As a singer, dancer, an actor on screen and stage, award-winning performer Paris Martino enjoys a diverse artistic diet that includes multiple genres, disciplines and settings. Whether a featured soloist at star-studded galas and fundraisers or as part of an ensemble theater troupe, Paris unfailingly rises to the occasion. Her enthusiasm and wholistic proficiency illuminates every role, but recently she landed a true dream job, playing the female lead in the Weathervane Theater’s production of Tony-winning musical comedy Nice Work if You Can Get It.
“I love musical comedies,” Paris said. “They take us back to the core of musical theatre. While I do love contemporary musicals, every once in a while it’s wonderful to work on a fun, lighthearted musical that provides escapism to your audience.”
Nice Work if You Can Get It certainly delivers that. Set in the Roaring 20s, the fast-moving, boozy romp showcases the timeless songs of George & Ira Gershwin, with 9 of them performed by high-spirited female bootlegger Billie Bendix.
“I played Billie Bendix, the female lead of the show who sings the bulk of the music and had the most scene work,” Paris said. “I prepared for the role by watching many movie musicals of the time. This helped me do research, as well as develop my characterization—it was important to me to move and sound like women of the era did.”
Characteristically, the Canadian-born, Manhattan-based performer not only drew on her formidable natural talent but also the skill and knowledge acquired during the formal training she has pursued since childhood—her mother owned a dance studio where Paris began dancing at age 3! Vocal and acting lessons naturally followed and as a teen she entered the renown regional arts program at Ontario’s Mayfield Secondary School, acting in the school’s theatrical productions while also taking advantage of their dance program.
After graduating, the gifted, ambitious Paris was accepted at the famed Boston Conservatory at Berklee, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theatre and Dance. Additional intensive studies at the Performing Arts Project and New York City Dance Alliance elevated her creative capacity to an altitude that afforded her some high-profile awards, including a 2014 win in the Ontario Music Festivals Association’s musical theatre division and being named National Triple Threat at 2010’s Onstage New York Talent Competition—fiercely competitive events that saw her best 2000 contestants at the former and 500 others at the latter.
It was the Summer of 2020—the pandemic’s peak—and New Hampshire’s Weathervane Theater was one of a very few venues offering live performances, a fact that made landing the part of Billie was almost as challenging as her award competitions.
“I auditioned approximately four times, first at Weathervane’s initial auditions and then I was called back a few times to be a part of the company for that season,” Paris said. “Once I was accepted, the creative team auditioned us again, by having us read and sing songs from Nice Work. It was only after then that we were cast.”
“Preparing for Billie was difficult as she is not a typical ingenue,” Paris said. “She is a bit of a tomboy which was fun to play but it was also challenging, as I had to find the delicate balance between that boisterous energy and her boy-crazy feminine nature.”
Partly based on the 1926 Gershwin music Oh, Kay, the madcap plot involves a boozy playboy’s wild bachelor party, the problem of where to stash Billie’s 400 cases of smuggled gin and the protagonist’s unlikely romance, put over via the Gershwin’s immortal show tunes.
“I grew up on Gershwin, so I am very familiar with the songs,” Paris said. “I approached the music with that knowledge and cultivated a sound that I believe did the music justice.”
Paris was reliably electrifying in the part, delivering a perfected mix of flapper-era flamboyance, impeccable comic timing and flawlessly expressive vocal delivery. She made it look easy, but the reality was quite different.
“This role was as fruitful as it was anxiety inducing,” Paris said. “Before this, I had never taken on the responsibility that a character like Billie demanded so naturally I was fearful of not rising to the occasion, and even more so as this show was headlining the theatre’s season. The anxiety faded in rehearsal as I found the similarities between myself and the feisty, loud Billie Bendix.”
Nice Work if You Can Get It rates as any performer’s ideal vehicle, smart, sophisticated, hilariously funny and loaded with some of the most gorgeous songs in Broadway’s rich history. Paris savored every moment of the show’s SRO, 4 week run.
“The experience was incredibly rewarding. I gained so much knowledge, the most important being how to lead a show and take care of myself during such an intense process,” Paris said. “Opening night was wonderful. This was definitely a highlight of my career—and I was also thrilled to star in a show that brought so much joy to people during the pandemic.”
Paris’ exceptional mixture of technical skill, emotional authenticity and high voltage creativity enable to her execute characterizations of tremendous nuance and depth, skills she also brings to bear with dazzling facility as an interpreter of the Gershwin’s stunning classics “These are some of the most beautiful love songs ever written,” she said. “I was incredibly lucky to get to perform them in a professional setting rather than in just my shower!”
Perhaps greater than any other cultural medium, fashion has given us the tools to define, and redefine, self-expression. Over the years, fearless designers have stepped forward to usher in a new age of personal empowerment. One woman continually pushing the boundaries of the fashion machine is Australian-born costume designer Alabama Blonde.
Raised on the coastal shores of Sydney, Blonde’s unique style began to reveal itself in her 20’s, when she found herself at the center of New York City’s punk-rock scene. Nothing says “raw-expression” quite like punk rock, with its hallmarks of rugged leather, dark make-up, and bone-crushing distortion. It was in her time as a punk rocker that Blonde crafted the signature lace-up leather style that would make her an entertainment industry stand-out.
“I designed these high-waisted, patent leather pants and added three open panels running up each leg to the waistband, however I couldn’t move freely at all,” Blonde recalls. “So I swapped the leather lace-up for elastic lacing and realized that I not only had complete freedom of movement, but so many different body types could wear these pants because they literally molded themselves to the body.”
Blonde would take this revelation back to Australia, and with this fresh inspiration create her “Alabama Blonde” fashion label. Soon after, Blonde’s collection was displayed at the Melbourne Fashion Festival (Sep 2017) and crossed over internationally to be featured at the Re:evolution of Berlin Alternative Fashion Week (Oct 2017).
Riding this wave of success, Blonde’s big break would come when British alternative musician and fashionista FKA Twigs was featured in her garments for the cover shoot of Dazed magazine’s 25th anniversary issue. A new design, the hand-beaded fishnet fabric projected an alluring mix of gentle sensuality and daring attitude, an ethos of expression that echoes through much of Blonde’s work.
“Dressing has always been a form of both armor and expression,” the designer professes. “Style is an unapologetic and nuanced extension of one’s personality– the layers that make up a person from day to day.”
The soul-baring fishnet look caught the eye of industry professionals everywhere, including Phil Gomez, editor-in-chief of LadyGunn magazine and stylist for pop-singer Noah Cyrus. Eager to collaborate, Gomez was ecstatic to procure a similar fishnet outfit for Noah Cyrus to feature on the cover of LadyGunn, an independent publication with an emphasis on music, people, and culture. After several successful partnerships, Gomez affirms his belief that Alabama Blonde delivers creativity that few others can.
