ACTeen Grads Shine!
In TV series, feature films, Broadway,daytime dramas, or major commercials — no school can top ours for alumni actively working in the profession. Up to fourteen ACTeen grads have starred in TV series for the past seven seasons. Read on to see recent successes . . .
Max Schneider, (Film, Film Casting Director Seminar alum) plays "Ian' in the new NBC kidnapping drama "Crisis," premiering right after the Olympics! He co-starred last season on the Nickelodeon TV series "How to Rock," which also starred singer Cymphonique Miller, (daughter of Master P) as “Kacey.” Max played male lead Charlie Prince in "Rags" a reverse Cinderella story TV Movie also produced by Nickelodeon, and co-starring two time NAACP Image Award winner Keke Palmer ("True Jackson.") Both shows feature Max's wonderful singing & dancing talent! Summer 2012 Max toured with Victoria Justice. Look for Max in several upcoming feature films: "The Last Keepe," and as 'Van Dyke Parks' in the new Beach Boys film "Love & Mercy." Max understudied in the Broadway musical “13” (with another ACTeen alum Caitlin Gann) and was a finalist in the NFAA Youngarts Festival, as well as a Will Sears Scholarship recipient. Max booked a wonderful photo shoot for Dolce and Gabanna with the great Madonna, playing her son (which he booked via an ACTeen recommendation).
Julia Goldani Telles, (alum Film) played ‘Sasha’ for two seasons in the ABC Family series “BUNHEADS.” Julia booked this at her first big audition! “Bunheads” was executive produced by Amy Sherman-Palladino, (creator of “Gilmore Girls”) and the series is headlined by Tony Award®-winning actor Sutton Foster and Tony winner Kelly Bishop (“A Chorus Line,”) from “Gilmore Girls.” Julia came to ACTeen from School of American Ballet, when a temporary dance injury prompted her to look into acting. Soon after, she landed the role of the rebellious Sasha Torres in “Bunheads!” Now that "Bunheads" is wrapped Julia is set to appear in the new Showtime drama pilot "the Affair," which explores two marriages and an affair that disrupts them – with all of the complex consequences that result. Julia joins as the oldest daughter of Maura Tierney (ER) and Dominic West’s (The Wire) married characters. Joshua Jackson (Fringe) and Ruth Wilson (Luther) also co-star. Also recently seen on "The Carrie Diaries," with fellow alum Cara Buono! Double ACTeen alum whammy!!
Jordana Brewster, (alum Film Technique, Commercials) stars the TNT hit series "Dallas." now entering it's third season on the Southfork ranch. Jordana plays "Elena Ramos" daughter-in-law of Bobby Ewing. Jordana (who got her first agent through the ACTeen Talent Agent Showcase), reprises her role as “Mia in the feature film “The Fast and Furious 7," with Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana . Jordana’s role won her the 2009 Teen Choice Award for "Best Actress in an Action Adventure.” Jordana credits ACTeen with getting her prepped for her first big break on CBS-TV’s daytime drama “As the World Turns”, where she played “Nikki Munson” for three years while still in high school. Jordana has guest starred on NBC-TV’s series “Chuck,” the TNT series "Dark Blue', starring Dylan McDermott, starred in the ensemble film “The Faculty” (with a young Elijah Wood, and Josh Hartnett) and starred in “The Invisible Circus” with Cameron Diaz . Other films include co-starring in Touchstone Pictures feature “Annapolis” with James Franco.
Gillian Zinser (alum July Academy Full Program), played “Ivy Sullivan” the young Californian surfer in the CW’s hit series “90210 for two seasons. Ironically, another ACTeen alumnus Dana Barron, played "Nicky", love interest to Jason Priestley, in the original hit series "Beverly Hills 90210." And, actress alum Jenna Lamia (see below!) is now on the creative staff at the CW, writing for "90210"!! After attending ACTeen, Gillian attended NYU before moving to LA to pursue acting. She’s appeared on “Cold Case,” “Southland,” and “Cupid,” starred in the MTV movie thriller “The Truth Below,” and has feature films “Manson Girls,” and “Savages,” (directed by Oliver Stone) upcoming this year.
Raphael Sbarge (graduate of ACTeen’s Film Scene Study course) plays “Archie Hopper/Jiminy Cricket” in the hit ABC modern fairytale series “Once Upon A Time.,” returning for it's second seaon. In a New England town called Storybrook 'Archie' is the town psychologist and confidant/conscience of a young boy named Henry. Raphael has amassed impressive credits since his early post-ACTeen success as series teen sitcom star of NBC-TV’s “Better Days.” Raphael has appeared on Broadway (“Ah Wilderness” with Jason Robards & Kyra Sedgwick) and in major films including "Risky Business" with Tom Cruise, "Independence Day," and "Billionaire Boys Club." Recent TV guest appearances include "Rissoli & Isles," "Dexter," "Secret Life of an American Teen," “Grey’s Anatomy,” "Medium," “Cold Case,” “The Closer,” “Numb3rs,” “Without A Trace,” “ER”, “CSI: NY”, and “Star Trek: Voyager” (as “Michael Jonas”). Raphael played cast regular “Jake Straka” in CBS-TV’s “The Guardian” with Simon Baker and Dabney Coleman.
