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Conversations with Amir Korangy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amir Korangy.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I am an actor, director, educator, and writer who has worked in UK and US. I was born in Isfahan, Iran on March 24th, 1961 but moved to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania to attend high school in 1975, a few years before the Iranian revolution. I then moved to Washington D.C. area to attend George Washington University and Georgetown Theatre School (now named National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts), where I met the love of my life Tina Hawkridge. We have been married since 1984 and have two sons, Christan Bijan Korangy and James Cyrus Korangy. In 1987 we moved to London where I received a Master of Arts degree in curriculum design and development from Middlesex University and worked as an actor, director and college professor/drama instructor. I became the Head of Acting at Mountview Academy of Dramatic Arts in 2004 under the presidency of Dame Judi Dench. Our sons moved to US to attend college and a few years after we decided to move here as well and settled in LA in 2011. LA, as London, was very kind to me, and I managed to secure an acting manager and agent as well as a teaching job at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, where I am still a faculty member. I also served for two years as the president of Theatre of Arts in Hollywood. As an actor, I have appeared in numerous television and film productions. (see IMDB) I recently appeared as the character Sayid, a recurring guest star in 44 episodes of NBC’s sitcom Superstore.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
It is too much of a stretch to consider a career in the entertainment industry as a smooth road. I have certainly had my share of struggles. It is one of the few professions where you spend most of your time securing the next job, and you do this many, many times each year. I was fortunate enough to gain some grounding from my family that saw me through some very difficult financial, emotional and physical hardships. I do not hark back on the past and do not use any of my life stories as a woe is me or “look how hard I have struggled to get here” banner of virtue. However, the way I managed to survive through all the prejudice, discrimination and snobbery I confronted in the past was to have a strong belief in what I had to offer as a human being and to maintain my commitment to service. I have learned that having expectations means you often set yourself up to be disappointed and unhappy, whilst being in a state of gratitude makes everything in your life seem like a bonus. Once I fully embodied this attitude many doors seemed to open. I consider myself blessed to have been able to do the work I enjoy doing, surrounded by my loving and incredibly supportive family and friends.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
PERFORMANCE-FILM AND TELEVISION

Superstore Sayid (recurring) NBC
Dead to Me OBGYN NETFLIX
Shameless Rami SHOWTIME
Gray’s Anatomy Dr. Safavi ABC
Spree Davit Netflix
NCIS Prof. Najjar (Guest Star) CBS
Forever Dr. Mohammed AMAZON
Mom Leo (Guest Star) CBS
Curb Your Enthusiasm Mufti HBO
Silicon Valley CEO (Co Star) HBO
Scorpion Dr. Sanjay Patel (recurring) CBS
Colony Elderly British Man (Co Star) USA Network
Cooper Barrett’s Distinguished Man (Co Star) FOX Television
Night at the Museum III Egyptian Worker (Supporting) 20th Century Fox
Anne & Jake Professor Laplin (Guest Star) Love Dog Productions
Obituaries Doctor Rajda Ryan Moody
NCIS Los Angeles Yusuf Khan (Guest Star) CBS
Scandal Turkish Prime Minister (Co Star) ABC
Stepping High Farid Sadri (Lead) Harmony Gold
When the Lies Run Out Rashid Badoun London Weekend Television
Hostages Ambassador Ghassemi Granada/HBO
Civvies Salah Al Gharib BBC
Breath of Life Arash (Lead) Channel 4 UK
Bullseye Iranian Bidder 21st Century Productions
Batman Wine Steward Warner Brothers
Leave to Remain Embassy Official Channel 4 UK
Capital City Sina Thames Television UK
Air Crash Confidential Captain Arusian Discovery UK
Franz Fanon Male Nurse Normal Films

TEACHING/ACADEMIC AND ARTS MANAGEMENT

2012-Present

Guest Director/Associate Faculty – American Academy of Dramatic Arts

2013-2015

President-Theatre of Arts, Hollywood
Workshops at Actors Centre
Workshops at Perform UK
Master Class at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

2004-2011

Director of Acting Programme/Associate Principal Academic Affairs (Responsible for management and delivery of MA, BA (Hons) Performance and MA Directing Courses) Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts
Visiting Professor, E 15 School of Acting – University of Essex

1997-2004

Head of Postgraduate Courses- Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts
Adjunct Faculty/Visiting Professor, Pepperdine University

1995-97

Director of Projects, Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts

1993-95

Theatre History Tutor, The School of the Science of Acting

1990-93

Senior Acting Tutor, The Blair School
Film Technique Tutor, Italia Conti Academy

1987-90

Senior Acting Tutor-Acting for Film, London Academy of Acting
Acting and Text Tutor, Mountview Academy of Theatre