“Alabama’s pieces add an authentic, yet classic, rock and roll edge that not a lot of designers have,” Gomez says. “Her designs have their own DNA and I love that!”
Enamored with the buzz surrounding the LadyGunn cover-piece, Gomez took the opportunity to bring Blonde onboard for custom design work for Noah Cyrus, daughter of country music legend Billy Ray Cyrus and sister to pop superstar Miley Cyrus. Blonde was tasked with recreating an iconic Kim Kardashian look for Noah Cyrus’s Halloween costume, and took the assignment with aplomb.
The result was a dazzling minidress of handcrafted chainmail and embroidery that only someone of Alabama Blonde’s talents could render. For the chainmail to drip so gorgeously, immense attention to detail was required for the fit of this dress to be realized.
These pivotal details were appreciated by fans and bloggers alike, with Noah Cyrus being one of the “most searched” style icons of 2020 and fashion blog Pop Sugar listing it as one of the singer’s “Best Looks of 2020,” as well as one of 2020’s “Best Halloween Looks.” Even Kim Kardashian herself, the designer’s inspiration, chimed in with her personal endorsement, announcing on social media, “You guys killed this!”.
Cyrus continued to stoke the fire of the blazing partnership by enlisting Blonde as a costume designer for her music videos, “All Three” and “Dear August.”
“All Three” is a song that uncovers the dark side of codependency and relationships gone wrong. The thematic elements of the lyrics called on Blonde to revisit and revamp the beaded fishnet piece that first brought her acclaim with FKA Twigs.
“The body of the fabric itself was based off of fishnet, a material that catches and captures life, and visually portrays the lyrics and tone of the “All Three,” Blonde says.
The fabric was hand-sewn and hand-embroidered, and covered with intricately placed glass beads that represent tears. The garment’s composition reflects Cyrus’s emotional capacity, the way she exposes herself to her lover, and the weight of this relationship on her heart.
With these details the costume elevates the emotional impact of the artist’s message, with the outfit acting as an amplifier for the music video’s theme. The working knowledge of this subtle yet powerful effect is arguably what has made Alabama Blonde such an indispensable member of any production team.
“Noah shows so much vulnerability in this song,” says Blonde. “The lyrics are very raw and expose the darkness of toxic relationships. I wanted those elements to be reflected in the garment.”
The ensuing video production of “Dear August” presented Blonde with an entirely new set of challenges, taking her out of her comfort zone but ultimately pushing her to grow as a designer. The aesthetic and fabrication required brought new elements to Blonde’s design palette, and with Phil Gomez’s belief and encouragement, the designer was motivated to dive into uncharted territory.
Set in rustic North Carolina in the 1940s, the music video draws inspiration from Nicholas Sparks’ “The Notebook.” In order to capture the essence of the era, Blonde dove deep, studying the film itself, the time period of the 1940s and the fashion trends that defined the decade, specifically in the state of North Carolina. Researching this project from a historical perspective was a new angle for Blonde, but the process sharpened her penchant for narrative analysis and whet her appetite for more period-pieces in the future.
Blonde says, “The fact that Phil [Gomez] brought me on board for this music video made me realize that ultimately as a designer I want my capabilities to be limitless.”
The production originally called for one design for Cyrus’s character, but when Blonde presented two unique options, the team couldn’t decide between the two, ultimately utilizing both to serve the story as it unfolds.
The first, a champagne two-piece in silk with a ruffle detail at the neckline, plays beautifully with the warm wood tones and rustic vibes of the setting; the second, a baby-blue mini-dress, with an oval opening at the back and a one-leg split with bow details, highlights subtle juxtaposition as the video weaves between verses and choruses, characters and perspectives.
When Blonde is creating a new design, capturing and illustrating the integrity of the story and artist is paramount. The truth and the beauty that comes with her costumes uplifts the artist, and in Cyrus’s case, reinforces the femininity the singer exudes.
“Ultimately Noah [Cyrus] is a tastemaker—there is an edge to her that is balanced by a vulnerable and delicate femininity,” Blonde states. “I love that she is brave enough to tell a story, and then honor that story visually. Everything is authentic and I highly respect that.”
This desire to emphasize authenticity is a standout feature of Blonde’s catalog, an asset that award-winning make-up artist, creative director, producer and frequent collaborator Mynxii White knew would be perfect for her next Schön! Magazine cover story. At the directorial helm of Schön! Magazine #39, and the subsequent fashion film “Gigi Goode,” White chose Blonde’s leather-work to highlight American drag queen and reality television star Gigi Goode’s fearless persona.
Blonde styled the gender-fluid icon in a full-body leather catsuit, a homage to Michelle Pfeiffer’s classic Catwoman costume from 1992’s “Batman Returns,” and a natural extension of Blonde’s trademark lace-up pants. Risque, brave, yet retaining enough modesty to preserve the model’s tenderness, the look was everything the world has come to expect from both Blonde and Goode.
“Alabama has an incredible eye, and her talent is incomparable,” says director Minxii White. “Every look is meticulously executed and no detail goes unnoticed. Her craft is next level, and always brings a unique twist to every project.”
Blonde’s contribution to the cover shoot was met with critical acclaim, and resonated with readers as well; the cover featuring Gigi Goode in Blonde’s leather catsuit became the highest selling digital cover for Schon Magazine Issue #39.
An artist with attitude, vision and the skills to execute, Blonde has built an impressive reputation in the world of costume design. Success after success has led her to be regarded as a true gem of the entertainment industry by colleagues and collaborators. When it comes to costume design, you need a professional that makes you shine. Alabama Blonde is a designer that strives to make others shine brighter.
As fans, we are often wowed by the visual stories within our favorite music videos and taken away by the lyrics of our favorite songs, but we rarely consider the foundational work that goes into bringing these creative visions to fruition. Behind each and every chart-topping music video is a director working diligently to illustrate the music with a visual story.
French director Clément Oberto, currently based in L.A., is one of the rare creatives whose vision, drive and talent have led him to become the creative force behind numerous award-winning music videos.
Well known for his passion and clear vision, he has caught the attention of millions of viewers. Over the past 15 years he has directed music videos for internationally acclaimed artists, such as Christina Aguilera, Gary Clark Jr. Zhavia, and John Tejada. Along with stylish music videos for French singer Lou for her track “Dans le bleu du ciel“, which already gained over 5 million YouTube streams, and Canadian pop sensation Anjulie feat. Natalia Lafourcade’s hit “Holy Water”.
One project that really turned the heads of fans and the music industry alike was his remarkable work as the director behind the music video for four-time Grammy Award winning indie artist Gary Clark Jr.’s “Pearl Cadillac”.
The soulful track was taken from Clark’s 2019 album “This Land”, which took home the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album and reached No. 6 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, making it his third consecutive top 10 album debut.
Clark wrote the track in honour of his mother and the experience of leaving home to embark on his next chapter. In a collaboration that could only be described as ‘serendipitous’, Oberto, who at the time was journaling about his own relationship with his mother, was approached by Warner Record Executive Producer Devin Sarno; who’s known for his work with iconic bands such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, My Chemical Romance and Green Day.
