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June 2017

Wingman Wednesday

Filipe Valle Costa

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Photo By: JSquared Photography

Every great story should be told. For Portuguese actor Filipe Valle Costa, he doesn’t just star in them either, he lives one. As one of the breakouts of FX’s new crack cocaine origin story series “Snowfall,” his journey towards achieving his dream started in the most unlikely of places upon arriving in the States. Instead of cutting his teeth in Los Angeles or New York, Valle Costa ventured from Portugal to Iowa on a tennis scholarship and began to build upon his dream from there.

We recently sat down with Valle Costa to discuss his “Snowfall” character Pedro, how all of Portugal celebrated on the same day that he discovered the part was his, and why he started the Saudade Theatre Company in New York City.

TrunkSpace: Outside of physically relocating for “Snowfall” in order to shoot the series, how has it impacted your life the most?
Valle Costa: I just drove my girlfriend to work this morning. We were just driving and all of a sudden we looked to the right and there it is, this big billboard with my face on it. That was pretty bizarre. It was a very surreal feeling.

I come from Portugal. I’m from Lisbon. I grew up falling in love with movies and falling in love with the idea of Hollywood and what that meant from afar. My grandparents used to show me “The Godfather” and all of these really dark movies at a really young age and I used to daydream a lot about them. Even “Jurassic Park” and “Home Alone” and all of these movies, they’ve had such a big impact on me as a Portuguese person. Martin Scorsese as well. So for me to be here and to look to the right and be part of it, it’s really a dream and I couldn’t be happier.

Of course, all of us actors have to go through a lot of struggle and no complaints on my part, but it’s definitely a step up and it feels that way. I’m so happy. I feel like great things are going to continue to happen. That’s one of the main changes.

TrunkSpace: You booked the job about a year ago. Is it a crazy ride to have this thing exist in your life that could completely change your career, but not really be able to talk about it or see the fruits of that labor for so long?
Valle Costa: Yeah. This happened a year ago. It was all really serendipitous because I got the call that I got the part the same day that Portugal won the Euro Cup. (Laughter) I was walking around New York with my Portuguese flag, my girlfriend, and some of my best Portuguese friends and we had just gone to this Portuguese restaurant and we were celebrating. So I was already happy and then all of a sudden I get a phone call from my manager that I had gotten it. I just started running and dancing in the middle of New York with my Portuguese flag. It was very bizarre.

And then to go through all of it and have to wait a year, that was definitely a new experience for me because a lot of my experience so far has been in theater and it’s such an immediate and “in the moment” experience in terms of how the audience perceives it. To put that amount of work out there, 10 episodes, and then wait six months for them to come out… it’s definitely a new feeling that I’m learning to deal with.

TrunkSpace: What’s great about that story is that you can just tell people moving forward that all of Portugal was celebrating your success and leave out the part of the Euro Cup win.
Valle Costa: (Laughter) That was by far the happiest day of my life. I was already happy. Imagine it, we had never won the Euro Cup, so we’re all crying and singing the Portuguese anthem and then all of a sudden I get that phone call… it was too much for me to handle. It was very surreal.

TrunkSpace: It seems like with “Snowfall” that there is a lot of gray area in terms of the characters being “good” or “bad” and ultimately if their motivation is coming from a pure place. Where does your character Pedro fall into things?
Valle Costa: I never like to talk about the characters I play as good or bad. I know that’s such a cliché and all actors say it, but it’s definitely true. There’s a perception I had as Pedro when I first auditioned and the perception that I have now. To have to go through a whole season and get one episode at at time, it’s a new journey for me. I was learning about my character as I was shooting, which was really fascinating. I’d make decisions about who he was and then the next episode would come and it would completely contradict that decision that I had made. But in terms of Pedro himself, he is the cocky, showy, full of bravado guy who is the heir apparent to this really big drug lord… the head of the cartel. There’s a lot of pressure that comes with that and he ends up compensating in a lot of the wrong ways, just like any privileged person on this earth would do. That for me was a lot of the journey, just assuming that person.

Because of the way I look, I have to audition for a lot of characters that at first seem to be Mexican Drug Lord #1 or Colombian Gangster #3, and then you get a part like this. In the first episode you get the impression that this guy is just cocky and full of himself and that there’s no redeeming qualities to him, but as the story progresses, there is a lot that is revealed in terms of what has happened with their family and you sort of start to understand where Pedro is coming from. All of this bravado is coming from a place of mostly insecurity and seeking love in all of the wrong places and trying to impress his dad at any cost. Of course, you end up compensating in all of the wrong ways. For me, he’s not good or bad. He is who he is and the circumstances in which he grew up in, which I think is a very Los Angeles story, have forced him to be the way that he is when he is in a public setting.

I think what the show does so well is, and it’s sort of like “The Godfather,” where you get to see these intimate, beautiful family moments and you understand where they’re coming from and you understand their perspective. And I think that’s a privilege as far as Latino characters go. Very rarely do you get to see the perspective of that person. It’s such an honor to to be able to have those back and forth scenes between me and my dad and me and my cousin. It shows what is really underneath the character.

TrunkSpace: And you touched on it, but that aspect must have been really interesting for you because you were still learning about those sides of him while going through the process of being him.
Valle Costa: Yeah. If you really embrace that sort of energy, it’s a really beautiful energy to embrace. Pedro doesn’t know what’s going to happen next, so it’s kind of nice that I don’t know what’s happening next and it puts me in a place of surprise constantly. And just like how in life we make decisions about who we are and then the next day comes and something happens to you and you have to shift and evolve and learn, that was the journey for me shooting this series.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned being a fan of American cinema. What was it like being directed by John Singleton?
Valle Costa: I had to work really hard to come down to earth. (Laughter) He puts out such a positive, loving aura about himself. I remember my uncle… I was sleeping in my grandparents house and he got home at 1 AM after going out to a club and he was like, “We’re going to watch this movie together.” That movie was “Boyz n the Hood.” So then to be in the same room with John and be directed by him, it’s sort of very easy because you grew up watching a movie that shaped you. It became very easy for me to just be open to whatever he needed to get out of a certain scene. I knew that I was there to learn. And at the end of the day, it could be John Singleton or any other director, that’s what you want. And with a guy like John, you know you have a lot to learn, so if you come at it from a place of openness, John is going to give it to you.

Photo By: JSquared Photography

TrunkSpace: A lot of young people from around the world dream of becoming an actor. Most of them will move to Los Angeles or New York to pursue their dreams, but what is so interesting about your journey is that when you moved from Portugal, you actually started out in Iowa?
Valle Costa: (Laughter) Yeah. I don’t know why! (Laughter) I played tennis my whole life and when I decided to be an actor, my parents suggested that I try out for a tennis scholarship in the United States. So then I sent my tape out to various schools in the United States and there was a small school in Iowa that gave me a full ride. I was 17 and at the time my brain didn’t understand that LA or New York was any different than Iowa. I wasn’t thinking that way. It was like, “Well, I’m going to go to the United States and fight for my dream.” And of all the moments in my life, I feel like that is the one that has shaped me the most. Being 17 and having to say goodbye to your parents, your family, your friends, your country… everything you have ever known… and say that you’re going to fight for your dream, it’s sort of silly when you think of it, but I had no fear in me.

