Category Archives: International Actor

Canadian talent Kyle Meagher: “it’s a very exciting time to be a young actor”

There are many people who believe everything happens for a reason. In one instant your life can change. One decision can impact the course of your future. Fourteen-year-old actor Kyle Meagher knows this well, and his life changed in a single moment.

When the actor was just ten years old, he decided to go to an open call at the local talent agency, but he also had a hockey game later that afternoon. He knew it would be tight, but he decided he had time to head to Angie’s Models and Talent to see what would happen. However, he underestimated just how busy it would be, with almost 200 people waiting to get their big break. After waiting for over an hour, he knew he had to leave or else he would miss his hockey game. Besides, at the time, acting was just a fun past time, and not many ten-year-olds are planning their careers. Little did he know that it was when he was walking out the door that his entire life changed.

When Meagher decided to leave, Lou Seymour, the co-founder of the agency was standing at the door.  As he tried to leave, Seymour stopped him, not letting him leave, and sent him straight to the front of the line. After his audition, he was immediately asked to join the agency.

“To think I almost missed out. I am so glad Lou stopped me that day from leaving. Lou and Angie always laugh about that and say ‘Imagine you would have left without talking to us? We couldn’t let you leave’,” said Meagher.

Since that time, the Ottawa-born actor has never looked back. He continues to study his craft and take classes, and at the same time has been building an established and extensive resume. Four years after that fateful day at the open call, he is recognized around the country for his talent.

“I feel as though it’s a very exciting time to be a young actor.  The opportunities are many, with the change in technology and delivery of programming with Netflix and other services, new media and the abundance of channels, there is opportunity to get seen by a worldwide audience. We are very fortunate,” said Meagher.

And Meagher has been fortunate. His natural acting abilities combined with a good attitude and hard work have given him an abundance of opportunities. He worked with an all-star cast on the feature film Northpole, appeared in a music video for worldwide star Janelle Monáe, worked alongside his close friend on the film The Big Crunch, which is making it’s way through film festivals, and had a starring role on an episode of the award-winning series Odd Squad. Despite this success, he remains humble.

“I actually don’t like seeing myself on TV. I have been known to run out of the room in embarrassment. I guess as actors we are pretty critical of ourselves,” he said. “The only time I do like to watch myself is when I am rehearsing for an audition or for filming. I have to tape myself to watch it and see if there is anything I can do better. I still don’t like to watch it because I never seem to be satisfied, but it’s helpful.”

The people Meagher works with, however, are consistently satisfied with both his performance and demeanour. Meagher’s manager, Dimitrios Seymour, describes working with him as very rewarding.

“To have such a professional, talented and, an amazing attitude, at such a young age, isn’t something that an agent like myself sees every day. He approaches roles with such excitement, poise, and confidence that he always makes a major impression on casting and production teams. I never hesitate to pick up the phone and put myself on the line to push him through to opportunities because I know Kyle will always follow through,” said Seymour. “His natural instinctive chops are what separates him from other actors. He has great timing and understands how to really read a scene and feed off his partner. He’s also worked very hard developing his skill set in class, which has made him a versatile young actor who can bounce between comedic and dramatic scenes naturally.”

In addition to working on award-winning series and a variety of films, Meagher has also worked on many national commercial campaigns. He says the most memorable moment of his career so far was working on a web series promoting Mega Blocks, a leading building block toy owned by Mattel. As a kid, he was living the dream, when every few months he would get a box of toys sent to his house to play and build, and then head to the set with a film crew to discuss what he liked best.

“It was amazing.  I did it for Spongebob building sets, Hotwheels, Police Cruisers, Skylanders, you name it.  Then, near Christmas time, I was walking through Toys R Us and I went to see the building sets and right there on the shelf was a mini TV with push buttons where you could watch my videos right there.  My videos were across all the Toys R Us stores. I started trying to visit stores everywhere I went just to see if they were there,” said Meagher.

Promoting what you are a fan of while working on a commercial makes your job that much more enjoyable, and Meagher has worked on all sorts of campaigns for things he genuinely enjoys. As a hockey fan, getting to do a commercial for NHL gear was a fantastic experience. He has also worked on many food commercials, and getting to eat some tasty treats while filming is, of course, a bonus.