“I was diaring about the way my mom had led her life and how I wanted to make her proud, and within 5 minutes after writing this, Devin reached out with the song; asking if I was interested,” he recalls. “There was no way I wasn’t going to book that job. It was perfect timing.”
Oberto shot the video in classic black and white on 35mm film, creating a nostalgic and overall harmonic sensation to enhance the moving lyrics.
“I wanted to create a metaphorical video that would highlight memories of childhood and the passage towards adulthood while reflecting on the support Gary received from his mom,” he says. “I wanted the video to be like the song, poetic and soft, while also giving justice to that epic guitar solo.”
He used smoke and light to add symbolism to the video, which made it stand out and take home 9 awards at renowned global festivals including Best Music Video at the U.K.’s Ramsgate Film Festival and Best Cinematography at the Black Bird Film Festival in New York.
Along with directing and editing the video, he was also responsible for designing the original concept and storyline, while also building a stellar crew.
“I care to create strong relationships with my team. I surround myself with talent that I admire and I communicate a lot with them to make sure we are all on the same page,” Oberto shares.
“There is nothing better than feeling that everyone gets you, and has your back to make sure your vision comes to life accordingly, or even better than what you imagined. For Pearl Cadillac I proposed the 35mm format and the idea of shooting the car in a studio with plates of the road projected on screens, like they used to do back in the days. This way we’d be able to have Gary laying down on the hood as the car drives by itself, without taking risks for his safety.”
Clark shared in an interview with Billboard that it was his first video in 35mm black and white film and that “Clément was really passionate about telling the story of ‘Pearl Cadillac’.”
Producer Roger Mayer (“Antibirth,” “The Rambler”), who collaborated with Oberto on the videos for both Gary Clark Jr. and Anjulie feat. Natalia Lafourcade, shares that “Clément adds a flair unlike so many of his peers that elevates the project to an art piece… Working with Clément is a dream, he is a confident and determined filmmaker with a clear vision, and is able to communicate that to everyone working on the projects he’s attached to.”
Oberto’s ability to expedite an entire music video in record time and remain in control while bringing the artists’ vision to life are key factors that have led to his remarkable success.
In June 2020, while the world was adjusting to the unexpected global shifts of Covid-19, he directed the stunning music video for five-time Grammy Award winning pop sensation Christina Aguilera’s tracks “Reflection / Loyal Brave True.”
The powerful song was the promotional single for the 2020 live action remake of the classic Walt Disney film “Mulan,” which was noted as Oscar worthy by Rolling Stone Magazine.
Oberto was brought on board, not just for his unique visual identity, but also due to the fact that the entire project needed to be overturned in a matter of days in order to coincide with Aguilera’s highly anticipated live performance on “Good Morning America.”
He was approached by Grammy Award winning video producer Jamie Rabineau, the founder of Lark Creative, who’s best known for producing Kendrick Lamar’s critically acclaimed 2017 music video “Humble.”
“The main challenge was the timing, combined with the Covid safety guidelines. To make sure everything would be safe and ready for us to shoot in a couple of days, and that we’d go over the post production process in a heartbeat,” Oberto shares. “We managed those challenges by working in confidence, hand in hand with my producer Boris Labourguigne at Left. He really made magic happen and got everything working tightly. As for Christina, it was pure bliss. She was very professional and easy to work with.”
Proving that he is a highly adaptable and humble director, Oberto applied a simple yet highly effective approach to the aesthetics of the video, using a few pieces of floating fabric in order to shine a light on Aguilera’s signature vocals.
“I usually create concepts and aesthetics to highlight the artist and the song. We spend a lot of time building sets and working on light, effects, transition, framing… We make sure everything feels magical,” he says. “With this project it was more simple, focused on the performance and not that much on the aesthetic. My job here was more about not trying to add complications by demanding, or wanting too much.”
Reaping over 2.6 million views on YouTube and 5 million viewers on “Good Morning America,” the music video’s end result was flawless, and it once again proved Oberto’s ability to transform an artist’s vision into reality.
His outstanding directorial achievements on both Gary Clark Jr. and Christina Aguilera’s music videos were created with Boris Labourguigne, who is the founder and president of Left Productions, an award winning video production company with offices in Paris, Los Angeles and London.
“Clément is really involved in every project from the creation to the delivery. He’s able to create a really strong relationship with clients, labels, and artists. He puts all his energy and talent to find the best solutions to do the best video possible,” says Labourguigne.
“He’s also super flexible and can work on a large scope of projects. He loves to be challenged, and is always open to discovering new territories, new talents, new brands, new styles. It is very stimulating to collaborate with him.”
In 2018 Oberto was also the leader behind the mysterious music video for American songwriter Zhavia’s debut single “Candlelight,” which is a bluesy R&B ballad about persevering through adversity.
Zhavia, who has over 3.2 million followers on Instagram, had just signed with Columbia Records, one of the most prestigious labels and home for iconic artists such as Beyonce, Adele, John Mayer, Mariah Carey, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd and Pharrel Williams.
Honoring Zhavia’s artistic mission to motivate her fans to express their emotions while working towards their goals, the video required a thoughtful director who could turn the song into a stunning visual story.
Record producer Jenna Andrews, who’s known for her songwriting collaborations with Lily Allen, Noah Cyrus and BANKS, approached Oberto not only to conceptualize a video that would personify the heartfelt lyrics, but here again to deliver the project in a matter of days.
“We had to pull everything together in a heartbeat. We shot overnight, 3h from LA and created the proxies for the editor in the car on our way back to the city, so we could have our first cut on the exact same day,” he says. “It was an adventure, people at Sony and Columbia were skeptical about us delivering in time, but we did.”
His savvy leadership allowed production to maintain the strict filming schedule, to capture every single shot in record time and to deliver the video only 5 days.
He shares, “That was pretty wild for me. More than anything I’m happy that I was able to be there for Zhavia, to help the team in that crazy tight deadline and to sign her first single’s music video was really rewarding.”
Upon its release, the single became #1 worldwide on iTunes, along with the music video garnering a whopping 32.7 million streams and trending at #5 on YouTube.
Given the incredible demands that came with the active production, Oberto’s expertise in delivering such a brilliant final result was highly commended, not only by the record label’s executive heads, but also across the music industry.
“From the very beginning it was clear that Clément was a true visionary, whose concepts and ideas were incredible… him and his entire team were true magicians from the first meeting to the final product. He went above and beyond to deliver under a very tight deadline from the record label and he didn’t let us down,” says Zhavia’s manager and platinum award-winning artist and producer, Thomas Barsoe. “I hope to continue to work with Clément for years to come and can’t recommend him highly enough.”
