All of our instructors are working actors, directors and teachers who bring a wealth of personal experience to the studio. Using a combination of tried and true techniques based on the works of Stanislavski, Uta Hagen, Michael Chekhov, Jeff Corey, Meisner, Viola Spolin, Seth Barrish, Lee Brock, and more, our instructors' work is seasoned with personal and professional experience of what works on stage, on screen and in auditions. Each student is encouraged to find their authentic voice as a performer and bring their unique gift to the world.
Vivian Nesbitt is an award winning actor, writer and teacher. Vivian learned her work ethic as an actor standing backstage at the age of 8 watching her father rehearse and perform plays in summer stock. She is a third generation actor with theater credits with United Solo Festival, Theatre Row, NYC, The Roundabout Theatre (NYC), George Street Play House (NJ), The Pittsburgh Public (PA), Mother Road Theatre (ABQ) and many productions of summer stock and Shakespeare. Vivian has been a guest on Breaking Bad sharing scenes with Emmy Award winners Bryan Cranston and Anna Gunn, Manhattan with John Benjamin Hickey, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (premier episode), The Messengers,Longmire, and In Plain Sight.Watch for her in award winning horror pic Banshee Chapter sharing scenes with Katia Winter (Sleepy Hollow, Dexter)and After the Fall with Wes Bentley (Hunger Games, American Beauty). Her original screen play, directed by Brian Delate, is an Official Selection of NMWIF Fiesta, where she was awarded Best Performance.
She holds an MFA in Acting. Her original one woman show The Bark & The Tree was honored with two awards at the 2013 United Solo Theatre Festival in New York City, winning Best Documentary Play and Best Lighting Design. She is also co-executive director of Art of the Song Creativity Radio with her husband John Dillon, a public radio program heard on over 150 stations nationwide. Vivian has studied with Anna Deavere Smith, Anthony Meindl, Seth Barrish & Lee Brock (The Barrow Group, NYC) and Earl Gisler (NYC/Yale).
Jason Weiler performed in his first role as a baby angel over twenty years ago and hasn't stopped since. He was a staple at the local childrens theater growing up in Phoenix, Arizona performing in countless musicals, plays and workshops. In high school Jason started his career directing for the local theater as well. He received a BA in Theater at the University of Northern Colorado in 2009. Having focused on theater almost exclusively growing up Jason took a scholarship to attend The New York Conservatory for the Dramatic Arts where he honed his his on camera acting abilities. After New York Jason decided to move to Albuquerque to be with his lovely girlfriend and start his career in earnest. He is currently plugging away in the Albuquerque film scene. As a teacher, Jason cares most about passing on his love of performance to the next generation of kids. Credits and more info can be found at his website www.jasonweiler.net
Morse BicknellMorse Bicknell brings a wide variety of life experience to his work as an actor and teacher— he has been a Russian linguist in the army, a professional musician and guitar instructor, a Philosophy/English major, a paramedic, and a trainer for Apple computers. His acting experience is similarly diverse, with extensive experience in both theater and film/TV. Morse has a B.A. in Theatre/Music Minor and is a member of Actors’ Equity, and has performed in over thirty classical and contemporary theatrical productions, from Shakespeare to David Mamet. Morse is also a member of the Screen Actors Guild, with credits that include, along with many independent films, The Men Who Stare at Goats, Manhattan, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, In Plain Sight, The Condemned 2, Longmire, The Space Between Us, Odd Thomas, Frank, Independence Day: Resurgence, Preacher, The Girlfriend Experience, and four episodes on Breaking BadIn addition, Morse is intensively pursuing screenwriting and directing. Along with B.A.s in Theater and Philosophy/English, he has an A.A.S. in Film and has completed CNM’s Film Crew Technician course, and has written or written/directed short films that have been official selections at festivals including Oregon's BendFilm Festival, Las Cruces International Film Festival, and the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, and earned honors including Best Drama at the 2013 New Mexico Filmmakers Showcase.
Lisa Lucas Lisa Lucas is a professional writer/producer/actor. She graduated from Bowdoin College with a B.A. in French Literature and Theater Arts. For the last 20 years, Lisa has produced and written over 30 TV series which include the popular ABC series The Bachelorette, Work of Art on Bravo and the Emmywinning My 1st Time on NBC. Most recently, she produced the award winning feature documentary A Thousand Voices in 2014, as well as debuting Defending The Fire in 2017 with Silver Bullet Productions, which premiered in March at the Jean Cocteau Theater. She is an Executive Producer and principal partner in both Noel Jehuda Productions and LikeMinds, based in Santa Fe, NM— creating documentary and scripted TV series, as well as short films and independent features. Lisa is also a 21 year member of SAG-AFTRA and studied acting at Bowdoin and the prestigious Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Connecticut, as well as the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, UK. She has appeared in numerous stage plays, commercials, TV shows and independent films.
