From Beauty Queen to Leading Lady On Screen

Actress Jane Kapriss
Actress Jane Kapriss shot by Bjoern Kommerell

 

It’s no secret that the media, and the general public for that matter, have a thing for beauty. We are mesmerized by beautiful things, places and of course, beautiful people. Ukrainian beauty Jane Kapriss seemed destined for the spotlight since a young age, and while she definitely achieved impressive success as a beauty queen, it’s her talent as an actress coupled with her stunning aesthete that has kept her in the public eye.

Over the years Jane has won countless beauty pageant titles such as the Miss Fashion Award at the Miss Teen International competition, Miss Pearl of the Ukraine from the Ukraine National Beauty Pageant, as well as being chosen as a top ten finalist at the Miss Teen World competition where she also took home the Brand Ambassador Award. But anyone who’s seen Jane’s performances as an actress, on both the screen and the stage, knows that she is much more than a pretty face.

Jane let us in on a funny story from her childhood, and it’s one that makes quite a bit of sense now, considering the career path she’s chosen. She recalls, “My parents still argue about my first word. In Russian the words ‘building crane’ and ‘movie screen’ are very similar. The difference is just the first letter. For some reason my first word was not mom or dad. My dad heard it as ‘building crane’ and he said it was a sign that I was gonna be an engineer. But my mom heard it as ‘movie screen’ and said that it was a sign that I was gonna be an actress. Now our friends who know the story say: well, we all know now what word she meant.”

Prior to moving the U.S. where her success has continued at record pace, Jane made a huge mark for herself Back home in Kiev, Ukraine with her lead role as Anastasiya in the 2008 comedy crime feature “Hand for Luck” aka “Ruka na Schaste.”

Since then Jane has become known for her stand-out performances in a plethora of films such as “Love Changes,” which was chosen as an Official Selection of the Odessa International Film Festival, Manhattan Film Festival and the Toronto Independent Film Festival, WIND International Film Festival Award winner Antonio Chavez Trejo’s (“Bloody Luck”) comedy crime film “Killer Tango,” as well as the film “Mac Daddy and the Lovers,” and the sequel “Mac Daddy’s Vegas Adventure,” which was released earlier this year.

Directed by Mac Jay, who plays the lead character Mac Giani, “Mac Daddy and the Lovers” follows the notorious Mac Daddy, a suave ladies man who seduces rich women and then robs them with the help of his two accomplices. While Mac Daddy doesn’t believe in love, his best friend Franco (played by Mario Novell) does; but unfortunately for Franco, his girlfriend Tina, played by Jane, is a ruthless gold digger who’s only with him for his money.

Jane says, “It was interesting. I personally disagree with her logic on so many levels so it was challenging and interesting to dive into her life to understand her and to be able to play her.”

Right before Franco is about to propose Tina dumps him for a wealthier man. Giving a knockout performance, Jane flawlessly breathes life into her conniving character making Tina an easy character to hate, one who also represents the reason Mac Daddy turned away from love in the first place.

After the successful release of “Mac Daddy and the Lovers,” which earned the Golden Reel Award from the Nevada International Film Festival in 2015, Jane was tapped once again to star in the sequel “Mac Daddy’s Vegas Adventure” where she acts alongside Madeleine Wade (“The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Sons of Anarchy”), Jacqui Holland (“My Best Friend’s Girl”) and C. Young Artist Award winner Thomas Howell (“The Outsiders,” “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce,” “Animal Kingdom”). This time Jane was cast in the critical role of Megan, and like the true chameleonic actress she is, she brings Megan to life in a way that it is so different from her character in the previous film that few could tell these characters are played by the same actress.

After finding love in the first film Mac Daddy takes himself out of the game, but when his accomplices continue his former racket without him in “Mac Daddy’s Vegas Adventure” Mac Daddy is forced to come to their rescue. After targeting the wrong woman and pissing off Vegas’ feared Italian mafia boss Alfieri (C. Thomas Howell), Mac Daddy’s accomplices find themselves in hot water. Realizing that his woman was susceptible to the con artists seduction tactics, Alfieri works out a deal with Mac Daddy to teach him his womanizing expertise in order to get a woman to really fall in love with him in exchange for sparing the life of his friend.

Jane’s character Megan comes onto the scene as the unassuming woman who Alfieri seduces into falling in love with him. “She shows that even the mafia lord can truly fall in love and second, that karma will find you no matter what,” says Jane about her character in the film.