Oberto’s proven repertoire of success expands far beyond the director’s chair. His entrepreneurial drive also allowed him to grow within the bustling entertainment industry. In 2020 he launched Creative Film Awards, an LA based music video, short film and fashion film festival that focuses on gathering creatives from all around the world and to create a gateway for promising industry filmmakers to gain recognition.
“The inspiration came while spending years showcasing my films in festivals. I was thinking how I could do things differently by hosting immersive events and promoting the work of the filmmakers through a community behind the festival,” Oberto shares. “I wanted to create a festival that would feel like a label, something filmmakers could feel proud of being part of, and also help them be seen by well established figures of the industry.”
The festival attracted a stellar line up of industry guest judges, including two-time Grammy award winning music video and film director Matthew Cullen, VP Creative Services at Warner Records and MTV Video Music Award winner Devin Sarno, and French actress Loan Chabanol.
With his proven track record of success, it seems like Oberto has no plans to slow down anytime soon, in fact it’s quite the opposite. He is currently working on “Voices,” his first feature film, as well as on “Greenroom” a podcast with record producer Jenna Andrews, which focuses on mental health in the music industry. The podcast features popular music figures such as Tegan and Sara, Upsahl, Rebecca Black, Parson James, Verité, Kiesza and many more.
With all this in mind, it’s fair to say that Clément Oberto is an unstoppable industry force whose diverse talents and relentless desire to bring stories to life will continue to captivate a global audience for a long time to come. So stay tuned.
Standing ready to capture the magic of any moment, Chinese photographer Jiayi Liang is always looking for her next shot. With professional experience spanning years of brand campaigns, documentary filmmaking, and high-profile fashion photography, Liang has proven that no subject is outside of the scope of her photographic prowess—which she has been cultivating for a lifetime.
From a young age, Liang was encouraged to explore her natural proclivity for visual arts by her mother, who was herself a painter. Growing up in this artistic environment gave Liang freedom to creatively interpret the world through her own eyes. She soon became engrossed in motion pictures, and began her relationship with photography during high school. Since then, she’s never stopped shooting.
Of course, there are many people who take up photography as a hobby or a means to capture memories. Liang, however, became obsessed with understanding the craft and its nuances; with mastering the interplay of light and shadow; and with capturing emotion to eternalize the moments she experienced.
“When you view a photograph, you can experience the feelings of that moment, even after many years,” Liang mused. “I think the meaning of photography is very important—it is a medium through which the moment becomes eternal.”
Since receiving her Master of Fine Arts Degree in Filmmaking and Cinematography from the New York Film Academy in 2014, Liang has professionally expressed her philosophical approach to photography across an impressive array of projects spanning multiple high-profile industries in New York City.
One of Liang’s more recent and prestigious career accomplishments was her coveted role as a photographer at the internationally-renowned and highly exclusive New York Fashion Week. Each year at New York Fashion Week, more than 250 of the industry’s top designers gather to present their latest collections with the world. Attendance to this high-profile event is by invitation only, and press credentials are given out on an extremely selective basis. Due to the merit of her work, however, Liang was one of the incredibly talented photographers chosen to shoot New York Fashion week.
“Being invited to photograph New York Fashion Week felt like a rare opportunity to document history,” reminisced Liang. “It was also a chance to glance into the future of the fashion industry by photographing the next quarter’s trends.”
From 2019 to 2020, Liang covered runway shows, backstage moments, presentations, private shoots, capturing the collections and styles of international fashion icons on behalf of VRAI Magazine, an American publishing house and digital fashion magazine with international readership. VRAI Magazine recruited Liang as their chosen photographer for both the New York Fashion Week and New York Bridal Fashion Week events during this period.
In addition to her undeniable ability to convey the attitude and grace of high fashion through her photography, Liang also has a proven track record of helping big brands bring their vision to life. Suki Eyewear and Mott & Bayard Eyewear, two of the biggest eyewear brands in New York City, called upon Liang in 2018 to manage their photo shoots, promotional video shoots, and lookbook creation on an ongoing basis.
“Jiayi Liang often finds different perspectives and gives her images new meanings,” said Kenneth Ma, Owner of Suki Eyewear and Mott & Bayard. “Each time I finish working with her, I look forward to starting our next project together.”
Through her years at this position, which she currently holds, Liang has earned nothing but praise for her work, which includes seven campaigns for the Suki Eyewear and Mott & Bayard brands. By using her fresh and unique perspective behind the camera, Liang has been able to capture the very essence of these brands and portray them in a natural light, resulting in a win for Ma’s business.
“I’ve been using the images and footage Liang created everywhere for my stores, websites and social media,” mentioned Ma. “I saw a big impact for both of my brands after the photos and videos were released.”
Liang doesn’t just lend her talents to big clients—she also believes in making an impact in the lives of young artists. Since 2018, Liang has been a photography instructor at the Rising Star Photography Society, a photography club for teenagers based in Princeton, New Jersey. Beyond just teaching technical skills, Liang aims to ignite a long-lasting creative spark in her students.
“It is very important to create the right environment for younger kids, because anything could unexpectedly influence them,” said Liang. “Teenagers have incredibly interesting thoughts and ideas, so I encourage them to practice and explore.”
As Liang continues to push her craft forward, both as an artist and a professional, the lens through which she interacts with photography expands to include new skills and perspectives. With an already inspiring portfolio and list of career accomplishments, Jiayi Liang is poised to capture the imaginations of not only her clients, but also her students and anyone fortunate enough to appreciate her body of work.
What have you done in the time since the Covid lockdown started? Did you get into shape, binge watch multiple seasons of a show, become a better cook? For most of the music world which exists upon its interaction with and audience, the world simply stopped in early 2020. Adamant that they would make proper use of this forced pause, the reputable band Herd of Bison has been recording and preparing for the eventual return to performing in front of people. Far from the single-driven ethos so prevalent in the music industry, the band’s upcoming release is a concept album (yes, album!) of songs about how COVID has changed young people’s lives. Comprised of a group of young musicians from across the world, Herd of Bison speaks authentically through this album which is in fact being currently recorded from the group’s members in different locations. It’s hard to think of any music that might more accurately communicate the reality of a young person’s perspective on the once in a generation experience of the past year.
The current record by Herd of Bison is not their first but it definitely signifies a new sound for the band. The group’s 2017 release “Of Course We’ve Heard of Them” is all instrumental. The addition of soloist-vocalist Marisol Echegoyen vastly expands the emotive spectrum of the band. An much-admired singer from Mexico who is deeply rooted in Jazz, Gospel, Latin Pop, Salsa, Rock, Musical Theatre, Mexican Folk, and Country, Echegoyen brings an influx of styles for this already highly experimental Prog-Rock band. Producer/composer/drummer Ben Lokuta, along with Nirupam Pratapgiri (guitar), Drae Dunning (rhythm guitar), William Bartholomew (guitar), and Sean Horvath (bass), approached the singer having been impressed by her abilities and international acclaim. Because the band has such an expansive palette of influences, Marisol’s ability to adapt to any genre made her the ideal vocalist for the music of Herd of Bison.
