Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Advice From Your Alumni

Hey, new mentees! Here are some LA tips from the 2016-2017 cohort:

There is always something happening and there are so many opportunities to jump start a career here. Be open, be curious, and be willing to follow the path wherever it takes you. Your goals and aspirations are ever changing, and that is okay! We are so young and these things take time, so enjoy the journey!

It's going to be hard. It's going to take time. It's going to be ok. Get involved in a lot of groups, get out of the house, you will make friends. It won't happen right away. It won't happen for longer than you think. But it will be ok.

Give it time, that's what I've been told by numerous guests of mine at my restaurant, that it takes time to really fall in love with LA. And also, reach out to any contacts that you may have. When I came here and reached out to contacts of people I hadn't seen in YEARS, everyone welcomed me with open arms! They were so kind, and then you kind of find the people you like to spend your time with or that you want to work with. And it also takes time to find your group socially, and if that's important to you, definitely get out there and get a part time job and be open and patient. Also, grab at any opportunity you can. People out here can be flakey, so if they flake, that's just another opportunity for YOU. There are people here who take it very seriously, and there are people who do NOT. Meet as many people as possible and do as much as you can that is offered, you'll never know what can lead to something else.

First: Have money saved to buy a car!!
Second: Things WILL fall into place, but you must be willing to be open to things falling into place out of order and in different ways than you planned. Each step you make comes with its own complications (my agent is not solving all my problems, being SAG-Elig isn't booking me gigs left and right) so stay humble and become not only a working professional but a STUDENT OF THE INDUSTRY! There is seriously so much to learn. And there are so many people involved in production. You will do yourself a huge favor if you learn to walk in other people's shoes!! People are collaborative here, and kindness goes a long way. Being qualified isn't the only thing that will get you far--being reliable, organized, and having a great attitude is essential to making yourself indispensable.

Find people doing the things you want to be doing at roughly the level you want to be doing them at in two to three years, and become useful to them. (This includes how you want to be doing those things--if someone is doing cool art, but treats people cruelly, get out of there, or at least work around that person. Ambition is important, but compromising human dignity, your own or another person's, isn't worth it.) Also: never get angry in traffic; always have sunscreen with you. Assemble one earthquake kit for your car and another for your bedroom.

Always make time for what you’re passionate about. Especially if you are not working in the industry, make sure you are writing, watching movies, keeping updated on what is happening in the industry, et cetera. With that, don't settle -- push for what you want!

Attend Tisch West Events and reach out to NYU Alumni. They will give you invaluable information and might even introduce you to more people who can help guide you towards the direction you want to head.

Triple check those parking signs.

Buckle up. Getting your foot into the door takes time, and maybe more time than you expected at first.

Remember why you moved here, and make sure that whatever you do is helping you move towards that goal.

You're not as powerless as you think you are. A genuine conversation with your normal personality can go a LONG way in this city. Just be a damn thoughtful person and you'll get a lot from LA

Cultivate a zen-like patience, and lead a balanced life. Build things in your life outside of your career and artistic work that gives you meaning and makes you feel good, whether that is a hobby, charity work or even a positive personal relationship (friends, girlfriend, boyfriend etc.), because you will get your ass kicked and be let down on a daily basis, and will find yourself desperate for something, however small, in your day that gives you a win.

Don't let other people's successes deter you. Everyone is on their own path and the way your success will manifest itself will be different from the next person. Be patient.

Never stop trying and work hard, make mistakes and learn from them with humility. People will give you a second chance if it's handled properly. Try to live relatively close from work as traffic is bad and commuting past 45mins each way can get gnarly. Socialize as much as possible.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Meet the Mentors 2017

Meet the Mentors 2017...

Meet the new Mentors for the NYUinLA Mentorship Program Class of 2017!

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.

Kellye Carnahan is a former Creative Executive at Miramax, where she focused 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.

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

Mina Baban is a Television Executive for Amazon Studios where she buys, develops and oversees shows for both the US and International markets. She graduated from Tisch in December of 2011 and began work in reality TV production before moving to LA to pursue scripted television. After some direction from her NYU-in-LA mentors, Mina started in the WME mailroom and then supported several different TV literary agents. She eventually jumped to Amazon Studios to work in drama development. During her time at Amazon, Mina has worked with Amazon’s drama team in helping greenlight shows like THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL and additionally helped form Amazon’s International Originals Department, which creates local-language content for numerous countries all over the globe as well as finds co-production opportunities. As a development executive, Mina helps track, source, buy, develop, and produce shows from inception to launch. In her spare time, she enjoys playing volleyball and watching The New England Patriots.

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" and has freelanced at Fox, CBS, FX Networks, and Showtime among others. This last year she wrote television episodes for Crackle and Hasbro, currently has a screenplay and a pilot optioned and is writing a digital series for Warner Bros and Alloy Entertainment. Erica is repped at Untitled Entertainment and WME, and enjoys sushi, Game of Thrones, and being on boats.

Volunteer Coordinator

Chandra Russell is a Chicagoan til Chicago ends. A graduate of Tisch's Acting program she now works in LA as an actress/writer. Her webseries, Downtown Girls, has been featured in Just For Laughs Comedy Festival Montreal, the American Black Film Festival, the LA Film Festival, Huffington Post, Glamour, Hello Giggles, Complex and Man Repeller. (if this looks familiar - her writing partner, Emebeit, is above and she literally copied and pasted - lazy). Most recently Chandra was cast as a series regular in the Comedy Central pilot "Southside". In her spare time she likes extended naps, junk reality TV and cuddling with her puppy. 

NYU Staff

Lily Hung oversees the NYU in LA Mentor Program, in collaboration with the Mentors and Volunteer Coordinator. As Tisch’s Director of Career Development, Lily connects artists with the tools and knowledge they need to effectively pursue their professional goals. Through individual career counseling appointments and group workshops, she advises students on job searches, resumes and cover letters, interviewing and networking skills, internships, grantwriting, and entrepreneurial strategies. Lily previously spent more than 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 is now clumsily learning aerial arts.

Friday, February 10, 2017

A word from one of your mentors... Advice for all, not just actors.

I want to share this article with you to keep you aware of all the various people in the industry who claim to be helping you make "connections" but are really just exploiting you for their own financial gain. Please be weary of casting workshops - they are enterprises who's primary goal is to make themselves money; not to help you and your career. If you MUST do a casting workshop, please only attend it for research and informational purposes. 

Read this: 

A theme seems to be coming up through all of my individual meetings with you guys, and I feel it important to say now: a career does not happen overnight. A career is not as easy to achieve as simply paying for access. It isn't even achieved, unfortunately, through WANTING it hard enough or thinking/worrying about it at all hours of the day and night. It is achieved through focus, determination, and the active act of being an artist and putting your art out in to the world so others can see. Don't wait to be an artist, who attend workshops to learn how to be an artist, be an artist now. Do the work that makes you a better person. Focus on who you are and what makes you absolutely unique and individual.

Please, dear god, please, don't think you need to fit a "type." Your type is YOU. Figure out what you're good at, what makes you special, and really hone it/focus it, and put it out there in the world. 

This is a tough business, with a lot of ups and downs.  Take heart. And don't let the vultures get you.

- Keith Powell

Keith is a graduate of NYU TSOA now living and working in Los Angeles. He is currently a mentor in the 2016-17 program.