While Jane Kapriss has made a name for herself on the big screen on an international scale, she is no stranger to the theatre. Over the years she’s performed starring roles in a number of productions across continents including “Dark Side of the Moon” at The Next Stage theatre in Los Angeles, “Something Outrageous” at the Michael Chekhov Theatre Company in New York, as well as “A Servant of Two Masters” and “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” in Ukraine.

It’s clear from Jane Kapriss’ impressive body of work over the past decade that her first word was without a doubt ‘movie screen’ and that’s exactly where she belongs.

 

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Alex Cubis: From Stage to Screen and Everything In Between

Alex Cubis represents part of the new wave of successful young actors reaching their mark via a variety of platforms and mediums. In the past year alone, the trained thespian has started hosting his own podcast for iTunes, served as an official juror for the 4th Annual Los Angeles Diversity Film Festival (LADFF), and appeared in a lead role in the hit mockumentary “Unverified” for Funny Or Die. These accomplishments, all on top of his other leading acting roles around the world, mark what he calls “the result of lots of hard work.”

The Australian actor will appear in a juicy role in the second season of a cultural juggernaut for a huge streaming service. But before we get to that, Alex sits down with us to talk about how his career has reached such dizzying heights. “I’ve been very blessed.” Blessed indeed. After moving to Los Angeles to feature as the lead of auteur Mike Gan’s film “No Evil,” opposite “Marvel: Agents of S-H-I-E-L-D” actress Julia Aks, Alex was invited to attend numerous award ceremonies in celebration of “No Evil’s” success. Some of those festivals, including the Palm Springs ShortFest, Los Angeles International Short Film Festival, and Internationale Kurzfilmwoche Regensburg in Germany (all of which qualified the project for Oscar-contention), brought Alex in direct contact with key decision makers in Hollywood.

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Alex Cubis and Julia Aks (“Agents of S-H-I-E-L-D,” “Clinger”) filming “No Evil” in Los Angeles. 

“Many people I met along the way were already familiar with my work, so meeting these power players face-to-face I think just gave a more relatable face to my name.” Some of that work with which those power players were familiar include Alex’s leading role as Erik in Netflix’s “Mako Mermaids,” which brought him worldwide fame to millions of viewers, celebrity football player Kyle Mannix in ABC’s “Rake,” and romantic love interest Ryan Sanders in the Amazon-show “The Gauntlet.” Those roles in part attracted the people behind the LADFF, a world-renowned film festival helmed by industry leaders Hollis McLachlan and Sonja Mereu (producer at Flathead Films), to invite Alex to be a judge for their slate of films. Per Hollis, Alex “voted on the following categories: Acting, Production Value, and Representation of Diversity.”

Alex elaborates on his experience judging at the LADFF. “It was really fun and inspiring – it felt like such an honour to have my opinion about these films valued. Some of the films I awarded, like “I Am Still Here” have gone to be profiled in Deadline about their importance causes. In that case, it brought much needed attention to the issue of sex trafficking.”  

As noted by EverFest.com, “the three-day celebration of cinema features independent works in the realms of short and feature length film and span all genres, from gripping emotional dramas, to light-hearted, feel-good comedies. Q&As, expert panels and world premieres are just a few of the additional attractions.”

But judging films and acting is not entirely what has kept Alex occupied recently. In fact, he’s been busy with a slew of acting and industry projects that have reinforced his position as a trailblazer in entertainment. Most notably, he stars in a leading role in the US feature film “Just Within Reach,” opposite fellow high-achieving actors Estella Warren (“Planet of the Apes,” “Law & Order: SVU,”), Thomas Duffy (“The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” “Varsity Blues,”) and Lenny Von Dolen (“Twin Peaks”). That project, helmed by Broadway director Anna Bamberger, has already received coverage from several leading publications in which Alex was profiled for playing the lead role of “Mike,” a young man who is caught in the middle of a drug ring in a wealthy community while also having to care for his sick father. Alex also enjoyed working alongside producer Shea Farrell, known for his work on the Golden-Globe winning “Glee” and “Ally McBeal”.

“I was very fortunate to have the experience on working on “Just Within Reach,” Alex tells us. “The story is a really strong one and we were really lucky to shoot on such cool locations in Los Angeles.”

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Alex on the red carpet for the “Strike Out Cancer!” Celebrity Softball Game in Los Angeles.

