Tag Archives: Actress

Canada’s Helena-Alexis Seymour plays her dream role in Amazon’s hit series

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Helena-Alexis Seymour

Helena-Alexis Seymour grew up on stage, never having an issue with being in the spotlight, literally. Growing up in the small town of Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, Seymour danced, did beauty pageants, and modeled. She loved the way she could express her creativity through such methods of performing. As she grew and started a successful modeling career, she realized another passion: acting. After booking her first commercial at only nine years old, she knew what her calling was.

“The more I acted, the more I realized that the artform was about more than me being creative, it was about how I was able to make the audience feel. Having someone watch your performance and be moved by it because they can relate, it reassures them that they are not alone. We all want to feel like we aren’t alone in this world so to be able to do that for someone makes it all worthwhile,” she said.

Now, millions around the world have seen Seymour in some of their favorite films and television shows. She is known for films like the blockbuster xXx: Return of Xander Cage starring Vin Diesel, as well as the multiple Academy Award winning film Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). The highlight of her esteemed career however, began last year when she was cast in the title role in Amazon’s award-winning original series Chronicles of Jessica Wu.

“Helena is a woman that exudes positive energy, so naturally she brightens up any room she steps in. She’s hardworking, humble, kind and so down to earth, which allowed for us to not only create great moments on camera, but many memorable moments off camera. It was a very rewarding experience and I hope it’s the first project of many that we get to work on together,” said Jasmine Hester, Seymour’s co-star on the show.

Chronicles of Jessica Wu is a story about a young girl on the Autism spectrum who has mastered martial arts. She becomes a Hero in her city and takes down some of the most ruthless villains in Los Angeles. Jessica’s genius ability and martial arts helps her become the most unique and fascinating Superhero of our time. Chronicles of Jessica Wu is a fun, action-packed, and exciting series for the entire family.

“I love how the story showed a strong, bi-racial, woman on the autistic spectrum living a very normal life. She is highly functional and lives quite like everyone else. Bringing awareness to the autism spectrum is something that we all need to experience. Being more inclusive of each other and more loving to each other. Everyone in this world is different and going through something so the more we can open our minds to it, the more compassionate as a whole we become,” said Seymour.

The character of Jessica Wu is driven, focused, ambitious, strong yet quite shy, and vulnerable all at the same time. She is loyal and expects the same loyalty in return. She believes her autism is a strength and uses it to her advantage. She is an intellectual genius and is always two steps ahead in her mind. She uses her amazing mathematical abilities to solve certain issues in her life as well as in her fighting when acting as the superhero named Equation.

“Helena-Alexis is a complete joy to work with. From her dedication, preparation, and delivery performances on and off set, she is the total package. Helena captures the true essence of an individual not defined by any disabilities or anything else. You will surely see how she brings the character Jessica Wu to a full circle of life. Her preparation and dedication to make our show the very best and to reach its maximum potential is truly appreciated. We couldn’t be more pleased and prouder of her work. Seriously, her performance on this show is must see TV,” said Brandon Larkins, Executive Producer.

Stepping into the show during its second season and taking over for the actress that played Jessica Wu in the show’s first season, Seymour had her work cut out for her; she had to honor a character that had already been established in fans’ minds while still making it her own. To do so, she extensively researched autism and what that would mean for her character. She had a great time recreating the character and experiencing life through her eyes. Seymour discovered what Jessica’s values were, what her strengths and weaknesses were, the type of music she listens to, the type of guy she crushes on and even what zodiac sign she was. With all that knowledge, she used it to mold Jessica Wu’s personality, and essentially, her soul.  Luckily, Seymour has a kickboxing/martial arts background, and was able to use those skills when playing Jessica.

I loved everything about working on this. I loved playing a double life as Jessica Wu and Equation,” said Seymour. “I loved working on set with such inspiring and grounded cast and crew members. When you are surrounded by love, light and greatness you naturally will vibrate to that frequency, so I am so grateful that every day was positive and that we were free to create great art together.”

The Chronicles of Jessica Wu is truly fun for the entire family. Seymour is excited by the show’s success already, and for the future seasons to come. She knows the importance of shows like this and is happy to be portraying a such a unique character that the world needs to see.

“This is only the beginning of major change in the television and film industry. We need more ethnic superheroes on the big and small screen. The world is full of different people with different backgrounds. We must continue to open our eyes to them and the gifts that they have to offer not only to this generation but the younger generations to come. It is up to us to show the youth that they matter and that there is someone just like them on the screen who is strong, capable and worthy. Being able to do that for a young child whether with autism or not means that I have done my job,” she concluded.

Be sure to check out the second season of Chronicles of Jessica Wu on Amazon when it is released on April 2nd.

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Britain’s Janine Gateland stars in award-winning new horror flick

As an actress, Janine Gateland’s primary responsibility is simple: to tell stories. She takes words off a page and transforms them into a living, breathing person. Whether it be through a camera lens, on stage, or just with her voice and a microphone, she brings a character to life, causing an emotional reaction from her audience. For Gateland, she loves the world of make believe and being able to portray different people in different situations, dealing with life’s obstacles and challenges is what she lives for.

“Acting is unpredictable. It’s never mundane, it’s always an adventure because you don’t always know what job is going to come next. One minute you could be filming in a studio lot or on stage and the next in the woods or up a mountain. From the moment you pick up the script you are at the start of a journey of that character and their story. I love the fact that you learn so much about yourself through storytelling,” she said.

