Category Archives: Actress

Showstopper Tate McRae Has Our Attention!

Rob Daly Phot2
Canadian Star Tate McRae shot by Rob Daly Photography

From contemporary dance to jazz and ballet, 12-year-old Tate McRae is a force to be reckoned with whose performances on stage and in film are impossible to take your eyes away from. The young star, whose become quite a celebrity in the Canadian entertainment industry over the last few years for her far reaching talent as an actress, dancer and singer, has achieved unparalleled diversity in her career.

Tate began dancing at the age of 6, and by the time she was 8 years old her beloved hobby had turned into a full-fledged career. Her ability to move her physical being and embody the music she dances to with the utmost skill and grace is astonishing. As a dance competitor, she is a tough opponent for any dancer to go up against, but she doesn’t dance for the awards as much as she dances for the underlying reason that performing is a part of her soul. It is something that she was born to do.

She admits, “Even in my spare time I chose to do something that has to do with the arts. I am always singing or dancing around or listening to music! I have been like that since I was a little girl. Even before I took lessons I was always putting on shows!”

Some of Tate’s dance accomplishments to date include winning the Junior Best Dancer Award at The Dance Awards in 2015, the Silver Medal Solo Award and Bronze Medal Pas De Deux Award at the 2015 YAGP (Youth America Grand Prix) finals in NYC, 2014 NYCDA (New York City Dance Alliance) National 1st Runner Up Mini Outstanding Dancer, and Mini National Best Dancer Award at The Dance Awards in 2013.

She was also selected as one of the few dancers to be a part of DancerPalooza’s Beat Squad, a group of America’s top competitive dance soloists selected to perform on the Hall of Fame Performance stage during DancerPalooza in California in 2014 and 2015.

Earlier this year she also performed at the Rule The World NUVO Closing Show in Calgary, Canada, which you can check out below.

 

Tate’s undeniable skill backed by her reputation as an extraordinary dancer has also benefitted her in her career as an actress. After signing with her current agency, Stars Academy Talent, several years ago, she began landing leading roles in television shows, films and commercials.

She explains, “I got into acting through my dancing and singing. I love musical theater and had to learn to develop characters for my songs… The same day I got an agent I booked a job doing voice overs for the show Lalaloopsy!”

As an actress Tate is known for her work as the voice of Spot Splatter Splash on the highly successful animated series Lalaloopsy, which aired on Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. in the U.S. and on Treehouse TV in Canada before moving to Family Jr. in 2014.

Aside from starring in 17 episodes of the popular children’s series, she also starred in the Lalaloopsy: Band Together video, which was released in August, the 2014 Lalaloopsy Ponies: The Big Show film and the 2013 Lala-Oopsies: A Sew Magical Tale video.

Last year she was a featured actress in Toyota’s commercial “Can’t Win Everything – Prairie Pageant.” Earlier this year she gave a dazzling contemporary dance performance in a music video for the CASBY and four-time Canadian Radio Music Award winning band Walk Off The Earth’s hit single “Rule the World.” In addition to being featured in promotional dance videos for Triple Flip, and modeling for dance companies including Capezio and Twear, Capezio also sponsors for her work as a dancer.

Tate admits, “Dancing has helped me with my career as an actor because I have made so many more connections through dance. The 2 worlds really do cross over. Dance has given me lots of confidence and has made me really comfortable performing. I do not get nervous when I am asked to recite lines or play a character.”

If her skill as an actress and a dancer wasn’t impressive enough (and of course, it is), Tate also happens to be an exuberantly talented singer. In fact her singing voice can be heard on a radio commercial for Resorts Of The Canadian Rockies, as well as in the show Lalaloopsy when she takes on the role of Holly Sleighbells.

You can get a glimpse of just how extraordinary of a singer she is in the video below where she performs a dance at The Dance Awards in NYC in 2014 to her cover over the song ‘Human’ .

 

Mesmerizing Dramatic Actress Eliana Jones

HemlockCarpet
Actress Eliana Jones

While Eliana Jones is only 18 years old, her resume boasts the accomplishments of an actor well beyond her age. While she has undoubtedly made her name known in the world of television, Jones has given a slew of knock out performances on the stage and in feature films like Step Dogs as well. Her television career, however, is what has catapulted her to the top of her industry.

