All posts by Nicole Sim

Experienced Journalist.

Zara Michales on Making an Impact

It’s become standard for well-known actors to represent companies in huge commercial campaigns.

Screen Shot 2019-04-26 at 11.07.17 am
Zara currently fronts a huge campaign for Australia’s Colonial Bank. 

Acclaimed actor Zara Michales however does things a little differently. While Australians have seen her image plastered across TV and computer screens all over the country (and by extension, around the world) for Colonial First State’s savings campaign, Zara distinguished herself from fellow Aussie and The Mentalist star Simon Baker (himself known for fronting bank ANZ) by including her family in the campaign as well.

Screen Shot 2019-04-26 at 11.09.19 am

It was a personal touch such as this which speaks to the integrity around which Zara’s career has been built – only taking on projects if she has a personal connection to them, rather than serving her ego. And it’s for this reason that she was tipped for a profile in our publication as an artist making an impact in all the right ways, through creative choices that help make the entertainment industry a better one to work in.

“I think it’s really important to only do things that you’re going to be proud of, and the Colonial campaign was one I knew I could look back on with fondness because I got to work with my parents – how good is that?”

She adds with a laugh, “I mean, everyone’s parents drive them crazy sometimes but they’ve been so supportive of me over the years so I knew it was really awesome to spend time on set with them.”

Zara’s starring role in the commercial campaign has attracted millions of eyeballs online and on the TV where the spot was first shown, and is a testament to the credence of her body of work that a respected company like Colonial wanted to work with a TV and film actress like Zara.

Screen Shot 2019-04-26 at 11.10.47 am

“The company represents security and family, things I value a lot – so it was definitely something I wanted to be a part of when my agent called me about it.”

Of course, Zara wouldn’t have been approached to front a multi-million dollar company were it not for the credibility she’s built over many years in the entertainment business, attracting a growing fan base each year she adds a roster of projects to her resume.

Starring appearances at events like the Australian premieres of Snow White and the Huntsman and Thor: Ragnarok also can’t hurt. Zara adds with a laugh, “It’s always lovely to get invited to those events and help support other filmmakers and actors, especially Aussies doing well.”

Chris Hemsworth & Zara Michales- White Carpet SYD
Zara alongside fellow Australian star, Avenger’s star Chris Hemsworth.

More important to Zara though were her involvements with UN International Women’s Day Breakfast, and her volunteering with the National Stroke Foundation. Each event, hosted by well-known newsreader Chris Bath, also boasted the attendance and support of fellow celebrities such as Sandra Sully, Kris Smith and Sarah Murdoch, just some of the high-profile entertainers like Zara who have merged entertainment with philanthropy.

UN WOMEN SYD IWD'17
Zara at the UN International Women’s Day Breakfast.

Undeniably important to Zara though is her actual craft, as evidenced by her role in the feature film 2:22. In that fan-favourite feature film which attracted attracted notices from leading publication The Wrap for its compelling storyline, Zara took on the critical role of Ellie.

MV5BNDQyMTUyMDExNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODkxODEyMjI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,672,1000_AL_
Zara worked alongside Hacksaw Ridge’s Teresa Palmer and Game of Thrones’ Michiel Huisman.

Zara’s character was specially written for her, as she had originally auditioned for a different character months’ prior. The award-winning director Paul Currie, himself known for producing the Oscar-winning Hacksaw Ridge, wanted to meet with Zara to figure out what type of character he could write into the script for 2:22. If there’s a definition for ‘making it,’ our writers could be forgiven for using that hallmark of Zara’s career as an example. It’s not often that an acclaimed filmmaker like Paul customises his film to fit in an actor, but with the reputation Zara has cultivated over many years in the industry, it should come as no surprise she found herself on set working alongside fellow household name, Teresa Palmer.

“I remember first meeting Teresa at the Table read during pre-production. She was so lovely and was a very down to earth girl.”

The shoot proved to be demanding and challenging in all the right ways, as Zara’s character was crucial to the developments of the thrilling script.

Zara’s character of Ellie works in Air traffic control with Dylan, played by Game of Thrones’ and The Haunting of Hill House’s Michael Huisman’s character ‘Dylan’. Ellie, in true Zara-fashion, offered a funny and edgy character to the roster of roles in the film as she was Dylan’s ‘bad influence’ who likes to have fun.

“I took Dylan out and about on the town to get his mind off the major incident that happens at the beginning of the film where two planes had almost collided under his supervision.”

If it weren’t for Ellie, Dylan wouldn’t overcome his guilt and insecurities – crucial to the next set up that leads to the movie’s famous plot-twists.

At this point in the conversation with Zara, she wants to hold back from revealing too much about the feature’s plot so that readers can enjoy the film on their own via Netflix.

“It’s so gratifying to be an actor who’s a part of the Netflix family,” Zara says with a smile.

Zara’s work on 2:22 is just one in a number of edgy film projects that, she believes, helps innovating the film industry to challenge audiences in the most impactful way possible.

“I love playing vastly different characters…I’ve always try to work with the director to flesh out what the character needed to be in the life of the project.”

Indeed, Zara’s played everything from a tough and ruthless army officer to the spunky, sassy, confident, hot blooded girlfriend.

In Crossing Paths, Zara joins the trend established by Black Mirror by taking part in an interactive film, where she plays the leading role of Lena.  The director of Crossing Paths, JJ Winlove, is also in talks with Margot Robbie’s company LuckyChap Entertainment to produce a feature script.

It goes without saying that Zara’s on a great run; something though which hasn’t come out of luck, but instead due to hard work and smart choices.

“I’ve had to work really hard, and developed new skills along the way.”

For her role in US series Childhood’s End, which was filmed in Australia, Zara had to perfect a Latin American accent with a coach. The hard work paid off, as she proved to be critical to the show’s storyline.

childhoods-end-syfy
Another show in which Zara appeared, the US SyFy mini-series Childhood’s End.

“In the first episode my character Freya abducts and interrogates the lead Ricky Stormgren played by Mike Vogel.  From this point of the story onwards the plot catapults forwards and everything more or less descends into chaos.”

In real life though, Zara’s less of antagonist and more of an agent for positive change. Something she hopes to do in the near future as she gears up for a role in a US feature film.

“I’m really excited,” Zara adds with a smile.

The same can be said we’re sure for our readers.

