. So if you want to know if Denzel Washington or Ryan Gosling stand a chance, tune in your telly on Jan. 29!

Doesn’t Have A Host

Yep, and that can be a good thing too. At the SAG Awards, the spotlight will always be on your favorite actors and presenters, so there are more opportunities to indulge your inner superfan. Here’s what SAG producer Kathy Connell had to say about the no-host rule: We chose to not have a host was because we didn’t want the time taken away from the people we were honoring. Our show is just two hours long. We wanted the whole evening to be about the actors and not about one personality.”

Is Not Just About Movies, But Also Your Favorite TV Shows

Yes, unlike the Oscars which tend to be totally movie-centric, SAG honors the best performances in television shows as well. So if you’ve been binge-watching “Game of Thrones,” “Stranger Things,” “Orange Is The New Black” or “Westworld,” you’re gonna get to see your favorite TV personalities up close and candid and perhaps even delivering a beautiful acceptance speech.

Is Decided Upon by a Randomly Selected Judging Committee

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In a move for absolutely impartial judgement, the voters are selected completely at random. There are two committees, one for television and the other for movies, and each have 2100 members who are eligible to vote and chosen from the SAG-AFTRA union, which comprise all “the working actors of America.” Plus, each member is allowed to serve every eight years to ensure that there is no bias. So if you’re looking for a fair judgment, the SAG Awards pretty much guarantee that.

The SAG award winners shall be announced on Sunday, Jan. 29 2017, on TNT and TBS.

So who do you think shall win this year? Or, to put it differently, who are the people you desperately want to win this year and are willing to spend a Sunday evening to find out? Let us know in the comments below!

NYFA Looks Forward to the 2017 Golden Globes

The American film and television community awaits the Golden Globes 2017 with bated breath. This year, the awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, Jan. 8 at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California starting at 5 p.m. Pacific/8 p.m. Eastern. “Red Carpet Live,” hosted by Giuliana Rancic and Ryan Seacrest, will air on E! at 6 p.m. Eastern/3 p.m. Pacific, while the “Golden Globes Arrival Special” will air on NBC at 7 p.m. Eastern/4 p.m. Pacific. The 74th Annual Golden Globes Awards will start at 6 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Pacific on NBC. And don’t worry if you don’t have a television set — TV Guide suggests borrowing a friend’s cable log-in and watching at NBC.com.

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Though the news of Jimmy Fallon hosting and Meryl Streep earning the Cecil B. DeMille Achievement Award are exciting, the New York Film Academy family has its own cause for celebration. One is an alumna’s inspiring accomplishment, while the other is a titillating opportunity given to current students.

Here are two special NYFA connections to this year’s Golden Globes:

Early “La La Land” screening

In December 2016, students on the NYFA Los Angeles campus had the chance to watch an early screening of Golden Globe nominated musical, “La La Land.” The film opened nationwide on Christmas Day.

Prior to the screening, student Sarah Holmberg told NYFA, “I’ve been watching this movie as it goes from festival to festival. I’ve wanted to see it for a long time. I’m really excited.”

The film, which was written and directed by Damien Chazelle (known for “Whiplash” and “10 Cloverfield Lane”), has been recognized by the Oscars, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Toronto International Film Festival, and other noteworthy festivals and organizations. It stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, who play out the story of two lovers who want both their relationship and careers to flourish.

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After the screening, which was organized by Lionsgate, student Miriam Sanchez said, “I’m rushing home to tell everyone to buy a ticket. This is my favorite movie of the year.”

Alumnae Issa Rae’s nomination

NYFA grad Issa Rae struck out on her own to make the webseries, “The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl,” because she wanted to defy on-screen stereotypes of people of color.

“I knew if I didn’t shoot it myself, it was never going to get done,” Rae told NYFA in Sept. 2011.

That webseries eventually gave to way to “Insecure,” which Rae co-created and stars in on HBO. Rae has been nominated for best performance by an actress in a television series. That puts her in the same Golden Globes category as Rachel Bloom (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”), Julie Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”), Gina Rodriguez (“Jane the Virgin”), Sarah Jessica Parker (“Divorce”), and Tracee Ellis Ross (“Blackish”).

On Jan. 5, the alumna tweeted, “Remember watching the Golden Globes last year wishing like, ‘One day…’ Now a nomination? Four more days…”

Yes, now a nomination. Congratulations, Issa Rae!

Here’s more about Rae and her brave (and resourceful) leap into the industry:

Awkward Is the New Black ( ISSA RAE DOCUMENTARY) from Dylan Valley on Vimeo.

What do you most look forward to in the 2017 Golden Globes? Let us know in the comments below!

American Music Awards: Nominees in Films

The American Music Awards are arguably one of the biggest music awards show of the year — so much so, that they are still buzzing a week later! The success of the AMAs comes from allowing the public to vote for their favorite artists — in comparison, Grammy winners are chosen by Voting Members. Thus, the AMAs are seen by fans as the truest celebration of what today’s music industry has to offer.

For those unaware, many of the top nominees from this year’s ceremony have also shown off their acting skills in the past, in film! The following are some of the biggest names from the 2016 AMAs that have also starred on the big screen.

Beyoncé

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Getting her start as part of R&B girl-group Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé eventually went on solo. Since then, she has earned herself five Grammy Awards and had two songs make number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Beyoncé has provided her voice for a number of animated films, including “Epic,” and used her acting skills in many films including “Obsessed,” “Cadillac Records,” “Dreamgirls,” “The Pink Panther,” “Austin Powers in Goldmember,” and more.

Selena Gomez

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The ex-Disney star has offered her voice for a number of movies, including “Horton Hears a Who!,” “Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard,” and the “Hotel Transylvania” movies. She’s also used her acting abilities in recent movies like “In Dubious Battle,” “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,” and “The Fundamentals of Caring.”

Ariana Grande

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Like Gomez, Ariana Grande started out as a TV actress but moved onto the music scene. She only recently made it onto the big screen with a small role in “Zoolander 2” and has contributed her to the soundtracks of “Trolls,” “Pitch Perfect 2,” and the upcoming DreamWorks Animation film “The Boss Baby.”

Carrie Underwood

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Underwood is known for contributing to the soundtrack of countless films. Some of these include big budget movies like “Enchanted” and “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” However, her only major role as an actress in a film is as Sarah Hill in “Soul Surfer.”

Janet Jackson

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Since signing her first recording contract with A&M Records in 1982, Jackson has become a pop icon, selling more than 100 million records. She got her acting career started on sitcoms like “Good Times” and “Diff’rent Strokes” before moving onto feature-length films. Recent movies she was a part of include: “For Colored Girls,” “Why Did I Get Married Too?,” “Nutty Professor II: The Klumps,” and “Poetic Justice.”