While Jones has appeared on array of award-winning television shows over the years, her career got a major boost when she landed the recurring role of the caddy high school teenager, Alexa Sworn, on executive producer Eli Roth’s (director, Hostel series; actor, Grindhouse: Death Proof, Inglorious Bastards) Netflix original series Hemlock Grove.

The Emmy nominated Hemlock Grove tells the story of a small town reeling from the recent murders of several teenage girls. Jones’ character Alexa, and her twin sister Alyssa, played by Emilia McCarthy (Kid’s Town, Maps to the Stars, Max and Shred), are the daughters of Hemlock Grove Sheriff, Tom Sworn, played by Aaron Douglas (The Returned, I, Robot) and the best friends of Christina Wendall, played by Freya Tingley (Once Upon a Time). Often eliciting intense reactions from their peers as they taunt and ridicule students at their high school, the Sworn sisters are the exact opposite of their quiet and reserved friend Christina, and their caddy nature might just make them the killer’s next target; but you’ll just have to watch the first season of the show to find out.

Hemlock Grove has received widespread praise and critical acclaim, and is currently in its third and final season. Other notable actors who worked with Jones on Hemlock Grove include Famke Janssen (Phoenix in the X-Men series), Dougray Scott (Mission Impossible 2, Taken 2, Ever After), and Bill Skarsgard (Vicoria, Anna Karenina, Behind Blue Skies).

The first hit television show Jones landed was Nikita, in which she debuted on screen as the younger version of Alex, one of the show’s lead characters who was played by Lyndsy Fonseca (Kick Ass; Kick Ass 2; How I Met Your Mother; Desperate Housewives). Nikita, which aired on the CW, has been nominated for numerous awards, including two Primetime Emmys.

Jones debuted her versatility in the role depicting young Alex through the show’s repeated flashbacks in nine episodes over the course of the first and second seasons. During many of the episodes Jones had the opportunity to display her knack for dialects and speaking other languages, an asset that has assuredly set her apart from other actresses.

“I often spoke Russian throughout the show,” Jones explained in an interview, “which is something that I had to spend hours learning!”

Her rendition was spot-on, however, which contributed toward many of the subsequent roles for which she was cast. The CW enjoyed Jones’ portrayal of young Alex so much in Nikita, that not long later the network cast her for another younger version of a lead character. In the hit TV series Lost Girl, Jones played teen Tasmin, the younger version of Rachel Skarsten’s (50 Shades of Gray; The Vow) starring character.

Jones has captivated television audiences on many other shows, including the CBC series Saving Hope, in which she acts alongside Wendy Crewson (Air Force One; The Santa Clause), as well as YTV’s The Stanley Dynamic, where leads the series alongside prolific television star Michael Gross (Anger Management; Suits; How I Met Your Mother; ER; The Young and the Restless).

Jones gave yet another dazzling performance in the feature film Step Dogs (2013), where she played the starring role of Lacey, a spoiled teenager from Hollywood who is forced to move to Canada with her aunt and their dog. The plotline follows both Lacey and her dog as they adjust to a new way of life, encountering many surprises, challenges and new relationships along the way.

Currently, Eliana Jones is in production for The Family Channel’s Backstage, a new show that follows a group of extremely talented artists, dancers, singers, painters, and actors. Backstage is set to begin airing in January of 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotlight on Actress Birgit Ludemann

Birgit Ludemann
              Actress Birgit Ludemann shot by Charles Kovach

Whether on the stage or screen, there is one crucial ability that all of the most gifted and successful actors have in common. There are comedic actors, dramatic actors and those with a flair for action, but it’s those who can move from one genre to another without missing a beat who make their mark and capture the adoration of audiences. With each character she steps into, Birgit Ludemann displays that rare gift again and again.

Growing up in South Africa, Ludemann was just 12 years old when she knew that acting was to become her life’s pursuit. In the years since her first school performance in a Roald Dahl play, she’s gone on to tap into every facet of the human condition. From tragedy to comedy, the lifelike to the surreal, exhilarating to introspective, she has proven that no matter what the story is she can jump right into any role and deliver a knockout performance.

In Stay, Ludemann plays the best friend of a pregnant woman who goes into labor during her baby shower. The story turns tragic, however, when during labor the woman receives a phone call informing her that her husband has been shot and is dying. The woman is terrified, heartbroken and about to give birth, but Ludemann’s character continues to support and console her throughout the ordeal. What was already a difficult role emotionally was made even more challenging by the absence of spoken lines and the slow-motion style in which the film was shot. Ludemann’s performance had to walk the fine line between using only her movements and expressions to convey the story while being constantly aware of how each motion she made would appear when slowed down.

