Zak Barnett

(Owner, Director, Master Acting Teacher)  

Zak Barnett is uniquely qualified to spearhead an organization that works at the intersection of entertainment industry success, spirituality and social activism. For the past 10 years he has become one of Hollywood’s most renown acting coaches, helping thousands of actors (aspiring, working, and celebrity) of all ages to artistic success and professional integrity within the industry. He has developed both a trusted name within the industry as well as a loyal following. This background is supported by an equally impressive seven years of developing and co-chairing the first BA, MA, and MFA performing arts program in the country focused on artistic experimentation, spirituality and social activism. His own studies and work as an actor, writer, and director have resulted in BA and MFA degrees in Acting, Playwriting and Directing as well as an award-winning theater company, a feature-length independent film, and professional acting work in both film and tv. Currently Zak has a dozen of his students working as series regulars on major television shows, as well as hundreds of others working as guest stars, costars, major roles in both studio and independent films, and on and off-Broadway.

Some of his current and recent students include Sloane Siegel (star of Amazon’s Gortimer Gibbons and the Life on Normal Street), Johnny Ortiz (star of ABC’s American Crime), Jake Brennan (star of Netflix’s Richie Rich), Gabryelle Elyse (series regular on Nickelodeon’s Nicki, Ricki, Dickie, and Dawn), Madalyn Horcher (series regular on Fox’s Gracepoint), Casey Moss (series regular on Days of Our Lives), Raeven Lee Hanan (series regular on FX’s Married), Cody Saigntnue (Brett) and Khylin Rambo (Mason) from MTV’s Teen Wolf, Kayla Maisonet on Disney’s Dog with a Blog, Danielle MacDonald  (star of the feature-film Patti Cake$ and upcoming film Dumplin’ opposite Jennifer Aniston), Austin Abrams from Warner Herzog’s film Vernon God Little with Russel Brand and The Greens are Gone with Maya Rudolph and Catherine Keener, River Alexander from The Way Way Back with Steve Carell and Toni Collette and Boychoir with Dustin Hoffman and Kathy Bates, Olivia Rose Keegan from Amnesiac with Kate Bosworth and Wes Bentley, Kayla Servi from Comet starring Justin Long and Emmy Rossum and Storm Reid from Twelve Years a Slave and the upcoming Wrinkle in Timezak@zakbarnett.com

Anne Hawthorne

(Partner, Head of ZBS Calgary)

Anne is originally from North Carolina and graduated from East Carolina University (Cum laude).  After graduation she moved to NYC where she performed on Broadway in Fosse with Ben Vereen, Ann Reinking, and Bebe Newirth, Pajama GameThe Merry Widow with Placido Domingo, A Christmas Carol with Tim Curry and was a Radio City Rockette.  She performed on the road in CATS National Touring Company, Animal Crackers at Arena Stage, DC  where she was Asst. Choreographer to Baayork Lee, Street Scene with Wolff Trapp Opera Co., as well as other regional theaters. Her film credits include A Miracle on Christmas LakeDark HeartsFlirting with FortyHeart of the Country as actor/producer, Mutant WorldPicking Up and Dropping OffThe Other WomanUndercover ChristmasHollywood WivesSimple Revenge.

While in NYC, Anne studied Meisner technique, film studies with Roz Colman and The School for Film and Television. She continued her studies after moving to Calgary with various acting workshops in LA, which is where she met Zak Barnett. After many years of developing friendship and having him as her coach they decided to start Zak Barnett Studios in Los Angeles.   She is so proud to be a part of such a unique and special family at ZBS where entertainment, spirituality and activism are the focus of the school.

Anne currently lives in Calgary, Canada with her husband and three children. 

Martha Gehman Headshot, Acting Teacher and offers private coaching

Martha Gehman

(Master Acting Teacher: Scene Study, Core) 

Martha is an extraordinary acting teacher who has had rare and extensive experience in a multitude of theatrical-formats, including film and television. She comes from one of the great American theatrical lineages having grown up in theaters around the world with her mother being Academy Award Winning actress, Estelle Parsons. Exposure to acclaimed playwrights, actors, lyricists, choreographers in the stage arts and crafts has provided her with a teaching ability rarely found in one human being. She is also a member of the Actors Studio having worked with such artists as Ellen Burstyn, Ann Jackson, Arthur Penn, Lee Grant, Harvey Keitel and Christopher Walken.  As a teacher she apprenticed under acting coach Sandra Seacat.

