Renan Pacheco Sheds Light on How He Became a Digitally Influencing Phenomenon

Renan Pacheco
Digital Influencer Renan Pacheco in Mykonos, Greece

As you scroll Instagram, have you ever seen someone beautiful, in an equally breathtaking setting, and wondered how they managed to land hundreds of thousands of followers? These digital influencers indeed have what seems like the best job in the world. By amassing a loyal following, they have the unique position of traveling the world as a digital influencer where their costs are footed by sponsorships from international brands.

Of course, there are millions of exceptionally beautiful faces out there, so what is it specifically that makes a digital influencer stand out? Look no further than Renan Pacheco, a French digital influencer and undeniable heartthrob with thousands of fans across the globe.

I was lucky enough to catch up with this global Instagram sensation to find out what it’s like being a digital influencer, and how he got his start. He is currently nominated for two Monaco Influencer Awards, which will take place in October.

While his insta profile currently boasts nearly 650K followers, Renan was dazzling cameras long before he made his way into his incredibly profitable career as a digital influencer, where he admits that he often earns “a five figure number per post.” Earning a minimum of $20,000 per post is a pretty impressive figure, one that makes it quite obvious that Renan’s reputation for engaging viewers with his creativity is a major profit source for the brands that ask him to come on board as an influencer in their market.

Renan Pacheco for Havaianas Europe

Though he was raised in France, Renan was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil — and you can bet that the combination of his multicultural upbringing and looks work to his benefit as an influencer. Renan was first ushered into the spotlight at the age of 14 when he won a modeling competition.

“A friend of mine sent my Facebook pictures to an online contest and only told me about it when I got selected to attend a catwalk in Paris,” Renan recalls.

“Once I got there, I looked around at the other models that were far more experienced and it seemed like they were feeling no pressure or stress whatsoever. We were all competing for some very valuable prizes and opportunities. It was my first time feeling ‘under pressure’ as a teenager and I’m proud I took it head on… Having 650,000 people seeing every day what I’m doing is something young Renan in that contest with an audience of 100 could probably not fathom!”

That seemingly destined contest win led Renan to land numerous other modeling contracts, at the same time while still a teen in Paris, he went on to make a name for himself as an actor. Back in 2014, he starred in a national commercial for Danone, followed by social media campaigns for Zadig and Voltaire, L’Oréal and Jean Paul Gaultier.

Renan Pacheco with Xenia Adonts at a Jean Paul Gaultier show

Filmmaker Matthieu Khalaf says, “Renan is a ‘one cut’ actor. I rarely ever have to re-shoot something with him or edit things out which is very convenient. Renan is an artist with an engineer-like discipline. He brings creativity as well as punctuality, discipline and work ethic which inevitably compounds to putting him ahead of the pack.”

Over the past few years Renan has played leading roles in films such as “Partons, dans un baiser,” the crime series “Falco,” and the French hit “Nos Chers Voisins,” where he took on a comedy role as the love interest of the lead character. And his ease as an actor and model have definitely lent themselves to his skill as an Instagram influencer.

As Instagram grew so did brand interest in what Renan had to offer. His first contracts were for L’Oréal and French footwear giant Courir.

“I had to post about them on Instagram. Instagram was a very new tool at the time, and my follower count being only in the low 5 figures, the required posts were made as a verbal request,” recalls Renan. “No one thought at the time that there would be written contracts for this one day! My first written contract for an Instagram post was for Kapten & Son, a famous eyewear company.”

For Renan there are undoubtedly perks that include traveling the world, attending posh parties and awards ceremonies, and making a pretty penny for posting on behalf of brands. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to put effort into what he posts. He has a unique understanding and awareness of what his audience wants to see and makes incredible efforts to deliver. On top of that, he has to bring a high level of creativity to the images and stories he posts in order to serve the high-profile brands that support him.

Renan Pacheco for Harley Davidson

In terms of blending media exposure and creativity into his posts, Renan explains, “My pictures must take both criteria into account. ‘Media exposure’ means taking into account what my community wants to see. ‘Creativity’ means including the story the brand wants to tell. Often, the picture is what will satisfy the follower, and the caption is what will satisfy the storytelling.”

While a photo can say a thousand words, Instagram photos still require some catchy and thoughtful captions, and Renan is a pro at coming up with tidbits that will keep his audience engaged.

“I love reading and listening to audiobooks. I take active notes and like to share them as short nuggets of wisdom to complement my pictures. My followers gave such fantastic feedback that I decided to start posting pictures that complement the caption and not the other way around,” admits Renan.

“Approximately 1 out of 5 of my pictures are now about a story, a painting, an artist, a movie etc. It’s challenging but very rewarding and my community has definitely responded with the best feedback.”

On top of creating engaging posts to serve both the brand and the audience, one of the reasons that Renan has developed such a loyal following is the fact that he interacts so consistently with his audience. For most us, responding to countless direct messages and comments from over 650k followers would get exhausting, but Renan admits that is something that he actually enjoys.

Another aspect of Renan’s ability to maintain such a strong following and keep his career moving forward is the fact that he doesn’t just support any old brand that approaches him, for him remaining authentic and supporting brands that he can whole-heartedly get behind have been key.

Renan Pacheco at a Vampped Event in Palm Springs, CA

“If I don’t like the product, service or storytelling, I have to pass regardless of the financial compensation. People have a sixth sense for detecting what is truthful and what isn’t, and particularly now, I I think a big part of my success is always focusing on my follower experience.”

Renan is an avid traveller and brilliant visual storyteller renown in the social media world for his hard working spirit, integrity, and exceptional track record with leading brands. Outside from all the glitz and glamour, he admits that at the end of the day his favorite part of his career as a digital influencer is, “Meeting different people from all walks of life have been the most rewarding moments across my travels. Their stories, their lessons and most often their pains have been the building blocks for my life since college and I don’t think any other experience could be a substitute to that.”

“The Way We Get By” Star Francesca Ravera Prepares for NYC Premiere of “Espresso”

Francesca Ravera
Italian Actress Francesca Ravera shot by Mario Buscaglia

Italian actress Francesca Ravera, who has made a huge mark for herself in the U.S. film and theater industry over the past few years, recently brought her talents back to her home country where she wowed audiences with her lead role as Beth in the acclaimed production of “The Way We Get By.” 

After a hugely successful run at the Urban Stages Theater in New York earlier this year, “The Way We Get By” embarked on an Italian summer tour with performances in Milan, Turin and Genoa. 

Written by American playwright Neil LaBute and directed by Kim T. Sharp, “The Way We Get By” revolves around Beth, played by Ravera,and Doug, two young attractive singles who meet at a drunken wedding reception and end up having sex at the apartment Beth shares with her control freak roommate. However, the intimacy that commences between the two is far from organic, and the underlying root of that is one of the main complexities of the story that makes it so intriguing. 

“Beth is a sweet and sensitive girl who has been hurt by fleeting flings with boys who only wanted her for her body. Used to being seen as an object or a trophy, Beth tries to connect with Doug the only way she knows how- through seduction,” explains Ravera. 

“I enjoyed exploring her needs, her desire to connect with Doug and be free to love him. I dug into her dreams, fears and contradictions.” 

After waking Beth up with his insomniac fidgeting, Doug deflects her sexual advances and she reveals that they share a surprising bond from the past. Beyond this startling discovery, we also learn that Beth is dealing, or in the moment, not dealing, with a riddled sexual history where, having been previously objectified by men, she’s learned to rely upon her sexuality as her only way to connect.

“The role [of Beth] called for an actor who could commit to the moment while still having a complicated, conflicting history she needed to access as the action shifted,” explains director Kim T. Sharp. 

A sexy and fast-paced rom com about love, lust and life, there’s no doubt about it, Francesca Ravera was the perfect actress to play the starring role of Beth in the production.

“It was fabulous to see [Francesca] unlock one moment after another as she found the foundation of Beth. When the action shifted and Beth was faced with her past it was both surprising and, yet, understandable. Francesca brought Beth’s two worlds together in a richly satisfying way.”

Francesca Ravera
Actress Francesca Ravera shot by Giada Lefebvre

“The Way We Get By” depended heavily on Ravera, and her performances in both Italy and the U.S. did not disappoint.

“In addition to her talent and commitment, she possessed a presence on stage. ‘Presence’ is an elusive quality that keeps the audience engaged even when the actor is not talking, moving or doing business; the audience is simply drawn to the character,” says Sharp. 

“In my experience as a director, it is a rare and intriguing quality that even very talented actors don’t have access to. Francesca’s presence was an essential part of the success of the project.”

For Ravera, who moved to the States a few years ago, where she has little expectations other than to complete her training and become a better actor, coming back to Italy with the production of “The Way We Get By,” which was performed in English, is like coming full circle.

“When I moved to New York I was focusing on what I had to give and offer, as a person, and as an actor. Little did I know back then that so many offers would come my way here in the U.S.,” admits Francesca. “‘I began feeling, every day, overwhelming gratitude, which translated into an urge to give even more. It was about then that this amazing opportunity opportunity came my way, and I was able to bring my work, and the work of an incredible American Playwright, to Europe, and perform it in its original language.”

In addition to illustrious list of powerful theatrical performances, Ravera has been praised internationally for her film work. She recently took home numerous Awards for Best Actress from the Oniros Film Awards, Care Awards, the Diamond Film Awards, Best Actor Award, Milestone Worldwide Film Festival, Mindfield Film Festival Albuquerque, Five Continents International Film Festival, and Los Angeles Film Awards for her titular role in the dramatic film Claire. 

Actress Francesca Ravera
Actress Francesca Ravera shot by Claudio Catania

Directed by Andrea Silvestro and produced by Adrama, which  Ravera previously worked with on the film Ulysses: A Dark Odyssey, where she shared the screen with four-time Primetime Emmy nominee Danny Glover, Claire tells the story of a young woman who is trying to hold on to a failing relationship despite knowing deep down that her fiance no longer loves her.

