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AA4K Studios Staff


Courtney Yamanishi

AA4K Studios Director

Courtney's love of the creative process in storytelling and art began as many do in a highschool production with casting, designing the cartoon city set, and performing as the masked villain. She has also performed in cheer, Hula, Tahitian, and burlesque dancing. After earning her BS in Marketing she worked for the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce and organized a promotional flash mob on Rodeo Drive, grabbing the attention of local news sites on Patch and Fox. She studied film and design at UCLA Extension and took jobs in photography, production design, casting, editing, and directing. She has worked on the sets of an ABC game show, an AFI award-winning short, The Complex Theater production of 'Closer', CBS’s 'Undercover Boss', music videos, and Netflix feature 'Blonde'. As a mom she knows how to get creative with a young mind to inspire and encourage development of strengths, confidence, and personality. With an immense appreciation for teaching and a passion for entertainment, Courtney is thrilled to meet and create on-screen magic with your little stars!


Christina Spiegler

Director of Communications

Before becoming a “Drama Mama’ with two daughters spending 10 years with Acting Academy for Kids, Christina had a love of theater as a teen herself. She performed in numerous high school musicals before going on to study Film and Television at Adelphi University in New York. She graduated from Adelphi with a BA in Communications and a minor in the Arts. Christina has held various account management positions in Advertising and Marketing, including Marketing Director for Tamiya America, one of Japan’s largest toy and hobby manufacturers. Christina began with AA4K as our Fundraising Coordinator and Prop Manager before moving on to be our Director of Communications. Currently she wears all three hats.

 Stephen Zygo

Founder & Director

Stephen is the Founder and Director of Acting Academy for Kids & Teens. He and his wife, Maggie, co-founded the Academy in 2008 as a dream to combine Stephen's twin passions of education and the performing arts. Originally a native of Rochester, New York, Stephen J. Zygo started his performing career in the 4th grade as a member of all-county choir and went on to perform in countless musicals, performing groups, dance ensembles, and theatrical troupes. Recognized in New York State as one of the most promising high school performers (Elenbe Award Winner), Stephen then pursued a double major in Musical Theatre Performance and Elementary Education at SUNY Cortland. Stephen has directed over 100 youth productions in New York, Hawaii and California. Stephen started his California career with productions of “Peter Pan” and "The Music Man JR" at St. Marys School in Aliso Viejo, where he was the Theatre Arts Director and one of the 4th grade teachers on staff. In 2008, Acting Academy for Kids (Stephen's innovative performing arts program for kids and teens) partnered with the Camino Real Playhouse, where Acting Academy for Kids is the exclusive youth program provider. Musicals such as "Annie", "Alice in Wonderland", "Grease", "Seussical", "Aladdin", and many other fan favorites have been artistically directed and designed by Stephen. In 2017, Stephen and the Academy ventured North for a partnership with Orange County Music & Dance (OCMD) where they produced 8 full scale productions and 3 seasons of summer camps. In September of 2019, the Academy created a new partnership with Z Playhouse in Mission Viejo and Stephen was able to pursue his long awaited vision to create, design and build out a performing arts venue for the youth in the community. In addition to theatre productions, Stephen has also been the director of a national beauty pageant circuit, American Queen Pageant, 2007, California Division. Stephen has performed in over 40 theatrical productions with title roles including Seymour in “Little Shop of Horrors”, Charlie Brown in “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown”, Jack in “Into the Woods”, and many more. Most recently, Stephen starred as Jamie Wellerstein in Jason Robert Brown's "The Last Five Years" and was also featured in Three Trees Theatre’s West Coast premiere of a new musical, “Magdalene”. In addition to acting, Stephen has been a featured vocalist at Carnegie Hall and had the unique opportunity to be a member of Saddleback Church elite singing group, VWM where he trained under Tim Davis, GLEE Vocal Director and Hollywood powerhouse. The performing arts are also a tremendous part of the Zygo family. Stephen's older brother, J. Michael Zygo, in an 8-time TONY Award Winner as an original cast member of the Broadway Musical, "Once". J. Michael Zygo is not only one of the 12 original cast members of "Once", he also had the honor of opening the 2013 TONY Awards to introduce Neil Patrick Harris. Stephen's sister-n-law, Jillian Nyhan Zygo, is also a Broadway actress and star performer. You can visit their website at This family connection allows Stephen to meet Broadway superstars and network with legitimate working actors, stage managers, directors and producers. Recently, Stephen and J. Michael Zygo sat on a panel of industry professionals to educate hopeful performers with the world renown Casting Director, Bernard Telsey of Telsey & Co. "Having a brother and sister-n-law on Broadway and friends all over America on national tours helps keep me educated on what is happening in the world of casting as well as performing. It's a unique situation to be in", Stephen explains. Stephen is managed theatrically and commercially in Hollywood by Joy Parris who is a manager and producer and the co-owner of Rich Girls Productions. Stephen has been seen in several commercials, independent films, Purpose Driven Life videos, and youth films for the thousands of children that attend Saddleback Church. One of Stephen’s most memorable experiences was working with Katie Holmes and Forest Whittaker on the film, “The First Daughter”. Alongside Stephen’s pursuit of being a successful Hollywood actor, he has founded Acting Academy for Kids to train the next generation of young performers to inspire them to love the performing arts. Whether they desire to be the next big thing or just have fun while learning new skills, then he strongly encourages kids to train at the Acting Academy for Kids and Teens!


 Maggie Zygo


Margaret A. Zygo, nicknamed Maggie, has a natural ability for the structural components of Acting Academy for Kids. Maggie provides the organizational skills that a business requires and is meticulous with details. With an undergraduate degree in communications from Northwestern University, she has been an integral element in AA4K’s growth by providing excellent customer service and guest relations. Maggie presently heads up bookkeeping, marketing, and sales activities as well as working with families on logistical issues. In addition, she spearheads all of Acting Academy's advertising campaigns, acts as the HR Director, and lends a critical eye and voice to the direction of the program development. Maggie’s graduate education and training in international and intercultural education (Hawaii Pacific University and Intercultural Communication Institute) and experience living and working abroad allows her to shed light on the educational importance of the programs and interface with diverse clientele seamlessly. Previously, Maggie was an Admissions Officer and Academic Advisor at the Department of Education at the University of California. She was the Academic and Diplomatic Language Trainer/College Counselor at Intercultural Communications College in Honolulu, HI, a Language Teacher and Cultural Ambassador through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET), and a Bilingual Liaison at the Harvard School District outside of Chicago, IL.

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