Katelyn Tarver, returns to season four of Nickelodeon TV’s popular series “Big Time Rush.” reprising her role as “Jo Taylor” (love interest to Kendall) . The series chronicles the making of a chart topping boy band. The show's official premiere received 6.8 million viewers, making it the highest rated live action premiere in Nickelodeon history. Katelyn has had major roles on “No Ordinary Family” (as Natalie Posten) the ABC series starring Michael Chiklis about a family with unusual powers. Katelyn also played "Mercedes" for eight episodes last year on the ABC Family hit series “Secret Life of an American Teen!
Katelyn first came to ACTeen for private coaching for “Hannah Montana” getting down the finals for lead consideration! Katelyn is a fabulous singer and recording artist, and former finalist on the hit Fox TV series “American Idol Juniors,” where she won the heart of America each week, entertaining a cumulative audience of 35 million people. Katelyn wrote “I still revert back to my classes with you for help!!” We hope to see Katelyn at ACTeen again soon!!
Sofia Black-D'Elia (August Academy ) joined the cast of the 6th and final season six of the huge CW-TV hit "Gossip Girl," as the charming but dangerous 'Sage.' Sofia provided 'minor' trouble' with her involvment with Nate' (played by Chace Crawford), and some upset for Serena as well. Last season Sofia appeared as hacket/assistant "Jule's in ABC's short lived scandal/drama "Betrayal." Look for Sofia to co-star in the upcoming Paramount feature film "Welcome to Yesterday" produced by mega hit man Michael Bay.
Sofia played "Tea", one of the leading roles in the controversial MTV- TV series "Skins," the American version of the hit British series. Much media attention was focused on the show, cast with authentic young teens/young adults, and dealing with their problematic and frankly sexual lives in a 'raw' and realistic way. Press articles about the show and Sofia's character has appeared in various media-- "The New Yorker," "The New York Times," and a cover article in "Entertainment Weekly." Sofia got her start playing “Bailey” in ABC-TV’s long-running daytime drama “All My Children” after attending ACTeen. Sofia visited for monologue prep and spoke about her early soap experience. To quote Sofia: “The two cameras (in ACTeen’s Film course) definitely helped with my awareness of how to carry myself! Thanks for everything, Rita! " Look for Sofia to star in the upcoming feature film “Born of War,”and the Paramount film "Almanac."
Cara Buono (graduate Film, Casting Director Seminar received an Emmy Nomination in 2011 for "Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series' for her role as "Dr. Faye Miller" love interest to Don Draper, in “Mad Men,” the AMC-TV three time Emmy-Winning Best Dramatic Series. Season four involved a business and personal scandal for Don Draper (played by actor Jon Hamm) and Cara’s ten episode arc provided her major air time! "Mad Men" received nineteen Emmy nominations in 2011, the second highest honor of any television production. Cara has guest-starred on "The Carrie Diaries," "The Good Wife," “Navy NCIS,” “Hawaii Five-O,” and played Rose in five episodes of ABC’s “Brothers and Sisters.”
Cara made her first film, “Gladiator” (featuring a very young Cuba Gooding, Jr.) with fellow alumnus Jon Seda. Casting Director Deborah Aquila (CSA), had seen Cara perform at ACTeen’s Casting Director Seminar, and subsequently cast Cara in Stephen Gyllenhaal’s feature “Waterland”, with Jeremy Irons. Cara’s first Emmy nomination was soon after studying at ACTeen. She received a Daytime Emmy nomination for her lead role in the CBS Schoolbreak Special “Abby My Love.” Cara has played major roles on Broadway including “The Rose Tattoo” at Lincoln Center). Cara starred in the USA series “The Dead Zone” by Stephen King (as sheriff “Anna Turner’) played Michael Imperioli's pregnant wife ‘Kelli’ in the final season of HBO’s acclaimed drama "The Sopranos," and series paramedic “Grace Foster” in NBC’s Peabody Award Winning drama “Third Watch.” Cara also played Owens’s mother in the thriller “Let Me In”, starring Chloe Moretz (“Kick Ass”). Look for her in upcoming films “The Discoverers.”
Jon Seda (Film, Commercials etc) is co-starring in the new hit NBC series "Chicago PD" co-starring Jason Beghe, and Moira Kelly. Jon plays the 'good cop' to Jason's 'bad' or dirty cop. The new Wednesday night series is a breakout hit for NBC and we are very excited for Jon.