For the past 15 years Gehman has been an independent teacher, conducting both classes and private sessions for professionals and all levels of actors at her studio in Hollywood. She frequently works on set with her clients.  Martha’s clients have included: Jane Fonda, Joelle Carter, Beyonce, Common, Katherine LaNasa, Grant Show, Erin Richards, Justin Chatwin, and Agyness Deyn.

Alex Burkart, Teacher, Administrative Director, Private Coaching

Alex Burkart

(Coach, Curriculum Consultant)

Alex is a graduate from the MFA Performance Pedagogy program at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he studied techniques of teaching acting and directing. During his studies he taught regularly for TheatreVCU including full curriculum development of the Directing I and II sequence, as well as the creation of classes for Voice-Over and Radio Drama and Acting for Web Content.  In 2011, Alex (alongside his twin brother Nate) founded the award-winning Los Angeles New Court Theatre, which is now in its sixth season. Performance-wise, Alex’s work has been seen across the country. His credits include the American premiere of Tom Stoppard’s Pirandello’s Henry IV at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Artie Goldberg in the Mid-Atlantic premiere of Yank!, Eugene Morris Jerome in Biloxi Blues and Broadway Bound, and Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill. He was also hand selected by Edward Albee to participate in a reading of the play Me, Myself, & I with legends Elizabeth Ashley and Brian Murray at Playwrights Horizons in NYC. In addition to performance, Alex is the author of the full-length play Atlas Pit, which received its world premiere in Los Angeles Fall 2016.  His newest play El Cíclope was a finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Convention.  He also holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Webster University’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts. alex@zakbarnett.com

Kim Preiss, Acting Teacher and private coaching available

Kym Priess

(Teacher: Core)

Also known as Tomahawk, Kym Priess is a multi-media performance artist, actor, singer, musician, and fitness instructor.  A rock ’n roll firecracker, down-to-earth Texan native and NYU graduate, Kym’s candid, fearless, and adventurous approach to art, teaching, and life has led her to creating one-woman shows, fronting and playing in bands, writing rock operas, and acting in film/tv projects.  Kym has been a collaborator with Zak for over twenty years. She truly believes that one can access their greatest potential by diving into the unknown and seeing how much already exists inside of them. This is the never-ending exploration in life. Most recent credits include being a Co-host/Travel Expert on a new series by the Travel Channel, writing songs for Vanderpump Rules, and regular episodes of her rock ’n roll fitness web series Tomahawk Training. Her rock art solo project Stunt Driver will make its debut in 2017. The project is named as such due to Kym’s secret desire to be a real stunt driver. Stay tuned….

Michael Connors

(Teacher: Core, Craft)

Michael Connors is a Director, Acting Coach, and Actor who received his BFA from SUNY@Purchase Acting Conservatory. In addition he trained at The Michael Howard Studios, Judith Weston’s Actor/ Director Lab, DNA Directors Lab and The Barrow Group in NYC. Acting credits include Ray in a critically acclaimed production of Blackbird at The Met Theater, the West Coast premiere of the play Wake at The Fremont Centre Theatre, and the films Slocum Chandelier and You and Me. Directorial credits include Orphans (which he also acted in) co-starring Beau Mirchoff (Flatliners, Awkward) at The Hudson Mainstage, and the West Coast premiere of Limonade Tous Les Jous, starring Megan Boone (The Blacklist) which was honored with three LA Weekly Theatre Awards. He has taught and coached privately, is on the faculty of NYFA, and has taught for The Michael Woolson Studios. Michael has worked Off-Broadway and regionally, as well as in film & episodic TV.