It’s been noted often that the musicians of the Covid era, especially the younger ones, will have a wealth of emotions and insight to relate in what they create. As a vocalist, Marisol Echegoyen feels the responsibility and opportunity that her talent has placed her within. She relates, “The most important thing for me when singing is to tell a story and connect with listeners emotionally. In Herd of Bison, I want to tell the story of how COVID changed young people’s lives like mine. Every note that I sing will be to interpret that. The album is about the toll COVID took over our social life, mental health, family relationships, freedom, and sense of time passing by. When Covid happened, it seemed as if everyone’s lives stopped. At first, I felt scared because I did not know what was going to happen with me as a performer. Places closed and suddenly there wasn’t anywhere to perform. There were no gigs. I didn’t know when the pandemic would end. Foolishly expected it to last only a few months, I remained hopeful and excited for things to get back to normal. At the same time, it was mostly bad news in the media all about covid, deaths, police brutality, riots, impeachments, furloughs, unemployment…. It was emotionally draining. Home was my safe space before the pandemic started, after that it was my jail.” Remove the word “Covid” and these statements sound like they originated with the great music artists of the 60’s. It seems intuitive that today’s artists like Marisol and her band find themselves engulfed in a torrent of emotional experiences that are unique to any time in the past century.
Like so many of us, Marisol Echegoyen looks forward to a return to a world of public gatherings that include concerts and other entertainment events. In addition to her work with Herd of Bison, Marisol is preparing for collaborations with Film Composer Daniele Truocchio (winner of the Best Soundtrack Award at the Valle d’Itria Film Festival as well as his work for TV series on CW, CBS, Warner Horizon Television, the History Channel, Warner Bros, and TNT) as well as her friend RnB/Pop singer/dancer Amber Olivia Kiner known for her appearance at the BET Stellar Awards with gospel-recording artist Earnest Pugh and at sold-out shows with superstar Beyonce’s Original All-Female Band.
A sit-down editorial profile of Australian actor Grant Lyndon reveals many things for our readers. In this story, sit back, relax and get an insight into the core of what motivates an acclaimed artist and family man.
Being able to effortlessly move between accents – American & British being his most called upon – award-winning Australian actor Grant Lyndon finds this opens up a wide range of opportunities to be the voice of many iconic brands, in addition to the father’s glittering on-screen career.
With a newly achieved award under his belt, Grant is quickly standing out more and more by the minute. The Aussie favourite was recently awarded a ‘Best Actor’ prize by the Grand Jury at the New York International Film Awards.
While this may have been for his on-screen work, Grant’s equally known as being the voice of a number of high-rating TV series, ensuring Australians viewers are very familiar with Lyndon’s talents.
It’s apparent to anyone watching the series Aussie Lobster Men that the whole tone and feel of the show would be far less ‘Aussie’ without Lyndon’s distinct narration.
With M&C Saatchi, Grant voiced a whole summer of fresh alcohol offers in their national radio campaign. The iconic and international advertising agency network, founded back in 1995, boasts a $200 million valuation and its success is something for which Lyndon continues to benefit. Once he was in with the fold of their ad execs, the work hasn’t stopped.
Suffice to say, he’s left an indelible mark on the portfolio of campaigns produced at M&C Saatchi and undoubtedly played an incredibly important role at the renowned company.
Ultimately, it’s clear that Lyndon has the power to make simple words sound much more meaningful than what’s on the page. There’s a belief & confidence in the messages he voices. This is a very strong card for a brand to play, when both building and maintaining a deep relationship with their audience.
As Lyndon’s colleagues reiterate, the ABC network wouldn’t be what it is, were it not for Lyndon’s contributions over the years – starting all the way back with Rogue Nation. Grant’s role in that series quintessentially encapsulated the great and formative time in Australian history portrayed by the show, and Grant’s role reinforced his reputation as one of the few go-to actors to accurately be able to portray historical figures on screen for iconic Australian historical chapters.
Indeed, Lyndon was irreplaceable in the highly-rating drama, ‘House of Bond’, which aired on Channel Nine.
Grant’s deep connection to the role of Warren Jones (after much personal research) and his ability to display the truth of the way that he sees the world thoroughly upheld the artistic quality of Channel Nine’s acclaimed mini series.
This approach to work allows Grant to connect his acting to his real-life as well. He devotedly helps train beginner actors to reach their career potential.
When Grant is not playing roles on screen, his belonging to the top-tier of the industry is reflected in regular invitations to run voice-over masterclass final year actors at NIDA, one of the world’s leading drama schools (and where Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett also attended).
Lyndon’s also a VIP guest speaker at the International Screen Academy for graduates in getting industry ready, and a guest teacher at Toni Higginbothom casting.
Although Grant is inspired by many different facets in his life, the main motivator, as he says are his children. Such is reflected in how he dives deeper into fatherhood with his podcast ‘BusyDads’, where he explains how being a parent wholeheartedly is the center of his life.
“I’m super excited about what’s ahead for me. I’m at a stage of my life where I’m more comfortable in my skin than I’ve ever been, and most importantly, my family backs me 100%.”
Lyndon elaborates on the current industry landscape, as it recovers from COVID-19.
“There are so many great opportunities to play roles that are outside of the safe casting choices of the traditional media platforms. The diversity in storytelling that the streaming services allow for, really lights me up inside. Actors now have the opportunity to play characters outside of the known, and are collaborating to create and tell stories that are literally changing the world.”
The camera is mighty! Able to sway the masses or speak to an individual’s innermost thoughts, film has altered the human mind in relation to all things. There’s nothing grandiose about this statement. The emotional power of the camera to move us is proven by the still and moving images embraced collectively by us all as a species. Italian cinematographer Vittoria Campaner recognized the magic of moving images early on and has committed her life to channeling it in order to relay messages of importance and inspiration to enlightened audiences. Her wielding this skill so masterfully has enabled her directors/collaborators to materialize the impactful messages to which all storytellers aspire. While still exhibiting her own proficiency and artistry, Campaner uses her visual sense to amplify the voice of the story. “The films I shoot are rarely conventional in their design,” proclaims Vittoria, who is known for her affinity for the long take and inclination to risk taking. “The directors I collaborate with,” she continues, “know this early. Ultimately, I believe that a DP must adapt in service to the story. The director’s vision must become my bible before I bring in my beliefs and thoughts. My work alters and mutates with each collaboration. Thus, my style can be present but should not dominate.”