“When auditioning for a Black Diamond Cheese Spread commercial, all I had to do was sit at a table and pretend to eat crackers likeit was my favorite food. I didn’t realize I was only supposed to pretend, so I ate the crackers the casting director gave me,” said Meagher. “He had to explain I was only supposed to pretend – not actually eat them –  and he had to give me more. We laughed and laughed, but I got the job!”

No matter what job he works on, Meagher enjoys what he does, and at just fourteen years old, he is definitely off to quite the start. Having passion for your chosen career path is important at any age, and his commitment to keep improving and refining his natural abilities shows a maturity that many people much older do not possess. He will definitely be on our screens for years to come.

“Being on set is an incredible feeling.  The people are always fun to be with and amazing to be around. It’s like instant friendship. It’s exciting to be able to suddenly be someone I am not. For instance, I tend to get to play the villain a lot. In reality, I am usually a quieter guy who is often concerned about people’s feelings but when I get into character, I can play the mean guy.  How many other people get to be different people every time they go to work?  While it can be hard work, it is always fun,” he concluded.

Andrew Searles is seriously funny in upcoming film Cereal Killer

While growing up in Montreal, Andrew Searles always knew he wanted to perform. As a child, he would watch Star Trek: The Next Generation and be captivated not only by the special effects and storyline that made the show what it was, but the performances of the actors. He watched every episode he could, studying how the show was made, fascinating him even more. When was watching other movies and shows, recognizing actors but seeing them play different characters, he was enchanted. He knew that he had to follow in the same footsteps. And he has, Searles is an incredibly versatile actor, just like those whom he idolized as a child.

While also being an established stand-up comedian, Searles is of course capable to deliver a comedic scene. He understands improvisation, and exactly how to deliver a joke that will leave the audience in stiches. However, it is his more serious side of acting that leaves audiences bewitched. He really can do it all.

“I like the aspect of portraying somebody else who isn’t me,” said Searles. “Taking on a new persona, a new identity, embodying their traits and creating an entirely new person, or taking on the personality of whomever I’m supposed to be portraying.”

Searles flexibility as an actor is exemplified further in the upcoming film Cereal Killer, written and directed by Fabrice Barthelemy. Cereal Killer is a comedy that follows Jimmy, a young man who loves eating his cereal. However, things take a turn for the worst when someone in his neighborhood keeps breaking into his apartment and eating his cereal. Jimmy, along with his best friend, Sean, team up to begin an investigation of who keeps eating Jimmy’s cereal. Searles plays Gus, the antagonist in the film. Gus is a very mild mannered, quiet, reserved, caretaker of an apartment building. He often says inappropriate things without realizing he said them. When Jimmy is searching for whomever has been breaking into his apartment and eating his cereal, it eventually turns out Gus was the culprit the whole time.

“Portraying a character like Gus allowed me to ‘get my hands dirty’. I wanted Gus to be a very dark, twisted, soulless type of character. I wanted to use this opportunity to break away from being a ‘comedic’ actor in a sense, and shine as someone playing a character who is disturbed. Even though Gus’s lines would still be comedic in nature, I figured his lines would come off even funnier if they were delivered in a dark, morbid tone, rather than from a goofy, comedic character,” said Searles.

Gus was not originally intended to be a dark character, but it was Searles’ intuition that brought the character to life, and the twist added even more humor to the film.

“I created his personality and traits and integrated them into the film. I also learned how to embody a very serious, dark character, darker than I’ve ever played on camera. I learned how to keep the balance of playing a very serious somber character while playing with the comedic lines and aspects of the film. I wanted to be dark enough so the darkness of his character shined through, and the audience felt that, but not too much where the comedy aspect of the film is off balance,” he explained.

And does his technique ever work. In a pivotal scene in the film, when Gus is being confronted for being the cereal thief, he is extremely serious, as if confessing to an actual murder. He even puts his hands up to be handcuffed after his confession, as if he committed a large crime, but he is just being told he is fired.

“Fabrice originally intended the role to be a fun, goofy, type of character, but wanting to play something different than just a type casted comedic role, I played it my way at the table read and Fabrice lost his mind and hollered at how much he loved my angle on Gus. He was so ecstatic and in awe because he never envisioned his character to be that dark, and it’s his dark humor and awkwardness that made Gus even better on screen. I figured that if funny lines from a funny character are expected and normal, then funny lines from an unfunny and dark character would be even funnier, because it’s not what the audience would be expecting,” said Searles.