Gateland’s passion translates directly into every project she takes on and is exactly why she is such a sought-after actress both in her home of the United Kingdom and internationally. This is exemplified with her films such as Modern American Nightmare, which will soon be available on Amazon Prime’s streaming service,and The Closing, as well as the highly-anticipated new television series Illville.

One of the highlights of Gateland’s esteemed career came when working on the 2017 film F***, Marry, Kill. The horror flick follows three sisters traveling through the Mojave Desert on their way to their brother’s wedding. A sinister turn of events leads them to a twisted, maddening town where a psychotic, cult-like community kidnaps women and forces them to marry, procreate or be sacrificed. These residents seem hell bent on making it their final destination.

“I like the story because it is so real. F***, Marry, Killis actually based on a game.  People tend to play it at office parties, and I had heard Howard Stern was playing it on the radio. In the film we are playing the game in the car journey for fun, little did we know that would end up being our fate. The main guy in the film who you think is sweet and harmless ends up kidnapping my sister. Like most siblings, we knew we had to go on this car journey and somehow get along. What I like about the film is, even though all 3 sisters come from different lifestyles and bicker, they become a girl powered strong team when things go badly wrong,” said Gateland.

The film is, in Gateland’s words, “very girl powered”. Her character, Tiffany, is the oldest of the siblings. She had a great job, husband, and she was happy. However, everything went wrong when her husband cheated on her. She turned to drowning her sorrows with alcohol and becoming a bit too much of a free spirit. She shows up on the road trip to her brother’s wedding with her new fling of the month, who also happens to be a drug dealer. As the eldest sibling, she knows she’s always being judged by her sisters, but after everything she has been through, she doesn’t care anymore.  When the journey takes a turn for the worst and their lives are in danger, Tiffany realizes she has to step up and becomes the strong, ballsy sister who has to protect her sisters. The role really pushed Gateland’s boundaries both physically and mentally as an actor.

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F***, Marry, Kill premiered in 2017 at Sunscreen Film Festival. From there, it had an incredible film festival run. It has won several awards, including the Semi-Finalist Award at Los Angeles CineFest, Honorable Mention at Los Angeles Movie Awards, and was a winner at Hollywood Verge Film Awards and Direct Monthly Online Film Festival, to name a few. Such success could never have been possible without Gateland’s captivating performance as Tiffany.

“It is a wonderful feeling and I am so proud to be a part of it. A lot of hard work went into the film and I know I worked hard to make my role as memorable as possible. We were very lucky because we made time for rehearsals too, which doesn’t always happen in film. I am so pleased the film has got into so many festivals around the world and there is still more we are waiting on,” said Gateland.

Undoubtedly, Gateland is an exceptional actress, with an impressive career behind her and much more to look forward to. She has no plans on slowing down, as each time she steps onto a film set, she feels the same adrenaline rush that she did the first time. For those looking to follow their dreams into acting, she offers some wise words based off her years of experience.

“Make sure it’s something that you can’t imagine living life without. It has to be your passion and you have to be good. The amount of rejection you get can have an effect on your confidence. You have to be able to take risks and have a real drive to really want it, otherwise go home. You can’t be lazy, you have to put in the work 150 per cent and keep at it. To be successful can take years of training, experience and building relationships. It’s usually very rare to get that ‘big break’ when someone notices you, so you have to go out and find the work yourself.  Plus having a strong support system is tremendously important and having a motivated and well-connected representation that has your back,” she advised.

Check out F***, Marry, Kill, and be sure to keep an eye out for Gateland’s future works.

 

Top photo by Joseph Sinclair

Maja Lakomy goes on ‘Vacay’ in new film

Poland’s Maja Lakomy is a true storyteller. As an actress, she tells someone’s story in her own interpretation, having respect towards the character and the narrative at the same time. Her goal is to be a part of as many spectacular stories that are written or told by great minds as possible. She aims to both entertain and move as many people as possible, whether they laugh, cry, think, or simply feel. That is what she finds satisfying.

“There are so many beautiful, thrilling, terrifying and touching stories in the world and the more people they reach, the better, in my opinion. Actors are in some sense tools that are needed for these stories to reach people. Through movies and theatre people can experience new things and educate themselves, which I think is so important,” said Lakomy.

Lakomy is known for her work in films such as Star House and Diminuendo, receiving great praise for her acting abilities at many international film festivals. This year, she has lots going on, including a music video for Italian singing sensation Andrea Bocelli. On top of this, she has several upcoming films, including Straying from You, Moral Inequity, What’s with the Doll, and the artistic flick Vacay.

Vacay offers up a unique challenge for Lakomy, as it is a creative, cinematic film with no dialogue. The film is meant to entertain of course, but also make the audience think and feel shocked, which is why Lakomy was interested in the project. Before she auditioned, she read the description of her character and knew exactly how to play her. Upon reading the script, she found the story unique and incredible.

In the film, Lakomy plays Veronica, the “mysterious messenger” in the story. Nobody knows exactly what the history is between her and the main man, played by Juan Blasquez, but one can suspect that something deep and unresolved occurred between those two. She goes through many different phases of emotion, adding necessary and intense drama to her scenes. She is a tough woman on the facade, who leads an independent and successful life. Once audiences see a little more of her, we find out that underneath, she carries some trauma from the past that sometimes she isn’t able to cover. She is like a ticking bomb of emotions that if she doesn’t manage to contain, might explode.

