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The Fosters

Wingman Wednesday

Danny Nucci

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Freeform/Craig Sjodin

After five seasons of heartwarming storytelling, the beloved family drama series “The Fosters” is saying good-bye to fans with a three-day season finale event, which concludes tonight on Freeform. Star Danny Nucci, who plays Mike Foster, feels strongly that the viewers have come along with the cast throughout the storytelling process, growing as their characters have, and he relishes in the symbiotic relationship that has made his time on the show the most fan-centric project of his career thus far.

We recently sat down with Nucci to discuss the possibility of returning as Mike Foster in the future, why his time on the series was an eye opener, and where he is expanding on his career within the industry.

TrunkSpace: With the “The Fosters” coming to an end, you’ve had to say good-bye to your on-set family, but in a way, does it also feel like you’re saying good-bye to the fans? They have come with you on this journey since 2013 – are they part of the equation with it now signing off?
Nucci: Not at all. It’s more of a resounding “Thank you!” for your support through the years. Many of them are now interested in what’s next and seem to feel like part of an “ongoing” family. It’s almost as if we’ve all gone through these stories together and come out on the other side closer and more connected.

TrunkSpace: You spent over 90 episodes playing Mike Foster, which as we discussed last time you stopped by TrunkSpace, is the longest you have spent with a single character. Now that the job is officially done, is it easy to walk away from Mike knowing that you probably won’t be slipping into his skin ever again?
Nucci: There is a spinoff, so I can’t say that’s true as of yet. But it’s a feeling of gratitude that I’m left with – that I got to explore a character for that long.

TrunkSpace: Have you been surprised at how passionate and loyal the fans have been with “The Fosters” and have you ever directly experienced a group of viewers who were so invested in a project?
Nucci: I’ve never been part of any project with such a social media tie in and “exchange” so it’s all been a revelation of the affect being part of a show that people respond to can be.

TrunkSpace: Outside of starring on the show, you also had the opportunity to direct an episode of “The Fosters.” Was getting to step behind the camera an unintended side effect of your time on the series or was it always your hope to call “Action!”?
Nucci: The first time we all got together for a hang with the producers I made my pitch and they were very clear that it would be a few seasons in before I’d get the opportunity, but they made good on their promise and now I’ve got a new addiction.

TrunkSpace: Obviously you have such familiarity with the cast and crew. Does that make your job as director easier or more difficult? Do you think you would have had a different experience if you came to set not knowing anybody?
Nucci: Oh, I’m sure it would be completely different. The cast knows I’m one of them so there was an inherent trust. And the crew was rooting for me to do well and went the extra mile for me to make our day. And the execs felt like I had a great understanding of the time, story and characters, so there was an automatic trust factor.

TrunkSpace: Did the process of directing an episode of “The Fosters” give you a different perspective on your own character at all? Did it alter your own POV in terms of performance?
Nucci: No. Different mind set completely. Perhaps it would’ve been different if I had to direct myself.

TrunkSpace: We know you can’t really go into details, but you’ve been spending time developing a new series that you have been involved with on the writing side of things. Is that an area that you hope to spend more time focusing on in your career? Are the behind-the-scenes aspects becoming more interesting to you as you get older?
Nucci: As an actor, by the time I add my input most of the work has been done or prepped by the writers, producers or directors. The opportunity to be at the beginning of the storytelling process and make choices that impact the entire project is something I am really enjoying. I love exploring choices that are more “actable” and are “easier to accept” for an audience. Frankly, it’s thrilling. When we come up with a great line of dialogue or particular setting or motivation for a given character it’s as exciting as finding a great moment as an actor.

Nucci directing an episode of “The Fosters.” Freeform/Ron Tom

TrunkSpace: Have you ever been at a crossroads where you considered walking away from acting? Do you still get the same thrill walking on a set for the first time as you did when you started out in the industry?
Nucci: I always get a thrill from walking on a set I’m working on. It’s always that feeling of, “I snuck in – no one noticed and I’m in!” I love the challenge of acting. It’s always a risk/reward thing. I look forward to more experiences where I’m asked to have a creative voice. Sometimes, “Stand there, say these lines, thank you…” feels like a profession I have a modicum of skill to complete. It’s still a great job though.

TrunkSpace: If you could sit down and have a conversation with your 15-year-old self, what would he have to say about how your career has played out? What aspect of your life would surprise him the most?
Nucci: “Duuuuuuude,why aren’t you super famous??? C’mon!!”

