Category Archives: actor profile

The Sky’s the Limit for High Flying Actor Jolie Chi

Actor Jolie Chi’s infectious mixture of enthusiasm and playfulness may give the impression that she is all about laughs and frivolity but, in reality, Chi is a dedicated artist with a zealous commitment to refining and perfecting her craft. While still at the dawn of her career, the diminutive, charming Chi is quickly building impressive professional momentum and a burgeoning roster of credits.

Chi, a native of Taiwan who studied at the prestigious New York Film Academy, is globally known for her acting roles.  2018 was a phenomenal year for internationally celebrated actor; this year alone she received several accolades for her leading role in the award-winning film “My Lunatic Lucy”, including “Best Actress in a Comedy” at the Actor Awards, “Best Actress” at the LA Short Awards, and “Best Actress” at the Top Shorts Film Festival.  Additionally, she received the award of “Best Actress” at the Independent Short Awards; her selection for this title was determined by a panel of experts from both the film industry and academia against a high standard of merit—her performance was deemed outstanding based on the complexity of her role, impressive acting abilities, and the energy that she brought to the screen.

As a rising actor of international acclaim Ms. Chi has recently secured roles on anticipated feature length films and appeared in motion picture “Destined to Ride” released by Sony Pictures, opposite big-name actors Denise Richards and Joey Lawrence.   Outside of film, Ms. Chi’s latest works as an actor have included a performance on Justin Timberlake’s 2018 hit music video “Filthy”, and a role on the television series “Laff Mobb’s Laff Tracks”, as the character of Ming Ling.

Chi’s effortless ability to succeed as actor reflects a comprehensive, impressively holistic approach to performing. Equally at home in a stage or competition setting (beating out thousands of international talents to place in IMTA’s Top 10 Female Young Actors of 2015) as she is working in film, video, and commercials, Chi has been a dynamic force since her arrival the United States when she was just 16.

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“I grew up in Taiwan and China but I never really fit in, because I was always too outgoing for the culture,” Chi said. “I decided that I wanted to be an exchange student in America, so I went to Indiana—it felt like home. I realized how much I love America because I finally felt like I was accepted and loved. I decided to stay and finish my education.”

The teenager’s choice to pursue acting came about with a particularly poignant twist. “My parents had divorced when I was six,” Chi said. “Even though my mom always pretended to smile in front of me, I knew she was unhappy. Once when I was mimicking a character we’d seen on TV, she laughed—genuinely—for the first time in years. That’s when I realized how powerful acting was.”

From that bittersweet launch—the classic pathos/comedy paradox—Chi aggressively pursued success in film and television and was soon working in TV commercials, short films, and movies. Some are currently in post-productions.

Chi’s dedication to improving her artistry is a constant, innate pursuit and she is not one to squander any opportunity to do just that.

With her steadily ascending professional profile and reputation as a respected, formidable artist, Chi is a talent from whom the film industry will definitely be hearing a lot in the months and years ahead, a destiny which her positive attitude practically guarantees.

“My career aspiration is to make as many people laugh as possible,” Chi said. “I want to be able to make a difference in this world through my acting, to inspire the audience to smile, to reduce stress. Many people relax by watching films and I hope to help relieve their pain and make them happier.”

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Actor Missy Malek Is Equally at Ease on Screen and Stage

Though essentially still in the initial phase of her professional film career, British actor Missy Malek has already distinguished herself as a capable technician and talented artist, one who inhabits each role with a masterly combination of skill and instinct. Whether it’s a gritty drama or action-adventure comedy, she deftly crafts persuasive, tangible characters imbued with the full spectrum of nuance and emotion.

Malek is a natural born performer, one who never doubted the direction of her career path. “From when I was as young as three, I’ve literally always known that I would pursue acting,” Malek said. “It was just always what I was going to do, there was never even any question about it.”

From her youthful start in school plays, Malek was hooked. “I always liked performing and getting attention as a kid,” Malek said with a laugh. “And I started to do it outside school when I was 14—I joined the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain. My parents weren’t really that keen on me getting an agent or being a child actor. I think they realized how serious I was about it when I was 18 and still wanted to act.”

The prestigious National Youth Theatre, whose alumni include the distinguished likes of Ben Kingsley and Daniel Day-Lewis, was a critical proving ground for Malek. Steeped in the almost mystical combination of technique, emotion and stagecraft which British theater is world renown for, the naturally skilled Malek gained an illimitable trove of insight and knowledge. Playing in classic works by Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams and Bertolt Brecht and studying drama and philosophy at Oxford University, Malek plunged headlong in the profession.

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Following that ambitious onstage start Malek immediately began working in feature films, making her debut in the taut urban drama Anti-Social and following that with a role in Now You See Me 2, sequel to the popular same-titled 2013 heist-thriller

“It was really different to anything I’d ever experienced,” Malek said. “I was a teenager and so excited to have my own trailer! I got to do scenes with actors like Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson, whose acting I’ve actually studied. The whole experience was just really fun, as you’d probably imagine for a young actor on their first big film set. The director, Jon M. Chu, was great to work with, he has so much clarity and makes his choices with such conviction. I am so happy for him and everything he’s gone on to achieve.”

Malek made the transition from performing for live audiences to the on-set environment with characteristic verve. “The fact that I’ve been acting in film after being in theatre plays wasn’t a conscious decision,” Malek said. “It just happened to be the case that everything I got booked for was screen work. I will definitely go back to the stage when the opportunity to do a good role comes along.”

The ambitious Malek has a comprehensive grasp on cinematic form, with an acclaimed, award-winning short, Laughing Branches, which she wrote, produced, directed and starred in (earning the IndieFEST Film Awards Award of Excellence for her performance) and she recently completed her third feature assignment

“We just wrapped production on a film called Tala,” Malek said. “It’s a comedy that sort of makes fun of the art world and deals with cultural appropriation in a pretty funny way. I play the title character, a socially awkward artist named Tala who is trying to get in with people in the art world, but she’s seen as racially different by the other characters in the film, so they’re all trying to culturally place her. I can’t really say too much, but it’s very original and unique.”

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With a fast-moving career and steadily rising professional profile, Malek radiates an appealing aura of self-assured enthusiasm, and whether she’s playing in live theater or shooting a movie, it’s clear her greatest achievements are soon to come.

