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Featured AMDA Alumni
Trai Byers Currently recognized as Andre Lyon, the bi-polar CFO in Fox’s hit drama series “Empire,” Trai Byers completed AMDA’s Studio Conservatory Program and obtained his Master of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama. “Empire” tells the story of hip-hop recording company Empire Enterprises, where Trai plays Andre Lyon, the business-savvy CFO of his father’s company. Trai also appeared in the powerful film Selma, which received four Golden Globe Award nominations as well an Academy Award for Best Original Song (“Glory”). Trai played executive officer of the SNCC James Forman, who worked with the black community in Selma for two years prior to Martin Luther King’s arrival. Trai’s other film credits include Americons and Jayhawkers, with television roles including “All My Children” (Mookie) and “90210” (Alec Martin).
Caissie Levy Caissie Levy has emerged as one of Broadway’s brightest stars, taking on starring roles in six of Broadway's biggest hits: Frozen, Ghost, Les Misérables, Hair, Wicked and Hairspray. Just one week after graduating from AMDA in New York, Caissie secured her role as Maureen in the national tour of the powerhouse musical Rent. She originated the roles of Molly in Ghost the Musical (Broadway, West End, cast album) and Sheila in the Tony Award-winning revival of Hair (Broadway, West End, cast album). Her other Broadway credits include Fantine in Les Misérables, Elphaba in Wicked (Broadway, Los Angeles), Penny Pingleton in Hairspray (Broadway, first national tour, Toronto), and Sara in Murder Ballad (Off-Broadway). Caissie can be seen enchanting audiences as Elsa in Broadway's anticipated production of Frozen.
Lee Tergesen Lee Tergesen has over 100 television, film and stage credits under his belt, including Point Break (starring Keanu Reeve and Patrick Swayze) and cult-classic Wayne’s World films (Terry). Lee’s prominent TV roles have included such shows as “Desperate Housewives,” “Generation Kill,” “Army Wives,” “The Big C” and “Copper.” In 2013, he starred in ABC’s “Red Widow” as Mike Tomlin, “Longmire” as Ed Gorski, and made appearances in “Person of Interest” and “Drop Dead Diva.” His first regular parts included Weird Science and the role of Officer Chris Thormann on the Fontana-produced Homicide: Life on the Street. Lee’s friendship with Fontana would pay off again when the writer created the celebrated role of Tobias Beecher in his groundbreaking HBO series “Oz” specifically for him. Recently, Lee’s starring roles in television have included such acclaimed hits as “The Americans” (Andrew Larrick), “American Horror Story” (Vince), “Castle” (Marcus Gates), and Syfy’s future dystopia “Defiance” (General Rahm Tak).
Brian Beach Brian Beach is no stranger to national tours and large-scale musical theatre productions. He recently completed a four-year run on Broadway and is currently starring in the First National Tour as Elder McKinley in the nine-time Tony Award-winning musical The Book of Mormon, a comedy sensation that has rapidly garnered a huge fan base all over the United States. His past Broadway and national tour credits include 9 to 5 and Disney’s High School Musical, as well as regional productions of The Drowsy Chaperone, White Christmas, West Side Story, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Tommy and 42nd Street.
Paul Sorvino Best known for portraying serious, powerful roles, Paul is remembered for his standout performances as Henry Kissinger in the 1995 film Nixon and as mafia leader Paul Cicero in Goodfellas. With over 220 credits to his name, Paul began his professional career in the 1960s working on the Broadway productions of Bajour, Mating Dance, That Champion Season, An American Millionaire and Wheelbarrow Closers (which Sorvino directed in 1976). Among his numerous television credits, he has appeared in “Bert D’Angelo/Superstar,” NBC’s “Law & Order,” “Still Standing,” and “The Oldest Rookie.” Noted film credits include Romeo + Juliet; I, the Jury; and The Cooler. With his prolific career encompassing directing and producing, Paul has garnered numerous accolades, including two Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Ft. Lauderdale and Rhode Island International Film Festivals.
