Hispanic Executive: “Top Scholar” Sergio Castillo, The Actors Studio Drama School (MFA ’11)

The July/August issue of Hispanic Executive explores the leaders in today’s Hispanic community that elicit change – such as “Top Scholar” pick Sergio Castillo (MFA ’11).

Here are highlights from a full-page interview with “Top Scholar” Sergio Castillo which appears in the July/August issue of Hispanic Executive (see pages 11 and 13): 

When looking at MFA programs, why did you choose the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University?

I always wanted to go to New York and study there.  One of the reasons I chose this program is because of Delia Salvi, a woman I studied with during my undergrad at UCLA.  She was an alumni of the Actors Studio and one of the strongest acting teachers I have ever had.  I also remember watching Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton when I was young, and being inspired by everyone he interviewed.  Another thing that attracted me to this school is its commitment to the teachings of Lee Strasberg.  I think all of the great actors of modern America came out of this tradition of teaching.

What do you like about your program?

I think the program really tests each student and his or her talents.  Inevitably, it helps the artist discover things about himself. It demands you to be truthful and explore your own character.  The program forces you to ask questions about yourself and reality that you wouldn’t normally ask, and it is through this exploration that truthful forms of humanity come out.  Overall, I think it is the intimacy of the program that is appealing to me.

After completing the MFA program at Pace University, what do you hope to do?

I hope to work as an actor, writer, and director.  Right now, I am actually planning to direct a show for the New York Fringe Festival.  I am very much committed to doing theater, but I hope to occasionally do some film.

Downtown Express: “Pace’s Actors Studio stages repertory season”

The Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University is in the second week of its five-week MFA repertory season during which this year’s graduating class performs plays and excerpts from plays in order to earn their degrees. This year’s graduating class has 27 members. They have interesting and diverse backgrounds. One played Young Simba in “The Lion King” on Broadway. Another is a Fulbright scholar from Ecuador. A Grammy award winner is in the class as are a woman with a chemistry degree, a former Fortune 500 banker and a musician with a Double Platinum album.

“We have all kinds of ages, all kinds of backgrounds,” said Andreas Manolikakis, chair of the Actors Studio Drama School and a board member of the Actors Studio. “And this is the beauty of it, because one learns from the other.”

The curriculum was designed by Actors Studio leaders, including Ellen Burstyn, Harvey Keitel and Al Pacino. In weekly workshops, students learn about script analysis, design, stage combat, directing and auditioning for plays, musicals, film and television. A new workshop this year covers writing for film and television. The students take weekly dance classes at the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.

Shariffa Wilson (pictured in a scene from Edward Allan Baker’s play, “Face Divided”),  has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Howard University and was planning to go to law school.  She told the Downtown Express: “Coming into this I knew the sacrifice that I would make,” she said. “I left a job where I was getting paid every two weeks and I had amazing medical coverage but I didn’t want to have any regrets. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.”