“I love both forms,” Malek said. “What I think is nice about film work is that it’s always there—you have a piece of work you’ve done that you can always show. With stage, it disappears as soon as you’ve done it, but I guess that’s the beauty of it.”

 

Actress Jannike Grut Excels on Stage and Screen

Veteran actress Jannike Grut is one of Scandinavia’s most talented, recognizable players. Whether playing drama or comedy on stage, television or the big screen, the Stockholm-born Grut’s mixture of polish, nuance and emotional involvement creates compelling fully realized characterizations that draw the audience in. It’s an elevated level of skill that many of her colleagues only dream of, but Grut consistently manifests the full dramatic spectrum with dazzling ease.

Currently delighting European viewers with her recurring role on the popular TV comedy series Katsching!, Grut is at the peak of her formidable powers. Grut’s mastery of craft easily translates across international lines—the actress has already been cast in a couple of American features, setting the tone of for a break out phase in her already impressive career. It’s the latest upshift in her reliably steady professional progress, the rich fulfillment of an almost pre-ordained creative destiny.

“My father was a renowned theater and film critic in Sweden, so I saw a lot of movies and plays in my childhood and of course we talked about the art of acting and storytelling all along,” Grut said. “I really got into a good story. I loved a good book, pop songs that told stories in the lyrics, and I really loved to see great plays and movies. I was drawn to stories that told me about life with new angles, new perspectives on things I was unfamiliar with, stories that made me hopeful or challenged my beliefs—I loved that.”

“Growing up, one of my favorite films was “Dead Poets Society” with Robin Williams,” Grut said. “I saw it with a friend, and I was crying when we walked home. I knew I had to become an actress because I wanted make an impact on the world myself, to be a part of changing it for the better. It made me go after my dream and never give up.”

The path was clear and Grut did not hesitate for an instant. After completing high school Grut immediately enrolled in a one year theater course, followed by two years of film school, training in comedy and film acting, a course in script writing and study in London with the acclaimed dramatic coach Doreen Cannon.

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Photos by Oren Godlman

She was working right out of the gate also. At 19, while still in theatre school, Grut was doing standup comedy in clubs and on popular Swedish television showcase ”Släng Dig I Brunnen.” Initially concentrating on stage work, At 23, the ambitious Grut also she wrote and starred in a well-received musical comedy that earned lavish praise in Sweden’s leading newspapers—an auspicious achievement, indeed, but she was just getting started.

Grut quickly became a familiar, popular presence in Scandinavian film and television, and also directed and starred in the collaborative Danish-Swedish national network TV movie “Welcome to our 7-year Itch” (Välkomna Till Vår Sjuårskris). Over the next decade, Grut’s star continued to rise, and she was prominently featured in almost thirty top notch films and TV series, winning several awards both at home and abroad, including the 2017 Best Comedy Kristallen award, Sweden’s equivalent of the Emmy.
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The hit show Katsching! provides a role that’s an ideal vehicle for her deep comedic talent, and Grut is enjoying greater fame than ever. “The series is up and running right now on Swedish National Television, it’s gotten good reviews and the audience loves it,” Grut said. “I am really grateful to be part of the cast, and also fortunate enough to act together with Per Andersson—a brilliant actor and comedian.”

Grut and Andersson make a terrific combination: “Jannike is an incredibly skilled actress and comedienne and to see her working together with the great Per Andersson is really extremely fun,” series producer Niklas Larsson said. “The contrast between her and Pers’ character is terribly funny. It was a pleasure to have Jannike on set and I really hope to have the opportunity to work with her on projects in the future.”

Grut already has two feature films—Garden Lane (already generating buzz as a potential Guldbaggen (the Swedish Oscar) nominee and action comedy The Duck Pond— set for release in the coming months, is also working on the Scandinavian TV series, ‘Finding Your Way Home,’ with esteemed Swedish director Richard Jarnhed, and, as Grut says, “I’m also one of the three leads in a new Swedish TV series, a comedy with strong female leads, but I can’t talk about it yet.”

Grut’s flawless command of English ensures her ability to entertain a rapidly expanding audience, It won’t be long before American audiences get a taste of the Grut genius; she is co-writing the feature “We are Family”, featuring Scandinavian and American actors, with renowned American screenwriter Alvaro Rodriguez (‘Machete,’ ‘From Dusk to Dawn,’), who is also producing, an intriguing combination that’s certain to highlight her natural skill as a writer and actress. .

And there’s still more going on in the actresses’ fast-moving career. “Most exiting of it all I´ve been cast in several American productions,” Grut said. “I´m going to play comedy, dramedy and action, filming in New York and in Hollywood, so, hopefully I have a real adventure ahead of me.”

“I really look forward to working internationally and in America,” Grut said. “Right now, my goal is to keep on getting good roles in TV series, and also good parts in more films.”

“I can bring something special to any part, simply by being my authentic self. As an actress it’s absolutely crucial to be curious. Ask questions, look around in fascination. And always be generous—pay it forward. So, with authenticity, curiosity and generosity, you can’t fail.”

From Mermaids to Mental Health, Actress Brie Kristiansen Does it All in TV, Film, and New Media

Article Written By: Ashley Bower

It’s not always easy to keep up with an industry that is constantly evolving, but when it comes to navigating the busy world of entertainment, working actress Brie Kristiansen is a pro.

“It all started with a musical in Iceland when I was a teenager,” stated Kristiansen, and right from the start, she was propelled into learning how to adapt to the unpredictable curves that life – and the film and television industry – are known for. “The musical was Bugsy Malone and hundreds of people auditioned. In the end, I was cast in the leading role of “Dandy Dan,” which was changed into a female role since they thought I fit very well for the villainous character. Funny story, at the dress rehearsal I fell down and broke my leg and had to do all of the remaining shows in a wheelchair. It actually turned out great in the end, as the wheelchair seemed to add almost another level of authority for this villain.” Ever since this debut, Kristiansen’s career has skyrocketed.

While Kristiansen has numerous projects that span film, television, and new media under her belt, she’s most known for her work on It Takes a Killer, Delirium: What’s Your Worst Fear?, Corrupt Crimes, and her latest role as a series regular on season two of Life as Mermaid.