Sandi McCree

(Teacher: Craft)

Sandi is an Acting and Sketch Teacher, Acting Coach, and an Actress who holds a B.A. in Radio, Film and Television from the University of Maryland, and a MFA from Case Western Reserve University. She attended the Shakespeare Conservatory in New York and the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, England.  Notably, Case Western commissioned Sandi to develop original activities for the student body with an emphasis on education and art focused prevention programing to children.

Sandi is both an extraordinary dramatic actress and an accomplished sketch performer.  She was celebrated for her pivotal recurring role as the notorious ‘De’londa Brice’ on the critically-acclaimed HBO series, The Wire. Of her performance, Slate Magazine noted, “De’londa was one of the great maternal monsters in screen history. She made Joan Crawford look like mother of the year.”

A proud alum of the prestigious Groundlings School Sunday Company, Sandi has performed at IO West, Second City, The Nerdist, and performs monthly at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade.

Graham Sibley

(Teacher: Core)

Graham Sibley a founding member of IAMA Theatre Company and has originated roles on stage for Neil LaBute, Christian Durso and multiple roles for Leslye Headland.  In 2017, Shonda Rhimes came on board as IAMA’s first Patron of The Arts and anchored IAMA as Los Angeles’ premiere theatre company and a new voice in contemporary American Theatre.  On television, Sibley has guest starred and recurred on many shows including Jane The VirginFear The Walking DeadHow To Get Away With Murder, Aquarius, Grey’s Anatomy, The Newsroom and the new horror anthology series Dark/Web.  On screen, Graham has starred in and premiered films at Sundance, Slamdance, South By Southwest and made his studio debut in Clint Eastwood’s Sully.  Sibley stars in four feature films that will be released in 2018: Better Off ZedThe Passing Parade, Pour Greg Drowning and Honored for Lionsgate.   

For more information please visit his website: www.grahamsibley.com

Casting Director who offers private coaching through ZBS

Carol Goldwasser

(Audition Coach)

Carol Goldwasser is an independent casting director and audition coach who has worked for over twenty years in Los Angeles and New York, specializing in youth and teen programming for the last ten years. She has cast actors who’ve received Kid’s and Teen Choice Awards, Imagen Awards, Young Artist Awards, and Emmy Award nominations for their roles in her projects. Series work includes Austin & Ally (Kids Choice Awards Favorite TV show), Dog with a Blog (multiple Emmy nominations), I’m in the Band (multiple Young Artist Awards) and Hannah Montana (Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Comedy & multiple Emmy nominations). She has been nominated for twelve Casting Society of America Artios Awards for excellence in casting, winning the honor twice, and was a Heller Award nominee for Television Casting Director of the year. Carol is a member of the Television Academy and the Casting Society of America.

Barnet Bain

(Oscar and Emmy Nominated Producer, Writer, and Director)  

Barnet Bain’s credits include Oscar-winner What Dreams May Come (producer), Emmy-Award nominee, Outstanding Made for Television Movie, Homeless to Harvard (executive producer), The Celestine Prophecy (writer, producer), Jesus (aka The Jesus Film) (writer), and The Lost and Found Family (director).  Barnet consults and trains business leaders and private clients who are committed to high performance. Through his creativity workshops Barnet guides people of all ages and walks of life to expand their vision of what is possible, and develop their gifts and talents with passion.  Barnet is the author of The Book of Doing and Being: Rediscovering Creativity in Life, Love and Work, Simon & Schuster/Atria, July 2015.  He can be heard as co-host of Cutting Edge Consciousness Radio on KVTA AM Talk Radio in Southern California in conversation with thought leaders, entrepreneurs and visionaries from the worlds of culture, commerce and consciousness.  www.barnetbain.com.

Patricia Cogley

(Education and Human Rights Activist)  

 Patricia Cogley leads strategic partnerships for Adobe’s flagship philanthropy program, Adobe Youth Voices. For the past eight years Patricia has spearheaded Adobe Foundation’s global grants portfolio for organizations committed to the intersection of arts, community, and social change. In addition to leading AYV’s scholarship program and network of grantees, she has designed and managed large-scale international summits, supporting a movement of leaders committed to young people’s creativity. Previous to Adobe Patricia worked as an education consultant, youth media program leader, and exhibition designer. She holds a Masters in International Education and Human Rights from University of San Francisco.

