Rambling On

Anthony R. Cardno's Fiction and Commentary

Archive for the ‘actors’ Category

Over the summer months I’ll be welcoming the teenagers involved in The Shoe Crew to guest-blog about what they’re doing to benefit a very special pair of charities, SHOES THAT FIT and A PLACE CALLED HOME.” The Crew is a group of really great kids including Justin and Kayla Tinucci, Taylor Hay and about 10 other kids. Some of them I’ve interviewed before, including today’s guest Sam Lant. The guest blogs will be sprinkled throughout the coming months, as The Shoe Crew efforts build towards the end of the summer.

 Instead of an interview, I asked my young friend Sam Lant to write a guest post about his involvement in the charity project: Shoes That Fit.  So I’ll shut up now and let Sam tell you all about it. Take it away, Sam!

Hey Anthony:

 

Thanks for letting me share the limelight with you for just a few moments – what an honor to be asked to guest post on your site to share about our BIG SUMMER CHARITY PROJECT.  As you know, we are fresh off the Ronald McDonald House Walk For Kids in which our team “THOSE CRAZY KIDS NEXT DOOR” raise $8,369 for Pasadena Ronald McDonald House.  Since the walk for kids doesn’t come around again until next April, we are looking for something to keep us busy through the summer.

 

So, here is the deal.  A bunch of us kids, with help from our parents, are doing a huge charity project for Shoes That Fit.  This organization receives no government funding and relies entirely upon private donations from individuals, businesses and foundations.  Their mission is to provide brand new athletic shoes to children in need so that they can go to school in comfort and with dignity, better prepared to learn and play.  They have shown that giving kids a new pair of shoes helps raise self esteem which in turn boosts grade scores.  It is amazing what a new pair of shoes can do.

 

I learned about the organization SHOES THAT FIT when I attended their SNEAKER BALL last month as a celebrity guest.  My mom always has me research the events I attend so that I know why I am going and who it helps.  My 16th birthday was coming up and I had been looking for a charity that could benefit from the gifts I was about to receive, while I don’t have much – there are people out there in this world who have much less.  I have the important things in life… a roof over my head, food in my belly, a warm place to sleep and my X-Box.  🙂    I immediately knew that this was the charity I wanted to help.  My mom contacted the head of the organization and asked what we would need to do to set up an event to benefit their charity.  From there the ball just got rolling.  I thought it would be cool to have everyone bring a new pair of Athletic shoes in lieu of gifts for myself.  Since I am inviting 200 teen actors, musicains and athletes to my birthday, I knew we could really go a long way toward filling up the warehouse in time for back to school in August.

 

My mom has been working hard gathering donations and sponsors.  We are holding my birthday in a 3000 sq foot warehouse partially donated by E World Media, DJ Young Slade (son of Lil Jon) will be entertaining the guests with some of the hottest dance music, and Chick-Fil-A has kindly donated the food.  We also have donations coming in for SWAG BAGS which we will give every guest who donates a pair of shoes for the chairty.  But, I have bigger plans.  I started a campaign on Indiegogo to help raise money so that I can purchase even more shoes to donate.  You can check it out here….www.indiegogo.com/shoesthatfit  I want to raise $5000 which I will then use to purchase shoes in the sizes most needed by the organization – you know those size 13 basketball shoes and the sizes that go the quickest because they are in high demand.

 

Enter the SHOE CREW –

 

The Shoe Crew, 2012

It seems about the same time that my mom and I were working out the details for my birthday, Justin and Kayla Tinucci, along with their mom, had an idea of their own.  Something bigger than what I had in mind.  A summer project involving many teen and child actors (and parents) who were also looking for a way to give back to their community.  Thus started “THE SHOE CREW.”  We will be making a difference STEP BY STEP through the summer – not by throwing one big bash but by having each family host a smaller event which will lead up to THE SNEAKER BALL GRAND CELEBRATION August 18th.

 

So, WHO IS THE SHOE CREW????  Well, of course, Justin and Kayla Tinucci, myself (Sam Lant), as well as Saige Ryan Campbell, Dustynn and Ethynn Cerney, Sean Ryan Fox and his sister Camryn Molnar, Taylor Hay, Bryce Hitchcock, Abi Ann Hoffman, Merrit Leighton and her sister Marlowe Peyton, Malyssa Martinez, Garrett Palmer, Jason and Mark Rinkel, and rounding it out – Gabriel and Hannah Welch.  We also have Dylan Riley Snyder from Disney Channel’s “Kickin-it” helping on our celebrity crew team.  There are other teens/kids that will be joining in a long the way but these are the key SHOE CREW team members.  Each family is in charge of hosting a different event where the entry to get in will be a new pair of athletic shoes or a monetary donation that we can use to buy the most needed sizes.  Along with helping their parents plan their individual events the kids also have a bigger long term job which they will be in charge of all summer.  Jobs such as: set-up team, t-shirt sales, social media outreach, inventory, web design, video team, team communications and red carpet stylist.

 

What events do we have in store?  My SEXY 16th Birthday is going to be a private event but the rest of the events anyone can come out to participate.  Now, this list is just a rough draft.  Things might change as we go along.  We are in the process of contacting venues and locking down locations.  You can always follow along at our web site set up specifically for the SHOE CREW – http://theshoecrew-org.webs.com/ to see what event is taking place while you are in town.  🙂  Here is a list of what it looks like so far:

 

  • June 9th – Sam Lant’s Sexy 16th Birthday
  • June 15th – launch of official Shoe Crew Campaign at I-Fly
  • June 16th – Summer concert
  • June 24th – Celebrity Dodge Ball
  • June 29th – Build a Mouse
  • July 14th – Drive in Movie
  • July 21st – Geocaching Event – High Tech Hide and Seek
  • July 23rd – Celebrity event with All-Star Wrestling Team
  • July 28th – Pink Event and music concert hosted by band Pink-E Swear
  • August 4th – Kart Racing
  • August 11th – Walk-A-Thon
  • August 18th – Sneaker Ball Closing Ceremony

HOW CAN YOU HELP???

 

If you live locally, attend the events.  They are going to be a lot of fun and there is something for everyone.  Our goal is to get the entire Los Angeles Area community involved in donating shoes.  But, it goes beyond that.  Are you a individual, business or foundation looking for a great place to spend your tax deductible dollars?  Do you have a product that you want to get into the hands of teen actors, musicians and athletes?  Are you an athlete, actor or musician who is sponsored (or receives gifts) and has a closet full of shoes you haven’t been able to wear and are looking for the perfect place to donate?  Or….do you have the time to help tweet, share on facebook and email your friends to tell them about this exciting event????  We aren’t picky…help in any small or big way you can.  If you have any questions you can always hit me up on twitter or facebook or email Jennifer Tinucci –jennifer@five-starpr.com

The ever-smiling Sam Lant

The ever-smiling Sam Lant

 

Thanks for letting me come hang with you for the day.  This was fun.  We will end this in your usual fashion…. so Mr. Cardno – What is your favorite Book?

 

See ya in the movies. 🙂

 

Sam Lant

teen actor from the recently release Warner Brother Studios hit movie “PROJECT X”

 

 

Here are some links you can check out to find out what is in store for my birthday and throughout the summer with the Shoe Crew and Shoes that Fit –

 

Sam Lant’s Birthday Event:

 

http://samlant16thbirthday.webs.com/

www.indiegogo.com/shoesthatfit

Twitter: @actorsamlant

Facebook: www.facebook.com/samlant

Instagram: @samlant

 

Shoes That Fit:

 

www.shoesthatfit.org

twitter: @shoesthatfit

 

 

THE SHOE CREW:

 

http://theshoecrew-org.webs.com/

www.apch.org

www.five-starpr.com

twitter: @shoecrew2012

facebook: www.facebook.com/TheShoeCrew

 

And since Sam so cunningly turned the tables on me as he was closing out his post, I’m going to turn this into a contest. I’ll donate another $25 to Sam’s Indie-Go-Go if anyone can name my favorite book. I’ll donate $50 if anyone can guess the #1 and #2 books. How’s that, Sam? Leave your guesses as a comment, folks!

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I’ve interviewed a lot of writers, editors, actors, singers, artists and fundraisers over the past year. It’s my pleasure to start out a new year of interviews with a young man who is just starting out on his acting career. Fifteen year old Patrick Murphy asked me to interview him for his IMDb page, where portions of this interview will soon appear. Here’s the entire interview, conducted via email with his mother’s approval (as all of my interviews with teenagers are done).

 

Patrick Murphy, always smiling

ANTHONY: Hi, Patrick! Thanks for taking some time to talk with me.

 

PATRICK: Thanks for allowing me to talk to you.

ANTHONY: So, you’re just starting out on your acting career. What made you decide you wanted to be an actor?

 
PATRICK: Well, I enjoy studying human character, and love to write! So ever since the 6th grade I have been wanting to act. So I have just started getting interested to move into the On-Screen acting career, which I am sure will be worth my time and money!

 

ANTHONY: What acting (stage, local tv, etc) have you done?

 
PATRICK: I have done many theatrical plays, with many lead roles. In “Little Anne” I was the Old Man. I’ve also done a few plays with a cast over 35 members large and made the lead role. Such as “Christmas in Comfort,”  “Jolly Rodger and the Pirate Queen,”  and my favorite “Ballad of Gopher Gap.”

 

ANTHONY: Breaking into the business is hard, and you’re not based in Los Angeles or New York City, where in-person audition opportunities are easier to come by. How are you getting the word out there to casting directors that you’re available and interested in auditions?

 
PATRICK: I have online accounts on many different casting websites that help me out a lot. My main casting profile is on IMDb. Not to mention I have a friend who is also an actor. She usually informs me about the surrounding casting calls.

 

ANTHONY: Are you working with an agent, an acting coach, etc? Who are they and how are they helping you get started on building your resume?

