For some, stardom is literally in the stars, but for actor James Preston Rogers it is a reality that seems to have been destined by the very stars most others dream upon.
In the modern fast-paced world we live in today the notion of an actor being “discovered” is often considered something of the past, but it is in fact, the very way that James got his start. Jump forward a decade to today and it seems that the James discovery was one of great value for many as this talented actor has become a highly sought after actor in Hollywood and abroad. With leading roles in the films Outlander, A Beginner’s Guide to Endings, You Might as Well Live, Jesse Stone: Sea Change and Defendor, James has proven time and time again that he has what it takes to succeed in the cut-throat world of today’s entertainment industry.
When he was in high school, James Preston Rogers acted in plays, but never considered “going big” until he got a phone call from an agent one day asking him to star in a nationally syndicated commercial for “Mr. Big” candy bars. Surprised, as he did not have an agent or even a headshot at the time, he agreed to take the role.
Since this serendipitous beginning, James has proven his worth and gone on to excel in far greater roles. His first major role outside of theatre productions and the Mr. Big commercial came in the six-part mini-series Jesse Stone: Sea Change where he acted alongside Golden Globe winner Tom Selleck.
“I played Terry Genest,” said James Preston Rogers, “a hired gun sent to kill Jesse Stone… That day was an emotional day for me on so many levels. Not only was it one of my first acting jobs, being shown across North America on CBS, but I was acting with Tom Selleck, Magnum PI, one of my childhood heroes.”
The show received critical acclaim and was nominated for several awards including a Primetime Emmy, Satellite Award, Canadian Society of Cinematographers Award and an American Society of Cinematographers Award.
There is another, more heartrending side to James Preston Rogers’ career, however. When he was a young adult, James lost his mother. “ I mean, she was so proud of me when I was a skinny zitty teenager with nothing to show for it” he said, speaking of his mother. “Now I am a man in my chosen profession, acting with some of the greats and also her favorites.”
It is astounding to see how many of her favorites James has had the chance to work with, too. Almost astounding enough to make one wonder if James Preston Rogers’ mother might very well know how well her son is doing after all.
“Tom Selleck was one of my mother’s favorite actors,” James explained. And this was just the beginning of James’s work with his mother’s favorites actors. After his first major acting role in the Jesse Stone: Sea Change series alongside Selleck, James snagged a role in the science fiction film Outlander. In this critically acclaimed feature, he played the Viking Bjorn alongside another one of his mother’s favorite actors, Golden Globe winner Ron Perlman.
After Outlander, James played the pivotal role of a slow-witted biker named Bob in the film Defendor, starring two-time Oscar nominated actor Woody Harrelson. “He was another one of my mother’s favorites actors,” Rogers remarked. Defendor received an award at the Whistler Film Festival, the Claude Jutra Award at the Genie Awards and was nominated for a Directors Guild of Canada Award.
One day, after the release of the Jesse Stone: Sea Change series, James and his father were watching an interview with Tom Selleck on the Regis and KellyShow. “[Tom Selleck] decided to use our clip to promote the series and spent a few minutes talking about me, ending with ‘James you owe me’,” recalled Rogers. The actor described the look on his father’s face as “one of the changing of the guards.”
“It was a very humbling moment, one I wish I wish I could have shared with my mother,” explained Rogers.
With the groundbreaking career James Preston Rogers has had thus far, one might be led to believe that his mother may still be cheering him on from somewhere, a guardian angel who is undoubtedly incredibly proud of her son.
Despite her flawless beauty, Gisele Góes is actually the one behind the scenes, or rather screens, computer screens that is. Gisele is an incredibly motivated tech writer and content producer. As one of the lead producers and managers of content for the successful websites TechTudo.com, Globo.com and Socialbakers.com Gisele works tirelessly to bring the online community the most relevant and up-to-date news in the tech industry. She is also one of the creative individuals behind Blogo, an award-winning blogging app for Mac OSX.
Not only is she a talented tech-savvy writer, but Gisele has also begun extending her work as a tech producer into the world of film. To find out more about Gisele’s work in the tech industry, and how she managed to take her skills as a producer from one industry to another, read our interview below!
TTNN: What did you go to school for?
GG: Bachelors in Social Communication, Emphasis in Advertising & Marketing
TTNN: What do you do for TechTudo?
