While the principles of great acting don’t change, the realities of the film and TV business do—constantly. That’s why NYCDA faculty 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.
President, Artistic Director
Teaches: Scene Study for Film and Television I and II, Acting I and II (Theater Performance Program)
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.
Jay R. Goldenberg
Director of Education
Teaches: Scene Study for Film and Television I and II
Jay Goldenberg 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. Jay holds an MFA from New York University School of the Arts.
Associate Director of Education
Teaches: Physical and Vocal Dynamics, Movement for Actors II - Viewpoints, Voice and Speech III and IV (Theater Performance Program)
Sara Buffamanti 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. Sara earned her MFA in acting and theater from Columbia University.
Academic Affairs Liaison
Teaches: Actors Lab I and II
Becky London's 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. Becky earned her BA in English from Yale University, and her MFA in acting from the Yale School of Drama.
Executive Producer, Final Reel
Teaches: Introduction to Camera for Actors, Process for the Camera
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.
Associate Director, Summer Programs
Teaches: Scene Study for Film and Television I and II, Audition Technique I and II
Neal Lerner has appeared in Girls, 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. Neal holds an MFA in acting from the Yale School of Drama.
Teaches: Movement for Actors I and II - Dance
Sara holds a BA in Theatre and Dance from the University of New Hampshire. Recent work includes Maren in Untranslatable Secrets at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. Recent workshops include June in Rivera's 25th Anniversary of Marisol (also choreographer), and Cat in the screenplay of References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot. Prior to her acting career, Sara was an accomplished life-long classical dancer. She has been fortunate to work with Steven Schwartz as the aerial soloist in the Goodspeed tour of Pippin; and with Bartlett Sher dancing in The Tales of Hoffmann at The Metropolitan Opera and on PBS' Great Performances. She helped create the principal role Love for Mary Zimmerman’s Armida, and danced in Laurent Pelly’s Manon, and Robert LePage’s Damnation of Faust, all at The Metropolitan Opera. Other dancing roles at Lincoln Center include Cinderella and Peter And The Wolf. More highlights are film festival winner, Have You Seen Calvin?, Elsinore County at Theatre Row (also choreographer); Oklahoma!, The Maids, and One Life to Live. She has been a featured model for acclaimed photographers Jordan Matter (“Dancers Among Us”) and Howard Schatz (“SCHATZ Images: 25 Years”). Sara is an accomplished choreographer for film and theater.
Teaches: Acting in Commercials and Voice-Over
Lane Binkley received her Bachelor of Science in Literature from the Hunter College/CUNY. She also studied with Lee Strasberg, Wynn Handman and Michael Howard. She has been a working actress for 30 years, and has performed extensively on both coasts. Her theatrical credits include working with director Alan Arkin and the late Ellis Rabb. Among her numerous guest appearances are City in Fear with Mickey Rourke and the original miniseries Roots. She performed for three years in a Los Angeles based improvisation group and has done hundreds of TV and radio commercials. Lane is a member of SAG, AFTRA and AEA.
Teaches: Actors Comedy Workshop
Jim has been a professional actor for more than twenty-five years. Some of his most recent television appearances include three episodes of the new HBO comedy, Divorce, starring Sarah Jessica Parker; a stint as Bobby Cannavale’s lawyer in the HBO drama, Vinyl, as a shrink on Orange is the New Black, and in the HBO miniseries Show Me a Hero. He’s been in more than 1000 radio and TV commercials, and for many years was the voice of the Olive Garden restaurant, where he continually reminded people that “when you’re here, you’re family!” He is a co-founder of The Cape Cod Theatre Project, a non-profit theatre company that develops new American plays. He served two terms on the Board of Directors of the Screen Actors Guild. Jim Bracchitta earned his BA in English Literature from New York University, and holds the designation of CEBS (Certified Employee Benefit Specialist) from the Wharton School.
Teaches: Scene Study for Film and Television I and II
Kevin Breznahan holds a BA in Communications from Rutgers University and trained extensively with renowned teachers Wynn Handman and Fred Kareman. Some notable acting credits include, Winter’s Bone, Superbad, Alive, Magnolia, SLC Punk!, Adventureland, The Cobbler, along with Television’s Billions, The Deuce, Criminal Minds, Law & Order: SVU, Las Vegas, At Home With Amy Sedaris, and The Heart She Holler. Additionally his vast theater credits include Broadway’s The Young Man from Atlanta.