Director Liang Zhao wanted to create a film as a love letter to her hometown of Guiyang, China; a film about how people can change in one’s absence. From A Distance shows how those you knew so well can seem unrecognizable and strange upon reintroduction. Understanding that the visual element of this story was demanding, Zhao acquired Campaner as cinematographer for the film. The tale follows a college girl named Yuan Yuan who returns home but, instead of rushing to greet her loved ones, embarks on a spying expedition following a couple and seeking to uncover the secrets they keep from each other. Following the protagonist’s POV closely, the camera indulges playfully in voyeuristic intrigue creating anticipation for a looming surprise. Through Vittoria’s visual contributions, we learn about these characters’ personalities and the connection between them as they engage in their everyday activities. As the DP explains: “We opted to make use of long takes to convey the sense of voyeurism and to play with expectations. What is our protagonist looking for? We also understand the limitations to what a voyeur can see. The camera can only tilt and pan, so vital information may be hidden behind walls. Looking at the neighbourhood from a fixed position, we wanted to make the audience a participant in this young woman’s gaze and to convey the curiosity she feels towards her former community, whom she views without judgment. This POV approach is reversed near the end of the film when Yuan Yuan herself becomes the subject of our gaze.” From A Distance is an Official Selection of this year’s Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, La Guarimba Film Festival, Flicker Rhode Island International Film Festival, and Bogotá Short Film Festival.
With director/actress Fabianne Therese Gstottenmayr, known for her work on the films Playing It Cool (starring People’s Choice Award Winning actor Chris Evans aka Captain America of the Marvel franchise) and John Dies at the End (starring Oscar Nominated Actor Paul Giamatti), Campaner collaborated on the absurdist romantic drama The Ex, currently in post-production. Starring Odessa Young and Monica Lek, The Ex is a near hyperbolic tale of the irresistible pull a former lover can elicit. The chase becomes literal as one woman pursues the other throughout the city. Award winning actress Odessa Young, one of the film’s two leads, espouses the positive benefits of working with a cinematographer of such consummate skill, declaring: “When I met Vitto her reputation as a cinematographer preceded her. She’s as deft and sensitive behind the camera as she is in real life, in her friendships and as a creator. Vitto is down for anything and her energy and dedication are palpable on set. She’s one of those alchemists with light and image who makes a small budget and a crew of friends feel like an affair of the highest caliber. I’d let Vitto film me any day.”
Once the Covid lockdown expires and the film industry resumes, Campaner is already set to take the cinematographer’s chair for a duo of tense yet drastically different feature films. For director Jamil Munoz she will DP Muslimah, a story about an American convert to Islam who falls in love with a Somali cab driver, which results in a complicated and forbidden romance. Bryant Terrell Griffin, well known for his decade-long tenure at Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light and Magic – where he contributed to films by George Lucas, Steven Speilberg, Gore Verbinski, Guillermo Del Toro, and others –, has procured Vittoria as his cinematographer on his Young Kings, which he will direct. Griffin illuminates his reasons for enlisting Campaner as follows: “I’m very visual when it comes to colors, compositions, space, and movement within a frame. Young Kings is an intense character piece in which I want to explore the interiority of the characters. I want to take internal restrained emotions, subtle and complex emotions, and visualize them without dialogue. It’s extremely difficult. That is what Vitto excels at in my opinion. She can take what’s inside and find ways to make it come alive on screen. Not through crazy tricks or camera moves, but subtle changes in POV, camera placement, angles, and lighting. She knows how to capture stillness in a way that is engaging. It’s very, very tough to do.”
For her part, Vittoria Campaner sees the camera as a communicative tool. Having filmed in so many different parts of the world – from China to Italy to Norway and North America –, Vittoria has cultivated her skill to allow the images and perspectives to transcend any spoken language. The filmmakers who seek her out for their productions recognize her ability to create intimate connections between the characters of these stories as well as the audience, often in a surprising manner.
It takes a unique individual to not only run a successful production in the modern entertainment industry, but also make sure it’s delivered on time. Being able to raise the necessary funding and keep the production on budget, while also managing an entire crew and ensuring the client is happy with the end result, are all key for a producer, all of which are skills producer Kim Shapiro has in spades.
A talented producer, Shapiro is best known for his ability to bring the creative visions of brands such as L’Oreal, Johnny Walker and FaceTune to life through eye-catching commercials. He has also made a powerful name for himself in the world of music videos as the part of the production team behind Nikki Vianna’s “Mambo,” which has nearly two million views on Youtube, “One Life” from internationally acclaimed music duo DJ Aron and Beth Sacks, as well as Eliya Sinai’s “Girls Like You” and Aviv Terner’s “Azman Azal.”
The music video for the recent hit track “One Life” by music producer DJ Aron feat. Beth Sacks, which was produced by Shapiro, was a whopping success, gaining over 110,000 YouTube hits in just two weeks.
Since its world premiere on September 26, the dynamic pop video has earned rave reviews within the dance and LGBT community, with thousands of fans from around the globe dubbing the hit track as “the new anthem.”
“The vibe of the music video is very fun, and yet emotional.” Shapiro says, “It has aspects of the LGBT community as the artist DJ Aron is a very big DJ in this community. The music video also shows a bit of a connection to the Black Lives Matter [movement].”
The track was written during the early stages of the intense Covid-19 lockdown as a way for the artists to give back to their devoted fans while keeping their hopes alive during the challenging times.
Considering the powerful message behind the lyrics, the team responsible for bringing the video to life required a clear understanding of the artists’ creative vision, something Shapiro has excelled in time and time again with all of the artists he’s worked with.
“DJ Aron and his partner Beth Sacks, are both well known and they’re amazing artists,” says Shapiro. “When I heard the song they wanted the music video for, I knew immediately that we were going to make it happen no matter what.”
Known for his focus, diligence and keen awareness of the various wants and needs of all parties involved, Shapiro’s work as the producer behind the project was integral to ensuring that the production flowed on time and came in on budget.
“Some of the challenges were to keep it all on budget,” admits Shapiro. “When I produce any project, I need to consider what the director wants, what my client wants, what the director of photography wants, and to make sure that each of them will get the most out of the shoot.”
His level-headed approach and effective team management was the driving force that not only led to a phenomenal shoot, but ensured every artist, cast and crew member were completely satisfied.
Shapiro says, “I feel very good about the end result of the video, I think everyone did an amazing job starting at pre-production and all the way to post-production when we edited the video and released it to the world.”
A real people person at heart, Shapiro knows exactly what it takes to succeed as a producer. With an overwhelming and expansive skill set to his name, he has continued to lead the way for cutting-edge productions in today’s industry. However, it’s his superb business savvy management skills that have set him apart from the rest.
Any good producer will tell you that a detailed budget, which requires constant attention, and the ability to expect the unexpected are essential to managing a production. Through his years of experience, Shapiro has mastered the skill of factoring in every single cost when it comes to budgeting, and he ensures that the money invested is accounted for and well spent.
He says, “My favorite part about what producers do is dealing with the money, it starts with creating a budget, and then making sure that everything will stay on budget as we move on with the creation of the project.”