 
PATRICK: Yes, we just started working with the Cathi Larsen Talent Agency. They have not done anything major quite yet, but I’m sure things will happen in the near future! I also tried out for a movie called “Take A Chance” just recently in Birmingham Alabama. All I had to do is go in and speak from a script. And they took my picture. They did not have any major parts open though, so The Director gave me a very good Extra part!

 

ANTHONY: Where do you think your main interest/talent lies: comedy or drama? Why?

 
PATRICK: I would have to say mystery is what I am mainly interested in. I have always been fond of detective cases, such as murder and missing persons, also around the long plot that would lead to the suspect.  I never missed an episode of “Criminal Minds” or “The Glades” when they would come on.

 

ANTHONY: Most actors’ resumes include a list of special abilities they can bring to a role. What sorts of things are you good at, outside of acting? What hobbies do you have?

 
PATRICK: Well, I mostly sing. I’m in our school choir, and also participate in church choir. I also write scripts. When I am not singing, acting, or doing school work, I’m writing scripts that I come up with off the top of my head.

 

ANTHONY: Do you play any sports?

 
PATRICK: I love to golf. I have been golfing since I was in 5th grade. I also play football around the house as well.

 

ANTHONY: If you could work with any adult actor or actress, teen actor or actress, and director, who would they be and why?

 
PATRICK: That is a good question.  I would love to work with Matt Passmore, his acting in the show “The Glades” is very interesting. If I could work with any teen actor, I would have to go with Uriah Shelton. His acting in “Lifted” was very great! If I could work with any director, I would want to work with Matthew Gubler. He is a great actor, and a great director. I have seen him as a major ideal in my acting career.

 

ANTHONY: And my usual closing question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?

 
PATRICK: My favorite book series was always “Among The Hidden”. There is just a great plot. The author wrote the story in such a way, that it builds alot of momentum before the climax of the story. It’s full of many curves of challenges and high spikes of adventure.

ANTHONY: Thanks again, Patrick, and good luck!

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It’s Fashion Friday (okay, that’s also not a real Twitter hashtag, but as you’ll see, it’s appropriate to today’s interview), and so we’re talking with actress and author Jolie Vanier.

 

Jolie Vanier

Jolie’s big breakthrough came in 2008 when writer/director Robert Rodriguez cast her as Helvetica in the Warner Bros. feature film “Shorts”. Starring Jon Cryer, William H. Macy, Leslie Mann and James Spader, the film was released nationally in August 2009. She attracted positive critical reviews; “Variety” said “In an ensemble that involves much adult-kid interaction, the most memorable performance belongs to young Vanier. A dead ringer for Christina Ricci circa ‘The Addams Family’, Vanier is so loveably hateful here, she gets an ‘introducing’ billing in the credits and even her own musical motif.” Jolie is also novelist and screenwriter, recently winning an film festival screenplay award.

 

ANTHONY: First of all, congratulations on your International Family Film Festival Youth Fest Screenplay Award! How did you get involved in the contest, and how much competition did you have?

 

JOLIE: Thank you so much! I heard about the contest and immediately wanted to enter. I worked very hard to cross all of my t’s and dot my i’s. In the end, all of the effort I put in paid off!

 

ANTHONY: Tell me about the winning screenplay. What’s it about, and who is the audience you’re hoping to reach?

 
JOLIE: My screenplay is about the world’s youngest fashion designer, Joliea, who travels around the world visiting different cultures seeking inspiration for her line of clothing called Puwaii. In addition to combining fun with educational information, it’s designed to reach the whole family. There aren’t many shows that the whole family, no matter what age they are, can watch together.

 

ANTHONY: Part of winning the award was the chance to network with directors and producers, right? I know it’s only been a few weeks, but has there been any interest in turning your screenplay into a pilot or a tv movie?

 
JOLIE: I believe a lot of interest  has been generated!  I’m hoping to move my screenplay towards production.

 

ANTHONY: So you originally wrote the Puwaii Adventures as a book series. I see the books are available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, in print and ebook formats. How many books are there?

 
JOLIE: For now, there are two books. I’m planning on a third installation – trying to make up my mind which countries Joliea will visit.

 

ANTHONY: How long have you been writing? What other projects have you worked on?

 
JOLIE: I’ve been writing for quite a few years. I started writing the first book when I was in second grade and somehow it led to a passion.  And since I’ve worked on many short films, theater productions, and a feature film called “Shorts”, I have a good idea of what is needed in a script.

 

ANTHONY: Your main character, Joliea, is a fashion designer who gets into all sorts of adventures as she travels the world looking for new inspiration. How many of the places in your books have you traveled to, and what was your favorite place?

Puwaii Adventures

JOLIE: Actually, I’ve traveled to many of the locales described in the books ranging from Hawaii and the Grand Caymans to France and Italy.  Since the book is a family collaboration at least one family member has visited all the locations.  Exploring different cultures and meeting diverse people are great sources of inspiration for me.  My favorite place is Paris – one of the world’s most celebrated fashion capitals!

 

ANTHONY: What is it about Joliea that makes her a strong main character? Why do readers (and hopefully, tv viewers!) like her so much?

 
JOLIE: Joliea is a strong willed girl. She’s always up for fun and adventure and she’s a real “go-getter”.  Moreover, she’s not a pushover and she uses her head – most of the time!

 

ANTHONY: Tell me about the supporting cast from the books. Who travels with Joliea, and what does each character bring to the book that is different from Joliea herself?

 
JOLIE: Her big brother, Jared, gives Joliea the occasional, yet necessary, reality check.  However, Joliea always reminds him that anything is possible. Sarah is Joliea’s best friend who loves to travel and have fun.  (That’s just how my real life best friend, Sarah and I are!) Joliea has a boyfriend(guy friend) who keeps the mood light! The group of adventurers travel with a wide cast of animals who each have a very distinct character.  (Family and friends say Rammy is my alter ego.)

 

ANTHONY: Every adventure series has to have a bad guy, so let’s talk about Jack le Rat. Where did you come up with the idea for him, and what kinds of problems does he cause for Joliea and her friends?

 
JOLIE: I see Jack is a troubled prince in exile who wants to design, even though he isn’t good. He’s jealous of Joliea because she is so talented as a fashion designer; after all, people don’t just dislike others out of the blue.  He feels that no matter what he does he’ll never be better than Joliea. Who knows, maybe one day he’ll have a revelation and not be so negative!

 

ANTHONY: You’re not just an author, you’re an actress. Your biggest role so far was in the 2009 film SHORTS, right? How did you land the part of Helvetica, and what did you do to prepare for the part?

 
JOLIE: I landed the part of Helvetica through hard work, determination, and I also believed that I was meant to play that role. To prepare myself for really getting into character, my hair was died black and I was given fake braces. When I looked in the mirror I looked like a completely different person. I felt like Helvetica.

 

ANTHONY: Any fun stories to share about filming the movie?

 
JOLIE: A few of the boys had already met me before the big hair dying transformation. When they saw me after the changes were made in my appearance,  they nearly fell from shock!

 

ANTHONY: Since you’re an author and an actress, and your book/screenplay is about a young girl — any chance you’ll be the one to play your character if the pilot gets filmed? And who else would you like to see involved in the project?

 
JOLIE: I definitely wrote Joliea for myself and I would love to get to play her on the big screen. However, I am very open minded about casting.  I should point out that almost every character is based on someone I know or have met.  So some of those shoes could be difficult to fill!

 

ANTHONY: You also volunteer for a lot of different causes, including one close to my heart: the American Cancer Society Relay For Life. Why are these causes important to you, and what do you do to support each of them?

 
JOLIE: The ACS is very important to me because I know quite a few family members who have suffered through cancer and I truly believe that nothing is impossible, including finding a cure to cancer. To help out I’ve joined the Pepperdine Relay For Life and have started my own team to help raise money and awareness! Another one of my favorite causes is ASPCA because I’m a total sucker for animals of all kinds. I’m actually going to be singing at a fundraiser for ASPCA coming up in October.

 

ANTHONY: And my usual closing question: what is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who has never read it to convince them that they should?

 

JOLIE: I like so many books that it’s hard to choose. However, I recently read this book called Vegas Dazzle that I’m in love with! If I were trying to convince someone to read it I would tell them that the book and the characters are so alive that it’s nearly impossible to put the book down!

 

You can find Jolie on Twitter as @jolie_vanier, on IMDb, on her own website and on Facebook.

 

Justin Tinucci, Jolie Vanier & Joey Luthman

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Today’s interview is with another young up-and-comer, actor Justin Tinucci.

Justin Tinucci

Justin Tinucci was born in Denver, Colorado. He relocated to the Los Angeles area (part time to start off) in June of 2009 to pursue his dream to become an actor. Since then, he has had the opportunity to work on some amazing films and television shows with some extremely talented cast and crew members. In addition to acting, Justin  is a professional indoor skydiver.  He and his sister Kayla have a wind tunnel team and are called “Team Future” they are widely recognized as the nation’s youngest indoor skydiving team and compete in wind tunnels against skydivers worldwide.

ANTHONY:  Hi, Justin! Thanks for taking the time to chat a bit with me.

JUSTIN: Hey Anthony! My Pleasure!

ANTHONY:  Let’s start out with your most recent project. You went to Georgia to film Goat Island. Tell me a bit about the movie and your role in it.

JUSTIN:  In Goat Island with Val Kilmer and D.J. Caruso, I play a really fun character. His name in the movie is Butch. He’s like a bully/twisted character who also has a soft side to him. I even had to die my hair blonde for it! The scenes that I’m in are really diverse. They have crying, kissing, dancing, bullying, everything! It was funny filming because everyone was surprised by how quickly I could go from regular guy to such a disturbed character.

ANTHONY:  You also worked on The Muppets. How was that experience?

JUSTIN:  Working on the Muppets was amazing. It was so much fun to work with Walter in my scene and it was fun how I got to dress up in a Halloween costume in the middle of August. It’s crazy how for night scenes, they have to light up the set so much and it still looks dark. The way I actually got the job was in the audition, I went in with a Kermit the Frog t-shirt of him playing guitar!