Drake

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Many are surprised when they learn that one of today’s most successful people in music got started as an actor on Canada’s TV series “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” Since then, his music career has skyrocketed. Drake has become an enormous influence in the music industry, so much so that he’s popularized phrases like “YOLO” in youth culture around the globe. As for his filmography, Drake appeared in a short film called “Mookie’s Law,” comedy drama “Charlie Bartlett,” and provided his voice for a character on “Ice Age: Continental Drift.”

Madonna

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The “Queen of Pop” is admired by the entire industry for having reinvented herself numerous times to stay relevant in mainstream popular music. Although she’s mostly known for her music career, she has also amassed an impressive filmography by working on 26 feature films — appearing herself as an actor in 21 films of them.

Justin Bieber

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A nominee for Artist of the Year, Bieber has produced two films centered around his career. The first one, “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never,” was released in 2011 to be followed by 2013’s “Justin Bieber’s Believe.” His song “Never Say Never” served as the theme song for 2010’s “The Karate Kid” starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan.

What were your favorite moment from the 2016 AMAs? What are your favorite films that feature great musicians? Let us know in the comments below!

5 Actors We Bet You Didn’t Know Were Military Veterans

100720-N-4930E-578 WASHINGTON (July 20, 2010) Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Rick West, second from right, joins Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 1st Class Cassandra L. Foote, left, Chief of Naval Operations Sailor of the Year; Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Shalanda Brewer, Navy Reserve Sailor of the Year; Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Ingrid Cortez, Fleet Forces Sailor of the Year and Operation Specialist 1st Class Samira McBride U.S., Pacific Sailor of the Year, in saluting the American flag to kick off a night of entertainment provided by the U.S. Navy ceremonial guard and Navy Band at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Abraham Essenmacher/Released)

Elvis Presley. Clint Eastwood. Charlton Heston.

These may be the first few names that spring to mind when you think of famous actors who served in the military, but it goes without saying that there are many, many more … a lot of whom you probably never knew were veterans in the first place!

In celebration of Veterans Day, we rounded up a list of six surprising and inspirational stories of actors that you probably didn’t know were also veterans.

1. Leonard Nimoy

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Rank: Sergeant

Years Served: 1953-1955

Although known in legacy primarily for his portrayal of Spock in “Star Trek,” the road to sci-fi stardom was a winding one for the late, great Leonard Nimoy. He appeared in a huge number of B-movies and TV shows as a supporting actor before landing the role that would make him an intergalactic name. Before this career-defining role, Nimoy supported himself selling vacuum cleaners, working in an ice cream parlor, driving a cab, and serving in the Army Special Reserves.

Nimoy was in good company on the set of “Star Trek,” because one of his costars was also a veteran…

2. James Earl Jones

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Rank: First Lieutenant

Years Served: 1953-1955

Shortly before embarking on his 60-year career in film (having decided he wasn’t cut out to be a doctor), the voice of Vader had joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps.When the Korean War broke out, Jones was commissioned to establish a cold weather training command in Colorado. He reportedly both enjoyed the assignment, and excelled at it.

We like to imagine the military spent most of this period trying to figure out how to weaponize his voice.

3. Morgan Freeman

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Rank: Airman 1st Class

Years Served: 1955-1959

Freeman’s acting career began at the young age of nine, and he came out of the gate swinging with a string of drama competition wins and lead performances in plays. It was enough to attract a partial drama scholarship at Jackson State University, but he curiously turned it down to instead enlist in the U.S. Air Force as a radar repairman.

Like James Earl Jones, we can safely assume that the military tried and failed to weaponize Freeman’s dulcet tones. After four years of service, he returned to acting and the rest, as they say, is history.

4. Bea Arthur

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Rank: Staff Sergeant

Years Served: 1943-1945

Strangely, the “Golden Girls” star flatly denied ever having served in the military multiple times over the course of her life, and often acted baffled whenever the rumor was brought up in interviews.

Whatever the reason for the denial, military records later revealed that Arthur did indeed serve for 30 months in the Marine Corps, first as a typist and then later as a truck driver.

Arthur is also the only female veteran-turned-acting-celebrity that we found. If you know of more, please tell us in the comments below!

6. Jimmy Stewart

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Rank: Brigadier General

Years Served: 1941-1968

One of America’s most-loved golden era actors is also the highest ranking actor in military history. Jimmy Stewart was an exceptionally accomplished pilot, and he also established a pilot training school that is estimated to have trained over 10,000 pilots during World War II!

Stewart refused any publicity attracted to him due to his heroic war efforts, flew uncredited in numerous bombing missions deep in Nazi Germany, and often went out of his way to make sure he was involved in highly dangerous active combat (few commanding officers wanted to put the A-list actor in harm’s way, and Stewart was often relegated to desk assignments).

Somewhat understandably, after nearly three decades of service very few of his chosen film roles had anything to do with war or military themes.

In honor of Veterans Day and all those who have served our country: You’re all heroes to us, and the New York Film Academy offers our heartfelt gratitude.

081108-N-5549O-035 MILWAUKEE (Nov. 8, 2008) Ship's Navigator Lt. j.g. Shaina Hayden renders honors to the national anthem during the commissioning ceremony for the littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) at Veterans Park in Milwaukee, Wis. Freedom is the first of two littoral combat ships designed to operate in shallow water environments to counter threats in coastal regions. (U. S. Navy photo Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin S. O'Brien/Released)

The Value of an Acting Degree: Preparing for the Modern World

Though the art of acting dates to the Ancient Greeks, Acting for Film is a far newer discipline and few schools provide specialized training that prioritizes acting for the camera. Renowned for its subtlety and power, screen acting requires a set of very fine tools that range from relaxation and breath work, to skills in public speaking, prioritizing information, collaborating with a team of artists, developing the body and voice as an instrument for communication, expansion of empathy, and precise text analysis.

Whether you hope to specialize in TV, film, stage or another discipline that requires public performance — from corporate speeches to sales — here are the key benefits you stand to get from attending the New York Film Academy’s acting programs for your acting degree or certificate.

1. The Art of Being You

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Actors in the 21st century are more than practitioners, they must represent a unique brand that knows what it has to offer and brings that to the table each and every time.

Identifying and growing the brand that represents your special set of strengths is the key to success in any industry and the personalized attention you receive in our programs for acting degrees or certificates can help you detect and foster techniques to help your public presence shine.

2. Global Networks

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NYFA draws artists from over 100 countries around the world representing a powerful diaspora of culture, identity, and experience. With campuses and faculty worldwide, our community is our power — and the relationships that form across cultures and disciplines at NYFA are rated a top experience for the students who attend our programs. Acting degree and certificate program students work closely with classmates and faculty and are given access to reach out to the school at large making our community one of the most prolific available to students interested in the art of screen acting.