I guess he’d be surprised that I’m not driven by a need to be adored or approved of, but a desire to feel all the things my characters have to feel so that the audience can just observe and relate or be entertained or in an ideal moment have their perspective altered in a positive way. And being the best I can be to suspend belief for the time I’m on screen or on stage.

TrunkSpace: Finally, as fans gear up to say good-bye to “The Fosters” for the last time, what do you want to say to them about the journey and how their loyalty to the show has impacted you over the course of its run? How have they made this a fulfilling chapter in your own life?
Nucci: I would just like to say that I appreciate the interaction, the kind words and encouragement that I’ve received. I have felt an added sense of responsibility to make Mike Foster a real person who suffers, struggles and celebrates life and love like the rest of us humans.

“The Fosters” series finale three-night event concludes tonight on Freeform.

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Wingman Wednesday

Hayden Byerly

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Freeform/Craig Sjodin

After five seasons of heartwarming storytelling, the beloved family drama series “The Fosters” is saying good-bye to fans with a three-day season finale event, which continues tonight on Freeform. Star Hayden Byerly, who plays Jude Adams Foster, grew up on the show alongside of his character and is both excited for what the future holds, but appreciative for what came before – namely, the family and fans that supported him throughout his “The Fosters” journey.

We recently sat down with Byerly to discuss the wonderful surprises that the series brought into his life, why he feels he never fully understood Jude, and how his ideal career involves working nonstop.

TrunkSpace: Is saying good-bye to “The Fosters” a bit of a mixed bag, as in, you’re excited for the future and the next chapter of your life, but at the same time, sad to see this chapter close?
Byerly: Of course. As to be expected. It’s always one of the bittersweet moments of life – moving forward and hoping for the best and wondering what the future holds, but making sure to remember and being appreciative of the past.

TrunkSpace: You have to say good-bye to your on-set family, but does it also feel like you’re saying good-bye to the fans as well?
Byerly: I would say in a way. I know for a fact that “The Fosters” fans, the people who have been so supportive of the show from the start, is such a great community. They are very kind people who have really made a change in the world and made a difference and allowed this show to continue for so long. I think it is definitely a goodbye in a way, but I can only hope that “The Fosters” fans see not only me, but everyone else in the cast moving forward in our careers and continue to support us in many other things that exist in the world.

TrunkSpace: One of the things that we noticed was just how positive and supportive “The Fosters” fan base is. Was it a surprise to see how invested they became?
Byerly: It was. I was certainly taken aback, especially at a young age for so much positivity – not only that they were super interactive but people were so supportive as well. It was definitely surprising but in a wonderful way. I think it’s always beautiful when you have a show like this and so many people back it up and so many people love it and love what you do. It feels good to have that and it makes you happy to know that you’re doing something that changes the lives of so many people in such a great way.

TrunkSpace: You shot over 100 episodes as Jude. What was that long-term character journey like for you, especially not having spent that much time with a character before?
Byerly: It’s pretty remarkable because the interesting thing about it is that Jude and myself grew up together. I started the show when I was about 11 or 12 years old, as Jude was about the same age, and so he was learning a lot of things in life and growing up and going through a lot of the things that I had gone through or was also going through. And there was also many differences between the two of us. He was living a life that was very different from mine. A lot of the challenges he faced and that he had to overcome I personally did not. I was not only growing up and living my own life and trying to understand who I was, I was also going through all the trials and tribulations of Jude and all the things that he had to explore and understand about himself.

It was really wild. I never felt like I fully understood Jude because he was always growing and learning and that was something that I loved. I felt as though I was learning with him and that we were together on this ride to figure out who he was and these final three are a little… there’s a time jump, so Jude’s older. He’s got some more stuff figured out, but of course we all have pinnacle moments in our lives in which something else goes wrong or there’s a bump in the road and so Jude is still going through his own things in life – his own problems. It’s remarkable that even five years later he’s going through things that I won’t go through and that I won’t have to worry about. I’m very lucky and fortunate to live two lives and two kids who are so different.

TrunkSpace: Does it keep it fresh for you as an actor to show up and find Jude on a new path? Does that continuous growth in the character make your own journey with him more exciting?
Byerly: I feel like no actor can ever say that they fully know the character that they are, in my personal opinion. I think that there’s always so many things to learn and to understand about someone, because we are the same way. I know myself better than anyone else on this planet knows me and there’s still a lot of things that I don’t know about myself. There’s a lot of things that I question or have to figure out, and so for someone to say they completely understand a character, I don’t think that’s a possibility because we are constantly growing and changing, just as these characters are.