Although Searles went in to read for the character of Gus, he was actually approached and asked to play the part without an audition. The Assistant Director and Assistant Writer of the film, Sara Sommers, knew that Searles possessed extraordinary acting capabilities that would make the film even better.

“Andrew is an extremely driven and talented individual. During filming, he displayed his incredible acting and comedic talents. There is no doubt in my mind that he was the correct person for the role. No one else could bring this character to life the way Andrew did. His portrayal was done magnificently and effortlessly and I am sure that he will bring these attributes to all his future roles. Andrew is the type of talent that we do not meet on a day to day basis. He is unique, one of a kind and truly remarkable. He is the type of actor that not only would directors and producers love to work with, but also will be loved by audience members as they will be struck by his presence. I would work with Andrew on a future project in a heartbeat. He truly is a talent to look out for,” said Sommers.

Cereal Killer is expected to be released later this year.

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.

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.

EDDIE TANG: FINDING THE ART IN EVERY ROLE

Every consummate and lauded professional is required to make his bones. In the movie Bird, Forrest Whitaker portrays iconic jazz musician Charlie Parker. When Parker confesses to one of his peers that he could use the work (and the pay) from playing at a Bar Mitzvah, the musicians create such a moving performance at the event that the crowd is overwhelmed by their good fortune at witnessing the artist in this setting. This perfectly portrays the truth that artists need to practice their talents in a variety of ways and earn a living through different opportunities. The prevalence of social media in today’s society serves as further proof that this idea that talent should only be packaged in certain ways is an outdated concept. When compared to commercial advertisements of just a decade ago, there are many more A-list celebrities who use their craft to empower advertisers. The stigma of yesteryear is gone. In fact, commercials that air during sporting events such as the Superbowl and the World Cup generate some of the largest profits in entertainment. In a free market system, this has driven the artistic content and production levels higher and higher. Eddie Tang, like many of his peers can be visible in film, TV, and commercial productions. Not only does this increase their recognizability but it also affords them a host of different roles to widen their artistic palette. Whether in films like the Hollywood Film Award nominated Three Sixty (in which he plays Zac, a personable kidnapper), the AACTA award-winning TV series East West 101 (as Caesar Mendez, a menacing gangster), or any number of fan favorite commercial campaigns, Eddie Tang has proven himself to be both attention grabbing and able to morph into drastically different characters. Enabling the audience to have an affinity for the friendly guy is a skill but helping them to embrace a truly awful character requires mastery…something which Tang has worked hard at achieving.

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Eddie is known for his roles in film and TV productions in which he plays darker and menacing individuals. It’s ironic that he has been so successful in his commercial work portraying benevolent characters. As the ping-pong playing, night vision goggle wearing, KFC loving, buddy in KFC’s ‘Night Vision’ commercial or as the overly exuberant but loveable fan in Panasonic’s Viera TV spot (for the 2008 Beijing Olympics); Tang effortlessly becomes the friendly guy next door. He is so believable that one almost feels there is an evil twin portraying all of his ‘bad guy’ roles in his film and TV productions. One of Eddie’s calling cards and most requested techniques is the ‘dead pan’ that endears so many viewers of his commercial roles. Matt Kamen directed Eddie in Volkswagen’s “You Just Know” campaign. Kamen professes, “Eddie Tang is one of the most talented and prodigiously successful actors I have collaborated with. Eddie’s leading role required him to perform as the face of the campaign. In the commercial, Eddie’s character is a construction worker, shown trying to fit more equipment into his truck than it can handle. Simultaneously, a Volkswagen truck pulls up and Eddie’s character looks enviously at the enormous space that the vehicle provides. Eddie perfectly showcased the client’s desired tone of the Volkswagen being an enviable vehicle, surpassing the needs of not only civilian motorists, but also the needs of various other business types. It takes a skilled actor to understand the importance not over playing or under playing a role such as this. Eddie is truly a creative force to be reckoned with and was in invaluable asset to the production of the ‘You Just Know’ commercial campaign.