TrunkSpace: Something about you we found to be really cool is that you started a theater company in New York for other people from Portugal who come to the States to pursue acting. Can you tell us about that?
Valle Costa: That’s right. I started a Portuguese theater company in New York City called Saudade Theatre and the “Snowfall” experience has allowed me to put a lot of my positive energy into it. I started it in New York when I struggling and I was looking for a job and auditioning every week. When I arrived in New York I realized that for a Portuguese actor, it was very tough to find a home. More often than not we fall into this place of ambiguity. And for me, I look Latino, so I get to audition a lot for Latino roles and I include myself in the Latino community, but I want a Portuguese actor who arrives in New York City in 10 years or 20 years from now to be able to have a home right away and to not have any questions in his or her mind in terms of, “Well, there’s this Portuguese theater company and I just arrived in New York City. I can start there.” That’s where I’m throwing a lot of my positive energy into these days and it’s a great privilege that “Snowfall” has granted me with, which is time, because time is money and money is time.

Snowfall” premieres July 5 on FX.

For more information about the Saudade Theatre, visit www.saudadetheatre.org.

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Deep Focus

Jennifer Muro

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Photo By: Ricky Middlesworth

Spanning the different eras of the beloved franchise, the new animated miniseries “Star Wars: Forces of Destiny” features a number of the iconic female characters familiar to fans and spotlights the previously unseen moments that made them the heroes that they ultimately become. Many of the big screen talent involved in the franchise will be reprising their roles, including Daisy Ridley, Lupita Nyong’o, John Boyega, and Felicity Jones. The 16 episode run kicks off July 3 on Disney’s YouTube channel and then premieres on Disney Channel July 9.

We recently sat down with the series’ sole writer Jennifer Muro to discuss what it was like to get to play in the “Star Wars” sandbox, how far animation has come over the years, and why a series like “Forces of Destiny” is made with both children and adults in mind.

TrunkSpace: We’ve been talking quite a bit lately with people about diversity in writers’ rooms, particularly on scripted live action series. One area we have yet to touch on with people is how diversity is represented in the animated series landscape. Can you shed some light on that area of things?
Muro: Well, I do tend to do a lot more action shows and there are less women in that. It’s changing. It’s getting more and more these days. I think in the younger space there’s a lot more female writers. It’s slowly shifting, which is great. Writers’ rooms are fun. I love writers’ rooms. I think they’re great. I do a lot of freelance and when I get a chance to do a writers’ room I love it because I thrive in that kind of environment and bouncing ideas off of people. I write so many scripts all year long, having to do it solo… writers’ rooms are just so much easier for me. I hope I get to work with more women in the writers’ rooms at some point. That would be great.

TrunkSpace: Are writers’ rooms more common in the animated space with a series based on a franchise because there’s already an established universe and you’re working within parameters, either story-based or because of particular character restrictions or goals?
Muro: Yeah. Definitely having well known characters makes a huge difference in the creation. And, what version. Each show is a little different or each time the characters’ incarnation is a little different. There’s that too that you have to think about.

TrunkSpace: You’re working on “Star Wars” and that’s a property that has long had a diverse cast of characters… real and fictional in terms of their race/species. As a writer, how do you find the voices of those characters who not only have a different background than you, but actually have a different background than anybody?
Muro: (Laughter) I think there’s universal feelings no matter what and I think that’s really where you’re going to pull from. Motivation, human or humanoid or whatever that may be, I think there’s some universal things. And as long as you tap into those core universal themes, you’re going to be fine.

TrunkSpace: When you look at the worlds that most writers would love to play in the sandbox of, “Star Wars” is probably at the top of that list. What was the experience like for you in learning that you’d get to do that?
Muro: It was exciting. It was surreal. It was a dream come true. It was mind blowing and big. I wouldn’t say overwhelming… I would say exciting. It always feels like forever before you can talk about it or before it comes out and it’s finally here and it’s thrilling that it is. I can actually see toys and images and it’s a nice thing to happen.

TrunkSpace: Animation has changed so much over the years. When we were kids, animation wasn’t nearly as sophisticated as it is today. It wasn’t character-driven.
Muro: Right.

TrunkSpace: Today they feel like they’re made for kids, but at the same time, for adults as well.
Muro: I absolutely think so and I’m glad they’re doing that because the younger audience will gain a sophistication in what they expect in their storytelling. They’re not being talked down to. I’m glad they’re doing it that way because it just benefits everybody.

TrunkSpace: Even the production quality back when we were kids was shady at best. Something like the old “G.I. Joe” cartoon would suddenly have characters appear in a scene without pieces of clothing colored. (Laughter)
Muro: (Laughter) Yeah. Hanna-Barbera was notorious for that kind of thing where eyeballs would be colored in by mistake rather than being white. (Laughter) That happened all of the time.

We were fine with it as kids, I think. Sort of. You just kind of got through it, I guess. (Laughter) But yeah, it really matters these days. The quality is just phenomenal. I think we’re super lucky now. And for kids at heart, we’re still watching a lot of this stuff and we can go, “Oh wow, this is so much better!” (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: And what’s so great about “Star Wars” is that it’s the kind of property that parents WANT to pass down to their children. It’s something that many of them share together and animation is a great way to sort of get the ball rolling.
Muro: Absolutely and I think that’s what we’re hoping to do, to start showing them this world in a truly accessible way.

TrunkSpace: With animation being so sophisticated these days, does it feel like you’re actually not working in the animation space at times?
Muro: Yeah, especially with this kind of project.

There is budgetary stuff. There are certain assets that you can’t use and that you can use so you have to limit certain things, but especially because you’re working with an “Empire Strikes Back” or a “Return of the Jedi”, so of course you’re thinking of the movies. I was thinking live action in that way and I think that’s probably a good thing.

TrunkSpace: Thinking in that real world way gives the characters themselves a more real world POV and kids certainly can pick up on that. They know when they’re being fed something that isn’t of the reality that they know, even when it takes place in fantastical worlds.
Muro: Yes, they do. You don’t want a false construct. Lucasfilm definitely did not want to do that. We wanted to make authentic “Star Wars” stories. I’m hoping they (kids) will see that, they should feel that, and that’s what we were going for.

TrunkSpace: With an established universe and characters, in a time when so much of it is being shared across multiple platforms and planned out for longterm roll out, how much of that did you have to take into consideration so as not to step on the creative toes of what’s being done elsewhere?
Muro: Well, the Lucasfilm’s Story Group makes a huge difference when working with them. They know their world so well and they’re not going to let anything not be true to the world and the characters. It was definitely a big job to tell all of the different stories, but it was an exciting one to go through all of time and space, literally, to tell these individual stories. But having them do it with me makes all of the difference.

TrunkSpace: Did you give any thought to the fact that the super die-hard “Star Wars” fans will be watching it and dissecting it based on their own knowledge of the universe?
Muro: Yeah. And I am one of those fans. (Laughter) I always worry. “Are we doing this right? Is this the right thing? Is this continuity okay?” But like I said, I had the Story Group with me, so that helps.

Photo By: Ricky Middlesworth

You want to write it for character. You want to write it for good story. But you also want to make sure you’re consistent. You always try to make everyone happy, but there’s always going to be someone who’s not going to be happy with stuff.

TrunkSpace: Especially in the social media age! (Laughter)
Muro: Exactly. And I have no doubt they’ll let me know! (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: You mentioned that you are a longtime “Star Wars” fan yourself. With that being said, it must be kind of cool to know that at some point down the road, writers will be mining your own work within the franchise for future stories and continuity?
Muro: You know, that’s interesting. That’s one of those surreal moments that hits you that it could possibly happen. I think once they’re out and I can see them, I think it will become more real to me. But, yeah, obviously that would be a dream come true.

TrunkSpace: If we were to go back and sit down with 15-year-old Jennifer Muro and we asked her what type of writer she wanted to be, would she have the same answers as you have now in terms of where you are in your career?
Muro: It’s really hard to get bigger than “Star Wars.” I think there’s some live action stories that I want to start telling and going more in that direction… but always keeping the door open in animation for amazing properties like this. There’s so many more stories to tell in animation, for live action properties.

I’m thrilled where I am, of course, but I just want to keep going and tell bigger stories.