3. New Technologies

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In a world where technology is advancing at a stunning rate, the landscape for film and television can change on a dime (Netflix at the Emmys!). NYFA explores new technologies and new forms of entertainment to keep pace with a changing market and keep our students up to date on new technologies through partnerships with our Filmmaking, Game Design, and Animation departments, exposing acting degree and certificate students to new markets and new methods.

4. Access to Working Professionals

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Faculty at NYFA represent professionals active in their industry and provide students with up to date information regarding changes in casting, audition technique, and new media. With a focus on experiential learning as the hallmark of our curriculum, NYFA provides systematic training that has real world application.  

How have your acting for film studies changed your outlook? How have your on-camera acting skills helped you? Are you proud of your NYFA acting degree or certificate? Let us know in the comments below!

7 Movies Every Acting Student Should Watch

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What better way for aspiring actors to glean valuable insight about their chosen trade than by watching acting movies: films about people trying to make it in this hectic yet rewarding industry? Watching an actor deliver a memorable performance and getting caught up in a film that tells a riveting behind-the-scenes story about the entertainment business can boost your own motivation and inspiration. 

We’ve created a roundup of some of the best movies featuring stories about actors who are facing the real-world challenges that come with their profession. But don’t just take our word for it. Experience as many amazing film performances as you can. So enjoy — and absorb — some great acting insider stories. There may be much to learn in these films — and even if you’re not an acting student, there’s certainly much to enjoy!

1. “The Artist” (2011)

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This French romantic comedy-drama made waves in 2011 for its stylistic boldness, imitating classic black-and-white silent films. “The Artist” tells the story of a silent movie star in the 1920s who meets a young dancer. Together, they rise through the industry while earning prominent starring roles. But eventually their careers go in opposite directions when the arrival of talking pictures takes place.

2. “Mulholland Drive” (2001)

This neo-noir mystery film tells a captivating story about an aspiring actress who becomes friends with an amnesic woman at her new home in Los Angeles. The film deals with following one’s dreams and finding an independent identity — two powerful themes for an acting school student looking to break into the industry. David Lynch’s film also gives viewers a fictional taste of the darker side of Hollywood.

3. “Tootsie” (1982)

“Tootsie” is about an actor named Michael Dorsey whose reputation for being difficult causes his career to falter. Dorsey, played by Dustin Hoffman, decides to pose as woman in order to land a job on a soap opera. He has a good time with it until he falls in love with a woman named Julie (Jessica Lange), and his gender charade becomes complicated. One of the best things about this movie is its humor — aimed at soap operas, show business, and, of course, love.

4. “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952)

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Despite releasing more than half a century ago, this gem is still considered one of the best musical films of all time. “Singin’ in the Rain” follows a Hollywood studio and its actors as they’re forced to transition from silent film to sound. The film boasts more than a dozen songs and is a perfect inspirational story for aspiring actors who struggle with finding the confidence to step out of their comfort zone and find success in a new area.

5. “All About Eve” (1950)

A suspenseful acting-themed film offering a compelling and chilling look at ambition, talent, and obsession, “All About Eve” is about an acclaimed but aging Broadway star named Margo Channing (Bette Davis). Margot’s existence is threatened when a young fan suddenly enters Margo’s life, plotting to replace her both professionally and personally. This iconic drama film was nominated for 14 Oscar awards, a feat that and has only been tied by one movie since: 1997’s “Titanic.” Acting students will receive a master class in acting not only from Davis, but also from Anne Baxter, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of the diabolically complex title character, Eve.

6. “The Truman Show” (1998)

This satirical comedy-drama has one of the most unique stories of any film about actors. In “The Truman Show,” Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) lives a simple life as an insurance salesman. That is, until he discovers that his entire life is actually an elaborate reality show aired all across the globe that everyone knows about — except him. This film is worth watching for Carrey’s awesome performance as well as its comical but insightful parody of the entertainment industry.

7. “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” (2014)

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“Birdman” is a satirical black comedy-drama starring Michael Keaton that acting students of every discipline should watch for its soulful, contemporary portrayal of one actor’s battle to mount a Broadway show — and salvage his own identity. The story is about Keaton’s character, a washed-up Hollywood actor remembered only for his portrayal of a superhero named Birdman, as he tries to regain fame while performing in a Broadway play. This acclaimed film won several Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Screenplay.

Do you have a favorite acting-focused or entertainment industry-themed film? Are you an acting student who has been inspired by a film? Let us know in the comments below!

4 Seth Rogen Quotes Aspiring Artists Should Live By

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Seth Rogen might be your spirit animal if you’re an aspiring actor who enjoys making people laugh. Before the numerous awards and nominations, he was only a teenager performing stand-up comedy at small clubs and bar mitzvahs. Then he was starring successful films like “Knocked Up” and “Superbad.” Maybe — just maybe — aspiring artists could learn a thing or two by taking a page out of his playbook.

During an evening screening of “Sausage Party” hosted by NYFA Los Angeles, Rogen offered several nuggets of wisdom that all future filmmakers, actors, writers, and producers should heed. Whether you’re worried about finding a job after graduation or have trouble dealing with rejection, find solace in knowing that Seth Rogen faced the same and still followed his dreams.

Check out some of the exclusive insights Rogen offered to our audience of NYFA students.

1. On artistic collaboration and building a career: “Link up with someone who has a job you can’t do.”

Like in most other industries, finding success in show business is almost impossible when you go at it alone. There are few things more important than networking to start building relationships and getting your name out there. If it wasn’t for his early collaborations with Judd Apatow, perhaps Seth Rogen wouldn’t have found the same success he has today.

Of course, the best people to stick with are those who have different talents than you. If you’re a strong actor but have no directing or scriptwriting skills, partner up with someone who does. There are plenty of aspiring filmmakers out there who love working the camera but freeze up in front of it. That’s where you come in to star in their pilot — that will hopefully be greenlight by a big film studio.

2. On confidence and surviving rejection in the biz: “Just never stop. F-’em. That’s the idea, I guess.”

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Never give up. It’s the theme we love seeing in our favorite shows, movies, and even video games. Of course, not everyone comes out of the starting gate with confidence oozing from every pore. And those who do are often crushed when they face cold, hard rejection for the first time.

Imagine if Seth Rogen had given up when “Freaks and Geeks” — which served as his professional acting debut — was cancelled after one season due to terrible ratings. He was then rejected by NBC when Apatow chose him as the lead for his next show “Undeclared.” Despite all this, he kept going and was determined to make it … and make it, he did.

3. On being inspired to do your own thing: “Oh wow, movies could be so much more than I thought they could be. It was one of the most shocking things I ever – I could not believe what I was seeing.”