Straight after that project wrapped, Alex was onto his next one, a pilot for YouTube Red called “Nia” in which he played the dark role of Womanizer. While the character’s name might suggest it was insignificant, it was in reality anything but, with Alex acting in a lead role. “That character was very different to mine – but because I had the most lines in the project I had the responsibility of living in his twisted energy the entire shoot. Quite the challenge!” That it was made for the innovative online entertainment company meant the shooting experience was faster, but also, as Alex explains, “afforded the producers and director greater creative freedom.”

Showing off his talent for exploring a wide range of genres, Alex moved onto playing the lead role of Andrew in the hit mockumentary series, “Unverified.” Distributed by the comedy powerhouse Funny Or Die, from founders Will Ferrell and Adam McKay (“The Big Short”), “Unverified” found awards success at the Accolade Global Film Festival, was given glowing reviews by TubeFilter and Film Ink among others, and co-starred Joel Hogan (“Open Water 3: Cage Dive”), Courtney Dlugos (“South Beach”) and Landon Merrell (the upcoming “Dumplin’ with Jennifer Aniston).  

All the while, Alex’s wide reach in the acting world is being confirmed with his hugely popular podcast, “Honest Conversations with Alex Cubis” where he has hosted fellow stars like Cariba Heine (“H20”, “Designated Survivor” with Kiefer Sutherland) and Peta Sergeant (“The Originals”, “Snowfall” on FX) on iTunes. Commissioned for a second season and licensed for worldwide distribution by Nova Entertainment, Alex exclaims to enjoy “sitting down with incredibly successful people and deciphering their points of view and how they formulate their artistry.” It probably helps that Alex, whose loyal online fan base is only one mark of how screenings of his projects garner intense audience interest, has substantial experience in the theatre too. His roles on stage, internationally and at home, are frequently cited by producers for being the reason why they trust him so much as an actor.

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Alex Cubis and Peta Sergeant (“The Originals,” “Snowfall”) in a promotional shot for Alex’s podcast. 

Up next for the ever-busy Aussie? He’ll be playing the key role of Nicolas in season 2 of the Netflix critical and commercial smash, “Dear White People.” Alex adds, “being directed by Justin Simien, who won a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, has been pretty awesome.” Alex’s role in the series is crucial because he plays an antagonist, representing a critical component in the tapestry of white privilege which has brought the award-winning series worldwide attention and a loyal fan-base. “I’m excited for that to start airing. The second season should be even better than the first.”

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Poster for “Dear White People,” in which Alex will be appearing for the upcoming season on Netflix. Details are scant because it’s yet to be released, but sources tell our editors the role is a very juicy one.

MADDURY CREATES AN EPIC SCORE ALONG THE STORMFRONT

One of the most important things that Steve Jobs proved in his illustrious career is that vision is equally as important, some might say even more so, than the ability to manifest. There’s a bit of a chicken/egg quandary there but, what Jobs made clear was that genius exists in the birth of an idea just as much as creating something. Of course, the symbiosis of these two factors are essential. Technology has created an ease that never existed before. It allows individuals to do what took legions previously. Consider entertainment. The ability to create full length animated productions that are vivid and amazingly realistic require a fraction of the man power previously needed. The same can be said for music. Modern purveyors are able to use technology to make single droning notes or the sonic onslaught of a major symphony orchestra…all at the fingertips of one person. Of course they may not sound exactly like an orchestra with the subtle perfect imperfections that are the human trait but, the end result is so moving and virtually undistinguishable that only the most discerning experts might even notice the minute difference. The animated film “Along the Stormfront” is epic in both its action and its music. Sai Sriram Maddury is the composer who was contacted by Griffin Giersch (Director & Screenwriter of the film) to match the tone of this larger than life story.

“Along the Stormfront” is an animated tale with epic fights and a huge visual landscape. A powerful score was needed to match the striking visuals. The idea was to balance the humor of the tiny characters while also rising to acknowledge the epic battle scenes. The music in the film was the ingredient which empowered the characters to become something akin to superheroes during the battle scenes. In a distant futuristic world, Finn (a fox) and Dallas (an armadillo) take a bus to get to town. They are later attacked by deadly Monster who jump onto the bus. The personalities of these characters are representative of the characteristics the animals are noted for; however, the events of the story call them to achieve inner strength and greatness in a classic story of self-discovery. It’s no coincidence that Maddury’s score recalls visions of superhero films and their grandeur. When Finn stands his ground for himself and his friend against a seemingly unconquerable oppressor, his bravery is announced by a huge brass section.