Claire screened in July at the at the Venus Italian Film Festival in Las Vegas, where Ravera took home yet another Award for Best Actress, as well as the at the Chain Film Festival last month. 

Up next for the actress is the production of Canadian playwright Lucia Frangione’s “Espresso,” which is slated to run in New York in 2020. 

Earlier this month “Espresso” had its first NYC premiere via a staged reading at Urban Stages Theatre in NYC directed by Kim T. Sharp, who directed Ravera in “The Way We Get By,” where it earned powerful and positive reviews. 

UK media outlet The 730 Review writes, “Clever banter and meticulous metaphors abound in Ms. Frangione’s bold and brilliant script, yet no word ever feels misplaced, forced, or indulgently included for the sake of ostentatiousness. The actors confidently give convincing performances, no matter the role they are playing in any given moment.”

Francesca Ravera
Jesse Koehler & Francesca Ravera in the Staged Reading of “Espresso” by ACV Photography

“Espresso” revolves largely around Ravera’s character Rosa Dolores, a first generation Canadian, and her Italian family. In fact, Ravera takes on three pivotal and starkly different roles in the production, the first as Rosa, the co-narrator of the story and the daughter of the now hospitalized patriarch Vito, her grandmother Nonna, and her stepmother Cinzella. 

Ravera says, “This story is inspired by the playwright’s life, and I could feel this. ‘Espresso’ is a generous and beautifully written gift, filled with humanity and passion. It makes you laugh, and cry, and ache and think, and hope. It’s a blessing for me to have been cast in it.”

Ravera plays opposite Jesse Koehler, who interchangeably takes on the roles of Vito, Jesus and Amante, who serves as both the Holy Spirit and a symbol of Eros.

A passionate story about family values, religion, oppression and transformation centered around three women very different women in need of deep healing, “Espresso” is definitely one production theatre goers won’t want to miss. 

 

Guitarist in the Spotlight: Agam Timor of the Barns Courtney Band

Agam Timor
Guitarist Agam Timor shot by Monika Wilczynska

While the frontman in a band usually gets most, if not all, of the media’s attention, the bands we love would not be what they are without the integral contributions of the rest of the members. When it comes to the guitar stylings and overall musical contributions of Israeli musician Agam Timor, his are ones that deserve exponential recognition.

You may know Timor as the lead guitarist for the Barns Courtney band, whom he’s been touring the globe with for the past year. Signed to Capitol Records, the band has skyrocketed to international acclaim in recent years with sold out shows and several of their singles topping the charts.

“After so many gigs together, almost every night, it creates a really warm environment, like a family,” says Timor.

Timor’s rhythmic fluidity, precision on the guitar, and mesmerizing stage presence have proven to be a powerful addition to the Barns Courtney band, just as they have for a long list of other bands over the years. While Timor’s talent has helped bring him into the spotlight, his success didn’t just happen overnight. It’s the result of years of dedication and an inexhaustible passion for what he does.

Growing up in Tel Aviv, Israel, Timor discovered his love for music at the budding age of 6. Quickly picking up the violin, piano and saxophone, his passion for music grew, but it was upon discovering his connection with guitar that he found his true love.

“Since I was 12 I never put the guitar down,” admits Timor. “I immediately fell in love with it.”

Most Israeli citizens living in Israel serve in the military at some point in their lives, and while Timor is no different, he served the country in a rather unique capacity. During his three year military service he was the guitarist and arranger for Israel’s military band.

Timor says, “I enjoyed the fact that although people from different places can be very different, love different things and going through different experiences in life before joining the army . They can still go through a similar experience while watching the show, at the end of the day, people want to feel something. They want to feel the energy and forget about the tough day they had on the base”

After completing his military service Timor was free to take his musicianship to new heights and it wasn’t long before he became a national sensation in Israel. He would go onto share stages with some of the country’s most idolized talents, including singer and actress Ruthi Navon, Momi Levi and Moran Mazor, who competed in Israel’s Eurovision Song Contest, Chen Aharoni, who appeared on The X Factor UK, The X Factor Israel and Kokhav Nolad (Israel’s version of American Idol), vocalist Meital De Razon, and many more. Timor would also go on to perform as the house guitarist on the hit series The X Factor Israel, in the hit musical “Mary Lou,” as well as on Sports Channel 5 Israel, where he played the morning show hosted by Slutzki and Dominguez. Timor actually played the morning show on more than one occasion, often being called in to  play a few songs each time with a new rising artist, and then chatting with the hosts on air about life and music.

Agam Timor
Agam Timor shot by Arielle Kassulke

“I assume that any musician that keeps practicing and listening to music eventually would play great. The difference between being a professional and an amateur is pretty much the attitude and the amount of dedication one has to the project, always aim higher and keep evolving your craft,” says Timor.

Though there is definitely substantial truth in the age old saying ‘practice makes perfect,’ few will make it quite as far as Timor has over the span of his short life no matter how much they practice. At age 26, he has already proven himself to be among the world’s top guitarists. With his virtuosic talent, it’s not surprising that Timor was accepted to the Berklee College of Music, one of the most competitive music schools out there. Not only was he accepted, but he was given a scholarship, a rare award that few receive, and in 2018 he went on to graduate Summa Cum Laude.

While Timor’s strength and versatility as a guitarist has led him to be tapped to play with a pretty long list of heavy hitters in the music industry, it’s not the spotlight that drives him to perform. Behind the scenes, he is a powerhouse when it comes to writing and arranging music, and he’s used his talents in that area to create music for other artists over the years. In 2014 he worked alongside legendary producer Luis Lahav on the album for artist Or Colenberg.

“For this project I recorded all the guitars and arranged the album with my colleagues Amit Shtriker and Tom Lahav. I will never forget this project and how much we felt involved in the recorded music,” recalls Timor. “The most incredible thing is to add your own personal taste to someone else’s music and watch it become something whole.”

Another project that Timor holds dear to his heart was when he recorded the album Beit-Aba with the artist Doron Raphaeli, the founder of the popular music group Tararam.

“We spent days in the studio working on this album, I especially remember the day when we recorded the guitar solo for ‘Aguim’ that it was so late at night and Doron fell asleep in the control room while the engineer and I finished recording the song.”

With a plethora of cultural influences and experience playing diverse genres such as pop, funk, r&b, blues-rock, gospel, middle-eastern, fusion and jazz, Timor brings the full-package to the table as both a guitarist and arranger.

“When I work with artists, I first try to understand their character and what I can add from my perspective that would complement their music. When I succeed in doing that I feel that’s when the artist is being satisfied the most. Add your flavor to the same field.”

Last year Timor made another huge mark in the Israeli music industry when he was tapped to compose the intro for Omer Adam’s show, which was the first concert to be performed at the Sammy Ofer Stadium and was a sold out success. Having competed on the series Kokhav Nolad, and releasing four hit albums over the last few years, Omer Adam is arguably one of Israel’s most famous contemporary artists.

Timor admits, “I got amazing comments about the musical intro to his show and how much it enhanced Omer’s character as an artist.”

Though playing in shows such as the celebrated Israeli musical “Mary Lou” have led Agam Timor to become a celebrity in Israel, and his role in the Barns Courtney Band has led him to play in front of hundreds of thousands of fans across the globe, what Timor enjoys most is the simple art of creating music.

Guiding his life and career by the famous quote, “Do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life,” Timor is an inimitable pro at doing what he loves and doing it in a big way.

Composer Gabriel Torrado’s Musical Genius Leads Him Across the Globe

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Composer Gabriel Torrado

A proven master of composition who understands that music is key in setting the tone of a film or television series, Gabriel Torrado is one composer who’s in high demand in the entertainment industry today. With an ability to create a piece of music that matches the director’s vision perfectly, his track record of success has led him to work alongside internationally recognized filmmakers and well-known networks from around the world. 

Torrado’s extensive work as composer includes creating the music for numerous network television shows, including the four-time Primetime Emmy Award winning series “Life Before Zero” on National Geographic, Bravo’s two-time Primetime Emmy Award nominated series “Million Dollar Listing New York,” VH1’s GLAAD Media and Golden Derby Award winning series “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” the hit Netflix series “Dancing Queen” and Bravo’s “Real Estate Wars” among many others. 

Raised in Bogotá, Colombia, Torrado began developing his musical talent at the age of 4 when he received his first violin, a pivotal moment in his life that eventually led him to cultivate his skills on the piano, guitar, numerous percussion instruments and ultimately, writing music.

Dream Boy

Most recently, Torrado composed the score for Auden Bui’s (“The Lost City of Tomorrow”) dramatic film “Dream Boy or the Pursuit of Being” starring Jordan Prentice from “Mirror Mirror,” “In Bruges” and “Howard The Duck,” and Anna Lore from “Doom Patrol,” “Faking It” and “Training Day.” 

Showcased at the 2019 Oscar qualifying Aesthetica Short Film Festival, one of the UK’s leading international festivals, “Dream Boy or the Pursuit of Being” tells the story of George Swoot, a middle aged little person who struggles to catch his big break in Hollywood. Torrado’s score set the perfect tone for the film, with his use of low pulsating beats and the sound of shimmering lyrical pads bringing the sombre character to life in a palpable way.

He explains, “The overall effect that I was trying to achieve with my music was a dreamy, ethereal sound, using a very melodic approach to synth writing.” 

The storyline begins with George sitting alone in his car confronted by rejection and sadness. Feeling defeated by society and unable to escape his loneliness, he enters a seedy strip club to find comfort from an exotic dancer. 

“I used a high melody of synths to open the scene, and then built intensity by adding more layers,” explains Torrado. “As the dance gets more active, I also include a rhythmic synth that sets a forward moving pace.”