During his talk with us, Seth Rogen spoke about some of the films that moved him while growing up. Aside from his love for Pixar movies, which is one of the reasons he made “Sausage Party,” he also enjoyed raunchy comedy films. Among his favorites include “South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut” and “There’s Something About Mary.”

Don’t be afraid to find inspiration from other great works, but be mindful that you tell your own stories. Strive to be unique. There’s nothing more satisfying than giving viewers something fresh and enjoying their response. Do your own thing and take risks, even if you end up needing a bodyguard for your work like Seth Rogen. 

4. If he had to give advice to his 13-year-old self: “I wouldn’t say anything just in case I (screwed) it up man. As a fan of time-travel movies,  I know that that would change things. So I would hide and just try not to sit on anything or step on anything that would adversely affect the future version of me. That’s what I would do. And I would kill baby Hitler.”

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As expected, Seth Rogen had us laughing all evening during his stay with us at NYFA Los Angeles. And even in his hilarious time-travel-phobia, there is wisdom; you can’t change the past, and maybe it’s better that way. Don’t waste time with regret or what might have been. All successful actors and filmmakers learn from their mistakes and failures in order to come back better than before. Despite plenty of challenges — including needing 10 years to find someone that would finance “Sausage Party” — Seth Rogen wouldn’t change a thing.

And neither would we.

Is Method Acting Truly Over? Jared Leto’s Joker

Make no mistake about it: the technique known as method acting has played a huge part in the history and evolution of the acting profession, and there are many venerated method actors still producing exceptional works today.

But does method acting have a place in the future of the industry?

That’s the question raised in a recent Atlantic op-ed entitled “Hollywood Has Ruined Method Acting.” It’s a bold claim, and one that is worthy of unpacking.

But first, what is method acting?

NYFA New York’s acting program chair Glynis Rigsby feels it’s important to recognize that this, in itself, is an important question: “’Method acting’ is typically aligned with the work of Lee Strasberg as separate and distinct from the many phases of Stanislavski’s work, Michael Chekhov, Sandy Meisner, Stella Adler and others. (Stanislavski had a system, Strasberg had a method).”

What made Strasberg and “the Method” distinct among  American acting techniques was an emphasis on intensely experiential, personal work — that can be gruelling physically and emotionally. This is usually what American audiences associate with “the Method,” in contrast to Russian innovator Stanislavski’s system, which also emphasized the actor’s use of imagination to portray their roles.

Why So Serious?

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The Atlantic uses the oversaturated news about Jared Leto’s method acting during his turn as The Joker in “Suicide Squad” as a springboard for discussion, pointing towards how tales of his antics during production — sending cast members used condoms, forcing the crew to call him “Mr. J”, and marathon-watching tapes of real violence — has bombarded media reporting about the film.

And while the accuracy of these stories has been called into question, there’s no doubt whatsoever that they have generated more column inches than is warranted or necessary. As an unimpressed Esquire writer put it: “Can Jared Leto shut up about his method acting in ‘Suicide Squad?’ We get it.”

That was written long before the movie even came out. There have been even more press interviews since where the topic has been crowbarred in, to the point where it’s rare to see Leto’s name printed as anything less than “Method Actor Jared Leto.”

Alongside the fact that this is an annoyingly (and increasingly) popular marketing trick and arguably little else, the wider charge here is that it creates the illusion that there is no such thing as good acting without suffering.

As Angelica Bastién notes in her Atlantic piece, a huge deal is made of the extremes of method acting (think DiCaprio’s tribulations during “The Revenant”). The issue here is that this sometimes happens to the exclusion of all else during the marketing — and critical examination — of a film.

Blood, Sweat and Weight Loss

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The main problem with this phenomenon is that when a high-profile actor claims to be a “method actor,” this is meant to signal to the media that they have accomplished “a performance worth paying attention to.” And that doesn’t necessarily follow.

That’s not to say that Leonardo DiCaprio isn’t a fine actor (because he is), but many industry insiders and actors feel that the Academy shouldn’t base their awards decisions on who lost the most weight for a role that year — or who slept in how many dead animal carcasses during production.

Bastién also makes a compelling case in her article for the gender disservice perpetrated here, too; when you think media talks of “strong” method performances, it’s nearly always males that come up — and acting “manly” in some physical way.

This overshadows exceptional performances by many female method acting giants (think: Melissa Leo in “The Fighter,” Jessica Lange, Ellen Burstyn), and raises the question whether a casting director, producer, or audience would have as much patience with a female lead pulling shenanigans in the name of “method acting” like Leto. Female method actors are arguably often ignored.

But all of this, of course, sidesteps the question of whether method acting in reality is the same as method acting in the media — and whether drawing attention to an actor’s preparation should matter when it comes to experiencing their performance.

Stanislavski’s Tool Box

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We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: method acting is not a magic bullet that will instantly makeyou a better actor. It’s a tool to be used with specificity, purpose, and discipline.

Constantin Stanislavski is seen as the father of modern acting, but his pioneering advances in the craft are often glossed over and he gets referred to simply as “the guy who invented method acting.” As we learned above, this is a misconception: Stanislavski’s innovations later inspired Lee Strasberg to create the robust and demanding style we think of as method acting.

Stanislavski himself was keen to urge students to find their own paths rather than rigidly follow his example, and had many more ideas to offer to an actor looking to expand his or her toolbox.

So Is Method Acting Over?

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No. At least, not in the sense it’s the last we’ll hear of it in the media. And we hope that conscientious actors will continue to carefully apply their method skills in safe and smart performance choices. Method acting still has a place in the profession, as long as the story is put first and the spectacle of a performance (or related hype) remains secondary. Ultimately, it’s the performance — and not necessarily the actor’s way of working — that audiences remember.

If method acting is a discipline that works for you, it may be prudent to take a leaf out of Daniel Day-Lewis’ book: do the work and let your performances speak for you.

Venice Film Festival Spotlight on: Giorgio Pasotti

With the 73rd Venice Film Festival rapidly approaching, it’d be remiss to waste the opportunity to highlight a familiar face on the scene: former NYFA acting alumnus Giorgio Pasotti, acclaimed Italian actor and former European martial arts champion.

While Pasotti is now a highly celebrated actor in his native Italy and beyond, it wasn’t originally something he’d set out to become. In fact, it was the film industry that came knocking on his door, far away from home.

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At the young age of just six, Pasotti’s father – a martial arts expert – introduced him to karate and wushu, and young Giorgio quickly took to the discipline, achieving the highest rank in the Chinese martial arts. This lead him to seek out further training in the Far East where he refined his skills further, eventually moving to China permanently in 1992.

The plan was to carry on pursuing martial arts. Yet fate, as it often does, had other ideas.

