Category Archives: Actress

Natasha Khan Mayet is one Indian Actress Making a Huge Splash in Hollywood!

Natasha Khan Mayet
Actress Natasha Khan Mayet shot by Paul Smith

When internationally acclaimed actress Natasha Khan Mayet was growing up in South Africa, she knew her future would be a creative one. Since beginning her acting career over a decade ago, Natasha has become known for her roles in Mother, May I Sleep with Danger with James Franco and Tori Spelling, Metropolitan Detective, and 2 For Flinching. In a time when actresses like Priyanka Chopra are protecting national security in Quantico and Deepika Padukone is making moves in XXX: The Return of Xander Cage, Natasha Khan Mayet proves actresses of Indian descent can make it in the big time on a global scale.

One of her most recent projects, Trafficked, is proof of her incredible accomplishments as globally renowned actor. In that film, Natasha shares the silver screen with Golden-Globe nominated actress and American movie star, Ashley Judd, well known for her roles in the blockbuster Divergent franchise, Olympus Has Fallen and Double Jeopardy. Natasha admits that Judd is “one of [her] favorite actresses,” so it’s no surprise that she’s proud of the esteemed production. The story of Trafficked concerns three girls from America, Nigeria and India who are trafficked through an elaborate global network and enslaved in a Texas brothel, and must together attempt a daring escape to reclaim their freedom.

In her key role as a woman who is kidnapped by Albanian mercenaries and sold to a group of Italian men, Natasha steals the audience’s attention every time she is on screen, such is the power of her captivating performance. She proudly explains that the filmmakers needed an “Indian woman with strong acting skills,” and that she was the only actress who fit the bill.

Given the critical impact her scenes have on the film’s plot development, it’s easy to describe her role as the heart of the film. The emotional depth of her role and its critical importance to the film’s story was clear while shooting. Natasha tells us how “[t]he scene where we were tied up and at the mercy of the Albanians was pretty raw, and as I stood there tied up with other girls we literally felt as if we were their prisoners.” She goes on to say that “the scene became so real…a couple of us were already crying because the moment was so real to us.”

Not only was Trafficked shortlisted for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, it was written and produced by Siddharth Kara, author of the internationally acclaimed book Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery. Kara is also a leading professor at Harvard and a lecturer at UC Berkeley, attaching greater credibility to a film project that not only brings an audience to tears, but has a politically charged message that will ensure its global success.

Further to that, Natasha confirmed her exceptional acting skills in Trafficked by working alongside award-winning director Will Wallace, who won a feature film prize at WorldFest Houston for his hit comedy Cake: A Wedding Story, starring Major Crimes and The Closer TV star, G.W. Bailey. Another one of his projects, the romantic drama Red Wing starring Hidden Figures star Glen Powell and the late Bill Paxton, was an additional credit to why Natasha was so excited to play a critical role in Wallace’s latest project.

Natasha’s authentic relationship with her craft is reflected not only in her involvement with Trafficked, but the diverse range of roles she has played in a number of other high-profile film and television productions. She explains that “acting constantly challenges me,” and that “it allows me to explore the different aspects of myself, grow and constantly evolve, and tell a different story through each role that I play.” So while Trafficked represents a recent silver screen highlight of which Natasha was a key reason in its success, she is also experiencing extraordinary triumphs on the small screen too.

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Film Poster for “Trafficked” directed by Will Wallace

Most recently, Natasha was seen playing the critical role of Helena Michaels in the Amazon-Prime original series Music & Murder. Appearing alongside Atlanta TV star Tony Scott, the formally-trained actress added a great depth of intrigue as the mother of lead character Chastity Michaels, and thus provided important emotional life to a storyline about a talented music video producer who avoids life on the streets and finds success, only to be framed for murder.

In further support of her reputation as an actress capable of playing complex and fully-rounded characters, much like her South African compatriot Charlize Theron, Natasha plays reporter Angela Lee in the upcoming television pilot Stimulus. In this provocative series, Angela is torn between reporting the news and uncovering the truth, in a story that raises significant questions relating to race, politics, religion and prejudice.