GG: Write articles covering real-time industry news, digital culture, social media, product reviews, ratings (software, hardware), how-to’s, tutorials, featured downloads. Also monitor new sources for topic proposals and make sure to follow the tight deadlines (timing is everything). Without competent and good qualified writers, TechTudo wouldn’t have good and updated content.
TTNN: Why do people use TechTudo/What is the website all about?
GG: TechTudo is the biggest tech website in Brazil and it’s part of Globo (largest media group in Latin America). TechTudo is separated by sessions: News, Articles, Special Articles (interviews, etc), Tutorials & Downloads.
The website covers all news about technology and digital culture making this kind of content accessible to general audience (more than 10 million unique visitors).
TTNN: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
GG: Actually I’ve wanted to be a photographer but writing started to become a good hobby when I created my first blog (Keep Calm and Blog On). After following my work with my blog the staff from TechTudo invited me to write for them and then everything made sense. I found out I could use my passion about photography to pick up cool images or even write about the subject and have fun writing at the same time!
TTNN: What genre or category does your writing fall into?
GG: I love writing about everything but I like online focused content and approaching subjects like new products/services, games, tech culture, pop culture and entertainment. Even though I enjoy long articles I really love the challenge of trying to be straight but giving the right details to touch the audience. This is actually what prompted me to start working on an ebook about how technology is changing our writing habits.
TTNN: Why have you chosen to work and write in this field specifically?
GG: I’ve always been into tech. When I was little I used to spend a lot of time in the computer, my grandparents would call me out for that and tell my parents “this girl spends too much time on the computer”. I love having access to new information but more than that, I love sharing it with people from all over the world. And that wouldn’t be possible without technology. I’ve lived in 10 different cities in 2 different countries, so I’m fascinated about communication and how it changes from culture to culture. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I love talking to all kinds of people from different places about something that I love and exploring good content everyday that deserves to be shared with the world.
TTNN: How did you begin working in app development?
GG: I worked in a Globo.com’s affiliate company that developed apps and tech products. After getting expertise in the process behind the development I started writing for TechTudo about tech related news and studying more about startups and getting more into the field.
I was one of the 18 young talents selected for a summer program in Silicon Valley in 2013 called Startup Dream Team and had workshops about all the steps a startup or entrepreneur needs to follow to start a new business / app / service / product.
TTNN: What is your area of expertise in app development?
GG: Communication, Written production (UX interface), Copyhacking and growth. Everything that involves promoting, increasing the online performance and connecting with an audience and press.
TTNN: What is the Blogo App all about?
GG: Blogo is a desktop blogging app for Macs. It simplifies the blogging workflow by getting rid of everything that is not necessary. All the features were carefully thought, selected and designed to make blogging easier and faster. It’s the easiest way to manage multiple blogs and publish content.
TTNN: How did you come up with the idea for Blogo?
GG: Blogo was not my idea. In fact, Blogo was created in 2008 and gained a lot of attention, described by Mashable as a “bad ass blog editor,” but its development halted after a Mac OS update. Five years later, the original creator (Ivan) gathered with two new partners and got the project back on track. Ivan and I were friends already and he knew I was coming back from Silicon Valley and thought I was the perfect fit to give Blogo a “human touch” and take charge of their communication.
TTNN: As a producer for Socialbakers, what specifically do you do?
GG: Produce and coordinate all the content distribution in Brazil. Pitch Socialbakers to Brazilian media, look for media opportunities and come up with ideas for country specific content, arrange special articles and interviews that increases Socialbakers’ brand performance in Brazilian territory in order to attract more attention from possible clients and public in general.
After reaching an incredible level of success as a writer and producer in the tech industry, Gisele Góes began extending her skills beyond the tech world. Drawing on her unparalleled ability to raise funds and publicity for projects she believes in, Gisele began applying her talents to the film industry. In addition to being an irreplaceable force in the creation of content and the overall management of TechTudo.com, Globo.com, and Socialbakers.com, she is also currently working as a producer for the films “The Umbrella”, “Crystal Crypt” and “Susannah’s Lesson.”
TTNN: How did you transition from working as a producer in the tech world to producing films?
GG: I’ve always wanted to work with film– that was one of my options while I was in college but I ended up focusing on technology. Today I believe that is possible to work with both. Technology is completely changing the film industry because it empowers the community and independent moviemakers to easily spread the word, and get the support and funding needed to make a project happen.