Casting Director who offers private coaching through ZBS

Carol Goldwasser

(Casting Director)

Carol Goldwasser is an independent casting director who has worked for over twenty years in Los Angeles and New York. She’s cast actors who have received Kid’s and Teen Choice Awards, Imagen Awards, Young Artist Awards, and Emmy Award nominations for their roles. Her series work includes Austin & Ally (Kids Choice Awards Favorite TV show), Dog with a BlogI’m in the Band and Hannah Montana (Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Comedy). Other series include Out of Jimmy’s Head and The Hughleys; telefilms include Good Luck Charlie: It’s Christmas! and The Boy Who Cried Werewolf. Carol assembled a rotating cast for Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays. The play won an L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award for Unique Theatrical Event. She has been nominated for eleven Casting Society of America Artios Awards for excellence in casting, winning the honor twice, and was a Heller Award nominee for Television Casting Director of the year. Carol is a member of the Television Academy and the Casting Society of America (Bio from IMDB).

SARA ISAACSON

(Casting Director)

Sara is a person who loves tacos, musicals, camp and road trips. She also happens to be a casting director, so that’s kinda cool. A native of Chicago, she began her love for actors by seeing plays at Victory Gardens Theatre, Piven Threatre, and Steppenwolf Theatre. She worked as an actress for about 4.7 seconds before understanding the amount of work and devotion that is required to pursue a life as an actress, and quickly found an internship in casting office while attending Columbia College for theatre studies. After a few years, working her way from intern to casting assistant, she left Chicago for LA to pursue a career in casting. Landing in LA, she quickly found herself in a three month interneship with Jeff Greenberg, but when a job wasn’t available, she met around town, and got a job working with Jami Rudofsky and Mara Casey on Gilmore Girls. Seventeen years later, Sara has worked as an associate on ER with John Levey, as a Casting Director with April Webster on FringeBates MotelAlcatraz, and Almost Human. Somewhere along the way, she also worked as the Manager of Casting for Lifetime Television as well as working as an agent with Michael Greene and Associates. This January will mark her three year partnership with Eric Souliere and the formation of Isaacson and Souliere Casting. Together they have cast ScreamState of AffairsLegendsFamous in LoveThe Arrangement and Midnight, Texas. Sara is also a board member of the Casting Society of America.

ROBIN VEITH

(Producer)

Robin is currently a Co-Executive Producer on Syfy’s The Expanse. She was most recently a Consulting Producer on Cinemax’s Outcast and a Supervising Producer on NBC’s Believ. She started her career on staff of Mad Men, where she wrote five episodes of the show’s first three seasons, with three of her scripts receiving Emmy nominations, and one a Writers Guild nomination. While with Mad Men, she earned three Writers Guild Awards (two for Outstanding Drama Series and one for Outstanding New Series), as well as a Peabody Award. During the off season of Mad Men, she penned the live variety show The Mad Men Live Revue, which enjoyed sold out shows at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles and the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. She went on to be a Producer on Law & Order: SVU and was a Co-Producer on FX’s Lights Out prior to that, writing two episodes of its first season. She also recently completed a rewrite of the film Cripple for Gilbert Films. Her proudest achievement remains her Golden Elephant for Best Boss on Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus 136th tour.

ZACH GUGGENHEIM

(Philanthropist)

Zach Guggenheim is a retired owner of an Art Restoration business in New York and London. A native of New York City, Mr. Guggenheim holds a PhD in Philosophy from Columbia University, a M.A. from Oxford University and a J.D. From Yale University. Along with his sister, he Co-Founded the Guggenheim Trust, a private Foundation that helps the world with hunger issues, clean water, sexual abuse, children’s health, women’s issues and safety issues. He has also helped raise money for NY Presbyterian hospital, Sloane-Kettering and St Jude’s Hospital. Mr. Guggenheim married and moved from New York to Los Angeles in 1989. He now spends time volunteering at Cedars-Sinai on the Cardiac floor.

