MFA Candidates

ACTORS

Miia Ashley

 

MIIA ASHLEY is a Bay Area native who has fallen madly in love with The Big Apple. Before moving to New York in the fall of 2011, Miia received her BA in Musical Theatre from CSU Chico.  She is excited to complete her three years at with such power house characters as Gwendolyn in The Importance of Being Ernest, Jenny in Everything in the Garden, Elizabeth in Laundry and Bourbon in, and Val in Lady of Fatima.  She would like to thank her mother, who lives in California, for never missing a performance, and her family for all of their love and support.

Debbie Baillie

 

DEBBIE BAILLIE was born and raised in South Africa.  She moved to Los Angeles with her family when she was 18.  After years of working in management in corporate America and running her own business, Debbie decided pursue her interest in performing. Some of Debbie’s favorite roles include Hester in Hello and Goodbye, Julia in Julia, Rosemary in Rosemary with Ginger, Denise in Affections of an Alleycat. She looks forward to sharing stories and to leave people moved in their seats, one way or the other.

Nicole Banchevska

 

NICOLE BANCHEVSKA is Bulgarian born and raised but graduated with a BA Degree in Psychology from Ramapo College, NJ.  Nicole has worked on The Seagull (Nina), The Crucible (Abigail), Extremities (Marjorie), A View From The Bridge (Catherine), Brilliant Traces (Rosannah), Closer (Alice), Hurlyburly (Darlene), and has performed in original pieces for Wednesday Repertory Company in New York City. Nicole wants to thank her family and friends for their continuous support.

Adam Bemis

 

ADAM BEMIS was born in Michigan, where he received a BA in Psychology from The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  Favorite roles performed at The Actors Studio Drama School include Tom in The Glass Menagerie, Brick in A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Treplev in The Seagull, Steven in Broken Bones, and his current roles in the 2014 Repertory Season. I would like to thank my entire family, for being my rock and inspiring me to continue to do what I love.

Melanie Bernier

 

MELANIE BERNIER grew up in Norfolk, MA. She is a graduate of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy and holds a BA in Theater and English from Bridgewater State University. Theater credits include: Li'l Bit in How I Learned to Drive (Irene Ryan nominee), Mrs. Cheveley in An Ideal Husband, and The Model in The Blue Room. At the Actors Studio Drama School, her credits include: Miss Julie in Miss Julie, Lori in Leaves, and Jackie in Mauritius. In her second year of training at the Actors Studio Drama School, she founded The Goddess Project NYC, a non-profit theater organization dedicated to exploring works dealing with themes of sexual violence. The Goddess Project's first production,  Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues at the Times Square Arts Center, was also Melanie's first producing endeavor, and raised funds for the V-Day Campaign and a local charity organization, Women in Need.

Nikki Chawla

 

NIKKI CHAWLA started off her career as a standup comedian in New York comedy clubs and holds a MA in Elementary Education from Long Island University. She taught kindergarten and first grade before pursuing her MFA. Her recent film credits include;  RedRum, Blemished Light, A Distance Between Us, Amma Gift, Red Palms, Refugee for New York University (Big Apple Film Festival), Daniel and His Tools, and a Chicago short film called SuperHero Me. Theatre credits include; I Now Pronounce You (The New School), Where Children Play (Berkshire Fringe), The Vagina Monologues (Union City V-day), Generic Hispanic (Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre), and Halal Brothers (staged reading at the Public Theatre).   Nikki feels blessed to have received her training at ASDS and would like to thank her family and loved ones for supporting her through this journey. She dedicates all her efforts to God and her father who taught her the meaning of resilience.

Fig Chilcott

 

FIG CHILCOTT was born and raised in the beautiful redwood mountains of Santa Cruz, California. Following in the footsteps of her mother, she began to pursue acting landing her first speaking role as the Queen Mermaid in Peter Pan at the tender age of 12. Her most recent roles include: Cowboy Mouth (Cavale), In The Blood (Amiga), Crimes of the Heart (Meg), Barefoot in the Park (Corie), The House of Yes (Jackie-O), and 27 Wagons Full of Cotton (Flora). www.FigChilcott.com

Roberto De Jesus

 

ROBERTO DE JESUS moved to New York two years ago from San Juan, Puerto Rico. His latest work includes Edwin in Our Lady of 121st, Doug in Gruesome Playground Injuries, Skank in In Arabia We Would All Be Kings, and Palomo in Anna in the Tropics. He would like to thank his parents for their unconditional support.

