Rachel Eliza Griffiths, poet-in-residence, is nominated for an NAACP Image Award!

Congratulations, Rachel Eliza! Check out Rachel Eliza’s nomination here and her latest work here. Look for Rachel Eliza’s novel PROMISE next year (Random House, 2022).

Posted in News

Virtual Open House – Feb 9-11

Interested in training at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting (NY) or Art of Acting Studio (LA)? Attend our upcoming Virtual Open House running nightly from February 9-11, 2021. Take free classes and hear from current students and faculty over Zoom. This open house will be catered towards actors interested in the Professional Conservatory programs or Summer Intensives.

Attend as much or as little as your schedule permits. Can only join us for one or two evenings? No problem. Want to attend all four evenings for the full Conservatory experience? Happy to have you with us!

  • Studio Overview & Discussion – Hear from Artistic Director Tom Oppenheim (grandson of Stella Adler) as he discusses the history, mission and core beliefs of the Stella Adler Studio of Acting and Art of Acting Studio. Faculty and staff will also discuss the studio’s various programming.
  • Free Workshops – Get a taste of the studio’s world-class training with free workshops each night. Classes available will include acting technique, on-camera, and scene work!
  • Student Q & A – Meet with current conservatory students who can answer your questions about studying at the Stella Adler Studio in New York or Art of Acting Studio in Los Angeles.

RSVP to the Virtual Open House Here


The times are in Eastern Standard Time and will be on Zoom.

  • Tuesday, February 9th (7-10pm) – To kick off the open house, the first event will be “Meet the Studio” a discussion with Tom Oppenheim and the staff. Following that event will be a special Master Class with Ron Burrus on the Acting Technique developed by Stella Adler
  • Wednesday, February 10th (7-9pm) – This evening will feature two workshops: On-Camera Acting and Monologue Coaching led by conservatory faculty.
  • Thursday, February 11th (7-9pm) – The final evening will be a Question and Answer session with current conservatory students and faculty. Ask them anything! Perhaps we will also do a virtual facility tour if time permits!

Reserve Your Spot: This event is FREE (no cost)! Due to limited space each night, reservations are required. RSVP using form below or by Clicking Here.

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2021 Diversity Scholarships Announcement

A central tenet of Tom Oppenheim’s Artistic Directorship has been to make the studio’s work accessible to all, to diversify access to Stella Adler’s work. Under Oppenheim’s leadership, the studio has given nearly $1,000,000 in scholarships for BIPOC students in an informal application process. In an effort to make that work more transparent and visible, the studio has created a formal application process for future scholarships.

The studio is delighted to announce the 2021 application process for diversity scholarships for the 3-Year Conservatory, Evening Conservatory and LA Conservatory for matriculation in Fall 2020 in NYC or LA. These scholarships will cover up to the full tuition cost for the first year of training. The scholarships are one of several efforts to support the studio’s priority to develop a student body that reflects the society in which it exists.

Students also interested in the shorter term 10-Week Summer Conservatory can also apply for the Diversity Scholarship.

Deadline to Apply: Monday, January 25th, 2021

More information at https://stellaadler.com/classes/admissions/diversity/

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The Company Tour Plays on… Virtually

The studio is pleased to announce that The Company Tour will continue to serve New Yorkers with a free classical play during the pandemic. The Company Tour has reached over 7,000 New Yorkers and collaborated with over 50 community organizations including schools, community, cultural, rehabilitation and senior centers in all five boroughs since 2013. This year, the free, 60-minute, bare-bones production will be offered online here. The Company Tour focuses on reaching under-served communities and invites partners to make use of all of the resources online and to consider a virtual class or workshop.

When we realized, due to the pandemic, we would no longer be able to travel as a group out into our community we tasked ourselves with using technology to reach out once again this year. Because, as the old adage goes, “The show must GO ON”! The result is our virtual production of William Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, produced entirely for teleconferencing with a cast participating from around the globe. This live production was recorded and is available for streaming into your in-person or virtual classroom, home, community center, or even smartphone. In addition, we are also conducting workshops and Q&A’s in real time, safely connecting us once again with audiences we have been serving proudly for the last EIGHT years!

We are excited to reach a broader audience in the virtual world and to continue serving our community at this time.

