NYFA alum

NYFA Alumna Niki Landella: In Her Own Words

By Niki Landella

My experience at the NYFA was without a doubt one of the best things I have ever done for myself, for my spirit, for my artistic process and for my personal and professional development.

I only spent four weeks there and I am an entirely different woman as a result.

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Photo provided by Niki Landella.

Picture this:

Picture perfect facilities, the Statue of Liberty in the distance and an amazing view; state-of-the-art equipment, people from all over the world in one building studying with you, every single teacher with credentials which, when mentioned, could easily be mistaken for name dropping — but none of that is what really makes NYFA special.

For me, the best part about NYFA was the souls I encountered and the depth of the humans with whom I had the privilege of interacting. My experience was one of absolute respect and dignity.

Each and every teacher encouraged me to trust myself more, and I think this has something to do with the success that they have already experienced in their lives. There is something about people who have already experienced legitimate success in their careers — they don’t need to put you down in order to get a sense of significance. I think because they had already experienced professional fulfillment, their teaching process was free of the subconscious agendas I find many teachers in the arts have. I speak as an individual who has grown up in the arts and has been in the arts for 15 years.

No NYFA teacher ever motivated me through shame. I found myself doing things I had struggled with for years, just because my NYFA teachers had the necessary patience with me. I absolutely blossomed under their nurturing.

In improv class I was taught to listen to my own inner compass.

In Meisner I was taught to listen to others.

In dance I was taught to give myself the dignity of my process in getting to know my body. In singing I learned to trust my own voice.

In lab classes I also learned to respond to my own inner stimuli.

Music teachers all gave me the comfort of knowing that, with enough patience, I am capable of understanding what I once thought of as a complex art; to trust that there is music inside of me, and that they would be willing to help me unlock it.

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Photo provided by Niki Landella.

There’s something indescribably beautiful and empowering about the culture of respect under which I found the New York Film Academy to operate.

Then there are the classmates. I know it may sound like a luxury to have global classmates, but picture this: You’re sitting in music theory, and an Italian word like “Acapella” comes up. Your actual Italian friend from actual Italy who is sitting next to you says, “In my language that word means ‘in the chapel,’ because acapella music was first sung at church,” and then the music teacher responds and gives you all the historical data on that.

Now imagine how many of these little serendipitous moments you have every day, which add so much to your store of knowledge and such depth of calibre to your education in a way that few schools are able to provide on this globe. And I say that as someone who has lived on three continents.

Then there is just something about New York. In the arts at least, New York is where the best of the best go to refine themselves. When you are in New York you are swimming with the big fish and you have an unparalleled wealth of resources at your fingertips.

My short time at the New York Film Academy was worth every penny, every drop of sweat that went into getting there — and then some. I would recommend a course at the New York Film Academy, at any of their campuses, to any individual who considers themselves serious about being a storyteller in any field. They source the best of the best, they give you their absolute best every day, and all they ask for in return is that you give your best. There is a culture of excellence coupled with a culture of respect. There is absolutely no way one can walk away from such an experience without being deeply enriched.

New York Film Academy would like to thank Niki Landella for taking the time to share her story about her wonderful experience in our musical theatre program. We are so glad to have you in our community, and can’t wait to hear about your next adventures!


A Q&A With NYFA Producing Alumna Yuxiao Wang

New York Film Academy Alumna Yuxiao Wang had a long road to get to NYFA. After three countries, two degrees, and a ton of work, she’s well on her way to becoming an outstanding producer. Wang spent some time speaking to NYFA Correspondent Joelle Smith about her amazing journey.


Photo provided by Yuxiao Wang.

Joelle Smith: Can you tell me a little about the project you’re working on and your role within the project?

Yuxiao Wang: I just finished producing a 75-minute web feature five days ago. I have two more features coming up in November, where I am both the line producer and associate producer. Two of these three films will be distributed online and the other is seeking theater distribution.

JS: Can you give me a little more detail about your journey from China, to Japan, to the U.S.?

YW: I learned Japanese literature in China and exchanged to Japan for a year in 2013. While there I majored in animation. I always wanted to learn film or work in the film industry, but during that time I didn’t have any knowledge about film. Then my parents agreed to support me while I worked on my master’s degree in America. I chose NYFA because it focuses on hands-on practice, and the producing program will cover a lot of secrets of how to make a film. Soon I was working as a producer in LA.

JS: What were some of the challenges you faced?

YW: The biggest challenge for me is language. As a foreigner, I am not able to read the scripts as quickly as native speakers do, and because of this reason, I think I missed a lot of job opportunities. I am very confident with my skills but when I submit my resume I know they’re often looking to hire fluent speakers.

The other challenge is my visa. I am currently at my OPT and not a lot of companies want to sponsor a foreign student for a work visa. That’s why it is hard for us to find a job here. So, I am working freelance now.


Photo provided by Yuxiao Wang.

JS: What were some of the greatest joys you experienced throughout your journey?

YW: I am really happy I finally choose to work in the film industry even though it is very hard. In my country if you choose to learn acting, directing, or producing as your major in your college, not a lot of parents will support you because they think this industry is very dangerous. I finally got a chance to learn my major and started my career as a producer. I met a lot of cool people here, and they are very creative, passionate and trying to make something to change the world. I don’t like a boring life of sitting in the office. That’s why even though this job is very hard, I still keep doing it, because every second I am working on the things I am interested in, I feel like I am alive.

JS: What do you like best about attending the New York Film Academy?

YW: They are very friendly to all the students from all over the world and won’t force you to have a film related major in your undergraduate — which is very important to me, as my major was Japanese education. I think that was the initial attraction.

JS: What did you learn here that’s helped you the most in your latest filmmaking project?

YW: I think entertainment law is very important. We learned to go over all the paperwork, including documents and contracts, to make sure everything goes well. We were trained in our class to pay attention to details and developed great knowledge of the possible disputes and infringements during a production. The last feature I worked on had a 50-person crew and around 100 actors. We shot for 24 days and on 30 locations, but using the knowledge I learned, we didn’t have any problems.


Photo provided by Yuxiao Wang.

JS: What projects are you working on now and where can people interested in your work find you?

YW: I am in the distribution stage of a feature I produced called “Talentik.” It will be released in Chinese major streaming media platform “Sohu Video” on February 24.

And I am also shooting a major Chinese TV show in Hawaii now, starring A-list stars, and it will be on the major network and TV. This is the second series of this show, and the first series was the highest-rated drama of 2016 with an average national viewership rating of 2.63 percent. It had a 5.47 billion hit amount online and 379,000 related comments, and also aired on a major TV network, Hunan TV, in China.

I have two additional features I’m currently working on. One is romantic, and the other is a drama we’re developing and will be shot on the West Coast this year.

The New York Film Academy would like to thank Ms. Wang for taking the time to share her story. You can find more of Yuxiao Wang’s work by clicking here. Interested in learning more about film production? Check out New York Film Academy’s Producing School!