With over 25 million views and more than 155k subscribers, it’s safe to say that the hit YouTube Series Life as a Mermaid has a passionately committed following. The story follows two mermaid sisters and their journey on land as they work their way around obstacles while adjusting to life with the humans. Kristiansen plays Astrid, a ruthless European villain with an icy demeanor, whose mission is to hunt down the mermaids with the intention of selling them for billions.

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Brie Kristiansen as “Astrid” in Life as a Mermaid

“From the start of when season two started airing, we received such fantastic reactions from people all over the world. We started getting asked for autographs and receiving fan mail which has all been an amazing experience. We truly have the best fans, and they are what made all the hard work worth it in the end,” Kristiansen reminisced.

Though Life as a Mermaid airs on YouTube, one of the entertainment industry’s newer media platforms to publish episodic content on, the production process was exactly the same as any other television show. The only difference: the website makes its content accessible to anyone anywhere in the world.

Starring opposite Kristiansen in the series is Marcella Di Pasquale, who is also credited as casting director and one of the producers of the show.

“Brie is the sweetest person, so it is so interesting to see her play such a brilliantly evil villain,” explained Di Pasquale. “To be able to switch into such a strong character within a matter of seconds just really goes to show Brie’s true talents and acting skills. She is also great at stage combat and I loved watching her film her fight scenes on the show. Brie is very charismatic and naturally talented, which makes her a great addition to any set, and us on the Life as a Mermaid team always love having her around.”

In addition to villainous roles, it’s apparent that Kristiansen has a gift for securing and excelling in roles that encompass very serious, emotional qualities, such as the roles she played in It Takes a Killer, Delirium: What’s Your Worst Fear?, and Corrupt Crimes. Elaborating on her love of playing and process of preparing for such kind of a role, Kristiansen explained, “I always think it’s really funny since I’m actually quite a goofy person, but I guess I look very serious. However, I love doing these roles, especially when there’s an added challenge or something I haven’t done before.” An example of such is Kristiansen’s work she did on Delirium: What’s Your Worst Fear?” where she plays the character of Ava, a teenager with schizophrenia.

Prior to being cast as Ava, Kristiansen wasn’t familiar with the mental disorder outside of what she had seen in other film and television shows. Therefore, it was a role that require extensive research – something which was already a very major component of Kristiansen’s character preparation process. “I try to get closer to my character’s mindset and who they are. I’m a total nerd when it comes to this and will dive into research for significant amounts of time until I feel that I have managed a full understanding of the character, and then I go into the next steps of my preparation,” Kristiansen said.  “With Ava, I did so much research, probably more than I’d ever done before. I thought it was vital for the authenticity of my character to absolutely dive into research. I went to libraries, read books, and even spoke to people with experience in the field.”

Currently, Delirium: What’s Your Worst Fear? is being screened at multiple film festivals around the world.

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Brie Kristiansen as “Ava” in Delirium: What’s Your Worst Fear?

Coincidentally, on Kristiansen’s episode of Corrupt Crimes titled Vulture Feeder Fiend, the topic of schizophrenia arose yet again for the actress, though this time the character with the disorder was not her own. Taking place in California in the 1970’s, the storyline of the episode follows a schizophrenic serial killer named Herbert who murders a homeless man while in his altered state of mind. Kristiansen plays a hippie named Mary, who attempts to hitchhike her way to an event only to suffer a similar fate after she’s given a ride by Herbert himself.

Kristiansen not only loves the roles she’s been given the opportunity to play but is also passionate about the impact they make on her viewers, along with the awareness they bring to mental illness in film and television. “I’m a very open and honest person who comes from a very liberal society. The way I was raised is that if there’s a problem, you speak about it, and that you should never judge others for their feelings or behaviors because you don’t know what they’ve been through or are going through. Mental illness is a very serious issue, and the shame and stigma surrounding these issues need to stop. We need to be able to speak about our feelings, experiences, and illnesses openly in order to help or even fix them. There are so many tools one can learn from speaking to a professional, or by simply opening up to a friend. Love conquers all,” she said.

While some roles help to expand the knowledge and understanding of one’s mind, others do the same for the heart. This is the case for one of Kristiansen’s earlier television series: It Takes a Killer. “In my role as Charlotte, I played an emotionally unstable teenager who goes through a horrible tragedy,” Kristiansen discussed, revealing her journey of portraying the sixteen-year-old character left parentless after discovering her father murdered her mother.  “Charlotte is extremely vulnerable and has moments where she has emotional breakdowns. For me personally, this role was a great opportunity to showcase my talents with vulnerability and fully diving into the character. It was a great experience, and also helped me become more vulnerable and open as a person.”

There’s no question that Kristiansen’s vast experience and success as an actress has helped her grow not only as an artist within the film and television industry, but also as a person. There’s no doubt that this is something she’ll continue to do throughout her acting career in the years to come. Regarding this idea of both personal and career evolution, Kristiansen stated, “I’m incredibly lucky to be a working actress in different parts of the world, and on a variety of project types portraying completely diverse characters. Each time I take on a new role there’s something new I learn about people from the character I’m portraying. As a people person, this job will never become boring. The challenges, in drama, in comedy – all of it – just makes you really grow as an individual and you learn so much about yourself. I’m all about figuring out your dream and making it happen, and I find it to be one of the perks that I am able to grow both personally and professionally while living mine.”

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Brie Kristiansen walking the red carpet

For more information on Brie Kristiansen, please visit:

www.imdb.me/briekristiansen
https://www.briekristiansen.com/

Brazilian triple threat Rita Shukla is an indomitable force on stage

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Brazilian Performer Rita Shukla

You may have seen performer Rita Shukla on stages across Los Angeles as a lead singer with the classic rock band Lloyd Moss & The Rock Collective, singing jazz-style Brazilian bossa nova with the Electrobossa band, or heavy rock n’ roll with Redemptrix. Her strength and dynamic range as a vocalist coupled with her lively and magnetic stage presence has made her a go-to performer for a number of bands in need of a strong lead singer.

As part of Lloyd Moss & The Rock Collective, Rita is a vocalist alongside Andrey Tsvetkov Nazarbekian, who made it to the semifinals on the incredibly popular TV series “The Voice Russia” season 2, and was also a contestant on the 8-time Primetime Emmy Award winning “American Idol” season 15.