Sam Underwood Sam Underwood is widely recognized for his portrayal of such sinister roles as serial killer Zach Hamilton in Showtime’s “Dexter,” mentally unstable rehab patient Leo in “Homeland,” and murderous twin brothers Mark and Luke in Fox’s ”The Following.” After moving to the US from his hometown of Woking, Surrey in England, Sam starred as Alan Strang in Equus alongside Alec Baldwin. His other notable roles onstage include the title role in the Off-Broadway adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray, Hamlet (title role) alongside Alec Baldwin and Kate Mulgrew, Five Finger Exercise directed by Shirley Knight, Candida at Irish Rep, American Soldier by James Rado, and working with Dana Moore on Gotta Dance. Sam also joined other AMDA alumni to cofound and become the Artistic Director of The Fundamental Theater Project, a transatlantic arts organization based in New York City dedicated to cultivating artistic collaborations and exploring diverse material.
Christopher Sieber Two-time Tony Award nominee Christopher Sieber has spent the past 21 years performing in 12 Broadway productions, including Matilda the Musical (Miss Trunchbull), Beauty and the Beast (Gaston), Chicago (Billy Flynn), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Trevor Graydon), Into the Woods (Rapunzel’s Prince), and the recent revival of Pippin (King Charlemagne). Christopher received his first Tony Award nomination for his role in the original Broadway cast of Monty Python’s Spamalot, earning his second Tony nomination for originating the height-challenged monarch Lord Farquaad in Broadway’s Shrek the Musical (alongside Sutton Foster and Brian D’Arcy James). On television, Christopher’s prolific credits include starring alongside Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen in ABC’s “Two of a Kind” (Kevin Burke), “Sex and the City,” “It’s All Relative,” “Ed,” “Elementary,” “The Goodwife,” “Pushing Daisies” and numerous soap operas.
Ryan Ruiz Advancing his dancing career on both coasts, Ryan Ruiz recently performed at the David H. Koch Theater in New York City’s renowned Lincoln Center for the world premiere of PEARL, a Chinese-American theatrical dance tribute inspired by the life of author Pearl S. Buck, the first woman to receive both the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Pulitzer Prize. Moving to the heart of Hollywood, Ruiz now dances professionally as a member of the LA Contemporary Dance Company and has worked with the Invertigo Dance Theatre, Hart Pulse Dance Company, Atlas Obscura and Core Contemporary Dance. “It was time for me to go off into the ‘real’ world, which I was prepared to take on because of my training and education from AMDA.”
Jason Derulo Multi-platinum selling recording singer, songwriter and dancer Jason Derulo has sold over 50 million singles, having written songs for such international artists as Lil Wayne, Pitbull, Diddy and Sean Kingston. He is a five-time award recipient at the BMI Pop Awards, was crowned Songwriter of the Year in 2011, won three Teen Choice Awards, and was nominated for an iHeart Radio Music Award for his collaboration with 2 Chainz on the song “Talk Dirty.” He released his fourth studio album through Warner Bros. Records, Everything is 4, whose single “Want To Want Me” immediately went platinum. “Want to Want Me” broke the world record for most-added track in Top 40 radio and can be heard on radio stations all over the world. In 2015, Derulo joined Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” as a judge, sharing his knowledge and passion for dance with young talent.
Krystal Joy Brown Krystal Joy Brown recently completed her starring role on Broadway as Diana Ross in Motown the Musical, receiving an Astaire Award nomination for Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Show. Previous Broadway credits include Big Fish (Josephine Bloom), Leap of Faith (Astaire Award nomination), and Hair (Dionne, Abe Lincoln). She appeared Off-Broadway in Falling for Eve (Eve), the national tour of Rent (Mimi), and regionally in Calvin Berger (Rosanna), Little Shop of Horrors (Crystal), and High School Musical (Taylor at Paper Mill Playhouse). On television, she can be seen in “Law & Order: SVU,” “Deadbeat,” “Storyforia!” (Nickelodeon), “Castle” (ABC) and the 68th Annual Tony Awards. As a songwriter, Krystal released her track “Shuffling and Looking Dumb,” and has had two of her works appear in NBC’s shows “The Neighbors” and “Mistresses.”
