Category Archives: Women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Coming on Strong: Producer Beatriz Browne Does it All

In the realm of film and video, producer Beatriz Browne is nothing less than a dynamo. Whether she’s working on television mini-series or an indie documentary, her comprehensive approach, natural flair for storytelling and spontaneous, on the spot troubleshooting skills have earned her a reputation as one of the most reliable and fastest rising forces in her field. Currently riding high at the popular online parenting brand Fatherly, Browne’s innovative series concept, ‘My Kid The . . .’ which explores the unique talents of gifted children, is the latest step forward in an impressive career as a video producer.

“A producer, quite literally, does everything from head to toe,” Browne said. “So, a producer, particularly in a media company like Fatherly, is basically in charge of everything that goes into making a video. I’m in charge of content ideation and pitching, thorough research, finding stories to tell, making sure we can have access to them, and planning everything up until the shoot date. We go out and shoot it ourselves, direct it, bring it back to edit and distribute it to our platforms.

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The enthusiastic, ambitious Browne’s fast moving, far reaching methodology is the result of her culturally rich international background and extensive training in a host of creative and intellectual disciplines.

“I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and since the age of four I had been working in the entertainment industry,” Browne said. “When I was 10, I moved to Shenzhen, China with my family, lived there for about four years and then I did my high school years in Dubai. So having Portuguese as my first language, I was fortunate enough to also learn English, Mandarin, Spanish, and a little bit of Arabic throughout my life. Eventually, I decided to come to New York City for college and now I’m living in the city that keeps on inspiring my work.”

This characteristic whirlwind of activity, from her early start as a child actor through to her current role as producer, included studies in a broad variety of fields.

“I have a Bachelor of Sciences in Liberal Arts, which is a somewhat deceiving title as I had the freedom to design my own major.” Browne said “I was focusing on innovative storytelling and languages and that basically consisted of a lot of film classes—fiction, non-fiction, technical, history, philosophy of languages, and media studies classes. A lot of my most important training, however, came from being on set and helping out with multiple independent films. Aside from that, I have taken numerous storytelling and journalism classes in several prestigious places.”

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Browne loves nothing more than telling stories, a fact reflected in the singular concept behind her ‘My Kid The . . . ‘ series.

“The goal of the show is to feature a prodigy child in each episode,” Browne said. “It explores the challenges and experience of parenting a child chasing their dreams despite the odds. The show was formatted to be a documentary-series, but going into the first episode, we didn’t really have a clear idea of what it was going to be. Because it was a new project, it was also an obstacle course from day one, but the biggest challenge was figuring out how to tell these stories. We had to remember that we were a parenting platform and so we had to provide a show that would ideally be of service to parents.”

Never one to shy away from adversity, Browne’s holistic grasp of the numerous requisites each episode demands guaranteed a compelling result.

“Executing these mostly by myself was super challenging,” she said. “And it required a lot of time, research, and organization to make sure all aspects of production ran smoothly. It opened so many doors for me and the company in terms of creating ambitious and long-form video projects. All the episodes were not only shared by several other publishers, they also increased engagement with our audience through long-form videos, which was rare for us. Three of the episodes were our most watched videos for the month of September, and the series outperformed our average video view benchmark for the month—and we just got four more episodes sponsored, set to come out in early 2019.”

This type of commercially successful and culturally popular achievement is doubly rewarding and clearly indicates a glowing future for Browne. Her ability to conceive, realize and deliver what almost immediately became an in-demand product typifies the producer’s high voltage personal and professional style—significant attributes that are not lost upon her colleagues

“Ms. Browne is one of the best and most unique talents I have come across in my years in media and filmmaking world,” cinematographer-editor Wei Lee. “I worked on her web series “My Kid The…” and observed firsthand her tremendous capacity for film production. She is creative and detail-oriented which always makes collaborating with her a pleasure.”