“Working with Rita is a constant exchange. Her vast knowledge in music and her stage experience are the factors that give all of our band members a new perspective on the way things should be done, how harmonies should be written and songs should be sung,” explains Nazarbekian. “What really makes her good at what she does is her natural gift for music supported by the education and training she acquired in Brazil ”

Rita began cultivating her talent as a performer at the age of 4 whilst growing up in Campinas, Brazil where music and performance are a vibrant part of the country’s colorful culture. First immersing herself in music classes, Rita immediately fell in love with the way music made her feel.

It’s just like being in nature for me… I feel joy when I sing. it brings me so much peace and happiness, as if I don’t think of anything else. I’m just there present in the moment,” admits Rita. “For you to be able to sing well, you first need to breathe well… the whole process of singing is just therapeutic and healing.

Knowing the competitive nature of being a lead singer, Rita didn’t rely solely on her natural vocal strengths as a high soprano. Instead she devoted herself to perfecting her skills by training with some of the best in the industry internationally, including vocal coaches such as Molly Rocklind (who’s shared the stage with the likes of Stevie Wonder, popular classic rock band America and Chaka Khan), Dawn Bishop (who’s performed with household names like Brian McKnight and the Black-Eyed Peas,) Brazilian soprano Lucila Tragtenberg and maestro Thiago Gimenes, among others.

It didn’t take long for Rita to be tapped to begin performing on stages across Brazil. By the age of 16 she was playing starring roles in popular theatre productions such as “A Receita” by Jorge Andrade, followed by “Um Cadillac Para as Estrelas” and “Quero a Lua” at the Tao Theatre.

With many of her major theatrical projects back home in Brazil utilizing her talent as an actress and singer, she quickly stood out as a rarely gifted performer capable of flawlessly executing both with equal pizazz. But there’s another area of Rita’s ‘gift’ as a performer that has made her so unique amongst others in the industry– and that is her skill as a dancer.

In the same way that her impressive vocal range and natural rhythm has led her to lead bands with musical styles ranging from jazz and bossa nova to classic and hard rock, her skill as a dancer has given way to a multitude of dance performances ranging from flamenco and belly dancing to jazz and tap for musical theatre.

Beginning flamenco dance training at 11 and belly dance at 13,  Rita explains, “First, I fell in love with flamenco, for its strength, rhythm, passion, and history, but dancing in general makes me feel good as I feel the energy of the music and the beat flowing through my body.”

The way she translates music into her movements as a dancer, embodying the rhythm in human form on stage, has not only been a highlight for the audiences who watch her, but a draw factor for those who cast her in their shows. Whilst in Brazil, she was cast as a lead dancer in numerous shows such as “Noche Caliente,” “Bombardeio de Dança” and “Noite Flamenca” with leading Brazilian flamenco dancer and choreographer Karina Maganha. She also made a name for herself as a lead dancer with the Jimena Lourenço Dance Company, starring in shows like  “A Arte Milenar Da Dança Do Ventre,” “1° Festival de Dança Do Ventre,” “2° Festival de Dança Do Ventre,” “Clip” and many more.

By college Rita had not only perfected her individual skills making herself known among the country’s best young performers in each area, but she had blended all of these talents, making her an undeniable triple threat– an asset that boosted her reputation within the world of musical theatre.

About her beginnings, Rita explains, “Growing up studying and doing theatre [in Brazil], and feeling on my skin the importance of embodying the character as a dance, the music as a text and the acting as music, made me a very open, strong and vulnerable actress and singer.”

After completing her bachelor’s in drama at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, scholarship offers began rolling in from schools in the U.S. for her to continue her education in the performing arts. And in 2013 she packed her bags and relocated to California on a scholarship to study Musical Theatre at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

As a singer she’s quickly became a lead member in several bands in the states, while also writing her own songs and embarking on many other fruitful collaborations. After being recognized by music producer and songwriter Ted Perlman, who’s known for his work with renowned stars such as Whitney Houston, Harry Belafonte, Bob Dylan and Diana Ross, the two collaborated in writing a praise and worship rock tune.

Perlman recalls, “As soon as she sang one note, I knew she was special… Rita is one of the most soulful white girls anywhere! She has everything- talent, beauty, brains, and joy. She’s as close to perfect as it gets.”

In the states her seasoned skill as a performer coupled with the fiery nature of Brazilian culture pulsing through her veins, led her to be viewed as a unique talent in the industry.

Last year Rita was personally invited to perform as a singer and dancer alongside some of the most recognizable Broadway stars in the world in the production of “Broadway to the Rescue.” A concert gala for charity, Rita shared the stage with the likes of Tony Award Winner LiLlias White and Tony Award nominees John Tartaglia and Sharon McNight where she gave a memorable performance in numbers from the hit Broadway shows “Hair,” “Memphis,” “Hairspray” and more.

“Training and performance skill once you reach a higher level is not hard to find in Los Angeles. But one thing that I look for in performers, and Rita is one of a few that has it, is personality and unique instinct,” explains Rodrigo Varandas, one of the choreographers behind “Broadway to the Rescue.”

“I feel that her Brazilian culture makes her unique already. But she is able to incorporate American culture in her performance as well and that is just impossible to find. She mesmerized me every time she sang and danced.”

Rita Shukla is one performer who’s managed to excel as singer, actress and dancer, and while she spent years training in order to get where she is today, the natural and vibrant energy she brings to the stage is something that just can’t be taught– and it’s definitely something that has set her apart from the pack.

 

Actor Donald Heng’s Thoughtful Brand of Sci-Fi Storytelling

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If you’re a fan of fantasy/horror, chances are good you know  Donald Heng’s work. The Vancouver-based actor has been seen in a wide variety of settings—comedies, drama, made for TV movies, weekly series, indie films—but in recently, Heng had settled into a shadowy niche in the unpredictable, spine-tingling world of the SyFy television network’s original thriller content. With guest appearances on several different SyFy shows and his recurring Ghost Wars role as the edgy Deputy Larry Foon, the talented, versatile Heng is making dramatic tension his calling card. Tinseltown News Now caught up with Heng between shoots to discuss this latest upshift in an already impressive career

 

Q: You have had some good professional fortune at SyFy — do you feel career momentum is building at the network?