Clearly, Natasha’s recent work shows she is an actress who sticks to her artistic values. She elucidates that she loves “any project or role that challenges” her, and that it’s crucial for the production to “tell a story that is in some way important and conveys a message.”  

Actress Mariana Montes captivates audiences in Spanish classic “The House of Bernarda Alba”

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Actress Mariana Montes

While growing up in Mexico City, Mariana Montes loved the arts. As a child, she would make up stories in her head, and as she matured, she realized that acting out these stories was where her passion truly was. For her, acting is giving voice to one’s thoughts, and what a voice she gives.

After rising to the top as one of Mexico’s best actresses, Montes began to be recognized internationally for her talents. While working on the musical Too Many Tamales with the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts, Montes showed off her comedic capabilities while acting, singing, and dancing. More recently, she played a very different role in the Spanish classic The House of Bernarda Alba, created by Federico Garcia Lorca.

The House of Bernarda Alba is one of the most important plays ever written in Spanish language. It’s a very powerful play that has very deep characters. It’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to work with such rich material,” said Montes. “I defend freedom, women’s rights, love, I am against racism, I support people who love each other doesn’t matter what sex they are. I am a pacifist. Lorca was murdered during the civil war in Spain because of his political believes and his sexual orientation. This play is great to make a point about our broken society. This was written in 1936, and as incredible as it seems this play is still as recent as ever.”

The play tells the story of Bernarda Alba and her five daughters. Immediately following the death of her husband, Bernarda announces that they will observe an eight-year mourning period in which they will not leave the house. The play takes place in the house of Bernarda Alba in a small Andalusian village during a sweltering hot spell in the summer of 1936. Montes has a principal role in the play, playing Martirio, the second of the five daughters.

“Martirio is a very dark role. She is the most emotionally traumatized of the characters. She has a lot of resentment toward her mother. Her freedom is completely oppressed. Her mother ruined her future marriage because she thought the man who wanted to marry her wasn’t good for the family reputation because his social class was lower than theirs. We are talking about a very traditional society and a lot of rules were to be obey,” described Montes. “Martirio is a lead role who brings all the conflict to the story when she tells her mother about the affair her youngest sister Adela is having with Pepe el Romano who is Angustia’s fiancé, the oldest of the five sisters.”

An important aspect to the character of Martirio is the hump she has, which contributes to her many insecurities. Finding the correct posture was the first step Montes took to truly become her character. The director, Denise Blasor, didn’t want a fake hump to be used, so Montes had to readjust her body to give the impression that she had one.

Blasor has worked in the industry for over 35 years. She is the Associate Artistic Director of The Bilingual Foundation of the Arts, and describes Montes as a wonderful asset to the theatre community.

“One of the first things that I noticed about Mariana was that her talent comes naturally. She is an artist of many dimensions and manages to capture the hearts of all whom she works with.  Her commitment to creatively explore her role with sensitivity, intellect and humor and the multitude of skills that she possesses while still maintaining humility and an open mind is a testament to her character and personable demeanor. Mariana is smart, talented, dedicated, professional and a pleasure to work with. She always brings new ideas to the table and inspires her peers with her fast creativity, wit and generous acting style,” said Blasor.

These thoughts were echoed by her fellow cast members, who describes Montes as a pleasure to work with. Elisa Noemi, who plays another sister in the show, says that you can always trust Montes on stage. For Montes, working with everyone was one of the best parts of the experience.

“I had an amazing experience with this production. I love the professionalism of the company. From the cast to the crew, everyone was on top of their game. I love the vision our director had. I got to meet new artists and now I have great relationships with them,” she said.

The production was performed last year at The Barnsdall Gallery Theater in Hollywood, with a second run at Ruth B. Shannon Center. Due to their success, the cast filmed a short film of the play, which was nominated for Best Theatrical Short at the 2015 Imagen Awards. The Imagen Awards honors and recognizes the positive portrayals of Latinos and Latino cultures in film, television and new media and celebrates the achievement of Latino talent in the entertainment industry.

This play will also be performed later this summer with the same cast at the Shannon Center of the Performing Arts in Whittier, California.

Actress Maryanne Emma Gilbert has full career at young age

Doritos Commercial
Maryanne Emma Gilbert enjoying Doritos while filming the “Little Thumbs” commercial.

