Judy Kain

KIRA Owner and Commercial Teacher

Judy has been a professional actress now for 38 years, showcasing her skills and talents in over 375 commercials and in over 90 roles for film and television.  She is a published author of the book I BOOKED IT! The Commercial Actors Handbook.

Commercially, she has worked with countless celebrities, including: Ringo Star, Norm McDonald, Dr. Ruth, Kate Hudson, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul & Dinah Shore to name a few.  She's appeared in 2 acclaimed Super Bowl Ads in 2013, Oreo's "Whisper Fight" and Deon Sanders' NFL promo.  Over 50 of her commercials have won Cleo’s.  Her extensive background in commercials has lead to several career highlights such as being remembered as the Judge in CLAIROL HERBAL ESSENCE with Dr. Ruth, a role in which Saturday Night Live did a hilarious spoof of her.

Some of her more well-known credits include a Television Series Regular on The Jackie Thomas Show and a Recurring role on the Emmy-winning show Mad Men as Olive Healey (Peggy’s Secretary), a role which won her a SAG Award.  Her other favorite recurring credits include The Odd Couple with Matthew Perry, Hand of God with Ron Pearlman, Married with Children, For Your Love, Grosse Pointe, and Manhattan, AZ with Chad Everett.  She has done numerous guest appearances on the hit shows Modern Family, The Middle, Bones, Castle, Scrubs, Desperate Housewives, ER, Seinfeld, The District, The West Wing, NYPD Blue, Friends, and The Drew Carey Show just to name a few.  

Her teaching career has also lead to immense success, being voted BACKSTAGE WEST'S FAVORITE AUDITION TEACHER in 2015 and FAVORITE ON-CAMERA COMMERCIAL TEACHER IN LA in 2010 and 2011.  Her other acting classes have won BACKSTAGE WEST'S FAVORITE IN LA a total of 4 times as well, and continue to produce amazing results for her students.

Judy first co-founded the acting training company, Talent To Go, which lead to the empowerment of countless actors' careers.  In 2009 and 2010, TTG won the BEST CASTING DIRECTOR WORKSHOP IN LA Judy opened Keep It Real Acting in 2012, which now continues her teaching legacy and offers an vast amount of classes for all students of all ages and skill levels.  She is continually grateful to have helped transform so many actors' careers.  She resides in LA and is the proud mother of her son, Frankie Manes.

Paul Hungerford

Improv & A-Z Commercial Teacher

For over 25 years, Paul has been performing on stage and in film and television productions, as well as working with The Groundlings, Acme Comedy Theater, Impro Theater, and Comedy Sportz LA.  He is currently the Director of TheatreSports at the Impro Theatre in LA, and has been seen on your TV set in over 40 commercials and also in between on series such as Dirty, Sexy, Money and My Wife and Kids.  He also had a recurring role on Bravo’s Significant Others.

Paul’s film credits include Stark Raving Mad, Happy Holidays, and Hate: A Comedy, which was a winner at the Aspen Comedy Festival.  Additionally, his voiceover work was a part of Nougat, an animated short film that won the "Late Night" at the SXSW Film Festival.  Paul is a founding member of the film horror troupe Fewdio and has been directing short films with them for the past five years. 

Most recently, he directed the half hour sketch comedy pilot Lipstick Jones: Half Hour Power Hour!  If you’re looking for him, you can usually find Paul on one of the various stages in Los Angeles performing live comedy in front of a drunk, yet grateful audience.  He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, two daughters, and giant dog.

Donna Rusch

The Next Step & Kids Commercial Teacher

Donna has more than 20 years experience as a professional actress and broadcaster.  She is a former TV News Anchor and Television Show Host and has been seen in more than 100 commercials and Industrial films, most recently for clients such as Sara Lee, Suave, Curves, Farmers and Merchants Bank of California and Reliant Energy

Donna can be seen in the Ben Affleck thriller Gone Girl” and has a lead role in “The Periphery” now winning awards at film festivals.  Recent television credits include Criminal Minds, Revenge and the new ABC series “How to Get Away With Murder”.  Donna has extensive experience working as an acting coach for kids and teens. 