Jesse Tyler Ferguson Best known for his role as Mitchell Pritchett, Jesse Tyler Ferguson starred in ABC’s award-winning comedy “Modern Family,” receiving five Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. Eight years later, Jesse stars on Broadway in the one-man show Fully Committed, playing 40 different characters in a single 90-minute performance. His other Broadway credits include On the Town (Chip), On the Twentieth Century (Max Jacobs) and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Leaf Coneybear). Off-Broadway, Jesse starred in On the Town (Chip), Kean (Christie/Narrator), Hair, Little Fish (Marco) and Where Do We Live? Jesse has also performed in several Shakespearean comedies including The Tempest, Winter’s Tale, The Merchant of Venice and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In 2012, Jesse and his husband Justin Mikita founded the organization Tie the Knot, which creates high-fashion bow ties and gives its proceeds to various organizations supporting LGBT equality.
Nina Arianda Known for her Tony Award-winning performance as Vanda (Best Actress in a Leading Role) in the 2012 Broadway production of Venus in Fur, Nina Arianda also received a Tony nomination in 2011 for her portrayal of Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday. Recently, Nina received rave reviews as May in the Broadway production of Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love, after which she starred in numerous films including You Were Never Here and Florence Foster Jenkins. Additionally, she landed a role in The Humbling featuring Al Pacino as well as Lucky Them and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him, Her, and Them. Her other film credits include Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, Tower Heist starring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy, Win Win, and the upcoming animated comedy The Adventures of Drunky. Her television credits include “Trial” (Patty Solis-Papagian), NBC’s “Hannibal” (Molly Graham), ABC’s hit TV series “The Good Wife,” “30 Rock” and “Hostages.”
Rizwan Manji Hailing from Ontario, Canada, Rizwan Manji is best known for his role on NBC’s “Outsourced” as Rajiv, the tyrannical manager of a call center in India. He’s appeared in such acclaimed films as The Wolf of Wall Street (Kalil), Transformers (Akram), The Dictator, Don Jon, Charlie Wilson’s War (Colonel Mahmood), and The Citizen (Mo). He appeared in the 2015 films The Tiger Hunter (Babu) and Equals (Gilead), and 2016 films The Bounce Back and Writer’s Block. Rizwan’s prolific television career includes “Three Rivers” (Dr. Dev), “24” (Ahman), “Flash Forward” (Maneesh), “Squad 85” (Cubby), “Schitt’s Creek” (Ray Butani), “Backstrom” (Dr. Deb Chaman), and “Better Off Ted” (Rick). Other appearances include “Glee,” “Arrested Development,” “Anger Management,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Mind of Mencia,” “Without a Trace,” “NCIS,” and “Bones.” Rizwan’s illustrious career also extends to producing, directing, and writing such works as Fillum Star: The Peter Patel Story and …Or Die.
Emily Padgett Currently in the Tony-nominated Broadway musical Bright Star, Emily Padgett also starred in the Broadway revival of Side Show, where she shared the stage as conjoined twins Violet and Daisy Hilton. Bright Star marks Emily’s fifth Broadway show, with previous Broadway credits including the role of Sherrie in Rock of Ages, Grease (u/s Sandy Dumbrowski) and Legally Blonde (Cece; u/s Brooke Wyndham). Emily has also performed in the national tours for Flashdance the Musical, Grease and Cats. Emily was nominated for an Astaire Award for Best Female Dance (Side Show), and starred as the lead role in the premiere of musical Waterfall, a story of forbidden love in 1930s Thailand. In addition to her many theatrical credits, she has appeared on television in “Louie,” Shall We Dance On Ice? and the television series “Step It Up and Dance.”
Tyne Daly Six-time Emmy winner, Tony Award winner and American Theatre Hall of Fame inductee Tyne Daly recently starred as Evelyn in the romantic comedy Basmati Blues. With a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Tyne’s previous Broadway roles include Mothers and Sons (Katharine Gerard), Master Class (Maria Callas), Rabbit Hole (Nat), Angele Lansbury—A Celebration, The Seagull (Madame Arkadina), Gypsy (Rose), and That Summer—That Fall (1967). She won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Gypsy, and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for Rabbit Hole. With over 97 film and TV credits to her name, Tyne won four Emmy Awards for her role in the 1980’s series “Cagney & Lacey,” as well as an Emmy Award for her performances in both CBS’ “Christy” (Alice Henderson) and “Judging Amy” (Maxine Gray).