“I like that the story is light and entertaining for the most part but gets intense and shocking in some moments. I also like the style of it, that it’s told without any dialogue, which makes it universal and even more powerful. I think the story is important because it touches upon some relevant and controversial matter, but at the same time entertains the audience, leaving them with a lot to think about after watching it, maybe even with an unsettling feeling,” said Lakomy.

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Lakomy was asked to audition for the part of Veronica by the director of the film. He had previously seen the actress’s work and was greatly impressed. Upon meeting her, he slightly altered the part to make it a principle role, knowing Lakomy could make a difference to his film. Such a reaction was incredibly touching for Lakomy.

Vacay began filming at the end of last month. Currently, Lakomy focuses on getting into the mindset of her character. A very important part of the process is connecting with one of the lead actors who her character has a strong history with. They are working on building the relationship so that when they act together, they can make the story between them as believable as possible, even without any words.

“I love that the whole film has no dialogue, so the story is told through the actors’ actions, facial expressions and the scenery. I like working on this specific aspect of acting, where drastic transitioning between different emotions is required. I enjoy challenges like that. I really appreciate working with great actors and an incredibly passionate director. I like that everybody who’s involved in this project fully engages with it and gives a hundred percent of their energy into it,” said Lakomy.

Vacay will be finished and submitted to film festivals later this year. There is little doubt that it will impress, and that Lakomy’s performance will be incredibly captivating. After its film festival run, it will be made available on various digital on demand platforms. Be sure to check it out.

Needless to say, Lakomy is a dynamic and in demand actress. She never gave up on her dream of acting, despite various roadblocks that came up on her journey. She encourages all those with the same dream to keep pushing, because eventually it will be worth it.

“As actors and artists in general it’s hard to be satisfied with yourself. There’s never a perfect answer or way to do something when it comes to acting. This profession is very subjective and it’s important to remember that we can’t always make everybody happy. My advice would be stay determined and work on yourself instead of comparing yourself to other people’s successes and failures. And even when you hear “no” way more than you hear “yes”, as long as acting brings you joy, don’t ever quit,” she advised.

Ukraine’s Alina Smolyar enchants audiences in award-winning performance

Actress Alina Smolyar knows the challenges of her chosen career path. Memorizing large amounts of text, researching characters, drastic physical appearance changes, lack of sleep, transforming into another person, working in extreme weather conditions, the list goes on. However, without such challenges, acting wouldn’t be what she fell in love with when she was only a child. For this internationally sought-after actress, these obstacles are what drives her.

Every project any actor takes on has its own set of challenges, and Smolyar not only accepts this fact, but enjoys it. When working on her film Molehill, which is perhaps the actress’ most decorated film to date, she was faced with what seemed like an endless list of obstacles to overcome, and although it was daunting, this is where she shined.

“Honestly, Molehill was one of the most challenging projects I’ve ever worked on. I thought it would be a disaster! No jokes. But this journey made it all the more rewarding when everything came together,” said Smolyar.

Molehill is an artistic film that follows a group of friends at a party. Audiences are kept guessing until the very end, never knowing what is going to happen next. The ending is completely unpredictable, encouraging audiences to think long after the film concludes, giving the impression that it is a beginning rather than an end.

“I like when it’s unexpected in movies, we as an audience always remember this type of film,” said Smolyar.

Smolyar’s character in Molehill is Leigh, an adult in her early 20s who became older earlier than she’s supposed to. She has a full-time job, her mother is going through health issues, and she has a lot to deal with at home. She finds the need to protect her younger brother Sid, who upon turning 21 becomes very wild. For him, he is having fun, but for Leigh, it is another problem to take care of. She doesn’t have time for herself, to enjoy life or to go out and find a guy. She is incredibly stressed. Her character works in a contrast with everybody and everything around her. From the very beginning we can hear and see a party, people are having fun and this black spot named Leigh who’s so serious and stressed and everything goes wrong for her.

“You know when we are over stressed and it’s so hard to focus on something positive, because it’s like a tornado? You just keep dealing with all this craziness around you. That is the exact struggle Leigh is facing,” said Smolyar.

Smolyar faced a similar struggle when she began working on the film. As a writer of Molehill, she had a different idea of where to take the story, but it wouldn’t work for the film. At the time, she had no idea what else she wanted to share or how to share it. Upon meeting with her director and producers, inspiration struck and she was able to come up with a story she liked.

“You know that feeling when you have to do everything very fast, but you have a white sheet or a monkey with plates in your head? That was me. I had no idea what else I wanted to tell, and we were running out of time,” she recalled.

When making the film, Smolyar was also one of the producers, a role she had never taken on before as she typically focuses on acting. She found her experience as an actress helped with her producing role.

When it came to acting, she put herself fully into Leigh, understanding her struggles and motivation behind every move she made. The arc of the character was important to Smolyar. It was part of her initial idea and was vital for the film.

“It was complicated for me. I guess at one point it worked very well for my acting perspective, because you can definitely see that contrast which I needed for Leigh. I was as stressed in my real life as Leigh was in hers. However, all my preparation for the project as both producer and actress helped to create my Leigh,” said Smolyar.