Above her ongoing role as producer of “My Kid The . . .” Browne has a wide variety of outside interests and projects. In addition to her work at Fatherly (where she also produces a great deal of assorted video content, including her interviews with such celebrities as John Legend, Karamo Brown and Morgan Neville), she is currently producing passion project, ‘The Monster of Carmine Street,’ a documentary about an independent bookstore in New York City and its owner Jim Drougas (“Possibly the last bit of cultural heritage and a home to an eccentric community within the West Village in NYC” Browne said). But it’s the nurturing, helpful nature and familial quality of ‘My Kid The . . .” which makes this particular project so rewarding and well received.

“It opened so many doors for my team and the company in terms of creating ambitious projects,” Browne said. “The show demonstrated my capabilities for producing large-scale projects, both to myself and the people that I work with. By getting the recognition and results, it led me to several upcoming jobs including a new show in collaboration with Hearst Media called ‘Passing the Torch,’ a new show with celebrity guests called “The Build” and several documentary films with super talented people in the industry, which is all very humbling but I’m super excited to be a part of.”

 

Actor Missy Malek Is Equally at Ease on Screen and Stage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Shining A Light on Women in VFX: Tati Leite

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Brazilian VFX Artist Tati Leite

It probably comes as no surprise that the VFX industry is among one of the many tech related fields that has been dominated primarily by men since inception; and that’s not to say that women haven’t played an equally powerful role, they just haven’t received their due credit. Though the media in general has shone somewhat of a lesser light on women in VFX, there is hope for equality in the industry now more than ever before. But this is just the starting point.

Women like Victoria Alonso, who earned the Visual Effects Society Visionary Award last year, and VFX artist and compositor Charmaine Chan, who created the video series “Women in VFX,” have both used their position in the industry to draw attention to the lack of diversity in the workforce. In order to play ball in such a male dominated arena, women have to go the extra mile to prove their worth; and one woman who’s managed to carve out a place for herself in the industry despite the obvious challenges is Brazilian born VFX artist Tati Leite.

“I think what separates me from the rest is that I have my background in computer engineering. I used to be more technical before moving to LA. But I never felt completely satisfied only using my technical skills. My artistic side was always there trying to show up too. And that’s the main reason I chose VFX,” explains Tati.

A story that proves once again that women are just as capable as their male counterparts, Tati’s journey serves as an inspiration to push ourselves as women to follow our dreams, even if it means that we have to push harder at this point in history. This is how we are going to change the face of the industry so future generations of women can be judged based on skills rather than gender.  

Creating artistic videos was a passion Tati discovered at an early age. She carefully learned how to shoot, modify and craft different effects at a time when technology was not nearly as advanced as it is today. Her close examination and methodical approach to the videos she created drove her desire to understand how it all worked.

“Every movie I watched I paid attention to all the details and watched it over and over to see the effects, the animation and all the aspects that had been introduced to the footage,” recalls Tati. “Even my choice for majoring in computer engineering was based on the fact that I wanted to acquire a deeper knowledge in computer graphics.”

This perfect fusion of art and technology is what drew Tati to become a VFX artist, and it’s one of the major assets that sets her apart. Backed with a computer engineering degree Tati was not intimidated by male dominated spaces. Not only was she well prepared to take on this highly technical position, but she realized that, in a way, it made her part of a movement towards equality for women in the industry.

“Having a wide background helped me to navigate through this world easily. But, this industry is still male dominant and we have a long way to go until we see some real changes. The future is promising, every day I think we move one step forward, but it’s far from equality,” Tati admits.

Pioneering the way for other women to delve into VFX, Tati has paved a trail of outstanding work on various projects that range from high profile motion picture films, such as the highly-anticipated film “The Lion King,” which is due out in 2019 and directed by Jon Favreau, to a plethora of award winning video games.