Krishn Ghiya

(Marketing Consultant)

Krishn comes to ZBS after successfully working globally in the UK and India.  He is a graduate from the UCLA Extension program, and holds an Masters in Marketing from University of Nottingham, and a Bachelors of Business Management with a focus in Marketing from Christ University in India.   He also holds certificates in retail analytics from TCS, Media Literacy from Christ University, ‘SAP 01’, and New Models of Business Society from University of Virginia. Prior to coming to ZBS he was a Membership Coordinator at American Marketing Association, a Marketing Associate at European Union, and an Executive in Client Servicing at Ogilvy & Mather.  He is excited to be jumping into the LA entertainment industry. 

He will be consulting with us regarding our marketing strategies, branding strategies as well as consult on our social media activities (including Facebook & Instagram).

John Rushing Headshot, acting teacher, private coaching available

John Rushing

(Director of Development)

John is an actor, acting coach, and producer. John’s training is deeply rooted in Meisner’s method and Viewpoints–although he draws from several different approaches when teaching depending on student needs. John worked professionally as a stage actor in Chicago and Los Angeles. John has worked in theaters large and small, including the Tony Award winning houses of Victory Gardens (Chicago) and The Geffen Playhouse (Los Angeles). Selected credits include: Pulitzer-Prize Finalist The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, as well as EquusAmadeusLove of the Nightingale, and Belfry. John is a proud member of Actor’s Equity. In addition to theater, John works professional in film and television. He has several national commercials to his credit including Union Pacific, Lynn Waldock, Fischer Investments, Long John Silvers, and Funyuns. His recent television work includes guest appearances on Rizzoli & Isles and See Dad Run. John works regularly in independent film and has appeared with Steven Seagal, Alan Arkin, Ving Rhames, and Clea Duval. John is a member of SAG-AFTRA. John started acting at age 5 and focused on theater until age 15 when he made a shift into film and television. John worked professionally as a child actor and transitioned to adult productions after college. John’s earned degrees from Calvin College, Oxford University, and the University of Texas. He completed a two-year Meisner training program in Chicago and has studied with the prestigious SITI Company of New York, Brad Garrett, and Margie Haber. John taught acting at The Margie Haber Studio for over two years and has traveled the world coaching privately on set. When he is not working as an actor, John works as a film and television producer. He has co-produced two films and is currently developing both film and television projects for sale. John believes that connection and spirituality are key components in an artist’s life. His spiritual connection is with the ocean, and he partakes in this spirituality by sailing. John is an competitive off-shore sailor. Sponsored by GILL sailing gear, he has competed in several well known long distance ocean races, including The Transpac (LA-Hawaii), The Cabo (NewportCabo), and The Ensenada (Newport-Ensenada trophy winner 3 years in a row). When he is not acting or sailing, John hangs out with his wife and son and roots for his beloved Chicago Cubs. john@zakbarnett.com

ZBS brings in student mentors to work regularly in class.  These mentors are individuals who have found success both artistically and professionally- and they are there to help guide and advise students on their own artistic and professional journeys.  Student Mentors are assigned to one age bracket below their own, ensuring a big brother/big sister program for our community of artists.

Sloane Morgan Siegel

Sloane Morgan Siegel

(Kids/Tween Master)

Sloane is an award winning  actor with more than 50 films and 45 national and international commercials, 16 TV Pilots, 40+ television appearances, 20 voiceovers, 3 plays, and multiple music videos and print model work in his credits. He has been trained on screen combat, works out weekly with a professional trainer, and performs most all of his own stunts. Sloane is best known for his titular leading role as Gortimer in Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street, which is an award-winning original TV Series developed by Amazon Studios. On March, 15, 2015, he won the Best Actor Award as the Lead in a TV Series presented by the 36th annual Young Artists Awards, and he won it again in 2016. He was the first person in 37 years to repeat as the winner of the top TV Award. He’s been a lead more than 20 times and while every one of his films has won awards, one has won 16 Film Festival awards. Sloane just completed a major guest starring role (Evan) on the new hit series, Pure Genius on CBS, where half of the one-hour drama is dedicated to his character. Sloane completed a recurring co-star role on the CBS sitcom, Partners, and guest spots on popular shows such as Wendell & VinnieModern FamilyBig Time RushThe Neighbors, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He’s won an IAWTV Award as the lead in the variety series Kids React which also won a daytime Emmy and garners more than 2 million views a week.  He has worked with and trained with Zak Barnett for the last six years. He is very proud to be a Student Mentor at ZBS.