ANTHONY:  You’ve completed work on a new live-action pilot for Cartoon Network. What’s the show about?

JUSTIN:  I can’t tell you the name of the show just yet but I can tell you that it’s a sketch comedy show, but it’s a whole new take on sketch comedy because it’s single camera, so it has more of the tone of The Office or Modern Family. It also has a bunch of hidden camera pranks and other surprises and fun stuff too.

ANTHONY:  How tough was the audition process, and how long did it take?

JUSTIN:  The audition process started as a general call, and then about a month or two later, I got called back for a producer call for the pilot, and for the audition, I had to write and prepare a few sketch characters, so I made a sketch where I was at the ComicCon interviewing Russell Brand, Justin Beiber, Conan O’Brien, Steve Irwin, and one that was my secret weapon to booking the project, but I can’t tell you exactly what is was, haha.

ANTHONY:  Who else is in the cast?

JUSTIN:  The executive producer was Nick Cannon, and I can’t release the rest of the cast members’ names just yet.

ANTHONY:  When do you anticipate hearing about whether the series has been picked up or not?

JUSTIN:  I have my fingers crossed, and I hope to hear in the next two months.

ANTHONY:  You’ve done some stage work as well, right? Most recently at the 2011 Young Playwright’s Festival?

JUSTIN:  Yeah. The play that I was in was called living by numbers. The character that I was playing  was diagnosed with cancer and predicted the exact time that he was going to die, and he was helping another patient and explained his coping process. It was great helping a young playwright have her piece come to life.

ANTHONY:  And you’ve also done stand-up. Do you see yourself pursuing that seriously in the future?

JUSTIN:  Of course. Many famous celebrities have had their start in stand up so i’d love to follow in their footsteps.

ANTHONY:  A lot of young actors seem to concentrate on television and commercials and don’t bother with live theater. How has working on stage affected the way you approach your screen work?

JUSTIN:  It helps a lot with memorizing, energy, and awareness of your surroundings.

ANTHONY:  How do you prepare for roles? Is your process in preparing for stagework different from television or movies?

JUSTIN:  My theory was given to me by my awesome acting coach Amy Lyndon. I prepare my roles by reading in-between the lines. Once I can figure out the reason for what the character is really saying, the rest is just natural. I also never specifically try to memorize, because if I really know the point for what I’m saying, I should naturally have it memorized. I think the main premise for stage and film preparation is the same, but it’s just small different things like energy level.

ANTHONY:  When I talked to Sam Lant, we discussed the field of options for young actors on television. You’ve guested on a few shows, but you’ve also filled your resume with a lot of short film work. What’s the upside to doing so much work that so few people ever get the chance to see?

JUSTIN:  It gives you experience so that when it really counts when your working with big names, you’re ready.

ANTHONY:  You also play guitar for a band. Are you a classic “triple-threat” actor/singer/dancer like Justin Timberlake (only with red hair)? Or is the music more of a sideline to the acting?

JUSTIN:  I am actually a horrible dancer and singer haha, but no I love playing guitar just as much as I love acting. My band Until Further Notice with Zach Callison (lead vocals), Hunter Craig (bass), and Gabe Feldman (drums) is actually working on a few original songs and we could have an album out some time this year. We love doing all genres of rock.

ANTHONY:  So many young actors are committed to public service, setting a great example for their peers in terms of being involved with charities and the community. What causes are important to you, and what do you do to support them?

JUSTIN:  I love helping many different charities. Susan G. Koman is a big one, I volunteer every Saturday morning at a food pantry called   Help the Children, and me and some of my other friends are creating a new charity called YES (young example setters), so instead of saying no to bad things, we are being optimistic and encouraging people to say yes to good things.

ANTHONY:  Now for my usual final question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?

JUSTIN:  My favorite book is The Hunger Games, and I think to convince someone to read it, I would say that its not too long, and that there’s a good mix of violence and romance so both genders would like it.

ANTHONY:  Thanks again, Justin!

 

You can find Justin on Twitter as @justintinucci, check out his website,  his Facebook fan page, his IMDb page, and his indoor sky-diving videos at www.team-future.net

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Today, I welcome young actress and cancer awareness activist (and cancer survivor!) Taylor Hay.

Taylor Hay

Born in San Diego, CA, Taylor hay began acting at the age of four when she was cast in the first commercial she ever auditioned for. She was introduced to the industry by her mother, actress Debbie Britt-Hay, but was the driving force to making this profession her life’s work. She worked steadily, building her body of work, until she was diagnosed with cancer at the age of nine. With that news, everything came to a halt. Once she regained her health, Taylor plunged back into her career, excited to be working again.

In a short time, Taylor booked her first voiceover role, Yes, Virginia, in addition to several web and television projects. She adding singing to her dancing background and is working hard on incorporating those skills into her acting portfolio.

Aside from acting, Taylor is a nationally titled equestrian, winning titles in multiple disciplines in the Arabian breed. In 2011, she added six national Top Tens to her existing titles, all before the age of thirteen.

 

ANTHONY: Hi, Taylor! Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions!

TAYLOR:  Thanks for talking with me!

ANTHONY: When did you start acting, and what was your first professional gig?

TAYLOR:  I started acting when I was about 4 and I went on my first audition for a Peter Piper Pizza commercial and that was the first thing I booked. Ever since then I have been hooked 🙂 I booked a feature not to long after the commercial called The Blue Rose plus a period movie called Hurricane Hunters. Now I’m fortunate to be doing some TV. I love it too!

ANTHONY: You did voice work for the animated film YES VIRGINIA. What was that experience like? What sort of tricks did you use to voice your character?

TAYLOR:   I loved working on Yes, Virginia! They were all so nice to me and took me to a behind the scenes of the making of the Macy’s balloons, which was totally cool. I was in the box for about two hours. They started out just using me in a small part but when I got there and they worked with me a little, they gave me more lines which was amazing. I loved the VO work. I hope I will get the chance to do more in the future. They allowed me to play around with the lines a bit and when I did something that they really liked, they let me know so I could tweak it to exactly what they wanted. I even surprised them by finding a way of saying a line they hadn’t thought of but really liked, so that was fun. I didn’t really have any tricks. I just played with my voice a little and tried to follow their direction until we all found what worked.

ANTHONY:  What have you worked on recently, and where can people see your work?

TAYLOR: I was working a lot before I got sick, and then everything stopped dead because of that. I have spent the last year rebuilding my career and my body of work. So I just got back on my feet and I have a lot coming up. I have a web series called The Day In The Life that I start filming this month and a pilot called The Road Less Traveled that’s coming up. I also have a small role in a Morgan Freeman movie coming out this year. I’m also excited about an anti-bullying PSA that will be released soon through Seng2KX Productions.

ANTHONY:  I can imagine breaking “back into” the business after such a life-changing event can’t be easy. How have you worked at rebuilding your career? Do you take acting classes, work with a coach? 

TAYLOR:  It was pretty hard at first. I kept going on audition after audition with no callbacks or bookings because no one remembered me and I’d lost a lot of the contacts I’d built. I felt like we were doing it for nothing sometimes–like no one was interested anymore. But my mom and reps kept saying to be patient, that it would take time again. Then in November, I booked five things in seven weeks. Things have been pretty steady since then so I feel really fortunate. I work really hard at staying sharp. I train every week except when I’m working and I really try to network as much as I can. I’ve been told I’m pretty good at it. I also work with a singing coach and am learning to play the guitar for the role in the TV series I’m shooting in April. That’s been pretty cool.

ANTHONY:  Has your cancer experience changed the way you approach auditions and creating a character?

TAYLOR:  Yeah, I think so. I lean toward drama and I find it easy to kind of get in touch with my emotions and all. I guess I have a lot to draw from for a kid my age. I think my coach, Amy, has taught me to draw from inside me and the things I’ve gone through to find the heart of the character and to keep it real. I like comedy, but I really like drama. I’d love to be on Criminal Minds or Bones or Grey’s Anatomy some day. That would be amazing.

ANTHONY:  You’re also a nationally titled equestrian! Congratulations. Where have you competed recently?

TAYLOR: Thanks! I have been doing a lot of auditioning and events lately so I haven’t had the chance to ride as much as I’d like, so the last time I showed was at Youth Nationals last year. But I am hoping to go to a show in March. But that may not happen because I haven’t gotten on my horse because of the rain 🙁

ANTHONY: What specific style of equestrian events do you do?

TAYLOR: I do a lot of different events. I show English Pleasure, Country Pleasure, Halter, Native Costume, Sidesaddle, Show Hack, Hunter Pleasure, Dressage, Sport Horse In Hand and Under Saddle, Saddleseat Equitation, and have even shown reining. My mom is my trainer and has been doing it for years so she makes sure I’m very well rounded. It’s a blast doing all the different events and keeps me motivated!

ANTHONY: I know that equestrian showing is as demanding, if not more demanding, than acting. How do you balance your two loves?

TAYLOR:  I’m in a modified homeschool program so what I do is I get home and go out to ride so if I do have something that night I got my riding done and then I can put all my energy getting ready for the event and not freaking out that I didn’t ride that day. It’s a lot of commitment but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

 
ANTHONY: Like me, you’re a cancer survivor. What type of cancer did you have, how was it discovered, and how long have you been cancer-free / in remission?

 
TAYLOR: I had a rare type of non-hodgkins lymphoma. It was discovered by Childrens Hospital and my friend at UCSD. I was the only kid at Rady at the time to have it. I have been in remission for almost two years now and am so grateful I’m here to give back as much as I can. 🙂

ANTHONY: Congratulations on two years of remission! That’s fantastic. I know you do a lot to raise awareness of, and raise funds for, cancer research and cancer care. I’ve been teasing you on Twitter about your fund-raising battle with Sam Lant. Tell my readers about the Walk For Kids, and what they can do to help you and your team meet your fundraising goal.

TAYLOR: Well my friend Sam Lant put together a team for the Walk for Kids and I was invited to join it. The Walk For Kids is a fundraising walk for the Ronald McDonald House of Pasadena. The Ronald McDonald House provides care for the families of patients that have life threatening illnesses. You can make a difference by donation to our team Those Crazy Kids Next Door. We’re hoping to raise $10,000 to help the house.