For Maryanne Emma Gilbert, there has never been a moment of doubt about what she likes to do. At just seven years-of-age, when many children are rushing home from school to watch their favorite shows on television, Gilbert is on television. Not many her age know what they should be doing, and an even fewer amount actually start doing it. Gilbert’s natural acting talents combined with a sense of professionalism beyond her years are what have led her to be recognized across her home country of Canada as one of the best.

Despite her young age, Gilbert has already seen success that many more experienced in the field can only dream of. Having already been nominated for a Joey Award for Best Actress in a Commercial, and another for Best Actress in a Short Film, she still remains humble for what she has achieved.

“My mom makes movies. I see her make movies. I thought that it would be fun to try to act too, and it is fun. I like to make videos too,” said Gilbert.

Gilbert has starred in a nationwide commercial for McDonalds, which ran during the 2014 Summer Olympics, as well as a Canadian Tire campaign. She has appeared in the film Jewel Fools, the holiday flick Season’s Greetings, and the upcoming film Space Rippers. Millions of Canadians have seen her face on their screens, and the Calgary native has no plans on slowing down.

“I want to act more. I would like to move to another city, but keep my house. So, I want to move my house to Hollywood. There is not a lot of things in Alberta. Soon I will work on some funny documentaries that talk about USA and Canada and hopefully even more things,” she said.

This excitement for what she does is evident in everything she works on. This includes the Doritos “Crash the Superbowl” commercial she starred in, titled Little Thumbs. The commercial aired on the “Crash the Superbowl” website in 2015. Although they did not win the contest, Gilbert says it was still a great learning experience.

“We were on a big competition and we wanted to win a million dollar for that competition. It was awesome,” she said. “We didn’t win it, but I learned timing. We had to retake a scene about ten times because the other girl and I had to do our timing really well for one scene. It was super tricky.”

The commercial features a team of scouts who get lost in a forest, but Gilbert saves them by planting Doritos in the ground to retrace their steps.

“I work with a lot of kids, and Maryanne is very articulate. She listens well and follows direction very well. She is very focused. She is easy going and fun. She always has a positive spirit, which makes for a pleasant experience for the cast and crew that work with her. From a directors point of view, even though I was a producer on this commercial, it is her openness that makes her a good actress, and her willingness to listen and take direction. She is always open to the experience she is in at that moment,” said producer Barb Briggs.

Despite being so young, Gilbert excels at comedy, and has a natural comedic timing when delivering lines. She enjoys doing accents and imitations to make her audience laugh. She was able to display this to full-effect in the Doritos commercial, as her character’s refusal to share Doritos was very humorous.

“It was funny because my scene was really funny. I like funny stuff,” said Gilbert.

But there was one part of filming the commercial for Gilbert that made it a truly amazing experience for the young actress.

“I got to eat Doritos. I love Doritos. It was the treat at the end of the filming we could eat Doritos,” she concluded.

Actress Valeria Gonzalez stars in upcoming film Jaloguin

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Valeria Gonzalez, photo by Victor Crespo

Although Valeria Gonzalez studied Media and Communications in university, she was born to be an actress. Watching movies as a child with her family, she would see actors on the screen and aspire to one day do the same. Even throughout her schooling, she took acting classes, knowing what her true passion was. She moved all over the world, picking up habits and languages from people of all cultures, and with this diversity she can play almost any role. It was when she was studying her masters when Gonzalez decided to leave school to truly pursue acting, and has never looked back.

Gonzalez is a celebrated actress, recognized internationally for her talents. She has starred in many award-winning films, such as Sexy Jalapenos and Isola, as well as the web series Okupados.

“It is privilege to enjoy the whole process of creating a character and playing it, as challenging as it may seem at times, and working as a team with creative and professional people,” said Gonzalez.  

Now, Gonzalez is starring in the upcoming, anticipated film Jaloguin. The film follows Maria, the mother of a 9-year-old who is 8 months pregnant with her second child. While living in Tijuana, she decides to go to San Diego with her son to see her husband on the day of Halloween, and their journey ends up being quite an adventure.

