While the principles of great acting don’t change, the realities of the film and TV business do—constantly. That’s why NYCDA instructors are working professionals who bring real-world acting experience to every class they teach, under the direction of seven seasoned department heads. Each department head is a master teacher who works closely with adjunct faculty in related disciplines like dance, directing, casting, and producing. All instructors are available to students inside and outside the classroom for personal advice and direction.


Sara Buffamanti

Sara Buffamanti earned her MFA in acting and theater from Columbia University. She has worked as both an actress and a director in the U.S., Japan, Korea, Germany, Italy, and Scotland. Her movement mentors are world-renowned clown and mime James Donlon and Romanian performer and director Nikolaus Wolcz. In New York City her work has been seen at PS 122, Dixon Place, HERE, The Metropolitan Opera and New York Theater Workshop. Sara is the creator of Eleanor Alla Barre, a one-woman clown show, and also stars in the upcoming feature film Maybe There’s a Tree by Ashlin Halfnight.

Eileen Connolly

Eileen Connolly holds an MFA in Acting from the University of Minnesota, and a BA in Theatre and Dance from DeSales University. She is the founder and Artistic Director of Wallis Knot Theatre, where she creates, designs and directs original multimedia productions, including Late to the Republique (NYCDA), Dance with Me, Harker (New York International Fringe Festival) and Seeing Andre Gide (New Actors Workshop). As an actress, she has worked Off Broadway and at the Meadow Brook and Birmingham theatres in Detroit, the Royal George in Chicago and the Walnut Street Theatre and Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia. As a director, she was honored to assist Betty Comden and Adolph Green on their revival of A Doll's Life (York Theatre). She recently created the movement and combat for Irish Repertory Theatre's production of Beowulf. For the University of Vermont, she was commissioned to co-author an adaptation of Aristophanes' The Birds and Don Marquis' Archy and Mehitabel.

Jay R. Goldenberg

Jay Goldenberg holds an MFA from New York University School of the Arts. He is an actor, director and teacher, and has coached actors on the sets of feature films, including: Say Anything; miniseries: Elvis and Me; sitcoms: Moonlighting; and daytime dramas: General Hospital. His private client roster has included Salma Hayek, Cybill Shepherd, Alicia Silverstone, Estelle Getty, Michael Chiklis, Charles Kimbrough, Beth Howland, Ione Skye, Mary Wilson, Eric Close, Allyce Beasley, and Nicollette Sheridan, to name a few.

Deborah Hedwall

Deborah Hedwall has been acting and teaching in NY for 25 years. As an acting teacher, she carries on the traditions and fundamental principles of her master teachers Sandrod Meisner and Uta Hagen. Her teaching positions include HB Studios, Ensemble Studio Theater Institute, Fordham BFA Acting Program, Rutgers MFA acting program as well as her own professional training studio, dh&co, in Manhattan. She has created roles in many new plays. Savage in Limbo, Extremities, Safe House, Husbandry, Why We Have A Body, Amulets Against the Dragon Forces, Sight Unseen {OBIE and Drama Desk Nomination}. In and Around NY: Signature Theater, Ensemble Studio Theatre, 59 East 59, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Yale Rep. The Long Wharf Theater, Arena Stage, Baltimore Center Stage, McCarter Theater, Eugene O'Neil Theater Conference, Sundance Playwrights Conference, NY Stage and Film, Bay Street Theater and Barrington Stage Company and recently Hartford Stage appearing in AN OPENING IN TIME, by Chris Shinn directed by Oliver Butler. Film and Television: You Don't Know Jack, Higher Ground, Shadrach and Boarder Crossings, The Big C, The West Wing, Law and Order, Delocated, Ina Muldoon in the TNT series Public Morals starring Ed Burns and The Marvel Comic Series, Jessica Jones.

Neal Lerner

Neal Lerner holds an MFA in acting from the Yale School of Drama. He has appeared in Orange is the New Black, Law & Order, Seinfeld, The War at Home, Lipstick Jungle, Reba, Frasier, Ally McBeal, NewsRadio, Married with Children, Murphy Brown, Cheers, and All My Children. His film credits include Batman Returns, Boiler Room, Homewrecker, Please Give, The Visitor, and Demolition Man. Neal has also performed extensively Off-Broadway, including Stuff Happens and Serious Money at the Public Theater; Julius Caesar at the New York Shakespeare Festival; Fuddy Meers at MTC; and Hurrah at Last at the Roundabout Theatre Company.

Becky London

Becky London earned her BA in English from Yale University and her MFA in acting from the Yale School of Drama. Her television credits include Inside Amy Schumer, Blue Bloods, Law & Order, Third Watch and Quantum Leap. She has also appeared in numerous films including Nasty Baby, El Camino, United 93, Changing Lanes, and A Very Serious Person. Becky’s Broadway and Off-Broadway credits include Marlene, Ubu, Isn’t It Romantic, Othello, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, and Jewtopia. Becky also directed Separating the Men from the Bulls in the Unofficial New York Yale Cabaret’s award-winning first season.