Teaches: Physical and Vocal Dynamics Movement for Actors III and IV (Theater Performance Program)
Laura Butler Rivera holds an MFA in Acting from Columbia University, and a B.A. in Drama from the University of Puerto Rico. She has taught Acting at Columbia University’s MFA Acting program and has offered theater workshops of movement and Acting in Berlin, Japan, Romania, US, and Puerto Rico. In New York City she has worked with Robert Wilson, Andrei Serban, La MaMa, Mabou Mines, HERE Theater, INTAR theater, CABORCA theater, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Black Box Productions, and Ripe Time. She is an Artistic Director for One-Eighth Theater, and a co-founder of Cloud of Fools Theater.
Teaches: Meisner Technique I and II
Katya has taught Meisner technique and scene study at Rutgers University, Pace University, James Franco’s Studio 4, and for the Oxbridge program at Barnard College. Broadway credits include the Pulitzer Prize winning Disgraced, Roundabout Theatre Company’s The Big Knife with Bobby Cannavale and Manhattan Theatre Club’s Mauritius. Katya played the title role in the Rattlestick Theatre/Colt Coeur co-production of Cal in Camo, her fourth production with Colt Coeur, the critically acclaimed company of which she is a founding member. Other Off-Broadway credits include Halley Feiffer’s How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them at the Rattlestick Theatre, Laugh It Up, Stare it Down at the Cherry Lane Theatre and 27 Wagons Full of Cotton at Ensemble Studio Theatre. Her independent film credits include Archaeology of a Woman, Crimson Mask, Small Outdoors, Crazy Glue, Girl on the Fridge and the television shows Guiding Light and Law & Order. She holds an MFA from Rutgers University, where she studied with William Esper.
Teaches: Movement for Actors II – Viewpoints
With over fifteen years’ experience in Suzuki and Viewpoints movement, Dan has taught movement and physical performance at the University of Washington, California State University, Long Beach and NYU, Tisch School of the Arts. Dan performed with NYC’s Cannon Company for several years, appearing in their innovative productions of MacBeth (HERE Arts Center), Three Sisters, and Puss (The Performing Garage). His directing work includes his own original adaptations of the Italo Calvino short stories Teresa and Making Do, and Juliet, an original deconstruction of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Dan is a member of SAG-AFTRA and Director's Lab West. He Cohen holds an MFA in Directing from the University of Washington.
Teaches: Voice and Speech I and II
Eileen Connolly 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. Eileen holds an MFA in Acting from the University of Minnesota, and a BA in Theatre and Dance from DeSales University.
Teaches: Scene Study for Film and Television I and II, Actors Lab III
For 20 years, Maury has been teaching acting both in Los Angeles and New York. Recent film credits include the soon to be released The Week Of with Adam Sandler and 5 Flights Up with Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton. Recent TV credits include: Elementary, Blacklist, Madam Secretary, and HBO’s Vinyl. Other film and television credits include: Rocket Science, According to Greta, Big Miracle, My One and Only, The Girl in the Park, Blue Bloods, House of Cards, Damages, The Good Wife, Law & Order, Law & Order SVU, Unforgettable, Louie and Friends, among many others. As a professional actor of stage, film and television, he has had a 25-year working relationship with Olympia Dukakis and three seasons at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Off-Broadway credits include Laugh it up Stare it Down at Cherry Lane Theatre; regional credits include productions at Cincinnati Playhouse; The Old Globe in San Diego; Great Lakes Theater; South Coast Repertory; Geffen Playhouse; Geva Theatre Center; Philadelphia Theatre Company; Arizona Theatre Company; Pasadena Playhouse; among others. He is a graduate of Bard College and student of the late Sanford Meisner and Larry Moss.
Teaches: Actors Lab I and II Improvisation
Suzanne's movie credits include Doubt, Meet Joe Black, Changing Lanes and Broken Flowers. Television credits include Mindhunter, Master of None, Orange Is The New Black, The Sopranos, Search Party, Law & Order, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Stage credits include Susan Stroman’s Broadway revival of The Music Man, and many Off Broadway/Regional theater credits including Ensemble Studio Theatre, Oklahoma Lyric Theater, The Denver Center, Syracuse Stage, Seven Angels, and The Depot Theater. After improvisation/clowning training with legends Paul Sills, Jeffrey Sweet and David Shiner, she joined the improv/comedy troupe Chicago City Limits and toured with them nationally for five years. She was a founding member of the popular sketch group The Heartless Floozies where she wrote, curated and performed shows for many years. Suzanne has taught at Wagner College, Farleigh Dickenson University, Syracuse University, AMDA, and NYFA. She is a Syracuse University graduate with a BFA in Musical Theater.