Griffin Giersch (Director, Screenwriter, & Animator of “Along the Stormfront”) declares,

“Sai was an incredibly important part of making Along the Stormfront what it was. His music brought the project to a higher level that it could not have reached otherwise. The goal with the story was to make an epic action/adventure with elements of suspense, tension, excitement, and some humor thrown into the mix as well. Sai brought all of this to the forefront with his music, letting all the moments of this story shine through. Working collaboratively on projects like this that have so many different aspects and pieces can often be a huge challenge, especially when it comes to communicating and sharing ideas to get everyone on the same page creating a cohesive work. Sai was always right there with us, listening and understanding our thoughts and ideas. He did more than just listen; he brought his own ideas to the table as well. Ultimately, his creative voice came through in a strong way that we hadn’t even expected. His contributions to the project made it even better than we’d hoped.”

Maddury concedes that modern technology has made composers capable of spending more time experimenting with their ideas and sonics with a much more budget friendly approach. Instead of having studio musicians wait “on the clock” while varying approaches are taken, a composer is allowed to hear each of their ideas on a schedule that is conducive to inspiration. This characteristic however does not preclude the use of real instruments and musicians. Sai communicates, “Technology plays a vital role in the process of film scoring. Due to the advancement of technology most of the job is done at the studio with Computers installed with DAW applications (Digital Audio Workstation) and connected to MIDI Keyboards and speakers. The major advantage in today’s music programming technology is to have amazing sample libraries for film scoring, allowing composers to create an orchestral score and make it sound exactly or very close to a live performance. This helps directors and producers to listen to them before going to the scoring stage. Basically now we can have the mock ups for the entire score sound close to the live recording. But for a film that demands an electronic score, it can pretty much be written and produced in your DAW at the studio.  That being said, I love the qualities that come from a more traditional approach in film scores. I’m a musician and have a soft spot for traditional or organic instrumentation. I think it’s the life of a modern composer to use the proper tool for each film they work on.”

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It’s a testament to this composer’s talent and creativity that he conceived of and created the score for “Along the Stormfront” based on storyboards and sketches rather than the final film. The common practice in the industry is for a composer to view either dailyies or the completed production and then compose based on this. Against normal convention, Sai discussed the characters and the story with Griffin, composing during the animation process in order to meet deadlines. Proof of the success of the film and its composers work lies in its being recognized as an official selection to the Full Bloom Film Festival 2015 and Carrborro Film Festival 2015 as well as receiving the Gold Remi Award at the 49TH WorldFest­Houston International Film and Video Festival. Discussing these accolades, Maddury remarks, “I personally consider awards as a token of encouragement requesting the recipient to contribute more to the respective field of art with which we are involved. Even though I did get more projects to work on as a result of my score for Along the Stormfront, having the experience of working on an award-winning film will always keep one motivated and inspired to work hard and contribute more to the art of film scoring/storytelling.”

Costume Designer Spotlight: Claudia Sarbu

Costume Designer Claudia Sarbu
Costume Designer Claudia Sarbu

A passion that courses through her veins and experience far beyond her years have earned costume designer Claudia Sarbu her place at the forefront of her field. Her sheer talent is reflected in her diverse work on films ranging from the epic 2014 blockbuster “Divergent” to the heartwarming drama “20th Century Women,” released early this year. Few in the field are able to move so seamlessly between such wildly different productions, but Sarbu has been training her entire life.

She was born near Bucharest, and growing up she lived just blocks from the film studio where both her parents worked. Her mother made costumes for the studio and encouraged her daughter’s natural talent.

“I remember when I designed my teacher’s wedding outfit, and then my mom made it,” she said, recalling how she got her first taste of design. “It was very avant-garde for that kind of small town wedding, but she looked great.”

Having been immersed in the field for longer than she can remember, Sarbu knows better than anyone how crucial good costume design is to any production that aims to create a believable universe. She proved this on an enormous scale when she served as Costume Coordinator for “Divergent,” the first in a hotly anticipated series of films based on the trilogy of internationally bestselling books by Veronica Roth. As the costume coordinator, Sarbu was responsible for ensuring the film’s costumes were made and prepared perfectly.