The Rise of a Dragon

A year after Pasotti’s relocation to China, a small production company based out of Hong Kong was searching in vain for a classically good-looking Westerner who also displayed extreme prowess in karate. Luckily they found then-20-year-old Pasotti, who agreed to take on the challenge of playing an American who was destined to become a shaolin monk.

“Treasure Hunt” was released in 1993, and did well enough to attract Pasotti further work with “Two Shaolin Kids in Hong Kong” and “Dragon Fury II.” Despite further offers and the underground success of these kung fu titles, Pasotti felt that his time in China had run to a natural close and made plans to return to his native Italy.

The acting bug, however, had bitten, and Pasotti’s homecoming took a surprising turn.

Pasotti’s intention was to focus on martial arts. He  became a member of the Italian Wushu Team and won numerous international events. Yet it wasn’t long before the pull of acting lured him to yet another part of the world; with his established sporting career giving him greater freedom of movement, Pasotti set his sights on Los Angeles.

From East to West

It was here that Pasotti pursued a new passion, enrolling in the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus to study acting at a formal level. The driven performer managed to keep up with martial arts while simultaneously working towards his acting degree.

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The rest, as they say, is history. Following an intense program of training, Pasotti returned to Italy as a NYFA graduate and immediately began climbing the ladder to stardom, becoming an in-demand actor in not just film (winning the Shooting Star award at the 2004 Berlin Film Festival) but also on television, theater and in music video. As if that weren’t enough, he’s also turned his hand to directing with the 2004 short, “The Never Say Goodbye.” Pasotti has also supported important causes by directing awareness ads for HIV prevention.
Given that Pasotti’s hometown of Bergamo is only a couple of hours away from the City of Bridges, it’s perhaps no surprise that he’s regularly seen at the Venice Film Festival — and this year is no exception.

The Festival Begins

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The New York Film Academy is proud and honored that Giorgio will appear for a rare Q&A as our special guest at NYFA’s student showcase in the 73rd Venice Film Festival. Pasotti will speak about his career after NYFA, introduce the screenings of five exceptional short films, and take questions in an informal reception during the event.

This invitation is extended to anyone who’s in the Venice area on September 1, 2016 — and there’ll be plenty of opportunity to network with the industry and press in attendance at our cocktail hour between 1:15 to 2:15 p.m.

Of course, the stars of the show will be the five filmmakers featured during the event, spanning the gamut of genres from animation to documentary.

See this post for more information regarding the event and the films being shown. We hope to see you at the Excelsior Hotel on Sept. 1!

The Evolution of Seth Rogen: From Teenage Comedian to Superstar

Seth Rogen is on something of a winning streak, and it seems that just about everything the Canadian-born comedian touches of late turns to gold. 

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Having come out of the gate swinging with strong performances in Judd Apatow’s “40 Year Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up” — two of the highest-rated comedies of the 2000s — Seth Rogen’s career has gone from strength to strength as he further flexed his acting muscles and also added to an impressive list of writing, producing, and directing credits.

Given that he has also branched out from comedy in recent years, it is even more impressive that Rogen’s career is an accidental one. Initially he made a name for himself on the Canadian comedy circuit during his teen years, and was so successful that he became the main breadwinner of his largely-unemployed household by the age of just 16. As a result, he didn’t want to pursue any career other than stand-up comedy, remarking: “As soon as I realized you could be funny as a job, that was the job I wanted.”

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All this raises the question of how exactly Seth Rogen ended up blazing his current the trail. With his latest movie “Sausage Party” killing it from both a commercial and critical standpoint, we’re taking a look at the selected works that got him where he is today.

“Freaks and Geeks” (1999-2000)

While the NBC show was short lived and cancelled after only one season, it has since become a cult classic, launching the careers of numerous then-child actors. Linda Cardellini, Martin Starr and Jason Segel all got their start on this fan favorite.

As did Seth Rogen. “Freaks and Geeks” not only served as his debut acting gig, but also his first credit as a staff writer. Even more important were the connections he made on the show. The two went on to form an enduring friendship and working relationship, collaborating on the ultra-subversive “The Interview” in 2014.

The show also put Paul Fieg and Judd Apatow on the map, the latter of whom saw huge potential in Rogen and took him under his wing. “Obviously, I can’t stress how important Judd’s been to my career,” Rogen said in a retrospective 2009 interview.

“Da Ali G Show” (2004)

From one cult series to another, Rogen managed to land a staff writing position on the highly acclaimed Sacha Baron Cohen breakout series “Da Ali G Show.”

It was little-known that a young Canadian-American was working on a quintessentially British show, but it’s an important road mark for Rogen’s career; he went on to receive a Primetime Emmy Award nomination in conjunction with the other show writers.

This was all before Seth Rogen became a household name, a process which really began with…

“Knocked Up” (2007)

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“Whenever I see an opportunity to use any of the people from ‘Freaks and Geeks,’ I do it,” said Judd Apatow, who reassembled a lot of the old gang for his first-ever feature. “It’s a way of refusing to accept that the show was canceled. In my head, I can look at ‘Knocked Up’ as just an episode of Seth’s character getting a girl pregnant. All of the movies relate in my mind in that way, as the continuous adventures of those characters.”

Knocked Up” went on to become selected as one of the 10 best movies of the year by the American Film Institute, with Rogen’s lead performance in particular being singled out for praise.

“Superbad” (2007)

Few were convinced that another Rogen/Apatow outing would reach the same bar set by “Knocked Up,” yet “Superbad” raised the bar even higher.

The movie also propelled Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Michael Cera, and Jonah Hill into further stardom. Not bad for a screenplay that Rogen co-wrote when he was 13.

“Horton Hears a Who!” (2008)

This film kick-started Seth Rogen’s prolific voice acting career. The “Kung Fu Panda” franchise followed, along with “Monsters vs. Aliens” in 2009 — as well as the job of voicing the main character, Paul, in the Simon Pegg movie of the same name.

“The Interview” (2014)

Following the successes of “Superbad,” Rogen teamed up once again with Evan Goldberg to work on an idea they’d had a good five years prior: a subversive comedy involving one of the world’s most notorious living dictators.

While critics were polarized by the screenplay (involving an assassination attempt on Kim Jong-Un, changed following the elder Jong-Il’s death in 2011), this film is a notable point in Rogen’s career. He was the creator of a movie that almost triggered an international crisis, with threats of war and terrorism prompting an industry-wide discussion on the nature of free speech and political commentary. Sony was forced to pull the theatrical release.

“Steve Jobs” (2015)

In the critically acclaimed biopic of Apple founder Steve Jobs (not the Ashton Kutcher version), Seth Rogen showed the world he could act outside of the comedy sphere with his portrayal of Steve Wozniak. It’s an exceptionally multi-dimensional performance, and the real-life Wozniak reportedly felt honored to have been portrayed by him.