TTNN: What skills from your background as a tech producer do you use as a producer of films? What are the similarities?
GG: Writing and content distribution mainly; but also my expertise interacting and approaching the community and that’s because independent movies use a lot of crowdfunding to help raise enough money to produce their films.
For a crowdfunding campaign to succeed, it is crucial to understand how to promote the right content to a community in order to generate spontaneous communication, etc. Just like in technology, you have to understand your target and make sure you’re delivering the right content, on the right channel with the perfect approach.
TTNN: What are your strengths as a film producer?
GG: As I said before, technology is changing the film industry completely. Movies like Crystal Crypt had so much support from the community and that has everything to do with their success. I believe that my knowledge with online tools to promote content and experience with content distribution, writing and PR is really useful to help in the movie’s production, as well as when it comes time to pitch them to the media in the best way.
TTNN: What do you like about producing films?
GG: I’ve always loved movies. I can’t spend a week without watching at least one movie, and it’s amazing being able to be a part of something like that. There’s a lot behind a movie and it combines everything I love– photography, music, writing. It’s fascinating to see all these amazing factors being worked out together and turned into a “piece of art”.
TTNN: What are your favorite kinds of films to produce?
GG: Independent ones. Mostly because they have a big influence from the online community and they’re directly related with technology. As far as genres go, I like Sci-fi (which is the case of Crystal Crypt) but I don’t have a specific genre that I prefer. I think it’s all about quality.
TTNN: How did you get involved with the upcoming films The Umbrella, Crystal Crypt and Susannah’s Lesson?
GG: Shahab Zargari, the director of the film Crystal Crypt, knew me from my work here in Brazil as a writer and he thought I could add a different approach to these projects, that is how it began. He wanted someone with a different perspective that could add a lot and seek different approaches to promote and produce something unique.
TTNN: What do you hope to achieve over the course of your career as a writer and producer?
GG: Of course I want to get involved with awesome projects, but I also want to be able to promote and create great communities around these projects to guarantee their success. Technology keeps empowering us and today funding or raising money is just a matter of getting the right people involved and working together to make great ideas happen.
UK born composer Alex Redfern is a master of blending music and visuals for film and television. Alex Redfern is known throughout the international entertainment industry for having created emotive scores for the films Happy Face and Tumbleweed: A True Story, as well as for contributing to the music departments of Walt Disney Picture’s upcoming feature Cinderella, which stars two-time Oscar Award winner Cate Blanchett, James Franco’s Holy Land, Penguin Trek, Larson’s Field, and many others.
The young yet highly skilled composer is currently working on Sisterhood of the Red Garter 3D, as well as the film Varanasi, which stars Adil Hussain from Life of Pi. Directed by Richard Connew, the film Sisterhood of the Red Garter 3D is a UK comedy film that is scheduled to be released next year. A feature film about a mysterious cult set in Northern England, the film stars Brian Woodward from Peaky Blinders, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, The Theory of Everything and Hollows Wood 3D.
Redfern admits, “it’s fun writing for comedy, but you have to be delicate with the timing to make sure it has the right effect.” He adds that the music in the film ”is a cross between light-hearted and dark, and mysterious. It is mostly orchestral, but it has a few surprises thrown in.”
One aspect of Alex Redfern’s career that sets him apart from other composers is his incredible ability to bring diversity to all of his musical creations, something audience will notice in his other upcoming project Varanasi, where he is working as the film’s orchestrator. According to Redfern the film is “a dark thriller set in the holy city of Varanasi in India. It uses orchestral and Indian instruments together.”
Alex Redfern was also a key contributor to the music department on Mark Marchillo’s film The Curse of The Un-kissable Kid. A comedic and whimsical coming of age tale, The Curse of The Un-kissable Kid follows a young boy named Josh, played by William Leon from the hit television shows True Blood, New Girl and Modern Family, who finds himself in a sticky situation after taking a potion from a fortune teller at a local carnival without reading the fine print. After swallowing the potion Josh realizes that the bottle says it will make him disappear if he doesn’t find true love’s kiss within 24 hours. In an effort to keep from dissolving into nothingness, the desperate teen sets up a kissing booth and soon finds himself in a passionate lip-lock with a boy named Clark, played by Christopher Bones from the shows One Life to Live and My Name Is Earl. Redfern used his musical talents to heighten the fantastical elements of the film with his subtle orchestration of instruments.