“There was no dialogue during the entire film, everything was purely physical,” she said. “The director wanted the finished edit to be in slow motion so I had to be very conscious of movements being too fast-paced or slow-paced. Also, as it was a heavily emotive-driven drama, portraying emotions strongly enough for them to read on camera in slow motion was different.”

Ludemann’s role as Suzanna in Fives is a huge shift from her character in Stay. Centered around an office romance, the film stars Alonso Grandio (Furious 7) as Eric and Melanie Steinmann (Mac Daddy’s Vegas Adventure, OddBall) as Eric’s love interest Meghan.

Suzanna is the “new girl” where Eric and Meghan work. She’s an attractive young woman, called a “7-out-of-10,” who catches the eyes of all the men in the office. All except Eric, who quickly hatches a scheme to use Suzanna to make Meghan jealous.

“Eric, the male lead, flirts with Suzanna in order to make another co-worker, Meghan, jealous,” explained Ludemann, whose character is by no means oblivious to the misguided plan. “Suzanna is fully aware of the situation and just plays along because she knows Eric and Meghan make a better couple than herself and Eric.”

On the surface Fives is a romantic comedy, but Ludemann chose to go deeper in her portrayal of Suzanna. She expertly conveyed Suzanna’s awareness of and confidence in her own beauty without making the character arrogant or unlikeable.

“One of the main challenges I faced playing this role was making sure the character did not come off as being cocky, narcissistic or vain,” she said.

Compared to the approach many of her peers might have taken, Ludemann went above and beyond in her commitment to preparing for the role. Both on- and off-camera, she was constantly focused on getting into the mindset of the beautiful and confident Suzanne. In order to embody the character, she learned what she could about the experiences attractive women had had working in office environments and incorporated what she learned into Suzanne’s onscreen personality.

“One of the themes this role highlights is the power women get from being good-looking, especially around the office space,” Ludemann said. “So that was one of the things I had to do some research on.”

Never one to become pegged down by genre, Ludemann is again stepping outside the familiar and pushing the boundaries of her acting experience. This time, she’s playing the role of Claudia in Mac Daddy’s Vegas Adventure, the sequel to the award-winning raucous comedy hit Mac Daddy and the Lovers (2013 Nevada International Film Festival’s Gold Reel Award). Audiences can catch Ludemann’s latest performance when Mac Daddy’s Vegas Adventure is released in spring 2016.

Actress Aleksandra Kovacevic Showcases her Talent Across Genres

Aleksandra Kovacevic
Actress Aleksandra Kovacevic shot by Travis Tanner

Hailing from Sarajevo, raised in Germany and trained in Los Angeles, trilingual star of the stage and screen Aleksandra Kovacevic has won over audiences on both sides of the Atlantic and become a mainstay in the industry.

In the play 4.48 Psychosis, Kovacevic takes on the difficult task of portraying both a therapist and the therapist’s patient. The play has a deeply tragic history, which is as important to the plot as the actual performance. 4.48 Psychosis was written by British playwright Sarah Kane who suffered from debilitating depression herself. After she completed writing the play, Kane committed suicide before its debut. The unsettling and grim context of the story makes it that much more powerful, and Kovacevic brought that sense of emotional magnitude to her performance in the play.

“The role of the patient was a paradox, like a free spirit trapped in her own prison. She suppresses her path and tries to reflect her fate on others,” Kovacevic said of the role. “She is Sarah Kane, and still can’t accept that she is ill. If she dies both of them die. My character is basically telling her not to give up on herself.”

4.48 Psychosis
Flyer for the production of “4.48 Psychosis”

Kovacevic’s work is not bound by the conventions of genre; she is as at home in comedic roles as she is in psychological dramas. In the 2015 hit Netflix Original Series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, she plays a counselor who auditions for the Camp Talent Show. The series is directed by David Wain (Stella, They Came Together, Role Models), two-time Emmy Award-winning co-creator of the Adult Swim live-action comedy Children’s Hospital. The role sees Kovacevic act alongside an enormous all-star cast, including Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation, Saturday Night Live, They Came Together), who plays the camp counselor and brutal camp play director Susie.