“Sausage Party” (2016)

And now we come to “Sausage Party,” Rogen’s latest foray into subversive comedy  — a project where many of the names mentioned above come together again for a Pixar-esque adventure that is firmly for adults. (And yes, the trailer above includes very NSFW language.)

The idea of an R-rated animation isn’t particularly new; 1974’s “Fritz the Cat” was one of the first. Yet it’s not something that has seen widespread adoption, and “Sausage Party” is the first R-rated CG animation. That said, with the runaway success of this movie and the likes of last year’s “Dead Pool,” we’d be very surprised if this doesn’t become a cinematic trend in years to come.

Rogen himself has stated that he “has ideas” for future R-rated animations, currently under active consideration by Sony.

One thing is for certain: we’re keenly anticipating the next trick up Seth Rogen’s multi-faceted sleeve.

5 Movies Starring Female Ensembles

This past weekend, Paul Feig’s remake of the 1984 supernatural comedy, Ghostbusters (Ivan Reitman), is hitting theatres. Unlike the original film, which starred Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Harold Ramis, the 2016 version has cast four women – Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy, and Kate McKinnon – in the leading roles.

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At New York Film Academy, we love to see women taking charge, amassing recognition for their talent, and spearheading the way for our students and future actors. However, movies dominated by female stars are fairly new to the industry. This variety of film is often critiqued for its tendency to appeal more to female viewers and to deal with issues that are specific to women. To this, we say: sorry, but we’ve been deprived. Bring on the ladies!

A League of Their Own (Penny Marshall, 1992)

Yes, Tom Hanks was one of the major characters in this film, but the rest of the cast were almost entirely female. We’re talking Rosie O’Donnell, Lori Petty, Geena Davis, Madonna, and the list goes on. The actresses blended a humorous sensibility with moments of strength and compassion to create onscreen chemistry and an emotional, inspiring viewing experience. Plus, women breaking into a strictly male industry – like baseball – and taking it by storm? That’s how it’s done.

Whip It (Drew Barrymore, 2009)

Start with an established actress like Drew Barrymore, deciding she wants to direct a movie for the first time. Add a cast of incredible women, including Ellen Page, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, and Alia Shawkat. You get Whip It, the comedy-drama about roller derby, adolescence, expectations, and independence. The sometimes silly, sometimes powerful film truly understands what it’s like to be a teenager, trying to fit in and simultaneously trying to separate from the artifacts of childhood and immaturity.

Bridesmaids (Paul Feig, 2011)

Like Ghostbusters, Bridesmaids was directed by Paul Feig, and it stars several of the same actresses. The now-iconic comedy possesses a unique ability to make you cringe with its raunchy humor and simultaneously give you all the feels. When the film became a sensation back in 2011, it was hard not to adore Bridesmaids’ girl gang full of comedy veterans and upcoming stars.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ken Kwapis, 2005)

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

This beloved teen-drama chick flick is all about the bonds of friendship. Lined with subplots that explore romance, family conflict, the pursuit of identity, and the difficulties of change, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is based on a single, magical premise: a pair of jeans acquired by chance are somehow able to fit and flatter the very different body types of four best friends, played by Blake Lively, America Ferrera, Alexis Bledel, and Amber Tamblyn.

The Help (Tate Taylor, 2011)

The Help

Based on an award winning book penned by a female author, The Help delves into the experiences of women residing in a small, insular, Mississippi community, afflicted with racism and scandal. The film stars Emma Stone as a young woman who returns home from college with dreams of becoming a writer. She gives the disenfranchised women in her town an opportunity to speak and be heard, liberating them from the agony of silence.

4 “Jawsome” Films to See During Shark Week

Who doesn’t love Shark Week? As usual, here at New York Film Academy, we’re thinking about our favorite films. This week, in particular, check out four fantastically scary and “jawsome” shark flicks.

Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)

This is potentially the film that caused the outbreak of shark-mania: a hybrid attitude toward sharks comprised of equal parts love, fear, and infatuation. Making Jaws was no ordinary challenge. Read an interesting reflection from Spielberg, here

Bait (Kimble Rendall, 2012)

Drama? Check. Romance? Check. Gore and heart-pounding suspense? You bet. Bait’s IMDb tagline is only the tip of the iceberg. “A freak tsunami traps shoppers at a coastal Australian supermarket inside the building – along with 12-foot Great White Sharks.”

The Shallows (Jaume Collet-Serra, 2016)

This just in: critics are calling the newly released, highly anticipated film, The Shallows, “the best shark movie since Jaws” (The Wrap). Though you’ll go to the theater for Blake Lively, you’ll stay for the excitement of finding out if she can survive a vicious predator attack with nothing to help her but logic and courage.

Deep Blue Sea (Renny Harlin, 1999)

In the past three films, wild sharks with blood thirst and killer instincts gave audiences the shivers, but in Deep Blue Sea, an ever more menacing version of the predator – a genetically enhanced, hyper intelligent shark – will scare you silly. An isolated laboratory built to facilitate Alzheimer’s research becomes a haunting battleground as the sharks outsmart their constraints and head for the kill.

The Best Fatherly Characters in Recent Film

Each dad is one-of-a-kind. Whether he’s silly or serious, completely embarrassing or way cooler than us, we’ve got to love him. In honor of Father’s Day, the New York Film Academy is looking back at some of the greatest father figures in recent films, even the ones who are absolutely mad.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Gus Portokalos (Played by Michael Constantine)

big fat greek wedding

As the patriarch of the Portokalos family, Gus (Michael Constantine) appears to have taken it upon himself to control his daughter’s life, and make sure she is growing into the Greek woman he wants her to be. He humiliates her throughout her childhood, preaching Greek lessons to her peers as he drives the carpool to school. Continuing into adulthood, Gus makes it his mission to marry Toula off to a Greek man. Despite his craziness, Gus is more than a comic relief. In his total cluelessness and love affair with Windex, some of us can’t help but be reminded of our dads’ particularities, attachments to certain objects, and steadfast desires for their kids’ happiness.

Kick-Ass

Big Daddy (Played by Nicolas Cage)

His name says it all. Cop-turned-vigilante Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) has spent the past several years fighting crime with his daughter, Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz). Impeccably self-trained and talented in a variety of combat methods, this father-daughter team makes Batman and Robin look like amateurs. Many of us would agree with fellow vigilante Kick-Ass’s (Aaron Johnson) evaluation of Big Daddy: “your dad was insane.” Still, we can forgive the fact that he taught Hit-Girl how to wield a nunchuck instead of taking her to soccer practice because she is his utmost priority and, in the end, he sacrifices his life to protect her.