Advertisements

Down To Earth Casey Wright: A (Stunt) Actor’s (Stunt) Actor

It’s more often than not a stunt actor’s job to not get any attention, which is why award-winning stunt performing veteran Casey Wright was somewhat resistant to being interviewed for this feature.

“I tend to stay on the sidelines, I don’t like the limelight too much – probably a big part of why I do what I do and I’m not a TV or film actor,” Casey adds with a chuckle.  

fast-furious-stunts
Stunt actors risk their lives every day, often without the kudos regular actors receive. 

Casey’s recent bursts of success however have meant it was difficult for our editors to keep themselves from profiling this down-to-earth home-grown talent who, in an era of crowded filmmaking and TV production, has truly made a name for himself as one of the few likeable guys working in the industry today.

“The best advice I was ever given was ‘Don’t get a big head’. You realise pretty quickly how lucky you are to be in the industry, and there’s no room for egos. The performers I look up to, the ones with the most successful careers – there’s no ego there. So I try to model myself on that” Casey adds

Since his win at the illustrious SAG-awards for Best Stunts in Mel Gibson’s Oscar-winning “Hacksaw Ridge”, Casey’s career has continued to go from strength-to-strength.

hacksaw-ridge-2016-ryan-corr-vince-vaughn
A scene from Mel Gibson’s Oscar-winning “Hacksaw Ridge,” for which Casey was awarded with a SAG award for Best Stunts.

Only just last year, he worked as a stunt double to Dan Fogler in the acclaimed feature film, In Like Flynn, a sweeping biopic of the swashbuckling Australian screen legend Errol Flynn.

inlikeflynnpostermainbigimgsv59902b
Casey performed crucial stunts in the biopic “In Like Flynn,” helmed by “Teen Wolf” director Russell Mulcahy.

Instead of regaling tales of celebrity that others may have spilled in relation to the filming process, true to Casey’s nature, he offers a tidbit about his role in offering crucial safety guidance during the shoot.

“Dan…had tweaked his ankle during a scene where he was being chased by headhunters. I was called in to double Dan. This meant that I had to perform the actions required in character, which involved sprinting through the bush, swimming across running rivers, and more. My work meant that Dan was able to rest and heal up, and filming wasn’t disrupted.”

The humble way in which Casey reflects on this experience is a testament to his practical nature, and clear aspirations to only offer meaningful contributions to the project as a whole rather than use it for his own entertainment leverage.

The other project that has benefited from Casey’s hard-working nature is the acclaimed TBS comedy series, Wrecked.

Working on 2 seasons of Wrecked, Casey had to not only perform the requisite stunt and safety actions also do them in character as Brian Sacca’s persona, Danny. This meant taking cues from Brian’s body language and immersing himself in how Brian holds himself in a scene, and so on.

sacca double
Casey (right), acted as stunt double to “Wolf of Wall Street” actor Brian Sacca. 

Casey’s remarkable success in doing this role effortlessly meant viewers are never taken out of the scenes while watching the comedy favourite. As a corollary to this, Casey’s actions had to match the comedic tone of the show that meant he stretched his performing wheelhouse.

“Most of my work has been on big action films,” Casey goes to explain. “Explosions, runaway horses, all that kind of stuff. Working on a comedy like Wrecked was a whole different beast. At one point a crew member came up to me and said ‘Just remember – it doesn’t matter if you stuff up. Sometimes that can be even funnier than what’s planned.”

Casey adds to that last thought.

“Coming from a world where everything was marked to a tee, that took all the pressure off me. I still had to be safe, but I didn’t have to be perfect. It was a very different experience, but it was one of the best of my career.”

Casey is equally complimentary of the TBS team and Brian too, when asked about his experience.

“I had a great time. Everyone was warm and welcoming, and made me feel right at home. When I came back for Season 3, I was greeted with a big hug from Brian – I found out later that he had actually gone up to the stunt coordinator for the new season and requested me back personally.”

bn-ol880_wrecke_p_20160613182141
TBS hit comedy “Wrecked” is known for being a hilarious parody of the iconic TV show, “Lost.”

No doubt Casey’s vital contributions to the show’s success were reason for him being brought back, and the personal request of his return to the set is valuable proof in demonstrating how he offered indispensable contributions to the show’s success.

“I’m very lucky to do different things – and am looking forward to doing more of it in the US.”

There’s no doubt Casey would be embraced by the American community, as he already proved on the Fiji set of the American produced series

“I was told by the [“Wrecked”] stunt coordinator that I may have been the most accurate stunt double he has ever hired. During breaks in filming, I had producers, the director and others come up to me to to discuss upcoming scenes. Once they heard my Australian accent, they jumped back, as they had no idea it wasn’t actually the actor they were speaking to. Everyone loved it, and it made me really feel at home with the crew.”

Karlisha Hurley: At the Top of Her Game

Karlisha Hurley arrives to our interview fresh from a pre-release screening of her latest film, Wrapped, directed by Calen Coates. In it, she plays the lead role, Abby, who overcomes her insecurities and learns to stand up for herself by stealing back a birthday present from a drug dealer who has robbed her. The unopened present was from her mother who had recently been killed in a car accident. Abby’s journey is just like life itself; it’s both comedic and tragic.

red carpet for newfilmakers film festival
Karlisha Hurley celebrating film in Los Angeles on a night off from her busy schedule.

A particularly captivating scene in Wrapped is during the kidnapping of the two lead characters, Karlisha and Sawyer, played by actor Danny Irizarry. The scene is an emotionally difficult one because of the detail Karlisha has to go within the character to honestly portray the actions and depth of the overall situation. The diversity of Karlisha’s skills are superbly conveyed here as she speaks to Sawyer. Not only is she frightened and angry about the situation she finds them in but she begins to openly grieve about her mother’s passing and exposes her own guilt and self-destruction as she blames herself. Karlisha’s natural reaction combined with masterful technique captures the audience’s sympathy and draws them into her character so deeply they are mesmerised into willing her to succeed.

wrapped - karlisha shooting-img_0179
Karlisha in a particularly intense scene from the set of feature film Wrapped, in which she has a leading role.

The role marks a continuation of a trend in Karlisha’s career – that of appearing in compelling film projects, while also staying in the public consciousness through a successful run of commercially driven projects befitting any young Hollywood star.