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15 Years of Arts Justice: Celebration on Oct 22

The Stella Adler Arts Justice Division (formerly known as the Outreach Division) serves hundreds of New Yorkers every year in free programs in dozens of locations across the five boroughs. But it all started 15 years ago with a small group of high school students in what was then a fledgling program: Adler Youth. The mandate of the Arts Justice Division is to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline; Adler Youth does its part by serving young people statistically most likely to be justice-involved or those who are impacted by poverty.

Since its inception in 2005, Arts Justice programs have reached over 5,000 people. Of those, Adler Youth has served nearly 500 teens in a free, two-year, after-school program. In addition several graduates have gone on to receive merit and need based scholarships to Conservatory programs.

The young people we’ve met in Adler Youth are nothing short of extraordinary. They have gone on to do amazing things, among them win scholarships to colleges like CUNY, SUNY, New York University, Georgetown and Juilliard; study and volunteer abroad; create, write, produce original work; start families; take a stand as activists and organizers and so much more.

Please join us in celebrating this important milestone! Stay tuned  in the coming weeks as we share memories and voices from students and alumni.

Virtual Celebration: 15 Years of Arts Justice Looking Back and Looking Forward – October 22nd
Stella Adler Studio of Acting presents 15 Years of Arts Justice Looking Back and Looking Forward a virtual celebration highlighting the history of the Arts Justice Division (formerly called Outreach Division) at the Stella Adler Center.

Thursday, October 22 at 3:30pm EST on Zoom

With Sonia Sanchez (Board Member and Poet Laurete), Tom Oppenheim (Artistic Director), Kevin Bott (Director of Arts Justice), Nina Capelli (Director of Cultural Programming), Melissa Mickens (Director of Adler Youth), Suzy PetchEam (Director of Arts Justice Field Programs), Joanne Edelmann (Lead Teacher for women at Rikers Island), Alex Anderson (Director of Ritual 4 Return) Anette Burwell (Director of Social Work for Ritual 4 Return), Anita Dashiell-Sparks (Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion), Fred Johnson (Resident Artist)

Email ryan@stellaadler.com for Zoom Link to this free event.

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Sonia Sanchez’s Poem Featured in ‘Lovecraft Country’

Board Member Sonia Sanchez’s gripping poem “Catch the Fire” was featured in this past week’s episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country. Sanchez’s poem was also set to music beautifully composed as a requiem by the show’s soundtrack composer Laura Karpman.

Posted in Alumni

Diversity Scholarships Annoucement

A central tenet of Tom Oppenheim’s Artistic Directorship has been to make the studio’s work accessible to all, to diversify access to Stella Adler’s work. Under Oppenheim’s leadership, the studio has given nearly $1,000,000 in scholarships for BIPOC students in an informal application process. In an effort to make that work more transparent and visible, the studio has created a formal application process for future scholarships.

The studio is therefore delighted to publicly announce the application process for diversity scholarships for the 3-Year Conservatory or Evening Conservatory for matriculation in Fall 2020 in NYC. These scholarships will cover up to the full tuition cost for the first year of training. The scholarships are one of several efforts to support the studio’s priority to develop a student body that reflects the society in which it exists.

Deadline to Apply: Monday, August 3rd, 2020

More information at https://stellaadler.com/classes/admissions/diversity/

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A Letter from Anita Dashiell-Sparks

Dear Stella Adler Center Community,

I am both humbled and honored to serve as Artistic Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for Stella Adler Center of the Arts. As a BIPOC artist, educator, director, and EDI practitioner, I firmly believe in the transformative power of art and theater that can and should be inclusive, culturally responsive, equity-minded, empathetic, compassionate, and supportive of all intersectional identities. I believe that the theater is a transformative space where “the invisible is made visible.” We are in an urgent and necessary moment and movement of foregrounding BIPOC voices and experiences that have been marginalized, silenced, dismissed, and rendered invisible for far too long. This is a necessary action and catalyst for change. I am committed to being a part of that change.

In my new role, I will help foster and nurture a culture and artistic learning environment that does not tolerate racism, white supremacy, systems of power and oppression, a colonized or euro-centric canon of literature, sexism, and other discriminatory practices.  Towards that end, a system of reporting bias, discrimination, harassment and other concerns for students, faculty, and staff will be established and implemented by Artistic Director of EDI along with subsequent follow-up and review protocols.

We want to ensure that all members of the Adler community know the power of their voice, to use it as a tool to advocate for themselves and as an ally for others without fear of retaliation. I’ve outlined several action items that I recently shared with Tom Oppenheim about how to begin and implement our EDI organizational change work. A ten-point plan will be put into action immediately. Through these concrete actions, we will do better and we hope that our students, faculty, and staff will keep each other accountable. Our collective commitment and collaboration as a community is imperative in doing this work as part of our practice.  These actions are outlined below.