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ANZ Bank made wise use of Tang’s talent in their “Travel Rewards Card” commercial. Eddie’s character of Lawrence the Boat Dad portrayed a jubilant father on vacation with his family. With his hands in the air, Lawrence enjoys a fun ride on a wave runner, carefree as he advertises his ‘pointless travel insurance’ through ANZ’s Travel Rewards Card. The role was a masterful performance due to the fact that, unknown to viewers, Eddie was incredibly sick. He reveals, “I have severe motion sickness and sea sickness. It wasn’t an ideal attribute for the lead role in this commercial but, some days are a breeze and some days are a monsoon. I was actually throwing up between each take. You can’t tell it in the commercial but I was incredibly sick the entire day. Besides the fact that I don’t enjoy boating, I’m a bit of a free spirit and hippy. I’m a complete contradiction to my character Lawrence but I like to think that we’re both very good people, just in different ways.” Director of this ANZ commercial, Paul Middlecitch, states, “The ‘Travel Rewards Card’ commercial was an enormous success, which I do not doubt is largely due to Eddie’s achievements on our production. The video was widely popular on YouTube, garnering nearly 100,000 views! This alone is a massive accomplishment that should not go unrecognized. Eddie was an invaluable member of our production and I consider the success of the commercial to be due to Eddie’s leading role. Eddie’s all-encompassing prowess as one of Australia’s elite actors has allowed him to establish himself as one of the country’s most successful talents.”

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As one of Australia’s in-demand and prominent actors, Eddie Tang continues to prove his abilities and immense talent on a variety of platforms. You might see him on the big screen, on your TV, even on the web but, you will certainly take notice of him when you see his commanding yet endearing presence.

 

 

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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SEBASTIAN SACCO PORTRAY’S THE CREATIVE STRUGGLE IN “THE PATH”

Art imitates life and life imitates art. Whether it is in the artistic presentation of the real life experience, people are fascinated by passion. Love, hate, greed, altruism, faith, family, all of these involve this provocative emotion. Some enjoy a calm lifestyle while others are driven to the flame by their desires. Either can be a soothing or precarious scenario. For actors like Sebastian Sacco, he cannot deny his pursuit of a creative lifestyle. It’s not all red-carpet premiers and adoring fans. Quite often it means freezing in the rain while being shot with (paintball) bullets on a war film (as he did in Tommy), or being held underwater for long periods of time (in the Flawes music video “Don’t Wait For Me”). Even when he is given a less physically demanding role to play, it is often emotionally taxing, as in the film The Path. This film delves into the mindset and emotional obstacles of someone who pursues a life as an actor and the everyday securities with which they must forego; it’s a role which Sacco is ideally suited to play. He stars as Seb in the film by writer Harry Chadwick and directed by Tobias Brebner. This 2015 film investigates the sacrifices and uncertainties made in the pursuit of a dream, and the measures it takes to stay on that path.

If you transferred the same fixation and enthusiasm that one might have for say…futbol (or football, depending on your place of origin) you would have an indication of what dancers, writers, musicians, actors, and other creative types feel for their vocation. The true immersion of your joys and pains, fixated on one specific thing…it can be overpowering. Many entertainers profess their love of their creative pursuits while also recognizing the fact that it often requires them to forego a “normal” life and relationships. These careers are never 9 to 5 jobs. Witnessing Sacco’s performance as Seb feels like watching a new form of audience-viewable intense therapy. His character deals with the same doubt, drive, insecurities, and relationship struggles that undoubtedly almost every creative centered individual experiences. Specifically, this film focuses on a relationship. The Path is the story of an actor pursuing his dream. In this pursuit, he meets and falls in love with someone. Seb is constantly divided in his motivation between love and the demands of pursuing his career. He desperately wants the relationship to work but he can’t help but become diverted from it by the focus needed to pursue his dream. Seb realizes that he can only pursue one end and must choose between her or his passion. He takes the plunge and heads back on his path towards his dream.

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Sebastian has played many leading roles. It’s any easy conclusion to make that the reason so many critics and viewers found his portrayal of Seb in The Path so authentic is because it is so close to his own life experience. He confirms, “I’m very close to who this character is and what he has lived. Seb really has to deal with one big question. Life is filled with so many little decisions that dictate the path we follow but this film wanted to focus on just the big stuff for Seb; the huge pull for a loved one or for your dream and passion. It’s a sad fact that sometimes the two cannot work together. Towing the line in-between just makes both unhappy. I denied this fact in my own life for a long time. I had wanted to be an actor ever since I was a kid. I didn’t allow myself to consider it as a real possibility for such a long time. As I grew up and felt pressures from other factors, I just slowly pretended I wanted other things. I tried to forget about acting or tell myself I’d do it later. I attempted to use other things to occupy my attention rather than allowing myself to pursue my true desire. Eventually, when I made the decision… nothing else mattered. I wasn’t going back. I wasn’t going to deny myself again. That’s the exact struggle my character endures. I’m certain that most people who pursue creative lives relate to this, I was just fortunate that I found a film which allowed me to tell the story that many of us relate to.”