Divergent

The cast of the film made raised the stakes for Sarbu even higher. In addition to Shailene Woodley, known for her roles in “The Fault in Our Stars” and in “The Descendants” (alongside George Clooney), the film also stars Ashley Judd (“Double Jeopardy”) and Academy Award Winner Kate Winslet (“Titanic,” “Finding Neverland”).

The events of “Divergent” take place in a dystopian future where every person must fit neatly into one of five factions, each representing a different virtue. Anyone who is unable to assimilate into one of these factions is labelled a ‘divergent’ and faces mysterious but almost certainly deadly consequences. At the heart of the story is one such divergent, Tris (Woodley), who defiantly resolves to fight back against the unjust system.

The world in which the film is set is fractured and extraordinarily complex, which is mirrored in the relationships between characters and factions. It was an indescribably difficult undertaking to create a costume for each and every character that both captures the individual’s personality and visually represents the character’s faction and their station in the world’s social hierarchy.

“The majority of the costumes for ‘Divergent’ were manufactured in Romania by two workshops, and I was in charge of overseeing both. My job was to develop and translate the illustrations into actual garments by choosing fabrics, deciding on patterning and finishing details, as well as overseeing the quality of the manufacturing, aging and distressing processes,” she said, detailing her staggering list of responsibilities. “At the same time, I had to keep up with the shoot schedule’s demands, meaning prioritizing what to ship first while working under very tight deadlines. It was almost four months of intense work, but in the end we’d delivered over 2,000 pieces of costumes.”

All of Sarbu’s tireless work proved well worth it when “Divergent” was released in March 2014. It immediately shot to the top of the box office in its opening weekend as casual moviegoers and longtime fans of the novels piled into theaters to catch the first chapter in the epic trilogy.

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Poster for “20th Century Women”

At the complete opposite end of the spectrum lies “20th Century Women,” the exceptionally moving autobiographical story of two women who help a mother raise her son against the backdrop of Santa Barbara in 1979.

“The script for ‘20th Century Women’ is one of the closest to my heart, and also one of the most challenging ones I’ve read… spinning between past, present and future and mixed with dreams and flashbacks,” said Sarbu. “The costumes were extremely important to the film’s authenticity. We were dressing real life characters whose personalities and vibes needed to be conveyed through their style.”

The film debuted early this year and starred Annette Bening (“American Beauty”) and Elle Fanning (“Maleficent,” “Super 8”). Audiences and critics lauded “20th Century Women” with praise, and the film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay, a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Comedy, and a Golden Globe Best Actress nomination for Annette Bening for her powerful performance.

Despite being completely unlike “Divergent” in every conceivable way, the importance of Sarbu’s work to the industry at-large is illustrated by the fact that both of these wildly different films needed costumes, and both relied on Sarbu’s talents. For both, and for any other film, Sarbu knows that good costume design starts with understanding the characters and the worlds they live in. In this way, the process she follows for a film set in a nightmarish future is much the same as it would be for a film set in ‘70s-era Southern California. In practice, Sarbu’s process requires the instincts and training that she has honed throughout her illustrious career. When she describes what she does, however, she makes it sound straightforward and almost simple.

“Film and TV are essentially visuals,” she said, “and what people wear is essential to creating that visual.”

 

A PHOTO IS ONLY A GLIMPSE INTO THE DEPTH OF RANDI KENNEDY

Randi Kennedy is attractive…and a fitness enthusiast…and an extremely positive person. How is this possible when she two of the main facets of her life and career are social media and being a fitness model? That’s because much like the aforementioned aspects, Randi Kennedy is much deeper and more complex than a superficial viewing can ascertain. You have to spend time with Kennedy to understand what makes her tick. In contrast, her enthusiasm is evident within the first few seconds of speaking with her. All of these characteristics have led international companies such as 1UP Nutrition and Live Fit apparel to seek her out as an ambassador of brands. In this modern day society where it seems everyone wants to be famous by presenting commonplace as extraordinary, Randi has done the opposite by making her followers and fans believe that her extraordinary accomplishments are achievable by all…something which she wholeheartedly believes.

When posed with the query of how one gets to the same point of success and personal fulfillment that Randi has attained she communicates, “My best advice is to aim big and don’t settle, chase after those dreams. If you aim low, you are going to fall short of the bigger picture and what you truly want to accomplish. I believe you can truly accomplish everything and anything with hard work. Create a game plan for yourself. What do you want to accomplish? What do you need to do to get there? What would the first and second steps be? Take action and keep a clear vision. You’re not going to build your dream career overnight but it will take a lot longer if you give up. Don’t be afraid of hard work and don’t be afraid to take risks. Owning your own business is not easy but it’s worth it.”