Video game projects not only challenged Tati and revealed her power behind the screen, but they also prepared her for the bigger tasks she’s undertaken as a VFX artist on major feature films. One of Tati’s favorite video games so far has been Making Camp created by the award winning company 7 Generation Games. It was there she found the freedom to add her own visual design and concept to the game as an animator.

She says, “This game is very special to me. Not only because I created VFX for some of the videos played in the games, but also because we completely remodeled the game visually. Icons, buttons, effects, all the assets were remade and/or adapted to a new look.”

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Tati Leite designing for 7 Generation Games

Project manager Diana Sanchez, who worked with Tati at 7 Generation Games, quickly recognized Tati’s inspiring work ethic, her capacity to effectively communicate with her team, and her ability to elevate the creative process overall. When it came down to creating games for the company, it was never a competition but a fruitful collaboration.

Sanchez says, “What makes Tati good at what she does is her ability to collaborate… When you have an idea of what you want such as an animation or image for an icon, she then takes that vision and puts her great skills to work, but the best part is her flexibility if modifications need to be made. That’s a great quality to have when collaborating on a project.”  

Executing work for 7 Generation Games is where Tati’s creativity and intelligence went hand in hand, and her background in computer engineering coupled with her keen artistic eye have her the power to produce the best visual designs.

“Creating VFX for games is exciting because you can be very creative, but at the same time you need to be smart about how you are going to do it without consume too much memory or processing.”

The 3D educational video game Fish Lake was another video game where Tati’s VFX prowess was a leading force in the game’s creation. As part of an Indian tribe, the game’s player has to overcome roadblocks related to math and history, so it’s not only fun for users but it teaches them valuable skills. For Tati, Fish Lake was not only an exciting project that utilized her seasoned skill, but it is one that challenged her in new ways.

She explains, “The big difference of this game is that it is 3D. The tools and the skills required for 3D are completely different. This was the main 3D game we had at the house at the time so it was very special to have the opportunity to work on it.”

Tati’s creativity and VFX expertise have led her to be an invaluable force in the ever evolving design concept of countless many games like the project Aztech. This educational math and social studies game for kids was sparkled with magic where students would go back in time to try and survive challenges in order to move forward, and Tati was key in creating the visual effects that kept them playing.

Tati says, “This project was really nice to work on because I could see the idea of the game evolving until it became real. Putting together the concept to create a game is a big challenge.”

When it comes to design and creating concepts in the ever growing field of visual effects for video games Tati ha become a sought after force. She’s adapted to new advances in the field at every turn, and her work makes her stand out as one of the best, but her work is by no means limited to the world of VFX for video games.

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Tati Leite at the 2017 HoloLens Hackathon

The adept nature of her talent as a VFX artist has led the film industry to take note, and though the industry department is still considered by many to be more of a ‘boys team,’ she’s definitely made her way in, and her contributions have been key in creating the incredible visuals we see on the bigger screen.

With only three women nominated in the VFX field for an Oscar, Tati aims to raise the conversation about this problem but also lead the charge in creating stellar work, proving she is just as good as any man.

“I love working on feature films,” admits Tati. “It’s very gratifying when you see the final result on the big screen helping to tell a story better.”

Aside from “The Lion King,” Tati has played a key role in the VFX departments on some of the biggest feature films of this year, including “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” “Christopher Robin,” “Mission: Impossible – Fall Out,” “Book Club” and many more.

To play on the boys team Tati realized early on that has to be the best at every aspect in the field, and that means staying on top of every new technique, but her passion for the craft and her individual creative eye has made her unbeatable. There are somethings that can not be taught like work ethic, cohesive collaboration, and artistic skill, and Tati possesses all of these traits in spades.  

At the end of the day, Tati says, “For me the secret is always do your best. Never consider any of your jobs smaller or less valuable. In every job you will get something from it, it can be learning something new, improving some skills, experience dealing with a tough client, or even if it’s just making money. It does not matter. If you consider that all the jobs are very important and you give them your best, you will grow and build the bridge to the next level of your career.”