ANTHONY: What other causes are important to you?

TAYLOR: I am also really involved with Make-A-Wish, Leukemia and Lymphoma Association, and Rady Childrens Hospital of San Diego. I’ve been an ambassador for both Make A Wish and LLS and was the Girl Of The Year for LLS in 2009. I got involved with these charities when I got sick and they did so much for me so now that I’m healthy again (which has been for the last 2 years) I want to give back in any way I can. It helped my family so much and I know how much it means to those kids. My total fundraising so far for the three organizations is about $250,000. I also do a lot of public speaking and singing at fundraisers and events that help to raise money for these charities. I also did a video for Hats Off For Cancer that can be seen on YouTube.

ANTHONY: All great causes! Now for my usual closing question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?

TAYLOR:  Oh, well I don’t have a favorite book but I do have a favorite book series. The Hunger Games series is by far my favorite. If you haven’t read it you HAVE TO! It’s absolutely amazing. There are so many twists and turns. I am also really looking forward to the movie based on the book!!

ANTHONY: Thanks again, Taylor!

 

You  can follow Taylor on Twitter as @TayHay12, and you can see her resume on her IMDb page.

 

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Interview with Sam Lant

Posted by admin under actors, interviews

Today I welcome young actor and fundraiser Sam Lant.

Sam Lant

Sam was born in Truckee, California. He spent his primary years growing up on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, learning to ski and wake-board depending on the season. Sam’s break through in acting came at IMTA New York in 2006. Realizing acting was Sam’s big dream, his family made the move to Los Angeles, along with his dog, Capone, and a fighting fish named Sapporo. In his free time Sam enjoys riding his mountain bike, taking Tae Kwon Do and spending time camping with his Boy Scout Troop.

 

ANTHONY:  Hi, Sam. Thanks for taking the time to chat.

 

SAM:  Thank you for having me.  I am excited to chat with you and get the word out about my upcoming projects as well as the Ronald McDonald Walk for Kids.

 

 ANTHONY:  How long have you been acting, and what was your first professional credit?

 

SAM:  I have been acting professionally in Los Angeles for 5 years.  I started out taking classes in Reno, NV and was approached about competing at IMTA in New York.  I went to New York and won pre-teen actor of the year 2006.  Which brought me to Los Angeles to audition with many agents and managers who were interested in working with me.  I commuted from Tahoe for the first 3 years but then officially moved out here in 2009.  I worked a bunch of student films and did background work when I moved to learn about being in front of a camera.  I would say my first real professional credit was when I worked on the game show Destroy Build Destroy.  It might be a game show, but there was a lot of behind the scene stuff going on to help pump up our energy.  It was a great project to work on even though my brother’s team ended up winning.  My favorite part of the project was when I was howling at the moon for fun and one of the producers saw me, he came running over and said to do it again for the camera.  They ended up using that footage in the commercials promoting my episode “Big Bros vs. Lil Bros”.

 

ANTHONY:  You’re in the cast of the upcoming PROJECT X. Tell us a little about the movie, and your role.

 

SAM:  Project X is about 3 high schoolers who throw a party because they think it is their last chance to become cool before they graduate.  Things get way out of hand.  The party gets so big that Jimmy Kimmel reports on it during his opening monologue.  It is pretty funny stuff.  I play Dave.  He is a freshman trying to sneak into the party.  He keeps getting caught and thrown out.  You will have to watch and see if he is eventually successful or not.  🙂

 

ANTHONY:  The movie looks just a little bit … insane. What was filming like?

 

SAM:  The movie is more than a bit insane.  HA.  Scott Budnick and Nima Nourizadeh were amazing to work with because they were very encouraging.  In fact, all the crew were awesome.  One of the days we filmed, it was my birthday, and they all wished me a Happy Birthday.    But filming for me wasn’t that bad because I am a minor and they couldn’t film some of the scenes around me.  So, the days I worked were pretty tame.  The final scene was a lot of fun though because I had to dance with this really hot girl.  When I got to set I found out it was going to be Anna Sophia Berglund, who Hugh Hefner’s current girlfriend.  All the guys on set that night were very jealous of me.

 

ANTHONY:  Your other recent project is “too perfect.” How did you get involved in that project, and where can people see it?

 

SAM:  I got involved with “too perfect” through LA Casting and over skype.  The director, Julie Rubio, contacted my mom after my mom submitted me for the role on LA Casting.  My mom actually didn’t realize the project was filming in San Francisco when she submitted me.  I then auditioned over Skype and Julie thought I would be perfect as Skylar.  We did several table reads and rehearsals where I was skyped in to follow along since I lived in Los Angeles.  I went to San Francisco to film for 9 days.  It was a lot of fun.

 

You will be able to find “too perfect” on netflix and blockbuster sometime this year.

 

 ANTHONY:  You also seem to be the only one of the main 5 cast-members whose character is not named after himself. How did you manage that?

 

SAM:  Originally, the story was written about 5 friends in real life.  Unfortunately, Skylar couldn’t film so Julie put out a notice on LA Casting to see if someone else fit the role.  The other 4 kids who filmed with me are all friends and go to school together.  I met the real “Skylar” the night of the premiere and he congratulated me on doing a great job acting like him.  Now we are all friends on Facebook.

 

 ANTHONY:  You’ve done a few short films. What do you see are the differences between working on a short film and a feature film?

 

SAM:  I guess the main difference would be how long you are filming for, short films can be shot in a weekend or even a day sometimes where feature films need a lot longer to get all the scenes filmed.  Another difference is the craft services – bigger productions have the budget for more food and bring in catering companies to cook main meals.  My favorite thing about being on set besides acting is the amazing food.  ha ha ha

 

ANTHONY:  I know the job search for teen actors is just as difficult as it is for adults, possibly moreso because there are fewer “big” venues for kid actors — if you’re not involved in a Nick or Disney series, options for regular tv work are definitely smaller — so how do you get your name and face out there for casting directors to see?

 

SAM:  My agent and manager are great about pitching me out to casting directors for upcoming projects.  Also a lot of shows have guest starring roles for kids such as Criminal Minds and CSI, so the opportunity is there.  Another way I network is at casting director workshops which allow me to meet casting directors I haven’t before while also learning something new or building on previous knowledge.  And, every year in November there is an event called Actorfest which has casting director meet and greets, and holds training workshops hosted by top professionals in the business.  I try to network at events like these to get my name out there.

 

ANTHONY:  What kind of prep do you do for auditions? Are you working with an acting coach, taking classes?  Do you ever think “man, there are just SO many of us trying for the same few parts, maybe I should do something else for a living?”

 

SAM:  I am taking classes with the amazing and talented Amy Lyndon who is teaching me the 15 main guidelines for cold read and booking a role.  When I prep for an audition, I have a work sheet Amy gave me that I use to break down a script.  Then I work on it until I feel I have the character just right.  It is all about a choice.  My choice might not be the same as someone else, so it is up to the casting director to see who made the best choice to bring the writer’s vision to light.  As far as doing something else, I act because I love it not for the money.  I really can’t see myself ever giving up something I love doing.  Although, I am planning to get an aeronautical engineering degree in college because I would also like to be an astronaut.

 

ANTHONY:  Speaking of classes — how do you balance auditioning/being on-set and school work?

 

SAM:  I home school, actually go to a year-round charter school, so I only go to class twice a week for an hour to take tests.  Because I do my work at home, I can do my school around my audition schedule.  Sometimes, I do homework in the morning and when I have had a hectic schedule preparing for auditions then I will do it at night.  Since I go to a year-round school I am actually working faster than being in regular school and should graduate a year early.  Being on set is a even easier, because the law requires me to do 3 hours of school each day we are working.

 

 ANTHONY:  Okay, let’s talk about causes. I know you’re doing a Ronald McDonald House fundraiser at the moment. Why this cause, and how did you get involved?  What can my readers do to help you and your Walk For Kids team?

 

Sam Walks for Kids

SAM:  I was filming a short film called “Tears Asunder” and the location was about 5 houses down from Ronald McDonald House Pasadena.  We walked past it everyday on our way to set and I asked my mom what it was.  She explained what they did and I thought that was really cool because when I was little I had very bad asthma and often was hospitalized.  We lived in a small town so my mom was able to stay in the room with me but I know that isn’t always possible in larger cities.  I was glad to have my mom close because it was very scary sometimes.  I got involved with Walk For Kids last year when one of my friends invited me to join her team.  I raised $400 last year and want to raise even more this year.  I decided to start my own team this year because I wanted to be more active in helping Ronald McDonald House.

 

People can help our team by donating any amount, even $1 will help us reach our goal of $10,000.  My favorite thing to say is…can you give up your morning latte today and donate that $5 to our fundraiser.  A lot of people don’t realize if they just cut one specialty item out of their schedule they would have enough to help a child have their mom close by if they get scared.

 

Here is the link to my donation page —  My goal is $1000 but I would like to raise even more than that if possible.

 

 

ANTHONY:  What other causes are important to you, and how involved are you with those?  

 

SAM:  I am working with several organizations.  Last year I donated my birthday to Project Night Night.  They give security totes to kids whose families have become homeless due to the economy or loss of job.  Each tote has a blanket, teddy bear or stuffed animal, and a bedtime story.  On my 15th birthday, I asked my guests to bring one or more of these things to donate to the tote bags.  We were able to stuff over 75 totes for kids ages 0-12 years old.  I was over whelmed with how generous everyone was to help these kids.  I am doing the same again this year for my 16th birthday.  I don’t have a lot but there are people out there who have a lot less and it feels good to help those people.

 

Another project I am working on is a Freeline Skate team which will be going around to different charity events to teach kids to Freeline skate who might not have opportunity to learn.  We are going to work with the Boys and Girls Club, Autism Talks, Make a Wish, Starlight Foundation and anyone else who is interested in having a fun time learning to skate.