A: Definitely. This whole business is not for the impatient that’s for sure. Someone once told me that acting is a marathon, not a sprint, and that has always stuck with me. There may often be little rhyme or reason in this industry, but if you’re in it long enough and are prepared and constantly working on your craft, momentum will occur.

Q: You have previously appeared in “The Flash,” and “Supernatural,” please discuss these experiences

A: It was a relief to finally get to work on “Supernatural.” That show has been [produced] in Vancouver for 12, going on 13-14 seasons. My entire circle of actor friends have been on it, so it was great to get any kind of part on the show. But my character got to interact with Jared and Jensen and that was incredibly fun. They were really nice and welcoming and the jokes and pranks are non-stop whenever they yell cut. “The Flash” was also incredibly exciting in its own right. I read the comics as a kid and so there was of course that part of me that was freaking about getting my ass saved by the Flash not once, not twice, but three times. Some of the stunts in that show were also the most fun I ever had on set. It was like riding a go-kart down an empty street and my fear was not hard to fake [laughs].

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Q: How did you come to meet “Ghost Wars” creator-writer-producer Simon Barry?

A: I may have met him earlier when I auditioned for “Continuum” but I can’t say that definitively. But I definitely did meet him for “Van Helsing,” and then again later for “Ghost Wars.” He is an incredibly humble, personable human being and, of all the producers I’ve worked with, definitely made the biggest effort of including and inviting the cast to collaborate in his projects. During the table read for the first episode, Simon told everyone that he wanted to build these characters with us and if there were certain lines that didn’t sit well with our characters, to bring it up to him and he would work with us to change it.

Q: Were you cast on “Continuum?”

A: No, I did audition for it a couple times but unfortunately that show ended its run before I had a chance to be in it.

Q: Discuss your experience on “Van Helsing”

A: When I got cast in “Van Helsing,” I was very excited to work with Michael Nankin, who has had a long tenure with SyFy. I had done a couple workshops with him while studying at the Actor’s Foundry, so it brought me a sense of validity to be able to work with him in that capacity.

Q; How did Mr. Barry come to select you for “Ghost Wars?”

A: That’s something you would have to ask him [laughs]. I’m sure the decision didn’t rest solely with Simon, but that is a very interesting question that I wonder about all the time. When I show up on set after every casting, I always have the urge to ask the director/producer ‘why was I selected?’ Truth be told, in this industry, the best actor often doesn’t get the job.

Q: How has it been working on “Ghost Wars?”

A: It was great, it was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my career. The cast and crew were great. We spent some time up in Squamish for the shoot and it was absolutely beautiful. We had dinner with Simon and David (the director) and they told us some of the funniest stories I’ve ever heard in my life regarding their experiences in the industry. I had always wanted to play a police officer so that was a huge checkmark off the bucket list.

Q: Your character is particularly nuanced for a horror/thriller, please discuss
A: My character, along with most of the characters in the fiction town of Port Moore, treats Roman Mercer [Avan Jogia] as an outcast. Roman’s mother was into witchcraft and the rumor goes that she has put a curse on this town. After a paranormal bus accident, my mother is among the dead and I blame Roman for the incident until his supernatural abilities are revealed.

Donald Heng-Ghost Wars

Q: How do you prepare a characterization like that?

A: I try to find the everything that is relate-able between my character and myself. Fortunately, Deputy Larry is a very human character, much like the rest of the other characters. When it’s boiled down, it needs to make sense behind the horror and the gore, this was a project that really tried to make sense of every nuance, character motivation and plot. So, as Deputy Larry, I had to find in me what it meant to lose the most important person in my life, and what I would want to do to the person who took that away from me. Apart from envisioning supernatural entities, there wasn’t a whole lot else I needed to work on besides those two dichotomies.

Q: The horror/fantasy genre offers limitless possibilities in plot and action, please discuss working in this style

A: Well, it’s always fun because it is, in a way, the epitome of acting. It’s the reason why kids grow up loving Superman and Batman and the Power Rangers—it brings you into a world of fantasy where you don’t need to be yourself, but it is also constantly evolving. A movie about Batman 20 years ago is considerably different than a movie about Batman today. I just watched “Black Panther” and that movie is so good because it successfully ties in so any historical themes and elements into the fantasy. That way, the films are marketed not only to kids who adore the superheroes, but also the teenagers and adults who just want a film that touches them.

Q: The “Ghost Wars” cast also features some other notable talents, please discuss.

A:  The best part about working on this show was definitely the cast. I didn’t see the cast list until a week after I had been cast the project and I was floored when I saw that Vincent D’Onofrio and Meatloaf were involved in it. It was also nostalgic for me to be able to work with Avan Jogia because he was in the first project I’d ever auditioned for (“The Gym Teacher”). I didn’t end up getting that one but it was still a nostalgic feeling to be able to work with him.  But D’Onofrio—man! I have a story. We were in the midst of a break while crew was turning over the cameras and Vincent and Jesse (Deputy Norm) are walking by me about to go outside for a smoke. Vincent turns to me and asks “do you want one?” as he’s pointing to his box of Cohiba cigars. I responded, “uh…uh..yeah… I’ll do some.” And Vincent goes, ‘Do some?, it’s a cigar, it’s not drugs.’ I laughed sheepishly and followed the up to the rooftop. The thing is, I never smoked a darn cigar in my life and I inhaled my first bit before being told I wasn’t supposed to do that. I didn’t care, I just couldn’t say no to being able to tell people I had a cigar with Vincent D’Onofrio!

Q: Does SyFy feel like home to you now?

A: I definitely feel comfortable with the science fiction genre. I know what to expect when I do work on it and it makes me all the more excited when I have the opportunity work on that type of show. Though like I mentioned before, all shows are constantly trying to find the best way to connect with their viewers and the core of all good shows are the same, they have to respond with a story that’s human at its core.

 

Actor Alvaro Ramos Shines on the Big and Small Screen

Spanish actor Alvaro Ramos
Spanish actor Alvaro Ramos

Alvaro Ramos is one of those rare people who can seemingly pick up just about anything and excel at it. The worldly Spanish actor speaks four languages and has worked in virtually every city between, and including, Kiev and Anchorage. Most impressively, he boasts a list of credits that includes a multitude of hit television series and movies, a bevy of theatre productions, and a film which was showered with enough awards to drown a man.