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Next Up

Cody Lyerly

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Name: Cody Lyerly

Hometown: Orange County, CA

Current Location: Los Angeles, CA

TrunkSpace: When did you know that you wanted to act for a living?
Lyerly: It was during high school that I really knew I wanted to be an actor. Between my Junior and Senior years of high school I attended The National High School Institute – Theatre Arts Division (“The Cherubs Program”) and that really solidified it. It was great to just be around theater artists 24/7 for five weeks and that’s when I knew I would never be able to give up acting.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular performance or actor/actress from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Lyerly: I have always been drawn to Leonard DiCaprio. I remember seeing him in “Romeo + Juliet” and “Titanic” and thought, “THAT’S WHAT I WANT TO DO!” So when he FINALLY won his Oscar I was really excited for him.

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career as an actor? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Lyerly: I decided that I would focus on my technique first and really hone my craft before trying to figure how to “break in.” After I felt I had a good foundation, I just started networking and auditioning. But it always comes back to being grounded and being true to the character.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to move away from your home and pursue acting as a career? How old were you at the time?
Lyerly: I left for Loyola University Chicago to study acting at 18. Stayed in Chicago throughout my college career and then moved back to California when I was 22.

TrunkSpace: Was that move an easy transition for you initially? How long did it take you to feel at home and find a good support group of friends and peers?
Lyerly: The hardest part about moving to Chicago was getting used to how cold it was during the winter… they have all this cold, white stuff on the ground! But, in all honesty, the transition to Chicago was really easy for me because the theater department at school was very welcoming and encouraged the freshman to get involved early on. So there was a supportive group of people there ready to cheer us on and help us along the way. And moving back to California was a breeze.

TrunkSpace: What has been been your biggest break in terms of a particular role or project thus far?
Lyerly: It’s a tie between two things. The first one being “The Mindy Project.” That was my first professional acting job. I couldn’t have asked for a better start either because everyone in the cast and crew were so welcoming, nice, and supportive. So big shout out to everyone involved with that show! The other was having a pilot (“Becca on Call”) I worked on, premier at the Dances with Films Festival this year at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Seeing myself on screen there was surreal.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific type of role you’d like to take on or a specific genre that you feel more at home in?
Lyerly: I think one of the greatest gifts of being an actor is the ability to explore and live in all different types of characters. However, I have always loved Sci-Fi. I’ve been a huge “Star Wars” nerd since I can remember.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability itself?
Lyerly: Confidence. Confidence in yourself and your abilities, but don’t let that morph into arrogance.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your acting career? Where would you like your path to lead?
Lyerly: My dream is to explore humanity and all our flaws, and if I make one or two people laugh along the way then all the better.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring actor/actress who is considering moving away from home to pursue their dream?
Lyerly: I would say to have confidence in yourself and go for it. Go out, meet people, and create awesome art.

TrunkSpace: Where can people (and casting directors) learn more about you?
Lyerly: Since I’m a #millennial

Twitter: @CodyLyerly
Instagram: @CodyLyerly
IMDb: http://www.imdb.me/codylyerly

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Just Another $@!#*? Column

The New West

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Everyone’s got a TOP WHATEVER column. You know the type… a list of arbitrary best ofs, worst ofs, or does it really matter ofs. Well, TrunkSpace didn’t want to be left out, so we decided to come up with our brand new JUST ANOTHER $@!#*? LIST COLUMN. Whereas other lists on other sites may have a point, rest assured, ours will have none.

This time out we’re celebrating the awesomeness of Young Guns II in the only way we know how. It’s…

THE TOP FIVE QUOTES FROM YOUNG GUNS II, RERECORDED AS IF UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF HELIUM

QUOTE 1

QUOTE 2

QUOTE 3

QUOTE 4

QUOTE 5

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Next Up

Megan Magee

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Name: Megan Magee

Hometown: Levittown, PA

Current Location: Astoria, Queens – NYC

TrunkSpace: When did you know that you wanted to act for a living?
Magee: I remember having dinner with my mother at Friendly’s when I was in 9th grade. I was talking about wanting to audition for colleges, which musical theater programs I wanted to apply to, etc… and she was reminding me that was very competitive and would be very, very hard. She wasn’t being discouraging, but she was firm with me in making it clear that it would be a lot of work, and there was no guarantee of success. She said that someday I might change my mind and want to do something else, and that would always be okay. I remember snapping back without thinking, and saying, “I know I will have success. Because of all the people who are trying to do it, some will get tired of it, some won’t like it, some will change their minds and quit… and I will never quit.” I sometimes still wish I had the strength in that belief that I had when I was a kid, but although it may waver at times, it still rings true. I will never quit. And I’ve always known that. So looking back, yeah, I think that was the moment when I knew this is what I was going to be doing for my career and for the rest of my life.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular performance or actor/actress from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Magee: The first time I was deeply, deeply moved by a piece of theater was when my parents took my brother and I to see our babysitter and his high school musical! He was Enjolras in “Les Miserables” and I must have been about 10 or 11. My mom had informed me that the show was very sad, and had showed me some of the music so that I could follow the story. I cried so much, especially when Anthony, our babysitter, died during the battle scene. It was really powerful to see somebody that I knew quite well and looked up to giving such an amazing performance, and even though I knew of course it “wasn’t real,” it felt so real to me. I think that was the first time I fully grasped the magic of theater happening right in front of you, and making you feel as though you are truly living through the story with the actors. I “was Eponine” for weeks after that… I was totally obsessed and ran around the house singing all the songs. It’s still my favorite musical of all time, partly because it’s awesome, and partly because that was such a powerful memory for me.

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career as an actor? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Magee: I’m still figuring that out every day, honestly. Originally I wanted to do musicals. That was all I wanted to do. I loved singing more than anything, and I wanted to be on Broadway and all that. But as I’ve grown as an artist and an actor I’ve found such deep, meaningful work in the theater coming from straight plays, and those have become my favorite performances to go see and to be a part of. I think the best thing I ever did for my career was decide to enroll in a two year Meisner program at the William Esper Studio. The time spent there stripped me of a lot of terrible habits and empowered me as a human being as well as an actor. I’ve been blessed with a lot of theatrical opportunities since then, finally having my Off-Broadway debut in 2015, which was incredible. This year has also brought some theatrical projects, but has been more focused on the marketing, the branding, the business end. I’m in a fantastic film and TV class at the Terry Knickerbocker studio that is all about nailing your type, killing the audition, booking the job, and how to break into this business as an entrepreneur. So I feel like every day I’m learning a new way to reapproach my “attack” on this industry as a career. It really is changing every day. I’m just doing my best to keep up with the times, and still remember that feeding my soul as an artist is the most important thing.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to move away from your home and pursue acting as a career? How old were you at the time?
Magee: I still can’t believe that I survived the city moving here at 18 years old. I was fresh out of high school, I was an absolute baby. But it’s shaped me in so many ways that I couldn’t be more grateful that I took on the challenge. Fortunately, coming from Pennsylvania I wasn’t too far away. I still have the opportunity to take the train home on weekends or for special family events, which is very important to me. My family is amazing. Being here for almost a decade now, it has been the best thing in the world to me that I’ve been able to get home and see my family more than once a year… for a lot of people I know that’s usually not the case. I got lucky. My family is my biggest support system.

TrunkSpace: Was that move an easy transition for you initially? How long did it take you to feel at home and find a good support group of friends and peers?
Magee: I’ve always been very adaptable, which my mother will back up for you. I adored living in this city, and I immediately found a wonderful group of friends at my school and dove headfirst into exploring the Big Apple. I think at times it was pushed. I think my stubbornness at being a “success” combined with my starry-eyed ignorance in a way meant that I thought I was happier than I was. But in any case, it got me through my first few years here while I was still growing my roots. Fake it ’til you make it is no joke!