“It’s not necessarily planned – I just gravitate towards what roles I’m interested in and they are often gritty, challenging and highly emotional roles. As it happens, those types of roles and projects – I guess, the more ‘indie’ ones – are what attracts more commercial opportunities.”

It’s a common pattern: big-budget producers generally want to borrow from the street cred of artistically driven actors like Karlisha. Oscar-winner Casey Affleck has built a career on it, much like Oscar-nominee Chloé Sevigny or Michelle Williams.

While Karlisha has jumped from edgy film projects like Red Wire (directed by Gary O’Toole), Hello Tom Sullivan (directed by David Raynor) and Hostages: Don’t Take Another Step (from Kristine May), shot all over the world, she’s most recently garnered the attention of audiences in her role in O.A.R.’s music video – Miss You All the Time – which attracted nearly 4 million views.

oar church w karlisha 3.79m views
Karlisha’s appearance in the music video “Miss You All The Time

Indeed, it would be entirely untruthful to say that Karlisha turns her back on the mainstream parts of the industry. For one, the industry has embraced her with awards from the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival, the same year that Constance Ejuma of Black Panther and Robert Clohessy of The Avengers, The Wolf of Wall Street and The Place Beyond the Pines, with Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, won acting awards. Adding to that triumph, Karlisha maintains a tie to her home country by playing a major role at Australians in Film (AIF), the esteemed organisation that has solidified Australian A-listers’ places in the film and TV worlds of Los Angeles.

“AIF is so supportive, I’m really lucky to be an Industry Member there.”

Karlisha’s ‘industry membership’, reserved only for VIPs in the same vein of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, is one such watershed in the career of the young Miss Hurley, who in the past several years has had work screen at a number of international and American film festivals.

Among these were the San Francisco Film Awards and LA Independent Film Festival for projects like Hello Tom Sullivan and Karlisha and Morgan, directed By David Raynor. Industry insiders acclaimed Karlisha’s work, which in the performance of Karlisha and Morgan – playing two roles in the same film – demonstrated a nuanced sense of her craft few other young performers are able to showcase.

One example was the scene in which she plays ‘Morgan’, the spirit of a dead teenager who has suicided after being bullied at school; she is angry and wants the world to stop ‘sweeping under the carpet’ student suicides and do something about addressing their cause. The intensity of Karlisha’s anger balanced with her empathy for the victims and shown through the deep control of her revealing stare, her emotional facial expression and reactive body movement are all captivating and disturbing, demonstrating an award winning performance of a quality well beyond her years.

mv5bnmq2owiwnjgtnwriny00mja4ltk1ndctyti1zdi4zdq0nmy5xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymja0ndg1odq@._v1_sy1000_cr0,0,1481,1000_al_
Karlisha is well-known for her award-winning performance in the acclaimed film project, Karlisha and Morgan. 

The Other Project, Hello Tom Sullivan – in which Karlisha rescues a disadvantaged teenage boy, Tom Sullivan, from bullying – called for Karlisha to deliver an immense level of strength and sympathy for the role of Cynthia. When Cynthia and Tom meet for the first time, you can see a genuine evolving spark between the two characters, showing a high level of skill and technique delivered naturally by Karlisha. When introducing a character to an audience, it can be difficult for an actor to portray exactly the emotions and qualities of the character as envisioned by a director, but Karlisha depicts the essence of the character beautifully. As Cynthia walks Tom home after rescuing him, Karlisha’s body movement and emotion when talking to him gives the audience a perfect idea of what her character is like; her quirkiness and innocence, rising beneath her need for affirmation and acceptance.     

Producer/Director Lucinda Bruce (The Faceless Man, 350 Days and FSM) says: “Karlisha has an amazing presence about her. Her acting is beautifully structured and I can’t wait to see all the projects she has in the making.”

Editor of Sharknado William Boodell, who directed Karlisha in Sister Mercy, says: “Karlisha is truly a remarkable performer able to work under high pressure on difficult material with great finesse.”

wrapped - coseup - filmedwcamera -img_9665
Despite the pressures of a leading role, Karlisha always maintains a relatable and self-effacing nature on set. Here, she’s pictured in a close-up while filming her leading role in the feature Wrapped.

Performances such as these have not gone unnoticed by mainstream media, as Karlisha has been featured prominently in publications like the Northern Territory News, Surfcoast Times, Leader newspapers and Cinema Australia.

“I’m so grateful for the amount of interest and support I get from the media. Honestly I’m just happy they love hearing about my latest films and enjoy my contributions to the Hollywood film industry as much as I do.”

Behind the Scenes with Yoshie Morino

On the heels of the Golden-Globe nominated and box-office sensation Crazy Rich Asians, there’s no doubt that Hollywood has started to embrace a more diverse casting strategy when it comes to filling out the roster of its biggest films.

Japanese actress Yoshie Morino, well-known for her turns in Sharknado with Tara Reid and The Cat Diaries TV series, is one such beneficiary.

mv5bywq3yjdjodmtn2qyyy00zda4lwfjmzktmzuwmzzmyzjmnmvixkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtk2mzuzody@._v1_
Morino at the premiere of Sharknado 5. Photo credit: Ethan Miller, Getty Images

“I’m really excited to be a part of this new wave of talent, and to bring much needed diversity to the American filmmaking and acting landscape.”

Morino has recently joined the cast of Team 4, cementing her place within the company of celebrated filmmaker Len Davies, known for directing Emergency: LA. Indeed, Morino is currently working on two projects with Davies, who’s also been acclaimed for his work producing Bomber Command and World Association of Wrestling.

len-davies-85500642
Renowned producer Len Davies has worked on many different projects, and Morino is thrilled to be working with him.

“I’m very lucky to be working with Len on multiple projects – it’s validating as an actress to be a part of a production family. It means I can make meaningful economic and creative contributions to my industry, and to America more generally.”

In Team 4, Morino plays the leading role of Kumiko Kobayashi, a controller and leader in the mission preparation laboratory.

The series, which is about agents enhanced with nanotechnology who risk all to protect their world from evil forces, will showcase the character of Kumiko as having to shoulder the responsibility of programming the very nanotechnology inside each of the team members.

The role has therefore required Morino to access her strong sense of power and authority that, in real life she says, doesn’t come very easily.