Jon starred in “The Pacific,” (now available on DVD!) the ten part World War II Emmy winning "Best TV Mini-Series," produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg for HBO-TV. Jon played one of the three leads, Marine Sgt. John Basilone. "The Pacific" received a total of 24 Emmy nominations, including "Best Mini-Series', "Best Direction", and "Best Writing."
Jon played regular "Nelson Hidalgo' a venture capitalist wheeler/dealer, in the second & third season of HBO-TV’s post-Katrina Peabody Award Winning series New Orleans based series "Treme." In addition Jon has appeared in five episodes of the new NBC firefighter series "Chicago Fire," as 'Detective Antonio Dawson,' (brother to 'Gabriella Dawson, medic.) Such a fantastic 'guest appearance" that Jon's current series was then 'spun off.'
Jon has been a series regular on seven other series including Ray Blackwell in the CBS-TV series “Close to Home.” “Third Watch,” “Ghost Whisperer,” HBO’s “Oz”, UPN-TV’s “Kevin Hill” with Taye Diggs, and two years on NBC’s critically acclaimed, Peabody Award Winning detective series “Homicide: Life on the Streets.” Jon's many film credits include "Gladiator," "Carlito's Way," "Twelve Monkeys," "Primal Fear" and "Selena” (as husband Chris Perez). Jon earned a Best Actor nomination at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival for “The Sunchaser,” also starring Woody Harrelson. Jon starred opposite Sylvester Stallone, and Jason Mamoa (“Game of Thrones”) in the recent film “Bullet to the Head.”
Jon, a former boxer, took his very first acting courses at ACTeen. Jon credits ACTeen for giving him his start. He got his first film opportunity “Gladiator” (with a young Cuba Gooding Jr.) after a manager saw him in an ACTeen showcase. On several occasions, Jon has graciously been a guest in our Film Scene Study class, answering questions and doing audition scenes with the student actors. Just this summer we had the honor of teaching Jon's son Jon JR in our July Academy, and Jon senior graciously spoke to our academy students again! We are incredibly proud of Jon’s continued success and carrying on the ACTeen/Seda tradition!
Jordana Spiro, graduate Film, Film Technique, Commercials, Film Seminar) starred as "Grace Devlin," in the short-lived Fox TV series "Mob Doctor," trading drama for her former comedic rolse. Jordana is best known for starring for three seasons in the TBS-TV comedy series "My Boys." “My Boys" (which was cable's #1 original sitcom) starred Jordana as “PJ Franklin” a ‘just one of the guys’ tomboyish Chicago sportswriter. Most recently Jordana joined Oscar winner Kathy Bates and TV writer/veteran David E. Kelley on NBC-TV's drama "Harry's Law" playing 'Rachael Miller'. Jordana took several years of classes at ACTeen while in her teens, before pursuing Hollywood and success. Jordana got a major career boast in the feature film “Must Love Dogs” playing “Sherry,” John Cuzak’s former girlfriend. Jordana has appeared on “Dexter,” “JAG”, “Cold Case”, and “CSI-NY.”
Davi Santos (Film, Commercials, Talent Agent Showcase) appears in the series "Mr Box Office" (as bad boy HS student 'Carlos') by producer Byron Allen. Davi guest starred on "How to Rock and ABC series “Apartment 23,” starring Krysten Ritter, Dreama Walker, and James Van Der Beek. Davi is an active TV commercial performer, and frequent theater actor. He is also the recipient of our "Will Sears Scholarship." Davi is an accomplished, award-winning filmmaker, completing his second film "The Densely Hollow" this past summer.
Jamie Lynn Sigler (graduate Commercials, Musical Theater) played series regular "Emily" in the NBC sitcom "Guys With Kids," with Anthony Anderson, and Tempestt Bledsoe.Jami parked her car for the last time, after six seasons as the feisty daughter “Meadow Soprano” in the HBO-TV Emmy, Golden Globe, and SAG award–winning series “The Sopranos”. A major critical and commercial success, “The Sopranos” won eighteen Emmys and five Golden Globes, and has been the subject of much parody and analysis. Jamie has guest starred numerous times on NBC-TV’s hit comedy “Ugly Betty”, was a series regular in the HBO’s hit series “Entourage,” co-starred in the Lifetime mini-series “The Gathering,” starring Peter Gallagher and two time Academy award winner Peter Fonda, and has several films in the works. Jamie’s also played a ‘soprano’ of a different sort, using her ACTeen musical training to star on Broadway as “Belle” in “Beauty and the Beast”!
Danny Masterson (graduate Film Scene Study) stars in "Men at Work" a TBS TV series comedy prepping it's third season which follows the misadventures of four office buddies who work together at a magazine.