Janis Deedy

 

JANIS COSTA DEEDY is originally from New Hampshire, where she also received her BA in Directing from Keene State College. She has been performing since she was 2 years old, starting in dance, and quickly moving her way into acting and musical theatre. Some of her recent works include the title role of Lolita, Dorothea in A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, and Cecily in The Importance of Being Earnest. She would like to thank her family for the continuous support and her friends for all their love. www.JanisCostaDeedy.com

Kate Fahey

 

KATE FAHEY hails from Syracuse, NY and is now a resident of New York City. She was most recently seen onstage as Ginger in Rosemary with Ginger. Favorite past roles include Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, Dorine in Tarfuffe, and Roberta in Danny and the Deep Blue Sea.

Sabina Friedman

 

SABINA FRIEDMAN-SEITZ was born and raised here in Lower Manhattan and is so happy to have spent her last three years back in New York at the Actors Studio Drama School. She received her BA in Theater and English from Wesleyan University. Sabina has appeared in productions at theaters throughout New York City over the past few years, including The Secret Theatre in Long Island City and Manhattan Repertory Theater. Favorite roles include Lady Anne (Richard III), Yelena (Uncle Vanya), and Darlene (Hurly Burly). She has also appeared in independent and short films shot both in New York and LA. Many thanks to her family and friends.

Jose Ignacio Gomez

 

JOSE IGNACIO GOMEZ is a Venezuelan/American actor, with a dual citizenship. Jose started his acting career in Venezuela with Nelson Ortega, and continued in New York with James Price and Mary Workman. Jose has performed in theater, soap opera, voice-over, commercials, student films, short films, web series, and independent films. His favorite roles include: Ralph D in The Motherf**ker with the Hat, Benito in  References to Salvador Dali makes Me Hot, Joe in Waiting for Lefty, Bill in Gladiator, Howard in Picnic, and Bernard in Boeing-Boeing.  Jose resides in New York City and is in the process of becoming a member of The Screen Actors Guild.

Byron Hagan

 

BYRON HAGANwas born and raised in Houston, TX. After receiving a BA from the University of North Texas, he moved to New York City to pursue his dream of performance art. He made his Off-Broadway debut last year as the lead in the dark comedy, Glee Club. Most recently he was featured in Brooklyn's first full production of Les Misérables. Other work includes: Louis in Angels in America, Dr. Astov in Uncle Vanya, and Mozart in Amadeus. Thank you to Mom, Dad, Haley, and my fellow peers for helping me believe in my capabilities.

Jacob Henkoff

 

JACOB HENKOFF is a graduate of Gettysburg College. He was most notably seen on stage in My Fair Lady, Our Town, Crimes of the Heart (KCACTF Nominee), God of Carnage, Waiting for Kevin, The Escape Artist, Tape and The Agreement. Film: Movin' Out (NYU), Alan the Terrible (NYU), Unscripted (NYU). He would like to thank his parents for dealing with what is clearly a small dose of insanity, and his girlfriend Marci, who is also dealing with this insanity immeasurably well. This is all dedicated to Eleanor Henkoff, the best Grandma he could have ever asked for. www.JacobHenkoff.com

Criena House

 

CRIENA HOUSE is an American-born actress from the Philippines. Experienced in physical theater and dance, she recently performed at Columbia Stages, supervised by Anne Bogart; and did mask work in To Dream of Trees at Theater for the New City. Criena has also focused her talents in film, including playing the lead in Dirty Knees, a Top Ten Finalist in this year’s Asian American 72-hour Shootout that screened on both coasts. Her other credits include Romeo and Juliet (Juliet), The Seagull (Nina), In Arabia We'd All Be Kings (Chickie),Rabbit Hole (Izzy), The Crucible (Elizabeth Proctor), Our Lady of 121st (Marcia), Hairspray(Shelley/Ensemble), and Legally: Blonde the Musical (Mom/Whitney/Others). As a student, Criena oversaw multiple arts organizations and believes that the arts have an integral place in society. Because of her efforts, Criena was awarded one of the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines - NCR. Looking forward to the future, Criena looks forward to a career in film and theater and more importantly, bringing back what she’s learned to her hometown. www.CrienaHouse.com

Liana Haley Jackson

 