“I’m very shy in real life, but that’s why I love acting – I get to play a part and do things that I would feel like I have to apologize for in my everyday world.”

The series also relied on Morino’s ability to effortlessly demonstrate her grasp of scientific terminology, as her character was an assistant on the original project that created the nanotechnology system and has the highest level security clearance from the NSA.

It’s not all serious business for Morino, though, as she enjoys some lighthearted scenes with another character who is a student to whom Kumiko imparts her knowledge. This allows the procedure to be carried on in the form of a legacy, as Morino’s character is the only person who understands the procedure and is therefore vitally important to the progression of the series’ hero journeys.

“My character Kumiko is totally unique in her field,” Morino adds proudly.

Aside from the character’s role in the plot, the role has also called on Morino’s unique screen talents and heritage to bring some authenticity to the project. Her gripping and powerful presence on camera brings out the best in the character of Kumiko Kobayashi, as well as revealing a vulnerability that engages viewers in a really effective (suggested: visceral ) way. Ultimately, as the director Len Davies and Morino both attest, Morino’s Japanese heritage grounds the series with an authentic representation of Asian culture that helps the series connect with audiences all over the world.

 

The other project Morino will be working on with Len Davies and his company is the feature film Astral Princess.

Don’t think though that Morino is intimidated at all by the change in medium, as it simply represents another opportunity to give service to a character and story.

Morino’s role is similarly demanding in Astral Princess, as she plays Ami Sato, an FBI field agent working with the lead agent Joel Finn.

“Joel,” Morino tells us, “is assigned to work on Suzannah Foster’s unique situation and as the pilot story develops, they become more involved in her abilities and the saving of Ricky Santos from the kidnappers. As the series progresses Ami becomes the liaison between the FBI and Suzannah.”

30665342443_169186f6f5_b-1024x640
Morino will be called on to participate and act in a wide range of high-octane action and stunt sequences. 

It’s clear that Morino’s multi-cultural heritage gives her the added ability to transcend cultures in order to deliver a compelling performance that relates to viewers of different backgrounds, a skillset that marks her as an actress at the top of her game.

“I think actors have a responsibility to relate to as many humans as possible, as we’re supposed to give life to the human experience and make people think and feel things they don’t otherwise get to experience in real life.”

Morino’s position as an Asian actress carving out a place at the top of Hollywood has been recently cemented with her contributions to the Glendale International Film Festival.

“The President of the Glendale International Film Festival even requested me to present the closing awards,” Yoshie tells us with a big smile.

“It was an amazing experience to present the awards to fellow filmmakers.”

Overall, the experience of being a judge also allowed her to use her own experiences to help others.

“I am grateful to be a part of these prestigious, well-known film festivals and to have been able to contribute my own acting experience.”

giff
The Glendale International Film Festival is considered ‘The Most Elegant Film Festival in the World.’ 

Aside from this integral perspective on her artistry, Yoshie’s successful career and relationships with illustrious companies have also brought her a degree of commercial success that would make any other actor envious. Perhaps a role in Crazy Rich Asians sequel is on the cards?

mv5bmtyxndmyotaxn15bml5banbnxkftztgwmdg1odyzntm@._v1_sy1000_cr0,0,674,1000_al_
The success of “Crazy Rich Asians” has sparked a wave of interest in actors of non-Caucasian heritage like Morino.

“I can’t quite say,” Yoshie says with a coy smile.

She adds, “I don’t think about the numbers, or money, I just think about the art.”

Australian actress Ayeshah Rose on international projects and storytelling

Ayeshah Rose is the embodiment of an international storyteller. Now more than ever, artists whose talents and skills traverse the globe and transcend cultural barriers are in demand, and Ayeshah’s career shows no signs of slowing down.

img_5773.jpeg
Ayeshah Rose

When asked about her success, Ayeshah is humble and points to her craft.

“Being trained but not strictly offers me more flexibility in my work. I am able to sense moments for a character quicker and deeper. I can indulge in a character’s identity which allows me to respond to the other actors that helps them stay empathetic.”

When looking at her body of work however, it’s clear that her consistency in building relationships with award-winning filmmakers and production companies in different facets of the industry have equally contributed to her current place atop the heap of Australian filmmakers making waves overseas. Indeed, she has recently been cast in the American film project “Vendetta”, to be shot in the US in the coming months.

“This project excites me…because of the technology involved…I’ll be working with weapons and using green screens and using skills that I’ve learnt over the years…it requires a lot of commitment and discipline.”

Ayeshah is blessed with a leading role, playing Elena, best friend to the protagonist Sofia.

“[The characters] went to school together for most of their lives. Elena recently changed schools after going down the wrong path and getting involved with a member of the mafia’s son. She’s terrified of being involved again, especially as she is the only one who knows their next target.”

In a reflection of Ayeshah’s impressive ability to connect and collaborate with highly revered filmmakers and companies, she’ll be working with Ryde Studios.

“With Ryde Studio’s reputation I am so excited to join a team that is making its mark significantly in the film industry as well as the resources I will get to experience while working on Vendetta. I am really excited to work in a professional environment which such a high calibre team that I know of so far. It’s the first big step I will have to the trajectory I hoped for. This is an opportunity to learn whilst performing which is so stimulating for me.”

Our interview soon turns to one of Ayeshah’s recent projects. In the feature film “Angel of Mine”, Ayeshah worked with Sundance award-winning filmmaker Kim Farrant (who directed Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman in the drama/thriller “Strangerland” alongside Hugo Weaving). “Angel of Mine” also boasts a top cast in “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” star Noomi Rapace (also known for her role in the “Alien” prequel, “Prometheus”) and “Fast and Furious” actor Luke Evans .   

“My character is a regular client at the hairdressing business of Noomi’s character,” Ayeshah astutely explains.

“She has a constant dialogue with Noomi’s character and serves as a confidante.”

When one understands that the film is about a woman grieving the loss of her daughter, only then to lose her grip on reality after she thinks her daughter may still be alive, it’s clear that any person considered a confidante to Noomi’s character is vitally important to story and the protagonist’s development. Ayeshah’s significance in the film therefore does not go unnoticed.

When asked about the shooting process, Ayeshah is quick to praise her co-stars while also touching on the demanding work schedule.