Anita Dashiell-Sparks
Artistic Director of EDI, Stella Adler Center of the Arts

  1. DATA COLLECTION & TRANSPARENCY: I requested current data about the racial and gendered demographic of faculty and staff for Stella Adler Center in New York and Los Angeles. We will create an EDI database that will house this data and information that allows us to examine and assess patterns, trends, and identify gaps to strengthen the diversity of faculty and staff and individuals who hold leadership roles/positions within the organization.  The database will be accessible to Stella Adler Studio Community.
  2. RECRUITMENT & RETENTION OF DIVERSE FACULTY, STAFF, AND STUDENTS: Systematic Review of current policies and practices regarding hiring of faculty and staff, and auditioning students for conservatory programs, casting a wider net of outreach, and implementing best practices and approach of equity-mindedness in all of these processes.
  3. MANDATORY TRAINING & FACULTY DEVELOPMENT: Ongoing training, workshops, and professional development facilitated and overseen by Artistic Director of EDI and others as needed that include the following topics: Unconscious Bias, Anti-racism; anti-black racism, white privilege, white fragility, equity-minded teaching, gender identity & gender expression, sexual orientation, harassment prevention, building cultures of affirmative consent, and intimacy guidelines/protocols in theater. Stella Adler Center faculty and staff have committed to ongoing education and will be engaging this summer in a comprehensive guide that addresses several of topics listed above to help understand structures of systemic racism and to foster inclusive and culturally responsive/sensitive learning environments. All students are encouraged and invited to participate in Justice in June educational guide as well: https://justiceinjune.org/. The material covered in this guide will be discussed and unpacked in faculty/staff meetings throughout the summer and next year.
  4. CURRICULUM: A systematic review of curriculum and plays selected for productions will be done in order to diversify and decolonize the canon of literature.  Intent is that students are exposed to a wide array of stories, experiences, and perspectives to investigate, analyze, personalize, and embody within their studio work where their own identities are actively welcomed into the room and tho work, art being created. This is part of an inclusive and culturally responsive pedagogical frame and equity-minded teaching frame.  The catalogue and library of theatrical works will be diversified and regularly updated by students, faculty, and staff to reflect identities across multiple categories of experiences
  5. CASTING & REPRESENTATION: A review of current casting protocols for auditions, for productions, as well as conservatory programs will be implemented with the goal of being equitable in this process being mindful of access and opportunity of experiences for all students at Stella Adler Studio.  Best practices of inclusivity will be integrated into casting processes across various identities.
  6. REPORTING SYSTEM: A system of reporting incidents of bias, discrimination, harassment, will be created and implemented including follow-up and resolution procedures.
  7. CLIMATE SURVEY: A survey is currently being developed to assess and analyze the current climate of Stella Adler Center for faculty, staff, students, and alumni. This is another metric and tool of accountability that will happen in August 2020 and be repeated every 2 years to measure effectiveness and identify areas that still need improvement
  8. FOCUS GROUPS: Beginning in July-August 2020, Artistic Director of EDI will hold focus groups for faculty, staff, students, and alumni, in New York and Los Angeles as another metrics and top of collecting quantitative and qualitative data that will inform and shape EDI programs and initiatives moving forward.
  9. STRATEGIC PLAN: The data gathered and collected from Focus Groups and Climate Survey will be formulated and synthesized into creation of a 3-5 year EDI Strategic Plan for Stella Adler Center with specific goals to be accomplished in years 1, 3, and 5 of the plan with benchmarks and measurable objectives for accountability.
  10. ARTS JUSTICE: As the mission of the studio values and foregrounds how theater can be used as a catalyst for individual change and social justice, we are excited to explore and expand programs and initiatives for faculty, staff, and students to engage with this social justice work.
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Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Dear friends,

In a letter from the studio dated May 31, 2020 with the subject line “In Solidarity and Community”, we made a promise “not to rest until we multiply our energies to utilize theater and education to combat systemic racism.” We wrote that with full recognition that it will take work, lots of work. We are ready to do that work.

To this end we are proud to announce the engagement of Anita Dashiell-Sparks as Artistic Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the Stella Adler Center for the Arts. This appointment will begin immediately.