His cosmic repertoire of success, which extends to writing, directing and producing, has propelled him to become a highly sought after figure amongst many international brands. Over the years Shapiro has been a key contributor to commercials for multi-billion dollar companies such as Johnnie Walker Scotch Whiskey, the leading French cosmetics company L’Oréal and the recent “Landing on the Moon” commercial for Artgrid, which was inspired by the first spaceship launch to the moon in 1969.
Launched in 2019 by the founders of the music licensing giant Artlist, Artgrid is one of the world’s largest websites for stock footage, where top cinematographers from around the globe can share their artistry in an authentic way.
He explains, “We booked a location that was built over a 100 years ago and we made everything look as if it actually was from the 60’s.”
To pull off this kind of detailed shoot required a team of experts, and it was Shapiro’s outstanding reputation that landed him the job, alongside his brother and business partner Don.
He adds, “Artgrid approached my brother and I to produce this project because they saw other stuff we produced before, and they knew that we’d be the perfect team to produce for them.”
The global impact of Covid-19 meant that the director and client were unable to travel to New York for the shoot.
However, with never being one to shy away from a challenge, Shapiro used his razor-sharp creativity to think outside of the box and adapt to the project’s unique shooting demands
“The main difference between this project and other projects I produced is that this time, my director and client were not physically on the shooting day, they were in Israel, a different country, and they saw everything through a zoom call.”
Considering the technical skills required to bring a global team together, it was Shapiro’s genius ability to manage every department online that ensured a seamless shoot.
He continues, “Something very interesting about it was that we had to connect the camera wirelessly to the computer so they’d be able to see exactly what the camera sees live. It was also very interesting to see the director direct the commercial from another country.”
Artgrid were so blown away by the tremendous success of his work, that they re-signed him to produce their next promotional video, which is set to be released later this year.
With a long list of incredible achievements to his name, it’s fair to say that Shapiro has truly established himself as one of the industry’s leading production experts.
His reputation precedes him, with colleagues and friends praising not only his diverse array of talents, but also his light-hearted and welcoming approach to every cast and crew member he meets.
“Working with Kim is always a fun and yet very professional experience,” says “One Life” production manager Scott Hansen. “He makes everything run smoothly on set and with a very happy mood amongst everyone that we work with.”
A man of many talents, Kim Shapiro has undoubtedly set himself up for an exciting career full of longevity, passion and success.
“I’m interested in producing projects that I have the feeling that’ll get a big crowd and that I’ll have fun making. I believe that if you enjoy what you do you don’t need to work a day in your entire life, and for that reason, if I can choose, I’ll choose the projects that I’ll enjoy working on the most.”
Upon warmly meeting Sarah Nasri, her personable and empathetic nature is immediately palpable.
One might think that this energy is what affords her the ability to transcend different cultures and borders around the world with acting in international projects but, ever-so-casually, she informs us that she speaks multiple languages.
“I’m fluent in more than half a dozen languages including Arabic, Spanish, and French,” she adds with a laugh, “as well as obviously English.”
It’s a combination of this internationalism that clearly imbues within Sarah an inherent understanding of the human experience, a point which lies at the center of any successful actor’s career. It should come as no surprise then that Sarah’s career, in the midst of a global pandemic when people are grappling for stories now more than ever, has continued to thrive.
Originally from Tunisia, Sarah found a love for acting when she was 17 years old during summer break. After watching Leonardo DiCaprio give an interview and describe his creative process, Sarah was inspired to explore acting and a more artistic career path.
“Even though I had already been doing it a few years, I discovered a deeper love for acting after leaving the confines of school, one that I was able to refine and cultivate even more with the freedom to explore different topics away from the syllabus.”
“For instance, one of the most vital areas in contemporary aesthetics concerns the experience of so-called “negative” emotions in an engagement with fiction…our imagination is powerful, and acting gives me an opportunity to tap into that.”
Sarah’s childlike curiosity has remained a constant despite the growth she has experienced in her career. Such a quality will undoubtedly serve her well ever since standout performances have attracted the attention of notable Hollywood producers.
One of those performances, for instance, was in the horror film Childhood Chills. Her gripping portrayal as a nun struggling to survive after her best friend has been attacked by an unseen evil, alongside Ashton Solecki and Curt Darling (Devil’s Hallow), is an obvious standout and distinguishes a crucial moment in the arc of the film. In each moment, Sarah echoes the audiences’ obvious terror while maintaining a commitment to her character in each and every extreme close-up frame in which she appears on-screen.
When watching her, Sarah’s particular understanding of how to balance temperament and feeling with advancing the story – never crossing the line of self-indulgence – is readily apparent. It’s a mark of a great actor.
“Every form of art including acting has to have an arc, it should go up and down just like life. Otherwise, it will seem flat and uninteresting to the viewer,” Sara explains. “I always look for the high, the low and the ‘fake high’ in every script.”
Sarah also explains how she incorporates a variety of approaches to a script, depending on the storyline.
“I [also] look for the music that I feel supports the atmosphere of the project and create a playlist from that – I find that really helps stimulate ideas about my story and creativity in general. ”
It’s this structured but also malleable attitude to approaching her craft which has not only served Sarah with an understanding of how to work across countries, but also genres too.
Any director who’s worked with her praises her understanding of finding the humour in darkness, and the darkness in humour.
Such is the case with her work in ‘Losing Your Marbles’, in which Sarah appears alongside The Art of Acting star Derick Gonzales. In that project, Sarah portrays a childlike introvert named Jenna, who struggles to overcome the recent death of her mother and is afraid to confront life on her own. In a moment that is incredibly affecting but also challenging and hilarious to watch, Sarah’s character discover’s Forest’s (Derick Gonzalez) love for her and the confusion she faced, whether to welcome him in her new life or not.”
“What I like about comedy is that it allows you to criticize and deliver a message in an unapologetic manner. Drama, on the other hand, sheds a light on the dark realities of life.”
Comments such as these point to the universal relevance of Sarah’s mission as an artist, and her burgeoning curiosity in the American market – the American market’s curiosity in her.
“I’ve been fortunate to have been offered contracts to work in America, so I’m excited to contribute to the industry and connect with fresh stories, especially in the aftermath of COVID-19.”
As the entertainment industry looks to recover past a year marked by struggle, fresh stories – and exciting talent – are indeed in demand.
Today millions of people work remotely, a luxury that affords them the freedom to manage their time without the constraints of the traditional 9 to 5, travel at will and oftentimes live wherever they want in the world. Even with the many that have managed to break away from a life of going into the office, there are millions more who are still desperately trying to figure out how to create a remote career for themselves.
A few years ago Russian blogger Polina Pushkareva, who’s known internationally by her instagram handle @nioly where she has over one million followers, figured out how to create a successful remote career for herself through blogging and social media.
She says, “Dedication, and a deep understanding of how social media functions and analytics,” are among the most important qualities to be successful in her field.