TrunkSpace: What has been been your biggest break in terms of a particular role or project thus far
Magee: The summer of 2015 brought my Off-Broadway debut, which felt like a huge shift in momentum. The play was a hilarious comedy called “Women Are Crazy Because Men Are A**holes” and had transplanted itself from LA to the historic Cherry Lane Theatre here in NYC. Taking a bow in front of an audience that size was truly a dream.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific type of role you’d like to take on or a specific genre that you feel more at home in?
Magee: Lately I’ve been craving comedy, comedy, comedy! This is a welcome shift, as in the past I’ve loved to suffer and have sunk my teeth into the most dramatic work I can get my hands on. My tendency is usually to be drawn to the darkest, saddest stories with the most twisted characters, and I will always have that in my heart. But lately my dream role is something like Amy Poehler’s character Leslie Knope in “Parks and Recreation”. Especially in film and television I have been finding such pleasure in comedies like “Community,” “Scrubs,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”… all these amazing shows where the actors are showing up and committing 1000 percent to these scenes that are just out of this world wacky, and I really, really admire that. I’ve also been kind of a goofball my whole life, so it’s been nice realizing I still want that too. This acting stuff has to be so serious all the time!

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability itself?
Magee: For better or for worse, I have boundless energy and I put 1000 percent of it into whatever I’m working on. If nothing else, I am proud of the level of commitment I am able to bring to my career, to my projects, to my auditions, etc. I’ve been able to learn through many mistakes to maintain a level of professionalism and to always show up rehearsed, prepared, and ready to work. That stubborn kid at Friendly’s is still in there, and she will never, ever quit.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your acting career? Where would you like your path to lead?
Magee: Artistically I feel like I’m already there! I am truly living the dream. I have found myself a part of the most beautiful community of actors, writers, directors, and producers in that I am always able to find something to work on or at least go see and appreciate. I’ve been able to direct full length theater, I’ve written my own work that I get to see produced… everything I could have imagined this life would be has to some extent already happened to me. Now that I’m committed to pursuing it forever, since I’m never quitting, as previously stated, my ultimate goal now is to get to that next tier where this work I’m doing can be my sole source of income. I want to be able to support myself fully off of my work in the creative arts, and make that my J-O-B. Right now for me, this means pursuing more commercial, film, and television work… targeting that work more often and booking more consistently. Hopefully eventually booking a long-lasting project that becomes a paycheck! Of course it’s not about he money, but when there are only so many hours in a day and this is what I want to be doing with my life, I feel I have to get to the point where I don’t need to expend any more extra energy busting my butt to support myself financially. And I’m sure once I get there, there will be another step on the ladder to climb. I know this work is never over. But for now, that is my primary focus.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring actor/actress who is considering moving away from home to pursue their dream?
Magee: It is a long and winding road and there is not a map. It’s scary. It’s bewildering. It’s frustrating. It seems futile and fruitless. And you won’t always be happy. If you’re anything like me, it’ll be years of work and dozens of auditions before you book your first paying job. So be willing to have that kind of patience and persistence. Find a community and a place to do work consistently even when you’re not booking, and make that your definition of success. If you feel like you’ve “made it” because you are doing scene work with your former classmates once a week in someone’s apartment, than you have. You have made it. As long as you are always crafting, creating, and communicating, you’ve made it. Everything else is the bonus. If you are able to adapt yourself to a mindset along those lines, I believe it will make your journey so much easier. The joy has to be in the work… because you are in control of that. If you leave it up to the people who might hire you to determine your joy, you’re in for a bad time.

TrunkSpace: Where can people (and casting directors) learn more about you?
Magee: You can visit my website, www.meganmagee.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @MeganMageeActs, or follow me on my Instagram account @presentlaughter where you’ll find a more personal side of me somewhat split between acting projects and my fitness background. A lot of sweaty selfies after long runs or early morning workouts. Be warned.

 

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Wingman Wednesday

Adam Rose

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Currently, Adam Rose can be seen starring in Amazon’s “Budding Prospects” for the streaming platform’s audience-driven Pilot Program, but it’s his turn as Aaron Bass in the series “Supernatural” that has cemented him into the fold of one of the most passionate television fandoms of all time. And much like all of the other actors we have spoken to who have appeared on the CW mainstay, Rose has nothing but glowing things to say about his “Supernatural” road so far.

We recently sat down with Rose to discuss mistaken identity, the formula for creating a series that breeds a passionate fanbase, and the odds that he will return to “Supernatural” in the future.

TrunkSpace: Before we get started in the meat and taters of the interview, we have to ask… did things get weird for you when the WWE introduced a wrestler named Adam Rose?
Rose: Dude, you have no idea! (Laughter) First of all, this guy’s name was Leo Kruger and that sounds like a wrestler’s name. That makes sense. And then when he changes his name to Adam Rose, I’m thinking… that’s a horrible wrestler’s name. That’s the worst! (Laughter) And his character was so odd and kind of over the top and sort of flamboyant in a way. It was just super odd. And then he kind of blew up. He got famous and then it got really weird when he got arrested for domestic violence.

TrunkSpace: That’s right. That wasn’t that long ago.
Rose: It was not too long ago and you can imagine my surprise when I wake up and I get little Google alerts with my name and it says, “Adam Rose has been arrested for domestic violence.” And then in some of the articles, they used my picture! Not only did they use my picture, but on my IMDB… because it links to articles that you’re mentioned in… it linked to my IMDB! I had to spend that whole afternoon basically just calling these publications and calling IMDB and telling them to remove any association. (Laughter)

It was insane. And then we also had some fake Twitter beef where I said something smarmy about there being a wrestler named Adam Rose and he was like, “Oh, why does there have to be an actor named Adam Rose!” (Laughter) We went back and forth like that, but that was before he got arrested.

TrunkSpace: You would think that in a world of so much information, the editors of those publications would have done their homework and used the correct photos of the correct Adam Rose.
Rose: Yeah. Exactly. But, it’s been weird because he did legitimately get famous as this character and so when you Google “Adam Rose” a lot of his stuff comes up. I end up having to explain that a lot. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: In terms of “Supernatural,” do you think that there is any other show out there today that an actor can do a guest spot on and ultimately receive the same kind of warm welcome from the fanbase?
Rose: Honestly, I don’t think there is another show on the air that has any sort of effect like that. I honestly think that at this point “Supernatural” has surpassed “Star Trek” when it comes to fan fervor and just the power that the fanbase has. It’s insane. It’s amazing. It’s insanely amazing. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: And what’s interesting about it is that those who know the show absolutely love it and those who don’t know the show aren’t even necessarily sure what it is or if it’s even still on the air. It allows for this amazing notoriety within the fandom, but a sense of anonymity outside of it.
Rose: That’s right. There is a reason why they call it the Supernatural Family. The SPN Family. And maybe it’s because the two main characters are brothers. I’m not really sure what caused that dynamic, but there really is a sense of that once you’re in the family, you’re in the family. And it is this sort of inside thing. It’s a club that seems to be growing and growing and growing. It is the base that started any sort of following I had on social media and everything has sort of grown from that.

TrunkSpace: Which proves the power of a fanbase to keep a show on the air for what will now be 13 seasons in the case of “Supernatural.”
Rose: Absolutely. It’s completely thanks to them. The amount of success people have garnered as a result of that show… even people that just pass through… it’s because of those fans. It’s because of how loving and welcoming and just into it these fans are.

TrunkSpace: And your character Aaron had something like four years between his first appearance and when he returned, right?
Rose: That’s right.