Danny appeared as “Steven Hyde” in FOX-TV’s “That ’70s Show”, enjoying eight seasons of laughs! Danny attended ACTeen when he was in his early teens, and then moved to Los Angeles where he’s done very well. In addition to “That ’70s Show”, Danny’s appeared in “Kim Possible,” Roseanne”, “Party of Five”, “Cybill”, and the film “The Faculty” (with fellow ACTeen grad Jordana Brewster).Danny has done feature films, including “Made for Each Other,” starring brother Christopher Masterson, (featuring ACTeen grads Samm Levine and Debargo Sanyal), “Yes Man” with Jim Carey, crime drama “The Bridge to Nowhere” with Ving Rhams, and playing ‘Jerry Rubin’ in the film “Chicago 8". Danny’snow starring in "Playing With Guns” for Spike TV, about two childhood best friends who become police officers in their hometown for the everyday perks. Directed by Brian Robbins (producer “One Tree Hill”, “Smallville.”)
Kimberly Williams Paisley (graduate Audition and Commercials) guest stars on ABC's series "Nashville" as 'Peggy Kenter,.' the major's mistress. The series stars Hayden Panettier and Connie Britton,and is a critical and fan success!
Kim starred with Jim Belushi and Courtney Thorne-Smith in ABC-TV’s Emmy-nominated comedy “According to Jim" for eight seasons playing his sister-
in-law. Kimberly took two courses during ACTeen’s July Academy right before she got her first big break when she was cast as the bride in Touchstone’s film “Father of the Bride” with Steve Martin and Diane Keaton. Kim’s been working steadily in the years since, in films, television (she starred in the ABC-TV series “Relativity” and the mini-series “The 10th Kingdom”), and in theater (Broadway’s Tony Award–winning play “The Last Night of Ballyhoo”, and David Mamet’s “Speed the Plow” in London). She appeared in the film “We Are Marshall” directed by McG, directed episodes of “According to Jim”, and appeared with husband/singer Brad Paisley at the Annual Country Music Association Awards.
Kimiko Gelman (alum Film) plays “Venia” in the highly anticipated feature film “The Hunger Games” starring Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss), Josh Hutcherson, Stanley Tucci, and Woody Harrelson. The film is an adaptation of the best selling young-adult novel series, and is set in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television. Katniss volunteers to take her younger sister's place for the upcoming match. “Venia” is part of the prep team that works to improve Katniss’s rough appearance, prepping her to be dressed by Cinna. Kim booked a lead soon after her film classes at ACTeen, as “Rose Foley” eldest orphan adoptee in the 80’s two-season family TV comedy “Rags to Riches,” starring Joseph Bologna. Kim won over the casting directors (who’d originally planned to take Rose in a different direction) with her terrific audition. Kimiko has worked consistently through the years since “Rags” in series (“West Wing,” “Zoey 1010,”) and films (“Minority Report,” “David and Lisa.”) We are thrilled to see Kim in such a high profile film, and hopefully anticipate her appearance in any sequels!
Philip Ettinger (ACTeen alum August Academy) has been working nonstop since graduation. He plays “Kevin’ in the indie film "Compliance" starring Dreama Walker, ("Gossip Girl") and Ann Dowd and featuring fellow alum Ralph Rodriguez. The film, produced by the producer of "Pineapple Express, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and deals with a true event in a fast food restaurant. Phil also plays “Doug’ in the Sundance Audience Award winning indie “Sleepwalk With Me,” starring Mike Birbiglia. Look for Phil upcoming in “The Maid’s Room,” with Annabella Sciorra, and “Chu and Blossom,” starring Annie Potts and
Alan Cummings. Phil has guest-starred on “The Closer” and appeared as “Hunter in Joel Shumacher film “Twelve” with Chace Crawford, Emma Roberts, & Rory Culkin. This year he played “Zach” in an episode of the Emmy winning HBO comedy “Girls,” starring Lena Durham.
Kendra Jain (June Academy) has been booking nonstop since her summer at ACTeen. She booked the fun family sitcom pilot “Funny in Farsi,” roles on “Law & Order: SVU,” and appears in the film “New Year’s Eve” directed by Gary Marshall, and “Lies in Plain Sight” starring Rosie Perez and Chad Michael Murray. Look for Kendra in the upcoming film “Street Honor” (with Eddy Martin Glee).
Shannon Maree Walsh, (alum ACTeen Talent Agent Showcase, Film Scene Study ) plays "Rachel' in the upcoming feature "Can a Song Save Your Life" starring Kiera Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, and Halle Steinfield. The film is about a dejected music business executive who forms a bond with a young singer-songwriter new to Manhattan. Shannon plays ‘Rachel’ a cellist and member of Kiera Knightley's band, and Shannon had to quickly adapt her violin skills to Julliard level cellist! The film produced by Judd Appatow is directed by John Carney ("Once). Shannon played “Melanie Pratt” in the Wes Craven (“Nightmare on Elm Street”) horror film “My Soul to Take." Shannon had a fierce guest starring role on "Law & Order: SVUand was featured in the ABC TV series "What Would You Do?"