In an incredible display of her talents as both an actor and a writer, Kovacevic played the lead role in Bertilda, a film she wrote herself. As the title character Bertilda, Kovacevic portrays a marionette, which serves as a symbol for the restrictions placed on women in the past and present. Throughout the film, Bertilda gradually begins to break away from those limits. Kovacevic spoke about the ways in which she planned and visualized the production from start-to-finish.

“I started thinking about the role of the female and what I could relate to,” she said. “Things like being seen as an object, being underestimated, men thinking females can’t have a position of leadership and women being seen as the weak link. The change of the female role, now and then.”

She spent countless hours studying not only the history of women’s struggles, but also the finer details like set design and of course, the style with which she would take on the role of a marionette puppet. It takes careful choreography and precise movements to perfectly embody and portray a wooden puppet whose movements are controlled and restricted by strings, and Kovacevic did so masterfully.

“I started to develop my character in her full motion when I started to practice with strings,” said Kovacevic, who actually used both bungee cords and ropes to help her become a living puppet. “To bring this project to life, I needed to practice a lot. A puppet doesn’t have a mind, her head is made out of wood.”

Everything – from the gorgeous set, painstakingly designed like an idyllic dollhouse and overflowing with symbolism to set the mood for observant viewers, to the ‘50s style of decor and wardrobe, down to the Nutcracker-esque living doll at the core of the film – are carefully and thoroughly planned and intended to create what Kovacevic calls “a fairy tale for grown-ups.”

Audiences can catch Kovacevic in the film Bertilda, and in Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp now on Netflix. Other upcoming projects include Sebudai, set to begin shooting in winter, and Animal Lovers Anonymous, a feature length mockumentary-style comedy set to begin production in 2016.

From “Swearnet: The Movie” to “The Man in the Shadows,” Sarah Jurgens is an Actress We Love to Watch

 Sarah Jurges
Actress Sarah Jurgens in “The Man in the Shadows” taken by Andrew Cymek

For all the fans that feel a bit sad every time an episode of the hit show Trailer Park Boys ends after only 30 minutes, the release of Swearnet: The Movie probably came as quite a delight. Distributed by E1 Films Canada, Netflix and Dada Films, the 2014 release of the film Swearnet: The Movie pulled together the stars of Trailer Park Boys, with the added bonus of Tom Green, Carrot Top and Sarah Jurgens, for 112 minutes of crude laugh out loud comedy.

When CNT denies the next season of their show due to offensive language, Mike Smith, Rob Wells, John Paul Tremblay and Patrick Roach decide to form their own television network known as Swearnet, a haven for all those anti-censorship swear-a-holics, who just can’t seem to curb their tongue.

It seems the boys are back on top, as long as Wells can keep the new network a secret from his psycho girlfriend Julie, played by Jurgens, who brings the perfect dichotomy of anxiety and comedy to the film. The epitome of that crazy, overbearing girlfriend we’ve all known at one time or another, Julie makes Wells’ life a living hell throughout the film.

“I anchored her destructive behavior in deep insecurity and an insatiable desire for attention and drama. It was such a blast to be able to run wild with her,” recalls Sarah Jurgens.

Most viewers will recognize Jurgens from her more dramatic roles on the television shows Covert Affairs, Lost Girl, Republic of Doyle and Beauty and the Beast, but we get to see a totally different side of her in this film.

About working on Swearnet: The Movie, Jurgens says, “The director, Warren P. Sonoda, created a working environment that was fast-paced and creatively freeing. We were often encouraged to stretch the boundaries of the characters behavior, and the improv really kept me on my toes.”

Viewers will have the chance to see Jurgens in a starkly different role than Julie in the psychological drama film The Man in the Shadows, where she plays the role of Rachel Darwin. The film revolves around Jurgens’ character, a newlywed photographer who is haunted by a mysterious man in the shadows who continually appears wearing a brimmed hat.

Based on hundreds of accounts from people around the world who have had similar experiences with this mysterious presence, The Man in the Shadows premiered recently at the Dances with Films Festival in Los Angeles and is slated to screen again at the Cinefest Sudbury International Film Festival on September 22.

“‘The Man In The Shadows’ gave me the permission to explore the experience of being haunted, hunted and stalked,” explains Jurgens. “I was given the opportunity to live in a state of mental unraveling. I enjoyed the challenge of playing a character who was wrestling with truth and illusion, experiencing the slippage of her own sanity.”

The film was also chosen as an Official Selection of the 2015 SCARE-A-CON Film Festival where Jurgens is nominated for a Best Actress Award, and the film is nominated for a Best Feature Award.