 

ANTHONY:  And my usual final question:  What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?

 

SAM:  My favorite book right now is “The Hunger Games”.  Which is really actually a series of books.  I read the first one in a single day because it grabbed my attention and I didn’t want to put it.  The plot had a really great twist at the end which surprised me.  I think a lot of kids would really enjoy reading these books.  I am excited for the movie to come out and plan on seeing it the very first day it comes out.  🙂

 

ANTHONY: Thanks again, Sam!

 

SAM:  Thanks for the interview.  These were some fun questions and I enjoyed answering things I hadn’t been asked before.  OH…and thanks for your donation to Walk For Kids.  YOU ROCK!!!!

 

ANTHONY: As I said on Twitter: “Curse you, Sam Lant! Stop ruining my reputation as a big ol’ meanie!”

 

You can follow Sam on Twitter as @ActorSamLant, check out his Facebook fan page, his IMDb page, and his freeline skate team’s YouTube channel. And of course donate to his Ronald McDonald House fundraiser!

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And here I am with part two of “Beautiful Women Week” on the site. I am proud to know Milena Govich, and I’m so happy she was able to take some time to stop by and chat.

Milena Govich

 

Milena Govich has performed on Broadway (in Chicago), on television (Conviction; Rescue Me; K-Town; Law & Order) and in the movies (the upcoming A Novel Romance, among others). She’s also one hell of a Scrabble player.

 

ANTHONY:  Hi, Milena! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me.  It’s no secret we’ve known each other a long time now, so the most important question I can ask is … what’s your favorite memory of me? haha

MILENA:  Empire Coffee shop on 9th Ave. in NYC.   It was the first time we got to sit down and chat and I got to see why the Cornue clan is enamored by you.  🙂

 
ANTHONY:  Let’s talk about your latest project first. A NOVEL ROMANCE is out, and you co-star with Steve Guttenberg. Tell us a little about the movie.

MILENA:  The film is a romantic dramedy set in NYC.  It follows two people who have each just gone through a life-changing crisis–my character’s fiancee has just died, and Steve’s character is fired from his job in a humiliating way.  With the pressures and expenses of living in NYC, the two acquaintances decide to move in together to help each other out.

 
ANTHONY:  What was it that initially drew you to director Allie Dvorin’s script?

MILENA:  I really loved the character of “Jenny”, and the film portrayed a kind of unique relationship.  I was also itching to do some comedy, and who better to star opposite than Steve?  To top it all off, Allie had studied acting with my teacher many years ago, so we both knew there would be a nice shorthand between us on set.

 
ANTHONY:  What was Allie’s directing process like? Was there a lot of rehearsal before shooting or did you jump right in?

MILENA:  Since this was a smaller budget feature, there really wasn’t much rehearsal at all.  I think we met for two days, but rehearsing a film is not like rehearsing a play.  Most of the time was spent talking about the script, asking questions, and reading scenes at the table.

ANTHONY:  How long was the shooting schedule and where did you film?

 
MILENA:  I believe we shot the film in 19 days–which is remarkable.  All the locations were in NYC, and our crew was wonderful.  It was clear that everyone on set wanted to be there.  No one was resting on their laurels and just collecting a paycheck.  It was all hands on deck every minute which made for a fun and energetic atmosphere.

 
ANTHONY:  About a year ago you made the jump from being NYC-based to LA-based. What are the biggest differences you’ve seen in terms of the job market on each coast?

 

MILENA:  The biggest difference in my day-to-day is driving.  Ack!  It took me a bit to get used to braving the LA traffic and searching for parking before my appointments.  But aside from that, my work is pretty much the same.  I’m very fortunate to have excellent agents and an incredibly loyal manager who work for me on both coasts.   As for the LA market, there are many more productions shooting here versus NYC, but there are also many more actors.   Even though there are more opportunities, it shapes up to be a very competitive market.   But as you might imagine, I’m the kind of girl that has never shied away from a challenge!

 
ANTHONY:  On television, you’ve had multi-episode runs guest-starring as a hooker with a heart of gold on Rescue Me, starring as a cop with something to prove on the original Law & Order, and as two very different district attorneys on Conviction and K-Ville. Which side of the law was more fun to work?

 

MILENA:  Well, carrying a gun and doing stunt fights was a ton of fun as a cop, but the wardrobe is much better on the lawyer side. 🙂  As for the criminal world, playing “Candy” the con artist on Rescue Me was one of the best gigs I’ve had.  The set felt like I was hanging out with my brothers, and I had most of my scenes with the amazing actor, John Scurti.

 

ANTHONY: There’s a cool story about how you ended up on Law & Order.  Can you tell us about that?

MILENA:  The way I ended up on L&O was really a dream come true.  I had been hired to do another series that Dick Wolf produced called Conviction.  We actors on the show affectionately gave it the tag line, “young lawyers in heat.”  It was a really good show (check it out on DVD!), but we didn’t get the ratings that NBC wanted, so they pulled the plug after 13 episodes.  The very next day after we got the ax, Dick called my agents and offered me the role of the first-ever female cop on the original L&O.  I have to say, this is the kind of positive feedback that every actor dreams of receiving.  To me, there is no bigger compliment than to have someone you worked for hire you a second time in an even bigger role.  

 
ANTHONY:  You’ve worked with some great casts. What were some of your favorite moments?

 
MILENA:  Shooting in NYC, you always get great moments, often from the people who aren’t part of the shoot.  As you can imagine, it’s pretty hard to block off a street, or even a sidewalk from pedestrian traffic.  No New Yorker thinks the barricades are for them.  🙂   One of my favorite moments was on the set of A Novel Romance.  We were shooting in Noho and the shot was a super romantic kiss where the camera revolves around us creating that swept-off-your-feet feeling (we didn’t actually end up using it in the movie, however).  Anyway, some guy, probably on his way to work, made it past the PA’s who were trying to keep the foot traffic at bay.  As he passed us kissing–right behind the camera–he looked at what we were doing and yelled, “Bullsh*t!” and kept right on walking.  Gotta love the New Yorker perspective.

 
ANTHONY:  How do you personally prepare for a role once you’ve been cast?

MILENA:  Obviously, there’s the grunt work of the memorization of the lines, but most of my work centers around imagining my character’s relationships with all of the other characters in the play.  I find that if I have a strong point of view about everyone I encounter in the script, things start to pop.  I also like to play off of the other actors, so I try to never get set in a “way of doing things” in order to stay flexible and spontaneous.

 
ANTHONY:  I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing a lot of young actors and singers and I know read my interviews. Any advice you’d like to share with them?

MILENA:  Dream, and dream big.  Really imagine the details of what you want your life to look like.  Don’t let anyone else’s doubt cloud your view of who you can become.   That said, as far as an acting career goes, if there is absolutely anything else you are passionate about, go do that instead.  I know that sounds a little harsh, but my husband loves to say, “This is not a career, it’s a calling.”   This business is brutal.  An actor, no matter their status, receives more blatant rejection in one year than most people will ever experience in a lifetime.  Unfortunately, that’s not hyperbole.   Even though you may work hard, make great grades in school and do everything “right”, there is no guarantee you’ll ever make a dime in this business.  Now on the other hand, if you feel that you absolutely MUST give it a go, then by all means, give it everything you’ve got.   Learn everything you can: read, watch tons of movies, quality TV and plays.  Get on stage as often as you possibly can: join your community theater, do the school play.  Even if you’re just in the background you will be a part of the process.  Make your own opportunities: go sing for the Lion’s Club or at a nursing home, ask for a solo with the church choir.  Make your own videos: with today’s technology, it’s easier than ever.  Write a short film (can be as short as you want), get your friends together to practice and then shoot it!  Take every class you can and develop into the best artist you can be.  I don’t think the passionate pursuit of anything is ever a waste.  Even if you never book a professional job, we all learn so much about ourselves through the journey.   And who knows where those lessons might take you.

ANTHONY:  IMDB says you’re working on the next Resident Evil installment. How’s that experience been? Do you get any kick-ass action scenes?

 
MILENA:  So here’s the thing about IMDB: it’s not run by anyone in the industry.  Their information is usually accurate, but it comes from non-industry people who scour the trades and re-post the info they find.  Occasionally, they are incorrect.  And unfortunately, this is one of their boo-boos.

ANTHONY: You mean everything we read on the internet isn’t true?? Aigh! Alright,then, what else do you have coming up?

 

MILENA:  As far as future projects go, my philosophy is to walk through the open door.  I never know what is coming next, and that is one of both the most thrilling and most terrifying things about what I do.  But a couple of things on the horizon are the DVD release of A Novel Romance at the end of January, and a recurring arc on an ABC Family series called Make It or Break It that will air in the late spring.  And this summer I will travel back to my home state of Oklahoma to play the title role in Sweet Charity at the Lyric Theater.  I’m really looking forward to getting my dancing shoes out!

If any of your readers would like more info on these, they can join my Facebook fan page where I post details on all of my upcoming gigs.

ANTHONY:  And my usual final question:  What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?

The book that had a real impact in my life is Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand.  I read it when I was 16 years old and it was the kind of positive reinforcement that rang blaringly true to a young, passionate, and ambitious girl like myself.  The theme of “man is capable” still inspires me today.  I truly believe that ANYONE has the capacity to make herself into the person she wants to be.  The process may not be easy, and the goal you achieve may not be the one you set out for, but passion and perseverance in everything you do will take you far.

 

As mentioned above, you can find Milena’s Fan Page on Facebook,  and you can also find her on IMDb. If you’re a fan of Milena’s work, please stop by both of her pages and leave some favorable comments!

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It’s Beautiful Women Week here on Rambling On. Today, I talk to the incomparable Jennifer Holliday.  Jennifer is a woman who needs no introduction, but I’m going to give her one anyway. She shot to the top with her Tony Award winning role as Effie White in the original production of DREAMGIRLS, a role she’s reprising for the last time later this year. After lots of personal struggles, 2012 is poised to be a break-out year, as you’ll see in the interview below.