Catharine Pilafis (SAG-AFTRA) is film and theatre actor, teaching artist, choreographer and director. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Acting and minor in Dance from the University of Northern Colorado. After making her New York theatre debut in Victory Garden's Off-Broadway production of Conviction, Catharine shifted her career focus to film and television in New Mexico. Her onscreen credits include: The Night Shift seasons 1 & 2, Independence Day: Resurgence, Ridiculous Six, Longmire, In Plain Sight, and Manhattan. Her regional theatre credits include: Sol Acting Academy's production of Julia Cameron’s play in letters, Love in the DMZ, and Duke City Repertory Theatre's The 39 Steps, Georgeanne in Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, and Phoebe in The Nutcracker .
Catharine also serves on the board for New Mexico Women in Film and is also a Hatha-flow yoga instructor. Her favorite pastime is to play alongside her husband, the author, Adam James Jones, and their pug, Tobey. Stay connected at www.catharinepilafas.com.
Josh Heard received his BFA in Theatre (acting emphasis) from Texas Christian University in 2008; he has studied at the Studio Theatre in Washington, DC; and is in the process of completing his teacher certification in the Michael Chekhov Technique of Acting through the National Michael Chekhov Association under the guidance of Master Teacher, Lisa Dalton. Josh has performed on stage at Fringe Festivals in Edinburgh, Scotland and Washington, DC, with professional theatre companies in Texas, and recently with Duke City Repertory Theatre here in Albuquerque. His eight years of film acting experience have been filled with short films, independent features, commercials, and (most notably) a role in the new TV series Manhattan. Josh Heard moved to Albuquerque in August of 2013, in a few short months signed with an agent, and now regularly receives callbacks from JoEdna Boldin, all because of this wonderful Auditioning Technique.
Erica Tenorio Erica Tenorio has been acting since she was ten years old. She took part in an extensive training from The American Musical & Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles where she received her BFA in Acting. With a wide range of characters from film and stage, she continues to add to her resumé yearly and has begun teaching young actors in a variety of formats. Her training ranges from Greek, Shakespeare, and Modern Theatre to Advanced Techniques from Meisner, Hagen, and Stanislavsky.
Michael Guajardo (SAG-AFTRA) is a New Mexico based actor & instructor who got his start training at Sol Acting Academy in 2012. Since then, his resume now consists of numerous credits that include: Rose (Cybill Shepherd & James Brolin), The Prologue, Enter the Dojo, and Abe Makes A Movie. Michael was a recipient of the Best Actor Award for the Intermediate category at the New Mexico Film Foundation's 2016 Actor Showcase. Michael has a strong passion for helping others and is a true advocate of the 'pay it forward' mentality. He considers teaching a wonderful extension of his personal actor training as well as a great opportunity to extend a hand back to those up and coming. Sol was that hand for him and he could not think of a better way to honor the academy than by carrying the torch forward as an instructor.
Our Guest Teachers
Frances Lee McCain (AEA, SAG- AFTRA) Shortly after she graduated from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama Frances returned to the States and began her career in the Broadway production of Woody Allen’s PLAY IT AGAIN SAM. Before leaving New York she appeared in regional theater and originated the role of Carol in Lanford Wilson’s LEMON SKY.
Frances joined the company of the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, and began an association there that spanned decades, as an actress and faculty member. She moved to Los Angeles to appear as Stella in A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE with John Voigt and Faye Dunaway, remaining there to begin a long career in film and television. She has appeared in numerous series, both as a regular and as a guest star, co-starred in many Made for Television movies, and starring/co-starring in such iconic films as BACK TO THE FUTURE, GREMLINS, FOOTLOOSE and PATCH ADAMS to name a few.
Before moving to Albuquerque in 2010, Frances returned to the Bay Area where she continued to work in theater, film and television while completing an MA Psychology degree at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Frances serves on the SAG/AFTRA Local board of directors.
Lee Kitts theatre career spans over 30 years as actor, director and teacher. Her training began at the San Francisco Theatre Academy(1979-82) under Phillip Bennett in The Stanislavski System, based on the later work of Konstantin S. Stanislavski (Russian 1863-1938).
In 1983 she moved to Ashland, OR and in 1987 created a comprehensive acting program for adults and young people,Acting with Lee Kitts, which she has continued to refine and expand. Lee worked as an artist in residence for the Oregon Public Schools and coached young actors at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. Returning to San Francisco in the late ’90s, she worked as a voice actor and taught “Acting for the Microphone” at Voicetrax San Francisco. She directed and taught on the island of Kaua’i, Hawaii (2001-04) and in Louisville, KY(2004-2007). Raised in New Mexico, Lee returned to Albuquerque in 2007. Lee directed "The Bark & The Tree," Vivian's one woman show which won the 2013 United Solo Theatre Festival Best Documentary Play in NYC.