Freeform/Eric McCandless

TrunkSpace: After spending so much time and headspace with Jude, are you in a position within your own personal journey as an actor to sign on and play another character for that long? Is that something you’d be interested in coming off “The Fosters” at this stage in your career or are you more interested in going out and trying on as many new skins as possible?
Byerly: I think all of it. I would love to do everything. I would love to spend another 100 episodes as someone else. I would love to spend a couple months, a couple years, a few moments. I think that’s the beautiful thing about this industry is that you can be so many different people in such a long or short amount of time. You can choose to really dive and divulge in a particular person as little or as much as you’d like. You can walk onto the set of a commercial and just be some suburban white kid with an adopted family and just wander around driving trucks or something, and you don’t even have a name. And then you can walk on a show and spend 100 episodes being a young foster kid and going through someone else’s entire life story. There are so many things you can do and experience in this world and I think that’s the beautiful part is that I’m fortunate and lucky enough to understand and live the lives of many people.

TrunkSpace: The future holds so many question marks for everybody, but if you could pave your own path and write your own way, what would it look like? What’s the ideal career moving forward?
Byerly: I think the ideal career moving forward for me would be getting to continue to work nonstop. That’s the one thing I love. That’s the one thing I’m passionate about, is being on set. Everything else falls into place in life when you get to do what you love and when you’re passionate about what you do. And I don’t really have a particular set thing I want to do. I would love to knock it all out. I would love to do a huge movie, move onto another show. I did some motion capture for a video game a long time ago. I’d love to do more animated things. I’d love to do everything because it’s all so different and it’s all so incredible. I’ve got a hunger to do everything. I’ve got a drive to do it all.

The industry is constantly changing and evolving and if you don’t adapt and keep up with it you’re going to fall behind, so making sure that you stay up to date and try as hard as you can and continue to push and give 100 percent is the most important thing. I talked to my dialogue coach, who is a wonderful actor and was on “The Fosters” for a long time as the dialogue coach. I value him immensely as a person and as a friend and he was talking to me a lot about a couple of different auditions and he always helps me and he was saying that it’s a competitive industry and you can’t just walk around expecting anything to be yours. No one can ever expect something to be for you. Even if you’re the perfect fit for a character, even if a character is written for you, you still have to try as if it wasn’t. You still have to give it so much effort and care and attention and that’s what determines a good actor from a great actor is that it’s someone who never stops – it’s someone who always puts in more work than seems necessary to do better.

The Fosters” series finale three-night event continues tonight on Freeform.

 

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Wingman Wednesday

Sherri Saum

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Photo: Photo Credit: Freeform/Craig Sjodin

After five seasons of heartwarming storytelling, the beloved family drama series “The Fosters” is saying good-bye to fans with a three-day season finale event beginning tonight on Freeform. Star Sherri Saum, who plays Lena Adams Foster, is still in awe of the impact that the show has had on viewers, but she’s even more enamored by the impact that the viewers have had on her.

We recently sat down with Saum to discuss what she learned in her journey as Lena, how she will always compare future jobs to her time on “The Fosters,” and why she’d be extra motivated to solve mysteries on a full stomach.

TrunkSpace: With “The Fosters” coming to an end, you’ve had to say good-bye to your on-set family, but in a way, does it also feel like you’re saying good-bye to the fans? They have come with you on this journey since 2013 – are they part of the equation with it now signing off?
Saum: I feel I have forged a connection with the cast and the supporters of our show that will transcend the end of the series.

TrunkSpace: Over 100 episodes is a long time to spend in another person’s skin. It’s not your longest span with a character, but was Lena different? Did her journey affect you differently as an actress than that of previous jobs, and if so, why?
Saum: I’ve learned more on “The Fosters” than I’ve learned on any other show. Things that informed me not only as an actor but also as a person and especially as a mother. I’ll take these lessons with me for a lifetime.

TrunkSpace: How much did Lena grow and change from the first time you read for her to where she is in the final three episodes set to start airing tonight on Freeform? Within that span, what were some of the biggest character shifts or storylines that you didn’t see coming?
Saum: Lena began as a definite momma bear, the soft heart of the family. And while she was fierce in her role as momma and protector of her kids, she wasn’t always as good at fighting for what she deserved in her career. She became a fighter over the seasons – probably influenced by Stef – and in the end of the series we finally see Lena stepping up and owning her full power as a woman, a mother, and a community leader.