TrunkSpace: Which for fans is very exciting because it literally creates a universe where any of their favorite characters of the past can return in any given season.
Rose: No doubt about it. And the other thing is, that kind of stuff wouldn’t happen without them. They really get to steer the show in a lot of ways. Granted, there are amazing writers always working on it, but they really do listen to the fans and the fans get to throw in their two cents into what happens in that universe and which characters they embrace. It’s very collaborative.

Rose in “Supernatural”

TrunkSpace: You also appeared on “Veronica Mars,” which was another fan favorite show that became very collaborative with its audience. From your perspective of working on shows with such strong fandoms, what is it that ropes an audience in and takes them from viewer to passionate viewer?
Rose: Man, that is a good question. I think if I had the answer to that question, I’d be a millionaire. If I had to guess, I would say the link between those two shows… and they both do have a really great cult following… I would say there’s an element of, again, family that goes into it. Feeling like you’re a part of the family. And obviously, when people watched “Veronica Mars,” they felt like they were a part of that crew. These characters feel like best friends to them. Or brothers and sisters, if you will. I think it’s that, but it’s also good writing. It’s relatable characters that you really feel like you know. It’s a relationship to pop culture also. “Veronica Mars” was really good about that and that’s just a result of Rob Thomas, the creator of “Veronica Mars,” and how brilliant he is when it comes to creating these universes and creating the way these people speak. When I was doing “Veronica Mars” I was constantly making references to “Babylon 5” and things like that. It’s little things like that that make people feel like they really know these people and that they’re on the inside. As a result, it creates this cult fanbase.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned that family dynamic, but from what we understand, that also goes for the actors themselves because everyone we have spoken to has said that when they arrived on set, they instantly felt like they were a part of the established tone and working environment that is “Supernatural.” Did you experience that same feeling of being welcomed into the fold?
Rose: Absolutely. I think a lot of that has to do with Jared and Jensen because they’ve been doing this for a long time and so they’re pros. They’re not just brilliant at doing their jobs in terms of acting, but they’re also really adept at making people feel comfortable and welcome on their set. It really all starts with them and then it trickles down from there. Because they’re so willing to welcome people with open arms and joke around with them and prank them and stuff like that, I think that just makes people feel comfortable and it makes people drop their guard and as a result they do a better job.

TrunkSpace: You starred in the pilot “Budding Prospects” for Amazon’s Pilot Program. That is a program that is being driven by what will ultimately be new fans of new universes. What has that experience been like for you so far in terms of having an audience ultimately decide if a series lives or dies?
Rose: I think it’s pretty amazing that Amazon does that. I definitely think that it is where things are headed, where audiences get to have a say. We have the technology now to make that possible and I think the days of a handful of people who work at a network or a studio sort of guessing what people might like or not like… if there’s an alternative, I don’t see why people wouldn’t take advantage of it. There’s a certain amount of market research that goes along with that that can only be beneficial. That being said, just to play devil’s advocate, I think some shows need an episode or two or even a whole season to really find their groove. Some of the best shows that have ever been on the air, including things like “Seinfeld,” the first season really didn’t find its audience. And “Seinfeld” didn’t even really find its tone until those four actors started to mesh and they knew each other and grew comfortable with each other. Beyond that, the writing started to fall into place as well and I think by the second season they found their groove and it became the juggernaut that it is. So, there is an up and a down to that system and perhaps there’s some happy medium there.

TrunkSpace: So can fans of “Supernatural” expect to see your character Aaron return?
Rose: There has definitely been discussion. They have talked to me about it. I’m definitely up for doing it and I think it’s just about figuring out how Aaron fits into the story. And then it’s also a logistical thing, seeing if me and the Golem (John DeSantis) are available at the same time to come and do an episode, although he didn’t show up in the second episode that I did. So there are a few factors involved, but I definitely wouldn’t lose hope seeing Aaron again.

TrunkSpace: The Winchesters have so few allies left after this season, they are going to need you.
Rose: That’s the thing, he’s one of the only people still alive! (Laughter)

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Musical Mondaze

Broadside

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Not many lead singers will bring their guard down long enough to allow themselves to be so candid and exposed that their fans can see beyond the rock persona to the inner workings of the creators themselves. In a day and age where so much of how people present themselves is based on how they are perceived on social media, it is refreshing to see someone in the public spotlight question the very spotlight itself. In fact, much like the literary greats of the past, Broadside frontman Ollie Baxxter seems to question everything, an attribute that often leads to complete artistic freedom.

We recently sat down with Baxxter to discuss the band’s latest album, touring a new Europe, and why he wants the universe to believe in him as much as he believes in himself.

TrunkSpace: “Paradise” has been out for about a week now. With all the buzz that was circulating the album prior to its release, did you guys feel any extra pressure to deliver in a particular way with the material?
Baxxter: Yeah. I was a little scared because I knew it was a little poppy and a little less… slightly aggressive, if you want to call it that. I was afraid that we were going to lose the core pop punk kids, but at the end of the day, we are a band that has kind of always driven home the same kind of energy at our live shows and the same kind of lyrical content. And they always knew that we’ve been weirdos, so I think they could have just expected an album like “Paradise.” Keeping that in mind, I was less scared to put it out towards the end and it was just more nurturing towards the idea of, “Hey, guys… I know you’re not closed-minded assholes.”

TrunkSpace: Well, and your own personal influences are so diverse in terms of the style of music you enjoy, so why wouldn’t Broadside show some sonic diversity?
Baxxter: Exactly. I don’t appreciate the corruption of the idea of the pop industry, but I love the idea of a formula of sound and being able to dress something up a certain way. But the true artists… the Michael Jacksons and the Boys II Mens of the world… they can incorporate those testaments of things that actually matter like human to human contact, but dressing them up as something else so that the world will actually listen. Because we’re all distracted these days, so it’s nice to be able to provide an outlet on both sides of the frame.

TrunkSpace: So was the move towards a more pop-friendly sound a conscious one or did it just kind of happen organically?
Baxxter: We consciously set out to do it, but we didn’t know how deep or how far we would take it. We wanted to be more marketable, but keep the things that matter to us like the consistency of the lyrical content. There’s a guitar solo on the album for Niles. We just wanted to make sure that everyone was happy, and at the same time, we also wanted to let the industry know that we were a band that was consistent and that we were looking for growth. We wanted to show people that we could grow and that people would grow with us.

TrunkSpace: How did you guys approach recording the album given the new direction?
Baxxter: We went with the same producer, Kyle Black. We did our last album and then the State Champs album came out and that kind of peaked our interest because we were like, “This is kind of a poppy sound for sure, but it’s still got the grit of a rock album.” And that was the thing… we didn’t want to go full on bubblegum pop. We still play our instruments and still perform, so we kept that in mind. We just liked his (Kyle’s) overall sound and thought sonically that he killed it. We wanted to keep that little bit of grit of what we were putting out to the world.

TrunkSpace: It can take a long time for songs to be written and for the songs themselves to be recorded and released. With that being said, have you guys already moved on creatively from where your heads were at when you put together “Paradise” to where you are now?
Baxxter: We have this good balance within the band. We’re all different creators, so we’re all doing something as an outlet on the outside. Our guitarist Niles is into photography. Dorian is into producing and writing with other bands. And I’m a writer so I write a lot of stuff on the side. I get a lot of my outlet stuff through there and then when it comes to Broadside, we like to give the material the allotted time that it deserves to fully get the record out there.

If it were up to me and my ADHD ass, I would just be like, “Yeah, let’s write a new record tomorrow.” But, apparently you can’t do that if you play an instrument. (Laughter)

This record isn’t a forever type of record. I knew this record was going to be a summer 2017 stamp on music and knowing that going in, I kept that in mind when writing the lyrics. I really wanted to focus on things that were going on right now for the people of right now.

