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.

Anthony Grasso

Anthony Grasso holds a BFA from the School Of Visual Arts and has trained at The Actors Studio, with Al Pacino, Ellen Burstyn & Arthur Penn. He has appeared in Gotham, Blue Bloods, Unforgettable, Law & Order and Sex & The City. Anthony has eighteen years of teaching experience and has taught at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Paper Mill Playhouse, and the New York Film Academy. When he is not acting or teaching, Anthony continues his studies in Oxford, England in addition to master classes in NYC with Larry Moss.

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 such as Say Anything; miniseries, like 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.

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.

Ben Livingston

Ben Livingston holds an MFA in Drama from Indiana University and has appeared in over fifty roles in film and television, including The Knick, The Blacklist, Elementary, Daredevil, House of Cards, Blue Bloods, The Good Wife, and Person of Interest. His extensive theatre credits include appearing on Broadway in The Heiress, One Man Two Guvnors, and Mamma Mia, Our Town and The Library, and at regional theaters across the country. Ben also co-wrote the screenplay for the movie, The Raven, starring John Cusack.

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.

Karl Maier

Karl Maier received his BA in theater-dance from The University of New Hampshire. He also trained with the Boston Ballet, and The American Academy of Ballet at Vassar. During his varied career as a dancer, singer, and aerialist; he has had the privilege of working with and for many inspiring artists such as Robert Lepage, Stephen Schwartz, Mark Dendy, and Micky Dolenz. Karl has performed on Late Night With Conan O’Brien, the national tour of Pippin, and more than a dozen productions with The Metropolitan Opera including many operas on PBS’s Great Performances at The Met.

Rawleigh Moreland

Rawleigh Moreland holds a BFA in theater from Valdosta State University and an MFA in directing from University of Cincinnati. He has worked extensively in New York City in theater, film, television, and commercials. His theater credits include The Gingerbread House, Last Trace of the Dinosaurs, A Family of Five, and Birdbath. His film and television work has included New York Stories, Mighty Aphrodite, Wolf, Another World, The Equalizer, and Law & Order, to name a few. Rawleigh also works as a producer, director, and session director for Stark Naked Productions and Dreamcatcher Casting.

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.

Jeremy Sortore

Jeremy Sortore holds an MFA in voice and speech pedagogy from the ART/Moscow Art Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. He also holds an MM in classical singing from the University of Colorado and has completed post-baccalaureate work in communication disorders and speech science. He is a theater voice specialist with background in functional voice mechanics, singing, speech, dialects and text. Before moving to NYC, he served as a vocal coach at the American Repertory Theater, an instructor in the ART Institute MFA program, and a teaching fellow in dramatic arts at Harvard University. He is an associate teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework and a member of Actors’ Equity.

Michael Warner

Michael Warner holds an MFA in acting from Rutgers University where he studied under William Esper and Maggie Flanigan. As an experienced film and television actor, you can see him in House of Cards, Forever, Law & Order, Boardwalk Empire, All My Children, and As the World Turns. Michael stage performances include the Broadway revival of Machinal, The Language of Trees, The Marriage of Bette and Boo, Distracted, Wings, Scarcity, and Monstrosity. He also teaches Meisner at Studio 4 NYC, James Franco’s Acting and Film School, Rutgers and UArts.