From Syfy’s “Lost Girl” to the miniseries “Gangland Undercover,” Actress Jessica Huras

Jessica Huras
Actress Jessica Huras shot by David Leyes

The vast array of roles played by Canadian heartthrob Jessica Huras speaks to her incredible ability to not only blend into any character, but to stand out among star-studded casts. She has become an inimitable asset to countless productions, and with more new projects lining up each day, she is certain to be a household name among audiences the world over.

In the award-winning SyFy channel original series Lost Girl, Huras’ recurring performance as a mischievous receptionist proved so impressive that she earned a role as the acting double for Anna Silk, who plays the main character of Bo in the series. Huras, as Silk’s double, took on the role of a supernatural being who fights against her insidious roots to try to become a champion for righteousness.

Her exceptional charm and talent caught the attention of the makers of the Lifetime Network’s original series Missing, on which Huras gave a stirring performance that helped to launch her career. The show follows a detective, played by MTV and BET award-winning actress Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill Volumes I & II, Independence Day, Batman & Robin), as she searches for missing persons in Washington D.C. Huras plays a missing teen, and worked directly alongside Fox during the shoot. Huras’ character was a transgender youth, a potentially controversial challenge, which she took on with a sense of pride and personal conviction.

“This role was a ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ type of role, and I prepared intensely for the job,” said Huras, a consummate professional and equal rights advocate. “It’s an important issue and I wanted to find an honest portrayal of the struggles transgender youth face.”

Recently, Huras played the role of Natalie, the wife of a man tasked with infiltrating a criminal motorcycle club in the 2015 hit History Channel miniseries Gangland Undercover. Her husband Charles, played by Damon Runyan (On the Other Hand, Death; Cheaper by the Dozen 2), is a hardened member of the notorious Vagos biker gang. Charles, is caught by the police and made to choose between hard time in prison or turning on his former comrades and becoming an informant.

“Natalie was a wholesome young woman who got dragged into the lifestyle of her meth-operating husband,” said Huras. “Over the course of the series we see how her choice to marry Falco and get into drugs ruined her life.”

Of his time working alongside her and portraying her husband, Runyan said Huras was critical to the plotline of Gangland Undercover.

“My amazing onscreen wife, Jessica Huras, is at the heart of [the story arc],” Runyan said of their work together on the miniseries. “Tune into her fine work on Gangland Undercover.”

Huras has several exciting upcoming new projects for audiences to eagerly anticipate, including Teeth, an independent film which deals with the male-centric state of the entertainment industry in New York. A heavy-hitting examination of a perennially relevant and critical topic, Huras said she felt right at home playing the lead character.

“I felt I could heighten my current experience into a kind of surreal, somewhat psychologically broken down version of myself,” she said, “and that was fun and scary at the same time.”

Teeth is currently in post-production and will be released on the festival circuit this year, where her role will no doubt leave a lasting impact on audiences once again.

Actor Spotlight: Dynamic Australian Actress Alli McLaren!

Alli McLaren
                                               Actress Alli McLaren shot by Jen Allison

Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, actress Alli McLaren’s impressive acting performances in a variety of genres, both on stage and screen, are demonstrative of her vast range and skill.

With acting in her blood, as both her mother and grandmother are acting coaches; McLaren began honing her craft at an early age. Although facing many setbacks throughout childhood, McLaren has developed her acting talents by channeling these challenges to further her understanding of characters and their emotions.

Although McLaren states that “drama is her favorite genre,” and while the majority of her performances elicit strong emotions from viewers she is much more then an outstanding dramatic actress.

McLaren proves her genre flexibility in the action packed comedy film Writer’s Block, where she plays the starring role of Sophie. With a light and boisterous comedic undertone, Writer’s Block is packed full of exciting scenes and fast paced choreographed action. As the star of the film, McLaren inhabits the role with perfect comedic timing and impressive action skills.

A stark contrast from the majority of her past performances, McLaren found herself engaging in combat and using weapons throughout the film, which was a new experience for the young actress, but something she found extremely exhilarating.

“I always love to change up what I do to challenge myself both creatively and artistically, thus it also makes it more fun for me” says McLaren.

Due to the immense popularity of the film, which was produced by White Night Films, a sequel is currently in the works.