Little Miss Sunshine

Grandpa Edwin Hoover (Played by Alan Arkin)

Perhaps this heroin-snorting, foul-mouthed grandpa isn’t the best role model, but one thing’s for certain: out of any member of the Hoover family, he is the most supportive of granddaughter, Olive (Abigail Breslin). After being kicked out of a senior living facility, Grandpa Edwin (Alan Arkin) moves in with Olive’s family, where he spends his days training her to compete in pageants (not that he has any authority on the matter). The family eventually agrees to road trip to the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant so that Olive can compete. In the iconic final scene, she performs the raunchy dance that Grandpa Edwin choreographed for her and it serves as a sort of symbolic ode to his relationship with Olive and the way he hoped to make her feel like “the most beautiful girl in the world.”

Despicable Me

Gru (Voiced by Steve Carell)

Despicable super villain Gru (Steve Carell) may have built himself an army of minions and a repertoire of successful robberies, but there’s still room in his heart for love. Gru adopts three orphans to help him execute a villainous scheme, but, as time goes on, he grows to care about them a great deal, proving in the end that he will go to any length to protect them. A dad who tries to make his daughter happy by putting on a full-fledged ballet recital in his evil lair is a good dad in our books.

That’s What I Am

Mr. Simon (Played by Ed Harris)

In this coming-of-age drama set in the sixties, the school’s beloved English teacher, Mr. Simon (Ed Harris), is the most father-like figure. A champion of overcoming adversity, Mr. Simon shows his students how to be resilient when a perturbed parent tries to get Mr. Simon fired for being gay. Before gracefully exiting the school, Mr. Simon provides his students with fun and unconventional lessons, doles out wisdom and rightful discipline, and comforts the students who are victims of bullying. His endless compassion for the students is heart-wrenching.

Definitely, Maybe

Will Hayes (Played by Ryan Reynolds)

In this suspenseful and heartwarming rom-com, eleven-year-old Maya (Abigail Breslin) questions her father, Will (Ryan Reynolds), incessantly about his impending divorce from her mother. At last, giving way to her demands for information, Will tells her “a love story mystery,” in which he assigns fake names to the women he’d seriously dated, allowing her to try to guess which of them is her mom. He gives Maya a lot of agency throughout the film to comment on the things around her, whether that means regurgitating lines from her school’s health class or evaluating Will’s romantic life. Throughout the film’s narrative, the overwhelming consistency seems to be that Will and Maya will always have each other, if no one else.

6 Lessons On-Screen Mothers Have Taught us About Acting

6 Lessons On-Screen Mothers Have Taught us About Acting

Angelina Jolie, Susan Sarandon, Mo’Nique, Essie Davis, Jodie Foster, and Meryl Streep — all mothers — teach us all a little something about acting.

Mothers: we salute you.

You’ve cooked us countless meals. You’ve put up with our laundry-strewn bedroom floors. You’ve been a shoulder to cry on when we got snubbed by that crush we were infatuated with in high school. But, ultimately, you’ve helped nurture and encourage the next generation of filmmaking talent and for that you deserve unending praise.

And so, in tribute to mothers everywhere, today we’re paying homage to six cinematic mothers who have taught us all a little something about acting over the years.

Presenting…

1. Angelina Jolie – The Changeling

What We Learned: Motherhood isn’t a character trait

With stunning cinematography and a tight script reminiscent of Rosemary’s Baby, The Changeling sees Jolie’s character distraught to find her nine year-old son missing. But on being reunited, things go from bad to worse; when she adamantly declares that the boy isn’t actually her son, authorities conspire to brand her psychotic.

From start to finish, the audience is locked into an emotional rollercoaster and herein lies the key to Angelina’s impressive performance: motherhood isn’t just a line on her character spec sheet. Even though it’s central to her story arc, it’s not the be-all-and-end-all of her character – under the umbrella of motherhood, she runs the gamut of emotion. At times she’s broken and in despair; at others she’s fierce and strong. Depending on the situation the plot finds her in, she’s nurturing, sexy, divisive, hopeful, frustrated, joyful and desperate…

… in short, she acts as a real person would in real situations. The fact that she has a child is purely circumstantial.

Read more: The importance of subtext

2. Susan Sarandon – Stepmom

What we learned: It’s okay to play to type

While keeping Jolie’s lesson in mind for how to play a multi-dimensional mom character, there’s also no shame in playing that character often if it’s something you are terrific at.

Susan Sarandon is proof of this, and despite having played a mother figure in numerous movies, no two of her performances are alike as she ekes out and embellishes the role in different ways as the script demands.

Stepmom is a classic example – just make sure you have a handkerchief at the ready.

Read more: How to find your type as an actor

3. Mo’Nique – Precious

(Caution: NSFW Language)

What we learned: It’s not all sunshine and roses

 When you think of on-screen moms, usually the first image that springs to mind is one of a domestic housewife living in marital bliss.

But of course, art imitates life, warts and all. That means some performances call for a frighteningly abusive relationship between parent and child, and nobody captured the darkness with more authenticity than Mo’Nique and her on-screen daughter Gabourey Sibide in Precious.

Some characters are more monstrous than others, and parents are no exception. As actors, it’s important to give it our all in order to bring that character to life no matter whether it calls for domestic happiness or terrifying dysfunction.

4. Essie Davis – The Babadook

What We Learned: A duty of care

So terrifying and demented was Essie Davis’ performance as a slowly-unraveling mother (and the entire movie in general) that many viewers were left wondering how the crew didn’t mentally scar 6 year-old actor Noah Wiseman for real.

Director Jennifer Kent, however, took great pains to make sure that Wiseman’s welfare was at the forefront of production. The child’s mother was on set at all times in what was described as a ”very protective, loving environment” and Wiseman himself wasn’t present during more traumatic scenes with an adult extra taking his place: “During the reverse shots where Amelia was abusing Sam verbally, we had Essie [Davis] yell at an adult stand-in on his knees. I didn’t want to destroy a childhood to make this film – that wouldn’t be fair.”

Ultimately, no matter whether we’re directing a film, in acting school or performing opposite a very young actor, we all have a duty of care to understand that great cinema doesn’t need to come at the expense of a child’s well-being.

Read more: 5 performances by child actors we can all learn from

5. Jodie Foster – Panic Room

What We Learned: Not all on-screen bonds are purely fictional

David Fincher’s 2002 thriller worked on many levels, but it was arguably the close bond between the mother and daughter characters which propelled the drama and kept the film emotionally grounded.

And the reason it worked so well is that the bond was real – Jodie was deeply nurturing of her 10 year-old costar Kristen Stewart, who in turn looked up to the acting veteran (Foster was also responsible for having the script changed to make her on-screen daughter a tougher character.)

To this day the pair remain close, with Foster calling Stewart “my other daughter” and Stewart having honored Foster while receiving her Walk of Fame star.