TrunkSpace: Your own personal creative outlet is writing. Do you find that you’re able to do a lot of that internal creating when the band is on the road?
Baxxter: Absolutely. I’m the guy that always has a journal. If you want to call it a diary, that’s fine. (Laughter) I have a journal with me and I’m always writing. I’m a big reading snob, so on tour one of my favorite things to do is to go into old bookstores. Even in the UK, because I romanticize everything, just being in the UK and being able to write in bookshops and shit like that… I’m really inspired by the ambiance of things. It can be tough in the van sometimes because the guys never shut the hell up, so in times like that it’s difficult, but when I get to the venue I try to challenge myself and write something, even if it’s pointless.

TrunkSpace: Being on the road has so much structure to it, so it must be nice because then you can at least know when you’ll be free to get lost in your own head. When you’re home, sometimes life just gets in the way.
Baxxter: For sure. With the last tour, it was with a bigger band and it was considered “A market” so we had to load in a lot earlier, which allowed me a lot of time throughout the day. I don’t like to write when I’m particularly emotional about anything. I don’t like to write when I’m too upset or I’m too excited because it just comes out as chaos, so I like to try and write at the end of the day because then I can represent the entire day. It’s tough, but I do like the fact that there was a schedule on this last tour. Plus I’m a big fan of going out and eating food too. That’s one of my things. That’s one of everybody’s things, but I love to find some good Asian cuisine wherever we are because I’m a sucker for it. I could eat noodles every day all day.

So, those two things are the me things that I make sure get done. I’ll announce to the band, “Yo, guys, I’m going to go write” or “I’m going to go find some noodles.” They’re usually on board with the noodles.

TrunkSpace: And you guys are scheduled to head back over to Europe soon, right?
Baxxter: Oh yeah. In September. I’m so excited.

TrunkSpace: Knowing about everything that been going on over there and with the heightened level of awareness around possible future attacks, does the band have to approach this tour in a different way?
Baxxter: It’s definitely a scary scenario, but I would hate to treat any situation as if things were to come. I think the venues are taking a step with their security and their handling of that scenario. It’s unfortunate, but you really just can’t control those awful acts. I don’t want to go into it being afraid because I would hate for someone watching or even a passerby to feel that energy. At the same time, it’s almost necessary at this point to kind of think that it is at least a realistic possibility.

TrunkSpace: We saw something interesting on your Twitter feed a few days ago. You wrote, “Dear Universe, believe in me as much as I believe in me.” What was your inspiration for writing that?
Baxxter: As much as I want to believe that I am climbing this ladder of success, which I am because I’m doing interviews like this and all sorts of things, it’s all just material. In the back of my mind, I can’t help but question what the fuck am I doing. What is my purpose and what is my value? I often get caught up in this idea of material possessions and it’s a financial situation. Like, if I had more money, then I’d be happier. And I hate that because it’s not necessarily true, though it would change a lot of stuff. But I feel like I’m giving so much of myself to the world and that sounds so diva-ish because I choose to do it, but I’m putting out a lot and I’m really trying to inspire people. People tell me all of these crazy stories and I don’t respond to all of them because I can’t or because they’re too intense. All I can say is that if you’re feeling this way, you’ve got to speak to a professional doctor or your parents need to get help. I carry this weight around and I raise my baby brother and my baby sister and I think, what is my worth? What is my value? And I really just want to be able to turn the noise off for a day and write consistently enough where I can get the first chapter of my book done or more of my poetry written. It’s not a financial situation. It’s just the world is so burdened and sometimes I carry it around with me. I feel like because I’m a weirdo hippy, I ask the universe to just silence all of the stuff around me so I can focus because a lot of this is so distracting.

TrunkSpace: We certainly live in a day and age where there is so much white noise and negativity swirling about. It’s hard to escape.
Baxxter: Yeah. And that’s the thing, even when I’m on the Internet and I’ll post something that has value to me… it will get half the amount of attention as a fucking photo of me. And you’re like, “I’m flattered, but it hurts to know that I have to grab your attention in three seconds for you to find value in me at all.” As an artist, it’s the worst thing ever because I don’t feel like I should be competing with a certain type of person. I don’t want to compete. I want to create freely in my own head knowing that it will be read and received. It’s frustrating because you’re right, there’s so much white noise and everybody is like, “Look this way. Look that way. Look this way.” It even hurts when I’m like, “Hey, vote for us for Best Underground Band on Alt Press Award.” That’s a big ass accomplishment and we’re going to be on the TV and shit like that, but I still feel bad asking people to do that.

Paradise” is available now on Victory Records.

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Wingman Wednesday

Gerrard Lobo

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Photo By: Kyle Rosenberg

Fans of “Orange is the New Black” were recently introduced to Gerard Lobo in the latest season of the Netflix prison dramedy when it premiered earlier this month. Playing a nurse named Adarsh, the New Jersey native slipped into the scrubs of a good guy in a world mostly populated by individuals operating somewhere in the gray. Prior to joining the streaming powerhouse, Lobo also appeared on “The Blacklist,” “Powerless,” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”

We recently sat down with Lobo to discuss how his “Orange is the New Black” role grew into more than he expected, why a letter he wrote to himself inspired his acting career, and how a turn in “Master of None” altered his path as a performer.

TrunkSpace: You did a seven episode run on one of the hottest series going in “Orange is the New Black.” Did you view the role as what could be a career changing moment for you?
Lobo: Honestly, I don’t know. I hope so. Anything that begets work is great. I’m just happy that I had the experience to work on that show. I’ve been lucky enough to work with the different actors that have their own stories… the leads… and they were amazing. It was a very, very welcoming set. Everyone from production to the talent were amazing. I really can’t say anything bad about the show. They were awesome.

TrunkSpace: For those who have yet to binge the new season, where does your character fall into things?
Lobo: I don’t believe I can allude to too much, but I can say that he is involved with things…

God, what can I even say? I’m not even sure.

TrunkSpace: Is he a nefarious fellow?
Lobo: No. (Laughter) He is not a nefarious fellow. I’m not a bad guy. I can say that.

TrunkSpace: Being an actor and coming into a show that has that amazing storytelling pedigree that other series are striving for must have been pretty exciting?
Lobo: Absolutely. When I first booked the role, it was only supposed to be two or three episodes and then they just kept calling me back. Just being thrown into situations like that, and for the most part it was with three or four different characters that had different storylines, it was kind of cool in that respect. I’ve watched the show and I’m a fan so being on set and seeing someone who you’ve been a fan of and have been tracking their story and then being thrown into a scene with them was kind of unrealistic.

TrunkSpace: It must have a bit rattling coming onto a set that has its established relationships and tone and essentially being the new kid in school.
Lobo: Oh yeah. Are you kidding? When I booked it I was like, “Oh my God!” It was only supposed to be a few episodes and they kept calling me back and my agents would be like… and I can’t really tell them necessarily what the story is and I don’t even know. It’s not like they said they were going to call me back in two weeks and that I’d be playing something. It was just, “We want him back and here are his scenes.” And I was like, “Oh my God… this is happening!” (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: So as the character moved forward, was it bringing you to places from a performance standpoint that you didn’t expect when you landed the job?
Lobo: Yeah. I think I started realizing that this guy is going to have an arc. A lot of times with supporting actors, you go in, you do the best you can and you leave because there’s not a lot of time in regards to the nature of production where you have the time to be like, “What’s the background on the character and what’s his motivation?” You have to kind of do it on the fly. You have to make it up. And if it works it works and if it doesn’t it doesn’t. You really just have to serve the scene. So I think what helped with all of the nerves was that every time I got a scene I was like, “What if they’re going one way with this or what if they’re going another way?” and then I was like, “I just have to do my job.”