“Yvonne Stravoski and Noomi Rapace are both revered and honoured actresses – and rightfully so. They’re really fantastic. Being onset with both of them was exactly what I had imagined working with actors you can bounce off. Seeing their professionalism and focus was what I wanted within a professional team. I am so happy I got this moment in time where I felt I was of the same calibre.”

'Handmaids Tale' TV Show, presentation, Arrivals, Paleyfest, Los Angeles, USA - 18 Mar 2018
Ayeshah spent valuable time on set with “Handmaid’s Tale” star Yvonne Strahovski. PHOTO CREDIT: MEDIAPUNCH/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

Filming, Ayeshah elaborates, “required a lot of patience. My role was a crucial cross-over between Noomi’s character being confronted by Yvonne’s character about a murder.”

Not all elements of filming though were arduous, as Ayeshah is quick to reference a comical moment she shared with Noomi on set.

“In between [takes], I complimented Noomi’s nose (which I thought was very striking) and she informed me that Orlando Bloom broke it onset the film “ Unlocked” giving her that lovely nose of hers.” Ayeshah adds with a small laugh.

An ability to be flexible on set has in part been informed with Ayeshah’s other roles, including the leading character of Jane in film “My Day Job.”

“I had the ability to adlib when the other actors changed their lines by mistake and the focus was necessary for an intimate and dramatic scene. I had to also learn a Latina accent very last minute.”

Skills such as these are impressive, but ultimately, what motivates Ayeshah is not being good at something to impress a stranger, but to work in service of story and character.

“I am excited to merge into the US industry because I feel my look will be celebrated with the variety of roles I’ll be able to play, accessing all the colours and content that will allow my multi-skilled artistry to thrive and therefore I’ll be able to add value to the industry”.

“Promised” star Daniel Berini on authentic storytelling

In an industry that claims to be constantly innovating and chasing the latest trend, it’s always refreshing to encounter actors and creatives who maintain a solid grounding that renders them eternally appealing no matter what age or what the marketplace is like. Australian actor Daniel Berini has built a firm footing in his niche as a profoundly heartfelt actor who transcends time and place. Indeed, there’s a recurring trend in Daniel’s recent work of him being cast in projects set in the mid-20th century, the most obvious of which is the feature film “Promised”, co-starring “Strictly Ballroom” legend Paul Mercurio and famed-performer Tina Arena.

MV5BYjI5NDgwMTctNGIxMy00Y2MxLTk3YTgtMTUzMTIzYzNjOGQwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjU0NzE3NDA@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,666,1000_AL_
Daniel Berini as shot by Marnya Rothe

“Promised” concerns two young Italians in 1970s Australia dealing with the terms of their arranged marriage as negotiated by their fathers when they were born. Set against the backdrop of an Australia that was becoming increasingly liberal alongside fading traditions, “Promised” hails from “Hippocratic Oath” filmmaker Nathan Primmer and writer/director Nick Conidi.

A celebrated and impressive roster of filmmakers might make one expect there were clashing egos on set, but Daniel attests to how the production became something of a family during shooting.

As Daniel explains, “[a]s an Italian myself, I was able to appreciate and understand the world of Promised, which made the whole experience so very rewarding. Rocking up on set everyday felt like rocking up to Christmas lunch at my Nonna’s house, surrounded by cousins that you didn’t realise you had, and enough good food to feed an army. There was a sense of family around the production; family being the central tenet of the story.”

The story, which quite literally revolves around Robert, is a heartfelt one that resonates with audiences around the world despite the specificity of its time and place setting.

As Daniel explains, “[i]t was quite refreshing to read a script that celebrated Italian culture in Australia but didn’t make fun of it. This is a story that follows two people from two Italian families in Melbourne, but it doesn’t feature Italian cliches that are so often presented in film. There are no ‘lounge suites wrapped in plastic’, ‘concrete backyards’, or colourful depictions of ‘sauce day’ and stuff like that.”

Put more distinctly, Daniel highlights why he thinks viewers relate to the story and therefore why the film is an acclaimed one. “Promised is a story about relationships, that comments on Italian culture and the changing times, but ultimately it’s about Robert and Angela. This is a love story,…audiences…relish in its ornate simplicity.”

Daniel, who’s also known for his roles in TV in shows like “The Secret Daughter” and “Black Comedy”, has been affiliated with period pieces before. Notably, he appeared in the 1970s set Logie-award winning show “Love Child” in a key role as a part of the most recent season.

“Love Child is one of Australia’s most-loved television shows, and joining the final season was a real privilege,” Daniel beams.

Daniel’s experience on family-oriented shoots like “Promised” probably serves him well in an industry that can oftentimes be intimidating. With an acclaimed career like Daniel’s however, it’s unsurprising that he’s an actor who can not only ingratiate himself into a period TV show effortlessly, but also the cast and crew that makes it happen.

“I must admit, it was a bit intimidating arriving on set amidst a show at the tail end of its run,” Daniel concedes.

“You feel like you’re intruding on a family affair in a way, everybody there has been working together for years now and are all very comfortable. However, the cast and crew of Love Child could not have been more accommodating towards me and very quickly made me feel like I was also apart of the family.”

LOVE CHILD 2
Daniel Berini alongside “Doctor Doctor” star Chloe Bayliss and AACTA-winner Mandy McElhinney in a scene from “Love Child”

Daniel served critical moments in the emotional arc of “Love Child”s story. His truly honest portrayal of a young man nervous about the birth of his first child was both memorable and refreshingly authentic. Daniel’s unique look, incredibly befitting of the show’s 1970s setting, proved him irreplaceable within a production that prides itself on portraying the period as authentically as possible – an element that no doubt has led to “Love Child’s” numerous award-wins. This, coupled with the fact that he shared screen-time with AACTA-nominee Andrew Ryan and “Doctor Doctor” star Chloe Bayliss as his wife, both Australian household names, firmly cements Daniel as an actor working at the top level of his field.

This aside, Daniel’s clearly committed to character and serving the story, a testament to his dedication to authenticity and artistic integrity.

“It can be really good fun diving into a ‘period piece’ as an actor. There’s a weight to your choices, as you’re not only representing a person, but you are also representing the views of a time period, and you want that to come across as genuine as possible. It goes far deeper than tone and costume. It’s about finding the truth of your world, and then allowing it to influence your motivations as that character. I feel very privileged that I’ve had this opportunity on numerous occasions.”