The pivotal moment of the film is when, in a moment of pure desperation, a wrong decision in a dark back alley leads the character on a revenge fueled killing spree. Torrado draws our attention to the film’s climax with a driving heartbeat like rhythm that effectively highlights the action. 

This is a very tense moment, and I wanted to highlight that using a low, pulsing, dark synth,” Torrado adds. “As things escalate, our main character becomes a killer… I marked the action with loud percussive synth hits, which ended up being extremely effective.”

Torrado’s keen understanding of the narrative story and his ability to create rhythms and melodies that drew the audience into the unfolding story were key to the overall success of “Dream Boy or the Pursuit of Being.” 

“I think the music has a huge responsibility in film and to me it is fascinating the fact that we are creating worlds and landscapes with music,” says Torrado. “I have always loved music and film, so being able to write music for film is undoubtedly my dream job.”

 Over the years Torrado’s work as composer has helped lead countless films to be chosen as an Official Selection at some of the world’s most esteemed international festivals. Earning international acclaim for his work, Torrado was the composer behind the film “The Plague,” which received the Jury Prize at the First Look Film Festival, “Manmade Waters,” which earned the Best Conservation Film Award at the Catalina Film Festival and “Margaux in America,” which took home the Award of Excellence for Female Filmmakers at the Best Shorts Competition.  

Not only has Torrado’s musical journey taken him into the lives of intriguing characters and fascinating cinematic stories, but it has taken him across the world, literally.

In 2011 Torrado’s love for music led him to move to the US to study at the world renowned Berklee College of Music, which was ranked No. 3 on the 2019 Forbes list of top schools in the U.S and is responsible for producing notable Hollywood alumni such as John Mayer, Quincy Jones, Charlie Puth and many more who have achieved commercial success in the entertainment industry.  

Torrado says, “I always felt profound admiration for classical and film composers, and so once I got accepted into Berklee, I felt very encouraged and decided to pursue a career as a composer.” 

Berklee served as a pivotal stepping stone in his path to becoming the powerful composer that he is today. Shortly after graduating he relocated to Los Angeles where he co-founded his own film and music production company, Waking Whale, alongside his brother, film producer and director Federico Torrado Tobón. While Torrado is a proven master when it comes to composing scores for film, he also has a powerful gift for creating the perfect tune to fit advertising projects, which need to catch the audience’s attention quickly. 

Through Waking Whale, which specializes in writing and producing original music for advertisements, Torrado has composed music for reputable brands including Mountain Dew, the NBA, Coca-Cola, Spectrum and more. 

In 2018 Torrado was tapped as the composer for Spectrum’s FIFA World Cup commercial, which screened across the U.S. for several months during the World Cup and featured an upbeat composition that drove home the excitement of the international competition.

“Gabriel’s music was energetic and celebratory, the perfect composition for a World Cup commercial,” explains Carlos Correa, who produced the commercial. “If the music doesn’t capture the audience they might change the channel and that’s something we cannot risk, so it is imperative that we use effective music, and Gabriel can do that at the highest level.”

Further adding to his success, Torrado’s skill at composing for Spectrum led the brand to rehire him as the composer for three more of their commercials. In addition to composing for film, television and major advertisements, Torrado uses his talent to craft orchestral compositions, which he says, “are the purest expression of my art.” 

One orchestral composition that he’s been busy creating is his newest passion project “Serenade for Strings,” which has earned him a place in the internationally recognized Jóvenes Interpretes competition in Colombia. 

Torrado shares “The inspiration for this piece came from a yearning to write concert music as well as music for media. I have always admired classical and concert composers so I also wanted to create music for the sake of music.” 

Torrado’s knowledge and experience married with inexhaustible passion and drive have cemented him as one of today’s most prominent music composers. Whether it’s a catchy advertisement jingle or a nail-biting thriller, Torrado fuses emotion into every piece of music he creates, which has helped pave the road to success for every project he’s worked on.

Q&A with Multi-Award Winning Motion Graphics Designer Emanuele Marani

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Italian Motion Graphics Designer Emanuele Marani

The work of a motion graphics designer is arguably one of the more challenging creative professions to define in terms of what’s required due to the multitude of skills it calls for from one project to another. Depending on the project a motion graphics designer could be exercising their skill as a designer, animator and storyboard artist one day and an editor, illustrator and 3D artist the next. It is through the modern art of motion graphics that images, text, graphics and sound take shape to tell a story through moving images. ⁣

The combination of colors, text, styles, images and whatever else the artist wants to include are virtually endless, and that’s what Italian motion graphics designer Emanuele Marani loves most. Some of his most recent work includes the new Facebook Faceversary animation videos that debuted in February, the opening logo motion graphic for New Republic Pictures founded by Academy Award-nominated producer Brian Oliver, the opening title for “The Morning Show” and more.⁣


As a motion graphics designer Marani has designed commercials, idents, advertisements and more for the likes of Baskin Robbins, Oreo, Target, Apple, Facebook, Uber, BMW, Apple TV, Adobe, Oculus, Instagram and countless others. Growing up in Italy, Emanuele Marani loved to draw, as well as shoot photos and tell stories through film; yet, he found each of the mediums to be too limiting on their own.⁣

“I felt really limited by having a still frame or a drawing as a form of my expression, this was a huge problem for me- I wanted to see what I had in my mind taking life. I was looking for something that was able to mix my passion for storytelling, drawing, photography and film.”⁣


Upon discovering the world of motion graphics Marani fell head over heels in love– finally, a medium where all of his interests could intersect to create whatever he imagined. As a man with a seemingly endless well of creativity, Marani has not only managed to stay ahead of the curve in the ever-evolving industry, but he’s also established himself as an innovative force.⁣

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GIF Created for Baskin Robbins by Emanuel Marani

 

Last month Marani earned a Bronze Award from the 99th annual ADC Awards for the opening title he designed for “The Morning Show,” which airs on Apple TV+ and stars household names Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell. Earlier on his career Marani was also recognized with numerous awards, including the PromaxBDA Silver and Bronze Awards, and the Silver and Bronze World Medals from New York Festivals for his work as a designer on the 2013 Italian promotional campaign for season eight of the hit series “Criminal Minds.”⁣

Over the years Marani has worked as a motion graphics designer for numerous TV networks such as Fox Channel Italy, MTV Germany, MTV Italy and Italy’s leading TV network RAI, as well as legendary studios including Elastic TV, Psyop LA, Buck LA , Man vs Machine LA, We Are Royale, Hello Scholar and more.⁣

Needless to say, Emanuele Marani is among the industry’s best and most experienced artists to shed a little light on the field of motion graphics. In our interview he fills us in on what goes into the job, some of the keys to success and above all, the importance of remaining authentic and staying true to yourself with your work. ⁣


So, what led you to motion graphics– how did you first discover the field?⁣

EM: When I was in high school I used to borrow my dad’s old reflex and camera to shoot photos and videos, and create short movies with friends. I felt a strong passion for drawing, but I felt really limited by having a still frame or a drawing as a form of my expression, this was a huge problem for me- I wanted to see what I had in my mind taking life. I was looking for something that was able to mix my passion for storytelling, drawing, photography and film.⁣

While researching film schools in Rome, I discovered an institute of design that was doing an exhibition with projects from recent graduates. It was in that moment that I discovered motion graphics, I instantly fell in love. Through motion graphics I found a way to mix all the different techniques that I’d always loved and create what I’d envisioned in my mind without any limits.⁣

For those who don’t know, can you tell us what a motion graphics designer does?⁣

EM: I can really only say what a motion graphic designer is for me from my perspective. The motion graphics designer has to know how to handle all the different techniques that will help develop the story. ⁣

So for me, it’s not a 3D artist, it’s not an illustrator, and it’s not an animator, but someone who does a bit of everything. But most of all, besides the technique, they have to know how to tell a story, and make that story interesting, to catch the attention of the viewer using the right design and language depending on what the story and the concept is about. They also have to know how to tell a story with the right timing and point of view. So basically for me a motion designer is both a designer and a director who has the power to create an interesting visual story.⁣

What is it about motion graphics design that you love?⁣

EM: That’s simple. The freedom that it gives you in terms of storytelling. There’s always the potential to find a way to tell the story you have in mind using different techniques, the only limit of motion graphics is your mind.⁣

Where do you get your inspiration from and how do you maintain your creative edge? ⁣

EM: This is a hard question. It’s hard to predict what can inspire me. I can talk about real inspiration, but that can be different from the creative process you have to deal with when you work on a project with a deadline.⁣

Creativity is something that’s born from your mind and your thoughts, so I can get inspiration from different things. Sometimes it can be music and the environment we are surrounded by, and other times it can be a person you’re talking with, a place you’re visiting, some specific image, painting or sculpture that gets your attention. Anything that makes my mind vibrate. The most important thing is to find a way to travel with your mind and your thoughts and let the inspiration come to you. Honestly, the times when I force myself to get inspired are the times I never find the inspiration. I think there are no rules about getting inspired, everyone has his one way. Creativity is about your individual mind, it’s about getting your thoughts to move freely… if your mind is not free I’m not sure you can be creative.⁣


Can you tell us what you feel is needed to be successful in the industry, how does someone set themselves apart?⁣

EM: When I started the industry was not as competitive, but over the years it’s become really hard to be successful and unique in this industry. I see a lot of really good designers, but also a lot of the same stuff.⁣ I think that more than anything the most important thing is to be yourself and follow what you really love. The saddest thing you can do is copy someone else, just because you see that kind of stuff is working doesn’t mean that you need to follow the same rules.⁣

It is rare to find someone with an original point of view and something interesting to represent. You can put a lot of creativity into a single frame, but this only comes if you follow yourself and what you really love, otherwise you’ll just be a boring copy of something else.⁣