Gaining an astonishing level of success, Pushkareva’s expertise as a fashion blogger has led her to be featured in the Russian editions of Vogue, GQ, Grazia, Cosmo, Kommersant and more. She is also a columnist for OK Russia, where she regularly gives advice on blogging, with articles that include “Thinking Strategy that will Lead to High Income,” “Organizing work with Clients in the Freelance Market,” “What Character Traits Will Help You Succeed?” and many more.
“It all started in an ordinary cafe. I sat at a table and took pictures of cheesecakes for my Instagram profile, which at that time consisted of 300 subscribers,” recalls Pushkareva. “I was noticed by the owner of the establishment and offered the job as a social media management specialist. This is how I got my first job in the online field. After a short period of work with commercial accounts, I was recommended as a good specialist to a blogger.”
What makes Pushkareva so unique though is the way that she took her career beyond simply blogging. Using the knowledge she’s gathered over the years, she created an online program to help other people establish successful remote careers of their own.
Last year she launched her first online course, “Managers,” which was an instant hit in Russia. The course taught subscribers how to manage other people’s blogs, essentially helping them to learn how to become a universal specialist capable of doing everything from writing posts and purchasing advertising for promotion to targeting audiences and creating the blog’s visual vibe.
“When I realized that I couldn’t cope with my many responsibilities anymore, and 24 hours a day wasn’t enough, I began to think about training assistants for myself…. that’s when I unconsciously identified the urgent need all bloggers have for a qualified ‘helper’,” explains Pushkareva.
“That’s how I created my first course, ‘Managers.’ It was an absolutely spontaneous project. But it sold out completely on my first day of sales, even though my blog only had 30 to 50 thousand subscribers at the time. The first round was immediately followed by the second, third, and fourth editions.”
With a million followers herself, and also managing blogs for brands and celebrities with millions of followers, Pushkareva was constantly overseeing the output of creative content to meet the demands of her various audiences.
She quickly realized that an opportunity to create a new career field in the social media industry existed– one that would help the bloggers, as well as those who wanted to create a remote career for themselves. This was a few years ago, and at the time the idea of someone being specifically trained to manage other people’s blogs and instagram profiles hadn’t fully taken off yet– Polina was on the forefront of a new industry.
“The popularity of my course grew instantly. After all, this info product had a specific goal to help both sides at the same time. All the talented people got an opportunity to learn a remote profession, and bloggers freed up their time for more important and interesting things,” explains Pushkareva.
One of the key reasons Polina’s course was such an instant success, and something that speaks to her keen insight as a business developer, is the mutual benefit she saw in creating the role of a social media manager.
She says, “Bloggers are people who live a normal life, but also have a great responsibility to their readers. They have lists of things to do on a daily basis besides blogging. And all these bloggers have long been in need of such a helper to free them from the routine stuff on Instagram, such as buying ads, creating content, and writing posts.”
Since 2019 Pushkareva has trained hundreds of thousands of people through her “Managers” course, which pulls from her years of experience as a blogger and her knowledge of what it takes to successfully manage all aspects of a blog and instagram account from the front and back end in a way that makes everything run smoothly and increases traffic.
Though she’s still in her early 20s, Pushkareva has accomplished more than most, and it seems everything she does, she does well. Not only was she named Fashion TV Russia’s Best Extraordinary Blogger in 2019, but she also recently took on her first ever acting role, and it was no small feat. She recently wrapped production on the upcoming feature film “WarHunt” where she acts alongside none other than iconic star and Oscar Award nominee Mickey Rourke from “Sin City,” “The Wrestler” and “Iron Man 2. ”
“We invited Polina to act in the role of a radio operator. As a blogger with one million followers, she will help us to attract a younger audience to watch this film. The shooting was in Latvia, in Riga. I was impressed by her self discipline,” says Julia Kim-von Den Driesch, one of the producers of the film.
“She is not afraid to try new things, she is not afraid to fail. All of her ups and downs are part of transformations and developments. She has a sixth sense in visual content. I think she is doing the right thing so that her generation can become independent from their circumstances.”
As a blogger, Pushkareva is a leading figure in her field, and as such, she’s been invited to give talks at the well-known international business forum, Synergy, which has featured other powerful speakers such as Tony Robbins, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and many more.
Polina Pushkareva’s story of how she got to where she is today is one that reaffirms the power of self-determination, and it’s inspiring. Originally from Kovrov, a small town in eastern Moscow, Russia, Pushkareva worked as a waitress to put herself through school while studying sociology at Saint Petersburg State University. The owner of the restaurant she worked at approached her with a curiosity about social media so Pushkareva took it upon herself to learn everything she could about the business.
“I did not have any clue about this field, but I needed to earn extra money as a student. I told him yes and I started to learn and try something new with social media management everyday. This moment changed my life,” recalls Pushkareva.
“A couple of years ago the huge number of Instagram promotion training courses out there now weren’t available, so I had to learn all the skills necessary for the work by myself, watching videos, looking for and collecting all the information on the internet or from friends who were already well versed in this field. In addition to working as a manager on my blog, I also tested all the existing ways of promotion.”
She quickly took note of the rise of social media and the potential it offered to create a lucrative business, and she knew she could make more money. While in college Pushkareva made a trip to the U.S., which proved to be a major turning point for her.
She explains, “I flew to America on an exchange program and that’s where I realized that I urgently had to do something with my life… I realised that US bloggers needed a manager… At the time, the profession didn’t even exist, nobody knew what the job of a ‘blogger manager’ was… I knew exactly what I wanted to do in the future and I started to independently develop schemes and mechanisms of net promotion.”
Pushkareva’s newest course is called “Millionaires,” which is targeted towards training people to use social media to increase their personal income and become millionaires. Since releasing the new 11-day intensive training course in January, she has trained 4,000 people. The course, which is currently geared towards Russian speakers will be available in an English version at the end of the year.
She says, “Million follower bloggers is a new trend in our reality. To handle everything related to the blog professionally you have to be surrounded by a professional team… on the new course I teach people how to become a millionaire, how to deal with blogs of a million subscribers and how to manage everyday life.”
For Pushkareva, who began her own instagram by blogging about ‘student life, coffee, guys, and dreams,’ the platform has been hugely lucrative. Today, with one million followers herself, Pushkareva’s instagram account @nioly, takes audiences on a journey across the world with every picture telling a story.
Producer Julia Kim-den Driesch says, “Polina motivates people to do things and to move towards their goals. She built a strong and recognizable brand called @Nioly. Millions of followers watch her and she is a role model for young and dynamic girls around the globe, and she has a mission to provide affordable online education as a blog manager.”
Seeing how instagram and blogging could be a powerful tool for brands to gain attention and for people around the world to tell their stories, and the growing number of people in search of the digital nomad lifestyle, Pushkareva has become a sought after leader in the digital generation. With all of the opportunities she’s made available online, Pushkareva is one of the people who have helped make the days of being tied to a desk, one country and a predictable lifestyle something that is optional, not mandatory.
Everything you ever wanted to know about Hollywood's who's-who.