Being the writer, producer, and star of the film was an enormous amount of responsibility for Smolyar, but she enjoyed that. Molehill truly felt like her film, more so than any other project she had done before. She found wearing so many hats allowed her to become a better actress, and when the film became so successful, she knew she had done her job right.

Molehill premiered last May and then made its way to several festivals both in the United States and around the world. It was an Official Selection at Cine Fest, Festigious International Film Festival, and Mindfield. Smolyar herself was also awarded with Best Actress at the Actors Awards, New York Film Awards, Los Angeles Film Awards, and Oniros where she won Best Acting Duo. The result astounded Smolyar, who although had tremendous success with past projects, did not expect it for her own film.

“It still feels pleasurable, especially when you didn’t expect this kind of success. It feels great when you’re getting recognition for what you’ve been working on and especially when you do what you love,” she concluded.

Be sure to check out Smolyar’s upcoming films 1stBorn, and Skeleton in the Closet.

Aida King brings on the laughs in hilarious comedy ‘Desert Drive’

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Aida King

To succeed in acting, Aida King knows there is nothing more important than self-confidence. Never be conceited but know who you are as a person and how much you are capable of. This is her mantra that drives her and is why she is such a renowned Canadian actress. She has never lost belief in herself, and when audiences watch her on both the big and small screen, she radiates.

King is known for her work in celebrated films like The Convicted, Hemorrhage, and War of Mind. She has worked with award-winning filmmakers and well-known actors, including Alexander Michael Helisek, a veteran actor and producer in Hollywood. Known for his work on the Golden Globe Award-winning television series This Is Us, the Golden Globe Award-winning hit feature film Interstellar, which starred Matthew McConaughey and the two-time Golden Globe Award-nominated popular television series Silicon Valley, Helisek was greatly impressed with King when they worked together on Desert Drive.

“I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work alongside Aida, as an actor, in her leading role of Missy Lee on the comedy film titled Desert Drive.Aida was absolutely essential to the critical acclaim and commercial success of the film. Her character needed to be depicted by an actress who could convey the necessary warmth, romance, comedy and sincerity that makes her a relatable character to the audience. Aida was able to accomplish all of this and more in a performance that was at once full of force and subtlety,” said Helisek.

Desert Drive follows the life of four Los Angeles based musicians who travel from Hollywood to Palm Springs for the Coachella Music Festival. Instead of harping on aimless debauchery and excessive drunkenness, the story documents the eventful two-hour ride and all the intimate conversations and crazy obstacles that transpire on the action-packed pilgrimage.

“It’s a fun slice of life story that I think people that travel together would appreciate. When travelling in close uncomfortable quarters for a long period of time, sometimes patience can run thin and emotions run high. It’s a fun comedy with interesting characters of substance,” said King.

This movie was filmed in May 2015 and premiered at a Hollywood movie theatre later that year. Not only is the trailer featured on the distinguished website “Funny or Die”, Desert Drive was also an Official Selection at the Ozark Short Film Festival in the Summer 2016. King was proud to be part of a team and found that the chemistry between the characters is why the film went on to do so well.

“I cannot deny that I love hearing people laugh when they watch this film, as that’s the biggest thrill of all for me,” she said.

King’s character, Missy Lee, is a musician who is determined to spice up intimate conversations with the other traveling musicians as they travel for many hours to their destination.

Missy Lee was a happy-go-lucky girl that was content with being in the company of friends, no matter what the situation was. She was definitely a people pleaser and tried to make the best of any situation. While she knew that she was naïve, she was comfortable with that role among her small group of oddball friends.

While she was a bit of a third wheel friend, this character brings balance to the oddball group. While every person was completely different from one another, she played the comic relief to offset tension in the storyline and also the confident when moments were more intimate. The controversial and hilarious lines are the most pivotal plot points in the entire narrative. With such an important role, King knew she had to deliver a captivating performance to bring the film to success, and that is exactly what she did.

As The Convicted was a drama, flipping over to a comedy was a great chance to present a completely different character. This was a huge opportunity to show her versatility and show her comedic creativity. As a Canadian, the comedy culture is highly regarded, so it was natural for King to want to be a part of this film.

“I appreciated working on a character that was light hearted and fun. This was my first time doing comedy, and I loved it,” said King.

King was brought on board after the successful completion of The Convicted, the Director and Producer of the film, Josh Mitchell, decided to bring the actress onto his new projects after being greatly impressed by her talent and work ethic, both of which King is well known for.

While filming, King’s greatest challenge came from filming in the desert. Far from the climate in her home in Canada, spending hours in a small van in hot temperatures was a new experience. However, she would never let this get her down, and found that it only helped her feel as if she was truly on her way to a music festival with a group of her close friends. Eventually, that is what the cast became.

Be sure to watch Desert Drive on Vimeo on Demand to catch out King’s comedic performance.

A new take on what it means to be a triple threat with Yana GoodDay

There is an unspoken understanding within the modeling community that confidence will carry you a greater distance than looks ever will; however, a healthy dose of both will help to build a strong career. Unlike most other professions, models are required to sell themselves within the promotion of a product. They strive to attract the focus and attention of consumers in order to increase awareness of particular brands, companies, products, and more. From fashion to glamor, to fitness and swimsuits, models are featured in a variety of media formats that surround us each and every day and they are an integral element of Western culture. With that, the modeling industry has gained a substantial amount of interest and following throughout history, with the number of working models growing and the amount of available jobs shrinking. It can, therefore, be argued that in today’s society, it is more difficult than ever to stand out in the modeling world and thrive amongst the industry’s top contenders. For Russian model, Yana GoodDay, on the other hand, rising to the top of her field has been a lifelong journey and today, she is taking her profession by storm.

