New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts

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The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts (NYCDA) is a professional acting training conservatory in New York City for actors focusing on acting for film, television and theater. Originally conceived for the purpose of training actors for television commercials, the conservatory began offering AOS degrees (associate degrees in occupational studies) – a two-year curriculum, and an optional third year for theater training.

NYCDA is an institutionally accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST).[1]


Actors in Advertising, which grew into the School for Film and Television (SFT) and later became the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts (NYCDA), was founded in 1980 by Joan See. She also founded Three of Us Studios, a successful casting facility. She is the author of Acting in Commercials: A Guide to Auditioning and Performing On-Camera.[2] See began her acting career more than 50 years ago and appeared in more than 300 commercials. She worked with many actors, including Julia Roberts, Paul Newman and Eva Gabor. See also served as Vice President of the Screen Actors Guild New York City. Joan passed away in April 2017.

The conservatory advertises practical, relevant, and rigorous on-camera acting education, preparing actors to succeed in today's professional world of acting. 1996 saw the accreditation of NYCDA by the National Association of Schools of Theatre, and in 2013 the institution began granting associate degrees.

Today, the New York Conservatory is an institution focused on preparing actors for the business side of the acting profession, in addition to developing the skills to build a successful career as an on-camera or voice-over actor. NYCDA utilizes the Meisner technique of acting as its core technique.


NYCDA's campus is located in Manhattan's Chelsea/Flatiron district. The Conservatory's administrative offices comprise half of the second floor of the building, with the other half devoted to studio classrooms. The third floor houses two camera studios, two multi-purpose studios, three movement/dance studios, the NYCDA library and a student lounge. The twelfth floor is home to a professional casting facility and two additional NYCDA camera studios. These studios provide facilities that familiarize students with the process of being on a live set and how to act in front of a camera.


New York Conservatory housing is located at 81 E. 3rd Street, New York, NY 10003 in Manhattan’s East Village, a 20-minute walk from campus.


NYCDA's curriculum is grounded in the Meisner technique, pioneered by American master Sanford Meisner.

  • Professional Training Program: This associate degree program provides and develops skills on how to expand one's basic technique to transcend the limits of the stage, teaches the discipline and patience necessary to meet the challenges of the industry, and delivers a step-by-step approach to the technique and discipline of the camera actor in all media (including film, episodic TV, daytime drama, sitcoms, commercials and voice-overs).
  • Post-AOS degree: Graduates can pursue NYCDA's Theater Certificate Program. Both programs boast discovery as an actor and tools to expand knowledge and refine the craft.
  • The Summer in the City Program is an intensive program that covers performance for television, film and theater. This rigorous four-week program explores acting techniques, camera performance skills, commercial basics, film and TV basics, improvisation and more.

Notable students and alumni[edit]

Notable alumni include:

  • Jacob Batalon, Spiderman: Homecoming (2017), The True Don Quixote (2017)
  • Emma Bell, Ghost Whisperer (2009), Supernatural (2009), Final Destination 5 (2011), Arrow (2012), The Walking Dead (2010-2012), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2014), Dallas (2013-2014), American Horror Story (2016)
  • Ser'Darius Blain, Meet the Browns (2010), Footloose (2011), Jane by Design (2012), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), When the Game Stands Tall (2014), Jumanji (2017)
  • Manish Dayal, The Sorcerer's Apprentice (2010), Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2011), 90210 (2011-2012), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2014), The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014), Halt and Catch Fire (2016), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2016-2017)
  • David Del Rio, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2008), The Troop (2009-2011), CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2011), Pitch Perfect (2012), Spare Parts (2015), #Adulting (2016)
  • Ryan Dorsey, Southland (2013), You're the Worst (2014), Parks and Recreation, The Mentalist (2014), Justified (2015), Pitch (2016), Ray Donovan (2017)
  • Kimberley Drummond, Homeland, Xmas Wedding Baby, The Vampire Diaries (2011-2012), Army Wives (2013), The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), Sleepy Hollow (2014), The Red Road (2015), Rectify (2014-2016), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2017)
  • Reid Ewing, Good Luck Charlie (2011), Fright Night (2011), Newsreaders (2013), Modern Family (2009-2017), Temps (2015)
  • Matthew Fox, My Boyfriend's Back (1993), MADtv (1995), Party of Five (1994-2000), Haunted (2002), We Are Marshall (2006), Lost (2004-2010), World War Z (2013), Extinction (2015), Speed Racer
  • Zulay Henao, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2007), Grizzly Park (2008), Takers (2010), Hostel III (2011), The Vanessa Del Rio Story (2015), If Loving Your is Wrong (2014-2017)
  • Shelley Hennig, Secret Circle, Unfriended, Days of Our Lives (2007-2011), Justified (2013), Teen Wolf (2014–2017), Ouija (2014), Scout (2015), Liberty Crossing (2017)
  • Vicky Jeudy, Bottom Feeder (2006), Living Peterson (2009), Orange Is the New Black (2013–2017), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2014), Romeo and Juliet in Harlem (2014)
  • Nils Lawton, HAPPYish (2015), Eye Candy (2015), Law & Order: SVU (2014)
  • Andhy Mendez, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods (2011), Gossip Girl (2012), Orange is the New Black (2014), Elementary (2016)
  • Carolina Ravassa, Step Up 3D (2010), Follow the Leader (2011), Max Payne 3 (2012 video game), The Re-Gift (2014), The Affair (2014), Hispanglosaxon (2015-2016), Mr. Robot (2017)
  • Alice St. Clair, Sarah’s Key (2010), William and Catherine: A Royal Romance (2011), Before I Sleep (2013), The Crimson Field (2014)
  • Aaron Scotti, Scandal (2014), The Situation (2012), Grey's Anatomy (2013), Togetherness (2015)
  • Josh Sussman, My Crazy Life (2005), Drake & Josh (2007), What About Brian (2007), Warren the Ape (2010), Ben and Burman (2011), R.I.P.D. (2013), Glee (2009-2014), Pub Quiz (2015), Nuclear Family (2016)
  • Brandon Wellington, host of the New York Mets, Fox Sports NBA Greatness, America in 4 Minutes-Kinetic Typography (spoken word), #Strive for Greatness – NBA Playoffs (spoken word)
  • Keith Collins, "The Meat Puppet" (2012), "The Jersey Devil" (2014), "The Evangelist" (2017)
  • Ashlynn Yennie, The Human Centipede (2009), The Human Centipede II (2011), True Blood (2013), The Divorce Party (2014), The Ghost and the Whale (2017), Submission (2016)