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Many of the scenes in The Path are emotionally taxing but one scene in particular depicts a physical representation of Seb’s turmoil. It’s somewhat humorous that Sacco has had a number of roles in his career that require submersion in water for long periods of time. It’s not a scenario or achievement which one regularly associates with a particular actor. Director Tobias Brebner (who has worked with such acclaimed actors as Kevin Spacey) notes, “We had to shoot Sebastian in the freezing wind and rain in Scotland as he traversed through the wilderness. On top of all that, he had to perform a sequence in which he had to jump into a freezing cold lake in the lake district during each take. Despite the obvious physical discomfort he was in, Sebastian performed each take with the utmost professionalism, never complaining about the conditions and always able to stay in character. His performance is a testament to the theme of the film – always enduring and working toward a goal regardless of the external circumstances. The success we achieved would not have been possible without his amazing talent and commitment to the film. In fact, I would go so far as to say he is the film.”

Sebastian agrees that he is quite close to his character in The Path. While he may not have made immense personal discoveries working on this production, it reinforced a pillar of his beliefs as he comments, “Seb reminded me to always follow your dream. The path might change or you might go in a different direction than you thought but, always keep following your dream.”

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Actress and model Jordan Claire Robbins talks upcoming projects and living her dream

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Jordan Claire Robbins has worked around the world as both a model and actress.

It’s amazing and rare for people to be able to know and identify what their passion and dreams are from childhood, and go on to follow through with these dreams. This is exactly the case for model and actress Jordan Claire Robbins. She knew she wanted to perform from a very young age, and since moving to Toronto she has taken advantage of every opportunity to realize these dreams. Not many can say this.

Robbins has appeared in a variety of successful campaigns and worked worldwide as a model. She has shot music videos for The Midway State and Down With Webster. She is in the upcoming film Anon with an all-star cast including Clive Owen and Amanda Seyfried, and she was in the television series 12 Monkeys and Man Seeking Woman. That being said, she still sometimes thinks back to her childhood in Bermuda, and fantasizing of one day having the career she has now.

“I remember playing alone in my backyard acting out different characters and making up stories. I  would choreograph dances and write plays, then make my family watch me perform them” she said.

Despite a passion for singing and doing musical theatre throughout school, the process of film always fascinated Robbins. Upon graduating high school, she decided she wanted to seriously pursue acting abroad and moved to Toronto.

“I love the storytelling aspect of acting,” she said. “The investigative angle you must take to understand your character’s motivations and experiences, why they are the way they are. It’s an opportunity to walk in the shoes of someone who has led a very different life from the one you may have led so far.”

Robbins has shot commercials for companies such as Rogers, Mini Cooper, Open Wines, Air Canada, Reitmans, Engage Diamonds, the German clothing company Ernsting’s Family, Canadian shopping mall Shops at Don Mills, and French cable company Canal Sat. She worked with Jonathan Popalis, a supervising producer/director at the Bell Media Agency, on a TV commercial for CP24, one of Bell Media’s biggest news brands and the most watched news channels in Canada.

“Jordan was fantastic to work with and a bright, positive person to have on set during a fast-paced and hectic day of shooting,” said Popalis. “She took direction wonderfully and gave a nuanced and elevated performance to bring a very high concept idea to reality. Jordan can effortlessly bring a character to life while also being able to make changes on a dime when it’s needed. She has a stunning star quality look and backs this up with a fearlessness and willingness to create and do great things.”

She also worked with director Anton Josef on a commercial for Engage Diamonds The ad was featured on numerous media outlets around the world including ‘Best Ads on TV’ and won a 2014 AICE Award in Chicago. He describes Robbins as committed, passionate, hardworking and easily adaptable no matter how difficult the situation can become.