The tool that can help you to be successful is yourself, not the techniques, but your creativity and your ideas. With all of the social networks and the way things are now, especially with instagram, so many people are interested and getting likes and followers so they just start to create things following the current hype, making what everyone else is making because that is the trend. I think that we need to take the time to stop and experiment by ourselves, to make mistakes and learn from them, and to step by step understand our unique characteristics that can make each of us unique, interesting and successful as individuals.⁣

What are some of the changes and advances the motion graphics industry has seen in recent years, how is the modern industry different than say, 10 years ago?⁣

EM: Yes sure. The industry has changed a lot. The technologies and the software right now are more accessible and easy to learn with a lot of tutorials online, and there’s huge power with the current software allowing you to develop something really professional from your home. You need to know a lot of technologies and techniques to stay competitive. The evolution has led the market to run faster and faster, and make the competition more intense, but it’s also given birth to a lot more studios and companies, which has two sides. On one side it is pretty positive since those who have talent are able to express themselves easily, and they have more opportunities to get noticed and start a career in this field. There are more work opportunities and the chance to prove yourself. On the negative side, or as I see it, is the risk of losing the creativity and originality in order to run and follow the rhythms of the market. There’s the risk of becoming just a machine that produces a product because there is less time to work on personal projects, to experiment and do what you need to in order to keep the creativity high.⁣

How do you stay up to date on the advances in the industry?⁣

EM: I think that really depends on what kind of jobs and projects you are looking to work on and your approach to the industry. In terms of the techniques and software, it’s starting to get harder year by year since there is alway a new release from the software house and the plug ins etc., so you just need to keep learning and understanding what’s going to be useful for you and what’s not, in order to stay competitive but also to use your time wisely and stay focused in the right direction. ⁣

You also need to stay updated about the design languages that are used in the present market. It’s not hard nowadays to stay updated on all of this. You can follow what the studios are releasing thanks to the online platforms, and some studios are more famous than others for experimenting and bringing something new that will automatically become the new trend. This is the fastest way to keep yourself up to date. But again, I’ll say that you should always continue to experiment by yourself in order to keep your mind fresh because if you lose your creativity, you’re going to lose your passion and your motivation.⁣


Can you tell us about one of your early jobs as a designer for Fox Italy? Why was this an important stepping stone for you and what were you doing for them?⁣

EM: I started working for Fox a few months after graduating from the European Institute of Design. At that time it was a huge company in Rome full of talented and creative people, and it was an innovative and professional environment to grow in as a designer. ⁣

I was working as motion designer for different Fox channels, creating graphic packages for their TV shows, but also short idents that gave me the chance to express myself and my creativity. The environment was amazing since the art directors let the designers freely present their ideas for the production of the graphics, and that was really important for me .⁣

I was working with people with years of experiences so I was able to learn a lot and grow quickly, and the professional level was really high since I was working for national television, which taught me how to create and present a high level product. Fox helped me refine and improve on what I’d learned at the institute of design. I was working within a small team of motion designers and art directors, and because the team was small each one of us had the opportunity to contribute from the initial phases of a creative brief. We used to share ideas and concepts, and we had the freedom to develop and experiment both by ourselves and under the supervision of our art directors, which allowed me to express myself at 100% and push myself over the limit every time a new brief came along.⁣


Can you tell us a little bit about the projects you worked on at Fox?⁣

EM: I worked on a lot of projects over the course of my four years with Fox, from little graphic packages for their TV shows to complex idents and huge campaigns. My role was to create all the graphic packages that went on air with a tv show, which include elements called bumpers, end pages, elevators, and idents. All of those elements have to represent the mood of the show, so I used to take a look at a few episodes in advance, come to an understanding of what kind of graphic and animation style was most suitable for the show, and then design and animate those elements. ⁣

A project that represents my work best was the graphic pack I created for “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” a TV show that was produced by Marvel for FOX . This graphic pack included a really cool ident I developed entirely by myself starting from the idea all the way to the final stages. That project was from 2014, but I’m still really proud about it and I can still consider that ident to be fresh and modern. ⁣


What do you hope to achieve in your career?⁣

EM: I’d love to keep doing what I do with passion and love, to be able to create new art and new projects that I can devote my creativity to– my main goal is to keep being creative and to have fun with my work. I think if you can do what you love you’ll achieve whatever you want. It can be from a position within a company or on your own, but always trying to do it with passion and fun.⁣

What advice would you give to those who aspire to do what you do?⁣

EM: Do it for fun, for passion and for your own satisfaction, and most of all, don’t take yourself too seriously, we are not saving lives here, we are artists.⁣

Renowned Events Coordinator Nathalie Woog Leads the Way in Events Planning

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International Events Coordinator Nathalie Woog

“There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other.”  -Douglas H. Everett

There are extraordinary party planners who create events that draw crowds in the hundreds through a combination of great music, enticing venues and eye-catching acts; and then there are corporate event organizers. While each needs to draw a crowd and make sure guests have one hell of a time, the latter of the two needs to deliver on a much larger scale. Providing an unforgettable experience to thousands of people compared to a mere hundred is an arguably more challenging feat, but it is one that Parisian corporate events organizer Nathalie Woog excels at at a global level.

Nathalie Woog founded Paradise Events in 2015, and has organized roughly 20 events in Florida, for high-profile clients and companies in the fields of advertising, design, finance, and insurance, as well as a host of other prestigious organizations.  In recognition of her achievements and standing as a business leader in her field, Nathalie Woog was recently selected to join the Forbes Business Council. An invitation-only organization, the Forbes Business Council is a high-profile professional community that brings together the most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders in the world. In order to be considered for acceptance, one has to be a proven owner, founder, or executive leader of a business who has generated at least $500,000 USD in annual revenue or funding.

Though Woog has clearly reached an astounding level of success in her field, with her acceptance into the Forbes Business Council being a mere one of the several accolades that reveal her shining reputation, creating innovative and unforgettable events is more than just a job for her, it is an art form and a challenge that never gets old.

I take this quest to organize innovative events more as a challenge, as a challenge to be taken up every time. There is never a rest, because when an event is held, you have to think about the next one, which must be even more innovative,” explains Nathalie Woog. 

“I need to be amazed at every event. If I am not, then the event is not innovative.  So I keep my eyes open all the time, I’m interested in everything that’s going on around me and I try to imagine possible combinations, with all the suppliers I come across, in each place I walk through, to find the unique concept that will hit the bull’s eye.”

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(Right to Left) Donel Jack’sman, Fary, Michael Guez, Nathalie Woog, and Kyan Khojandi at an event featuring famous artists at Cirque Phenix Paris (Photo by Libre Comme L’Art Agency Paris)

Nathalie Woog launched her career as a leading events director for the French multinational technology consulting and engineering company Alten in 1996. There, she spent nearly two decades knocking people’s socks off with the large scale events she created for the company, which employs over 25,000 people and has offices in 25 countries. 

When it comes to throwing large scale corporate events, the planner behind the scenes takes into account everything from the range of clientele the event is targeting to the personality of the brand and how to creatively meet the desires of both. But Nathalie Woog does more than just meet their desires, she brings a special kind of wow factor to every event that she creates. Doing more than just drawing in attendees, Nathalie Woog makes audiences feel like her events are something they cannot miss and ensures that they’re remembered long after they’ve passed.

“I always ask myself how to get as many participants as possible to join and participate in a particular event. How can I obtain general satisfaction on each of my events?,” explains Nathalie Woog. “I usually draw inspiration from my environment. I’ve always loved the world of shows and dance in all its forms. The performance of the athletes and especially the innovation, precisely in the shows and their staging … I have this ability to marvel every time I see a show, as children do, and I think that you have to look at your whole environment with children’s eyes to always keep this state of wonder.”

Initially, Nathalie Woog began as the corporate events director for an Alten subsidiary, but before long she was managing the events for 12 separate Alten subsidiaries, a role that led her to create events around the globe. Her talent for bringing together top-tier talents to recreate iconic spaces and deliver mesmerizing events placed her in a tier of her own. 

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Nathalie Woog front and center at an event she organized at the Paris Air Show Bourget

Over the years, Nathalie Woog has created, managed and overseen events at some of the world’s most prestigious venues, such as the Grand Palais in Paris in France, where her event garnered more than 5,000 attendees, as well as at The Zenith de Paris, The International Paris Air Show Bourget, The Eiffel Tower, The Opéra Garnier, The Palais de Tokyo, The Louvre, The Musée d’Orsay, The Coupole du Printemps Haussmann, The Cirque d’Hiver, The Château de Versailles, Chantilly, Cirque Phenix, The Fouquet’s, Chez Maxim’s, L’Atelier des Chefs, The Musée National des Invalides, and more.

“Since I was a child, I have always been attracted to going out, discovering new places, finding original activities to do, discovering friendly and festive places and above all, meeting many people and socializing,” admits Nathalie Woog. “I’m always in search of exceptional places to organize events, conventions, seminars, evenings, conferences, fairs, and incentive travel.”

In addition to having an expansive contact list that includes many of the most well-known venues across the globe, Nathalie Woog has an eye for talent, and she’s inexhaustibly on the lookout for the next big act to include in her events. Over the years, she’s managed to recruit internationally in-demand acts for her events, such as Gad Elmaleh, Bérengère Krief, Jérome Daran, Dany Boon, French actor Donel Jack’sman, Verino, Eric et Ramzy, Fary, Michael Guez, Jean Marc Dumontet Productions, Jerome Sordillon and Michael Levinas, and more.