By relying on his keen wits and unrelenting drive, Ramos has earned a lofty reputation as an actor in a class of his own. But it was his upbringing that set the stage for his future in front of the camera. Ramos was born in Madrid, a city whose flourishing culture has been legendary for centuries. His mother and sister ran a nearby travelling theatre company, and together the duo both organized and performed in countless stage productions.

The years Ramos spent immersed in that world as a boy no doubt inspired him to pursue acting as a career; it also helped prepare him for the day he was cast in the lead role of a film that went on to sweep festivals the world over and serve as a defining milestone in Ramos’ career. That film was the 2006 surrealist drama “Anonymous.”

Alvaro Ramos
Film poster for “Anonymous”

“It was the leading part so I had to deliver the best performance possible,” Ramos explained briefly. “It was a total challenge for me. I’d never played a character as intense as Fred was, [both] beautiful and hard work.”

Ramos’ character, Fred, is a writer with a looming deadline. Day after day he follows the same routine, but no matter how many hours he spends in front of his typewriter he simply can’t find the words to fill his stack of blank pages. Rather than focusing on writing, Fred’s mind is instead consumed with thoughts of Laura (Luz Altamira), the woman who lives in the apartment next door. He’s madly in love with her, but the only time he can work up the nerve to speak to her is in the stories he writes about her every night.

Alvaro Ramos
Alvaro Ramos as Fred in “Anonymous”

Terrified of missing his deadline and overwhelmed by loneliness and self-loathing, Fred cracks under the strain. He begins waking each morning to find more finished pages in his typewriter, but has no memory of writing them. With the weight of the world over his head and his sanity slipping away, Fred has to figure out what’s real, what’s just part of his dreams and what will it take to climb back out of his downward spiral.

A near-total absence of natural light throughout the film creates a dreary atmosphere which is further emphasized by the ever-present heavy and often-shifting shadows. The sounds of typewriter keys clicking and film whirring in a projector punctuate the dreamlike milieu and echo the anxiety of Fred, whose neurotic self-doubt Ramos captures brilliantly in his performance.

Perhaps the most astounding aspect of Ramos’ performance is just how much of his acting was physical, not verbal. The film’s characters speak to one another only very rarely; the rest of the time a pervasive feeling of claustrophobic isolation hangs above the already-overburdened Fred. From beginning to end, Ramos delivers a compelling rendition of a man whose mind begins to falter under the weight of it all.

The decision to cast Ramos for the part was made by the film’s director, Cristián Pozo. When Pozo first saw Ramos act in a stage production, he immediately knew beyond a doubt that he had found his leading man.

“I saw Alvaro perform… and I was totally amazed by his presence, voice and personality on the stage. He was what I was looking for for my movie,” Pozo recounted. “Alvaro Ramos is a powerful actor with an incredible stage and film presence… [and] that was reflected in the film and on the big screen. It’s clear that his fantastic performance had much to do with the great success of the film and its numerous international awards and selections in different film festivals.”

The critical response to the film was far greater than either Ramos or Pozo could have guessed. By the time the dust had settled, “Anonymous” had been screened at more than 80 film festivals worldwide. It won 20 awards from festival judges, including Best Short Film and Best Editing from the European Independent Film Festival, Best Short Film from the Anchorage International Film Festival, Best Director of a Short Film from the New York International Independent Film Festival, and Best Director from the Young Frames International Short Film Festival.

The wild success of “Anonymous” paved the way for Ramos’ next endeavors, including a myriad of prominent television roles. He’s had recurring roles on the long-running hit Spanish drama series “Centro Médico,” the young adult comedy “SMS, Sin Miedo a Soñar,” and a major role in “La Familia Mata,” a series about a modern Spanish family and the community they call home.

Musketeers
Still of Alvaro Ramos (center) in the BBC series “The Musketeers”

Ramos has also been featured in a number of biopics and historical dramas, including BBC’s  “The Musketeers” and National Geographic’s “Genius.” In the latter, he plays a priest whose life intersects with that of Pablo Picasso in an incredibly intimate way. The first season of the series, which centered on Albert Einstein and starred Geoffrey Rush, was nominated for a Golden Globe and 10 Primetime Emmys. Joining the cast of the second season was an exciting prospect for Ramos.

“I was working with an international cast, beside great actors such as Antonio Banderas,” Ramos said about his experience working on the series, which was produced in part by the legendary Ron Howard.

The boy growing up in Madrid, watching his mother and sister perform on stage, would have been awe-struck at the idea of working on a production with names like Antonio Banderas and Ron Howard. But after innumerable roles and thousands of hours spent on stage and in front of the cameras, Alvaro Ramos has grown into what he was always meant to be. Both critics and audiences are rightfully enamored with the brilliant actor, his work has been lauded with praise all over the world, and he has no intention of slowing down.

Additionally, we’ve been informed that Ramos is being considered for a role on the British-American series “Snatch,” which means he’d be sharing screen time with other notable actors such as Rupert Grint from the “Harry Potter” movies and Luke Pasqualino, whom he acted alongside in “The Musketeers.” We wish him the best of luck and hope to see him on the series this year!

 

Strong UK Actor Larry Olubamiwo Dominates the Screen in “Catface”

Actor Larry Olubamiwo brings strength and authority into every room in which he enters, so it comes as no surprise that directors and producers frequently highlight the authority he brings to the table by casting him to take on characters with similar strength. This coupled with his deep voice and commanding 6-foot-4-inch frame not only make him a go-to for strong and dominant roles, but as someone at the top of their career, also prove him to be a rare breed of male actor when compared to his contemporaries.

Larry Olubamiwo
UK Actor Larry Olubamiwo shot by Karen Scott

In the frightening horror film “Catface”, which won Best Film Award at the prestigious African Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards, the African equivalent to the People’s Choice Awards,  Larry plays the lead role of Kaka. The film, about a vigilante born through supernatural means who decides to take revenge on a violent cult of internet serial killers, co-starred Fanny Escobar from ‘Revenge’ and the beautiful Katrina Nare, who is celebrated for her work on the hit series “Holby City.”

