The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed.

 - Carl Jung, Man in Search of Soul

“If you have an opportunity to make things better and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on earth.”

- Roberto Clemente, member Baseball Hall of Fame, recipient Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

José Angel Santana, Ph.D., a student of the great Sanford Meisner, is an actor, award-winning director, educator, and innovator in the field of interpersonal communications. He is the creator of YOUAND, the first system to combine the finest in professional actor training with the most innovative tools in the field of conflict resolution/mediation, in order to provide individuals and groups with a daily practice for a more authentic, natural, relaxed, and compelling presence with others. 

YOUAND is one is a one of kinds, step-by-step openhearted approach to learning a daily practice that improves communication, self-confidence, personal initiative and effectiveness, and significantly enhances the quality of human interactions and relationships in all areas of life: with family, at work, socially, in business, and in the arts. 

Dr. Santana has taught YOUAND to media executives at the School of Visual Arts, in New York City, since 2007; to writer/directors of film, as head of the Acting Department at the NYU Graduate Film School between 2008 - 2012; and for The Ensemble Studio Theatre's New York Theatre Intensives: to writers, actors, and directors from around the world since 2011; to the United States Army Central Electronic Command (CECOM). He is presently on the faculty of the Columbia University Graduate Film School

. . .

In 1984, as an acclaimed young actor, José Angel Santana recognized pervasive media violence's destructive influence on young people's lives.  Rather than continue making such programs, in 1987 he set out to work full-time to help young people. 

Over his 20 years of working with teenagers, first as Drama Director of Jane Fonda's Laurel Springs Performing Arts Ranch, then as co-founder and Drama Director of Santa Barbara's award-wining City At Peace Youth Program, Dr. Santana combined professional actor training with the open-hearted methods of conflict resolution/mediation to create a unique approach to reaching and teaching "empathy" to young people, who otherwise might have fallen through society's cracks.

For his work with City At Peace, he was recognized as a Santa Barbara "Local Hero" in 1999. 

. . .

“Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature: for any thing so o'erdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold as 'twere the mirror up to nature: to show virtue her feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.” 

– Hamlet Act 3, scene , 17-24 by William Shakespeare

As a student of the craft of acting, later as a professional actor, then as a teacher of the craft of acting and directing, I have observed how the skills needed, “to hold as ‘twere the mirror up to nature” are best learned for everyday life "first" and then, brought to the stage for reflection with an audience. Because, without mastering the actions of inter-communication between people in everyday life, all acting does “o’estep the modesty of nature.” 

To put it simply, how is a person supposed to reflect the essential human qualities of communion between characters under imaginary circumstances if they cannot commune with others in their own everyday lives? 

How could an actor hope to stay present with another person, from moment-to-moment with the countless eyes of an audience watching them, if they cannot exchange feelings, thoughts and respond to one another’s actions in their own everyday lives, with a friend over coffee?

Traditional acting instruction that places a major importance on teaching inter-communication between characters under imaginary circumstance has put the cart before the horse. This is how I learned the craft of acting. This is how I'd taught the craft of acting until recognizing a pattern: students who listen with "empathy" in their everyday lives are better actors than students trying to learn how to "listen-and-respond" under imaginary circumstances.

Through teaching professional actors and directors, directing theatre for social change, and teaching military personnel, I have learned that teaching interpersonal, communication, and active listening skills to students simultaneously, and that focus on empathizing with others in everyday life, produces a double benefit; individuals became much better actors more effortlessly than in a traditional professional acting class, while at the same time becoming more sensitive, confident, and effective with people in their everyday lives: life skills for art and art skills for life. 

I would love to hear from you.


José Angel Santana, Ph.D.

. . .



José Angel Santana, Ph.D., is an educator, a Bravo Network "Arts for Change” award-winning director, accomplished actor, and innovator in the field of interpersonal communication. He was a student of the great Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre and appears throughout the documentariesSanford Meisner Master Class directed by Sidney Pollack and Sanford Meisner:  The Theater’s Best Kept Secret

As the Head of the Acting Program at the NYU Graduate School of Film from 2008 – 2012, he has influenced and continues to mentor some of today's most promising and award-winning young filmmakers: Shaka King (Newlyweeds), Josef Wladyka (Manos Sucias), Dominique Deleon (Rez) and over 200 director members of The Casting Directory*Social, which he created and is one of the Internet’s most unique and innovative recourses for young filmmakers. 

Dr. Santana began teaching as a young actor in 1980, when asked by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright David Mamet to join him and actor William H. Macy to teach undergraduates at the NYU School of Drama. Together they laid a foundation for students who went on to create the critically acclaimed Atlantic Theater Company. 

In 1981, Distinguished Professor of Film, director William Reilly invited Santana to help create the "Directing Actors" component at the renowned NYU Graduate School of Film. Among his first students were director Todd Solondz (Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness), and Emmy Award-winning Writer/Producer Les Firestein (In Living Color). 