1982-87

Arts Theatre Arts Tutor, Madeira School and Gunston Art Centre

DIRECTING EXPERIENCE-THEATRE

Directing in UK and US includes: Homecoming, Dumb Waiter and Betrayal by Harold Pinter, A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delaney, Vanities by Jack Heifner, Showroom by Matthew Bentley, Crystal Clear by Phil Young, The Crucible, The American Clock and After the Fall by Arthur Miller, ‘Tis Pity she’s a Whore by John Ford,Schweyke in the Second War by Berthold Brecht, Miser by Moliere, Tales from the Vienna Woods by Odon Von Horvath The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, Epitaph for George Dillon by John Osborne The Rimers of Eldritch and Fifth of July by Lanford Wilson, Lie of the Mind by Sam Shepard, Suddenly Last Summer, Night of the Iguana and Orpheus Desending by Tennessee Williams, Waiting for Lefty, Awake and Sing, Paradise Lost andRocket to the Moon by Cliford Odets, Hush by April De Angelis, Bloody Poetry and Belin Bertie by Howard Brenton, Top Girls by Caryl Churchill, Whale Musicby Anthony Minghella, The, Iron by Rona Munro, Skylight and My Zink Bed by David Hare, Eastern Standard by Richard Greenberg, Eclipsed by Patricia Burk Brogan, Becoming Memories by Arthur Giron and numerous works of Shakespeare and Chekhov. Produced over 80 Public Productions at various London Theatres for Mountview Academy (List of plays and venues are available upon request.)

OTHER RELEVANT PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES

2012-2015
Director- LA Showcase for DRAMA UK
Co-Producer on BAFTA LA Newcomers Showcase 2015

2005-2010

Chair of Exam Board, University of East Anglia/Mountview Board
Major contributor to SCUDD (the Standing Conference of University Drama Departments) in conjunction with PALANTINE (the Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Dance, Drama and Music) on Teaching Stanislavski in the UK

2008-2009

Member of Steering Committee-Trinity Guildhall, UK National Diploma and UK National Certificate in Performance
Panel Judge- E4 Scholarship Competition, E4 Television Programme
Development Board Advisor 24 hour Plays, Old Vic Theatre

2007 2008

External Advisor – Review Panel BA (Hons) Acting, Arts Institute Bournemouth

2005 Key Speaker on Diversity issues–Panel Member Raising the Bar- Theatre 2005 conference, Barbican

2003 Member of MA Validation Panel-Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama

RESPONSIBILITIES AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS EDUCATOR

Academic, Administrative and Financial Management
• Line managed 10 senior academic staff and over 50 freelance directors and tutors working within Acting, Voice, Movement, Film and Television Departments

• Managed the programme through a series of successful revalidations of BA and MA Performance courses – Received 4 commendations from University of East Anglia for the most recent revalidation

• Lead the Acting programme through successful reaccreditations by National Council for Drama Training as well as Trinity and OFSTED inspections – the courses were rated as Outstanding by all of the above organisations

• Co-wrote MA in Directing validated by University of East Anglia

• Wrote Postgraduate Diploma in Acting for recorded Media

• Co-wrote MA in Classical Acting

• Chaired University of East Anglia/Mountview BA and MA Exam Board

• Produced (Chose the Play, cast, venue, appointed artistic team, budgeted, supervised and assessed) 15 internal productions, 4 Shakespeare touring productions and 8 full scale public productions in various London theatres per annum

• Managed an annual teaching budget of over £1.5 million • Maintained student recruitment at financially viable levels

• Supervised internal quality assurance and enhancement of standards Chaired Curriculum Development Meetings

• Managed the delivery of student welfare and support

• Contributed to the writing of institutional policies and procedures • Supervised Students’ participation in RSC workshops

• Managed School’s participation in Wanamaker Festival at Shakespeare’s Globe • Supervised involvement with Carleton Hobbs Competition at BBC Radio

• Developed links involving the production and editing of Films between Northern Film Schools at Leeds Metropolitan University, Mountview and Royal Academy of Music

• Taught Classes in Acting, Actor and Text, Scene Study, Directing, Greek Tragedy, Greek and Roman Comedy, Shakespeare, Moliere, Ibsen, Chekhov, Wilde, Granville Barker, Coward, Epic Theatre, Beckett, Pinter, Non-Naturalistic Drama, British Political Theatre, Howard Barker and American Social Realism

• Directed over 50 productions at Mountview Academy

My work with students has always given me great joy and is the area of my work of which I am most proud.

I believe that my multi-cultural background (Persian, British, American) has provided with me with enormous benefits over the years. It has given me a multifaceted vantage point on the human condition and I have often tapped into my experiences in my performances as well as my writing and teaching.

Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
I have taught many career development classes and I have many words of advice for those starting out in the entertainment industry. In the interest of economy of words, here are a few morsels:

Do not take yourself seriously, but always take your work very seriously.

Proper preparation prevents poor performance.

There are no shortcuts, somewhere along the line, you need to pay with time, effort and hard work.

Socrates said ‘An unexamined life is not worth living’, I humbly say ‘An unlived life is not worth examining’. So live fully with gratitude and joy. Devour life, but always give at least as much as you take or you will lose balance and will have a moral collapse.

Contact Info:


Image Credits
Superstore, NBC

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