Larry describes his character as having “mystical powers who brings back to life a victim of a serial killer.” The murderer, Larry explains, “preys on people on the internet to exact revenge and prevent him doing it again.” The film is certainly a fitting tale for today’s age of an unscrupulous internet that continues to mystify people all over the world.

When asked about working with Larry, “Catface” director Ogo Okpue explains, “Larry is my go to actor when it comes to the projects I am working on. I have worked with him on three occasions now… His input into the project goes beyond just acting and he gives everything into the projects I have worked with him on.”

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Still of Larry Olubamiwo as Kaka in “Catface”

In a role and project that couldn’t be further from “Catface,” and one that further proves the fact that Larry Olubamiwo is an actor of incredible emotional range, the sought after actor also played a lead role in “Life of Hers.”

Another award-winning production under his belt, “Life of Hers” explores the lives and friendships of a group of people in a cosmopolitan city set against the backdrop of African diaspora. In the lead role of Mr. Balogun, Larry plays a Nigerian businessman who finds success after emigrating to the UK with his wife. In the story Balogun wants his daughter to “follow in his footsteps,” explains Larry. She, however, “wants something different for her life as she is influenced by her friends.”

Larry’s incredible performance, while different from his portrayal in “Catface,” was notably awarded when cast received an award for Best Ensemble at the 2014 Screen Nation Awards. It probably didn’t hurt their chances that the cast with whom Larry shared the screen included TV heartthrob and international sensation Tyson Douglas, known for his work in the hugely successful series “Doctors,” and Juliet de Gannes, who starred in the award-winning film “Hard Time Bus.” That Larry shares the screen in leading roles opposite such illustrious company is merely one more element that proves the long-held industry view that he is truly an actor of unique and extraordinary ability.

“Life of Hers” director Ola Masha explains, “When working with Larry I had peace of mind that he would be able to bring the character Mr Balogun to life. He had a great grasp of the narrative and would make great contributions not only in his acting but in the actually setting of the scene. Larry cooperates greatly with everyone on set and makes the shooting of the scene fly by.”

In further proof of the enthusiastic industry response to “Life of Hers,” the series screened at the British Urban Film Festival.

So what’s in store for the future of this powerful English actor?

“Catface” director Ogo Okpue mentions that he “will be making a feature film soon about people trafficking in which Larry has already been cast.”

Regardless of the incredible projects he has to look forward to, Larry Olubamiwo’s drive to perform is always comes down to his love for the craft, a testament to his integrity and exceptional ability as an actor who authentically brings characters to life, no matter the project or the genre.

When asked what it is that drives him to act, Larry explains, “For me it’s the ability to be able to immerse myself into a character, embody that character and give my interpretation of that character.”

 

 

 

After Her Rivetting Performance in “Hypersomnia” Actress Yamila Saud is Tapped to Star in “El Encanto”

Actress Yamila Saud
Yamila Saud walks the red carpet at the Mar del Plata International Film Festival in Argentina

The stage has been Argentinian actress Yamila Saud’s second home since she was 7, and for as long as she can remember, she has come alive through acting. That passion has allowed her to become one of the most compelling actresses in film today, and her latest film is proof.

Currently streaming on Netflix, “Hypersomnia” is a dark psychological thriller from director Gabriel Grieco. Saud plays the main character, an actress named Milena who finds herself caught somewhere between nightmare and reality as the movie keeps the audience in suspense.

“Hypersomnia” is about a young actress preparing for a big stage role in a play, where her character is a sex slave who falls in love with her captor. Milena’s rehearsal experience leads her into a rabbit hole. Soon, Milena is unable to tell where her own life ends and her character’s begins. Everything begins to feel unreal and dreamlike, and Milena’s confusion quickly turns into madness.

“After an experience her character has, Milena begins to have dreams which feel very real,” Saud said. “Laly shows [the viewer] a world where women are deprived of freedom and all their rights.”

Milena’s trance-like acting exercises go haywire. The film uses the inside of a brothel as the alternate reality where Milena’s character Laly lives with other tortured sex workers. When Milena is not in the brothel playing Laly, she comes out of the trance state — from the looks of it. Yet Milena feels like the abuse and violence of playing a sex slave are all too real, like method acting gone wrong.

Saud skillfully adjusts herself to each scene as the film goes from suspenseful to dark to violent, truly embodying the character’s feeling of pain in the most believable way.

The movie was a huge challenge for me. One of the strongest and most disgusting scenes for me was when Milena is forced to enter with a client in a room, and she sits on the bed next to him,” Saud said. “The cigarettes he smoked were the same brand that my dad consumed when I was a girl. It’s horrible that girls so young are abused by men who could be their own father.”

In a huge shift from “Hypersomnia,” Saud took on a more lighthearted role as Lana in the upcoming 2018 film “El Encanto.” Directed by Juan Sasiaín and Ezequiel Tronconi, the romantic drama has both a sensual and a serious side.

The film focuses on Bruno, played by Ezequiel Tranconi, and his wife Juliana, a famous television host played by Mónica Antonópulos. Juliana is eager to have a baby, but Bruno doesn’t feel ready. The disagreement kicks off Bruno’s midlife crisis. Things get even more complicated when Saud’s character, an attractive young woman named Lara, walks into Bruno’s work.

Saud explains her critical role in the film, “My character is the knot that ties the film together. It’s because of Lara that Bruno’s character reacts and begins to realize what he really wants.”

Produced as an independent film “El Encanto,” focuses on character development. That meant Saud was able to stand out and show off her raw natural talent as an actor. The story line’s depth is explained producer Diego Corsini, saying “It’s a story of growth and maturation. It is reflecting in a poetic and sincere way that stage in which one still does not realize that he has grown and is an adult, and he wants to continue holding on to a past adolescence.”

Saud’s drive and passion for film show so pressingly in every role she plays. A dedicated artist, Saud pushes herself to go above and beyond the call of duty.

“I am a proactive actress who does not wait for the opportunity. I get completely involved in each project and don’t hold back, knowing I am making my mark.”