“The choice of location remains a must for me. Choosing prestigious, mythical or inaccessible places to open to the public is my motto. One of my private events held at the Grand Palais de Paris in 2008, for 5000 people, was just incredible because it was very difficult to imagine such a grandiose place transformed for one evening into a private reception and scripted for 5000 people,” explains Nathalie Woog. “The adrenaline you feel every time you start an event is something exhilarating. And of course, the thanks of the participants at the end of each event is always very rewarding.”

For Nathalie Woog, who has established a shining reputation as a leading corporate events organizer over the past two decades, throwing unforgettable events is what makes her heart sing. Hailing from Paris and born into a family of artists, Nathalie Woog discovered early on what connotes creative appeal and it shows in her work. Something unique about her story is the fact that in her early 20s she was diagnosed with incurable Leukaemia, and though none of her doctors thought she would survive, she proved her fighting nature. 

“It was then in shock, and with courage, that I decided to fight with strength and conviction, having only one objective in mind–surviving and living to achieve great projects,” recalls Nathalie Woog. “To the general surprise of the medical profession, I won my one year battle for life, and decided to use this experience where I came close to death, as a personal force, to lead in my wake, all the people who would now be with me, in order to disperse the joy of living.”

After beating Leukemia, Nathalie Woog dedicated her life to following her passion, which centers around brightening the lives of those around her, something she’s managed to achieve through her work in the events sector. Through her work as an events specialist creating large-scale international events for huge international companies, Nathalie Woog’s innovative approach and continued success has led her to establish a shining reputation over the past 15 years. With a reputation that precedes her, her role has extended beyond creating events to the point where other leaders in the industry turn to her as a consultant for advice when organizing their own events.

While working with Alten, Nathalie Woog has regularly been invited as a judge for various opportunities for the organization where she was part of the jury in charge of selecting the best events and event service providers. She was also the lead reference for the company when it came to establishing specialized guidelines for organizing the company’s events, which were disseminated throughout the organization’s team of communication professionals and ushered her into a speaking role at conferences where she has shared her knowledge of the industry with others.

Nathalie Woog adds, “I also had the privilege of presenting at conferences in universities throughout France, exposing the best practices in the field of event communication.”

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Nicolas Laugero Lasserre, Nathalie Woog, and ZDEY at the Art Basel Icart Event in Miami at Sagamore Hotel Miami Beach

In 2015, Nathalie Woog started her own event company, Paradise Events, in Miami. Through Paradise Events, she has spearheaded numerous events, including those for EFAP ICART at Art Basel. In 2018, she facilitated the meeting of 10 world renowned artists during Art Basel Miami, where each of the artists painted live during the event in front of an audience of professionals in the artistic sector.

Nathalie Woog says, “During my 15 years of experience prior to founding Paradise Events, I was able to see all possible situations in terms of requests, customers, suppliers, management, and unforeseen events.  You have to have a strong heart to face all these elements. You have to know how to manage stress, both your own and that of the people you work with, customers or suppliers.”

Based on her professional integrity and the significant impact she’s had in the field of events organization and management, Nathalie Woog was recently elected as the Vice President of Events for the 2020 Board of Directors for SITE, the Society for Incentive Travel, for the Florida and Caribbean Chapter. Founded in 1973, SITE is a professional association of 2,000 senior level members located in 90 countries, working in corporations, agencies, airlines, cruise companies and across the entire destination supply chain. With 29 chapters around the world, SITE is the only global organization dedicated to strengthening and supporting the incentive travel industry, and as such, the organization has gone to great lengths to fund research and establish guidelines on sustainable travel.

As the new Vice President of Events for the Florida and Caribbean Chapter, Woog’s role as a chapter leader places her in charge of promoting all of the events for her chapter and ensuring that they are educational, while also maintaining the ethical standards of what constitutes sustainable travel in today’s market.

“Being part of this association is a privilege because it gives me the opportunity to communicate with more than 2,000 personalities from the world of travel and events,” says Nathalie Woog. “I can bring all my knowledge in travel and events, all my expertise, give advice, and participate in many networking events, and organize interesting big events.” 

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Site Florida & Caribbean Sustainable Meeting Event at the 1 Hotel Miami South Beach (Photo by Christie’s Photographic Solutions)

While there are countless event organizers across the globe, there remain few that have made it to the point of creating events on the scale that Nathalie Woog has, so it’s no surprise that SITE chose her as the new Vice President of Events for their Florida & Caribbean Chapter.

At the end of the day, Nathalie Woog says, “My overall creative philosophy is to always have your eyes open, to be generous with others, to know how to give a person a chance, to let yourself be won over by emotions and to have the desire to pass them on to others, and finally, to have this constant desire to share, because happiness is above all to read it on the faces of others. That’s what matters most to me in the world.”

 

 

Transforming the Food, Beverage and Nightlife Industry: the Journey of Villa Azur Owner Jean Philippe Bernard 

Aristotle famously wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not a single act, but a habit.” For French restaurateur and nightlife impresario Jean-Philippe Bernard, co-owner of Azur Hospitality Group, excellence is a cornerstone of his life’s work, which in a nutshell, consists of creating unforgettable experiences for guests across the globe.

Jean Philippe & Paul Young
Jean-Philippe and Paul Young

As one of the first people in the industry to meld an atmosphere of fine dining and nightlife into a single locale nearly 30 years ago, Bernard has had a massive impact on the food and beverage industry; and he’s continued his legacy with Villa Azur. Bernard began Villa Azur Miami, Azur Hospitality Group’s first restaurant, back in 2012 alongside partners Michael Martinez and famous actor Olivier Martinez, who many will recognize as Halle Berry’s boyfriend. 

A destination for fine food, great music and a rare ambience that transports restaurant goers into a world of flawlessly fresh Mediterranean magic the second they step foot inside the door, Villa Azur quickly became one of the posh beach city’s hot spots, attracting the likes of Paris Hilton, Robin Thicke, Leonardo Di Caprio, Ronaldo, Gael Monfils, Gabriella Sabatini, Florent Pagny, Johnny Halliday, Eric Cohet, Enrique Iglesias, Gerard Butler, Adriana Lima, Donatella Versace, David Guetta, Bob Sinclar, Gerard Depardieu, amongst others. 

Bernard has constructed Villa Azur in a way that places it in a league of its own; however, long before opening Villa Azur he was already one of the biggest influencers in the nightlife and food world. His hospitality concepts with Villa Azur, Nikki Beach, and Le Patio, to name only a few, have had a lasting impact on the development of new trends and international hotspots.

“If you want success for a business like this in hospitality, spectacular food is a priority, and then the decoration, so you’re coming into a space and you have beautiful decorations, and finally, you have to have great service,” explains Bernard. 

“When you have this combination you create the right atmosphere. Then you bring in the music, and you can catch people, they feel comfortable, you can see them moving with the music, they really feel free to dance on tables and enjoy themselves.”

Villa Azur
Inside Villa Azur Miami

Bernard has a unique affinity for creating a comfortable, yet luxurious atmosphere, which shows through his work with the famous Nikki Beach Group, where he was a part of the leadership responsible  for opening and developing Nikki Beach St. Tropez, St. Barth and Miami, as well as opening the popular Corsican restaurant lounge Le Patio and more. 

Now, three decades into his career, it would be difficult to find a posh restaurant owner, impresario or foodie who doesn’t know his name. From creating the ambiance of the places he’s managed and owned through the decor and lighting to the cocktails and cuisine, to the party themes and music, and putting in place the perfect team, Bernard creates the kinds of experiences that guests will never forget.

“Jean-Philippe is a 360 degree person, he knows about the hospitality on both sides from a customer experience point of view, as well as on the operation side of things,” says Celia Serra, the director of operations for the world famous Nikki Beach Group. 

“Being so knowledgeable in so many different areas gives him a full overview of any hospitality venue… Normally in our business people are only good on one side of the business, not on both.”

Bernard began carving out his reputation as a nightlife impresario back in 1989 when, at the age of 19, he was asked to help open the Le Passport nightclub in France.

“A friend of mine was buying a nightclub and he asked me to help him. I’d never worked in a nightclub but he knew I was really conscious of everything I did,” Bernard explains. When I start something I do it correctly or I don’t do it. I very quickly understood how the nightlife worked and knew it was an area I wanted to get involved in.”

On top of creating the menu and cocktails and booking the DJs that appealed to the clientele, Bernard created  the ordering system, service bar, and the additional front and back of the house positions that turned Le Passport into a buzzing nightclub. It wasn’t long before his reputation expanded beyond Marseille. 

He explains, “After that people started to know about me because the nightclub was doing super well… and then I was asked to start running another nightclub and then a restaurant…”

It wasn’t long before the general director of Nikki Beach Group, asked Bernard to join them as the General Manager of Nikki Beach St. Tropez, opening this beach club and eventually Nikki Beach St. Barth. 

With destinations around the world, Nikki Beach is known for its opulent atmosphere and is often referred to as the first luxury beach club concept to combine elements of  music, dining, entertainment, fashion, film and art all in one

With Bernard as the GM, Nikki Beach St. Tropez was hosting 1200 to 1500 guests per day, making it the most popular beach club around. Famous celebrities like Puff Daddy, Beyonce, Brad Pitt, Mike Tyson, Sting, Mick Jagger, Michael Schumacher and other international jet-setters were in frequent attendance.

He recalls, “It was the place to be and it was the place to be seen.”

Bernard attributes much of Nikki Beach’s success to the fact that for literally the first time in the industry, the venue offered both a comfortable and luxurious atmosphere combined with fabulous entertainment and incredible food. 

“The decoration was Bali, Indonesia inspired, the chairs, cabanas and sun beds with the white and blue, beautiful drapes, but what made us the best was the food. Because it was a beach club where people were coming to party, but they wanted to eat and they wanted to eat well,” explains Bernard. 

“Our chef was spectacular and I was really aware of the dishes, just because you are on the beach, it doesn’t mean you are going to eat sandwiches.”