Notable faculty[edit]

  • Sara Buffamanti - An international performer who has worked in Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, Germany, Italy and Scotland. In New York City she has worked with The LITE Group, Vortex Theater Company and Target Margin Theater. Buffamanti is the creator and solo performer of Eleanor alla Barre, a one-woman clown piece.
  • Maury Ginsberg - His most recent work includes the feature film Greta, starring opposite Hilary Duff and Ellen Burstyn, and Richard Loncraine's My One and Only, starring Renée Zellweger and Kevin Bacon. Other films include 2007 Sundance winner Rocket Science, directed by Academy Award nominee Jeffrey Blitz, David Auburn's The Girl in the Park with Sigourney Weaver, David Mamet's Lansky with Richard Dreyfuss and DreamWorks' The Ring with Naomi Watts. Television work includes recurring roles on Law & Order, Friends and Two Guys and a Girl. Guest leads include Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. His theater credits include a 20-year working relationship with Olympia Dukakis.
  • Jay R. Goldenberg - Coached and acted in projects such as Say Anything with John Cusack and Ione Skye, the miniseries Elvis and Me, the TV series Moonlighting with Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd and the daytime drama General Hospital. His private clients have included Salma Hayek, Cybill Shepherd, Alicia Silverstone, Estelle Getty, Michael Chiklis, Charles Kimbrough, Beth Howland, Ione Skye, Mary Wilson, Eric Close, Allyce Beasley, Trevor St. John and Nicolette Sheridan.
  • Neal Lerner - Television guest appearances include Shake it Up, Lipstick Jungle, Reba, The War at Home, Ed, Frasier, all the Law & Order programs, Ally McBeal, Seinfeld, Caroline in the City, NewsRadio, Married with Children, Murphy Brown, and Cheers, as well as a recurring role on All My Children. Film credits include My Idiot Brother (2011), Boiler Room, Batman Returns and Demolition Man. He performed Off-Broadway in Stuff Happens (directed by Daniel Sullivan at the Public Theater), Julius Caesar (New York Shakespeare Festival), and Carol Churchill's Serious Money (Public Theater).
  • Becky London - Television credits include Blue Bloods, Law & Order: Third Watch, Quantum Leap, Guiding Light and All My Children. Films include United 93, Changing Lanes, El Camino, Never Forever and A Very Serious Person. She has worked on Broadway in Marlene and at Lincoln Center in Ubu. She was a founding member of UNYYC, the Unofficial New York Yale Cabaret.
  • Amy Marcs - 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 Gemini, Kingdom of Earth, The Star Spangled Girl and And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little.
  • Ruth Nerken - Guest starred on Law & Order, Kate & Allie and Too Close for Comfort. She has performed Off-Broadway, in regional theatre and in the national touring company of Grease as Frenchy. Nerken also has appeared in over 200 television commercials. She has been a guest speaker at AFTRA, SAG and Yale University.
  • Richard Omar - New York theater credits include Dracula in Dance with Me, Harker (New York International Fringe Festival), Rick in the world premiere of Theresa Rebeck's The First Day, and Wes in the NYC premiere of Beth Henley's Lost (Theatre 4). As a ballroom dancer, he appeared on film with Leslie Caron, Patrick Stewart and Jennifer Beals. He has taught at the New Actors Workshop for Mike Nichols and George Morrison, at SUNY Purchase and at Hofstra University.
  • Steve Perlmutter - He has performed at regional theatres throughout the country, including Philadelphia's famed Walnut Street Theatre. He has appeared in radio and television commercials for products such as Nestea, Jell-O, Volvo, Norwest Bank, Bell South, Tony Roma's restaurants, and Staples. In addition to NYCDA, Perlmutter currently teaches at Rutgers University and NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies.
  • Alan Rackham - Wrote and directed two short films, both of which have been shown at film festivals all over the world and have won directing awards. Alan is currently in post-production on Chicken, a short film that serves as the thesis component of his master’s of fine arts degree from NYU.
  • Judith Searcy - She has written, directed and performed sketch comedy and improvisation for over 20 years in NYC and nationally in a variety of venues, including live and video projects for American Express, ESPN, Mercedes, and British Airways. She was a principal member of Chicago City Limits, played the title role in the award-winning comedy short Marge, and has been featured on PBS, CBS, NBC's Today Show, NPR and Comedy Central.


External links[edit]