Leah Rae Hulgin
Teaches: Web Video for Actors
Leah Rae Hulgin is from Cincinnati Ohio. She earned her BFA at The University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music and her MFA in Directing at UCLA's School of Theater, Film, and Television. At UCLA, she was the recipient of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Award, as well as the Edie and Lew Wasserman Award for her original work. Leah has performed at The Groundlings Theater, The Second City Training Center, Cincinnati Fringe Festival, and Los Angeles Fringe Festival. She is currently in post-production on a comedy web series and writing a play to be produced this summer in New York.
Teaches: Movement III and IV (Theater Performance Program)
Eunyoung Bona Jung is a working theater performer and a movement director in Korea, France and the United States. She is also a contemporary ballet dancer, and her movement approach is based on Viewpoints, Grotowski, and Laban. Theater credits include This is A Protest of What Happened (The Brick Theater Festival), The Weird Tree (NYC Fringe Festival), Lost in Place (NYC Planet Connections Festivity), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Classic Stage Company), Light (CSC), God of Carnage (Columbia Stage), A Lie of the Mind (Columbia Stage), White Lies (France Avignon International Theatre Festival), Oresteia Trilogy ver.2.0 (KunstaHale Theater, Korea), CollaboLab: Film, Shot, and Consciousness (England Trinity Laban Conservatoire + Arts&Co, Korea). Film Credits include Viral (SAG), A Fishbowl (Independent film), Puerta (Seoul International Film Festival), and an i-Phone 6S national TV commercial. She holds a MA in Performing Arts Studies from Seoul National University, and a MFA in Acting from Columbia University School of the Arts.
Teaches: Acting in Commercials and Voice-Over
Kathryn Kinley has a diverse and international career as an actress, singer, television host, broadcast journalist, writer and producer. After receiving a BFA and BM from Trinity University, she began her career as an actress, appearing in national tours of Love Letters with the late Ken Howard, Camelot, Company, 1776, and City of Angels. Her film work includes The Birdcage, Primary Colors, The Purple Rose of Cairo and The Proprietor, working with the legendary Mike Nichols, Woody Allen and Ismail Merchant. Kinley's TV work includes serving as host and interviewer for VH-1 and Night Flight, which began her career as an Emmy Award-winning entertainment news correspondent, film critic, and producer for NBC News, Disney, ABC Television, WPIX News, the New York Times, Associated Press, E! News, HBO Cannes Film festival, Travel Channel's The Flavors of France, and Memories Then and Now with Chuck Scarborough. Off-camera, her voice has been heard on commercials and promos for HBO, Cinemax, Maybelline, ABC, and Air France.
Teaches: Actors Lab III Audition Technique I and II
Jason Liebman tried really hard to not be an actor. It didn't work. He studied acting at Stella Adler, The Actors Center and privately with Phoebe Brand, Anne Occhiogrosso and Randall Duk Kim. Jason has worked on new plays with The Atlantic Theatre Co., Ensemble Studio Theatre, the O'Neill, Women's Project, the Lark, New Dramatists and more. He spent the first few years of his career in NYC, working almost exclusively on the classics, appearing in productions of Hamlet (title role), The Second Part of Henry the Sixth, and As You Like It, among others. He works regularly in commercials and voice over, has appeared on TV in Shades of Blue, Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU and Madam Secretary and in sketches on Letterman, Conan and Jimmy Kimmel. Films include Arranged, Motion Sickness and Tarab. He is a proud member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre, an artistic associate of the Vampire Cowboys, and a mason of the Brick Theatre. Jason earned his Masters from NYU in Media, and did graduate work at Concordia University back home in Montreal.
Teaches: Dialects (Theater Performance Program)
Adam's recent works include starring in the NatGeo nonfiction miniseries, I Am Rebel: Phreaks and Geeks, appearing as the world’s first notorious computer hacker Kevin Mitnick; a production of his new musical The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Based on the Book by L. Frank Baum for a post-Wicked Age for young performers; assistant directing Galileo’s Torch, by the biographer and historian James Reston, Jr., and this fall he will be portraying the role of Liam in Bad Jews at The Sharon Studio Theater at the Villages, Florida. Adam earned his BA from Brown University with a double major in Literary Arts and Theatre Arts, and his MFA in Acting from Columbia University School of the Arts, studying under Kristin Linklater, Andrei Serban, Anne Bogart and others.