Elizabeth Masucci (Film, Film Casting Director Seminar) is featured in the critically acclaimed film "Shame" starring Michael Fassbinder, and Carrie Mulligan featured at the NY Film Festival. Elizabeth has a principal role in the independent feature, “Virgin Alexander,” which won best feature film at the Las Vegas Film Festival. Look for Liz also in several TV series: "Gossip Girl," "Person of Interest.," “Royal Pains,” and "NYC 22" a new TV rookie cop crime drama produced by Robert DeNiro,
China Shavers (graduate Commercials, Film Scene Study) played “Olivia Evans” opposite Mekhi Phifer on NBC’s long-running series “ER”. Other TV series include playing series regular “Brooke Harper”, Principal Chi McBride’s daughter, on FOX-TV’s “Boston Public”, and “Dreama”, Sabrina’s witch pal, in a season of “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.” China appears in the film “Beginners” by director Michael Mills, with Golden Globe winner Christopher Plummer, alongside Ewan McGregor, Melanie Laurent, and Goran Visnjic (“ER”). China stopped by ACTeen with her mom Angie Shavers to visit and share memories... From China: “Thank you for all the support you gave me while I attended ACTeen”, and from her mom: “Any mother should trust you with their child’s acting career!”
Lucas Salvagno, (Film, Talent Agent Showcase) starred in the film “God Don’t Make the Laws” with Paul Sorvino and Bruce Davison, cast by Brette Goldstein (Monologues Instructor). Lucas, who got his agent through our Talent Agent Showcase, played loner ‘Hawk Kokiak,” a mysterious boy with a sordid past. Lucas has also done several commercials and voiceovers since attending ACTeen and is also active in the NY theater community.
Debargo Sanyal (graduate of ACTeen’s July Academy) appears at “Mahmoud” in Rob Reiner’s feature film “The Magic of Belle Isle” starring Oscar and recent Cecil B. De Mille award winter Morgan Freeman (“Invictus.”) Freeman plays a wheelchair-bound author who moves to a rural town, where he befriends a single mother and her three kids, who help reignite his passion for writing. Debargo has completed several films: “Everybody’s Fine”, starring Robert DeNiro, Kate Beckinsale, and Drew Barrymore; as "Wesley” in “Bert and Arnie’s Guide to Friendship” (starring Anna Chlumsky of “My Girl” fame), and the film “Ashes” (with ACTeen grad Melissa De Sousa). He’s guest-starred on "NYC 22," "Damages,” “Running Wilde," “The Sopranos,” “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” and appears frequently on the New York stage. Additionally Debargo is an active commercial performer with national and regional spots for Toyota, McDonald’s, Holiday Inn, and the NY Lottery. Debargo writes: “ACTeen was my very first exposure to performing in front of the camera. I learned so much about my strengths and weaknesses from the video playback process, as well as from the helpful feedback I received from the instructors. I was accepted into the Casting Director Seminar and the Talent Agent Showcase, where I made some great industry contacts and also learned a lot about the ‘business’ of being an actor from the people who know it best. From the important information I acquired, to the new skills I learned, to the people that I have met, ACTeen has been a wonderful resource for me.”
Jenna Lamia (graduate Film, Talent Agent Showcase) plays the youngest sister ("Sherri Ward') of Mark Wahlberg, and Christian Bale in the Oscar winning film “The Fighter,” about boxer Micky Ward and the brother who helped train him. "The Fighter" captured two Oscars, for both Jenna's film 'mom' Melissa Leo, and 'brother' Christian Bale, and a SAG acting ensemble award nomination! Jenna made her New York stage debut on Broadway at Lincoln Center in “Ah, Wilderness!” with Craig T. Nelson (shortly after getting her first agency representation through our ACTeen Talent Agent Showcase). Jenna is a very accomplished working actress, appearing in television series (“NYPD Blue”, “Law & Order SVU,” “Without a Trace”) and in many on-camera and voiceover commercials. A popular audio book voice artist, Jenna won the 2010 "Audie" award, for her reading of "Skeeter" in the best selling novel "The Help", by Katherine Stockett. Additionally Jenna is a writer, on the popular CW hit series "90210", (with current cast ACTeen alum Gillian Zinser). Look for Jenna in the upcoming feature film “The Hive” (as ‘Brooke’) and starring Halle Berry, and Abigail Breslin. Jenna has visited ACTeen, as our honored professional guest actress, adroitly performing scenes and audition sides with the students. (here with acting alum Matthew Barry. Find out about his success in ‘Series-ous’!)
Samm Levine plays ‘PFC Hirschberg’ opposite Brad Pitt in the Oscar nominated film “Inglourious Basterds,” written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Samm played “Spanky” in the film “Sydney White,” starring Amanda Bynes, “I Love You Beth Cooper,” starring Hayden Panettiere , “Pulse” with Kristin Bell and “Made for Each Other” (with fellow ACTeen alum Danny Masterson and Debargo Sanyal).