LIANA HALEY JACKSON was born in Cambridge, MA. She attended New York University and received her BFA with honors.  Liana has performed in Greece with the New York based theatre company, One Year Lease and made her off-off Broadway debut in The Vagina Monologues. Her recent roles include: Olive in The Odd Couple, Celia in Hatful of Rain, Georgie in Spike Heels, Topsy in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Masha in Three Sisters, Kayleen in Gruesome Playground Injuries, Chrysothemis in Electra, and Debbie in Face Divided. www.LianaHaleyJackson.com

Irina Kaplan

 

IRINA KAPLAN is delighted to graduate as part of the 2014 Actors Studio Drama School ensemble. Recent regional and New York credits include: The Specials at The Whitney Arts Center (New Haven), Black Milk at Classic Stage Company, and Eat the Chicken at Manhattan Repertory Theatre. Irina graduated with her BA in American Culture from Vassar College. She then briefly lived in Austin, Texas, teaching kindergarten with the help of a small but loyal puppet named Lambchop. Many thanks to my wonderful teachers at The Actors Studio Drama Schooo, my gifted peers, and above all, my Mom and Dad.

Rafael Perez Jr

 

RAFAEL PEREZ JR. received his Bachelor of Multidisciplinary Studies in his hometown at the University of Texas at El Paso. At the Actors Studio Drama School he was recently seen as Yvan in Art and Michael in The Unmazing Genealogy of Donna Michael. Other favorite roles include Valdez in Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train, Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet and Guy in Some Girl(s). Many thanks to my family and friends for believing in me.

Andy Phillips

 

ANDY PHILLIPS is a proud Cajun from southern Louisiana. Before pursuing his MFA, Andy studied at The Upright Citizens Brigade and performed long-form improv throughout NYC. He was last seen in Two Women on a Precipice at The Midtown International Theatre Festival and he has performed in numerous thesis films at Columbia University, NYU Tisch, and The School of Visual Arts. He dedicates his performance and offers eternal gratitude to Reuben Mitchell for his encouragement. www.ActorAndyPhillips.com

Contessa Redfearn

 

CONTESSA REDFEARN is from Mt. Pleasant, Texas and holds a BA in English from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. While at The Actors Studio Drama School, Contessa has worked on: Maggie in After The Fall, Laura in The Glass Menagerie, Meg in Crimes Of The Heart, Natasha in Three Sisters, Catharine in Suddenly, Last Summer, Catherine in The Heiress, and Shelby in Steel Magnolias. Contessa dedicates her performance in the Repertory Season, to the loving memory of her father, Thomas Redfearn.

LeAnne Russell

 

LEANNE RUSSELL is an actress and writer, born in Miami, FL of Cuban-American heritage. Leanne received her BA in Spanish Literature with a minor in Chinese Studies from Florida International University, and studied abroad in Argentina and China. Trained in classical ballet, and a member of the Lourdes Singers choir in high school, the path to theater was a natural transition when she started studying at Teatro Prometeo in Miami. Her work on stage and on the page explores family dynamics and dysfunctionality, cross cultural boundaries, and the children that still live in the adults we now are. LeAnne is fluent in both English and Spanish, and has performed in both languages. www.LeAnne-Russell.com

Alejandro Santoni

 

ALEJANDRO SANTONI was born in Puerto Rico, where he received a BS in Industrial Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico. His recent theater credits include: Oedipus Rex at La MaMa Experimental Theater, Julius Ceasar, Romeo and Juliet, Anthony and Cleopatra, The Persians, and Anna in the Tropics. Recent film credits include: Fallen Brothers (2016), Cigarette Soup (2014), and Manuela. Recent work at the Actors Studio Drama School includes scenes from: A View from the Bridge, In Arabia We’d All be Kings, Crystal Clear, Hurlyburly, M Butterfly, 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, A Hatful of Rain, The Pillowman, Desire under the Elms, Boleros for the Disenchanted, and The Motherf**ker with the Hat.www.AlejandroSantoni.com

Ben Sheedy

 

BEN SHEEDY hails from Canandaigua, NY, and is thrilled to be sharing the stage with such good company. He has most recently been seen as Marc in Art. Favorite roles include Caldwell B. Cladwell  (Urinetown), Larry (Closer), Capulet (Romeo & Juliet), and the Narrator (Rocky Horror Picture Show).

Melanie Stefan

 

MELANIE STEFAN A.K.A Lane is originally from Philadelphia, PA. Melanie has worked in several forms of performance, with her background being largely in musical theater.  Singing, dancing, and acting are her three great passions, along with working with animals. Melanie has interned at Soho Playhouse and her most recent roles include Emma in Betrayal, Terri in Lady of Fatima, Carol in Oleanna, My Angry Vagina, and The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy in The Vagina Monologues (at The Network Studios), and Young Aria/Stephie in Apples (with Coffee Black Productions). She thanks her family and dear ones for their endless support and love.