And on a similar (if a lot darker) vein…

6. Meryl Streep – Mamma Mia!

What We Learned: We draw from the strong women around us

The ultimate Mother’s Day movie, and one which sees Meryl Streep performing at her finest (though really, when is she not?).

While her filmography is as varied as it is extensive, Streep is no stranger to performing as an on-screen mother and her career is loosely typified as being one that exudes feminine strength, of which Mamma Mia! is a good example.

And perhaps a lot of her acting prowess is rooted in her close bond with her real-life maternal figures – Streep drew extensively from both her mom and grandmother’s experiences to as a career mother and war survivor respectively for her celebrated roles in Kramer vs. Kramer and Sophie’s Choice.

And the inspiration may even run deeper than that. Of her highly encouraging mother, Streep says: “She was a mentor because she said to me, ‘Meryl, you’re capable… If you’re lazy, you’re not going to get it done. But if you put your mind to it, you can do anything.’”

Amen to that.

Happy Mother’s Day to all those that continue to inspire us, as well as those who are sadly no longer with us.

The Up-And-Coming Actors Performing At Coachella 2016

Coachella banner

It’s that time of year again—the days are longer, people’s calendars are filling up with more and more parties, and outdoor festivities are popping up more often than a jack-in-the-box at a preschool. Spring is definitely in the air. And how fitting that the flora is flourishing again as many heads would seem all but bare without the floral accessories accompanying them to the festivals of this season. Namely one, in particular—COACHELLA (ella, ella… a nod to Rihanna’s surprise guest performance with Calvin Harris on Sunday for those of you wondering). It’s not news that this yearly event in the middle of a Palm Springs’ desert gathers big names in entertainment – both on and off the stage. And this year’s artist line up is no different. What may be news to some, however, are the names these musical artists are making for themselves in film and television. So here are a few noteworthy crossover acts in that respect.

A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky on stage

Rick Famuyiwa’s coming-of-age Hip Hop film, Dope, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last year to much fanfare. It was also the acting debut for Rocky (birth name Rakim Mayers) who played the integral part of ‘Dom’—a charismatic drug dealer from the notorious streets of Inglewood, California. Although he only appears in the first half of the film, Rocky really made his time count. Acting as the catalyst for the film’s protagonist, Malcom (Shameik Moore), a 90s hip-hop loving “geek” having to deal with a terrible string of events following their meeting, Dom manages to exude likeability and a surprising amount of humor. That said, you get the feeling this isn’t another episode of stunt-casting to get people in theatre seats; Rocky is actually a good actor. “Rocky is so smart and such an intuitive actor that you sort of know unexpected casting would play into how I wanted Dom to be perceived,” says Dope director and writer, Famuyiwa. Looks like the “L$D” rapper has a bright (and diverse) future in film—“Moving forward, I don’t want to play any more roles playing a drug dealer, or a handsome guy,” he says

Sia

Sia and Maddie Ziegler at the Grammys

Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage

“I was too embarrassed to tell anyone I wanted to make a movie,” said the talented singer-songwriter during a panel last year. “And then last year, after I made the Chandelier video, I realized that I was pretty good at directing, so I felt a little bit braver.” With her frequent partner-in-crime, Maddie Ziegler (the child dancer starring in the singer’s music videos for “Chandelier,”Elastic Heart,” and “Big Girls Cry”) taking the main role, the film, entitled Sister, follows a sober drug dealer and his sister with autism. Based on a story Sia wrote around eight years ago, the singer sought help from numerous industry friends for her first go at screenwriting, including the children’s book author Dallas Clayton, actor Joel Edgerton, and husband and documentary filmmaker, Erik Anders Lang. “What I do enjoy is the creative process,” says the artist when comparing similarities between music and filmmaking.

Bat For Lashes

Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes

Natasha Khan aka Bat For Lashes has a number of short films under her belt. The British singer-songwriter and clothing designer has produced one of six parts for the MTV World film, Madly. The film series also includes works from Gael Garcia Bernal and Mia Wasikowska and showcases stories of modern love. Khan’s film is called “I Do.” “It’s about a bride, the morning of her wedding, being disturbed by subterranean weird feelings, messages and signs… It’s all about redemption of grief, putting ghosts to bed before you can move into a fully committed relationship,” she says. The multi-talented singer also directed and starred in her own short film, “Under The Indigo Moon”—a film she made for fashion house YMC for whom she created a clothing line. The film also showcases the song of the same name—one on which she collaborated with singer. In addition to these, Khan is also in the process of writing a screenplay for a film commissioned in 2014 called Gotcha, a family drama about a father and son in a dysfunctional family situation playing hide-and-seek.

Ellie Goulding

Ellie Goulding

The “It” girl of British pop managed to showcase some impressive acting skills in a short film, “Tom And Issy,” which premiered on her Vevo channel in late 2013. Written by Dead Car creators, Stefan Georgiou and Sam Bern, and directed by Notting Hill director Roger Hill, the story was shot entirely on a Nokia Lumia 1020 and captures the complex and intricate details of falling in love. Goulding plays the main role of Issy, who gets whisked away by her flatmate, Tom, from an unappreciative boyfriend to explore London at its finest. As successful as her career in music may be, the singer admits she’s always dreamed of becoming an actress and hopes to eventually swap singing for a career in television. “I’d quite like to act at some point. I just think it’d be quite fun. It’d be another one of my experiments… You’ve got to get experience in front of the cameras [in a soap opera]… Or I’d like to do a play,” she says.

Ice Cube

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart in Ride Along

This hip-hop veteran has accumulated a long list of accolades for his role in films that easily matches his successes in music over the past few decades. By the ripe, young age of twenty, he had already assisted in founding—and later departed—what some would consider the most influential rap groups of all time, N.W.A. With no time to waste, he went on to start an acclaimed solo career in both music as well as the big screen, starring in 1991’s Boyz n the Hood—a role that would instantly establish himself as a force to be reckoned with in film. Since then, the rapper has amassed an extensive filmography that covers everything from family-friendly fare and dramas to action and goofy comedy. While appearing in John Singleton’s Higher Learning in 1992, the multi-talented rapper took on the director’s advice to start writing his own films.

Three years later, he starred in the cult comedy classic, Friday, which he co-wrote with DJ Pooh. He then went on to write, direct, and act in The Players Club in 1998 as well as writing, producing, and starring in Next Friday in 2000. With a string of acting gigs in critically acclaimed films over the past decade, his most recent film career highlight came about yet again just last year, with the N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton. The Oscar-nominated film, which he produced, has made a definitive mark, boasting the highest domestic box office tally for a film that’s directed by a black filmmaker, F. Gary Gray. In the same year, it was also picked by the Screen Actors Guild for a nomination in the “best performance by a cast in a motion picture” category. All in all, the film’s success was truly “Dream come true stuff, man,” as Cube explains.

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