LOVE CHILD 4
Daniel Berini in a scene from the 1970s Channel Nine show, “Love Child”

‘THE NUTRACKER’ actor Alexander Loxton on acting, dancing and staying humble

Birmingham native Alexander Loxton is a rare breed: accomplished not only as an actor, the heartthrob is also a revered dancer, having originally trained at the Royal Ballet School where was school mates with the renowned Sergei Polunin and actress Sonoya Mizuno. This heritage laid a solid foundation for his current status as a British export taking Hollywood by storm, having recently been cast in a US feature film and currently appearing in cinemas around the world in Disney’s “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.”

bafta 2
Acting and dancing British sensation Alexander Loxton at the BAFTA awards in Los Angeles.  

Alexander’s thoughts about his role in the movie reveal a modesty often displayed by performers working at the top of their field, demonstrative of the important notion that successful entertainers need only to prioritise craft and skill above fame and work will come.

“Being a dance movie it was central to the production to have the highest calibre dancers in the world to represent “The Nutcracker” suitably and working alongside artists such as Misty Copeland displays that.”

null
Alexander spent meaningful time on the same set as Oscar-nominee, Keira Knightley, in ‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms’.

In the movie, Alexander shares the silver screen with Oscar-nominated A-lister Keira Knightly, and in doing so cements his status as one of the leading young British actors working today, having carved out a phenomenal niche for himself as a dashing Brit who often plays a charming foil to American or narcissistic characters. In College Humor series “The Britishes,” for instance, Alexander was credited as Lord Harry, while he also is listed as a series regular in hilarious comedy “Bro-Dum” where he played the suitably-British role of ‘Rupert.’

“I’m very lucky I get to use my national heritage in all of my performances, as it’s an important part of my identity that I want to share with the world. And that’s why I’m a performer.”

“Outside of dance lessons I was a typical young lad from the midlands, I was in fights at school, in detention and was more comfortable in a tracksuit than anything else. My parents were not at all artistic.”

Despite the reservations Alexander had to dancing as a child, which was the pathway that eventually lead to acting, he found himself drawn to the discipline and craftsmanship that dancing afforded him.

“I started training at a local school from the age of 8 as a tap dancer and then was persuaded into trying classical ballet and started to reluctantly find myself enjoying it. I would later train at a run down sportshall and whilst groups of men would bustle into the changing room to play football I was pulling up my tights ready to dance.”

This keen awareness of his surroundings, and the humility with which he treated his artistic pursuits, clearly forms a core part of his intuition as a performer. Such a unique curiosity about life and perspective on people is a crucial tenet of Alexander’s one-of-a-kind talents as an artist.

“I can’t help but feel pulled towards the arts – I think now more than ever we have a responsibility to keep people filled with joy, and the easiest way to do that is through moving forms of entertainment.”

When asked about Alexander’s talents, co-star Jayden Fowora-Knight sung the Brit’s praises. “Alexander is definitely a one-of-a-kind talent – he’s so charming but he’s always willing to be vulnerable, and that’s crucial for a performer. Whether he’s acting on screen, or performing on stage – he draws you in because he’s so intently focused on the present.”

Alex had to remain tight-lipped about his upcoming project. “All I can say is that I’m really excited – that I’ve been given the opportunity to work as an actor in an American feature film is the culmination of many years of hard work. I can’t wait to start!”

alex jump 2
Alexander mid-dance from one of his many highly regarded performances. 

From Ukraine to Hollywood: Costume Designer Viktoriia Vlasenko

Viktorria Vlasenko
Costume Designer Viktoriia Vlasenko

Now an in-demand global costume designer, Ukraine-born Viktoriia Vlasenko first discovered her love and innate talent for her craft when she was just 8 years old. Vlasenko used her spare time to make party clothes for herself, her mother and her dolls, she even designed to suit her younger brother wore to his graduation.

Keen to continue her love of costume design, Vlasenko completed a Bachelor’s degree in fashion design at the Milan Institute of Design IED (Istituto Europeo di Design) which is among the top 7 universities in the world which specialize in fashion design.

After she graduated from the prestigious university, Vlasenko went full speed ahead and participated in a number of fashion shows and causes. She showed a collection at the Fashion Show 2015 New Talents Vogue Milan for young designers, and even participated in the No War project. The No War project was something very close to her heart, as it allowed her to protest against the war in Ukraine. Her impressive creative contributions to the project were also published in the “No War” book, which sold over 100,000 copies.

Viktoriia Vlasenko is a global sensation, as her work goes a lot further than simply Milan and her home country of Ukraine. Some of her work includes creating costumes for high-profile theatre productions, philharmonic societies, music videos and more. Among her many highlights as a costume designer is creating the breathtaking wardrobe for the cast of the production of “Alice in Wonderland” directed by Dmitriy Obednokov, which was held at the Ukraine Philharmonic with musical support from the chamber choir.

Viktoriia Vlasenko
Actors from “Alice in Wonderland” in costumes designed by Viktoriia Vlasenko

She has dressed stars such as Latin-Grammy-nominated singer and actress Natalia Oreiro for the red carpet, and has designed for SaM (Samvel Arzumanov) and his Freedom International label.

Vlasenko also designed dazzling costumes that singer Olga Pechko, the winner of the All-Ukrainian competition, wore during her performances earlier this year while on tour across Ukraine. Pechko discovered Vlasenko’s unique style after stumbling upon one of the designer’s doll collections, an area of design that she has become increasingly well known for over the years.

“She saw my Forged Iron Dummies collection and envisioned them as garments for her show and then asked me to design her costumes,” recalls Vlasenko.

Viktoriia Vlasenko
Forged Iron Dummy by Viktoriia Vlasenko

In addition to designing countless theatrical productions and costumes for the stars, Vlasenko has been tapped as the costume designer on an impressive list of films including multi-award winning director Catharine Lin’s (“Twenty Years After”) romantic film “Mr. Heart” starring Greyson Todd (“Mind, Body and Bullshit,” “Let Me Go”) and Ivan Sharudo (“The Lincoln”). As every project is unique in itself and requires something completely different to take it the next level, Vlasenko’s creative process understandably varies from project to project.

