Friday, September 2, 2016

A Letter to Myself at the start of the Mentorship Program

Dear Bryan in 2011,

Welcome to LA! 

Congrats, you made it – it's no small feat to transplant oneself from New York City.
I imagine you’ve only just now found your apartment.
Cameron is on his way West to inhabit the other room.  

You’ve yet to learn to read parking signs and already have two tickets, from the same spot.

You’ve distilled your whole life into a trunk full of audition clothes, camera gear and a friend in the passenger seat.
It’s a marvelous beginning of the next chapter and you’re so damn ready to do this for real.

Venturing cross-country to a city you've never been to in pursuit of this career and lifestyle requires a bravery you’ve only just discovered.

Focus on bettering yourself, do what you do better than you’ve ever done it.
Competition encourages adaptation.

Netflix nature documentaries will teach you valuable lessons over the next 5 years, of which:

The single greatest advantage to a species’ survival is cooperation.

When one or more organisms coooperate, both are more likely to survive.
And the strongest only survive if their survival is sustainable.
Moving here wasn’t a BIG decision.  It was a long one.

Tisch West and the mentorship program are valuable, renewable resources 
for attaining a cooperative environment for learning from others' experiences. 
Like all resources, the program is a tool you have to utilize to benefit.
The more focus and effort applied, the greater leverage.

Start building the community of people you’ll climb mountains with.
Spend time together outside, in the sunlight.

Your first car gets stolen.  The second one gets totaled by a runaway Volvo.
Insurance is worth it.

You’ll write this letter to your past self in the hope that the current mentees make the absolute most of the community and opportunity offered them by this program. 

That they’ll share their experiences with one another to help each other survive.  
Giving that kind of help is the surest way of receiving it.

You’ll invite them to TW events so they can continue building the community, 
with their dreams and their goals and their friends.

Cameron is about to marry Nora and you don’t even know who Nora is yet.

I’d write you all the other magnificent experience you’ll have by 2016,
But you wouldn’t believe me. 

~ Bryan

[Bryan Dechart is a '09 Tisch Drama alumni, he was a mentee in 2011 and a mentor in 2013-2015.  He lives in LA and works as an Actor & Photographer: |]

Welcome to LA - it has 100% not been waiting for you.

Welcome to LA - it has 100% not been waiting for you.

Congratulations on moving to LA. Just like thousands of graduates that descend upon the city in any given year, you’re going to have to reckon with the culture shock of living in Los Angeles. We’ve all been through it, which means you’re not special but it also means that you’re not alone. Even if you feel especially alone. I could guide you through every part of moving step-by-step, from the weird Uber/Lyft LAX pickup system to getting the best food at movie premieres but instead, I want to give you some advice on how to get the answers to questions that aren’t written down somewhere for you; other people.

 Your best resource in Los Angeles is other people that have been through what you’re trying to do. The more recently, the better. It’s not much help to hear career advice from someone that broke in writing jokes for Bob Hope’s USO tours when writers are getting hired off twitter. How do you meet these peers of yours?
  • Your current friends. Odds are some of them know someone in LA that’s doing a similar thing to you.
  • School connections. There are NYU people out here that would be happy to help you. The mentor program, Tisch West, teachers or the geniuses in the careers center could help facilitate an introduction.
  • Online. There aren’t many rules on twitter. If you have mutual friends with someone of interest on facebook, perhaps ask that mutual friend for an intro?
  • Being social. Go to events that are relevant to you and strike up conversation with people about things that you’re curious about or interested in.
In whatever way you’re connected with these people, ask them about making a time to get coffee or a drink. Now, what do you ask these peers when you have their ear?

  • Ask them about what they did. Nobody has the same path in the industry but with enough stories, you begin to hear commonalities. Mail rooms, meeting casting assistants, writing assistants, etc. all feature prominently in these stories but they’re not the only way to go.
  • Ask people about what amazing Listservs they are on (some great ones have been running for years, some still run through Yahoo) or what facebook groups they recommend. Even if they can’t actually get you on there, the more you’re aware of them, the better. You’ll get on there eventually. If you’re not from LA, there’s likely a facebook group “State/Country X in LA” for you. Meet people with similar backgrounds and they might be able to add or direct you. These will be good for you to expand your network and ask even MORE questions.
  • Ask them about podcasts/websites/resources that have more specific information for your career path. Podcasts like Children of Tendu or ScriptNotes, institutions like UCB/Groundlings, courses like UCLA Extension or Script Anatomy, opportunities at festivals like Austin and Sundance – all are valid paths depending on what you want to do and hold the answers to many of your questions.
  • Ask them about where they live/lived. LA is big and unwieldy. You can live in Santa Monica and work in Glendale but no matter how much the sea air refuels you, it’s nothing compared to the brutality of that commute. If you’re not sure where you’re going to be working, try to start out fairly central on a month-to-month lease as you get a feel for the place and perhaps settle in to a more permanent position. When you think you know where you want to live, ask them about finding housing. I’ve personally heard of people getting things through Craigslist, facebook groups, ListServs or splitting the cost of a membership to paid services like The Rental Girl or West Side Rentals with some fellow searchers.
  • Ask them how they got around. Uber and Lyft have been game changers. Some friends of mine that irregularly travel for meetings/auditions have forgone cars and been perfectly fine with apps and the occasional train but if you have a 9-5 job (or, more likely, a 7-10 job) then you’re better off having a car. Ask if they bought or lease, their experience and decide if a lease or buying outright is good for you.
  • And finally, tell people what you want to do. In their day job or through their own lists, groups, etc. they will come across lots of opportunities. If they know what you want, they’ll be able to put 2 and 2 together and pass along relevant information. Be thankful for that and they’ll keep doing it.