Jennifer Holliday, still beautiful. Photo by Meg Radliff.

ANTHONY:  I was excited when I found out you were on Twitter and we struck up an on-going conversation. I remember seeing you in DREAMGIRLS during the original run and being absolutely devastated by “It’s Over” and “I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” We were sitting in the highest balcony seats and it felt like you were standing in the row in front of us. I’m sure you’ve been asked this a million times, but can you tell me a little bit about what doing the show was like, and share a favorite moment or two?

JENNIFER: Being involved in creating a show and being a part of something that is new and innovative. Nothing had been done like this at the time and of course I was young and you know you’re making something happen. You don’t know you’re making a hit that’s going to be around for generations to come, making history, that sort of thing. None of that came to mind.  It was a lot of hard work, and I was doing another show during the night while working on DREAMGIRLS during the daytime, so a lot of it was work and building something.  My memories are kind of in a big ball tied up from the time we put it together: out of town tryouts in Boston and opening and boom I was the star really overnight. A lot of it my memories are not the kind of memories people would think you would have of creating something. A lot of them are melancholy because it was so overwhelming. I try to look back and see where they are from that time, but I have a hard time trying to gather those up. That’s why I think I’ve haven’t written a book about it, because a lot of it was just so much that I’m still sorting through it after 30 years, I can’t find the happy moments out of it. Not that there weren’t happy moments, there were.

ANTHONY: What was the other show you were doing?

JENNIFER: A lot of people forget that DREAMGIRLS was not my first Broadway show. I was doing YOUR ARMS’ TOO SHORT TO BOX WITH GOD at night while DREAMGIRLS was developing during the day.

ANTHONY: You mentioned not writing a book about DREAMGIRLS. Have you ever seriously considered it?

JENNIFER: Well, you know, Sheryl Lee Ralph has a book coming out in March (Redefining Diva: Life Lessons from the original Dreamgirl) and I thought maybe it’s time for me to write something.

ANTHONY: Would it be more of a memoir, a self-improvement book, or … ?

JENNIFER: More of a book where people can take help from it. So I think it will concentrate on overcoming depression. It will be about working on the mind to get through depression. There was a government report recently that said 1 in 5 Americans suffered from mental illness in 2011. I think that’s what I want to talk about and how it was intertwined with my life and my career.

ANTHONY: On Twitter, you are so supportive of everyone who talks to you. I know you’ve had a lot of personal challenges, including the depression you mentioned. What’s gotten you through the tough times?

JENNIFER:  I think that the toughest part of the depression, and I actually tried to commit suicide when I was 30 years old, coming through that, working through that, was about having the right type of therapist and the right medication at that time, and “staying the course” (I know that’s from the Bush era but I just love the phrase). If you make progress even just a little … you keep going. Just be consistent, it will bear results and get you to where you want to go. I have lots of people who I’ve lost, people I knew who just gave up. Depression just wasn’t talked about a lot back then.  Phyllis Hyman in 1995 was supposed to be at the Apollo and took her life just hours before her show, and that was the first one that made me want to talk about it more, that’s when I became an advocate for mental health and suicide prevention. And then Susannah McCorkle, another a jazz singer, leapt to her death in 2001 after years of fighting depression and relapsing, and that was traumatic to me as well. People who give up right before things turn around, and that’s why I say you have to be careful talking about these things.

ANTHONY: Careful about how you talk to folks with depression?

JENNIFER: Careful about how you talk about finding the right help. I’ve dealt a lot with alternative, holistic methods for some of the problems I’ve dealt with. I still believe in doctors and medicine and treatment, I just think you sometimes have to go further. But stopping your meds and thinking you’re alright for a little while is sometimes the problem so I’m careful in how I talk to people about self-treating themselves. Find a doctor who understands your concerns about your meds and will work with you. There are still doctors who care, who take time and make time to listen. For me to be able to have clarity on that, it was a long time before the voices of darkness cleared away for me. One of the reasons I moved from New York City to Atlanta was NYC is a fast paced place and I couldn’t figure out how to slow down. Even getting from airport to apartment was stressful for me. I sleep better in Atlanta and that, sleeping, has a lot to do with our health. I was finally able to do that without taking anything. Things are quieter down here, things are not bustling after 10pm here, so that helped me a lot. I’m always revaluating: what can I do to get more peace, the kind of peace I’m looking for? That’s why 2012 will probably be more a year of prep than a year of performing. I don’t have a desire to be everywhere, but I do have a desire to do great things. I don’t want that at the expense of the peace I’ve found. I do want to have a balanced life.

It’s sad, but depression still has a stigma attached to it. A drug or alcohol problem is far sexier, especially if you go to rehab and “fix” it. Depression is still viewed as horrible, even with more discussion and acceptance.

ANTHONY: People still get that “why can’t you fix yourself, why do you need help” reaction.

JENNIFER: Exactly. Every situation is different. Mine was clinical depression; manic-depression needs to be handled differently, so do the other types. And you need the right professional help.

ANTHONY:  It’s also so true that we never know what’s going on in someone’s head; just because they’re so energetic and social on-stage doesn’t mean they go home happy with themselves. You know I’ve struggled with that, too. Speaking of being on-stage, though:  I just watched your duet with Jennifer Hudson again via Youtube, and of course I got to see you in concert in Chicago back in December. I’m always amazed by singers whose voices don’t falter, and you’re as much a powerhouse as you were in the 80s. What kind of vocal workout regimen do you follow to keep your voice so strong?

JENNIFER:  Discipline always. No vocal warm-ups, exercises, etcetera, outside of performance. That comes from the theater, doing eight shows a week. No drinking, no excessive talking, no smoking; being very strict about how you treat the instrument outside of the performance. That’s why my speaking voice is so different from the singing voice. People are sometimes shocked at the difference. My singing voice became the main voice, so everything goes into the performance: 200 percent. I’ve had no formal vocal training, never sought any. A lot of it I had to just learn for myself. Doing DREAMGIRLS eight shows a week, with one day off, having to be wonderful, to create magic: I had to take care of my instrument in a different way. No partying, no speaking before 3p.m. each day until the show each night.

ANTHONY:  So it’s really more about maintenance than further training?

JENNIFER: You know, even if your voice is trained, that doesn’t train you to perform every night. You have a legit voice, but it still doesn’t enable you to do eight shows a night. You still need the discipline. That’s why opera singers do less shows a month, to rest their voice. I’m grateful I started in theater first. If I’d started as a recording office first, my voice might not have held up as well, might not be the clear powerful voice it is.

ANTHONY:  We’ve had a “Jennifers” Duet. Now, what are the odds we can get the GLEE producers to cast you as Mercedes (Amber Riley)’s mother for an episode or four?

JENNIFER:  I think Glee would be a fun thing to do.  I don’t know how we could get that done. The wonderful thing about Hollywood is you can just happen to meet somebody and boom you’re there, then if you’re not out there in that network you may not get thought of for something like being on Glee even if people know I may have influenced some of what they do – “let’s not get Jennifer Holliday, let’s get someone who sounds like her.” But anything can happen. Dreams are still made and things that seem impossible can become possible.

ANTHONY:  It’s tougher not being in Hollywood or even New York, isn’t it?

JENNIFER: Yes. You know, Atlanta is a place that is becoming connected but a lot of people don’t even know that I live here, and I’m not a networker. But connections still happen. I did meet Amber through Sheryl Lee Ralph.

ANTHONY:  Speaking of Sheryl Lee, How often do you see the DREAMGIRLS cast?

JENNIFER: They’re mostly actors. I’m mostly a singer fulltime, earning a living just from singing. So our paths don’t cross a lot.  But I do see Sheryl Lee Ralph quite a bit because of her activism for AIDS and our relationship with the gay community. And I hardly ever  run into Loretta Devine but the three of us were all together for Sheryl Lee Ralph’s Divas Simply Singing AIDS benefit concert in LA this past October.

ANTHONY: Earlier in your career you did a lot of benefit concerts, especially for LGBT causes. What causes are important to you these days?

JENNIFER:  The same causes are there in terms of the gay community. It all started with HIV because AIDS pretty much cleaned out the Broadway community in 1981-83, around that time. And at that time it didn’t even have a name, it was the “gay white man’s disease.” People were just dying, there was no help for them so it took out a great deal of the Broadway community and had a large toll on our cast at DREAMGIRLS: Michael Bennett, Tom Eyan, Michael Peters, other creative staff and male cast. Both Sheryl and I were thinking about that early on and that’s been our mainstay in terms of activism ever since. And now it’s becoming one of the leading killers of African-American women because of so many men not being truthful and still being on the “downlow.” So that’s something that will still remain because of that connection I have.

Of course with my own problems with depression, that’s an important area for me too. And even though I have Multiple Sclerosis, I have never been a spokesperson.

I think I’m known to be a philanthropist because I help people with a lot of causes that aren’t as public. I’ve done charity performances, etc. “Everybody’s condition is my condition,” as far as I’m concerned. I don’t think I have to be personally touched by that cause or illness in order for me to give help. If I’m available and the timing is right, I’ll be there.

ANTHONY: I didn’t realize you had MS.

JENNIFER: People forget I have it because I am so energetic on stage, and I can walk, etc. It’s no secret but people kind of forget it because I don’t dwell on it, and because I’ve taken the stance that my depression was far worse than my MS was for me in terms of life-and-death. That’s how I’ve always looked at it. I think that’s because the medications that are out there, I’ve been waiting for them to get better. I have been unable to walk and been blind due to the MS. I’ve been taking care of myself, in fact I’ve undergone several controversial types of treatment to get help for my MS. That’s not for everyone.

You know, trying to figure out how to speak about a disease they don’t know a lot about is difficult. You don’t want to give people false hope, and when people are searching for an answer they don’t want to hear certain things. So if people see me out working through the pain, then they can try to draw from that. Even thought they have to take the meds and they’re in a particular situation that’s different from me, they can take inspiration. I’m working with a woman now who also has MS and is also a singer but is in a wheelchair, and I tell her I can’t promise you’ll walk or sing again, but I do you want you to take your medicine, etc. It’s hard when you’re a person like me who grabs life; how do you talk about a cure that worked for you but you know is controversial that might not work for everyone?