Amy Marcs

Amy Marcs received a BA in Theater from Rider University and is a long time student of Fred Kareman. As an actress, Amy has appeared at many regional theatres across the country. Most recently she was seen as Gorgeous Teitelbaum in The School House Theater's production of The Sisters Rosensweig. Other credits include featured roles in Geminin, Kingdom of Earth, The Star Spangled Girl and And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little. She has performed in the independent film The Waiting Game. Her voice can be heard on numerous national network television and radio commercials. She recently played the role of Peg the Pig in the animated feature film Impy's Island.

Karl Maier

Karl Maier holds a BA in Theatre and Dance from the University of New Hampshire. While in school, he supplemented his studies with additional training at Boston Ballet and with The American Academy of Ballet at Vassar. During his varied career as a dancer, singer, puppeteer, aerial artist and musician, Karl has had the pleasure of creating and performing with a variety of great minds. Highlights include; Stephen Schwartz, Micky Dolenz, Vanessa Williams, Mark Dendy, Jerry Mitchell, Josh Rhodes, and John Adams in his Grammy Award winning Dr. Atomic. He has also worked extensively with Robert LePage and his team Ex Machina, most recently in staging and performing the new Ring Cycle at the Metropolitan Opera. Credits include Late Night with Conan O'Brien, the national tour of the musical Pippin, performances with the Little Orchestra Society, and more than a dozen operas at the Met as a dancer and aerialist. Karl can be seen dancing and flying in many productions for the Met's HD Broadcast series.

Donnie Mather

Donnie Mather holds a BFA in Theatre with minor in Dance from Western Kentucky University. He is an instructor of Suzuki & Viewpoints Training. He has taught at the Atlantic Acting School, NYU, Columbia University, Bard College, Fordham University, the New School, Hope College, Louisiana State University, University of Puerto Rico, and the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. Internationally, he has led workshops throughout South America in Bogota, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Florianopolis, Uberlandia, and at the Iberoamericano Theatre Festival of Bogota. He has over a dozen years experience in Suzuki and Viewpoints, training mostly with Anne Bogart and members of SITI Company as an Associate (2000-2007) as well as with Tina Landau and Mary Overlie. Donnie has performed in Macbeth, Nicholas & Alexandra, Seven Deadly Sins, Lilith (SITI Company); I, Claudius (Theatre Askew); Anthony & Cleopatra, Comedy of Errors, Merchant of Venice, and Two Gentlemen of Verona (Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey); and works by Charles Mee including Fetes de la Nuit (Dir. Kim Weild) and Trojan Women A Love Story (Dir. Tina Landau). Donnie created A Show of Force (FringeNYC, Hope College, Hudson Guild, Manizales Theatre Festival). Donnie is the founding artist of The Adaptations Project, performing in its inaugural production Kaddish (or The Key in the Window) based on the poetry of Allen Ginsberg.

Ruth Nerken

Ruth Nerken earned a BA in theater from Yale University before going on to train with William Esper and the American Conservatory Theatre. She has guest starred on Law & Order, Kate & Allie, and Too Close for Comfort, and performed in regional theatre, Off-Broadway, and in the national touring company of Grease. Ruth has also appeared in more than 200 television commercials and been a guest speaker at events for AFTRA, SAG, and Yale University.

Richard Omar

After completing his degree at Hofstra University, Richard Omar trained under famed acting teachers Uta Hagen and Bobby Lewis in NYC. Richard’s New York theatre credits include Dance with Me, Harker, The First Day, Never the Sinner, The Secret History, Richard III, which played at the New York International Fringe Festival. As a ballroom dancer, he appeared on film with Leslie Caron, Patrick Stewart and Jennifer Beals. His previous teaching experience also includes SUNY Purchase, Hofstra University, and the New Actors Workshop for Mike Nichols.

Steve Perlmutter

Steve Perlmutter holds a BS in speech from Northwestern University, and studied extensively with renowned teachers Fred Kareman and Larry Moss. He has performed at regional theaters throughout the country, including Philadelphia’s famed Walnut Street Theater. He has also appeared in numerous radio and television commercials for brands like Volvo, Nestea, Jell-O, Norwest Bank, Bell South, and Staples. And in addition to his work at NYCDA, he also teaches at Rutgers University and NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

Alan Rackham

Alan Rackham earned his BA in history from Columbia University and his MFA in directing at New York University Tisch School of the Arts. He has worked as an actor in both New York and Europe. His short films have won awards from film festivals all over the world.

Ben Sander

Ben Sander holds a BFA in fashion design from FIT and is the creator of Brini Maxwell, a domestic guru character featured in her own eponymous television show on the Style network. In addition to developing the character, he also executive produced the show. Ben is a published author and has worked with NPR and made appearances on World News Now, The Conan O’Brien Show, Style, Soap Talk, Tyra Banks and the Oscar and Golden Globe pre-shows on E!, among others. A devotee of mid-century culture and film, he also works as an interior designer and film blogger.

Judith Searcy

Judith Searcy holds a BA in speech/theater from Appalachian State University and an MFA in Acting from the University of North Carolina. She has continued her studies at NYU, Columbia University, and the University of London. Judith has written, directed, and performed sketch comedy and improv for more than two decades, including live and video projects for American Express, ESPN, Mercedes-Benz, British Airways, and many others. She was a principal member of Chicago City Limits, New York’s longest-running comic revue, for 10 years; played the title role in the award-winning comedy short, Marge, and has been featured on PBS, CBS, the Today show, NPR, and Comedy Central.