You’ll ask the above questions to dozens of people, even after you’ve made your choices of housing, living and career path-taking. Information is power, nowhere is that more true than Los Angeles. So ask questions. Then, before long, you’ll find yourself a bit of an expert and you’ll be asked to write a guide to LA. Good luck!

- Joe Bruckner
Joe is an Australian graduate of Tisch NYU Dramatic Writing Program now living and working in Los Angeles. He was a mentee in the 2015-16 program

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Meet the Mentors 2016

Meet the new Mentors for the NYUinLA Mentorship Program Class of 2016!!

Acting Mentors

Keith Powell was a series regular on NBC’s Emmy Award-winning sitcom 30 Rock for seven seasons, where he received a 2008 Screen Actors Guild Award as part of the ensemble. Prior to 30 Rock, Powell was the Producing Artistic Director of Contemporary Stage Company in Wilmington, DE, where he produced, directed, and/or performed in plays starring Lynn Redgrave, Keith David, Jasmine Guy, Richard Easton and Sean Patrick Thomas (winning 2 Barrymore Awards). His theater credits include work at The Shakespeare Theatre, Portland Stage Company, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Hangar Theatre, Delaware Theatre Company, and HB Playwrights Foundation among others. He has also appeared in Deadbeat, Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, the ABC pilot Judy's Got A Gun, Reno 911!, and NCIS: Los Angeles. He has had recurring roles on About A Boy and The Newsroom, and appeared in the feature films Armless, Syrup, and Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian. He is the writer/producer/director of the animated pilot Nate & Abe (starring Rachel Dratch, David Wain, Alyssa Milano, and Robert Ben Garant), and writer/director of the short films People We Meet (also starring Frederick Weller and Scott Adsit), Let Them Lie, and This Is A House. Recently, Mr. Powell wrote, directed, and produced the web series Keith Broke His Leg (Indie Series Awards for Best Actor and Best Web Series), and produced, co-wrote, and starred in the feature film My Name Is David (co-staring Judy Reyes and Adepero Oduye).

Emebeit Beyene is "The Ethiopian queen from Philly who took classes abroad and studied film and photo flash focus record" as The Roots put it... except she studied Acting and Africana Studies at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. She appreciates the shoutout nonetheless. Emebeit is an actress, producer and co-creator of the webseries Downtown Girls, which came from four actresses who didn't see the stories that they wanted to see on TV so they created it themselves. With the success of Downtown Girls she's been featured in the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival Montreal, the American Black Film Festival,the LA Film Festival and on popular sites like Huffington Post, Glamour, Hello Giggles, Complex and Man Repeller. Currently based in LA, Emebeit is a working actress and can be seen in several short films in theaters nowhere near you. She enjoys watching tons of television (it's research!), the oh-so-great outdoors, eating froyo from Pinkberry, and, surprisingly, making people laugh.

Film & TV Mentors

Michael Milberg is Vice-President of De Line Pictures, a film and TV production company with a first look at Warner Bros. Michael started his LA career in the mailroom of iconic talent agent Michael Ovitz's newly formed management firm where he rose up the ranks. He left to work for producers, Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher, where he developed and supervised MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, BEWITCHED and JARHEAD. He then transition to DreamWorks SKG, where he oversaw BLADES OF GLORY, EAGLE EYE, THE RUINS, and TROPIC THUNDER. Michael has since made films with producers, Dan Jinks & Bruce Cohen, Donna Roth & Susan Arnold, and Jerry Bruckheimer before joining Donald De Line at his eponymous company. He currently is overseeing GOING IN STYLE at New Line, Steven Spielberg's upcoming READY PLAYER ONE at Warner Bros., as well as the second season of WAYWARD PINES on Fox. Michael is a Georgia native and graduate of TSOA's Film & TV program.