Gabrielle Elyse

Gabrielle Elyse

(Teen Master)

Gabrielle is a Texas born actress. Since her acting journey began, she has booked multiple guest stars on various TV shows like Austin & AllyLiv & MaddieRizzoli & IslesTeen WolfThe Catch, and Black-ish. She has also has multiple series leads under her belt. (Season 1 of Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn on Nickelodeon, A new series on Hulu, and a new project for Warner Brothers that is set to premiere this year. This project also apart of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.)
Gabrielle has worked with Zak Barnett for over 6 years. In those 6 years, she has learned to hone in what a unique voice and skills she has not only as an actress but as an artist. She now brings her own originality to each of her characters. Through audition coaching and on going scene study classes, Zak has helped her to become self aware and how she relates to the world around her as an creative being. Zak’s desire for an artist is to not only develop an actors own creativity but to also make the artist be aware and connect to the world around them.

Dwayne Calizo

Dwayne Calizo

(In Spirit and Memoriam: Co-Founder, Master Voice Teacher)

Dwayne Calizo was a visionary activist, artist, teacher and friend, without which, there would be no ZBS.  He passed away a couple of weeks prior to us opening our doors.  The social programs he designed are named in his honor.

Dwayne Patrick Calizo (Boobie/Kekoa/Mama) was the truest of Bohemians. A devotee to the transcendent power of art, activism, teaching, friendship, family, the underdog, irreverence, diversity, laughter, forgiveness and above all, LOVE. As his mother said, Dwayne had no black book where he wrote down the people he would not forgive, and when he did feign writing in one (purely for dramatic affect), he did so with disappearing ink. He had a voice unlike any of us had ever heard, and an unrelenting belief that everyone could sing. EVERYONE had a voice that needed to be heard. In retrospect, it may have been because it was lonely singing from the next world; somehow still, he managed to pull many of us halfway there

Dwayne frequently told the story of when all the neighborhood kids would gather outside his bathroom window in the plantation town he grew up on the North Shore of Hawaii, shouting requests as he sang in the shower. They called the game “Radio”; Dwayne took a lot of showers.   He went on to attend the University of Hawaii where he won numerous national awards for classical singing. He then moved to Los Angeles and created “The Space”, a community art and music venue, which served as a safe space for rival gangs to interact/create art with one another.  Following that, he was a hospice nurse during the early days of the AIDS crisis, putting his own life on the line to help others pass with dignity and grace.
Dwayne then moved to San Francisco, meeting up with his new partner Zak where he formed ghosttown experimental theater, followed by the Experimental Performance Institute, the first BA, MA and MFA Program in Queer and Activist Performance in the world with a group of SF-based artists, as well as Mama Calizo’s Voice Factory, dedicated to Queer Artists of Color, Trans Artists and Artists living with HIV/AIDS. As an individual artist, he originated 7 Rock Musicals, 10 original dance theater pieces and 5 solo albums, and collectively was awarded some of the most prestigious artistic grants and awards in the country.

His life both in Hawaii and San Francisco was a beautifully composed song, filled with countless verses of relationships with family and friends.  Dwayne’s teaching, producing and artistic work has impacted innumerable artists and activists across the globe, and at the time of his death, he was gearing up to launch a Zak Barnett Studios in Los Angeles. He died committed to the things he loved: his beliefs, his partner, his art, his family and his friends.

Dwayne struggled with many things: mental illness, AIDS, poverty and Addiction. I say this because Dwayne taught us to stand up for ALL of who we are, and to use humility, commitment and love to navigate through. He died a hero.  His ohana also included 16 nieces and nephews, 27 grandnieces and nephews and more true friends, and dedicated students then one could count.