Return of Greta, which was written and directed by Boardwalk Empire star Victor Verhaeghe also showcases McLaren’s comedic chops as a beauty contestant who must overcome the often silly and surreal drama of pageant life. The film Return of Greta is a tremendously poignant and satirical look at a real life institution.

Under the direction of Emmy Award winning actress Blanche Baker, McLaren delivers a stirring dramatic performance with a strong core as Gretchen in the film Infidelity.

In the film, which is a brilliant 21st century re-imaging of the French script La Despute, McLaren plays a scientist attempting to discover the cause of infidelity in couples; and it is up to her to tie together all the dramatic threads of love and loss between the couples she researches. McLaren’s performance in the film is as thought provoking as it is powerful.

“For me, its very easy to find a connection to a character and then go and watch people in real life who are like that character, to build a foundation from,” admits McLaren.

With the rare ability to listen to both a persons words, and body language, McLaren has the skills to bring real, heartfelt emotion to any character she plays.

My Year Of Silence, a film written by and starring McLaren, is proof of this. As the character of Callie, McLaren craftily weaves an emotional journey based on her own life experience, a performance that is highly anticipated.

The open minded and always hungry for something new approach to acting that Alli McLaren brings to the table is as refreshing as it is skillful.

“I feel like working with so many different people and in so many different genres makes me a better actress,” says McLaren.

Breathtaking Spanish Actress, Maria Luna

Maria Luna
Maria Luna shot by Brandin Photography

One of Spain’s most sought after exports, Maria Luna is a dynamic and multifaceted actress who brings complexity and diversity to her every role.

Active in theatre since a young age, Maria Luna was chosen to participate in a number of international drama programs, advancing her education on and understanding of her craft. With a dream of helping to create a global artistic collaboration through acting, Luna’s humanitarian nature is the driving force behind her strong performances.

Starring as Lucy in the film Dada, which wrapped production earlier this year, Luna tackles the very real and concerning plight of human trafficking. Set in Kenya, Luna’s character of Lucy finds herself thrown into a dangerous world she does not understand. The experience forces her to embark on a journey where she transitions from naivety and fear to empowerment, compassion, and freedom. To further the authenticity of the role, Luna prepared by living in Kenya, doing volunteer work, and educating herself on the subject through the real life stories of others.

In the 2014 film Romanian Fairy Tale Luna played the film’s integral role of Sara, a women who wishes to leave her life behind and start anew. Sara finds a kindred spirit in Timo, a young boy on the run from an abusive father. Luna’s character guides Timo through the labors of growing up amidst abuse, and emotional neglect. Sara develops through the film’s progression into both a friend and a mother to young Timo, saving the boy in mind, body, and spirit.

Maria Luna appreciates all genres of film, from the dramatic, to the comedic, or in the case of the 2015 film No Solicitors, the dark world of horror. In Emmy nominated director John Callas’s disturbing and unique tale of a simple solicitor at the door spiraling into a terrifying situation, Luna’s character Martha stands out. Luna plays a woman whose family must come first, at any cost. The terminal illness of her young son forces Luna’s character to push beyond past social acceptability, while still remaining very human. Luna brought this amazing character to life in a seamless manner that exposed her emotional range as an actress layer by layer.

Whether playing a struggling mother, a woman on the run, or a Pentagon Special Agent in 2015’s The Sheriffs, Maria Luna proves she can create a real character of depth in any role. As Mariana in veteran sci-fi director Neil Jordan’s Starship: Rising and Dawn of Destruction, Luna plays the catalyst in an intergalactic struggle for survival. The role as the sister to the film’s hero Lt. John Worthy, places Luna at the heart of the dazzling science fiction series, even having her play a robot version of herself as part of the twisted enemies’ plans.

Summing up her perspective perfectly: “I love everything about acting, doing the research, getting into character, and finding how I can relate to the situation, expressing in a way which I can connect to the rest of the world,” said Maria Luna.

Luna’s greatest desires in her acting career are to bring people together, form new collaborations, and affect change through her roles as seen by audiences across the world.

Providing exemplary performances in a variety of genres, and with such realism and heart, actress Maria Luna is undoubtedly one of the most talented Spanish actresses working in Hollywood today.

Canadian Actress Lisa Jai Stars in the Upcoming Film “Runaway Dream”

Lisa Jai as Birdie in "What of the Night?" at the Vagrancy in Los Angeles
   Lisa Jai as Birdie in “What of the Night?” at the Vagrancy in Los Angeles

Audiences across the world know the work of internationally acclaimed actress Lisa Jai. With an impressive career that has spanned more than two decades, viewers old and young have had a lot of opportunities to see Jai’s diverse talents on the screen in everything from the hit television shows Barbar, Rupert and The Magic School Bus, to the films Balance of Power, Creed and Lost Angels.