Ever since she can remember, GoodDay has found herself energized by the idea of showcasing her unique allure before the world. As a young girl, she often caught herself daydreaming about the idea of seeing her face on magazine covers and walking down fashion runways in beautiful outfits. As she began turning her daydreams into a reality, she realized that not only were her talents rare in the modeling community, but they were transferable to other related professions. She decided to test her hand at acting for films such as Kids in the Cage and The Waiting, as well as television hosting. With time, she learned to balance the three job types in order to build a more well-rounded career. She has since landed herself a number of notable jobs as a model, actress, and television hostess. For instance, when the 2014 Olympic Games were hosted in Sochi, Russia, GoodDay earned herself a job as the hostess of the Games’ official welcoming ceremony.

Earlier that year, Dynamic Project Group Agency were selected to help with the preparation and coordination of the 2014 Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Games. For their official welcoming ceremony, which gathered nearly 3000 athletes from all 88 participating countries, Alena Kremer, of Dynamic Project Group Agency, was looking for a hostess who would provide a familiar face for Russian audiences, as well as one who would represent Russia flawlessly before the eyes of other audiences around the globe. Having formerly served as a reporter for Pro-TV, participated in countless runway fashion shows, posed for covers of well-known magazine companies, hosted national television programs, and more, Kremer was certain that GoodDay was the ideal candidate for the event.

“When we auditioned Yana to host the Olympic Games Welcoming Ceremony, she naturally and effortlessly drew the attention of everyone in the room from the moment she walked in. Her outstanding acting skills and outer beauty is only surpassed by her kind, sweet, down-to-earth nature and her astute intelligence. She is a lovely woman who just happens to be extraordinarily beautiful and talented. She was uniquely dedicated and highly qualified to work in this particularly demanding capacity. Fluent in both English and Russian, she possessed the ability to effortlessly switch languages according to the needs of the audience. Reliable, talented, and hardworking, Yana played a critical role in making this welcoming ceremony the successful event that it was,” raved Kremer, Managing Partner.

Beyond her work as an actress and a television hostess, GoodDay strives to stay true to her modeling roots whenever the opportunity arises. In fact, she honored this effort when she earned herself a role as a lead cover and promotional model for a number of VJ Dunraven Productions’ novels. VJ Dunraven Productions is a highly reputable production company, having released a number of renowned novels written by VJ Dunraven, such as The Promise, and The Captive Shifter. As a lead cover model, GoodDay has established a profound reputation for being able to adapt herself and her looks to suit any genre she is tasked with posing for.

“For the Captive Shifter, Yana posed in an effortlessly angelic stance as she gazed over her shoulder with a sense of purity that was, at once, innocent and mysterious in the most beautiful way,” told Maria Chronis, Founder, Executive Producer, and Director of VJ Dunraven Productions.

Regardless of the novel’s plot line or character basis, GoodDay has a natural affinity for attracting a reader’s attention. Her modeling compliments the contents of each novel and is undoubtedly the reason that so many readers feel compelled to find out what lies beneath her engaging covers. For GoodDay, it is a dream come true to be able to see herself on the cover of each novel and it reminds her of when she would gaze at books and magazines in stores as a child, wondering what it would be like to see her face on them one day. In fact, in the span of two years, she found her face on over 35 different novel covers published by VJ Dunraven Productions.

Being able to live out her childhood dreams is an indescribable feeling, and she considers herself extremely fortunate to be able to truly love what she does for a living. Between acting in films, hosting television shows, and modeling, she has established a remarkable career and she looks forward to building it day by day, and job by job in the future. For those aspiring to develop a reputation like GoodDay’s and to build the type of confidence necessary to accomplish what she has, GoodDay had the following to say:

“Whatever you choose to do, study that subject and its history. Dedicate yourself to it and be brave, but refrain from letting that bravery become arrogance or shamelessness. Work on yourself to be the best version of you that you can be. Finally, don’t forget to get some rest from time to time.”

A MODERN CLASSIC WITH KARLEE SQUIRES IN “SUGAR”

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In case you aren’t aware of it, vinyl outsold downloads last year and are posed to repeat the occurrence this year. That might seem counterintuitive to most readers. It’s easier to access a download and you get to pick out the specific parts that you desire rather than purchasing the entire product. What this trend tells us is that the public is beginning to realize what they forgot, that there is a difference. This same template can be applied to live theater. There is something about the experience, the sound, the energy, and obviously the momentary performances that are created by the entertainers who take part in this classic medium. While Broadway has never gone away, the plethora of touring companies that used to blanket the country and beyond have dwindled. As with vinyl, the “real” thing is starting to make a resurgence, much to the delight of an excited public. Entertainers who can do it all, such as Canadian Karlee Squires are more in demand than in decades. It takes great talent, commitment, and a love of the uncertainty of each performance that drives Squires and this new generation of talented live performers who act, dance, and sing. Even Hollywood and television is taking part in this trend as more and more productions of this kind are seen on both the big and small screens. For Karlee, this is simply more proof that the path she has chosen was well worth the effort it has taken.