“Maria is a loving and caring young mother, and a strong young woman who finds herself raising her son by herself, because her husband works and lives in another country. But when she finds out that her son is being bullied by other kids, and that she won’t get support from the parents of those kids, she decides to go her husband,” said Gonzalez. “I find that is very common nowadays for families to be separated due to work all around the world, and the reality of dealing with that struggle is something I was very interested in portraying, especially in such a beautiful story.”

Jaloguin is directed by Enrique Unzueta, who Gonzalez describes as being very interested in portraying the city of Tijuana as he knows it, so the locations where they filmed are very unique, adding an extra artistic element to the film.

“Valeria’s ability to connect in the most basic human level to the reality of the character is just one of her many assets. Her hard work and commitment go beyond her performance, she truly is part of the team. Valeria understands that besides an actor, she is a storyteller,” said Unzueta.

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Valeria Gonzalez in Jaloguin

Unzueta is not the only person that recognizes Gonzalez’s extraordinary abilities as an actress, as she was previously nominated for Best Female Actor in the YoungCuts Film Festival in Montreal, in 2013, when she played the role of Nicole in the film Dolce Fantasia. Nicole, an introverted day dreamer, struggles to complete a screenplay based on La Dolce Vita. She is passionate about Italian films and especially films from director Federico Fellini, her favorite movie is La Dolce Vita. Through casual glimpses of her crush, Marc, Nicole subconsciously enters Fellini-esque fantasies channeling her alluring alter ego, Nicoletta, who represents the person she would love to be, an elegant and confident Italian woman. Embodying this confident Italian muse, she captures Marc’s attention and finds the inspiration to complete her script. The film is directed by Jessica Angiuoni, and Marc is played by actor Jacob Frank.

“I felt really honored to be considered for this award. I absolutely loved the story. I related to how Nicole’s daydreams being so far from reality brought her great deception, but at the same time served to create something artistic and to learn and grow by putting herself out there with all her heart,” said Gonzalez. “I loved playing these two characters in one film, her in real life and her ideal woman in her fantasies. Working on how each of them presents herself to the world, one lacking confidence and a voice and the other one being elegant, sexy, confident and smart.”

Despite her successes, Gonzalez acknowledges that there are still challenges to her chosen career that even a skilled actress like herself has to overcome with each new role. She describes the biggest challenge as there being no right way of preparing for a character and playing it on stage or on a set. Gonzalez would tell new actors that they have to be open and ready to fail, ready to try something different, which is what helped her.

“I have learned that there are many ways I can start working and preparing, and I always feel tempted to do so in a way I haven’t tried before. Once the curtain is up or the camera is rolling, unexpected things happen, and in a way, I hope they do, since they make the performance new and real, and it makes me present,” she concluded.

Along with Jaloguin, audiences have the pleasure to see Gonzalez in two new feature films that she will be filming shortly. One of the films is about vampires, an old story adapted to modern LA, and the other is about the relationship between two sisters. Jaloguin is currently in post-production, but is expected to make its way to film festivals later this year.

From the Stage to the Screen Australian Actress Natalie Page is a Knock Out!

Actress Natalie Page
Australian Actress Natalie Page shot by Andrew Rouse

 

Hailing from Sydney, Australia actress Natalie Page has created a dazzling reputation for herself as a uniquely talented performer whose dynamic character portrayals continually leave audiences wanting more. Over the past three decades Page has amassed an impressive repertoire of work that spans both the stage and screen, with each character she takes on shedding light on the multi-faceted nature of her craft.

In the world of network television fans will immediately recognize Page from her critical roles in the Awgie, Logie and AFI Award winning crime drama “Water Rats,” the long-running series “Deadly Women,” “Australia’s Most Wanted,” “White Collar Blue” and more.  

Page discovered her passion for performing early on in life. Driven to take her craft to the next level she began studying at Sydney’s renowned Genesian Theatre Company in her youth, where she immersed herself in Chekhov’s vast repertoire of work.

“I can bring all of myself to acting as it involves mind, body, energy, voice and a precision that requires my focus and dedication. A craft that I can bring all of myself to is both stimulating and enormously satisfying,” admits Page.