Judging Kennedy by her big smile and her athletic physique will misinform you as to the astuteness and determination to have a benevolent effect on those around her, which is the true center of this self-made very modern day success story. As a health and fitness enthusiast herself, she noticed early on that there weren’t a large number of what she considered to be healthy supplements marketed towards women when she first started her journey, this has since changed. While her endorsement and use of such products from companies such as 1UP Nutrition shine a light on the visceral physicality of a woman, her work as one of the faces of Live Fit Apparel embrace the femininity of it. There’s a holistic approach to Kennedy’s personal life and her professional/public one. As with any relationship, Randi feels that both herself and the companies she works with must have a belief in each other. When a common goal appears, both sides benefit. Since it is a working partnership so of course both sides need to feel they are being taken care of for the relationship to work. When it comes to sponsorships in the clothing and supplement industry it typically goes something like this: The sponsor receives a brand affiliate and becomes associated with the influencers brand. They receive marketing which generates more brand awareness and sales. The influencer receives support from the sponsor in the forms of compensation in a monthly salary, commission on sales and can even go as far as support for competitions and further education in addition to marketing by the sponsor.

It’s one of the great dichotomies of the industry that the visual aspect of the exterior is so often displayed as proof of internal health. Sometimes these traits are congruent and sometimes they are not. Kennedy adamantly relates, “I think that it’s very easy to forget about your mental health/mental state when you’re caught up in looking a certain way. Often people are working so hard to improve their physique that they don’t realize how extreme they are being with training and nutrition, which can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food and create body dysmorphia. This is something I preach about on my [social media] platforms. I always tell my clients: “Work to improve your mindset just as hard as you work to improve your physique.’ Many people seem to think that fitness is solely having shredded abs and being jacked all year round; little do we know that same person thinks that nothing is good enough, barely eats enough to fuel their body, their energy levels are low, they’re hair is falling out, hormones are out of whack and it’s all in order to look a certain way. Social media does not help with this but I’m happy to say that it is slowly changing, people are sharing a more realistic side of fitness and starting to accept that it is unmaintainable and unrealistic to look like that year round. Not all progress is physical! Fitness is more than a shredded physique.”

In the fitness world, one of the bench marks is having your photo taken by the celebrity photographer known as “King of Covers” Jason Ellis. The noted photographer has taken cover photos for more than five hundred magazines. With his work gracing the covers of magazines such as: Muscle and Fitness, Fitness RX, Oxygen, Iron Man, Men’s Health, Muscular Development, Train, and many others, Ellis is the gold standard of the industry. Jason worked with Randi two years in a row, shooting her at the IFBB Olympia in Las Vegas. He professes, “Randi is a young talent who both reflects the fitness aesthetics and lifestyle and is very astute in her comprehension of the modern industry. She is very marketable and understands how branding works in this new marketplace. Add to that, she is always a pleasure to work with. That positivity of hers is very authentic!”

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Part of the new model of branding and marketing is social media; it’s something which Kennedy has embraced deeply. There’s a duality to the modern approach. Meet & greets and magazine covers are still important to be noticed but social media means there is a necessity and a responsibility to stay connected to followers on a daily basis…no matter where they might be in the world. While she concedes that social media can have negative aspects, Randi also notes, “I enjoy social media in my professional life because it is an amazing way to market to your ideal demographic all over the globe. We literally have access to millions of people at our finger tips. Social media is a very powerful tool if you know how to use it. There is an account for almost every business these days. I enjoy social media in my personal life because I get to capture and share memories and moments that will last a life time. I get to share the experience I had a restaurant and say “hey, you should go here too!” I can share my travels and inspire others to get out there and explore the world. Through my photos they get to see something they might not have ever seen, and then I get to reflect back on it years down the road.” No matter where she might be and what the images she shares, Randi Kennedy will be encouraging and assisting those in her sphere to challenge and better themselves just as she had done.

www.randikennedy.com

Instagram: @randikennedy_

YouTube: Randi Kennedy

Facebook: Randi Kennedy

Actress Francesa De Luca to star in upcoming film ‘Café Mnemosyne’

Originally from Hammersmith, London, Francesca De Luca knew she was meant to perform at the age of six. At the time she was dancing, but she realized the stage was her home. She knows what it is to connect with her audience, to make them feel something they didn’t know was there. She brings everything she has to every performance she does, and this is what makes her such an outstanding actress.