Phil Duran retired from the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department in Albuquerque, NM in 2008 after 20 years of service. During that time he held a variety of assignments, including patrol, investigations, civil process, recruiting, and training. He also worked as an academy instructor specializing in officer survival tactics (building searches, vehicle stops, response to violent in-progress calls, etc.), Duran further specialized in the subject of Survival Attitude, which includes all the mental aspects of street survival, such as mental preparation, command presence, and tactical awareness. It was in this arena that Duran gained national recognition as a subject matter expert after authoring two books on the subject – Developing the Survival Attitude, and Tactical Attitude.
After retiring, Phil Duran began pursuing a career as an actor, taking classes at Sol Acting Academy. He has since had speaking roles in several local productions, including Breaking Bad (AMC) and The Righteous and the Wicked (Lionsgate).
Stephen Burhoe has been acting professionally Stephen has been performing in theatre, national commercials (most notably Sears, Maxwell House Coffee, Pillsbury Grand Biscuits, and Dunkin' Donuts as well as a sketch comedy artist on Jay Leno!) for over thirty-five years. He started out as a film student at Moorpark College in Ventura County,California. He felt that if he was going to direct actors, he should know what they were going through. So he enrolled in an acting class after booking a role in Tartuffe, the bug had bitten. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Drama from San Diego State University. As a stunt man/stunt team coordinator for Knott's Berry Farm and Universal Theme Parks, Stephen has performed over 5000 performances from Ghost Towns to The Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. His love of teaching was kindle in class with the legendary actor/teacher Jeff Corey with whom he studied for four years. After Corey's death Stephen opened his own studio in Ventura, CA calling it The Players Craft, an homage to Corey’s Actors Craft. For a decade he trained kids and adults in acting, public speaking and professional presentation. Many students have gone on to work in film, television, and professional theatre. He became know as one of the best children’s coaches in the business. Stephen relocated to New Mexico in 2014 where he has found the environment to be more conducive to continuing coaching as well as finishing a series of scene and monologue books for young actors. He now lives in Albuquerque and is thrilled to be part of the New Mexico acting community. (Stephen's film The Gandy Dancer was an official selection of the Taos Shorts Film Festival in 2015)
Vic Browder is so blessed to be able to practice and teach the craft of acting. He is equally blessed to be able to work with Sol Acting ‘s matriarch Vivian Nesbit and the staff as a whole, to create a space for the actor to live. Vic has been training to be an actor for over 30 years and will continue his training for at least another 30. Vic received his BFA in Acting and Directing from Southern Utah University working with the Utah Shakespeare Festival and his MFA in Acting form FSU Asolo Conservatory for Acting Training, studying with the great and sadly late Jose Quintero. Since Vic’s ship landed in New Mexico, he has worked with almost every theatre company in Albuquerque, became a founding member of The Mother Road Theatre Company and has been one of the most consistently working SAG actors in New Mexico. Vic’s over thirty film credits include Sweetwater, 50-1, Frontera, Fun House, Sicario, Gold and most recently Magnificent Seven. Vic’s television credits include Breaking Bad, Manhattan, The Messengers, In Plain Sight, Longmire and The Night Shift. Vic is a student of his craft, and tries to inspire others to never stop learning theirs.
Dani Payne is a film and television actor, singer, and acting and voice teacher from Denver, CO. She hold a B.A. in Media Communications from Trinity Western University in British Columbia, Canada. She has over 10 years of acting experience and trained in both voice and acting all over the world; from Vancouver, BC, Los Angeles, and, most recently, Glasgow, UK. She is also a company member of Working Artist Group.
Dani will be relocating to Albuquerque in the fall of 2016. She currently lives in Denver and has served three years as the Teens and Tweens teacher at Benjy Dobrin Studios and as the Adult Education Director and vocal coach at Vocal Intensive Studios. You can follow along with Dani at www.danipayne.com or @danijopayne.
Our General Manager
Tiffany Neeley is and Actress/Singer/Model working in Albuquerque, NM. However, she is also well versed in Business Management. Originally from Southern California, Tiffany embarked on her journey to New Mexico in 2007 after signing with New Mexico Highlands University on a Full Volleyball Scholarship. Being the first in her family to graduate with a higher education, none of her path was paved for her. She navigated her way to a Degree in Business Management in 2011 purely on a personal vision and determination of her dream: To create Art and bring people together.
She came to Sol Acting Academy in 2015 starting in the Film 101 class and most recently conquered the “Game Changing” 6 Month Intensive. She comes to us having 6 years of Management under her belt. Most recently, she was an Executive Team Leader at Target who specialized in Sales Floor and Guest Experience. In collaboration with her peers, she managed a $40 million dollar business personally leading 9 direct reports. Prior to her time with Target, her Management experience included the retail side of the Cosmetics Industry. Tiffany has a strong passion for Leadership and Collaboration, which she ensures remains part of everything she does. In addition to her dream of being a full time artist, she also has dreams of creating a all encompassing Arts Studio in the Future. Most recently she was brought on as the General Manager of Sol Acting Academy and is thrilled that she can combine her passions of Art, Leadership and Business together.