Acting Coaches

Jeff Alan-Lee, Artistic Director

Jeff Alan-Lee is the Artistic Director of The Young Actor’s Studio, a top acting coach Los Angeles and the author of “A Young Actor Prepares” (published worldwide by Applause Books). He has taught and directed young people for over 30 years, both in New York and Los Angeles.

Jeff was a former child actor himself and began acting with his own television series at age 9 in Detroit, Michigan on WXYZ-TV. As a child actor, he completed over 60 commercials, a television special, and over 40 stage productions. As an adult actor, he was Andrew McCarthy’s co-star in Warner Brothers’ feature, The Beniker Gang, and on stage co-starred with Andrea McArdle in Snoopy, and worked with Broadway legend Joshua Logan in Huck & Jim on The Mississippi. Television credits includes roles on As The World Turns, The Street (Universal TV), Could it Be a Miracle and many others. Leading roles in professional regional theatres and off-Broadway include Brighton Beach Memoirs, The Lion In Winter, Auto-Da-Fe (also in Edinburgh and Ireland), Assassins, Losing It, and critical acclaim for the lead role in The Zoo Story at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles.

Jeff has a BFA from New York University and has taught and directed at private schools, public schools, youth shelters as well as teaching and directing children and teens at The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institutes in New York and Los Angeles. He has directed over 200 studio productions, has commissioned top playwrights to create new work, and encourages kids and teens to develop their own scripted work at The New Works lab at The Young Actor’s Studio. His students include Scarlett Johansson, Shia LeBeouf, Olivia Rodrigo and countless creative artists and award winners in all areas of the performing arts.


Andrew Shafer, Producing Director

Andrew Shafer received his B.A. (cum laude) from UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television (playwrighting emphasis). Recent writing credits include: Weak/Side/Help (Guignol Theater- Lexington, Kentucky), Colossus of Rhodes (Tri-State Actor’s Theater- New Jersey), Touch of Genius (Senior Theater- Washington D.C.), Checkpoint in the Safe Zone (development with Moving Arts, and Athena Theater), Electra (Theater/Theatre- Hollywood), Wonderland (The NoHo Actor’s Studio), and Infinite Glory (in development with A Theatre Connection); screenwriting credit- Hollywood Desertion (developed with Breakout Entertainment, Boulevard Industries), This Shining City (in development with Triangle Road Productions). Other credits include directing Ryan Scott Oliver’s Making Beautiful (Powerhouse Theater- LA Times “Recommended”), and producing “Portrait of the Architect in Ruins” (The New LATC), Eugene Ionesco’s “Exit the King” (The NoHo Actor’s Studio), and “Detective/Partner/Hero/Villain” (A Theatre Connection). He has been a producer of new works development at The BLANK Theater (Hollywood, California), and at the Los Angeles Theater Center. He is currently Managing Director of The Young Actor’s Studio

Leila Birch

Leila has been acting since she was nine years old. She trained at The Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London, studied Shakespeare at R.A.D.A (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art), Learned Sketch and Improvisation at The Second City Conservatory and when she was only 15 attended the Stanislavski Summer program at Yale University.
Leila has worked extensively in film, television, radio and theatre in the U.S. and the UK, for companies such as NBC/Universal, FOX, ITV, DreamWorks, Sony, E! Entertainment, BBC Television, Warner Brothers, EA Games, The Style Network, Carlton, Nickelodeon and many more. For three years Leila played the series regular ‘Teresa di Marco’ in the U.K.’s BAFTA award winning BBC drama ‘EastEnders’, with ratings as high as 28 million viewers.

In 2014 Leila was thrilled to be cast as ‘The WABAC’ in DreamWorks animations ‘Mr. Peabody & Sherman’, as the voice of Fox Sports 1 & Fox Soccer and for four consecutive years has been asked by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles to be the ‘Voice of God’ for their BAFTA Britannia Awards.

Leila has been teaching since 2002 and is very happy to be working with the Young Actors Studio.

Khanya Mkhize

Khanya Mkhize is originally from South Africa, and has over 25 years in the industry. She began her career as a child in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson on Broadway. Months into the run she landed a role in Eddie Murphy’s Boomerang, as the sassy little girl in the art school. She’s also appeared in three seasons of One on One as Arnaz’s love interest Ginger, and two seasons of Lincoln Heights as Ta’Wanda. Since making the move from Philadelphia to Los Angeles she’s appeared on numerous television shows including Boston Public, The Shield, Brothers and Sisters, Monk and many others. Khanya is also a voice over actress and has been featured in many films including, For Colored Girls, The Soloist, Why did I get Married, Invictus, Happy Feet, The Incredible Hulk, Idlewild, Talk to Me and many others. Khanya is a graduate of New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts (Atlantic Theatre Company), a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, and currently teaches Acting Technique at the Young Actor’s Studio in Los Angeles