Early on in her career Page put her flare for the art of seduction on display in the critical role of a sultry mistress in the hit romantic drama “Home and Away,” which has earned a whopping 26 Logie Awards and six Awgie Awards to date.

In the series “Water Rats” Page struck a chord with audiences with her performance as a hostage fearing for her life. Sharing the screen with Astra and Logie Award winning actress Catherine McClements (“Tangle,” “Rush”) and Film Critics Circle of Australia Award winner Colin Friels (“Tom White,” “Ground Zero,” “Malcolm”), Page held her own acting alongside Australia’s best without ever missing a beat.

Her ability to tap in and embody the fear one feels when trapped in a situation where the question of whether she will live or die lays in the hands of a desperate criminal landed her another critical role as a hostage in “Australia’s Most Wanted,” which aired on Australia’s Nine Network, one of the two highest rated networks in the country.

Page’s incredible range has allowed her to portray the victim as believably as the villain, something she proved when she took on the starring role of Marie Noe in the popular series “Deadly Women” episode “Murder of Innocence” narrated by Lynnanne Zager (“Hotel Transylvania 2,” “Transcendence,” “Kung Fu Panda 3”).

A Philadelphia housewife who gave birth to 10 children, with two of them dying at birth and the other eight dying under suspicious circumstances, which turn out to be caused by her own hands, as she admits to strangling them nearly 30 years after the fact.

The way Page taps into this sinister, real life character, mastering Marie Noe’s Philadelphia accent and embodying the character’s mannerisms on screen not only makes the story that much more believable, but one that undoubtedly sends a shiver up the spine of all who watch the episode.

The actress admits, “I like a project that will present a challenge and one in which I can bring something unique to the role.”

While Natalie Page has left an indelible mark in the minds of audiences through her on-screen roles, she’s made just as powerful of an impact through her performances on stage. In 2014 she took on the starring role of Millicent in Brett Garland’s revival of “Estranged” staged at Sydney’s Tap Gallery theatre, which debuted in Australia during the Mardi Gras Festival.

Written by renowned playwright Jason Charles, “Estranged” brings to life the story of a dysfunctional family who comes together for the wedding of one of the sons while exploring themes of sexuality, societal acceptance and the way judgement can divide us from those we love. The mother of the son to be wed, Page’s character Millicent is the divisive force who causes the original rift in the family decades prior when she passes harsh judgements on her sister and subsequently banishes her and her son from their lives. As the drama and tension plays out over the course of the nuptials, we see Millicent and her sister engage in malicious attacks against one another, with Millicent going as far as to slap her sister in the face in front of everyone, a challenging move that Page pulls of with precision.

 

Natalie Page
Natalie Page (left) & Lena Sandberg (right) in “Estranged” shot by Brett Garland

 

Page explains, The reason I liked this role is because my struggle to accept such a mean spirited person was vast– I had to overcome this and be prepared to allow people to see me in a very ugly light, even slapping my sister across the face… When I completely surrendered to the role my work flourished.”

It comes as no surprise that the production received rave reviews across Australia as Page gave a phenomenal performance as the mean spirited Millicent in a portrayal that made her character one who is easily loathed by audiences.

While Page’s acting skill and commanding presence on the stage and screen have made her an easy fan favorite, these qualities have also been a huge draw factor for high-profile companies across the globe who have cast her as their lead actress. In 2014 she starred in a commercial for the popular Australian noodle company Maggi, and most recently she landed the lead role in a commercial for Australian Seniors Funeral Insurance, which is currently airing nationally across Australia.

Actress Anele Morris is jack-of-all-trades in film ‘Bloggers’

Someone with a true vision is hard to come by. It’s easy to have an idea, but bringing it to fruition is much more difficult. Anele Morris knows this better than most.

Inspiration struck, and this versatile South African actress came up with a concept for a film about the ancient African humanist philosophy ‘Ubuntu’, which shapes the journey of six young multinational blogging entrepreneurs who come together in Los Angeles to launch a blogging business. Now, Bloggers has been submitted at multiple film festivals worldwide.