A truly talented composer, there is no doubt on anyone’s mind that audiences around the world will be seeing, or rather hearing, a whole lot more of Redfern’s musical creations for many years to come. Be sure to check out the video below to see Alex Redfern conducting one of his original compositions “Riding Out West” with a 47-piece orchestra at Eastwood Scoring Stage at Warner Brothers Studio in Los Angeles.
Over that last few years Rebekah Miskin has become a highly sought after actresses in Canada for her incredible ability to tap in to the most challenging and complex characters with ease. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, the actress began her acting journey in her early teens, but her first introduction to the stage came in the form of dance much earlier.
“I started off as a dancer, taking my first dance class at age three,” said Rebekah Miskin. “At age thirteen, I asked my parents if I could enroll in a summer drama camp and luckily they obliged. From there I was hooked – but I always loved performing from the moment I stepped on a stage as a bumble bee in pre-primary ballet at age three.”
Passionate about the pivotal role acting plays in bringing stories to life, Rebekah has dedicated her life to perfecting her craft, something which has paid off for the young actress as she continues to land starring roles in films and theatrical productions alike.
“Great theatre, film and television, at its core, is about telling great stories that resonate with people. That’s why I love acting so much. It’s the ultimate way of connecting and understanding other people,” explained Rebekah.
Some of Rebekah Miskin’s film roles include Kate in Pooka, Lainie in Reviving Ophelia, Zoe in A Subsequent Life, as well as many others. The actress also plays Alma Parsons in the hit television series Murdoch Mysteries and Anna in Long Story, Short.
Earlier this year Rebekah guest starred as Nicole Williamson on the television show Mayday aka Air Emergency. Mayday, known in Australia, South Africa and Asia as Air Crash Investigation, is a documentary-style program produced by Cineflix, which investigates air crashes, hijackings, bombings and other disasters with a new story each episode. Currently on its 14th season, Mayday has won a Gemini Award, as well as has been nominated for three Canadian Society of Cinematographers Awards.
The star of the episode entitled “First Air”, Rebekah wowed audiences with her incredible performance as Nicole Williamson. A heroic true story, the episode follows Rebekah in the role of Nicole, a 19-year-old passenger whose plane crashes into the side of a mountain in the middle of the Arctic. A formidable and courageous young woman, Nicole breaks both her foot and her pelvis in the crash, but she still manages to rescue the only other surviving passengers, a 6-year-old girl and a 45-year-old man, by carrying them out of the wreckage.
“It was really exciting because I was playing a person who actually exists,” said Rebekah. “The real Nicole Williamson is a true heroine. I guarantee it was much easier playing the TV version of Nicole than being the real Nicole rescuing two people from a burning plane, but it was so enthralling. It was very empowering for me to get to play the hero!”
An incredible actress with a huge career ahead of her, Rebekah Miskin also stars in the upcoming film Records for Maggie where she plays the role of Maggie. The film is set to be released next year.
The diverse work of Italian line producer Nicola (Nick) De Stefani has taken him around the world several times over, and although his work on countless award-winning commercials and documentaries has put him in many perilous situations, his love for his work and dedication to getting the shot has kept him calm and motivated even in the face of life-threatening danger.
While De Stefani has fulfilled the role of producer on several documentaries, his most consistent role over the last 25 years has been that of a line producer, which means he functions as the key manager of daily operations for the majority of projects he takes on.
During his time as co-owner and producer with World Watching Film from 1990 to 1995, De Stefani produced nearly 20 documentaries informing audiences on everything from the indigenous people, native plants and animals, and magnificent, yet equally treacherous mountain ranges, which exist in various parts of the world.
A dedicated producer, Nick De Stefani explains, “it was my production company that was producing and realizing the projects so it was my job to work at my best, even at the cost of being bitten or strangled by a snake, eaten alive by a nearby tiger that no one knew was around, or stomped by an Indian rhino.”
Some of his documentary titles include Tsaatan, Gli Uomini Renna (Tsaatan, The Reindeer Men) and I Nomadi Kazaki Degli Altai (The Kazak nomads of the Altai), which he shot in Mongolia, Il Mondo Perduto – Roraima (The Lost World – Roraima) and La Pianura Infinita – Llanos (The Endless Plain – Llanos), which he shot in Venezuela, Il Destino Del Gigante – Chitwan (The fate of the giant – Chitwan) and Il Parco di Chitwan (The Park of Chitwan), which he shot in Nepal, as well as many others.