Samantha Tan

 

SAMANTHA TAN was born and raised in Malaysia, and comes to New York after an extensive career in London as a professional dancer. She is the first Malaysian student to enter the Actors Studio Drama School, and is eternally grateful to be here thanks to the overwhelming generosity of the Malaysian public (www.myasdsfund.wordpress.com) and multiple scholarships. She holds a BA (Hons.) in Theatre Dance from London Studio Centre, where she was one of only seven candidates out of a hundred to obtain a First Class. Notable UK theatre credits include High School Musical (original London cast), The King & I (Royal Albert Hall) alongside Daniel Dae Kim, Bizet's Carmen, and the London Olympics’ 2012 closing ceremony. Her professional acting roles to date include the lead in the Malaysian feature film 5:13 and the mobile transmedia video game Timedancer. At The Actors Studio Drama School she has demonstrated a great versatility across a huge spectrum of accents and types including: Hattie in Laundry and Bourbon, Flora in Jose Rivera's Boleros for the Disenchanted, Agnes in Agnes of God, Claire in Genet's The Maids, Sarah in Pinter's The Lover, the sensuous stripper Petra in Other People, Anna in Closer, the tragic mother Yasako in Kokoro (True Heart) and Froggy in Adam Rapp's Blackbird. www.Samantha-Tan.com

Kate Taney

 

KATE TANEY (taw-nee) SAG/AFTRA is an actress trained in the modern Method who has lived and worked in both New York and Los Angeles.  Kate has played such characters as Lula in Dutchman, Cassius in The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, Margaret in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Naomi in Naomi in the Living Room, and Harper in Angels in America. Her film work includes Dustin Bancroft’s Viti (*Best Film, Big Island Film Festival, Official Selection of San Luis Obispo International Film Festival) and Adam Scheiner’s The Artist and The Olympian, in which she blends her passions for acting and painting. Kate is also a published blogger for The Huffington Post. www.KateTaney.com

Devin B Tillman

 

DEVIN B. TILLMAN hails from Baltimore, where he received his BA in Vocal Performance from Bowie State University and strengthened his love for theatre. Recent credits include: Everything in the Garden (Richard), Our Lady of 121st Street (Pinky), Picnic (Howard), Dutchman (Clay), One for the Road (Nicholas) Jesus Hopped the A Train (Lucius), The Great White Hope (Jack), Face Divided (Freddie), and Julius Caesar (Brutus). He would like to thank his family and friends for their much needed support and he dedicates all his work to his late, great father Bernard J. Tillman.

Adara Totino

 

ADARA TOTINO was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, and was first exposed to acting through Lincoln Center Theatre Open Stages Program. She holds a BA in English Literature and Italian Studies from NYU. Adara has appeared on stage and film, most recently evoking Monica Vitti in Michael Marfione’s Domani e il Giorno Dopo (Tomorrow and the Day After). She thanks God and all her angels—ethereal and not—for their encouragement, love and support. Thank you to the amazing family here at ASDS and especially to my mom and grandma. www.AdaraTotino.com

Damon Trammell

 

DAMON TRAMMELL grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. He received his BA in Communication with a minor in Theatre from The Ohio State University, appearing in plays with The Ohio State Department of Theatre and improvisational shows with the 8th Floor Improv Comedy Group. He worked professionally with CATCO as Lymon in The Piano Lesson. He moved to Chicago, where he spent a year and a half studying at Improv Olympic and taking acting courses at Act One Studios.   Damon has recently been seen as Joe in Golden Boy, Tommy in The Dreamer Examines His Pillow, Tye in Vieux Carré, Robert in Boeing Boeing, Max in Becky Shaw, Treplev in The Seagull, Robert in Beyond the Horizon, Billy in Tribes, Graham in Lady, Frank in H.R., and Serge in Art. He also recently appeared as an extra in an NYU thesis film Milagro and Guildenstern in Hamlet at Altered Stages West. Damon’s additional professional acting credits include commercial and industrial work throughout the Midwest. www.DamonTrammell.com

Jillian K Waters

 