Teaches: Meisner Technique I and II, Acting in Commercials, Voice-Over
Amy Marcs has appeared at many regional theaters 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. Amy received a BA in Theater from Rider University and is a long time student of Fred Kareman.
Teaches: Movement for Actors I and II - Dance
Karl Maier is a dancer, singer, puppeteer, aerial artist and musician. He 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. Karl 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.
Teaches: Movement for Actors I – Suzuki, Movement for Actors II - Viewpoints
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). 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. 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. He holds a BFA in Theatre with minor in Dance from Western Kentucky University.
Teaches: Actors Lab I and II
Ruth Nerken 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. Ruth earned a BA in theater from Yale University, before going on to train with William Esper and the American Conservatory Theatre.
Teaches: Meisner Technique I and II
Steve Perlmutter 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 including 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. Steve holds a BS in speech from Northwestern University, and studied extensively with renowned teachers Fred Kareman and Larry Moss.
Teaches: Web Video for Actors
Chris Chan Roberson is a 15-year veteran editor, digital content strategist, cinematographer, college professor and project manager. He has been teaching cinematography and editing at Tisch School of the Arts since 1999 and served as NYU’s Executive Director of Post Production for over two years. He also edits professionally, and has worked with Sting, Billy Eichner, Nick Kroll and Christian McBride. Currently he edits for the YouTube channel’s The Things and produces content for Kung Fu Tea and the New York Historical Society. In 2006, Chris won a Telly Award for his editing work with Robert Small Entertainment, where he edited for Comedy Central, Nick at Nite and The Biography Channel. From 2012 through July 2014, Chris worked at YouTube, helping emerging partners devise channel strategy, increase production value, and develop their brand. He holds a BFA in Film and Television from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Teaches: Film Genres and History, Web Video for Actors
Ben Sander 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. Ben holds a BFA in fashion design from FIT.
Teaches: Improvisation, Actors Comedy Workshop
Judith Searcy 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. She 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.
Teaches: Web Video for Actors
In 2006, Thom helped usher in the online video revolution with the launch of the first full-length sitcom made for the web, the semi-hipster comedy The Burg. He also created, wrote and produced The All-For-Nots (a co-production with Michael Eisner), All's Faire, and Greg & Donny, which won a deal at IFC through the New York Television Festival. Among his credits are the most recent James Bond 007 mobile game, the creation of the highly popular Episode Interactive storytelling platform, and the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World commercials. Currently Thom serves as Creative Director for Electus LLC, where he oversees development of native and branded shows and content for CollegeHumor (the #1 comedy YouTube channel), Dorkly.com, and other projects for both web and television. For his screenwriting and web series work he has been nominated for the Writer's Guild, Webby and Streamy awards, and has been named an Emerging Storyteller at the IFP. Thom was a founding member of the International Academy of Web Television, was the first professor of Webseries at the School of Visual Arts. He holds a BA in Theatre Arts and a BA in Film from Penn State.
Abigail Zealey Bess
Teaches: Introduction to the Camera for Actors
Abigail Zealey Bess is an award-winning filmmaker and theater director who has worked with the legendary Sidney Lumet, John Leguizamo, Kevin Smith, Matt LeBlanc, Frank Whaley, Bruce Beresford, and many others. She directed and produced her debut film, the award winning baseball trilogy: Play Ball! (Fanfare for A Common Man, Random Acts of Intimacy, Caught in Time). In addition to garnering Best Film at seven USA festivals, she was awarded 1st Prize for Best Short Film by woman director at the LA Women In Film Competition. Recent Film Projects on the film festival circuit include the comedy webisode series, Here’s what I Like and Now I’ll tell you Why, the Award winning Mary and Louise, (Best Short film screenplay LA Film Festival, Brit Penrod Audience Award, Roy W Dean Finalist), and Icarus Stops For Breakfast. Full-length features currently in pre-production include Caroline’s Wedding, Walking Shadows, and The Beacon. She is a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre, Actors Studio Director/Playwrights Unit, SDC, NYWIFT and LPTW. Abigail is on the faculty for the Graduate Film Program at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.