As the GM, Bernard was in charge of nearly everything about the beach club. He decided the menu and cocktail list, created theme-based parties for his guests, and developed new experiences for his ever-growing high-class clientele. Above all though, he was there to ensure that they turned a strong profit, handling the business side of things and constructing a passionate team to making sure Nikki Beach remained the best in its class. He also managed the Nikki Beach pop-ups at prestigious film festivals around the world, including those at the Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival and Venice Film Festival.

Being a lover of new challenges, Bernard joined a friend and opened Le Patio in Porto-Vecchio on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica. Le Patio soon proved to be another major accomplishment under his belt.

He recalls,  “It was 2004 and I was the first one to bring a live DJ to that part of town in Porto-Vecchio.”

When he began Le Patio it was a simple bar, but Bernard quickly turned it into a happening spot that attracted numerous French celebrities. Using his eye for decor, Bernard transformed the look of Le Patio by adding a chic lounge atmosphere, resplendent lighting and an enticing cocktails and tapas menu designed for people to enjoy their evening before hitting the nightclubs.  

Now 16 years later, Le Patio remains a go to spot for Corsicans and travelers from abroad who want to settle into a comfortable space surrounded by traditional Corsican architecture with a modern feel, delicious cocktails, food and great music.

It seems that above all, Bernard has a keen eye for trends and creating a captivating atmosphere that people want. After Le Patio, Bernard returned to Nikki Beach, where he would spend the next nine years as General Manager for Nikki Beach St. Tropez, St. Barth and finally Nikki Beach Miami.

In 2011, Bernard left his position with the group in order to devote his full attention to opening Villa Azur, and what he’s created since is nothing short of amazing. 

Bernard fused an upscale dining atmosphere and a “nightclub” together, something that was unheard of before he began his work as a restaurateur and nightlife impresario back in the 90s. 

Villa Azur offers the finest cuisine and a luxury lounge atmosphere, then transitions effortlessly at night into a go-to spot for live music and dancing.

There’s no doubt that Bernard knows exactly how to turn any space into the ‘it’ place to be, and that’s exactly what he’s done with Villa Azur. Shortly after opening, Villa Azur Miami was ranked by Haute Living as one of the Top 5 Most Romantic Restaurants in Miami 2013.

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Villa Azur Miami

Bernard says, “There’s one very important thing when you do this job and that is that ‘No’ doesn’t exist. You are here to make people happy, you want them to leave with a smile and already start thinking ‘when am I coming back.’ We have to do our best to make whatever they want possible, and 99 percent of the time we are able to deliver on their request.”

Bernard ensured Villa Azur made its way into the public eye in a big way through his creation of numerous pop-ups around the world, including those in Montréal, Toronto, New York City, Art Basel Miami, and more, all featuring a variation of their signature dishes and cocktails amidst an unforgettable party. 

Over the course of his 30 year career, Jean-Philippe Bernard’s passion, innovation and inexhaustible attention to detail in terms of developing a mouth watering cuisine and a luxurious atmosphere backed by the kind of entertainment that draws guests from around the world have made him one of the most prominent restaurateur and impresarios on the planet; and he shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. Before his arrival on the scene back in the 90s, the concept of a festive restaurant where people could simultaneously enjoy the nightlife and fine food didn’t exist; but thanks to Bernard, it has become the staple of what constitutes an unforgettable night on the town.

Campbell Greenock: One of a Kind in More Ways Than One

Campbell Greenock is a great example of the new wave of young actors marking their acting spots on different platforms and mediums in Australia and throughout the world. The star of online thriller series Collapse, currently streaming on Stareable, and The Life and Times of Jeff, has certainly made an impression that is not unfamiliar given the way Aussies have carved out a place in the international entertainment industry – consistently punching above their weight. These days, more and more Aussies are taking over starring roles in major US TV and movie productions and taking the top of the credit roll in the process. 

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Campbell Greenock, shot by Sally Flegg.

The talent, originally from Heath Ledger’s home city of Perth, boasts the same agents as Chris and Liam Hemsworth, and knows how to breathe life into his roles with just the right portion of exposing the vulnerability of his character and does it well. Mastering his talent, he has appeared in a lot of films that have paved him the way towards an international career path. 

One of the most memorable leads he has performed so far was Brett Whiteley in the hit feature, Whiteley, which portrays the outstanding life of an Australian icon who has shaped the art world as we know it.  

Taking on the role was a no-brainer for Campbell, yet also somewhat intimidating.

Whenever you are playing a real-life person, as an actor, you want to give it your all to do that person justice,” Campbell notes.

“Those parts in particular require a whole lot of research and studying the material on the subject of the story which eventually will pay off. It is absolutely necessary to familiarize with the character as much as possible so that I understand that person’s mentality. In my opinion, it’s critical for an actor to prepare for roles like these in order to deliver an authentic performance.”

Distilling his thoughts even further, Campbell remarks: “It was an honor to be part of keeping the legendary Brett alive.

Naturally, this doesn’t apply to all sorts of roles. Campbell should know, since he is known for accepting parts that are nothing alike to previous ones he has played. It is a risky challenge that could go wrong but the challenge in each of those performances only further boosts his confidence.

Throwing myself into roles that I have never taken on before keeps me on my feet and constantly refining my acting skills,” the unique red-head humbly notes.

He can currently be seen on the hit 9Go! comedy series ‘Metro Sexual’, starring alongside comedian Geraldine Hickey (RRR ‘Breakfasters’, Tonightly). The story is set in a disaster-prone sexual health clinic. The show is filmed in a mockumentary format and follows the lives of the sardonic personnel as it navigates government cuts and all sorts of diseases. 

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Campbell as Toby in the Channel Nine/Go! series, Metro Sexual.

These are merely a few of his many accomplishments in the industry that have catapulted his career to heights he had only dreamed of when he was only a young performing arts student in his home country. 

What comes next for the ambitious actor? 

At this point, one thing is for certain, Campbell won’t have much free time as he has received many offers for projects shooting in the United States. Some of these are due to film in the City of Angels itself, boasting a producing team who have worked with the likes of Lucy Fry and Kong: Skull Island actor Thomas Mann. In the meantime, viewers can catch Campbell’s talents in the thriller series Collapse on Stareable, co-starring fellow Aussie star Cooper van Grootel. 

When asked about how Hollywood has already embraced him, before he has even worked there, Campbell simply states: “I am utterly excited to collaborate with Hollywood’s elite and star in big productions that give me the opportunity to contribute to create the best possible content across all media platforms.

It won’t be hard to keep your eyes open for this Aussie – there’ll be many reasons to across the next few years. 

Polish model Joanna Borov: Not Just a Pretty Face

As the media landscape changes on a continual basis, so do the standards which have long defined beauty since the birth of modern media. Once considered the apex of traditional femininity, beauty pageants specifically have had to find a different place in the market in such ways that resonate with the traditions of times past, and point towards the future. 

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World Beauty Queen Poland Joanna Borov as captured by Monto Fashion Photographer, wearing a gown by Iris Rodriguez.

Multi-award winning beauty pageant queen Joanna Borov is the perfect example of how beauty pageants are not the hallmarks of women vying for attention, but empowered creative individuals who have found an empowering platform for their interest in philanthropy and fashion. The busy jet-setter, who was awarded a Masters degree in Fashion from the University of Arts London, has kindly offered us her insights into how her career, pageants and fashion have coalesced.

“I have been very lucky to build a lot of publicity and popularity throughout Europe, South America and Asia for my participation in a number of pageants, it’s helped me forge some incredible collaborative relationships with a number of people I admire.” 

One of those people is innovative and acclaimed fashion designer Will Franco, an industry powerhouse with whom Joanna will collaborate on a number of campaign and publicity related duties in the United States. 

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Joanna (right) and celebrated fashion designer Will Franco (left), with whom she has already established a successful business relationship and will build on this further in the United States this year.

“Will’s company asserts itself in the market in a really creative way, and it’s truly empowering to be a part of it as a model – not just a face, but someone actively involved in the creative strategy of campaigns and business,” Joanna elaborates. 

Further into our discussion, Joanna explains how Will spotted her because she won prizes at many notable beauty pageants, including World Beauty Queen and Miss Motors Formula 1, the latter of which lead her to being profiled in 32 magazines worldwide and 15 TV stations, including ITV, BBC and CNN. The annual event, which boasted the attendance of celebrities like Luke White and Jordan Wright, has enjoyed sponsors and company association such as BMW, Lamborghini London, Luxor Gold and Pilsner London. 

“I felt very lucky to be a part of that event,” Borov explains. 

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Joanna as Miss Motors Formula 1, alongside reality television star Kurtis Hartman.

To be given a prize by the Miss Motors Formula 1, which hosts over 200 casting sessions throughout Europe to find its eventual winner, is no small feat – the winner is awarded a trip to the Monaco Grand Prix worth £10 000, material awards from sponsors, an opportunity to participate in Grand Prix all over the world including in the UK and Abu Dhabi, press exposure, and an invitation to many prestigious events throughout Europe. 

In an even stronger testament to how well-respected she is in the arts industry, Joanna has been asked to judge beauty pageant too – further cementing her status as one of Europe’s top models. 

Of course, it’s not just a series of photoshoots and catwalks which has lead to a watershed career moment such as this. Joanna, as someone focused on more than just physical beauty, has had to develop meaningful business relationships with key creatives, understand advertising, appreciate and perfect skills in brand ambassadorships, and ultimately position herself as a conduit through which the public and consumers see themselves. 

It is this universal appeal that has positioned her to be the face of Will Franco’s upcoming winter collection and beyond, requiring her to star in a number of fashion shows, commercial photo shoots, billboards and editorials centering around LA Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week and face-to-face presenting collections within and outside the United States over the next three years. 

