Acting classes on Rikers Island

This may look like a school auditorium to you but we're actually deep inside Rikers Island where one of the country's top acting academies that helped launch the careers of superstars Robert De Niro and Marlon Brando is turning its eye to the talents of inmates.

This is no ordinary theater club. It's a 10-week program run by the Stella Adler Studio of Acting for Rikers Island inmates. While some may think the lesson they need is to stay within the law, outreach director Tommy Demenkoff tells me something special is happening here.

We were allowed in to the final class as two of the inmates performed improv skits with Stella Adler volunteers and staff. We were not allowed to talk about their charges, and many incarcerated here have cases pending outcomes, and have not been convicted of a crime.

For both Roman and fellow acting student Tyreek what started out as a way to avoid the boredom of lockdown ended up expanding their horizons.

The audience for this final class was made up of academy members and supporters. Inmates who successfully complete the course become eligible for scholarships after they are released.

The Department of Correction says programs like these help improve the climate for everyone.