She says “I so enjoy my career and find it both a thrill and privilege to mentor the next generation as they reach for their dreams."

Doug traer

Teens Commercial & Wednesday Workout Teacher

Doug has been working in film, television, theatre, and commercials for the past 26 years.  When he is not acting, he works as a commercial casting director and session director.  Casting Directors he has recently worked with include:  Paul Ventura, Mick Dowd, Sheila Manning, Beverly Long, Danny Goldman, Jeff Gerrard, Frannie Selkirk, MC Sweeters, Mary Jo Slater, Rick Pagano, Debbie Manwiller, Sharon Bialy, Tina Treadwell, Deborah Kurtz, Kate Enggren, Stuart Stone, Ellen Blake, Yumi Takada, Annissa Williams, M Casting, Sobo Casting, Petite Casting, Ava Shevitt, Jeff Hightower, Jeff Hardwick, Michael Donovan, Arlene Shuster-Goss, Danielle Eskinazi, Julia Kim, Ross Lacy, Joe Blake, Kathy Knowles, Tony Sepulveda, Britt Enggren, Beth Holmes, Bengston-Cohen, Annelise Collins, Annie Egian, Barbara Bersell, Terry Berland, Craig Colvin, Gabrielle Schary, James Levine, Jeff Rosenman, Judy Belshe, Judy Landau, Kris Nicolau, Lisa Fields, Lisa Pantone, Liz Paulson, Megan Foley, Melissa Martin, Jon Beauregard, Michael Sanford, Balyndah Bumpus, Mark Randall, Pam Gilles, Ross Levine, Tiffany Company, Renita Casting, Fringe Casting, Outcast International, Rise Barish, Plaster Casting, Rosanna Crash, Pamela Kaplan, Shane Liem, Susan Tyler, Alice Ellis, Vicki Goggin, Carolyne Barry, Davis-Baddeley Casting, Lindsay Chag, UBER Content, Victoria Burrows, Lynn Stalmaster, Robert Martin Jr., Steven Erdek, Mike Humphries, Gayle Pillsbury,  Robin Lippin, Fern Champion, Bad Girls Casting, Judy Elkins, and Kari Peyton.

His film credits include Robert Miller’s Brenda Starr, the critically acclaimed Speak of the Devil and the black comedy Dead Giveaway.  He has had multiple roles on General Hospital, appeared in America’s Most Wanted and Saved by the Bell, among others.  He has made a number of national TV commercials for products such as Mercedes-Benz, Sony Playstation, Sprint, Blue Cross Insurance, Baskin Robbins Ice Cream and Hardee’s Restaurants.

Doug loves teaching and providing career guidance to young actors or those just getting into the business.  He also directs theatrical and industrial video productions through his own independent production company.  He studied acting with master teacher Cliff Osmond for 15 years and improv with the LA Connection.  He began teaching commercial classes 12 years ago and theatrical classes in 2003.  He has also taught in San Francisco, Chicago, Oakland, Phoenix and Santa Barbara and recently returned from Tokyo where he taught American acting to Japanese students.

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Tom Burke

Image Consultant & Castable Actor Teacher

Tom began his career as a model in New York, working with well-known photographers and designers while appearing in numerous campaigns and magazines and on runways all over the world.  Tom then moved to Los Angeles to transition his success in print work into a career in commercials, stage work, feature films, soap operas, and episodic television.

Tom now focuses on passing along his knowledge through teaching and through his work as an On-Set Acting Coach, Headshot Coach, and Image Consultant.  He is also a regular contributor to Backstage West, writing articles as an official Backstage Expert.  His diverse acting training includes programs at Circle in the Square, NYC and AADA, NYC; Meisner Technique with Richard Pinter; Cold Reading with Brian Reise; Improvisation with Cynthia Szigeti, Donovan Scott, Paul Hungerford; and Commercial Technique with Francene Selkirk, Judy Kain, and Carolyne Barry.  Tom’s experiences in different acting mediums together with his knowledge of several acting methods has developed a talent to be able to successfully teach, coach, and understand a wide range of actors and help them pinpoint their most marketable image.