TrunkSpace: It’s so hard to tell what will connect with people and what won’t when it comes to television. Was it a surprise just how invested viewers became in not only the series but in your character as well?
Saum: I think part of me is still in awe of the impact but the other part totally gets it. We gave much needed validation and visibility to families and people. It had been so sorely lacking in the landscape of TV.

TrunkSpace: What is something that you are going to take from your experience on “The Fosters” that you will apply to your professional life moving forward?
Saum: Being part of such a special project has set the bar high for me as an actor. I’m not so naïve to think I won’t have to take on some projects in the future for practical reasons – but I’m always going to have a sense of wanting to do more – to be part of telling better stories because of my experience with “The Fosters.”

TrunkSpace: What about personally? Where has the series impacted your life the most and what will you look back on in 20 years and think of fondly?
Saum: Personally I’ve been able to meet people and hear stories about the impact “The Fosters” has had on them. Stories that humble me beyond belief. I’ll never forget how it feels to make people feel included and loved. People all over the globe. It’s astonishing.

TrunkSpace: You posted a picture on Twitter about a month ago, drinking coffee (we assume that was just coffee!) while watching “Scooby-Doo,” referencing it as living your best life. So, we have to ask, if dropped into a real-life mystery complete with “jinkies” moments, which “Scooby-Doo” character’s mystery-solving skills would yours most resemble and why?
Saum: I’d be Scooby-Doo or Shaggy for sure. Always extra motivated to solve a mystery if I’m well fed!

TrunkSpace: Continuing with the idea of living your best life, as you look forward, what does your best professional life look like? If you could write your own future, how would you script your career moving forward?
Saum: In my perfect world I’d be a serial series monogamist. And some of my roles would include physical bad-assery. In some superhero way.

Photo: Freeform/Gilles Mingasson

TrunkSpace: You’ve guested on some great shows over the course of your career. Is there a character who was particularly interesting to you that you wished you got to explore further?
Saum: To be honest, I’m still in a love bubble stupor over “The Fosters.” It’s eclipsing anything I’ve done previously. I can’t recall ever being so emotionally and creatively fulfilled in my work as I have been with “The Fosters.”

TrunkSpace: Finally, as fans gear up to say good-bye to “The Fosters” for the last time, what do you want to say to them about the journey and how their loyalty to the show has impacted you over the course of its run? How have they made this a fulfilling chapter in your own life?
Saum: I just want fans of the show to know that their support and love of the show has elevated the experience into something I will never, ever let go of. And I will always remember how hard they fought to keep it going.

The Fosters” series finale three-night event kicks off tonight on Freeform.

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Wingman Wednesday

Izabela Vidovic

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Photo By: Ramona Rosales

If time machines existed and you skipped ahead a half dozen years or so, you’d find a new generation of talent controlling both the creative side and the business side of Hollywood. One extremely talented individual on a path to having a say over both ends of the industry pool is Izabela Vidovic, the 16-year-old actress turned producer who is generating buzz for her performance as Via in the new Julia Roberts film “Wonder,” due in theaters this Friday.

We recently sat down with Vidovic to discuss what a breath of fresh air “Wonder” is, where she felt an immediate connection with her character, and why she’s looking to diversify her career as much as possible.

TrunkSpace: In a world that is mostly dominated by superheroes and remakes, “Wonder” seems like a real breath of fresh air. What drew you to it?
Vidovic: Well, reading the script for “Wonder” was very exciting for me as an actor, because it’s different, as you’re mentioning. It’s different than most scripts out there nowadays because of the through line and the message of the whole story, which is really just to choose kind and that it spreads positivity and love. It has such a great message, so it’s a great project to be a part of, especially now.

TrunkSpace: It feels like the kind of movie that would have been made 20 years ago, but would not necessarily see a green lit status today.
Vidovic: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s definitely refreshing, because sometimes you fall into the trap of seeing the same sorts of films being made, and sometimes they lack originality. It’s nice to see, as you’re saying, a film like this come out that has a message and is simply there to relay a good theme to others.

TrunkSpace: Did it feel like you were involved in something special when you were in the midst of shooting it?
Vidovic: Yes, it definitely did, and it doesn’t always feel that way. But even our director, he made a point to make the set so warm and pleasant and fun, so every day was just a blast to come in. And the kids, all of them were incredible. They had amazing chemistry. Jake and I, we clicked, and with Julia (Roberts) and Owen (Wilson). And everything just sort of fell into place and it felt right. I feel like that’s how you know that it’s gonna be something really good.