“Sugar” is based on the classic comedy “Some Like It Hot” starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon in 1959. The music for “Sugar” is by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merrill, and the book is by Peter Stone. Set in 1920’s Chicago, the story follows two unemployed musicians, Joe and Jerry, who witness the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre by Spats Palazzo and his gang. The boys go undercover to get out of Chicago, dressing as women and joining an all-girl band, Sweet Sue and Her Society Syncopators, who are travelling to Florida. Joe takes the name Josephine and falls in love with the band’s singer, Sugar. Meanwhile, Jerry (now Daphne) catches the attention of a wealthy, elderly man named Osgood Fielding, Jr. Karlee appears as Mary Lou early in the plays as Mary Lou leaves the band, figuratively opening the door for Sugar. As proof of her talent and malleability, Squires then appears as Olga and stays in this character for the remainder of the play. In a particularly hilarious scene, while on the train to Miami for the band’s gig, Olga asks Jerry/Daphne to help her fix the bra strap that fell down her shirt. Jerry/Daphne has to reach down her shirt, fumble around until he finds it and tie it back together. It’s a featured comedy skit in Sugar and goes on for quite a few minutes. The character Olga is unaware of what’s happening, as Jerry/Daphne is having too much fun, and the audience roars with laughter. The show heats up when Spats Palazzo and his gang show up in Miami and figure out that the girls are actually boys.

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Squires performance in “Sugar” belies the curt amount of time she had to prepare. She had twenty-five hours to learn script, blocking, and choreography. The nature of theater is that it can often change at a moment’s notice which makes being a quick learner a substantial attribute. The intensity of learning so much so quickly was offset by the pleasure of being surrounded by an incredible cast and crew. Two time Tony-award-winner Robert Morse shared his stories of performing with the cast and gave direction and encouragement to Karlee during the play’s run. Producer/Production Coordinator Eileen Barnett notes, “It was hard not to notice Karlee; there she was on alongside actors from some of the biggest stages in the world, from Broadway, to the West End to national tours; some even being Tony and Drama Desk nominated, and she was enchanting. She is mature beyond her years. Karlee does all of the preparation and rehearsal that any consummate professional does but she is also always looking for a new way to add something. She has talent and drive which is an outstanding combination; one which was very evident to all of us in Sugar.”

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The method for any art form, including musical theater, to move forward is by using one’s talent to push yourself forward by learning from those before you. Karlee Squires is surrounded by her peers and those of legendary status of previous decades. Enabled with a skill set that encompasses the heart of the great musical theater tradition, she is on the forefront of the new generation that carries the torch into the modern era and its productions. As the attendees of “Sugar” can confirm, it’s going to be exciting to watch.

Wait ‘till you see Anna Pniowsky in “Wait ‘Till Helen Comes”

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Photo by Kevin McIntyre

When most parents ask their child what they would like to be when they grow up, they often expect to hear answers like “actress” or “singer,” and simply hope that the novelty will wear off with age. For Anna Pniowsky’s parents, however, this is not the case. Not only does Pniowsky have a burning passion to be an actress, she is not ready to wait until she’s an adult. At the young age of 12, Pniowsky is proving to be a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment industry, and she is certain that this is what she wants to be doing for the rest of her life. For Pniowsky, acting provides her with a platform to unleash her creativity, and it is an outlet to transform herself into each new role that she takes on. She loves all aspects of her job, and she soaks up any opportunity to learn from other professionals every time she steps on set. From camera operators, to hair and makeup, she will stop at nothing and at no one to expand her knowledge and skills in the acting world. Knowing that she has an opportunity to evoke unfamiliar emotions from her audience is what motivates her to keep her head down and focus on her craft, something which she aims to continue doing as she builds her career.

When asked about what initially lead her to the idea of becoming an actress, Pniowsky cannot pinpoint an exact moment. For as long as she can remember, acting has been a world that she was drawn to and that passion has only ever grown with time. Despite her age, Pniowsky has already won herself lead roles in films working with well-known cast members and directors, such as her lead role in Light of My Life, for which Pniowsky was directed by and co-starred with Oscar-winner Casey Affleck. When she sets her sights on a role, there are few limits to what she can achieve and she immerses herself into roles in ways that some established actors and actresses could only admire. Pniowsky is wise beyond her years and she has pieced together a remarkable career path very early on in her life.

At the mere age of eight, Pniowsky landed herself her first ever role in the film Wait ‘Till Helen Comes. The film, which can also be known as A Little Girl’s Secret, is about a reconstructed family who moves to a converted church in the country. When a 14-year old Molly realizes she has a gift that she must use, she has to face her deepest fears and save her troubled step-sister from a dangerous relationship with the ghost of a lonely little girl. In this role, Pniowsky played the powerful role of a young girl that goes missing, walks into a river and drowns. Her character was instrumental to the horror film’s plot line and needed to be played by a highly attuned actress who would know how to keep with the atmosphere and the mood of the storyline. By walking into the river and drowning, Pniowsky’s character helps the audience to draw the chilling conclusion that the story’s antagonist, Helen, targets young girls and leads them into the river to drown. Pniowsky set the scene for the entire film, and without her talents, the film would not have earned the reputation that it did.