“When you work with Jordan, you have a sense that she’s not only a complete professional, but someone who genuinely loves her art form, bringing a contagious enthusiasm to every frame that inspires everyone around her. Our film would never had been so successful without her and everything she poured into it,” said Josef. “Jordan is that very rare blend of natural beauty, charisma and sublime talent. Having worked around the world for many years with some incredibly talented artists, Jordan easily comes to mind as one of the very best with the brightest futures, gleaming with potential. She has that special ability to roll with loosely scripted ideas and be captivating to watch as she naturally and effortlessly molds the role into her own. It’s a highly demanding and competitive field no doubt – but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see her landing even more ambitious projects among the best in the industry.”

Despite the pursuit of an acting career being Robbins’ main motivator, she also jumped into the modelling industry after being approached on the street. She sees modeling as beneficial to her acting career, because both involve playing a character to her.

“I’m pretty goofy and I never felt particularly attractive when I was growing up, so when I started shooting things such as sexy lingerie and high fashion, I learned to tap into parts of myself I don’t generally show on a day-to-day basis,” she described. “This was good preparation for taking on characters in my acting work that aren’t very similar to me.”

Needless to say, all of the experience in front of a camera combined with a passion for what she does has led to a successful career.

“I am so grateful to be able to do something I’m passionate about – that I can be 14 hours into a day of shooting and still not want the day to end,” she concluded. “I love that film and TV can transport an audience, provide an escape and change their perspective. It’s amazing to have a hand in that.”

Gioya Tuma-Waku talks importance of diversity in film Bloggers

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Gioya Tuma-Waku says being African is important to her.

Gioya Tuma-Waku was born in the Congo and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, something that she is proud of. During her career as an actress, not many roles have allowed her to explore this side of her. However, that changed when she was cast in the film Bloggers.

Bloggers tells the story of six young multinational blogging entrepreneurs who come together in Los Angeles to launch a blogging business. The main cast are all from different countries, including from Sweden, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, America, South Africa and the Congo.

“It was such a diverse and multi-cultured group. And that was one of the best parts of Bloggers, was the ability to show how diversity is possible we can all work together and create art,” said Tuma-Waku. “Which was cemented with the use of different languages spoken in the film. Especially with the issues of diversity that Hollywood is facing right now, I knew that this was a project that could break down those barriers and provide a template for where this industry could go in terms of casting and opportunities provided.”

Tuma-Waku plays the role of Destiny, a strong woman but sweet woman who dislikes confrontation and who always tried to see the good in people. She is a lover of life but is going through something major that has dimmed her light. She blogs about health and that often helps as a distraction from her personal life.

“I liked playing her because of her layers and vulnerability. And although she is facing something that frightens her, she also a strong person being able to carry this burden but at the same time, no matter is going on in her life, she is still there to comfort and be there for her friends. At the end of the day she is a reliable person because she does what needs to be done with a smile on her face despite what she is going through,” described Tuma-Waku.

The role of Destiny was written specifically for Tuma-Waku by the writer and producer Anele Morris. Morris has seen Tuma-Waku’s work and knew instantly that she wanted her to be involved in the project.

“Gioya is one of the most talented actresses I have ever met. She knows when to be centered and focused on the story being told, which is what I find sometimes lacks in young actors. Gioya is an exception, she is not easily distracted and delivers when she has to. She really knows how to execute her job as an actress because she asks questions, important questions and she takes the time to get to know the character. Her performances are always from the heart of who she believes the character is, but she is always open to direction and respects the individual roles of the production crew,” said Morris.

Morris also acts in the production, as many of the stories revolve around the female characters, something that Tuma-Waku thinks is a vital part of the production.

“This is a piece of filmmaking written by a woman telling a story about women, but without diminishing the importance of the male sex. And it’s always great to be part of a project that allows women and minorities to tell a story. Especially when it’s a story that’s not clichéd. It’s just a simple story about daily struggles that people go through while highlighting the strength in women,” said Tuma-Waku.

The film still features male leads, including Tony Beguez, who plays Destiny’s boyfriend Fred. Beguez and Tuma-Waku worked alongside each other throughout the film. Destiny’s storyline involves heartbreak and vulnerability, and Fred is a big part of that.

“I believe that in order to get better in any profession you need to surround yourself with people better than yourself, and I was given that opportunity in working with Gioya,” said Beguez. Her work ethic is incomparable.”

Bloggers is currently set to be screened at a variety of film festivals. However, for Tuma-Waku, that is not what is important, it is sharing the story that she thinks needs to be told.