TrunkSpace: You’ve worked on network TV series like “The Blacklist.” Obviously you’ve worked with Netflix given “Orange is the New Black.” As an actor, is it an interesting time given all of the content that is being produced, especially knowing that so much of it is so character-driven now?
Lobo: Definitely. For someone like me, I’m very lucky. I got into acting about eight years ago and I think that just with the nature of Netflix and different online providers that have now become household names, there are a lot more opportunities. I’ve never necessarily had to play very stereotypical roles. As much as I think there’s more work to do overall in the industry, I think it’s heading in the right direction where you’re going to see much more specific stuff for my background. It won’t just be something that’s ethnically ambiguous. It will be like a Bangladeshi person, which is good.

TrunkSpace: So many actors nowadays are not just relying on acting alone. They’re developing and producing material that they believe in and essentially creating work for themselves thanks in large part to those various platforms that are now available. We know that you’re a writer so is developing and producing something you anticipate doing as your career moves forward?
Lobo: I think down the line. Right now my major focus is really just training, auditioning, and booking roles. The more I learn about the industry in tandem with doing my own writing, eventually something can come to fruition.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned getting into acting about eight years ago. What has that journey been like for you in terms of where you started to where you are today?
Lobo: You know, I was always afraid to pursue acting. When I was going through some life changes, I had to ask myself, “What is it that I really want to do?” I always wanted to pursue acting so I started taking classes at night. I remember my first teacher, JoAnna Beckson, she did a 10 month Meisner course and she had us write a letter… the eight of us who were in the class. People were taking 10 or 15 minutes to write their letter and I just wrote two things. I wrote:

To see whether acting is something I want to do for the rest of my life and to book work as an actor.

(Laughter) Those are the two things that I wrote and then I kept on looking back on that every year. Predominantly I think the first focus was just on training, to be able to jump in and do things. I started with theater and loved that and then started booking some student films and enjoyed that. Then some roles here and there on commercials and it snowballed into bigger roles now.

Orange Is The New Black Season 5

TrunkSpace: So as your career started to come into focus and you started landing those bigger roles, what was the one that changed the landscape for you and started opening additional doors?
Lobo: I would say “Master of None.” I saw the breakdown and it was, “In-shape Indian guy who is down to Earth and loves working out.” I was like, “If I don’t book this, I don’t know what the hell I can do.” (Laughter) So, I went in and it was such a fun audition. And again, I don’t know if it’s something with Netflix but it was one of the most welcoming sets. Aziz and Alan Yang were amazing. They were so funny. That was a great experience. I was just so happy that I got to do it and then when it got the reception that it did… it could not have gone any better.

TrunkSpace: And you appeared on yet ANOTHER Netflix show in “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” where you played a character with possibly the best/worst credit name ever… “Douchebag.”
Lobo: (Laughter) That was a lot of fun. And again, I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but an awesome crew and awesome cast. My scene was with Titus and he was great.

TrunkSpace: Looking over your acting resume to date there’s a nice mix of both comedy and drama. Do you find yourself being pulled to one genre more than the other? Is there a certain type of actor you want to be?
Lobo: Honestly, I’m still figuring it out. Every single role that I get is new, whether it’s comedic or the same character in different episodes. I’m just happy to work on it every single time I get the opportunity. To say that I really gravitate towards comedy or that I really gravitate towards drama… and this is going to sound kind of like an actory answer, but there’s really those things in everything. Look at the second season of “Master of None.” There’s a lot of dramatic scenes and Aziz crushes them. He’s also one of the funniest guys out there.

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Next Up

Skyler Thomas

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Name: Skyler Thomas

Hometown: Oxford, Mississippi

Current Location: Los Angeles, California

TrunkSpace: When did you know that you wanted to act for a living?
Thomas: I get asked this question quite often, and most people are surprised to hear that I never had a “moment” that propelled me on this journey. It might sound silly to some, but I feel that I was born knowing I would pursue this career. It’s what I’ve known as long as I can remember, and there has never been a question in my mind.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular performance or actor/actress from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Thomas: I was a passionate Disney fan (and I still am). “Aladdin,” “Pocahontas,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Hercules,” “Mulan”… all of the stories and the characters inspired me to tenaciously follow my dreams and have courage in the face of adversity. As far as “live action,” I was a passionate “Harry Potter” fan (and I still am). I grew up with those actors and with each book/movie. The saga helped me cope with the changes that come with growing older, and it always reminded me of the importance of love and friendship in troubled times.

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career as an actor? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Thomas: I would definitely consider myself a planner, so it might come as a shock that I didn’t really have a plan when I moved to LA. I think you can have goals and ideas of how you want to achieve them, but to me, it is dangerous to have a rigid plan. There are thousands of ways to achieve success in this industry (not to mention, thousands of definitions of “success”), and there is not a clear-cut path. If you have that inflexible mindset, you close yourself off from opportunities that might be beneficial for you and your career. I like to think of it as a map. My goals are my destination, but there are a hundred different roads I can take to get there, and I am open to whichever road presents itself.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to move away from your home and pursue acting as a career? How old were you at the time?
Thomas: I have known I wanted to live in Los Angeles since I was five years old and I saw the Warner Bros. animated film “Cats Don’t Dance” about a singing and dancing cat that moves to Hollywood to pursue his dreams. However, I actually decided to move shortly before my 23rd birthday. After spending my first year out of college moving around and not having much luck, I ended up back at home with my parents. One night, I was really struggling with the decision of where to move and what to do. Out of nowhere, my Disney snow globe started playing “When You Wish Upon A Star.” I hadn’t touched it in months. And I took it as a sign that I needed to follow my heart out to the West Coast.

TrunkSpace: Was that move an easy transition for you initially? How long did it take you to feel at home and find a good support group of friends and peers?
Thomas: The move was initially very difficult. I have always been close with my family, so not having them or my friends here and not really knowing anyone was discouraging and lonely. But around mid-January I was able to find a job that connected me with some of the most wonderful people I have ever met. I still miss my friends and family terribly, but now that I have formed an amazing support system here, LA is a pretty great home away from home.

TrunkSpace: What has been been your biggest break in terms of a particular role or project thus far?
Thomas: My biggest break so far was probably starring in the SAG-AFTRA New Media comedic short “Roommates” that I also wrote. It was an exciting and challenging acting experience, and it was also extremely gratifying to hear others laugh at lines that I had written.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific type of role you’d like to take on or a specific genre that you feel more at home in?
Thomas: The best roles are the ones that combine comedy and drama. It would be great to play a character that is goofy and fun but also vulnerable and haunted. I would also love to have a role in an adventure/fantasy film like “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Jurassic Park,” “Indiana Jones,” etc. The score, the stories, the characters… everything about them appeal to me. Really, I just want to do it all.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability itself?
Thomas: Remaining humble and grateful is certainly one of the best qualities an actor can possess. But to me, the greatest strength an actor can have comes in knowing how to have a life outside of acting. Don’t get me wrong, you absolutely need to be putting the time and effort into your training just like you would if you were an athlete training for the Olympics. But having experiences outside of acting… falling in love, traveling to a foreign country, getting involved philanthropic cause… are vital to the human experience. And having those experiences makes you a better actor because you have more to draw from. You shouldn’t be afraid to live your life because you think you have to be in “actor mode” constantly.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your acting career? Where would you like your path to lead?
Thomas: My ultimate goal is to be on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” because both of them are my heroes. But mainly, I want to surround myself with and work with creative, hilarious, and kind people, and yes, that does include certain famous actors that I look up to. I would also like to be in a prominent enough position to use my voice for positive change in the world, my main focus being on wildlife preservation, women’s/LGBT rights, and mental health and education in my home state of Mississippi.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring actor/actress who is considering moving away from home to pursue their dream?
Thomas: Don’t wait for someone to give you validation or opportunities. Create your own. If you want something, go for it with everything you’ve got.