“In the forests of southern Nepal, at Chitwan National Park, I had to tackle and handle a 10-foot constrictor snake by the tail, while my working partner was filming it. I did the same thing in Venezuela with a 12 foot injured anaconda, which had an extended mycosis on one side,” admits De Stefani.
In addition to taking on his main role as the producer of these documentaries, De Stefani also fulfilled various other roles while on location including co-director, sound recorder, art director, grip, electrician, and cameramen.
“Making these kind of documentaries means that you alone, or you and your working partner, will do the job an entire crew does while filming a feature film or a commercial,” says De Stefani. “You have to have the knowledge and the skills to cover all the roles.”
After De Stefani and his partner Rolando Menardi closed World Watching Films in 1995, De Stefani switched his focus from documentary filmmaking to the commercial world, an area in which he has found unparalleled success.
While Nick De Stefani’s love for exploration and the wild unknown made him an asset and key developer in the production of documentaries, these same traits have also made him an irreplaceable counterpart as the line producer on multiple award-winning commercials for high profile brands including Fiat, Mercedes-Benz, Nike, Ariston Aqualtis, Tuborg, Ferrero, Vodafone, Volvo and many more. For the last two decades De Stefani has been a go-to line producer for commercials for some of the world’s leading ad agencies like BBDO, Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett Worldwide, Lowe Pirella, and Grey.
On a commercial for Snam, a division of Italy’s largest gas company, Nick used his knowledge of Alaska and his vast skills as a line producer to make the commercial a success.
“It is not everyday that you have the chance to shoot in the middle of the ice and in my personal experience these, along with the desert, are the most challenging grounds you have to cope with… Nick helped us all, with a perfect blend of a professional and friendly attitude. It is important, especially when you are in a tough ground, to have very focused people around you who can help solve problems, but at the same time capable smiling and keeping the atmosphere light and pleasant, even in the most difficult situations,” explained Simona Ferraro, who is an executive producer at Filmmaster Service based in Rome.
Nick’s ability to think quickly and always find the tools necessary for the director and the rest of the team to create a successful production has been an asset to every project he has worked on.
Check out one of the commercials Nick De Stefani produced for Indesit Company’s Ariston Aqualtis washing machine below! Indesit Company is one of the leading European manufacturers and distributors of major domestic appliances. The commercial was directed by Italy’s three-time Advertising Director of the Year, Dario Piana. Piana has shot over 650 commercials over the course of his career, as well as received countless awards including four Gold, three Silver and four Bronze Lion Awards at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and a Clio Grand Prix Award.
Recognized throughout Mexico for her roles on the popular shows María Belén and La Rosa de Guadalupe, Daniela Mandoki has created an astonishing reputation as a go-to actress for a variety of challenging roles.
Mandoki’s most recent film roles include Valeria in Divina Confusión and Laura in Obediencia Perfecta. Unfolding like a love story gone sour, Divina Confusión opens with a melancholy dialogue about moving on between Dante, played by Damer, and Javier, played by Xabiani Ponce de Leon who plays Marco on Disney’s hit series Violetta. The way the dialogue proceeds on an emotional level leads audiences to believe that the two men are lovers, however, with the appearance of Valeria, played by Daniela Mandoki, we quickly learn that the two men are talking about moving on from their band and Valeria is in fact Javier’s girlfriend.
“It was a very smart way to distract the audience,” explained Mandoki. “It’s incredible how we as the audience jump to conclusions forgetting that close relationships go beyond romance.”
In addition to her work on-camera, Daniela Mandoki has also starred in a lengthy list of well-known theater productions under the direction of world renowned directors including Emmy and Oscar Award winner Milton Justice and Christopher Thornton who is known for the films Sympathy for Delicious, Hitched, I’m With Stupid, Pretty Persuasion, Welcome To California, as well as many others.
Putting the vast nature of her craft on display, Mandoki took on two drastically different roles in Milton Justice’s production of “Our Town.” Taking the stage as both Rebecca Gibbs, an 8-year-old girl, and Mrs. Louella Soames, a 60-year-old woman, Mandoki transitioned with ease between the role of the young and naïve Gibbs and the elderly town gossip and choir singer Mrs. Soames. A talented singer and musician herself, Mandoki amazed audiences across Los Angeles with her capacity as a vocalist in her performance of Mrs. Soames.