Pamela Goldstein is a literary agent at Verve. She came up through the agency ranks starting as an assistant at the William Morris Agency in 2008, was later promoted to International Coordinator in the Motion Picture Department at William Morris Endeavor Entertainment in 2011, and then moved over as an agent to Jeff Berg's company Resolution in 2013, before joining Verve last October. She has also worked with producers Tory Tunnell and Will Battersby at Safehouse Pictures, and as an assistant in the Production/Development Department at Miramax and Dimension Films. Pamela is a graduate of the 2006 class at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts for Film/TV Production.

Pip Ngo is the Senior Manager of Content Acquisitions at Vimeo. After cutting his teeth in traditional film finance, distribution, and production roles at CAA, Sierra/Affinity and Sikelia, Pip Ngo made the leap into the tech and new media sector, leading content acquisitions at theatrical and digital distribution platform Tugg and building the company’s VOD library from the ground up. Driven by the possibilities new technology holds for storytelling, he joined Vimeo’s content team, where he’s helping creators, media companies, and influencers develop the next generation of direct-to-consumer OTT channels.

Kellye Carnahan is a Creative Executive at Miramax, focusing on feature film development and production including projects such as THE 9TH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX and BAD SANTA 2. A Southern California native, Kellye graduated from the Tisch Film and TV Production Program in 2010 and moved back to Los Angeles. Kellye began her career at Verve Talent and Literary Agency before going to assist producer Julie Yorn on the set of WE BOUGHT A ZOO. Following ZOO, she served two years as an assistant/development coordinator to producer Zanne Devine. Kellye is an alum of the Tisch mentor program and a member of the Tisch West Alumni Council. In her spare time, she loves to bake and invent cupcake recipes, travel, and run half marathons in and around Disneyland.

Mina Baban is a Development Coordinator in the television drama department at Amazon Studios. She graduated from Tisch in December of 2011 and began work in reality TV production before moving to LA to pursue scripted televison. After some direction from her NYU-in-LA mentors, Mina started in the WME mailroom and later supported several different WME television literary agents. After two years at WME, she moved over to Amazon’s Original Content where she now supports the head of the department, develops on-going projects and hears pitches and submissions for Amazon acquisition.

Erica Schreiber is a film/television writer and professional reader. She graduated from Tisch’s Dramatic Writing Program after interning at “The Colbert Report,” and has worked as a Writer’s and Showrunner's Assistant on series like “Monk,” “Single Ladies" and "Hit The Floor." She has freelanced at Fox, FX Networks, and Showtime among others. Erica is represented by Untitled Entertainment, optioned both a screenplay and a pilot last year, and was recently hired to write a digital series for Warner Bros and Alloy Entertainment.

Volunteer Coordinator

Nicole Iizuka is a LA native who braved the cold east coast winters at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, but missed the sunshine of So-Cali. Nicole has worked for producers, agents & studio executives, yet her toughest boss by far has been her obsession with food. Two years ago she founded an experimental underground supper club Cloak & Dinner and after realizing that her torrid love affair could actually be a career, Nicole quit her creative development job at MGM for the fascinating freelance world of culinary & art. Since making the leap, she worked with the culinary team and art department on Gordon Ramsay's MasterChef and Hell's Kitchen, and with Stacey Kiebler, Debbie Fields and Chef Michael Chiarello on Supermarket Superstar. She is currently a Senior Producer at POPSUGAR overseeing lifestyle content. Nicole also blogs about my food mis-adventures on You can follow her @nicolemiizuka

NYU Staff

Melissa Brodsky-LevineAs Director of Career Development, Melissa Brodsky-Levine works to insure that students and alumni have all the pieces available to them as they prepare for successful careers in the arts. Melissa counsels and assists students and alumni in evaluating their interests and skills and how this relates to their future goals. Her Career Development team works to create a wide variety of resources and programs to assist students in preparing for their careers in the arts; including creating professional marketing materials, preparing for interviews and networking opportunities, as well as industry specific events designed to assist students in developing relationships and to expose them to professionals in their field of choice. Along with the Mentors and Volunteer Coordinator, Melissa is responsible for overseeing The NYU in LA Mentor Program. She holds a Masters degree in Higher Education and Counseling from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.

Lily HungAs the Assistant Director of Career Development, Lily connects Tisch artists to the tools they need to effectively pursue their professional goals. Through individual career counseling appointments and group workshops, she advises students on job search strategies, resumes and cover letters, interviewing and networking skills, internships, and mentors. Lily oversees all technical aspects of the NYU in LA Mentor Application process. Lily previously spent over a decade in commercial and nonprofit theatre, where she worked with emerging theatre artists as a line producer and programming director. She holds an MFA in Dramaturgy from Columbia University and regularly acts as a consultant for new musicals.