TrunkSpace: Where can people (and casting directors) learn more about you?
Thomas: Check out my website www.vskylerthomas.com or follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@vskylert). I hope you like random pictures of sloths, because I’m about to start regularly posting them.

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Wingman Wednesday

Holly Deveaux

HollyDeveaux_Wingwoman_wednesday

Sure, what’s hidden deep inside the mist is mystifying, but what’s standing just outside of it is not. The beautiful and talented Holly Deveaux is set to take on the mysterious creatures of Stephen King’s imagination in the latest adaptation of “The Mist” for Spike. She also stars in the recently released film “Running Away” and will appear alongside Colm Feore in “Hunter’s Moon,” set to premiere in November.

We recently sat down with Deveaux to discuss how the series is just as much about human behavior as it is about monsters, holding still for a body scan, and what she learned from comedy legend Dave Foley.

TrunkSpace: “The Mist” has been adapted to film in the past and obviously there is the source material by Stephen King. Did you go back and look at any of that when you landed the part in the series?
Deveaux: I looked at Frank Darabont’s film. The first time I had seen it actually, a good friend of mine was telling me about “this crazy ending of a movie!” and he had just showed me the end then. And then I rewatched it upon booking this part.

It’s not like the book. It’s not like the movie. It’s bigger. The world is a lot bigger, partly because it is a TV series, so it’s a lot longer. It’s all what these characters are having to deal with now.

TrunkSpace: The film takes place mostly in a grocery store. You mentioned the world of the series being bigger. Does the series go beyond that single setting concept?
Deveaux: I have to be careful about what I say here because so much of “The Mist” is wrapped in secrecy. My character, as you find out in the first or second episode, is one of a group of people who are trapped in a mall because the mist has come. So, you have a large group of us. It’s a pretty big cast. While confined, you see that it’s a study of human behavior.

TrunkSpace: Which is interesting because that human behavior aspect of “The Mist” is kind of a sign of the times with so much of the population being divided, either politically or socially.
Deveaux: And you’re going to see that play. I think when you put a group of people in an incubator like we were in, it’s inevitable that some chaos will come. So, there’s dangers both from the mist and from these people that you’re surrounded by.

TrunkSpace: And where does your character Zoe fall into all of that chaos? Who is she and where is she going?
Deveaux: Groups form. Alliances are formed. People are lost and my character gets affected by that. It really follows one family and Alyssa Sutherland is the one who was in the mall with us mostly. She is the actress who plays the role of Eve. She’s really trying to defend her daughter and she wants to keep her safe because her daughter is in the mall with her. Things kind of form around that and in the first or second episode you’ll see that there’s a very relevant social issue that comes up that kind of divides the group.

I can’t really say more than that. I don’t want to give it away.

TrunkSpace: Based on the trailer, it seems like there were no punches pulled in terms of the gore and the special effects. Having worked in television for years, do you think it’s a sign of the times that a show like “The Mist” can exist in this form, both in terms of the technology advancing and the size of the budgets that are now being committed to some series?
Deveaux: Yeah. “The Mist” had a big budget and I’m glad that the budget went to Nova Scotia where we filmed, which is actually where my family is from. Nova Scotia’s film industry has been declining a little bit in the last few years. They lost some grants or tax credits that big companies get, so it was nice when “The Mist” came over with their millions of dollars. They can shoot there because their money can go a lot further and it’s easy to make it look like Maine. So yeah, the show had a big budget and doing these kinds of special effects, I think it’s so commonplace these days.

What was cool on this one is that I got a 3D body scan done. It was pretty hilarious. I would stand completely still for 15 minute chunks and go into different positions and they’d go around me with this scanner. And then on this big screen I would see a video game version of myself appear, which was very cool.

TrunkSpace: For those 15 minute chunks, are you saying to yourself the entire time,” Don’t move, don’t move, don’t move?” (Laughter)
Deveaux: Yes! And we’d have to start again because I’d twitch, but it was totally worth it because it’s going to look awesome. They have the budget for it and with this kind of show, and just like any kind of show with this subject matter in the sci-fi space, it has to look really good because the bar has been set so high.

TrunkSpace: That’s very true. People have come to expect realistic creatures and worlds thanks to shows like “Game of Thrones.”
Deveaux: Well, I think it also plays into the fact that “Game of Thrones” was able to break the wall in people suspending their disbelief. It’s fantastical. It’s not the kind of thing we’re used to seeing on television. Usually with sci-fi or something, you don’t often have something with kings and queens and magic, so getting that disbelief suspended has opened up the global audience so much more in a way that is exciting. I’m a huge fantasy geek. That’s my thing. “Harry Potter,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Game of Thrones.” I’m all about that.

TrunkSpace: Well and because “The Mist” also takes on the human nature element of what’s going on within these groups of survivors, it appeals to more than just the sci-fi/horror fans.
Deveaux: Yeah. And there’s action in there too. There’s relationships. It’s definitely watchable for everyone.

TrunkSpace: You’ve done film. You’ve done television. Is one platform more exciting than the other these days? We’d imagine it’s hard not to get excited about television given how character-driven everything is now.
Deveaux: Yes. For sure. I’ve been watching “House of Cards” lately. I’m catching up actually and I’m just so wowed and gobsmacked by the depth of those characters and the way that I compulsively need to watch them. I think the demand for that is high in television now, so if you’re lucky enough to get something that has that sort of depth and provides that sort of challenge, whether it’s television or film, it’s amazing. And it’s also what you make out of it too.

I don’t have a preference between television and film. I’ve done both a lot and I like both a lot. But there is something about the long-term of television. Not only as a career thing being good for you, but looking forward and growing into a character and growing with a character and taking the time to really develop something, I think that’s a real treat for any actor.

TrunkSpace: You actually have a couple of films scheduled for release. So much time is spent making this stuff and then there’s always a lull before they get released. Does it feel like they kind of always hit at the same time?
Deveaux: Yeah. When it rains it pours. I think that’s true for a lot of actors. I go through times when I don’t work and then all of a sudden I’m trying to work on three things at once, which happened at the beginning of the year with one of these movies and while I was filming “The Mist.” When it rains it pours and when it rains you’re very, very grateful. And when it’s not raining, you’re training. You’re getting yourself ready for the next one.

I’ve got a couple of things due out. “Deadly Attraction” will be coming out later in the year and then I just did a movie that came out called “Running Away.” I was a lead in each of them and it was emotional stuff. There was no sci-fi. No fantasy. None of that involved, so it’s nice for me to be able to go from one to the other.

I did an episode of the show “12 Monkeys” last month and that was really cool. I went from playing this angsty teenager to then playing this really cool character on “12 Monkeys” and that’s a treat as an actor to be able to do that.

TrunkSpace: There are many projects that you’ve worked on that we would have to imagine you learned from. When it comes to comedy, what did Dave Foley offer you in terms of knowledge, either directly or through osmosis, given the fact that he is so cemented in the medium going all the way back to his “Kids in the Hall” days?
Deveaux: Dave’s an amazing guy. I’m so glad you brought him up. I actually ran into him two weeks ago in LA out of the blue and that was so nice to see him. We did two seasons of “Spun Out” together and Dave’s a legend and he’s brilliant and he’s kind. I think beyond the technical aspect of comedy that I was able to glean from just watching him, I was just able to see how someone carries their self on a show. When he was giving advice or direction, because he directed an episode of two as well, he was just very respectful and just a very good man. He is someone who can lead a show and that’s the kind of thing that every young actor looks up to.

The Mist” premieres tonight on Spike.

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