The actress proved her diversity once again when she took the stage in the male role of Schuppanzigh in the production of “Black Comedy” under the direction of Christopher Thornton. Mandoki’s remarkable theater resume also includes the productions of Juan Gabriel Moreno’s Delitto All’isola Delle Capre (Crime on Goat-Island), Ana Lourdes Lopez and Margarita Mandoki’s Abrir La Ventana (Open The Window), Israel Velasco’s El Paraiso De Los Gatos (Cat’s Paradise), and more.
Audiences in New York will have the opportunity to see Daniela perform this March in Elia K. Schneider’s upcoming theater production of “Judgment on a Gray Beach” where the actress will take the stage in the starring role of Josephine. A new production based on the work of Franz Kafka, the production will be held at the La MaMa theater. One of the most recognized venues for experimental theater in New York, La MaMa has received more than 30 OBIE Awards, as well as a long list of Drama Desk, Bessie and Villager Awards since its founding 50 years ago.
Originally from Mexico City, Mexico, Maria Bosque is an actress whose extraordinary range and versatile look has put her front and center as a go-to talent for film and theater productions in both Latin America and the United States.
Over the course of her career Maria has landed starring roles in the films Ellas, Solo Yo, Final Test, Oh Jesus and many more. In her most recent film, Oh Jesus, Maria Bosque touches the hearts of international audiences in the role of Violet, a young woman who is made to feel shame over her homosexuality. Riddled with theological and sci-fi influences, Oh Jesus follows Violet on a journey spearheaded by a chance encounter with Jesus who leads her back in time in order to decipher and repair the ill-fated event that brought about her homosexuality. However during her journey with Jesus, Violet discovers something much more valuable than the anecdote for her homosexuality– self-love and acceptance. After realizing that she cannot spend her entire life running away from herself and her problems, Violet comes out of the closet with confidence professing her true feelings for the girl she is in love with.
A film with a powerful message for audiences across the world regardless of their individual sexuality, Maria Bosque brought Violet’s struggle to life in a way that is honest, relatable and downright beautiful. She explained, “I love playing strong female roles, and I love doing things that have an important message, especially for those girls that are going through a similar thing in their one lives.”
In addition to her work as an actress on film, Maria Bosque is renowned for her talents on stage as well. She got her first taste of the theater in the production of The Wizard of Oz in Victoria, Canada, and has since gone on to star in countless productions including Titus Andronicus, The Marriage of Bette and Boo, and The Seagull, as well as the plays Six Degrees of Separation, Waiting For Godot and Middleton, which were directed by Oscar winner Milton Justice.
“I like to choose characters that are very different from me, ones that I haven’t done before,” said Bosque.
In the production of Anton Checkov’s The Seagull, Maria played the starring role of Masha, an affluent young woman who repeatedly refuses the affections of Medvedenko in an effort to hold out for Konstantin the man with whom she is in love. A sad melodrama about unrequited love, Masha eventually gives in and marries Medvedenko and has his child, a choice that dooms her to live a depressed and unfulfilled life as she continues to harbor feelings for Konstantin.
“There is something very sad and beautiful about her. I guess I like the darker side of things because I am always very drawn to these types of characters,” admitted Bosque.
Audiences will have the opportunity to see Maria Bosque on stage in New York in March 2015 at the La MaMa Theater in the production of The Beach of Joseph K. Directed by multi-award winning director Elia Schneider, The Beach of Joseph K is an experimental work derived from the writings of Franz Kafka.
A multi-talented Canadian dancer, Taylor Reardigan was first drawn to the stage and the dance world after witnessing the fast-moving feet, graceful jumps and rhythmic clicking sounds of Riverdance early on in childhood.
Caught up in a whirlwind of Irish dance at an age when most of her peers were still learning how to run and decipher their right from left, Reardigan put her magical feet to the test and whole-heartedly jumped into the competitive field of Irish dancing at the age of 6.
Naturally gifted with perfect rhythm and incredible athleticism, the young competitor spent her youth and teenage years training and competing with the best Irish dancers in the world.
“Irish dancing is literally all picking up your own body weight. You are flying in the air for 3 minutes picking yourself off the ground and it seriously takes so much out of you,” explains Reardigan. “The amount of training you have to do just to get through one dance is crazy. There are so many drills and weight lifting and leg training. For worlds we actually get a personal trainer in before every class to help us build up our stamina.”