The distinguished nature of Will’s company is self-evident. After graduating with honors in Fashion Design and Merchandising in CSULB, Franco has shown at LA Fashion Week, Palm Springs Fashion Week, London Fashion Week, New York fashion Week and featured in New Face Magazine, Vuez Magazine New York, Elegant Magazine and Teen Cruze. The list, as it were, goes on, exhaustingly so – but not too exhausting for someone with the one-of-a-kind and incredible talents and work ethic of Joanna Borov. 

“My parents always told me to never rest on my laurels, and I think it’s important to match skill and talent with ambition and hard-work,” she says. 

This hard work was most obviously reflected in her judging experience in Argentina, where she was invited to oversee and evaluate the merits of top South American models participating in Miss Film Festival International Argentina 2019.

backstage photo from a photo session for Urban Look Cosmetics with World Beauty Queen Taiwan
Joanna with Taiwan’s representative at World Beauty Queen, promoting Urban Cosmetics.

Other judges, which reinforce the esteemed standing of Borov’s career, were Miss Universe Argentina 2015 Claudia Barrionauevo, international journalist Renato Russo and assisted by the presenting styles of Argentinian star Hernan Drago. 

“It was very fun,” Borov explains. What was most exciting for Joanna was how she was able to support another model rising through the ranks as she did years prior, as the winner was flown to the Cannes Film Festival. 

Supported by the local government, and sponsored by many brands including Bodega Puna, Dakota and others, the event was screened on live TV and profiled by Argentinian news and magazines, further elevating Borov’s profile in the region.  

“I’m excited to perhaps do more of that type of work in the future, but for now, I want to enjoy the start of my work with Will, and other endeavours in the US – it’s a great time to be a part of a changing industry,” Joanna states with a smile.

 

European star Alina Nastase on breaking into the US market.

Upon meeting Alina Nastase, her bubbly and warm nature is immediately apparent. 

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Alina Nastase, shot by Jonathan Stoddard. 

“I’ve always liked meeting new people, it’s why I’m an actress. I’m curious about how other people live their lives, and what motivates them to make certain decisions that will make them who they are, and that’s amazing to be able to explore and learn from it in my own life too”  

The Ginger beauty speaks with the hint of an accent, a distinct marker of her Romanian-Spanish heritage which is clearly becoming an attractive feature in generating the interest of directors and producers who are clamoring to work with her. 

“It is hard to learn the American English accent initially, but I am very lucky that I can speak multiple languages and work as an actor all over the world. The challenge of learning other languages has  ultimately been worth it, and i’m motivated to keep learning more languages” 

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Alina Nastase on set for her latest TV series, La Valle. 

Indeed, Nastase’s multilingual capabilities are one of many characteristics which sets her apart from other actors who might simply trade on their looks. Nastase craves the exploration of human empathy and imagination in serving her roles. This hunger has unsurprisingly led her to being signed on for some exciting projects shooting in the United States.  

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Alina Nastase at the premiere of Vampyres, a role which has built her a huge fan base. Her profile in the film industry amongst fans is what has lead to her casting in US projects (photographer unkown).

Her managers and agents speak proudly when discussing their client, as they recall first impressions on their big expectations when they first signed the committed artist. These agents are the same who have also helped facilitate her engagements in two feature films shooting across the US. Each will make the most of Nastase’s European heritage and give the actress an opportunity to showcase her range. 

The first involves her working with producers who have previously collaborated with Funny or Die, in a feature film titled Reunion. The second, a sci-fi drama, called The Next Earth, which poses the question of how humanity can survive if planet Earth as we know it does not. 

The fact Alina is due to be working in different genres and exploring completely different characters is nothing new to European audiences, as existing in the polarity of these extremes is one of the hallmarks of her career. 

Indeed, she has flourished in comedic roles before – as she did in the Warner Bros’ feature Villaviciosa de a Lado where she played the memorable character Simone, a prostitute with a heart of gold. 

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Alina on-screen (right) with legendary Spanish actress Carmen Machi (left) in Warner Bros’ comedy hit, Villaviciosa de a Lado.

“I loved that movie so much – it was so much fun and everyone was so nice. I love comedies like this one, especially because this one was based on a true story” 

Alina’s portrayal of Simone as a naive and warmhearted person went against both the writers’ and producers’ expectations, so much so that out of the hundreds of girls who auditioned, it was only she who could have played the role. 

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Alina (third from left) at the premiere for mega-hit comedy, Villaviciosa de a Lado. 

The experience in comedy will serve the actress well when she steps up to play Brittany Smyth in Reunion, where she will play the more beautiful and successful version of a character in a story that will explore success and why similar people with similar attributes still find varying levels of success. 

“I am very excited about Reunion – it should be a lot of fun.” 

Alina’s experience in the sci-fi world has set a strong foundation for another upcoming role in the US, in the project The Next Earth. Indeed, she notable appeared in the dark fantasy drama Vampyres in the starring role of Ann.

Vampyres” was a hard shoot because it was emotionally demanding, but the pay-off was worth it.” 

Shooting across Tulsa and California for The Next Earth will also allow Nastase to explore parts of the US as a tourist, as much as an artist. 

“I love exploring different parts of the world, that’s what is so great about being an actor.”

Cinematographer Xavier Dolléans Captures New French Series “Mental”

Xavier Dolléans
Xavier Dolléans shot by Fabien Malot

There are so many pivotal contributors that come into play in the creation of a film or television series. While the director envisions the narrative story and the actors become the characters that bring that story to life, it is the cinematographer who directs the lighting and wields his camera in a way that creates the kind of visual story that dazzles our eyes.

A proven master behind the lens, French director of photography Xavier Dolléans knows exactly how to construct the lighting and capture each shot in a way that draws the audience into the unfolding story on the screen.

Xavier is the cinematographer behind the newly released French TV series “Mental” starring Horrorfest Award winner Constantin Vidal (“Mortel”), Marie-Aude Barrez (“A Billion to One”), La Rochelle TV Award winning actress Alicia Hava (“Plus Belle La Vie”) and Louis Peres. 

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Poster for “Mental”

Premiering in October on Slash TV, France Télévision’s digital platform, “Mental” has generated quite a buzz among international viewers with its engaging story, which Xavier captured brilliantly.  Revealing truths about what it’s like to actually be institutionalized, “Mental” takes audiences into the lives of four young patients living in a psychiatric ward where their new found friendships with one another prove to be more potent and healing than the medicine administered. 

Working closely with director Slimane-Baptiste Berhoun to determine the best way to capture the story, Xavier skillfully set up each shot sequence in a way that brings us closer to the characters and deeper into their story. From the lighting to the framing to fluidity of the camera movements, Xavier’s work behind the camera endow “Mental” with a visual tone that is raw, powerful and uniquely intriguing. 

Xavier, who shot “Mental” using the Sony Venice, which he chose for its ability to cleanly capture deep low lighting, says that a key aspect in his camera work for “Mental” was being able to maintain a wide angle view whilst getting as close to the actors as possible. He explains that this technique helped “give the feeling that we are in the [character’s] head and at the same time give the viewer the feeling that something weird is going to happen.” 

The story begins with Marvin, played by Vidal, a 17-year-old boy who arrives in the hospital accompanied by police. Over the course of the first episode we begin to understand that Marvin’s criminal issues stem from a mental illness, and as the series unfolds, we begin to see what life is like for young patients living in a mental institution. 

Though the first season is only partly under way, “Mental” has gained extensive industry attention and has already taken home its first award, the prestigious La Rochelle TV Award for Best Television Series from the 2019 Festival de la Fiction TV.

With his career as a cinematographer spanning more than two decades, over which he’s earned numerous awards for his work including the Best Cinematography Award from the 2016 Warsaw Independent Film Festival for the film “Rocambolesque,” Best Cinematography Award from the 2017 Slum Film Festival for the film “Animal” and the Festival Prize for Best Cinematography at the 2015 Festival Alto Vicentino for his work on the film “Mecs Meufs” aka “Guys Girls,” Xavier is well versed in both the creative and technical aspects of capturing the stories that enthrall us on screen. 

With his body of work spanning every genre and format imaginable, Xavier has amassed unparalleled knowledge of what’s needed in terms of lighting, framing and pacing, as well as the technical equipment required to nail each shot, in order to seamlessly bring each story to life in a way that does justice to the story. Whereas directors often become known for the overarching style that connects their body of work, the power of a cinematographer rests in their capacity to adapt their style to creatively deliver the vision and vibe of each production.

For Xavier, it is important to approach each project from a different standpoint as no two stories are the same; and with his seasoned knowledge of cinematography at his disposal, he has the rare capacity to bring a new flavor to each project depending on the director’s vision. When it came to shooting “Mental” one of the unique approaches he brought to the table was configuring the Sony Venice with an extension module that allowed him to detach from the sensor, making the rig light enough that he was able to move with the actors and improvise as they shot each scene.

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Xavier Dolléans with actress Ayumi Roux in “Mental” shot by Thomas Gros

“I think every cinematographer is different. You have different ‘families,’ some more technical, some more artistic, and everything in between. I think my strongest quality as a cinematographer is my sensitivity,” admits Xavier.” My sensitivity to interpret the director’s vision. Then, because of my experience on tv series I know I can be very fast and efficient with minimal equipment and crew without scaring the quality. And I always try to discover new techniques. Reinventing myself is a challenge I want to have every day.”

Xavier is also the cinematographer behind the mega-hit series “Skam France,” which has reached more than 80 million viewers, and is slated to release season 5 later this year. Xavier has shot every episode of the popular series, which follows five teenagers as they traverse the highs, lows and tumultuous dramas of high school and stars Axel Auriant (“Jamais Contente”), Théo Christine (“War of the Worlds”), Lula Cotton-Frapier (“Bula”) and Marilyn Lima (“Hungry for Love”).