The film, which Morris considers to be the highlight of her career, raised 130 per cent of its budget on Indiegogo. Morris not only has a starring role as the character Anna, but she also was the executive producer and writer. Her character, Anna, blogs about everything from dating to paying the bills. Anna decides to start and head the bloggers’ website that the film centers around.

“Working on Bloggers was a dream come true. I have always wanted to write a story like this and it was awesome being able to make my debut as a writer, producer, and actress to film festivals in this fashion,” said Morris.

Morris created the concept and worked on pre-production for it with her two best friends. They decided to fundraise for the campaign on Indiegogo, which many young filmmakers are doing. With the financial investment from the campaign they were able to create the film.

“I liked that it was a story that I could relate to in many different aspects,” said Morris. “Also having creative control in many areas was an absolute joy.”

Despite starting out as a small project between friends, the film grew to much more. The editor of Bloggers is Paul Skorich, a professional editor, producer and composer. He has produced over fifty specials for the cable network TV ONE and two of his shows have been nominated for NAACP Image Awards.  He is currently supervising post production and editing the feature film Revival! along with Emma E. Hickox (Bad Moms, Pirate Radio, A Walk to Remember). Revival! is written by Harry Lennix (Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Matrix: Reloaded; Revolutions) and directed by Danny Green (Star Trek, Coach Carter).

“Working with Paul introduced me to how story telling is hugely done in the editing room. Working with him was a delight,” said Morris.

In addition to Skorich, Morris also worked with the director of Bloggers J.R. Curry, the head of the film production company Benevolent Pictures. Curry previously directed M.A.G., which screened at the Martial Con Film Festival in August. He has also directed films such as Silent Voices and Butterfly which have been accepted into multiple film festivals.

“Anele’s knowledge, creativity and instinctive grasp of what makes a successful actor are all second to none. Her work has enabled her to carve a career as a talented actress in films such as Debris: The Ganymede Event and Arsenic,” said Curry.

Morris has also acted in films such as After, the upcoming film Snake Outta Compton. She also appeared in the series Adopted, where she worked with Jeff Larson. Adopted is a web series that has been running since 2013. Larson won the Vancouver Web Festival award for best overall series which he shared with three other producers of the series. One of the directors is Oscar Rene Lozoya II who has edited multiple episodes of NBC’s Chicago Fire. Despite Morris’ past achievements in acting, working on Bloggers still taught her to trust in her abilities.

“I learned to figure things out and to say what you mean and mean what you say,” she said.

The biggest challenge Morris’ experienced at the beginning of her acting career was self-confidence. Now, she is very confident in her acting abilities, but in the beginning it wasn’t so easy. She now uses what she knows to walk onto any set with the natural creativity she brings to each role, and her love of writing helps her visualize a story for each character, making her fully embody each role she portrays.

“I am a lover of life and really, that’s what acting requires,” she concluded. “It requires you to be alive, to be present and open to the possibilities of any experience.”

 

You can view Blogger’s trailer here.

THIS CANADIAN ACTRESS PROVES THAT HER ACTING AND DANCING ARE ON POINTE

Lanie McAuley is a dancer, and she plays one on film. In real life, McAuley made the switch from concentrating on a dance career to choosing acting as her focus. However, she returned to dance with her role in Center Stage: On Pointe. It’s not often that one gets to appreciate who they were as a younger person and who they are just a few years later with such contrast. As a gifted young dancer from Canada, Lanie moved to New York when she won the audition for a production there. These days, as a successful actress she spends her days on film sets. Though she still pursues a creative life, the avenue which she pursues flexes different muscles, literally and figuratively. McAuley is a self-described practical person yet the vocations she has chosen to pursue seem to contradict that idea. A dreamer who began her professional career a little more than a week after high school graduation (with great success), it seems impossible to imagine her doing a job which involves a nine to five schedule and a 401K. Lanie’s view of herself is probably a product of her middle-class work ethic coupled with a desire to work her entire life at something which inspires passion in her. Even when she alters her path, Lanie McAuley always finds her way back to doing something creative…sometimes a number of things at the same time. It’s serendipitous that years after leaving dance for acting, Lanie’s acting career has brought her back to dance to star in the sequel to her all-time favorite dance film, the original Center Stage.