“I want to tell stories that don’t always get told or manage to get told in a different way and have it mean something to someone, even if it’s in the smallest way possible. If even one person finds meaning, inspiration or gets affected by any story I’m in, then I know I’m on the right path,” she concluded. “And I feel like this could be one of those stories.”

Hot on the Radar: Q & A with Actress Tatiana Romao

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Actress Tatiana Romao

We recently caught up with actress Tatiana Romao for an interview about what drives her to perform and how she got started in the industry. Romao, who is known internationally for her performances in the films Lips, Disruption, Corinne, The Red House, Abberation and many more, recently wrapped production on the upcoming film The Process. Set to hit the festival circuit in 2017, The Process is a powerful drama written and directed by Chinese director Apple Ng, whose film 1 Corinthians 13 screened at the Nevada Women’s Film Fest earlier this year. Taking on the starring role of Lindsey in the film, Romao acts alongside Kathy Wu from Chris Nahon’s (Kiss of the Dragon) 2016 film Lady Bloodfight and the secen-time Hong Kong Film Award winning film Port of Call, Yisrael Dubov from the films The Petulant, Scapegoat and the series Z Fever, and Jasmine Hill from the film Highland and the series Princess in Di-Stress.

Romao also recently wrapped production on the upcoming horror film Valentine DayZ from director Mark Allen Michaels, the director of the horror film The Fiance with Carrie Keagan from the films Dead 7, Sharknado 4D: The Fourth Awakens and Father Vs. Son, and Douglas Tait from the films Star Trek, Land of the Lost and the hit Primetime Emmy nominated series Grimm. Romao takes on the lead role of Diana in Valentine DayZ, which also stars Carrie Keagan, FANtastic Award nominee Robert Allen Mukes from the film House of 1000 Corpses and the series Westworld and Weeds, and Dallaz Valdez from The Fiance. An apocalyptic zombie horror film Valentine DayZ, which is due for release in 2017, follows a group of unsavory characters who get a rude awakening when a zombie outbreak plagues earth. In the film Romao’s character Diana, and Max played by Valdez, join forces to battle the undead.

To find out more about actress Tatiana Romao, make sure to check out our interview below!

Where are you from? 

I’m from Sao Paulo, Brazil

When and how did you get into acting?

I started acting when I was 12 years old. I come from a family of all doctors. That includes both my parents, my siblings, my cousins, uncles, aunts and even one of my grandfathers used to be one. Acting has been my passion and a need in my life since I’ve come to know myself as a person. It all started as an after school, extracurricular activity and as time went by it became my goal in life. I went through all my years of school taking acting classes, first amateur and eventually a full professional acting program at one of the most respected schools in Brazil, Escola Celia-Helena. After finishing school I went to college for marketing. In Brazil it is almost something you HAVE to do if you want to get somewhere and coming from a family of doctors there wasn’t much discussion on that. During college I kept on working in small plays and small projects, worked with Fatima Toledo, one of the most respected acting coaches in Brazil (she worked on City of God, Elite Squad I and II, Alice and so many other very big movies and tv series in Brazil), went through her film program, organized myself and my life and moved to LA 2 years after graduation, in 2009.

What is it about acting that drives you to perform?

Acting is a need in my life, it’s not an option of whether or not I will do it, it is what I have to do, it is what I do and a great part of who am. Acting has shaped my life. The feeling, the emotion, hearing from the audience how you moved them, how you touched them, it is indescribable.

Can you tell us about the upcoming film “Valentine DayZ”?

“Valentine DayZ” was likely one of the most fun sets I’ve ever been to. I played Diana, a girl that, with Max (Dallas Valdez), has to defend the world and everything they hold dear from a zombie apocalypse that recently burst. We also had Carrie Keagan as part of our cast playing Sara. It was my second time on a horror/ thriller film (the first was ‘The Red House’) and besides what people may believe the energy on set is just so light and everyone just becomes this one big family. When I was at the beginning of my acting career I used to believe that even the filming of a horror film had to be somewhat scary, I remember reading stories of things that some people said happened on their sets and so I had in my mind that I was never going to be in one, well…that has changed a lot. Of course we have our very tense moments depending on the scene that we are filming but we had so much fun, we were always trying to scare each other and would burst into laughter right after. It was so much fun, I miss it a lot honestly. The film is still yet to be released and we are all very anxious and excited to watch the final version.

How about the film “The Process”?