By the time she had reached high school, Reardigan had already staked her claim as one of the strongest dance competitors in the sport, a feat proven by her extensive award collection which includes a lengthy list of 1st place awards at world qualifiers, as well as 15th place at the 2008 World Irish Dancing Championships and 13th at the 2009 World Irish Dancing Championships.
“I have won against literally 100’s of other Irish dancers and at world championships you are against 300 or more girls and dancing in a concert hall for 1,000’s of people,” said Reardigan.
While Reardigan continues to perform professionally as an Irish dancer, her repertoire of work has come to include an incredibly diverse list of television, theater and musical productions as well.
Some of her theatrical and musical productions include “Leaps and Bounds,” where she wowed audiences with her mesmerizing abilities as a jazz dancer at Victoria Performing Arts, St. Francis’ “High School Musical” where she played the role of Sharpay, “Shumka” at the Jubilee Auditorium and “Shhh” in New York. Reardigan has also been cast as a dancer in the television shows Blacklisted and Starz Power.
Audiences can catch Taylor Reardigan in the musical production of “Homecoming,” which opens this Friday at 7 p.m. at the York Performing Arts Center in Queens, New York. She will also be performing as an Irish dancer in the renowned Big Apple Circus in New York next year, and is currently working as the associate choreographer of the musical “A Christmas Story,” which will open at the John W Engeman Theater in New York on November 20.
When it comes to performing on stage, Reardigan feels at home, explaining, “I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I love it.”
Finding his musical talents early on in his youth, Philip Nielsen, the highly-skilled bassist from the bands Grit, Swarming Orchids, PixLips, It Came From A Lab and Tic Tic Boom!, embarked on his musical journey by first honing skills on the piano. With musicianship in his blood, Nielsen easily transitioned from the piano to the bass, but his extraordinary skills as a musician do not stop there, he also plays the upright bass (double bass) and synth keys.
“I play electric bass, which is my main instrument and I’ve been playing that for about 17 years. I’ve been playing the piano/keyboards on and off for at least 20 years, and I also play upright bass,” said Nielsen. “I started experimenting with the upright bass 6 or 7 years ago, so far it has brought the most attention to my work as a musician, which is a little ironic since it’s not my main focus”
Originally from Copenhagen, Denmark, Philip Nielsen toured extensively throughout Europe with the reggae/ska band PixLips and the punk band It Came From A Lab before later moving to Los Angeles, California where he would join the bands Grit and Swarming Orchids.
Aside from Nielsen’s vast knowledge of music, the commanding nature of his stage presence not only helps to raise the energy of the audience, but it ensures that all of his shows, regardless of which band he is playing with, are consistently exciting and never boring. While a band’s front man, or woman for that matter, generally gets the most attention in the media, the spotlight was never a factor for Nielsen; it has always been about the love of the bass.
“I like the way the bass glues the song together. My uncle who is also a bass player, once said to me that a song first starts when the bass begins to play after or during the intro,” said Nielsen. “During my years as a bass player I completely see what he meant. It just feels right for me.“
Nielsen recently finished recording Grit’s debut EP “LA Don’t Love You,” which is scheduled to be released in January 2015. Fusing together the southern rock, blues and punk genres, the song ‘Look Away’ off Grit’s EP was selected to be included in the film The Dust Storm, which is scheduled for release next year.
A film about one man’s chance to rekindle love with the one that got away, The Dust Storm stars award-winning Irish actor Colin O’Donoghue from Wild Decembers, The Rite, Home For Christmas and the shows Once Upon A Time, Love Is The Drug, The Tudors, Fair City and Jim O’Heir from the films Ed, Accepted, Safe Harbor, Comedy Hell, Welcome to Paradise and the hit comedy series Parks & Recreation, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Dharma and Greg.
Aside from Nielsen’s extensive background as a bassist in rock, reggae and punk bands, his work with indie synth band Tic Tic Boom! serves as further proof of his diverse musical talents.
Tic Tic Boom!, which is lead by Leilani Francisco & Mike DeLa, Philip Nielsen on electric bass and Joey Ponchetti on drums, released the EP “It’s the Heart That’s a Fool” in late 2013. Nielsen also plays synth keys intermittently with the band. Tic Tic Boom!’s music video for the song ‘How It Ends’ off of the EP was included in a segment on Blip.Tv by Style-City Music, and was also featured on Artist Direct’s website and Frequency.com.