Samm (graduate Film Technique ) landed the principal role of “Neal” on the critically acclaimed NBC-TV series “Freaks & Geeks” (available on DVD.) “Freaks & Geeks” is a cult classic, produced by Judd Apatow and featuring Seth Rogen, James Franco, Linda Cardellini (“ER”), and Busy Philipps. Samm has guest starred on over twenty sitcoms and series including “Modern Family,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Entourage,” “Family Guy,” “NCIS,” “That 70’s Show,” and “My Name is Earl.”
Samm just debuted in his newest series as major cast regular "Josh Stern" Doctor Coles' administrative assistant in the new dark "Jekyl & Hyde" drama from NBC "Do No Harm."
Matthew Bonifacio (alum Film, Film Technique) is an award-winning film maker, whose short film “Migraine” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival this year. His first feature "Lbs" garnered national attention and was nominated last year for a John Cassavetes Award by Film Independent seven years after the film premiered at Sundance. Matthew will direct, produce and star in the indie drama "The Quitter," co produced by fellow ACTeen alum Neil Jain. Deirdre O'Connell ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"), Dan Grimaldi ("The Sopranos"), Jack O'Connell ("Doubt") and Natasha Lyonne are also starring. Matthew plays a failed baseball player trying to become a father to the seven-year-old girl he abandoned while she was in utero. Matthew caught up with me recently for coffee and it was ‘like yesterday.’ We are so very proud of his success!
Davi Santos (alum Film, Casting Director Seminar) is an extremely talented actor and also a film maker, writer, and producer (another ‘multihyphenate like alum Matthew Bonifacio above). Davi’s first film “The Cure’ was co-written with Christopher James Lopez, and was an official selection of the Cannes Film Festival. Davi wrote and produced his next feature “The Densely Hollow,” again with Lopez under their production company “Densely Hollow Films.” It is currently in post production. Keep an eye on Davi!
ACTeen Alums Get “Series-ous”!
Ralph Rodriguez (Film, Advanced Commercials) is a graduate who is in frequent contact, often for private audition coaching. Ralph recently guest-starred in the NBC series "Blue Bloods." Ralph played ‘Richard Turkel’, part of a Latino gang charged with a brutal initiation sex crime, and his scenes were with Donnie Wahlberg and Jennifer Esposito. Ralph visited the Sundance Film Festival to promote the new Paramount film "Son of No One" where Ralph is featured along with stars Channing Tatum, Al Pacino and Katie Holmes. Ralph has appeared in the high school drama “Detachment” with Adrien Brody and Bryan Cranston, and "Compliance" starring Dreama Walker, (with fellow ACTeen alum Phil Ettinger) andcommercials for "Drug Free America" and Six Flags! Ralph wrote: “thank you for all your hard work in shaping up my acting skills and giving me the tools I needed for auditioning and getting me better at my craft. We always love to hear about Ralphs's bookings and expect more great news from Ralph!
Matthew Barry (July Academy) came to ACTeen from England, and has not stopped working since! And actor and writer, Matthew was chosen as one of four British writers (out of over 400 submissions) by BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) to showcase their work in NYC for the fall NY Television Festival. Matt’s series (with writing partner Kayleigh Llewellyn) “Grey” was one of the winning submissions. The finalists have their work performed by professional actors, and meet in networking and mentoring sessions with producers and literary agents! Matthew is a staff writer for the successful BBC series “Eastenders,” “Holby City,” and “Casualty.”
Keenan Cochrane (Film, Film Seminar, Talent Industry Showcase) has had a great year. He found his manager (Persona) via the ACTeen showcase, signed with terrific commercial (Innovative) and theatrical agents, (Don Buchwald), and booked two commercials (Cablevision)! He also guest stars in “Zero Hour,” a new ABC international conspiracy series debuting in 2013 and starring Anthony Edwards (“ER). Keenan plays young ‘Walter Kipske’ in a flashback scene during 1938 Nazi Germany. Keenan’s character is forced into Hitler Youth and questions his involvement. From his mother: “You saw something special in our boy under all that hair way back when. Thanks again for the fine training on camera for him. Hes sooooo happy!“We can’t wait to tune in!
Melissa De Sousa (graduate Talent Agent Showcase) appeared last season on the BET Network series comedy "Reed Between the Lines" starring Malcolm Jamal Warner and Tracee Ellis Ross. Melissa played "Gabriella Jimenez" single friend to the married couple. Melissa has been a principal in several series: UPN’s TV series “Second Time Around”, and ’“One on One,“ the comedy “Damon”starring Damon Wayans, and the TV drama “The $treet”, opposite Jennifer Connelly, Recently appearances include the film “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” “Ashes,” with ACTeen alum Debargo Sanyal. Melissa will also appear in the Showtime comedy series "Shameless," starring William C Macy. Melissa is best known for her performance as “Shelby” in the romantic comedy “The Best Man”, with Taye Diggs, which earned her a NAACP Image Award nomination. Other film credits include “Laurel Canyon”, “Miss Congeniality”, “30 Years to Life,” and “The Ron Clark Story” starring Matthew Perry. Melissa wrote: “ACTeen was the first step I took in becoming an actor. It turned out to be the right one. The classes gave me the knowledge and confidence I needed. I booked the first job I ever auditioned for. It was that simple! Thanks ACTeen!”