I do believe prayer works, too. I think everything starts in the mind. I was diagnosed seventeen years ago, and by the time they narrowed down my symptoms I couldn’t really walk. They did a spinal tap and other tests, to say conclusively “yes, it’s MS.” I asked them “Why can’t I walk?” and they said “Because your brain can’t send a message to your legs.” I thought, “My brain already can’t send a message to anything because I’m clinically depressed and take meds for that! So the depression has to go so I can put my energy to fighting a disease no one really understands and gets misdiagnosed.”  So I started working on my mind, my outlook. And then they put me on the MS meds and one of the side effects is depression and suicidal thoughts! So I had to get off of that medication, and that’s why I explored the alternative methods I mentioned earlier.

ANTHONY: How did you go about that?

JENNIFER: You do your own homework and your own research. Doctors may not tell you the alternatives. So you have to go and research. I had to take myself off of the medicine because it was bringing on the depression and heavy thoughts of suicide! And I hadn’t read the paperwork to know that’s why I was feeling worse.  So I did that and now here I am, and I still suffer greatly with the illness and I was last blinded for almost three months in 2007. But I continue to use all alternative meds and procedures that have allowed me to be my best self. As a performer I’m way better than I used to be before, but a lot of this is me telling myself that this is how I want it to be.

ANTHONY:  I know fans are hoping/wishing for a full pop album. Is there any chance we’ll see one soon?

JENNIFER:  I do want to record this year, but I don’t know what I want to do. I was thinking of doing an album of love songs: some cover tunes and some original tunes as well. I will make a decision this month.

ANTHONY:  Regardless of what genre your next album is, I’m interested in knowing how you decide what songs to record or add to your concert repertoire.

JENNIFER:  It depends on whether I want to try something new, maybe a favorite song that I’ve never performed before. A lot of stuff sounds new to me that I want to try, a jazz standard, a pop song. That’s how I’ve been looking at putting the concerts together. A lot of people think I’ve recorded lots of cds, but it’s only been five albums and two “best of’s,”, so it’s not a lot of material to use in a 90 minute concert unless there are the diehard fans. I had someone tell me “oh I loved Love Story” and I said “oh what album was that on? Oh, 10 people bought that album…”  In a way it’s good that I don’t have lot of material because as I move forward (hopefully singing for another 20 years or so), it gives me a realm of possibility. I can keep recording and it’ll be new to me and new to my listeners and fans, and I’m excited about that.

ANTHONY: Where will you be appearing in the early part of 2012?

JENNIFER: I’ll be in San Diego with Marvin Hamlisch and the San Diego Symphony Orchestra on February 10th and 11th doing the “Romance with Broadway’s Best” show. I’ll also be doing a number of private performances in the first part of the year. And you know, the recording industry has changed so much that I’m not sure I can get a label deal, so I’ll have to do an independent release with this album.

ANTHONY: Some of my favorite performers are independent artists putting their own releases out there. My friend Casey Stratton had one major label album and went back to producing and releasing his own stuff. It’s not the easiest way to get your music out there, but it gives you more creative control. To bring our conversation full-circle: You just announced that you’ll be returning to the role of Effie White in a special week of DREAMGIRL performances at The MUNY in Saint Louis. Does playing that role ever get old?

JENNIFER: I have played Effie every five years or so in revivals, but I am pretty sure that at 51 years old, this will be the last one. I don’t want to turn into Norma Desmond! I’ll be playing to 11,000 people a night in the oldest and largest open-air musical theater in the country. It’s another dream come true, so it just goes to show it’s never too late to dare to dream new dreams.

ANTHONY: I am going to make every best effort to be there for a performance. And now for my usual final question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to convince someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?

JENNIFER:  There are so many to choose from. I love The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.  I think it speaks to me now, to where I am and I think it can help people. It’s a Bible-based book; if someone is searching it’s a great support.

I also love Love Leadership by John Hope Bryant.  Another deep one!  Not a Christian book but more about how you do business and work with others and involve loving yourself and others.

ANTHONY:  Jennifer, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me, and for your friendship and support on Twitter!

 

Don’t forget, you  can find Jennifer on Twitter as @jennifersspot, and you can “Like” her Fan Page on Facebook as well!

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This week we have Part Two of what is becoming a series of interviews with the cast of The Hub’s mini-series CLUE. Sarah Desjardins joins me to talk about acting and philanthropy.

Sarah Desjardins, photo by Karolina Turek

ANTHONY:  Hi, Sarah! Thanks for chatting with me.


SARAH:  Of course! Thanks so much for the opportunity!

ANTHONY:  Let’s start with something I just realized I haven’t asked any of the other actors I’ve interviewed: how did you get started in this crazy business? What was your first amateur acting gig, and your first professional one?
SARAH:  Well when I was about six, that was the first time I ever discovered it was possible to be on T.V. I remember asking my mom “how do I do that?” and a couple months later I had my first agent. Unfortunately my parents decided I was too young and that they would have me try again when I was older but only if I wanted to and took initiative. So once I made it to high school I jumped right into the theater scene. I took part in all the school plays and musicals, still do! My first amateur gig was in grade 8, I was 13 and I was a supporting role in one of the junior stage productions. I had braces up until my sixteenth birthday and the moment I got them off I had headshots done and got with my current agent. After about 9 months with my agency I booked my first professional gig which was Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story.

ANTHONY: Who did you play in the Rowling movie?

SARAH:  I got to portray Diane Rowling (J.K. Rowlings younger sister) from age 13-20 and it was quite a lot of fun! Being a Harry Potter fan it was fantastic to be involved in the legacy in some way. Unfortunately I did not get to meet her as this was an unauthorized biopic, not to mention she is a very private person.

ANTHONY:  You first came to my attention as part of the CLUE cast. What was the audition process like for that?
SARAH: The audition process was long! haha. I actually discussed this with my fellow cast mates, out of the six of us they all auditioned either once or twice while I auditioned seven times. They made me work for it! I first had to send in a tape, afterwards I went in for the Vancouver casting director and I proceeded to go in for a callback as well as a director/producer session. This took place over a couple of weeks and afterwards my agent informed me that they weren’t casting anyone from Vancouver and they were moving on to Toronto. A few weeks later I got another audition for Clue but this time it was for a minor role. Within the next few days I had another call from my agent saying I had another callback but for Whitney! I was ecstatic! I then had another directors session and the day afterwards I also had another session with the producers! Two days later I got the call that I booked the role. It was a VERY long journey but I couldn’t be more happy with the result!

ANTHONY:  Sounds like the audition process was longer than the actual shoot! The show was conceived and filmed as a complete mini-series. How long did filming take, and what were some of the locations you guys used?

SARAH: We had a total of 26 shoot days of which I took part in 25. We shot it over the course of about a month and a half during the summer in my lovely hometown of Vancouver, Canada. We shot in a lot of cool, unique locations among my favorites would have to be the Britannia Mines, which is where we shot all the scenes in the tunnel to the secret room as well as the warehouse where we found Adam Ellis. We also shot some of the street scenes on the set where the movie Watchmen was filmed. It’s basically an entirely fake town, it was awesome! Last but not least The Secret Room! It was built entirely for the show inside an abandoned bank and it was stuffed full with all kinds of neat gadgets, I’d always find myself fooling around in there.

ANTHONY: The Clue cast was a mix of American and Canadian actors. There’s such a great chemistry on-screen. Did you know any of the other teens before filming began?

SARAH: I didn’t actually! But we were so lucky to all get along so well with each other, I was nervous about meeting the rest of the cast for the first time not knowing whether we would all get along or not but we truly bonded and it was always exciting coming to work every day because I got to have a great time with my friends! One thing that I found kind of funny was that for the most part we all clicked best with our Clue counterpart! It just shows that each of us in one way or another are similar to our character.

ANTHONY: I knew from following most of you on Twitter that you built a really strong bond with most of the cast, and that you’d like to work together again. Has The Hub given you all any hint that a second series might be in the near future? I’m sure series creator Raven Metzner has a ton of ideas for how to continue the story, based on that ending.
SARAH:  We did.  I feel so lucky to have made such great friends from this experience, I will always be thankful!  As for a possible second series, we did know while we were filming the first five that there was a possibility of doing more but as of now that is entirely up to The Hub! I know the entire cast and crew would love to but it’s completely in their hands.

ANTHONY:  How much of that ending did you know when you started filming?

SARAH:  We actually got the scripts for all 5 episodes when we started filming so I knew right away, but it was still extremely cool to see how it turned out because of course we weren’t there for the very last part! I myself am dying to know who is watching us on the security footage. They definitely left it as a great cliffhanger so we would have an option to continue, we’ll see what happens!

ANTHONY:  How did you develop or prepare for playing the character of Whitney (“Ms. White”)?

SARAH:  Her personality actually came quite naturally to me, I’m not quite sure what it was considering we aren’t too much alike but I suppose it was just very easy to see her side of things. I completely understood where Whitney was coming from! She could be easily misconstrued as a nag or bossy but she just cares so much about everything and everyone around her and wants to bring out the best in people. One of the biggest similarities we share is I do care a lot about other people and their needs as well as wonderful causes!

ANTHONY:  As you said, Whitney is a very socially-conscious, “get involved,” charity-minded character. I know when the CLUE miniseries originally ran, viewers were able to try to win character-based prize packages, and the Whitney package included a donation to a charity of the winner’s choice. Did you ever find out what charity benefitted from that?


SARAH:  I didn’t ever get to find out no! But honestly just knowing that money went to an amazing charity that really needed it is enough to warm my heart.

ANTHONY:  What causes/charities are important to you, and why?