“The Process” is a comedy about the day to day life in an office space and how frustrated people get in the normal 9-5 jobs. It’s centered on Lindsey (myself), Carter (Jasmine Hill) and Dwayne (Matt Pena). They are best friends and Carter’s life is falling apart. She just got divorced, after catching her husband cheating on her with an older woman, she can’t stand her boss anymore and she wants to sell all her things and move to Hawaii. Lindsey has a kid and almost lost her job twice for being so tired of it she just doesn’t deliver almost anything anymore, she is always stalling and was caught sleeping at a meeting. Dwayne is the nerd one, always afraid to lose his job as he lives from paycheck to paycheck and even though he is miserable and is always being relocated from different areas in the office as his boss doesn’t want him there anymore but don’t want to have to fire him and pay all the fees. The three decide to then find reasons to blackmail their boss Colton Ellis (Yisrael Dubov).

“The Process” was a fun light movie to be a part of. It barely felt like we were working. It was a thrill to play Lindsey. It’s so good to feel like we can let loose of everything that holds us back in life and just do exactly what we want, and that’s what Lindsey does in the end. I related a lot to Julia Roberts role in “Eat Pray Love.” When you hit that point in your life that you have to rediscover yourself, when you see yourself living a routine that was never what you planned or even though it was, you discover that money and stability don’t necessarily fulfill you in the way that you need. It was a most delightful role to play.

You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?

It varies but sometimes it’s a director I’ve always wanted to work with like Mark Michaels and Giulio Poidomani, or the role is a challenge for me, it can be something so different than what I normally play that I am always dying to try, but one way or another the story has to move me in some way. I have to either relate to the role or the story and if it has a deeper message to the world or is a subject that we all have to start talking about, I’m all in straight away.

Do you feel that you get cast to play a certain type of character more than others?

I do. I feel like I am emotionally open for deep and dramatic characters and I tend to always be a part of those projects and I always end up getting the more serious, responsible roles. I’ve always wanted to play a comic book villain or some sort of superhero, I feel like it would be perfect for me.

Out of all your productions both in the theatre and on screen, what has been your favorite project, or projects, so far and why?

Oh wow, that’s a hard one. I have to say I have an undeniable passion for theatre. I loved all the plays I was in. The thrill of not being able to mess up your lines or a mark, cut and do it again, having the audience right there, being able to play with the audience and the amazing connection you always end up having with those people that you are rehearsing with 24/7 for God know’s how long is such an amazing feeling that even though I love doing films and I know I can achieve a wider audience with those, plays are always going to be my number one passion. On that note, that are 2 plays I did back in Brazil that were certainly some of the best moments. One is called “The Exception and The Rule” by the german playwright Bertolt Brecht and the other one is “Rosita Letters and Poems”  by Federico Garcia Lorca. They were both extremely acclaimed at the time… Our group just worked so so hard on both of them, we became a big close family. We would rehearse all day long at times, we had so many struggles during the process that we didn’t think that we were going to be able to present them in the end. Both stories are absolutely beautiful. “Rosita Letters and Poems” is such a delicate story about a teenage girl and “The Exception and The Rule” is one of my favorites because the role I played was so different from me. I played a tour guide in the desert, had to eat with my hands, was dirty all the time. During this last one we were also a very small group, it was only 4 of us so if was definitely a great great time.

What has been your most challenging role?

My most challenging role I think I’ll have to say was when I played Sarah in “Disruption.” I had never played a mom and that was one of my first bigger roles in the US. That was actually an amazing experience because Giulio, the director, wrote the script and the role for me, so it was an honor to be a part of the project. It was the first time I was dealing with a kid and had to work with him, I’ve learnt that I’m not that good at it hahah. Also I had a lot of experience with roles that are emotionally deep and Sarah was more of a stay at home mom dealing with an unbalanced husband. I never knew that holding back was actually going to be a bit of a struggle for me but Giulio guided me and helped me out in understanding how to approach it. It’s funny, we understand that “being pushed” is only for something somewhat extreme, but that role for me was completely out of my comfort zone. I learned a lot from it.  

What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?

It’s a lot “ lighter” to do comedy, even though it’s super hard, but I have to say that my favorite is drama. I just connect with the stories straight away and I feel like I can give the weight necessary. I am very emotional and I feel like my emotions are very deep so I am able to give the depth needed for more dramatic roles.