When it comes to designing costumes for the cast of a film production, like that of the upcoming Ukrainian film “Unworld,” Vlasenko says, “I read the scenario; then I learn the subject of costume and film epoch.. Then I think over the ideas, calculate the production and how much time it will take, then start to draw the design, select fabric and materials. After this – purchase of materials and the costume production itself after agreement of the design with the film director.”

Viktoriia Vlasenko
Costume for “Unworld” designed by Viktoriia Vlasenko

As the costume designer on “Unworld,” an upcoming urban fantasy film directed by Mykhailo Andriiets, Vlasenko created a series of highly-technical costumes. While “Unworld” depicts a war between futuristic robots equipped with powerful digital technology and the mythical monsters of yore, the dystopian film has an underlying message of unity. In the midst of an all out war, the film’s seemingly disadvantaged human characters band together and use the robot’s digital technology in order to bring down the established order.

Bringing to mind images of films like “V for Vendetta” and “Blade Runner,” but placing her own unique spin on things, Vlasenko’s costumes for “Unworld” are incredibly stylized; and they’re a key in transporting the audience into such a far-out world. You can get a sneak peak into Vlasenko’s designs for the film from the clip below.

“Viktoriia created the concept images, designed the costumes, coordinated accessories and worked out the technical elements for the costumes to work for the actors performances, she pretty much did the work of a concept artist, costume designer, technologist, seamstress, and prop master,” says Ukrainian director Mykhailo Andriiets.

“Working with Viktoriia is inspiring… you can not see where the boundaries of her talent and optimism ends. She is a great professional because of her boundless imagination and diligence… She believes in success and does everything possible to achieve it.”

Though Vlasenko has made a strong name for herself in Ukraine, her unique skill as a costume designer has also attracted the attention of filmmakers in the US, such as Avi Agarwal (“Pieces”) who tapped Vlasenko as the costume designer on his 2016 dramatic comedy film “Loose Ends” starring Justine An from the film “A World of Contradictions.” Awarded at the 2016 Hollywood Boulevard film Festival, “Loose Ends”  depicts a young collegiate partier who’s potential futures flash before his eyes during different encounters over the course of the film, with the most rattling outcome being one of total vagrancy.

In stark contrast to her work on “Unworld,” Vlasenko’s task as the costume designer on “Loose Ends” required her to err on the side of minimalism to create a more realistic wardrobe in support of the story.

Vlasenko says, “I watched the vagrants and homeless people around Los Angeles, taking note of how they behaved and what they wore, as well as that of  prisoners. This project was actually very simple for me, but this is exactly what the film director wanted, it was his vision of the project.”

Always working in support of the story– that is the true role of the costume designer, as well as for anyone else working on a film crew, something Vlasenko knows all about. While her wildly outrageous designs for films like “Unworld” reveal her capacity as a creative, her ability to let the story guide the way is tantamount to the success of the films she works on.

“I can work with various materials, which some other costume designers tend to be afraid to work with,” Vlasenko says. “I can invent, implement and realize my designs, using my own hands to bring them life, I can make a more cost-effective costume design budget when I have to.”

“Small Town Hackers” star Caris Eves on her thriving career

“Small Town Hackers” actor Caris Eves has had an interesting journey as an actor, globe-trotting between the US, UK and Australia on various projects. For now, the blonde-beauty is firmly rooted at the top of the Australian entertainment industry with her recent starring turn in an award-winning comedy series from acclaimed production company, Mad Kids. “Small Town Hackers” was most recently nominated for Best Online Series at Australia’s answer to the Emmys and Oscars, the AACTAs. It’s an achievement befitting of one of the busiest actresses in Australia.

_R3Q0044
Caris Eves in a shot by Chris Huzzard.

“Working on ‘Small Town Hackers’ was the most fun I could ever imagine having on a film set!” she enthusiastically exclaims.

Caris elaborates on the significance of her character to the plot of the series.

“My character Lucy Boddington as an homage to Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks. The comedy series is set in a small country town of Durran and revolves around the death of Lucy.”

The fun has continued, it seems, as the doe-eyed thespian recently joined the cast of new ABC-show The Heights in an important recurring role.

Jumping between projects like this might cause any actor a bit of stress, but Caris takes it all in her stride.

“It’s what I love to do,” she thoughtfully adds.

“Mad Kids production were an amazing team to work for and are incredibly supportive and generous so I was very thankful to be part of it.”

Caris’ unique talents as an actor is incredibly rare to find in a statuesque and elegant package like hers: the comic timing and vulnerability required of her role in Small Town Hackers demanded an emotional agility that is only seen by actresses working in the top echelon of the industry.

Caris delivered a compelling performance that has commanded viewers’ attention since the series’ debut. It confirms her reputation as a performer who is not soon forgotten by viewers, as her fierceness and sensitivity as an actor allows her an ability to be relatable, while also domineering on screen. It is this combination that makes Caris the epitome of a leading actor.

In one moment, Caris had to deliver a look to another character that was captured by CCTV footage, letting the other characters in on an important clue to the mystery to her character’s disappearance.

3i
Caris in a still from ‘Small Town Hackers’, a series revolving around the disappearance of her character that industry insiders have labelled a comedic homage to ‘Twin Peaks’. Many of Caris’ key scenes took the form of a flashback.

Caris also tells us about other experiences she’s had as an actor which have motivated her to continue to challenge herself as an artist.

“One of the most powerful acting experiences I have had links back to one of the first film productions I was ever In. It was an awareness campaign for people struggling with mental health Issues and at that time my best friend had taken her life. I didn’t tell anyone on set that only days prior my friend had taken her life, as I didn’t want to be treated any differently. I wanted to represent something that was honest and raw, and captured the feelings and thoughts going through the minds of the people in these emotional states. It was challenging because I so deeply understood her decisions and at the same time was confronted by the choice she made and wondered if I could have done anything to change the outcome. I’ve grown a lot as a person and as an actor as a result of It. You don’t always have to feel comfortable to achieve the right take.  I never had an experience that I felt so personally connected to or could relate to.”

Like most great actors, Caris’ skills and care for her craft such as what was proven on that early filming experience, were actually honed on stage in the beginning stages of her her career. Caris performed a leading role in a production of Red Cross by Sam Shephard, written while the acclaimed playwright was dating Patti Smith. It was experiences like these that grounded Caris in a deeply committed appreciation of her craft, as she developed a sophisticated understanding of her voice, talent and emotional range in order to service characters across a wide range of genres.