A young Lanie followed her sister’s footsteps into dance. At 18, McAuley attended a dance competition called New York City Dance Alliance, where auditions were being held for a tap/jazz show called Revolution. Her dance teacher suggested she go to the audition just for the experience; hundreds of female dancers were narrowed down to four and soon, Lanie was offered a spot in the show. She had just graduated from high school a week before. Suddenly she found herself moving into an apartment in Queens and taking the train to Manhattan every day for rehearsals. Literally overnight, she went from high school and living as her parents’ sheltered little girl to living alone in New York with a full time dance job. The hours were long and it was both physically and mentally exhausting. She was the youngest member in the cast and had to learn quickly. It was a quick and amazing kick off to adulthood and a professional career in dance. In addition to the achievement of being in a successful New York production, Lanie also made it into the finals of So You Think You Can Dance. Her focus changed from dance to acting as she became keenly aware of certain factors. She reveals, “I was clear on my love of dance but I started questioning how viable my career options were in that world. I’m a very practical person and the idea that an injury can blow your entire career seemed so frightening to me. I’d been acting since I was a toddler and acting had always been a part of my life. Though I still loved dance, I’d always wanted to make acting more of a focal point in my life rather than a side interest. I think my background in dance has been a huge asset in helping me gain roles as an actress. It made me very comfortable performing, whether on stage or in front of a camera. My dance training definitely gave me a posture and poise that I never would have had otherwise. I also think growing up in the dance world (particularly ballet) gave me a lot of discipline. Being an actor requires a lot of discipline, involving everything from memorizing sides, to committing to a scene, to taking care of yourself emotionally.”

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It has often been said that nothing worth having comes easy. This can be true even if you have a head start. When McAuely’s agent called her about the audition for Center Stage: On Pointe, the actress was ecstatic. The original [Center Stage] is her favorite dance movie of all time and a highly motivated actress with a strong dance background was required for the role. Lanie’s character, Wendy, is meant to be a strong dancer who’s the measuring stick against which Bella (played by Nicole Munoz) is compared at the audition. The legendary Director X was involved in the production and ran a rigorous dance audition composed of ballet and modern dance styles. McAuley notes, “Auditioning for Director X was an intimidating experience. At the dance audition, I remember doing the ballet combo and him saying, ‘Again. Again. Again.’ I think he was testing my endurance. By the time I’d done it four or five times at 110%, I was exhausted. I had to hold my breath when they spoke with me afterward to hide how badly I was panting.” Lanie was awarded the role of Wendy in the film. Her costar, Nicole Munoz comments confirming the facets which made McAuley such a vital part of the film, “Captivating to watch, Lanie performed a contemporary dance solo. Her commitment and bright energy inspired the other dancers and raised morale on set. Multi-talented, Lanie was able to bring the character ‘Wendy’ to life by bringing an emotional depth that touched the cast and crew. We were filming on a tight schedule. Being a true professional, Lanie was able to bring a powerful energy to each take. Never once stumbling, she was always more than prepared. Lanie stands out from the crowd with her multiple talents, each and every one of them groomed and ready to go.”

Center Stage: On Pointe premiered with great success on the Lifetime network. While Lanie feels fortunate to have been in the cast of this popular film as well as challenging herself to unearth her dance proficiency, she concedes that she feels a reaffirmation that she made the correct choice in acting. She declares, “I think the main similarity between a career as a dancer and as an actress is that both careers are based on art and passion. Most people don’t enter these careers for the money; they enter them because they love the work. There are definitely some big differences between the two. Truthfully, acting is more lucrative, if you’re able to find success in it. There just doesn’t seem to be the same kind of funding and opportunity in the dance world that it deserves. There are certainly people who are enterprising enough to have thriving careers in dance (I’m so impressed by their drive and initiative) but for me, my passion for dance didn’t run deep enough to create those opportunities for myself. That’s likely because my practical brain couldn’t rationalize the risk of injury and the deterioration of opportunity with age. One of the coolest things about acting is that you can act professionally at any age. Acting is the art form of life…and life is all ages. When you’re 75 years old, there’s still a role for you. That’s a big part of why I focused on acting as my career.”

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