Neilsen is also known for his work as the upright bassist in Drake Bell’s music video for the rockabilly inspired song ‘Bitch Craft.’
“I have always loved early rock and roll music like Elvis and Neil Sedaka among others, the upright brings the right sound and authenticity to that kind of music, much like certain electric basses have a better tone for certain styles,” explained Nielsen.
The song ‘Bitch Craft’ is off Bell’s third album “Ready, Steady, Go!,” which was released earlier this year and debuted at #32 on the Billboard Top Independent Albums charts. Additionally Bell, who has won three Kids Choice Awards in the US, as well as three Australian Kids Choice Awards, a Teen Choice Award and an ASCAP Film and Television Music Award, is known for his work as an actor from the hit Nickelodeon shows Drake & Josh and The Amanda Show, as well as the films Jerry Maguire, High Fidelity, A Fairly Odd Summer and many more.
Although Nielsen notes the upright bass as being somewhat more challenging than the standard electric bass, the skills and stamina he has developed over the past 20 years allow him to transition between both instruments with consistent grace and perfect execution.
“The main differences between the upright bass and the electric bass is that the electric bass has frets, so I would say that the upright bass takes more discipline regarding hand positioning for the right intonation and playing in pitch. It’s also a lot more physically demanding, the size of it combined with the fact that it’s an acoustic instrument really makes you work to bring out the right tone,” said Nielsen.
Check out Philip Nielsen on the upright bass in Drake Bell’s video for ‘Bitch Craft,’ below.
A genuinely talented actress both on the stage and silver screen, Kelsey Oluk has proven time and time again the dynamic nature of her craft through the vast number of diverse roles she has taken on over the course of her career.
In the film My Little Girl Kelsey plays the starring role of a girl caught between the dilemma of no longer being a teenager and what it means to be a grown up. Kelsey explains, “On the morning of her 20-something birthday, my character wakes up hiding from herself, and the reality that another year has passed.”
A shy young thing confused by the fact that while her age keeps growing, she still feels like a child, the film is a beautiful display of self-discovery and the confusion most 20-somethings face in the wake of getting older.
While Kelsey’s character in the film My Little Girl shows the actress’s softer more vulnerable side, viewers have the opportunity to see her get under the skin of a totally different character in the film Secret Clubhouse.
Much like the film My Little Girl, the film Secret Clubhouse also revolves around the fear that comes with transitioning into adulthood, however this time Kelsey undertakes the role of Natalie, the film’s supreme bitch. Nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award, the film follows an anxious 29-year-old named Shannon, played by Sara Hennessey, who flees a party after Kelsey’s character Natalie destroys her confidence with a cutting dialogue that hits like an iron-fist.
Aside from the films My Little Girl and Secret Clubhouse, Kelsey Oluk has starred in the films Ivadelle, Kenneyville, Crazytown, the documentary Look At What The Light Did Now, and the shows Goodbye Sara Hennessey and How To Be A Friend.
A recognizable face in the Canadian entertainment industry, Ms. Oluk has also been in several Canadian public service announcements including “Taking Pulse,” which was sponsored by the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society’s “Julyna” PSA for Cervical Cancer Awareness, and the Autism Awareness PSA entitled “Carly’s Café.”
Although Kelsey has undoubtedly staked her claim as a highly sought after actress in the Canadian entertainment industry, she is also known on an international level for her extraordinary abilities as dancer.
Kelsey was chosen by multi-award winning choreographer Noémie Lafrance to dance in Feist’s music video for the song “1,2,3,4.” The video, which was also used for a commercial for Apple’s iPods Nano, was so successful that it received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Music Video, the Le Prix Victoire de la Music for Best Music Video of the Year, which is often referred to as the French Grammy, and a CAD Award in London, as well as garnered Noémie Lafrance the award for MVPA Music Video Production Award for Best Choreography.
Besides starring in the music videos for the songs “The Way It Should Be” by PLEX, “Laces Out” by USS, “You got it” by George Leach, “PF” by Controller.Controller and “Do it in the Dark” by The Balconies, Kelsey also choreographed the video for The Balconies’ song “Boys and Girls,” which she danced in as well.
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