Jai recently finished filming Runaway Dream, a film about two Hollywood transplants who get a whole lot more than they bargained for when they make the move to tinsel town with stars in their eyes.

Directed by award-winning cinematographer Daniel Abreu, Runaway Dream stars Jai in the role of Linn, and Vivian Ahn (Sisters, Inside Carly, Trail Mix, Lost Angels, Henry Danger) as Jess.

Jai says, “It is a story of the length’s people could go to when in need of more money than they are earning and what happens to someone when they have lost sight of their dream.”

A sad tale with an unpredictable twist, Runaway Dream follows Jai’s character Linn, a down and out aspiring actress who works as a maid to make ends meet. When things don’t pan out as Linn hoped, desperation leads her to hatch a plan to rob the home of an ex-boss who she believes is out of town—a move that leaves her in circumstances that are far more dire than those she faced before.

The film is currently in post-production and is scheduled for release later this year. Originally from Sweden, director Daniel Abreu received the Best Cinematographer Award for his film James & Quinn from the Sherry Theater’s 120Hour film fest, a prestigious festival run by Scott Haze (Star of Child of God directed by James Franco) and Jim Parrick (True Blood).

“Lisa is a dream to work with, she’s captivating onscreen – a gifted talent,” says Abreu. “She’s improved me as a filmmaker, truly.”

It is not surprising that Abreu says Jai’s contributions to the film improved him as a filmmaker considering the actress’s longstanding position in the industry as both a performer and a producer.

When she first rose to fame as an actress she was barely 4-years-old– an age where it is difficult for a person to be unequivocally dedicated to one thing. For the following decade Jai continued to land starring roles in a long list of international television shows and blockbuster films, as well as innumerable commercials for brands including Hasbro, Ocean Spray, Hallmark cards, Charmin, Ivory soap, Tang, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonalds and more.

While many children dream of becoming stars on the screen, the spotlight wasn’t always an easy thing to handle.

Jai recalls, “I was being teased at school and bullied for being on television. I was accused of being a show off and also keeping up with schoolwork caused a lot of tension with teachers.”

Despite the difficulties, the foundation Jai laid for herself as a performer in the entertainment industry in her early childhood definitely helped make her the incredible actress she is today.

“I worked a lot for the Canadian Broadcast Company. I was a guest regular on the children show Mr. Dressup where I had to sing and worked alongside puppeteers,” explains Jai. “We would tape live so that truly taught me how to think on my feet as an actress; plus having dialogue with puppets and making that ‘relationship’ believable to the audience only bettered my craft — like, there I was, staring into a pair of man made paper-mache eyes having a conversation: can you imagine?”

Naturally, as Jai transitioned into adulthood, it took a few years for her to affirm her individuality as a person outside of the spotlight, and really discover what it was that she wanted to do with the rest of her life.

She says “Even after trying to quit and go to University so I could get a ‘real job,’ I missed acting so much, even at its roughest points… That’s how I know it’s my true passion and chosen profession. I love it too much.”

After returning to show biz a few years later, Jai realized that her love for performing extended beyond the film and television industry alone. She was immediately recognized for talents on stage going on to land starring role after starring role.

When it comes to acting in comedies in the theater, Jai says, “I love hearing peoples laughter; there’s a joy in bringing smiles to the faces of others.”

She adds, “On stage you’re not limited by being out of frame if you move too much…. as long as the true feeling is there, you can justify every move – use up the whole stage.”

Last year she gave a riveting performance in the leading roles of Birdie and Wang in the Pulitzer-Prize Nominated play “What of the Night?” written by Cuban-American playwright Maria Irene Fornes. The play, which was staged at the Vagrancy Theatre in Los Angeles and directed by Caitlin Hart, was just another opportunity for Jai to showcase her unparalleled talents on stage. The production was so well received that it garnered a prestigious Ovation Recommendation from LA Stage Alliance in 2014.

In addition to “What of the Night?,” the actress has also led several other productions to success with her unforgettable performances as Fiona in “99 Ways to F*ck a Swan,” Masha in Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” at the Irene Gilbert Theater, Ruth in Timothy McNeil’s “Dead Pussy,” Mrs. Banks in Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park,” Titus in “Titus Andronicus,” Kate Keller in “All My Sons” and many more.