As it is with any of the world’s top cinematographers, lighting and color are of extreme importance to Xavier. The way a scene is lit and its dominant color schemes set the visual tone and create an energy the audience can feel, and it’s something Xavier paid quite a bit of attention to for “Skam France,” especially seasons 3 and 4. 

“This show is full of energy… most of the time we are very close to the actors, so it is important to me that they appear at their best. I’m very sensitive about the lighting of the faces… On season 3 and 4 we worked with colors a lot to create a world that suited every character,” explained Xavier. 

“Elliot’s world is tenebrous and he brings Lucas into it…. for every sequence involving Elliot, everything was darker in terms of lighting and set design. With Assa on season 4, things were a bit different. She was very often alone, isolated and at the same time at a school full of people. I decided to use a specific thin full-frame cinematography depth of field to emphasize this loneliness. I really used the lens aperture as a tool to give the viewer the ability to feel the level of loneliness in each sequence.” 

Xavier’s experience shooting hundreds of episodes of hit TV shows, such as “Mental,” “Red Shadows” and “Skam France,” require him to work quickly under pressure while simultaneously ensuring the highest cinematic value of the production, something he is able to achieve thanks to numerous decades in the industry. 

He is undoubtedly among the small handful of not only France’s top cinematographers, but those in the world. Aside from being praised with several awards for his individual contributions to the historical comedy film “Rocambolesque,” Xavier’s skill behind the lens helped the film take home numerous other awards, including the Audience Award from the Paris BD6Né and Rouen Film Festivals, and the film “Animal” to earn several other awards from the Slum Film Festival, FEFFS Strasbourg Film Festival, Dublin Sci-Fi Festival, Audincourt’s Bloody Weekend and more.

At the end of the day, Xavier admits, “I think my favorite projects are the ones where I have the most possibilities to express myself visually.”

 

British Actress Liane Grant’s Work Celebrates Diversity and Reflects Strength in Versatility

Actress Liane Grant
Actress Liane Grant shot by Michael Wharley

British actress Liane Grant is a prime example of the direction the acting profession is taking in the 21st century, working effortlessly between stage and screen, taking on commercially-relevant and socially-aware roles, switching between countries, accents, eras and even genders. 

Having firmly resolved to become an actress at the young age of 13, Grant’s subsequent 15-year career has seen her portraying a plethora of diverse characters such as an American police officer, the fictional British madam Mrs. Warren and even the Roman emperor, Julius Caesar. 

I’ve always prided myself on being versatile,” said Grant, reflecting on her more than 30 global credits as a thespian. “I’ve performed in classical, contemporary, all types of comedies, and drama… I’ve done theater, commercials, films… I’ve played young, old, beautiful, ugly, men, women, and I’ve used multiple accents along the way.”

actress Liane Grant
Still of actors Rick Kissack and Liane Grant

Born in Gibraltar off Spain’s coast to British parents, Grant studied acting in the UK and USA, and has starred in several award-winning productions on both sides of the Atlantic such as the dystopian play “Half Me, Half You,” which ran in New York, as well as the UK, and the hit feature film “Gypo” in the UK.

Grant, a British Caucasian actress with blue eyes and blonde hair, wrote and played the starring role of Meredith in “Half Me, Half You” opposite African-American actress Jennifer Fouche, who played the role of Jess, an award-winning production that allowed Grant to not only showcase her acting range, but her writing prowess as well. 

Both actresses received awards at the play’s debut at the Fresh Fruit Festival in New York in July 2018 with Grant scooping up the Outstanding Playwright Award and Fouche, who previously starred in the popular American TV series “Quantico” and “Jessica Jones,” taking home the Outstanding Featured Performer Award.

“Meredith’s complex and messy, funny and cutting, loving and cold, fierce and weak… she and I differ on a fundamental level on some of the deepest things,” said Grant. “As an actor, we crave parts that allow us to show versatility.”

Whilst her starring credits tend to focus more on the theater, Grant first came into her own as an actor with her role in the 2005 British feature film “Gypo” directed by the award-winning female British filmmaker Jann Dunn. With “Gypo” taking home the British Independent Film Award for Best Achievement in Production, as well as numerous other awards and nominations, the project, in which Grant portrayed a key role as a ruthless bully, proved to be a strong acting debut for her.

As an actress who craves versatility, the role offered unique challenges on multiple levels, especially considering her own personal experience with bullying.

“At school I was a very good student and did really well, but I was bullied mercilessly for most of my school years, so I spent a lot of my time feeling quite lonely,” said Grant, who did her formal education in the UK.

“When I was finally able to study theatre in secondary school I found an amazing theatre teacher, and being an actor himself, he really encouraged my choice of acting as a career… this certainly made all the difference, given several other teachers had laughed in my face.”

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Robert Frimston, Liane Grant and Jonathan Wooldridge in “Richard II”

In a way, that subtle push from one of her coaches early on, was a gift that solidified the fact that Grant was on the right path; any viewer who has seen her perform since will be grateful that  Grant received that early encouragement as she’s one actress we can’t help but take our eyes off every time she hits the stage or screen.

In her stage career, Grant has built up many credits in plays with all-female ensembles and productions, from playing the title role in William Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar” to “Taken in Marriage” and “Half Me, Half You.”

“Half Me, Half You director Leah Fogo explains, “Liane has a unique ability to empathize with vastly different people which makes her a great asset to any project… she has raw talent but has learned many skills to harness it and bring it to the next level. She is very dedicated in the search for her character.”

Actress Liane Grant
Actress Liane Grant as Meredith in “Half Me, Half You”

Working with an all-female cast and majority female crew, Grant not only wrote and starred in “Half Me, Half You,” but she produced the acclaimed production through her production company, RoL’n Productions, which she founded several years ago in an aim to provide opportunities to females in the performing arts.

“There is a very special energy in the room when a group of women come together to create something, and this unspoken but deep understanding of the additional hurdles we’ve all had to climb to get there,” said Grant. 

“I suppose, especially in the current climate of female empowerment, the connection we have as females from all walks of life, coming together and lifting each other up, sharing our gifts with each other, is really quite special.”

From the classic plays of William Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw to those she’s written herself, acting is Grant’s life’s work and passion, and it’s one that she is clearly dedicated to for the long-term with her performing prowess leading her to follow in the footsteps of British acting luminaries like Dame Judi Dench and Dame Emma Thompson.

Emergency LA
Poster for the series “Emergency: LA”

“Acting is not a solo support, it is without question a team effort, and the better the team, the better your performance, and the end product as a whole,” said Grant, who’s next role will be in the US TV series “Emergency: LA,” which will begin shooting next year.  

 “The range of parts I’ve been fortunate enough to play has been enormously helpful, because it has made me capable of accessing whatever part of my skill set I need to, to play any type of character that might come my way.”

 

 

 

 

 

Charismatic Actress Scherrikar Bell Goes Viral

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British actress Scherrikar Bell’s combination of natural talent, technical skill and intuitive gift for manifesting an emotional reality qualifies her as an extraordinary force. From her 2011 start on stage in London’s West End to her extensive film and television work (credits include roles on BBC’s “EastEnders,” “Famalam,” “Doctors”), Bell unfailingly radiates an engaging quality that profoundly enhances every portrayal.

Her memorable performance as a professional assassin in masked British rapper SL’s “FWA-Boss” music video is a prime example of the inescapable Bell charisma.

With over 100 million streams of his music to date, the enigmatic, teenaged SL is one of UK hip hop’s most important and fastest rising artists, and landing her role in the video (SL’s first single of 2019) was a plum assignment for Bell.

Helmed by the award winning director Myles Whittingham, the deeply cinematic film short  showcases the masked rapper’s downbeat, almost nonchalant UK drill sound—a smooth, minimalist mid-tempo style—and Bell’s lead character anchors the video from it’s opening through to its final shot.

As SL’s low key rhymes roll above the track’s glimmering, almost meditative beats, we see Bell donning a nun’s habit, then cut away to an exterior where the Mother Superior calmly approaches an automobile, produces a wicked looking automatic handgun and shoots the vehicle’s occupant at point blank range.

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It’s downright startling moment—made all the more so by Bell’s  serene demeanor and measured pace—and she draws the viewer in close as we witness a series of similarly deadly encounters.

A subsequent sequence find her clad head to toe in black leather (an updated Emma Peel comes delightfully to mind) and wielding a high powered sniper’s rifle which she uses to coolly dispatch a trio of obvious ne’er do wells before breaking into a lethal Mona Lisa smile and slowly sauntering over to retrieve chrome-plated brief case  from one of her victims.

The unforgettable instant when she cracks that malevolent grin is so subtly evil and cold-blooded that it qualifies as an absolutely masterly piece of acting, one that Bell makes look so easy but is, in truth, an example of deep stagecraft.

It’s the ideal set up for the next murderous tableau, a scene straight out of Hitchcock—Bell strolls wordlessly up to an approaching woman, suddenly produces a nasty looking shank from within her sleeve to adroitly deliver a swift shocking stab, another deadly encounter stunning in its almost mechanical precision.

Bell’s comprehensive involvement with the role allows her to inhabit this icy-hearted murderer so convincingly that it made the video a fan favorite, with almost 4.5 million views since its March 2019 release. Intriguingly, the video ends with her appearing in SL’s living room then fades to black with a lingering “To be continued” screen title and an open-ended question as to what she was doing there—reporting to her employer or preparing to dispatch him?

The mood and mystery of the video inspired multiple fan-made reaction videos and cemented SL’s reputation as one of the UK’s fastest rising stars, and there’s no question that Bell (currently featured on the BBC “Teach The Victorians”) and her blood curdling contributions to the video played a significant part in making it such a sensational, feverishly viral internet and commercial success.

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