Troy Winbush graduate Film, Commercials, Audition) literally grew up at ACTeen. To quote Troy, “ACTeen was my first acting school. When I started I took acting as a hobby, but as I continued with my training the dream grew to become a professional. The teachers gave me pride in my work. I’ll always be grateful to them!” Troy met the “The Cosby Show” casting directors in his ACTeen Audition course and was cast as “Denny”, one of Theo’s friends, playing with the stellar Emmy Award winning cast headed by Bill Cosby andPhylicia Rashad. Subsequently Troy landed roles in the films “The Principal” (with Jim Belushi), “Bonfire of the Vanities” (with Tom Hanks), “John Q” (with Denzel Washington) and “National Treasure 2” (with Nicholas Cage). Television appearances include portraying Frank Powell”, series principal in the NBC-TV series “Medical Investigation,” and recently “House of Payne,” “Rizzoli & Isles”, “NCIS,” “Girlfriends,” and ““CSI: Miami.” Look for Troy to appear in two episodes of ABC's series"Scandal" starring Kerry Washington.
Crystal Hunt joined the cast of ABC-TV’s “One Life to Live” as bad girl “Stacy Morasco.” For over a year, Crystal starred in 151 episodes! No stranger to daytime drama, Crystal played troubled teen “Lizzie Spaulding” for three years on CBS-TV’s soap opera “Guiding Light” and was nominated for a Daytime Emmy in the Outstanding Younger Actress category. Crystal was featured (with ACTeen grad Samm Levine above) in the film “Sydney White,” starring Amanda Bynes, playing the Texas sorority coed with the big hair. Crystal has appeared in the films “The Derby Stallion,” “From Earth to the Moon”, “Problem Child II”, and many commercials. Upcoming: look for Crystal in the feature film "23 Blast" the diretorial debut of Emmy nominee actor Dylan Baker. The film concerns a high school football star who is suddenly blinded.
Congratulations to Justin Bohon (graduate Commercials) now dancing and singing in his seventh Broadway musical, --“The Book of Mormon,” winner of 9 Tony awards including “Best Musical of 2011, and created by the writers of “South Park.” Justin has been in “9 to 5” with lyrics by Dolly Parton, played Will Parker in “Oklahoma!” directed by Trevor Nunn, choreographed by Susan Stroman (he received the Theatre World and Astaire Awards, as well as Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations); Jolle in “Les Misérables”; Dean Hyde in “All Shook Up”; “The Producers,” and “Miss Saigon.”
Haley Podscun (July Academy) is now in her sixth Broadway show, the critically acclaimed "Chaplin," as 'Mildred', Chaplin's first wife. Most recently Haley appeared in the Tony Award winning Best Musical Revival “Anything Goes”, starring Tony Award Winner Sutton Foster and Joel Grey (Haley plays “Virtue.”) Other Broadway shows include “Pal Joey” with Stockard Channing, Tony and Drama Desk 2008 ‘Best Revival” “Sunday in the Park with George,” “The Sound of Music,” and “Hairspray.” Hayley played the lead in “Freckleface Strawberry” Off Broadway, the musical adaptation of Julianne Moore’s bestselling children’s book! Hayley also appeared in the feature film version of “Hairspray” with fellow alum Ariel Reid as one of the “council kids.”
Jillian Mueller (alum Film Technique, Commercials, Film Casting Director Seminar.) just home from the National Tour of “American Idiot.” Jillian appeared at Lincoln Center in a ballet musical workshop "Little Dancer," directed by Susan Stroman (based on a Degas sculpture.) Jillian has done three Broadway musicals including “Bye Bye Birdie, as well as a recent stint on the TV series “A Gifted Man.” Jillian booked her first ever commercial audition: a national spot for Verizon FIOS right after her commercial course at ACTeen! Her dad emailed me the great news and happily asked: “Is it always that easy or was her training with you that good?!" We are very proud of Jillian’s success!!
Giuseppe Bausilio (ACTeen alumnus of Film Technique, Improvisation) starred on Broadway as “Billy” in “Billy Elliot.” Giuseppe is an extraordinary dancer, and winner of international dance competitions. Recently Giuseppe performed in “The Nutcracker” in New York.
Bridget Berger travelled from TN to take our July Academy before obtaining her BFA at Carnegie Mellon University. Bridget’s appeared in three Broadway shows, and is currently in the six year long running musical “Jersey Boys” (as Mary Delgado). Bridget has also appeared on Broadway in “Curtains,” and “The Pajama Game.”