Out of all of the characters she has played on the stage, Jai notes her role as Isela Sanchez from Lynn Manning’s play “The Unrequited: A Tale Between Two Worlds,” which was directed by Shishir Kurup and staged at the Cornerstone Theater in 2011, as her favorite to date.

The production followed Jai’s character Isela, a young woman living in a wheelchair due to Polio during the 40’s in LA, as she prepares to marry a man she doesn’t love; and the mysterious events that arise to keep her from betraying the soul of the man to whom her heart is truly devoted.

Today Jai has established a a glowing reputation for her ability to touch audiences emotionally through her portrayal of characters across genres on both the screen and stage; and with several upcoming projects in the works, and the release of Runaway Dream slated for later this year, there is literally no stopping her.

Canada’s IT Girl, Model Shiva Negar!

Shiva Negar
                             Model and actress Shiva Negar shot by Cameron Rab

If you haven’t yet heard of Shiva Negar by name, you’ve surely seen her face. Perhaps it was on a commercial, or a billboard or in a magazine ad. While you might not be able to place a finger on it, upon seeing her again you may think to yourself, “I’ve seen her before.”

Such is the fleeting nature of the advertising industry, attaching beautiful faces to commonplace commodities. As a model, Shiva Negar has lent her image to many of these brands and products. While the products she represents may be disregarded, however, a beauty as distinct as Shiva’s is seldom forgotten.

It is for this reason that Qatar Airways selected Shiva as their hallmark model in 2012, and for this reason that she has been the face of the company ever since. Advertisements with Shiva representing the company have been distributed worldwide.

As demonstrated by Qatar Airways, when a company is able to convince Shiva to be their model, they don’t want to let her go. The same was true for the Listerine brand, which used Shiva’s face for two years on a billboard campaign for their pocket packs.

Shiva was also selected as a Stoli model for Stolichnaya Vodka, and in addition to print modeling for the brand, she modeled at most of the events Stolichnaya hosted in Canada. Through her long-term relationship with this company, Shiva again has confirmed that her desirability only increases with time.

Shiva has presented many products and brands as a model at live events as well. Some of the most notable of these include shows for Porsche & Fiat automobiles, the Grand Prix, WIND Mobile, Carls Jr., and Nespresso by Nestle.

Additional brands that have featured Shiva in their international magazine advertisements include Apple Computers and Walmart. Shiva has also been featured in print ads for Top Choice Magazine, Dream Body Fitness, and Deca Professional Cosmetics to name a select few.

To complement her tremendous body of work in print, Shiva has also developed an extensive amount of experience in commercial acting. Some of the international commercials in which she has appeared include campaigns for: Doritos, Corona, Itel Pasta, Molson Beer, Zantac, and Cosmo TV a branch of Cosmopolitan Magazine.

While simultaneously working for internationally recognized major brands, Shiva also has the perfect look to fit more artistic and character driven projects. In 2013 she was featured on the cover of the novel “Breath of Iron: a Novel of the Clockwork Agents,” a steampunk/fantasy novel written by Kate Cross and published by Penguin.

Building a bridge between modeling and acting, Shiva Negar was cast alongside Kelly Clarkson in the music video for her smash hit, Behind These Hazel Eyes. The song and music video both went on to win awards on MTV, Much Music, and the Teen Choice Awards. She has also had principal roles in music videos for bands such as Our Lady Peace and Young Empires.

Extending beyond her experience acting in music videos, Shiva has appeared on a variety of television shows and films. In 2011, she was cast as a guest star in the leading role of Lucia on the Disney Channel’s My Babysitter’s a Vampire. The show was a huge success garnering the 2012 Shaw Rocket Prize for Best Program and a Writer’s Guild of Canada Award, as well as a Gemini Award nomination and many others.

Negar has also had single-episode appearances on Combat Hospital, Alphas, Murdoch Mysteries, Covert Affairs, and Hemlock Grove, and a recurring role on Super Channel’s TV show 24 Hour Rental. She has also had many prominent roles in film, most notably, as a leading actress in the feature film Lost Journey.

When considering her comprehensive body of work in film, television, and modeling, Shiva cannot fail to impress even the most skeptical of audiences. As she continues to accept leading roles and top-tier modeling contracts, the world will only become more familiar with her face and name as time goes on.