As a learning experience, Pniowsky could not have asked for more. Not only did she gain exposure to working with other actors on set, as well as taking direction from a vetted production crew, Pniowsky also gained experience shooting a physically and psychologically demanding scene. She was tasked with shooting the film’s opening scene in close to freezing water. The water was so cold, in fact, that she was immediately pulled from the water and placed in a hot tub when the scene wrapped in order to ensure that there was no damage done to her body from the cold. Pniowsky handled the tasking scene with a high degree of professionalism and ease. Even when there was a flaw with the camera, and she was asked to shoot the scene again, Pniowsky got back into the character and executed the scene flawlessly for a second consecutive time.

Victoria Sanchez-Mandryk, who produced Wait ‘Till Helen Comes, was shocked to experience the caliber of acting that she received from Pniowsky at such a young age. She learned very quickly that Pniowsky’s acting skills rival that of highly experienced actors and actresses who have dedicated a lifetime to their craft. According to Sanchez-Mandryk, “Anna is like an old soul, who quietly watches and listens with wisdom beyond her years, taking everything in. When action is called, she delivers in full force.” To receive such high praise from a professional like Sanchez-Mandryk is not a small feat. For Pniowsky, however, it simply motivates her to continue mastering her artistry and showing the world what she is capable of.

As Pniowsky patiently awaits the release of Light of My Life, she continues to search for new ways to challenge herself and push her acting abilities to the limit. She considers herself extremely fortunate to have earned the experience that she has earned thus far in her career, but aims to build on those successes for many years to come. Keep an eye out for Pniowsky as she continues to rise to the top.

Marysia Peres on using her talents to make the world a better place

A common misconception about the modeling industry stems from the idea that models who are born “tall and skinny” have their careers handed to them. What these critics underestimate, however, is the grueling, cutthroat nature of the industry. The competition is fierce and opportunities are often scarce. For this reason, models have to work harder than most to build their careers and to ensure that they keep themselves fresh and ready for whatever is ahead of them. Oftentimes, this involves exercising, training, networking, and more. For many models, the obstacles and challenges become too much for them to persevere. For models like Marysia Peres, however, these obstacles and challenges are merely the fuel that push her to continue doing what she loves to do and to remain at the top of her field.

“The biggest challenge is the competitiveness of the industry. Casting sessions in big cities can be quite intimidating, with hundreds of girls auditioning for the same job. Everything from your portfolio to your personality can play a role, but ultimately, you have no control over a client’s decision making and I find it extremely important to understand that. I believe in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, working out, being curious and proactive, and most importantly, remaining true to myself, my unique character, and my style,” told Peres.

Peres learned how to pose for photographs from an early age, working the camera for her mother. As she grew up, she became increasingly intrigued by the unique career opportunities that modeling offers. Not only would she get to work amongst some of the most talented individuals in the fashion industry, but she would also get to travel the world in order to do what she loves. As a travel and fashion enthusiast, Peres couldn’t think of a more fitting job for her to work toward. Flash-forward to today, Peres has established a successful modeling career and continues to strive to improve herself in order to take on bigger, better roles. As a model, she does photo shoots for magazines, for fashion catalogues, and for other advertising campaigns. She also performs in fashion shows, as well as special art and fashion projects.

Not only is Peres a fashion and travel enthusiast, she is also a firm believer in philanthropy. She is an advocate for building a self-sufficient lifestyle wherever possible and lending help to others who aren’t as fortunate to do so. She finds personal value in the knowledge that with her career in fashion, she is able to merge her charitable intentions with her natural talents. Throughout her time as a model, she has committed herself to keeping true to her moral compass and with that, she has participated in a number of charity fashion shows. Most recently, Peres lent her modeling expertise to a charity fashion indicative called “Project Mother.” The project, spearheaded by the highly influential German photographer Laura Helena Rubahn, aims to raise awareness about nature preservation through a series of breathtaking photographs taken around the world. The proceeds from the project are to be directed to a nature protection and preservation fund and Peres was humbled to be able to help place a spotlight on this important, worldwide issue.

When Peres isn’t embarking upon a philanthropic journey, she is continuing to train herself and seek out opportunities to expand her experience and skill set. Throughout her career, she has modeled for a number of well-known fashion brands such as Kuraudia, Le Moir, and Key Wear. In fact, some of her most memorable modeling jobs occurred when she worked for agencies in Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Over the past few years, however, Peres has been modeling and acting in Europe where she has shot several editorials and runway shows. Her latest editorial work includes cover shoots for Vamp Magazine and Hilton Malta Magazine. In addition, spanning beyond editorial and runway work, Peres is also known commercial personality having shot a commercial print for Vodafone in 2016, as well as a video commercial for Radley London. Her skill, energy, and professionalism make her an asset to any modeling shoot and she is known for being a pleasure to work with. Even for her fellow models, Peres acts as an inspiration and a reminder that no matter how talented someone may be, there is always room to remain kind and humble. Marina Plotnikova has modeled alongside Peres on multiple occasions and understands why Peres has the reputation she has better than most.

“Marysia is always very responsible but more importantly, she remains positive no matter what the circumstances are. During shows, she is always happily involved in all of the activities. Most of all, she motivates the people around her by setting a good example. As a model with vast experience in the industry, she is always eager to help others. She is a joy to work with,” Plotnikova said.