 

Actress Ingrid Haubert’s Magnetism On Screen Captivates Audiences

MpireStudios
Actress Ingrid Haubert shot by Mpire Studios

Some actresses have a certain magnetism when they hit the screen that captivates audiences and makes us want to watch them. Australian actress Ingrid Haubert, who’s known for her starring roles in the films “2Survive,” “Ambrosia,” “Painkiller” and more, is one of those dynamically talented performers who draws us in with every role she takes on.

While Haubert, who resides in LA, has only been in the states for a few years, she began her acting career early on whilst living in Australia. “I always wanted to be an actor, I think I came out of the womb wanting to act,” she says with a laugh. “I began acting professionally when I was 15 and attended the Australian Academy of Dramatic Art.”

With her white blonde bob, piercing blue eyes and pale skin, Haubert is not only uniquely beautiful, but the way she brings her characters to life on screen makes it impossible to peel our eyes away. Through the wide range of performances she’s given to date, such as portraying the snobbish stylist in season 5 of MTV’s multi-award winning series “Awkward.,” to Dawn, the cunning girlfriend of the lead character in “Painkiller” who orchestrates an elaborate plan to help her love escape from prison, it’s easy to see that Ingrid Haubert has a powerful range on screen. Clearly acting was what she was born to do.

Ingrid Haubert
Ingrid Haubert shot by Abigail R. Collins

Haubert explains, “There are so many things about acting that fill my soul… I think I’d have to say the biggest thing for me always comes back to the story. I love stories. When my mum would read to me at bed time when I was a child I just wanted to be in the story, I wanted to have adventures, and feel, and experience. When I read a script with great story I get so excited to create what is happening on the paper and bring it to life.”

In 2015 Haubert took on the lead role of Amber in the dramatic adventure film “2Survive” directed by Tom Seidman (“Horizontal Accidents,” “The Christmas Bunny”), which is available to stream on AmazonPrime, Google Play and vudu.

A ‘found footage’ film, “2Survive” follows a cast of reality show contestants into the desert where they compete against one another in hopes of winning the $100,000 grand prize; however, after only one night in the desert the contestants wake up to find the cameraman, the only one of them who’s in contact with those running the show, is dead.

Starring alongside Golden Globe Award nominee Erik Estrada (“CHiPs,” “Finding Faith”), Jonathan Camp (“S.W.A.T.,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) and Michael Laurie (“Nuclear,” “CollegeHumor Originals”) Ingrid Haubert gave an impeccable performance as Amber, a cute but naive waitress from Studio City, who’s a pivotal contestant on the show.

“She starts out as this seemingly stupid, helpless girl, but over the course of the film realises her strength and ability and comes into her power as a woman,” explains Haubert about her character.

Stranded in the desert with no way of contacting anyone from the show and only a day’s worth of food and water, the remaining contestants decide that their only option is to continue on with the missions in hopes that it will lead them out of the desert. Their individual weaknesses and strengths come out as they try to piece together the clues that will lead to the next destination; however when Peter, one of the contestants, finds a clue and keeps it to himself as the competition is still on, the situation becomes increasingly dire for the rest.

Out of all of the characters, Amber (played by Haubert) is by far the most dynamic and intriguing, and as more and more layers of her personality are revealed she serves as the driving force that keeps viewers watching to see what will happen next. Initially appearing as no more than the blonde bombshell assumedly chosen to compete due to her good looks, we soon learn that Amber has a unique capacity to solve intricate problems, which prove invaluable to the team.

“I really enjoyed playing Amber, she was a lot of fun. I was determined though, not to let her just be an airhead. I wanted her to have substance and vulnerability, something to make the audience care about her and root for her,” explains Haubert. “In the story she forms a close bond with Bruce, as they are both lonely people. I made my objective for her to bring Bruce back. I felt that this was something that audiences could connect to as the character of Bruce is so lovable.”

While the other characters get wrapped up in their desperation to survive and begin to turn against one another, Amber maintains her benevolent nature and devotes herself to helping Bruce, an overweight gay buddhist, keep up as they try to make it out alive.

Ingrid Haubert
Actors Michael Laurie, Jonathan Camp, Stephanie Greco and Ingrid Haubert at the Los Angeles premiere of “2Survive”

Haubert’s costar Stephanie Greco (“Phoenix Falling,” “Rest for the Wicked”), who played Violet in the film, says, “Ingrid was a dream castmate… She is incredibly talented. I remember there were times when I was done shooting for the day but I stayed around to watch her scenes. She has an energy about her that draws people in and she lights up any room she enters. She’s magnetic and I’ve worked in this business for over a decade now and can say that is a quality most people desire, but rarely have. For her, it is just a part of who she is.”

Besides the appeal of both the story and her character, another aspect of “2Survive” that made Haubert decide the project was one she wanted to be a part of us was the unique way that the film was shot. As viewers watch the film they soon notice that all of the contestants’ helmets are equipped with cameras which, in the film’s story, are intended to capture footage from their personal perspective as they compete on the show. This was key as key element in both the fictional story and the shooting of the actual film, as Haubert explains, “We did actually film with the cameras that were strapped to our helmets, a lot of people don’t believe this, but it is true. We would often be filming a scene but having to stand in weird poses in order to ‘get the shot,’ but then also having to be natural.” She adds, “The whole making of the film was a memorable experience. It’s not everyday that you are an actor and camera operator at the same time.”

Ingrid Haubert is one actress who’s continued to captivate audiences across continents with her performances in both the theatre and on screen, and she continues to push her craft to new heights. In recent years she’s expanded the scope of her work to include performing stand-up comedy on stages across Los Angeles.

“I had a number of friends who also do stand up who had been bugging me for years to try it due to my comedic abilities. And one day, I decided to. It’s really invigorating that I can make my own material, direct myself, and basically have control over all aspects of the performance,” explains Haubert. “I’ve done shows at EXTRA Comedy Show, which is held at Junior High, Drunk on Stage at Akbar, The Comedy Stew at Bar Lubitsch, and Late Nights at the Loft Ensemble to name a few.”

Up next for Australian actress Ingrid Haubert is the sci-fi film “Birth,” which is slated to begin filming later this month and will be directed by award-winner Brett G. Walker (“The Groundskeeper,” “Box 3125”). Haubert will take on the lead role of Tehra, an alien lost in a new world.