JILLIAN K. WATERS is originally from Colombia and she spent her childhood in Japan and England, and is a graduate of the BFA Acting Program at Emerson College. Credits include: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Much Ado About Nothing, The Bluest Eye, The House of Bernarda Alba, The Vagina Monologues, The Chairs, February 14th, Affections of an Alley Cat, Broken Bones, Two Days Till Dawn (Gene Frankel Theatre). Jillian would like to extend much love and gratitude to her dearest friends, and to her amazing family for all their support during this truly incredible journey. For Abbie and Bob. www.JillianKWaters.com

Sook Hyung Yang

 

SOOK HYUNG YANG was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea and received a BA in Theatre and Film Studies from Dankook University. Before coming to the United States, she worked as a musical actress in Seoul where her work included Carmen, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and A Christmas Carol.  Prior to attending The Actors Studio Drama School, Sook worked as a broadcaster for South Korea’s KBS NY/NJ affiliate, Media Korea TV. Special thanks to my family and friends for their love and support. www.SookHyungYang.com

DIRECTORS

Cihangir Duman

 

CIHANGIR DUMAN (aka “G”) was born in Istanbul, Turkey where received a BS in Physics from Bogazici University. He has worked as an actor and a director in theater in Turkey and Germany and was assistant director to Avra Sidiropoulou in And God Said. His recent roles include: Haimon in Antigone, Donin Butterflies are Free, and Frankiein Birdbath. His recent directing work includes: Six Characters in Search of an Author, Gladiator, The Lover, and Broken Bones. He thanks his family and friends for their support.

Kristen Kress

 

KRISTEN KRESS has a love for both theatre and film. A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native, Kress recently wrapped production as one of the assistant directors for the Discovery Channel offshoot, A Crime to Remember, and is currently in the interviewing for the Directors Guild of America’s Director Training Program. Her SAG short film Super Grannies Bridge Club (writer/director), about a team of superhero grandmas, has garnered national attention, winning multiple festival awards for Best Children’s/Family Programming, Best Supporting Actor, and Official Selection. Her web series, Ditmars Angels (writer/director), was also recently admitted to the quarterfinals for the NexTV web series competition in L.A.. Her company, Brain Fry Productions works locally for independent clients and most recently compled several small business commercials and national book trailers for best-selling authors. In theatre she’s directed for New York’s Avant-Garde Arts Festival, the Fringe &and the New York City public school system’s S!NG program at the  Bronx High School of  Science, where she formerly taught English and Drama. She thanks her amazing family and her future husband Judah for their continued love and support. www.KristenKress.com or BrainFryProductions.com.

Rachel Stevens

 

RACHEL STEVENS is a graduate of Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA with a BA in Musical Theater. Rachel has been directing in the Philadelphia and DC area for the past six years. Rachel most recently directed My Son Pinocchio and co-directed Fiddler on the Roof in Upper Darby Pennsylvania this past summer. She is also a dedicated teaching artist, working with students in early childhood to college age in acting, musical theater, directing and playwriting across the Philadelphia, DC and Pittsburgh areas. Rachel is a qualified Access Educator, who specializes in directing and teaching students with disabilities in both Access and full inclusion settings. Rachel currently coaches young actors with her company, Stevens Acting Coaching and Audition Prep, or SACAP. www.StevensActingCoaching.com . As an actor, Rachel received excellent training at both Point Park University and The Actors Studio Drama School.  www.RachelMStevens.com.

Tedd Watts Jr

 

TED WATTS JR. is a director, actor, and producer. As a director, he has staged and directed over 50 productions. He has worked at The Bucks County Playhouse, The Pocono Playhouse, The Academy Theatre, Pittsburgh CLO Academy, Duquesne University, and The Actors Studio Drama School. He also collaborated with Camp Broadway, NYC and The Bravo Network to create and stage a cabaret showcasing the talent of Camp Broadway’s instructors and students. Ted is also a member of Actors’ Equity Association.

PLAYWRIGHTS

Carrie Boehm

 

CARRIE BOEHM is a Manhattan-based playwright and founding member of Coffee Black Productions. She earned her BA in Theatre from Hamilton College, where she directed, wrote, and produced numerous productions. She has worked with the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Classic Stage Company, and most recently at Dramatists Play Service. Several of her plays produced by Coffee Black Productions.

Bezachin Jifar

 

BEZACHIN JIFAR is originally from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and has lived six of his eight years in the United States in San Jose, California where he earned his BA in Theater Arts from Santa Clara University. Initially, he had wanted to become an actor until he fell for play writing in his first year of undergrad, which has led him straight to New York  not only pursue his MFA, but also to pursue the very elusive yet rewarding art of writing plays, much to his contentment, and indefinitely.