Ray Fisher Ray Fisher has sprung onto the Hollywood blockbuster scene as the half man/half machine Cyborg in what is set to be a series of movies based on the DC cinematic universe: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Justice League Part One (set for release in 2017) and his own feature film Cyborg in 2020. Before this major break, Ray was slowly but steadily making his mark on the stage, receiving recent critical acclaim as Muhammad Ali in the Off-Broadway play Fetch Clay, Make Man at the New York Theatre Workshop. His additional theatre credits include The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, where he played the role of Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He starred in the short comedic film The Good, the Bad, and the Confused, and appeared as Captain Edward Dwight in the TV series “The Astronaut Wives Club.”
Christopher Jackson Emmy-winning actor/composer Christopher Jackson is currently known for his Tony-nominated starring role as George Washington in Broadway sensation Hamilton. He was nominated for his third Daytime Emmy Award for Best Original Song for co-composing “Queen of Nacho Picchu” for Sesame Street. Chris took home the 2011 Emmy for writing “What I Am”, also for Sesame Street. On Broadway, Chris has featured as Simba in Broadway’s iconic musical The Lion King, originated the lead role of Benny in hip-hop sensation and Tony Award-winning hit In the Heights, and stepped into the role of Delray in Memphis. In 2014, Chris starred as Vertus in the original Broadway production of Holler If Ya Hear Me. Chris released his own R&B solo album In the Name of Love in 2011, and has written music for LL Cool J, Ne-Yo, Mario and Sean Kingston.
Kyle Scatliffe Kyle Scatliffe’s Broadway debut in Les Misérables garnered critical praise for his powerful portrayal of Enjolras, who sings the iconic anthem “Do You Hear the People Sing?” Critics remarked that Kyle struck “an extraordinarily imposing figure” (Variety) and that his performance made “an intense and persuasive Enjolras” (New York Theater). He has won a Lys Symonette Award for Extraordinary Promise and earned an Olivier Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical in 2014. Currently, Kyle is starring in the Broadway revival of The Color Purple (Harpo). In addition to entertaining on Disney Cruise ships, Kyle’s previous credits include Ragtime (Coalhouse Walker, Jr.), Oklahoma! (Jud Fry) and his role as Haywood Patterson in London’s The Scottsboro Boys, centered on African American youth in their fight during the American civil rights movement. His television credits include “A Christmas Carol: The Concert” on PBS.
Sarah Stiles Tony Award-nominated Sarah Stiles has built her Broadway career around puppets and hilarity. On Broadway, Sarah featured for six years as Kate Monster, Lucy the Slut and other characters in Avenue Q, a show that has more puppets than human characters in its cast. Sarah also performed in Broadway’s The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, as well as taking on the role of Muriel Bunson in On A Clear Day You Can See Forever. She recently completed her run in the five-time Tony-nominated comedy Hand to God, marking her fourth Broadway production and earning her a Tony nomination. Her Off-Broadway productions include her roles in Captain Louie, Vanities, Avenue Q and The Road to Qatar, with US tours under her belt for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and as a puppeteer in Doctor Dolittle. Her regional productions include The Full Monty (Estelle Genovese) and Grease (Frenchy).
Madeline Brewer Best known for her role as prison inmate Tricia Miller in Netflix’s mega-series “Orange is the New Black,” Madeline Brewer started her career immediately after graduating from AMDA with the lead role in the musical Liberty under director Igor Goldin. Since then, she’s acquired a penchant for playing dark roles on some of television’s hottest shows: Madeline’s played a junkie prison inmate (Tricia, “OITNB”), a paranoid schizophrenic (“Stalker”), a conflicted runaway nursing someone else’s child (Miranda Cates, “Hemlock Grove”) and a reptilian gang member hell-bent on dominance (Billie Trump, “Grimm”). Critics and fans praised Brewer’s performance throughout the entire “OITNB” season, expressing devastation at Tricia’s tragic death. Now shifting to film, Madeline is also starring in her first feature film Hedgehog as Ali, a wannabe comedian struggling with anxiety, in addition to Mark Webber’s drama Flesh and Blood.