I met Ms. Dashiell-Sparks back in 2010 when we were building the Art of Acting Studio (AOA) in Los Angeles. J. Steven White, who taught Anita at New York University’s Graduate Acting program, introduced us when I asked him for recommendations for the best teachers in Los Angeles. Anita is indeed the best.

Anita is the best not only because she’s a compelling, dynamic, charismatic teacher and director, which she absolutely is. What makes her so wonderful is her gigantic heart and her rich, ever-expanding mind. It is her heart and mind, her curiosity, her deep engagement with life, with ideas, with theater as a vehicle for art and justice, that captivated me and made me wish to collaborate with her. She emanates the mission of the Studio, was and is a living, breathing example of a person whose growth as an artist is at one with her growth as a person.

But life steered Anita in another direction to the University of Southern California where she serves as Associate Professor of Theater Practice in Acting and Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

And yet we stayed in touch throughout the years. We met last spring in LA to discuss the possibility of Anita teaching movement at AOA. Three hours later we had a plan of how Anita could contribute and share her experience as an artist, educator, EDI practitioner, and community outreach advocate to enrich the center’s  community. Anita will indeed become an Artistic Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, a post that will involve engagement on both coasts and work with students, faculty and staff.

In the weeks ahead of us, Ms. Dashiell-Sparks and the administration of both the Stella Adler Studio and the Art of Acting Studio will meet. Anita will help us map out a robust program that focuses on theater and racial justice and I’m eager to take this journey too. We will reach back out to the community with a specific plan and look forward to engaging all staff, faculty and students in this work.

Twenty five years ago when I became the Artistic Director of the Stella Adler Studio of Acting I relinquished dogmatism with a question: “what does it mean to be the Stella Adler Adler Studio today”? It’s a question I ask myself everyday. I asked this question on May 25, 2020. I ask this question with a prayer. I ask this question as a prayer. I pray for the Stella Adler Studio of Acting to be forever dynamic, radically new and ever self-renewing and always to serve humanity…

I am so pleased to welcome Anita Dashiell-Sparks in her new position and I look forward to introducing her to you.

Most sincerely,


Tom Oppenheim
Artistic Director

Posted in News

In Solidarity and Community

“We must pass a better world on to the next generation. The time has come to stand together. The time for justice is now.” Dr. Indira Etwaroo

The time for justice is now. We agree! The Stella Adler Studio of Acting stands in solidarity with all who cry out for justice. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many more weigh heavily on us. We call for justice and stand shoulder to shoulder with all those who do. And yet we acknowledge that there are those in our community for whom these most recent traumas feel deeply personal. We think especially of our Black community members to say we are sorry for your extraordinary pain and we are here to offer the studio as a tool to respond and to heal.
The studio is devoted to serving its mission, based on the insight that growth as an actor and growth as a human being are synonymous, to create an environment that nurtures theater artists and audiences so that they value humanity, their own and others, as their first and most precious priority, while bringing art and education to the community. In serving this mission we have been animated by exuberant hope and a deep belief that theater at its core is an act of radical love. Year after year we have followed our passion for theater and education as a practice of justice and love. One example of this is the Stella Adler Outreach Division, which was recently re-named the Arts/Justice Division to more accurately reflect its work. We plan to rededicate ourselves to this work.
And yet the murder of George Floyd shakes us to our core and pushes us to the brink of our own capacity to believe. We find we must fight despair from within as we witness this atrocity. We are committed to confronting what is undeniably and irrevocably systemic racism upon which our country was founded. The studio is committed to being an anti-racist organization and in using the art form of theater toward justice.
We recently received an email from a student who asked for help. He asked us to reach out to our Black students, he called them our Black artists, and offer a message of solidarity from their artistic home. Little did he know that his cry for help was helping us, bringing us back from the brink to our mission. To him, to all our Black and POC students, to our faculty and staff of color, to our partners at the Billie Holiday Theater, we stand in solidarity with you. We promise that we won’t rest until we multiply our energies to utilize theater and education to combat systemic racism.

To make this promise actionable and doable we have made a donation to our partners at the Billie Holiday Theater, our founding partner for the Black Arts Institute and the theater home to the largest African American community in the nation. In the words of the Billie’s leader Dr. Indira Etwaroo“The time has come to stand together. The time for justice is now.” 

In solidarity,

Tom Oppenheim
Artistic Director
Stella Adler Studio of Acting New York
Art of Acting Studio 
 Los Angeles


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