Aside from working with a distinguished company like Mad Kids, “Small Town Hackers” enjoyed an awards success when it won for best directing of an online comedy project at the recent Director’s Guild of Australia awards – one of the nation’s highest honours for screen content. Adding to the list of the series’ accomplishments is its international online distribution with Saturday Night Live online multi-channel network, Above Average.

“It’s attracted over 400k viewers since the release late last year!” Caris proudly adds, also pointing to how she shared screen time with “OtherLife” and “Parallax” actor, Luke Hewitt.

“Luke was great to work with!”

Aside from her critical roles across TV and online projects, the profile of Caris’ acting career has led to her endorsing some impressive companies for national commercials. In a recent road-safety campaign for RAC, Caris worked on a set that had a budget of $5 million, and flew its director in from the UK. She explains the challenge of acting on a fast-paced commercial set, one that was very different from her earlier experiences as an acclaimed stage actor.

“The director worked in a high intensity environment and was focused on achieving the perfect shot. He had me changing my emotional states very quickly in order to achieve the desired results, which saw me crying one moment to laughing hysterically the next. It was an exciting project to be part because of the pace, expectation and importance of the campaign.”

Adding to the experience of filming itself, the campaign’s success and millions of views it has received online since its release confirm Caris as being at the centre of a powerful social campaign.

Up next for the accomplished actress? “I’m excited to be joining the cast of some really cool projects – unfortunately I can’t quite say what they are yet, but my agents and manager and I are all very excited!”

AUSTRALIAN FILMMAKER ADRIAN PROSPERO TELLS THE STORIES OF CHANNEL NINE’S SUCCESS

In recent news of NBL’s 3-year partnership with Channel Nine, we sat down with the man behind Nine’s innumerable advertisement campaigns, Australian-born filmmaker Adrian Prospero to discuss his crucial role within the groundbreaking network and how his contributions have shaped Channel Nine to be Australia’s largest commercial free-to-air television network to date.

“It was an absolute honour to work with Channel Nine, and I am thrilled that the network has been skyrocketing in their success.” 

adrian onset
Award-winning Director Adrian Prospero working with actors on set.

Adrian Prospero has been a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment world for the past decade having distinguished himself as a versatile filmmaker with over a 100  credits to his name as a Writer, Director, and Producer on various media platforms including television commercials, narrative films, and documentary films.

adrian film posters
Some of Adrian’s impressive award-winning narrative and documentary films.

We asked Prospero about his great passion for filmmaking and the many hats that he wears as a filmmaker.

“I love all aspects of filmmaking, but I would consider myself first and foremost a director.”

While the entertainment industry is known to be excruciatingly difficult to break into with thousands of filmmakers competing to get their foot in the door, Adrian Prospero has impressed many esteemed filmmakers with his success as he managed to conquer the narrative and documentary world while also making himself indispensable in the commercial and corporate world. Since the beginning of his career over a decade ago, Adrian has since been involved in dozens of advertising campaigns in the capacity of a Writer and Director for multi-billion dollar companies such as REIWA and Australia’s prominent WIN Television Network.

channel91

channel92

Most notably, Prospero has undertaken a crucial role in the growth and success of Channel Nine. The network is equivalent to America’s paramount television networks namely ABC, CBS, and NBC.

Prospero’s skills as an extraordinary filmmaker combined with an extensive knowledge in marketing allowed him to contribute to the network primarily through cultivating client relationships, which consequently magnified the company’s revenue and strengthened the reputation of Channel Nine. In 2017, Nine reported a revenue of $720 million. During his time at the network, Adrian raked in millions of views for numerous affluent clients such as the global upscale hotel brand Novotel and the renowned multi-billion dollar real estate company, Mirvac.

In a reflection of how far Adrian has come as a director, and proving how sought after he is, Prospero can now earn up to $1570 an hour as a director. A source from Channel Nine joked “not a bad jump considering most directors are only paid about $75 an hour, and Adrian’s humble beginnings in Perth!”.

Despite his vast experience and success in the industry, Prospero remains modest when asked about his success in the commercial and corporate world.

“I am thankful to Channel Nine for entrusting me with each campaign and for allowing me the creative freedom towards these commercials.”

[above: some of the above companies who have gained millions of views for their films and commercials made by Adrian Prospero]. 

Prospero has been regarded as a terrific collaborator across all platforms. Therefore, it is no surprise that numerous companies and artists seek to work with him. His versatility in storytelling have led him to working with Songwriter and Rapper Bill Marri and Australia’s beloved electro-pop band, The Arsonist. His work on their music videos have gained these artists legions of fans globally.  

The prominent Writer and Director shares “Music videos are so much fun to work with, but what I love about it is the integration of two mediums (music and visuals) to create something powerful. You are often allowed so much creative freedom in music videos so it can be challenging in getting the balance right between the two, but when you find that balance where the two complements each other, the results are extraordinary”.

More recently, Prospero challenged himself in taking on several roles on a workplace comedy miniseries in which he wrote, produced, directed, and edited. The miniseries, Unrealty, was shot in Australia with actors Chris Buckley (Sons of Soldiers, Badgirl) and James Broadhurst (Reflection, Derelict). Adding to his great acclaim, Prospero picked up an award for the series from the Accolade Global Film Competition.

“It was really fun to shoot a comedy series. I’d definitely love to do it again.”

Picture5
Comedy miniseries written, directed, produced, and edited by acclaimed filmmaker Adrian Prospero.

Prospero was also previously awarded the Accolade Global Film Competition Award for his 2016 dramatic film The Hunt starring award-winning actor Robert Hartburn and David Pragnell. The prestigious film festival has successfully been running for 14 years, and recent winners of the competition include the films Money (starring Jesse Williams from Grey’s Anatomy) and Riley Wood (starring the James Bond and Wild Things actress Denise Richards).

“It is incredibly humbling to be recognized by renowned festivals for doing what I feel most passionately about”.

6
Recognized by Movie Maker Magazine as one of the “Top 25 Festivals” in its category.

From commercial and corporate work to music videos and narrative films, Adrian Prospero is regarded as amongst the best in his field. He takes incredible pride in everything that he does which in effect produces outstanding films, and we are confident that this extraordinary filmmaker will continue to conquer the entertainment industry.