TrunkSpace: And for those who don’t know, can you walk us through where your characters falls into things and what her journey is?
Vidovic: My character is Via, who is Auggie’s older sister. Auggie is the 10-year-old boy with Treacher Collins syndrome, going to school for the first time. So, I play his older sister and we find her actually entering high school at the same time. It’s her journey, as well as his, discovering herself and her personal transformation and understanding that she can balance both her love and support for Auggie, but also allow herself to shine.

TrunkSpace: Was it easy for you to connect with Via right out of the gates?
Vidovic: You know, it was easy and it was natural for me in the sense that I have a younger sister, and I know that relationship – having a younger sibling and the feeling of protectiveness over them. But at the same time, I have not experienced the extremity and the severity of Via’s situation, which is passing on all of the undivided attention to the other sibling. And so, I had to do research and sort of get into that mindset and understand what it’s like to be that selfless because it’s a special thing.

TrunkSpace: For Via, is a part of her journey having to deal with sometimes feeling like she is always standing in the shadows?
Vidovic: Yes, that’s exactly what it is. She is in the shadows because of all of the attention that her brother requires, to no fault of his own, just because of the challenges that he faces. And she allows that, because she knows that he needs it more than she does. But throughout the story, she realizes that she can also give herself a time to also shine and to get her parents attention and still be a good sister.

TrunkSpace: The cast is pretty incredible. Getting to work with so many seasoned veterans, did you view your experience on the film just as much as an education as you did a job?
Vidovic: Most definitely. It was definitely a huge learning experience for me, because I was fortunate enough to be working on, as you said, a project that has so many veterans of the industry. Working with Julia and Owen, who are such icons, there’s really much to learn from them just watching their work and being with them on set. Not only are they kind to everybody, but they’re professional and they make it fun for everyone around them. And working with Stephen Chbosky, he’s really an incredible director, and he’s artistic. Not only does he want the best for the film, but he wants the best for everybody involved in it. It’s just been an honor working with these people.

TrunkSpace: Is there something about your performance in “Wonder” that you’re particularly excited for people to see? Were you able to do something with Via that you have yet to have the opportunity with other characters in the past?
Vidovic: Well, I think for me what was really cool was doing a role within a role. I got to do a monologue from “Our Town” as Via. And for Via, that moment is really pivotal for her, because it’s the first time that she’s putting her emotions on display and she has this connection with her mom, and it’s the first time that she’s really letting herself shine. And as an actor, I was playing both Via, but also Emily from “Our Town,” which was an interesting experience, I have to say.

TrunkSpace: Aside from “Wonder,” you’re also working behind the camera, so being able to learn from Stephen throughout this process must have been something that you could apply to other aspects of your career as well?
Vidovic: I would love to direct. So it’s so cool to work with a director who, like Stephen, incorporates both having a relationship with the actors and also having a relationship with the crew. Because oftentimes, you’ll find that when you work with a director, they’re better at one side or the other, and Stephen’s great at both – at balancing them. So, observing that was definitely a learning experience for me, because that’s what I strive to do in my career, in the future, behind the camera.

TrunkSpace: You spent nearly 20 episodes on the series “The Fosters.” Is the professional relationship with directors on a series different from the one you build with a director on a film?
Vidovic: Yes. On films, you definitely have a more personal relationship with your director, because on TV there’s a different director for every episode. And so, there’s only a certain amount of time that you have with that individual to cultivate something. But with film, you’ll be working with the same director every single day for two to three months. And so oftentimes, especially when the director is so hands on with the actors, you do build a very personal relationship, like I think most of us found we did with Stephen.

TrunkSpace: Have you been having fun exploring these other on-set experiences beyond acting? Has the producing side, that journey, been one you’re enjoying?
Vidovic: Yeah. It’s been very fun. I find that it actually strengthens you as an actor and as a writer and a producer – when you have knowledge in every area – because knowledge is power, so the more you know, the better. And so, as a producer, I have found that knowing what it’s like for actors and knowing what a writer’s job is just makes your job that much easier and it’s that much more beneficial. It’s like a clock – you need every part to make it work. And so, yeah, it’s been definitely a learning process and a lot of fun.

TrunkSpace: So as you look forward, do you see yourself focusing on one area or will you continue to wear different hats and juggle all aspects of your career?
Vidovic: I’m looking to juggle it all and make it all work. I love acting and I love all of these different aspects of filmmaking, and I’m excited to just combine all of that knowledge and do it all.

Wonder” arrives in theaters on Friday.

Featured image by: Ramona Rosales

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