Throughout her career, De Luca has risen to one of England’s top actresses. She has worked alongside extraordinary talent like herself, including Producer, Writer, and Director Francis Ford Coppola, known for many award-winning films including The Godfather trilogy. He is also one of De Luca’s idols.

“He reminded me of my grandfather with his warmth and he told me I reminded him of his daughter Sophia. I spoke about my Italian heritage and it felt like I had known him for years,” she said.

With a busy upcoming couple of years, De Luca will once again appear on the big screen in several new films. One of these is Café Mnemosyne, set to be released in 2019. The film will be directed by a prominent director, who approached De Luca knowing he needed her to make his film a success, and that she would be perfect for the role. This was four years ago, and now, the film is finally coming to fruition. De Luca immediately was on board.

“I’ve seen this director’s previous work and love the script and think he will be a nice guy to work with. I like working with talented, nice people, and it’s important to feel relaxed on set,” she said.

Scripts are extremely important to De Luca. She wants to read a script and feel compelled by the story, and if she is, that is when she will take on a role. Café Mnemosyne is one of those films. It is set in a strange diner where a young girl shows up with an odd dilemma, throwing the regular café occupants into a panic. The suspense is evident while she finds out what the café really is and what will happen to her next. De Luca will be playing the role of Carrie, who is one of the main characters in the diner. The film is expected to make its way to many of the world’s most prestigious film festivals.

“The filming will be in New Jersey so it will be an opportunity to spend time in New York again and spend time with my cousins and friends. I love New York as a city and I love the directness of the people. Also, I love playing Italian America New York characters, so I enjoy people watching while I am there and picking up traits that I can later bring to my characters,” said De Luca.

There is no doubt that De Luca will help make the films a success. She is known for working on acclaimed projects, such as the docudrama Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent. De Luca played the role of Margot Fonteyn in the film, a true Prima Ballerina. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, and was subsequently selected for the prestigious Hamptons Film Festival and the Key West Film Festival. Earlier this year, it was released in theatres across the United States and Canada, receiving rave reviews from the New York Times, with a score of 82 per cent “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes. It was released on iTunes in July of this year, and went straight to number one in the documentary chart and top ten in independent movies.

“I am proud to have been part of such a successful film,” said De Luca, speaking of Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent.

De Luca saw similar success with the film Passports. The film follows Tanya who returns after six wild years of travelling. Once home, her mother and grandma make her join an online dating site and go on a date. The date is a visit to a psychic. During the visit, unexpected events occur and the guy hits on the psychic secretively sliding to her a piece of paper reading ‘Call Me.’ The psychic ignores him and tells Tanya her fortune and after Tanya shows the psychic a ‘new’ game of magic in which she makes her date’s car keys disappear. From then on things get heated between the three. This film is a dramedy with beautiful cinematography and interesting characters. De Luca plays the pivotal role of the psychic. Passports went on to win several awards at many prestigious international film festivals.

“During Francesca’s audition for Passports, we decided to cast her immediately because of her commanding stage presence and the many unique details she brought to her acting. What makes her special is her uncanny ability to perform at the drop of a hat, improvisation skills especially with dialogue, and her capacity to do numerous accents from all over the world. We are currently in the development stages of our first feature Midnight Daughter, filming to start early 2018, and are casting Francesca in one of the primary roles of the film. Her vast skill set allows Francesca to fit into different characters. Overall, Francesca’s dedication to the craft of acting and her easy-going attitude are two of the many reasons why we like working with her,” said Jeremy Pion Berlin, the Director of Passports.

Audiences have a lot to look forward to with De Luca gracing their screen presence so frequently in the coming years. She has recently been working with Mark Myers of CSP Management, who also plans to cast the actress is roles with his production company Citizen Skull over next few years. She is also looking forward to working on various roles in US television programs. She is definitely one to watch out for.

