ABOUT THE WORK TEAM
Artistic Director Murisa Harba
"I live to push boundaries. I find comfort in the uncomfortable. I seek out the "new." New situations, new combinations, new challenges, anything that will allow me to step out of my comfort zone and prove to myself that I can do something I have never done before and in so doing, prove to others that they can too."
Murisa Harba / Founder
Mondays 2-5pm, Tuesdays 2-5pm, Wednesdays 7-10pm
Murisa Harba received her BFA in Theatre Studies from Boston University's College of Fine Arts with a minor in dance. With countless years of vocal and dance training in addition to her theatre degree, she created, directed & choreographed the original play, WHITE RABBIT, in Boston and Chicago.
Since moving to Los Angeles in 2008, Murisa has found success directing projects such as Skiddle And Bang It, Gruyeres, Dansare and Gas. In 2015-2016, Murisa became an Episodes director (Episode 6, 10 & 11) on new dramatic web series, F#@K I Love U. Her directorial debut on the show won BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE at ITV Fest in September of 2015. She recently directed TELL YOUR STORY, a PSA on sexual assault and women's empowerment, and a commercial for Muralart. In 2018, Murisa starred as the lead actress in 1h20, a psychological dramatic feature directed by Daria Nazarova. In 2019, Dansare, a film that she directed, produced and acted in premiered at NoHo Cinefest Film Festival.
Murisa teaches her Freeing Your Natural Instincts with Cold Reads and Connecting Through the Physical: The Chakra Approach workshops as well as various on- camera classes at the SAG-AFTRA Conservatory at the American Film Institute, which she has enjoyed doing since the fall of 2011. She is also on the SAG-AFTRA Conservatory Committee and Curriculum Committee. Murisa is on the staff at Columbia College's summer acting program and has also taught at the Will Wallace Acting Company. She is a Backstage Expert; check out her latest article on Chakra techniques here.
Laila Ayad / Studio Manager
Laila Ayad received her BFA in Theatre from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and is certified in Shakespeare performance from The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. As an actor, singer, and writer she has collaborated with theater artists, musicians, and filmmakers in both New York and Los Angeles, and is a founding member of Ovation Award winning IAMA Theatre Company, named by Playbill.com as one of the countries' top 20 "must know” regional theaters.
Laila is a champion for new play development, and has been successful in working with writers to develop new works for the stage. She was recently seen in the world premiere production of Leslye Headland’s Cult of Love at the Atwater Village Theatre and premiered Stephen Belber’s Joan at the Ojai Playwrights Conference. Other world premieres include Headland’s Bachelorette and Reverb, D.G. Watson’s Unbound, and Christian Durso’s Shiner, which she debuted Off-Broadway. She has also been seen in the Los Angeles premiere of John Patrick Shanley’s French Waitress and Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries. She developed DreamWorks’ The Prince of Egypt for the stage in the role of Tzipporah, and recently ended a six season run as Charlotte Reid on ABC’s Scandal.
She is a freelance grant writer for arts non-profits and is a longtime head writing mentor with The Young Storytellers Foundation, a program that engages creativity through the art of storytelling by using mentoring, collaboration, and performance to provide low-income students in Los Angeles public schools the opportunity to write stories and see them brought to life.
“What I love most about the craft of acting is that it expands my awareness of humanity. Acting is essentially the creation of empathy. Discovering different ways to completely transform oneself to play a role, allows one to witness others lives. Finding out why people do what they do, and then allowing one’s self to explore new ways to walk in another’s shoes and then sharing that with others is true freedom for me. As actors, we can transcend the audience and help them accept humanity a little bit more, and therefore live in love.”
Catherine Black / Instructor
Catherine Black (AKA Cat Black) is an award winning actress, artist and filmmaker from Toronto. She started acting as a child and has been in continuous dedication of the craft of acting ever since, studying various acting techniques in Los Angeles, Toronto and England. Catherine has performed in many award winning theatre productions over the years, but is most proud of starring in Hrant Alianak’s original play, WALLS OF AFRICA, which Won 9 Dora Awards (Canada’s Tony). In Film/TV Catherine is best known for her role as Vanden in AMERICAN PSYCHO, performing with Christian Bale and Reese Witherspoon, starring with Crispin Glover in THE DONNER PARTY (Showtime), staring in many indie films, and guest starring on TV shows such as ODYSSEY 5 (SyFy), BLUE MURDER (GLOBAL TV/CTV), I LOVE MUMMY (BBC) and most recently on PLAYING HOUSE (NBC/USA).
Catherine's is a member of the Alliance of Women Directors, has shadowed directors at the National Film Board of Canada and produced commercials, short films and music videos. Catherine’s directorial debut, the multi award winning 'sexy and surreal' short film, DE PUTA MADRE A LOVE STORY (2014), that she also wrote and starred in, WON Catherine both Best Director (London IFF), Best Lead Actress (Madrid IFF) for her performance, and Best Cinematography (Columbia Gorge IFF) along with multiple Jury Awards, Special Mentions and nominations Internationally. Her latest, GIRL TRIP (2018), a dark comedy pilot episode in the horror genre, WON Audience Choice at Hollyshorts, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Twist at the Independent Horror Movie Awards, as well as receiving multiple award nominations at various festivals Internationally. Catherine just completed principal photography directing her latest film, I’M SORRY with a 2020 release date, and has several projects in development.