When Peres sets her sights on a goal, she will stop at nothing in order to achieve it. She sheds her own blood, sweat, and tears in order to be able to sleep soundly at night knowing that she has brought her best possible performance to every task she sets out to do. Fortunately, the result comes with widespread recognition and at times, even awards. For instance, Peres’ talents were recognized sufficiently in June 2014 when Starcentral Magazine dubbed her Sexiest Woman of the Month. For Peres, this title was simply a testament to the fact that hard work pays off and that she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to with the right type of drive behind it. She is an inspiration to her fellow models and hopes to be able to bring even more prestigious titles to her resume as she continues along her career.

If Peres could offer any advice to young, aspiring models, she would tell them this: “It is a tough industry that requires a lot of confidence and hard work. You have to be not only be healthy, fit, and photogenic, but you also have to be communicative, easy to work with, and resilient. There will be several reasons why you either do or do not get a job, and those reasons shouldn’t give you an ego or make you miserable. Just remain true to yourself and remember that beauty always comes from within.”

Be sure to follow Peres’ modelling career on her website.

 

Photo by AJ Singh

Actress Francesa De Luca to star in upcoming film ‘Café Mnemosyne’

Originally from Hammersmith, London, Francesca De Luca knew she was meant to perform at the age of six. At the time she was dancing, but she realized the stage was her home. She knows what it is to connect with her audience, to make them feel something they didn’t know was there. She brings everything she has to every performance she does, and this is what makes her such an outstanding actress.

Throughout her career, De Luca has risen to one of England’s top actresses. She has worked alongside extraordinary talent like herself, including Producer, Writer, and Director Francis Ford Coppola, known for many award-winning films including The Godfather trilogy. He is also one of De Luca’s idols.

“He reminded me of my grandfather with his warmth and he told me I reminded him of his daughter Sophia. I spoke about my Italian heritage and it felt like I had known him for years,” she said.

With a busy upcoming couple of years, De Luca will once again appear on the big screen in several new films. One of these is Café Mnemosyne, set to be released in 2019. The film will be directed by a prominent director, who approached De Luca knowing he needed her to make his film a success, and that she would be perfect for the role. This was four years ago, and now, the film is finally coming to fruition. De Luca immediately was on board.

“I’ve seen this director’s previous work and love the script and think he will be a nice guy to work with. I like working with talented, nice people, and it’s important to feel relaxed on set,” she said.

Scripts are extremely important to De Luca. She wants to read a script and feel compelled by the story, and if she is, that is when she will take on a role. Café Mnemosyne is one of those films. It is set in a strange diner where a young girl shows up with an odd dilemma, throwing the regular café occupants into a panic. The suspense is evident while she finds out what the café really is and what will happen to her next. De Luca will be playing the role of Carrie, who is one of the main characters in the diner. The film is expected to make its way to many of the world’s most prestigious film festivals.

“The filming will be in New Jersey so it will be an opportunity to spend time in New York again and spend time with my cousins and friends. I love New York as a city and I love the directness of the people. Also, I love playing Italian America New York characters, so I enjoy people watching while I am there and picking up traits that I can later bring to my characters,” said De Luca.

There is no doubt that De Luca will help make the films a success. She is known for working on acclaimed projects, such as the docudrama Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent. De Luca played the role of Margot Fonteyn in the film, a true Prima Ballerina. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, and was subsequently selected for the prestigious Hamptons Film Festival and the Key West Film Festival. Earlier this year, it was released in theatres across the United States and Canada, receiving rave reviews from the New York Times, with a score of 82 per cent “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes. It was released on iTunes in July of this year, and went straight to number one in the documentary chart and top ten in independent movies.

“I am proud to have been part of such a successful film,” said De Luca, speaking of Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent.

De Luca saw similar success with the film Passports. The film follows Tanya who returns after six wild years of travelling. Once home, her mother and grandma make her join an online dating site and go on a date. The date is a visit to a psychic. During the visit, unexpected events occur and the guy hits on the psychic secretively sliding to her a piece of paper reading ‘Call Me.’ The psychic ignores him and tells Tanya her fortune and after Tanya shows the psychic a ‘new’ game of magic in which she makes her date’s car keys disappear. From then on things get heated between the three. This film is a dramedy with beautiful cinematography and interesting characters. De Luca plays the pivotal role of the psychic. Passports went on to win several awards at many prestigious international film festivals.

“During Francesca’s audition for Passports, we decided to cast her immediately because of her commanding stage presence and the many unique details she brought to her acting. What makes her special is her uncanny ability to perform at the drop of a hat, improvisation skills especially with dialogue, and her capacity to do numerous accents from all over the world. We are currently in the development stages of our first feature Midnight Daughter, filming to start early 2018, and are casting Francesca in one of the primary roles of the film. Her vast skill set allows Francesca to fit into different characters. Overall, Francesca’s dedication to the craft of acting and her easy-going attitude are two of the many reasons why we like working with her,” said Jeremy Pion Berlin, the Director of Passports.

Audiences have a lot to look forward to with De Luca gracing their screen presence so frequently in the coming years. She has recently been working with Mark Myers of CSP Management, who also plans to cast the actress is roles with his production company Citizen Skull over next few years. She is also looking forward to working on various roles in US television programs. She is definitely one to watch out for.