SARAH:  My strongest connection to a charity would have to be B.C. Children’s Hospital. They actually saved my life, I was born with my small intestine outside of my body so as soon as I was born I was rushed into emergency surgery. They hold a special place in my heart and they are a central hub where children all over Canada are brought to be treated so it is very important to recognize the help that they need. I also recently got involved with Generation On through The Hub and they are fantastic! They are all about encouraging the younger generation to get involved with charities that matter to them and to participate in volunteer work that will help make the world a better place, which is so important because the younger generation truly are the supporters of the future.

ANTHONY: I’ve contacted the Generation On folks to see about doing an interview and featuring them here; they’re doing such important work. I know your co-star Sterling Beaumon has served as a spokesman for them. Now to abruptly switch topics:  tell me a bit about your latest project (at least, latest according to your IMDb page!), Kiss at Pine Lake.

SARAH: Well I actually shot it before Clue! It’s a Hallmark Channel Original Movie that will be released in August 2012 about two people Luke and Zoe who at age fifteen almost had their first kiss on the last day of summer camp. Now 15 years later Luke has taken on camp Pine Lake as his special project and Zoe works for a high powered investment group who wants to buy it only to tear it down and build a wellness resort. Zoe is sent to convince the owner to sell and as they are reunited once again they find their love beginning to re-kindle. I played young Zoe who is mainly played by the lovely Mia Kirshner.

ANTHONY: Are there any other projects on the horizon you can tell us about (or hint at, at least)?


SARAH: I have a minor role in the feature Red Machine staring: James Marsden, Thomas Jane and Billy Bob Thorton! I’m super excited 🙂 I have had the privilege to audition for many other amazing projects since Clue and there are a few projects that hopefully will develop for me in the near future.

ANTHONY:  I’ll be looking forward to Red Machine. Great cast! And now my standard final question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?

SARAH:  As much as I’d love it to be some deep, insightful book I am a sucker for the typical teenage romance which it would seem Sarah Dessen has mastered. My favorite book is Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen. One of the reasons would definitely be that I can relate so much to what the main character (Auden) is going through in her life, I also have a lot of her habits. If you love a good romance or have a tough family situation it definitely is the book for you, it touched my heart in ways I never expected and I hope it touches yours too!

PS. If it’s ever made into a movie, I nominate myself to play Auden! haha 🙂

 

ANTHONY:  We’ll have to start a Twitter campaign and get Sarah Dessen’s attention,then, won’t we!  Thanks again, Sarah! It’s always a pleasure to chat with you.

 

You can find Sarah on her IMDb page, her Facebook page, and her Youtube account,  and you can follow her on Twitter as @SarahDesjardins.

You can find “Part One” of my only-slightly-unintentional series of interviews with the CLUE cast by clicking on Brad And Todd Mann. “Part Three” will hopefully appear in a couple of weeks, when I interview Zach Mills.

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This week, I get to chat with two actors that genre television fans may recognize, even if you don’t know their names. Twin brothers Brad and Todd Mann have appeared on SMALLVILLE, BATTLESTAR: GALACTICA, THE 4400, and most recently the CLUE mini-series on The Hub.

The Mann Brothers, photo credit PinkMonkeyStudios.com

ANTHONY: Brad, Todd, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions.

Brad and Todd: Thanks for thinking of us!

ANTHONY: Let’s start with your most recent project: The Hub’s CLUE mini-series. How did you get involved with the show?

B and T: Like any project we auditioned for it and beat out the other actors for the roles (laughs).

B: With Clue, I got excited about the characters almost immediately…

T: Ya, it’s fair to say that we both were very interested in playing these henchmen… we’re always on the lookout for twin roles that are actually written how twins actually talk…

B: Like how we always talk over each other, and not just every line being said at the same time!

ANTHONY: You play the brutish but still somewhat sort of likable henchmen from The House of Plum. If CLUE is picked up for future seasons, what kind of character development would you like to see for them?

B: um… to not die for starters, that is NEVER good for recurring parts (laughs).

T: As an actor of course we get countless ideas for the development of our characters, but in the end it’s up to the writers. In this case, Raven Metzner is easily one of the best writers we have worked with so far and we would look forward to any direction he decided to take us!

ANTHONY: WC Fields famously said “Never work with animals or children.” But from following them on Twitter, it seems like the young stars of CLUE are among the nicest and most professional kids out there. How was working with them? Any stand-out moments or behind-the-scenes stories you can share?

B and T: All 6 of the kids (as well as Kacey who played Sarah) were amazing to work with!

T: It’s funny how you get a different energy whether you’re working with just the kids, just the adults, or a combination of both…

B: Yes… with the kids they liked to joke around between takes sometimes and we enjoyed it… Todd and myself are big kids ourselves so we had fun exchanging funny faces, telling fart jokes, and playing “hide the actor’s chair”.

ANTHONY: Okay, now I have to ask: what was the most creative or unusual place someone found to hide an actor’s chair?

T: … or we could just tell you the chair story that started it all. (laughs)

B: Yes, the kids had already been filming for a week and it was our first day of shooting. There was a lot of cast on set and there wasn’t enough director-style chairs for everyone…

T: We don’t really care about stuff like that but we still wanted a place to sit with the other cast. Being creative, we grabbed a few small fold-out chairs and used masking tape to stick our names on them.

B: Ya, it was funny… the biggest guys on the smallest chairs (laughs).

T: During a shot where Brad and I were filming, Sterling (aka Mr.Green) re-taped HIS name over mine so he now had two chairs and I again had none…

B: At this point all of us had already been joking around so we all found it pretty funny (laughs)…. It wasn’t over for Todd, though…

T: Nope… I just waited for all 6 “kids” to be on set filming and proceeded to tape my name over Sterling’s big chair, leaving him the small one as I am a generous guy (Brad and Todd both laugh).

The Chair Joke

B: Ya, the whole ordeal made for many laughs from cast and crew alike and we all started becoming closer friends as a result. (united laughter and smiles)

ANTHONY: Looking over Brad’s IMDb page (and Todd, brother, you need to get them to do something with yours!), you guys have guested on a number of the hottest genre shows of the past few years: Galactica, Supernatural, and of course Smallville. Is the science fiction/fantasy resume partially because of how many of those shows film in the Vancouver area, or are you just more drawn to those projects than regular cop or hospital type dramas?

T: Haha IMDb… They leave so much work out, I stopped checking my profile (laughs).

B: To answer your question, we loooooove doing Sci Fi…

T: Loooooove it!!!

B: Other genres are fun too, but we both got into acting because we love playing roles that are anything but how we normally are… and science fiction roles (like our super-powered villains on Smallville) are a blast!!!

T: Ya, we spend the days playing make-believe!!! It couldn’t get more fun that that, could it?

ANTHONY: As a Smallville fan (and a comic book fan), I have to ask about your episode of that show. What was that experience like, especially the heavy-duty makeup for your parts?

B: Ahhhh… being sprayed albino took almost 3 hours every morning. That, combined with having our heads shaved (and bleached) and the red eye contacts were one of the coolest parts of the job!

Recognize them, Smallville fans?

T: Absolutely! That kind of stuff really helped us get into character. For the most part all the cast and crew confessed that they were entertained but I can’t help but think we freaked out a few…

B: Hahaha, and we had a blast being creepy all day every day… It suited the characters (smiles).

ANTHONY: “We had a blast being creepy all day long…” So would you consider yourselves “method actors?” haha

T: When I think of “method actors”, I think of actors like Daniel Day Lewis who remain in character from the start of pre-production all the way through filming.

B: for sure! …for the Smallville villains we had so much fun being inside the characters that we would often find ourselves playing “in character” off camera as well.

T: haha We even creeped out one of the producers’ kids to the point where she froze on the spot and asked quietly for us to stop.

B: She was adorable so we couldn’t help but break character to make her feel more comfortable.

T: Except we still looked super scary aaaand I had a prosthetic nail in my hand.

B&T: so yeah, I guess you could say that we are both part-time method actors (combined laughter)

ANTHONY: Vancouver has a great film and television industry, but have you ever considered moving to the Los Angeles area as so many Canadian actors have?

T: Though Vancouver will always be our home base, of course we’ve considered moving to L.A.

B: It’s just that there is still a lot of really good shows filmed here so we haven’t bothered trying to get work visas… yet. Personally, I’m still waiting to see if I can just marry an American woman and save myself the hassle! (wink)

ANTHONY: I’m sure you get this a lot, but has being twins made building your career easier or harder?

B and T: For us, way easier!!! Not many twins act which has enabled us to book more than our fair share of twin roles… Even when we audition individually we get a chance to do the roles two different ways, and if one books it the other one gets a percentage of the earnings, so there is no animosity!

T: To be successful in acting we’ve always thought it’s best to take the one thing that sets you a part from other actors and use it to your advantage. For us our originality is our similarity.

Yes, they do smile. Sometimes. Photo credit PinkMonkeyStudios.com

ANTHONY: What do you guys do when you’re not filming anything? Other than auditioning for more roles, I mean?

B: We just hang out like everyone else, I guess… Watch movies, play video games, hang out with friends…

T: Yup yup… and we both really like golf, hiking, snowboarding, and other outdoor activities… depends on the mood I guess, We do a little of everything!!

ANTHONY: What charities or causes are important to you both?

B and T: Anything to do with kids is a great cause!

ANTHONY: What’s next for you guys? Any projects coming up that you can talk about?

B: Not at the moment…. We both enjoy taking the holiday season off like everyone else (laughs).

T: But we fully intend on hitting the ground running in the new year so expect more to come from us in 2012!

ANTHONY: And my usual closing question: For each of you, what is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?

B: My favorite book is Journey of Souls by Dr. Michael Newton. It’s a real case study of hypnotized subjects who relate their memories between lives! As a student of human nature and life experience the after-life interests me greatly, so if you want an uplifting scientific explanation of the meaning of life than this is definitely a book for you!

T: Darn, he stole my answer (laughs).

ANTHONY: Thanks again, guys!

B and T: Anytime!!! Thanks for the great questions! Have a great 2012!!!

You can follow the Mann Brothers on Twitter @TwinBradMann and @TwinToddMann.

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