Actress Michelle Howarth to share important world issues in TV show ‘Hummingbird’

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Michelle Howarth

Growing up in South Africa, Michelle Howarth started acting as a way to express herself. The country has eleven official languages, and communication barriers often arise. Being on stage, she found she was able to transcend this obstacle and connect with her audience no matter what language they spoke. The arts, she found, can relate to any person. Film and television are enjoyed around the world, in every culture. This reality got her hooked, and her natural talent and creative instincts are what allowed her to rise to the top of her field, making her one of the best actresses to recently come out of South Africa.

“I wanted to be a professional actor because I knew I was obsessed with the craft and wanted to mold it into my career. I wanted to specialize and fine tune my acting and creativity to the point that I am able to create films and performances that resonate globally. I was big into physical theatre growing up, and that medium especially is able to communicate across transnational borders and cultures. I wanted to be able to do this on a global scale through film and television and tell stories that would otherwise go unheard. I wanted to be a professional actor to be a part of an artistic process that initiates conversation, understanding, empathy and insight across the globe,” said Howarth.

The twenty-five-year-old actress has done just that. Through her work in several successful projects, she has captivated audiences around the globe. She has had a leading role in films and television series such as Just Animals, Parenthood, Talk Stew, Shameless, King Krule, and Jackson and Randall, as well as stage roles in Angel Academy, Chicago, Ivy, and Hanamichi. Howarth consistently impresses not only audiences, but her colleagues as well. Sonja Smit, the director of the touring play Villian in which Howarth was the star, says the actress’ performance greatly contributed to the success of the play.

“Michelle has the rare ability to truly inhabit a character, always merging naturally into the character’s personality without losing any of her inherent “star power”, an ability that was on full display in her extraordinary lead performance in Villain. It is this exceptional quality that has allowed her to become one of the most exciting new faces in theatre and independent cinema over the past several years, and there is no doubt in my mind that her career will only go from strength to strength,” said Smit.

Despite such success, the highlight of Howarth’s career comes from her work in the highly-anticipated new television series Hummingbird. The series tells the story of a group of American teenagers that go missing in the United States. Detectives look into the disappearance of these teenagers and see that, although they disappeared independently of one another, there are similarities between the cases. After further investigation, one detective in particular notices a thread between each case. Each one seemed to be very active online and in each case met a member of an extremist group in Syria, and went over to Syria to do their Jihad and join ISIS. The show reveals the psyche of each individual and the process of their decision to now be a part of ISIS.

The story is incredibly timely, given the war against ISIS and terrorism that is taking place around the world, with such divisiveness on how to handle people that make these decisions. Not only is the show based on true events, it will be shot in a realistic way, and each actor knows the responsibility they carry with their portrayal of their characters. Howarth wanted to do her part to enlighten audiences on such an important issue.

“It is an important story that needs to be told, and I am proud to be a part of a show that is didactic as well as entertaining. I believe the show will shed light on socio-religious and economic issues and help initiate conversation and critical thinking around said issues,” she said. “I believe it can create a basis for conversation and debate around the subject matter on a global platform. I also believe it will give insight to a world far removed from most people and hopefully offer understanding of that culture and religious practice.”

In Hummingbird, Howarth plays the pivotal role of Cassandra, one of the American teenage girls who goes missing. It is later discovered that she met an older man online and after falling in love with him, was flown over to Syria to do her Jihad and join an extremist group. She is one of the girls who they are able to find. However, unlike the other girls, Cassandra refuses to come back to her family and the United States. Cassandra is strong willed and happy in her decision to convert to this new religion and live this extremist life.

Howarth’s portrayal of Cassandra will allow the audience to witness such a journey and possibly understand the reasoning behind it. Cassandra reveals the extremities and consequences of social media and online interactions. She shows the journey through the psyche of a young teenage girl who goes to extreme lengths for the man she loves. Through her portrayal of Cassandra, Howarth will allow viewers to witness the practices of the Jihad and life in Syria, as well as what it would be like for a female member of an extremist group such as ISIS. The role of Cassandra is vital to helping reveal why these girls made the decisions they did and how their lives ended up.

The show is expected to be an instant hit, and Howarth’s portrayal of Cassandra is a large part of that. The story is something viewers around the world want to know more about, and Howarth will help audiences gain insight into such troubled mindsets.

“In today’s world, there is much turmoil regarding this subject matter, and this series dives into these issues. The story is important because it may help one experience and understand a world we are removed from and its practices and realms,” she concluded.

Audiences have a lot to look forward to from the South African native. Beyond Hummingbird, be sure to check out Howarth in the upcoming film Madness Descending, which will be released next year.

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