Between 1999 - 2007, Dr. Santana was the exclusive provider of customized, interactive, and high-performance PRESENTATION SKILLS TRAINING services for the Force Modernization Division of the United States Army Communications Electronic Command (CECOM).  During this time his human relations and performance clients have been EDS; Nexxus, Global Engineering and Logistics, The Hendrix Institute, Academic Innovations, Fitness Consultants, Plummers, and Dentists. 

In 2007, Dr. Santana began teaching his course The Art of Connecting to executives from the world's leading media companies in SVA's Continuing Education, PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT division. He continues teaching at SVA until today (2018).

In 2011, New York Theatre Intensives (NYTI) adopted Dr. Santana's collaborative methodology to teach international artists, writers, actors, and directors in his collaborative process that focuses on empathetic inter-communication in everyday life.  

He is a trained mediator and facilitator in the methods of the Alternative to Violence Project (AVP).

José Angel Santana presently serves on the faculty of the Columbia University Graduate Film School, where he teaches student directors how to create a climate that is conducive to collaboration and communication with actors.  


As a young actor, José Angel Santana received critical acclaim for his heartbreaking debut performance as "José - the Junkie" in Sidney Lumet's Prince Of The City and is remembered as the "Strange Boutique Owner" with Madonna in the ‘80’s cult classic Desperately Seeking Susan. Among his other featured performances in film are, “Benny” in Batteries Not Included with Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn, along with roles in Night HawksThe Pope of Greenwich VillageGarbo Talks and The Morning After with Jane Fonda.

He has originated leading roles in works by some of our most important international contemporary playwrights: three world premiers of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet's works: The Blue Hour directed by Mr. Mamet at the New York Shakespeare Festival; Edmond directed by Gregory Mosher at Chicago's Goodman Theater and in its OBIE Award winning production at the legendary Provincetown Playhouse in Greenwich Village; and Mamet's adaptation of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard directed by Mosher with Oscar Nominees (Fargo) W.H.Macy and (Places in the Heart) Lindsay Crouse. 

In 1979, he acted alongside Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington in the New York Shakespeare Festival's Central Park production of Coriolanus. 

He originated leading roles in Academy Award Nominee (Reds) Trevor Griffiths' Real Dreams directed by Mr. Griffiths and opposite two time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey at the Williamstown Theater Festival; in Joe Cacaci'sSelf Defense directed by Arvin Brown at the Long Wharf Theater and Off-Broadway; in Eduardo Machado's The Modern Ladies of Guanabacoa directed by James Hammerstein, at Ensemble Studio Theatre, in New York City; and the title role in Felipe Santander's, Casa de Las Americas award-winning play, El Extensionista directed by John Dillon, at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre.

In television he co-starred alongside renowned playwright/actor and leading member of the Nuyorican literary movement, Miguel Piñero in the Emmy award-winning episode of Miami Vice - Calderon's Demise; as well as in episodes of Hill Street BluesThe Twilight Zone and Beverly Hills 90210, and once again with Oscar nominated actress Lindsay Crouse, in the Lifetime Channel movie Stranger In My House.

He is a lifetime member of New York's Ensemble Studio Theater. 


The Killing: Applying his collaborative approaches in auditions, rehearsal, and performance in 2009, Dr. Santana made his New York directorial debut with the world premiere of William Inge's The Killing, one of the author's most challenging works. Opening off-broadway at 5959 Theater, The Killing opened to rave reviews and ran to sold out houses for its entire run. 

"José Angel Santana's direction is wisely restrained, and the two actors deliver truly heartbreaking performances. "The Killing," a superb piece of theater, is given an intelligent production here. It's a story of loneliness and great pain, and that explores the saddest parts of the soul." 


Dr. Santana's film "The Secret: listening deeply to young people's lives," which he wrote, directed and produced, chronicles his process of making a play with young people by combining a variety of theater approaches (Meisner, Spolin, van Itallie, and Heathcote) with those of the Alternative to Violence Project (AVP). The Secret made its debut at the Creating Community With Youth: Perspectives From Depth and Liberation Psychologies conference at Pacifica Graduate Institute, in May, 2002. 


José Angel Santana, Ph.D. received his B.A in Mass Communications from The University of Vermont, where as a VISTA volunteer he was among a small group of the nations' pioneers in the field of two-way interactive videoconferencing. Working with inmates from the Vermont State Maximum Security Prison, he produced over 250 hours of programing for the Interact Network, one of the first networks of its kind in the United States. 

He is a graduate of the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre. 

He earned his Masters of Arts in Mythological Studies and Doctorate of Philosophy in Mythological Studies with an Emphasis in Depth Psychology from the Pacifica Graduate Institute, in Santa Barbara, CA, home of the Joseph Campbell Library.

Dr. Santana's aim is to make a vital contribution to the community in which he lives.