Caitlin Kinnunen, (Film, Talent Agent Showcase) was only sixteen when she made her debut on Broadway in the original “Spring Awakening” (as “Thea”.) This year Caitlin has been performing across the country in the 1rst National Tour of the complex Pulitzer Prize winning musical “Next To Normal,” starring Alice Ripley.
Daisy Hobbs, (Commercials, Film, Talent Agent Showcase, Film Casting Director Seminar) recently graduated from Carnegie Mellon University and has not stopped working! She performed a new Disney adaptation of “Aladdin” in Seattle directed by Casey Nicholaw (“Book of Mormon”) and just returned from the 1rst National Tour of “Memphis,” (2010’s Tony Winning “Best Musical”) which opened appropriately enough in Memphis Tennessee.
Laura Heisler (Talent Agent Showcase) made her Broadway debut as ‘Edward Ashbrook’ in "Coram Boy." A veteran stage actor, Laura has appeared in numerous world premieres Off-Broadway and regionally. This year Laura was nominated for The Lucille Lortel Award for “Outstanding Performance by an Actress” for her role in the play “Kin” performed Off Broadway at Playwrights Horizon. Laura appears in the independent feature “Coach” ( starring Hugh Dancy, along with fellow ACTeen alum Jonathan Gutierrez), and “Cold Souls.” TV appearances include “The Defenders,” “The Middle,” Bones,” “Ugly Betty,” and “Numb3rs.”
Ronete Levenson (who got her manager through our ACTeen Talent Agent Showcase)— made her Lincoln Center Theatre debut in the world premiere of “What We Once Felt.” Ronete played Rebecca Gibbs in the acclaimed Off-Broadway production of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” directed by David Cromer for the Barrow Street Theater. Regional: August: Osage County (Old Globe Theater); Argonautika dir. Mary Zimmerman (Berkeley Rep, Shakespeare Theatre of DC, McCarter). Film: “Taking Woodstock” directed by Ang Lee. TV: "Law & Order," "Law & Order: SVU," "Guiding Light," and "Possible Side Effects" directed by Tim Robbins (a Showtime pilot).
In Other News…
Rita Litton, contributed writings for two published books for actors. “Acting for Young Actors: The Ultimate Teen Guide” by Mary Lou Belli and Dinah Lenney, and “The Actor’s Other Career Book” by Lisa Mulcahy. Rita was a featured panelist for a ‘Q & A’ following the book signing of “Acting For Young Actors” at The Drama Book Shop in New York City, along with Karl Jurman, the Musical Director of Broadway’s “Lion King” and Mary Lou Belli, Emmy Award winning director, producer, and seven season director of “Girlfriends” on the CW Network. (See Guest Artists)
We’ve Been Talking To…
Amanda Quaid (ACTeen Speech & Voice Instructor) recently in her fourth Off Broadway play: "The Cockfight Play, with superb NY Times review. This production featured Amanda fresh off female lead in revival of Tony Kushner's play "Illusion" Off Broadway, Ethan Coen's play Off Broadwy play, and playing daughter to Oscar Winner F. Murray Abraham in "Galileo" at Classic Stage Company..
Miriam Silverman (ACTeen Speech & Voice instructor), also winning accolades in Washington DC, starring as Ursula in the Michael Kahn directed "Measure for Measure" for the Shakespeare Theater of DC.
Gino DiIorio (ACTeen Film Technique, and Script Writing Instructor) won raves for his original play "Release Point" this fall at the NJ Repertory.
Rebecca Laurent and Anthony Hay, both recent Talent Showcase participants booked their first commercials!
Barbara Capelli (mother to Christina, Fall Program) wrote: “Thank you so very much for the wonderful acting program which Christina just completed, she loved it! I see a stronger motivation and increased self confidence in her and I know that you and your teaching staff are the catalysts.”
Nicole Duquet, (July Academy) ) is studying acting at Interlochen Arts Academy, performing the musical “A Christmas Carol” with musical direction by Alan Menken. Nicole wrote: “It's such an honor to be in a high school with such talented acting and music alumni and faculty. Of course I've taken all my film techniques from ACTeen to Interlochen and it's been such a blast!”
Congratulations to those alumni who participated in ACTeen’s recent Talent Industry Showcase. (Talent Showcase Photo Gallery) The teens have racked up an impressive array of callbacks and agency signings. The ACTeen Talent Agent Showcase is held twice a year, September and May, by audition only. A panel of judges selects a top ten to twelve finalists. We feel our students have done exceptionally well over the years.
Also available to our recommended graduates of either the Film Acting Technique or Film Scene Study class is the Casting Director Seminar. Held once a year in the winter, the seminar is conducted by five outstanding NYC casting directors who work personally with each student on audition and cold-reading techniques. Check out the Casting Director Seminar page or the Casting Director Seminar Photo Gallery for more information!
If you’re an alum and are interested in auditioning for the next Talent Industry Showcase , please call Rita Litton — (212) 391-5915 — for upcoming dates and audition information!